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Anyone who has listened to Jesus and put His words into practice with due diligence will hear these words of Jesus for themselves:  “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance.”  For anyone who practises the words of Jesus will have been able to do some of the things that Jesus has been doing, if not the greater things… and it is when you are at least doing some of the things Jesus has been doing that you have deeds worth speaking of when Jesus said, “Behold, I am coming soon!  My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”

How would He give that reward?  Firstly, if Jesus said, “…I am coming soon!” that means He is departing from somewhere to arrive somewhere else, and those rewards are for those who are waiting for Him at His destination.  It is not like He said, “Behold, you are coming soon!” that would mean we are departing to go somewhere.  For most humans, if not all, that means departing this Earth via death to Heaven.  The reward of Jesus is with Him and He gives to those when He arrives, not when they arrive… which means there are no rewards for those who die and go to Heaven, for Heaven itself is the reward except for those who are martyred for the sake of Jesus and His Gospel.  Their reward is the first resurrection, to come and reign with Him for the millennium… so that those martyred saints do not get their reward until Jesus arrives as well!

So what deeds will He base His rewards on?  Firstly, to those nations who do not know Him, they will be rewarded according to Matthew 25.34-40… those who have done kind deeds to the least of His brothers will hear these words:  ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’ “   And what kingdom is that?  They will be permitted to live on into the millennium Kingdom of Christ, not as its rulers, but as its citizens and beneficiaries… humans who will form the humanity of the millennium under the rule of the kings and lords of Jesus Christ who have returned with Him.  And those who have ignored the plight of the least of Jesus’ brothers will hear these words from Him:  ” ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ “   And they will be killed to join Satan and his angels in the abyss and its hellfire to await the great white throne judgment.  And who is “…one of the least of these brothers of Mine…”?  He is one of those who “…does the will of My Father in Heaven…” and “…who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”  And which are the words of God that matters most to Jesus that we should practise?  They are those that the Father gave Him, for He fulfilled those that the Father gave Moses, the prophets and the psalmists. 

Those nations that do not know Jesus (so exclude the ‘Christians’), but showed kindness to a disciple of Jesus by deed and not just word, are rewarded to remain for the millennium.  But which nations?  Firstly, understand that nations come from a man and his family in the ways of God… just as Israel came from Jacob and twelve nations came from Ishmael.  So then when the Lord spoke of nations in Matthew 25, He was not referring to nations as men understand, but as to the word of God.  And the judgment will come down to heads of households and households, for from a man God brings forth nations.  Thus a man and his family can be deemed a nation.  So if those who live in ‘Christian’ nations think they are safe… think again, for nations who claim to be ‘Christians’ have done things more pagan than ‘pagan’ nations have.  Just take Germany for example, when the Catholics and Lutherans of Germany permitted the Nazis to take power and turned a blind eye on the holocaust… yet in that episode, we know of individual German households who risked their lives to save some who were earmarked for destruction.  And so those households (nations) who by their deeds showed kindness, mercy and compassion to a brother of Jesus will find themselves the beneficiaries of these words:  “Blessed are the meek (noble), for they will inherit the Earth.”  For they will receive for their children and children’s children a 1000 years of unprecedented peace and prosperity on Earth in the Kingdom of Christ.

Those of the church who remain alive until He arrives… until He comes, will likewise receive their rewards according to their deeds, and in this case, their deeds as determined and judged by the words and commands of Jesus that they have practised and obeyed and not of the Old Covenant words and commands, for a blood drinker and an eater of man’s flesh has nothing to do with the Old Covenant.  The days of distress that will manifest will mean that only those who have practised enough to have enough power to keep themselves and those assigned to them alive will remain to see the Lord’s arrival. 

The rest of the church will receive the answers to their prayers, wishes and desires, for as the Lord has said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  The church that is praying to go to Heaven before the days of distress begins will be taken out of the way, and unless those individuals suffered martyrdom, they will not be part of the first resurrection (John’s words… not mine).  They will be safe in Heaven as they asked for… and that is their reward.  Some will be taken out before the days of distress begin, as it is written:  The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.  Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.  Others will be taken out during the days of distress so that they may experience the distress in order to bring them to repentance, so that they may receive what they have prayed for.  That group will be those who by and large have violated the covenant, the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins.  For the condition that Jesus placed on prayers being answered in Mark 11.24 is not just the need of faith, but as He said, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in Heaven may forgive you your sins.”  Now Jesus said, “…anyone…” meaning everyone whom you may hold anything against… from your enemy to the preacher whose doctrine you do not agree with, or the person from another denomination who does not agree with your practice or liturgy, and so on.  The truth is, scratch the surface and we ‘Christians’ are all guilty of unforgiveness to some degree, and so have violated the covenant.  Thus, those whose prayers are that they die and go to Heaven, yet are not righteous (sanctified) because of unforgiveness, will experience the days of distress as a means of purifying them unto repentance that they may receive the answer to their prayers… die and go to Heaven.  Again, unless they are martyred, they will not return with Jesus to receive their rewards.

Those who are left alive until the coming of the Lord will not rise first, but the dead in Christ will rise first, especially the two witnesses whose bodies have been left on the streets of Jerusalem, and then those who are left alive will rise to meet with the Lord in the clouds as witnesses who can testify to the truth of John 11.26 – “…and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die” – but as Paul said… will be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and together with those witnesses of John 11.25 who belong to the first resurrection, they will receive their reward from the Lord when He arrives.

So the deeds that He will know a church by are the deeds of their practice of His words, and the hard work for which such a church is known by are the works of keeping His word… for indeed, it takes much labour to hold onto the teachings of Christ when all around you, others in the church are flocking to the judgments of James, the teachings and practices of the Nicolaitans and Balaamites, and the prophecies of the Jezebelians.  It is work to persist in preaching the Gospel the way Jesus preached it and have it testified with signs and wonders, and it is work trying to make disciples one at a time with meticulous accuracy and conformity to the way Jesus made disciples… and the absolute refusal to deviate from this narrow path despite failures and opposition is the perseverance Jesus knows.

As such, if any Galilean congregation wants to be known for their deeds, hard work and perseverance by Jesus… then those deeds, work and perseverance are defined by the deeds of Jesus reenacted with all effort and patient endurance.  It is only after a fellowship has qualified for these words of Jesus that it can go forward into His seven letters and understand what is written from Jesus’ perspective.  For unless you have done deeds that are the things that Jesus has been doing – opened blind eyes, caused the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, lepers cleansed, driven out demons, healed the sick – outlived situations that prove Jesus’ words to be true – drunk poison and picked up serpents but were not harmed – and worked at preaching the Gospel as He preached it… “Repent and believe…” and made disciples as He made them… with great perseverance (against all failures, impossibilities and opposition from within and without)… you would not begin to understand what His next sentence really meant… “I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men…”

The common understanding of “…cannot tolerate wicked men…” is intolerance of those who are sinners… intolerance shown by forcing them to repent by force, and if they refuse, expelling them and even killing them.  Intolerance shown by calling down curses on them… even fire from Heaven like James and John wanted to… after all, they oppose Jesus… they must be wicked.  That is our understanding of intolerance… eradication by expulsion and suppression, even by the use of governmental laws and regulations.

The practice of Matthew 18.17 separates those who have succeeded in the deeds of Jesus and those who believe in the deeds of Jesus.  Here is an example of what Jesus meant by ‘tolerate’ and ‘not tolerate’:  In Matthew 18.15-17, as part of His answer to disciples who wanted to know, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault… and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”  Now the common practice or treating a person who refuses to listen to the church as “you would a pagan or a tax collector” is to treat such a person as we would, for Jesus said, “…as you would…”  So how would you treat tax collectors or pagans?  Many would say to expel them, excommunicate them, and indeed, many have not just said that but actually tortured, killed and burnt them as history shows us.  Even now in this ‘civilised’ age, sinners within our ranks are quickly expelled and disfellowshipped… moved on and indeed, as ‘schisms’ arise, churches are split as those with dissenting ideas are told to pack up and leave… and those who remain are instructed to have nothing to do with them.  Parting blessings like, “You will all burn in Hell,” are the common exchanges recorded in Heaven’s books at such affairs. 

However, if you have been successful in your practice of the words of Jesus and you have really watched and listened to Him, you would have realised that your Lord and Master has a reputation of being “…a Friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners,’ “ which leaves you the option of treating the offending person as a tax collector or pagan as you would or as the Lord would.  And how would you treat such a ‘brother’ who has refused your entreaties and even the church’s as outlined by Jesus in Matthew 18.15-17… instead of kicking him out, disfellowshipping him, excommunicating him, torturing him or killing him?  How about treating him as you would a tax collector or a pagan who just walked into your church?  How about greeting him as you would a stranger or a new enquirer as one who needs salvation?  For indeed, a brother who has sinned and refuses to listen to your entreaties of repentance needs salvation all over again.  And how about with all love preaching to him all over again the Gospel of Jesus?  For it is not how that brother responds… but rather, how you behave.  Yes, you are at liberty to treat him as you would… but it is better if you treat him as Jesus would… for then you have indeed showed love in keeping no record of wrongs when you greet him and treat him as a tax collector who needs to hear the Gospel all over again to be saved.

Examine this suggestion of how to treat a brother who sins and refuses to repent in the light of the historical treatment by the churches raised on the liturgy of the apostles.  How many lives of those who were burnt and killed for ‘heresy’ would have been spared?

But then when you have no miraculous power, you can only react in fear and threats like any men and use the powers of the world to threaten, murder and kill in the Lord’s Name.  With miraculous power and the true counsel of the Holy Spirit, you will know that treating the brother who sinned and yet refuses to repent as the Lord treated a tax collector is the best way to bring him back into the flock… humbled, but loved.

However, if you need to ask the question, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” it means that within your heart you harbour ambitions of greatness, then there is always a danger that when the Lord gives you the liberty to “…treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector” that you would treat your brother who sinned and does not repent as pagans and tax collectors treat pagans and tax collectors and expel him from your fellowship just to show your greatness.  But great in whose eyes?  In the eyes of the law that demands an eye for an eye or in the eyes of your Lord who commanded you, “Love your enemies…” and who is known as a Friend of tax collectors and sinners?

Now what sort of man or woman would the One who commands that we love our enemies and not resist an evil person, and who is a Friend of tax collectors and sinners, choose for His apostles?  If you have deeds, hard work and perseverance worth knowing in the eyes of the Lord, then you will see what “…cannot tolerate wicked men…” means.  And your intolerance of the forsaking of God will manifest as overflowing love to them with a display of love by deed, hard work and perseverance through prayer and action, whereby the unceasing preaching and teaching of the words of Jesus to such men would lead them to repentance that puts to death once and for all all manners of wickedness, whilst leaving them alive and free to follow the Lord themselves.

The intolerance then is not shown as expulsion of the person, but rather, an expulsion of their beliefs, their actions and their way of life using the power of God in love to confound them at every turn so that they can no longer deny that God loves them so much that He has sent His one and only begotten Son to save them.  The intolerance then is a razor sharp mix of tolerance and absolute refusal to accept their teachings, behaviour or thinking into your personal life whilst leaving such persons alive to live in your presence that they may see, hear and learn what you know of the Lord.  It is an intolerance to allow anything to be admitted into the church that compromises the church, yet allowing everything else to remain as long as it remains outside.  It is being the light that the darkness cannot overcome, the rock that the waves cannot wash away… it is church, but not as anyone has ever known it.

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