The Kingdom: Sanctification and Faith

“He who began a good work I you will complete it…”(Phil 1:6)

The Holy Spirit comes inside the believer at the point of salvation.  He then begins a work of making us holy, this is sanctification.  It’s a process that is filled with events. (These events we will describe later as the need for reconciliation, the process of sanctification, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and the anointing, on the other blog where the book is being written)   Oftentimes, this process of sanctification comes over time.  As the Holy Spirit leads us into holiness, we become conformed to the image of God.  This is our identity, the image of Christ.  Faith, once it is inside the soul, has a transforming effect.  This is a kingdom principle and Jesus gave us a series of parables to explain.  He states:

“Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like?  And to what shall I compare it?  It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and ti grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.” (Luke 13:18-19)

According to this parable, man and God are co-laboring to produce the Kingdom.  First, the man places one of the smallest seeds in the plant family and plants it in his garden.  The Garden is symbolic of the man’s soul.  The mustard seed is symbolic of faith.  By faith, the man waits for the seed to grow.   When faith is birthed in our hearts it begins to change things in the inner man.  It may not be apparent, but eventually everything is going to change.  Faith grows until it becomes the largest tree in the garden of the soul.  This is like the Kingdom.  A certain measure of faith is always present within us.  This faith begins a process of growth within our inner man.  It is a slow process of change but it yields huge results.  Rapid growth in the kingdom can be dangerous.  Growing in the Kingdom is a process, but if we continue in faith, we will become a tree.  A tree is symbolic of an anointed and gifted leader. (Psalm 52:8, psalm 92:12)  An live tree is one that produces the anointing in lives of others.

Jesus continues,”  And again He said, ‘To what shall I liken the Kingdom of God?  It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal til lit was all leavened.” (Luke 13:20-21)

The woman takes the leaven. (Generally in scripture, leaven is symbolic of sin, but in this parable it is symbolic of faith)  Faith has a similar action as leaven.  It is placed inside the lump of the soul and it is undetectable to the naked eye.  When left alone, it causes everything around it to grow to twice its size.  The woman takes the leaven (faith) and implant it into the bread (soul) .  Then, the leaven (faith) changes the entire make-up of the bread (soul and life) and causes a transformation over time.  This is how faith and the Kingdom work and how growth in the Kingdom is achieved.

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The Experience of God

“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love…”
(I John 4:16)

This verse emphatically states what God “is.”  There are many verses of scripture we could debate over meaning, but “God is love” is really undebateable.  One may ask, “What is God like” and the response can easily be made that God is love.  Hence, when we experience god we are experiencing love.  This verse states that, “we have known and believed the love that God has for us.”  This means that God is both knowable and can be experienced.  The word “know” in this verse, in Greek, is better translated as “to know by experience.”  The Amplified Bible translates this verse, “And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us.  God is love…”  The theological implication here is truly amazing!  What it is really saying is that God can be experienced and this experience is of a loving nature.  As a direct result of this experience, we can now, put our faith and trust in the revealed character of this God.  Once He has revealed His Nature to us, the natural bi-product of this exchange leads humanity into faith.

The next logical question one may ask is, “what is love?”  Society or psychiatry or psychology may offer a large range definitions but it seems best to define the Bible by the Bible itself.  Therefore, in defining biblically what love is, this definition will reveal the nature of God.  Ultimately, it will reveal His Character and Actions toward humanity.

The classic verse on love is found in I Corinthians 13:4-8.  They read, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, Love never fails…” If one can take the word “love” out and put “God” in its place within this verse, then the character of God will be revealed.  Let’s examine a few passages.

The first verse states that, “love suffers long”; consequently, God suffers long as well.  It means that God endures evil without complaint.  This is an amazing expression of God’s love toward humanity when one considers that His Son died for all of us.  Let’s put this into perspective.  Imagine the one person you love the most in all the world (For God this was Jesus).  Now, imagine that this one person sacrifices their life for an unknown individual.  Later on, at a memorial service, you see the person and ask them, “Wasn’t that an amazing heroic thing that my loved one did for you?”  Imagine if that person looks at you and says, “Whatever!” and turns and walks out without even the hint of appreciation.  This would certainly provoke many fathers, sons, daughters, wives, and grandparents to wrath.  This is what happens to God the Father everyday and yet, he endures this evil without complaint.  The very fact that He has not completely destroyed all of us is an illustration that His love endures evil and is long-suffering.  Jonathan Edwards said it best, “Sinners in the hands of an angry God!” and He would certainly be justified in His wrath.  However, God doesn’t destroy all of humanity because His love for us suffers long.  The Bible states, “For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the un-just.” (Matthew 5:45)

God is kind.  The meaning of this word is “goodness in action.”  The implication is wonderful.  God, who loves us so much, puts His Goodness into motion to set up circumstances so that we obtain favor.  Once His plans come to pass in our lives, it looks outwardly that we have been very successful.  The reality is that God really set it all up.  Then, He in His Love, let’s us get the credit for it.  This is evident in the life of David.  The Lord strikes down Goliath (I Samuel 17:47) and David got the credit (I Samuel 17:50)  God is not interested in promoting Himself (another characteristic of love), He is interested in watching us be successful.  He enjoys watching blessings come into your life.  The Bible says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17) God takes pleasure in blessing all of humanity.  It works like this:  Have you ever received an unexpected gift that you really wanted  but didn’t expect?  Have you ever given someone a gift that you knew they wanted but didn’t expect?  Remember the emotions that you felt in both giving and receiving, and if, we could take these emotions out and give them life, power, mind, purpose, and authority, that would be God.  That is what the experience of God is like, it is just to good to be true.  These emotions are the most pure and powerful in humanity.  It is a direct reflection of the Divine Heart.  God is the embodiment of love in all of love’s splendor, radiance, and glory!

Love hopes all things.  Therefore, God hopes all things.  The biblical definition of hope is the “joyful expectation of good.”  When God looks at us, He doesn’t see us as we see ourselves.  He doesn’t view our future with all of our habits, sins, and faults.  He sees us as the finished product.  When I look at a large stone, all I see is a large stone.  However, if a sculptor looks at a large stone, he sees art.  He sees something that can be beautiful, have purpose, and impact future generations.  This is the way that God sees us.  He looks at you with the joyful expectation that he can sanctify you and mold you into a thing of beauty.  A human crafted into the image of His Son with purpose, power, and a destiny that will have an impact for His Kingdom and for future generations.

The Great Kingdom Sell-Out

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had an bought it.”  (Matthew 13:44-46)

These parables identify Kingdom principles people experience that bring about radical fulfillment and radical change in each of their individual lives.  The essence of these parables is value.  Both are seeking something that they greatly value and when they find it, it comes with such a fulfillment, that everything else must be sacrificed in order to obtain it.
The purpose of the parables are described in the prefacing statement, “The kingdom of heaven is like…”  Jesus is here giving us divine spiritual principles that demonstrate what happens in the kingdom.  What happens both with us and with God.  What happens in our response to God and in His response toward us.  Remember that value is the underlining theme.

The man in the first parable could represent Jesus.  The field could represent the world (Mathew 3:38).  Hence, Jesus has come into the world.  He is seeking something.  He is seeking something of great value to Him and He is willing to sacrifice all in order to obtain it.  The treasure that he finds in the field is you.  It is the human soul that would receive Him and fellowship with Him for all eternity.  I am absolutely convinced that if only one person would have ever gotten saved as a result of the ministry of Jesus, He would have still endured the cross for the sake of the one.  It is the value that He places upon humanity.  He values it and it is worth sacrificing for.  When it is found, it brings about radical changes is His life and the life of the believer. If we measure the value of something by what someone else will pay for it; then; you are the greatest treasure that God has ever created as He has sacrificed everything in order to have fellowship and relationship with you.  God is completely “sold-out” and He has taken radical steps to enter into convenental relationships with us.  He has given all that He has to all of us.  He purchased the world that is filled with human treasure by the price of His life and blood.  For Him, it was the only way to live.

The merchant could represent the Christian.  He, too, is seeking something of great value.  In his pre-salvation state, he may have shopped various religions seeking the one that brought about the most fulfillment.  We are hard-wired for relationship with God.  When it is lacking, we are unfulfilled individuals seeking the ultimate forms of fulfillment.  Oftentimes, they come through sinful experiences.  When we attempt to put sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll in the place of our soul that is built for God, we ultimately end up dissatisfied.  Hence, these actions require extreme repetition. (see my other blog: http://www.kingdomidentity.wordpress.com for the blog entitled, “The works of the flesh.”)  If we could take that one pill, that one drink, that one experience that would bring the eternal buzz and fulfillment, that would be amazing!  However, no such substance or action exist.  The works of the flesh require repetition.  The basis of all sin is fulfillment and these two statements are the foundation and basis of all addictions.  I can remember a time right after I had my first intoxicating effect of alcohol.  It brought about a sense of fulfillment in my soul that I had been seeking for years.  I was “sold-out” to drinking, and spent all that I had on “prodigal” living.  It became my identity and every activity in my life revolved around drinking and drugging.   We will sacrifice for what we value and for what we believe will bring fulfillment.  This was my life before I found the “Pearl of great price.”  Because my addiction required repetition and required more of the substance over time, I continued to seek the ultimate expression of fulfillment.  On May the 7th of 2000, I had a radical encounter with God that changed my life.  Suddenly, Jesus became so real to me.  He was not just doctrine and an unknowable God.  I was having an intense encounter with Him.  He was, in fact, alive and I now knew why He was called the “Living God.”  The Holy Spirit invaded my soul and I understood that everything that I was seeking from drugs and alcohol I could get from God.  It was the invasion of His love into my soul that made radical changes in my life.  I had found the “Pearl of Great Price.”

It was at this time that I became “sold-out” to God.  I knew that what I had been looking for in fifteen years worth of drug and alcohol addiction I had found.  Hence, I have sold all that I had for the purpose of the Kingdom of God.  I’m a radical!  For me, anything less than a complete “sell-out” for Jesus is to exalt this cursed and fallen world with its fleshly pleasures and pursuits against the “Pearl of Great Price.”  The Great Kingdom sell-out is the only option and it’s the only way to live.  This Kingdom dynamic applies for me, for you, and for Jesus.