Thursday, January 08, 2015

Teachings of Jesus - Part III

You have heard…but I say unto you.”

II Tim.2: 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Jesus often presented His teachings as absolute and as being the definitive truth even when compared with Old Testament teachings. And here we must be completely honest and refuse to hold onto certain doctrinal mores and admit that the teachings of Jesus seem to supersede and even add elements of correction to the Old Covenant teachings. That does not diminish the Old Covenant revelations, however it does mean that all truth and all revelations of God must be exclusively derived from the New Testament. There can be no mixture and without the Spirit there are some incongruencies as the natural man understands them.
So how can we reconcile certain teachings in the Old Testament and when Jesus says “But I say unto you…”? The answer is we don’t. That is not our calling and like many other things it falls under the heading of faith. The Old Testament’s place in the church age is to provide a looking glass into Christ and His redemption. It is disingenuous and even dangerous to cull out certain Old Testament teachings and force feed them into the Covenant of the Spirit. Is the Old Testament God’s Word? Absolutely. But the New Covenant is now the complete revelation and the undiluted and exclusive authority for all who believe in Christ.
Now and then I watch some of the television hucksters and often I see them use Old Testament references to convince people that God desires to make them wealthy, and that money is the seed and their ministry is the soil which will produce a harvest. But be very aware that when preachers use Old Testament verses they can make them say whatever they desire. They often use them to perpetuate lies. How often do they quote “With food and raiment be content”? How often do they quote “God has chosen the poor rich in faith”? How often do they use the earthly life of Jesus as an example for us?
Settle it inside your heart…Jesus is the final and complete revelation of God and He alone is our example. Only in a fallen capitalist culture could preachers get away with preaching prosperity and exhorting people to give money and God will open the windows of heaven and make you wealthy. Go ahead and read Spurgeon or Wesley or Luther or Moody or Ravenhill or Wilkerson and see if you can find even a hint of such doctrinal treachery. In fact, read the words of Jesus. There are many believers all over the world who have deep prayer lives and who serve Jesus and whose lives are in great danger but are very poor.
The New Testament is the revelation to the church of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament contains shadows and types and mysteries which the Spirit can use to illuminate our hearts concerning Christ, His redemption, and His church. But the Old Testament must be supportive of the New Testament and as it applies to revelation the Old Testament is subordinate to Christ and His New Covenant. This is an extremely important principle which can keep you from error. That is why posting the Ten Commandments on certain walls compromises the gospel and presents morality as redemptive. That is why the Law of Moses has been done away with in light of the glory of Christ.
There can be no mixture. There can be no integration. And if you desire to embrace the Old Covenant as an equal partner to Christ and His New Covenant then you are a debtor to obey all of it. And if you follow that path you will stumble and fall and the Law of Moses will slay you forever. That is as serious as it can ever get.

“You have heard, but I say unto you.” Amen.

Matt.8: 19 And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

Lk.14: 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

If you informed people of the high cost of being a disciple of Jesus it would greatly surprise the average church member. It is no longer believed; it is no longer preached; it is no longer part of local church life. But just these sections of Scripture should arrest us. Jesus presented us with a very great challenge. And yet the most vocal literalists gently massage such verses until they are without power at all. I mean “forsake all”? What does that mean? And just as important why is that not even discussed in the western church?
In the visible western church people sit in pews on Sunday who have labored greatly during the week to increase their net worth. They have nice homes and cars and televisions and iPhones and everything their neighbors have. And they are told either implicitly by prosperity hucksters or subtly be evangelical speech givers, that God desires to shower you with all this world has to offer. And the “forsake all” is interpreted as believing on Jesus and no one else. How pitiful and disingenuous and defamatory to God’s Word!
And so, that kind of teaching results in a discipleship that cannot be called discipleship. And over the decades the church membership roll has burgeoned through the marketing of activities, a focus on the family, a charismatic pastor, and an overarching message of material blessing, patriotism, and community. The pews are now filled to overflowing with people who have never been a disciple of Jesus and really have no idea what that means. There is no challenge at all. The goal is to have people leave church on Sunday mornings feeling good and blessed. To challenge them would endanger your membership which would endanger your mortgage payments, and a Scriptural “Jesus” challenge would also require that the preacher had been enlightened.
Count the cost!” What cost? What do evangelical church members deny themselves? And that is just concerning material goods, but what about sacrificial prayer lives and passionate lives that witness? What about thinking and living like Jesus? What about denying all earthly allegiances? You see, what we have now are disciples of a religious construct which for all practical purposes is built around man and his desires. If informed of the words of Jesus demanding a high cost from His followers most evangelicals would reject that kind of Jesus. The Jesus they have come to know and love is a kind of an American Genie who blesses them and takes their side and quietly goes about making their dreams come true.
But I am convinced that all of us to varying degrees have lost what it means to forsake all and follow Jesus. We have become intoxicated by programs and music and people. Adolf Hitler was part of a chorus in the Roman Catholic Church in his younger years. He said he used to fill his senses with the sounds of the service. And western evangelicals are now fully invested in church services to inspire them and give them the weekly jump start they need. The church “service” has become a well orchestrated performance which appeals to the senses but which has rejected prayer, fasting, and a self denying passion to seek the face of God. The presence of God is now inextricably tethered to music.
This is tragic and sad, and it has obliterated the true calling of a disciple. Jesus never smoothed out the rough edges. His Words both comfort and sting. I truly believe that the task before us individually is to unearth Jesus and His teachings through a systematic, prayer filled rejection of this paltry ecclesiastical expression and to step by step embrace truth as it has been spoken by our Lord. Perhaps if we were only two years old we would not have to deal with the baggage that has been draped around our necks. But we do not have that luxury. If we truly desire to be His disciple we must repent of much and reject much and then by the Spirit’s power and guidance incorporate the teachings of Jesus into our minds, our hearts, and our lives. There will be so much to forsake and so much to embrace.

Only then can we truthfully claim to be His disciple.

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