Sunday, September 18, 2016

What does it mean to "press in"?

"Behold the Lamb of God" by Alexandre Bida
John: "Behold the Lamb of God."  by A. Bida
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 16:1-18

TO CHEW ON: "'The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.'" Luke 16:16

From time to time I've heard preachers admonish us to "press in" to God, the things of God etc. I've wondered what exactly they meant and thought it was a preacher-invented expression. But no—it comes from Jesus! He uses it here to talk about the advancement of the kingdom of God: "'Since that time (the time of John) the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.'"

[The expression "pressing into it' is a transliteration of biazo. It means to use, force, to apply force, to inflict violence on. The word biazo is used one other place in the NT, in Matthew 11:12: "'From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.'"]

Other translations render the NKJV'S Luke 16:16 "…pressing into it" as "…forcing his way into it" (NAS), "… everyone tries forcefully to get into it" (AMP), "… eager multitudes are pressing in" (TLB), "… everyone is forcing their way into it" (NIV).

How does one press in to advance the kingdom of God? A sidebar article by Jack Hayford in my Bible is helpful. Below I quote and paraphrase his thoughts:

"Jesus declares the advance of the kingdom of God is the result of two things: preaching and pressing in."

Those who hear the preaching must respond or they will grow passive. That kingdom is advanced by words of truth and acts of love, but: "… apart from 1] an impassioned pursuit of prayer, 2] confrontation with the demonic, 3] expectation of the miraculous, and 4] a burning heart for evangelism, the kingdom of God makes little penetration in the world."

We must not go overboard in politicizing the kingdom and trying to advance it forcefully through "Earth-level rule" methods as they did during the Crusades. Rather: "Pressing in is accomplished first in prayer warfare, coupled with a will to surrender one's life and self interests, in order to gain God's kingdom goals" - Jack Hayford, "Pressing In," New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1420.

It sounds a lot like sold-out discipleship to me

PRAYER:
Dear Father, please create within me the desire, will, and energy to press in to You and the bringing about of Your kingdom. Amen.

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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