Tuesday, November 30, 2010
NOTE: This teaching is part of going on to maturity. I pray that God in Christ will reveal this truth to each of us. The violence that Austin-Sparks speaks of here is a violence we must be willing to do within ourselves, and to our old man, our old ways. Do we want the
enough to do violence to those things that get in our way of living wholly for Christ? This hard teaching is essential for many of us to move forward in our day of cheap grace and easy salvation. Christ calls us to live lives of love and peace toward others. But here, we see the side of Him that calls us to do violence. Violence to the forces of evil, violence to weakness, to pride, to lust, to anger, to greed, to prejudice, to fear, to anything that would get in the way of seizing the Kingdom of God. Kingdom of God
SEIZING THE KINGDOM CALLS FOR VIOLENCE
From the time of John the Baptizer until now,
the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing,
and forceful people have been seizing it.
The Kingdom is so much bigger than conversion.
Of course, if you are going to be saved at all - I mean saved initially - you will have to mean business for that. You will have to make it a desperate matter, because there will be everything to stop you.
But the Kingdom means a very great deal more than merely getting into it, far more than being converted. There is a great deal more in the purpose of God for our lives than we have ever imagined, and if we are to enter into that, violence has to characterize us.
We must desperately mean business, and come to the place where we say: 'Lord, I am set upon all that Thou dost mean in Christ. I am set upon that, and I am not going to allow other people's prejudices or suspicions or criticisms to get in the way; I am not going to allow any man-made system to hinder me; I am going right on with Thee for all Thy purpose. I am going to do violence to everything that would get in the way.'
It calls for violence, and we have to do a lot of violence to get all that God wills for us.
Oh, how easily many lives are side-tracked, simply because they are not desperate enough! They are caught in things which limit - things which may be good, that may have something of God in them, but which none the less are limiting things, and do not represent a wide open way to all God's purpose.
The only way for us to come into all that the Lord means - not only into what we have seen but into all that He has purposed - is to be desperate, to be men of violence; to be men who say, 'By God's grace, nothing and no one, however good, is going to stand in my way; I am going on with God.'
Have that position with the Lord, and you will find that God meets you on that ground.
No men - not even Paul himself - knew all that they were going to know. Paul was constantly getting fuller unveilings of that unto which he was called. He received something fairly strong and rich at the beginning; then, later, he was shown unspeakable things (2 Corinthians 12:4). He was growing in apprehension (understanding).
But why? Because he was a man of violence. God meets us like that.
"With the perverse thou wilt shew thyself froward" (Psalm 18:26).
That, in principle, means that God will be to you what you are to Him. He will mean business if you mean business. There is a vast amount in the Kingdom that we have never suspected. Do believe that.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
I DID NOT SEND THESE PROPHETS
“I did not send these prophets,
yet they have run with their message.”
“…if they had stood in My council,
they would have proclaimed My Words to My people
and would have turned them from their evil ways
and from their evil deeds.”
“Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream,
but let the one who has My Word speak it faithfully.
For what has straw to do with grain?” declares the Lord.
Is not My Word like fire,” declares the Lord,
“and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”
We have a critical situation in the affluent western churches today. Many occupy pulpit and podium who are not called and chosen by God to prophecy to His people. These men and women hold positions of authority, influence and power among God’s people, yet they have not been sent by the Lord. Therefore, we are listening to people and their dreams, instead of hearing and being broken before the Lord about our sins, and learning what it means to follow Christ on the narrow road.
Straw is made for small-minded creatures, like horses and cows. It is food only for the witless--those who need to be led about by bit and bridle. The dreams spoken of here are brought forward by the false prophets, who cry “Peace! Peace!” to the sheep, and they follow without thought. Like dumb animals, these people who are occupying the pews listen to these false prophets, and are herded this way and that by these men who dream their dreams for them, and announce things God has not spoken.
Grain is the sustaining life-giving Word of God that feeds those “who hunger and thirst after righteousness”. Matt. 5:6 So, as sheep, our responsibility is to hunger and thirst after God and His Word.
God’s Word is like fire, that burns up “wood, hay or straw…because the Day…will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work”. 1 Cor. 3:12,13 So those who claim to speak the Word of God must undergo God’s quality tests, to make certain they are speaking truth.
Men who are called by God, and speak God’s Word, in contrast to the false prophets whom God does not call, do it boldly, being willing to risk everything every day to deliver God’s true message of repentance and correction and instruction in righteousness to His people.
They speak the Truth, bringing real nutrition to the ekklesia of God, and their messages are like fire, burning up the false and fake, allowing God to replace it with the gems of the Spirit. These men speak the Word of the Lord, wielding God’s hammer, which breaks the rock of prison walls into pieces, so that God can deliver His people from their sin.
When the Word of God is truly spoken, it brings pain and true godly sorrow, which in turn brings repentance and salvation. The healing it brings is true healing, deep healing, with the peace of God that comes from righteous living. The true Word of God counsels obedience to God, and never deceives.
Today we hear much peace and comfort spoken from our pulpits. We hear lengthy discourses on how God loves us, and God’s grace is all we need, and how we need not fear anything because God is with us. Yet we are blind and poor and naked…“worldly—mere infants in Christ.” 1 Cor. 3:1
The men who speak peace to those who should be repenting of their sins, and their lukewarmness, do not have the good of the people of God in mind. Their interests are not those of Christ Jesus. No matter how popular and influential they are, these men face the judgment of God for speaking on His behalf without His permission. They are speaking falsely, and are to their sheep as shepherds who lead them astray.
These men who jealously guard their positions and lifestyles speak on their own behalf. They “fill you with false hopes…visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord…to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’ “ Jer. 23:16,17
These men “are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves.” Jude 12
These men who speak peace to troubled souls do not call the sinners to repentance as Jesus did, nor do they bring men into obedience to the Lord’s Word. They don’t follow the Way of Christ, which is the
Narrow Way of the Cross, but instead take Broadway, that wide, brightly-lit street of dreams and lead thousands to their destruction.
Their teachings may be presented in small sanctuaries, with only a handful of sheep present, or they may be dynamically presented to large audiences, and go out with the latest technology. Yet they lack any substance, or means of saving anyone. The people of God perish in their comfort, while God is ignored.
“These are the men who divide you,
who follow mere natural instincts
and do not have the Spirit…
they boast about themselves
and flatter others for their own advantage.”
Don’t trust their flattering words, or their easy, comfortable gospel, which is no gospel at all.
The true Word of God calls us to repent and follow Jesus. Jesus says:
“If anyone would come after Me,
he must deny Himself and take up his cross and follow Me.
For whoever wants to save his own life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for Me and for the gospel will save it….
If anyone is ashamed of Me and My Words
in this adulterous and sinful generation,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes
in His Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
When Christ comes in glory to receive His own, He will say to many who’ve attended church and sat under these false prophets “…I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.” Matt. 25:12
And to these who prophesy smoothly as if God is speaking through them when He is not He says: “The master of the servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites…” Matt. 24:50,51
This message is for those who claim to speak the Word of God. You must examine yourselves and truly put yourselves to the test. If you are called, you will know this. Your anointing will be from Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit will rest upon you with power and authority. Your teachings will be full of the Truth, and you will call God’s people to Him without flattery, and with conviction. You will adhere to the Word, and sit in God’s council, listening and heeding His voice only. You will not twist and distort the Word of God for your own ends, nor for the purposes of other men or institutions set up by men, no matter if they pay your salaries. You will declare the simple Truth, and call men to repentance and obedience to Christ as citizens of His Kingdom. You will preach the Word, sharing it morning, noon and night with those whom God has put in your care. You will love the brethren above all, and give God’s love to them at all times, making the most of every opportunity in these evil days.
You will call the Body of Christ to live like His Body, set apart, holy, and infused with the Holy Spirit’s power for righteous living. You will teach the flock how to live with one another in love, and how to take care of one another in practical ways.
“For the time will come when men
will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead, to suit their own desires,
they will gather around them a great number of teachers
to say what their itching ears want to hear.
They will turn their ears away from the truth
and turn aside to myths.”
2 Tim. 4:3,4
This message is also for those who sit like dumb animals under the teaching of those who claim to represent the Lord. You are responsible for your own lives, minds, and actions. You can think, study and pray for yourself. God will teach you His Ways if you truly want anything more than easy deception and comfortable living. Would it not be tragic if you were to lose your own soul because you were too lazy or fearful to follow the Truth instead of smooth, flattering men who make you feel good?
Don’t you want the Lord Himself, and His love, and His companionship, instead of false hopes?
“This is what the Lord Almighty says,
‘Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you;
they fill you with false hopes.
They speak visions from their own minds,
not from the mouth of the Lord…
In days to come you will understand it clearly.”
Escape the trap Satan has devised for you. Don’t follow anyone who preaches a gospel other than the one which was given you in Scripture. Be willing to follow Jesus Christ, even if it means going upstream to the religious river that flows around you. Better yet, get out of that river altogether, leaving the false prophets, and find those who truly teach and preach the Good News of God’s Word.
I pray that we will come to understand this clearly, not when Christ comes back, and we realize in a rush of regret and fear that we have listened to the wrong gospel, but now, in grateful repentance and the experience of the grace of God in our changed lives, through His Son Jesus Christ.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
NOTE: When trouble comes, it often comes accompanied by criticism and blame. Who is the accuser of the brethren? Right. Satan. Here we have a strong word from our brother Zac Poonen about the opposition and heartache we will encounter when we are in “the perfect will of God”. Most of this will come from religious “friends”, who misunderstand the will of God. Especially in today’s culture of “health and wealth” Christianity, we will experience much of what Job did from his three “friends” as this fine teaching illustrates.
Job’s Three Friends - Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar
By Zac Poonen
When Job’s three friends - Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar - heard of his adversity, they came to visit him, saying they wanted to comfort him (Job 2:11). But they didn’t actually comfort him at all, when we see the way they spoke to him later on. They only criticized and accused him. All three of them were in fellowship with the devil, the accuser of the brethren.
These three men were jealous of Job, because Job was a godly man and everything was going well for him and for his family.
Many believers are jealous of godly men, when they see their influence and ministry - and are often waiting for some calamity to hit them. We know that the devil is eager for some calamity to befall godly people. But there are believers who wait for that too, and who are secretly happy when it happens.
These three men pretended that they were very sorry for Job. They wept when they saw Job and tore their robes and threw dust over their heads. They were really good actors. But secretly they were delighted, because they were jealous of him. These three preachers only knew about God. They didn’t know God personally. That’s why God couldn’t point out any of them to Satan.
Godly men suffer attacks from the devil, sometimes from their wives, sometimes physically, and at times financially too as God takes them through many trials to sanctify them. But perhaps their greatest trials are from their friends and brothers who are jealous of them! Unfortunately there is a lot of this in Christian work, where Christian workers hope that something bad will happen to a more anointed worker, so that that his ministry will be destroyed. When God’s blessing and anointing are on a godly man, and someone else is jealous of him, God may allow some physical calamity to come to that man, in order to expose the other person’s wicked jealousy. Once the other man’s evil has been exposed, God will heal the sickness and restore the godly man to health.
All three of these men could not truly understand why Job suffered as he did. They could only find fault with him. That is because they were religious people like the Pharisees later on, in Jesus’ time. There is a difference between a spiritual man and a religious man. Spiritual people have been misunderstood by religious people in every generation. The Bible says that “all who live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2Tim.3:12). There are no exceptions to this rule. So, if you don’t want to be misunderstood by other people, then don’t be godly!
1Corinthians 2:15 says that “a spiritual man cannot be discerned by those who are not spiritual”. A godly man is therefore a very lonely man - because very few can understand him. His actions are misunderstood and his words are misunderstood, even by those who know the Scriptures well. Religious people know only facts about God. They don’t know God Himself. In the midst of many religious people, one will find only a few who know God Himself. Job was one of those rare individuals. If you are a person who knows God, you will be misunderstood by people who only know about God.
Remember that religious people could not recognize Jesus and thought He was the prince of devils. How can they recognize a godly man today? There were two religious groups in Jesus’ time, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees were the fundamentalists, and the Sadducees were the liberals. But of these two, the Pharisees opposed Jesus more than the Sadducees. In the same way, today, it won’t be the liberals who criticize a godly man as much as the fundamentalists.
But even though a godly man may be a lonely person in this world, God does not forsake him. God allows the trials he faces to give him an education. James says, “We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome or the end of the Lord’s dealings that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful” (Jas.5:11). The testimony of every godly man will be: “The Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. Even though I could not understand the difficult ways He led me through, it was to fulfill a glorious purpose in my life, and above all, to glorify God in heaven where the conflict was going on between God and Satan.”
In the very first book of the Bible, we see the beginning of the modern “health and wealth gospel”. Three preachers there told Job that he had lost his health and his wealth because he had lost the blessing of God. Their message was that the blessing of God always brings prosperity and health. Note that this health and wealth gospel was first preached by people who did not know God. It is the same today. Remember that. Job who lost all his wealth and his health was in the perfect will of God. But the three preachers who preached the “health and wealth” gospel were completely out of the will of God. This is clear from God’s words to them: “I am angry with all of you. Ask Job to pray for you, lest I punish you”(Job.42:8).
The book of Job is a great encouragement to us because he faced what we face today.
The three preachers are not a picture of our enemies or even of unbelievers. They are a picture of believers who trouble us, misunderstand us and criticize us. It is always more painful when a believer attacks us and accuses us than when an unbeliever does the same things. In the last 40 years, I have faced a thousand times more criticism from believers than I have faced from unbelievers. That is also the history of every servant of God in the history of the church. Jesus faced more opposition from the Pharisees than from the Greeks and the Romans. Pilate wanted to release Him, but Annas and Caiaphas wanted to kill Him. So don’t be surprised when you find your maximum opposition coming from believers who spread false tales about you. They are the followers of Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar.
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010
©2010 Narrowgate Publishing
“And I pray that you,
being rooted and established in love,
may have power together with all the saints,
to grasp how wide and high and long and deep
is the love of Christ, and to know this love
that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled
to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
“In Him the whole building is joined together
and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
And in Him you too are being built together
to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.”
“When the day of Pentecost came,
they were all together in one place.”
“All the believers were together
and had everything in common.”
How can we understand the “togetherness” depicted here in the Scriptures if we do not understand the meaning of the word?
In our modern, affluent, tech-driven societies, we have lost the ability to be “together.” We have developed the art and science of living lives of individuality. In fact, individual fulfillment has become a shrine at which most worship today.
This concept began with the rugged individualism held up for Americans as a standard of excellence, with Horatio Alger idolized in past generations, and continuing through the decades with many other champions.
Lifting yourself up by your own bootstraps is a physical impossibility, but has nevertheless been touted as a real option for us, the rugged individuals who don’t need anyone else. Just try it. Reach down and try to lift yourself off the floor by grabbing your own shoes. How far do you get?
How happy is our individualistic, bootstrap, self-fulfillment, make-it-on-your-own society today? Just go to the nearest statistic book to see. This is the most self-destructive, other-destructive society ever produced by the world. We are a nation of consumers, who end up consuming our own lives and our own relationships in record numbers.
The churches, who claim to follow Jesus, are little better. We have emulated the world, creating “Christianity for individuals.” We have taught ourselves that being alone is good, and that this Christ thing is for us as individuals, that we must concentrate on our individual salvation, and that it is our “personal relationship with God” that counts. Everything is personal, and everything is individual.
Our “devotions” are individual, our prayer time is individual, and our church times are gatherings where everyone concentrates on looking up at God or the pastor, and ignoring each other.
We don’t even relate to one another as a “together” family. We don’t seek out time with one another. We see each other occasionally like ships passing in the night, and we now think of “fellowship” as a pat on the back, a smile, a hello, a short catch-up on a few life details, and/or a brief phone, email or phone text conversation.
We are with a group, and not there at all. We are either texting someone who is not with us, or talking on the phone with someone who is not with us, or emailing someone who is not with us. We are together, but thinking about the next contact we will make. We are the most disconnected society ever, yet pretend it’s all about connection!
My wife and I remember one day being struck by all this. We were at a large, enclosed mall, and were walking together and talking. Ahead of us there were three teenagers. They were walking side by side, and each had a cell phone up to her ear, talking with someone other than the one she was walking side by side with. Even when we’re together we’re not together!
Scripture demands something far different from the true people of God. If we are to follow Jesus, we are commanded to make love for others our priority. We are commanded to look out for other’s interests, as well as our own. We are told to BE TOGETHER.
And when we’re together, and that is to be as often as possible, we are to actually BE TOGETHER. That means giving each other our full attention, and our full love and interest. That doesn’t mean to be grudgingly there, and under compulsion. That doesn’t mean to be caring more about our next day at work than we do about our brother beside us. That doesn’t mean to be focusing on all the work we have to do at home, and ignoring our hurting brethren.
One of the primary focuses of God’s Word is TOGETHERNESS. This foreign concept is only foreign because this world is a foreign land and God’s Nation is to live by rules of a different citizenship. The world is what should seem foreign to you. If you seem at home in this world, you must examine quickly your own faith and discipleship to Christ.
The Body of Christ is to be a beacon of light in this dark, individually-messed up world. The lonely are meant to be in family, and that family is God’s family. And if the family of God is no family at all, but a bunch of disconnected individuals, then we are not being obedient to our Father, from whom our family derives its Name.
Paul taught each of the ekklesia, the “called out to be together” groups of believers He worked with, to give their very lives for one another. He and the other apostles and teachers of that day fought to keep the disciples of Jesus TOGETHER, and fought for them to be “one in heart and mind” as in Acts 4:32.
We must learn true togetherness, and we learn it by doing it. We must purposely pursue being together, and letting down our individual walls, becoming as the early disciples, who gathered and prayed together, and received the Holy Spirit in power together. We must purposely pursue being together as the early disciples, who spent their time together, sharing everything, including their very lives with one another. They suffered together, bled together, and even died together when needed. They wept together in sorrow, and rejoiced together in joyful times. They shared their homes, their possessions, and, most of all, their love together.
Lose all the slogans and posters of this world. Burn your books that talk about individual achievement, and making it on your own. Ease up on your bootstraps, because God never designed you to live in frantic individualism.
Instead, let’s pursue a life of love together, power in the Spirit together, faith worked out together, and a family life together in the ekklesia of God.
Monday, November 22, 2010
KNOWING JESUS LIKE JOHN
“We proclaim what we have seen and heard,
so that you also may have fellowship with us.
And our fellowship is with the Father
and with His Son, Jesus Christ.
We write this to make our joy complete.”
1 John 1:3,4
Here is a man who saw and heard Jesus Christ, who touched Him, who talked with Him, who watched Him, who heard Him. John knew Jesus, perhaps more intimately than any of the other apostles, because out of the twelve, he was known as “the one whom Jesus loved.” He was closest to Christ. At the last supper before His crucifixion it was John who sat next to Jesus. When hanging on the cross dying, our Lord gave over the care of His own mother to John.
It is John who brings us into the presence of Christ most intimately in his gospel and in his letters. He deepened His walk with Christ, and for so long was His companion, that He was ready when chosen to be given the “revelation of Jesus Christ”, which we call the Book of Revelation. This was entrusted to John, in the wisdom of God, because He was the close companion of the One of whom the revelation spoke. He could be trusted to faithfully dispense it to God’s servants. Giving out the truth about Christ was what made John’s “joy complete”.
So, if we want to know Christ, shouldn’t we turn to John frequently? His gospel, his letters? Yes, I’d say we should. Yet he is often the most ignored apostle.
Why? Perhaps because John gives us the Light and Truth of Christ in the simplest, most down-to-earth terms. That can be uncomfortable. John knew Jesus so well He could distill the essence of the Christ-life down to its essentials, and take away all our excuses, all our fancy reasoning, all our convoluted attempts at religion, and pin us down to what is real.
John proclaimed what he saw and heard. He loved Christ, and wanted everyone to have the fellowship he had with the Father and the Son. That was his joy. Nothing more. Nothing less. For John, everything in life was Life in the Son. It was all about knowing Jesus so that we could be like Jesus. In the beginning was Christ, and in the end would be Christ. Nothing else mattered to John.
And for John, as you read his entire letter, as I urge you to do today, immediately, this love and closeness to Christ would cause us to obey Him. No rules and regulations. No law. Just love for Christ, which brought about obedience.
For John, that obedience means we will forsake sin, and have love for our brethren.
We will lay down our lives for one another if we are truly children of God.
If we know Christ, according to John, we will not love the world, and we will be hated by the world, because we will live like Jesus, who was hated by the world. Christ is Light, and we are Light if we live in Him. The darkness hates the Light.
If we know Jesus, we will walk like Jesus, doing right, living in love, and giving up our own life for others.
John knew the confidence that comes from walking in Christ’s Truth and Light and Love. He said that we become more confident as we take on the righteousness of Christ, and we become more and more like Jesus. Our love increases, our righteousness increases, and that gives us more and more confidence in God, more and more faith.
Remember, for each of us today it is all about Christ. It is all about getting to know the Son of God, so that we may know the Father with Him. It is not about us, and our striving or working to fulfill religious duties, or ministry, or creating some kind of great Christian life.
John says, lay it all down and come sit at the feet of Jesus. He will make you righteous in reality. He will make you a child of God. He will give you love for the brethren. He will set you apart from the world.
No amount of fancy preaching or reading of the latest books, or anything we do, will amount to anything. It is all about Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is all about getting close to Him, spending time with Him. Knowing Christ intimately is the narrow road that brings us into the presence of God, and gives us the confidence we need, the faith we need, the love we need to live this New Life. He is all.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
©2010 Narrowgate Publishing
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is,
and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”
“But you said, ‘We will not walk in it’.
Who listens to the Word of God today?
Who obeys the Word of His Servant Jesus?
Not the churches who call themselves by Jesus’ Name in our modern, affluent societies. Not the denominations who supposedly spread the Word of God across our land. Not the church organizations who claim to be acting in the Name of Christ.
By the thousands, our churches and institutions who carry Christ’s Name boldly on their signs and their letterheads, who quote their favorite Scriptures in their bulletins, who maintain nice websites for their constituents, and busy programs to keep their membership happily engaged, are flaunting their ways of doing church, and refusing to listen to the Word of God.
Is it any wonder that people don’t see Jesus today?
The affluent societies, such as the
, see themselves with a special endowment from God for their standards and ways of living. This could be termed an ‘entitlement’. In other words, we are entitled to live the way we please, because we are a free, affluent society. Our very prosperity is a stamp of approval from God Himself on us. United States
Perhaps God blessed
with abundance. Perhaps He gave us our ‘work ethic’ and allowed us to expand across a continent and build cities and states, farms and factories, a huge economy, and endless possibilities for the many. Perhaps it was the Lord God who gave us the freedom and ability to do these things. America
But it is not God who gave us entitlement to do whatever we want to do with our lives and our time and our energies. It is not God who allows us to love the world we have created, and the things in it we set up as idols. It is not God who gave us the right and privilege to exchange His truth for lies, and His Word for comfortable church pews.
God’s people must seek Him wholeheartedly or perish along with this affluent, godless society that is heading for disaster.
God’s people, those who name the Name of Christ, must abandon their selfish, empty religious ways and “ask where the good Way is, and walk in it.”
I hear every day about the disillusionment of people who leave the churches because they are not getting anything out of their church experiences. They are leaving with good reason. The churches are consumed with their own schemes and plans, and have run ahead without holding to the teachings of Jesus and His Word, and have spun themselves webs of lies and deceit so large that nobody can discern where they end. The overwhelmingly rich and powerful church society we have created is keeping people from finding the Lord.
· We are not ‘entitled’ to change the Word of God.
· We are not ‘entitled’ to live rich, comfortable lives in the service of God.
· We are not ‘entitled’ to defend what man has created.
· We are not ‘entitled’ to hold up our modern ideas of what the church should be over what God says His people should be.
We are ‘entitling’ our way into God’s wrath.
The current ‘entitled’ church system that many are working so hard to defend is under the judgment of God.
“Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury,
burn incense to Baal and follow
other gods you have not known,
and then come and stand before Me in this house,
which bears My Name, and say ‘We are safe’—
safe to do all these detestable things?
Has this house, which bears My Name,
become a den of robbers to you?’
‘But I have been watching!’ declares the Lord.
“I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen;
I called you but you did not answer.
Therefore what I did to
Shiloh I will do now
to the house that bears My Name, the temple you trust in,
the place I gave to you and your fathers.”
Because of our sense of ‘entitlement’ we think we can go to church, and sit in the pew or chair, and sing, and go through the religious rituals, and attend classes, and even lead within the church structure, and live any way we please. We believe our very affluence attests to our obedience to God. We believe, because the churches think this way, and teach this way, that life for a believer in Christ is measured by how well our life is going, how much money we make, and how well we look. We think, because the churches think this way, that our leaders should be well-paid, and have secure jobs, and that we should give our money each week to keep up our Christian-church lifestyle we’ve become accustomed to.
You will be surprised at how God views these things if you begin to follow Christ through death and resurrection. You’ll be surprised at how powerful God wants to be in your life, and the deliverance He has for you from this weak, lowly view of what God’s people should be.
What we have created that we call church is unrecognizable in Scripture, except the Old Testament Jewish religious structure, which God abolished when Jesus came to bring the power of God to men.
As God’s beloved people went away from Him then, we have gone away now.
“Each pursues his own course like a horse charging into battle.”
“From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain…”
Brothers, I recommend that we all step away from our pulpits, shut down our church structures, abandon our institutions, give back our paychecks earned from our religious work, and completely leave the work of our hands for one year. Yes—let’s shut it all down. The entire so-called ‘Christian’ subculture.
Then for that year, let’s gather together as the people of God informally, and live out the life portrayed for us in Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-27. Let’s spend the year in prayer and seeking the Lord, and talking with one another, and assembling only to ask the Lord Jesus what He wants us to do.
Is there one of you, no matter how steeped in your church ways, that believes the Body of Christ would be worse off at the end of that year? Or would we, by obeying the Word of God, be blessed in that obedience, and have the wonderful outpouring of God’s Spirit, the fruits of repentance, the powerful working of God among us?
Is there anyone who will stand up and say this would be wrong?
Our current version of church is a license for sin and anonymity. We as believers can hide in the church, never confessing, never changing, and living like heathen while we dishonor the Lord.
Many of our leaders have confessed in private survey after survey that they have sinned much in secret while accepting their ‘entitlement’, the paycheck they are given for ‘serving’ the people of God.
Which god is this?
Not the God who speaks in Jeremiah, and Isaiah, in Acts, or in Ephesians, or in John’s, James’ or Paul’s letters.
“His intent was that now, through the ekklesia
(the ‘called out to be together’ people of God),
the manifold wisdom of God should be
made known to the rulers and authorities
in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purpose
which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Eph. 3:10,11
The calling of God for the people of God is so much higher than what we are accomplishing by our silly man-made church institutions. He intends to show His power, not our wealth. He intends to show His love, not our programs. He intends to show His Temple, the living stones being built together in love into a living, breathing Body for Christ, and this Body doing Christ’s work His Way on the earth.
It is of supreme importance to God that we leave our childish, modern religious ways and seek His already revealed Word, the ancient Way, and walk in it.
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