"ON EAGLES’ WINGS MINISTRIES"
“God has begotten us again unto himself.” March 2014, Part 1
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” 1st Peter 1:3, 4.
We can trace our call to sonship and an entrance into the family of the Father as outlined in St. John 1:12. Here we read: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
This is like being served a delectable, scrumptious meal in china and silverware that sparkles, over a table fitted with clean, well fitted tablecloth. The verse went ahead of us and removed every item that would tend to leave an opening for man’s effort to come into play. The process in question does not involve a birth that is caused by man’s will or participation. If we quickly reflect upon the Lord’s words to Nicodemus, we remember how he said: “That which is born of the flesh IS FLESH [and that cannot become spirit] and that which is born of the Spirit IS SPIRIT.” John 3:6.
Let us consider the meanings of the word “power.” The Greek word used in the text is ex-oo-see’-ah and it means ability, privilege, force, capacity, competency, freedom, mastery, token of control, right, strength, delegated influence, authority, and magistrate. It is rather amazing that one simple word can mean so many vital truths that should be relevant to every son of God alive in the Body today.
When God adds to the church as we know it today, the intent is never to simply make up numbers. God is not interested in, nor does he take head-counts among his people. Whatever he can accomplish with one hundred people, he can just as easily accomplish with ONE person. If you doubt this truth, just read the meanings of the word “power” as outlined above. Putting all the meanings into their proper settings, I am reminded of the power and authority given to Joseph.“And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” Genesis 41:44. Of course, at this juncture we are reminded how Jesus told his disciples, “Whatsoever you bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
All of these concepts are tied to the thought that as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God. God’s ultimate purpose in his calling upon our lives is that we will grow up as sons in his earthly family with all the power and authority needed to minister to the needs of a groaning creation. Back in West Palm Beach and in many other cities, in our weekend meetings in homes and in hotels, we used to sing this favorite: “Stretch forth your hands, and heal the nations: Speak forth the word and give them life. This is the day, that God has chosen; and as he is so are we in this world.” God sent his word and healed them, and that principle has not changed one iota down through the ages. The words that he speaks are still SPIRIT and LIFE, and they are still designed to accomplish all that God has ordained of them.
Let us not forget that when certain Greeks came to the disciples of Christ saying, sir, we would see Jesus, the master did not walk out to greet them asking, “what can I do for you?” Instead, like a man functioning on a different wave length, he pointed to his death instead by saying: “Except a corn of wheat fall into the earth and die, it remains alone; but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.” John 12:21-24. Sometimes when ministering to a live congregation, I get them to the edge of their seats by saying something like this. “When Pilate had the tomb sealed and put guards there to keep watch, the idea was that the man Jesus was now out of the way, and in a short while, Jerusalem will return to normal, because the Jesus controversy will be over and forgotten.
But because of the resurrection, and because Jesus had died, and had fallen into the earth, he suddenly reproduced himself, so that instead of one Christ, when the Holy Ghost came on Pentecost, there emerged at least 120 Jesus’; and one of those Jesus’ preached a stirring sermon that had three thousand Jesus’ coming into the kingdom, and Jerusalem could not cope with the number of Jesus’ that were now in town. Thank you Jesus! This is the whole reason behind our salvation! It is not about becoming good people who are living right and getting ready to go home to heaven. God’s intention is to fill the earth with images of himself in the sons he is producing. That is why Peter is saying that God has begotten us again unto a lively [life giving] hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. That is also why Paul wrote to the Romans admonishing them not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.
He also went forward in making the case for us to be conformed [made like—fashioned after] to the image of the Son of God, that he might be the firstborn among a family of many brothers. [And sisters.] As the firstborn Christ only opened the door and pointed us in the right direction. He simply sampled life and death on our behalf, and in the process announced: “Because I live ye shall live also. I am come that ye might have life, and have it more abundantly.” Jesus said to the Father that he had finished the work that he was sent to do. But in truth, the work had just begun and it continues all the way down to where we are today. Yes! He finished his part, but to that end he taught the disciples: “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”
Paul’s belief was that when Christ died, he [Paul] died with him; and when Christ rose from the dead, he [Paul] rose with him. But he did not keep this personal belief to himself: he shared it with the Roman Church in his letter. The idea of us being begotten again unto God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, is worthy of praises and we can construct lovely sermons from that context. But we cannot forget how the process works. Jesus himself made it quite clear that a seed that falls into the ground, cannot germinate and grow up as a tender blade of grass until after it has died.
So while we laud and embrace the concept of the benefits we derive from the resurrection of Christ, we must keep all points of view in their proper context. The resurrection is preceded by a crucifixion and death. The entire born again experience and our growth into maturity in Christ is based upon a fixed and determined process, and to short-circuit it, is to miss the goal already set by God himself. We read this of Christ: “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12: 2. Paul, again, bore witness of the path Jesus took; which is a path that his disciples in any age or time frame MUST follow. “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” Hebrews 13:12,13.
Christ knew of the joy that was set before him: but he did not take any short-cuts in the process. He willingly endured the cross and bore the shame. By the same token, Paul is exhorting us to go to him outside the gate, meaning outside the boundaries of orthodoxy and organized religion. Go to him outside the realm of the church system. But be willing to bare his reproach and shame. At the very beginning, we are told that: “He made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant.” This is he who created ALL things and without him was nothing made that was made: but he came to us as a servant, meaning a slave.
Excuse me for a moment! I think that many of the leaders among God’s people have lost the conviction and burden of being servants to God’s heritage. Religious leaders have become visible with prestige equaling that of politicians and high profile celebrities. But Jesus laid out in plain language what being a disciple entails. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself [Most profoundly—of himself] and take up his cross, and follow me.” This was an invitation for us to follow Jesus to heaven! It was a call to come follow him and die! “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Matthew 16:24, 25.
So before we celebrate the glories of the resurrection, and the inheritance we have been endowed with because of it, let us not forget the death process that comes first. Paul magnified the cross of Jesus Christ in so much that he wrote: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Galatians 6:14. Let us step back for a moment and delve into the mindset of this mighty apostle. This man evangelized much of the known world in his day. He established churches in many cities and towns, installing elders to oversee them in his absence. He was not interested in organizing a new organization bearing his name and his brand, bringing several churches in Asia Minor under his umbrella, and bearing his name and trade mark.
He had no interest in becoming the “Presiding Bishop and Chief Apostle” over the organization. He was not a man who called upon the congregation to stand at attention when he walked in. In fact, he said himself that he came to them in weakness. Listen to this man’s credentials! “And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” 1st Corinthians 2: 3, 4.
As ministers, and as Christians at large, do we possess these characteristics that Paul exhibited? Can we honestly say that our only glory is in the cross of Jesus Christ? Can we say by an oath that by the cross of Christ we are crucified unto the world, and the world unto us? All of these factors are very personal but of crucial importance. Indeed, Paul longed to know Christ in the power of his resurrection, but he also knew the conditions that were associated with his desire. He began by suffering the loss of all things for Christ, and also counting all but dung [filth] so as to win Christ. The prize you win is yours to keep! Have you won Christ? It is quite easy to stand before a congregation and teach about being strong. Learn to die to self we preach with great anointing! Put your faith into action and become and overcomer! But the greater issue is the obvious question of “how to do it.”
After people walk out of the sanctuary and return to life’s many challenges, they still must learn to implement what the preacher said in the latest sermon. Beating one over the head with more scripture verses is not the solution. It becomes like a broken record and even empty platitudes. Listen to Paul’s predicament! “For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” Romans 7:18b,19. So then, how are we justified? “Therefore being justified by faith.” How do we get Christ to dwell in our hearts? “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” How did Paul live his daily life? “and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God.” How was Enoch translated? “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death.”
Are we clear on all of the above? Here is Paul’s admonition! “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise [on the same basis—applying the same truths] reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin [because he that is dead cannot sin] but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6: 9-11. The key is to reckon yourself to be dead! Not trying to die! Not hoping to die! But that you are already dead! The Greek word for reckon is: log-id’-zom-ahee, and it means to take inventory, to estimate, to conclude, to impute or add to. Did Paul try to die? Did he go around in fasting and prayer saying, kill me Lord, please kill me? Did he come to church an hour before the service begins and remain on his knees around the altar praying to die? He saw his death as a foregone conclusion!
“I am crucified with Christ.” Paul is saying that when Christ died he died also, and he passed on to us the same concept for our benefit in terms of our faith and growth in Christ. Listen to this! “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection, knowing this, that our old man is crucified [not hoping to be crucified] with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that IS DEAD is freed from sin.” Romans 6:6-7. From here on in, we should not continue to wrestle with the idea of being partakers of Christ’s death. It is already a done deal! Because of this truth, being begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is also a done deal; sealed, signed, and delivered! Rejoice in the complete work that God has wrought on your behalf. As far as our salvation and total redemption is concerned, God has already dot every I, and crossed every T. The only factor that we are being impacted with “is the fullness of time.” But in the meantime, as Paul indicated to the Corinthian Church, we are being changed from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord. All of these blessings come with iron clad guarantees from the Master himself.
Please be reminded to make your gifts payable to Royce Kennedy and not to the ministry. Thank you!