Grave Errors and Sucking Delusions

Grave suckingYea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall grow worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:12-13 KJ2000)

And concerning the dead, that they rise: have you not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spoke unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: you therefore do greatly err. (Mark 12:26-27 KJ2000)

Ever since men have read about Elisha getting the mantle that was on Elijah, they have been trying to lay claim the anointing that was on some great man of God before he dies. Leonard Ravenhill once said, “I get calls from all over the world, everyone wants my anointing and mantle… but nobody wants my sackcloth and ashes.” When two of the disciples of Jesus asked that they might sit at His right hand and at His left in the Kingdom of God, Jesus said, “You know not what you ask. Are you able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” Jesus drank the cup of suffering and He was baptized in the death of the cross. If He had not, He would never have been able to overcome death and the grave for all of us and give us His Life. Jesus was tempted to just set up an earthly kingdom with Him as its head and to avoid the cross, yet He knew there was no comfortable short cut and was (and is) obedient to His Father to the very end. Satan also tempted Eve to get on a fast track to be “like God” by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and her act brought all manner of sin, suffering and death into the world… everything that God is NOT. Watch out for those evil seducers in the church that offer you an easier way to spiritual success other than the cross of Christ.

The latest twist to getting on the “fast track” to get a powerful anointing in Pentecostal circles is to go lie on the grave of a famous evangelist or miracle worker and “suck up” the anointing that was on them when they died. (The picture above is a young lady lying on the grave of Alexander Dowie.)  They call it “Grave Sucking.” Never mind that there is nothing in the scriptures that point to this practice. The only “fast track” to walking in the anointing of the Spirit is death– death to self, that old Adamic nature in us– and being born anew of the Spirit of God.  We will know success in God’s kingdom only as we are cut off from that old Adam, grafted into Christ, abide in Him as the True Vine, and allow HIM to produce HIS fruit through us by His Life and not our own. Paul made it clear that the gifts of the Spirit are given as HE wills and not according to our wishes. All we can do is abide IN the Son and rest while He brings forth the fruit the Father wants.

P.T. Barnum, the famous circus entrepreneur said, “There is a SUCKER born every day.” How apropos.  It seems that at the rate deception is taking hold in the churches (prosperity teaching, church growth techniques, seeking worldly success, etc.), a sucker must be born every minute! At least one local church leader  laid face down on John G. Lake’s grave in nearby Spokane, Washington so he could pull up Lake’s healing anointing to himself. Well, we saw no healing miracles happen by the ministry of this man. All he did was pull up death. Shortly thereafter, his daughter was killed in a car wreck on the front lawn of the house next door and his wife died of cancer about three years later. He since has moved out of the area and who know what death has followed him as he continues to follow and teach these deceptions to Christians!

Paul warned the elders of the Ephesian church that men would rise up in the church and teach all manner of lies contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He said, “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.” (Acts 20:29-31 RSVA) That is right, within the church men rise up and start teaching perverse things to gain a following. This was unheard of in the infant church. Church elders and leaders only worked to unite the saints with Christ as their Head and never to themselves, always pointing them to Jesus Christ as their sufficiency in all things. The apostles had no disciples and Paul rebuked the Corinthians for thinking in those terms.

“For you are yet carnal: for while there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are you not carnal, and walk as men? For while one says, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that plants anything, neither he that waters; but God that gives the increase… All things are yours and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:3-2)

The perversity of false teachers, false prophets and false apostles and their teachings is accelerating in these last days and they are gleaning followers after themselves to make merchandise of them. Peter warned it would happen as well saying, “But there were false prophets among the people, as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly put forward wrong teachings for your destruction, even turning away from the Lord who gave himself for them; whose destruction will come quickly, and they themselves will be the cause of it. And a great number will go with them in their evil ways, through whom the true way will have a bad name. And in their desire for profit they will come to you with words of deceit, like traders doing business in souls: whose punishment has been ready for a long time and their destruction is watching for them” (2 Peter 2:1-3 BBE – emphasis added). Going to the seminars these men put on can be very expensive to your pocket book as well as your soul.

The tares are being gathered together in God’s field and bound in bundles for the end time judgment even as we watch these “believers” gather around false teachers that appeal to the perversity in their own hearts. We are watching the great apostasy (the great falling away) spoken of by Paul in action. This is NOT a time to go chasing after men, but rather a time to draw close to God. Remember Jesus’ warning, “For false Christs [false anointings] and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Lo, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Lo, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; if they say, ‘Lo, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it” (Matthew 24:24-26 RSVA).

Paul warned us of this great deception of our times.

“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: [Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 KJV – emphasis added)

This is no time to be playing games with God! The Wicked One is being let loose with his lying spirits to cover the earth. Men are being bundled into false religions, false churches, false political causes, and false philosophies all over the world. Why are people so easily deceived? Because they take pleasure in unrighteousness. It is a heart matter.  What is it that tickles your pleasure zone? God is letting men chose who they will follow as they are offered whatever gives them pleasure. They follow what is in their own hearts and as a result they are being bound to these false teachers like bundles of tares. If the love of the Truth, Jesus Christ, is in our hearts we have a love for HIS voice and not the voice of thieves, robbers, strangers and hirelings. His sheep hear His voice and they follow Him. If we do not take up our crosses and follow Jesus, we will keep making room for that fallen adamic nature in us to manifest and follow deceivers who speak to the lusts of our hearts. Jesus’ sheep are being separated from the deceiver’s goats right before our eyes as are the wise virgins from foolish virgins.

Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:9-10 KJ2000). It is high time that the saints of God woke up and started praying as David did, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalms 139:23-24 KJ2000).

“I am the one who corrects and disciplines everyone I love. Be diligent and turn from your indifference… Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” (Revelation 3:19-22 NLT)

 

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The Fellowship of HIS Sufferings

Rejection of ChristI know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would that you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white clothing, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will eat with him, and he with me. To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches. After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up here, and I will show you things which must be hereafter. (Revelation 3:15 to 4:1 KJ2000)

I have been through many sufferings and rejections through the years at the hands of well meaning but ignorant Christians in the church system. But remember, Jesus came to His own people with salvation and healing and they still rejected Him, yet He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” As we read the scriptures we find that rejection is part of the package if we are to follow Him as our Savior and Lord. Yes, we can be rejected for being obnoxious and obstinate, but this is not what I am talking about.

Many of us have found ourselves marked for rejection by that apostate system and it often came without us knowing why! Dear saints, it is in our DNA… It is Christ IN us that they reject. We join a “church” and soon the initial welcome wears thin and we find that people start to distance themselves from us. We can never seem to get into that “inner circle” where everybody seems to be best of friends. Why? They know that we are NOT one of THEM! Even without making any waves, we may even eventually be asked to leave. Of course this is accelerated when we dare to point out that “the king (pastor, prophet, apostle, whatever the title) has no clothes” or that he is teaching things contrary to the scriptures. The kind of coldness and shunning that takes place afterwards proves that we were associated with a cult in the first place, not the ecclesia of God.

Jesus and Paul were emphatic about keeping the unity of the faith and maintaining fellowship through thick and thin. The early church leaders were never above being corrected when needed. Yet, in a system that is marked by schism (43,000 different denominations and sects) which is constantly dividing against itself, it easy for people to divide from one another at the first sign of disagreement, especially when the head wolf (“pastor”) is involved.

In all these seemingly negative experiences we go through in Christendom, we are given a chance to go beyond the hurt and bitterness and go through an open door in the heavens and obey His call to “come up here.” Jesus does not stand outside that closed door church system of Laodicea forever, begging to be let into the lives of individuals, but calls us out of it unto Himself. In this NEW relationship with HIM in heavenly places, as the One who truly loves us, we are healed. It is here that He shows us HIS heavenly perspective of what HIS kingdom is about. It is from this tearing and healing process that we are then given an opportunity to be used to comfort others who go through the same things. As Paul so rightly shared from his own experience:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-7 RSVA)

Remember it is in the sharing of Christ’s suffering, which we are allowed to experience, that we grow in love (Just read Isaiah ch. 53 and compare it to your life as well and you will see what I mean). This is the deepest form of fellowship, “the fellowship of HIS sufferings”(see Phil. 3:10). In the controlled atmosphere of organized religion, “fellowship” is a time when we get together, put on our plastic smiles, and share empty platitudes as we eat snacks in a special room called “the fellowship hall.” How empty compared to sharing in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings and the comfort we receive from Him as we do. Comforting another with the same comfort we have received from Him is REAL fellowship and it just keeps getting richer. No wonder that the church in the first two and a half centuries grew in leaps and bounds as it was so heavily persecuted by the Jews and the Romans. It was all in the plan of God. It was when the Emperor Constantine banished church persecution and made it the official religious body of the Roman government that the church went stagnant and almost died.

So, dear saints, today we don’t have the Romans and the Jews to persecute and reject us, but we have a church system that has gone bad to do the job. I thank the Lord for what it has become so that the REAL members of the body of Christ might shine forth in His love. God bless you all.

Just Who Is Really “Forsaking the Assembling of Ourselves”?

FamilyGatheringI wish someone would show me in the New Testament where it says we are supposed to “go to church on Sunday.” My Bible says we who are Christ’s ARE the church. How can I go to something I am already part of because I am attached to Christ who is my Head, not to Paul, or to Apollos, or Peter or Pastor Wonderful? The best thing that ever happened to me was finding my sufficiency in Christ instead of in educated men.

I am sure that someone will try to answer the above “going to church” question with the trite answer, “Brother, we are not to forsake the gathering…” I agree, but since when is sitting in rows, staring at the backs of hundreds of heads while being lectured by one man being gathered together into the fellowship of the Father and the Son?  THAT IS the context of this verse:

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having a great priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience: and having our body washed with pure water, let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not; for he is faithful that promised: and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh. (Hebrews 10:19-25 ASV)

As you can see, we are to gather together by passing through the Veil–the torn flesh of Jesus Christ–and boldly enter into the presence of our Father, where Jesus stands forever making intercession for us as our ONLY High Priest. It is in this kind of intimate fellowship with the Father and the Son that we are called to assemble ourselves to as members of HIS body. It is in this realization of our high callings IN Christ that we can truly exhort one another as a kingdom of priests and not just fill a common building one day a week, listening to a paid Christian lecture.

The next question that might be asked is, “If you don’t go to church on Sunday, then where DO YOU fellowship?” Do we come together with other saints on a regular basis? Absolutely! We spend more hours per week by far, fellowshipping around Christ with the local fellow saints, than those who go to meetings under the control of a single man and sit there as passive listeners! Is it always on Sunday in a steeple house that we gather? No. But Jesus said that “wherever two or three of you come together IN my name, I am there in your midst”… and it doesn’t get better than that! He directs our hearts as to when and where to come together and the only overhead that we have to deal with is restaurant meals and tips or contributing to a great home-made meal we share together as we speak often together IN His name.

Am I bitter against the organized religious systems of men? Not at all. God delivered me out of that systematized religious order. In fact He about had to drag me out of it. My wife, Dorothy, and I had gone to at least twelve different churches in the years following my birth into God’s kingdom. I was constantly “Looking for Mr. Goodbar,” who walked in humility as Jesus did, but all these “church leaders” absolutely loved to have preeminence over the relationships that these saints had with one another and their Lord. They cast their own shadow over everything that happened in their churches. These religious leaders could be counted on to quench the Spirit if He tried to get a word in edgewise or in any way disrupt their pre-planned agendas.

God finally said to me one Sunday as I sat in a “service,” “Why do you keep seeking the Living among the dead?” Well, THAT got my attention! He showed me that unless Jesus is the functional Head over a body of believers and its members individually, and they are led by His Spirit in their daily lives, that “fellowship” is dead because those body members are disconnected from their Head. I had to come out of that system so I could learn to hear His voice as my Shepherd instead of constantly listening to the voices of men taking His place. For me it was like being “dried out” from an addiction. Now that I know His voice it is easy for me to discern when something preached or taught is askew. John put it this way:

“These things have I written unto you concerning them that deceive you. But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in him.” (1 John 2:26-27 KJ2000)

Is going to a Sunday church bad? No, unless you settle for a relationship with a church leader instead of submitting to Jesus as your Spiritual Head. Paul wrote:

“For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13 KJ2000)

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 KJ2000)

Being divided along party lines (called a “party spirit” in the New Testament) is not natural to the kingdom of God, but it is expected and accepted among the kingdoms of men. The Spirit of Christ is the supply we drink from if we are truly His. We who drink from that ONE Spirit are ALL members one of another and rest in the unity of the Spirit of Christ and the Father before the throne of grace and fellowship around their love. We are truly ONE in the Spirit from which we drink.

A Sword Which Divides

JohnBaptThen went out to him [John the Baptist] Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. (Matthew 3:5-9)

As I again read these word from John the Baptist it really trigger something in me about how Jesus did not come to bring peace, but the sword of division (See Matt. 10:34-36). John’s words were not just a textual teaching to people sitting in their padded pews, speaking things that tickled their ears, but rather an “in your face” challenge and warning to repent to a people that came out to see this strange man as if he was there to entertain them and make them feel good about themselves! That is the difference between inspired speaking led of the Spirit and mere mealy-mouth teaching from a pulpit. In Proverbs we read, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Proverbs 27:6 KJ2000). We would do well to consider these words the next time a brother or sister says something that we find disturbing.

I would rather learn from a man who has convictions and who challenges me with a word filled with the power of God, than listen to a mind puffing textual word study from a mealy-mouthed preacher. The Word of God becomes a sword that passes through the hearers separating soul from spirit and discerns the thoughts and the intents of the hearts of men (see Hebrews 4:12-13) when it is empowered by the Spirit of God. Give me men who speak that are full of the Holy Spirit like Stephen. Give me a message that is life-changing and refuses to let me play around with it in my head while it pierces my heart!

After Stephen preached what was the result?

“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him [Stephen] with [their] teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God…” (Acts 7:54-55 KJV)

Too many teachings and sermons today lack the power of God, because men resist the Holy Spirit for they fear offending someone as they speak. Someone once said that the sign of a good preacher was one who comforts the distressed and distresses the comfortable. I guess those Jews in Jerusalem that day were pretty distressed in their comfort zones after God was through talking to them through Stephen. His preaching forced them to either repent and move on in Christ or manifest what was in their hearts.

This preaching of Stephen which resulted in his death led up to a definitive moment in church history where persecution broke out upon their warm and fuzzy little gathering in Jerusalem and compelled the saints to get out of their nest and be scattered all over the known world with the gospel. It was also the beginning of the undoing of a Pharisee named Saul of Tarsus so he could be remade into the image of the very Christ whom he persecuted.

One time I heard a nest-building preacher say from the pulpit, “Stephen had no business preaching in the temple that day. He got what he had coming because he left off being a deacon and took up preaching. If he would have kept quiet and done his job, peace would have continued for the church instead of persecution.” It is interesting how the temple proprietors in Jerusalem were also offended with Stephen, so much so that the killed him and what set them off after he had preached to them for many minutes without offense being taken? I believe it was this…

“Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven [is] my throne, and earth [is] my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what [is] the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things? Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers [did], so [do] ye.” (Acts 7:48-51 KJV).

The Holy Spirit in Stephen touched their “holy cow,” their idol, and the thing that stood between them and obeying the Son of God… temples made with the hands of men and their support. He equated their temple devotion to resisting the Holy Spirit. Interesting how the loyalty of men to their church buildings is not all that different today, yet they expect the Spirit wind to blow inside their skillfully and beautifully made “comfort zones” according to their own dictates.

Just as the words of Stephen got him killed that day, this kind of preaching will still get you killed in a lot of church circles today and if not, it is surely has a deadening effect on the volume of donations that are put into the offering plate. Sad to say, the latter is the foremost consideration of many a pulpit-eer these days. If men who preach were more interested in the souls of their followers and dared to speak accordingly, than they are in their own incomes and church building projects, the church (the called out ones of God) would once again be that city that shines forth from the crest of a hill and the world could see that it is offered a choice to sin and death instead reheated lukewarm “life.”

The day after John had warned the people to flee the wrath to come, Jesus showed up as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” With conviction of sin also came a direction and an answer as to which way to they needed to go. It takes both. First there must be exposure to the depravity of our hearts, then repentance. But this is followed up from God with the solution and an exchanged life IN Christ is offered to those who truly repent.

Lord, convict us of where we are falling short (the definition of sin) of the Life of your Son, Jesus Christ. Cut and divide deep into our hearts and separate our soulish ways from the Life of the Spirit in us that He might prevail unto the rising up of His glory within us. Don’t let us settle for anything less. Amen

 

 

Called to be Servants, Not Masters

pardonwoman

But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; (Matthew 23:8-11 RSVA)

I have never seen myself as a shepherd or one who mentors others, at least since I went through so much stripping at the hand of God in the ’80’s and ’90’s. I am just “a beggar who shows other beggars where I found some bread.” Jesus IS that Bread. Christ is our sufficiency in all things pertaining to life and godliness. What our Father is looking for and working toward in us is many sons unto HIS glory, not their own.  Jesus is the first born of many sons (and daughters) of God and as such HE is our Pattern Son. He came to the earth and did not take on the form of God or even an archangel, but rather took on the form of a man, a lowly man, a servant to all men, not a chief priest or a king. This is as our Pattern who said of Himself, “The son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

As the above picture indicates, what a contrast Jesus was to the religious leaders of the Jews! They were men who loved titles and to be seen as set apart from mere men with their “holier than thou” mindsets. But Jesus was down in the trenches with sinful mankind and they loved Him for it! When Jesus said, “Those who come before me are thieves and robbers,”  the translators wrongly translated it to say, “Those who ever came before me are thieves and robbers.” There is a BIG difference! All those spoken of in the Old Covenant from Enoch to John the Baptist who walked by faith in the Father were NOT thieves and robbers as some dare to teach! No, those who get between Jesus and HIS sheep (before – positionally) are the thieves and robbers; false shepherds, false prophets, false apostles, false teachers, etc. What makes them false? They are “ravenous wolves not sparing His flock and teachers teaching perverse things to draw away DISCIPLES AFTER THEMSELVES” (see Acts 20: 29-31), and like Diotrephes in the third epistle of John, these are those who love the preeminence, instead of allowing Christ to have all preeminence in the lives of His saints.

Being Used

As for being “used” by the Lord, I think that there is way too much emphasis among Christians on “being used.” Satan possess and uses people. Jesus loves and leads them as THE Good Shepherd. Many years ago in the beginning of my walk God when I was “busy for God,” He started talking to me about entering into His rest and in Hebrews chapter four we read, “they who have entered into His rest have ceased from their own labors.” Being too anxious about being used has led to many a dead work in the eyes of the Lord. It is noteworthy to notice that God’s works were finished from the foundation of the world. So as we rest IN HIM we also rest in His FINISHED works. Jesus hung on the cross and said, “It is finished!” just before He died. He also said that HE would build His called out ones (ecclesia – translated “church”). Yet, churches are all about “doing great things for God” and oh, how they love to build. Only as we rest in HIS finished works as we rest IN HIM, can He work the works of His righteousness in and through us. This is why Paul was so emphatic that we walk by faith and NOT by works.

“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created IN Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10 KJ2000 – emphasis added)

It is only as we rest IN Christ and His righteousness by faith that we will find ourselves doing the finished works of the Father. Like Jesus said to the disciples, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 RSVA – emphasis added). I have found that those who rest in this fact drive the practitioners of religion crazy. These builders of churches and church organizations are the same builders who reject Christ as the Chief Cornerstone, Cap Stone and Master Builder of the temple which is the Father’s design for His temple is made of living stones (see Matt. 21:42-43 and 1 Peter 2:5-9) not wood, bricks and mortar.

So we find ourselves going through all these painful experiences as we struggle to be free of this world and its worldly churches with their mindsets and be bound to Christ as our ALL in all. This is so true to form in the way HE teaches. Paul wrote, “… but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; And patience, experience…” God puts a high value on experiential learning and trials (tribulations) are a step in the process of our training, like it or not. Paul goes on to say, “And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us” (Romans 5:4-5 KJ2000). Again, we are back to being conformed into the image of His Son who learned obedience through the things which He suffered and His suffering was a result of His obedience to the Father. Should we not expect the same?

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire [in Christ], lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 KJ2000)

Thoughts on the Old and New Covenant

 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal [temporary]; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18 KJ2000)

A few mornings ago I awoke with the Lord comparing in my mind the vast difference between the Old and New Covenants. As a result I have given much thought to this as of late and how those things which are seen are only temporary and why we find ourselves so absorbed in them. Didn’t Jesus leave us a spiritual kingdom which comes without outward observation?

All of Christendom seems to be absorbed with temporal things and concerned about what we shall eat and what clothes we will wear for each occasion. Why is it that “fellowship” as defined in the church scene is reserved only for those who belong to the same club as us? Yet, IN Christ, all who are born from above are members one of another and IN Him there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave or free, male or female, of Paul or of Apollos or Cephas, but rather a NEW Creation, the family of God which is not defined by those things which are seen.

In the Old Covenant, human priests stood as mediators between God and man. In the New, Jesus is our ONE Mediator who stands before God as our High Priest ever to make intersession for us.

In the old system temples were in a fixed place and static, but in the New there is one temple and it is made from LIVING stones, members of the body of Christ, and it is dynamic, moveable and alive! As much as we are attached to our church buildings I have to wonder what covenant we are really of!

In this NEW Creation, worship is not about being gathered in temples and buildings made for that purpose listening to music that puts us in the mood, but rather true worship comes forth from being transformed from within and takes place in the Spirit and in Truth no matter where we are. Our very lives IN Christ are ones that show forth our worship of the Father who has given us all things IN the Son.

In the Old Covenant the city of God was the Old Jerusalem in Israel and subject to invading armies and the corruption of men. In the New we have a New Jerusalem that is likened to the Bride of Christ which is without spot or blemish which comes down from the throne of God prepared for the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. In the Old it was a city of blood. In the New it is a city filled with the Life and Light of the Father and the Son.

In the New creation we are no longer dependent on a priestly cast to “do the God stuff” for us, but rather we are ALL a kingdom of priests. The reformation never went far enough, for most of Protestantism is still Catholic in its design. This universal priesthood of the believer also does away with the question of whether “women can be in ministry,” as does the fact that we are all part of a NEW creation IN Christ. The walls of separation between members of Christ’s body are also torn down as was that earthly temple almost 2000 years ago.

In the Old Covenant men offered up animals for sin offerings over and over, but in the New, Christ offered up His own life and blood once for all and did away with that old temple sacrificial system. Yet why do so many Christians get all excited when they hear rumors that another temple is to be built in Jerusalem and the get goose bumps at the thought of the animal sacrifices being resumed? What covenant are they of?

In the Old men gave a tithe of their increase at the temple. In the New Covenant, God is looking for one thing and that is those who present their own bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto Him instead of a tenth of their worldly possessions. If God has our hearts, our possessions are His to do with as HE wills and where His love is in operation among us, no one will be found lacking.

In the Old Covenant families were defined by their blood linage. In the NEW we who are Christ’s are closer than any human blood connection. Those who believe IN Christ are of one UNIVERSAL blood type, the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us and makes us all one.

In the Old Covenant men were governed by hierarchy in the Jewish system. In the new only One is our Head, Jesus Christ, and we are all brethren (siblings). The multitude that John saw in Revelation before the throne of God stood on a sea of glass… no one was elevated over the other. As Isaiah put it, “and the increase of HIS government there will be no end.”

In the Old Covenant men were concerned about what they ate that they might not become defiled. In the NEW Jesus said, it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but rather what comes out of his mouth. For out of the mouth comes forth the issues of the heart. Defilement is a heart condition.

In the Old Covenant the Torah was worshiped and given a place of honor and kept locked away except on special occasions only to be read by a priestly cast. In the New we who are Christ’s are Living Letters to be read and seen by all men. The Bible itself is only as useful as its truth is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit and I thank God it is as accessible as it is.

In the Old Covenant all teaching was done by men. In the New we have no need that any man teach us, but we who are IN Christ have all receive the anointing of the Spirit and He teaches us all things that we need to know.

In the Old Covenant the ark with its mercy seat where the shekinah glory of God abode was closed off from all men except on one day a year when the high priest entered in through the veil with a blood offering. In the New that veil has been torn from top to bottom as Jesus died on the cross making way for all who believe IN Him to boldly enter into the presence of the Father and His throne of grace.

Jesus told Nathan, “You shall see greater things than these. Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” Ours, dear saints, is an OPEN heaven. Why are we so taken with the things of this earth which shall all be done away with? The time is long overdue when we Christians should be searching our own hearts as to what covenant we are of.

Until Only the Unshakeable Remains

The cathedral from which Christchurch, N.Z. gets it name in the center of the city was severely damaged in an earthquake almost three years ago. They say it is beyond repair. They have shored what was left of it up, but it is too dangerous to work on.  Could God be sending us a message?

ChristChurch cathedral during a media tour“Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what is shaken, as of what has been made, in order that what cannot be shaken may remain.
(Hebrews 12:26-27 RSVA)

“Because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 RSVA)

Jesus came to earth and while He lived here in human form he was subjected to everything the enemy could throw at Him, yet He did now cave. He only did the works that the Father gave Him to do. He did not act out of His own free will as the Son of God to do anything for His own benefit, not even to save His own life. He died a cruel death on the cross and rose again in victory and led the captives of the wicked one in a victory march out of their prisons. He is still releasing men and women who turn to Him from their prisons today. In short Lucifer tried to shake Christ and he failed. The Unshakeable remained unshakeable to the end.

So, will God allow the Church to be severely shake as Christ was? The biggest test and failure of what is called “the church” today in in seeing if we will move by the power of our own wills, or will we wait upon the Lord for HIM to move? Is what happened to the cathedral at Christchurch happening in “the church” today? Yes, and it has only just begun. For hundreds of years organized religion has presumptuously been planting, building, marrying and giving in marriage without a single thought to what God wants done in their midst. They invent a program and then ask Him to bless it! How backwards this is.

Jesus told the disciples (the first “church planters”) that apart from Him they could do nothing. Organized religion in its haste to “do something” has ceased to look to God for the power to do their works and has turned to the power of the flesh, money and coercion to get it done. Jesus said you cannot serve both God and Mammon and the churches of men have been trying to prove Him a liar for hundreds of years. Mammon has one.

So, can the visible church be shaken completely down to its foundations? YES and it is happening right before our eyes, because it has become fixated on “the things which are seen” instead of on the “things that are not seen.” All the things that can be seen in Christendom and even in our own lives WILL be shaken and all that will remain is that which abides IN Christ Himself, the Unshakeable. Paul warned,

 

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw– each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
(1 Corinthians 3:9-16 RSVA)

First we need to be sure of what foundation we have been building on. Are you founded on the teachings of a denominational or church “founder”? Are you founded on “apostles” and “prophets” in your church? Are you founded on your understanding of the Bible? Sorry, these near misses won’t stand up to the shaking that is coming upon the earth. If we are to survive and are to stand before God and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” we must be founded on THE Foundation, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Every plant that my Father has not planted will be rooted up.” In the days ahead each believer’s work that they have been building upon their foundations, even the One True Foundation, will be tested by fire and only the gold, silver and precious stones of the works of the Father will survive. Many of us who have gone out to “do great things for God” will suffer great loss. God’s works were finished from the foundation of the world that we should walk in them alone.

For we are his workmanship, created IN CHRIST Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 RSVA – emphasis added)