The Good News - Home
If Jesus Started All Over Again
By David A. DePra
Picture this hypothetical situation: Jesus Christ sends a message to His Body from heaven stating, "Starting tomorrow at noon, I am going to begin all over again with my church." Then He goes on to tell us what He means. He says, "Starting tomorrow at noon, all academic credentials, and all degrees, are eliminated from everyone in the Body of Christ. Furthermore, all ordinations of every kind are hereby dissolved. Beginning tomorrow at noon, there are no distinctions between clergy and laymen. Eventually, I will again call leadership in my Body. But starting at noon tomorrow, there will be none. I am starting over again on the right basis."
Jesus continues, "Effective at noon tomorrow, all denominations are hereby dismantled. Thus, all people in positions of authority, administrative or clergy, in those denominations, are hereby reduced to being nothing more than simple members of my Body. All churches as organizations are also dissolved. All ministries of all kinds are hereby non-existent. All the money which every church and ministry holds is to be turned over to a general fund which I will use at my discretion. All property which churches, or ministries called by My name hold, is to be handed over to Me as well."
Then Jesus begins to talk about His new direction for His church: "Beginning tomorrow at noon, there is only one thing which is going to matter to Me. And it is upon this one thing that everything else is going to be built. The only thing that is going to matter starting tomorrow at noon is your relationship to Me. Iím not talking about the, "religious you," or the, "church face," you put on, or the person you THINK you are. Iím talking about the REAL YOU -- who you really are TO Me. Starting tomorrow, I donít care about your credentials, degrees, intelligence, or natural gifts. We will never again talk about them. Additionally, I donít care about what you have done in the past, or what you think you deserve, or are qualified to do. Neither do I care about your failures of the past Ė as long as you acknowledge them. What I care about is who you are TO Me Ė the REAL YOU. Starting tomorrow at noon, that will be the basis upon which I build My church. Who do you say that I am? And what are you to Me, in response? My new beginning for the Body of Christ is going to be based on that, and that alone."
If Jesus sent such a message to us from heaven, many of us would not believe it was a message from Him. Perhaps we would resent Him for it. Or perhaps we would not understand it. What would your reaction be?
The sobering reality is that this hypothetical message is not hypothetical at all. It was Jesusí charge to His church from the beginning. The only thing hypothetical is that it isnít a policy that is going to be implemented tomorrow at noon. It was inaugurated over two-thousand years ago. Itís just that most of us have practically ignored it.
You see, most of what we think is important to Christ isnít important at all. He really doesnít care about my degrees, credentials, and ordinations. He doesnít define success as position, members, money, property, and as building a big denomination. Jesus never started those things, and while He has been quite merciful to work with individuals involved in them, He is never going to be in those things. Jesus is interested ONLY in what the above words say He is interested in: Our personal relationship to Him. There isnít the slightest possibility that anything else we do for Him, or present to Him, is going to change that.
The incredible thing about all of this is that there is going to come an end to this age. When, we cannot know. But when that end does come, we are going to have to face the very Truth that this, "hypothetical" situation presents. We are going to have to face the fact that the ground has ALWAYS been level at the foot of the Cross. Jesus doesnít care about whether we have degrees, credentials, or ordinations. Our natural gifts arenít going to matter. What we think we have done for Him isnít going to count either. He is going to care only about what we are in relationship to Him. And He is going to hold us accountable for the lives we have affected as the result of it in this age.
Christians by the thousands continue to think that their position in ministry or church somehow correlates to the amount of their eternal reward. It doesnít. Thousands believe that if they give money, or are used to saved souls, that they are earning a reward. They arenít. In the end, what we have supposedly, "done for God," isnít even going to be mentioned by Jesus at all Ė even though we might mention it. Again, despite all of the good and necessary ways in which we may have served the Lord, and been used of Him, it is going to come down to one thing: Our individual and personal relationship to Jesus.
What do we think we are going to be doing for all eternity? Well, specifics aside, we are going to be living with God forever! Well, how do we expect to be able to function in a relationship with God THEN, if we arenít functioning NOW? Do you see what I mean? I may think I am doing many things for God NOW, but what is my TRUE relationship with Him Ė in the secret places where no one can see but God? Does God REALLY have possession of me? Do I really belong to Him? Do I REALLY believe? Or I am in this thing for what I want to get out of it?
Right now, you have a relationship with Christ. And in one way or another, despite all of our games, religiosity, and self-righteousness, that relationship with Him is exactly what DEFINES US. Indeed, in the end, it is ALL that is going to define us. Examine yourself. Who are you in relationship to Jesus?
Letís look at a few scriptures which clearly indicate that who we are in relationship to Jesus, rather than our credentials, or our work for Him, is what is going to matter to Him in the end.
Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matt. 7:21-23)
These people did call Jesus, "Lord." They also rehearsed the many works they had DONE in Jesusí name. Yet Jesus tells them to depart from Him, "you WORKERS OF INIQUITY." These folks had done many works, but NOT the will of God. Indeed, the thing that keeps them out of the kingdom, Jesus says, is, "I never knew you." In other words, they had NO RELATIONSHIP with Him.
There are some other places where Jesus speaks against this same failing:
You hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people draws nigh unto me with their mouth, and honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Matt. 15:7-9)
Christians talk much about, "knowing Jesus," which is great. But does Jesus know US? What does that mean? It speaks to whether we have opened ourselves up to Him, taken off all the masks, and have stopped playing games. It speaks of whether we have trusted Him and given ourselves to Him. Read again the above passage from Matthew: They honored Him with their lips, but did not give Him their hearts; did not honor Him in their hearts. Thus, what God is after is our hearts. He wants us Ė all of us.
Jesus is here telling us that our RELATIONSHIP with Him is going to determine things in the end. Not our words, works, credentials, or miracles. Where is our heart?
If you think that your heart belongs to Jesus, then that is good. But expect Him to test it. We will find out where our hearts really are when the test comes. And it is at that point that we will either LIVE OUT our relationship with Christ and deepen it, or we will be exposed as someone who was resting on the laurels of their own works, service, spiritual accomplishments, and credentials.
This passage of scripture from Matthew 7 is one of those that NO ONE thinks applies to them. It is always for someone else. Thousands continue to operate under the delusion that Jesus cares about everything BUT our personal relationship to Him. Indeed, some of think that a relationship with Jesus Christ IS our service, our ministry, and our works. We offer those things as a substitute, lest the real us be exposed. But we need to drop this charade, because as mentioned earlier, when we stand before Christ, all the masks are going to come off. It would be much better if we voluntarily allowed Jesus to take them off of us NOW.
Of course, I must mention that the solution to the church's problems is not to STOP all ministry and good works. It is a shame that I even have to say this, but I must, for there are going to be people who think I am stating that we don't need to do works or ministry. I am not saying that. I am saying that doing them, but as a substitute for a personal relationship with Jesus, is going to get us NOTHING. I am saying that all of our works and ministry are supposed to be the OUTCOME of our relationship with Jesus. But we make them the relationship. This is error and deception. And if it is the case with my works and ministry, it won't matter how good they are. In the end, It is going to come down to who I am in relationship to Jesus -- in my heart, faith, life, and devotion.
What do I think God is going to take to be with Him for all eternity? My works? No. They will pass into history. My ministry? No. It will pass into history. He is going to take ME! And yes, what effect my relationship with Him has had upon others. But what it has upon others is now part of what THEY are. It is not something I can, "bottle," and use. In short, it is going to be Jesus Christ and myself in Him, along with rest of the Body. Who are we in that relationship?
Somewhere along the line, Christians have gotten the idea that when we die we are going to be altered into a perfect relationship with Jesus Christ. To us, this sort of goes along with being resurrected with a new body. But it isnít what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches, in fact, that death is going to change NOTHING about your personal relationship with Christ. In fact, everything you are in relationship to Him is going to be SEALED, not erased, by your physical death.
Again Ė I am talking about the real US Ė in relationship to Christ. The real us would emerge based on the light we have and the place we are spiritually. Who are we to Jesus, and what is He to us? Really? Do we know Him and does He know us?
Along that line, we might be able to define our relationship to Christ down to two terms: DEPENDENCE and DEVOTION. I think if you think it through, everything comes back to these two things. Are we living with these two motivations in our Christian walk with Jesus? Depending upon Him, and devoted to Him. Under those two headings, all holiness, obedience, and worship arise. But in the end, these two things really come down to one thing: Love.
Letís point to one fundamental verse on the issue:
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Cor 6:19-20)
Ask, if we do not belong to ourselves Ė if that fact is really supposed to define our relationship to Christ Ė and we donít live like it NOW -- how do we expect to live forever with God THEN in the reality of this Truth?
All that I might do for God must find itís power and source in my personal relationship with Him. There is nothing worse than a person, or a group of people, who do lots of things FOR Christ, yet have nothing of a relationship with Him. It results in an empty thing Ė dead religion.
The reason the church today is void of power and Truth and real Christian love, is because we have tried to DO these things as an extension of a religion about Jesus, instead of the result of Jesus living through us. But you see, in order for Jesus to live through us, there must come a work of the Cross which will get US out of the way. This is the part of the relationship which people donít want. But it is Godís only way with us.
If you want to know how to begin to know Jesus, and experience Him, in a real relationship, fall into His hands. Then get ready. He will begin a work in you. He will bring the Cross and seek to crucify everything out of you that hinders your relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit will also expose your error, in a desire to bring you into the Truth.
Of course, if you think Iím talking about simply coming to possess a new doctrinal or theological position, you have missed the point completely. Iím talking about Godís dealing with YOU Ė your pride, your perceptions, your attitudes, your goals Ė and with everything that makes you tick.
Why should this be a surprise? Think about it. You and I were born into this world with NO TRUTH in us, and NO LIFE in us, and no capacity for God, and God wants to bring us to the place where we can live in harmony and fellowship with Him forever. Doesnít it sound like there are going to have to be major catastrophic upheavals in our thinking, living, and in our relationship with God Ė even long after salvation? Sure. And if we really want the Truth, we are going to have to face them.
The church today needs to come to terms with the reality of what God is after. He is after, yes, souls for Christ. But He likewise wants people to come to KNOW Him in a living relationship. Jesus has already given us the means: The work of the Holy Spirit. And the work of the Holy Spirit isnít going to start tomorrow at noon. It started two thousand years ago. We still have the opportunity to believe and get right with God, and in harmony with His purpose and His thinking.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Rom 8:28-30)
If Jesus started all over again tomorrow, how would we fit in? The good news, or perhaps sobering news, is that there is coming a day when everything in our hypothetical situation is going to actually happen. Jesus will return, and it will be a new beginning. And at that time, all that is going to matter is our relationship with Him. *
The Good News - Home