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“What is in man that he would not believe God?”  That was a question a homeless old man once asked me at the end of one of our Sunday services almost 10 years ago.  This old man used to stand by a highway pointing up to the sky in order to tell people to look up for Christ is coming.  That was his contribution to the sharing of the Gospel.  And whatever you think of his method, at least he contributed.  His name was John, but I never caught his last name.  The last time I saw him was by the roadside.  John standing there in rags with a beard that made him look like a biblical figure, pointing up to Heaven to all the cars passing by.  A week later, I heard he had died.  But his question has always been with me.  “What is in man that he would not believe God?”  From Adam to now, there is something in our nature that causes us not to believe.  Many call it the sin nature… but the unbelief was there before sin was… that was why sin came… because we did not believe.  It is not the other way around.  We did not not believe because we sinned.  No, we sinned because we did not believe.

So even though Jesus has come and gone, and by His sacrifice has dealt with sin once for all… the mystery of lawlessness and unbelief remains.  So it should be no surprise that even those whom the Lord Himself served the bread and the cup to would not believe on resurrection morning that He had risen and that they were to go to Galilee to meet Him.  Hence, what we are to confront first is not sin, it is not Satan, it is not other men who do not believe… but it is the unbelief within us.  The unbelief that was in Adam that led him to sin; the unbelief that was in the eleven that even three years of personal discipleship by the Master Himself could not erase; the unbelief that no miracle, no words of wisdom or persuasion, and no threat of punishment can erase.  For the miracles, the messages and the threats never erased the unbelief from Adam and the eleven, so that when it came to the church, they still did not believe what they were told and still did what they wanted… and you can throw in the millions of Israelites who were set free from Egypt.  So then it is not anyone else who is our problem, but we ourselves are the problem through the unbelief within us… others like Satan just simply exploit it, but they are not the cause of it.

If we can overcome this unbelief intrinsic to our being… then we will be in the position to undo the mistakes of our forefathers whose unbelief caused them not to go to Galilee, not to go into Canaan and not to stay away from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and its fruit of death.

Another man once penned these words:  When I consider Your Heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him?  Indeed, what is man that God is mindful of him when you cast him against the background of God’s magnificent creation?  The answer is simple and straightforward, and it was there in the very beginning when God said, “Let Us make man in Our Image, in Our Likeness, and let them rule…”  But do we really believe that?  You see, the core of the problem of our unbelief, which itself is the source of all our ability to sin and to keep on sinning, is that we do not see ourselves as the image of God, the very likeness of God… destined by God to rule.  And we do not see that we do not see the PRIVILEGEthe absolute privilege of being the only member of all of God’s creation that is made in His Image and in His Likeness to rule.  Satan appreciated that far more than Adam or Eve did, and so he had to come to bring us down and we assisted him with our unbelief… as we still do to this day.

For sin is disobedience of God’s commands, which comes from unbelief of God in the first place.  So when Adam did not believe what God said the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil would do… he sinned and we were cast out of Eden.  When Israel did not believe God would give them Canaan despite the land being inhabited by giants, they sinned and were kept out of Canaan.  When the eleven did not believe the angels’ and Jesus’ messages through the women, they sinned and were kept out of God’s plans for the Kingdom of God that would come through the church; the kingdom that is not just of eating, drinking or talk, but of power, joy, peace and righteousness in the Holy Spirit.  Some would say the current Christian church is the Kingdom of God.  All one has to do is see if the present church since its inception from Jerusalem has been a source of constant miraculous power, joy, peace and righteousness in the Holy Spirit.  Any history book on the Christian church will show you it has never been a source of constant miraculous power, joy, peace or righteousness, but more often than not, a source of injustice, cruelty, war, mourning and constant oppression through its military, intellectual and financial power.  Even for the persecuted and suffering church… which in itself testifies to the lack of constant miraculous power that would allow one to say that the Kingdom of God is in them.  For if the power was there, they would be able to practise the words of Jesus to “Settle matters quickly with your adversary…”  The best way to settle any matter with your adversary is a simple display of the miraculous power of God unless it is a matter where God has commanded you to withhold your power… like Jesus had to withhold His power so that He would suffer on that Roman cross as the Son of Man.

Having the unbelief on its own is not a sin either… for if the unbelief was in Adam before he was tempted… then that unbelief in men may well have been the intrinsic makeup as the image of God.  Rather, it is the application of the unbelief that is the problem.  For, just as I have taught that God placed in all men the gift of faith, the ability to believe that they may be saved, so also He has put in them the ability not to believe that they might be kept safe… except we have misapplied them.

You see… the faith was given so that we might believe the One who made us, and the unbelief was there so that we might not believe the stranger.  The first face Adam saw was God, the first voice he heard was God’s and anyone else after that was a complete stranger… even Eve.  Yet he chose to believe Eve rather than God, and in believing Eve… Adam believed Satan.  Israel likewise chose to believe that Egypt who enslaved them would be like their Eve if they returned, and chose to disbelieve God who set them free through Moses.  The eleven chose to disbelieve the women’s message that confirmed Jesus’ words… and in their case… only God knows what or whom they believed instead, for it is not written what was their reason for not going to Galilee.  There is no reason given as to why they did not go to Galilee because no reason mattered.  There is no excuse, no reason, that can matter… anyone who was in their privileged position should have gone.  Likewise for Israel… any nation set free from their slave masters by God and spoken to directly by God should have entered Canaan, and any creature who is made in the Image and Likeness of his Creator likewise should have listened.  So there is no excuse… no reason, hence every man is proved a liar and God be true in all things, because not only faith has been given for us to live, but unbelief was given to keep us true to God who loves us.  Except we used faith to die and unbelief to estrange us from the One who loves us.  So for the eleven… their unbelief kept them from the One who so loved them that He died for them, and their faith that they would die too ensured everyone of them did.

The unbelief and the faith were given to us when God first made us so that we would appreciate, acknowledge and safeguard the privilege, the absolute privilege, that we are made in the Likeness and Image of God to rule… that Israel is a nation set aside for God from all the other nations, and the disciples are called and chosen by God to be the body of Christ from which the Kingdom of God would come.  Instead, the faith was used to chase after the lies of strangers… Satan’s, Moab’s and Judeazers’, and the unbelief was used to estrange us from the garden of Eden, the land of Canaan and the full revelation of the Kingdom of God on Earth.

It is only the realisation of the magnitude of this privilege accorded to man and his sons that will allow both the problem of unbelief and faith to be solved.  It is not using faith to solve unbelief… no.  If faith could solve unbelief, that faith now would be sufficient and no knowledge of God would be needed for eternal life.  Rather, it is the ability to once more see that faith and unbelief are the two ends of a paradox that is brought by God who brings death and life, light and darkness, prosperity and disasters… who exists as the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End… who holds all things together by His powerful word.

The privilege that he is the creation who is in the Image and Likeness who is to rule, that Israel is the nation set apart, and disciples are the ones called and chosen to be the members of His body… it is this acknowledgement of one’s absolute privilege that allows us to overcome our unbelief and faith, even the faith of the world.

If Adam had appreciated the privilege of his position that God would bring animals for him to name… he would not have believed Eve, but believed God’s command.  If Israel appreciated the miracle of her release without a war or rebellion causing death of her own kin, they would never have brought the gods of Egypt with them… even if they were made of gold.  If the eleven appreciated their places as apostles, chosen and appointed by God… if Peter, John and James appreciated the privilege of seeing Moses and Elijah speaking to Jesus, seeing Jesus transfigured and hearing the voice of the Father… they would not have needed the message from the angels or Jesus through Mary at all… for Jesus had clearly said, “But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee,” before He died.  For Peter, his denial of Christ three times before the rooster crowed should have been the signal for him to go to Galilee already, for Jesus had said to him, “I tell you the truth, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown Me three times,” straight after Jesus had said, “But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”  And he could have gathered the others… for the death of Jesus on the cross and His burial should have been the signal for Peter to go to Galilee.

If they had believed Jesus by Mark 14 and Matthew 26, and if by then you still have not… then there is something wrong… you would have, could have, gone to Galilee to the shore, to the mountain, anywhere in Galilee, to await Him and to look for Him if by the third day He had not come to meet you.  And… there was the privilege to preempt Jesus’ words… so that before He had arisen, they were there already waiting for Him.  Imagine the eleven being restrained by angels for three days so that Jesus could go ahead of them… in order for His words to come to pass.  Imagine they were arrested by the Sanhedrin as they headed to Galilee in order that Jesus’ words would not be proved false, and on resurrection morning, the angels came to the jails to set them free, as an angel set Peter free in Acts 12.7… imagine.

So then, it is our turn… our turn to appreciate the absolute privilege of being the elect of the Holy Spirit, the privilege of being partakers of these last days with the Holy Spirit as He puts the finishing touches to the world stage in preparation for the arrival of Jesus.  It is our turn to see and acknowledge our unbelief and our faith and our propensity to misuse them… how we choose not to believe God even when we have seen the blind see, the lame walk, even when we were one of those who were lame… even when we have been led on a journey of following the word of the Lord until all mystery is revealed.  The privilege given to us to believe and have faith in the words of He who is the Truth and who has filled our lives with love, and the privilege to disbelieve all who are strangers to His command to listen to Jesus.

Now like Adam should have… consider why you were first in the garden.  Consider God who made you, taught you and gave you Eve… and the command He gave you.  Why would you believe Eve and not God?  Why would you keep faith with Eve and not God?

Now like Aaron should have… consider why you would need a new god when the God of Moses is still present on the mountain talking with Moses.  Why would you believe the people and keep faith with them, and not believe God and keep faith with Him?

Now like Peter should have… after you have denied Him three times just like He said, what is there left to do?  Either join Judas or go to Galilee; that is what.  And if He said, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.  And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers,” before He told you that you would deny Him, then why not go?  Go get the brothers and go to Galilee before He is risen, go before He is even buried, go before the third day, go on the third day and do not worry about the tomb… He has never lied to you before… His words have never been proved false before… so why should He start now?  Go, Peter, go!

So consider what you were before the Lord elected you… unbelievers, sinners, trapped in the religiosities of Christianity… sick, oppressed, down trodden, lost, empty, dying… and where you are now today and what you have seen, heard and come to know… now today.  Consider the privilege.

Would God rebuke Adam for not listening to Eve but chose rather to wait on God that perhaps God told Eve it was alright to eat?  Would God rebuke Israel if they had gone into Canaan even though the giants were there, because they presumed God who delivered them from Egypt with such a mighty hand would also do likewise to the giants and the Canaanites?  Would God rebuke Peter if he gathered all the eleven and went to Galilee as soon as the rooster crowed three times so that not one of the eleven was there to witness His suffering?  Would the knowledge that all eleven had already gone to Galilee to wait for Him add to Jesus’ suffering on that cross?  And that His words, “But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee,” were proved false because they had gone ahead of Him into Galilee to wait for Him?  Would that have distressed the Lord?  Now let your “Yes” be “Yes” and your “No” be “No.” 

If your answers are “Yes,” then come no further, but stay where you are and rest.  If your answers are “No” each and every time… then it is time to join with the only patriarch of the faith to whom and with whom it has never been recorded that God ever spoke to… Joseph, son of Jacob.  Joseph was never spoken to by God because he was already doing exactly what God would have wanted him to do, to prepare Egypt to receive Israel.  Even though the Holy Spirit speaks to us continuously… do not be at all surprised that one day He will stop speaking, and like Joseph we hear nothing.  But like Joseph, as long as we are doing what we know to do, no matter where and what the situation is, then the end that has been promised will still come.

That is your privilege now… if you appreciate it, then your unbelief and your faith will help you.  If you do not appreciate what an absolute privilege it is to be partakers of the Holy Spirit to manifest the plans of God to bring His Christ to reign on Earth… then your unbelief will cause your faith to die, and your love will grow cold as the wickedness (the forsaking of God) increases around you.  You see, when all around people are cursing God for these days of distress and the Christians are clamouring for the rapture to deliver them… will you be able to take your stand and uphold your privilege, your birthright… for truly for this you were born?  As Adam was formed, Israel was delivered and the eleven were chosen… so each and every elect was born for a time such as this.

When the Holy Spirit is no longer keeping silent, but revealing all that needs to be revealed so that none are righteous by their works, but all can repent… when every sin is revealed so that indeed the church, the body of Christ, is washed clean… when all who cause sin will be weeded out… when all who use their unbelief to doubt God and their faith to listen to strangers… for such a time you were born, called, chosen and elected to display what God truly had in mind for Jesus’ disciples with the manifestation of the full power of the Kingdom of God to participate in the resurrection of what God had for Israel when His King sits on Israel’s throne, and to finally rule with Him in New Jerusalem as all that God ever intended for Himself through Adam is revealed on New Earth and New Jerusalem.

So then, the true privilege is the privilege to believe God… a belief that is founded on love that always trusts Him so that even if we find ourselves in the Lake of Burning Sulphur, we know that is the best place for us in God.  The privilege to find hope in God when all things are impossibly hopeless is what we are elected for, and it is the only life worthy of those who have been beheaded for their faith and who have been shown far less than we.

It is then our absolute privilege to believe God when He said, “Listen to Him!”  It is our absolute privilege to so listen to Jesus and practise His words that the Holy Spirit would do to us all that Jesus told Him to do, and it is our absolute privilege that through nothing we have of our own that He has set us apart for the work He has… to prepare for the imminent arrival of the Son of Man.  It is the absolute privilege of running ahead with the Holy Spirit to Galilee!  Amen

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