Although not recognized at its inception, the Church, founded by Jesus, can never be annihilated. The works of Jesus were publicly manifested. But only a handful, appreciated that Jesus was the Christ. Founded upon the apostles, Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against it. This implies that it is impossible for that Church to perish, based on its rock-solid foundation.
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah (Matthew 16:17-20 NIV).
Peter saw something special, unseen by many. However, Peter’s death does not agree with people’s view of a blessing, although as special as Jesus’s death was special. This leaves a misunderstanding of the meaning of blessing.
To be counted worthy to die for the cause is unequalled. The only interesting exposition of the indestructible Church is its lack of popularity. Only Common things are destined to perish.
God’s Church was viciously treated like a cult. There are many things, exciting to ordinary people, but destined to perish. The esteemed Pharisees of Jesus’s time are now only historically recognized.
There are characteristic features that an observant reader can pick, as identifying God’s Church. Jesus said, no one comes to Him unless drawn by His Father (John 6:44). Let us look at seven features, describing God’s Church, as imperishable.
The author of that Church is Jesus. The veracity of what Jesus taught cannot be opposed by anyone. Each time the religious teachers attempted to trap Jesus, they failed. Even at crucifixion, the Pharisees struggled to come up with a justifiable conviction against Jesus.
They had to use the vociferous crowd, to stir commotion, to buttress their claim that Jesus was guilty. Nevertheless, Governor Pilate, could not find Him guilty. Pilate had the power to release Jesus. But at the expense of losing popularity with the Jews. He had to wash his hands, declaring Jesus’s innocence.
For purposes of convicting Jesus, the Jews manufactured lies, using shades of truth, mixed with lies. Lawyers are good at that gimmick. It takes an analytical person to separate truth from lies. Ordinary people easily get carried away by the volume of words.
As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die because he claimed to be the Son of God.” (John 19:6-7 NIV).
As adequately sufficient, God’s laws require no addition or subtraction. The Jews knew that reality very well. Yet entertaining the habit of manufacturing lies, to suit their own interests, in order to suppress other people. For instance, the Sabbath laws had long been taken out of context.
Jewish leaders insisted on having a law, justifying death to anyone claiming to be God’s Son. Pilate ought to have said: “Show me that law!” Of course, that law was nonexistent. Ordinary people assumed the existence of that law, as stated by Jewish leaders.
The bone of contention had been that Jesus claimed to be God’s Son. But the Jews also claimed to be God’s children. What criteria were they using to qualify God’s children? Such double standards exposed Jewish leaders as fakers.
“You are doing the works of your own father,” said Jesus. “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me” (John 8:41-42 NIV).
The Jews claimed to be God’s children but were unable to live up to the standard. They could not identify with Jesus, who came from God. Only God’s true children can perceive the obviosity that those Jews could not perceive. This reveals the impossibility for the truth to mix with lies.
Those belonging to God’s Church are God’s children. Jesus instructed them not to call anyone “Father” (Matthew 23:9). This is just as profound as Jesus called Himself God’s Son. Those doubtlessly calling themselves “God’s Children” comprise membership in God’s Church.
The Jews also identified themselves as God’s children. But their actions betrayed them. God’s children can easily defend their convictions, taking their instructions from God. Just as Jesus similarly defended His conviction.
Another chief characteristic, concerning God’s Church, is hidden in the labyrinth of persecution. Ordinary people cannot identify with persecution. As Heavenly domiciled, God’s Church is foreign to worldly people.
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us, but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood” (1 John 4:4-6 NIV).
Members of God’s Church are persecuted, just as Jesus was persecuted. Ordinary people cannot recognize that Church, as assuming the opposite of what it portrays. Instead, they celebrate the opposite, as blessings.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for, in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10:12 NIV).
The above Scripture portrayed blessings that cannot register in ordinary people’s minds. To ordinary people, “blessings” refer to personal favours. It takes God’s children to appreciate persecutions as a blessing, confirming their identity as God’s Children.
“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for, in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:12 NIV). The apostles’ persecution brought comfort to them. God’s approval did not come from good treatment by ordinary people.
“…….They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah” (Acts 5:40-42 NIV).
Flogging was painful. But of note, is the behaviour of the apostles: “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Acts 5:41 NIV).
They were, actually, emboldened, disregarding their persecutors’ warning. Another sign, displayed by God’s children, is remaining resolute when doing what is right, even under extreme persecution.
Ordinary people cannot perceive the obvious, due to prejudice. The truth about God’s Kingdom is hidden in prejudice. Those of this world entertain worldly things, more than what is clearly portrayed by John (1 John 4:4-6 NIV).
Multitudes followed Jesus, for purposes of miraculous benefits. Some of them appreciated that Jesus was not ordinary, desiring to hear more from Him. However, Jesus taught such people in Parables. This amazed His disciples.
When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside, everything is said in parables so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’” (Mark 4:10-12 NIV).
There is an aspect of counting the costs, before coming to Christ (Luke 14:25-33). In His loving mercy, Jesus never invited ordinary people to accept His teachings. As requiring them to disown everything, as condition to follow him, Jesus knew that this was difficult for ordinary people.
The gospel needed preaching. But the respondents were expected to make informed decisions. Jesus never intended to make it easy. Teaching in parables, ensured good quality attraction, encouraging self-determinism, more than placing faith on other factors.
Humility facilitates separation between the acceptable and the unacceptable. The poor in spirit would inherit the Heavenly Kingdom. Jesus spoke from the vantage point of understanding human nature. The major stumbling block is pride.
“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29 NIV).
Proud people can never accept what comes from despised people. They assume that knowledge comes, only, from respected quarters. Such a viewpoint keeps the proud people away from God’s Kingdom. In their judgmental attitudes, the proud people focus on individuals, more than God’s message. Only the humble, swallow their pride and change.
The easiest gateway to understand the secrets of God’s Kingdom is humility. Yet humility is an obstacle, keeping proud people afar. Humility, facilitates willingness to change when discovering the truth. A proud person does not identify with change.
God’s Kingdom is spiritual. It is impossible to access God’s Kingdom in physical nature. Even the disciples, although having volunteered to leave everything, had their own failings. Especially Peter, who displayed more zeal than others. It may be impossible to access Kingdom secrets, without God’s Spirit. The process of receiving God’s Spirit requires repentance before baptism. Peter’s attitude changed later, after having received the Spirit.
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:37-38 NIV).
It takes introspection before submitting to baptism, for purposes of receiving the Holy Spirit, which seals one as God’s child. Paul declared that one could not be a Christian without the Holy Spirit.
“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9 NIV).
Calling oneself “Christian” is most convenient, in this world. Christianity remains the largest religion. But only a fraction can be identified as true Christians. The determining factor is God’s Spirit, dwelling in an individual.
“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him, we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:15-17 NIV).
God’s children are fearless; treading where everyone else fears treading. Other people cannot confront them—behaving like cockroaches—though gossiping and wishing them dead, but unable to confront them.
God’s children are among congregations, denominations, even outside Christianity. They can be mistaken for being arrogant. But these are the humblest of all people. Their boldness comes from their conviction, based on truth.
Other God’s people have followers. But the majority have no followers and may die without followers. Although rejected by their own, they hold on to the truth. Most are persecuted, or despised by those unaware of opposing God. Only at Christ’s second coming, will such persecutors realize how foolish they would have been.
God’s Church is strong. Difficult environmental conditions make them stay convicted, assured of God’s Kingdom. They are not associated with this world. The structure of that Church is galvanized by negative effects, in the environment.
God is pleased with their seemingly negligible figures, as comprising God’s Church. The structure of that Church is as strong as untainted by false accusations and multiple persecutions. There is no turning back, for those associated with God’s Church, founded by Jesus.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
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