Connecting the Gospels to Jesus’ Reign – Lesson Fourteen

Connecting the Gospels to Jesus’ Reign

Introduction

The aim of this lesson is to read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John from the point of view of Christians who first received these Gospels in written form.  Luke addressed his Gospel and Acts to Theophilus.  By the use of Luke’s documents and our human endowment of imagination we can seat ourselves beside Theophilus and read what he read.  Even better, we could harmonize all four Gospels to create our own gospel.   Christians who lived in the middle of the first century would have been taught what we want to understand in this lesson from the Gospels for Christians.   This is a key lesson to move Christians’ Bible study from the Levitical Priesthood and physical Israel to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom for developing sons of God for His Father.  Children of God are the fruit God treasures from humanity; consequently, we have the responsibility to develop our selves to be this fruit.  See Matt. 6:20; Luke 3:9; Mark 4:26-29.  In fact, the way God designed human beings demands that we develop according to His will.  Jesus Christ’s life is the light of mankind’s life; therefore, for Christians, He is our law of life in the new covenant (I John 1:2; Rom. 8:29; Heb. 1:3; 8:10).    To prepare our minds to understand Jesus’ teachings in written form about our role in the kingdom of God in the Gospels, please read Luke 1:1-4:

   1.  “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled.”

a.  God’s story in Luke about sending His Son as the Messiah “fulfilled that (which) is written about Me (Jesus Christ) in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”  Luke 24:44.

b. Matthew, John and, perhaps Mark, were three of many people referred to by Luke, who were “eyewitnesses and servants of the word.”  The accounts of these four Christians have been accepted by Christians as having been inspired by the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:45-49).

c.  Luke may have been one of the “us;” that is, Christians who had been taught by those who presented an “eyewitness account” of Jesus Christ preaching the kingdom of God to the Jews.  See Hebrews 2:2-4.

d.  Theophilus had been taught Jesus’ teachings that made future connections to His reign after He took His place at the right hand of God (Acts 7:56).  Luke wrote “that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”  We can know the certainty of the same things Theophilus knew by a study of the four Gospels.

   2.  Please read Acts 1:1-5.

a. After “carefully investigating” everything, Luke also wrote an orderly account in his Gospel.  How he made his investigation, he did not say.  He incorporated much of the material from the other Gospels in an “orderly form” for Christian’s use in the first century.  His form may have been for the Gentile element in the church.

b.  In his Gospel, Luke “wrote about all Jesus began to do and teach until the day He was taken up to heaven, after given instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen.”  See Luke 24:44-49.

   3.  Luke introduced himself in God’s story in Acts as a co-traveler with the Apostle Paul.  See the change in the pronouns from “they” to “we” in Acts 16:7, 10, 11, 40; 20:2, 5, 6.  Luke accompanied Paul to Rome for his trial (Acts 27:1).  See my book entitled “God’s Evangelism by Jesus Christ,” a study of Acts.  It is posted on my website.  www.whydidgodcreateyou.com

This is the third lesson about connecting the four Gospels.  The aim of Lessons Twelve and Thirteen is to connect the historical story and oral teachings of Jesus to the topics of the previous lessons in this book.  At the same time both lessons are designed to help Bible students connect the Gospels to God’s story and teaching in the Old Testament.  They contain some key thoughts for assisting Christians in our Bible study – which is the aim of this book.  In this lesson, topics from the Gospels will be presented to help Christians connect the teachings of Jesus to His reign as king and high priest.  Each of these topics is a study within itself, therefore, there will only be space for a brief comment.

Lesson

Christians who want to maintain an open “Door of Faith” into the “kingdom of Christ and of God” must understand the major moves God made through the Christ in the Gospels.  We need to understand Jesus Christ’s life and teachings He revealed while serving God as His prophet for the Jews around 30 A.D.  His life and teachings are the laws of the new covenant.  This is the description of how our spirits have been created to develop.  Jesus of Nazareth orally communicated God’s will to the offspring of Jacob.  Certain portions of His teachings are connected to the previous lessons in this book.  Some teachings can only be connected to what happened after Jesus Christ was “exalted to the right hand of God.” Acts 2:33.  Several connections are made with God’s covenants in both chronological and historical directions.  They connect back to Adam and forward to the return of Jesus Christ.  His time on earth is the pivotal point in history.

Jesus’ teachings about mankind’s present citizenship in the kingdom of God are only for spiritual Israel, the church.  “If they (physical Israel) do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in again.” Rom. 11:23.  Jesus introduced the topic of the church He would build for His Father in Matthew 16:13-20.  People who do not understand the two kingdoms Jesus identified in His commission for the Apostle Paul have attempted to make the church equal to the kingdom of Christ.  See Acts 28:18.  Consequently, they do not preach the kingdom of God Jesus and Paul preached (Acts 20:25).  Jesus touched on Christian relationships in the church in Matthew 18:15-20; “if your brother sins against you, etc.” in verse 15 and church discipline in verse 17.  He mentioned the number of people required to form a church in verse 20.  This would have been all new thoughts for the Jews and even the Twelve.

There had never been an organization on earth like the church Jesus is building for His Father.  This topic  is much too large for this lesson; however, we do need to know spiritual Israel, “the children of promise,” is the church Jesus Christ is building for God (Rom. 9:6-8; Gal. 3:26-4:7; 6:16).  The people “called out” of Satan’s kingdom include both Jews and Gentiles (Luke 13:28-30; Eph. 3:6).  These “called out people,” have formed God’s temple in time on earth (Matt. 18:20; I Cor. 3:16, 17; Eph. 2:19-22).  Jesus, via the Holy Spirit, has explained the church of God “in Christ” in the remainder of the New Testament documents following the Gospels (I Thess. 2:14).

The church, as a congregation of people, forms the body of Christ.  The body of believers is made up of mature people from Satan’s kingdom.  We accepted Jesus as the light of our lives.  This was John’s point in 1:1-13.  This church is the temple of God.  The manner in which God dwells in His temple on earth is by the Holy Spirit.  Jesus said to the Israelites, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” Luke 11:13.  However, He also said the Holy Spirit would not be available for fellowship with God’s “children of promise” until after Jesus became the perfect sacrifice to remove guilt from their consciences.

Jesus repeatedly explained to His disciples about His forth coming “three days of glorification of Himself and His Father,” but they did not understand (Matt. 16:21-23).  Simeon warned Mary, “and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”  Luke 2:35.  It happened: “Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother.”  John 19:25.  Luke chose to place Jesus’ announcement of His death after Peter properly answered His question, “Who do you say I am?”  See Luke 9:18-22.  Luke then recorded Jesus’ salvation statement:  The use of the word “salvation” must be understood in the context it is presented.  Salvation from past sins is one context and salvation of a Christian is a different context.  Grace is essential in both contexts.  Please note how the Apostle Paul combined Jesus’ declaration, “He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” in Luke 9:22 with his statement in Rom. 6:5:  “If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.”  In this context “salvation” means; “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Col. 1:13, 14.  God saves sinner after they have faith in His purpose for their creation, by their accepting the new covenant in their repentance and subjecting themselves to being baptized in water (Rom. 6:1-4).

  Most of Jesus’ messages for Christians are about growing up in our salvation (I Pet. 2:1-3).  Satan and his preachers would have us believe a different gospel about our salvation.     The context of Jesus’ imperative in Luke 9:23-27 is so Christians can continue to “count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”  Rom. 6:11.  After orally preaching the kingdom of God for more than three years to the Israelites;

Jesus took the Twelve and told them, ‘We are going to Jerusalem and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.  He will be handed over to the Gentiles.  They will mock Him, insult Him, spit on Him, flog Him and kill Him.  On the third day He will rise again.  The disciples did not understand any of this.  Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what He was talking about.’  Luke 18:31-34

Since Jesus was also a prophet, He had to go to Jerusalem to die (Luke 13:33).  He chose to go before the Passover.  While eating the Passover meal with the Twelve, Jesus “took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you.’”  Luke 22:19, 20.  This is the main reason Christians meet on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).  Jesus told the Samaritan woman a time would come when God’s people would worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:21-24).  Jesus also said, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:54.  In the context Jesus made this statement, He, no doubt, had much more than the Lord’s Supper in mind; however, this is one way Christians worship God and Jesus in spirit and truth.  The Lord’s Supper is worship and like all things in the new covenant it involves a communion type relationship (I Cor. 10:14-17; 11:17-34).  See my book entitled, “The Letters to the Corinthians,” Part IV, Lesson Five, “The Lord’s Supper.”  Communion means we are involved in the scene that Jesus described in Luke 18:31-34.  See Matt. 27:27-31.  May God help those of us who sometimes tend to make it a Sunday law and/or, a ritual.

Jesus Christ died “in Adam.”  He suffered; it was His cup to drink.  He prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done.”  Matt. 26:42.  His last agonizing cry was, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me.”  Matt. 27:46.  “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”  Matt. 27:51.  This introduced another doctrine for Christians only.  It is the Priesthood of Jesus Christ on the Melchizedek order.  Unless we have a workable understanding of the New Testament book called “Hebrews” we cannot appreciate or have faith in Jesus Christ in His role as High Priest.  See my book entitled “Hebrews.”  This book is about how to read this most important document.

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s life on the cross has become Christians’ mercy seat in the doctrine of justification by faith.  “Sacrifice of atonement” in Rom. 3:25 has been translated from the same Greek word as the “atonement cover” in Heb. 9:5.  Sinners who have been born again live in a new realm called, “in Christ.”  Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, My servants would fight to prevent My arrests by the Jews.  But now My kingdom is from another place.”  John 18:36.  This other place has been identified as “in Christ” by both Peter and Paul.  It is a sphere that never existed before Jesus Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice for sin – even to the cleansing of Christians’ consciences.  (Heb. 9:8-14).  The “in Christ” realm is in the world but not of the world (II Cor. 10:3-6).  It was required for God to offer us His new covenant, even though His new covenant is a factor in creating the new realm (Heb. 10:8-12).

The result for Christians is a new realm in which we can live with a clean conscience about the things in our life that need fixing.  We can examine ourselves without guilt.  Guilt for mature people in the “world realm” is the result of having the endowment of “knowing good and evil.”  Guilt destroys mature people.  It robs them of their innate need for glory.  Because Christians live free of guilt, the Holy Spirit can fellowship us (Rom. 8:1, 2).  The removal of guilt from the conscience of God’s people was new.  This grace was offered only in the new covenant.  The grace of Jesus’ sacrifice of His holy blood is necessary for Christians to have fellowship with God by His Holy Spirit (Heb.10:1-3).  The Holy Spirit did not fellowship believers until the guilt of sin had been removed from our consciences (Acts 2:38).  Jesus’ blood is still cleansing repentant sinners of guilt from our consciences according to the new covenant (Rom. 5:1; Heb. 8:12; I John 1:7).  However, the Priesthood of Jesus Christ is now in heaven – not in Jerusalem (Heb. 8:1).

The Apostle John was very careful to note: “One of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.”  John 19:34.  John would use his own testimony in his first letter (I John 5:6-8).  This testimony served to encourage the church against the antichrist (I John 4:2, 3).  It was necessary for Jesus to be glorified by His Father before the fellowship of the Holy Spirit could be “ask for” by God’s people.  See John 7:37-39; Heb. 9:8-14.  Although Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be given to those who ask, this statement was not made for His original audience.  Those who would be born again of the water and the Spirit could ask and receive the fellowship of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13).  This happened to three thousand after Jesus returned to His Father and sent the Holy Spirit to give them full understanding of the kingdom of God.  See John 3:5-8; Acts. 1:4-11; 2:36-41.

Christians who are led by the Holy Spirit fulfill the requirements of the Law of Moses in our daily lives (Rom. 8:1-4).  Jesus did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets because they would be fulfilled by Him and those of us who accepted the kingdom of heaven in our repentance (Matt. 5:17-20).   The sermons of Jesus Matthew organized in Chapters Five through Seven is the way the Law of Moses would be fulfilled; however, it would happen only after Jesus Christ became king and high priest (Rom. 8:3, 4).  His sermon explains how the laws of the Levitical Priesthood would be fulfilled in those who would accept the kingdom of God and live the life of a son of God.  See Matt. 5:21-48.  Jesus taught the people how to live by the purpose of the Sabbath.  He did not appreciate the Pharisees’ legal approach.  “Then Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life, or the destroy it?’”  Luke 6:9.  Christians still have the capacity of “knowing good and evil.”   Christians have been transferred to the Son’s kingdom.  The Holy Spirit actively joined with the Father and Son in Christians’ sanctification (II Cor. 13:14; Eph. 1:3-14; I Pet. 1:1, 2).

Some theologies Jesus taught in the Gospels applied to God’s people before Jesus began to reign and after He became king.  For instance, God’s purpose in creation has always been the same.  The law of life and law of nature did not change.  Christians can understand how the kingdom of God must be in us because we understand how grain grows according to the law of nature in the physical realm.  The “life style” in the kingdom of God develops within us according the law of life for our spirits (Rom. 8:1, 2).  Christians’ “selves” are the field.  We learn, believe and place our faith in the word of God in our inner-man; consequently, the eternal life seed is planted in our minds and hearts.  The “imperishable seed” had to be learned, believed and accepted by faith to start the processes of our new birth (I Pet. 1:22-25).  Please review Lesson Twelve.

Christians’ faith in the same word of God that brought about our new birth continues to grow in us until we begin to think and feel like Jesus (Matt. 5:3-10).  As we begin to think like Jesus we begin to act like Jesus.  We practice righteousness (Matt. 5:20).  Our practice of righteousness leads to our holiness (Rom. 6:19; I Pet. 1:16).  The manner in which the word of God is implanted in His children is by our putting into practice Jesus’ teachings about how to be happy (Gal. 4:19; Jas. 1:21-25).  Our practice will be righteous because we will be doing God’s will.  By our practice of righteousness we “test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Rom. 12:2.  Practicing God’s will is living the kingdom life.  The living part will be preceded by being transformed by the renewing of our minds.  This is what Jesus meant in Matthew 7:24 about all His teachings from Matt 5:3 – 7:27.

The result is Christians develop the personality of a happy child of God.  Jesus taught us the proper emotional attitudes for interacting with reality and other people.  People with a faithful heart filled with the eight emotional attitudes Jesus presented are able to find satisfaction for our God-given needs (Matt. 6:33, 34).  Happiness is for people who have satisfaction, or a hope of satisfaction, for our innate needs.   God assures Christians of satisfaction for some of our needs presently and He gives us hope for the others when Jesus returns (Rom. 8:22-25; I Pet. 1:7).  We develop strong character to stand against the challenges of life (Matt. 7:25-27).  Christians’ challenges are God’s school for developing His eternal children (Heb. 12:4-14).  We have become salt and light for other people (Matt. 5:13-15; 9:37, 38).

Jesus often used a tree to illustrate how the kingdom of God “comes near” to people.  The life of the kingdom permeates the personality and character of “born again” people.  Christians identify as sons of light in the kingdom culture (Matt. 4:17; 7:18-20; 12:33-37; 13:31-33; John 12:36).  We have been transferred to the way of life of Jesus’ kingdom; the culture of the kingdom.  This becomes our life while still on earth.  People of all ages seek to identify with the culture in which they were born.  We seek to identify with the culture of God’s kingdom – where there will be no evil people (I Cor. 6:9, 10; Gal. 5:19-22; Rev. 21:8).

Jesus used natural things the people understood to help the common people understand the spiritual presence of God’s kingdom.  His goal was to help the people see themselves as children in the kingdom of heaven and enjoy its quality of life.  He revealed God’s Person to Israel by His very presence.  He taught the kingdom and revealed the quality of life – the culture of the heavenly kingdom.   His teaching of the kingdom was all new to most of the Israelites.  The intent of Jesus’ teaching was not an “add on” or restoration of the Levitical Priesthood.  New wine cannot be put in old wine skins was the illustration Jesus used to help the people understand, He, the Messiah had come.  He came, not to repair the old physical administration, but with new spiritual thinking – thinking about the life of God.  See Matt. 9:14-17; 10:32-39.  The kingdom of heaven was near because the Messiah had come to preach the kingdom.

The kingdom was near to those who could understand the parables of Jesus and His other teachings.  “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”  Matt. 13:52.  Those who were in their “box of life of a physical kingdom” would not understand His teachings about the heavenly kingdom.   Even though they heard the same parables as those who had been instructed about the kingdom, they could not understand (Matt. 13:10-17).  His mission to bring many sons to glory will be completed when the foregoing scriptures are fulfilled.  God’s family of children is being developed “in Christ.” Jesus will return for God’s fruit for His kingdom.  “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.” Matt. 24:44.

At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn.  They will see the Son of Man on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.  And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one ends of the heavens to the other.   Matt. 24:30, 31

When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.  Luke 21:28

And they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.  See Gen. 6:7; 7:21.  That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.  Matt. 24:39-41

 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.  Luke 21:36

These details about Judgment Day and heaven and hell were not revealed in the Old Testament.  Jesus quoted Isaiah as he closed out His discourse about those people who cause little children to stumble in Mark 9:42-50.  The spirits of all people have come from God and they will return to God for Judgment Day.  The spirit of mankind will never die.  Isaiah spoke of those who would not be allowed to stay with God after Judgment.  He said, and Jesus quoted, “their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.”  These are topics we must understand by more detailed studies.

Doing good is the fruit God expects from His children; however, the good Christians do must be motivated by the laws of life written on our hearts and minds (Matt. 7:17-20; 12:33-37; I Cor. 13:3).  The motives for the good we do will be a discussion at our personal judgment (John 5:28-30).  Although Jesus taught the Jews about their Judgment Day orally, as well as the church through the written Gospels, His teachings are for all people.  They transcend time after our spirits (selves) leave our bodies. See Matt. 25:14-46; Luke 19:11-27; Rev. 20:11-15.  Jesus clearly revealed information about Judgment, and life thereafter for all people, whether they are in hell and heaven.  See Luke 6:35; 9:23-27, 62; 10:18-20; 12:4-10, 13-21.  Along with these scriptures several more of Jesus’ teachings led to final Judgment.   He also explained some specific details about life after death.  See Luke 16:19-31; 18:18-30; 20:34-38.

All of the foregoing blessings had already been enjoyed by people like Theophilus and other Christians who had the privilege of reading the Gospels.  Included in these blessings are Christian theologies, godly ethics and Christian practices.  We cannot bring forward God’s story to our time but we can apply these three items to our lives “in Christ.”  Jesus touched upon all aspects of life for people who have faith enough to “take up his (or her) cross daily and follow Me (Jesus).”  Luke 9:23.  The following are a few more teachings of Jesus in the Gospels Christians will want to take special notice.  There will not be space in this lesson to elaborate.

Unity:  “That all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You.  May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that you have sent Me ”  John 17:21.

Revelation:  “I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”  Matt. 11:25.

Love:   “If any one loves Me, he will obey My teaching.  My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”  John 14:23.  See I John 4:13-21.

The Poor:  “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.  Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”  Luke 14:13, 14.

Greed:  “Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed, a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  Luke 12:15.

Stewardship:  “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will be dishonest with much.  So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?  And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you the property of your own?”  Luke 16:10-12.

Blasphemy:  “But anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”  Luke 12:10.

Marriage:  “Therefore what God has joined together let not man separate.”  Matt. 19:6.

Gentiles:  “For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory to Your people Israel.”  Luke 2:31, 32.

Leadership:  “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist.  After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around His waist.”  John 13:3-5.

Evangelism:   “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.”  Matt. 4:23.  Please see His mission statement in Luke 4:18, 19.  “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  Luke 5:31, 32.  Jesus selected twelve men to train to “catch men.”  Luke 5:10; 6:12-16.  “And He sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and heal the sick.” Luke 9:2.  “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out two by two ahead of Him to every town and every place where He was about to go.”  Luke 10:1.

Jesus’ method of evangelism was to lead by doing.  He then chose people from those He had evangelized to join in His mission.  He served them by teaching them to preach the same kingdom message He preached to them and sent them out: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  Luke 19:10.

Jesus continued to evangelize people along His path to be nailed to the cross and during His crucifixion (Luke 22:28-31, 42, 43).  God restored His physical life and on that same day Jesus joined two men on the road to Emmaus to resume His program of evangelism.  “After His suffering, He showed Himself to these men and gave convincing proofs that He was alive.  He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”  Acts. 1:3.

Christians who love Jesus will obey His teachings.  The apostle, and those the apostles taught, received the following command from Jesus Christ:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.  Matt. 28:18-20

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