The Ways of Jesus
As we face a new Church era, I want to leave you rooted in several simple ways of God. Unchanging instructions He has left us, that will not be adjusted by the changing seasons. These instructions worked through the early Church age, through the dark ages, the Reformation and they will work until the end of the Church age.
In 1 Corinthians 3:10 Paul says “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.” He is speaking of carefully building the church, under the gracious guidance of God. We too must find ways to build wisely.
I believe there are simple, powerful, profound truths found in the Great Commission, but perhaps they will be presented here in ways you have never thought of. Let’s first remind ourselves of His words:
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” Mark 16: 15-18
The Law of Baptism
The first major law of heaven for the coming age that I want us to understand is the law of baptism. Now I know this is speaking of baptism in water (in the main), but understand this in the broader sense, Christianity only really works when you are immersed in it. What God is about to do, will only work for the fully surrendered!
There is nothing more miserable than a half-hearted Christian. Teetering on the edge of favour and glory, without the bottle to quite jump in and suck the juice out of God’s “Life in all it’s fullness” is quite painful! The half-hearted usually end up aware of all the “do nots”, but get to enjoy very few of the blessings.
In Christianity, you must be baptised. You probably already know, that simply means “Immersed, dunked, saturated, marinated.” Hobby Christianity will not work. Once every 3 week attenders will never know God’s power! The Kingdom is for the immersed.
The Bible talks about being immersed (baptised) in water, into the body of Christ (Church), in the Holy Spirit and even into suffering (Joy of joys! But there is no glory with out suffering!)
You see baptism, or being immersed, speaks of letting go of an old life, and fully embracing a new life. It is a burial of sorts, and a coming back to life. It is accepting, “this is a revolution in my life – everything’s changed!”
The Christian walk, and God’s ways or Laws, simply don’t work by dipping your toe in! You either tithe or you don’t. You worship, or you don’t. You obey, or you don’t. You can try to “attend church occasionally” instead of becoming a “disciple” (What God has called you to), but usually you are simply looking for enough of God to anaesthetise you from life’s ills, or your own shame, but you’ll never know His power to transform you. So you’ll grow old, but not better. Wrinkled, but not mature! That’s not a great destiny!
Right Medicine, Wrong Dose
I remember spending months in Africa in the 1990s, most of it in malaria zones. I was on a course of malaria protection tablets that involved taking about 4 tablets a day, and I had been taking that dose for about 182 days. If I jumped up and down I rattled like a maraca!
One evening in the African bush I was popping my pills, and a local friend (who was not taking malaria prevention) noticed me taking my dose. Having spotted a few mosquitos that day he paused and asked “Can I have one please?”
I looked at my pills, then looked at him, wondering what to say. Taking these pills was the correct medicine, but taking a single pill was NOT the right dose. Right thing, wrong dose. A single malaria prevention tablet would do nothing!
And it’s the same with the Gospel – this gospel is right, but the only dose that works is full immersion. In this new era of divine purpose for the Church, we must make sure we are fully immersed in the purposes of God. The only way the Kingdom comes, is by full immersion in God’s purposes.
Sometimes this can be counter intuitive (as are many things in the Kingdom!). We think that living on the edges, dabbling, waiting to see what works, is the “sensible” way to follow God. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I recently read that the safest pilots in World War 2 were the most gung-ho ones. The more careful you tried to be, the more likely you were to be picked off and shot down! How counter intuitive is that?!
Mourning comes before dancing
I grew up as a missionary kid in southern Europe, living in the sun, playing on boats, beaches and “off-roading” around Spain and Morocco. It was great. But when God called my parents, we didn’t know it would be great. They had to immerse themselves (and us kids!) in obedience BEFORE they knew it would be a blessing!
You see, my earliest memory of this part of my life, is not the fun of living abroad, but the shock of having to sell all my toys! My dad gave up his good job, my parents sold their house, we put everything we owned in a Citroen 2CV6 car and drove from Wales homeless and jobless. All I really remember is my mother sobbing as we drove away from everything they’d tried to build up to that point. We had no idea it would go well – we were only aware of what we were losing. It was a death. An immersion. A baptism of suffering.
But that is where the Gospel becomes most powerful. When you TOTALLY surrender to God – He totally opens heavens resources to you! At the time you don’t know it, but you just found one of the “Ways” of God, and now you are going to continually find His favour!
There are loads of wonderful terms in the Bible for Christians. Sons, heirs, children, sheep, soldiers, athletes. But in Philemon 1:1 Paul uses this description to sum up his immersion in God’s plan for his life:
“I Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ”
He was actually a prisoner of Nero at the time of writing this, but he never saw it as that. He was a prisoner, a slave, a servant of God – in chains for the Gospel. Could you describe yourself in the same way? Could you say “I’m locked into God’s will, whatever and where ever that might be?”
When Jesus looked into the eyes of his “twelve” and said “take up your cross and follow me,” (Luke 9:23) it wasn’t going to be a very metaphorical cross. Most of them would indeed die for the truth they were discovering. Church history and tradition tells us Andrew died on a cross and so did Simon Peter, Phillip, Thaddeus and Simon the Zealot. Bartholomew was skinned alive. James son of Zebedee was beheaded. The other James beaten to death. Thomas run through with a lance. Matthew was stabbed. All for this incredible Gospel they knew to be true, and for the love of their “older brother” Jesus.
They immersed themselves in a new reality. Jesus was THE Way, the Truth and the Life, and they were going to live for Him, and even die for Him. This world held little for them. They were now living for eternity.
Now I hope for you that obedience will not lead to martyrdom, and yet with a true eternal perspective, we would see that immense reward comes from our full baptism into God’s will – even if it leads to the end of our life on earth.
Someone posted a photo and article on my Facebook page a while ago, which showed the hanging of a Christian pastor. A broad smile stretched across his wonderful face right the way through the build-up, only drooping to a lifeless stare once he had died. There was more joy on that mans face as the noose was placed over his head, than most faces in church on a Sunday morning!
It is amazing isn’t it, that while many around the world are dying for their faith, many of us won’t live for Him.
Martin Luther said “A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing.”
What is the value of your religion? Many like the idea of serving God and enjoying a fruitful destiny – as one writer said, “Many wish to serve God, but in an advisory capacity only!”
What about you?
William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army was going blind and his son was tasked with telling him the news that he would not see again. “Do you mean that I am going blind?” the General asked. “I hear we must contemplate that,” his son replied.
“Son”, said General Booth, “I have done what I could for God and for His people with my eyes. Now I shall do what I can for God without my eyes.”
When we live by this utter immersion into God’s will, it is true that there are days when it costs us everything, and our sobs of burial ring out as worship in heaven. But let me assure you, everyone that suffers, will also know God’s immense Glory. His favour. His blessing in life. This is one of the “Laws of Heaven.”