The Better New Testament Good News About God’s Kingdom

Dallas Willard Part 4 of 8

Rolling Hills Covenant Church had listened to Dallas for over ten years. For this Sunday school class, they asked him to speak less about the spiritual life and more about God and the kingdom of God, about sin and our redemption from it.


Dallas: Now, this morning we are talking on the topic, The Better New Testament Good News About God’s KingdomThe Better New Testament Good News About God’s Kingdom and this refers back to the discussion of last time—The Gospel of the Kingdom of God in the Old Testament.

I think the best thing to do might be this morning if we would just begin with a few verses from the New Testament and then we will go back and make the connection with what we were talking about last time. [00:46]

Look with me at the first chapter of Matthew and this is the announcement of the angel to Mary, that she will be the mother of the anointed one—the Messiah and verse 21 says, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” He shall save his people from their sins. Now, because of the prevailing climate of teaching for a long while, we have to emphasize that he does not say, “He will save his people from hell.” OK? He doesn’t say, “He will save His people from the results of their sin.” He says, “He will save his people from their sins.” Well—all right? [1:58]

Sorry—I was just going to write a phrase up here to help us keep—yes! Great! Thank you so much, Dusty. Can you just throw that over here? Appreciate it.

So, this is the phrase we want now—the cure of sin. That is where the Old Testament agreement finally flunked and failed. Jesus is going to make apparent the goodness of rightness. Jesus is going to make this so attractive that people will come to Him for help to be delivered from their sins. [3:00]

Now, sin is a matter of wrong being as well as wrong doing and if you wish you can put sin here and sins here, okay? It’s a familiar distinction. I think many of you will have heard it before. Notice that in this verse, we are told that He will save His people from their sins—from wrongdoing. This is sin in a sense of being “wrung,” twisted and I’m not going, this morning to go into the etymology of the terms but that’s one of the meanings of the term, sin in the Bible. You are twisted—a crooked bow that you shoot an arrow out of it and it goes somewhere else because it’s twisted. So, this is a condition of our hearts. [4:10]

And then wrongdoing is, of course a matter of wrong so you have wrung and wrong. It sounds like a comedy team but it isn’t, is it? It’s a tragic condition. Now, Jesus came to save us from our sins, and you may have heard that that can’t be done. You may have heard that that can’t be done but I assure you that Jesus can do that. That’s what He came for. OK?

Look with me at Romans 8 and we will see just a little more about this before we begin our survey of other texts this morning. Romans 8—now this is just gone through a passage in which Paul had come to the end of his hope in him self and he had found that the things he wanted to do, he couldn’t do and the things he didn’t want to do, he did. You ever hear of people like that?  You know someone like that probably? Someone in your neighborhood probably? [Laughter] [5:36]

See, that’s the condition, isn’t it of mankind generally—all of the terrible things that are done. You find a family in a terrible problem, a person in a financial mess, a world in a mess. I mean, go through Israel and Palestine and ask those people over there, would they like to straighten all this out? You know what everyone would say, “Yes.” Yes. Well, why don’t you? We can’t. We can’t do it. And see, very often, what that comes down to is that the people who go to straighten the mess out, the evil starts flowing between them. Hmmm? Usually, it’s in the form of words and once that gets out, it just goes like wild fire.

Remember, James likened the tongue to what starts a little fire and pretty soon, it’s just burning up the whole world. That’s the way evil is but now look at verse one of chapter 8. Well, he says in the last verse in the previous chapter, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord . . .” (Romans 7:25) See that was the answer to his problem. And then he says, “[Now] there is therefore [now] no condemnation to them [that] are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.” After the spirit. [7:19]

What do you—how would you describe what this means in terms of what we’ve been talking about—after the spirit? The veil—after the things of Christ and where are they? They are in Heaven. Where is Heaven? Where is Heaven?

Comments: Where Christ is.

Dallas: It’s where Christ is. Where is Christ?

Comments: He’s right here.

Dallas: He’s right here? Very good. See, now that’s the thing you must pick up on if you are to understand what these teachings are about. We live out of—we live out of a secret place. [8:15]

Listen to these words. Don’t turn unless you are just driven to—to Matthew because I’ve got too many places to turn to and I’ll make you seasick. [Laughter] Matthew 6—look at verse—don’t look! [Laughter] This whole section here is about doing things in secret. Where is secret?

Comments: It’s hidden.

Dallas: It’s in the hidden; it’s hidden, isn’t it? See, there is a hidden world that is all around you and all through you. It’s the one that Paul spoke about when he said, “ . . . in him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) But listen to this description of God. “ . . . thou when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret . . .” (Matthew 6:6) Isn’t that a lovely description of the  Father? He is in secret. That’s where He is. Thy Father is in secret. So, walking after the spirit is learning to lead this hidden life in which we are citizens of Heaven. Our citizenship is in Heaven, right? [9:41]

That means that we are part of a Kingdom. A Kingdom is the place where there is a governance going on, see? There is governance going on. See, our problem is that if we just talk about it and don’t step into the secret place and trust it, we won’t know it. And we can get a whole group of people, all whom are talking this language and no one doing it and that happens to the church over and over and over again. And then when that happens, then the people who have to have the responsibility of running the church and making it run, really come to trust not on the secret life but upon the visible life.  Isn’t that sad?  It’s heart breaking.

You know, that’s exactly what happened to Israel and that’s why Israel flunked the purpose of God and the reason that Israel was rejected finally was, because the sin was not cured. They did not enter into holiness.

Listen to these words—“Behold I will send by messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming?” (John 1:1-2) See, he was talking to people who said, “Oh, wonderful, the day of the Lord. Oh, we just wish the Lord would come.” See? [11:38]

Another one of the prophets says, “Ye are like a man who runs from a lion and comes in and leans on the wall of his house and is bitten by a serpent.” [Amos 5:19 Paraphrased] See? Just as James and John did not know what they were talking about, that’s the way we often are and what we are called to do is to delight and prepare for what we are delighting.

Listen to this. “ . . . who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeared?” Or shows up? “for he is like refiner’s fire and like laundry soap: And he will sit there. . .” (Malachi 3:2-3 Paraphrased] [12:20]

You don’t have this much anymore, but in those days, the metal worker would build his fire and put the metal in the pot as it were and sort of sit there and stir it and watch it. “ . . . he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi . . . ” (Malachi 3:3 Paraphrased] Who are those?

Comments: The ministers

Dallas: They were the ministers. Right. Now, you know the afflictions and failures of the church and of the nation always fall at the feet of the minsters. I am talking about me. The fate of any nation that is blessed of God rests in the hands of the minsters. They used to tell me when I was in school that if God calls you to be a minister, never stoop to be president. [13:15]

Why is that? Because you see, a minster works out of the veil. The minister works from behind the veil. He works with the Kingdom of God. He works with the Kingdom that is over all earthly Kingdoms. That’s not to say that it isn’t a good work to be involved in government. It is, though by the way for centuries, the Christians after Jesus debated about whether it was a proper thing for a Christian to be involved in government.  Certainly it s; it’s just as proper for a Christian to be involved in government as it is in any work. We are to be stewards of God where we are and to know His Kingdom and we can know His Kingdom there just as well as we can elsewhere.

And yet, when he appears he shall purify—purify has to do with holiness, see? “ . . . the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:3) [14:28]

Holiness is what it is all about and the New Testament Gospel is that we can be holy. Now many people, because of all they have heard and learned, that’s not good news to them because, you know holiness—the constant work of Satan is to present holiness as if it were the deadliest thing on the face of the earth. Now, that’s what he did when he started this whole mess by misleading Eve.

You remember, he got Eve convinced that she was going to miss out on something really good if she obeyed the commandment of the Lord and of course, that meant if she continued in the presence of God, didn’t it?  Because when they disobeyed, then they couldn’t stand the presence of God. [15:27]

We are talking about living in the presence of God—the veil has been parted for us. It’s not been parted for the world. We live from behind the veil of His flesh. We have an anchor that enters into that. That anchor is also a power line—a power line.

Out in the hills where I was raised, we didn’t have electric power until I was a senior in High School and the REA, as it was called, Rural Electrification Association or something like that would come down the road and put up their posts and string those wires and if you got a little bit of wiring in your house you could put that on. It’s so funny how we thought about things in those days. You know, you had maybe one wall plug in a room, one little light up there but of course, we were thinking of it in comparison to what we’d had and it looked like the Shekinah glory compared to what we’d had. [Laughter] So, oil lamps or—some people who are clever enough got what we call Aladdin lamps. Anyone know what an Aladdin lamp is? Yes! That was a wonderful thing, wasn’t it? [16:58]

But, you see, that’s what the anchor line is. It is a power line. See? It is a power line. It’s a power line, which says, “You really can be the light of the world.” Not because of your battery, but because of what you are tied up to. You can be the light of the world, see?

Listen to what it says now here in Romans 8—“ . . . the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2) Whew! Are you ready for that? Hmmm. “ . . . made me free from the law of sin and death.” Now, note the description because sometimes when you are reading, if you read “for” as “because,” it will be a little clearer. Because “ . . . what the law could not do”—why couldn’t the law do it? Because “ . . . it was weak through the flesh.” (Romans 8:3)  [18:00]

See, what the law did was to lay its claim directly upon the flesh. Now the flesh is the natural energies of man apart from God—the natural energies of man apart from God—of woman too—apart from God. Now, I know that many of you heard me teach this before but I think some of you haven’t so let me repeat it.

The paradigmatic act of the flesh was Abraham and Hagar begetting Ishmael. That’s all through the scriptures. That’s the paradigmatic act of the flesh. They did not have to have any help from God to do that but Isaac was the son of what? Promise! He was the son of promise—promise made to faith and then when that promise was fulfilled, his conception was accomplished because of God’s intervention in that act.  [19:10]

So far as we know, Sarah and Abraham still had to make love, as we say, but that is not what brought it to pass. It was that in their act, God acted. Synergistic—the term synergistic was actually developed and introduced into Christian thought by Clinton of Alexandria. Synergistic—working with. That’s all through the New Testament—all through the New Testament and I am not going to branch off on that this morning but if you will just read the New Testament, you will notice how many times it speaks of God “working with.”

When Paul got back from his first missionary journey, you may recall that he went up to the church in Antioch and gave his report and he described it as what God had done working with him. See, Paul had the experience of that life from behind the veil because—well, you know, it comes from there to us and it came from there to Paul, didn’t it? See. Paul really experienced the one who is behind the veil as far as this life is concerned. Right? “Who art thou, Lord?” “ . . . I am Jesus whom thou persecutest . . .” right?  (Acts 9:5) So, he had the experience with that. And he used that same power then as he went along. He used what he had experienced. That’s what we do; that’s what you do; that’s what I do as we step into this. We ask for God to give us the experience of this life from behind the veil and then we use it as we go along for what the law could not do, we can’t do it just in our strength. [21:12]

And as the Old Testament tells us, “cursed be the man that trusteth in the arm of the flesh.” (Jeremiah 17:5 Paraphrased) This always will lead to corruption because you are trying to do something that you can’t do and you will be frustrated and unhappy and you will fail and if you’ve got to keep up appearances, you will start faking it and then you are in real trouble because it’s hard to get out from behind the burden of fakery—especially religious fakery—it’s so hard.

But then of course, very often, God breaks thorough on us, doesn’t He? He breaks through on us. We’ve seen that in our public figures in the last year or so over and over now, haven’t we? They were faking something they didn’t have. It isn’t that what they were trying to get victory over, you can’t have victory over, you can but you can’t do it f you fake it. See? And I felt that Jimmy Swaggart’s statement about himself was not bad at all because he said, “I didn’t go for help.” See? “I didn’t ask my brothers and sisters to help me.” The New Testament says, ”Confess your sins one to another.” That scares the church to death today. Scares them to death and it isn’t just that you know, what are we becoming? Catholics or something like that? No, it isn’t that. It isn’t that. It’s that we have become accustom to living behind a façade of fleshly strength. Forgive me if I offend you, I am sorry but that’s really true. [23:06]

Now, we have to give up on that and learn to live through the spirit. Listen to these words. “God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh.” (Romans 8:3 Paraphrased) He put Him right down there with the rest of us. Hmmm? Condemned sin—in the flesh. What does that mean? How did God sending His son in the flesh condemn sin in the flesh? Well, you see, that means that Jesus came in the flesh and showed sin to be what it was. He showed it to be what it was. [24:02]

You remember what Simeon said to Mary in the temple? “This child is set for the rising and falling of many in Israel.” (Luke 2:34 Paraphrased) Many hearts shall be revealed. Many hearts shall be revealed. “Thine own heart also shall be pierced through” (Luke 2:35 Paraphrased), you see? Jesus revealed hearts but when you reveal hearts, guess what? Whew! Many of the first turned out to be last, didn’t they? And many of the last turned out to be first. You see, the human order is based upon confusion and hypocrisy and façade. Façade control, see? [24:51]

If façade starts to slip, all forces are called immediately to bolster it up and get it back in place but Jesus came to lay down all the facades. Now, His spirit continues that work and when we are in our own lives and in dealing with others, we have to operate on that principle you see. We don’t try to manage peoples’ spirits. We live in the truth and we deal with them truthfully and if we want something for them, we go to God and we trust God to change them. See, when the church moves its base of evangelism away from this, then they fall back on fleshly means and what they get is the fruit of the flesh. They get people who are not in touch with the life that is behind the veil. And consequently they run on fleshly principles and they get the fruit of the flesh and as Paul says in Galatians 6, “they that sow to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption.” [26:03]

Now, he’s not talking about sowing to thievery and murder and all of that. That actually comes later because you see, the reason why people get involved in all of the bad things is because their project is failing. They are not going to manage to be happy so they better take it in their own hands and so a little thieving here, a little adultery there, a little witchcraft even or sorcery, see?

What is witchcraft and sorcery about? It’s about controlling the world, isn’t it? Why do people go to witches? Well, I want Betty Sue to fall in love with me. Well, just take this potion and slip it in her cocoa. [Laughter] Okay! That’s about control.  Control. We talked about that earlier, didn’t we? We talked about the need and the drive to control. See, the point here is that we come under the governance of God. He’s in control. [27:03]

“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.”  (Romans 8:4 Paraphrased) There is that “after the spirit” again. According to the spirit, see?  It isn’t the idea that the spirit is out there and we are trying to go after it—we mean “according to the spirit.” That is, as the spirit moves, we move. And this again, threatens to draw us beyond our experience often and scares us because we are a little worried about this maybe and if we haven’t put ourselves in a position where we were going to die, if God didn’t do something and seeing His moving, then we are apt not to have that experience so then verses like 14, “as many are as led by the spirit of god, they are the children of God.” (Romans 8:14 Paraphrased)

Now, we can get up a whole church of spirit-led people, see? And we can tell people, “Now if you are not led by the spirit of God, you are not a child of God” and they can figure out how to be led by the spirit of God. Did you know that? They can. And that’s what’s happened in many of our charismatic churches—I’m sorry if I offend you—they have found a way of being led by the spirit of God that doesn’t involve the spirit of God. Not all of them—okay—not all of them.  Just like, not all of the other churches—the non-charismatic churches—the problem is; there is no form that you can define, among men which cannot be abused by people who are not walking in the power of the spirit of God. [28:48]

See, this goes back to the Abrahamic covenant—you remember when God sealed His covenant with God, Abraham laid out the animals of sacrifice. He divided them in half. You remember that story? And all Abraham did was to stand there and keep the birds off. What is he waiting for? He was waiting for God to consume the sacrifice. Hmmm? And he just waited and he waited—he shooed the birds off—he stayed there for a long while. Probably Sarah was sitting over there on the hill saying, “That crazy husband of mine. What’s he doing now?” [Laughter] And you know, he had people around. They were bound to know what he was doing and what did they think? And suppose you carved up a few animals on your front lawn? [Laughter] Neighbors would send for help. [Laughter] What’s this person going to do over here? After me next, right? But Abraham actually did that. He just carved them up and laid them out there and did nothing but keep the birds away. You remember what happened? Well, after waiting a long while, God showed up on the scene and it knocked Abraham out. It knocked him out. [30:15]

Are you afraid that if you were to really give yourself up to God He might do something crazy like that with you? A lot of people are frightened of that. They think that if they did something like that and God or you know, what’s going on there; really, it might be the Devil, mightn’t it? Huh? How are you gonna know? See, all those are real fears, aren’t they? And of you are into this sort of thing and someone else in your fellowship isn’t, you want to remember, they are scared for good reason. [30:48]

So, you can “can” not doing it and you can “can” doing it, and they can both be just as fleshly as anything you can imagine. So, you don’t speak in tongues and you don’t jump around and have wild experiences and pass out? Well, congratulations—if that’s a good thing. I note that a lot of people don’t do those things and they don’t seem to be getting along very well. He was the Lord over their neighbors. So you do these things? Well, that’s wonderful. That’s a good thing.  Maybe, but I notice a lot of folks that do those things, they are not getting along too well in the universe that we’ve got, see? Oh, listen, friends, we are talking about something that is so individual. [31:40]

What did David say? “Oh Lord, you desire truth in the inward parts,” see? (Psalm 51:6 Paraphrased] When you come to the place where it doesn’t matter to you one whip what anyone thinks about whether you do or whether you don’t, you‘re getting close to the place where God might decide well, perhaps this person can stand if I were to show up. See? Maybe this one could stand it.

Abraham wasn’t perfect. Abraham did some weird things. Two times, he gave his wife to another man to keep himself from getting killed he thought. He didn’t know if he would get killed. Abraham was just scared. Abraham was a coward. Huh! He was frightened. Moses was a murderer. He killed a man and hid him in the sand. What David did, we won’t even talk about. It’s too close to the newspapers today, right? But these were the people we are talking about that had the sensitive hearts, you see? It wasn’t that they were perfect but they had hearts, which longed for God.  They had hearts, which longed for God. They said, “Oh God, I want truth in my inward parts.” [33:16]

I love the old song that says, “Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart, in my heart.” I don’t care what people say. Now the Proverbs says, “The fear of man bringeth a snare . . .” (Proverbs 29:25) I‘ve already given you a verse on Jesus where He said, “How can you believe which seek honor from men and not the honor that cometh from God only.” (John 5:44 Paraphrased) You can’t believe. [33:42]

You seek the honor that comes from men? Wonderful! You’ll have it. You can get honored of men. Do something that is strange and outstanding but along the lines they like—jog for 50,000 miles, yes? They will bring the TV camera and put you on a show, and you’ll be just as silly as you ever were. Right? I mean, jog; wonderful, do something outstanding and people will just—if it fits in their—Jesus knew that. You know, He said, “If you pray to be seen of men, they will notice you.” (Matthew 6:1 Paraphrased) Right? And you’ll get what you wanted. You wanted to be seen of men? You wanted those people to say, “Wow, that person really prays.” So, they said that and you will have your reward. That’s what Jesus said. Jesus observed these things.

But you will not have the strength that allows you to step free of the burden of legal righteousness and they never found that in the Old Testament and the curse of their religion, the curse that came—I so wish we had had time to go in—I gave you a lot of other verses—but how God acted on behalf of the Israelites. What His presence meant on their behalf. [35:02]

That story we were into last time about Moses where he was saying to God, “If you don’t go up with me, just forget it, we are not going to do this thing.” (Exodus 33:15 Paraphrased) God gave in to that kind of prayer and intercession and petition and so, in chapter 34 of Exodus following that you see him saying, “All right, hewn me out two more tablets of stone. We will do this thing again and see if you can get it right this time.” (Exodus 34:1 Paraphrased)

So, verse 1 of 34 of Exodus, “So he hues out the stone and takes them in his hand and goes up and the Lord descends,” verse 5 of Exodus 34. This is one of those absolutely beautiful passages of the mercy of God where His heart is shown, “the Lord descended in the cloud”—and by the way, some of these days, you ought to take your concordance and read about clouds. Clouds are a wonderful topic. It will do a lot for you, by the way. Clouds. Study clouds in the bible—Old and New Testament. [36:17]

You see, a cloud was a way of God approaching people without totally destroying them. Why did He come in a cloud? Well, you think about it. Just run through your mind quickly and think about all the clouds that show up and I think you will see you’ve got a good subject there and why don’t you just make a little time sometime—just study clouds.

“Descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord.” (Exodus 34:5) See, to proclaim the name of the Lord is to manifest who the Lord is. It isn’t just to say, “the Lord, the Lord, the Lord,” you know? “And the Lord passed before him, and proclaimed The Lord, The Lord God . . . ” (Exodus 34:6)

Now then here we get the revelation of who He is, “ . . . merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth . . . ” (Exodus 34:6) That’s what the world is looking for, isn’t it? Abundant in goodness and truth—everybody wants goodness and truth. That’s what I’ve heard. Right? [37:28]

See, this is why the messiah is described by the prophets as the “desire of all nations . . .” (Haggai 2:7) Remember that phrase from the prophets? The desire of all nations—Haggai—the desire of all nations will come—goodness and truth. “Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:7) and then see, because of the positive side, there is a negative side because you can’t be something without not being something else. “ . . . visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:7) See, sin becomes a trap and when it is invited in, it takes over. “And Moses made haste, and bowed his head to the ground and worshipped. And said if I now find grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee go among us . . .” (Exodus 34:8, 9 Paraphrased) [38:33]

See that was what this whole episode is about if you remember from the last time was the presence of God. Moses just wanted one thing—just one thing—everything else would be taken care of. Without that one thing, everything else won’t be taken care of.

We recently, last week again, this silliness about Larry Flynt and the supreme court—now, you see, when you don’t have the presence of God among you, you have to wind up talking about all sorts of stupid things that everyone knows is stupid and making decisions which everyone knows are basically wrong but you’ve got to make them because all you can do is deduce something form a set of premises you’ve bought. See? [39:17]

When people are surrounded by the presence of God, they don’t need an argument. When the presence of God is there, the Larry Flynt’s and so forth don’t raise their head.  When the presence of God is not there, every kind of evil raises its head and says, “Hey, I‘m okay, right? I got a right. I got a right.” Suppose it does. See, you can’t deal with it on that basis. Human life cannot run on that basis. It can only run by the presence of God and Moses knew that. [39:58]

Now, law is a wonderful thing but as Paul says, “It’s made for evil men.” And it won’t do them much good. It just sort of restrains them—a little bit. Then there is a huge area there where it can’t even restrain them. So, what’s to restrain them? The only thing that will restrain evil is the presence of God. See? The Holy Spirit is actively at work even beyond the church now restraining evil or we wouldn’t be as well off as we are and there will come a time when that will be taken out. The church will be removed and the Spirit of God will be removed in the sense in which He is now present. This is an important truth of dispensationalism and at that point, evil will be able to manifest itself more fully. [40:47]

See, there is a lesson which human history has to learn before human history, as a whole will accept the Kingdom of God. All the wiseacres who live and work around universities, especially and places like that who’ve got all the answers to everything and none of them will work, see? [Laughter] They are going to look at really—they are going to look the thing right in the face. They are going to see evil for what it is.  They are going to find supernatural demonic powers, which are able to work a democratic system of rights and turn the world into as close as hell as you can get it.

When the Anti-Christ comes, he’s going to be a populist. He will be the leader of the people. He will be welcomed as the solution to all of our economic ills, our socio-economic problems. The difficulties of race and language and all of the things, he will solve them see? He will solve them by democratic means because after all democratic means are about as malleable as anything you wish. I mean all the totalitarian governments in the world that I know of, with the exception of one or two are democratic. Did you now that? Yeah! [42:23]

Quite a number of the communist countries, if you don’t vote, you will get fined. You may even get to prison if you persist in your unwillingness to not cooperate with the people’s republic of whatever. See, that’s the way these things work and there is coming a time when the Holy Spirit will simply be removed to restrain that and all decency will fall in the face of this awesome power of evil and evil will be revealed for what it is. Well, I’m getting ahead a little for next time. [42:56]

But for Moses, he realized that the presence of God was the solution and verse 10 says, God says, “Behold, I make a covenant before all thy people. I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the Lord: for it is a terrible thing that I do with thee.” (Exodus 34:10) [43:18]

Jehoshaphat was one of the few people that really followed as a King in the path of Abraham and Moses and David. He was called, “the son of his father, David” because his heart was so pure in his pursuit of the Lord. And as the Lord fought his battles for him, that by the way is in 2 Chronicles 17:3, “he walked in all the ways of his father David.” (Paraphrased)

And in that same passage in verse 10, “ . . . the fear of the Lord fell upon all of the Kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no more war against Judah” (2 Chronicles 17:10 Paraphrased)—Jehoshaphat. The fear of the Lord—the fear of the Lord is what came upon them and the stories are there for you to read. God fought the battles but they did not overcome this problem of ritual righteousness and by the time John the Baptist, the last of the prophets came, to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers.” (Malachi 4:6) [44:29]

Do you ever wonder why it talks about that right in the last verses of the Old Testament? Why doesn’t it say that there will come—this is verse 6 (he says 6 but it’s verse 5) of chapter 4 of Malachi—“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers . . . ” (Malachi 4:5,6)—why Elijah, do you suppose?

Well, you see, Elijah was the first great prophet who was an outsider to the nation of Israel as a political and social form. It was Elijah who established the line of the prophets as those who are in fact were operating from within the veil even in that time.  They stood against human power now in the form of Israel itself. “Send Elijah,” he says, “that’s the only way these people could identify what it would be like.” (Malachi 4:5 Paraphrased) And indeed, John the Baptist was like Elijah wasn’t he? Wild man. [Laughter] Living out in the deserts and birds and things feeding him and that sort of stuff—locusts. [45:48]

“I’ll send you Elijah the prophet . . . and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5,6 Paraphrased) Why do you suppose he didn’t say, “He’ll turn the hearts of the chaff to the people?” Or, of the governor to the people or the hearts of the people to the governor? Why do you suppose he didn’t say, “Turn the hearts of the President to the journalists and the hearts of the journalists to the President?” It is interesting that he overlooked that.

Now, you see, he knew that the problem with righteousness lies in the intimate—if we can just get the news of production in the hands of the people, everyone would be so sweet and kind and loving and never say a bad word about anyone. Butter would melt in their mouth and so forth and so on; don’t believe a word of it.  Don’t believe a word of it. [46:49]

Of course, it happens to be a doctrine, which is absolutely impossible to implement. Economic equality is not a meaningful concept. You give $5 to three different people and you will see that economic equality is not a matter of how much money they have in their hand but how many brains they have in their head. Until you can get an equal distribution of brains and motivation, you will never have an equal distribution of wealth. Some people are wealthy with $5; others wouldn’t be wealthy if they had five million dollars, you see? Well, sorry! [47:27]

Getting off onto things that are really very important, you see. And the heart of the problem is the family relationships and relationships with the neighbor; and it is in that place that we learn to meet God and live out from behind the veil or we don’t. You get you an office with a big desk or a bunch of people to screen your calls—you talk about faking it. You can fake it but you can’t fake it at home, can you? Isn’t that right? Home is where they know you. That’s why the healing has to be at home. That’s why the attempts to fake it at home are so devastating of personality. The little children that are caught in the grips of a home where there is fakery going on are so totally confused and crushed. And that is, the home becomes, you know that wonderful phrase of Walt Whitman’s, “out of the cradle endlessly rocking the leaves of grass” but unfortunately out of the cradle comes the broken lives of little children that have been taught how to lie and how to hurt others because they have come into a world in which they don’t know God. [48:57]

So, when John the Baptist came he talked about things like that, didn’t he? He said to the soldiers, “Be content with your wages.” (Luke 3:14) That’s down-home stuff. Don’t take—don’t exhort money from people. You got two coats? Give them to the person who doesn’t have any—give one to the person who doesn’t have any. It doesn’t say give them both; just give them one. [Laughter] See?

John, when he came and the people came to him and said what we should do? What did he talk about? He said, “Well, you should get up a party and you should sign a petition and then you should petition Herod to come down here and give you some more beans.” [Laughter] Wouldn’t that be a good thing to do?  Didn’t Herod have beans? He had a whole barn full of them. See? [49:50]

Why didn’t he say that? Because he knew that the problem was not there. The problem in this world is not a shortage of anything except righteousness. It’s the only thing we are short on is righteousness. The needs of humanity could be taken care of over and over again. There is an abundance here and if we were righteous, I am sure that God would open the rest of the physical universe for us and there is lots of it out there, you see? Eventually that’s going to happen, by the way; it’s going to happen.  Not because we get up a petition. That is a time to get up a petition. I don’t want to get into the legalisms with that so please don’t worried about me, okay? If you got up a petition lately, well, bless your petition. [50:44]

The point is—that’s not going to solve the problem and John the Baptist knew it and he came and spoke that way and he turned the hearts of the fathers to the children and children to the fathers, see? That’s where the healing has to come.

So now when that was done, and Jesus had come because in all of the Pharaohs of the Jewish nation, God had succeeded in preparing a people to receive them so that there would be a few people out in the boondocks, up by the Sea of Galilee who would be able to at least look at the fellow and say, ”You know, this just might be him.” The folks down in the big city would say, “Look and see. No prophet ariseth out of Nazareth or Galilee.” (John 7:52) [51:30]

Where do they come from, by the way? They all come from the big seminary down it Jerusalem, right? [Laughter] Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, UCLA, USC, Claremont—that’s where wisdom is. Ahhh! No, Jesus said, “That’s not it.” And Jesus came into the midst of suffering humanity and he proclaimed the presence of God as His own hand. The message of John the Baptist was, “Repent!” Matthew, chapter 3—“Repent, turn!”

We don’t have an English word which does it—metanoia is a word which says, “Look this thing clearly in the face and see what it is.” [Laughter] If you will ever do that with human life on its own, you will do the rest—all the  bawling and squalling and turning and repenting, in the ordinary sense—it will take place and if you don’t, all the rest of it won’t do you much good. See? You’ve got to see it. You’ve got to see it for what it is. You’ve got to understand that life apart from God is a hopeless project and it’s just the mercy of God that we get along as well as we do.  [52:41]

He said he sends his “rain on the just and on the unjust,” didn’t he? (Matthew 5:45) See? You know who that unjust is? It’s me. God’s mercy to me is so much greater than anything I deserve, even if I never turn to Him—even if I never turn to Him. And I gave you that verse from Luke 6 last time. It’s so important. “God is kind to the ungrateful and to the evil.” (Luke 6:35 Paraphrased) See? You will see people walking around and say, “Why does that sinful person not suffer?” The answer is very simple. God is great. God is gracious. God is good. That’s the answer so don’t be envious at the prosperity of the evil doer, just say, “Praise God. He’s so good.” That person needs it. Hmmm? [53:45]

Now, what Jesus—coming that way to us—He enables us to be the children of our Father, which is in Heaven. Hmmm? Look at Matthew 5, verse 43—“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father . . . ” which is where?

Comment: In Heaven.

Dallas: In Heaven. Where is Heaven?

Comment: Here

Dallas: Here! [Laughter] You can be—you say, “Well, how do I do that? I don’t know how to do that.” Just try. [54:45]

When you try, God will supply the strength you need and you will learn how to do it. You learn how to do things by doing them. That’s a paradox, I know.

Josephus, among the Greeks thought they could prove you could never learn anything because they said, “If you don’t know it, you wouldn’t recognize it when you found it.” And if you do know it, you can’t learn it because you already know it. So, you can’t learn anything. [55:14]

You learn to do things by doing them. If you would like to learn how to love your enemies, do it. And you say, “I can’t.” Have faith in God. And when you do, your faith will be rewarded with the strength to do it and you will find that is the most, sweet wonderful thing you can ever do. It’s not hard. Oh you say, “It is hard.” It will be hard if you try to do it on your own. In fact; it will be so hard, it will be impossible. See. [55:47]

“Love your enemies” doesn’t mean you say they are doing what is right. It just means that you seek what is good for them. Seek their good. Scare them to death. [Laughter] So what will happen to me? God will take care of you. He’s done a pretty good job with the sparrows and He’ll probably do all right with you. Yeah, but I won’t get what I want. Well, what you want is your main problem. If you can stop living just in terms of what you want for a little while, you would find out that there is something much greater than anything you want. Hmmm. So, that’s hard. It’s hard but God will give you strength if you if you step out towards it. He will give you strength.

You say, “But you don’t know what’s been done to me.” I don’t know what’s been done to you but I know awful things have been done to you. I’ve never found anyone on the face of the earth that awful things haven’t been done to them and some of them are awful-er than others but I tell you that the blessedness of the Kingdom of God is greater than any terrible thing that can happen to you. And everything that can happen to you can be turned to good in the Kingdom of God –not the best—don’t go for the best. You want to be number one, that’s of the world.  Good.  “Everything works together for good” (Romans 5:28 Paraphrased)—not the best, not the better—“for good.” You say, “I don’t want the good.  I want the better.  I want the best.” Forget it!  You let God decide about that. The best has already been shot, you know? We left that a long time ago—the best. [Laughter] [57:26]

Now, God is gonna make things good and they work together—not independently. The word there doesn’t say that everything by itself is good. [Laughter] I can name you a lot of them that are awful bad. But He says, “They work together FOR good.”

You take the ingredients of an angel food cake and try to eat one of them at a time; it won’t be good, will it? It will be awful. Raw eggs? Sugar? Flour? Now, I’ll have my flour! [Pretends to eat it] See? It’s not good! [Laughter] God didn’t say everything that happens is good. Would you write that down somewhere? God did not say everything that happens is good and I’m so sick of hearing people misuse this.

There are terrible things that happen—terrible things that happen, and sometimes we do them. They are terrible, but there is nothing beyond reclamation in the Kingdom of God and that is why Jesus, when He came began His teaching with The Beatitudes. He selected the people that were regarded as beyond hope—as hopeless and He said, “Blessed be ye poor.” Who is at the bottom of the pole? The poor—the poor, they have no power. Money is power. To be without money is to be powerless—to be weak, to be vulnerable—“Blessed are the poor.” [59:08]

You remember when John the Baptist came to or sent his people to check out Jesus in the 11th chapter of Matthew—the word that Jesus sent back. Let’s just read that. We are not going to have time to do everything I wanted to do but we will do what we can here and this is just too good to just miss altogether.

Chapter 11 of Matthew—“ . . . Art thou the one that should come, or should we look for another? (Matthew 11:3 Paraphrased) And “Jesus answered unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see. The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed. . . “ (Matthew 11:4-5 Paraphrased) This is a list of miserable people, folks. To be blind, you know—the Old Irish song,

“You hadn’t an arm, you hadn’t a leg, he-or, he-or, you hadn’t an arm, you hadn’t a leg, he-or, he-or, you hadn’t an arm, you hadn’t a leg, yet an eyeless, boneless, chicken less egg, you’ll have to be put in a bowl to beg. Johnny, I hardly knew you.” [1:00:11]

That’s, see, now, we have forgotten what it—even when I was a child, a person who was blind or crippled might very well make their living begging and you don’t have to get three feet outside of the borders of the United States until you find that again, do you?

Poor people have gospel preached unto them. What was the good news? The good news is the rule of God is available and in that rule of God, everything that you’ve lost can be recovered in another form at least and all will be well.

What do you say to a child that is injured? You say, “It’s okay,” don’t you? Someone’s frightened, you say, “It’s okay.” You know the only place it’s okay? Anybody know? [1:01:13]

Comment: In the Kingdom of God.

Dallas: In the Kingdom of God. That is the only place it’s okay. That’s why it’s good news!

Now, we can invite anybody in to that, see? Jesus was not worried about getting Himself sullied, Hamm?  I love—I wish I had time this morning to read to you the story of Zacchaeus—wonderful story. This crooked little guy, right?  But He heard about Jesus and He wanted to see Him. He just wanted to look at Him. He didn’t want to get up close. A lot of people say he climbed the tree because he was short—well, that may be, but I think he was climbing the tree for safety also. See. He didn’t want to get too close to this fellow. This fellow might look at him and say, “I see all the evil things that you’ve done.” He might mention a few of them publicly. “What about widow so and so that you took four times the tax that you were supposed to?” Hmmm, you know? That sort of thing.  He was scared of Him, so up the tree. [1:02:20]

But, Jesus saw him. And he said, “Zacchaeus, come down, I’m going to have dinner with you today.” (Luke 19:5 Paraphrased) [Laughter] He didn’t climb out of that tree. He fell out. He fell out. [Laughter] And those wonderful words in that passage, “He has gone to be a guest of a man who is a sinner.” (Luke 19:7 Paraphrased) See?

Let me just close with these verses that I put from 1 Corinthians 6 over here—the bottom of the backside of your page and I asked you to meditate on them. This is a wonderful passage in which Paul is actually saying to people in the fellowship, “Well, why don’t you let people do wrong to you?” These were people who—they were Christians and someone did wrong to another so they went to court and they had a big trial and Jesus said, “Why don’t you let people do wrong to you?” (1 Corinthians 6:7 Paraphrased) [1:03:27]

“And why instead of that do you actually defraud them in order to protect yourself?” (1 Corinthians 6:8 Paraphrased) That’s what this passage is about. And He says, “ . . . the unrighteous do not inherit the Kingdom of God . . .” (1 Corinthians 6:9 Paraphrased) And then He goes on to say—to talk about the names of those who are the kinds of people who don’t inherit the Kingdom of God.  Could you put on here in front of this church a big sign which read, “Received with loving attention here are “ . . . fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners . . . “

(1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Paraphrased) and then right under it say, “For such were some of we.” Hmmmm? You do that? And such were some of us. But we were washed and we are sanctified and we are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God, see? [1:04:48]

Jesus could offer the Kingdom of God to anyone because He knew that in the presence of the Kingdom, everything was safe that could be made safe and He could say to a woman taken in adultery, almost nonchalantly,

“ . . . go, and sin no more” (John 8:11) because He knew that in that contact, she had come face to face with the nature of the Kingdom of God and she would see the goodness of rightness. And once you see the goodness of rightness, you don’t want to do anything wrong anymore. And God will give you the strength to do what is right.

2 Peter (Dallas says 2 Peter but it is 1 Peter) tells us, “ . . . he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin . . . ” (1 Peter 4:1) Oh, don’t get a big theological thing going about perfection. Just look at what Jesus calls you to and gives to you. Don’t worry about all of it. Just take what you can. Hmmm? [1:05:53]

We Baptists, we are all big on respectability and we all want to have a “First” Church. You know, First Baptist Church, you go all across the south—First Baptist Church.  The ones that left, they start the Second Baptist Church. I’ve been down to the Third Baptist Church but what I am really looking for is the Last Baptist Church—the Last Baptist Church. I want to see that one. If I had to start one, I’d start one and call it The Last Baptist Church because Jesus comes in the world with the Kingdom of God and the differences between first and last and all of that—righteous and unrighteous—they just all go out the window.

“Christ receiveth sinful men; Sound this word of grace to all. All who the heav’nly pathway leave, All who linger, all who fall. Sing it o’re and o’re again, Christ receiveth sinful men.” [Hymn-Christ Receiveth Sinful Men by Erdmann Neumeister (1718)]

Doesn’t only receive them but as the scripture says, “He eats with them.” (Luke 19:7 Paraphrased) [1:06:56]

“Jesus, let us see! Let us see! Amen.”

Listen to all parts in this The Soul’s Eternal Anchor series