Making Room for the Spirit to Mature Others in Christ

By Michael Clark and George Davis

Church

“My brethren, be not many teachers, knowing that we shall receive the severer judgment. For in many things we all offend. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man…” (James 3:1-2 KJ2000)

Lately the Lord has drawn our attention to a problem that exists among many of us “more mature” saints of God who have a lot of Bible knowledge and have had many decades of experience following the Lord. That problem is that many of us are not making room for the saints who are more timid or who are still learning to experience first hand the Living Christ and assure them that they can hear the voice of the Spirit speaking to and leading them. Paul wrote,

“Let us have fond affection for one another with brotherly fondness, in honor deeming one another first” (Romans 12:10 CLV)

“Deeming one another first”…How often I (Michael) have listened to a brother or sister tell about their latest insight they got from the Lord only to jump right in with a couple of scriptures and assure them that I also knew all about this truth before they did. You see, this is not demonstrating fond affection and deeming the other saint first before myself. In fact when I have done this or seen it done, the more timid of God’s little ones will often just shut down, feeling that their little offering is only “one talent” compared to ours and go away and bury it out of intimidation because of the glaring neon lights of our own “giftedness” compared to their “pocket flashlight.” Is it any wonder that churches are filled with silent observers that do not personally know the voice of THE Good Shepherd?

When Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am,” it was not so that He could lord over them with His great knowledge as the Son of God. He was the consummate Teacher and often taught by asking questions to draw people to engage with what He taught and to hear God Himself speak to them. When Peter answered Him and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus did not say, “Well, it is about time you guys figured that out! I have known that from the foundation of the world!” No, He commended Peter that he himself could hear the Father speak to him and said that it was upon this foundation that God would build His house! How often do we look for or make opportunities that we might show other saints more honor and commend them in their faith to walk and listen to the Spirit for themselves and move with His wind? We cannot expect to grow the kingdom of God by making people perpetually dependent on professional clerics and teachers. Real maturity takes place when His followers are doing as He did, only speaking what they hear the Spirit saying and doing the works that the Father foreordained them to do.

If we are not making room for others to interact with the Spirit of God and encouraging them to do so, but instead trying to be their “be all and end all” for everything that has to do with faith, we are putting ourselves in their lives instead of Christ. The very definition of the word “anti-christ” is “instead of Christ!” Real maturity does not happen when we do all the “fishing” for those around us. Real maturity takes place when they also learn how to “fish” and can teach others to do the same (See 2 Timothy 2:2).

Jesus taught the 70 disciples for a few months and then sent them out and said, “Okay, boys, go do it!” It was time to “get tough or die.” He equipped them to fly and pushed them out of the nest and they came back with glowing reports of their success (See Luke 10:1-19). How often we have heard in the last few years about the glories of the “five-fold ministries.” Yet, if we read the context of Ephesians 4:11 where these graces are listed we see that they are not an end unto themselves. These were given to individuals so that they would work themselves out of a job,

“to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the 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,” (Ephesians 4:12-15 ESV)

In our experience the more we have heard men teach the importance of these five gifts they claim to have, the less we have seen the saints under them “all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Rather we have seen these men and women trying to do all ministry (except the nursery, setting up chairs, mowing lawns, and janitorial work, etc.) while the faithful sit there Sunday after Sunday in their pews sucking on their spiritual thumbs. One dear saint referred to this syndrome as “the perpetual babyhood of the believer.”

Dear saints, we cannot count on that system that men have built around themselves, that produces weak Christians at best, to get the gospel out into the highways and byways or teach those who are saved to listen to the Spirit as Jesus did, growing up in every way into Christ who is their Head. We have to point all who believe Christ to Him and His Spirit, not ourselves! Like John the Baptist, we must decrease and Christ must increase. He who is supposed to have the bride is the Bridegroom not the friends of the Bridegroom (See John 3:25-31).

This is the NEW Covenant, Not the Old

Most of the dysfunction in the church today is due to an inadequate comprehension of the New Covenant. In the Old Covenant prophets, priests and kings preformed mediatory functions between God and the people. In the new covenant “there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2:5 RSVA)

In the Old Covenant there were many teachers. In the New there is only one. Christ commanded His disciples not to be called teachers, “. . . for One is your Teacher, the Christ.” (Matthew 23:10). Foreseeing this in the Spirit Jeremiah prophesied,

“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD . “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD ,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD . “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34, NIV)

The Author of Hebrews quoted this passage to emphasize the vast difference between the Old and the New Covenants.

“. . . And they shall not teach every one his fellow or every one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest. (see Hebrews 8:10-11 – emphasis added)

they shall not teach . . .

One of the primary differences between the Old and the New Covenants is teaching. In the old, men taught every one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ but in the New Covenant all are taught of God and all know Him.

Quoting Isaiah Jesus said,

 It is written in the prophets, “‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. (John 6:45, NKJV – emphasis added)

John wrote of the individual believer’s submission to this One Teacher saying, “The anointing you received from him abides in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. Instead, because his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not a lie, abide in him, as he taught you to do” (1 John 2:27, ISV – emphasis added).

To make one’s self the teacher of God’s children is to become a busybody in the affairs of another. To do so is to attempt to control others through doctrine and to usurp the role of the One Teacher. Jesus said, “But you must not be called Rabbi, for One is your teacher, Christ, and you are all brothers” (Matthew 23:8 MKJV – emphasis added).

Paul addressed this at length in Romans 14. Regarding the then hotly debated matter of what one should eat. Paul wrote, “Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should” (Romans 14:4, NLT – emphasis added).

The Greek word translated condemn here is Krinoto rule, govern, to preside over with the power of giving judicial decisions, to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong. This is the same word translated “judge” and “judged” in this verse that we know so well, “”Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1 NKJV).

Individual believers are accountable directly to the Lord not to each other. And so in addressing this inordinate ambition Paul does not advance special doctrines to enforce uniformity, in doing so he would have been guilty of the very thing he was exhorting the Roman believers not to do. He encouraged them to live their lives in direct accountability to the Lord and to allow their brothers and sisters to do the same. knowing that it is God who teaches each one right and wrong and it is He who keeps them standing as they live before Him alone. Our faith finds its proper place privately before God. “Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. . .” (Romans 14:22). The exhortation here is clear– forcing our opinions on the servants of God is counter to true faith. True faith believes that they are kept by Another. True faith believes that they will be made to stand by their own Master. True faith holds its piece and allows the one Teacher to instruct without constantly interjecting our “superior” knowledge, opinions and will..

The Brother with the More Perfect Word

A friend of ours shared with us a problem that repeatedly stifled mutual sharing in there gatherings. Someone would be telling about what God had been teaching them and then a seemingly well-meaning brother would interrupt them and give them a quick course in one-upmanship. He always completed their thought by adding his fuller revelation. Soon no one was sharing. The only one left standing or speaking was the brother with “the more perfect word.” How often have we seen this? Or rather, how often have we been guilty of this very thing? In our pride we want to flaunt our biblical knowledge, but behind it all the underlying message we communicate is this, “Look at me. See how special I am. I have traveled down the Christian road further than the rest of you. My understanding of spiritual things is vastly superior to yours. Who better then to be the final arbiter of truth? Or does experience count for nothing?”

There is a word for such delusion–pride. And by it we reconstruct the old mediatory system and privately christen ourselves king, prophet and priest. By such arrogance we both disrespect our brothers and sisters and their Teacher. Nothing could be further from the self-forgetfulness of those truly spiritual individuals who think of others as being higher or better than themselves.

Not understanding the New Covenant, many believers have returned to the Old Covenant mediatory system. They have replaced the one heavenly Teacher with many human ones and have garnered to themselves teachers who tickle their ears (2 Timothy 4:3). Some have ambitiously risen up “. . . speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:30). Some are unduly exalted above their calling while other men and women are dishonored and subjugated. A few high profile people assume responsibilities well beyond their appointed measure leading the rest to abdicate their proper function in the body of Christ. What a travesty! We are not rightly discerning the body of Christ and many are spiritually emaciated and sick among us.

Once again we see an Old Testament system using New Covenant terminology. The result is the same–believers are once again relegated to the outer court instead of boldly coming into the throne of grace.

It’s Time, But Are We Ready to Follow?

Recently, Susanne Schuberth posted an article on her blog about the kingdom of God and how we enter it. She wrote,

We only need His power of love and the rest will fall into its place. It is so simple, the kingdom of God: First He makes us see it and later He lets us enter. Eventually, when we have entered the Kingdom of God, He teaches all of us so that we can stop teaching each other.”

(https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/what-is-the-kingdom-of-god-about/)

As I read her words I was stunned at the simplicity of what she wrote. The photo at the head of the article was taken by her husband. She can see this church clock from her kitchen window in Germany. She calls it her “kitchen clock.” I was curious about the time he snapped the picture — 8:22. I felt led by the Lord to look up chapter 8, verse 22 in each of the four gospels and here is what I found:

 (St. Paul’s Church in Fürth, Photo by Paul Schuberth)

(St. Paul’s Church in Fürth, Photo by Paul Schuberth)

 

But Jesus said unto him, “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. (Matthew 8:22-23 KJ2000)

And he came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town… (Mark 8:22-23 KJ2000)

Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake”. And they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filling up with water, and were in jeopardy. (Luke 8:22-23 KJ2000)

Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he said, “Where I go, you cannot come. And he said unto them, You are from beneath; I am from above: you are of this world; I am not of this world.” (John 8:22-23 KJ2000)

I don’t believe there is a coincidence to anything when God is teaching and leading us. Susanne’s message was all about listening, obeying God’s voice and following Him in His kingdom. Isn’t it interesting that a random picture of a clock on a cathedral could be used by the Spirit to further the lesson she shared?

In these four passages we see divine movement and progress as people followed Christ, and stagnation and death when they did not. In the Matthew and Luke passages, we see Jesus telling the disciples to follow Him and leave their attachment to the world and even their natural families behind. So as a teaching point, He told them to enter a boat and launch out across a lake. And what happened when they obeyed? Everything went well, right? No, a great storm blew up and was about to sink their boat. Jesus was asleep on a cushion in the bottom of the boat as it was starting to fill with water, ignoring their plight! Sound familiar?

Even when we obey the Lord and try to follow Him wherever He leads us, it will not be an easy road. It can even become life threatening at times. There will be many extreme tests of faith required of us. But notice Jesus’ words to them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” Jesus only spoke what He heard His Father saying. Father did not say, “Let us go out into the middle of the lake and drown!” He was in perfect peace that they were going to reach the other side of the lake because that is what His Father commanded. God does not require us to do anything that He does not also give us the grace to accomplish, but there is usually a test in the process of obeying His will.

The whole boat ride was a divine setup to teach these men faith. After they woke Him up with their cries, He rebuked the storm into a flat calm and asked, “Where is your faith?” If we dare to leave all and follow Jesus, we will have our faith stretched. When this has happened, how many of us have said, “Did I hear Him correctly? I thought that if I obeyed His voice everything would be fine! But now, look at the mess He let me get into! I am not so sure I want to follow Jesus after all!” It is here that many falter. The test is too great for the depth of their commitment and they turn back. A nice spiritual boat ride on a sunny day was all they signed up for. Remember the parable of the four kinds of ground?

In the Mark passage we see Jesus take a blind man and lead him out of town so He could heal him. Again we see movement where faith is concerned. Isn’t this a curious thing? Why did Jesus have to lead him out of town so he could be made to see? Couldn’t Jesus heal him right where He stood? After seeking spiritual light, how many of us have been required to leave our comfort zones where we knew our way around (at least by feel)? God does that. He will always stir up our comfortable little lives if we are serious about following Him (see Deu. 32:10-12). Some of us had messed up lives before we realized that He was after us. He led me from the Sunday church system to go with Him outside the camp and bear the reproach that would go with it. He later gave me this passage to explain what happened.

“We have an altar, of which they have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle… Therefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him outside the camp, bearing his reproach.” (Hebrews 13:10-13 KJ2000)

He took me outside the camps of Christendom so He could teach me how to hear His voice and give me spiritual sight. As long as I was listening to preachers that were not inspired by the Spirit in what they taught, though it was all familiar, I would rarely hear His voice and what He specifically had to say to me.

Again we see movement here in these passages. God requires progress and obedience. There is a cost attached to it, but the reward is spiritual sight. He leads us to an altar that those who insist on being taught by men have no access to. But remember, it’s when we boast and say that we see that we are blind. Humility always goes with true spiritual insight.

And finally in John 8:22, Jesus tells the religious leaders and their followers that where He goes, they cannot follow. “…you are of this world; I am not of this world.” Jesus is not of this world (He did not say earth, for the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. He said the kosmos – the world system under Satan). They were of their father the devil and destined to do his works.

If we are of Christ, we are from above, we are His sheep and we will follow the Good Shepherd wherever He goes because He loves us and we love Him. We hear His voice and will not follow the voices of strangers. As Susanne said, He leads us with His love for us. His love will never take us away from His kingdom, but always deeper into it and His heart. His love for us, as it is proven true, will always make our faith and hope in Him grow. “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13 RSVA)

“And Five Were Foolish”

five foolish virginsHo, every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Hearken diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in fatness. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love… (Isaiah 55:1-3 RSVA)

Most of us who read this blog have given our lives to the Lord. Once we started living this new life in Christ we became new spiritual creatures. We set out to find spiritual food, like a new born babe looks for its mother’s breast making sucking movements with its little mouth. My wife, Dorothy, and I have had four children and she breast fed each of them. There is nothing more sacred or peaceful than watching a baby nurse from its mother’s breast.

In the natural the mother lays the child on her breast and it takes to sucking on it immediately without needing to be taught that this is what it is for. But what if the mother puts in its mouth on a bottle with artificial formula or cow’s milk in it? Will it be as good for the baby as her own milk? Scientists have found out that first flow from a mother’s breast is special milk called colostrum. The mother passes her immunity to the baby through the colostrum, and the child will be a much healthier baby with fewer problems. The Bible calls this milk in the spirit world, “The pure milk of the word.” Peter wrote,

As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word (Logos – as “In the beginning was the Word…”) that you may grow thereby: If so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious. (1 Peter 2:2-4 KJ2000)

According to this passage, whose breast should we be nursing on right from the beginning as spiritual infants? “If you have tasted… the Lord…coming unto the Living Stone…chosen of God…” JESUS is the Word that we should be getting our nourishment and spiritual immunity from right from the beginning, not the breasts of men! But how many of us who have been born again were put on His breast right from the beginning? How many were taught to seek our spiritual sustenance from Sunday sermons and Sunday School classes in the churches we attended? Most of us were taught nothing about the Comforter Jesus sent in His place who would lead us into all truth (see John 16:13-15 also 1 John 2:26-27).

Now to my point. Jesus told a parable about ten virgins that were called to His wedding feast. Five were wise and five were foolish. What do you suppose it is that made some of them wise and the others foolish? Let’s read…

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go you rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of man comes. (Matthew 25:1-13 KJ2000)

It is interesting that all ten of them were virgins and all were waiting for their Bridegroom to come. Yet the fate of half of them was not good. Their lamps had gone out while they slept and the Bridegroom was delayed. Why? They had been in the habit of getting their oil from other virgins, piecemeal… just enough get by. But the wise virgins knew where the real source of their oil was to be found, Him that has the supply! The later in this dispensation of grace it gets, the more important it is that we have a good supply of oil if we are going to make it through these times of trouble that are upon us.

In the Daily Study Bible they comment about this parable.

It warns us that there are certain things which cannot be borrowed. The foolish virgins found it impossible to borrow oil, when they discovered they needed it. A man cannot borrow a relationship with God; he must possess it for himself. A man cannot borrow a character; he must be clothed with it. We cannot always be living on the spiritual capital which others have amassed. There are certain things we must win or acquire for ourselves, for we cannot borrow them from others.

In the Bible, oil is symbolic of the anointing of God. They who have the Holy Spirit should know where their oil comes from–the same One who gave them spiritual life in the first place. ”Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13 KJ2000)

To the foolish virgins the Lord said, “Verily I say unto you, I know you not.” But wait! They were all virgins, were they not? And is it possible for the all-knowing God to not know one of us? This verse is speaking of a lack of intimacy with Christ as our Bridegroom. Jesus knows who have been feeding from His breasts and who have not – who have been taught by His Holy Spirit and who have been nursing from the breasts of teachers and preachers who have no unction.

Jeremiah prophesied this very problem that Israel was also guilty of.

Be appalled, O heavens, at this, be shocked, be utterly desolate, says the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:12-13 RSVA)

So, dear virgins who are called to be His bride, where do you get your oil? Whose breasts are you drinking from? How good is your spiritual immunity? It is crucial that you find out where your Source of spiritual food is!

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spoke he of the Spirit, whom they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:37-39 KJ2000)

Revelation and Spiritual Growth

Doe & Fawn 6-2013

Christians in the western world tend to go at their Christianity like they do everything else they want to excel in, by research, study and attending lectures at “church.” The following two paragraphs are the most concise description I have ever read on how God grows us up in the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. I hope you will read it and take it to heart. ~ Michael

To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. (Revelation 2:17)

God always keeps the revelation of Himself in Christ bound up with practical situations. You and I can never get revelation other than in connection with some necessity. We cannot get it simply as a matter of information. That is information, that is not revelation. We cannot get it by studying. When the Lord gave the manna in the wilderness (a type of Christ as the Bread from heaven), He stipulated very strongly that not one fragment more than the day’s need was to be gathered, and that if they went beyond the measure of immediate need, disease and death would break out and overtake them. The principle, the law, of the manna, is that God keeps revelation of Himself in Christ bound up with practical situations of necessity, and we are not going to have revelation as mere teaching, doctrine, interpretation, theory, or anything as a thing, which means that God is going to put you and me into situations where only the revelation of Christ can help us and save us….

Now then, that is why the Lord would keep us in situations which are acute, real. The Lord is against our getting out on theoretical lines with truth, out on technical lines. Oh, let us shun technique as a thing in itself and recognize this, that, although the New Testament has in it a technique, we cannot merely extract the technique and apply it. We have to come into New Testament situations to get a revelation of Christ to meet that situation. So that the Holy Spirit’s way with us is to bring us into living, actual conditions and situations, and needs, in which only some fresh knowledge of the Lord Jesus can be our deliverance, our salvation, our life, and then to give us, not a revelation of truth, but a revelation of the Person, new knowledge of the Person, that we come to see Christ in some way that just meets our need. We are not drawing upon an “it,” but upon a “Him.”

T. Austin-Sparks – The School of Christ – http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/001035.html

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)

Where Is the Love?

Archie BunkerIt seems that most of us have had less than perfect fathers and as a result dysfunctional families that gave us our definition of what words like father, brother, sister, mother and family mean.
In 1970 after spending the first 25 years of my life in churches and with an alcoholic father in a dysfunctional family, I had still not seen a group of people that really loved one another… one that functioned in the love of God for its members. Then God heard my heart’s cry. He put me in touch with some young Jesus people and the gospel for them was all about the love of Jesus and they lived it. I soon could not live without being around them and I became a member of their family and ministry.

I didn’t know that that kind of love was possible and that Jesus had anything like that for me! After all, I never saw it working in the churches, neither Protestant or Catholic and in my mind that reflected directly on God whom they represented. You filed in on Sunday, got lectured by the “father figure” and then were shown the door. You were “loved” as long as you didn’t ask any hard questions or make any waves. It fit my “family” expectations.

All that said, I have been thinking a lot along this line, lately. If the saints of God can’t show what it means to be ONE in Christ and love one another as the family of God, whose fault is it that people cannot feel the love of God? Is it the fault of the broken and unloved in this world and the church? Are we not Christ’s body here on earth? Are we not His face and hands who live to manifest His heart for this sick world?

Just before He was crucified Jesus prayed,

“And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW THAT YOU HAVE SENT ME, AND HAVE LOVED THEM, AS YOU HAVE LOVED ME.” (Joh 17:22-23 KJ2000).

What will we say as members of His body if we neglect so great a salvation?

“Dear children, how brief are these moments before I must go away and leave you… So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (Joh 13:33-35 NLT)

If the body of Christ is functioning as it should people will know that they are loved by Him.

What is True Mentoring in Christ?

 

grapevine

 

Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord has made ruler over his household, to give them food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he comes shall find so doing. (Mat 24:45-46 KJ2000)

 

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven, and gives life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes on me shall never thirst. (Joh 6:32-35 KJ2000)

 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whosoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him. As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats me, even he shall live by me. (Joh 6:53-57 KJ2000)

I have never thought of this passage in Matthew ch. 24 as applying to me until a brother wrote recently and did just that. I still see myself as an “unprofitable servant” and am more at home with this thought than being a “mentor.” I once prayed, “Lord, make me like your Son, that I would only do the works that I see you doing and only speak the words I hear you saying.” I had enough time to think to myself, “Boy, that sure was a righteous prayer.” To this He answered, “No, my son, that is only the starting point!” We all have so much of our selves to lose and so much of Jesus to still be apprehended and walked in.

So this whole experience has got me pondering, “What is true mentoring as we walk in Christ?” We often hear a heart’s cry from someone begging that we would “mentor them.” Is this a true New Testament activity of those whom God calls to lead? If so, how is it done? Paul said, “Follow me even as I follow Christ.” Yet, John said that we have no need that any man teach us, but that the unction we have received as believers in Christ will teach us all things that we need (see 1 John 2:26-27). Was Paul seeking “followers” or was he really saying, “Just as I follow Christ, so should you follow Him”? I believe that the only one who can mentor us is Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit whom He has sent in His place.

 This brings to mind the other passages that I quoted above from John. Here Jesus speaks of Himself as the true bread from heaven and goes on to say, “I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes on me shall never thirst.” Couple this with, “Whosoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” Later in the Gospel of John Jesus referred to Himself as the True Vine to whom all who believe are attached as His living branches. It is from the Vine that we drink and eat of our Life Source. It is from Him that we first receive and then grow in our eternal life (a life without end) as long as we are attached to Him as our Vine (Read what He said in John chapter 15)!

 There was a time I was a conference junkie. I couldn’t get enough of them. I would run to this Christian conference and that one to hear a special teacher, seeking to be filled, and within days after it was over, I was just as empty as ever. It was all so much empty calories and wasted expensive. It wasn’t until I found Jesus as my True Vine who provided all the spiritual food I needed that my spiritual hunger began to be satisfied. I did the same thing with “pastors,” too. I was like a spiritual infant, running around with my umbilical cord in my hand looking for a man to plug-in to. Many of them took advantage of this and sucked me right into their own subterfuge and false teachings as they took the place in my life that belonged to Jesus alone.

 So, what is the responsibility of the older saints that have had years of experience in Christ and have learned from their mistakes (this is what it truly means to be an elder in Christ’s body)? Are we to be such great pastors and teachers that all hang on our every word and follow us around like a bunch of little orphaned puppies? Doesn’t it make sense that if we are to be “a faithful and wise servant… over his household, to give them food at the proper time,” that the only proper food in that proper time that we should be providing the household of God is Jesus Himself? Shouldn’t we be pointing all who hunger and thirst to the Bread and Fountain of Life that they might find Christ as their sufficiency?

 Jesus warned, “But you be not called Rabbi: for one is your Teacher, even Christ; and all you are brothers” (Mat 23:8 KJ2000). Call no man Rabbi or teacher! Only Jesus through His Spirit is to be our Teacher. We are ALL brethren (siblings) under the same Teacher. The goal of the Father is for us to become just as our Teacher! Looking to men for what we need is not going to get us there. The best thing I can do for you or any other person who is serious about their calling in Christ to is keep pointing you to the truth that is only found IN the Christ who is our Truth! How can we become perfected in the eyes of the Father if we are not becoming as our Teacher? How can we become AS our Teacher when we are constantly looking to mere men for what we want. Like Paul said to the Corinthians,

 

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with solid food… 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 (Greek: servants) by whom you believed… I have laid the foundation, and another builds thereon. But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon. For no other foundation can a man lay than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ… Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?… Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s. (1Co 3:1-23 KJ2000)

 The carnal church of today spends way too much time focusing on human teachers and the “gifted” among men. Is it any wonder that most Christians are suffering from milk anaemia? Our true food and true drink is the flesh and blood of the True Vine which came down from the right hand of the Father in heaven who said, “He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood dwells in me and I in Him. As… I live by the Father: so he that eats me, even he shall live by me.” Or as Paul put it, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” First we believe INTO Him by HIS faith operating in us and from that point on we live IN Him and get all our life sustenance from Jesus our Vine. After that the spiritual fruit comes forth naturally as we rest IN Him. Even fruit bearing is all HIS doing.

 By the power of Christ in me I will keep pointing you to Jesus and away from myself and others as long as we communicate. I hope that you have sensed this in all that we write as well. If you see me trying to draw away disciples after myself, let me know for this is anti-christ and so many so-called “ministers” today are doing just that (See Paul’s warning to the church in Acts 20: 29-31).

 

And this is the promise that he has promised us, even eternal life. 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… you shall ABIDE IN HIM. And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. (1Jo 2:25-28 KJ2000 – emphasis added) 

 

Dear saints, I entreat you to pray that the Spirit shows you the depth of what it means to abide IN Christ as your only Life source just as the branch abides in the vine. You will never experience the riches of Christ while nursing from the breasts of men and women in your lives who seek to take His place.