9 October 2010
When Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of the first of three Passovers that would happen through His two years of ministry in public, He was visited by Nicodemus one night, as it is written in John 3.1. In reply to Nicodemus’ statement, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.” [John 3.3] And when Nicodemus did not understand that statement, Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” [John 3.5] The first two times that Jesus used His signature statement, “I tell you the truth…” were in His revelation of the Kingdom of God to Nicodemus.
Nicodemus who had come to seek Him out because, as he said, “Rabbi, we know You are a Teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs You are doing if God were not with him.” [John 3.2] For even at the first visit, Jesus was performing miraculous signs [John 2.23] and He was doing things that the pharisees were not able to do.
Now, even as Nicodemus was pointing out to Jesus that they knew He was from God, see that Jesus was not interested in replying to that remark, but began to speak to Nicodemus about the Kingdom of God immediately. To an elder of Judaism, a citizen of Israel, which was chosen out of all the nations of the world to be God’s peculiar treasure, [Exodus 19.5 KJV] Jesus made no reference to Israel’s restoration, but immediately, immediately introduced the Kingdom of God and the requirements of seeing and entering it… a subject matter that even a pharisee like Nicodemus did not understand.
The Kingdom of God, not the church, was what Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about, and in the last three occasions after His resurrection, again that was what He spoke to the disciples about… the disciples who would later come to be known as the ‘church’. Remember that Nicodemus himself became a disciple and therefore a member of the church.
Now see if you can see this: The church is mentioned three times only in the entire testimony – Matthew 16.18 and 18.17 – whereas the Kingdom of God is mentioned first and last… a total of more than 30 times (40 plus in four gospels).
So what do you think Jesus came to establish after He saved the world and revealed the Father to the disciples?
Anyone who thinks that Jesus came to establish the church for the church’s sake has about as much sight as Bartimaeus before he called out to the Lord. [Mark 10.46] And that is the problem… we preach that Jesus came to save the world, and some of us listen to Him enough to realise that He also came to reveal the Father to the disciples… but how many realise He raised up, made, disciples, that is, the church, so that the Kingdom of God would be established on Earth through them? The kingdom of miraculous power that can heal all the sick, drive out demons, multiply the food, change water to good wine, raise the dead and control the weather so that this world would experience the peace established by the Kingdom of God and the joy of living in a world made righteous in God’s eyes, where the talk is of the ways of God and where the eating and drinking come through the abundance of the provision of God. A kingdom that would be established first in Israel and then be taken to the ends of the world as disciples went and preached the good news of the kingdom… not the good news of the salvation or the good news of the Father… for it is when the good news of the kingdom, as Jesus said, is finished in its preaching as a testimony that the end will come. [Matthew 24.14]
As such, every disciple is made for one purpose only – to establish the Kingdom of God through his or her testimony and a demonstration of the power of God with signs, wonders and miracles doing what Jesus has been doing until the whole world has heard and seen the good news of the Kingdom of God. So that when this world and its kingdoms are brought to an end, everyone will have been shown, that is, they will have seen and not only heard the superior advantages of the Kingdom of God for the human race. Since that is the purpose a disciple is made for, then any disciple who does not devote himself to this end is like a tree that fails to bear fruit… it will be cut down.
As for those who remain believers but are not chosen for discipleship, there is no work for them beyond the reality that salvation has come to them through faith by God’s grace so that they may enter the Kingdom of Heaven if they humble themselves and change and become like little children. The kingdom that is already established in Heaven and not the kingdom that is to be established on Earth. That is why for those who are of the Kingdom of Heaven, they will go to Heaven and there await the resurrection of the dead. But those who have the unfinished work of the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth will remain until it is finished so that it is ready to greet Christ and His martyred saints on their return as they raise the Kingdom of Christ here on Earth from the Kingdom of God.
Because of these three truths Jesus told us, His disciples, including Nicodemus, that “…no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again,” “…no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit,” and “…receive the Kingdom of God like a little child…” [Mark 10.15] few, very few have ever seen the Kingdom of God, much less entered it.
Indeed, the reason the world cannot accept the Kingdom of God is because of the work, or rather, the lack of work of the fellowship of the disciples, or rather, the lack of disciples’ fellowships.
What do you see, elect, when you look at the church? A group of disciples testifying to the good news of the Kingdom of God and confirming their testimony with the power of miraculous signs, wonders and miracles? Or do you see something else?
Consider this… what would an owner of a vineyard do to his vineyard if all he saw were fig trees that bore no fruit? Fig trees were not what he planted in the first place, and if they are taking up the ground and bearing no fruit, little wonder that he would remove all of them. Have you noticed that in the parable of the fig tree, the fig tree was planted in a vineyard? [Luke 13.6-9] That fig tree was in a place not intended for it… but by mercy of the caretaker, it was given a reprieve to bear fruit.
So likewise, by the mercy of the Caretaker – the Holy Spirit – the fig trees of the Lord’s vineyard will be given a reprieve… one year, as the parable goes, to bear fruit… the fruit that is appropriate for the Kingdom of Heaven, which is repentance, for the Lord preached after His hometown rejected Him and the gospel of the Kingdom of God, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” [Matthew 4.17] The Kingdom of Heaven has no gospel that people should believe in… but rather, just a call to repentance. For those who belong to the Kingdom of Heaven, there is only the baptism of water for the repentance of sins. There is no baptism of the Holy Spirit for the new birth to enter the Kingdom of God.
So it is when your eyes are opened to see the true purpose of the fellowship of disciples that you will be at peace with God’s way as the distress increases upon the Earth and you see the harvesters go through the Kingdom of Heaven removing first the tares and then the wheat… removing first the sons of the devil, that is, those who do not have in mind the things of God and therefore cause sin (disobedience) through their words and leadership (examples), and then those who are the sons of the Kingdom of Heaven, that is, those who have in mind the things of God but do not do it.
You see, even though Judas Iscariot was chosen as a devil amongst the twelve, chosen to betray Jesus, he was, in truth, the only one of the twelve who fulfilled what he was chosen for. Peter whom the Lord called, “Satan,” [Matthew 16.23; Mark 8.33] for rebuking Him when Jesus told them of His impending death in Jerusalem, was the one who denied being His disciple, denied being a Galilean, and finally denied knowing Jesus… who then led the other six to Galilee to fish when Jesus had told them to wait in the city for the Holy Spirit, and whom even Paul would rebuke for hypocrisy. [Galatians 2.11] He was responsible for more things that went against the perfect plan of God than Judas Iscariot. Judas did what he was chosen for – betray Jesus. As for Peter… he tried to appease the Judeaziers of James the Younger instead of establishing the Kingdom of God according to the words of Jesus where blood is drunk, forbidden flesh is eaten and all foods, even those sacrificed to idols, are clean and can be eaten… as well as where the blind see and the lame walk. Yes, where the blind are given sight back so that according to the words of Jesus, they would be able to commit adultery, for Jesus defined adultery as, “…anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” [Matthew 5.28]
So then what do you see when you look at the church, elect? A vineyard filled with fruitful vines… or a vineyard with fig trees that bear no fruit? More importantly, what does the Holy Spirit see? And who will stand up and collaborate His testimony concerning those who call themselves the fellowships of the disciples of Jesus Christ? If the church has not made disciples, where then are there any fellowships of disciples? What would the Owner of the vineyard do when He finds His vineyard overrun by fruitless fig trees?
“Let those who have eyes to see, see what the Spirit is showing you.”
NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION [NIV]
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com
KING JAMES VERSION [KJV]
Scripture quotations marked “KJV™” are taken from the King James Version.