— Brother Phil Enlow: Well, I’m just trusting the Lord…of course, that’s something we always should do, isn’t it? We’ve been focusing, for a period of time now, on the Kingdom of God and seeking to do some teaching, and I believe the Lord is continuing to quicken things. And so, I’m just gonna try to share what He’s quickened. It seems like every week I have more than I can even fit in. But that’s okay, I’m gonna start.
But, just to step back for a minute and sort of look at the big picture and the context in which we are thinking about all of this. You know, the Word of God exists between two ends, a beginning and an ending, doesn’t it? And the beginning of everything really is before the beginning, because it’s something that God had in His heart before the beginning of time, before the beginning of creation. It was to have a Kingdom that was filled with Him, filled with His life, and to have a family of sons and daughters who would share that with Him, because His nature is to love, and love needs an object. And so, back before the beginning of time that was His purpose.
And of course, in the end, that’s what we see, don’t we? We see a new creation, a new heaven and a new earth, and we see inhabitants there. We see God dwelling among men. We see our Savior, literally walking with us as a Brother. Can you imagine that? Standing there together worshiping the Lord, and no sin, no death, no sorrow…none of the things that we experience here.
So, on the one hand, we have the purpose and on the other hand, we have the fulfillment. And so we’ve been talking about how it is that God unfolds that purpose, because we know that the enemy stepped in and there was a rebellion against God and against His Kingdom, but we know that God is absolutely in control, regardless of what He allows that kingdom to do. It only serves His purpose in the end. And there will come a time when that will not exist. Thank God!
So, you know, I’ve heard people over the years talk about the end result of what God seeks to do, as though God is going to restore Eden, and they’re referring to the Garden of Eden where everything was pure and all that. But, I don’t believe that’s quite accurate. I believe God is going way beyond Eden, because in Eden, there was…God created everything and He said, it’s all good, right? So, there was no evil in it. There was no death in it, but it still was not His purpose because you still had an open choice.
You see, God is a God who…certainly He’s not a robot, is He? We don’t have a Great Computer in the sky who is running everything. Thank God…computers crash. But anyway, we were created in His image, were we not? I mean, it wouldn’t make any sense for God to create us in His image and then us be sort of robots, or chess pieces on a board to be moved about at His will. There’s an extreme that some people go to that so emphasizes the sovereignty of God that it takes away all choice.
But the reality is, God created everything. He put everything in the hands of man, didn’t He? But there was a choice. There were two trees. And in the beginning, they hadn’t partaken of either one, had they? And so, there was a choice and they made the wrong choice. They chose the way of independence of the knowledge of good and evil. And so, God has been working within the context of a world that has been totally taken over by that spirit, by that life form, if you will.
There were two different life forms represented by those trees. One was God’s life. See, that’s a life that can’t die. But this other kind was a kind that corrupts. It causes people to live for self, to put self and self desires at the center, and all that does is create the world that we see, of evil and conflict and struggle and strife and death.
So that’s what God is working out. Creation was only the beginning, wasn’t it? And so, even though the creation was good, it was also innocent. It had not moved beyond that point. And so, there is a wrong choice that was made and it has brought about all that we see, as we said.
There’s an interesting scripture that comes to me from time to time, and a lot of times we will read Romans 12 and the wonderful passage about offering our bodies as a living sacrifice. But that begins with a ‘therefore,’ doesn’t it? And there’s a whole lot that goes into that ‘therefore.’
But basically, to sum it up, in chapters 1 through 12, Paul is laying out the reason why we need a Savior. And it’s the fact that, men, first of all, when they knew God they didn’t worship Him as God, did they? That’s Romans 1. You see a world that absolutely made a hard, fast choice to say, God, get away from us. We’re gonna live our own independent lives. And so, God turned them over to the evil that they had chosen.
And the fact is, Paul, as he develops his understanding and God’s view of the world, basically he’s dealing with two entities, isn’t he? He’s dealing with the world of the Jews where God had revealed Himself, and had actually identified Himself in great measure with that people. But he’s also dealing with the Gentile world that was just living in heathen darkness.
But Paul comes to a conclusion early on that there’s no difference. People today want to make a difference. There is no difference when it comes to God’s ultimate purpose. Everybody has, “…sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (KJV). That’s the long and the short of it.
And so, he comes down to chapter 11, is where I’m headed…I don’t want to spend a lot of time with this. But in chapter 11, he’s still dealing with…okay, what about the Jews? Where do they fit in? I don’t get it. They’ve fallen…they’ve turned away from God. They crucified Jesus when He came, or they instigated it, and I don’t understand.
And God helps to explain to Paul, and he shares that with us in chapters 9 to 11, that God never promised to save all Jews! He did promise to save a remnant…that there would always be a believing remnant who would be saved, and not only that, the fact that the Gospel has gone out into the Gentile world is going to really come back to favor the Jews because they will hear the Gospel and some of them will be moved to come.
And so, there’s…ultimately, there’s gonna be a people that would be Jews and Gentiles alike, without any of those other earthly distinctions. In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, Paul said, right? See, there’s a kingdom where all these distinctions are gone, and it’s a remnant of all that come to Him.
But there’s something that God says…let me see if I can pick it up. Verse 30 of chapter 11, “Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience…” speaking of the Jews, “…so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.” (NIV).
I just happened to notice that I have that word ‘now’ underlined. There’s a reason for that, because this is not about some future thing. This is about during the age of the church, if you want to call it that, during this present age, there will be a people who are Jewish who will literally come and be brothers and sisters with us. They will receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.
“For God…” This is the scripture that attracted my attention. “For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” That’s the place that mankind finds himself. He has no claim upon God through any internal goodness. When a man or woman chooses to humble themselves before God, it’s not because there’s some goodness in them that isn’t in somebody else. It’s just the opposite. It is the renunciation of any claim to goodness.
But when it comes down to…what it really comes down to is this. There is a choice that everyone has to make. And that choice is to come to God, to surrender to God on the ground of mercy, or to say, no, I’m gonna go my own way. Everyone makes that choice.
And, I’ll tell you, it’s a humbling thing. It rubs right in the face of human nature—it flies in the face of human nature, for me to come to God, and basically declare spiritual bankruptcy, because when He speaks, I’ll tell you, it shows me what I am. I’ll tell you, my walk with Him everyday reminds me of what I am and how much I need Him, and how I could never hope to come to God and say, God, look at me, I deserve Your favor. It is mercy!
Mercy is undeserved favor! The grace is that that helps me to avail myself of it. It’s His strength that works in my heart that causes me, enables me to say, yes, Lord, I surrender. I have turned from my own way.
Folks, that’s the choice that every single person in this room has to make at some point in your life. And it’s an eternal choice. There’s a crossroad that people come to. So that’s really what is the foundation of all of this.
But you know, we’ve been talking about a kingdom and how God spent years, centuries, really, speaking through the prophets, and talking about a kingdom that was to come! Now, we talked about how the fact that that kingdom began to actually manifest itself in the world in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Here we have the One, about whom we were singing this morning. He came into a world that He Himself had created, and was willing to come into the world, not as some conquering hero, riding on a horse or something like that…however you visualize that, not with a conquering army, but as a baby. He humbled Himself to literally become a part of this creation. What an amazing thing that is! What a humbling…the willingness of Him to go to that length to continue to carry out the purpose of God.
But there was one thing about Jesus that was unique in all of human history up to that point. God lived in Him. It was one thing for God to be with someone, as He was with the prophets, and He overshadowed them. You know, we see very graphic examples of God’s being with someone, with Samson. Here is an otherwise looking guy who could do incredible feats of strength. How did he do that? God rested on him and imparted strength to him that he didn’t have.
That’s not the same thing as God living inside them. See, there was something that was brand new! And so Jesus was a full representative, a participant, if you will, in this old, corrupted creation, but yet, God lived in Him because He was a sinless, obedient Son, who absolutely lived in this world without sin. So that was the thing. Jesus entered His own creation, but had divine life in Him.
There’s a scripture that my mind goes often to…I’m praying the Lord will help me to tie together a lot of scriptures that we’re familiar with, but to paint a picture of how they tie together. John chapter 12…Jesus is right on the point, He’s right ahead of the crucifixion…this is the crucifixion week. And, there are some people that want to see Jesus, and so Jesus says in verse 23 of John 12, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
That’s interesting, isn’t it? He’s about to go to the cross and He said, He’s about to be glorified. You talk about confidence in the purpose of God, you talk about Someone who was able to look past death! Folks, we need to be able to look past whatever God allows in this life that puts us to death, so that we can live!
( congregational response ).
Look at the example of the One who went before us, who considered…all that He had to do as but nothing. He just overlooked it, because He had His eye on what was ahead. Thank God! And what was ahead was us! He was looking ahead to be able to share with us that life that was in Him! I mean, that’s here, now, this morning! This is relevant to you and to me today!
But listen to what He says. “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world…” That’s what He’s talking about. “…Will keep it for eternal life.” Pretty radical choice, isn’t it? “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”
But, what an interesting picture Jesus paints of what He was about to undergo. He compares Himself with a seed. Now, we know that…I mean, He’s using this an illustration of something that we would understand, because a seed has two parts, doesn’t it? It has an outer part, but the purpose of the outer part is to contain something on the inside. There is a life in there, if you’ve got a good seed. But it’s only…you never get that life out of that until that seed is put into the ground and literally dies! The outer is given up so the inward can come forth.
Do you see what’s God’s purpose is and how His plan is to work out? God is a great Gardener. And you see this picture in so many places in the Bible, of God literally planting something. This is a theme. God was not after just exalting His Son and saying…so we can all say, wow, and then go to hell. God had a purpose of being able to share what was in Jesus with many others.
And so, what He did was to lay down His life in such a way that it opened heaven’s door. It opened the door to a kingdom that was eternal, to people who would otherwise have no hope whatsoever! Everything goes back to what took place on the cross and the resurrection. Praise God! How central that is!
But what a theme there is in the scriptures of divine life, literally planted like a seed in something that is of this earth, this creation, despite its condition, God plants His life in such a way that it grows into a harvest that lasts forever!
It’s not about preserving this life, or enhancing this life. It’s not ‘about’ this life. It’s about God saying, I’m gonna put My life into this…I’m gonna plant My seed in the earth. So I see…it’s amazing to me. I can’t wrap my brain around this, that God would actually use a corrupted creation as the very medium in which He, as the great divine Gardener, would produce a crop that lasts forever.
Now you know, as a farmer, you’re not putting your seed into the ground for the sake of the ground. You’re not gonna eat the ground. That’s not your endgame, is it? The ground is simply a medium because you’re going to get out of that something that’s going to last and something that’s gonna be good.
And that’s what God is doing. There’s nothing about this that will last. But while it’s here, God is using it! And God’s purpose is not just to simply impart His life to somebody and say, okay, you’ve got it. Boom! Let’s go to heaven. There is something that takes place here that is necessary to produce that. Okay? So, divine life planted in earth grows into an eternal harvest.
There’s something else that He says there that is very, very interesting. I’ve often referred to it. And, well, I’ll go ahead and read the transition here. “Now my soul is troubled…” Jesus goes on, “…and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour?” I mean, is that what I’m gonna say? Is that how I’m gonna react to this, in other words? “No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” So there was an utter surrender, wasn’t there?
You know, when God calls on us to surrender, we have a pretty good example of Someone who surrendered His life to the ultimate sacrifice for you and for me. I mean, He could’ve called for 10,000 angels…there’s a song that says that.
“Then a voice came from heaven, I have glorified it, and will glorify it again. The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.” So they didn’t quite catch on to what was going on, but they knew something had happened unusual.
“Jesus said, This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now….” This is the key statement. “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” Or, all to myself.
And the picture that I’ve had of this for so many years now, is Jesus, at a pivotal time in the history of what God was doing, His eternal purpose, in Him was represented two different creations! How many understand that? How many of you get that?
He possessed a natural life that resided in a natural body. But He possessed the very life that is the life of the new creation on the inside. They were both there! And in order for this new creation to come forth, the old one was literally laid down willingly to the suffering of death and being laid in a tomb.
Why? Because He was…He understood! This is the pathway to get there! Does that kind of make a little more sense of the Christian life? It’s not about this world! It’s about learning to live out the life that we will have there, even in the context of having to do it within these bodies in a crazy world, in a wicked world, that hates and opposes everything we stand for.
But here He was…God was literally planting a seed and when that seed came forth, that new creation was born. You know, back in the beginning, He spoke, didn’t He? And He began to bring everything forth. But when He brought forth the new creation, His Son was in that tomb. And when He said, come forth, a new creation was born. That was the inception of it.
And everything that has happened since and will happen, that will bring us to that final day when the creation will become evident to everybody, that began right there. That little seed that went in the ground…small beginning, it looked like, unlikely beginning, but there was a power of life in that seed.
And I’ll tell you, when He came forth from that tomb, He wasn’t like He was when He went in. He came forth with a body that was the body like we’re gonna have one day…those who know the Lord. I’ll tell you, that’s the hope…I’m not gonna have to put up with this forever. Thank God!
Some of you young people, you have no idea. But thank God, this is not the end. This is not what it’s about. We’re here for a little while to be prepped for that. God is looking to implant seeds in this life that will bring life forever.
So, Jesus has done what He has done. The new creation is actually literally born when He comes forth from the tomb! There is something the Devil cannot touch! Can you imagine the shrieks of terror in the kingdom of darkness when they realized what had happened? And they understood, we have lost, not just the battle, we have lost the war!
( congregational amens ).
Jesus has come forth and we have no power against Him like this! He can do as He pleases! His body cannot be assailed, cannot be opposed! Nothing He does can be hindered. And so, He spends some time with His disciples, so they know for sure that this is real. We have touched Him. We have eaten food with Him! We know that this is real!
But He said, don’t run and tell everybody yet. Wait. And so, He goes to heaven. They watch Him, literally…can you imagine standing on a hill somewhere, and all of a sudden somebody begins to float up into the air? Well, they saw that! There were eyewitnesses of all these things. And there He went. He floated up.
A cloud received Him out, and all of sudden there’s an angel standing there. I imagine they’re kind of shocked at that. He said, why are you looking up there? The same Jesus is gonna come back as you’ve seen Him go into heaven.
And so, there was a powerful expression of the presence of God by the Spirit, that got everybody’s attention and gave Peter the opportunity to preach the Word of God, in a powerful, powerful way, so that people would absolutely come to realize what the death of Jesus Christ and His resurrection was actually about!
You, too, can receive the same Spirit you have seen in manifestation here today. It wasn’t about the manifestation. It was about divine life being planted in earth. And about 3,000 people became a part of the fellowship of the Kingdom of God on that day, and it just has grown ever since, in spite of all the mixture, in spite of all its faults. God has a people in the earth, and there’s a crop that’s growing.