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Shane Willard

Page 6 of 10
I was sitting with a rabbi once (not my rabbi, I just got on a plane), and he said: Shane, don’t you understand, that in Jewish culture, it’s impossible to be righteous and greedy - you just can’t do it.

You can’t say you love God, and then turn your back on a hopeless person. The way you love God is the way you love other people; and the way you love other people is loving God - the two things are intertwined.

Now in the bible, you’re going to see a lot of phrases like, ‘the kingdom of God’, ‘the kingdom of Heaven’, even as sometimes you see ‘inherit the land’ - all these phrases are the same as that phrase.

The word Heaven sometimes refers to a place, like a place we go, the abode of Heaven. But other times, Heaven is a euphemism for God, because they didn’t like to say the name God.

Even today, you might get an email from a messianic Jew, and they spell God, G (hyphen) D. They don’t want to completely articulate the idea of God; so what they did is they called it Heaven.

So sometimes, the bible might say: “you have sinned against Heaven” - that’s just a euphemism for: you sinned against god.

So the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, it was a euphemism, not for where you go someday; it was a euphemism for: what would your life be like, if God was in charge of it now, here, now, today?

What would it be like, if God was the ruler, and the reigned over everything in your life. If everything in your life was brought into the light, and darkness was dispelled; what would your life look like then? That was the kingdom of God.

So for the rest of this session, I want to ask you a question that’s going to seem confrontational, because it’s a question we have to deal with, and that is this question: Do you know God?

Do you know him? If I was to hand out a piece of paper, and I want you to write down a one-sentence definition of what it means to know God, we would get all kinds of different answers.

Some would be right, some would wrong; all would be sincere, all would be heartfelt, and all would have an element of your personal thing with God in it.

The question is: how important is it to know God; and the answer is VERY.

The second question is: how does God define what it means to know him?

Luke 13:22-30 says: “Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. And someone asked him Lord, are only a few people going to be saved”?

I love that – “lord are only a few people going to be saved”? You have to understand, the region he’s in, is in a highly orthodox region of Israel; it was filled with people who had made the Torah even harder than it was.

There are 613 commands in the Torah; but they were actually keeping 3000 commands, so they had made the Torah even harder than it was.

Here was their thought: since we are keeping the Torah better than anyone else, God loves us more than other people.

So they started having the thought that: we’re in, and everyone else is out. We’re right, and everyone else is wrong. We would never do that would we?

This group of people had names for themselves: the elect; the remnant; God’s special people.

So when they ask him: “Rabbi, are only a few going to be saved”, here’s what they’re saying: “Rabbi, are only a few going to be saved… and it’s us right”? Tell us we’re right, were in, and everyone else is out. We’re right, and everyone else is wrong.

When someone asks you a question like that, there are two ways to handle it. One is Taekwondo. The other is Judo. Judo, Taekwondo - you confront it. In Judo, you sort of side yourself with them; then just at the right moment you throw them. Jesus choose Judo, I love it.

“Lord, are only a few going to be saved?”, and he said to them: “make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many I tell you will try to enter, and not be able to”.

Jesus is saying: you guys think that only a few people will get in (through the narrow door), but be sure to enter through the narrow door; you’re right, there’s a lot of people who think they’re in; and they’re actually out.