Saturday, May 22, 2004

The Vision

One day, during my quiet time, approximately 4 years ago, I saw a man sitting on a couch. This man was fat. I did not see his actual weight, but he was so much so, he could not move on his own. He could not get up from sitting and was stuck where he was. The look on his face was completely lethargic. He had no motivation, his eyes were distant and hopeless.

Suddenly, he began to rise from the couch. As he did so, the fat fell away from his body in chunks. Slowly, he rose to his feet. When he was fully standing, all of the fat had fallen away from his body and he was the picture of athleticism. His body was muscular and fit. He exuded strength and determination. The lethargy in his eyes was replaced with utter motivation and desire. He was ready and excited to perform his task.

When I had seen this picture, I asked the LORD, "What does this mean?"

He responded to me, "This is my church, especially in America. It is fat, unproductive and lethargic."

He went on to describe to me He was moving amongst the people of his church to see who was willing to truly humble themselves before him, and seek the LORD with all of their heart. This remnant He would raise up out of the masses and strengthen with power from the Holy Spirit. They would be strong, doing feats of all kinds in the LORD; healings would be common place, resurrections as well. Feats of strength as with Samson would be seen and they would boldly profess the Gospel without fear. The body would truly do as Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, for I am going to the Father." (John 14:12)

The LORD continued to describe the scene. The fat which fell away from the body were people, traditions, programs, and methods. Whatever was not of God would fall off of the body and would not hinder its work any longer. The Lord said many people would not be comfortable with what He was doing and would choose to stay within their comfort zones. Churches as we know them today would continue on as they have, but God would raise his people out from them, so the world would see the difference between the people of God and those content with their "church." Many would choose not to submit their lives to the LORD and would continue on in their ways, and they will think to themselves "We are still the people of God." It will be as Jesus said, "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’" (Matthew 7:19-23)

Remember the words of II Chronicles 7:14: "...if my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." It is the sin and wickedness of God’s people from which we must repent. We, God’s people, have sinned and turned away from our Father. He is looking for those who will humble themselves before Him, seek Him wholeheartedly, and turn away from those things we have set up before Him. This includes church, and our preferences for it.

Take heed the warning. Seek God’s face. Do not harden your heart and chase after that with which you are familiar. Christ’s church is being prepared, and it will be ready!

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Let us Go a Little Deeper, Shall We

"A little science estranges men from God, but much science leads them back to Him."
Louis Pasteur

At the risk of doing much violence to the term ‘science,’ I will posit it simply means knowledge, and at the most it is a system for gaining knowledge. Thus, according to Louis Pasteur, a little bit of knowledge tends to estrange men from God. However, more of it will lead a man back. Proverbs 1:7 says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." The God-inspired awe of the created universe birthed what we consider modern science. Yet, just as Pasteur claimed, the small advances in knowledge which were made began to draw men from the Creator. Today, as knowledge increases, we again see the grand nature of creation, though as Paul says in Romans, many suppress this knowledge by their wickedness, even though what may be known about God is plain to them. Unfortunately, this problem is not relegated to the fields of the natural sciences, but has also infiltrated the field of theology.

As I mentioned in the previous post, we have rejected the Holy Spirit, and the revelation which He provides, in favor of our academic study of God via natural means and natural reason. In reality, we have displaced our fear of the LORD with fear of academia and science, and we have become futile in our thinking. Many today believe the Holy Spirit was only meant for the early church and He no longer has a place with us. Perhaps somehow we have evolved passed the need for the living God to reside in us.

However, the Holy Spirit is the key to a successful walk with Christ. He is the power by which we must live our lives. Jesus promised this power would be sent. Without Him, we remain mired in our futile thinking and wickedness. In rejecting the Holy Spirit, we declare the sufficiency of our flesh to bring us closer to God. For the Spirit is what puts to death the flesh in our own hearts. Sin and the sinful flesh cannot live in the presence of the glory of the Almighty God. Therefore, the presence of the Holy Spirit living in us is what brings us to full repentance and empowers us in our new walk with Christ. He is the Counselor from whom we learn the deep secrets of the Almighty. He is the mark of authority declaring to all of the principalities and powers of this world, "I am a child of the Almighty God and of his Son, Jesus Christ! You will submit to me!" It is because of his presence in us we see the miraculous; people healed, the dead risen, venomous snakes powerless against us, poison will be as water, we will speak in new languages. How little we see of this! And Jesus said these things would follow those who believe.

If these things will follow those who believe, and we do not see them, what must we conclude.

As is widely accepted throughout Christian theology, God has the characteristic of being three in one. That is to say, the Almighty God of the universe is one God manifested in three persons; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I have always known this. I have not always believed it. You see, Satan is a scheming, twisting devil. He comes in to speak to us and gets us to think only of part of this. After all, it stretches our feeble, 3-dimensional minds to really hold onto the three in one characteristic of God anyway. So he gets us to think only of the three. Then, it is a simple step for us to attempt to find a hierarchy. So we reason God the Father to be at the top. Of course, we imagine, no son is as great as his father, so, though Jesus is near to his Father, He is still a little lower. We then also conclude the Holy Spirit is low rung on the ladder. I know I have at times subconsciously considered Him a glorified messenger angel. I would imagine most of you reading this have had similar ideas. Let me attempt to clear this up right now: ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, NO HIERARCHY EXISTS IN THE PERSON OF GOD! All three are equal in stature and unified in purpose!

Basically what this means is a person cannot reject or refuse the Holy Spirit and still accept God. Jesus said the only unforgivable sin is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Why did He single out the Holy Spirit? David in pleading forgiveness of God begged Him to, "take not your Holy Spirit from me." It is because the Holy Spirit is how God resides with us. If we reject Him, or minimalize Him, or despitefully use Him, we are refusing salvation itself. One cannot accept Christ and reject the Holy Spirit. Let me be clear here. I am not adding a new feature to or claiming Christ’s blood is insufficient for salvation. It would be as easy to fall to this side as it has been to claim the Holy Spirit is optional. No, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in power is evidence of salvation! Nothing happens without leaving evidence; the Holy Spirit is the evidence.

Jesus Christ is clear on the matter. In Mark he tells what will follow those who believe. He tells us in Luke this power would come from on high. He told us He must go that the Counselor may come. In Acts, his words were fulfilled and we see it is the Holy Spirit which brings these signs. When Peter went to Cornelius’ house, he was amazed when the Holy Spirit came in power even before water baptism, without the Judaic customs, and before he had even led the people in a prayer of salvation. It was proof of the salvation which fell on that house. One can sense the urgency often present among the Apostles when the Gospel is preached in a new area to see the Holy Spirit come on the people in power as evidence of their belief.

God is moving in and out amongst the people of his church to find those whose hearts are set on Him. Just as those who claimed to be Israelites were not all sons of Abraham (John 8:39), so also not everyone who claims to be Christian belong to Christ. Remember the words of God in II Chronicles 7:14, humble yourselves, do not exalt your teaching or your learning, repent and fully seek the fullness of God. This is what He desires. The time is short. His church will be made ready.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

The Sin of Denominationalism

John 17:20-23: "20My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You.. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. 22I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one: 23I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me."

I am going to define sin for the purposes of this post to be disobedience to the will and command of God. As an example of this definition, I will appeal to Original Sin. It was the will of God man should not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God, being who He is and desiring intimate relationship with mankind told Adam his mind from the very start: "...but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:17) However, Adam disobeyed God, giving into sinful desire which when conceived gave birth to sin, which, as God foretold, when it was full grown gave birth to death. (James 1:15)

Now, we have been born into this sin. We do not come into the world innocent, just waiting for the first time we disobey to be made guilty. God said, again in Genesis, "...every inclination of [man’s] heart is evil from childhood." (8:21) David, in Psalms, says, "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." (51:5) And again, "Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies." (58:3) We are born birthing sin into the world by our desire. Every aspect of our being has been effected. Our intellect is skewed, our emotions are violent and out of control, and it is this total perversion from which Jesus came to free us. He succeeded in his mission, conquering the power of sin and death to bring freedom to his people!

The night before His passion, Jesus echoed the will of the Father in his prayer for unity among the believers. He gave to us the glory with which He was entrusted, the power His Father promised, the Holy Spirit, who would be given to believers to "guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to Me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you." (John 16:13-15) So it is the will of God we should be one, just as God is one, and the method He chose to accomplish this is to send the Holy Spirit who will instruct us in Him.

Today, we have lost sight of this. We no longer look to the Holy Spirit for this guidance. Instead, we trust in our own perverted intellects to study the Bible according to the tools our forebears left us: concordances, sermons, study guides, commentaries, devotionals, Bible studies, manuscripts; the resources are endless. All of these are written to tell us what the scriptures mean. Many of them are written to expound on and quote from previous resources. None of them are considered canonical (that is God-breathed) as the scriptures are. And how many differing viewpoints exist: Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Reformed, Orthodox, Church of Christ, Brethren in Christ, Mennonite, Assemblies of God, Four Square, non-denominational, Catholic, Roman Catholic, Traditionalist Catholic, dispensationalist, etc. etc. etc. "A house divided against itself will fall." (Luke 11:17)

Where do these come from? We know God is one. He provided one way of salvation. He provided one Spirit. That Spirit says nothing but what He hears. God is not divided against Himself. So how is it his body finds itself so splintered and opposed to itself? It is because we have broken its back: we have severed the spinal cord. Jesus is the head, we are the body, and the Holy Spirit is the nervous system. And we have rejected Him. We have become complacent in our worldly studies of the transcendent God. Our God, who formed us for communion, gave his life to restore this communion, desires desperately to speak directly with his people, and provided the means, through the Spirit, to do so. Instead, we have told Him, "We can determine what You have said on our own. We have our own resources. We do not need your Spirit any longer." And we repeat the sin of the Garden, rejecting God for our own path to knowledge. Sin #1.

I have heard many of the new pseudo-arguments used to build a facade of unity between the splintered denominations, and primarily they boil down to one: "Everyone has different preferences, and each church style serves its own purpose." Here we see secular humanist relativism in the body of Christ. In reality, this argument does nothing to unite God’s people. Instead, we have formed church in our image, and forgotten it is Christ’s body, and as such is his to determine what is done. Sin #2.

How many board meetings do we need? And why so few deep prayer meetings? Even the prayer meetings we do initiate are guided with our pre-decided agendas. Have any of you noticed how difficult it is for a community of leaders from various churches to come together, and how quickly they decide to go separate ways? We spend our time discussing where we should go next while God waits up the path, already with the plan and all the resources to accomplish it, looking back to see if we will look at Him and see where He is. Finally, if we do come to consensus on what sounds appropriate, we head off on our merry way, while our Father with mercy, if not also irritation, sighs and goes after us once again to bail us out of our next mess and attempt to steer us back to the path. However, it is like directing a deaf and blind person, for remember, we have chosen to reject his Spirit, the link through which we hear his voice.

Does this sound familiar? It is the very story of the Israelites. The whole of the Old Testament is the story of this continual merry-go-round. I tell you the truth, God did not remain on that ride forever, instead reserving for Himself his remnant and rejecting the rest. He is preparing to exit the ride once again. Will you be a part of the remnant?

"If my people...will...turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven..." (2 Chronicles 7:14)


Hello world of blogging! I am excited to get this show on the road and will be starting soon with the first posts. I pray the Lord will bless you with these words, and they will find their way to your heart, and change the way you not only think about this relationship we share, but also the way you live it. The Spirit of the Holy God is moving about in the body of Jesus Christ. He is searching...searching for the remnant of his people. May He find you and bless you richly with all the joy, wonder, awe, power, love, faith, and glory He has promised those who would believe.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with you all.

2 Corinthians 13:14