"..Yet in My Flesh I Will See GOD" [Job. 19.26]

Friday, April 2, 2010

Nicodemus Almost Got It! We Haven't

Nicodemus almost got it all right. He and his friends in the Sanhedrin were growing restless, tired and bored about the usual things. They saw how their bible-based denomination---Judaism---was becoming more and more off tangent from the Word and becoming a useless religion by man. They claimed God was with them but actually, all they saw was man and his worship programs and temple activities.

Alive But Dead

The "church," as it were, was just full of gimmickry but devoid of real spiritual power and authority. Too many rituals and too much religiosity---or too many "good" church programs and worship services and Sunday sermons---and yet no one was getting radically changed spiritually or genuinely healed miraculously from diseases. "There must be something more to this than what we have now," Nicodemus and friends must have wondered. They waited for a powerful present Move of God.

Then one day, it came. But they couldn't believe it! They were expecting something classy, something their ilk would approve. Something grandiose, spectacular, grand and glamorous. Something that involved some power display, religious and political influence and a dramatic rescue from heaven's liberation forces.

Or perhaps help from above in the form of a heaven-sent Pharisee or Law teacher, with title and degrees, or at least decent looking. Someone they could easily accept and respect. Someone presentable to come to their rescue. Or at least one with a mega church. A Messiah, to their minds, ought to have a grand and dramatic entrance.

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A Disappointing Messiah

So they closely watched Jesus with his astounding miracles, preaching a different message than what they had been used to. It was bible based, yet a very different one. Could he be the Messiah? Nicodemus and friends heard how the lame walked, the blind saw, thousands fed with a miraculously multiplied meager food provisions, how the man in question walked on water and changed it into wine, too---lots of crazy stuffs.

These things were never seen in the ministries of the Pharisees and the high priest, the accepted "spiritual leaders" of their bible-based religion. All they had were their ministry gimmicks and beautiful programs and enticing activities. But you didn't see God at work. No supernatural or miraculous events. Unlike in Jesus' ministry. This man was amazing---he could indeed very well pass as Messiah.

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But there was one problem---he didn't look right. And he didn't have legitimacy in the eyes of the present religious empire. Worse, he looked poor.

God's genuine move (or God's flesh) never looks right to those left way behind by the present Move of God---those unable to get the latest updates from heaven, the secrets of the Kingdom. So Nicodemus and friends kept debating over about the man. If he were the Messiah, why was he breaking all the laws? Why wasn't he upholding the correct denomination at the time---Judaism? And why was he poor and unemployed?

Why no mega church with beautiful facilities?

He was not someone you'd proudly present as the Messiah. You'd scorn him. And he sounded more anti-religion and anti-temple. Was this Messiah or a scammer? Or just another wild cult leader? Indeed, many were starting to call him a mad man---even his own family thought he was going nuts. Some said he had a demon. How could Nicodemus and his respectable party identify with his unpopular and despised reputation?

And he never consulted, or at least mingled, with any recognized religious leader. "He should at least pay us some visit to get our support," they probably thought. Wasn't that proper protocol? This man knew nothing of the recognized Pharisaical "church" work and ministerial ethics. Messiah? Hmm.

But Nicodemus and his friends all the more saw the messianic mandate in Jesus. Finally, they agreed on one thing. Nicodemus reflected the consensus when he told Jesus: "We know you are a teacher from God." They finally admitted it. "No one could perform the miraculous deeds you do except that God is with you."

"No one could perform." All they had back then was a rotting religious system garnished with titles, degrees, positions, good looks, beautiful "church" buildings and programs and activities and theologically correct sermons. But no power. NO POWER. No supernatural moves of God, unlike in Abraham's, Moses' David's, Solomon's and the prophets' time. And Nicodemus and his ilk got tired of all that. Now, they wanted nothing but the real thing. The genuine Move of God.

They wondered: Was it possible to inject that Move into their traditional church so they can be part of it without leaving their denomination? Nicodemus went one night to Jesus to find out. It was an urgent question that he risked being seen going to Jesus. So he did it at night.

Throw Everything in the Garbage

Nicodemus didn't know how to approach the Messiah---the guy that the Old Testament actually talked about. How do you approach a man like that? Perhaps, you should talk to him with all formality. You need a good intro. So Nicodemus tried to worm his way into a good conversation with Jesus. He tried a good intro---something like, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher from..."

Jesus cut out all the crap and proceeded to what Nicodemus had to know---and what he went there for, in the first place: No, you could not get the best of both worlds. You have to leave all works of the flesh and be confined to what was spiritual. The Move was all spiritual, nothing of man or the flesh or the world. You cannot serve two masters. "What is born of flesh is flesh; what is born of spirit is spirit." You cannot start with flesh and end up with spirit, or vice versa. You cannot do both. In short, Nicodemus, you have to start all over again, as a baby, from square one. "Unless you are born again, you cannot see..."

Unless You are Born of Spirit...

To be part of the genuine Move of God, you cannot have anything of man or the world in you---your denomination, denominational doctrine, denominational goals and programs and activities, man's ways of doing church and missions and evangelism, etc. Why? Because it should be all of the Spirit. ALL!

It is all spiritual. Thus, you have to be baptized into the realms of the Spirit. Only spirit can achieve the spiritual. The flesh counts for nothing (Jn.6.63). Thus, "Unless you are born of water and spirit, you can never enter...."

When you're born physically, you come out of the womb with water. Some say that's "born of water." I respect that. But to me water stands for the Word [Ephesians 5.26]. You must be born of the Word and the Spirit. When the angel released the Word to Mary and the Spirit hovered over her, Jesus, the man, was born of water and Spirit. In the spirit, the same should happen to us.

Now, don't get me wrong. It's not just leaving church denominations per se. You may do without denominations and still not see or enter the Kingdom. You may leave your denomination and yet remain being born in the flesh without being born in Spirit. And you can stay in your denomination and get all these Kingdom things right in your life.

The thing is to GET OUT of man's ways and the worldly system. Seek the genuine and supernatural move of God and stay there.

Many Cannot See The Kingdom

No wonder their system was rotting, the religious system they had back then. They were doing the ministry when the fact was, no one among them could see the Kingdom. How can you enter a place you cannot see? They were all blind and just hitting everything else except the target. Even if you were so good with the bible, everything will just equate to zero. Pfft! Even if you have a big, mega church and lots of church income, if you can't see or enter the Kingdom, it's all useless.

Many Cannot Enter The Kingdom

Well, given that many do see. But what good is seeing if you cannot enter? Nicodemus and his ilk were experts when it came to seeing and entering the realms of Judaism. But they knew nothing about seeing and entering the Kingdom.

There are lots of believers today who remain outside Kingdom premises. They're inside their "ministries" but they're outside the gate of the Kingdom, seeing God's mansions but remaining outside, nonetheless, exposed to all the elements, unprotected, some even sick and dying. That's why they have to shout in their worship and prayer and make noise, in hopes that God would hear them from inside his house of many mansions. Those who have entered need only to whisper, because they're right inside God's chamber, the Throne Room.

Some ask, "Then why did David make all that noise in worship?" I ask, "Then why didn't Jesus? Whose follower are you?" Jesus just sang a hymn. The only times he shouted was when he was so disappointed with Jerusalem, and when he cried at the cross---but that was when "he was made sin" for us. When you are made sin though you are perfectly sinless, you need to cry and shout.

I'm all for expressive worship and praises for God. But I hate noise. Some people sing or play instruments well but do not realize they produce nothing in the spirit but noise.

The Remedy for Nicodemus

In effect, Jesus told Nicodemus, "Start all over again." Forget about your past accomplishments---what you have achieved in "ministry," your title, degree, position..everything. "Be born again." Start as a spiritual baby who knows nothing and has to learn new things. Trash all your denominational knowledge and everything else the world taught you. Renounce all the world gave you.

Nicodemus' eyes widened in disbelief. "How can this be?" It would be as good as going back to your mother's womb and start again! How could he, a respected, titled and degreed leader and theology expert in Israel, be expected to give up all the things he worked hard for to earn? All that recognition and trophies and credentials, and, well, everything else! He had so many achievements that he could not enumerate them all.

"Oh, yes, Nicodemus, you have to throw them all away as menstrual cloth. You have to bid them good bye forever." The old is past. The new has come. Nicodemus may have looked at the disciples and then asked Jesus. "You mean, I have to stoop to being like these guys who know nothing? Who are unschooled, ordinary men?"

Jesus said: "You are a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not know these things? How can you understand heavenly teachings if you cannot get this one earthly truth?"

Well, in fairness, Nicodemus really almost got the idea---go back to square one and throw everything away in the garbage. It was like going back to your mom's womb. Paul said:
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ," [Philippians 3]
And then what?

And then simply be lead by the Spirit. Like how the wind goes wherever it wills---wherever God directs it. No one knows where it goes and where it ends up. Sometimes the wind goes from this direction to that and vice versa. The wind is never predictable though weather forecasters try to---and often put to shame. Man has nothing to do with where the wind originated or wants to go. It's all the work of God. "So it is with everyone born of the Spirit," said Jesus. 

That's when Nicodemus asked, "How can this be?" But I think Nicodemus got the idea.

Church Today

But churches today still haven't. You go to church and you see nothing but the efforts and achievements of man, his religion, programs and the systems of the world. Nothing is supernatural. You see God nowhere, except the mention of his Name and the usurpation of his Word. 

God wants you kept in his Kingdom when you get born again. "Born again" is designed to make you see God's Kingdom and enter it, not enter a religious world system and organization and do man's will there. You are meant to be a Kingdom person, to be God's child and heir of his Kingdom. Thus, as heir with Christ and child of the KING, he wants you very familiar with His Kingdom (in fact, master it)---it's culture and nature, mindset, protocols, principles and laws ("Christ's law" or "law of the Spirit"), procedures and processes, standards and norms. Even Kingdom language.

For instance, the least is the greatest in the Kingdom. That's a Kingdom truth. Yet, in church today, that's what they fear most---to be the least. So they all want to attach titles to their names----Reverend, Doctor, Bishop, Director, Superintendent, etc. And they all want to have their masters and doctorate degrees. They go to seminary and study---not to know Christ more and follow in his radical footsteps---but to get a degree and get respect because that can translate to a church with more members and money. They all want to be the mega-est church of all and the church with the highest income. 

The church, all these years, has not yet learned that one simple Kingdom standard---the least is the greatest, and blessed are the poor in spirit. And yet they think Nicodemus got it all wrong.