“Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, if one is not generated from above, he is not able to see the kingdom of God”
The divine enablement to see the Kingdom of God is a consequence of regeneration in the human heart by the Holy Spirit. The depth of the work of God determines the “seeing” and perspective one has of the Kingdom of God. The Jews in their day expected the coming Messiah to lead them to victory over their Roman bondage. Their expectations were wrong as were their hearts. Within Christendom there are vast differences of what the Kingdom of God implies and what its implications are in personal lives. For most it is a concept that has relatively little influence upon their daily lives; it is some vague heavenly location where all who name the Name of Jesus go when they die. To others it may be an actual political kingdom to be set up on earth in some future dispensation. The teachings and concepts of the Kingdom of God vary according to the discordant voices echoing through the landscape of the Church.
Jesus in His earthly ministration of truth spoke more about the Kingdom of God than He did of any other topic. The Parables centered mainly upon this one pervading subject yet how little it is apprehended in our day.
The initial introduction into the Kingdom of God requires a transformative work of God within the human heart. It takes Grace; without a change in the nature of an individual’s life it is impossible to even be aware of its existence. This paradigm alone should shake us at the core of our hearts concerning its nature and its jurisdiction within our lives. Transformation is necessary to perceive it.
“God’s Kingdom doesn’t come with observation; neither will they say, ‘Look, here!’ or, ‘Look, there!’ for behold, God’s Kingdom is within you.”
There came a day when the sighing and words of Job ended. The vain and empty chatter of his “friends” had not dissuaded the man of God. His true mettle showed; though broken and alone he had stood in integrity. It is here, when the words of men fail, and the clash of religious arguments have proven futile to dissuade, that God appears to silence all. Job, whose life God held in high regard, was brought to new places of wonder. Through the vehicle of repentance, he found access to the higher ways of a priesthood in which his own condition was healed as he prayed for his friends.
“And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends”
His friends who were rebuked for not speaking rightly of God were forgiven by the new found grace imparted into Job’s life. Through the fire the heart of Job had arisen to new places in God. The bitter contention accomplished the work and wisdom of God. The dross was consumed and his eyes opened; Job had crossed over from a life of hearingGod to the place of seeing God.
“I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee”
“Pursue… holiness, without which no one will see the Lord””
Holiness is never an end in itself; rather it is the seeing of God. Knowing God is the chief purpose of all life. Holiness is simply the condition of heart whereby the individual is able to see Him. Nature determines relationship, not teaching.
The things of God are never a resting place in themselves, for those who desire the Pearl of Great Price. Justification is a precious truth yet not the goal of a true heart. It is but the doorway into the knowing of Him as He is. Functioning in the gifts of the Spirit is not an end but simply an embellishment of the graces and mercies of our God. Salvation by grace is the gateway not the end of the pure in heart. Heaven is never the goal of the true child of God; HE is. Christ Himself, the Pearl, is the end and purpose of all creation. There is no relationship with the Father apart from being hid in Christ. It is in Christ alone the heart is at peace and filled with the wonder and Glory of God. There is no other call or purpose.
The pursuit of personal holiness is the means and the lens by which the individual believer may behold, touch and know Him. If the lens is dirty, clouded over with the filth, the stain and the impurities of this world our seeing of Him is partial, obscured and even tainted by our own condition. Purity of heart is the result of holy living.
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God”
It is the horror of religion that makes holiness the end rather than the means. Self-righteousness is the bane and folly of the short sighted; the selfish desire of a wicked heart. The Pharisee in Jesus’ day was the corruption of the selfish pursuit of ungodly men. Pharisee in the original language means “called out ones”. They may at one time have been people whose sole purpose was right and true but with the passage of time (as is often the case) their eyes grew dim and the pursuit for the knowing of God became a selfish pretext to flaunt themselves.
The pure in heart pursue holiness in order to behold Him. It is in seeing the Pearl of Great Price that the pure in heart sell all that they have to acquire this one thing. True holiness is simply forsaking all other things in order to know this One Thing.
“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…”
“The seed dies into a new life,
and so does man”
All true life is that which arises from death. The receiving of the eternal is known by the forsaking of the temporal. All creation is but the textbook for the true follower of Christ (Romans 1:20). In our yielding to the will of Him who is eternal life we find the withering of the passions and desires for the shadows and illusions of this world. Clarity comes to the pure in heart.
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”
Wherever and whenever the heart of a wandering soul, a lost soul or a dying soul meets the wonder of Him, resurrection and life are the immediate result. He is not only the Resurrected One, He is the ever resurrecting one. Regardless of age, status in life or circumstances, He is our resurrection. Newness of life, joy, worship and praise are the on-going expressions of any life beholding Him. Death, sorrow, fear, discouragement and despair flee from His presence as shadows disappear from radiant light.
Linger not in the shadows of human reasoning or the stains of sin or unbelief. Come to the fountain which will never fail; whose waters are filled with the abundance of His Life, cleansing, refreshing and replenishing us with the vigor of His eternal life.
“Come ye saints, look here and wonder, See the place where Jesus lay; He has burst His bands asunder; He has borne our sins away; Joyful tidings, Yes, the Lord has risen to-day”
“And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net”
True living faith will never be conditioned by experience. Faith, to be faith, must always find its dependence in God not ourselves. Though experience says one thing the cry and purpose of faith must remain undaunted. “Nevertheless” is the word of a man who sets aside his own resources, strengths and abilities and believes God in the moment. This faith must birth a doing in the now. “Nevertheless” is a word that gives way to the doing of a thing regardless of our past experience. It is a word that comes to those who believe, and by that believing there is a response in the now of our life. It is not the “faith” of Mary who said Lord I know “… in that day…” something will happen, for the Christ stands in our midst speaking “I AM the resurrection and the life…”
Let this word “nevertheless” speak to us of better things than what our experience would teach us; for those who listen and regard their experience cease to walk and live by faith. “Today if ye will hear HIS voice…” is the creed by which we must live. Men who don’t do won’t hear. The Word is to those who “have ears to hear” for with every hearing there must be a corresponding act of doing and obeying HIS WORD.
The Spirit of God is HERE to press us beyond our circumstances, our former experiences, and our own resources into the glorious provisions of a God who is constantly calling us to deeper waters, a higher vision and a greater dependency upon HIM. How good is our God! How gracious are HIS ways; the thing we are confronted with is HIS doorway into greater things in HIM!
Faith, to be faith, must always be fresh, living and beating within our hearts. Faith IN a teaching or an idea will eventually become stagnant and dead; the faith of the living Son is active and real! It is never static for it is always moving from one faith unto a greater faith (Romans 1:17). Every living thing grows and everything static and stagnant remains the same. Obedience is the evidence of faith.
“So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place”
1 SAMUEL 26:25
Two men; one ever moving on in the WAY of God the other returning to “his place” of stagnation and disobedience.
“Belief is truth held in the mind; faith is fire in the heart”
J. Newton (1880–1950)
“Therefore whosoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man…”
The scriptures are full of God’s thoughts and His determinations. Those who set their hearts to please and honor Him will have little difficulty discovering these things. It is a simple concept for us to consider; hear His Word and obey it. While many love to discuss revelations, dreams and visions the simplicity of doing His Word will make one wise and pleasing to God. As one man observed, the disobedient scholar has to muddy the water in order to make it appear deep. In reality the wonder of obeying Him brings us to clear waters, pure hearts and a faith built upon the very Rock of our Salvation.
There is no better teacher than obedience for it opens the heart to feel God within. It cleanses the eyes that we may see clearly and it causes our ears to become sensitive to the intonations of His voice. Obedience will always clarify our walk. In obeying we soon discover whether a thing is of God or of ourselves. Those who never obey His voice within are left with obscurity in the things of life. They have never acted on the still small voice within and therefore the ambiguity of His way is never solved. With the passing of time the voice becomes reticent and men and women are left to their own thoughts and ways.
Child-like faith will always reveal the Father. It is to such He comes to show them the wonders of His Son and of His Kingdom.
“But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may become evident that his actions have God’s approval”
“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, here am I; send me”
God uses men. In His hidden wisdom He delights in His strength being made perfect through our weakness. Isaiah, having been broken by the seeing of God’s glory, his lips purified by the coals of the heavenly altar, was now able to hear the Word of the Lord.
“Whom shall I send…”
An unbroken and impure heart will never hear this word. It is the pure heart which sees God; one free from agendas and self-seeking motives. God sends those who serve Him (Romans 1:1). This invitation came to Isaiah in the midst of seeing his wretched condition and the true condition of all men. The invitation came to Isaiah expressly. For the Word of God to be filled with power and authority it must be to the individual; it must be specific and personal. The vessel to whom it comes must know it to be a transaction of life for life. The Call is costly and absolute; to the one who receives it there is no “plan B”. What was Isaiah’s reward in this world? He was sawn asunder (cut in half). What was John the Baptist’s reward? He was beheaded. What was Paul’s reward? He was beheaded; Peter’s reward, crucified.
God’s question goes forth again:
“Whom shall I send…”
Only those who have seen His glory are able to answer such a call. While many love to discuss end-time teachings and deliberate over visions and prophecies (as good as those may be) there is a Word going forth which only a few can hear; “whom shall I send”? God is not looking for contributions. He is looking for sacrificial hearts. The invitation is “whom shall I send”? There is no clarification as to what the call will look like. It may be to the multitudes or it may be to a prison cell where no one sees. It may be to a life of loneliness, seemingly set aside from all the religious activity of the day, or it may be to confront the earthly powers of the world (religious and political). The call is not to a position; it is to God Himself to send and use us as He sees fit.
The second question is… “who will go for us…” (see Part Two)
“O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain”
In God’s Word there is ever the call to His people to arise to the heights and wonders of His being. Here the prophet tells God’s people to get up into the high places that they might behold their God. The verses preceding this declare…
“The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever”
These are the good tidings; the pride and strength of man shall not prevail but His Word will stand forever! It is in light of this knowledge that we are called to arise, no longer in the strength of men, but in the power of God. It is time to climb the mountain and behold Him from a new perspective. We, who are withering grass and fading flowers, will find that our hope and our strength is in God alone and will be able to declare to others “Behold your God!”
“O Zion, that bringest good tidings,
get thee up into the high mountain;
O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings,
lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up,
be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah,
Behold your God!”