DISCIPLINE 2006—Part 10
WISDOM & SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING
The Scripture from which we gain this month’s discipline for our praying is Colossians 1:9,10. For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding... The word knowledge in this verse is better interpreted as “acknowledgment.”
Of course, you might know it’s from the Greek epignósis. Oh, just think of what being filled with the acknowledgment of God’s will could mean! There are probably many who have knowledge of His will who have never acknowledged it at all. That’s why we’re being called to pray what this prayer lays out for us.
This prayer from Paul is a Kingdom prayer. It leads to the building up of those who have been redeemed so they can become useful in God’s Kingdom. The wisdom and understanding for which we are praying, both of which are energized in us by God’s Spirit, are Kingdom qualities. Having them at work in us will add to the value we are to the Lord as we live in this present time with Him in His Kingdom.
The coming of Heaven’s Kingdom and the acknowledgment of God’s will are two of the primary concerns toward which the Lord Jesus directed us in His first lesson on praying. We can see this in Matthew 6:10—Let Thy Kingdom come. Let Thy will come into being, as in heaven, also upon the earth... (a literal translation.) It’s important to understand the preceding petitions as they occur in the Greek New Testament, particularly as to their word order. The ordination of God’s will for us has already come to pass in heaven. Now, we are asking Him to let it come to pass in us upon the earth. It’s hard for our minds to receive this, isn’t it? Let’s just let our hearts receive it. When I saw this in the Greek, it brought hope to me. It relieved me of the idea that I have to “do” God’s will. It has already been done, waiting in heaven to find its expression upon the earth, in us.
Do we just sit, then, doing nothing? Not at all. We present ourselves to Christ Who is waiting to live in us. This takes some spiritual learning and a great deal of spiritual understanding. It requires asking the Lord for this. Most of the time it means coming to the end of our own resources, only to find that He has been waiting to live in us.
Paul understood this and gave testimony to it. He said, “I am crucified with Christ—but I’m living! Not by my own ego, however; Christ is living in me.” In finding this, he discovered Christ’s faith (Gal 2:20) , Christ’s wisdom (I Cor 1:30) . He discovered the meekness and gentleness (II Cor 10:1) of Christ. He discovered that God will decide for us what is right (Phil 2:13) and then do it for us. When we see just what Jesus is leading us to pray, we can understand why Paul put in his prayer the matter of asking for spiritual understanding.
Even though we have been brought over to live in the Kingdom, it is a Kingdom that has suffered much violence, and will yet suffer more. When John the Baptist announced that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand (Matt 3:2), violence against the Kingdom began. For generations the Kingdom had been ignored. But, because God’s beloved Son had come into the world and was acknowledged by John as the Lamb of God (John 1:29), the violence broke out. Jesus was the One anointed to receive the Kingdom, as we have seen before in our study of Psalm 2. The serpent (Gen 3:1-15) has wanted the Anointed One’s position since the dawn of time and has brought what violence he could against Him and His Covenant lineage. However, the enemy has always been limited by God’s Word and always will be.
When Jesus came into the world, the forces of anti-Christ were more than ready to stand against Him. Satan supposed he might tempt Jesus to come over to his dark side. After he showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, he said to Him, All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me. Jesus said to him, Get thee hence (Matt 4:8-10). Plans of violence continued however. They remain in force till now.
With regard to all of this, Jesus said, And from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force—Matthew 11:12. Who are the violent? We are. What we are learning, however, is that the violence with which we take the Kingdom is a spiritual violence. Paul lays this out for us in Ephesians.
In Genesis 3:15 we find the first Word about the conflict, or the war, that would go on involving the devil and Christ—and us. See this. It’s called the First Word of the Gospel, The Protevangelion. And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; it (literally, “He”) shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.
The word bruise means “crush.” It indicates a mortal wound. The heel is not a place on the body where a mortal wound might be struck. The head is. I’ve come to consider, rather strongly, that the probable meaning of the attack on His heel is with reference to Christ’s Body. We who are joined to our Head in Heaven and who remain on earth till the Day of the Lord, (Obadiah 15—probably the first Prophet to mention the Day of the Lord.) have a contest to face with the anti-Christ at the close of the age. With the Head of the Body now in the heavens, the serpent can only strike the least vulnerable part of Christ’s Body that remains in the earth physically. Most probably, that’s us.
For some who have thought that the serpent in the Garden was a snake with legs, Revelation 20:2 makes it clear for us that it was Satan himself who came to Eve. And he (an angel that came down from heaven, perhaps the archangel Michael) laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent (that serpent of old), which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years. The first two chapters of the Bible and the last two are the only ones without the devil. Like a clasp, these chapters join to form a belt around us, keeping us mindful how that old serpent holds a hopeless goal.
In the above verse the words laid hold on are from the Greek kratéo, which we have discussed many times before in our writings. It means, “to take governmental control.” The satanic government is more subtle than any terrorist organization. With the ultimate in clandestine maneuvers, it has opposed the Kingdom of God from the beginning. It will finally be brought under control, however, by the saints of the Most High.
See this complete statement from the Book of Daniel. It holds the above words. 25 And he (the anti-Christ himself) shall speak great words (in blasphemy) against the most High, and shall wear out (use up all the energy of) the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they (the saints) shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time (the 3 and 1/2 year period closing this age). 26 But the judgment shall sit, and they (the saints) shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. 27 And the Kingdom and Dominion, and the greatness of the Kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High (our exalted Head and Leader, Christ Jesus), Whose Kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions (of the world) shall serve and obey Him.¾Daniel 9:25-27
We remind you again that the Epistle to the Ephesians is addressed to the saints. Its Word is closely connected with the Word of Colossians. As if giving a governmental stamp to the saints’ position in the earth, they are mentioned twelve times in Ephesians. Twelve is the number signifying that which is related to government. Years ago, before I saw confirmation in the Scriptures, it came to me—I believe from the Holy Spirit—that the word saints is a word of government. We see it clearly now. The saints will take the Kingdom and will reign with Christ.
There is no question about Jesus being the head of God’s Kingdom in the earth. But what was Paul’s concept of the Kingdom? Did he perceive that it is a present Kingdom? Or, did he just think in terms of the Church only, which has its purpose while the Kingdom is in abeyance? That means, “temporarily suspended,” till the time of the Gentiles is over. Did he believe that the Kingdom is only for the Jews, to be known among them after the Church is raptured? None of these hardly seem to be the case. Paul preached the Kingdom everywhere he went to the very end of his ministry.
He spent over two years in Ephesus preaching the Kingdom of God (Acts 20:25). The word preaching is from the Greek kerússo, which means, to proclaim as a herald. A herald does not proclaim something that is thousands of years away. He announces what is near at hand.
Paul had a clearly defined call to the Gentiles. The first prophetic Word concerning him came to Ananias whom God commissioned to go to Paul, while he was still known as Saul of Tarsus. About three days after Saul’s dramatic conversion on his way to Damascus, the Lord spoke to Ananias saying, Go thy way (don’t hesitate; get up and go); for he (Saul) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear My Name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel—Acts 9:15.
Right soon, Saul, who came to be known as Paul, preached and exhorted concerning the Kingdom of God. He did this with a strong determination. On one occasion after being stoned and driven from town, he returned the next day to the same place to look after the people who had received the Word he had brought them. Even though he had been driven away from that town with stones, he exhorted the believers to …continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God—Acts 14:22. On, until the end of his ministry, he continued heralding the Kingdom of God. In the last verse of Acts we find him preaching, that is, heralding, the Kingdom of God to all who came unto him.
Paul, in his Epistles, was strong in denouncing things that would prevent a person from inheriting God’s Kingdom. You can see this in I Corinthians 6:9,10; Galatians 5:19-21 and Ephesians 5:5. The word inherit in each of these passages is from the Greek kle-ro-no-méo which means, “to receive possession of something as an heir.” In Romans 8:17 he tells us that if we have been taken into God’s family we are in there as joint-heirs with Christ. Receiving glory with Him, however, means that we will also suffer with Him.
Paul proclaimed the Kingdom, but he also knew the violence that was coming against it. Though Paul received some of that violence himself, he never stopped proclaiming the Kingdom.
According to the understanding I have, we are in the same age, or period of time, that Paul was in. There was opposition to the Kingdom in his day. That opposition—or, we could call it violence as Jesus did—will increase as the time of the end (Dan 12:1-4) comes on. We will not take the space here to list all the Scriptures that lead us to believe this, except to quote the following from Revelation 12:12. It strongly implies that the anger of the enemy will only increase as his time grows shorter. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
Listening closely to Jesus, and then letting Paul instruct us, will bring us forward day by day in Kingdom living. Just a few verses down from the verse we’re using for our praying, Paul describes what the Father has done for us relative to His Kingdom. He has transferred us from the authority of the darkness into the Kingdom of the Son of His Love. (See Col 1:13.) When we open ourselves to the spiritual understanding that comes with the acknowledgment of God’s will, it will bring us forward in knowing His Kingdom and our purpose in it. With spiritual understanding, we can take up a violence against the forces that stand to oppose us. We will remember, however, that it is a spiritual violence in which we do battle with the spirits of anti-Christ. Many of us are learning that the most important truth we can garner unto ourselves for the conflict is what is laid out for us in Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians.
Even though we have already spent time with “The Disciple’s Prayer” that Jesus taught us, my heart is still drawn toward understanding what He meant by some of His terms. The impression has been coming to me that what He taught is a way of praying that will bring about the development of those He calls, in Matthew 13:38, the children of the Kingdom. This, from one of His Parables of the Kingdom, is a significant designation for His disciples at the closing of this age.
Matthew 13 is a chapter of Kingdom Parables. There are eight of them in this one chapter. In them, Jesus makes it clear how the Kingdom becomes established in the life of a believer. Then, He tells in clear words how the Kingdom is to spread throughout the world. The Greek word He is recorded as using for world, when telling where the children of the Kingdom will be “planted,” is kósmos. This means the secular order of affairs on the earth. Seeing what Jesus teaches about the Kingdom will help make it clear just how far it will spread.
The word children in Matthew 13:38 is from the Greek huíos. It designates those who have grown to the point of maturity that qualifies them to receive the family inheritance. Their lives are filled with the acknowledgment of God’s will. There is no room for anything except what He desires. They’re the ones in whom wisdom and spiritual understanding are energized by God’s Spirit. He imparts all the wisdom and understanding necessary for carrying out His will.
The children of the Kingdom will be scattered like seed into the world, like a farmer broadcasts seed into his field. There is a quality built into the seed, which are the children of the Kingdom. that will make them sprout and grow wherever they land. This is because the germ of Kingdom Life is in them. Wherever a child of the Kingdom lands, there the Kingdom will be. Just as it was when Jesus came into the world; where He was the Kingdom was.
Where we are, the Kingdom is. These children of the Kingdom, being hated and feared by the enemy, will become surrounded by the children of the wicked one. Indeed! Anti-Christ plants his seed in the same field with the children of the Kingdom. He fashions them to look and act like the children of God’s Kingdom. One thing he cannot imitate, however, is the Life the Lord Jesus Christ gives to those in whom He lives.
In getting ready for the Day of the Lord, we really do need to take the prayers to heart that we learn both from Jesus and from Paul.
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