These Are They Who Follow the Lamb Wherever He Goes

following-jesus-aloneAll my Christian walk I have run into church leaders and high profile people with various titles in the body of Christ who wanted me to submit to them and their teachings and giv  e them carte blanche authority over my life. “Submit! Submit!” they said. “You need to be under the covering of a pastor and listen to him.” At first this sounded like a reasonable request and I submitted to many different pastors who had many different views and agendas. One by one they either, were squeezed out by a political coup, were found to be in an adulterous relationship, exposed as an alcoholic, or were so incessant about fleecing the flock under them that they ignored the gospel of Christ and the welfare of their people in favor of the love of Mammon in their teachings. After a while I started understanding why Jesus said we would know what manner of tree we are under by its fruit, not by its title, position or lofty words. I have found that godly leadership who are actually led by the Spirit of God and obedient to the voice of Christ exist, but in America at least, they are hard to come by.
In the book of Judges there is a very revealing story that we can learn from today.

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Now there was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there. And the man departed from the town of Bethlehem in Judah to sojourn where he could find a place. And as he journeyed, he came to the hill country of Ephraim to the house of Micah. And Micah said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I am a Levite of Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to sojourn where I may find a place.” And Micah said to him, “Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year and a suit of clothes and your living.” And the Levite went in. (Judges 17:6-10, ESV2011)

Does this sound familiar? It should! Every year we have thousands of young men graduating from seminary and going out to find a church that they can be pastor over, that will provide them with a living (“ten shekels and a shirt”). So, the above passage probably goes by unnoticed as many Christians read it, because this is the norm in the church today. But notice that the passage starts out with, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Answer me this: Is Jesus our King, or do we hire a man to be Lord over us who agrees with what we expect from him? If he continues to do what is right in our own eyes, we pay him to keep the status quo. If he preaches a message that steps on too many toes, down the road he goes! Do we hire a man to “do the God stuff” so we can do the world’s stuff in our daily lives and live vicariously through his spirituality on Sundays? When we shop around for a church, what do we look for? Do we look for leadership that can hear the voice of our Lord and guide us until we can hear Him and submit to Him as our King or do we look for those who tickle the ears of our flesh?
Remember Paul’s words,

Become imitators of me, according as I also am of Christ. (1Cor 11:1, CLV – emphasis added)

Paul did not say, “Submit to me and do as I say.” Or, “I am in authority here, I am the Pastor (or apostle or whatever)!” Or like one pastor said from the pulpit one Sunday, “If you can’t get behind me and my vision (agenda) for this church, then go find a pastor who’s vision you CAN get behind.” We are so used to this kind of leadership in our churches that we see it as totally acceptable, but what about Jesus? You know, that Man that died on the cross and affirmed to us that HE is building HIS Church (see Matthew 16:18)? Is He really our Lord and King? To “build the Church” it is not about buying some land and putting up a building. It is not even about gathering great numbers of people in to fill a building one day a week. No, it is about bringing people who have come out of the world by the call of the gospel and maturing them and raising them up into the fullness of Christ!

Today, church planters and church builders are a dime a dozen. But where is the pastor who will do as John did and encourage the people to listen to and obey the Holy Spirit and grow in Christ to where they no longer need human teachers (see 1 John 2:26-27)? My experience in the churches is that the leadership is more interested in their own job security than they are in seeing the saints of God to grow up so that THEY can do the works of service (ministry) in the body of Christ. Instead, men like this try and keep people in their churches as long as possible so that a “Failure to Launch” becomes the norm. True Spirit inspired leaders rejoice instead of feeling threatened when the saints grow up INTO the fullness of Christ and move on to follow their upward call wherever that might take them. Paul wrote about this kind of maturing process,

He [Jesus Christ] who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry [service], for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the [intimate] knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Eph 4:10-16, ESV2011)

We hear a lot of teaching about the importance of the so-called “five-fold ministries” in verse eleven (yanked out of its context), but do we hear the rest of this passage preached? Do we see the maturing of Christians who are no longer influenced by every wind of doctrine and cunning teachers with their humanly devised church programs and schemes? To avoid these kinds of pitfalls the saints need to be able to hear the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit for themselves.

Jesus ascended into heaven that He might fill ALL things! Christ is the head of the body, the ekklesia – the Church. He did not give these five gifts of service (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher) to men so that they could be the heads of His body. A body with more that one head is in constant chaos and division and this is why there are over 41,000 different denominations and Christian sects today! So, why did Jesus give these five gifts? To bring us all into maturity, “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge [an intimate knowing] of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Look around your congregations. Do you see anyone who has come into an intimate knowing relationship with Jesus Christ, so much so that they measure up to the stature of His fullness? If not, why not? I can tell you why, the system today in which we “go to church” is broken! We have leaders who have not come into the fullness of Christ themselves and you cannot teach and demonstrate spiritual maturity to a congregation when you do not have it yourself. As a result we have…

The Perpetual Babyhood of the Believer

We read about this spiritual babyhood in Hebrews. The apostle was quite upset with the status quo and came to a full stop in what he was wanting to teach them saying,

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Heb 5:11-14, ESV2011)

Just like today, the Hebrews to whom this letter was written, were dull of spiritual hearing and constantly needed men to teach them the most rudimentary things over and over. They were still on the breasts (sorry, there were no bottle fed babies in those days) of men! They had not been weaned and taught to feed themselves from the bounty of the Spirit. The maturing process spoken of in Ephesians chapter four had not happened and he was exhorting these believers to grow up and “go on to maturity” (see Heb. 6:1). These believers where constantly going to their teachers and saying, “Pastor, is it right or wrong if a person does …” or “What do you think I should do, Pastor?” They were not mature enough to “have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” To have this kind of discernment, your teacher must encourage you to have a hearing ear to the voice of the Holy Spirit instead of the voices of men! Of course you have to have the Holy Spirit abiding IN you, first and this is not true of many who call themselves, “Christian.”

In Christ Is ALL Wisdom and Knowledge

Finally, I would like to add this quote from our brother, T. Austin-Sparks,

You see, it is this other thing all the time that is robbing so many of the light that the Lord would give them. The Lord would lead them into the greater fullness of the knowledge of His Son, of the enlargement of their spiritual understanding, but they are neglecting the gift that is in them. They are neglecting the Holy Spirit as their illuminator and teacher and instructor and guide and arbiter, and they are going to this one and that one, to this authority and that, and saying, What do you think about it? If you think it is wrong, then I will not touch it! It is fatal to spiritual knowledge to do that. That is going on to natural ground.
Now the Lord wants us off that ground. This matter of occupying resurrection ground, of living a life in the Spirit, is all-important in coming to the full knowledge of God’s Son. How much more we could say about that! Let us be careful as to who our authorities are. So many dear children of God, individually and collectively, have come into dire and grievous bondage, limitation, and confusion by all the time going back to human authorities, to this great leader and that, to this man who was greatly used of God, this man who had a great deal of spiritual light.
”The Lord has yet more light and truth to break forth from His Word” than even this or that servant of His possessed. Do you see what I mean? We get all the benefit of the light given to godly people and seek to profit by true light, but we will never come into bondage and say, “That is the end of that matter!” That must never be. We must maintain our resurrection ground. And who can exhaust that? In other words, who can exhaust the meaning of Christ risen? He is a boundless store, the land of far distances. No man yet has ever done more than begun to know the meaning of Christ risen. If there has been one man who has that meaning more than another, I suppose it was Paul. But to the last from his prison he still cries, ”That I may know Him!” “I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things and do count them but refuse” (Phil. 3:8). Right at the end of a life like his, he is still saying, “That I may know Him!” (1)

Father, please let this message go into the hearts of those who belong to Jesus that they might hear HIS voice and keep pressing into your kingdom as they follow Him. Amen.

These are they who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb. (Rev 14:4, KJ2000- emphasis added)

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what, the Spirit, IS SAYING unto the assemblies.”~ Jesus Christ

(1) http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/000660.html

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38 comments on “These Are They Who Follow the Lamb Wherever He Goes

  1. vic.williams says:

    Hello Michael.

    If we are to be Kings and priests – Rev 5:10. Then are we not to build our own family church with the gifts God given us and “minister” firstly to our own household of God. Preparing each person we fellowship with to grow in grace and knowledge by each ones own personal works of the Spirit = “the True Church is the one you organize yourself” with your family and friends in your house. Churches and seminaries are all a part of the “old covenant System” of this world. what is the difference between Seminary to day and the Scribes and Pharisees in Christ’s day. Was Christ or Abraham or any of the Patriarchs “a Christian?” I am personally responsible for my own salvation. I perform work of Belief and Faith with the gifts God gives me building toward my own crown of Righteous which Paul and all the Faithful will receive in the Kingdom of God on earth.

    Do we go to Church? or do we build our own church. Do we minister to others – Or are we babes that need milk. Vic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Vic, I agree and it was because I saw no avenue to grow into the fullness of Christ as I submitted to existing “church leadership,” that I had to step outside that smothering system that discouraged following the Spirit and coming together as a body instead of as an audience. Small home fellowships provided much more opportunity to all of us to share from the Spirit within us and build one another up. I don’t agree that we build “our own church,” but rather we who are spiritually mature seek to build up HIS body (the ekklesia) into the fullness of Christ as its Head wherever it is found. Yes, I welcome the input from the saints I am connected with, but ALL things are outs and we ALL belong to Christ (1 Cor. 3:21-23). Thanks for your input,
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

    • Jody says:

      I have the best quote about not attending church by William Law (1686-1761) from his book A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life and it is as follows:

      It is very observable, that there is not one command in all the Gospel for public worship; and perhaps it is a duty that is least insisted upon in Scripture of any other. The frequent attendance at it is never so much as mentioned in all the New Testament. Whereas that religion of devotion which is to govern the ordinary actions of our life is to be found in almost every verse of Scripture. Our blessed Saviour and His Apostles are wholly taken up in doctrines that relate to common life…Is it not therefore exceeding strange that people should place so much piety in the attendance upon public worship, concerning which there is not one precept of our Lord’s to be found, and yet neglect these common duties or our ordinary life, which are commanded in every page of the Gospel?

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Well said, Michael. “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you..” Or as I sometimes say, He who is under authority needs no other authority.

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    • Michael says:

      Gabrielle, you said, “He who is under authority needs no other authority.” There are many kinds of authority, both good and evil. The Nuremberg trials proved that just being “under authority” is no excuse to do evil. I assume you meant being under the authority of Christ.

      And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:27-29, ESV2011)

      Liked by 3 people

      • I did mean under the authority of Christ. I am actually a bit surprised that there could be any other kind.

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      • Michael says:

        Gabrielle, I spent years under the authority of men who “represented God,” but taught great error concerning their right to have power over us because of their positions and titles. As a result we suffered much abuse. I thought it good do clarify your statement for those who might think that as long as they obey the religious figures in their lives, they will be okay. Like Peter said, it is better to obey God than self-willed religious leaders.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. Pat Orr says:

    Thank you for the blog. We have to have the holy Spirit as our guide, or we will follow men. Men may be sincere and deceived, or in other states. But one can take the scriptures and apply them in such a way, that lies can be “proven”. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. Let us keep praying your prayer.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Thanks for your comment, Pat. Jesus said that He would not leave us alone, but that He would send us the Holy Spirit (the Comforter) to lead us into ALL truth. We can read the Bible searching for truth with the wrong heart and find words to enforce our errors and remain in spiritual death and darkness (see John 5:39-41). What is worse is that Satan knows the Bible better than any of us and uses it for his advantage as we saw when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. The same is true of false teachers who are not inspired by the Holy Spirit, except they take thousands of people into their darkness with them instead of pointing people to the Spirit of Truth who is our Teacher as Jesus did. But be sure of this one thing, dear sister, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for THEY shall see God.” This shows the need for heart-felt prayers that God would expose our darkness and bring us into His Light.

      “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. (Ps 139:23-24, KJ2000)

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Fred says:

    I am one that is tossed to and fro. In my search for answers to my questions I find all these odd doctrines. I get lead out of them thanks to the Lord. Lately as I am trying not to go to and fro so much I have canceled my subscription to a monthly Christian audio book club. and my intention was to stick with the word of God and Prayer. I still how ever find my self searching for answers to my question on the Internet, this is a bad habit that I need to break but do not know how. This has lead me into some teachings that has me scared to even eat because of what they say about food, I actually had this issue before and GOD lead me out of that fear. The only food a saint should not eat are those sacrificed to idols, blood and strangled. So trying to get my self back in that mind set.

    Also I just watched a video last night that was saying going to a church building is a sin. It is idolatry from what he said. That video was good but his other videos just the title and picture used made me feel very uneasy. I know that uneasy feeling is a sign to stay away.

    There actually was a discussion on facebook about not going to church. That was started by a guy that has a ministry to save children from umm I am just going to say save children. He does lead them toward Jesus.

    I feel with the 2 things above and your post I am getting lead back to the lord and out of the mess I got my self into again.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Fred, “…the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom 14:17, ESV2011). I am glad that you are getting your focus back where it belongs, but you need to ask God why you keep fallowing blind guides into their ditches. Ditches can be very harsh teachers. Follow Christ, my brother for HIS yoke is easy and His burden is light.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Fred says:

        I think part of the reason is to keep me humble and not thinking of my self as better then others. I could be wrong on that though but that does seem to be the result. The righteousness of Jesus that is perfect righteousness is imputed to us, so that is good.

        Also thanks.

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    • Michael says:

      Fred. “Do you have spiritual ears to hear?” is the question. Why is your heart so set on the things of this world? The below passage from Colossians says it all.

      Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Col 2:20 to 3:2, NIV)

      I will be praying that God opens the eyes of your heart to see things as He does, my brother.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. To start off with, Michael, this article by you has been God-inspired as I immediately felt when I read it about 20 hours ago. I cannot say HOW I sense such things, but it was as if you automatically spoke the language of the One whose Voice I love and Whose Spirit I recognize at once. All other ‘languages’, i.e., not Spirit-led ‘chatter and scribble’ bore me to death. I even hate it (not the ppl) when I sense evil spirits behind. Well, what I just wrote was not really what I wanted to share with you, originally. I know you know how this happens, the Spirit’s guidance, that is, my brother. 😉

    As for submission to others in the Body of Christ, the following verse keeps coming back to my mind, again and again. Paul recommended “submitting [y]ourselves one to another in the fear of God.” (Eph 5:21 KJV) That means we need to only submit to those who, like us, are indwelt by the Holy Spirit Who makes us fear God and Christ as our ONLY Head. If someone in the Church calls on us to do something which has not come from our common Head Jesus Christ, we MUST refuse to submit to their spirit because it was not God’s doing in them. But whenever we hear God speaking through other believers, we ought to submit to the Holy Spirit that speaks through them. Does that make sense? 🙄

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Thanks Susanne. I am glad you can hear the voice of our Lord in what I write. Sometimes I wonder if I have missed Him. I have been tempted to hang up blogging and writing more than once (even after writing this one). The message of the cross and our need to die to self and listen to the Spirit of God and not to men and women who are of the kosmos (world system) does not make many friends or get you a lot of “likes” on the internet. But I can write just one blog about current affairs, politics or nationalism and I get all kinds of interest from people.

      Jesus said to His disciples who wanted to call fire down from heaven and destroy a whole village of Samaritans because these people blocked them and Jesus from passing through, “You do not know what spirit you are of.” This seems to be the case of Christians who long for military action against our national enemies. This hatred of Christians by Islam goes right back to the first crusades when “Christians” took to the sword against everything Jesus taught. How different it would be today if we had only done as He asked and loved them and laid down our lives for the gospel. Like Jesus said,

      Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:35-36, NIV)

      Loving our enemies, doing good to them and praying for them seems to be a manifestation of having the Spirit of God in us and being children of the Father. I have to ask, “What spirit are we of when we do as the world does and return evil for evil and do not show mercy?”

      Anyway, He warned us to be careful when all men speak well of you, for so did they speak well of the false prophets. This is an indicator that more Christian bloggers should keep in mind when they heap on one another internet awards and accolades. The flip side of this is when Jesus said,

      Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23, NIV)

      Susanne, I thank you for all your prayers and for the way you have stood by me as my sister IN Christ over the last three plus years. You are truly a VERY rare person in whom the Spirit and the love of Christ reigns.

      A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Prov 18:24, NIV)

      Michael 🐻 👍 ❤

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thank you so much for your kind words, my dear brother! 🤗 It has been a joy to fellowship with you in His Spirit over those last three years. ⚀⚁⚂ I highly appreciate who you are and how God uses you to speak into my life. 👌 What you wrote about the condition of many Christians who do not know the love of God is, alas, so true. 😯😔😢 Your eternal friend and sister in Christ, Susanne 🐣👍💖

        Liked by 1 person

      • Fred says:

        [quote]Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23, NIV)[/quote]

        I do at times feel I am doing something wrong because I am loved by so many. I am staying home today from the church building and I do not feel over come by guilt.

        [quote]”cannot serve both God and Mammon “[/quote]

        I remember watching a video about that not long ago and the guy on there was suggesting not to even have a job and to just live on the streets so that you are only serving God and not Mammon.

        That is not how I was taught not to serve Mammon though. I was taught to have money for for you instead of you working for money. Although I guess I am not sure how to do that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Paul said that if a man does not work he should not eat. In Acts 20:33-35 he said that we should support ourselves and make enough extra to help those in need, just as he did. It is the love of Mammon and the greed that goes with it where we get in trouble.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael, I just read Oswald Chambers’ daily devotional from (my) today and I believe the following part fits like a glove as for listening to God instead of man. He said,

        We don’t consciously and deliberately disobey God— we simply don’t listen to Him. God has given His commands to us, but we pay no attention to them— not because of willful disobedience, but because we do not truly love and respect Him. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Once we realize we have constantly been showing disrespect to God, we will be filled with shame and humiliation for ignoring Him.

        “You speak with us,…but let not God speak with us….” We show how little love we have for God by preferring to listen to His servants rather than to Him. We like to listen to personal testimonies, but we don’t want God Himself to speak to us. Why are we so terrified for God to speak to us? It is because we know that when God speaks we must either do what He asks or tell Him we will not obey. But if it is simply one of God’s servants speaking to us, we feel obedience is optional, not imperative. We respond by saying, “Well, that’s only your own idea, even though I don’t deny that what you said is probably God’s truth.”

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Susanne, you shared from O. C.,

        “We don’t consciously and deliberately disobey God— we simply don’t listen to Him. God has given His commands to us, but we pay no attention to them— not because of willful disobedience, but because we do not truly love and respect Him. ‘If you love Me, keep My commandments’ (John 14:15). Once we realize we have constantly been showing disrespect to God, we will be filled with shame and humiliation for ignoring Him.”

        Sister, my close association with you and getting to know how you listen to and obey His voice has awakened a hunger and shame in me, because I am finally seeing how often I ignore His voice and leading and just do what I want. As much as I want to change, I never saw this as disrespect and a lack of love for Him until now. Yes, Jesus said, “If you love me, keep My commandments.” Funny how we will submit to the whims and wishes of men who are but dust, but not to the voice of God who is our loving Eternal Father that KNOWS what is best for us.

        Father, please forgive me and change my heart and fine tune me to hear and obey your voice in ALL things, not just the ones that are convenient. Amen.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Michael, I was just reading the linked article of T. Austin Sparks’ from (my) daily devotional today and it seems to me TAS said something about how we become members of the Body of Christ when we are born anew from above without US doing anything about it. If someone is not yet born from above, God can speak through them, nonetheless. But it won’t happen that often. From my own experience I can say the more someone has been conformed into the fullness of Christ, the more we can hear God speaking through them.

    The problem with the Institutional Church is that they rely on financial support from believers. This is something God hates. Therefore the Holy Spirit Who has been grieved withdraws from these churches and only speaks every now and again to those hearts (in the churches) that keep searching for Him.

    Here, finally, is the excerpt of the article by TAS I spoke of above.

    God is a Spirit, and man has a spirit, and it is in that realm that you find what can come into absolute union. The spirit of the unregenerate man is corrupt, filthy, polluted and is degenerate, but it is there. And it is the miracle of God which takes that spirit out of its state of death spiritually. It may be very active, but active in death, pollution, corruption, filthiness and alienation from God. God takes that, gives it new life from above, quickens it with life which it does not possess and never has possessed; He renews it, lifts it, and by reason of depositing in it the Holy Spirit, joins it with Himself so that “he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit”. That is new birth. That is the way into the family, and there is no other way.

    http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002865.html

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Susanne, thanks for sharing this. As usual, your comments are very thought provoking. As for relying on financial support from believers, Jesus was so dependent on money that He gave the money bag to a disciple that was a known thief! He made it very clear that one cannot serve both God and Mammon (worldly wealth and gain). Paul had a lot to say about this and refused to ask for money, but was careful NOT to become an affront to the gospel by doing so.

      I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:33-35, NIV)

      I have never heard this passage in context preached from a pulpit. They only preach to the people, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” When Paul said this it was to the elders (pastors), not the people! Nothing shows the perversion of the gospel faster than a man or woman who lusts after the things of this world. “It [the corrupted in spirit] may be very active, but active in death, pollution, corruption, filthiness and alienation from God.” What a travesty when one who has not been born of the Spirit gains leadership in the Church!

      Yes, the spirit in man must be made new. “He lifts it, and by reason of depositing in it the Holy Spirit, joins it with Himself so that ‘he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit’. That is new birth. That is the way into the family, and there is no other way.” But like Jesus said,

      “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

      But he that enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.” (John 10:1-2, KJ2000) “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:7-9, KJ2000)

      Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Susanne, I finally read the whole chapter you linked above from Austin-Sparks. Man, does it explain what God has been taking us through and why! I would like to share this one paragraph that sums it all up,

      He is called: “the Father of our spirits”. All His interests and all his activities are in the direction of bringing about ascendancy there [in our spirits]. In the natural man it is not so. Either the body or the soul are in the ascendant [dominant]. It may be the lusts and passions of the body that are dominating the life. Physical interests may be predominant. Or it may be the emotional or intellectual and the volitional [self-will] mastering the life. But because God is a Spirit, and therefore must be primarily concerned with man’s spirit and what is spiritual, in that sense the man must he brought to the place where it takes ascendancy and pre-eminence over all the rest of the man. Because that is so, the Father has to discipline in order to get the spirit into ascendancy and dominion, and it entirely depends upon the temperament and nature of the child with whom He is dealing as to what His methods are. If the soul-life [intellect, will and emotions] of His child is the sphere of predominance and strength, then that soul life will be broken and weakened in order to bring the spirit into the right place. If the physical interests are pre-eminent, then it may be the Lord will have to touch the physical body. His object is not to weaken the whole man, but to bring the man’s spirit into its right place, so that the whole man becomes spiritual in this sense: that the whole man is under the government of God, the Spirit, and He can only govern through [our] spirit.

      http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002865.html

      Thank you so much for sharing this, dear heart! 👍💖👌

      Liked by 2 people

  7. There is, as usual, alot of food for thought here, Michael.

    I spent many years as an atheist or, at least, at odds with God — angry with Him for all the injustice in the world. That boiled down to anger over my own abuse. After the Lord returned me to the fold, I deeply regretted my “wasted” years.

    From the experience you and other Christians had with the organized church, it seems to me now that I was under the Lord’s protection even during those years away.

    Paul wrote 2000 years ago, “Individuals among you are saying, ‘I follow Paul,’ ‘I follow Apollos,’ ‘I follow Cephas,’ or ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?” (1 Cor. 1: 12-13).

    Even then Christians longed for leadership, for identity. God, I think, engineered us that way. Sin, however, corrupted human nature to such an extent that we fall again and again. Leaders worship Mammon, and seek to become idols themselves. Scripture is twisted out of all recognition to support this. Congregants fail to recognize wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    From a human perspective, the situation appears hopeless. God’s perspective is, thankfully, different than ours. We are so busy trying to save ourselves, we forget that He has already saved us. And He will not let us go.

    Love, your sister,

    A.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Anna, Yes, God’s perspective is not ours. All those years you spent away from Him because He failed you as a young girl, were not lost. He knew you from the foundation of the world and claimed you as His own. It is such a evil stroke of the devil when he can get the father figure in our lives to do so much harm to us while we are growing up for he knows that Jesus also calls God “Our Father.” Our minds rebel against them and what they have done to us, but God gets the bad press. I sure can see why Jesus said, “Call no man “father” for only One is your Father and He is in heaven.” Men will always fail us whether they are called, “father” or “Rabbi”(pastor) or “teacher,” but Jesus and God will never fail us. Yes, Anna, “Faithful is He who has called you AND HE WILL DO IT!” I am looking forward to seeing you in eternity, my dear sister. 🤗

      Liked by 3 people

  8. Mary Ann says:

    I found A Wilderness Voice while reading Anna’s blog.. This is a great post, I fear that to many look to the man or woman in the pulpit without looking to Scripture.. Many sheep are scattered and gone astray..
    God Bless 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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