Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Read for the Times

A mature mind understands the times.

The Mind of Christ in His Word: Part 1 (6)

…of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their command…
1 Chronicles 12.32

Same God, same history
Sometimes people who read the Bible fall into the mistake of thinking that God operated during the period in which Scripture was being written in a manner different than He does today. They maintain a kind of “That was then; this is now” mentality about much of what they read in the Bible. What they see God having done during the times in which Scripture was given, is not what they expect Him to do in our day.

There is some truth to this. God no longer speaks in an audible voice. He has finished giving the kind of revelation of Himself that we find in Scripture and our Lord Jesus Christ. And it pleases God to pursue His work on earth less dramatically, yet ultimately more powerfully, by His Spirit working in His Church, one person and one day at a time. As we bring our minds into submission to God’s Word, we’ll understand the difference between those things that pertain uniquely to the time of God’s giving of Scripture, but which we no longer expect, at least, not in any normative manner.

However, the God we know today is the same God we read about in Scripture. And the history of which we are part exists within the same space/time continuum as Adam, Noah, Moses, David, Jesus, and Paul. God is still sovereign over all human affairs; the Lord Jesus still upholds the universe by His Word of power; miracles and visions still do happen; the Kingdom of God is advancing on earth as it is in heaven; and the promises and commandments of God continue to be valid now, just as they were in the days of David, Paul, and John.

We need to read Scripture as though it were written in our time and for our time, and guard against the tendency to think that we cannot believe God or Scripture to be relevant or powerful for the big events and challenges of our day. He is, and they are.

Ambassadors all
We are God’s ambassadors in a world that desperately needs to hear the Good News of Christ and His Kingdom. It was said of the Lord Jesus Christ that He knew what was in every man (Jn. 2.24, 25). Beyond that, Jesus understood the times in which He lived. He understood the powers that were arrayed against Him – who they were, how they worked, and what He must expect at their hands. He was a Man of His times, and He understood the times, and knew just what He needed to do to bring the salvation of God to the world.

Now He has appointed us His ambassadors, to carry out the mission of His Kingdom in a world fraught with troubles and trials of various sorts, amid a people disconnected from God and His Word by all manner of frivolous, fleeting distractions. No ambassador could ever expect to succeed at his post without a good understanding of the people and culture to which he was sent. Like those ancient sons of Issachar, ambassadors today need to understand the times, to know what to do in representing the interests of their homeland.

This holds true for Kingdom ambassadors as well. We who would grow to maturity in the mind of Christ, so that we might think like Jesus, and know how to carry out Jesus’ plan and agenda, must allow the mind of Christ in Scripture to teach us how to understand the world in which we live and move and have our being. The Scriptures provide a framework for understanding the times in which we live – all the times of every human being – so that we can think with the mind of God about our times and prepare daily for serving as His ambassadors. We must focus our minds, through the lens of Scripture, to understand the world and our place in it.

Our worldview will be formed either by the Spirit of God, speaking in His Word, or the spirit of the age speaking through the schemes, visions, and ideas of fallen and fallible people. We will see the world and our times with the mind of Christ, or we will allow the secular and rationalistic mind of our day to dictate the terms of our experience in the world. When we submit our minds to the mind of Christ, certain fundamental truths about the times in which we live become clear and can guide our work as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God.

Three truths
Scripture asserts three truths that can help us in understanding the times in which we live. First is the teaching of Scripture concerning the two families of human beings. On the one hand, there are those who have been set free from the lies of the devil, the power of sin, and the tendency for self-deceit, into the liberty of the sons and daughters of God. These are they who, by trusting in Jesus Christ for forgiveness and new life, have been liberated by the truth of God into a life of all things becoming new.

On the other hand, there are those who, because they reject the truth of God, and refuse to acknowledge or give thanks to Him, become gods unto themselves, and travel a course of increasing sin, self-interest, and degradation, leading to death (cf. Rom. 1.18-32). In each of our lives are people of both families, those who know and are growing in the Lord and those who are trapped in the morass of deceit and lies, whose lives are a perpetual whistling through the graveyard, with no hope of escape.

Second, the Kingdom of God is still advancing on earth, as it is in heaven (cf. Dan. 2.44, 45; Is. 9.6, 7; 1 Jn. 2.8). How cruel and disingenuous it would be of our Lord Jesus to teach us to pray this way if He had no intention of hearing and answering the requests He commands of us.

The flow of human history since the days of Christ bears undeniable evidence, across the board of human life and culture, that beauty, goodness, and truth, righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit, are advancing on earth in ways and with a permanence unknown prior to the first Christian Pentecost, bringing the Kingdom of God to reality on earth as it is in heaven.

Finally, the Gospel is still the power of God for salvation, for all who believe (Rom. 1.16, 17). Do not give in to the lie that says people are no longer open to hearing about Jesus. Do not submit to the deception of the devil, who wants us to believe the Kingdom of God is for a far-distant era. And do not yield to the tendency to look with indifference on the lost men and women of your Personal Mission Field.

Let the Word of God dwell in you richly, so that you understand the times in which we live with the mind of Christ. Then you will know what you must do to fulfill your ambassadorship day by day.

For reflection
1.  Meditate on Matthew 6.33. What do you understand by this command? How do you seek to fulfill this charge in your daily life?

2.  Paul says the Gospel is power (Rom. 1.16, 17). What kind of power? How does that power work? To what ends? Where do you fit in the working of that power?

3.  What can you do to become a better student of the times, so that, thinking with the mind of Christ, you know what to do each day?

Next steps – Preparation: Review the three truths outlined in the last section of today’s column. How can you make these more central to your calling as an ambassador of Christ?

T. M. Moore

Our book, Understanding the Times, provides a more detailed and expansive description of the world of our day and how we as believers must pursue our calling in it. Order your free copy by clicking here.

All the installments in this “Strong Souls” series are available in PDF by clicking here. Check out our newest feature, Readings from the Celtic Revival (click here).

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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