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Preachers and Preaching

For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD:
but to this man will I look,
even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit,
and trembleth at my word.
Isaiah 66:2  

Where is the preacher today that trembles at His word?  This verse is not spoken to or about the sinful, the arrogant, nor the spiritually dead. It is spoken to the one who is without resources and sees himself as needy at the heart of all he is. He is one stricken with his own inadequacies and unworthiness to speak. Instead of such preachers, education and natural speaking ability have given him confidence that he can speak God’s word to His people.  They think that simply by re-speaking that which God has spoken is the same as speaking God’s word.  It is not. God’s word is quick and powerful more than a two-edged sword that divides the thoughts and intents of the heart.  It is God’s current word, even though He is re-stating well-known truths that have been spoken many times before.  It is not just the speaking of God’s word, it is speaking the appropriate word for the instant in time – Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness by satan was a good example of the misuse and proper use of God’s word and clearly shows how crucial the right word is for a specific time.

Where is the one who can be new sharp threshing instrument having teeth and thresh the mountains [strongholds], and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff (Isaiah 41:15 )?   Where is the preacher who has been on his face seeking the Lord for such a word of life for his hearers (John 6:63)?  The idea that putting together truths to weave a message (even if a doctrinally correct message) is born of the natural mind and is no less than what a worldly speaker does toward his subject. Therefore, it has the same kind of impact.  It can move and inspire men, but it cannot change them and transform them from glory to glory or from faith to faith.

The approach to the bringing of God’s word is all too casual and human.  There is no trembling, no awe, no sense of unworthiness to speak His word, no unsureness of the specificity of that word.  Professional training and natural ability and common sense have taken the place of awe and seeking., and humble prostration.

Is it any wonder that the church of today looks nothing like the first church?

I think Art Katz has said it better than any other in Chapter 4 of Apostolic Foundations
          The Preaching Mandate

We need to repent of the casual way we have been speaking up until now. We must stop the shallow abuse and misuse of the word of God and ‘playing’ with the Scriptures as if they were God’s provision for us to perform a sermon. Paul did not say to Timothy, “Sermonize!” but, “Preach the word! Be instant in season and out of season. Reprove and rebuke with all long-suffering.” Here is our mandate! This should be the essential substance of all our preaching. The purpose of preaching is not to construct interesting sermons or to enjoy the word of God as if we are spiritual sensualists. The word of God is given for practical purposes, namely, to reprove, to rebuke, and to exhort, but how many of our congregations can even accept this most elementary thing? They are coming for something else on Sunday. They want to be ‘comforted,’ or hear a calming word. After all, they say, they have had a heavy week. Can you see that the whole construct of our church and its whole mentality is warped?

    “I charge you before God,” Paul says, “and the Lord Jesus Christ who shall judge … preach the word.” 

In other words, sermons, though they may well be doctrinally sound, will have the effect of dulling the audience. It is this that makes one a professional performer. If we are going to have an apostolic word, a creative word that works a work in those that hear it, then it is going to come through men and women who are not ruled by the fear of man. God seeks those who will wait for His word, and who will not find it in their concordances. There is a place where God bids us come to commune with Him within the veil, in the holiest place of all, between the cherubim and above the Ark of the Covenant. He is a real God with a real purpose for mankind, and He says,

    “I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel.”

This is why Paul could say to his listeners:

    And pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:19–20)

If Paul had to plead for such prayer for himself, a man who had an encyclopedic knowledge of apostolic things, and who had been a student under the Rabbi Gamaliel, then how much more must we discard any casual approach to the ministry of God’s word! Paul would not dream of fashioning his own words.

The Voice of the Preacher

There should be the resonance of God in our speaking, conveying not only the content and the meaning, but also the disposition of God’s own heart, and how He feels about what is being said. I often pray, “Lord, so possess me that Your word will have full expression, even the mood of the speaking.” The mood has nothing to do with the preacher’s choosing. There are times when he is like a piece of cardboard, or a straight monotone, and he cannot alter it. He is uncomfortable speaking like that, and wishes he had the liberty to give the word the flourish that it needs. He is, however, as much bound in God in the manner of the speaking as the content of the speaking. Other times the same man is beside himself, unable to be contained, falling off the edge of the platform in the intensity of the moment. In both cases, it is not the man who makes that determination, but God.

We do not have to bring to the word an additional quality so as to make it compelling to the hearer. The word itself speaks for itself. Anyone who would seek to bring an extraneous element through his own personality or manner of speaking is likely false. If we are highly individualistic, and want to cut a swath for ourselves, or do our own thing in our own way, then we are disqualified. “I will put My word in your mouth, and that is what you will speak, and you will speak it in the manner that I want it spoken.” This is not a surrender of identity, but an establishing of it. The man in God may loses his life, but actually he has found it.”

If Jesus would not so much as speak His own words, what then shall we presume to speak? [John 14:10] Indeed, it is humbling to wait for that which is given, especially when you are naturally clever in yourself, and even have a flair with words. To be utterly dependent upon God, for that which is given, is a humiliation for man in his pride.

We must never be satisfied with a mere ‘good thing.’ God invites us to an apostolic jealousy for a word that is given in communion with Him. Moses received his instruction at the top of the Mount of God, where he spent forty days and forty nights neither eating nor drinking. He came up into the presence of God that he might receive the tablets of the Law, and right from the very first invitation, we see the whole genius of God with man: “Come up unto Me, and be there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the Law and the commandments which I have written that you may teach them,” God says, to all with any fleshly ambition, “and do not think that you are just going to come up and grab them from Me and go. I know your craven religious ambition to establish your preaching reputation, but I am a holy God, and you are not going to be preaching some abstract thing from My Word.”

The first requirement of apostolic preaching is ever and always this: “Come up unto Me, not for what you are going to receive from Me, but unto Me, for My own sake, and be there in totality, all that you are in union with all that I am, and then I will give you the tablets of the Law.”

This is the requirement of God, and yet the majority of us seem to feel that we have the liberty to violate His Word, and to extract Scriptures and to ‘make’ sermons. God is calling us to a higher thing, through the restoration of apostolic reality and glory, by men and women who do not take their liberty with the Scriptures, but receive from God the explicit word that is given in only one place—His presence! “Come up unto Me, and be there” is in itself the apostolic message. What the world is dying for is not information about God, but men and women who will communicate God as He is in Himself. This is the only thing that shall save us from becoming mere technicians, and from being the victims of yet another religious phraseology.

The world needs the knowledge of a God that is exuded by men and women who speak to them out of the presence of God. The world does not know how to live, and that is why it chases after its drugs, eroticism, and sensuality. They have no idea of what it means to be there. They need to see apostolic reality in those who will teach them how to live, and how to be there in totality, and to enjoy the depths of fellowship with both God and their fellow man. To ‘come up’ is not an easy coming, and indeed, no ‘going up’ is ever an easy going, yet it is the only place of true communion.

We must speak the word of God in the sight and presence of God at all times.

If preachers would but heed those words and approach His word with awe and trembling and total reliance, the church would once again look as it did at first.

Worship Teams and Leaders

“Worship teams and leaders often seem to have an independent purpose for their being, attempting to establish some kind of mood. Instead of working in conjunction with the word that is to come, or sensing the mood and heart of God, they have already got their choruses numbered, and what they are going to sing and do. They have their musical talent and amplifiers, and they are going to ‘do their thing,’ and leave you [the one bringing the Word of God] to make the best of it as well as you can. 

“Worship ministry, then, becomes celebrated as a thing in itself. If I could, I would pull the plug out of every overhead projector and amplifier. Let us rather just splutter and choke along, and miss a word here and there, and come into the spirit of God’s worship, than that we should be led with choruses and more choruses. What they are really trying to do is to effect an atmosphere for a service, rather than touch the heart of God, let alone prepare for the receiving of a holy word for those assembled.

Art Katz  – Chapter 4 Apostolic Foundations

We have come to equate worship and music.  Worship is much more than music and music may be a hindrance to worship.  Worship is the consciouse acknowledgement of God’s worthiness, preeminence, glory, grace, etc.  Worship should exude from our greeting one another, to the words we speak, to the messages we hear, and the songs we sing.  We should do all to the glory of God and in recognition of the glory due Him.

Music can produce spiritual-like moods and feelings that replace true worship.  The flesh often is drawn to melodies and beats and the singers are led to believe that it is the Spirit that is affecting them instead of

The Weak State of the Church

Reasons why body life is weakened = lack of respect and honor for the word and lack of honor of the body of Christ

Two serious problems
Immature and false shepherds do not believe or teach what God has said about the gifts of the members and the operation of His body. His body is not believing what God has said about their relationship to Him and what He has said He would do through them by His grace.

I believe a primary reason the Church is in its present state is that members do not see others as having Christ’s life from others as necessary for their spiritual health. Leaders tend to disbelieve the scriptures and not trust Christ to bring forth His body by any of the gifts other than theirs (or those they have hand-picked or allow a token amount of spiritual input by members) and tend to monopolize the entire time when the body gathers and thereby squelch the gifts of members because they interfere with his mission, message, agenda (or because they may not be presented in a refined enough manner).

He perceives the formalized and regimented times that the body gathers as the stage to display his gifts. However, anytime the body gathers, it is the time for Christ to give life to the body through the gifts of the body — including the gifts of the teachers and spiritual shepherds. It is strange that God would schedule the same gift to be displayed, each and every time the Body “officially” gathers. 

Sheep can make a lot of noise, be messy, and wander where they will. They need to be taught to hear the Master’s voice by constant exposure to it. Actually, this is the ONLY thing that a leader/shepherd is responsible for. The only way that sheep will learn the master’s voice is by hearing it many times. They need to be exposed to it as the teachers and others of the body reveal it.  The under-shepherds are to reveal it, and each member reveals it through the obedient exercise of the gifts, or simply sharing what God has been doing in their life or sharing a testimony.

The most efficient and common method by which this happens is by way of the supernatural gift of teaching – which involves imparting revelation rather than trying to explain it. Prophetic discernment is also necessary within the body to nip errant teachings in the bud (by Prophetic discernment I do NOT mean some self-styled prophet sitting in judgment over all that is spoken. Prophetic discernment is simply knowing that a presented truth is not consistent with scripture and its truth).  It is dangerous if there is only one teacher in a local body (one primary and responsible one, yes, but there should be others) who is serving as sole prophet or teacher or pastor. It is even more potentially dangerous if that one teacher, leader, or shepherd is the one who solely discerns the legitimacy of the Spirit’s voice as it is expressed by a member. 

Unlike natural sheep, the Great Shepherd not only rules among His sheep, He rules within His sheep — each one as He wills. Leaders need to learn to let Jesus lead his sheep and have confidence in His ability to do so. Theirs is the responsibility to help sheep understand when the voice is not of the Master. In this way, do sheep learn the voice of the Master.  Telling is the poorest method, showing is the best method.

I don’t believe that most leaders squelch the life of the body intentionally. They are only following a historical or traditional role and methodology instead of His living voice. Congregations also expect that format to be followed. They love to have one person or a small group of persons in control. They then can feel they have no responsibility to discern God’s voice or to be obedient to that voice. They would rather have a Moses than Christ.

Even though there are tremendously talented and gifted leaders who are indeed called and placed by God within congregations, it has never been His will that they have the burden or prerogative of being the main or sole source of life to the local body. It contradicts His design both on earth and in heaven. Health comes from submissive functioning where each member’s function is activated by the Spirit of God. Submissive function is developed as each member encourages each other member to be God’s vehicle as He determines – to be all that God intends them to be. It is realizing that each member of the body is equally capable of being a vessel of the Spirit. It is realizing that being so used does not make us more special, more anointed, more spiritual than other members.

Those who are more used are those who are more answerable and accountable to Christ. Those who are shepherds have a two-fold task: to slow down those who tend to speak out of their own imagination and talents and to encourage those who tend to be silent because they realize the gravity of presuming to speak for God.

It is almost certain that a shepherd who does not allow or does not seek God’s expression through the other member of His body, will tend to fill in the spaces with something other than the words of the Spirit.  They are trying to fill the congregations’ expectancies rather than submit to God.

It is a common practice for a good pastor or leader to “submit” and seek the advice and counsel of certain members (like a board of elders). This is only a shadow of how it was meant to be. There are, of course, those counselors who more consistently are used to provide wisdom, counsel, and guidance for another. They can do this because they recognize that they can not give their own opinion. They also recognize that is the responsibility of the one seeking to use their input as God sees fit. They do not dictate or control someone’s area of authority.

A shepherd is one who is called on to give his life to the sheep. A true shepherd’s main responsibility is to help ensure that the body is healthy and functioning and that each member responds to its function as enabled by the Spirit. The gift that God first requires of a shepherd is the realization that the life of the Spirit is made fully manifest ONLY as each member is given liberty and encouragement to express that life (not express themselves or “practice” their gift). It is a humbling and fearsome thing to be the “vessel of the moment” in the Spirit. A true shepherd has no desire to be pre-eminent or to monopolize as God’s vessel or authority. His desire is to see Christ expressed in His fullness within the body as the body operates under the direction and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

If a body (church) is not experiencing the Spirit’s expression through diverse members on a regular basis, it is not a healthy body and death is working in it (I am speaking of all gifts, not just those the charismatics are so fond of). Those who have been given authority in the body that have failed to lead it into life are responsible for its wasted and weakened state. Spiritual body parts wither with disuse just as do natural body parts. It is difficult to believe (and contradicts scripture) that whenever a body comes together there is only one functioning member. Such seems to be protocol in virtually every church on every Sunday morning and midweek service. While it may true that one member may legitimately predominate (each time and over a period of time), it is not true that such exclusive focus is God’s order or plan for the church. The shepherd is responsible for the health of the body. The body can only be healthy as its members are allowed and encouraged to have expression. If one does predominate according to God’s will, he will be one who is more of a monitor and an enabler to God’s body as God ministers to His body through His gifts of the Spirit (and I am not talking of attention-getting, listen-to-me gifts).

There are meant to be leaders (shepherds) in the church. Such is God’s order. A leader is one who is gifted to bring forth life. Part of this gift is usually teaching. But Life is far more than teaching. It is also individual nurturing and enabling the gifts of others. No shepherd is a true shepherd who only feeds the flock, he is one who feeds the sheep — he is aware of the nutritional and health needs of each of his sheep. He is able to see potential life in others. He is able to see that the Life in a member needs to be imparted. He is able to see and bind up the wounds collectively and individually. He is able to see their weakness and shortcomings and to strengthen and nurture them into wholeness. He is able to see potential and help develop each member to its fullest potential. His focus is not on his gift, it is on the gifts of others.

He is enabled by the Spirit to help each gift separate the light from the darkness. He will work corporately and individually with members to bring each of them into awareness and usefulness. He will recognize others who are called to do the same, whether to a larger or lesser degree than his calling and gift is. His only purpose is to help the Great Shepherd express himself freely through each member as the Spirit wills. He is more a monitor than an instigator. It is rare when one person is chosen to shoulder this entire responsibility and I believe it only happens when others refuse to take their responsibility, not when the leader refuses to give it or defines it for them.

Christ has put gifts in the church that have the responsibility to discern which voices are His, which manifestations are His. These gifts can seem ruthless when the poison of error tries to infect the body. They are not tolerant of an Achan who hides his disobedience or of a Saul who thought to call his disobedience Holy.  But toward the members of the body, they are gentle and tenderly bind up the wounds of those they have afflicted by the Spirit. Any shepherd that has a heart only to inflict wounds but not the heart to tenderly bind such wounds, is not a shepherd after God’s own heart.  Nor is one who will not inflict “wounds” when it comes to that.

Any leader who disallows a gift to operate because the member has not met some spiritual standard is a hindrance to the Spirit. It is not spiritual maturity or personal holiness that causes the Spirit to move through a member. It is grace, it is sovereign selection. Just as it was not because of our suitability to receive grace at salvation, so it is not our suitability as a Christian that causes us to be the expression of the Spirit among the body at a given moment.

It takes more humility and discernment to receive God’s life through a “weaker” vessel than an “honorable” one. While it is true that He will use most regularly those who are most humble and obedient, He does not limit Himself only to those. It almost seems that the Spirit sometimes delights to use the more unseemly member to occasionally express Himself. It is then that the more mature are most tested as to whether they are listening with Spiritual discernment or are clouded by their natural reactions or pride of position.

Fortunately, it seems that the gifts of the body usually operate on an unconscious or subconscious level. It is not the one who regularly says, “thus saith the Lord” who is the most spiritual. How many are the times that someone has come up to us and said something like, “When you mentioned such and such last year when we bumped into each other in the grocery store (or wherever), it was really what I needed to hear and helped me a lot”? We cannot remember what we said and may not even remember the incident. It is always humbling after preaching a sermon or doing a teaching where I wanted to convey truth and edify the hearers, to have a person come up to me and tell me how much they were ministered to by something I said (and that something I said was not the point of my message, but an impromptu aside.) What was important to me was getting the message across that I received from God and had prayed, studied, meditated, and agonized over. What is important to God is that life transpires as He sees fit.

It is God’s promise that when two or three gather in His name, He is in the midst of them. He has also stated that His life and the edification of the Body comes through the gifts he has imparted. Therefore, when we gather we should expect to receive and give life from the Spirit. As I go expecting to get (and available to give) it is amazing how my perception of person changes. I don’t see others as the new convert, the overweight slob, the smoking addict, the gossip, the proud. I see them as sources of life to me as God provides through His spirit. Even though I may be very aware of a member’s personal shortcomings, I seek to judge no man after the flesh. There is no member of Christ’s body that I eliminate a potential expression of the Spirit’s life toward me.

Unfortunately, many Charismatic/full gospel members have tended to over-spiritualize this interchange. In doing so, they have diminished it and subjected it to carnality. Typically these members will not share unless they “feel” the Lord moving on them to say something, or unless their mind can define it so they can relay it (been there, done that). How much more useful and life-giving is the non-charismatic that, in the process of casual conversation, happens to relate something the Spirit dealt with him about (And this just so happens to be something that the person spoken to needs to hear)?

If you are aware that your words are going to be a blessing or correction, it is all the more reason to be cautious. It is too often a sign of the desire to be seen as pre-eminent or spiritual when such consciousness is there. When God’s word does come to us in a conscious way, it should produce a sense of inadequacy. We are aware that the message of the Spirit is best given only in the character and nature of the Spirit and cannot and should not be mingled with our desire for pre-eminence or timidity. If it is a correction, we fear destroying or crippling a brother or sister. If it is commendation, we fear that it puffs up the recipient. Such conscious commissions given by God should always drive us to prayer.

A spontaneous word should also be given with fear and trembling. It is presumptuous to speak as God.

A true shepherd is fully aware that his authority does not rest in him. He is but a vessel. He is also truly aware of the price of disobedience, misrepresentation, and rebellion. He first realizes this as it applies to him and that it applies to him to a more extreme measure than to those he serves. He is not one who threatens “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm” although he is aware of its truth. When he sees a member who is in danger of being guilty of violating this, it strikes great fear in him for the sake of the member. He does not rejoice when judgment falls on a disobedient one (or say I told you so). He is rather one, who like Moses, was willing that his name be blotted out, rather than have God’s wrath fall on him than the guilty (isn’t that what Christ did?). He takes no pleasure in being vindicated by God for he knows that vindication means terror for the rebel. He is not merely frustrated by disobedience and rebellion — he weeps over it and intercedes on the rebels’ behalf for restoration and a right spirit.

The shepherd who is frustrated and angry at the body for not hearing, not maturing, and not doing are those who are taking the authority and place of God.  God gave them the calling so that He could work through them and accomplish that end.  If the end is not being accomplished, the shepherd needs to look at his own yieldness and hearing from the Spirit.  The shepherds responsibility is only to mirror the voice and character of God as directed by the Spirit. God takes care of the rest. When God moves in righteous wrath, we may be called to act as His counterpart in mercy.  Or, to be His voice of wrath and suffer the fallout.  The latter is the way the prophets and apostles and Jesus lived.  They were killed because people did not like what God told them to speak.  Where are such voices today?

A true shepherd will attack anything that threatens the members of the flock with a passion. Subtle doctrinal poison at its faintest level will be exposed. For he has been given that responsibility over the sheep. But a true shepherd does not keep the sheep in close corrals. He allows them to wander in selected open fields where they could fall prey to wolves if not for his vigilant watch. He fears not for the safety of the sheep because he trusts God for wisdom on their safety and care and because he knows that the Master Shepherd is able to keep those that are His.

God’s Methods

Modern Christianity has devised many methods by which to know God and do His will.  Most of these are based on some scriptural truth and was used by men to develop techniques and programs and duties that are meant to produce the proper result.  Most all of these prove to be superficial, at best and most often provide a distraction from truly knowing or obeying God.

There are few “methods” by which God specifically tells us that we may find and know Him.  These “methods” and truths are seldom mentioned and when they are, they are not mentioned as the only way God has given.  All other truths that lead to knowing and loving Him must flow out of these main truths.

The foundational truth is

 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. Deuteronomy 4:29

It is God’s “method” for knowing and understanding God.  He reiterates that same truth throughout the Old and New Testament.  Yet, it is not taught as the crucial lynchpin to everything, but merely something that is good and recommended to do.  When God’s revealed method for knowing Him is neglected or remains unknown, is it any wonder that Christianity is in the sad state that it is?  It is more important than studying scripture.  In fact, the study of scripture should only be attempted under the context of seeking His face and a revelation of Him.  Instead, we often take the tools of exegesis and plow ahead to extract a useful message from the text.  The bible is not meant to produce merely useful messages, but it is meant to issue forth life.  That life then produces that which is useful to God’s purpose in one’s life.

Today, Christianity is more interested in doing for Him than knowing Him.  Yet, God says that our interests and focus and glorifying should be totally in knowing Him.  Do we hear more sermons and messages on doing for God or knowing of God?  The more we know Him, the more we are naturally inspired (not just duty) to proclaim the One we love and adore.

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD Jeremiah 9:24 .

But it is impossible to do for Him without knowing Him and waiting on Him for the “how-to” like Solomon did,

Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God;
arise, therefore, and build ye the sanctuary of the LORD God,
to bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD,
and the holy vessels of God,
into the house that is to be built to the name of the LORD.
1 Chronicles 22:19

Too much building and planning are going on today in His name that He did not command.  I suspect very few set their heart and soul to seek God for every project and then throughout each step of that project.  We build and do today according to the righteous precepts in His word comingled with our natural understanding instead of waiting on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (In fact, some teach that God no longer speaks to His people.)

By seeking we find Him.

It is God’s way to provide joy to His people

1 Chronicles 16:10  Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
Seeking Him should not be an academic pursuit of trying to understand the bible.  In fact, that is backward.  As we turn to the bible to seek Him, He will reveal Himself and give us understanding of His ways.  Today, because we have been taught the backwards approach, we know more of His ways than we do of Him.  In a true way, many of us have become idolators of His ways, allowing the pursuit of and obedience to His ways to usurp or worship and knowlege of HIm.

The “Church” of Today

A good example of how Christianity has become greatly misrepresented is the “church”.  Most all Christians and all of the unredeemed think of church as a building where people gather for religious purposes and a message is presented by a person who heads up an organization of elders and others that perform the duties of the church.  And, unfortunately, that is what it has degenerated to.  There seems to be more of a defense of the system than of Christianity and too many see no differentiation .

That is upside down and backwards.  The church is the people who gather for the purpose of mutual spiritual edification.  While there may be a primary speaker, each Christian, has the opportunity to share and add to the spiritual edification of others, as the Spirit directs.  The church has nothing essentially to do with the building or an organization.  The Holy Spirit is its organizer, its leader, and through His gifts within each believer, edifies others in the body of Christ.

While the Holy Spirit may edify believers in a typical building/church, the nature, structure, traditions, and government of the building/church works against the Holy Spirit moving as freely as the wind John 3:8.  If believers are edified by the gifts of one person (a pastor), imagine how much more all could be edified if the gifts of the Holy Spirit through each of the members. read more

A W Tozer wrote of this  problem decades ago, THE OLD CROSS AND THE NEW (reprinted on the Articles page in the menu above) and spotlighted how the church changed and much of what caused it.  We see the “new cross” very frequently in churches today.

Indictments against today’s “church”

9/11 was an indictment against the American Church. After that attack left American’s rushing to churches to find a truth and reality needed to provide answers and assurances, the quickly left because they found nothing there that provided answers.

The church of today looks nothing like the church that the apostles built. The structure, relationships, commitments, devotion, truth, and worship all have suffered transformation and devaluation. There are many “churches” who are trying to be biblical and trying to increase God’s kingdom, but they are hampered by the very devices they use to get the “job” done.  Paul Washer does a good job of pinpointing  areas where we have fallen short.

10 Indictments against today’s church

Text outline of his message
  1. A practical denial of the sufficiency of Scripture.
    • Excerpts
    • “When you come to believe as a people that the Bible is inspired you have only fought half the battle because the question is not merely is the Bible inspired, is it inerrant. The major question following that that must be answered: Is the Bible sufficient or do we have to bring in every so called social science and cultural study in order to know how to run a church? That is a major question.”
    • “There is little need for the devil and evil men to oppose a man praying for revival unless he is also laboring for reformation. We have been given truth and we cannot simply do what is right in our own eyes and then expect the Holy Spirit to come down and bless our labors.”
  2. An ignorance of God. A failure to address man’s malady.
  3. An ignorance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  4. An ignorance of the doctrine of regeneration.
  5. An unbiblical gospel invitation.
  6. Ignorance regarding the nature of the Church.
  7. A lack of loving and compassionate Church discipline.
  8. A silence on separation.
  9. Lack of children being taught in the home.

Read the 10 Indictments against today’s church message

Prayer for Revival

A prayer for revival is nothing more nor less than praying that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.  While this may seem most like a millenium prayer, we have no more of a desperate need for such a kingdom to be established and revealed in His saints than at this time.

 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. Mr 1:15

God is desiring an expression of His Kingdom that emanates from within His people, individually and collectively.

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within/amid you. Luke 17:21.

Revival prayer, first of all, is pleading for an awakening among and in each of His people to the present realities of His kingdom. To cast away the false and seek the truth.  To forsake the ways of man and the world, and permit only that which is totally of God and dependent on Him for its fulfillment.

Prayer for revival – the revelation of His Kingdom on earth – is the first indication of God working in His body to will and do of His good pleasure.  We have only to embrace His desire and purpose to ask, seek, and knock until we see the reality of the things asked for, the things previously unseen (Hebrews 11:1)

While some area churches may be the beneficiaries of increased attendance, that  will come only as they pray that His kingdom and His church be increased, not ours.  It is the time for His kingdom building, not our own.  For those churches who are recipients of those seekers and followers, God holds them to be responsible not to continue “business as usual” but to determine to do or say or begin nothing that does not have its origin in the Mind of God.

When we pray this as our desperate need, and not a requirement, then God will hear from heaven and empower His Body.

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

The Church Is


For now, I am only thinking out loud. This is an ongoing article that yet needs more grammatical checking, spelling, word usage, organization, prayer, and wisdom. Comments and challenges are welcome.

Gifts, Authority, Shepherding, Body Little gods

The church is the body of Christ composed of its many members and all have gifts. To be a member of Christ is to have a gift — the gift is the source of a member’s life giving function to the body. These gifts are meant for the reciprocal edifying of each other and as a witness to the world. Each member’s gift is essential to the proper function and healthy life of the Body. One cannot be a member of Christ Body and not have a gift. It may be an undeveloped gift, a gift that is set aside for a season, or it may even may be presently unrecognizable by most, but each members has at least one gift.

The Authority of Christ, the Body, The Gifts

The head of the Church is Christ, it is not the apostle, the teacher, the pastor, the prophet, the elder, or the deacon. These are persons who have gifts for the body’s edification — which is the same purpose for everyone’s gift. These “leaders” and “shepherds” are simply the ones who are gifted in particular areas. We must respect the gift of God in those thus called just as we are to respect the gift of God in each other. As they use their gifts, they answerable to Christ for the health, development, and maturity of each believer and his gift –according to the measure given to them by the Spirit. It is no different for each member, though the scope of each member’s accountability will not be the same. We are told to examine the gifts of each member as to whether they be genuine at the time when they are manifested (1 Cor 14:26-34). It is valid and necessary to question whether the gift was of the Spirit or not. Once this is done, we are not called to examine whether we agree or understand, only whether the Spirit truly was speaking. If the Spirit spoke, then it is settled to the extent that the Spirit has settled it. If it is a teaching, we have the right and responsibility to have the teacher support the teaching and answer our questions using sound biblical evidence. (Acts 17:11)

Each member is subject to only Christ, the head, who by His Spirit is represented most often in His members. Only to the degree that each member of His body submits to Him, is Christ able to manifest Himself to the world and the other members.  The one who says that He is only submissive to Christ, Himself, and not to any man has missed God’s chosen design and is in rebellion to God and embracing unbelief. He is only excusing his rebellion and cloaking it in spiritual language. Such a man is high minded and is setting himself apart from God’s ordained protection and is unbelieving toward God’s ability to use His body for his direction, and accountability. We all are commanded to in honor prefer one to another (Romans 12:10), to submit to one to another (Ephesians 5:21), to minister our gifts one to another (1 Peter 4:10), and to be subject one to another in all humility (1 Peter 5:5). 

It is also a lie to claim that no one in the body is mature enough, wise enough, discerning enough, or spiritual enough, or on the same level to give counsel, insight, rebuke, or enlightenment. First of all, God does not need a member to be any of those things — sometime he is pleased to use an ass as he did with Balaam. It is my observation that with every gift, God gives a gift of incompleteness. This causes us to be interdependent on the body. Though the gift may be perfect, and its expression is unflawed, it is not the full tapestry of life for the church. Others in the body are needed to make it complete. It is only as each member provides its own warp and woof (not the same a howling like an animal), that the tapestry of Life progresses.

His body, though having many members, is one. It is only as each member expresses itself in Christ (not after his own mind or power) that the body has life. Any member that usurps, disrupts, prevents, or diminishes either the opportunity or the expression of another member to function in Christ is usurping, disrupting, preventing, or diminishing the life of Christ and the church will not be healthy. Each member is to respect and submit to each other as God energizes that member’s function. Not submitting to a brother or sister who is functioning in their capacity within the body is rebellion against God. There is no one single member or gift that will always have all the wisdom, all the direction, all the edifying for the members. 

I do not believe that God created one member to monopolize or dominate the function of His body. There are gifts which are more regularly in evidence than others. But even these gifts may be exhibited through more than one member in a given gathering of the Body. It is His voice, His Spirit, His authority that is to bring life to the Body. Even though one may be accepted and recognized as the principal prophet or pastor in a body, their voice is only as valid as their submission to God and every word is not automatically to be taken as from the Lord. 

We can not complain to God that we have been deceived by another. whether they be a prophet, teacher, or pastor. It is our responsibility to submit to His voice whenever we hear it, regardless of which member He uses to express himself through. His Spirit is also within us, that is why He says that “the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him (1 John 2:27) Thereby, God has His two-fold protection plan in place. The spiritual gifts in the body and the Spirit within each believer are the 2 facets of His protection and they will be in agreement.  Neglect either and deception will be at your door.  (I know full well there are rebels toward God who use this verse to justify why they do not submit to anyone or any teaching). Those who are deceived are deceived because either they 1.) value the gifted person more that the Giver of the Gift; 2.) they really do not truly seek truth, but experiences, or knowledge, or power, or reputation, or acceptance by affiliation; 3.) do not intend to submit to the Spirit within or without

 You are Little Gods?

This has been a chant of too many. It is as if to say, everything that God has He has given to you, as an individual as a separate entity. He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. He has given us the Spirit without measure. It is His good pleasure to give us the Kingdom. However, He has given us dependency rather than autonomy. He placed us in His body. It is only His Church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all (Eph 1:23). It is not we as individual members who have any authority. We do not command or direct His power although He may use us to be a vessel of such power as He sees fit. He does not produce miracles on demand, does not answer prayer or perform in any way according to “what seems right in our eyes”.

The way some false teachers talk, one would think that God is like some super refueling station. Go to Him, get filled with the Spirit and His power, then go out and use it until empty, then come back for a refill. Absolutely wrong! To continue the analogy, it is more like we run on solar power with no backup. While He is supplying truth and light, one can be responsive. If we get out of direct and intimate contact with Him, we disconnect our source of truth, life, and power.

God remains God, He has not delegated that to anyone. He has chosen to use His body and its various members, the Church, as vessels through which He may exercise mercy, help, judgments, miracles, signs and wonders, compassion, judgments, and more in this world. But such exercises will always originate in the Mind of God and not with the vessel. There are many today who twist the scriptures in order to attempt to usurp God’s place — such are the tactics and character of satan who seeks to usurp. Even in the hereafter, we will never become as God, we will simply partake of His essence, never own it as our own. It is satan’s oldest lie. He told it to Eve concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and he is trying to make us believe the same line in regards to the Tree of Life, Jesus Christ. 

It is amazing that people fall for his line, “If you partake of Christ, you shall become as gods”. No! If you partake of Christ, you partake of Life, you die, you give up your right to your natural life that flows out of the old Adam. It is His Life that sets you free and gives you a new life within His body. You are never independent again. You are one who, like Jesus, can do nothing but what the Father does through Him. Being saved does not give you power or authority. It only allows you to participate in the power and authority that is solely retained and maintained by God Almighty.

Many today are like Eve they see that the fruit is good and misinterpret the benefits. Although Eve ate and learned the knowledge of evil, she experienced death. (She already had all the access she needed to good in the presence of God). Do not be tempted by the power, the signs, the wonders, the promise of divinity. It is not there for your use (as Simon the Sorcerer thought) and will be the death of you. Partaking of Christ does not enable you to take part of Him, it enables Him to take all of you.

We do not decide on which verse “to claim”, we do not hold God hostage to His promise (what a ridiculous abomination!). God is not subject to His promise, He gives us His promises and laws to guide us and to reveal Himself, not to guide Himself. Many scriptures are merely examples of what He did in specific situations for specific persons in the past. Each promise has displayed His character and wisdom for that situation. 

He is no respecter of persons.

Certainly, what He has done for others, He will do for you (as the song goes). He will give you promises and work for your good. Although He will probably not give you the same promise, He will give you promises tailor-made for your situation. He does not give promises to one and withhold promises to others. He gives promises to all. The promise he gave to Abraham probably does not fit our situation well. If we complain that He is unfair in His bestowal of promises, we are saying He is not wise, He is not good, and that we know better than He does regarding our needs. There are indeed “universal” promises that are available to each believer. God wants you to “claim’ these, to grow into them and to live in them. These are the promises regarding becoming one with Him and fully yielding to Him as He causes you to carry His life to others.

It is true that There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there isneither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). God makes no distinction or favoritism in His calling. He does, however, make distinctions in His giftings. Unfortunately, we do not see the gifts for what they truly are — they are the means by which God gives us accountability toward other members and not so we can enjoy some power or emotional surge. 

Those who neglect, misuse, and abuse their gifts will give answer to God on the last day. Therefore, we do not presume to have a gift we do not have. We do not presume to have more authority than another has. Our gift(s) are meant to be the tool God uses to express His will, His direction, His word. We dare not add to it or take anything away from it. God’s expression through the gift carries its own authority and does not need the position, reputation, or power of the member to underscore it.

Charismatics and Nons

This non-issue has caused division in the church and grieved the Spirit much. Charismatic see the nons as devoid of the Spirit and lacking the gifts and lifeless. Nons see the Charismatics as more filled with the life of the flesh than the Spirit and presumptuous toward the gifts of the Spirit.

First of all, it is impossible for the nons to be part of the body of Christ and not have a gift — His word proclaims that each member has a gift. To be a member of Christ is to have a gift — the gift is the source of the members life- giving function to the body. It is also not necessary for a member to be consciously aware of his gift in order for it to operate. Because a gift does not express itself in a “charismatic” way, does not negate its existence. It is also impossible that a person can be a Christian apart from the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4). We are all baptized into the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). Unfortunately, charismatics have re-defined the baptism of the Spirit as something other than Christ does. Some even erroneously teach that tongues are the proof of the baptism. Yet Paul says that not all speak with tongues (1 Corinthians 12:30). Why can’t we remain within the bounds of scripture?

Nons pray that the sick will recover, that the needy will be supplied, and that God will comfort the comfortless. Because they may not do it in a manner like a charismatic does not invalidate their faith. The nons and charismatics are both believing that God can — they are both trusting in His sovereignty and grace. Nons comfort one another, help one another, and do other things which prove that the gifts are in operation.

It is arrogant for a “Charismatic” to consider it more spiritual for a member to say a valid “thus saith the Lord” than for a non-charismatic to share a portion of scripture that has been “laid on his heart” by the Spirit.

The only difference between the nons and charismatics are the ways that each sees the parameters in which they perceive God to move and the types of gifts God gives to them. And we should not differentiate ourselves based on gifts that we had no merit in obtaining.

Are nons missing some potential blessing by denying the verbal gifts? Probably. Are charismatics missing something by assuming that most emotional spiritual leadings and experiences are from God? Probably. Can either group be deceived by its excesses and its imposed limitations (both groups do exhibit both conditions)? Probably. Is there any advantage or disadvantage of being part of one and not the other? Only if God wants you to be part of the one you are not a part of. I think there are charismatics that God would have be nons and nons that God would have be charismatics. Charismatics can confuse happiness and excitement with joy. Nons can confuse sobriety with holiness and temperance.

In any event, the body of Christ is diminished by this antipathy. But Christ is not divided. If nons and charismatics continue to reject the life that is found in each position, they are denying the very life that Christ means them to have.