The Kingdom Matrix

Jesus said: I am the way the truth and the life, no-one comes to the Father except by me.
Paul said the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Paul also said these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Way, Truth, Life
Righteousness, Peace, Joy
Faith, Hope, Love

How are these things connected? These are quite the set of lists… How about this?

Screenshot 2013-05-26 3:24 PM-3

Jesus is the only way to righteousness, and we are connected to that free gift of Grace through faith.
You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. Freedom 55 (Retirment Planning)? How about freedom through eternal peace with God. That is quite a hope!
Isn’t life the greatest joy! And once we have a joy that is unshakeable, we are set free to love.

Thus meeting Jesus leads to the commandments:

Love God with every fibre of who you are. Delight and trust and abide in Him.
Seek others happiness with the fervour and creativity that you seek your own.

Because, the difference between God’s kingdom and the kingdoms of this world, is our king doesn’t need us, but graciously invites Him into what He is already doing in the world. Christ serves His kingdom and his world and then we get to join in service with Him with his power when He brings us into the kingdom.

I love the Bible… there is no greater intellectual challenge than the Jesus Problem. What are you going to do about Him?

Interesting side note: I made this diagram on Sunday, then on Monday I watched this:

The Gospel Coalition: Did Jesus Preach the Gospel?

I am blown away almost every day, by how God always brings in confirmation of what I am learning.

Has the Word of God failed?

Has the word of God failed?
NO!
According to Paul.

And then he wrote Romans 9-11, three of the hardest chapters in the Bible. We often wrestle with them, like Jacob wrestled with God. And when we realize we are wrestling with God as Jacob did, as opposed to being “loved less” by God as Esau was, then our only response should be, “Thank you God that I get to walk with a limp for the rest of my life!”

So with that in mind… what is the main idea Paul is arguing for in Romans 9-11?

Read on to see what the main idea is not:

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Love your neighbour as… yourself?

How do I love myself?

I seek my own happiness.

That is the fundamental state of the human heart… We are seeking:

Seeking joy
Seeking peace
Seeking justification

Wanted is love

This can only be found in the first commandment… Love God with all your heart soul and mind.

This is where I had it profoundly wrong…

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My Testimony to Christ’s Grace for this Depraved Soul – Part 2

This is the continuation of Part 1 of this testimony, my testimony, wherein I explained how God enlarged my view of sin, for the purpose of enlarging the purposes of the Gospel of Christ’s work.

Ok so now let’s fast forward to a few months ago, and look back on what my new Christian life has started to look like. An experience of Grace is a great thing, but the evidence is clearly in the fruit. As I mentioned before, I will reiterate in this post now. Namely that Grace this was bearing fruit in my heart and mind and outward life. I was able to answer yes to the tests of assurance laid out in 1st John. All of the them, for the first time at the same time.

Equally amazing was how God was speaking to me through his rhema (spoken) word, and then confirming that through his written word, and through the testimonies of others, stirring up a greater faith and greater trust in what Christ had done in me. The best way I can describe what has been happening, is that God was taking me by the hand, and gently leading me on a journey, that is still continuing to this day. It started about 2 years ago, reached a turning point this summer, and is growing stronger, not diminishing. This has started the birth of an unshakable hope that his flame will continue burn brighter, and that this joy will continue to spill out.

So I want to give 3 examples of this to give glory to how God’s Grace has been continuing to work in me:

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A Sinful Faith

First of all, I am so blessed that I received some great constructive criticism, as well as cautions in the past 2 weeks. It is always good to have a doctrine check, and it helps to focus the thinking as well. Specifically two comments in particular:

One publicly… on my most recent post, that I have responded to in context.
One privately… from a close friend I greatly trust and admire.

So first of all, if I ever say something that is actually damaging to your faith in the Gospel, then please let me know… I am using quite a combative style here because I am trying to reach people like me who were trapped in “Christian-isms” that no longer have any personal meaning and relevance, and thus had a block to a true understanding of the Gospel. However, if in doing this, I am causing others to stumble, then I need to know that, and adjust, or at least clarify my meaning so that doesn’t happen. So thanks for calling me out Ken! I hope my response was satisfactory. If not, I welcome more dialogue!

The other reason I welcome the criticism, is because it helps to re-evaluate my understanding, which will drive me deeper into my new understanding, or help me have a course correction. So a comment I received from a friend, really helped me clarify my thinking on the 2 posts I wrote on faith. In this case, it has driven me deeper into my perception of “faith in something”, and so I want to clarify my thoughts further, in case this might benefit others as well.

Here was the great criticism I received from a friend:

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25 Years in Church and Not a Christian

I always felt weird about sharing my “faith” because I always felt that it was a dishonest trick. I actually felt guilty about it… because if I had my choice, I wouldn’t be “a Christian”. Little did I know that this was evidence that I actually wasn’t a Christian.

So you’re saying,

“Wait a minute, didn’t you have a choice? You could have stopped being a Christian, rejected the Bible and the church, and gone your own way!”

Well there are actually 2 reasons why I felt I didn’t have a choice:

  1. This is hard to admit, but if I stopped pretending to be a Christian, then I would have to start from scratch. I grew up a PK (pastor’s kid) in a Christian school, with all my friends also Christians, or at least “Christians”. So I would have had to find new friends, start over at a new school, as well as convince a whole new set of people that I was worth valuing. (More on this later) So for practical reasons, it was actually the most selfish, easy thing I could do to keep pretending.
  2. The other reason was that I was, and still am, utterly convinced of the existence of God, that the Bible is the true word of God, that Christ lived and died and rose again, that we have extremely accurate records of his sayings and teachings, and that He is coming back again. I had complete faith in the Bible and it’s teachings.

“Now wait a minute here Richard, you said in point 1, that you were pretending to be a Christian, but in point 2, you are saying you had complete Faith that Christ was the truth. So doesn’t that make you a Christian?”

Actually it doesn’t…

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Stop Trying to Get Faith!

Your probably (hopefully) saying,

What on earth do you mean by this? Are you falling into heresy again? Isn’t faith the central idea of Christianity?

Yes, Clearly the Bible teaches that everything worth having and doing in the Christ-centered life comes by having faith.

But no, based on my previous point, I think that what is central is faith IN Christ and the saving work of the Gospel… Which Christ has DONE. Not in faith as a concept in and of itself.

So here is the problem I have discovered with the way I have always understood faith…

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