PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART XXI

God is Spirit! And the Holy Spirit, does not give man more than he can bear. I have been told, many times, that God’s Law and even “Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount” are outside the human ability to keep. I have been deceived! And so are you! God, the true Spirit, does not give us more to do or to carry than we are able. In fact, when a mishappening disabled me, God opened within me a source of energy far superior to the one that was taken from me (I Corinthians 10:11-13). Moses had a similar problem with his people, who had formed a “grasshopper attitude” about themselves. Yahweh, the Lord, gave the Jews this answer: God was present in His Word the Law and the Law sustained and secured their life in the new land.

For this commandment which I command you this day is not to hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you this day, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statues and his ordinances, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to take I will declare to you this day, that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land which you are going over the Jordan to enter and posessess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days, that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them (Deuteronomy 30:11-20).

Moses’ message was not just for the Jews, or for the Christians, only. Moses’ message is for everyone, saint or sinner, who repents and who returns to God. In this life, every person is responsible for staking out his or her destiny. My ancestors constantly reminded me in a universal principle, “We end up sleeping in the bed we made, eating what we seeded and planted, and being paid for what we have done.” And when our work on earth is done, how will our soul rest? Or will any one commend us for what we have left behind? What will the Lord Yahweh Christ say to us? John Zebedee, being in the spirit, heard this message and saw the dead being judged. Paul conquered with John.

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord henceforth.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (Revelation 14:13).

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the the dead were judged by what was written in the books by wht they had done (Revelation 20:12).

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body (II Corinthians 5:10).

Do you suppose, O man, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factitious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress

For every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality (Romans 2:3-11).

DOES GOD EXPECT TOO MUCH OF MAN?

All my live, and I am only eight-eight years old, I have heard preachers preach that they could not possibly do what the “Law,” the “Ten Commandments,” and the “Sermon on the Mount” require. That “grasshopper frame of mind” has robbed us of the blessings God in Christ wants to bestow on us. However, we keep invoking a curse on ourselves. We are saying to God that He has made a mistake in creating weaklings, who are hampered by their own shadows. How could God put weaklings in charge of the world in Genesis One and Two? And how could Jesus entrust His Kingdom to eleven imperfect Galileans? And how could God hand over to Jesus’ disciples the Holy Spirit? And how could God give the disciples the authority to forgive sinners and receive them into God’s Kingdom?

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give  you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had asked this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:19-23).

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:16-20).

“Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I (Jesus) tell you, unless  your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19-20).

WHO CAN LIVE UP TO THE “SERMON ON THE MOUNT?”

The “Sermon on the Mount” was and still is the reason why Jesus wanted and still wants his disciples to be in the world. Jesus gave the Sermon to his disciples before they were sent out to announce is presence and purpose. That is the same reason why all of Christ’s followers, who profess to belong to Christ, ought to display the attitude and the manners of the “Sermon on the Mount.” The Apostle Paul insisted that Christians could behave like their Lord, who also was human, like they were.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the farm of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:5-11).

NOW, LET US READ THE “SERMON ON THE MOUNT” AND APPLY IT TO OUR LIVES, LIKE THE DISCIPLES HAD TO

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up on the mountain, and when he had sat down his disciples came to him. And opened his mouth and taught them, saying;

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, fir theirs in the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:1-12).

HOW VALUABLE WERE JESUS’ INSTRUCTIONS TO US?

These simple “Commandments” Jesus gave to his disciple became very pertinent for me in 1939 when I was only nine years old and they ended in 1945 when I turned fifteen. Rumors of World War II surfaced and my classmates began to call me names, threw mud and rocks at me, and accused me of pushing my school pal into the mud when I was miles away. His father brought his boy to our shop and my father had to beat me severely to satisfy that boy. All I and my father could do have a poor, meek, merciful, forgiving, and muster a peaceful attitude toward the accusing father. Then, pray and crave for justice for these people, so they would stop persecuting us. In September 1939, World War II with Germany began. Father immediately had to return to his army unit; and face the German tanks with an old rusty cannon and two horses. It took the Germans only minutes to kill the entire unit. Fortunately, my father and another soldier miraculously survived the onslaught.   

Back home, the Polish bandits were rounding up our people and jailed them. They came for my parents. And they were stunned when they learned that our father was a soldier fighting in their army. The men eyed our mother who was only twenty-nine and very feminine, but they did not take her that night. Mother did not stay another night at our home. From that night on, she went into hiding with us three boys, nine, seven, and five years old. We never stayed in one place or in someone’s home. She hid in the nearby remote fields and woods until the Russian army liberated us. Mother’s mother stayed in our home and had to face the bandits every night. The German army pushed their ill-prepared Polish army into the Russian hands where the Poles surrendered. Then, the Russians sent our father home. Our parents, who were shipped to Siberia in World War I, lived in fear of the Soviets and we tried to escape to the West, but we failed.

All these brutal events took place within half a year in 1939, and they ended when our family found a temporary place to live under the American occupation in Germany in the late fall of 1945. By then, we had lost our home, our land, our business, a brother, a sister, and our country. The people, who had to allow us to settle among them, did not want us until I left Germany and settled in Canada and then in the USA. I lived under tyranny for fifteen years, my parents for half a century, and my grandparents all their lives. Now, the disciples of Jesus endured evil all their lives, and so did the Christians under the tyranny of Rome. Tyranny is growing rapidly in the West, and we need to learn how to live by the “Sermon on the Mount.” The Apostle Paul was in Roman custody when he offered this advice to the Philippians:

For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again (Philippians 1:21-26).

WHY WAS JESUS SO HARD ON HIS DISCIPLES?

Jesus reason was no different from the reason God had sent Moses to deliver Israel from serving burdensome gods and masters and turned them into priest to unburden mankind from similar overloaded burdens, sins, and transgressions (Exodus 19:6). The disciples were given the same mission to their world to be priests that could free men and women from the burdens imposed by false gods and leaders (John 20:21-23; Matthew 16:19-20; II Peter 2:9). Jesus separated the sheep (priestly people who rendered service without being recognized to the needy) from the goats who took bows from the public (Matthew 23; 25:31-46). Jesus endorsed a priest-like Samaritan to a Jewish priest and Levite who failed in their duty (Luke 10:25-37). Jesus did not accept eager followers, without giving thought of being one of his disciple. And Jesus also was disappointed when many were pretenders and not true followers:

As they (Jesus and his disciples) were going along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the aid have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord let me first go and bury my father.” But he said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:57-62).

Many of the disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that should betray him. And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Will you also go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was to betray him (John 6:60-71).