Christ the Stumbling Block
The heavenlies have been lost in the church today. We have made the kingdom of God an earthly, carnal replica of the kingdoms of this world. Think with me for a minute about Paul the Apostle before He had the revelation of the kingdom. Think of his concept before the Road to Damascus. What was the Jewish concept of the kingdom then? “Oh, we have to overthrow the Roman Empire, and then God is going to sit on His throne, and we will be prized more than any of the rest of the nations, and we will be apart and they will look at us and bow down to us and think we are really it.” That was the concept, and it is still going on. That is where the church is headed. People are trying to go back into Judaism thinking there is more spirituality about it. I have had to encounter it again and again, so I am going to say it once again: Jesus is all you need.
You don’t need to keep feasts or laws or anything. Do it if you want, but if you do and it becomes spiritual, you are in trouble. Paul was in contention with Peter and some other apostles because they were listening to the Jews saying, “Well, we are the religion.” No they are not, not at all. Their stumbling stone is Christ, and that happens to be who I believe in. Paul becomes the great apostle of Christ not of the Jews. His commitment is to a person, but His concept got blasted out of the water because the Jewish concept was blown up. His concept of Messiah had nothing to do with the real one. This is not a slam, it is a call to come out to Christ. He is the Messiah.
Here was the problem: Jesus did not fulfill what they thought He should be doing because His kingdom was not of this world. He was not there to fight the Roman Empire. He was there to firstly establish a kingdom within them. He was not simply going to deliver them from Rome, He was going to deliver them from the entire cosmos. He was going to deliver them from evil. They wanted Him to deliver them from Rome, and He wanted to deliver them from the whole kingdom of evil. Their God was too small, and I am afraid Christ has become too small in the church again. Paul became enamored with Christ and lost his Jewish roots. He became dedicated to the person. He saw his concept of Messiah was garbage when he met the Messiah whom he had not believed in, Jesus of Nazareth. When he met Him and was put under the hand of Jesus of Nazareth, he began a journey of coming out of his former religion.
Now the church is trying to turn back into that religion by keeping this feast or that feast. None of it will help you ever unless it points you to the person of Jesus Christ. Go after the person. That is where the life is. Satan has used this lie through the centuries to trap people. Someone will come in from the outside and weasel their way into the leadership, and suddenly the leaders are saying, “We have to do this,” and, “We have to do that.” And then those things get elevated above Jesus. Let me remind you of what He said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through Me.” He is the door. He is the gate. Go through the Gospels and you will see all the I AM’s. “I AM the God of Moses that you are talking about and saying you believe in but you do not believe in Me therefore Moses will judge you. Before Abraham existed I was the I AM” (John 8). He is not mincing words. He proclaims Himself to be God to the fullest extent. He declares that God is His Father. They were trying to stone Him because they understood what He was saying. He made Himself equal with God because He is God.
When we come to the circle of the throne someone is elevated. It is the Son of Man who happens to be the Son of God, and if this does not lead us to a place of the elevation of the Son of God in our hearts, we missed the point of the teaching and missed the revelation. The point of this revelation is our becoming. It is beholding and becoming like Him, seeing Him and being enamored, falling in love with Him and being gripped by Him all over again until He is our all and all. Without Him I can do nothing. Without Him I am nothing. I just want Him, and I need Him. He is that which completely satisfies the Father’s house. Why can’t He be that to us?
The Father said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” That is the real issue in the circle of the throne. That is the real voice that needs to be heard, the elevation of the Son. It is His image we are to be conformed to not Judaism. That was the problem with the law: it told you right and wrong but had no power of life to deliver you from the wrong. When you are a sinner by birth, a rebel against God, the law is not going to help you. You need a new life, and Christ said, “I come that you might life.” There is the solution. He is the solution because He is the life. In Him was the Life and that Life was the Light of all men.
Paul becomes the great interpreter of all gospels because he became the great interpreter of Christ. While Mathew, Mark, Luke and even John could not see, he saw. What did He see? Paul saw Christ, and he saw Him elevated above everything. No longer did he care for his Jewish roots. It has to lead me to the same issue. I just want to know Christ! Jesus Christ who is the Father’s glory, who is the Father’s pleasure, who is the perfect representation of the Father. He is God Himself come. Emmanuel God has come down among us. We must see Him.
There should rise up out of us a praise and adoration, a gratefulness and thanksgiving that is unparalleled. We should not have to be worked into it. It should come up by the Spirit of the Living God within us because the Kingdom is internal. God is fighting the church over that issue right now, the issue of worship. The issue is not resolvable by external forms. The issue is only resolvable by the internal. We have the external, but we do not have the internal, and God is taking us to task over it. We must become something we are not: possessed! We must become praisers of Him, worshippers of Him. You want to know why He stopped what we were doing in so-called worship in our services? Because we were not becoming. We had the external, but we did not have the internal. He confronts us and says, “I want you to be worshippers. I want you to be praisers. And I don’t want you to have to get worked into the emotion of it to become it. You should be that by the relationship. Then it can be beautiful.” That is the whole battle with God, the internal aspect of the kingdom.
That is why they did not reproduce the priesthood under the new covenant. It was another order: Melchizedek, not Aaron. It was an internal order. The early church leaders didn’t copy the old priesthood because they knew it was external. They were seeing the Lord in a way of fullness that has been lost to our hearts. It is devastatingly sad. They knew the priestly role of worship would have to be internal, or God would not be pleased with it. It was about becoming a kingdom within. If they were to possess the kingdom externally, it would be because they were possessed of the kingdom internally, God enthroned in them. The same is true now. It will all come down to this.
What is that kingdom? The Kingdom is the life of God. Everything comes from Him, and the kingdom He wanted us to be a part of was firstly a kingdom within. Then the natural can come into order. So the Holy Spirit once again is taking the church to task, saying, “You have all these things you are doing, but you are not becoming any of them. You are not being what I called you to be, you are trying to do it instead.” That is His issue. That is grievous to the Holy Spirit and it should grieve our hearts too.
In Ephesians 1:6 Paul says we are to be filled with the God of glory, to be inhabited by the God of Glory, representatives of the God of Glory. The life of God would be in us in a measure, its testimony going out from us and actually bringing glory to God. That life would turn eyes upon Him. In Paul’s day, the religious leaders would see that life and recognize those who had been with Jesus. Hardened people responsible for the murder of Christ would later be responsible for murdering them because they recognized something they did not like; Christ had reproduced Himself in a people. The kingdom had come within. Isn’t that amazing? What is offered to us is simply astounding. It is unparalleled. It is unheard of and so far beyond the scope of modern Christianity even though it should not be because the scriptures speak clearly of it. Blinded eyes cannot see even though the light is shining right in front of them. They will never see without disruption.
I would say to this to the entire church because of the dangers: Stop delving into the Jewish nonsense and allow it to be put away, because that is what Jesus did. He fulfilled it and put it away. It has no purpose to serve. It is an old testimony of a coming person who has come. Why do you want the old shadow when you can have the real thing? I guarantee you Jesus is not going to reestablish the Jewish thing in Jerusalem. The nations are going to stream to Him not to a way of doing things.
He is the stumbling stone, the rock of offense to the whole world, Jew and Gentile. Is that not true? We are not going to agree to disagree because it comes to this: we have to accept it. Then He stops being a stumbling stone, and He becomes Life. He is a stumbling stone because we want our way. He is a stumbling stone when we want something other than Him. As long as people want something other than Jesus, He will be a stumbling stone. Do not try to placate them or make them feel good. Let them keep stumbling. If you allow them to continue to stumble, after a while hopefully they will stop stumbling and find Jesus.
From Terry’s series Within the Circle of the Throne. Listen to the whole message here: