Jefferson Bethke – Liberty University Convocation
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[Jefferson Bethke – Liberty University Convocation]
[Jefferson Bethke:] Source: LYBIO.net
Woooo – how are you guys doing? You good? I love you guys. I’m just going to go ahead and say it. They say not to be bias when you go speak at places. I love liberty. That’s just how it is. You guys are awesome.
Um….Okay, let’s see here. I don’t have that much time. So if you have your Bible Genesis 1 for me. Now the book obviously comes out today and I was going to speak on Luke 15. When I go and speak about the book that’s what I’ll use, the text I’ll use for pretty much every other place. I’m speaking about the book because that was kind of what, impacted me, that was the essence of the book and kind of what made me start seeing the differences and what Jesus was trying to get after when he came 2,000 years ago. But I was doing some research on Liberty Convo and last year – within the last year, you guys have had two people already do look 15. Their names are Judah Smith and Mark Driscoll, which if you know, are also from where I’m from. And so I was like I’m not going to be the third Seattle guy that does that text. I’m just not going to do it, okay, especially because of world class preachers I don’t want to try to step into those shoes. So with that being said, this is the message I have put together for you guys. I don’t know how it’s going to go if that makes sense because it’s kind of new, it’s kind of fresh, it’s kind of raw.
The best way to explain it is – some messengers are like snipers, you know. Do we have any Call of Duty fans here, anyone, anyone? Okay. But some messengers are like snipers. When you have one point and you’re just trying to drive that thing home. I would say this one is more like a grenade meaning I’m just going to lob it. Some might get some shrapnel on your flesh, some might not. You might leave and say that was weird. What was he trying to do there? And like I said some might get hit, some might not. So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re just going to try to go with it and if you’re leaving something cold, if you don’t I’m sorry. I love you. I’ll apologize later.
Genesis 1. Now the question I kind of want to chat about today is: I think we zoom in on the parts of scripture too much and we miss the story. Does that make sense? We miss this kind of this over arch, this arc, this narrative of what Jesus is doing, what kind of the narrative a scripture is. And so two questions I want to look at. First – the first is, do we really get what intimacy means and then the question is do we know God’s after, what’s his point, what’s he driving towards, where is he going? And the question is; on top of that: do we follow Him in what He is doing, do we kind of join in and say we get what He’s doing and that we’re in. We’re in with what He’s doing. Now the question we have to make sure we’re going to do, the question I want to ask you guys is, it’s a weird question, but it’s just what I ask myself, that’s just how it’s going to be, okay. Are you a Genesis 1 or you a Genesis 3 Christian? That’s a great question. Is it not? You’re like what does that even mean.
Think about that for a second. Are you a Genesis 1 or you a Genesis 3 Christian? What I mean by that is where do you start the story. When you tell people about Jesus where do you start? Do you start in Genesis 1 or you see creation? You see the image of God, you see [Shalom] as the Hebrews used to say, which means kind of this rhythm, this piece, this functionality of everyone – everything working how it’s supposed to work. You see God declaring Genesis 1 that he what? He creates something and He declares that it was good. That’s fascinating. That’s really fascinating. He doesn’t say, well, day three was secular. Day four is sacred. Does He say that? No, He says it was good. Food, politics, art, culture, music, sexuality for pete’s sake, that is good. That’s God’s idea. Do you believe He created sexuality and He declared it was good, right? It’s like God created sex, walks away and takes a nap that night, comes back and says, oh, Adam, get off. That is so gross. Do not do that, right. So man that’s awkward. No, stop, right. I don’t – this is probably not what he said. Honestly he probably said Amen and that’s what I’m talking about. I don’t know, right. I mean that’s just a guess. But I mean in the covenant of marriage it’s an act of worship. So that’s probably – He is pleased. God is pleased with that. Okay. Just saying. Five minutes already talking about sex. Dag it. Okay.
[Jefferson Bethke:] Source: LYBIO.net
But then Genesis 3. What do you see in Genesis 3 is the curse. Genesis 3 is the SIM comes into the world. Genesis 3 is brokenness, Genesis 3 is shame, accusation, which by the way you never see God accuse the humans, as they like to call them, in Genesis 3. You never seem accuse, right. In fact he says he says, Adam, what? Where are you? By the way God is not an idiot. He is omnipotent. He knows where Adams is. He’s asking like that because He wants him to come home, okay. It’s like where are you, come home. Even after they disobey the one thing He told them not to do, right. If you want to know we’re never more like Satan when we accuse. That’s the way I will say it. You want to be like Satan, accuse people. That just got really awkward. Okay. It’s true. But then you see Genesis 1, you see Genesis 3.
Now with – where do you start the story? That’s a he question you want to ask because if we can be honest a lot of Christians start with Genesis 3 and that is damnable. That’s a harsh word, but it’s true, because why on earth would we start a story where God doesn’t start. You’re pretty much is cutting off the knees, right and by the way the Genesis 1, 2 and 3, those numbers weren’t added till hundreds of years later, which means we actually started Genesis 3 before those were there, you’re kind of just jumping into the middle of the story, which makes no sense. It makes no sense. So where do you start the story because if you start with Genesis 3 then this is what happens, then sinner, the word sinner, you are a sinner becomes your primary identity or it becomes the identity you say to people. Does that make sense? If you start the story in Genesis 3 then all of a sudden suddenly you make this culture where you are a sinner. That is your identity. Here is the truth. It’s not. It’s in the scripture. Is sin deep and rich and breaks everything, yes, but sinner is not your true identity.
If you start in Genesis 1 what’s your identity, image of God. The way I will say is your primal identity meaning at the back, at the base fundamentalist of who you are, image of God. That’s who you are, but when you start in Genesis 3 you can’t go backwards. When you start in Genesis 1 you can go forwards – meaning you can get to Genesis 3, you can get to sin, you get to brokenness, right, but when you start in Genesis 3, then you paint this picture of you are a sinner, you are no good. By the way notice the word sinner a lot of times in the New Testament. It’s kind of this like term that’s like not good. Does it make sense? Like in the sense of the culture used it – for power, for manipulation.
Those are the sinners. Jesus hang out the sinners. That’s fascinating, right. I’m not saying again like that we are not broken we are that affects us deeply, but starting Genesis 1 image of God and then sin breaks that, but we’re still in the image of God. In the same way if you were to go to a temple, right and the temple is crumbled on the ground. It’s not like it’s not still reminisce of a temple. Does that make sense? Like it’s not like very sin happen and it changed into an apartment building, I don’t know, whatever example you want to use, right. It’s still a temple. It’s just broken. It’s pieces on the ground, right, it needs restoration. It needs restoration. So where do you start the story because that is the thing that I think is a little tough to press on in our culture. Why? Because we have these things called the gospel bracelets. You guys ever seen those? Maybe you’re wearing them and it might be really awkward and I’ll take your sleeve and go. No, I’m just joking. But I used to wear them. I love them. They’re good. They’re great tools. Let me say that. They’re great tools.
But most gospel bracelets, at least the one I wear where does it start? What’s the first thing on the bracelet? Sin. Are you kidding me? Why on earth do we start the bracelets there? That makes no sense. Genesis 1 and 2, we just skip it. You are a sinner. Sin is the problem and we are going to deal with that. But image of God is our primary identity. And again if you start in Genesis 3, then what happens. You make sin management and payment the big deal. That’s a quote from Dallas Willard. He says when you make Genesis 3 that sin management becomes the things you are most concerned about. Meaning if you start in Genesis 3 then your personal sin is the problem. So then Jesus is all about how to fix your personal problem. When you start in Genesis 1 what do you probably get. Again Genesis 3 happens, but when you start in Genesis 1 then restoration of all things, brokenness of all things actually is what Genesis 3 then turns into and then Jesus comes and restores all things, not just your little cute happy Christian life. All things. He restores all things.
I don’t know about you, but that’s about bigger God, would you say so. That’s a lot bigger God, the God of the cosmos, the God of the entire earth, the heaven and the earth and so where do you start your story because He restores all things if you start in Genesis 1 and we are image bearers of God and that’s what I wanna talk about real – quick.
[Jefferson Bethke:] Source: LYBIO.net
So if you ever read Bible Genesis 1 verse 26 says this. Then God said let us make man and that’s mankind, right, so plural – like all the mankind not dude, not just Adam, let us make dude. That doesn’t make sense. Let us make man in our image after our likeness and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heaven and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image. In the image of God he created him, male and female. He created them. Now this is in my notes – but one thing that’s really interesting is notice how the image of God is declared or revealed first in community, not in individuality. You see that. That’s crazy because again – we always like to do that, right. We make image of God all about individualness. You are making the image of God, you are, but it’s even richer than that meaning the fullness of who God is most seen when you’re in community with other people. Cause that’s the first time it’s declared. That’s the first time it’s declared.
And so do you read Genesis 1 like that. We are image bearers or the divine. The best example I can think of this because I think we kind of misunderstand image of God sometimes – is it the best example I’ve heard it’s kind of like an angled mirror, right. Ladies, you probably have mirrors, probably like 50 of them, let’s just be honest. But uh – you get a mirror, right, and you angle it and that is what it means to be a proper image bearer of God in the same way. That – so what I’m trying to say about that is God, right, if Gods were appear right and the mirror is angled then you are to reflect – if God is coming down on that mirror where does it go. It goes out, right. So you’re supposed to reflect who God is to what? To the world and to the rest of creation and then it goes reserve as well – meaning we are image bearers of God means we are kind of the middleman. We’re stewards of this whole earth. God made us kind of have dominion over it to reflect to creation who He is and then to take creation and reflect that back to Him. So creation with the angled mirror comes in and we are supposed to take that, cultivate steward, build, use it and reflect that back to God as worship.
There is this peculiar phrase in almost all the scripture where it says the people of God are what, are priests. Now priests again are middleman. Priests are to take people’s worship and sacrifice and offer it up to God and worship. That’s what you are supposed to do with creation. You are supposed to take food, art, politics, culture, music, cooking for pete’s sake whatever it is, take it, cultivate it, reflect it back to God. That’s what it means to be an image bearer of God. Do we see that? And honestly sin is pretty much someone taking a hammer, hitting the mirror, turning it around and saying damn I look pretty awesome. Don’t I? That’s pretty much sin, a broken mirror and then looking yourself. Especially in a broken mirror, let’s be honest, you don’t look that awesome. I don’t look that awesome, right. Even if I have to fix I’ll try to look that awesome, okay, right. But that’s sin. It’s taking the mirror and saying no, I’m going to take it this way and I’m going to look at myself. Self worship is pretty much the definition of sin. And then one last thing on Genesis before I really get to what I want to chat to about is, and this is deeply fascinating.
You can take it or you can leave it, but some scholars are led to believe lately especially with new findings that according to ancient mirror East traditions, which by the way that’s kind of the Bible tradition like it’s not western, it’s not 21st century it was written a long time ago in the Eastern world. According to mirror Eastern traditions most scholars believe now that if you were to read Genesis 1 or I should say some, not most, but there’s bazillion of scholars, when you read Genesis 1 it’s actually a Hebrew or someone in that ancient mirror East tradition would have recognized it as a temple creation text meaning it followed rhythms and it followed frameworks of similar text on what a temple was supposed to be built like. That’s really fascinating. Does that make sense? That it follows a framework and it follows a rhythm of what a temple is supposed to be built like. Now that’s really interesting and two of the main things that I see – that we see in Genesis 1 to kind of prove that point is in any ancient literature when a temple is being built the last thing on the day of work they would do what?
When you build the temple what’s the last thing you do, kind of the last building thing, last work thing? You put an image of the God in that temple. Do you not? You make it carved out of stone or whatever bronze, whatever tickles your fancy, I don’t know. Do you thing, put in, okay. You put it in there and that’s the last day or work and then you have an inauguration ceremony after that which is a day of rest where the God enters into that temple.
Does that sound familiar, anyone, anyone? Sounds awfully familiar to me from Genesis 1, right. We are those image bearers put in the temple and then God on the Sabbath, on the day of rest floods that place with His presence, but here is what’s interesting, every ancient [indiscernible / Neeries text] follows that rhythm has a building. Do you see a building in Genesis 1? No, which is saying what? That the temple is the earth, the entire creation is how that set up to be. That is where he wants to flood, that is where he wants to infiltrate, that is where he wants to be.
Do you see all of the earth as God’s? Or do you just see the place as the cross on the top of the brick building as God’s. I just don’t see that in the scripture, right. And so you see that he wants to – from the get-go God’s goal is always intimacy and dwelling with his people. That’s fascinating from the get-go.
That’s the whole point of a temple. Temple is to dwell. He wants to dwell with his people, you guys. He wants to dwell with his people. Do you see that? He is always bent on the intimacy and bent on being with his people and then Genesis 3 comes and there’s sin and there’s brokenness, but He’s still dead set on restoring that. Now I just want to go real quick over what I covered last year in my four minute talk in convocation at the last one.
[Jefferson Bethke:] Source: LYBIO.net
You see this [idea scripture] where you – when you zoom out – this God is becoming awfully more and more intimate every step of history rather than pulling away. Does that make sense? So you see after sin happens, He still wants to dwell with his people. He could have said, I’ll screw you, you guys are idiots. Am I aloud to say that here? Okay, but that was awkward. He probably could have said something. But then he comes, right, and he doesn’t just leave but he dwells on the [Tabernacle] and then on the temple.
He makes himself – I mean think about that, he humbles himself to brick and mortar into like a building because he wants to dwell with this people.
And then how awesome were the Israelites, just be honest, they weren’t that awesome, right, church people have changed a lot since then. Have they not? Right. Okay, they are not that awesome, right. And still he says one troubled people they disobey, they rebel. He says you what I want to get closer. I know what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna send Jesus, I’m going to send myself in flesh to walk among them. Do you see how intimate that is or people say that is next to us – next to us. And then Jesus says these really weird things like a Matthew where Matthew tries to summarize what Jesus is preaching us. He says from that time he went preaching the gospel saying repent what the kingdom of heaven of is – three people, okay. At hand – near – depending on the transaction whatever. The kingdom of heaven of is near. The kingdom of heaven of is at hand. That is so weird. That’s not the gospel we preach. Our gospel would say repent. The kingdom of heaven of is really, really, really far way. Why you raise your hand? You can go there when you die.
Does anyone see that in the scripture? Anyone? I don’t. I just flat out don’t. I see them saying repent. The kingdom of heaven of is near, and again in the Greek that’s almost saying like it’s as close as the breath is to your body. Like when you breath like it’s right there. The kingdom of heaven of is there meaning He is coming here. He is coming here. His goal, His point is to come here – to have a place where his kingdom, his rule, his reign is restored at last. I heard have pastor say that one of those most awkward times in a Christian’s life will be when they die right at the end of time and they’re going up and then Jesus is coming down and He’s going to go: where are you going? I’m going down. So you can fun up there in the clouds, but I’m coming down, right.
Everything about the scripture is descent, everything. Closer, closer, closer, closer I’m coming down, I’m coming down, I’m coming down, I’m bringing my rule and my reign on people until it gets closer and closer and then finally are we nice to Jesus when He comes. No, we kill Him. We kill Him, kind of blew that one, right. We kill Him. And then instead He probably could have given us the middle finger, something like that one, dag I shouldn’t have used that example either, but He – that’s a really bad visual. Do not think that one, okay. But, dang it – I got one more strike left and I’m done, okay.
Comes down right and we kill Him and instead when He could have literally said that like, hey, I don’t want you. Whatever you guys, just keep pretty much being idiots to me. He says no. I actually want to get closer. I want to give them the power, the Holy Spirit to dwell inside them. It doesn’t get much more intimate than that. And the power the spirit dwells in us to be on our journey through the wilderness to get to the end of time where it says we don’t even need the sun because his glory will shine so bright. There’s this prophecy when I say 11 where it says at the end of time God’s glory will fill the earth the same way that the water covers the sea. That is crazy! Water is sea! Am I correct? So like the way water covers the sea that just absolutely blows my mind, okay. That’s how intimate he wants to be. His glory wants to cover the earth – the earth here, not some place in the sky with clouds and harps and babies and wings. That is so weird by the way.
Like when I see paintings of that like with babies and wings, I’m like if I saw that in real life I would run. Why is that normal, right? Why is it always babies? It’s just weird to have wings. I just – I don’t get it. I don’t get it, but you don’t see that.
The glory will cover the earth in the same way the water covers the sea.
Do you believe in that Jesus? Do you believe in that God? Are you joining Him in coming down if that makes sense?
Are you allowing your life to be under the kingdom and rule of God and then saying I’m going to let everything that I touch be affected in that same way. I’m going to bring it under the rule and the reign of who God is – Jesus is king and that’s it. Jesus is king. That is the better gospel I think than some of our Americanized gospels.
When I read the scripture I see Jesus Lord repent. I don’t do that very often in the 21st century. Jesus is lord, Jesus is king.
But the problem we have with that though because in American Christianity we don’t want intimacy. We want right answers. Is that you? Let’s just be honest. This might get awkward, but we’re more than an actual Christian college is that true? I mean where more is it true than a place where you’re studying to have the right answers. It’s fine. Education is good, right, right to have the right answers, but you miss out on the fact that God wants intimacy.
[Jefferson Bethke:] Source: LYBIO.net
God is actually after intimacy. But here is the question. What was the primal sin? We didn’t read it. But in Genesis 1 was the first sin? What the tree called the day. Knowledge of good and evil. Now that’s interesting. The first sin was them trying to attain the knowledge of good and evil.
Now here is the truth. You don’t need God if you have the right answers. Does that make sense? But you do need God for dependency and intimacy. You can’t have dependency and intimacy without God because you have to lean on Him, but you can have the right answers without God. They were trying to be autonomous in Genesis 1. They were trying to say I’m [kin], I’m more – I’m know what’s right and I know what’s wrong. But here is the thing. If they wouldn’t have ate from that tree then they would have to live in perpetual dependency on God because only He knows that everyone is wrong. Does that make sense? Meaning I want to get you to a place where you want to depend on Him so much by the power of the spirit. He shows and nudges you on what is right and what’s wrong in the moment. That’s called the power of the spirit. But we don’t really want that. We just want the text book answer and then go ahead and live without Jesus, right. And I just – and I just find that intriguing because I just don’t see that in the scripture. And then the example I think of is imagine, like God always use the example of a marriage. Does He not in the New Testament or the Old Testament for that matter. That’s one of the biggest examples of us and Him.
Now, what’s really crazy about that is man – marriage is about as intimate as it get. Would you agree? Marriage is about as intimate as it. If you know the person fully you see all that they are, they’re transparent with you, right. Now imagine if I got married – actually I’m coming up one year anniversary next week. Imagine last year when I got married – you guys are amazing. Thank you. Thank you. I made it one year. Woooo – Alyssa, I love you. I love you. One year. Hopefully 97 to go. Man that would be really old. Never mind. But, no I mean to want stay married that long. One of my goals is get on the front of the Smucker’s jam like, things on today’s show. You guys ever seen that where you live past 100, they put you on – okay, never mind. I got 10 minutes. Okay, let’s go.
Here is the thing though. Imagine a year ago when I got married to Alyssa and I go to the altar like did I marry her or did I marry the institution of marriage? Does that make sense? And that’s kind of a weird way to say it.
Would do I marry? I married her. I married Alyssa. I married a person. I did not marry marriage. That is stupid. Let’s be honest. That’s the game we play. We marry Christianity. We marry the institution. There’s no Jesus at the altar, no Jesus, right. That’s the difference.
Now here’s the thing. Now that example goes both ways for a few reasons. One, it also is a good example that you still need the institution. A lot of people say, oh, just give me Jesus. He is my BFF and my homeboy and I’m not going to go to church. You are an idiot too. Okay. Guys be honest, right, because here me out. Now you’re not an idiot. I love you. You’re so cute and precious, okay, but like when I married Alyssa it was still within the institution of marriage. Does that make sense? Like it’s still marriage, it’s still the institution, there’s still boundaries, there’s still rules, there’s still things surrounding us, but the bull’s eye, the thing at the center is me and Alyssa in intimacy with one another growing on a journey together. That’s Christianity.
You’re in the institution of Christianity. There is the church. There is the body. There is rules. There is boundaries. Jesus is at the center. If He is not at the center that looks weird. That’s what a lot of us do. We just marry marriage and like that is so weird. So ask yourself do you marry marriage? Have you literally just married an institution? You have boundaries and rules. There is no intimacy with your creator.
Question: Do you believe God wants to constantly bring you into deeper intimacy? And question two, do you let Him?
Now here’s the hard part which I think I mentioned last talk as well. Intimacy comes at a cost and that cost is vulnerability. You can’t get intimate with someone and that just means be fully now. That’s all means. I’m not trying to get a awkward and romantic with God. It just means to be fully [known]. You can’t get that unless you’re vulnerable, unless you’re honest, unless you’re transparent, unless you take off the mask and I know there’s people in here that have dark stuff, right. They’re sexually abused, maybe pain, maybe beatings from parents, whatever it is. I know there’s dark stuff and broken relationships and a lot of those I’m speaking out of my own life, right.
[Jefferson Bethke:] Source: LYBIO.net
And I know you’ve been honest with anyone, but I promise you joy is at stake if you’ll take off the mask, it’s hard, it’s real, real hard, but there’s nothing better than to be fully known. You can’t be fully loved unless you’re fully known. So I’m asking you. Take off the mask because God is going somewhere and He wants to grow with you in intimacy, but a lot of us don’t. We’re just stuck in this Torah like obedience and this will be the last example before I close with the story.
The Torah, the first five books of the Bible are called what, Torah, right, instruction [whatever you wanna call them] okay. The Bible starts there. Now is it Anglo-Torah? No, meaning God is going somewhere. There is different journeys, there’s different ways of God revealing Himself. He is going somewhere. He is on a journey.
First of all that’s really fascinating. Think about it. God is going somewhere – like I used – like in all honesty like the first three years of like mead falling Jesus like He is – symbolically He is on the throne like He is king, but I always had this vision of God literally just sitting on the throne, like man – does he do anything, right.
He is moving. He is working. He is doing stuff and he is on the throne because he is king, but again that’s more for that fact that he is king.
But a lot of us are stuck in this Torah obedience meaning – we’re kind of stuck in the Old Testament way of looking at things, but God is on a journey and he wants to bring us into deep – deeper intimacy, but we let the Torah, we let the law self terminating on itself and try to earn our salvation and [stare at it]. We’ll try to just stare at it to be good enough. Now this is the example I use. The Torah is good because there’s another kind of frame of Christianity just says how [the law] is bad and blah, blah. That’s – it’s not right. God would never give us anything that’s not good, ever. It’s actually for your joy. The laws are beautiful way to show this is the way and the rhythms I’ve lined up the universe to work. It’s so good. But here is the thing. The law is to bring us into deeper intimacy.
Here is the example I’ll give. I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid my mom always had like that one thing that she would like kind of like – what’s the word – like uh -when she tries to give me to do something –
– like what was it –
Yeah, chores. She likes – you got. Here we go. When I try to do chores. She’d always like say she would hold something out to do the chore, right, like, hey, if you clean the room I’ll give you a skittle. One, really, okay. Whatever it is pick it. You should give me a skittle, you should give me a toy, something like that or if you’re really young I was when kids are learning potty training. You go pee-pee and I’ll give you a little snicker. I don’t know like it’s so weird, right, but it’s kind of normal. Let’s be honest. That happens when the kids are really young, right, but never the question. If you go home like you felt just home on for a break. If you’re going home for a break and you walk in the door and you’re like 18 years old, now I guess, hey, little Johnny, you go pee-pee, I’ll give you a snickers. What? Mom, that is awkward and weird. You should get arrested for that, right.
Well, why is that not normal then? Because you’re supposed to be growing in intimacy. You don’t really need that anymore because the law now is love and you want to obey her because you love her. Do you see what I’m saying there? He wants to bring you into deeper intimacy meaning He wants to bring you and kind of funnel in the Torah obedience, towards deeper intimacy.
There comes a point where you just love Jesus or you do think because you just love Jesus and you know He is good and you know you can trust Him and God is pleased with that. You’re not doing that out of fear, you’re not doing it for a skittle. You’re doing it because you love Him. That’s where He wants to get you. That’s where He wants to get you and I’m not sure we know that.
[Jefferson Bethke:] Source: LYBIO.net
And so in with the story. It’s the story of a guy named Dimitry and this story really kind of actually changed my life. It’s a book called The Insanity of God. Does anyone heard of that book? Great book, great book.
Really seriously go read it like if I had three – like if could pick a book to give someone that’s the book. That’s amazing. It’s a lot about is the persecuted church and there’s this guy named Dimitry. The story in the book about a guy named Dimitry who kind of lived in kind of Communist Russia during the time of persecuting and stuff like that. And he started following Jesus, right, in Communist Russia like it’s dangerous, right.
And so what does he do? He holds a public Bible study because that’s what you do in Communist Russia when you get failed. You hold a public Bible study, right. So we got it and it starts flourishing. People start coming, one people, two people, three people, four people and I can’t remember the exact number, but it start growing so much to the point. It got to like 50 people, the authorities start noticing. He got fired from his job and then one week all of a sudden they come in, they bust through the door, they pretty much like put the gun up to his neck or something like that I read last year. But no they put the gun up against his neck and they say something to the effect of you need to stop. This is illegal. If you do this one more time if you don’t kind of split the group and stop posting the public Bible study we’ll take you to jail, we’ll kill you, stuff like that we will put your wife and your kid in prison.
And of course – I almost forgot, this is part two. So when they’re about to walk out the door this is what’s really fascinating. When they’re walking out the door this old little grandma kind of shuffles over. She shuffles towards the door. She’s probably like four feet tall. That’s just the vision I got this vision when I was reading it and pokes the guy in the chest and says, you just touched the man of God. You won’t live another week to speak about it. I’m like dag – that grandma is a boss, right.
But I mean I don’t know if that’s by grandma or my private security detail, but she does that and then they leave. Guess what, like two or three days later the guards die. They straight up die, crazy right. And because of that – I’m guessing the best part, because of that the Bible study grows by like double the next week. And so, again it’s just huge people are packed in and then the authorities come in and did exactly what they say. They take him to jail. They take him to jail and we’re not talking to American prisoner where you get like watch TV and play pool – like he was the only Christian that says in that prison. It was so bad that prisoners were actually like throw feces on him. They were like the guards would actually put that on beard and having eat it, like just nasty, gross stuff and it was in there for, I think somewhere around like 17 years and every day since the day he got there because he hadn’t been following Jesus that long he would get up in the morning, he would sing one worship song that he memorized or had from or sing worship songs that he kind of learned since he start following Jesus. And he would sing one worship song every morning it was during that morning people would throw out him and do also like that everybody do a faith every morning because that’s how he wanted to worship God, let people know he was a follower of the King Jesus.
And so do that year after year and year after year and then finally he just kind of broke. Finally he broke. Finally – they would come in all the time and they would say, hey, if you just sign this card, right saying that you’re not a Christian right they will let you go, which is fascinating cause we do the opposite. Sign this card say you are a Christian.
[Jefferson Bethke:] Source: LYBIO.net
They’ say sign this card so you are not a Christian. We’ll let you go. We’ll let you go and he finally sooner or later broke; he said: bring it back in the morning and I will, right.
And so, because he just couldn’t take any more the pain, the malnourishment, the years and I think they said that they killed his wife and stuff like that. And so they come in the morning, but in that right God gave him a vision of his wife and his son still alive praying for him at that exact moment, the time where the dead broke. The wife and the son are praying for him saying, God, we intercede for him, we love him, hold strong. You’re a king shown that you are good, right. And so they come in the morning because he got that vision. He kind of totally reconciles no, I’m not doing that. I’m not recounting. I’m not signing up. Even if they find we’re kind of done with you. We’re going to take you out and kill you. So then they go out and they’re taking him to the center square to execute him right and when they’re about to kind of walk him out there in unison, all like 1,500 other prisoners in that prison stand up against the window go up against the window and all in unison start singing the one worship song he’d been singing every morning since he got there.
I mean how crazy is that. Because of the moment is so palpable so beautiful and so just crazy right of God’s presence and spirit they’re pretty much just like go of him. They said who are you and he said I’m a child of the king and Jesus is the name. So we don’t want to do anything with you anymore. You’re weird, get out of here, right. And then a couple of weeks later they let him go.
And I was like I remember reading that story and that’s the one thing I want to take from the that story. I remember reading that story and say oh, my goodness what got him through. First of all like he wasn’t perfect. He did break the man he knew Jesus and he loved him and he got him through, but what got him through.
Did he get through that because someone told him not to drink beer and not to have tattoos and not to dance, right, the Christian squad to freshman year you can dance. I don’t know about you guys, but I was just making a reference to my old school okay. All right, but no. Now I’m not saying don’t – hey, man, have convictions on those things by the way too. Let me see that. I’m just saying was that the motivation, was that the essence? No, right. What was it? Right. Was it [ ]? If you’re God I’ll give my Bentley and a nice house. No. The thing was the intimacy with his creator. He already had what he need in prison. The joy was what we he already had and that as God himself. And so that is what I want to leave with you guys. Do you have that strength of faith? You guys have that intimacy with your creator.
I want to end with one thing. If you stand with me real quick. Everyone just stand with me. I want to read – oh, that’s loud when you guys stand, okay.
As we go out I want to read just a few versus from Revelation 21. I’m not going to get all crazy, spiritual and play some piano and all that. Just close your eyes for me. Just close them, okay and the only reason I ask you to do that is because we visualize better with eyes closed. That’s all. I want you to visualize, okay and I’m going to read five verses from Revelation 21 about new heavens, new earth and when I’m reading and I want you to just visualize it. Have some imagination for pete’s sake. Our dad is the creator. Is he not? Vision, have some vision, think about it and when I read and want you to say man is that where we’re going, is that where I’m going, is that my goal and so I want to read this and then I’ll pray for us. Revelation 21.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and first earth had passed away and the sea was no more and I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. There is intimacy there.
Verse 3. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying behold the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more neither shall there be mourning, no crying, no pain anymore for the former things have passed away and he who is seated on the throne said behold I am making all things new.
[Jefferson Bethke:] Source: LYBIO.net
Jesus we love you, we thank you for today. You are so good, your grace is so good. Let us get caught up in the greatest story of all time. You are the creator, you are the writer and we are just people in that play. We love you. Let us point to you as the main character. Let me pray. Amen.
Jefferson Bethke – Liberty University Convocation. So you see after sin happens, He still wants to dwell with his people. Complete Full Transcript, Dialogue, Remarks, Saying, Quotes, Words And Text.