“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 11:12-15 ESV
Some people interpret this passage of scripture that this is speaking about those coming against the kingdom of God, yet in context, it does not lend itself to that interpretation. In context, this is speaking of John as a messenger of God, preparing the way for Christ, and of the prophets who came before him, who were also God’s messengers.
These men, in the power of God, advanced the kingdom of God forcefully, i.e. persuasively, powerfully, insistently, and urgently, and with much determination, faithfulness, and purpose of heart and mind. And, this is what we should be doing, too, as Christ’s Body, his representatives, and as his messengers in this world.
Yet, that is not to say that the kingdom of God does not suffer violence. It most certainly does. And, it is because the messengers of the Lord, his servants, who are taking the true message of the gospel of our salvation to the people of the world, are being persecuted. And, it is because the gospel of our salvation, itself, is suffering much in the way of people diluting its message and manipulating it to say something else, and in the way of people attacking it as works-based salvation, or as intolerance, hate and/or bigotry.
And, the gospel and its messengers are being attacked, and they are suffering violence and persecution because the kingdom of heaven is forcefully advancing; because the true message of the gospel is going forth via the Lord’s messengers, his servants, who are powerfully and insistently spreading the truth, and who are with great determination and faithfulness exposing the lies for what they are, so that people will reject the lies and so that they hold to the truth, and so that they live the truth and not the lies.
“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”
Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. Matthew 11:16-20 ESV
In today’s world, and in today’s worldly church, too, if you are a person who takes God at his word, and you take your life in him seriously, and if you do live a life which is separate (unlike, different) from the world and unto God in obedience to his commands, then you are likely to be rejected and thought to be odd, crazy, a weirdo, and out of touch with reality.
If you do follow your Lord in obedience, and you do what he says to do, in his Word, and if you do follow him in his ways and in his truth, then even others who profess the name of Christ may reject you for they may think that you need to be more “normal” and more like the people of the world. For, much of the church today is teaching that concept. They are teaching that we need to blend in with the world and immerse ourselves in the culture of our day, and that we need to be more like the world in order to win the world, but to what? To our institutional churches? Yes! To Jesus Christ? No!
We don’t win people to God-given faith in the Jesus of the Bible by being more worldly and by immersing ourselves in our culture. We don’t win them to true salvation from their slavery to sin, either, by just being “nice” and only saying to them what will make them feel good about themselves. Yet, I am not saying we shouldn’t be nice to people in the sense of being loving and kind, but that we shouldn’t compromise the truth of the gospel so that people will like us and so that they won’t persecute us. We need to tell them the truth, for only the truth will set them free!
We need to be willing to be rejected and thought odd or crazy because we do forcefully advance the kingdom of heaven powerfully, insistently and urgently by getting out the true message of our gospel which saves people from their bondage to sin, not just forgives them their sin. We need to be confronting the lies head on, exposing them for what they are, and proclaiming the truth with full determination and faithfulness.
And, we need to tell people that if they walk (in practice) according to (in agreement with) the flesh and the world, that no matter what they profess with their lips or think they believe in their heart, they will die in their sins, not go to heaven. We need to be telling them that the only way to salvation from sin and eternal life with God is through God-given faith in Jesus Christ which dies with him to sin, and which lives with him to his righteousness, and which is evidenced by our walks of faith, not by our professions of faith.
At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:25-29 ESV
The people of this world who are wise in the ways of the world, which includes many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ, just don’t get this at all. They are so convinced that the way to bring people to Christ is via blending in with the world and dancing their dance, that they fail to be the light to the world that God intends for us all to be. They may get people to come to their “churches,” but they are not winning people to genuine God-given faith in Jesus Christ, because they are not telling them the truth.
They can brag of the numbers who have made decisions for Christ and/or who have been baptized in their churches, but so many of these professions of faith in Jesus Christ are beliefs in a man-made gospel which tickles itching ears and which tells them they can believe in Jesus but still live like the world, but that heaven is still guaranteed them and it can’t be taken away.
But, they take scriptures out of context when they teach this, for the scriptures are clear that heaven and eternal life with God are only guaranteed on the basis of our walks of obedience to the Lord; our walks in the fear of the Lord, where we give him honor, respect and obedience. For, this is how genuine faith is revealed by our obedience, by our lifestyles, by our submission to God and to His Word. It is not saying we have to live in sinless perfection, but that we must walk (in practice) in agreement with the Spirit of God if we want to have eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
So, what is God’s yoke that we are to take upon us? It is His Will, His Ways. It is submission to Him as Lord (owner-master) of our lives. It is walks of obedience to His commands. It is surrender of our lives to his sovereignty over our lives and a willingness of heart and mind to go with him wherever he leads us and to do whatever he commands us to do. For, only in surrender to him and in walks of obedience to him will we find rest for our souls.
Too many people, even the cheap grace gospel people, are striving in the flesh to not sin, but they can’t pull it off, because they are still the ones on the throne of their own lives. They are still holding on to the control of their own lives. So, they will try to figure out how to not do certain things but the flesh will rule every time because they are still in the flesh trying to conquer the flesh by the flesh, and that doesn’t work!
If we want victory over our flesh and over sinful practices, we have to surrender our lives fully to God, let go of our flesh, and yield to God’s will and purposes for our lives. We not only need to tell the flesh “NO!” but we have to tell the Spirit of God “YES!” and not just once, but every day, for the rest of our lives, if we want to walk in victory over the flesh, and live holy lives which are pleasing to God, and if we want to be assured salvation from our sin and eternal life with God, too (Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
For Our Nation
An Original Work / September 11, 2012
Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.
Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Men deceiving: we’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.