“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
“If we love one another, God dwelleth in us,
and his love is perfected in us.”
1 John 4:12
God measures our life in Him by the Love we have for one another. Love is the bond, the ligaments as it were, of the Body of Christ. Love is never content with shallow religious affiliations. It seeks out, pursues, and ever desires full knowledge of another. Within its own heart is the flame of relationship and union in Christ. Its reach into another heart is for the purpose of apprehending oneness; the same oneness for which Christ prayed unto the Father. This union of hearts is the very essence and heartbeat of His Spirit within His own. It is a cry which can only be fulfilled in the purity and wonder of His Holiness becoming in truth our holiness. Many fear such depths of fellowship for in the intimacy of holy bonds there is no room for the hypocrisy and pretense of an insincere heart. Holiness in Christ is the fearful abode in which only the authentic can live and be at home. The depth of our abiding in Him corresponds with the depth of our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. The measure of our own partaking of His resurrection life is revealed in the love we have for His people. Only the deceived can find rest in a life lived outside of the love of God.
“We know that we have passed from death unto life,
because we love the brethren.”
1 John 3:14
Authenticity is the fruit of a life lived in God. The Life of Christ is the sole bonding agent which fuses one member to another. Obedience is the means to this purity by which our relationship with our brothers and sisters becomes filled with the wonder of God Himself. An impure heart is filled with mixed motives, carnal and self-seeking desires which by their very nature prevent the true union of His Spirit and Life with Him and one another.
“Having purified your souls in the obedience of the truth through the Spirit to unpretended brotherly love, love one another fervently out of a pure heart…”
1 Peter 1:22
While Men Slept
“The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way…”
While men slept – the enemy came! What a summation of the history of God’s Kingdom. This parable begins with Jesus declaring: “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field”. He is giving us a clear narrative regarding the history of His Church in the earth. The enemy knows he cannot thwart the purposes of God by persecution only; he is well aware of the keeping grace of the Almighty God. Persecution is his last resort. By cunning and guile the enemy has been able to paralyze, divide and dim the glorious Gospel by simply sowing false doctrines, false teachers and hypocrites. He uses the rampant egos of men, driven by pride and a lust for recognition, that have built their own kingdoms in the name of God.
While men sleep – the enemy comes and destroys families, insidiously, and slowly from within. While men sleep – the fervent love between brethren is lost. Party spirits rise up, each calling people to themselves, with little or no concern for those outside of their “church” or “fellowship”. While men sleep – false brethren come in living unholy lives, walking in compromise with sin and the world, yet using the profession of faith to ease their conscience. While men sleep – they pride themselves in the knowledge of a saving grace yet lack the fire of a love which compels them into ministering beyond their own little circle of friends. While men sleep – the world grows dark and the church is seen as just another belief system because she has lost the vitality, the power and above all the presence of God. While men sleep – their hearts grow cold and the Word of the Lord takes on a doctrinal persona; no longer living, sharp or active. The slumber renders His people ineffective, empty shells capable of quoting scripture but devoid of the life and the wonder of Jesus Christ.
While men sleep is the narrative of Christ concerning His Church. Yet there are times when men and women can no longer tolerate the deadness and stagnation of their lives and begin to seek in earnest, He who alone is Holy. This is always prefaced by deep soul searching unto broken and repentant hearts. The God who knows well the tendency of men to sleep, warns us throughout His Word. Jesus gave us this Parable that we may read and be instructed to be diligent in this hour. The Apostolic ministry of the New Testament era constantly warned, reproved and exhorted the people of God unto diligence to LIVE the Life of Christ, not just to believe the words of Christ.
Even in his day Paul felt the need to warn the people of God against slumber and the resulting spiritual decay:
“Awake to righteousness, and sin not;
for some have not the knowledge of God:
I speak this to your shame”
1 Corinthians 15:34
“Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest,
and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
See then that ye walk circumspectly,
not as fools, but as wise…”
“While men slept” is a prophetic warning of Christ to His people in our day.
“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh,
shall he find faith on the earth?”
The thick fog of slumber that has fallen upon us has resulted in lethargy, compromise, the worldly systems of men infiltrating the church, lack of morals, and doctrines of men which rob God’s Word of its authority. Grace has been presented as a sentiment rather than the power of God. We have made Him in our image; one who winks at sin and the worldly ways in His House.
In this Day of Harvest the wheat and the tares will be dealt with and men will know that God is Holy. It is time awake, to deal with the issues of our hearts. Repentance is the greatest gift God can bestow upon a life. It is the spring from which His glory arises, the womb from which His Power is born. It is the very hope for our generation “upon whom the ends of the earth have come”.
“Wherefore HE saith, Awake thou that sleepest,
and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light”!
This Word was given to His Church and is more valid today than ever. May we hear the Word of the Lord!
Eldership begins in the home. It begins in earnest with the birth of children and the opportunity they present for us to learn the wisdom of our Heavenly Father. The challenge for us is to instill in them a desire to discover the great mystery of Christ for themselves. We cannot unravel the mystery for them but we can minister to them their need to find God for themselves.
If we are unable to present the glories and the wonders of God to our own children, how will we ever be equipped to present Him to the household of faith? Pat answers will not produce the intrigue of the adventure of walking with God. Often Jesus would answer a question with a question. It was hunger and quest He sought to instill rather than mere answers. Hunger of heart will take one further in God than information with no spirit of awe or wonder.
Home is the canvas upon which we can learn to paint. An artist works in shades, splashes and hues, each one reflecting a thought, a wisp of truth. Over time an image appears and each brush of color is hidden within the wonder of the whole. Eldership is but a reflection of the wisdom of our Heavenly Father; the work of His grace and longsuffering to present such a one to the Body of Christ.
“For by it (faith)
the elders obtained a good report”
“There are no artists more divine than those who know how to fashion a child’s soul within themselves. Such artists know how to draw forth the greatest divine radiance into their souls”
– St. John Chrysostom
Obviously having children is not a prerequisite for being an elder in God's House. For those who do, let God's wisdom in His dealings with you be an example of how you are to deal with your children.
“And do not fear those who kill the body
but cannot kill the soul.
Rather fear him who can
destroy* both soul and body in hell”
Matthew 10:28 (ESV)
“I think, my friends, that it depends altogether upon that of which one is afraid. The words of our text (Mt. 10:28), with the solemn inculcation of fear, are also a ringing denunciation of fear: the “Fear Him” is balanced by “Fear not.” The fear of God is here made a way of overcoming the fear of man. And the heroic centuries of Christian history have provided abundant testimony to its efficaciousness” - John Gresham Machen
The history of the Church has been one of men and women bearing testimony to God by living His truth. True pilgrims were often “misfits”; even though their testimony was a shining light of God’s grace and favor in their generation. They did not dwell in the concepts of men concerning the scriptures. They lived their lives in the unfolding truth of God and as a result their testimony was the spirit of prophesy. There was a sense of being captured or, as Paul would say, “bound in spirit” to the will and purposes of God; a knowing that they had been apprehended to apprehend the thing to which they had been called.
To feel deep within our being that CALL, inarticulate in the language of men, which is more real, more powerful and more essential than any existence the world has to offer is true life. Its passion is to leave a clear witness of the Christ here in the earth. Bound up within this call is to know the joy of finishing our course with a testimony that clearly expresses His heart and being. The CALL to an effective communication of His Faith to the world around us and to leave a legacy of faith in our own children which will impart His Life to their generation is to be our birthright.
The CALL of Christ is unto Himself; it does not leave options or choices to those who respond to it. Disciples are ultimately freed from their own agendas and pursuits. They are captured by the wonder of His beauty to follow Him alone. They cannot rest in anything less than a full and dynamic expression of Christ. There is a sense of the eternal that draws them to things unseen. There is an endurance borne of “seeing Him” who is invisible.
“By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king,
for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible”
The Testimony of the Church has ever been one of faith, intensity of spirit and heart which desires to honor Him.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus…”
May our testimony be somewhat worthy
of all who have gone before us!
*Note: apollumi (G622), a strengthened form of ollumi, signifies “to destroy utterly”; in middle voice, “to perish.” The idea is not extinction but ruin, loss, not of being, but of wellbeing. This is clear from its use, as, e.g., of the marring of wine skins, Luk 5:37; of lost sheep, i.e., lost to the shepherd, metaphorical of spiritual destitution, Luk 15:4, Luk 15:6, etc.; the lost son, Luk 15:24; of the perishing of food, Joh 6:27; of gold, 1Pe 1:7. So of persons, Mat 2:13, “destroy”; Mat 8:25, “perish”; Mat 22:7; Mat 27:20; of the loss of well-being in the case of the unsaved hereafter, Mat 10:28; Luk 13:3, Luk 13:5; Joh 3:16 (Joh 3:15 in some mss.); Joh 10:28; Joh 17:12; Rom 2:12; 1Co 15:18; 2Co 2:15, “are perishing”; 2Co 4:3; 2Th 2:10; Jas 4:12; 2Pe 3:9. “Vines Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words”
“I know thy works:
behold, I have set before thee an open door,
and no man can shut it…”
Faithfulness to the present truth we know will always culminate in greater things in God. The Church at Philadelphia, even in their weakness and poverty, were faithful to do the works of God and were given an open door. Doing the will of God inevitably leads us into greater avenues of service unto Him. Those who are faithful in the little things will always receive more.
The stagnation of a faith without works perpetuates its own lethargy and barrenness. Within the true disciple lies an eagerness to do that which is before them without hesitation or delay. We must always bear in our hearts the verdict of God upon a “faith” which is void of works.
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can faith save him? And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food, and one of you tells them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled;” and yet you didn’t give them the things the body needs, what good is it? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself. Yes, a man will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe, and shudder. But do you want to know, vain man, that faith apart from works is dead?”
The “Open Door” is set before those who are faithful to yield themselves to the promptings of God within and respond accordingly. There are those who feel hemmed in by circumstances when in fact they may have not been faithful to the things at hand. Joseph, bound within Pharaoh’s prison, remained faithful to the gifts which God had given him, and, in the end, he was given great authority!
“For whoever has, to him will be given, and he will have abundance, but whoever doesn’t have, from him will be taken away even that which he has”
The path to enlarged places in God is found within our faithfulness to Him in the little things; hidden things, often only known to God. In the end they will bring us to the open door of His grace.
Just a couple of examples are David who, while tending the sheep of his father, overcame the lion and the bear. Rebekah at the well, in her willingness and faithfulness to serve, was brought into the lineage of Christ!! (read Genesis 24:12-27) May we see the importance God places on those who reveal their heart by the work of their hands. He sees and measures out greater faith in proportion to their faithfulness in everyday life.
Let us seek His “open door” through faithfulness in our commonplace lives. Let our determination to honour Him “in all things” be an entrance into the greater things of Him. May we find joy each day in ever looking for ways to glorify Him, even in the secret thoughts of our hearts.
“I thank him who enabled me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He counted me faithful, appointing me to service…”
1 Timothy 1:12
Obedience will open doors that no amount of praying alone can.
“The Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the right times? Blessed is that servant whom his lord will find doing so when he comes. Truly I tell you, that he will set him over all that he has.”
May His exhortations permeate our hearts, and may we seek to be faithful to Him in all things.
“Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord”
The one who was unfaithful lost what he had been given and the eternal consequences were even greater.
“But his lord answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant. You knew that I reap where I didn’t sow and gather where I didn’t scatter. You ought therefore to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back my own with interest. Take away therefore the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will be given, and he will have abundance, but from him who doesn’t have, even that which he has will be taken away. Throw out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”
Faithfulness determines eternal destinies.
“…they that are with Him
are called, and chosen, and faithful”
“I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:8
Love is the signature of God ruling within His own. The bonds between the people of God were evident within the language of the New Covenant. There was a living mortar which bound the living stones to one another. One can sense the threads of each life woven together to impart to us the richness of the tapestry of the One Church. It is in stark contrast to our day in which we have increased in the knowledge of the things of God yet lack the essence of what that knowledge is to convey. The estimation of God concerning the progress and development of a heart is in the measure of Love it holds and expresses to others.
“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing”
1 Corinthians 13:2
Knowledge, gifts of the Spirit, prayer, religious works and even faith itself (necessary as they all are), if not mingled with the power and wonder of the pure love of God, leaves us empty and bereft of God Himself.
“He that loveth not
knoweth not God…”
1 John 4:8
Love is the highest expression of truth. It is the verity of truth within a life. Love is what fuels the faith of God unto the works of God.
“For in Christ Jesus,
neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any strength,
but faith working through love”
(Greek: empowered through)
One cannot hold the love of God and be static, stagnant or isolated. Love, by its very nature, gives of itself and does not seek its own. It is the source and sum of His Joy. It does not regard the sectarian ways of men and is not preferential in its dispensation; it lives only to please the ONE from whom it flows.
“This is my commandment,
That ye love one another,
as I have loved you”
“And all things are of God…
and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation”
2 Corinthians 5:18
What is torn can be mended.
What is separated can be blended.
That which is broken can find repair,
And joy can fill the life in despair.
To seek reconciliation with others is the revelation of a heart which has and is being reconciled to Christ.
“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift”
“Behold, I make all things new”
“He who overcomes,
I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God…”
In our day many consider church as somewhere one goes rather than something we are. God’s Church is made up of living stones; purified, united and joined in the harmony of His Spirit. Unity in Spirit is the reality of all who walk in His Spirit. Division and sectarianism are the revelation of the stain of flesh and the ambitions of men.
Those who overcome the spirit of this world become pillars in that heavenly temple. How we walk here, overcoming worldly affinities, determines heavenly realities.
Our Oneness in His Body here reveals the truth of our Oneness in Him. “As He is, so are we in this world”. Whatever is true in spirit must be evident in our walk here. Division and heresy, rivalry, envy and strife, are the works of the flesh. Those who walk in such forfeit heavenly rewards.
“He who overcomes,
I will make him a pillar
in the temple of my God…”
Overcoming here is a prerequisite to the reward there. Let no one deceive you in thinking otherwise. Paul in his stinging reproof to the Church at Corinth cried out in the power of the Spirit of God:
“Is Christ divided?”
1 Corinthians 1:13
Those who dwell in the Love of God, love what He loves. Those who walk in the love of the world, love those who love them. We are called by the very love of Christ to “preserve the unity of the Spirit”. Only those who walk in the Spirit know of this “unity”. It is a unity not of this world, nor is it confined to a sect or a select few; it is the world-wide truth of all who walk, live and abide in Him. Paul wrote to Timothy to instruct us in how we are to walk and behave in the household of God, not in some sect or denomination.
“I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth”
1 Timothy 3:14-15 (ESV)
To be free from the contamination of pride is to know the depth and power of the fellowship of the Light and Glory of Christ with one another. They who separate themselves cannot know God nor the substance of His Love.
“He that loveth not knoweth not God;
for God is love”
1 John 4:8
“Beloved, if God so loved us,
we ought also to love one another”
1 John 4:11