Kingdom 54

I think what I said in Kingdom 53 might have thrown some people off, so let me try and clarify what I said.  I asked the question why God hides Himself from us .. why doesn’t God reveal Himself more and make it easier for us to know Him. If He did, it would be so much easier for us to know what He wants. As a young believer I asked that question on the assumption that everyone would want to know the truth. I mean surely we all want to know the truth, don’t we? However, over the years I discovered that there are very few who really seek the truth. Instead of wanting to know the truth, people are afraid of the truth, and they would rather not know the truth. Why? Because truth always demands change. But change is difficult. Change is often very costly. And so people would rather not know the truth. It’s easier to live in denial than having to make the changes that truth demands. So strange as it may sound, people actually don’t really want the truth.

Let me give you a common example of this. A lot of people know they should exercise, and stop eating all that delicious junk food. They know it’s bad for them .. that it’s even slowly killing them. But will they exercise? Will they stop eating what they know they should not eat? Will they do it? No they won’t. Too difficult, right? So what do they do? They will keep pushing it out of their minds. We may laugh over it, but that’s one example of when it’s much easier to live in denial.

But there are other things, like what the gospel really is, and what church is, that people would rather not know. I’m not talking about church as we know it, but church as Jesus meant it to be. People will defend and justify church as it is understood and practiced today notwithstanding that they cannot find any Biblical precedent for it. Did you know that almost everything that is practiced in church today – church buildings, Sunday services, congregations, membership, salaried pastors, church boards, and other things we have taken for granted for what makes up a church – didn’t come from Jesus, or from Paul, or any of the NT writers. They all came from Constantine. So why are we following Constantine? Why are we not following Jesus? Could it be because there’s something about church today that is so powerful, so effective for the kingdom that it must be preserved at all costs, despite having no Biblical precedent for it? Or is it because the institution of church today ensures the continuity of certain positions and benefits for some people?

I’ll talk more about church later, but for now the point is this – how much do people really want the truth and to live by the truth?  Jesus said something amazing in Jn.12:35. He said, You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you.” Every time we hear a message, every time we read a book, or when someone confronts us with the truth about something, whenever the truth about anything comes to us, we have to make a choice. Shall we acknowledge the truth, whatever that might be, and walk according to what the truth requires of us, which means that we have to change, or shall we push it out of our minds, and excuse and defend and justify ourselves? If we choose to reject the light, meaning the truth, Jesus says the darkness will overtake us.

 And then He also said this in Matt.6:22, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Now how can the light within a person be darkness? What was Jesus talking about? I believe what Jesus was describing is something like this. Whenever someone rejects the truth about something, he doesn’t just reject it. He has to argue against it in his own mind in order to justify himself for not accepting it, so that it will not disturb him any further. Well I was a lawyer so I know this very well. What people normally do is to twist, or distort or manipulate the truth, so that the truth becomes something unacceptable, while the opposite of the truth which they are indulging in, becomes justifiable in their minds. Whether it’s about alcohol, or drugs or adultery or whatever. That’s when the light within people becomes darkness.

Let me give you another example of this. I was in Cambodia many years ago to participate in a rice distribution to thousands of people who had lost their rice fields to very bad flooding. The funds were contributed by several American, and Singaporean NGOs and a Malaysian NGO that I represented. After the rice distribution was done, I went through the accounts with the local leader who was in charge of organizing the rice distribution. When I looked at the accounts and records, it was very clear to me that part of the funds had been siphoned off for something else and he had presented false receipts and false records to cover it up. When I confronted him about it, he tried to deny it, but he discovered that I had many years of experience behind me and I knew the ins and outs of relief operations and how local leaders in many countries, not just Cambodia, they often do that. When he realized he couldn’t deny it any more, he finally admitted it. Then I asked him why he did it. He said it was his senior pastor who got him to do it. According to him, his senior pastor was concerned for his church workers and wanted to get some of the funds for them.

Was he sorry for what he did? Were they sorry for what they did? No they were not. In their minds they were poor, not like the Americans, Singaporeans and Malaysians. In their minds it’s justifiable to steal from the rich. But actually they were not stealing from us. They were stealing from their own people. But they didn’t want to think about that.  In their minds their love and concern for each other justified what they did. The leader felt justified because he was obeying his senior pastor who wanted to get something for them. The senior pastor felt justified because he loved his church workers. And the church workers of course defended their senior pastor because he was looking out for them. And because he was their senior pastor, right? And I, well I became the bad guy for questioning the practice. So right can become wrong, and wrong can become right. That’s when the light within people is darkness. That’s what Jesus was talking about. Its darkness, but to them it’s light. Think about that.

Whether it’s the truth about life, or the truth about God, or the truth about evolution and science and the origin of life, or the truth about LGBT, or a pet doctrine we have believed in for many years, or the truth about the political party, or the leaders we have been supporting, or the truth about our children, or our lifestyle, or the truth about church. Whatever the truth might be about, it always boils down to this question : how willing are we to face up to the truth, no matter how much it goes against what we have always believed? Unless we do, God is not going to go any further with us.

In Jn.3:19 Jesus said, “This is the verdict : Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” People don’t like the light. They prefer to remain in darkness.

We know this. God says that He reveals Himself to those who truly seek Him with all their heart. And God also told us that He purposely hides Himself and hides the secrets of His Kingdom from the wise and learned and reveals them to little children. I’ve already talked about that in Kingdom 10. What does it mean to become like little children again? To give God a fresh slate, to start again at zero? I believe it means to be willing to unlearn. To unlearn all that we thought we already knew. It is to seek the truth, and to love the truth no matter what the cost. To love the truth more than love ourselves. It is to be willing to forgo even what might have been precious and dear to us.

In Matt.13, Jesus said the Kingdom of God is like a man who found treasure buried in a field. What did he do? He put the treasure back and buried it and he went home and sold everything in order to buy that field. He gave up everything in order to acquire it. And then He said the Kingdom of God is a like a pearl merchant who found that one pearl that ends all pearls. You know he’s a pearl merchant, right? He’s got a whole collection of his own pearls, that are precious and valuable to him, that he’s collected over the years, probably. But he goes home, and he looks at all his pearls, and he realizes that all his pearls are nothing, they are nothing in comparison to that one pearl he just found. So he says to himself, this one pearl, this one pearl, I must have it. And so he gives up everything. He sells it all in order to be able to have that one pearl. Jesus said that’s what the Kingdom of God is. We have to give up everything, in order to be able to have it.

Do we want to have revelation from God? Same thing. That’s what it will take.

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it

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Kingdom 53

In the last segment, in Kingdom 52, I ended it with this question, “How can we get revelation from God?” I asked that question because we cannot work with God unless He reveals to us what He is doing. Jesus told us that we are to function just like He did, doing only what we see the Father doing.

So how can we receive revelation from God? How can we hear God’s voice, or how can we hear God speaking to us? And that’s also more or less the same question as how can the eyes of people be opened. I had earlier intended to share with you 4 or 5 points on this, but I sensed the Lord telling me that He wanted me to say something else. So I waited for Him to tell me what was it that He wants me to share. OK, so what I’m going to share here is not really what I planned to share, but this is what the Lord has put on my heart to share.

I don’t know what’s your experience of hearing God, but doesn’t it often feel like God is high up there and we are down here, and we don’t have a clue what God wants? It is very hard to figure God out isn’t it? I mean God Himself says that He hides Himself – look for example at Isa.45:15, or Ps.18:11. And there are many other verses. If God purposely hides Himself, how then are we to know Him? How are we to know what He wants, or to hear what He is saying, if He hides Himself? And why does God hide Himself? Why doesn’t He reveal Himself and make Himself more evident? Have you ever wondered about that?

When I was a young Christian, I read the story of Lazarus and the rich man who died. The rich man who was in hell, pleaded with Abraham to send Lazarus to his brothers to warn them so that they would not also end up in hell. My thinking was just like that of the rich man. Surely if someone rises from the dead and tells people that he has seen heaven and hell, people would listen, wouldn’t they? But Abraham said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” When I read that story, I could not understand it. Why didn’t Jesus think that was a good idea? I mean why doesn’t God make it easier for people to believe in Him, or come to faith in Him? Why doesn’t God just appear every now and then, or at least do more miracles so that people would find it easier to believe in Him?

Well, at that time I was only 16 years old, and I was still very young and naïve. Later, I went to England to study law and then I returned to Malaysia and practiced as a lawyer in Malaysia. As a lawyer, I very quickly came to realize what this world is made up of. This world is full of people whose hearts are very hard and their minds are very closed. Having lived for 59 years, and having traveled and taught and interacted with people of many different cultures for the last 23 years, it is sad but I have to say this : I think there are very few people in the world who are really interested in the truth, or who are genuine seekers of the truth.

Someone said this, “Today I am of the opinion that people in general are not truth seekers, since most people constantly try to fit the facts to match their wishes. Theology has been used by many; the KKK have found in the Bible reasons to hate black and Jew. The Pogroms found in the Bible reasons to commit atrocities towards the Jews, and even schemers are seen daily on TV using the Bible like the old medicine man, offering healing, signs, and wonders. I believe that most convictions have nothing to do whatsoever with facts. The truth is, we are driven by culture and upbringing. It is these that drive the minds of the masses and not the claim that we are all truth seekers. Tradition plants a certain state and condition in the hearts of people to the point of even slightly or greatly bending the facts in order to fit and justify our traditional goals.” That’s what he said. Nowadays, we have people who are experts that are paid to spin and manipulate facts in order to achieve a certain effect. And recently we even have this thing called fake news.

Why are there so few people who are genuine seekers of the truth? I think it’s because truth is never an easy thing to accept. Truth always disturbs. And truth always comes with a call for change. Once the truth about something is revealed, then something must be done about it, right? In fact, truth does not just call for change, truth always demands change. But change is never easy, is it? Often change is too difficult. Too costly. Too much sacrifice involved. So most people would rather not know the truth. This sounds crazy, but this is what I’ve discovered. Most people feel far more comfortable not to know the truth, even though they know that what they believe might not be true, but to them that’s better than having to make the changes that truth demands of them.

Earlier I said if only God made Himself more evident, surely people would believe Him, right? Later when I read the Bible I discovered that there was actually a time in human history where God made Himself very, very evident to man. It was the time of the Exodus – when God did all those miracles through Moses. But what was the response of people to that? Did they believe in Him? Not the Egyptians definitely, but guess what, not even the Jews! The Jews cried out to God to deliver them from Pharaoh, and God showed up. And He showed up with amazing signs and wonders, yet when it was time for them to meet with God, what did they tell Moses? They told Moses, “No, no, we will not meet with Him. You go and meet Him”. That’s amazing isn’t it? I mean here’s God who answers their prayers, and they see all those amazing miracles, and He even parts the Red Sea for them to walk through on dry land, and yet as soon as they get to the other side, instead of wanting to meet Him, instead being excited to meet with this God who has just set them free from 400 years of slavery, what do they do? They go and make themselves some idols to worship. Amazing isn’t it?

In the Exodus, the excuse that the Jews made for not wanting to meet with God was that His glory would kill them. But what happened when God came down and showed up as a human? Here’s where God revealed Himself in a way that won’t kill people. Someone in bodily flesh that they could see with their own eyes, hear with their own ears, and even touch with their own hands. Someone they could actually sit down and have tea with, so to speak, if they wanted to. Well that’s what Jesus was, not like some big leaders today who shield themselves from ordinary folk like you and I, with layers and layers of red tape, and they fly around in their private jets and they have no time for you unless you have a big donation to make. But were people excited to meet Jesus and to get to know Him? Well they wanted the healing and the bread of course, but no they weren’t keen to know Him. Jn.1:11 says “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, but the world did not receive Him. He came to his own people, but even his own people did not receive him.” Not only did they not receive Him, they crucified Him.

When I said earlier there are very few people in the world who are truth seekers, you might think I was talking only about politicians or unbelievers, but guess what, I’ve discovered it’s not much different with believers.  You think only the politicians of this world are seeking money, power and fame? Even church leaders nowadays are no different.  I’ve told you about the senior pastor in Kingdom 31 who asked what was the first thing he should do when he goes back to his church after discovering the Kingdom. Well I suggested that he should exchange his salary with the guy who cleans the toilet in his church. But could he do it? Do you know of any shepherds today who follow their Master the Good Shepherd who will lay down their lives for their sheep? So it’s not much different whether we are talking about unbelievers or believers or even church leaders.

Over the years I’ve found that people want to be close to God, but not too close. It’s dangerous to be too close to God. He might make some unreasonable demands on you, right? So most people prefer to stay a safe and respectable distance from God.

In Rom.3 Paul said there is no one, not even one who seeks God. So why does God hide Himself? Why doesn’t God reveal Himself more? The answer is obvious. If humans aren’t too keen to seek the truth or to seek God, then God isn’t too keen to reveal Himself to the humans either. It’s not just what Paul said in Rom.3. Go through the whole Bible. What do you see of the relationship between God and man? What does God think of man? Not very positive nor encouraging, ya?

If we want to know what it takes for us to get revelation, or to hear God, or to know what God wants, I think this is the first thing we must understand. This is quite apart from the fact that God is Holy and He dwells in unapproachable light, and the highest heavens cannot contain Him, and as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways, and His thoughts than our thoughts. While all that is true of God, why doesn’t God reveal Himself more? Well, I think the answer lies in this. When He looks into the heart of man, what does He see? He has done the most unthinkable thing – He has given His Son for us, but what is the response of man? What is the response of even those who claim to worship Him? So to whom does God reveal Himself? Actually God has made it quite plain who He reveals Himself to. We’ll get to that in the next segment in Kingdom 54.

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it

 

Kingdom 52

In all these talks on the Kingdom, I can imagine there might be people listening who are asking. “When will the Kingdom fully come?” So before I go further, let me quickly deal with this question and get it out of the way, as it were. Imagine you are building a house. You hire workers for the job. As the work is going on, instead of working, some of the workers are busy debating with each other as to when the house will be completed, or when the owner will return to complete the job himself. Instead of working, instead of focusing on what needs to be done to complete the work, they spend lots of time speculating, discussing and debating and they get other workers involved in the debate as well. There are so many seminars and conferences nowadays on the end-times. Many people are curious to know when and how it is going to happen. From time to time I have been asked on my views of the end times. When is Jesus going to return? Do you believe in a pre-tribulation, or mid-tribulation or post-tribulation rapture? When will the Kingdom be fully established on earth? What will happen to America? What about Israel? My answer is, I don’t know, and I don’t think we need to know. Jesus told us no one knows when He will return, and He also told His disciples in Acts1:6-7 that it was not for them to know when the Kingdom will be fully restored on earth, or when He would finally return to take His rightful place as King, but instead they should get on with the task He gave them to do – to be His witnesses to all the world.

I believe in the run up to the return of Jesus, many alarming and catastrophic things are going to take place that will have earth shattering consequences. And as Jesus said, people will be perplexed and of course lots of questions will arise .. and guess what .. there will always be so-called prophets who will come along and prophesy this and prophesy that. What did Jesus tell us? Jesus told us not to be deceived. Not to be distracted. I don’t know whether China is going to take over the world, or whether Russia will enter into an alliance with Iran and other Arab nations to attack Israel, or whether the rapture will happen before or after that, and I don’t know about the muslim takeover of Europe. I don’t know when this will happen or when that will happen and which will happen first, and which will happen next. I think the only “when” that we need to be very clear about in our understanding is what Jesus already told us in Matt.11:12. He said that from the time of John the Baptist, God’s Kingdom has been forcefully advancing. What is going to happen in the future is not clear. Perhaps this, or perhaps that. But what is clear is that the coming of God’s kingdom has already begun. It began, Jesus said, from the time of John the Baptist. That’s the “when” of the Kingdom we need to be very clear about. When will it be completed? Jesus told His disciples, it is not for you to know the times and seasons that the Father has set by His authority. Instead, get on with what I’ve given you to do.

That’s what we really need to turn our attention to. This is what the 3rd part of this series of talks on the Kingdom is about. Since we know that God is already in the work of advancing His Kingdom, then we have to focus on what it means for God’s Kingdom to be on earth now before Jesus returns, and how we are to work with God for His Kingdom to advance. Now I’m not saying don’t study the end times, because whatever Daniel, or Jesus, or Paul, or Peter, or John told us about the future, they have told us for a reason. But what I’m saying is this : instead of speculating on when this or that is going to happen, or how it is going to happen, instead of focusing on all that, here’s what I think we should do : Whenever we read anything in the scriptures about the future, and we are watching certain things happening in the world that seem to correspond with what the scriptures has told us, we should ask, so what does God want us to do in this situation? How are we to work with Him in this situation or despite this situation for His kingdom to advance?

So back to the question : what does it mean for God’s Kingdom to be on earth now before Jesus returns and how are we to work with Him for that to happen? The last thing I brought up in Kingdom 51 was that each person needs to hear God calling them to Himself. I’ve already mentioned this before but with the remaining time in this segment I believe God wants me to highlight the need for revelation. Just as each person needs revelation or his mind and understanding remains in darkness, in the same way, in order for us to work with God, the same thing is needed : revelation. In Jn.5:17, Jesus said something astonishing. He said His Father has never stopped working. Many think that God worked 6 days and on the 7th day He rested and since then God has not been doing anything and all He’s been doing is He’s been sitting on His throne and just watching everything that’s going on. But Jesus said His Father has never stopped working. If God has never stopped working, what has He been doing? Where is the evidence of His Kingdom? Ahh, this is where we need eyes to see and ears to hear. Jesus told us the secrets of His Kingdom are hidden from the wise and learned but revealed only to little children. His Kingdom has been around since the time of John the Baptist, but it is hidden from human eyes and human perception and human understanding.

People can build huge cathedrals and all sorts of impressive buildings that they call churches and they fill it with thousands of people, but don’t let that impress you too much. If you were to give an altar call in these so-called churches and ask who will come forward and totally surrender their lives, their careers, and their families to the Lord, and sign over all their bank accounts, their houses, and their cars for the work of the Kingdom, you might not get even one person who would respond. How do I know? Well it’s because I used to speak in churches. Some big churches too. And every time I made such an altar call, not even one person would come forward. That’s not much different from the time of Jesus. Where did He get His disciples from? From the temple and the synagogues? No He didn’t. He worked completely outside of the system. So back to the question : where is the evidence of the Kingdom? Where has God been working? What has He been doing? Answer : we need eyes to see. We need revelation. Without revelation, we can’t see what God has been doing, and we don’t understand how God is working. In short, without revelation, we cannot work with God.

In Matt.16:19, Jesus told Peter that He will give him the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever he binds on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever he releases on earth will be released in heaven. What are these keys of the kingdom? I’ll talk about these keys later, but whatever they are, it is quite obvious that keys are for opening locked doors so that we can have access to what’s inside or they are for putting things away and locking them up, right? So there is a binding or locking up and there is a releasing or unlocking that needs to be done with the keys of the Kingdom. And since Jesus called it the keys of the Kingdom it must surely have something to do with how the Kingdom would advance.

What is pertinent for us to note is that what Jesus said about the keys, is predicated on His earlier statement in verse 17 that it was not flesh and blood, but it was His Father in heaven who had revealed to Peter who Jesus is. Then Jesus said it is on this rock that He will build His church. So what is that rock upon which Jesus will build His church? Roman Catholics think that rock that Jesus spoke of is Peter, but Protestants think that rock is Jesus. I’m sorry but I think both are wrong. Yes there are several references in other parts of Scripture to Jesus being the rock, but we have to understand what Jesus meant there from the context of what He told Peter. Jesus asked His disciples who people said He was. Some said this and some said that. But Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” That’s when Jesus said, “It is not flesh and blood who has revealed this to you but my Father in heaven who has revealed this to you, and on this rock (meaning on this foundation) I will build my church.”

In the early days, whenever they built something, they would use huge rocks as the foundation for their buildings. It’s like what Jesus talked about in Matt.7 when He said those who hear His words and do them, are like those who build their house upon a rock, but those who hear and don’t do, are like those who build their house upon sand. In other words, it is only upon the foundation of revelation that we can understand and we can work with God in what He wants to do. You can have lots of good ideas, and plans, and money, but without revelation, you are lost. In Jn.5:19 Jesus said, ‘The Son can do nothing of His own except what He sees His Father doing. For what the Father does, the Son does also.”  Then He told us in Jn.20:21, “As the Father has sent Me, I send you”. So we are to function in the same way. We must have revelation.

I believe it is on this same understanding that in Eph.2:20-21 Paul told us that God’s household and God’s building is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Why did Paul mention only apostles and prophets? Why not evangelists, pastors and teachers? Doesn’t God use them as well? Of course He does, but what is it about apostles and prophets that make them foundational to God’s building? Well I believe apostles and prophets are what God primarily uses to reveal things and to pioneer any new work. Now I am not saying that God speaks only to apostles and prophets. Obviously I am not saying that. We know in Scripture God speaks to whoever has ears to listen, but the main point I want to make here before we proceed further on how to work with God for His Kingdom to advance, is this  – we need revelation. So the question is this, how can we get revelation from God? That’s something for us to think about. And to ask God about.

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it

Kingdom 51

There are 2 things I need to clarify and underscore from what I said in Kingdom 50. First, please note that the 4 questions approach I shared in Kingdom 50, is only an approach. Not a formula. That actually is more for us to understand the good news clearly in our own minds first before we attempt to share it with others. And before we can share anything, I said this already but let me say it again, we need to discern if the person is listening in the first place.

A long time ago, I read this somewhere, someone said the problem with Christians all over the world is that they are always trying to give answers to questions that people are not asking. If you are not asking a question, the answer someone is trying to give you is quite meaningless, right? I mean imagine if someone comes up to you and tries to teach you how to bake a cake when you never asked for it, and you have no interest at all, nor do you see any reason why you should be interested in that. You might say, but surely salvation and the meaning of life is not the same as baking a cake. Isn’t the meaning of life and the eternal destiny of people the most important thing of all? That’s what we might think, but not everyone thinks that way.

Many people have concluded that there are no answers and no one can be certain. That’s because of, I think, a pervasive skepticism and unbelief nowadays, that has been spread from the West to the rest of the world. As soon as you try to share with anyone, many think you are trying to impose your views on them. I’m not saying don’t share with anyone unless they are seriously seeking. Because perhaps your sharing might start that seeking in them, but the question I think we need to ask is, how can people first of all come to the point of seeking answers to the meaning of life? Something we need to think about. I’ll talk more about this later.

Second point is this, when I said the rich man did not need to be told that he needed to be born again, I do not mean that he does not need to be born again. Everyone needs to be born again. Jesus said that’s the only way to enter into God’s Kingdom. But the fact remains that Jesus did not tell him that he needed to be born again. What he needed to hear was something else. Each person needs to hear only what he needs to hear at any given point in time. Whether people realize it or not, I believe everyone is actually on a spiritual journey of discovering the meaning of life and each person is of course at a different point on their journey. What may be relevant for one may not be relevant for another.

We live in a very diverse world. In one part of the world, in affluent Europe, people are fighting to have the right to euthanasia, or assisted suicide. In another part of the world, people have been pushed by forces beyond their control to end their lives. More than 100,000 farmers in India committed suicide in the last 10 years. Talking to someone contemplating suicide in Europe would be very different thing from trying to talk with a farmer in India who is about to commit suicide. What is necessary and meaningful for one might be totally meaningless for another.

So we need to discern where each person is at on their spiritual journey. If someone is trying to survive and their attention is focused only on trying to get their basic needs of water, food, clothing and shelter met, they will probably not have the time or attention to think about the meaning of life. We must help them with what they need first. It will not do to talk with them about becoming disciples of Jesus until their basic needs are met first. Jesus fed the hungry before He told them that life is more than food. Otherwise how can the good news be good news to them? We would have to be the good news to them first before we can meaningfully share the good news with them.

Some of you have heard me share about the woman who showed up at a church after an earthquake. This happened somewhere in India. I won’t mention where. She showed up asking for some rice for her family. The guy at the church told her that she had to listen to the gospel first. She looked like she had probably walked many miles to this church and she looked like she really needed a drink and some food, but this guy took no notice at all of that. To him, the most important thing was she needed to be saved. Never mind if she and her family had not had any food to eat or water to drink in days. He did not even ask her if her house survived the earthquake or if anyone had died or was injured and needed help. The poor lady was so disgusted and disappointed by that church worker’s response, she walked away in tears. What would she think of Christians and of Jesus after that?

We might say c’mon people should not be so confused in their minds. Christians or the church is not the same thing as Jesus or God. But you know what, not many people can distinguish between the two. And why would anyone be interested in hearing about the God that someone worships if that person comes across as an uncaring religious bigot, right?

On another point, I already mentioned this in Kingdom 49 about how people nowadays are not as simple as they were 30 – 40 years ago. I think many people might need healing or a straightening out of some twisted ideas in their minds first before they can even understand the gospel. I’ve been teaching in many countries. After 23 years of interacting with people from many different cultures and nations, I’ve found that not many people can think clearly. I think like how there are adult literacy programs for people to first learn how to read before there is any point in giving them a tract or Bible portion to read, I think for some people there might be a need to teach them to think first before we can share the gospel with them. Somehow in their growing up they might have missed some vital processes that are necessary for clear thinking.

So many people, including the educated, are so confused in their minds by their culture and their environment and their upbringing, and the biases and prejudices that they have absorbed, that they simply cannot see past the cobwebs in their minds to understand a simple presentation of the gospel. A lot of this I think has to do with their worldview which I shall talk about later.

I recently met 4 neurosurgeons that were trained by the most prestigious Christian Medical Hospital in India. They told me that the West and Christians should have stayed away from India completely. They attributed all the problems in India to the West and to Christians. They said the West and Christians had done nothing for India. This is despite the fact that they themselves had obviously benefited from the medical training they got from that hospital which was set up by Western missionaries. How they could reconcile that self-contradiction is hard to understand, but clearly what they needed was something else before the prejudices in their minds could be removed. Otherwise all that I was trying to communicate to them was being filtered and was being misinterpreted.

It’s not just bias and prejudices in cultural upbringing that affect the minds and understanding of people. There are also deep emotional wounds that affect the minds of people. Many young people today I think are so damaged in their minds and emotions by their exposure to distorted ideas of reality that they cannot even appreciate what love is, or what responsibility or accountability is, or what trust means. In that case, how can we talk to them about an abstract God who loves them or that they are accountable to Him and will be judged by Him, or to put their trust in Him? In other words it is not such a straightforward thing to share the gospel with people. Some people have to go through healing and others might need to go through various stages of having their filters removed first before the truth can be appreciated.

This is true even for people who are in church. Jesus asked people, “Who do you say I am?” Some saw Him as a good teacher. Some saw Him as a prophet. Many today see Him only as the founder of a religion. Nothing more than that. Even in the church, many in the church today see Him as someone who died for them 2000 years ago to save them from hell. And today? Well today He protects us and blesses us. You know what I mean? I could be wrong, but in my estimate I think more than 90% of people in churches today have yet to have a real encounter with Jesus.

Even in the gospels, we see that Peter had 3 encounters with Jesus, before the stark reality of who Jesus is, finally hit him. The first was when his brother Andrew brought him to meet Jesus. The second was when Jesus healed people and cast demons out of people in his mother’s place .. or was it his mother in law’s place in Capernaum? The first two encounters made no impact on him at all, it seems. It was the 3rd encounter, when he caught no fish at all, after a whole night of fishing – you know the story – that’s when he finally gave his life to Jesus. What was it that finally opened the eyes of Peter? Something for us to think about.

Having given you the 4 questions approach, I must share with you how I came to know the Lord. When I first heard the gospel, all that my friend told me about why Jesus died on the cross for me, actually made no sense at all to me. But when he told me that God has been waiting for me for a long time, waiting for me to return to Him, it was like God Himself spoke those very words into my heart at that very moment. Later that night, alone by myself, I got down on my knees and gave my life to the Lord. Not just accept Christ so that I can be saved. In fact I wasn’t even thinking much about hell or that I needed to be saved from anything. In my case I actually heard God calling me to Him and I surrendered my life to Him.

BTW, I was once in a missions conference .. this was many, many years ago, and the speaker asked how many in the audience came to Christ and gave their lives to Christ when they first heard the gospel. There were only 2 hands that went up among more than a thousand people there. One was mine and then there was another guy. We were the exception. Usually people take longer before they come to the place of surrender. But the point is this, at the end of the day, it’s not a question of being convinced in the mind. Every person needs to have an encounter with God and hear Him calling them to Himself.

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it

Kingdom 50

This is a continuation from Kingdom 49 on the question of how we are to share the good news of the Kingdom with people. There are many aspects to what it means for God’s Kingdom come to this world and for us to be part of God’s Kingdom. But at the very outset we must understand this. God’s Kingdom has come to crush and overthrow the kingdom of Satan, and the kingdoms of man, and for this world to be restored to being under God’s rule, or God’s Kingdom. Remember Daniel’s vision in Dan.2? He saw the Kingdom of God as a rock that crushed all other kingdoms and it grew into a huge mountain that filled the whole earth. This is the big difference between the salvation gospel that is usually preached about going to heaven, and the Kingdom gospel that must be preached. This world must be confronted with the Kingdom of God.

God told Jeremiah in Jer.1, that there has to be an uprooting, tearing down, overthrowing and destroying of all that is not of God, before there can be a building and planting of what He will accomplish on the earth. What was that about? Primarily it was about Israel. God was going uproot Israel or Judah rather from the promised land and tear Judah apart. He was going to send the Babylonian army to destroy Judah and take them into exile. But it was not just about Israel or Judah. If we read Jeremiah carefully, we will see it was also about other nations. Basically, about the kingdoms of this world. For God’s kingdom to come, the kingdoms of man have to go. Before the Kingdom of God can be established on earth, all the false foundations upon which people’s lives and everything else this world has been built upon, has to be uprooted. And all that has been built upon these false foundations have to be torn down, overthrown, and destroyed.

I don’t mean the destruction of buildings, businesses, universities, families and lives, although that’s what is going to happen when Jesus returns. Jesus said in Lk.19, if people do not surrender to Him as King now, they will be destroyed when He returns. But before that, all the uprooting, tearing down, overthrowing and destroying that must take place, are in the minds of people, because it is from the minds of people that the whole world is what it is. You heard me say in Kingdom 10 that outside of the garden of Eden, man figured everything out for himself. He figured out what’s work, what’s marriage, what’s sex, and business, and economics, government, money, science, art, religion, and what’s the meaning of life, and what’s the ultimate purpose of life. Everything! All the wrong ideas in the minds of people about life and about everything else.

It is upon these ideas that the kingdoms of man have been built. So all these false ideas need to be uprooted, torn down, overthrown, and destroyed. And they all need to be replaced with God’s truth about all these things – God’s truth for every aspect of life. Since there are so many truths for every aspect of life, and for what it means to be in God’s Kingdom, that we will continue to learn till the rest of our lives, how much can we share each time we want to tell people about the Kingdom? Are there core truths that must be shared each time? Is there an irreducible minimum that must be shared?

I don’t think that would be the right approach. I think what each person needs to hear, or to know, is what is relevant and needed for that person according to his or her situation at that point in time. Each person who encountered Jesus in the gospels encountered a different facet of the Kingdom. Nicodemus needed to know he had to be born again. But not the rich man. The rich man had to give up his kingdom. But Nicodemus did not need to be told that. I think it also depends on how much the person is ready or has the time and attention to listen. Another thing is this, God may use different people to break up the hard ground as it were, another person to water and soften the soil, another one to plant the seed, another one to water the seed, and another one to harvest. But what if we are given the opportunity and the person wants to get the whole of the big picture, and he has lots of time to listen. I mean what if he really wants to know? In that case how are we to present the good news of the Kingdom to him? Where do we start?

Can we go straight into Jn.3:16? Yes I think we can, provided we give the true meaning of Jn.3:16. You’ve heard me share what that is in Kingdom 22. Not what most Christians think it is but what it really means. Jn.3:16 as you have heard me say, is the solution. But what is the problem? In order to understand the solution, we must first understand the problem, otherwise we will misunderstand the solution. But in order to understand the problem, we must go back to the original design. Salvation as we already know, is restoration back to God’s original design. Not an escape plan from this world. The common understanding of salvation as an escape plan from this world, and from hell to go to heaven, does not solve the problem of sin, nor the mess that has resulted. God’s solution for that, is for His Kingdom to be restored on earth. So how are we to share the good news of the coming of God’s Kingdom to this world? There are of course different approaches we can take but the approach I would usually take would be to ask 4 questions :

  1. The world is in a mess? Why?
  2. What was God’s original design? Or why did God create us?
  3. What went wrong?
  4. What is God’s solution? (That’s where we will tell the good news of the Kingdom)

First question, the world is in a mess. Why?

What is the problem? I think the root cause of all the problems in the world is the self-centredness of man. I think almost everyone will agree with that. The Bible calls this the sin nature. We are all self-centred. We love ourselves. We look out for ourselves. We live for ourselves. There is very little care or concern for others. There is very little love in the world. We all know what the world needs is love. If only we would love each other, then the world wouldn’t be in such a mess, right? But we can’t seem to love. Why is that? Why is everyone so self-centred? Did God make us self-centred and put us on this planet to fight each other and sort it out among ourselves? Of course not. So this leads us to the second question :

What was God’s original design? Why did God create us and put us on this planet?

The Bible tells us that God created us to be like Him and that God is love. So if we are like Him, we would love. We would love Him and we would love each other. That’s what we were made for – to love. But the Bible also tells us that that can happen, that we can be like Him, only if we are one with Him. Not separate from Him. We were designed to be one with God and under His rule. Not to operate apart from Him. So this leads to the third question :

What went wrong? How did man become so self-centred?

In the beginning, Adam and Eve was with God and under God’s rule. Like the earth that revolves around the sun and draws energy and life from the sun, man would have life so long as God was their centre and so long as man remained under God’s rule. Being made in the image of God, Adam and Eve was given free will.  But with that fee will, Adam and Eve listened to Satan and chose to be independent of God. Through their choice, they acquired the ability to have their own wisdom to decide things for themselves. God was no longer their centre. They became their own centre. That is how man became self-centred and separated from God.

So at first there was only God’s Kingdom. But when man chose to be independent of God, he in effect left God’s kingdom, and became king of his own kingdom. Another thing is this, because man listened to Satan, he in effect came under Satan’s authority. So the Bible tells us that the whole world is under Satan’s kingdom. And that’s also why the Bible talks about 3 kingdoms – God’s Kingdom, Satan’s kingdom and the kingdoms of this world, or man’s kingdom. That independence and self-rule and self-centredness has passed down to all of us. We are all independent of God and we rule ourselves. This leads to the fourth question :

What is God’s solution? (which is also where we will tell the good news)

God’s solution is to restore us to His original design so that we can be one with Him again, and under His rule. The good news is this. The good news is Jesus came to defeat Satan and set up His Kingdom on earth so that we can be restored to being under God’s rule and back to being one with Him, so that we can love Him and love each other.

For anyone who wants to return to God and be in His Kingdom, 4 things are necessary :

First, our sins must be dealt with. God’s solution and the good news is that Jesus came to be the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world, and this is where we need to talk about the wrath and judgment of God against sin but also His love for sinners. And that’s also where we present Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life, and explain why Jesus had come to die for the sins of man, and why we need God’s forgiveness. Otherwise we continue to be under God’s judgment.

Second, our sin nature must be dealt with because what separates us from God is not only our sins but our sin nature – that self-centred self in us. Man must repent. Unfortunately this is usually not adequately explained or where the truth is actually compromised and people are given an easy gospel. People are told that once their sins are forgiven they are reconciled to God. No, no, no. That’s not true. Unless people surrender to the Lordship of Christ, they are still kings of their own Kingdoms and they are still separated from God.

The good news here is Jesus defeated Satan so that we can be set free to enter into and become part of God’s Kingdom, but the good news comes with the bad news. The person must be confronted with God’s Kingdom. To enter into God’s Kingdom and to be one with God again, he must surrender his kingdom. He must surrender his independence and come back under God’s rule. That’s what it means to repent.

And he also needs to be told what it means to be in God’s Kingdom. We are not only saved from, we are saved to – to be in God’s Kingdom. In the Kingdom, the law that governs us is love – we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbours as ourselves. Practically what this means is we are to live no longer for ourselves but for God and for others. So all our money, possessions, career, business, family, pride, ego, everything must be surrendered to God. All that we have and all that we are, including our skills, is meant to be shared with others, especially those in need. Unless people are told this, they will remain kings of their own kingdoms and still enslaved to Satan’s kingdom.

But who can seriously do that? I can imagine many who are hearing this are saying, “Are you serious? Is that what we are going to tell people right from the beginning?” Of course. Jesus never compromised with the truth. He said unless a man forsake all, he cannot be His disciple. He also said if any man wants to follow Him, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Him. This is where the third thing is necessary.

This is the third thing : total surrender is only possible, if we have God’s Spirit. We can only become one with God and be like God and live in God’s Kingdom, if we have His Spirit. This is where the person needs to receive the Holy Spirit and he has to be told that he has to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. Otherwise he will revert to living for himself. You already know this, in everything between God and man, there are 2 parts : God’s part and man’s part. God will not make man surrender. Every man needs to make the choice for himself if he wants to surrender. If he does surrender to God, God will do His part. God will fill him with His Spirit.

The fourth thing we must explain is this, even though we surrender our independence to God, sin has so infected us that we still have our sin nature with us till the day we die. That means we will have to live a life of continually choosing to live for God and for each other. Not for ourselves. This is where God will use the problems of this world to work on our character so that we can be changed to become like Him.

Finally, if we are in God’s Kingdom, when we die, we will be with God in heaven. If we are not in God’s Kingdom, we will be forever separated from God, in hell.

I think that’s the basic framework. Of course you’ll have to explain things and expand on things here and there, depending on what are the questions that are asked. Before I end, please remember what I shared in Kingdom 49. We are not to just preach the good news of the Kingdom, we must also be His witnesses. I hope this has been helpful.

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it

Kingdom 49

Before I get on with anything else, several people have asked me to address this question first : Now that we know that the good news is the Kingdom, not salvation to go to heaven, how are we to share the good news or the gospel with people? Before I answer this question, I think there are several things I need to say about sharing the gospel :

First let me ask a question : Not everyone responded to Jesus, but think of the people in the Gospels who did : Peter, John, Andrew, the woman caught in adultery, the woman at the well, and others : What was it that brought them to Jesus? Was it because they came into a cognitive understanding of the truth or was it because they came to experience Jesus Who is the Truth?

What we are called to share is Jesus, not just a belief among so many others beliefs that people can choose from. God can use a donkey to speak for Him if He wants to (Num.22:28), but that is not His primary objective. If the Truth is a Person, Jesus Christ, not a concept, or philosophy, or belief, and not just someone who lived 2000 years ago, but He is alive and living in us now, and if we are to be the primary conduit by which people will come to know Him, then we must ask, “What do people see or detect when they look at us?” Acts 4:13 says when they saw the courage of Peter and John and they realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they recognized that these men had been with Jesus. They recognized that these men had been with Jesus. So what do people encounter when they encounter us?

I believe that like Jesus, who is the truth who became flesh, we who are made in the image of God also need to live out the truth in the flesh, so that people may not only hear the truth but sense the force of the truth as it were, in our lives. Peter said to live such godly lives and to be ready to give to everyone an answer for the reason for our hope (1 Pet.3:15). Why would anyone ask us the reason for our hope unless there is something about us that is radically different, that is going against the current of this world? Something about us, that captivates them so that they somehow cannot ignore the message we are sharing with them. Otherwise why should anyone listen to us? So this is the question : What are our lives speaking?

What Jesus called us to do is not only to preach the good news of the Kingdom, but to also be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). What does that mean? The word “witness” in the original Greek is “martus” which means to testify, which is to tell what you have seen or heard or experienced. It’s a word that is commonly used in a court of law. You can only be a witness of something you have seen or heard or experienced. You cannot be a witness of something that someone else told you or something you read on the internet, for example.

For the apostles, they testified of their personal experience of Jesus. They knew Him personally. They saw the miracles of course. They saw Him heal the blind, raise the dead, walk on water, and stop the storm, and come back to life after He was crucified to death. But I don’t think it was so much the miracles they saw that they were witnesses of. It was more their experience of Jesus. They witnessed how He forgave the woman caught in adultery. They witnessed how He loved the poor, the nobodies, and rejects of society. They experienced Jesus washing their feet. They saw how He responded in love to the evil of man.  They experienced how Jesus cooked for them and fed them and was tender towards them even though they had run away from Him. I think that was what was the most important thing they were witnesses of. Their own experience of Jesus.

What about us today? We were not there to witness all that. So what are we witnesses of? I believe we must be witnesses of our personal experience of God – of how real He is in our lives. How He speaks to us and guides us and corrects us. How He is there with us through the struggles and trials in our lives. How He keeps providing for us miraculously for example, as we keep giving to people in need. How He does miracles in our lives. How He delivers us out of impossible situations. How He reveals things to us miraculously that later proved to be exactly what someone else needed to know or to be encouraged at that point in time. In other words we are to be witnesses of the Jesus we personally know. The Jesus who rebukes me, but who also forgives me, despite the sinner I am. Despite my breaking His heart so many times. The Jesus who spoke to me this morning. The now Jesus. Not just share about the Jesus of 2000 years ago that we read in the Bible. In Jn.17:3 Jesus said eternal life is knowing God the Father and knowing Jesus the Son. That is what people need to see and hear – our personal experience of God.

Not all of us have powerful stories of how we were set free from drugs or crime, or anything like that, but if you were set free from pride or fear or shame, that’s what people need to hear. Paul for example would testify of how his keeping of the law gave him no assurance or peace of mind that he was right with God. So what is your experience of God? If for example you are from a well to do background, and you can testify to how you came to realize that the world and all its materialism does not satisfy, but what a joy it is now for you to know the love of God and to share that love with people, especially those in need, that would be something powerful that speaks of the truth operating in your life.

Second point is this. The human psyche or the human mind is a very mysterious thing. There are always early adopters or believers. Then there are late adopters or seekers. Then there are the never adopters who are either indifferent or antagonistic. On top of that there is the deception of the enemy at work which blinds people. Many of us want to convince people that they need to be saved, but you know what? That’s not our job. Jesus told us that people are in darkness and Paul told us that Satan has blinded the minds of people so that they cannot see the truth. For whatever reasons, whether it’s because of a terrible past, some people are so hardened and blind that despite all the love we can show, nothing can penetrate through that hardness and blindness. Anyway whatever the background of the person, the eyes of people have to be opened or they cannot see the truth. But only the Holy Spirit can do that. None of us can. Jesus said no one can come to Him unless God draws them to Him (Jn.6:44). So we need to just do our part, and pray, and leave it to God to do His part.

By the way, we must remember this. It is not what we intend to communicate that counts. It is what they hear and what they see that counts. We need to be aware of how we are coming across. It won’t do if what they are hearing is that they must believe what we believe. I have witnessed several times some very zealous guys trying to win people to Jesus. They were really putting people off but they didn’t realize that. It is a tragedy when people become closed and turned off because they were put off by insensitive Christians.

I was trained as a lawyer and I practiced law for 10 years in the courts, and I think I’m pretty good at arguing, but from a long time ago, I already saw that it is not about how to win an argument or how to convince people. People are not so easily convinced anymore anyway. Thirty or forty years ago, I think people were more simple. Today, it seems that the whole world is infected with cynicism and skepticism. Most people are wondering if there anything really authentic in the world today. So do people see authenticity in our lives?

Third point is this. We can’t give the same message to everyone. We have to be sensitive to who we are talking to, and how the Holy Spirit is leading us to speak to this person that’s in front of us. Two persons came to Jesus with the same question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” – the legal expert in Lk.10 and the rich man in Lk.18, but Jesus did not respond to them in the same way. The legal expert already knew what he had to do, but religious keeping of the law will not give him eternal life. What he needed to know was the true essence or spirit of the law which is love. But for the rich man, the good news was bad news to him – he had to give up what was holding him captive. Basically he had to surrender his kingdom if he wanted to enter into God’s Kingdom. Another thing we can see in the gospels is this. As far as we know, the only person Jesus told that he must be born again is Nicodemus. No one else. So not the same message to everyone.

Talking to a Hindu would of course not be the same thing as talking to an atheist, or a muslim, and talking to a lawyer would not be the same as talking to a college student for example. Even if you are talking only to muslims, remember this, not all muslims are the same. And not all lawyers are the same either. Every person is different. We have to be discerning and sensitive to how the Holy Spirit is leading us. Jesus said “The Son can do nothing of His own except what He sees the Father doing. For what the Father does, the Son does also.” Jn.5:19. Then in Jn.20:21, Jesus said, “As the Father has sent Me, I send you.” That means we are to operate in the same way. Follow His leading. If we are sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, He may reveal something to us of the person we are talking to. Like what the Holy Spirit revealed to Jesus when He was talking with the woman at the well, that will cut through all the discussions and arguments and get to the heart of the matter.

Keeping all this in mind, let’s ask, so what is the good news we are to preach? The good news that we are to preach basically is the coming of God’s Kingdom to earth. Not about going to heaven. The Jews at the time of Jesus knew what it meant when Jesus and the disciples told them the Kingdom was near. Why? Because they had been waiting for the Kingdom. But for most of us who are listening to this, we are not Jews. We are Gentiles. So how are we to frame the good news of the Kingdom? How are we to explain that and call people to respond to that? Think about that before you listen to Kingdom 50.

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it

Kingdom 48

I’m in India. It’s very hard to find any place in India where there is no noise at all, so if you hear any sounds in the background, just don’t mind it. In Kingdom 6, I said if God wants His Kingdom on earth then we have to do 3 things : First we have to wake up to the Kingdom. Second, we have to surrender our kingdoms to Jesus. Third we have to consider what it means for God’s Kingdom to be on earth and work with Him for His Kingdom to advance. I’ve talked about the first two things already – waking up to the Kingdom and surrendering our kingdoms to Jesus. Now I’m going to start on the 3rd thing or the 3rd part of this series of talks on the kingdom. How are we to work with God for His Kingdom to advance?

To give you some idea of what we are going to cover in this 3rd part, here are some questions I am going to address :

First thing, before God’s Kingdom can come into any place, before we can work with God for His Kingdom to advance, we must first be clear what it means for God’s Kingdom to be on earth, right? I’m not talking about the time when Jesus will finally return to establish a new heaven and earth, where heaven and earth becomes one. I’m talking about now before that happens. Jesus said all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him, and therefore we are to go and disciple nations. Paul said Jesus must reign until He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power, and when everything has been subjected to His Lordship, then He will hand the kingdom over to His Father. 1 Cor.15:24-25. So there is a process involved.

God’s Kingdom advances as domains are brought under His Lordship, and we are to work with Him towards that. So we must be clear what that is. What would it look like when the Kingdom comes into any place now before the final return of Jesus? Before we can make a table, we must have a picture in our minds of the table we want to make, right? What would the table look like when it is completed? So what would it look like when God’s Kingdom comes into the life of an individual, or a family, or into a community, or into a business, or a school, or a factory, or into a nation?

Another way to ask the question would be to ask what’s the culture of God’s Kingdom? In Kingdom 4, I said that every kingdom has 3 things – the king, his subjects and the domain of his kingdom. I did not mention it at that time because I wanted to focus on the question of domain, but there is a 4th thing in every kingdom. Every kingdom like every people or nation, has its own culture. The Japanese, the Americans, the Arabs, they all have their own culture. They each have their own unique characteristics that make them Japanese, and Americans, and Arabs. So what is the culture of God’s Kingdom? What kind of people, what are their values, what are their practices, how do they live their lives, how are they in relation to God and to each other? That’s all very important because the advance of God’s Kingdom is actually about communities and nations being transformed by the culture of God’s Kingdom.

Another question we must ask of course is, what is the church? You heard me say in Kingdom 3 that the church is not the Kingdom and the Kingdom is not the church, but they are related. So how are they related? What is the church in relation to the Kingdom? When Jesus talked about the church, He never explained what He meant by “church”. And no one asked Him what He meant by “church”. But imagine if someone had asked Jesus that question, what do you think Jesus would have answered? In other words, what picture or vision did Jesus have of the church? Or what did Jesus expect His disciples to be/do in terms of being the church and acting as the church after He left them?

And what about church planting? Is Church planting Biblical? I mean is that what Jesus called us to do? Jesus talked about His Kingdom coming, and He said He came to drive Satan out. Then He said as the Father has sent me, I send you. So we are to work with Him to drive Satan out – out of communities and nations. Not just plant churches. So what does it mean to work with Jesus to drive Satan out of communities and nations? In other words, how can the Kingdom come into communities and nations?

John tells us the whole world is under the control of the devil and he deceives nations. In what way are people under the control of the devil or how are they in deception? Paul tells us that Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the truth. How are people’s minds blinded? This is where I will go back to the subject of worldview and we will examine the different worldviews that are blinding people. We will see how these worldviews are also influencing and blinding Christians with terrible consequences both in their personal lives and what they understand and practice of church and ministry. Especially when church leaders are blinded by their own native and surrounding culture. So Christians are blinded not only by their salvation from this world worldview but also the worldviews of their native and surrounding cultures.

How can the eyes of people be opened? How can people come to realize they have been looking at life through false worldview spectacles? And we cannot be talking just about individuals. Jesus commanded us to disciple nations. We have to ask how Satan and his principalities and powers can be displaced from ruling over communities and nations. In Matt.12:28, when Jesus said, “If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you”, the “you” He was referring to, He was not talking about driving demons out of a person or out of an individual, but out of a community. So how can we work with Him to drive Satan out and disciple communities with the truth and culture of God’s Kingdom?

There’s lots of teaching already that you can get on spiritual warfare, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time to tell you what you already know, or what you can find elsewhere. But there is something that the Lord has put on my heart to share that perhaps is not being taught elsewhere – not that I know of anyway. Before we can use the Word of God and prayer as the weapons of our warfare, I believe God first wants to change us to become a weapon in His hands. So not just how to use the weapons of warfare that God has given us, but how we must become a weapon in God’s hands.

A closely related question is this – why didn’t Jesus when He came, why didn’t He just destroy Satan and get rid of him? Why come first time and then have a period of time where He leaves us to fight against Satan and to disciple nations, before He comes again? If you have listened to Kingdom 29 and Kingdom 35, I think you would already know the answer to that actually. It has to do with God restoring us to authority to take dominion back from the devil.

Another question we must ask of course is, what are the keys of the Kingdom that Jesus talked about. And what is the rock that Jesus said upon which He will build His church? The keys of the Kingdom are of course key or pivotal to how the Kingdom can come into any place on earth, so we must have a clear understanding of that. And when Jesus talks about building His church, is that the same thing as His kingdom advancing, or is that a separate thing? A closely related subject to that is prayer. There I will be talking about prayer not from our perspective but from God’s perspective.

Earlier when I asked what is the culture of the Kingdom, I’m sure everyone listening to this would already know that amongst other things love is surely the central or most important thing in the culture of the Kingdom. So we need to ask, how are we to love people?

And here’s a question that’s very close to my heart : Why did Jesus say He was anointed to preach the good news to the poor? And why did He say the Kingdom was for the poor? Who are the poor that Jesus referred to? What about the rich? What about the rest of people who are not poor? What about the poor in spirit? What did Jesus mean by the poor in spirit?

If we are to follow Jesus to have the same focus and concern for the poor as He did, how are we to love the poor? Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom” – does that mean it is better they remain poor? Should we also all become poor? Or does loving the poor mean that we need to help them out of poverty? In that case how can we effectively help the poor come out of poverty? Why is it most poor people can’t seem to ever come out of poverty? What is poverty actually? Is poverty related to culture? Why are some nations more progressive while others are struggling to free themselves from poverty? Why are some nations mired in poverty despite many years of external aid?

And what about the offices, schools, universities, restaurants, and different business industries that many of us are working in, that are in very modern urban centres. How can God’s Kingdom penetrate into the modern secular world we are working in?

OK, these are just some of the questions I will be addressing. All these questions are of course related to one another with a lot of overlap between them. As I attempt to share with you what God has put on my heart, I will also at some point address things like the prosperity teaching and what has come to be known as the 7 mountains or 7 spheres teaching.

One thing I must ask you to do if you are not already doing it. Please pray for me. Please pray that God continues to give me revelation and wisdom and show me how to fit things neatly into 5-10 minutes messages. Not easy to do that. And please pray that I share with you only what is from the Lord. Not my ideas, but God’s ideas.

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it.

Kingdom 47

I ended Kingdom 46 with how this present world we are living in with all its problems is really a test and an opportunity to learn to overcome and to learn to love. When we see this bigger picture we will no longer see trouble and suffering and challenges as a bad thing to be avoided. Every challenge, every trial would be seen as an opportunity to learn and be changed to become more like Christ.

Another thing, when salvation is seen as restoration, to be restored to being one with God and to love, then instead of hiding in our church buildings, or detaching ourselves from this world, like what some eastern religions teach, or seeing salvation as escape from this perishing world to go to heaven, instead of that, instead of hiding, detaching or running away, we would get out of the 4 walls of the church to work with God in what He is doing on earth, Amen? Like what Jesus said. He is not taking us out of the world but sending us into the world. We are to be in the world but not off the world. Working with God for His Kingdom to come into every place where the devil has been stealing, killing and destroying. I elaborated on all this from Kingdom 31-35.

This of course turns everything upside down, not just for our individual lives but also for church and ministry. But that’s exactly what Jesus came to do. Jesus came to turn everything upside down because man had turned everything upside down. So when Jesus turns everything upside down, what He’s really doing is He’s turning everything back upright – back to the way it was meant to be. One day when Jesus returns, the big shots, the rich, and the powerful will be cast out. The nobodies and rejects of society will rule with Him. I know I haven’t mentioned this earlier, but I’ll tell you more about this later. So the thing is this – instead of an introverted focus of having a big church, and big this and big that, we would, like Jesus, go to the nobodies, the unlovely, the outcasts, the downtrodden, the rejects, the lonely, and those who are forgotten. That’s what it means to be like Christ. That’s the main thing Jesus came to show us of what His Kingdom is – what I would call the heart and soul of the Kingdom. I’ll elaborate more on this in subsequent clips.

Another upside down thing or paradox is this – true joy and fulfilment comes from loving and giving because the more we give and love, the more we would become like God, which is what we were made to be. But the more we are immersed in ourselves, and accumulate, and hoard and serve ourselves and seek fulfilment for ourselves, the further we will be from finding it. Why? Because the further we will be from what we were created to be.

OK, so now we go back to the question, how can we truly love and be changed to be like God? We have to go to God to receive His love, and be changed to be like Him, so that we can love like He does. But this is the thing, no one will by themselves, of their own accord, go to God to receive His love, or be changed to become like Him. We are not only naturally self-centered, we are naturally very self-sufficient. That is why for God to change us to become like Him, He not only puts His Spirit in us, He allows trouble and suffering to break the self-centered self in us. It is only when we are broken that we will go to Him to be healed and we will learn to receive His love. I talked about all this from Kingdom 36–39.

Then from Kingdom 40–43, I talked about how in fact God designed us such that only He can fulfill our need for unconditional love, for identity, and purpose, or security, self-worth and significance. When people don’t realize it is only God who can fulfill their need, they will strive on their own to get it, and they will crave for it from man. But they will end up frustrated. But when God’s love fills us, we will be healed and delivered from the grip of self. Jesus calls all who are weary and burdened to stop striving on their own but to be yoked to Him instead.

There is something I already mentioned in Kingdom 14 that I need to bring up again. I have been asked this question many times, “When you say that as we work with Jesus to disciple nations that is how Jesus is going to drive Satan out, are you saying that we will succeed in getting the whole world to gradually and eventually be transformed into the Kingdom of God?” Let me make it very clear that that is not what I am saying. The end of the story has already been written. That is not what will happen. The world, as a whole, will reject Jesus. But He still expects us to be salt and light to infiltrate and permeate the world with the truth, and culture, and values of His Kingdom.

Many Christians are looking at the terrible state of things in the world and they are thinking it is an impossible task to do that. I think they are right. As I watch the news every day, it’s like the whole world is getting more and more enveloped in darkness to the extent that whatever we might be doing is not making even a small dent on Satan’s kingdom. But we would be mistaken if we throw up our hands and say, “So why try? It’s impossible!” Or I have heard leaders say, “If Jesus is going to wipe everything out and start all over again when He returns, why work at trying to bring any change to this world?”

I’m sorry but I have to say that that is a wrong way of thinking. Imagine if William Wilberforce, have you heard of him? Imagine if he had sat back and thought it pointless to try and do anything about slavery, because Jesus would someday come and wipe everything out and start all over again anyway, would slavery have been eradicated? And what if Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa and others throughout history that have worked hard and fought for civil liberties, respect for human dignity and clean government, and emancipation of the poor, what if they had all sat back and thought it pointless to try and do anything because God is going to come and destroy everything one day anyway? And what if countless others like Issac Newton and Edison who blessed us with modern inventions and changed life on earth, what if they had thought the same? Can you see how absurd that kind of thinking is?

Many Christians are also thinking the Kingdom is somewhere up there in heaven and one day it will somehow explode into the world with a big bang at the return of Jesus, and He will come and clean up the mess and we will have a brand new earth then. Meanwhile we have nothing to do about the problems of this world. You know the Jews in the time of Jesus were thinking exactly the same thing? Read the parable of the servants in Lk.19. In Lk.19:11 it says, “While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.” See? But Jesus told them that was not how it is going to happen. There is a process involved before the Kingdom will be fully established on the earth. There’s work to be done. There is a task He has given to each of us to do. Woe to those who think .. “Well .. the Kingdom will come when it will come. There is nothing for us to do about that meanwhile.”

When Jesus returns, He is not going to appoint anyone to be in charge of anything unless they have first proven themselves to be productive in what has been entrusted to them. When we read this parable in Lk.19 together with the parable of the talents in Matt.25, we can see that those who neglect to use what God has given them, their natural gifts, their knowledge, skills, money and time for the work of the Kingdom, they will be regarded as having been in insubordination and they will be regarded as His enemies and they will be destroyed together with those who refuse to submit to Jesus as King.

Whether we will succeed in changing anything or anyone, or whatever is going to happen or not happen, is actually quite immaterial. We are called to be salt and light to be agents of change irrespective of whether we will succeed or otherwise. Just like, we are to love, irrespective of whether our love is received or rejected, right? We are simply to be children who reflect who our Father is.

Although this world as a whole will reject Jesus, there are many lives and communities and many areas of darkness that we are to work with God for His truth and life to undo and reverse what the devil has done. Paul told us God can do exceedingly far greater than what we can think or imagine, according to His power that works within us. Eph.3:20. And Jesus said it is God who can make what is impossible, possible. In Zech.4:6, God said, “It is not by might nor by power but by My Spirit”. Only the Spirit can establish God’s Kingdom. Unless God directs, all our cleverness and ideas are flesh. The ways of the world cannot do the work of the Spirit in people. We are to learn from Jesus step by step and moment to moment dependence upon God. Working with Him but resting in Him at the same time.

OK this ends the second part of this series of talks on the Kingdom of God. In Kingdom 48, I will start on the 3rd part, which is, What is the Kingdom and how are we to work with God for His Kingdom to advance?

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it.

Kingdom 46

In Kingdom 45, I ended with this statement : True spirituality is not an invisible private self-focused thing inside a person, or inside the 4 walls of the church, true spirituality is love. The opposite of love is not hatred. The opposite of love is self. To love is to be centred on others, not on ourselves. As with individuals, so also with church. Christians are so focused on church, church, church and church, and the church is so focused on itself that they cannot see the needs of people around them.

Another thing, so long as the church is focused on church, it will never see the Kingdom, and God’s plan to restore His Kingdom on earth. Instead of church growth, we need to look outside of the 4 walls of the church and step out to work with God for His Kingdom to advance. Here’s something I did not share earlier. There was once I asked some leaders at the end of a Kingdom workshop what they got out of the workshop. They said their eyes had been opened. But they asked, “How is it we have been leaders and pastors for so many years, and we’ve all been through seminary, and some of us even teach in seminary, but how is it that we have never seen all this before?” I told them there’s a Chinese proverb that says, “When you are on the mountain, you cannot see the mountain.” They laughed and one of them said, “So all of us were born on the mountain and we never came down that mountain.” The church not only cannot see the Kingdom, the church cannot see what it has become.

Why are we so self-focused and immersed in ourselves? Well as I’ve said in Kingdom 45 it is because of the sin nature in us that makes us naturally and hopelessly self-centered. Jesus confirmed to the legal expert that unless we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our neighbour as ourselves, we would not have eternal life. If we are honest with ourselves, we know we can’t do that. And if we want to make sure that we do what it takes to qualify, like the legal expert, that’s not loving our neighbours. That’s loving ourselves. So we are in a predicament. We cannot love and yet we know what Jesus said. So what is the solution? How can we truly love? I addressed this question from Kingdom 24–28. The solution is not to try and argue ourselves out of what Jesus plainly told us and try and base our salvation on a wrong understanding of Jn.3:16, nor is it to go the other extreme of trying to force ourselves to love. That would really be going back to the law.

The answer is neither to remain in denial nor to try and save ourselves, but to go back to God. Apart from God, we cannot really love. In fact Jesus said it is impossible and it is only God who can make it possible. But that does not mean there is no responsibility at all on our part. In everything between God and man there are 2 parts – God’s part and man’s part. Man cannot do God’s part and God will not do man’s part. In order for us to be truly reconciled to God and be one with God, we have to do our part. We have to yield and surrender our kingdoms to Jesus. And we need to choose to love. Then we need to learn to receive God’s love. That’s where I shared with you Joe Ozawa’s dream.

Receiving God’s love first of all heals us of our own emptiness, frustration, and brokenness that comes from striving on our own. Second, it enables us to love as He loves. When we do that, when we yield and surrender and ask God to fill us with His love, then God will do His part. He will enable and empower us. In Jn.15 Jesus talked about the vine and branches. Branches cannot bear fruit unless they remain attached. Jesus said if we remain in Him, He will remain in us, and we will bear fruit. Jesus also said that we can ask the Father to do it in us, so that we can bear much fruit, and that will be evidence that we are His disciples.

Salvation by grace we will discover is not just receiving God’s forgiveness but includes God fulfilling His own law by living in us and through us. The purpose of being reconciled and reunited with God is not just so that we can escape hell and be forever with God in heaven. The purpose of being reconciled and reunited with God is so that we can be one with God. When we are one with Him, we can be like Him and we can love as He loves. That was what Jesus prayed in Jn. 17. It is going back to original design. Not to become like God independently of God, which was what the devil suggested to Adam and Eve. But to become like Him through being one with Him.

From the beginning to the end, that is God’s one and only agenda. Christ in us the hope of glory. And that is also what glorifies God. Not big church buildings and big meetings, which is just self-aggrandisement, but people who reflect His character. Of all that God created, nothing glorifies Him more than when man who is made to be like Him, actually becomes like Him. Jesus said it is by this that people will know we are His disciples. Not fantastic preaching. Not even miracles. It is when we love each other as He has loved us.

God is love and He created us to be like Him so that we can love – to love Him and love others. But the full potential of becoming like Him and the ability to love cannot happen unless we are first given the power of choice. Love is not something that can be programmed into us. If God could press a button in us to love Him, that wouldn’t be love. Love is not love unless it comes out of a heart that is free to choose. So God gave us choice. That’s where I shared with you the story of my dog Betsy in Kingdom 28. Remember my dog Betsy? Betsy did not become my dog until I let her go and she came back to me. In the same way, God had to let us go to give us the choice whether to return to Him. But choice means little until it is tested. That is why God not only put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden, He put the devil there.

Contrary to what many Christians believe, the Bible is clear that the fall of man into sin, and Jesus’ coming to earth as saviour was not an afterthought rescue plan, but was pre-planned and ordained by God from the very beginning. Paul says that God Himself subjected the whole of creation to frustration in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. Adam and Eve and all of us would have to be tested. One day the perfect will come. Meanwhile the world would be put to the test, as well as given the opportunity to learn to overcome and to learn to love – what would each of us choose?

I did not say this earlier, but Paul told us in 1 Cor.13 that when the perfect comes, everything will be revealed. But before that happens, it is while we are living in the imperfect, and while our knowledge and understanding is partial, that we are tested, and we can also learn to love. When the perfect comes, there is no need any more for faith, or hope, or learning to love.

As you heard me say in Kingdom 35, if we remained in the garden of Eden where everything is perfect we would never grow and mature. We would never learn to love. It is only when we are put into a situation where we are challenged by the limitations of this 3 dimensional physical world we are in, and the limitations of time, and challenged by our own weaknesses and limitations, and challenged with the needs of others .. ha  .. that’s when we are repeatedly faced with a choice whether to love others or to love ourselves, right? Shall we die to self and put others first? Or shall we choose to love ourselves instead, to put ourselves first and save ourselves? I always give this simple illustration whenever I’m teaching in India. It’s lunch time and there’s 20 of us, but only 5 packets of Briyani. Who gets to eat the Briyani and who doesn’t?

That’s why in the present imperfect, there remains faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love. It is when we choose to reach out in love despite being wronged, or despite being falsely accused, or misunderstood, or despised, or when we are in want or suffering lack ourselves, that’s when we unite with God’s desire for us and by His Spirit we are changed to become more like Him.  That’s why God subjected the whole of creation to frustration so that through pain and agony, and through trials and suffering He would purify and refine for Himself those who will look like Him, and walk like Him, and think like Him, and feel like Him and even smell like Him.  They would have learnt to overcome self, and overcome the devil, and overcome the world.  Then they would be ready to reign and rule with Him. Paul says the angels and the whole of creation are waiting in eager expectation to see who in the end will be revealed as the children of God. That’s the “behind the scenes” story I told in Kingdom 29. But, we must remember this. Not trying to become like God apart from Him, but becoming like Him through being one with Him.

I’ll continue in Kingdom 47.

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it.

Kingdom 45

In the previous segment in Kingdom 44, I did a very brief run through from Kingdom 1-43. Just to connect things together in a logical sequence. But I left out many key points. In this segment and the next two segments, I will do an overview of the key points. In Kingdom 44, I said it will take 2 segments, but I found that if its just 2 segments, I would have to leave out some really important things. So it’s going to be three segments, not two. It will basically be the same framework but with more content added to it, plus one or two things I missed out earlier.

From Kingdom 1-10, I talked about how the good news that Jesus and His disciples preached was not salvation to go to heaven, but His Kingdom coming to earth. “Let Your Kingdom come, let Your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven”, tells us that God wants His Kingdom not only in heaven but also on earth. The earth and everything in it belongs to God. The good news is that from the first time Jesus came, God is in the process of restoring everything to what it was meant to be in the beginning.

Man started off in the garden of Eden under God’s rule. He was entrusted with dominion over the earth, but that dominion was lost to the devil when he listened to the devil instead of listening to God. Satan’s lie to Adam was that he could be like God. He could have his own wisdom and be independent of God and rule himself. Satan’s deception worked. As a result, man became independent of God and became his own god. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes. Everyone is king of his own kingdom. And Satan became the prince or ruler of this world.

But here’s the good news. The good news is that God’s Kingdom has come to invade this world. Jesus came to defeat the devil so that we can be restored to being under God’s rule. The apostle Paul said that we have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness to be in God’s kingdom. So yes Jesus did come to save us, but not to save us to take us to heaven. He came to save us from Satan’s kingdom to restore us to be in His kingdom. Restoration, not escape.

If we are in God’s Kingdom which begins for us when we are born again, when we die we will be with the Lord. But the good news that Jesus preached was not heaven. The good news He preached is the Kingdom. God’s Kingdom will of course not be fully established on earth until Jesus returns, but Jesus made it very clear that the process of His Kingdom coming began when He first came because He had come as the King, and we can be a part of His Kingdom now.

If God wants His Kingdom on earth, then we need to do 3 things : 1) We need to wake up to the Kingdom 2) We need to surrender our kingdoms to God 3) We need to work with God for His Kingdom to advance on earth.

Waking up to the Kingdom involves a paradigm shift : from a “salvation from this world” worldview, to a “God’s Kingdom on earth” worldview. I talked about this from Kingdom 7-10. We need to re-orientate our entire understanding and focus. Since God wants His Kingdom on earth, then instead of trying to get more people to heaven, we need to focus on what God wants on earth. Not just church, and definitely not church as we know it, but Kingdom.

For that re-orientation to happen, Jesus told us that we must become like little children again. Back to zero. We need to have all our understanding, all our ideas about money, business, work, success, happiness, and everything else in life that we gained from this world, that were formed apart from God, we need to have all our ideas overhauled. We need to give God a clean slate. Only then can God begin to reveal the knowledge of the secrets of His Kingdom to us without it being mixed with our ideas.

But many Christians have distorted ideas of life and of the Kingdom. So from Kingdom 12–14, I addressed some frequently asked questions about the Kingdom : Didn’t Jesus say the Kingdom of God is within us? Isn’t “Let Your Kingdom come” actually about a future event when Jesus returns? And didn’t Jesus say His kingdom is not of this world? I explained how each of them were wrong ideas as a result of interpreting scripture out of context. And they are all based on a faulty worldview that ignores what Jesus plainly told us – that He had come to drive Satan out and establish His Kingdom on earth. Paul told us Jesus came to reconcile everything in heaven and on earth so that He would be Lord over all. Paul also said that He is in the process, already in the process, of bringing everything under His Lordship after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. In his dream Daniel saw God’s Kingdom as a rock that smashed and crushed all other kingdoms and it grew into a huge mountain that filled the whole earth.

So how is Jesus going to drive Satan out? How is He going to reconcile everything under His Lordship? In other words, how is His Kingdom going to come? Answer : We have to surrender our kingdoms to Jesus and let Him be King, and Jesus has called us to work with Him to disciple nations with the truth, and culture, and values of God’s kingdom. If Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, and therefore we are to go and disciple nations, then discipling nations cannot be just about the discipling of individuals of their private lives, right? And spirituality cannot be just an invisible private thing inside a person, right? All of art, science, business, education, government, family, everything .. everything is to be brought under the Lordship of Christ.

We also need to do what Israel failed to do – to live out the truth, and culture, and values of the Kingdom so that the world can see what it means to be a community of people under God’s Kingdom. Jesus said the Kingdom had been taken away from them and given to others who will bear fruit.

But what happens when Christians and churches are trapped in a “salvation from this world” worldview and a church-centric worldview and they think that God has no concern or plans for this world? Then they will see everything in a dualism – where things like church, Bible study, and prayer are considered spiritual but everything else is considered not spiritual. What happens when spirituality is understood only as an invisible private thing inside a person? The consequences are of course devastating and heart-breaking. From Kingdom 15–19, I shared with you the terrible statistics of poverty in the world and the pathetic response of Christians and churches. I also shared several stories and examples of that.

How did we get it so wrong? How did we miss the Kingdom when Jesus called the good news the good news of the Kingdom but we thought it was only about salvation to go to heaven? How did we become so focused on making sure we are saved and getting to heaven with no concern for poverty and injustice and everything else that is wrong in the world? I dealt with that from Kingdom 20–23.

I think it all began when man became his own god. That not only separated us from God, it made us self-centered. We are so self-centered that we filter everything, including the gospel, and salvation, and spirituality, through our self-centered worldview spectacles. When we do that even spirituality becomes an introverted self-centered focus.

The reason why we have Jn.3:16 is so that we can get back to Gen.1:26. Jesus came to restore us to God’s original purpose why He created us – to be like Him, and to be one with Him, so that we can love as He loves. To love is to be centred on others, not on ourselves. For that to happen we must of course return to God and yield and surrender ourselves .. our self-centred selves to Him. That is really what Jn.3:16 is about, which corresponds with the Lk.10 dialogue between Jesus and the legal expert, and Matt.25 on the sheep and goats, and what John told us – this is how we know we have passed from death to life – when we love.

But most Christians have missed that completely. Instead of seeing the true meaning of Jn.3:16, we are so focused on heaven and making sure we don’t miss the boat, that just like the priest and Levite who passed by on the other side, we completely turn a blind eye to needs around us. True spirituality is not an invisible private self-focused thing inside a person, or inside the 4 walls of the church. True spirituality is love.

I’ll continue in Kingdom 46.

These are transcripts of audio messages so they are better heard than read. If you would like to listen to them, the audio clips can be found here : https://goo.gl/KN4JYL  . It’s a folder on googledrive, so you’ll need to sign in with your google account username and password (or sign up for a google account) to be able to access it.