Today I am in Angola, Africa. I arrived on Friday night and have begun some amazing days of training here with some wonderful hungry, willing, and teachable people. We have explored the influence of the internal kingdom of God in the hearts of humanity. We have looked at what it means to study God’s word in light of a personal relationship with God in our hearts. We have been touched by God to empower us to become expressions of His word and not just readers of His Scriptures. Yesterday we even saw supernatural evidence of God’s prophetic word as God proclaimed He was sending rain to germinate the seeds of destiny in Angola, heavy rain began to immediately fall. God is good!
I have been blogging concerning some tough questions in regard to receiving people from the world into the church. The values of the culture of the kingdom of God are not values shared by people in the kingdoms of the world. God doesn’t want us to create an impassable wall that prevents people in the cultures of the world from entering the community of Christ. God wants our gates to be open to people so they can come and be transformed by the culture of the kingdom of heaven. The gates of the city of God are pearl, meaning they are testimonies of God’s love. Those who find Christ within them are people who did not have Christ within them, but they have been transformed by the grace of their Father’s love working within them. This doesn’t mean that we condone the values of the world, but it does mean we cannot condemn those who have not yet discovered the life-giving, life-transforming values of Christ’s internal kingdom. Jesus gave the life of the flesh to grant all flesh entrance to a life of the Spirit of Christ. I believe that Jesus sacrifice upon our cross is enough to grant mercy to all who come to Him and grants them the ability to know God loves them and for them to go to heaven when they die. It is the mercy of Jesus that justifies all to live. Being justified to live also gives us an invitation to reign in life by the power of God’s grace. God’s mercy will get us to heaven, but God’s grace will get heaven into our lives.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
I believe that being saved is not just the ability to go to heaven when we die. I believe that being saved involves the salvation of our souls, not just our spirits. I understand my soul to include my thinking, my reasoning, my emotions, my desires, and my imaginations. It is by these things that I demonstrate the inner secretes of the kingdom of heaven in the outward expressions of my everyday life. The salvation of our souls will transform the authority of our lives. It will empower us to leave an inheritance that will benefit the lives of others. My actions in life will affect the lives of those influenced by me in this world. My actions in life will leave an inheritance for others so they can experience a greater fullness of the life of God in all things.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 6 Paul talked about how homosexuals cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven, but he included with that adulterers, sodomites and in case we think we are innocent, he also included thieves and people who are covetous. He included people who cheat others to take advantage of them in some way. The context that he was talking about before this was that people in the church culture were taking people to court and suing one another. They were acting like other people in the culture of their world. Paul said they would be better off letting their brother take advantage of them and defraud them.
1 Corinthians 6:7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
When Paul addressed the subject of homosexuality, he put it in the same context of trying to get a justice by taking one another to court. They were acting like people in the world. If you act like people in the world you cannot have a part in the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven. I don’t believe Paul was talking about going to heaven when we die. I believe he was talking about changing the world for others by heaven’s influence. Paul also wrote that we could be saved as just someone escaping the flames. Each man’s work will be tested. Some will be wood, hay, or straw. Other’s will be gold, silver, or precious stone. Some will be saved but just barely, as those whose entire work in life is burned up like wood, hay, or straw. Others will produce something of great value that can be found by others, such as gold, silver, and precious stones. Perhaps salvation to heaven can be with nothing left as an inheritance in this world, but saving grace empowers others to find the overcoming testimonies of God’s grace. I don’t think this is just barely getting into heaven. I believe it means they didn’t fulfill their full destiny upon the earth.
1 Corinthians 3:11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
I will address this further in my blog next week, but these are surely things to consider when merely being willing to live a life as a believer, yet still hold on to the values of the kingdoms of the world. God’s grace is miraculous! It is His manifest presence in our lives and it is meant to change us and to change our influence in our world for the sake of Christ’s inheritance in the lives of others.
Ted J. Hanson
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