Living the Better Covenant – part 2

By: Mary Felde
From: June-September 2015
Found in: The Gospel of Grace
The bible talks about pressing into the kingdom of God and taking it by force. Let’s look at these verses in the light of the new and better covenant, where heaven already is open and the kingdom already is given to us.

 

Why Storm Heaven if Heaven Is Already Open?

People are much the same in all nations. If we are told not to read a certain book, the possibility of people running out to search for that specific book might be high. This is what my pastor experienced. He has allowed me to tell you his story. Several years ago he wrote a book titled Storm Heaven and Take it by Force. Later he withdrew the book and told people it was no longer for sale, as he had changed his mind on the topic. And what happened? People went out searching for exactly that book, curious to read it. Why did he withdraw the book? Actually, most of the contents of the book were correct, but because of the book’s title and main idea, he didn’t want it to be in the market anymore.

But isn’t that what the Bible says? “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” Yes, it says so, even in more than one scripture. So let’s take a closer look at why this preacher changed his mind.

Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force (Matthew 11:11-12).

The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it (Luke 16:16).

First, we can see that John the Baptist is the greatest among those not born again. However, even the smallest one who belongs to the new creation is greater than him. Second, it says that from his days and until now everyone is pressing into the kingdom of God and taking it by force—heaven suffers violence. What time do we talk about here? From John the Baptist until now, it says. Now when? Now this year? Or “now” when Jesus walked on this earth two thousand years ago?

The Canaanite woman had to “press on” to get her miracle ahead of time, for at that time Jesus said He was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel. However on the cross, the law, the enmity separating Jews and Gentiles, was removed, and the whole world was included. After the cross, Jesus gave us the kingdom.

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32).

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32)

When did He give us all things? With Jesus. And when was Jesus given? Two thousand years ago. Why take by force what has now already been given us? Why storm an open heaven? Why continue to beg God if He has already answered yes?

Why take by force what has now already been given us? Why storm an open heaven?

Before the cross the Most Holy Place was not yet opened for ordinary people like you and me. Only the high priest could enter in, and only once a year, and never without blood (Hebrews 9:7-8). A veil indicated that this place was closed to the public!

However, look what happened at the cross. The moment Jesus gave His life and His blood, the veil in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom (Mark 15:37-38).

We can see three things here. First, God didn’t wait years, months, or even days. The very moment the sacrifice was given, the veil was torn in two, showing that it was nothing we did that opened the way, but only what Jesus did. Second, the veil did not just get a small hole, so we were allowed to peek in. It was torn wide open, signifying that the access to God now is wide open! Third, it was not opened from bottom to top, but from top to bottom. This shows that the way was opened by God Himself!

Heaven is already open before the worship starts.

How faith-strengthening to remember the Word that says that what God has opened no one can shut. God has opened heaven for us, and no one can shut it. No demons, no men, no doubt, and not even yourself. Only God Himself can shut it, but He won’t. Know this: wherever you live and wherever you go, you have an open heaven over you! You don’t need to pray, read, and give to open heaven over you; you pray, read, and give because heaven is already open over you! What a difference!

And said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:56)

How relieving for both the worship leaders and the congregation to know that they don’t have the task of opening heaven by their worship. Heaven is already open before the worship starts.

The Shower Is Already Turned On

The New Testament tells how the Rock in the wilderness was a type of Jesus. Let’s see another beautiful gospel message right in the middle of the Old Testament. This story also has a special encouragement to us preachers and teachers of the Word.

The Israelites had run empty of water in the wilderness. They were in such distress that they even wished they had rather remained in slavery in Egypt than suffer without water in freedom. They were almost ready to stone Moses, revealing their seriously bad attitude because of their suffering. Still God willingly helped them!

“Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel (Exodus 17:6).

This is a picture of the cross. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Our sins didn’t stop the grace of God! When Jesus, the Rock, was struck on the cross, rivers of life and blessings started to flow. I like to think about it as a shower that was turned on by God, and then the faucet was removed. Meaning the river will never be turned off! We can just stand under the shower of living water, full of life, healing, blessings, joy, and peace. However, it is not really above us, the Bible says the fountain and river of living water is placed inside us.

…But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:14).

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water (John 7:38).

When Jesus, the Rock, was struck on the cross, rivers of life and blessings started to flow. I like to think about it as a shower that was turned on by God, and then the faucet was removed.

In Numbers we can again see the Israelites without water. This time they suffered so much that they even said it would have been better if they were dead! And God helped them again, with a seemingly similar but still very different instruction.

Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals (Numbers 20:8).

This time Moses was not to strike the rock but to stand before the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes. But Moses thought he already knew what to do, so he struck the rock again, even twice. Now, look at the mercy of God! Even though Moses did it the wrong way, God still let the river flow to give water to the people. What can this symbolize? Even if we as preachers preach a mix of religion and the gospel, miracles still happen because God loves people and the river from the cross always flows—every day!

However, when we preach a mixed gospel it becomes more difficult for many to believe and receive, as they don’t feel worthy and ready yet. They focus on their own self-righteousness and lack of performance instead of having their entire focus on what Jesus did for them and who He is in them!

Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them” (Numbers 20:12).

Jesus doesn’t need to be struck twice! His once and for all work is complete and perfect for all! Let us preachers be greatly encouraged to boldly stand in front of the congregation and simply speak what has already happened because of the cross. Forgiveness is already given, healing is fully provided, all blessings are ours in Christ, we have become brand-new creations, Jesus is the new way, and heaven is already opened by the blood of Jesus. The river flows continually and nothing can turn it off!

Jesus doesn’t need to be struck twice!

As we speak in this way we will help the congregation to experience the reality of the land they already live in. The gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. We are ministers of the new covenant, the ministry that has much greater glory and everlasting results! It is time to put both our feet on the foundation called Jesus Christ, and put our entire trust in Him alone!

This article is an extract of Mary Felde’s book “Living the Better Covenant.” http://www.ncresources.org

By: Mary Felde

Mary Felde is a missionary and worldwide speaker of the Word of God. She has thought in churches, seminars, conferences, and Bible schools on four continents.

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