I can’t do it alone, can you?

Here on the internet we would be scholars and teachers of men spend much time and effort to be the most impressive with our understanding of scripture.  We volley back and forth with our ideas of spiritual understanding and enlightenment.  We give off the impression that our walk with the Lord has brought us to a place of spiritual maturity if not perfection, for personal imperfection is taboo when we are trying to gain a following of what we advocate.

Let me be the first to say that I am not what I should be in the Lord.  I have not arrived and at times I feel like I lose ground.  I am aware that I am in a spiritual battle.  All is not quiet on the western front for me.  As Carmen says in one of his song, “My flesh and spirit had a race and Satan went full throttle.”  But with this confession how, can I become what I need to be in Christ.

I looked for it in the local church and I did not see what I was promised.  I have looked for it here on the net and saw no evidence of it here either.  Where do I go to be part of what every believer needs?

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.[1]

When I go to the local body all I see is the pastor, worship leader, Sunday school teacher and the guy who gives announcements, church administrator, sound ministry etc.  I can find all kinds of titles and positions in church except for what God has ordained for us, to benefit us in our walk with our God. Where are the prophets that speak into our lives and keep us on the path with God?  Where is the Apostles and the evangelist with their leadership and spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ?

On line we are like players of Monopoly trying to gain as much following as possible to be that which we desire to be.  Yet where is the Spirit of the Lord?  We on line are no better off than what we are at the local level, maybe even worse. 

How does one get past what is so glaringly lacking in what God Himself has given the church, so we can become mature?  I know for me that I do not want to be full of head knowledge and yet miss what I could have been in Christ, because I never became mature in my walk.

Who else is with me in acknowledging we can’t do it ourselves.  Who will acknowledge with me we need the prophet too?  Who will admit with me we need more than just the pastor, but the apostle and evangelist too? 

Is there any hope for a people who are denied the existence of every office God has ordained for our benefit excluding the office of the pastor?  Is there any hope for a people who have been so sheep herded, that we think only one kind of bleating sheep (the pastor) is good enough for us.  Most of us can’t even recognize God not only wants, but needs us to bleat out his message in all the offices and gifts of the Spirit as He has ordained for us.  For those of who think we have arrived and are a light to men, what office of the Spirit are you, another pastor?

I need you to help me become what I desire to be in Christ.  I need your accountability, wisdom, prayers, spiritual understanding, spoken word of knowledge, timely rebuke and correction.  And somehow have this in the biblical context of what Paul preached, the testimony of the Law and the prophets.  Not something close to the real thing, but the real thing.

In the natural I feel this is hopeless, but with the Spirit I have hope.


[1] Ephesians 4:11-13

Antichrist – in place of Christ

We are all familiar with the tragedy of Nicholas Berge.  He was abducted by Muslims, who were practicing the religion of peace, and they filmed themselves cutting off his head while he screamed. 

The West was horrified that men could stoop so low in their barbarism to commit such a horrific act of violence.  Unlike many people I still can’t get myself to watch the event.  I heard his screaming on the Micheal Savage Show and that was more than I could take.

I assume that many of you share my disgust with the whole affair and understand these men who did this deserve what they get when their end comes.  We condemn these men and their actions for leaving their understanding of God and what can be know of Him through creation.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.[1]

But while we stand in judgment against them, we too have ignored a better word of God and hold a knife in our hands that have cut off a head.  We too are guilty of ignoring what has been revealed to us in scripture about the eternal God just as these Muslims have.  At least these Muslims were a strange to Nickolas Berge and with the most vaporous connections considered him and enemy.  We on the other hand have severed the head of someone who is dear to us.

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.[2]

We say that Christ is our head and we are His body with our lips but what do our hearts do?  Tell me, since Christ is our head and he has given us offices and gifts in the church, why don’t we see them in our churches?

And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.[3]

These offices and gifts are given to us by the one who loves us for our benefit, not His.  Even if it was for His benefit, shouldn’t we want to do it anyway?  Our head has given us these so that we can be ready for works of service then become mature as the body of Christ.  Hence if we do not have what God has given us to become mature, in all of our boasting we are not even close to being what He has called us to be.  Yes, even the mega ministries are not what they aught to be, nor those within its walls.  God has ordered the vehicle to prepare the saints for works of service and we have a lot of service outside of these gifts given to us.

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.[4]

We the church claim to be the body of the Lord who would be manifest in our midst.  But we do not have moving in the body of Christ those gifts that were given so the Spirit can manifest in our midst.  Scripture teaches that to each believer a manifestation of the Spirit is given.  Not only given, but exactly what gift for the manifestation of the Spirit and to whom as He determines.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.  Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.[5]

We as the body of Christ have cut off our head and instead have a man as our head that tells the Prophet, the Apostle, the Teacher, the Evangelist what to say, when to say, how to say, if they can say in our churches.  They are not allowed in our churches and we scorn them at a distance even as an itinerary.

We squelch the true manifestation of the Spirit and the power of the gospel that Paul preached by.  Again we have the one man who has replaced the head and allows or disallows prophecy, speaking in tongues, healings, word or knowledge in the church to fit the one mans understanding.

So let us condemn the Muslims and ignore the condemnation we deserve for cutting off the head of the body of Christ so we can have a man over us.  I have always understood Antichrist not to mean against Christ, but to mean in place of Christ.  If this is true, God help us all. 

Man of God who is head of the church, stop squelching what God our head has ordained lest you not only be compared to the atrocities of cutting off heads, but Jack the ripper for dismembering the gift of the body as well.


[1] Romans 1:20-21

[2] Ephesians 5:23

[3]

[4] Ephesians 4:11-13

[5] I Corinthians 12:4-11

Bench warming for apathy

I was talking with a long time friend and we were discussing those people who have read and understand too much of scripture to be content with what church offers for the average believer.  My friend made the comment that many believers who find themselves frustrated end up being dissatisfiedly involved in their local church, figuring it is better to do something than nothing at all.

Should believers exchange the gifts of the Holy Spirit in church for participation in some ministry?  Should believers be forced to forsake the office of Prophet and Apostle for the office of the Pastor only?  Should we be forced to accept commentaries and well planned humor in place of the power of God in our services?  The list goes on and on as to what frustrates the believer who reads his word, when one looks at their church in the light of scripture.

So what of it?  Is it better for the believer who is frustrated with their church to continue to participate in their church, even though the practices and in some cases the preaching doesn’t really reflect what we find in God’s word?  If it doesn’t line up with God’s word, isn’t it really idolatry that we now practice, in the name of “It’s better than doing nothing”.

I know of a man who kept the worship, kept the sacrifices, kept the priesthood, and even made it more accessible to those seeking.  But he offered spiritual death in all of this.  He offered idolatry.

Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David.  If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.”  After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”  One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan.  And this thing became a sin; the people went even as far as Dan to worship the one there.  Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites.[1]

Should Israel have participated in such worship?  Absolutely not!  It was a sin.  But what do we as believers do that is any different than what these men of Israel did?  Do we participate in something the Holy Spirit has been wrestling with us about?  If we have come to understand the gospel we put our hope in differently than what is taught and done in the church, what credit is it of ours if we participate any longer?  Why do we think the Holy Spirit wrestled with us in the first place?  So we can console ourselves with, “at least we are doing something”.  With that attitude go join the idolatry of Israel.  They at least were doing something too.

I can hear Jeroboam’s priest already, “Forsake not the fellowship.”  Fellowship with what, light and darkness, God’s word with man’s wisdom? 

Remember we will be judge by the word of God, not by the word of man.

“As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I come to judge the world, but to save it.  There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.  For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.[2]

So go ahead and think it ok to be a bench warmer for the church.  After all it is better than doing nothing, right?

Here at The Gospel According to the Gospel it is advocated that we need to forsake the god of our fathers and get back to the God of scripture.  Don’t let you bench warming for apathy keep you in a practice of idolatry when the Holy Spirit is prompting you to seek that which is found in scripture.

If we do not stick up for the word of God in church, how can we say we are not ashamed of God before men? 


[1] 1Kings 12:26-31

[2] John 12:47-49

Triage

The following is a portion of a book I have yet to finish, called “Suffering from the three C’s – Christianity Credibility Crisis.”

Every Sunday millions of believers file into church to sit in the pews and listen to one man give the announcements, one man lead worship and one give the message.  If anyone wants to be involved they can serve in choir, children’s and youth ministry.  To make matters worse, we now have mega churches that compound the problem.  There are now more people sitting in their pews feeling unfulfilled in their spiritual life.  Remember,

to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.[i] 

How can a house be properly built if the hammer is never used?  How can the house hold together if nobody used any nails?  What good would it be to use the hammer and nails, if the boards where never cut with the saw?  If the hammer could cry out, I want to be used to build the house, would it not still feel unfulfilled if it was not properly used?  If after hearing the hammer’s desire to help build the house, we then grab it to cut the boards.  Wouldn’t the hammer cry out, I still do not feel fulfilled!  In stead of letting the hammer be what a hammer is, we would comfort the hammer by reminding it, building the house is an important thing, and it had the privilege to participate in the building of the home.

So instead of leading the people to fulfillment in their spiritual gifts and place in the body of Christ, we now emphasize personal fulfillment in life, prosperity and happiness, which is no gospel at all.  Can I say that again?  IT IS NO GOSPEL AT ALL!  Oops, I shouted it.  God has passed out gifts to men that we remain ignorant of.  

This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.”[ii] 

If by chance we come to understand our gift, we can not break past the church structure, church order or church hierarchy.  We sit in our pews and live a life dead to the spirit.  The shame is, we do it to our own detriment. 

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,  to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.[iii]

How can we habitually excuse the continual denial of the legitimacy of all the offices and gifts of the Holy Spirit?  As the body of Christ, we are in a constant state of triage.  What else would you call it, when the parts of the body are no longer allowed to function in the church?  Ask any diabetic who has lost a foot or part of their leg.  They know what happens when a part of their body dies, it will affect the health of the entire body.  However, in Christendom we think we are exempt from such principles.  We presume that one man has the office to keep the body of Christ healthy. 

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.[iv]

Where does such perversion of the offices come from?  Where does such apathy of the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit have its origins?  We have all become complacent, no longer striving for what we read in the word of God.  We place our own order of service and traditions above what Christ has called us to be.  Either we are not reading the good news passed down to us from men who were moved by God, or we are ignoring what we read from these men.  Do we think it lightly, that these very men and their writings testify against us. 

Do we not get horrified when horror flicks from Hollywood show twisted, unnatural, tormented images of the flesh?  Of course we do.  That is why they are called horror flicks!  It is a horror to observe this mutilation of the flesh.  It is not natural.  Even people who mutilate their own flesh are restrained, so they can no longer hurt themselves.  We choose to criticize Hollywood, which is proper to do, and restrain those who are bent to hurt themselves, but we continue abusing the members of the body of Christ.  Why is it that we can agree with what I say about natural things, but we will not agree with what I say about Spiritual things?

What are we, when we profess to believe in the gifts of the Spirit yet forbid the use of, down play or strictly control the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in our meetings?  We do not trust the Holy Spirit to speak to His children, so that we can all mature and reach the fullness of Christ.  We are afraid that if we were to allow the congregation to move in the Spirit and to minister to each other, some form of heresy would eventually come out.  

Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.[v] 

If a man curses God or speaks what is not supported in the scriptures, while they profess to be filled with the Spirit, they do not have the Holy Spirit.  If we are confident those in the congregation have Christ as their savior and have the deposit of the Holy Spirit, why would we stop a manifestation of God?  Oh I know, it doesn’t fit the day’s agenda.  Oops, it is out side of the vision casting of the pastor.  We do not want to spook people.  

But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”[vi] 

Are not those the real reasons we do not encourage people to move in the gifts of the Spirit?  Is it not a control issue for us?  It is easier and less complicated and less messy to let a couple of men do what the whole body is supposed to be doing.  Remember the scriptures do not say to a few in leadership the manifestation of the Spirit is given it says,

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.[vii]

We have become like the rest of the nations.  We have become like the rest of the world religions.  God does not write his laws on their hearts; He does not pass out spiritual gifts to them.  He does not give them the deposit of His Holy Spirit.  The other religions can not brag that God himself has made his home in their hearts.  They can not say that they are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  When did He ever say to the other religions of the world,

But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.[viii] 

We as born again believers can!  Yet we nullify that very deposit that seals us in Christ.  We downplay the very gifts that God himself has passed out just as He pleased, so He could be amongst us.  We are not like the rest of the religions of the world.  We have the desire of all nations living in us and yet we act like the other religions, with no deposit of the Holy Spirit, let alone rivers of living water flowing out of us.

We reject Christ our king who said,

“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”[ix] 

We say, we will become as dead in the spirit as the surrounding religions and listen to men instead of God.  Who is more right, the men who ignorantly lead people astray or the men who knowingly lead people astray.

I know that there are those of us who talk about the Holy Spirit in the service and by our lips you would think we do not want to grieve the Holy Spirit.  Tell me, what persons prophesied in our last meeting?  Who moved in their gift of healing the last time we met?  We say that we love the Lord and His Spirit, yet we give no place for Him.  When was the last time one of your youth was able to actually minister to the other believers in our service because the Holy Spirit was allowed to manifest Himself in the child through a spiritual gift?  Why do we say yes to the Holy Spirit with our lips, but no with our hearts?

Who will stand up on the day of the Lords return and meet Him face to face?  Who will be a real man and tell Jesus like it is?  Who will lead the assembly declaring the executive decisions we made down here in his absence?  Although he was never really absent because he left his Spirit with us.  Who will be the first to defend the learned congregation of leaders and teachers?  Let him explain why we did not live His word.  Why we triumphed at the oppression of the manifestation of His Spirit.  Let him defend us against the mighty wrath of the Lord, as we claim to see, yet are blind by our doctrines and denominational precedence.  Please point that man out to me.  Many of us may need to rely on his defense.  I wonder if our defender against the anger of the Lord would look much different than the antichrist.


[i] I Cor 12:7

[ii] Eph 4:8

[iii] Eph. 4:11-13

[iv] I Cor 12:26

[v] I Cor 12:3

[vi] I Cor 14:24-25

[vii] I Cor 12:7

[viii] John 16:7

[ix] Acts 1:4b-5