How it works

Most people find it very difficult to believe the Christian message. It seems a nice idea but it really does take some believing. Well, you are right. It really does take some believing, in the natural, fallen world in which we live.

You see, human beings are blinded by the curse of God. The background is the story of God barring Adam from heaven because he disobeyed. Without seeing that, it is not possible to understand the coming of Christ. Why on earth did he come ?

Well, to break God’s curse on mankind. Yes, God’s curse. The story is in the first book of the Bible, Genesis and chapter 2 from verse 15 and all of chapter 3. God cursed mankind because Adam disobeyed God’s command. Adam listened to the serpent and responded in obedience to what the serpent said. Doing that, Adam directly disobeyed God when he ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Now, that is the key issue. Adam ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Mankind has ever since wanted to decide his own morality, in direct contravention of God’s moral order.

That is the issue. Whether you want to believe the story of Genesis literally or metaphorically, the issue remains. God’s way or man’s. God’s terms of reference or man’s.

I have lived for a certain number of decades. I can tell you that God’s terms have been increasingly rejected for man’s own foolish terms. And the devastation is all around us in crime levels, family breakdown, drugs dealing and abuse, abortion as contraception, the hatred of the secularists for anything Christian. It will only get worse, I can assure you, without the gracious intervention of God to turn the situation around.

Which brings us to what is happening in the gospel of Matthew chapter 16. There are three particular events recorded on which I want to focus.

  1. Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God

  2. Peter’s refusal to accept Jesus coming suffering, and Jesus rebuke of Peter for that

  3. the terms of discipleship, ie the terms by which a person lives as a Christian

A person cannot become a Christian unless God the Father reveals directly to their heart that Jesus is the Son of the living God, the Christ – that is God’s appointed deliverer for God’s people.

You cannot believe in Jesus Christ without such revelation from God. That is a spiritual and supernatural revelation from outside yourself which breaks in on your spiritual darkness; it reaches beyond the curse God placed on Adam and his progeny [ie you and me] and enables us to see again the Truth of this existence.

Right now people can only see that the material world about them is all that exists. They cannot see beyond it. They think that the material rules.

It does not.

The spiritual, the supernatural, rules the material.

And in  that spiritual realm, Jesus Christ has been given all authority in heaven and on earth.

But you will only ever see that, and be able to accept it, if God the Father chooses to reveal it to you. Otherwise you will remain in spiritual blindness, unable to see the spiritual truth of our existence, unable to get beyond God’s curse on Adam. You will take the material world as all that exists, and as the only normality.

Yet you will always know somewhere inside you that there is something more –  and occasionally as you go through life, you will be aware that there must be something beyond. But without God revealing it to you, you will not see.

The spiritual revelation that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God is the sure and firm foundation – the rock – for all our understanding and all our living; it is the essential foundation of the Church. That is the true Church, not the religious organisations which preach man’s ways and man’s power, man’s own pleasure and purpose.

The true Church preaches Jesus Christ, and how to live for him. Now that certainly can happen in an assembly of believers who have an organisation. But the question is whether the ways of an organisation in the world take precedence over the ways of the organic and living organism which the body of Christ necessarily must be.

I have seen far too often that when the crunch comes and there is a choice, the ways of this world take precedence.

And then believers wonder why there is no power in their church.

The power incidentally is to live a holy life – not provide spectacles to entertain people or to prove God exists. The power comes from the Holy Spirit, and his job is to enable holiness in the lives of believers.

Secondly, Jesus rebukes Peter as Satan for saying that Jesus must not suffer as Jesus had predicted ie being killed by the religious authorities.

Peter provides us with a very human and fallible example. One minute he is absolutely right. The next minute he is absolutely wrong. One minute he sees as God sees; the next minute he is assessing the situation from a human perspective, and utterly failing to see God’s far greater and absolutely necessary purpose.

Jesus Christ must go to the Cross and die and be raised again. The reason ?

As Paul later told the Romans, chapter 4,25 –

he was delivered for our offences; and was raised again for our justification.

Jesus is the God provided sacrificial lamb for us – to take our place before God’s righteous anger. To pay the penalty for our sin.

And the only way we can avail ourselves of the benefits of the sacrifice Jesus made is to accept God’s verdict on us and accept God’s way for us to go.

That means, as Jesus then goes on to say, that the disciple – the Christian – must

deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.

Don’t make the mistake of certain religious thinking. They think that by imposing suffering on themselves they can be holy and saved. That is not what it means.

At the cross, Jesus alone has paid the price for our sins, and Jesus alone can save us. We can do nothing for ourselves to put ourselves right with God. Jesus does it all.

But to avail ourselves of what he has already done, we must deny the Self in ourselves, the sinful, self centred core of our nature. We must suffer the death of that self life in us –  and that is painful.

That is why Jesus talks of taking our cross.

It means suffering death to self centredness. Because that is precisely what will happen as we begin to follow Jesus teaching. We will find that our Pride and our Prejudice, and everything else stemming from our fallen, sinful Selfish state is challenged and affronted. Our Pride etc does not want to die, but Jesus says it must.

Because for his life to reign in us, our Self life must give way and die. And it dies through suffering as we obey what Jesus tells us to. Which is summed up in these words.

Love God, and love others.

Christian Preacher

By Christianity

The personal icon photograph shows God's creation, the world. It reminds us that God is the Creator of all - the almighty, the all knowing and all present - the one who is most important of all. The one to whom we owe all, and the one to whom we will answer for all. The site's header image of the Bible [King James Authorised Version], a map, a light and a compass represent to us that God's word in the Bible is our spiritual map, illumination and guide through this life. Those who obey his teaching will know his presence and power - Gospel of John, chapter 14, verse 23

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