Greetings in the powerful Name of Jesus Christ, he who is alive and well as God’s “right hand Man,” he who is Head of the Christian Church, the called out who have answered the call. It is a joy for me to be a part of the Body of Christ with you. I love you, and I thank you for praying for me and for those working with me in The Living Truth Fellowship as we do what we can to serve you. We’d love to hear from you as to what you think of what you read herein.
The month of May is when Spring truly blossoms and matures into what will be the Summer season of growth and fruit. For those of us who live in a seasonal climate, it is when our Wintery anticipation of the glories of Spring is finally fulfilled. How fitting that this is when God brought to pass the monumental event recorded in Acts 2 on the Jewish holiday of Pentecost, which on many church calendars gets some ink but little recognition or explanation. Biblically speaking, it is second only to the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the most significant event in human history.
Given that Jesus said that he who has seen him has seen the Father, think about the emotions of Christ as reflecting those of God: love, compassion, frustration, anger, sorrow, joy, disappointment, etc. How about anticipation? Have you ever thought about how pumped up God was after 4000 years of agony to see the moment He had longed for ever since Adam broke His heart in Genesis 3? “FINALLY!” Or how excited He was to know that His “Sacred Secret” plan would from then on move inexorably toward its glorious conclusion?
Think about it. “In the beginning was the logos,” that is, the heart, mind, and plan of God Almighty as He contemplated whether or not to have children:
“Because I AM love, I want someone to love, someone who can reciprocate that love. Omigosh, that means I have to give these creatures genuine free will, because true love is a choice, and they must be able to make the opposite choice for love to be meaningful.
But what if the first guy I create chooses not to love me? [Insert panoramic prognosis of possibilities of centuries of indescribable horror—which we now know is exactly what God has had to endure]. I’ll call Plan A, “Adam.” All the man has to do is love me enough to obey me and produce a perfect race on a perfect earth, and we’ll all live happily ever after.
If he does obey, he’ll be the only Adam I’ll ever need, but given that he will have free will, and could choose to go nuts, I had best come up with Plan B, just in case. Hm-m-m. OK, I’ve got it—another Adam. [Insert hopeful implementation of Plan A: making little dirt man and giving him little dirt date—Gen. 2:7-22].
Oh no! [Not long thereafter—Gen. 3:9]: ‘Adam, where are you?’”
That was not a geographical inquiry, but the universe-rending cry of a broken heart, the heart of One whose pain was in direct proportion to the degree that He loved the one He lost. Incalculable.
And so God then made the announcement of Plan B: another Adam—the Promised Seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15), Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. And for about 4000 years He resourcefully worked in, with, around, against, and in spite of a lot of people, both good and bad (with a few Nephilim thrown in), to bring to pass that kairos moment in Bethlehem when His only begotten Son drew his first breath. Then it was up to “the Last Adam” to re-write the song that the First Adam wrote (“I Did It My Way”). And, tempted in a garden like his prototype predecessor, he did. On the Cross, Jesus consummated his step-by-step obedience, all the way to, “It is finished.”
Perhaps you are a father who with ardent anticipation once paced the floor of a hospital waiting room as your dear wife was giving birth to your child. Maybe you paced for three days and three nights. God did (Ps. 2:7; cp. Acts 13:29-34). What was it like for both the Father and His Son when God infused Jesus with new, and everlasting, life and they shared the unmitigated joy of knowing that the plan of God for a perfect race on a perfect earth was then absolutely assured? Both must have wept tears of thankfulness for one another: “Thank you, Son, for giving your life for my people.” “Thank you, Father, for keeping your promise and giving me new life.”
And how excited do you think God was to tell Jesus the “Sacred Secret,” and that had Satan known it, he would not have crucified him? That moment definitely produced history’s first “high five”! [NOTE: This month’s teaching is titled WHAT DID JESUS KNOW AND WHEN DID HE KNOW IT? Seriously, don’t miss this one!] How happily astounded was Jesus when God told him that instead of him interrupting Satan’s evil status quo in only one place at a time, as had been the case during his earthly ministry, he would be able to diversify himself all over the world by means of a body of believers theretofore unheard of or imagined? Definitely the first celebratory chest bump, later to be imitated by countless athletes.
And that is why Acts 2:1 (KJV) says, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come…” The Greek word indicates the fulfillment of a process. I’d say—it took 4000 years of blood, sweat, and tears before the risen Lord Jesus Christ could pour out the gift of holy spirit into the heart of each person who made him Lord. “FINALLY!” What happened to those first Christians on Pentecost is exactly what happened to you whenever it was that you first believed in the resurrected Jesus as your Lord. He equipped you with the same ability to become like him. Although the first century Church in general let go of that magnificent truth, the book of Acts shows some of what is possible when believers believe the revelation in the Church Epistles as to who they are in Christ and what they can do by following his lead.
Because God never designed life to be lived by anyone who does not know and trust Him, a person without Christ is kind of like “an accident waiting to happen.” On the contrary, YOU are a MIRACLE waiting to happen. The Lord Jesus has done the miracle: he deposited dunamis (spiritual dynamite) in you at the moment you made him your Lord. Now he and God are waiting on you to use your free will to ACT like a Christian. When you choose to light the fuse by obeying the Word of God, you can “blow up” the enemy’s fortresses in people’s lives, and in your own.
In Mark 14, shortly before Jesus was to die, a woman came to him and, in essence, anointed him with a flask of costly perfumed oil. Some of those present chided her for such a wasteful act, but Jesus rebuked them and in verse 8 said, “She did what she could…,” thereafter pointing out the huge historical significance of what she had done. Energized by her extravagant love for Jesus, she did ALL she could. I submit that the Lord Jesus will ask no more of you or me. He desires simply that we do all we can, and he promises to help us. I further submit that at his Judgment Seat, he will ask each of us, “What did you do with what you knew? Did you do all you could?”
That obviously begs the question: What CAN we do? And what happened at Pentecost, as it is elaborated upon in Romans through Thessalonians, answers that question for us. Philippians 4:13 may be coming to your mind, so let us see it in its context, which from verses 10 through 19 regards dealing with either a lack or abundance of material prosperity.
Philippians 4:11-13 (Darby)
(11) Not that I speak as regards privation, for as to me I have learnt in those circumstances in which I am, to be satisfied in myself.
(12) I know both how to be abased and I know how to abound. In everything and in all things I am initiated both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer privation.
(13) I have strength for all things in him that gives me power.
I chose the Darby Holy Bible translation because he comes a little closer than most all others in regard to the last word in verse 11, which they render as “content.” That doesn’t make sense, for God does not ask us to be “content” (which may imply an attitude of resignation) when things are not conducive for us to live for Him. The Greek word is autarkes, which means “self-adequate” or, better yet, “self-governing.” The point is that no matter the circumstances, each of us can choose the mindset with which we face them. And the best mindset to choose is set forth in verse 13, where the words, “gives me power” are a verb form of the root Greek word dunamis. The verb (endunamoo) appears in eight fabulous verses from Acts through Hebrews, and its middle voice indicates a reciprocity wherein we do our part and the Lord does his.
In closing, let me cite another element of what happened at Pentecost, one that points to an intimacy with God that was never before dreamed of. I do so because the degree to which we effectually use the power we have is enhanced by the degree of intimacy we have with the Lord Jesus and our heavenly Father.
The Old Testament shows that God’s desire for Israel was for them to be a nation of priests who, as the bloodline of the coming Redeemer, would bring reconciliation with God to the world. Early on, however, their stiff-necked and idolatrous ways caused Him to slightly revise that lofty ideal and settle for keeping a few of them alive long enough for Jesus to be born. God instituted first the Tabernacle and then the Temple (with their respective ordinances) as the place where He would meet with His people—sort of.
Actually, only one Israelite got the privilege of entering into the presence of God in the “Holy of Holies,” the inner sanctum of the Tabernacle and then the Temple. That one man was the High Priest, who represented all the rest of the people. And he didn’t just waltz in and out any time he felt like it. No, he got to go in only once a year, and he had to take his own animal sacrifice. Furthermore, the folks tied a bell on him and a rope around his ankle, holding on to the other end of it as he went in. Those seemingly bovine accoutrements were in case he died while he was in the Holy of Holies. If the bell stopped ringing and the rope went limp, they would pull him out, because anyone going in to get him would have been zapped like a bug on a Summer night with the same kind of “z-z-z-t-t” noise. In fact, throughout the Old Testament, God made it very clear to His people that their sin prohibited them from getting anywhere near His Holiness.
God did that in part to emphasize the stark, glaring, shocking, antithetical contrast between the Law Administration and the Administration of the Sacred Secret (Eph. 3:9), during which you and I are one with Christ, sitting on the lap of God, as it were. Through Jesus we “have gained access [the introduction] by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Rom. 5:2 – NIV). Now we have been “brought near” by the blood of Christ. The risen Lord Jesus has ushered us into the heart of God, forever.
Ephesians 2:19-22 (ESV)
(19) So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
(20) built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
(21) in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
(22) In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Because of who we are in Christ, and who he is in us, you and I CAN DO whatever the Lord Jesus asks us to do in those Scriptures that he gave Paul for the members of his Body. So each day when you awaken, you might want to say to yourself, and to the Lord who enables you: I can do, therefore I will do all I can. And then, with his ever present help, JUST DO IT!