The following discussion is based on the fact that our earthly families may or may not be believers. If they are believers, then of course they are part of the family of God, however, if they are not believers be forewarned, they may not understand or accept our devotion to the Father's will and His family. Furthermore, they may try to persuade us to believe as they do, criticize us, or even persecute us for our obedience to our faith in God. However, on the other hand, it’s also true that we will love our family and friends more completely according to the love of God as a result of having the love of the Father shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. Keep in mind though, the love of God or God's brand of love may not always feel like our human love. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 1John 2:5
We, who are alive “in Christ” and “born again” of the Spirit by the Word and the Holy Ghost that quickens our mortal bodies, have already left the family of our “old man” (flesh) and are part of the family of God. Our old man has died with Christ, and in many ways so too has the contact with the family of our old man as we have been born into a new family of “brothers and sisters”. Still, as we live in the Spirit seeking to do the will of God the Father by His spirit, we are part of His royal family. But what about our own families of the human kind and the genealogies associated with them? Jesus Himself said He would divide households and extended families. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. Matthew 10:35-36.
Meanwhile, the family members of our “old man” may chastise us or even persecute us for rejecting the lives and lifestyles we once had–the same ones they cling to and continually defend. But to them, i.e., the families of our “old man”, we know full well what we have given up. We fully understand the difference between the “lives” of our “old man” and our “new man”, yet in their persecutions of us they seem to forget: 1.) We voluntarily of our own free will left behind the lives of our old man for the life in Christ we now have, and 2.) Now repudiate those lifestyles we left behind and they prefer. As between us, the brethren who are alive in Christ, we rest assured. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Matthew 5:10-11.
Whoever persecutes another because of the desire to live by and for the Word to do the Father’s will by the Holy Ghost, is not the brethren even if they claim to be a Christian. Simply stated, the families of our old man need to accept the fact we won’t be “going back” to their lifestyles and who we were to please them.
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. 2 Peter 2:20-22. (“...Knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ...” includes knowledge of the Word!)
Recall, during Old Testament times "salvation" was for the Jews. Now, today, the genealogies of the Jews provide nothing for salvation. But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. Titus 3:9. Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. 1 Timothy 1:4. If genealogies for the Jews are not worthy to give heed and they were the original “chosen people”, what then can be said for the attentive value of the genealogy of the non-Jew? The non-Jew had/has no hope for salvation without Christ Jesus? That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:12-13.
As His true followers, who are the believers (doers) of the pure unadulterated Word who do it according to the Spirit because the Word is the will of God, we seek to do the Father’s will as the disciples of Christ Jesus. No doubt, ALL professing Christians are supposed to be disciples first! …And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. Acts 11:26. As His disciples, we follow Him honoring what He says because it is the absolute truth of life eternal. For example, Jesus said we should “hate” our fleshly families meaning we are to love Jesus even more than our earthly family. We cannot be His disciple unless we hate them and hate our lives. And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:25-26 (Emphasis added).
Jesus wants us to understand the cost of being His disciple. We must be glad to give up everything to love Him unreservedly selling all that we have if need be. (See Luke 18:22) Our love for the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost must be of such an intensity that in comparison all other loves seem like and are hate. However, we cannot use any commandment to advance "hate", to eliminate forgiveness of others, or as an excuse to distance ourselves from others as the enemy-the devil desires.
The hatred Jesus spoke of is directed to anyone and/or anything that gets in the way of our doing the will of God. For instance, when Peter unwittingly opposed the death of Jesus according to the Word as the will of the Father, Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me Satan.” From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Matthew 16:21-23 (Emphasis added); see also, Mark 8:31-33. But compare, Jesus also said “get behind me Satan” to Satan himself. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Luke 4:6-8 (Emphasis added). From the above verses, Jesus most assuredly does not love Satan, and yet the words Jesus spoke to Peter were clearly not words man would consider loving according to man’s brand of love. As the Word of the Father’s will and the spirit of the Word rather than the letter, Jesus loved Peter and hated the devil’s advocate in Peter. The difference is clear!
Therefore, can the “sanctioned hate” of Luke 14:25-26 be “unloving” if the persons we “hate” are self-professing Christians who seek to prevent us from doing the will of God whether they know it or not? Sure, from the standpoint of the flesh as people measure love by their own fleshly standards. The hatred Jesus spoke of is not unloving in the context of God’s brand of love, i.e., the Spirit which He is. Recall, God IS love and a spirit. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16. Simply because someone professes with their mouth to be a Christian is of no consequence to us if they seek to prevent us from doing the will of God. Thus, the brethren rightly consider Jesus’s rebuke of Peter justified as both, a restatement of His (Jesus) commitment to the Father’s will and the Lord’s chastening out of His GODLY love for Peter. For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. Hebrews 12:6; see also Revelation 3:19.
As disciples, the saved living in Him by the Holy Ghost to do the Father’s will, we rejoice in the cross. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18. As part of this rejoicing, we “take up” our own cross and follow Him thereby proving our discipleship, personally and individually, in the doing of the will of God at any cost to our flesh. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2. Whoever does not bear His cross cannot be His disciple (or a Christian), and is unworthy of life in Him! And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:27. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. Matthew 10:38.
The cross we take up is “to do thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7 and 10:9-10) as He did. By doing the will of the Father, we prove His will in that we are His children and members of the royal family as stated previously. We are the joint-heirs to the kingdom of heaven with Jesus. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. Romans 8:17. Stated another way, when we take up our cross (i.e., do the will of God), our flesh will suffer as He suffered. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Philippians 1:29. When we suffer, we do so for the sake of the pure Word, and we honor Jesus in the process. Still, our suffering does not compare to the torture He endured for us. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. Hebrews 12:3-4.
The brethren then, as part of Christ, are the servants of God for this time and age. We are sent by Him to share the Spirit–the Word as the statement of the love of God in setting forth His will for our benefit and not the letter of it as if to earn something. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. John 20:21. Jesus said: ...My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. John 7:16-17. We should be able to say that too, as we bring the knowledge of God the Father to others as a ministry of reconciliation of man with His Word/will, by the Word!
Putting it all together: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21. Consequently, as the ambassadors for Jesus the Christ, we act in His stead in both word/Word and deed. Doing what He did means we lay our lives down for the brethren. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 1 John 3:16 (Emphasis added). (This is one place where we know we have passed from death through the flesh unto life through the Spirit, because we love the brethren. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. In fact, He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 1 John 3:14.)
Still, the brethren do not lay their lives down for the “non-brethren”, i.e., those who are not of the Spirit, and yet we still love them. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 1 John 4:20. (Of course, the brethren never seek to justify themselves by asking, “Who is my brother?” )
If man cannot love God unless he loves his brother/brethren (i.e., humankind), and we perceive the love of God as we are to lay our lives down for the brethren (of Christ through the Spirit) (1 John 3:14 and 16 above), how can this be? Simply stated, Jesus already gave His life for all of mankind. (Romans 5:8). Jesus fulfilled that task completely. There is nothing for us to do to secure the possibility of salvation for anyone else. Of course, we are supposed to love our neighbor in the same way we love ourselves. …Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matthew 22:39. Okay, but how can we: 1.) Love our neighbor, 2.) Give our lives for the brethren living in Christ, 3.) Not give our lives for the non-brethren, and 4.) Not be able to love God unless we love our brother as in all mankind? How can these verses be reconciled? Simple, the love we show our neighbor who we know is not a brother in Christ (i.e., the non-brethren) most certainly is the love from God in us by the Holy Ghost, but we don’t “die” for them. Moreover, the brethren do not withhold the love of God from anyone. We make sure the lost know Jesus gave His life for them, and yet we do not give up our lives in Him if the unbelieving refuse the Word claiming to be a Christian or not. By the Holy Ghost, we give our lives for anyone who wants to DO the will of God in truth, because they are the brethren in the same spirit (i.e., true love) as God is love. Stated another way, the brethren are they who live by the truth from the Spirit of truth and do the will of God in love (i.e., the Spirit of the Father)!
The question then becomes, what is the kingdom of God and eternal life worth to us? Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Matthew 13:44-46. If we truly love Him, we will obey Him and what He says to alter our fleshly behavior including a cleansing amendment of life, lifestyle and/or body to pursue the truth. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. Matthew 5:29-30.
For example, when Jesus said to cut something off to avoid sin, many people are tempted to say: “Jesus really didn’t mean that”, “He wasn’t speaking literally”, or “We don’t have to do that because of grace” to name a few. The intended meaning of what Jesus said is easily understood as expressly stated. We are to get our flesh under control by whatever means necessary or burn in hell! In fact, Jesus spoke literally of the flesh and not in a parable, when He said: For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. Matthew 19:12. (Emphasis added).
Therefore, all believers in the name of Christ Jesus must understand Jesus did not come to send peace on earth. He came to send a sword of division. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34. That sword is to divide you from your flesh by the Spirit of the living God. As the spirit/will of Jesus the man, the spirit of the pure Word is to DO God’s will as stated previously. That Word is His will and a divisive sword. ...and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Ephesians 6:17. On the one side of the division are those that have the Spirit of God and live as part of the body of Christ doing His will as a member of His royal family. On the other side are the children of disobedience/unbelief of God’s Word/will, self-professing Christian or not, as members of a family in the flesh without the Spirit unto eternal life. Thus, some will embrace His will and live by it forever, and others will reject His will and be destroyed by it forever! This division is preordained by God before you and me!
Accordingly, we now need to answer the question, "WHAT are the children of God?" in Module 12.
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