In Part One and Two we saw that according to Jewish custom in the time of Jesus, a Father had chosen a bride for his son. The parents had agreed a contract, and the son had to build their wedding chamber at his father’s house. The Bride was not aware when her Bridegroom would return for her. While waiting for her Bridegroom, the bride would ready herself in anticipation of his arrival. She would burn a lamp in case he came at night. Eventually, without warning he would arrive and take her away to the marriage chamber. We saw that those who are born of water and born of the spirit are the Bride of Christ and need to ready themselves for His coming to collect them. In the parable of the 10 virgins, we saw that the virgins represented the Church. Five of them ran out of oil and were not ready when Jesus came to collect them….
We are naturally self-centred and therefore it’s not easy for us to accept what other people say about us. We have a built in instinct to defend ourselves and criticise situations or others, if we do not approve.
In line with the desire to make our walk with the Lord more practical, let’s look at the second most important commandment…..Love your neighbour as yourself. Most of us have heard these words many times, but have we really understood what Jesus meant? In order to appreciate His command, we need to see how it is that God intended us to love others.
In the previous parts of this series we saw that it is of prime importance for us, as believers, to make sure that the word of God can freely pass between us and all whom we have relationships with. This at any time – in season and out of season. Nothing can be of more importance than to make sure the bridges of relationship grow and are kept clear – whichever community situation we find ourselves in.
We are trying to make the best of what we have. Very difficult. There are many flies and cockroaches. The ablution facilities are not good. There is a small outside building, one half a toilet (long drop), and the other a wash room. To go to the toilet we must squat over the hole in the floor. The smell is terrible and there are many large flies buzzing around. Large cockroaches crawl on our legs at the same time. The extreme heat does not help the situation.
It was about 4:30am when we left the small farming community in Zimbabwe. This had been our three week stop over point where we had been making final preparations for our long awaited stay in the unknown ‘Warm Heart of Africa’, Malawi.
The rain was pouring down in sheets, lashing the windscreen of the overloaded Combi and small trailer. The road, or excuse for one, was just mud and it was nearly impossible to see any pot holes. It was unusual to encounter a storm of that strength so early in the African morning. We could see the evil one was already busy trying to hamper our first missionary journey.
It was now four months since we had left our ‘home’ of the past 18 months, a small, little known mission station in the Natal Midlands town of Nottingham Rd in South Africa. We had lived there with others who had laid down their lives to serve the Lord, after leaving our Johannesburg house and shares in a successful young plastics company. The Lord had touched our hearts so powerfully over a period of about two years, that we felt we needed to sell all that we owned and follow the Lord full time – quite a decision to make for a young family, consisting of three young children, (and two to be born in the future!).
Chapter Eight: Essential Keys to Unlocking the Power of God in this Life.
As a basis for this teaching, let us consider the words of Jesus:
New Living Translation: Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me”.
Before I set about explaining the beautiful revelation in the words of these scriptures, I would like to raise a few points that I have mentioned to you in previous chapters.
Hope you don’t feel that I’m repeating myself; but I firmly believe in what my theology teacher told me so many years ago: “Repetitio est mater studioram or Repetition is the mother of studies”.
We must never lose sight of the fact that Jesus was not a ‘Christian’ but in every perfect way, he was a Jew and via Joseph, his earthly father, of the royal line of King David.
History also tells us that in the reign of the Roman Emperor, Constantine, in AD 300 there was an alliance formed between the state of Rome and the Christian movement at that time. This was the origin of the Roman Catholic Church.
Born out of this arrangement was the myth that if you follow Jesus and His teachings, you are a Christian. You should now see clearly, that this is not the case.
We can be followers of Jesus and His teachings and choose to join the Christian religion, or we can choose to follow Jesus and His teachings and not be members of the Christian religion. It is a matter of personal choice.
Now, let us get back to the scriptures above.
Jesus points out that nobody can take hold of His accomplishment on the cross and the benefits of Godly power in this life, unless God chooses them to take part in these benefits.
Then He says that the only way to God, in the eternal sense, is by taking hold of the benefits of Godly power through His crucifixion and applying these to our lives, on this earth.
I say it to you once more: no amount of good, kind, gentle or disciplined living in this life on earth; no religious practice or traditionalism can give you what Jesus is saying in the above two scriptures.
Only this will work:
- God chooses the one’s to whom He gives the benefits resulting from the crucifixion of Jesus.
- You alone can accept His choosing and apply these benefits to your life on this earth.
Let me explain these two statements in plain contemporary English:
The only reason for God choosing you will be because you want to be chosen. He won’t choose you otherwise. Would you choose to befriend someone whom you know for sure does not want your friendship – no, of course not.
You know you want to be chosen, so you say to God, “Even though I do not fully understand all that I have been told here – I accept.”
Good! Now on this basis you are under way to your new life, drawing to yourself health, wealth, power and peace on this earth and immigration requirements for the life after your body dies.
Congratulations and well done!
I need to explain the issue of, “…I do not fully understand…”
Never in our relationship to God are we ever called to understand. We are only told to accept Him and what He says.
When I was eighteen, I understood everything and was wary of accepting anything.
As I have grown older I understand much less than I did then, but I accept all of what God shows and tells me now.
Another word for this condition is a wonderful gift called faith. Remember my definition: “Faith is believing that something exists even when all my senses say it doesn’t”?
Let me share something else; my faith has led to my trust in God’s plans and this has led to my hope in His promises.
Whilst I will appreciate that you might be a little fuzzy about all of this in your mind at the moment, I feel very safe to tell you that If you have read so far, you are on your way to a glorious life of health, wealth, power and peace on this earth and are booked on the flight to eternity with all your documents in order.
I am going to conclude with the explanation of two last verses of scripture:
New Living Translation: Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
New Living Translation: Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.
For the most part the scripture of John 3.3 has been a password in certain Christian Churches and movements. You may have heard the expression: “You need to be born again if you want to go to heaven”. Nobody could ever give me a reasonable explanation of what ‘born again’ really meant, apart from some very spiritual explanations, that I truly could not understand.
I eventually found that historically speaking, it was during the Azusa Street Revival, Los Angeles, California in 1906 that the expression became the password as the Pentecostal Movement came to know its birth.
In his wonderful book, a Christian best seller, “Born Again” Charles Colson, helped to fuel this password fire to the entire world.
What was even more wonderful for me was the revelation that one cannot use the scripture of John 3.3 without coupling it to John 3.5.
Let me explain to you what this means.
Firstly there are two positions that John speaks about here. The first is ‘see’ and the second is ‘enter’. One cannot enter without ‘seeing’ and one cannot see an entry point without it being there. So these two positions are interdependent on one another.
Let me give you a practical example of this: One day I am piloting an airplane to a city in our country called Cape Town. At ten thousand feet above sea level and the visibility is clear as crystal, I can see Cape Town ahead and in fact even the airport, for that matter. But the motor car below me has at least seventy miles to travel before it reaches Cape Town.
At this point it comes to me; I can see the big city and her airport, I have not entered it. The conditions to entering are another thirty minutes of flying and a safe landing.
Jesus is saying, “You will have to go through the experience of being chosen by God and accepting He has chosen you; then you will be able to SEE that God has got a new life for you on this earth.
When you believe what I did on the cross for you and how it is going to put you on your way to a glorious life of health, wealth, power, peace on this earth and booked on the flight to eternity with all your documents in order, then you have ENTERED.” (my translation)
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Self improvement and our own efforts to live a ‘better’ life on earth versus taking the power that God has equipped us with and applying it to our everyday life here on this earth.
I want to quote you two scriptures, which point to the foundation of God’s plan for humanity:
“Love God (the God of Abraham in the Old Testament) with your whole heart (Which is the seat of your emotions and moral code), your whole soul (Your intellect, emotion and will) and your whole strength” (Which is the dedication of the complete function of your body). Translation and italics are mine.
“Eternal life (The life we face once our body on this earth dies) is knowing (in the sense of a husband and wife in intimate relationship) God, the one true God and His only child, Jesus the Christ.” Translation and italics are mine.
No human can live either of the above commands unless they really deeply desire to do so. If we carefully read and study these two scriptures it must become evident to our intellect, that having a deep intimate relationship with God is what this life on earth is all about. This process will not stop when our bodies on this earth die, but will continue into the next life.
These two scriptures are the very foundation upon which our lives on this earth need to be built.
It should now also be very clear to our intellect that no amount of effort on our part can accomplish God’s requirements above, unless God ably assists us to do so.
The good news is that God wants to assist us to reach the above place and His only requirement from us is to believe that He will assist us and then to trust that it is happening, even when our senses say it isn’t.
I hope that you are with me so far. In which case, let’s continue.
I truly pray that you can see that no matter what we attempt to do by our own efforts, in terms of our relationship with God and our promised life after our body dies, will be completely fruitless, without God assisting us.
Every religion known to humankind, teaches that we need to ‘do’ certain things in a certain way, in order to get close to God and reach our new life. Nothing, as you can see from what I have shown you above, that we ‘do’, can achieve what God requires.
I refer to these religious teachings as ‘self improvement’ schemes. These self improvement schemes can often benefit one to live a better life, here on earth, but have absolutely no eternal value.
Hopefully, all of you reading this have enjoyed the wonderful experience of ‘falling in love’ (not to be confused with loving someone – which I will cover in a later chapter). How, absolutely beautiful is the experience of falling in love with someone else. You will know that the first thing you want to do is to get to know that person more deeply than just to have an outward friendship. You realize at that point, that in order to get to know the one you are in love with better, you will want and need, to spend more time with them.
Getting to know God is like this too and the way to achieve this is also spending time with Him. Getting to know more about His great person and character, getting to know about His plans for the universe that He created and, as important, what His plans are for His relationship with you.
In later chapters I will discuss ways that we come to know God, but just for now it’s important that we understand how we must live our lives upon this earth.
Religion, generally teaches about God without God’s power in the teachings (Karl Marx said it was “The opium of the people”), whereas ‘knowing God’ empowers us to have a relationship with Him – to love Him.
Religion teaches ‘self-help’.
Knowing God is God’s power to live a healthy, wealthy, powerful and peaceful life on this earth and gains us entry into our new life, once our bodies die on this earth
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Next Chapter, we shall talk about the power of God working in the lives of humans on this earth.
Chapter Six – Living in a State of Health, Wealth and Power on this earth.
Remember always, that what God accomplished in the life and death of Jesus on the cross, is complete and there is nothing ahead that can improve on this perfect work of God, no matter how long we live.
All religions, in one form or another, suggest that life consists of progressive states of improvement for us humans in this life. I fully agree that the world is in a constant state of progressive change, according to God’s long term plan, but as far as God’s plan is concerned, no more can be done in terms of His spiritual benefits for humankind.
Anything over and above what God has already accomplished is superfluous and is therefore totally unnecessary.