Friday, April 2, 2010

Nicodemus Almost Got It! We Don't

Nicodemus almost got it all right. He belonged to a group in the Sanhedrin that grew 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 much rituals and religiosity---or too much "good" church programs and worship services and Sunday sermons, and yet no one was getting radically changed spiritually or genuinely healed miraculously from ailments. "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.

They were expecting 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, to come to their rescue. A Messiah, to their minds, ought to have a grand and dramatic entrance.

A Disappointing Messiah

One day they heard about someone doing astounding miracles and preaching a different message than what they had been used to. It was bible based, yet a very different one. Could this be the Messiah? Nicodemus and friends heard how the lame walked, the blind saw, thousands fed with a miraculously multiplied few food provisions, how the man in question walked on water and changed it into wine, too---lots of crazy stuffs. This man was amazing---could indeed very well pass as Messiah.

To see how radical God wants you to be in Christ, click here.

But there was one problem---he didn't look right.

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. 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? 

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 deceiver, just another wild cult leader? Indeed, many were starting to call him a mad man---even his own family did. Some said he had a demon. How could Nicodemus and his respectable party identify with this character?

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 usual "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. And Nicodemus and his ilk got tired of all that. Now, they wanted nothing but the real thing. The genuine Move of God.

Now, 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...."

Water stands for the Word. You must be born of the Word and the Spirit. When the angel released the Word of God 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 if we want in.

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 their denomination, Judaism. But they knew nothing about seeing and entering the Kingdom.

There are lots of believers today who remain outside Kingdom premises. They're outside the gate, 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 mansions. Those who have entered need only to whisper, because they're right inside God's master 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, you need to shout.

I'm all for expressive worship and praises for God. But I hate noise. Some people sing well but do not realize that all they make in the spirit is 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 professor in Israel, be expected to give up all the things he worked hard for to earn? All that recognition and trophies and credentials, and...what else...let's see...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 cloth for women's monthly menstruation. You have to bid them good bye forever."

Nicodemus looked at the disciples. "You mean, I have to stoop to being like these guys who...who know nothing?"

Jesus: "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. 

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 it's true nature. Sometimes the wind goes from this direction to that and vice versa. The wind is never predictable though weather forecasters try to predict it---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. 

Nicodemus got that.

Church Today

But churches today still don't. You go to church and you see nothing but the efforts and achievements of man, his religion, programs and the system 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 church denomination 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. 

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 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 all think Nicodemus got it all wrong.

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