Leadership, family, theology and world events
From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been suffering violence, and the violent have been seizing it by force. Matthew 11:12.
I have to admit that this passage is among the more difficult ones. And many theologians like Clement of Alexandria, Martin Luther and Spurgeon believed in the positive aspect of “taking the Kingdom of God by force” either in the sense of forcing your way into the Kingdom or helping the Kingdom to advance forcefully. But if we read the whole passage from verse 1 to 15, verse 12 appeared to be just a part of the answer about John the Baptist, who had been placed in prison, and as Jesus knew, he was about to be beheaded. So, to accept the theory of “violently forcing yourself in the Kingdom” being positive, we have to believe that while answering about what has been done and what will be done to John the Baptist, Jesus switched the topic in the middle of the sentence saying: “anyway, force your way into the Kingdom.” I think, it would be more logical to assume that answering about John’s imprisonment and John’s future death Jesus stated the obvious: that the Kingdom of God has always suffered from violent men like Herod. In other words He said something like: “don’t be surprise about John’s fate, that’s how it is with the Kingdom of God: righteous men are persecuted and suffer from people like Herod.”
But the problem is not even with the interpretation of the verse, but its application; and often, the explanation of the whole doctrine of salvation through the lenses of our understanding of one verse. Very often, it is used to say something like: “if you want to be in the Kingdom of God, you have to try harder”, citing this verse. It shows another misunderstanding: of what is the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God it is not only a life after death, but today’s reality that you are either in or out. We are entering the Kingdom of God when submitting our will under His authority. So, we are either in the Kingdom of God or in the world. And to think that we need to work hard or harder to be saved is a wrong and dangerous teaching. We cannot disregard the many passages of the Bible that clearly state that we cannot earn salvation, and use one that is debatable to teach on the subject that is so vital.
“…He Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:11
I have heard few different incorrect interpretations of this verse. One is the teaching that the baptism of fire is the same as baptism of the Holy Spirit. Another one portrays the baptism of fire as persecution and suffering. Worse yet, people have been asked to seek the “baptism of fire”. But let us read this next verse: “His winnowing shovel is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn. But the chaff He will burn up with fire that never goes out.” This passage clearly speaks about separation of “the wheat” and “the chaff”. The wheat, or those who bring fruit will be fully submerged in the Holy Spirit and those who are fruitless and their nature is “chaff” will be burn up with fire that never goes out. Thus, I don’t want to be baptized in the fire, since that means hell.
What no eye has seen and no ear has heard, and what has never come into a man’s heart, is what God has prepared for those who love Him. 1Corinthians 2:9
I can fully agree that Heaven is above our imagination. But there is something even more amazing, marvelous and was (and often still is) beyond people’s understanding: Jesus Christ and the salvation through His sacrifice.
In chapter 1, Paul speaks about the wisdom of God, which is Christ – God’s power and God’s wisdom. Then he is saying that Greeks, Jews and their rulers have failed to understand it, otherwise “they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: What no eye has seen…”
Then the following verse states that the Spirit has revealed it to us. That mystery of the suffering Messiah which God predestined before the age, for our glory, which prophets didn’t fully understand, has finally has been revealed in Jesus, and has been explained by the Holy Spirit. So yes, heaven is amazing, but this passage about Jesus.
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