Heaven Within Our Reach

By Francis Frangipane

Since time began, the Kingdom of Heaven has been an interactive reality in man's destiny. God (and angels) spoke to man "from Heaven" (Gen. 21:17; 22.11; 22:15), the Lord gave man promises and blessings from Heaven (Gen. 24:7; 49.25), and when necessary brought judgments upon wicked men "out of heaven" (Gen. 19:24).

Indeed, the revelation of God's kingdom in the Sacred Writ is no incidental issue. The Bible records several hundred verses where Heaven or God's kingdom is mentioned in its various phrasings. It is this kingdom that I'd like us to consider, first as it is revealed in the Old Testament and then as it was manifest in power through Christ in the New Testament. Our focus will remain upon God, of course, yet we must also learn of that realm that surrounds the Most High: His eternal abode.

This realm called Heaven is not only "real," but it is "an everlasting kingdom" that "endures throughout all generations" (Ps. 145:13). Nations rise and fall, men and cultures emerge in pride and vanity only to disappear, yet God's kingdom abides forever.

The Time Is Fulfilled
For all the references to Heaven in the Old Testament, with few exceptions, the actual life of Heaven remained remote and inaccessible to the common man. Israel had the Law and the Prophets; it had moments of glory and divine visitation. Yet, the kingdom of God was greater than even Israel's standards of righteousness.

It was out of Israel that the Messiah came, yet His message was not a restoration of the Law. It was the proclamation of God's kingdom. Both Jesus and His forerunner, John the Baptist, heralded the same incredible word:

"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15).

The time was fulfilled? Yes, a new dispensation had arrived! The Kingdom of God was at hand? Yes, Heaven was within the reach of men. The realm of God had come near! The message of the kingdom was without precedent, yet it was so! Every manner of sickness was healed instantly at the touch of Jesus' hands, for Heaven was at hand! The demonically tormented were instantly set free, for Heaven empowered Jesus.

Yet, as the Holy Spirit empowered Christ, so He empowered and commissioned His disciples, and Heaven manifest through them as well! Through the battalion of His disciples, the authority and compassion of Heaven flowed. They had power to heal, to deliver, even to raise the dead.

"And as you go, preach, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 10:7).

Heaven, "at hand?" What did that mean, but that Heaven itself, once remote and inaccessible to common men, was now close enough to reach from where men were.

Beloved, this is what Jesus said church should look like! Healing, deliverance, power: the kingdom of Heaven manifested through the lives of surrendered, yet believing men and women.

And this is what the church will look like before Jesus returns.

This Gospel of the Kingdom
Jesus knew there would be a great falling away from God's kingdom. He warned of false prophets and teachers arising to mislead many. Certainly, we have seen our share of watered-down, superficial Christianity. Yet in spite of our failings, Jesus made a remarkable prediction. He said,

"This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come" (Matt. 24:14).

In spite of a great falling away, there is a great gathering back to God's kingdom. Let us hear Christ's words with faith. He said before the "end shall come" and He returns, the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached to all nations. He did not say that the whole world would be subdued before He returns, but that the whole world would witness the kingdom of Heaven, preached with power, before His return.

Let me emphasize His reassuring point. He said, "This gospel" – that is, His gospel, His teaching, the "words in red." If we focus on becoming like Him in obedience to His words, He promises to increasingly accompany our preaching with His power to perform miracles, signs and wonders.

He said, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached." Not the gospel only of salvation (as wonderful as it is!), but also the message of the kingdom. The gospel of salvation is free. We cannot access the kingdom without experiencing salvation by faith in God's grace. Yet, many in the church have been parked in the realm of salvation without ever seeing and believing the promise of God's kingdom.

Beloved, our theology has been diluted by unbelief and dead traditions. We need to return to the words of Christ. We need to press into the reality of God's kingdom. For as this age ends, certainly Heaven will be within reach.
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The Cup, Part Three: Leadership is a Call to Die

By Francis Frangipane

In Matthew 20:17-19, Jesus sought to prepare His disciples for the hardships that awaited them. He warned that a time was coming when He would be mocked, scourged and crucified for the sake of redemption. In the midst of this utterly sober warning, incredibly, the mother of James and John requested of Jesus fulfillment of her family's ambitions! She said, "Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left" (v. 21).

She's thinking advancement, position and place; Jesus is thinking scourging, mocking and death. She's looking for the crown; Christ spoke of the cross. Jesus' answer speaks not only to silence her ambitions, He speaks to ours as well: "You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" (v. 22).

Amazingly, they said to Him, "We are able." In truth, they hadn't any idea of the price that was to be paid. It was only pride, ignorance and ambition talking. Yet, listen to how Jesus answered them: "My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father" (v.23).

Hear this you who desire true spiritual fulfillment. Jesus was telling them, I cannot fulfill your ambitions. I can only show you how to die.

Yet, even in their immaturity, Jesus knew they would overcome. He assures them, "My cup you shall drink." They would outgrow human ambition and become great examples for us. And we too shall drink His cup. Jesus describes the elements of that cup as He continued, again slaying the dragon of ambition,

"Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give Himself as a ransom for many" (vv. 27-28).

If we will advance with Christ, consider the words He uses to describe the doorway into power: "slave . . . serve . . . ransom." Notice, He didn’t point out the rewards, which are many; He showed them the way to true resurrection power. Give yourself as "a ransom" for the sake of your family, your church or city. Position yourself in prayer, fasting and faith for others. Stand in the gap so others might live. This is the cup that leads to spiritual fulfillment.

But let me assure you, this is not a gloomy path; this is the path to the life of heaven. For when Christ lives in us, He comes with an overwhelming, sustaining joy. The Scripture says, looking at the joy set before Him, Christ endured the cross (Heb. 12:2). The cross delivers us from the prison of self-absorption; it releases us into the true reality of God, in whose "presence is fullness of joy" and in whose right hand are "pleasures forever" (Ps. 16:11).

One may argue, "You don't understand Francis, I've been hurt."

Yes, we all face heartache and disappointment, and the pains we experience can be deep. Yet, in seeking justice for ourselves, we must guard against the voice of self-pity. Indeed, self- pity keeps all our wounds alive. Instead of carrying the cross, we carry the offense. We must rebuke self-pity and command it to leave. We are followers of Christ! Therefore, forgive the offense and let it go. This is not a deep truth; it is the basic path of Christ!

Paul wrote of the source of miracles and virtue in his life. He said, "That the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted . . . but not crushed . . . always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus might be manifested in our body" (2 Cor. 4:7-10).

What is this "dying of Jesus"? It is dying in the manner Jesus died: when offenses come, when we are struck with injustice, when people fail or even betray us, we position ourselves in redemption; we pray the mercy prayer, "Father, forgive them." The only way ambition can be fulfilled is if we are ambitious for Christ to be revealed through us.

Paul continued,

"For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you" (2 Cor. 4:11-12).

Beloved, death has a work that it accomplishes in us. Is this not exactly what we desire above all things: "the life of Jesus . . . manifested in our mortal flesh"?

Paul says, "So death works in us." In the hands of our eternal Designer, death is not our enemy; it actually becomes an ally in the transformational process of our souls. It performs a work in us we cannot otherwise fulfill. For the death of our old self leads to the manifest life of Jesus.

Here abides true spiritual fulfillment, not in our striving to create a place for ourselves, but in laying down self to create a place for Jesus.

Leadership is a call to die. Spiritual maturity is to drink deeply of the cup of Christ.

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Your interest in duplicating and re-sending this material is a joy to us. We only ask that you also provide website information for the Ministries of Francis Frangipane. The only exception is if the article is actually an excerpt from a book by another publisher. In this case they have asked that they be listed as the reference. Finally, any questions about the teachings of Francis Frangipane can be sent to info@frangipane.org. God bless your pursuit of His heart.

The Cup, Part Two: Christ Living in Us

 By Francis Frangipane

Having a true vision is not the same thing as having a godly motive. A person could have a vision directly from God, yet be driven by self-promotion and ambition in seeking to fulfill it. Jesus preached that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. This is vision. But He also taught: "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross" (Matt. 16:24).

If we will follow Jesus, notice we each have been given our own unique cross: "let him take up his cross." God has a cross specifically designed to crucify our fleshly ambitions en route to reaching our vision.

Consider Joseph: God had given him a dream of his future, but rather than quietly ponder the divine experience, he exalted himself to his ten older brothers. He assured them that one day they would each bow, like stacks of wheat, in subservience before him. His fleshly immaturity awakened a fleshly, even diabolical plot among his brothers: they sought to kill him. Joseph's vision was from God, but his motives lacked character, and his actions nearly cost him his life (see Gen. 37).

Yet, God was with Joseph, even in his lack of spiritual knowledge. And, we should rejoice for God is with us as well, even in our immaturity and ambition. Yet we should also understand: A true vision will kill you before it will fulfill you. Joseph had to learn to trust God in whatever circumstance or injustice he found himself; he had to become patient, serving others until the time arrived when his dream bloomed into reality.

"Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him" (Ps. 105:19).

Consider: the Almighty could have certainly brought Joseph to Egypt by a less threatening route. Joseph could have grown to maturity among his family without being sold into slavery. Since he was given the gift of dreams and interpretation, the Holy Spirit could have simply given him a dream and told him to move to Egypt (as He did another Joseph centuries later). Once safely there, Joseph's fame at dream interpretation would have reached the ears of Pharaoh at precisely the right time, say the morning after the king's night of ominous dreams. Joseph, the "dream merchant," would have been positioned in the right place at exactly the right time.

Instead, God brought him to Egypt thirteen years earlier than needed. The young man had to face and overcome repeated experiences with an inward dying to self. He faced betrayal and abandonment; he was enslaved, tempted sexually, slandered and imprisoned. How hopeless could his situation be? Yet, he then faced the challenges of being forgotten. In spite of all these things, Joseph trusted God and grew in both wisdom and spiritual integrity.

God didn't merely want a man to interpret dreams, but a man who could rule his heart when it suffered abandonment, injustice, slander and rejection and betrayal, and still remain the man of God regardless.

Joseph kept his heart free from the bitterness that overwhelms the soul. He was a man who wept when he finally saw his brothers. These were the men who laughed while he cried to them from the pit, then would have left him to die a long, agonizingly slow death had not a caravan passed by and Joseph been sold to traders. Joseph could have had his revenge – off with their heads! But the scriptures record that five times Joseph turned away and wept in the discourses with his family; once he "wept so loudly that the Eyptians heard, and the household of Pharaoh heard" (Gen. 45:2).

Joseph was a man of character, a man whose ambitions died but whose vision lived. He drank the cup given him by God, and his dream became a reality. Jesus drank the cup given Him, and we experienced salvation. But each of us has a cup to drink en route to our destiny. There will be no shortcuts to power. We will swallow the full dregs and though it kills us, we shall live. Yet, it shall not be us, but Christ living in us.

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Your interest in duplicating and re-sending this material is a joy to us. We only ask that you also provide website information for the Ministries of Francis Frangipane. The only exception is if the article is actually an excerpt from a book by another publisher. In this case they have asked that they be listed as the reference. Finally, any questions about the teachings of Francis Frangipane can be sent to info@frangipane.org. God bless your pursuit of His heart.