Praise the Lord!!
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
May God extend His grace and peace to you!! I urge you to focus on attaining a better understanding of the Kingdom of God this year. It is important for us to remember that Jesus came to preach and teach about the Kingdom of God. Jesus did not come to establish a particular Jewish or Christian denomination. In order to attain this better understanding, you must be willing to grow and mature spiritually. “God is a spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:4) This is a great challenge for many people in the economically developed world because much of Western society is based on the intellect and rational thinking, which is rooted in Greek philosophy, and not on the spirit. Many in our Western culture place their rational thinking over their spiritual intuition or they try to make rational sense out of spiritual phenomena.
Starting in the Seventeenth Century with French philosopher, Rene Descartes, Dutch philosopher, Baruch Spinoza, and later by German philosopher Immanuel Kant during the period of the Eighteenth Century Enlightenment, the scholarly world ushered in a period of rationalism and empiricism. There was a paradigm shift from “How does one come to understand the absolute truth?” to a paradigm based on “What can one prove to be true?” The result was a shift from a theistic model of the universe to a physical model of the universe. During this period, in academic circles, reason dethroned God as the highest authority.
By the Twentieth Century, German Theologian Rudolph Bultmann developed a hermeneutical framework, known as Demythologization, which stripped the Holy Bible entirely of its supernatural phenomena, because these phenomena could not be explained through the paradigm of the scientific process. He ushered in an era in theological circles that essentially denied the spirt realm and the transformational power of the Holy Spirit. This was the advent of Liberal Theological education where the word of God was studied through scientific processes an analyzed like any other work of literature.
In 1 Corinthians 1:20-24, the Apostle Paul states, 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Personally, I do not believe that science and reason can ever prove the existence of God as their province is the study of things in the physical dimension not the spiritual dimension. The spirit realm is a higher ordered dimension than the physical realm. “In the beginning God [a spirit] created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) Therefore, from a biblical perspective, everything that exists in the physical realm has its origin in the spirit realm. In John 18:28-38, when the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, was questioning Jesus, Pilate asked Jesus if He was King of the Jews. “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm. (v36) ‘” Jesus made it very clear that His kingdom was not of the natural realm. The clear implication is that His Kingdom is a spiritual kingdom.
Trying to appropriate the things of the spirit realm solely with our intellect is like using a thermometer to measure radiation levels or trying to use a Geiger counter to measure the temperature. Everyone would readily admit that you cannot measure temperature with a Geiger counter as its function is intended to measure radiation levels. Likewise, one would never attempt to measure radiation levels with a thermometer. Both are measuring devices or tools but for different substances. Attempting to measure radiation levels with a thermometer is futile. Where high levels of radiation are present continued exposure to it will lead to radiation poisoning and eventually death. Trying to appropriate the things of the spirit solely with our intellect will eventually lead to estrangement from God and spiritual death. God designed humans with a spirit. It is our spirit that is intended to appropriate the things of God and the spirit realm not our intellect.
Western Society is based on a Greek paradigm of existence. The Greek philosophers believed humanity consisted of the rational, impulsive (emotive) and appetitive natures. They believed humanity’s rational nature was created by the Demiurge (the fashioner or designer of the physical universe, not the creator from a Christian worldview). They also believed that the Demiurge was pure thought or reason and did not possess emotions. Greek philosophy never was able to come to terms fully with humanity’s emotive nature. For the Greek philosophers emotions were aligned with humanity’s primitive or animalistic nature and were created by lower gods. Emotions were considered something to be controlled and subdued by the intellect. They believed that humanity’s rational nature was the supreme nature and was humanity’s divine power. This evolved into a paradigm that asserts more rational decisions could be made if one could eliminate their emotions from the process. Many philosophers have exalted reason and rationality. Immanuel Kant asserted that morality was rationality. Even Thomas Jefferson did not believe in the supernatural events in the Bible, he believed that humanity could be governed by reason alone.
Reason and rationality were believed to be the superior virtues and remain deeply embedded in the Western mindset. However, modern neuroscience has discovered that our emotive nature is essential to decision making. In fact, there are over 40,000 neurons in the heart which are connected to the brain. There is a part of the brain, the orbital frontal cortex (OFC), the decision making center, that integrates with the Limbic system the emotive functions of the brain. Neurologist Antonio Damasio conducted research where he studied patients that had damage in the orbital-frontal cortex area of the brain, an area involved with integrating decision making and emotion. He discovered that without emotional input decision making is impossible. A brain that cannot feel cannot make up its mind. Therefore, our emotive nature is essential to making rational decisions. We believe the heart is the seat of the spirit. It is our spirit, or as one pastor calls it our “knower,” that ultimately enables us to decide.
Therefore, in Romans chapter 10, the Holy Bible is accurate in describing the process of conversion when it says “with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” In the Old Testament, we are commanded to “love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) In the New Testament in each of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), Jesus repeats this command. In fact in Matthew 22, Jesus calls it the Great Commandment of all the Law: “37 ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40) Notice that the heart (or spirit) is the organ that comes first in the sequence, then the soul and finally the mind. It is not that your mind is not involved; it is just that your mind should line up with and should follow your spirit. One of my favorite seminary professors had a saying that illustrates this principle. He would state, “Faith precedes reason, but faith does not stultify reason.” It is about maintaining balance across our total being spirit, soul (mind, will, emotions) and body in love relationship with God.
Jesus came to establish the Kingdom of God in the earth realm. The Kingdom is a spiritual entity that has a very real connection to and impact on the physical realm. To understand the principles and constructs of the Kingdom it is important for us to develop our spirits. Our spiritual development is critical particularly since many of the principles of the Kingdom of God are counter-intuitive or run contrary to normal human reason. According to 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But a natural [unspiritual] man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”
Humanity consists of spirit, soul and body. Most of us either go to school or have attended school to develop our minds. Some of us go to the gym to develop our bodies. Now we must be sure to develop our spirits so that we can fully understand, appropriate and utilize all the tool and benefits of being a citizen of the Kingdom of God.
The heart or spirit is also the seat of a person’s belief system. It is our belief system that governs our journey on earth. A person can go no further than their belief system. Proverbs 4:23 puts it this way, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life.” The Hebrew word for springs means source or boundaries. So the very course or boundaries of your life is determined by what you believe in your heart.
In my upcoming letters, I will share with you insights the Lord has given me regarding the Kingdom of God. Please join me on this journey. Please share this letter and my future letters with any friends or acquaintances that may be stuck in their head or struggling with their faith. I believe it will be helpful for them.
Thank you for your prayers and financial support of this ministry. I pray that God will continue to watch over you and to bless you to the point of overflow!!
Word of Life Church International, Inc.