Friday, February 16, 2018

Paradoxes of the Kingdom of God

There are many paradoxes in the kingdom of God. These are truths that appear to be self-contradictions, which in reality are not. They are fundamental aspects of life that go against natural reasoning. Let's look at some examples of those in Scripture.

Dying to Live
If you want to live you must die.

"Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him." (Rom 6:8)

"For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live." (Rom 8:13)

"And [Jesus] was saying to them all, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.'" (Luk 9:23)

Losing to Save
If you lose your life for Jesus' sake, you will save it.

"For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?" (Luk 9:24-25)

Confessing Guilt to Be Justified
In order to be justified, you have to confess your sin.

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1Jn 1:9)

"He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but he who confesses and renounces them finds mercy." (Pr 28:13, NIV).

The Scarlet Turned White as Snow
Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow.

"'Come now, and let us reason together,' Says the LORD, 'Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.'" (Isa 1:18)

Hungering to Be Filled
If you want to be filled, you have to hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Mat 5:6)

Wisdom Revealed to Little Children
"At that time Jesus said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.'" (Mt 11:25, NIV).

The Foolish Shame the Wise
God uses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.

The apostle Paul wrote, "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise..." (1Co 1:27a).

Strength in Weakness
God uses the weak things of this world to shame the strong. God's strength is made perfect in weakness.

"And God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong..." (1Co 1:27b).

Paul wrote: "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor 12:9a, NIV).

The Desirable is Detestable
That which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in God's sight.

"And He said to them, 'You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.' " (Luk 16:15)

The Servants are the Great
If you want to be great, you must be a servant, and the greatest one is the servant of all.

"But Jesus called them to Himself and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.'" (Mat 20:25-27)

The First Are Last
Jesus said, "So the last will be first, and the first will be last." (Mt 20:16, NIV).

The Poor are Rich
Jesus said to the church in Smyrna, "I know your afflictions and your poverty--yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan." (Rev 2:9, NIV).

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Mat 5:3)

James said, "Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?" (Jas 2:5)

"Now the believer of humble means should take pride in his high position." (Jas 1:9, NET)

The Rich are Poor
James continued, "But the rich person’s pride should be in his humiliation, because he will pass away like a wildflower in the meadow." (Jas 1:10, NET). One can be rich in terms of earthly wealth, but be poor in the sight of God, as was the case with the church of Laodicea.

Jesus said in part to them: "'Because you say, 'I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,' and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see." (Rev 3:17-18)

The Path to Destruction that Seems Right
"There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death." (Pr 14:12, NIV)

The Path to Life is Narrow
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Mat 7:13-14)

Treasure in Jars of Clay
God puts treasures in jars of clay.

"But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us." (2 Cor 4:7, NIV).

The Broken Things are Beautiful
When the woman broke the alabaster jar of very expensive perfume and poured it over Jesus' head, He said it was beautiful in God's sight.

"A woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. 'Why this waste?' they asked. 'This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.' Aware of this, Jesus said to them, 'Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.'" (Mar 14:6-9).

David prayed, "My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise." (Ps 51:17, NIV)

The Lord says, "These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at My word." (Is 66:2, NIV).

Negatives Turned into Positives
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Rom 8:28)

Trials are for Your Perfection
"But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold." (Job 23:10, NIV)

Loving Your Enemies
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," (Mat 5:43-44)

Tough Love
"Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them." (Pr 13:24, NIV)

The Generous Prosper
Those who give without sparing lack nothing.

"One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty." (Pr 11:24, NIV)

Pride Comes Before a Fall
He who puffs himself up will go down to destruction.

"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." (Pr 16:18, KJV)

The Way Up is Down
And the way up is through the downward path of humility.

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time..." (1Pe 5:6).

Walk by Faith and Not by Sight
"While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2Co 4:18)

"For we walk by faith, not by sight—" (2Co 5:7)

Putting it All Together
By definition, a paradox is a statement or proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory. As we have just seen from Scripture, there are many such paradoxes in the kingdom of God. This is why those of us who have entered the kingdom cannot rely on our own natural, logical reasoning or our own sense of what seems right in order to make decisions in life. Neither can we rely on worldly wisdom.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, God's ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts. Therefore, we must rely on the Word of God and the leading of the Spirit of God to direct us, which will always go against what our flesh wants, and may sometimes make us look crazy, absurd, or foolish to others who don't understand. As we do so, we will find ourselves taking steps of faith that go against our natural reasoning, while trusting God with the results.

I hope this has helped to encourage you in your walk with the Lord, so that you may always be pleasing to Him.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Other Scriptures from the Holy Bible NIV and King James Version. I would like to thank my wife and children for their contribution to this article.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like reading God's Way to GreatnessGod Chooses the Weak Things, The Beauty of BrokennessThe Kingdom of God is Like This, God's Amazing Plan for Your LifeMultiplication, Multiplication IllustrationsWhat is That in Your Hand?, The Ebb and Flow of Ministry for the Lord, Whatever You Do, Do All Like This, The Servant of the Lord, Being a Witness for Christ, Fruit in Every Season, Better a Little, Hidden Treasures, One thing, A Personality Profile of the Apostle Paul, The Secret Kingdom, and Success in God's Eyes. You can also find my complete collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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