THE CHRISTOLOGICAL IMMANENCE OF GOD

 

God’s transcendence is part of God’s nature which is unknowable to humanity in our present state. The face of God, so to speak, or the ability to behold God in all of His glory as He truly exists, is a facet of His transcendence. The very substance which constitutes God’s existence is beyond the realm of human speculation. The only way in which we can define God is describing that which He is not. He is immortal, which is to say, He is not mortal. He is infinite, which is to say, He is not finite. He is infallible, which is to say, He is not fallible. To understand aspects of God’s transcendent nature, we must use cataphatic terms to arrive at an accurate understanding of the one we worship in Spirit and in truth.

God’s immanence is best understood in light of the incarnation. When God took for himself a body of flesh, He eternally united His nature man’s; eventually, man became the perfect human person. Through this, what had been previously unknowable became partially knowable by man. Christian Christology itself has great a contribution to the salvific operation of God in the world because through Jesus Christ, God revealed His light to mankind, hence making the Incarnation of Christ to the Christian faith very crucial. God’s revelation flipped the darkness which the Old Testaments prophesied into a blazing light as seen on the Mount of Transfiguration, where “[Jesus] was transfigured before [His disciples], and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white,” (Matt. 17:2 NRSV). An immanent aspect of God’s nature became incarnated into flesh to descend into our reality and minister to us by guiding us in the ways and statutes of God. In short, God came to Man so Man could come to God.

Thus, God’s immanent theology in the Christian religion is notably distinct from the transcendent and ultimately unapproachable nature of God in other Abrahamic religions such as Judaism and Islam, both of which do not promote personal relationship with the incarnated immanence of God. John recorded the miraculous phenomenon involving the Incarnation as the Word becoming flesh and making its dwelling among us, hence “we have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth,” (Jn. 1:14 NRSV).

Now, the implications of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us lie exactly in what Christ’s Incarnation achieved as an end in itself. The Incarnation is the completion and fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise, of the Mosaic Law, and of the prophecies. In the incarnate person of Jesus Christ, man receives from God the highest priest, the holiest king, and the final prophet. God’s coming into the reality of man is a divine manifestation of His love for us, His creations, and this love extends throughout the entire cosmos.

Studying the Word of God is about equipping yourself to live out in practical ways the standard of the Bible. Archbishop Jordan’s book, Prophet in the Marketplace is now available exclusively via the Book of the Month Club.

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How does the coming of Jesus reveal God’s divine love for you?

A MINISTRY OF LIGHT

After prescribing to the Church a ministry of salt, Christ immediately spoke of His followers as being “the light of the world” and proceeded to teach that, “A city on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven,” (Matt. 5:14-16 NRSV).

Just as Christ mediated the divine light of God to His disciples, His disciples were also beckoned to mediate Christ’s light into the world. The light possessed by the disciples can be compared to that of a lamp, which infers the presence of a pre-existing light source igniting the light of lamp; therefore, the light expressed by Christ’s disciples is not a light of man; rather, it is the light of God, ignited within man by Christ the divine lamp-lighter. The ontological residence of this light is referred to continuously throughout the Johannine corpus as within the personation of God’s Word, Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:4; 9; 3:19; 8:12; 9:5; 12:46). One can have this holy light by, as Jesus teaches, following Him and not walking in darkness (Jn. 8:12). Jesus is the brightest light, the original brightness of God, and the consuming fire which never dies.

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Meditate on how Jesus has been the brightest light of your life.

THE BIBLICAL ADMONITION TO RETAIN THIS MINISTRY OF SALT

Salt is a cleansing agent; similarly, a ministry of the Church must cleanse the world through the prophetic and divine agencies provided by God—prayer, evangelization, contemplation, and charity. Remember the warning Christ gave to those who lose their saltiness: “It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot,” (5:13b). Such a harsh rebuke for those who refuse to incorporate themselves into the ministry of preservation within the Church, but it is important to remember the words of the author of Hebrews, who interprets this difficult teaching:

Therefore let us go on toward perfection, leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ, and not laying again the foundation: repentance from dead works and faith toward God, instruction about baptisms, laying on hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And we will do this, if God permits. For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, since on their own they are crucifying again the Son of God and are holding him up to contempt.

This exposition by the eloquent epistler can certainly cause anxiety especially to those who have failed to live perfect lives as they have “fallen away” from Christ. There are often relatively short periods Christians undergo during their salvific journey where they follow God in repentance and obedience in a backsliding manner. Such periods are a perquisite for being human, and these seasons may last either several days, weeks, years, or even decades. In the context of the passage, it is crucial to pay attention to Apostle John’s disclaimer, which states, “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I Jn. 1:9 NRSV).

The author of Hebrews wrote, of course, to the Hebrew Christians, hence keeping this context in mind is important to be able to interpret the passage and correlate it with Jesus’s warning on the loss of one’s symbolic saltiness. In this warning, Jesus is referring to those who have been apostatized or who have intentionally estranged themselves from the body of Christ by rejecting the Church’s teachings. There is an important distinction to be made between spiritual inactivity and absolute apostasy. The former is inevitable due to our imperfect nature, while the latter is defined in Hebrews as those who reject the foundational teachings of the Christian faith: “repentance from dead works and faith toward God, instruction about baptisms, laying on hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” When one abandons these teachings, one loses one’s saltiness, and such apostasy is the very thing warned against by Christ when he says that those who fail to retain the ministry of salt are “thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

Therefore, we Christians must retain the ministry of preservation and purification set forth by the Lord, at the very least, due to the catastrophic damage on our souls when we abandon the ministry. If we think that the words of Christ apply only to the Twelve and not to us, then we should not believe that anything He said to His followers back then applies to us now. Therefore, the ministry of salt is a crucial aspect of the Christian faith, hence failing to uphold it will jeopardize the quality of our spiritual lives.

 

Studying the Word of God is about equipping yourself to live out in practical ways the standard of the Bible. Archbishop Jordan’s book, Prophet in the Marketplace is now available exclusively via the Book of the Month Club.

Not only does the Book of the Month Club provide a pathway to knowledge, wisdom and insight, it also sets you up to be in attendance at the Spring Session of Prophecology 2018: Birthing House: The Latter Rain, February 23-25, 2018.

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How are you participating in the MINISTRY OF THE SALT?

 

THE RELIGIOUS REFORMATION UNDER KING JOSIAH

Chapter 23 of Kings II features a fascinating discovery in the pages of the Bible. The chapter tells of King Josiah, king of Israel, who assumed the throne when he was only eight-years-old. The author notes that the king did “what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right or to the left,” (II Kings. 22:1-2 NRSV). On the 18th year of his reign, Josiah ordered his secretary, Shaphan, to go to the Temple to command the high priest Hilkiah to distribute the Temple’s funds among the workers.

When Shaphan did so, Hilkiah went to count the sum of the treasures in the Temple. All of a sudden, the priest came across the book of the law, which had been presumably lost until this point. The book likely contained either the Mosaic Pentateuch or a latter collection of Moses’s statutes and ordinances. The book was likely known to the Hebrews, for Hilkiah claimed to have “found the book of the law,” (22:8). When the Temple’s wealth was distributed among the workers, Shaphan informed Josiah of the book of the law found in the Temple by Hilkiah, reading it aloud before him.

Upon hearing its contents, King Josiah immediately “tore his clothes” in repentance and ordered the high priest to “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our ancestors did not obey the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us,” (22:13). Eventually, Josiah was convicted by the examination of the lost Scriptures, leading him to rouse the religious authorities to reform the Hebrew religion.

The reforms initiated by Josiah’s command were directed towards the entire people of Judah. As the verse reads “All the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the prophets, and all the people, both small and great; he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord,” (23:2). The religious reforms included making a covenant before God, vowing to keep His commandments, decrees, statutes, and performing all commands within the book of the law. Additionally, “all the people joined in the covenant.”

Evidentially, the people strayed away drastically from the laws and statutes implemented across Israel, seen in the king ordering all of the vessels made for Baal, Asherah, and various gods which existed in the Temple brought out and burned, with their ashes to be carried to Bethel (v.4). The idolatrous priests who refused to abide by the religious reforms were deposed; in fact, there was even a social aspect of these decrees. The houses of prostitutes within the Temple were broken down, and all of the lands influenced by Israel’s paganist-polytheistic neighbors were desecrated and broken down. “He broke the pillars in pieces, cut down the sacred poles, and covered the sites with human bones,” (v.14).

In the long run, countless innovations on the Hebrew faith became evident as Josiah’s issued religious reformation, from the destruction of pagan altars within Judah’s borders to the burning of bones which inhabited the tombs of supposedly “sacred” mounts. Furthermore, “he slaughtered on the altars all the priests of the high places who were there, and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem” (v.20).

The king also ordered the reinstitution of the Passover as prescribed in the Torah. A verse from the book says, “No such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, even during all the days of the kings of Israel and of the kings of Judah; but in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was kept to the Lord in Jerusalem,” (vv.22-23). After the Passover, any Hebrew medium—wizard teraphim, idol, or other forms of abomination—was put away by Josiah, “so that he established the words of the law that were written in the book that the priest Hilkiah had found in the house of the Lord. Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his might, according to the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him,” (v.25).

Thus, God applauds the narrative of the religious reformation which Joshua carried out. Specifically, God said, “Because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord… I will gather you to your ancestors, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace,” (22:20). This story tells us that religious reformation is as necessary in the Old Testament as it is today. When the Scriptures become hidden and lost from the Church, we begin to acquire the same corruption which characterized Judah under Josiah’s reign. Therefore, the prophet must be able to recover God’s statutes and reform God’s religion accordingly.

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What has your quiet time been telling you to do or to reform?

THE RESPONSIBILITY OF A PROPHET

A prophet holds the office which God gave to the Church. He is blessed with the gift of prophecy. By necessity, he is a shepherd of sorts, similar to the roles of a pastor. He is responsible before those whom he prophesies because if his alleged revelation from God proves to be of a different spirit, he may bring swift destruction upon himself (II Pet. 2:1b). The prophet, therefore, may be able to reform the community if he is responsible enough to cleanse it of any theological or practical abuses.

The office of prophet is the highest office within Christianity. The famous axiom—with great power comes great responsibility—proves true in the case of the prophetic office. The prophet comes in the name of the Lord, proclaiming oracles received from God to His people, whether they be filled with judgment and condemnation or exhortation and blessing.

If a prophet wants to find his or her position within the body of Christ, then he must take upon himself the duty of reformation. As with any institution, a consistent overview of an organization’s structure and wellbeing is essential for it to survive and flourish. Without taking an in-depth look at the Church and doing away with its wrongful actions, the Church cannot be truly reformed. It will carry with it the stigma, which prophets must be able to address to reform it into the body of Christ.

For example, Jeremiah beseeched the people to “amend [or reform] your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God,” (Jer. 26:13a NRSV). Jeremiah’s act suggests that when one takes a look at early Judaism or the apostolic Church, one is instantly struck with the consistency that characterizes God’s wish to reform the beliefs and practices of His people. When the Temple by Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, introduced innovative religious practices, “each took his censer, put fire in it, and laid incense on it; and they offered unholy fire before the Lord, such as he had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord” (Lev. 10:1-2 NRSV). Based from this account, we can infer that God takes false worship very seriously. He will not accept any form of worship which He Himself did not ordain and command. Prophets, therefore, must constantly reform the Church to avoid similar catastrophic abuses such as those by the sons of Aaron.

As a believer,  learn about authentically living a life with Jesus as Lord.  Archbishop Jordan’s book, Prophet in the Marketplace is now available via the Book of the Month Club.

Not only does the Book of the Month Club provide a pathway to knowledge, wisdom and insight, it also sets you up to be in attendance at the Spring Session of Prophecology 2018: Birthing House: The Latter Rain, February 23-25, 2018.

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Is there any form of false worship that you must let go of?

THE MARK OF A BELIEVER

Merry Christmas everyone!

On this day, which marks birth of Jesus, we want to talk about the mark of true believers. It is the true believer who can truly appreciate the essence of this day.

The scriptures show us how to tell if a believer has integrity. When you call yourself a Christian, you walk the talk. It is not just a cliché; it’s simply a way of being that you must become.

Marks of the True Christian

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.  (Romans 12:9-13 NRSV)

A person who lacks integrity is only focused on “looking good.”  Celebrating parties. Giving exchange gifts. Hence, when you’re concerned about your image, you are operating only to survive. The Bible suggests that when the final judgment day comes, people who lack integrity will suffer God’s wrath. We are either for God or against Him; there is no middle ground. Needless to say, those who are lukewarm are considered to lack integrity (Rev. 3:14-18)

The Bible calls believers to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1-2). Therefore, when you imitate God, you follow everything Jesus did. By nature, you are God’s children and you must live a life of love. You must be true to who you are as a new creation.

If you say you love and honor others, then you must honor your word. Maintaining your integrity is not about image at all. Instead, it’s an act of love and honor for others. Without love and honor for others, you will struggle to honor your word.  A prophet’s honor will depend on his integrity. Likewise, a person’s integrity is grounded on honoring one’s word.

 

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What can you do this Christmas to express your authenticity as a believer?

JOEL THE PROPHETIC HARBINGER OF SOCIAL REPENTANCE

The prophet Joel was the “son of Pethuel,” and likely lived in Jerusalem as a minister connected to the Temple due to his familiarity with the religious nature of exilic Judaism (Joel 1:9, 13-14; 2:14-17, 32: 3:1, 6, 16-17). In his prophetic book, the prophet Joel begins with a prophetic oracle directed towards both the elders and inhabitants of the land (1:1). The words, Joel said, should be told to even the recipients’ children, “and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation,” (v.3 NRSV). With the authority held by a prophet of the Lord, Joel proclaimed to the people of Israel,

Put on sackcloth and lament, you priests; wail, you ministers of the altar. Come, pass the night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God! Grain offering and drink offering are withheld from the house of your God. Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord,” (Joel 1:13-14 NRSV).

 

Take note of the similar imagery used in the words of Joel and the actions of Nineveh. Both biblical instances include putting on sackcloth and declaring a fast, and Joel’s rebuke seems to be even more scathing in singling out the religious authorities of Israel, the priests!

            One must wonder if Joel was frightened when God chose him to rebuke Israel in this way. Certainly going before the religious and civil authorities of one’s nations and telling them to get their business together was no easy task, and you could almost imagine Joel saying these words while wringing his hands and wiping sweat off of his brow. Yet, despite the seemingly impossible task of calling the entire people of God to social repentance, Joel was obedient to the Lord and went before the nation of Israel with the necessity of repentance.

            Joel also taught that there is both a physical and spiritual aspect of social repentance, proclaiming that the individual recipients of his messages should both “fast” and “cry out to the Lord.” Fasting, of course, denoting the physical element of Joel’s proclamation and crying out to the Lord symbolizing the spiritual state expected from God’s people upon receiving the words of God. Joel earnestly loved those in the society in which he preached, and tried to show them the error in their ways and the correction which was found in obedience and faith in God. His earnest desire for Israel to change the nature of their hearts and return to God is evident in his conveying of God’s words:

Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord, your God?” (Joel 2:12-14 NRSV)

 

            Joel’s depiction of social repentance is a heavily spiritual one, calling the Hebrews to “rend your hearts and not your clothing,” meaning that God desires for His people to authentically turn to Him in repentance out of pure desire and not out of the mechanical mindset of going-through-the-motions. The words of Joel should ring freshly in our ears as individuals, leading us to guide our social localities towards God, “for he is gracious and merciful.” The perfect and beautiful attributes of God’s very character are the reasons given by Joel for repenting socially. Social repentance is not the mere fear of hellfire and the attempt to escape it therefore, but includes a divine love between God and His creature—between man and God.

            For authentic social repentance to occur, Joel exposits that a society must understand God as He is: gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. We must understand the Heavenly Father not as a figure who desires to express His wrath and anger upon us for our many mistakes, but as a fatherly parent who seeks to discipline in us in order that we might mature into the intended fruition of that which He put into motion. Social repentance is God’s desire. He wishes for all of His creation to return to Him and participate, as Peter says, in His divine nature (II Pet. 1:4). The words of God contained in the Scriptures in which we found pronouncements and exhortations towards particular civilizations are not exclusive to their recipients alone, but also provide a general equity for believers today.

 

As a believer,  learn about authentically living a life with Jesus as Lord.  Archbishop Jordan’s book, Prophet in the Marketplace is now available via the Book of the Month Club.

 

Not only does the Book of the Month Club provide a pathway to knowledge, wisdom and insight, it also sets you up to be in attendance at the Spring Session of Prophecology 2018: Birthing House: The Latter Rain, February 23-25, 2018.

 

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Have you experienced authentic repentance in your life?

Restoring the Integrity of Christianity

Without a doubt, many Christians today fit into the mold of a Pharisee; they hold firmly to their rules and motions and neglect any true implementation of God’s teaching by revamping societal norms. Similarly, too many churches are simply places for the weekly gathering of Christians every Sunday rather than a congregation of Spirit-filled believers prepared to engage the world socially, bringing “every thought captive to obey Christ,” (II Cor. 10:5). To those who are offended by such a condemnation by Christ upon inauthentic communions are like the lawyers, who complained to Jesus in saying that, “When you say these things, you insult us too.” If we wish to acquire a godly and authentic body of Christ, we must set ourselves against such inauthenticity.

But then, how do we combat the rampant inauthenticity across Christian Church? Simple. We must echo Jesus Christ and how He dealt with those who opposed Him on social issues. What did Jesus say in the face of injustice? If we wish to become an authentic Church, we must preach an authentic message.

Authentic Christianity loves and adheres to God’s Word. “Whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him,” (I Jn. 2:5). The Word of God certainly includes things such as theological matters, the humanity and divinity of Christ, the formulation of Trinitarianism, and the offices of the Church; however, some matters require less of the mind and more of the heart and body.

An authentic Christian listens to the Word of God and reacts to it accordingly. For example, James, Jesus’ brother, wrote that the only “religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world,” (Jam. 1:27). Notice that James does not describe pure and undefiled religion before God as “attending church services on Sunday and tithing ten percent of your income,” nor does he define it as “ritually observing particular rules of the Christian tradition in pursuit of righteousness. Rather, James asserts that the only pure form of religion acceptable to God is a one which cares for orphans and widows in distress.

Another point is that authentic Christianity is willing to make sacrifices. It is a Church willing to put others before themselves, to consider themselves not first, second, or third, but dead last. “This is My commandment,” Jesus Christ tells us, “that you love one another as I loved you,” (Jn. 15:13 NRSV). This commandment requires Christians to dedicate their entire lives to loving those whom they come in contact with, because God’s love for us is utterly irreplaceable; it is a standard to which we are held to. Moreover, an authentic church understands this command as a challenge for us to make a difference in social issues.

When the poor and needy cry for help, or when the homeless beg in the streets, we are not supposed to shrug our shoulders and simply wish they could have a better life, if they were only to try. Such a response does not echo the heart of Jesus; in fact, it is dangerously close to the prayer of the Pharisee, who “standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector [who was praying next to him in the same temple]. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income,’” (Luke 18:10-12 NRSV). To assume to know the past and heart of an individual is foolishness. In addition, to presume that one should not aid the poor because of some external driving factor is unbiblical. Our thoughts when encountering the poor and needy on the streets should echo those of the tax collector who was praying in the very same temple as the Pharisee, who “standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, [said Jesus] this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted,” (Lk. 18:13-14 NRSV).

In conclusion, humility, love, and action are key factors in preserving an authentic body of Christ. Without humbling ourselves, loving others, and helping those in need, we become unfaithful, legalistic, ritualistic fakers of the faith who do not herald the spirit of Christ into the world. Therefore, let us love one another, as Christ has loved us. Let our prayers and actions regarding the poor and lowly mimic not those of the Pharisee but the tax collector’s.

Don’t miss out on our LIVE conference call as we discover learn about being the Prophet in the Marketplace.  Here are ways to join:

 

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What does your perspective of money reveal about you?

THE INAUTHENTICITY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH AS CONTEMPORARY PHARISAISM

Records of nominal believers are rampant in the Holy Scriptures. The prophet Isaiah records the Lord saying, “These people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,” (Isa. 29:13 ESV). A similar type of people is recorded in John’s Apocalypse, where Christ denounces such nominalism: “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth,” (Rev. 3:15-16 ESV).

If there is anything that God hates more than sin itself, then it is persons who carry an external form of holiness yet contain within themselves an inauthentic, illegitimate faith, equivocating them the Johannine “lukewarm” Christian. When we fail to express our faith in God through loving our neighbors, we become Pharisaical in our religion. We become a people of ritualism and rule rather than an organism of a vibrant and expressive faith.

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus was invited by a Pharisee to dine, an invitation which He graciously accepted. When Jesus did not clean his hands before He sat at the table, the Pharisee was amazed and secretly judged Jesus in his heart. Christ, seeing this inner judgment of the Pharisee, said to him that:

“Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give alms for those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you. But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it,” (Lk. 11:37-44 NRSV).

 

Is not the scathing rebuke spat by Jesus to men who neglected to express love and humility before God’s beautiful creation relevant to many Christian churches today? How many self-proclaimed Christians tithe and possess towards the witness of the Church a godly disposition, yet neglect justice and God’s love? The implications of Jesus’s rebuke towards the Pharisees speak to congregations all over the globe across all time. In this rebuke, Jesus commands His followers to not merely follow rules and codes of conduct and to not just attend Church services (although those can never hurt). Jesus wishes for them to bring the Church out into the world, so they will meet the poor and lowly wherever they might be.

In the scenario at the Pharisee’s dining table, would most Christians find themselves at ease with Christ’s words? Or would they respond like one of the lawyers who stood to oppose Christ’s words, saying, “Teacher, when you say these things you insult us too,” v.45). Evidently, those who had listened to the rebuke of Jesus did not understand His message. If we can remember, Jesus’s response to the lawyer was:

“Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. So you are the witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs… Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.” When [Jesus] went outside, the scribes and Pharisees began to be very hostile toward him and to cross-examine him about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say, (Lk. 11:45-48, 52-54).

 

Every self-proclaimed follower of God at the Pharisee’s dining table is inauthentic. Although they know the proper statutes of God, they implement them wrongly upon the people. The Pharisees may have even had good intentions in performing ritualistic sacrifices and prayers to God, because they sought to earn His approval through strict implementation of the Scriptures. However, their attempts to please God did not manifest God’s love through their lives.

 

As a believer,  learn about authentically living a life with Jesus as Lord.  Archbishop Jordan’s book, Prophet in the Marketplace is now available via the Book of the Month Club.

 

Not only does the Book of the Month Club provide a pathway to knowledge, wisdom and insight, it also sets you up to be in attendance at the Spring Session of Prophecology 2018: Birthing House: The Latter Rain, February 23-25, 2018.

 

Go to and join the club now!

 

Do you think you are guilty of being a pharisee in your community today?

AMOS THE SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIOR

The Hebrew prophets in the Old Testament were prominent figures in social justice during their time. Often, they were included in their writings and homilies scathing rebukes towards those who would impose injustice upon the masses. While their primary concern was the people’s relationship with God Himself, the prophets understood that tending to the needs of the poor was a crucial aspect of conveying God’s for the world. Moses can be considered the first prophet called to the divine stage to deliver God’s people from social injustice; however, the prophet Amos and his ministry provided a clear framework for how the ideal role of the prophet (old and new) as a social reformer was intended to look like.

Amos is the author of the Book of Amos, the third book in the Old Testament involving the writings of the Minor Prophets. He was a shepherd from a Hebrew village called Tekoa. He did not receive formal education, whether it be theological, spiritual, or otherwise. He was a man of humble beginnings and was most likely a man with a humble end. Called from God during his time as a lowly shepherd, Amos preached to Israel during a time of oppression of the lower class (Am. 7:15).

Amos prophesied to a society drenched in dire classism, with an elite tier of Israeli authorities (civil and religious) who enjoyed wealth and prosperity while the majority faced poverty and affliction. The epitome of Amos’s prophetic ministry is summed up in this verse: “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream,” (Am. 5:24 NRSV). Amos’ words can be applied to any social situation which Christians may face today, and the fact that Amos regards justice and righteousness as inseparable concepts is significant in that it teaches us that God is both just and righteous.

The people whom Amos prophesied to had “turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood,” (6:12b NRSV). Such scathing words for those enjoying a luxurious lifestyle while the poor rot in the streets are rare in Christian communities, where many choose to blame the poor for their failures rather than beseech the rich to have mercy. One has to wonder who the modern Christian can relate to more in the context of Amos’s oracles of woe. To the prophet himself or the wealthy and unrepentant people?

Imagine sitting in church on a Sunday morning, and as you leave the church building, your pastor is confronted by a lower-class man, who claims to have obtained a prophetic mission from God. “Do horses run upon rocks?” He demands of him, “Does one plow the sea with oxen? But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood,” (6:12). One does not have to wildly conjecture what the response might be. “Just another nut job,” the pastor might think to himself, nodding to the man and hurrying to his car.

Amos himself confronted social issues head-on. He declared the judgments of God and the path to salvation as shortly and sweetly as possible, disavowing any possibility of lenience on the basis of partiality. Yet, even with his stern and bold personality, Amos had a loving and godly spirit. “Seek good and not evil, that you may live;” he pleaded to the people of Israel, “and so that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you,” (Am. 5:14-15a NRSV). Needless to say, Amos set the standard of which attributes a godly prophet should have: boldness, steadfastness, compassion, and love.

Now let us compare Amos with the magnitude of preachers today who allegedly preach the Word of God. Many Christian preachers stand at the pulpit and espouse from their mouths what may prove contradictory to the gospel. If you turn on the television, finding a well-dressed preacher pronouncing that God desires his children to be wealthy is not uncommon; he says that nice things are signs of God’s favor or that we are able to acquire whatever we desire if we simply have enough faith. This is not the message which Amos brought to God’s people; in fact, it is the exact opposite. Do you know of a Christian who has exposed the lavish lifestyles of many contemporary preachers today as Amos did in his time? Or is the luxury enjoyed by countless Christian leaders considered to be the normative function of their office?

God called Amos to preach to His people about the social issues in his day. In a way, God is calling us out to perform a similar service. The Torah prescribes that we do not “render an unjust judgment” (Lev. 19:15), and Amos’ command to hate evil, love good, and establish justice rings through the countless centuries by communicating about the Holy Scriptures. Jesus’ promotion for social justice is unique in that he encourages his disciples not to express justice and goodness through the Law but through acquiring a spirit of love. The purest expression of the Christian life is a boundless love for both God and one’s neighbor (Mk. 12:28-34). Prophets today possess this responsibility that was thrust upon Amos back in the days; unarguably, it is the responsibility to proclaim to the unjust and the ungodly the words of the Lord and their social implications.

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How can you be more like Amos in your ministry?