In our growth into His life, we began to comprehend the preparations, the breaking, and the utter abandonment to God required to be “vessels of honour”. The Hope that God puts into an individual’s heart is one that purifies and pulsates with the understanding of the need to become true in order to enter into the high and holy things of God.
“And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.”
1 John 3:3 KJV
There are many forms of hope in the religious world but there is only ONE hope which carries within it the fire and the “Spirit of burning” which has eternal repercussions. It is a hope which prepares hearts for glorious ministrations far beyond the imaginations and the thoughts of men. It is a hope that stirs the heart which has opened itself to the pure ministrations of the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding. These are the graces of God released into willing and redeemed hearts who relinquish themselves to the unction and the depths of the Love of God which surpasses knowledge. May God in His infinite mercy blow upon the living glowing coals of our hearts the fire of such a hope that we may know its engulfing and all-embracing passion to “know Him” and to be “found in Him.”
Can we not hear, can we not by the living faith of Him beating within us, gaze beyond the veil of human reasoning to touch the hem of a Call which is birthed in us in Christ?
“…because as He IS so also are we in this world”
1 John 4:17
Oh, the penetrating questions of Jesus. “Do you believe now?” Our Lord is ever bringing us to the truth. There is something about the heart of man that evades the “present” tense of God; it is far easier to put truth off to a future age or dispensation. There can be a soothing and narcotic effect in occupying ourselves with future concepts and ideas. It is an escape, a diversion from present reality. Jesus is the “I AM” and it is the purpose of truth to make us true in the present. The reality is we only have enough breath for the moment and our present condition is our condition. It is here and now that Jesus brings us to the fundamental truth of our state.
“Do you believe now?”. Do you love Him now, His Body (His people)? Are His purposes your purposes for now? Years ago, I sat with a dying friend who had spoken often of his “destiny”; that one of these days God was going to speak a living word and he would be quickened to step into it. But it never happened. If truth is always kept in the future, we run out of the precious commodity of time.
Past, Future, and Present Truth
Martha and Mary were loved deeply by our Lord. Lazarus was dying and they sent for Jesus in desperation and trust. Upon hearing their urgent request Jesus tarried two more days. He knew all that was transpiring and plainly told the disciples that Lazarus was “now” dead. When Jesus arrived, He was met with the faith of the past.
“Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died”
A very powerful statement. Jesus in His pre-resurrection state, as a man incarnate, was restricted to the “present truth” of His physical existence. Yet even in this situation, He tarried in the wisdom of God. He is ever-pressing us to “believe now” and to conduct ourselves accordingly.
As the narrative unfolds Jesus meets these statements with the living truth: “Your brother will rise again”. Immediately comes the heartfelt response, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection in the last day”. In this interaction with two souls that Jesus loved greatly, we see that He is pressing them into the “now”, into the situation at hand. He has a deep desire to bring us in all things to the present truth, the reality of the now. May we who have ears to hear recognize the pressing of His Spirit to free us from our past and our unsubstantiated future concepts. It is an intense and difficult thing to allow Him to penetrate our religious notions with the present reality. But it is necessary and vital to bring us to the acknowledgment of our true condition. Those who hold to future things, while denying the present reality of themselves, circumvent the development needed to become all that He has purposed.
Paul declared in Philippians that he had not yet fully apprehended the call of God. He did not rest in some future thing but cried out with great urgency of spirit, “I press toward the mark”. There was no room for concepts and beliefs to deter him from the apprehension of Christ. His life was abandoned to Christ. He did not isolate himself from the ministry of God to the Body of Christ; he did not segregate himself from interaction with others. He was in fact a vessel poured out because of the love of Christ in his heart. It is the synthetic who hide from others, who deceive themselves to be ones set apart (as the Scribes and the Pharisees* of old). His Love propels His Own to identify with the lost, the hurting, and the bound. It is in the touching of others that we discover the truth of ourselves. The truth of our nakedness is revealed in our touching the nakedness of others. It is in our discovery of our needs on their behalf that we find His provision! How good and how right are His ways with us!
Religion as a mere belief relieves people from having to face the current fitness and verity of themselves. The true in heart desire to know and to face the truth of the moment. Multiple times the disciples asked Jesus why their prayers did not meet the situation at hand. Deep within they desired truth, the truth, of their powerlessness. They did not mask their condition with a future hope. Jesus responded to them with the thing they needed to hear: “because of your unbelief”. These moments are necessary for our growth and development in Him. If we brush past these moments, we are none the better and we continue our way without facing the facts. The true in heart receive the truth as it is and the door opens for greater faith, a living faith that releases His wonder in the situation. The discovery of our poverty is the door into His riches!
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
The disciple of Christ must discover in present situations their present condition. Therein lies the challenge and the adventure into the discovery of Him within our own experience. The seeker of truth does not seek to comfort themselves in past or future things for the Christ they pursue IS COME to lead them, and more importantly, bring them to the Truth in all character and wisdom. Jesus in His wisdom presented to Martha and Mary the crowning revelation of the mystery of Himself.
“I AM the resurrection…”
He is not the “I Was” or the “I Will Be”; He is always the I AM.
“And when He was come into the house, His disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could not we cast him out?”
A few years ago, in my private time with Him, the words came to me, “To grow in truth one must be true with oneself”. Our journey into truth must begin and remain open to receive its piercings and exposure of our condition.
“Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?”
To which the answer of God is:
“He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart”
When the truth is reduced to a confession, its wonder fades, its sword no longer pierces the heart. The result is faith without works, teachings instead of substance, and a limited vision of His power and glory.
“ Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth UNTO unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another from the heart fervently”
1 Peter 1:22
The true in heart measure their obedience and walk with God by the fervency of love for His people (not only the ones in their immediate circle). This love reveals itself in deeds produced by a faith made alive through love (Galatians 5:6).
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth”
1 John 3:18
Can we hear Him calling us to the depths of Himself? Can we hear Him drawing us out of the ethereal, the forms of truth, and the comfort of mere confessions, into the vast wonder of His substance? Truth is the womb of repentance. Repentance brings us out of the shadows of obscurity into the penetrating gaze of Him alone before whom we must all give an account. Let not another day pass without a true turning unto Him who can cause us to become true witnesses of His Testimony within!
In the seeing of Him, we are afforded a seeing of ourselves (Isaiah 6:1-5). This great work of His Spirit will unveil all that Grace means. It causes us to glory afresh in His redemption of “our mortal bodies” by that SAME Spirit that raised Christ from the Dead. His resurrection will become more than a scriptural fact; it will be the living truth of Him at work within us. Love can only flourish between those who have seen themselves in the light of Him through the lamp of obedience. It is only through obedience that our “souls are purified UNTO the pure and fervent love of our brothers”. Love is the signature of God in a life. Love is being the face of Jesus to one another, where all our actions are governed by a pure desire to see His people WALK in the present truth of Christ.
“I have no greater joy than this, to hear about my children walking in truth. Beloved, you do a faithful work in whatever you accomplish for those who are brothers and strangers…”
3 John 1:4-5
God is not interested in truth coming from our lips only. The words which proceed from our lips are to be verified by our walk and our deeds.
“So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty”
* Note: Pharisees (Original meaning) “separated ones”; “called out ones”.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” (Mat 7:24-27)
“So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof: and ye shall know that I am the Lord.”
We live in a day of information overload; books, blogs, writings, conferences and multimedia resources. Much of this data remains ethereal and untempered in the lives of those who are offering these things. The lives of many who travel in ministry would not measure up to the established criteria for deacons and elders within the local assembly! It is a day filled with many voices all clamoring for the affection of the hearts and souls of men and women.
Paul in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit wrote this advice to his son in the faith…
“The husbandman that labors must be first partaker of the fruits”
2 Timothy 2:6
In other words, the fruit we seek to impart to others must of necessity be reaped within the confines of our own personal life. Character and righteousness are as important as the message itself. In reality the person is the message; Paul called himself a living epistle known and read of all people. The words he spoke were evident in the life he lived. The call is great and those who bear in their lives His living word must know the necessity of abiding within the vast resources of Christ Himself. Paul described the ministers of the Body of Christ in his day as those who manifested the truth in how they conducted their lives.
“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God”
2 Corinthians 4:2
The untempered mortar and the whitewashed walls of man’s own makings will not withstand the rigors of moral decay in our day. Truth ministered apart from character and integrity robs God’s Word of its force and power. This is why the people were astonished at the Word which proceeded from the living Christ.
“And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes”
It takes little discernment to know whether the things someone shares are the untempered mortar of the intellect or the pure gold of Christ Himself. The depth of truth which proceeds from the individual life will always be in proportion to the extent of their identification with the words they share. It is in fact a part of their very lives. Information and truth are very diverse from one another; so is the impact they have upon the human heart.
It is in the touching of His presence that the Glory of God impacts, transforms and breaks the pride and shallowness of all we are by nature. No one can get a glimpse of God and remain the same. It is from this encounter that the truth of Christ flows unhindered into the world around us. We cannot invite others to taste and see of that which we have not eaten ourselves.
“O taste and see that the Lord is good”
“My one aim in life is to secure personal holiness,
for without being holy myself I cannot
promote real holiness in others”
“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient”
Humility is the precursor to obedience. Only a humble heart can obey God’s Word. True humility is expressed in a life of obedience. It is the stiff necked, self-willed, and obstinate who cannot obey God’s Word. Men may preach, teach and perform many overt signs and wonders but it is God who searches the heart (Matthew 7:21-23). Only those who are truly humbled in heart before God can obey, please and honor Him.
As the Son humbled Himself as a man He became obedient to the Father while clothed in mortal flesh. The book of Hebrews declares:
“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered”
It is not that Jesus was ever disobedient but in His incarnation, as a Man, He had to learn obedience! He came from Glory into a whole new realm and manner of life. In becoming a man, He had to overcome the testings, the temptations and the frailties of all that we are. Why and to what end?
“And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him”
In His overcoming here, as a true man, He became the author of a salvation which is available to all who obey Him. The authenticity of the salvation of an individual must culminate in obedience unto Him. Salvation is revealed by our obedience. The depth to which we are saved is revealed in the depth of our submission unto His will.
Those who claim to be “saved” will show forth His salvation by living a life of obedience.
“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”
While many may say “Lord, Lord” it is in the crucible of obedience that His Lordship is revealed.
The humility of a life is not known by a timid demeanor, It is known by the submission of itself to the Word of God.
“To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna…”
It is not the process of overcoming that entitles us to eat of this “hidden mana” for there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation. However, it is in overcoming that we grow in our capacity to eat and walk within the provisions of this manna. Doctrine and teaching require simply a certain intellect; but living truth is ministered to us according to our development not our intellect. Jesus said to His disciples…
“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear (support) them now”
The disciples’ lack of character and spiritual maturity hindered Jesus from sharing the deeper things. With the promise of the coming Holy Spirit the very nature and outlook of these same men would be radically transformed into new vessels. It is grievous to see and hear men and women speak of deep and wondrous truths with the flippancy of just another teaching. They neither understand nor are able to carry truth in a spirit of humility and the fear of God. They speak of Judgements, Sonship and other precious truths without the depth of character which should humble rather than exalt them. Martin Luther, whom God used to restore the truth of justification by faith, declared that the most dangerous doctrine in the church was “any truth carnally received”. Knowledge attained by carnal means “puffs up” without the ability to love and edify others. The real and living truth of God is the revelation of Christ Himself to the individual with the express purpose ministering to others by the development of the love of God. Any time there is a true seeing of Him men and women are immediately humbled and broken; for no flesh shall glory in His presence. Those who speak of high and lofty things without the corresponding humility and fear of the Lord have seen nothing but carnal concepts.
The true knowledge of God is revealed to those who have been weaned from the milk of the word to eat the meat of the word. The difference between these two stages of the Christian life is easily discerned. The milk of the word is for those who taste of its wonder and provision as an infant in Christ. This is a stage of great growth and delight to the Father’s heart.
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby”
1 Peter 2:2
The issue is there is a failure to go on into the maturity of Him. The stage of the “strong meat” is where His people began to obey, walk and live God’s word. Jesus said to His disciples at the well of Samaria:
“…he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of… My meat is to DO the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work”
While many in God’s house linger in the infancy stage the strong meat of God’s Word is withheld from them. It is not a question of “earning” it but of having a life that is able to bear the revelation of His character and heart. Men and women may be Christians for 50 years with all kinds of “deep” teachings and doctrines yet never able to become like Him in heart and character. There is no growth through the intellectual apprehension of a truth in God. Change only comes by virtue of SEEING HIM; where the life and soul of the beholder is humbled and captivated by a Holiness beyond description. The “strong meat” of the word is withheld from the carnal, the unstable, the proud and self-seeking ones for it must be borne in broken and contrite hearts. Purity of heart is necessary to see God in a way that affects the entire being. Truth is not a teaching; it is a portion of the life of Jesus and its apprehension is proportional to the purity of our hearts.
“Blessed are the pure in heart For they shall see God”
The milk of the Word, as good and precious as it is, must give way to the “strong meat”. The Epistle to the Hebrews was a strong admonishment to people who were failing to leave the milk:
“Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that uses milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe” Hebrews 5:11-13
The Apostle goes on to say…
“But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” Hebrews 5:14
The condition of our hearts determines the depth of our understanding in the things of God.
“Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts”
The Way into the Holy things of God will be discovered by those whose hearts desire purity (freedom from agendas and recognition) and obedience. This is the very “meat” and sustenance of the true seeker of God.
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things”
1 Corinthians 13:11
Many hold to deep teachings and concepts which can only result in a life…
“having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such (we are to) turn away…”
2 Timothy 3:5
Paul continues by declaring these same people are those who are…
“Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth…”
2 Timothy 3:7
It is a day to be sober and honest within the very core of our being for an intellectual relationship with God will not sustain us in this hour. It is time to turn to Him with honest, open and contrite hearts and seek Him for Himself alone. May we cast off the things we count as “gain” in our standing with Him and come with purity of purpose and faith unfeigned. It is here we will see Him in truth which will bring a full transformation from all that we are (2 Corinthians 3:18).
“Knowledge without repentance will be but a torch to light men to hell.”
“If anyone is blameless, husband of one wife, having faithful children, (who are) not in accusation of loose behavior, or disobedient”
Religion has a way of circumventing truth. When men in leadership fail to live according to the standards presented in scripture there is a moral decline that permeates the household of faith. If the faith of a man does not work within his own house how can he be equipped to function within the local assembly? Titus and Timothy were commissioned to ordain Elders throughout the Church of God in their day. Paul gave instructions so that the quality of faith and wisdom would be passed along by men who had proved themselves faithful in their own homes and within the community in which they lived.
“…for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?”
1 TIMOTHY 3:5
In this day of apathy standards have been lowered to such a level that a few years in a Bible school is all that is required for leadership. When such low expectations are placed on leadership we must expect a compromised truth to be passed on to those they teach. This results in a subtle and downward spiral within the church with all manner of sexual immorality, divorce and remarriage and faithless lives. Congregations with unsaved men and women are impervious to the conviction of the Holy Spirit because the fear of God is no longer known by the people of God. Accountability has been replaced with a gospel of tolerance and men are no longer expected to live Godly and Righteous lives.
The leaders of the church today are often from somewhere else and not known by the local community of faith, contrary to the very instructions set forth in scripture. We end up with men who have no personal testimony locally (as they are brought in from outside the local community), they are not required to live righteously before they are qualified for leadership within the local church. The scriptures clearly teach that the leadership OF the local assembly is to be raised up FROM the community IN which they live. They are to be men who are known by the people locally; those who have proven their faith and wisdom; those who love their wife and raise godly children in a godless world.
It does matter how we live and it does matter that our faith works in our own home. Men who do not stand for truth in the home have no business being involved in the leadership of God’s people. The priesthood of every man starts in his own home. When we water down truth to be merely a teaching rather than a life of example, the power of God will be lacking in the community of faith. Truth is not a teaching. It is a life, and how a man lives reveals the truth he holds. Truth is a power that enables us to live righteous lives. It transforms men and makes them strong in Christ.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ… For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith”
The Gospel of Christ is meant to produce lives that reveal the righteousness of God from faith to faith. As our faith grows so will the revelation of the righteousness of God in our lives. That is why faith and righteousness are inextricably linked in the New Testament. Faith is the means by which we are enabled to live Godly in this present world. That is why the LEADERSHIP of the Church of God must be men who have proven their FAITH by how they live.
“Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful”
1 CORINTHIANS 4:2
We must return to the scriptures; we must repent from the ways of men that have produced worldly organizations rather than a living organism which is called THE Body of Christ. Let us examine our place in the home, in the workplace, in the fellowship of believers and in our personal secret lives. Righteousness is the product of a living faith. Sound teaching must come from a life that resembles the very truth it proclaims.
“But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you”