March 2016

In January I began our journey into 2016 with an introduction to 2 Corinthians 5:20 (ESV) “20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Here is a reminder of my first paragraph.

Ambassadors for Christ is our theme for 2016.  A dictionary defines an ambassador as: “an accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country:” Let us work backwards through the definition.

Last month we began with “a foreign country” discussion. In March let us consider “its official representative.” What does it mean to be an official representative of the Kingdom of Heaven? Listen to Jesus, 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:17–19 (ESV) The history of interpretation of this passage is very interesting. The Church of Rome has it’s own interpretation based upon the person of Peter. The alternative interpretation  focuses upon Peter’s confession in Matthew 16:16 (ESV) 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The choice is between person and confession. My assertion is that all who hold to the confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” have been granted the power of the keys. The power rests in Christ, not in Peter or me. Peter and I are simply His representative, we are not the Christ.

The key issue with being the official representative is explained in  John 6:37–40 (ESV) 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Here is the essence: it is not what I do but why I do it that carries the most significance. It is the accomplishment of the Father’s will that is the ultimate good and greatest accomplishment. Jesus himself says, “not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” The official representative is always bound to do the will of the “sender.” I have no authority or right to act unless it derives from my role as representative of Heaven. Everything I bind on earth must directly reflect what The Father wants bound. I can do Him no favors or devise better ways or do Him a good deed. Instead I am commissioned to simply obey. Hear Jesus’s submission in Luke 22:42 (ESV) 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

This is the greatest challenge for all Christians, if I am not willing to submit my will to Christ, then I can have no part in His victory. Listen to John the Baptist , 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:29–30 (ESV)  Or hear Jesus, 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.” John 15:13–14 (ESV) Or again Jesus, 46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”  Luke 6:46 (ESV) And again in Matthew 7:21–23 (ESV) 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’  Here’s my final Scripture on this point – Romans 2:13 (ESV) 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.”

Obedience is the mark of Heaven’s official representative. Conformity to Heaven’s purpose, methodology, and timing is absolutely essential to success in representation. So the question becomes for each of us, am I living my life in conformity to Heaven’s purpose for me?

Here are some suggestions for accomplishing this task. Am I constantly and continuously listening to Heaven’s directions. Every day and even hourly am I in tune with Heaven’s purpose for me. Is the Holy Spirit my constant companion and leader? Am I a hearer of Heaven (God) on a regular and intentional basis? I accomplish this through Bible reading, preaching and prayer. Am I fully equipped to know and do God’s will for me? Second am I fully committed to doing all the Father asks of me? Simple things like speaking the truth in love, doing unto others as I would have them do to me, letting my light shine before others, forgiving others as God has forgiven me and making disciples as I go. Is my life truly about advancing Heaven’s purpose on earth? Finally do I rejoice in the privilege of bearing the likeness and image of Almighty God before this world? Do I rejoice in representing Jesus before a lost, dying, and hopeless world? Is Good News my delight to be shared with all around me?

Jesus said “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” If you are a friend to Jesus you are also an official representative of the Kingdom of Heaven. What a privilege!