In many countries of the world there is civil unrest. It consists of ethnic divisions, social injustices, white privilege, black discrimination, liberals, conservatives, democracy, socialism, communism, doctrinally divided churches, diverse forms of marriage, et cetera.
Divisions is the work of the devil to cause dissent and unrest.
- Jesus explained the principle to the Pharisees, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.’ 1
- That is evident in the results of those divisions. Prime ministers, presidents, governments and laws come and go as people’s fancies and opinions change and cause divisions. Hostility erupts in many cases.
- Vicious attacks in the press and the social media often spew forth hatred and retaliation. ‘Divide and rule,’ is the motto of the devil.
- In the meantime, God accepts applications for people to join His eternal Kingdom. What measures does He take to ensure the Kingdom will be trouble free and last eternally?
God’s brilliant design:
# Unity under Jesus
While the devil scatters, Jesus unites.
- God unifies all things in His Kingdom under Jesus, ‘…to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.’ 2
- ‘And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church….’ 3
- That means the applicants for citizenship will be unified under Jesus. God’s people will have only one Leader.
# Love and obey Jesus
Love unifies all the citizens under Jesus.
- It is written, ‘This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His One and Only Son in the world that we might live through Him.’ The King loves His people. 4
- This exceptional love of the Lord Most High for His people makes the difference, ’We love because He first loved us.’ 5
- The greatest command is, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 6
- Love will hold God’s Kingdom together. It is in stark contrast to what we experience in most nations today.
# A special Counsellor
We have one Counsellor, the Holy Spirit who teaches the same basic principles of the Kingdom.
- ‘…the Holy Spirit… will guide you into all truth.’ 7
- One Spirit, one Lord, one God, one Kingdom, one Nation. All God’s people are taught by one very Special Teacher, the Holy Spirit.
# Total freedom to reject God
- God gives all people the opportunity to reject the Kingdom-of-God-citizen-requirements.
- God never forces anybody. So people choose to become citizens of God’s Kingdom and children of God. They choose to be filled with the Holy Spirit and decide to love and respect the Godhead eternally. It is a matter of the will.
- That means God gives all people the opportunity to exercise their free will to love or reject the Lord. Divisive elements are free to choose to align themselves with the opposite kingdom of darkness.
Those who submit to God do not become robots. They remain individuals with their own strong points and gifts, but they will be united in their love for the Lord and will obey and serve Him. No one in God’s Kingdom will ever cause divisions, since it was a free will choice. Led by the Holy Spirit, all God’s people will love and revere Him.
- Matthew 12:25
- Ephesians 1:10
- Ephesians 1:22
- 1 John 4:9
- 1 John 4:19
- Mark 12:30
- John 16:13
This day, exactly 47 years ago, on the 4th of July 1970 a man and woman stood before a minister, in a church in a small town in South Africa. They were about to be tied together as husband and wife.
- My father sat with tears in his eyes. He could not believe that the in-laws refused to heed his warning that I was bad marriage material.
- My future wife’s father was glad that his youngest daughter at last got a husband (at the ‘ancient’ age of 24). He just hoped for the best.
- My wife’s sister and mother told her that it is a disgrace not to get married, a disgrace to retain your maiden name. She mustn’t be so finicky. She should just get married. If it doesn’t work out she can always get divorced!
It was strange that a man who had very little knowledge about God, married a young woman who became a follower of Jesus when she was ten years old. I wondered:
- Why do I get married in a church? My answer was, tradition! Little did I know that the Lord would in due time instruct me that marriage was His idea, that is why I got married in a church.
- Why did she consent to marry me? Heaven knows (which was true). She said God told her to leave the matter in His hands and He will sort it out.
- So, there we were, listening intently to the minister on how we should approach marriage. For a follower of Jesus to marry someone who knows nothing about the Lord is hard at times. However, things changed decidedly when I (Gerard), allowed the Lord into my hardened heart. That saved our marriage so that today, we can celebrate God’s goodness to us together.
- I can’t remember what I promised the minister I would do. When one rejected person unites with another rejected person, it is sure to produce friction. So there were times of unrest, but also love, and four gifts from God, four children.
- In God’s plan for us, a time of deep healing began in our thirties. We began to pray together and still do. It made a huge difference in our lives and marriage.
- Celebrating 47 years together, we can only give the honor to the Lord. We are both followers of Jesus. We are blessed by the Lord. We are in love, happy and contented to be in each other’s company. Jesus promised, when He frees a person he or she will be free indeed. That is what we experienced.
- I (Gerard) am a testimony to the power of the Gospel. I was a man who had very little knowledge (none, to be more precise) of God or the Bible, but I married a godly woman. I became a follower of Jesus. I have a future as one of God’s ‘favorite’ children. I rejoice in my great, glorious magnificent God and His blessings – four plus four children and eleven grandchildren.
Why this ode of praise to God.
- He changed our lives. Both my wife and I came from families where we are the only ones who have the privilege to be married for 47 years, with children and grandchildren that we can cherish.
- It is an absolute privilege to enjoy fellowship with the most glorious Father, the powerful Savior, and be filled with His wonderful Counsellor, the Holy Spirit.
Glory to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for what He did for us!
The important question that every follower of Jesus must settle in his or her mind is: what is the value of the Old Testament? Do we need to read and accept it as part of God’s Word? (See How much of the Bible do we need to read? Part 1)
# Let’s consult the Holy Spirit.
We do this because He is our Counsellor. He also knows God intimately, ‘The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God…. In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God, except the Spirit of God.’ He tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16, ’All Scripture is God-breathed….’ The Holy Spirit inspired Old Testament is an important part of the Bible, for various reasons:
# Scripture says so in the New Testament.
- ‘In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in many ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son whom He appointed as heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe.’ 1
- God spoke to the forefathers through the prophets, but what does that have to do with us? He speaks to us through the Son in the New Testament.
# The New Testament testifies to the need of the Old Testament.
- It tells us ‘…everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.’ 2
- Romans 15:13 says, ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’
- So the Old Testament is very important to fill us with endurance, encouragement and hope, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
# Don’t forget the heroes of faith.
The Old Testament is the source of the Faith Heroes in Hebrews 11. They were ordinary men and women like us who did great feats and overcame great odds. They are examples of endurance, encouragement, hope, perseverance and trust in the Lord. We can be greatly encouraged if we read the detail of their lives in the Old Testament.
God uses the Old Testament writings to encourage us while we are subjected to the pressures of life with its concerns and cares. We have to stand strong, like Abraham, while we wait for our new heavenly home, ‘For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.’ 3 We need the Old Testament!
- Hebrews 1:1-2
- Romans 15:4
- Hebrews 11:10