“As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.”
The secret of the true disciple is one of simplicity and rest. Even as the flow of His Spirit is ever active within, the heart of the true disciple is to be at rest; a relationship of communion (co-union). The child in the womb is a portrayal of our life in Him. The formation and development of His likeness within our own being is fully dependent upon the cord of life from whence come the essential nutrients of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). This dependency is the hope and substance of our life in Him. The true ministers of Christ are ever focused on the formation of Him within the life of every believer, not the fulfillment of their own ambitions and agendas. They are to nurture the development of Christ within each life. The only bonds that should exist between members of His Body are the bonds of pure love and our interactions are to be to this one end: “until Christ be formed” in each of us.
“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you…”
Any ministry with a different end in view does not walk in the mind and Spirit of Christ.
” And in the day time He was teaching in the temple; and at night He went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives”
Jesus set such a simple pattern before us: teaching by day and communion with His Father at night. In other words, an active life balanced by time spent with Him in refreshment and inspiration. We are called to this balance just as the workers on the wall in Jerusalem in the days of Nehemiah. They built with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other (Nehemiah 4:18).
“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost…”
First, we are to be built up in our faith that
we may encourage and exhort
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works”
“Fight the good fight of faith…”
1 Timothy 6:12
The need to be active and diligent in our sharing of His life with others necessitates His touch of renewal in the evening. I like the work used here: “at night He went out and abode in the mount”. The daily press of the crowds, the vehemence of religious rulers, and the constant treachery of those trying to trick Him into a response whereby they could accuse Him, is beyond comprehension. Time alone with His Father was crucial and is set forth as an example for us. He, the Only Begotten Son, has come to show us the way to live in this troubled and unraveling world. May we draw near to Him that we may be equipped to stand in the darkness of this day in which we find ourselves.
“For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”
“They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together”
The unseen world is filled with confrontations between Light and Darkness. Temptations and persecutions assail the righteous as flooding waters; a battle that is waged daily. Many of these battles are far from sight but are fought in the thoughts and imaginations of our inner life. It is here where victories are won and we are afforded greater vistas of the Grace of God.
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”
2 Corinthians 10:5
Often our victory in casting down these thoughts will come as we lift Him up. The Holy Spirit has one mandate in this world and that is to bring all things into the obedience of Christ. It is in our thoughts that life is defined, victory known and our confidence in Christ arises. Authority in the inner life will culminate in victory in our daily life.
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue…”
2 Peter 1:5
The persistence of the temptations of the world and the weakness of the human heart require a diligent and continual drawing of grace from Him. In our victories we find ourselves “hid with Christ in God”. He is to become our dwelling place with the intent that He will be at home in the sanctuary of our hearts.
Purity is the path to seeing Him, Faith is the hand which holds Him, Humility is the grace which draws Him.
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death”
“We admit no faith to be justifying, which is not itself and in its own nature a spiritually vital principle of obedience and good works”
– John Owen
“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness”
If the heart truly believes in Christ it will always be UNTO righteousness. A life unchanged is a life untouched by the power of Christ. Any belief which does not bring a heart unto righteousness is religious, cold and dead.
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive”
1 Corinthians 15:22
It is not what a person believes but in whom they believe.
“Therefore watch, remembering that for a period of three years I didn’t cease to admonish everyone night and day with tears”
The true servant of God knows the great battle between flesh and spirit. He is well aware of the weakness of the flesh to grow weary and to compromise. Paul is reminding the Elders of the Church at Ephesus of his own diligence to warn and admonish the believers when he lived among them. His life was an example to them that they must ever be alert and awake to the state of God’s people. We see no letup with Paul; his admonitions were accompanied night and day with tears; for he was filled with the love of God.
This gracious and all-pervading ministration which flowed from Paul was the true expression of one filled with the unction of the Holy Spirit! There was no room for the false comfort of the gospel of today. The fire burned, the admonition flowed.
In the Epistle to the Church at Rome Paul beseeches them to offer themselves unto God as a “living sacrifice”; he left no room for a nominal Christian experience. Beating within him was the insatiable desire to fully apprehend that for which God had so graciously apprehended him. His life burned with purpose and intent. The Christian life was a journey, not a one-time experience. It was a journey filled with temptation and great battles and storms. Yet in a corresponding measure it was also one of growth and glory. Admonition flows from a life which has seen and touched heavenly things.
The individual who has tasted of heavenly things will be in a relentless pursuit of the glory and honour of the One in whom they “live, move and have their being”.
Let us take note of this heart which beat within Paul. May there be a divine SELAH to allow the heart of Jesus to fill our own. Let the apathy of all that is around us be consumed by the passion and the ministration of the Holy Spirit.
“I didn’t cease to admonish everyone night and day with tears”
May we consider the “marks” of the true servant of God and feel anew that fire burning within our own being. Let “this mind be in you” as Paul admonished the Church of God at Philippi. May we know the same intensity and the same care and concern for God’s people that filled the early Church. Let us repent of the status quo and turn again unto the One who can ignite the human heart.
The heart of a true servant of God seeks to bring every life into the Kingdom and dominion of God. It will risk the disapproval of others in order to be pleasing unto God.
Admonition will be a mark of one who serves God in truth.
“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God”
True servants withhold nothing of God’s counsel for fear of losing the approval of men. They speak the truth because they love the truth. Within their hearts beats the singular desire to live unto the Lord alone. They seek His approval alone.
“But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God…”
2 Corinthians 6:4
To live unto Christ is to be free from the fear of man. Truth is the person and majesty of Christ Himself. This dynamic of His Life can only be known as we abide in Him. This ONE who purged the filth of man’s pollution from the Temple, also revealed the tenderness of mercy to the woman at the well; His Life cannot be held by the mere doctrines of men. The necessity of abiding in Him is what frees us to express Him in the moment, in the situation we are facing. It is the only means by which His Truth can be expressed! To speak of kindness when the Spirit of God seeks to confront a situation, is error. To speak judgment when God’s Spirit is soft and gentle is to miss Him grievously. A carnal concept of God has always been the bane of religion! To try and live by the precepts of Christ will inevitably end in failure and sin for we are to be in this world as HE IS in the moment.
Only His life can rightly express His heart. We are called unto a Life of abiding in Him to the intent that
“…as HE IS, so are we in this world”
1 John 4:17
The truth of our walk in Him must culminate in a life of abiding in Him. Present truth can only be known by those who live in the presence of God. As His Life becomes ours, we know the truth; His truth for the moment. Peter in dealing with Ananias and Sapphira did not violate the Love of God; He revealed it. Those who walk in a concept of the love of God will be offended by this expression of truth. Naaman the Syrian had a concept of how the Lord would heal him. Had it not been for the wisdom of one of his servants he would have missed God and remained a leper the rest of his life.
His prophets spoke the Word of the Lord to the situation they found themselves in. The Word spoken was present truth, The Word for His people in the Day in which they lived. It was not a random Word, pulled from history’s pages, but truth for moment.
“…they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks…”
Yet in another day the word given was:
“Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears”
His Spirit will never violate the Word but it will breathe the life and wonder of God INTO His Word. Such enablement, grace and wisdom can only be known to those who abide in the ONE who is the sum of all Grace and Truth. Jesus did not come to expose the world to a new teaching or a new religious concept; He came to fill us with Himself. He did not come to give us A new life but to give us HIS Life that we might know the power of His indwelling word.
The “marks” (brands) of the true servant of God are those who withhold not His truth and counsel regardless of the “consensus” of men. Only as we are freed from self are we truly able to be His servant.
“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ”
The true servant of God is one who is poured out in service to Christ. He seeks no following and does not desire the finances of this world. His only desire is to be true to the ONE who enlisted him into His service. Only then is he free enough to declare the whole counsel of God to his generation.
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ” ……………………………………. Romans 1:1 “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” .. James 1:1 “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ…. 2 Peter 1:1 “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ” ………………………………….. Jude 1:1
“For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God…”
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” John 15:4
The Marks of a True Servant is a series of writings revealing the tried and true character of Paul as he met with the Church at Ephesus for the last time. His life was the testimony of a man who had spent his life as a true bond-servant of Christ. May God complete His work in each one of us. Blessings to All who have made it their life purpose to serve and honour Him.