Letters to the Church – Part Five

Letters to the Church – Part Five

“And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that He might know how much every man had gained by trading.”
Luke 19:15

The magnitude of God’s grace and the abundance of His gifts are evident throughout the New Testament promises. The depth of His unmerited mercy can only be fully appreciated through the medium of walking out those gifts in faithfulness. We see this throughout the Gospels. The Parables of the pounds, the talents, the sower and others, show the variety and the wonder of His gifts AND their corresponding accountability. To each of the recipients of the Pounds in the above Parable the reward of Christ was determined by their “trading” of the thing given. The individual who received one pound without their diligence to the precious gift given were never able to fully appreciate the gift or the giver’s worth. It remained unchanged, undeveloped and unappreciated. For such the Day of the Lord holds no rejoicing. How did Jesus respond to the one who held His precious things lightly?

“Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant…
and he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound,
and give it to him that hath ten pounds…”
Luke 19:22-24

The great gifts of God require our full attention. They become far more developed and valuable as we are faithful to them. In this Parable (unlike the Parable of the Talents) every individual was given the same initial amount; through their faithfulness and investment the one pound became ten, and to another became five. Yet for the slothful one, the one talent remained one. In the Parable of the Sower the one seed sown in a variety of the soils, produced very different outcomes. The fruitfulness of the seed was determined by the soil, not the seed! The same Pound given produced different results in the lives of each of these individuals. The great eternal question to each of us? What have we done with the precious gifts allotted to us?

We read in the great chapter of Faith in Hebrews 11, the faith of our forefather’s lives and the testimony they have left for us that we might walk in like manner.

“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward
Hebrews 11:24-26

The reason Moses forsook Egypt and chose to suffer affliction and reproach was because he had “respect” for the eternal rewards of Christ! He accounted the reproach of Christ to be of more value than Pharaoh’s riches! Men and women who fail to develop the great gifts of God hold a disrespect for His Gifts of Mercy and Grace. The verity of Moses having “respect unto the reward” is a New Testament truth declared in the Book of Hebrews; it is a truth of infinite value for the people of God in this day! We live in a Day when the Gospel preached minimizes or denies the reward and the Judgment Seat of Christ unto His Own! (2 Corinthians 5:10) We have a gospel today which speaks of a salvation regardless of how we live our lives where the faithful and the unfaithful all just go to heaven without any eternal consequences relating to the life they lived. Without the solemn truth of the “fear of the Lord” men and women, who are truly God’s children, see no reason to develop the gifts of Christ in their own lives. Much of the “ministry” in God’s house is satisfied  with a people who are undeveloped in their “own” gifts and ministries in God. This false gospel is convenient for the leaders as they maintain their authority with little or no local accountability. It is also convenient for the people as they feel free of their responsibility to God in His purposes for their lives.

“…the priests rule by their own authority;
and my people love to have it so”
Jeremiah 5:31

The result is a poor and impoverished church which lacks power, vitality and the raising up of the Body of Christ through the development of their own ministrations. This arrangement will not alter the accountability of each individual unto God for themselves. His Word is clear and our Day of giving an account of how we lived our lives unto Him remains true and unchangeable.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men”
2 Corinthians 5:10-11

(I do not write these things to be contentious, but because I am compelled to be faithful unto His Word to all who read these things. We want our day of standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ to be a day of joy and great rewards, not of loss and sorrow.)

A gospel which denies our accountability is not only a deceptive lie but a robbery of God’s glory and investment!

“Will a man rob God?”
Yet ye have robbed me
But ye say, ‘Wherein have we robbed thee?’
In tithes and offerings”
Malachi 3:8

The tithes and offerings of the New Testament is for us to give back to God the increase of His gifts to us. If one with a gift of healing, a word of knowledge, a ministry in the Word, or a thousand other ministrations He has lavished on the Body of Christ does not invest that in others, we not only rob ourselves of the reward of Christ but we also rob His Body which is to be built up “by the functioning of every part”! (Ephesians 4:16) If every part is not functioning, the Body of Christ will suffer loss!

Paul in his understanding of this vital truth exhorted and encouraged the people of God to walk and fulfill the ministry that God had given unto them.

“And say to Archippus,
Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord,
that thou fulfil it
Colossians 4:17

Neglect not the gift that is in thee…”
1 Timothy 4:14

“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance
that thou stir up the gift of God…”
2 Timothy 1:6

We must reject a gospel which presents ministry as something for a privileged few and began to read His Word in the truth and solemnity of its simple declarations.

“But to each one is given
the manifestation of the Spirit for the profit of all”
1 Corinthians 12:7

Read the context of this scripture and do not let any teaching, doctrine or cunning words of men deter you from the truth and grace which has been given to “each one” of us!

When we stand before Him, may we each hear:

Well DONE, thou 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”
Matthew 25:21,23

Brian Troxel

THE NEW WINE SKIN

THE NEW WINE SKIN

OUR BROTHERS KEEPER

“And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, and wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even.”
NUMBERS 19:19

Within the sacred writings of the Old Testament we are constantly amazed at the glimpses into the New Covenant! In this passage we read that an Israelite who in his daily life touched something unclean (making him unclean) or something dead (bringing a ministration of death into his life), required a ministration in order for him to be received back into the life of the community of Israel. If only we could see the import and the necessity for us to so interact with one another that the community of faith (known as the Body of Christ) would begin to flow in the love of God and edify itself in HIS Love.

“From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love”
EPHESIANS 4:16

This picture presented to us in the Book of Numbers clearly demonstrates the heart of God. We are not here to live independently from one another. We are to interact in the out workings of God. Men who have no desire to flow with others will not know of the fullness of God. God in His wisdom prescribed this WAY for the unclean to be so ministered to by his brothers that he is brought back into the life of the community. There is no mention here of the shedding of blood but of the sprinkling of water unto cleansing. This is not dealing with redemption and salvation; this is a ministry of the washing of the water by the Word being ministered to one another. It is like washing one another’s feet as we journey in this world full of darkness, temptation and death. This is a life found within the ministrations of the Holy Spirit, member to member, cleansing, encouraging and exhorting. If there is to be any real desire for righteousness and purity how the Body of Christ needs to see the vitality of this life of interaction!

Our independence, lack of trust and pride keep us from the power of this life. It is God’s way and in refusing His way we are left to our own. We have in the New Testament a picture of this in the revelation of Christ raising Lazarus from the dead. Only Jesus has the power to raise the dead; but once Lazarus has been raised Jesus turns to His Disciples and says “Loose him, and let him go”.

“And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them (the disciples), Loose him, and let him go
JOHN 11:44

Just as with Lazarus, Jesus speaks the Life of Resurrection to every true child of God. He then expects us, as His disciples, to remove the grave clothes (lingering effects, ways and habits of the “old man”) that bind. He tells His Disciples to “loose him and let him go”. Can we not see the connection? We are HIS BODY, and as such, by the interaction with one another, we are to be the means by which every man becomes truly free. Too many of God’s people are sitting passively in pews, or isolated in little groups, or alone, while the power and the WAY of God go untouched due to our lack of interaction. We are to be the New Wine Skin but as long as we refuse to walk in this way He will not pour out the New Wine.

“Then He spoke a parable to them: “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. And no one, having drunk old wine, Immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’”
LUKE 5:36-39

We keep thinking that He is going to patch up the old! Perhaps if we had a new pastor or a new teacher or a new youth leader; or perhaps if we just prayed a little harder we could get OUR way of “fellowship” or method of meeting to work. It will not happen. IT IS A NEW DAY and the new day REQUIRES a new and fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit! The former things must pass away! The problem is that people like the old wine. They say the old wine is better, they resist change, are set in the old ways and do not desire the new enough to forsake the old. It is because of this that God must go out into the highways and the byways to bring in new people who have not “acquired” the taste of the Old Wine.

GOD HAS A WORD for those who linger in the old and leaking wineskin; He has a Word for those who desire the Old Wine instead of the NEW…

“Moab* hath been at ease from his youth,
and he hath settled on his lees,
and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel,
neither hath he gone into captivity:
THEREFORE, his taste remained in him,
and his scent is not changed
JEREMIAH 48:11

Moab* is a people who were the incestuous offspring of Lot; they were born out of a desire to save or preserve the seed of Lot after the judgements of Sodom. They will not change, they refuse to be “poured from vessel to vessel” and because of this THERE IS NO CHANGE in their own lives.

“Remember ye not the former things,
neither consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing…”
ISAIAH 43:18-19

It is a day to forsake the former things for it is the DAY of the New Wine-skin; a day to seek and desire to fulfill God’s heart: the full revelation of the “Body of Christ”. It is a day to forsake the format and the structure of the old wine-skin that will NOT make room for the new. Let us embrace the power of the life of the Son where the New Wine Skin is birthed by the vital relationships of the people of God, each member beholding the Head, even Christ.

“…unto Him
shall the gathering of the people be”
GENESIS 49:10

How can we continue to meet in the name of some denomination, or in the ways of some great teacher or organization, how long can we gather in the name of anything other than JESUS! The early Church had no other name, they had no other impediment in their coming together for they were drinking of the New Wine for it was poured out into a New Wine Skin. The word testifies that they were in ONE ACCORD PRIOR to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the NEW WINE SKIN must precede the pouring forth of the precious HOLY SPIRIT.

In 2 Kings God pleads with His people to give heed to His Word and change their ways and they refused and instead of obeying Him they clung to their former ways…

“Howbeit they did not hearken,
but they did after their former manner”
2KINGS 17:40

Can we not hear, is there not within our very hearts the cry for something real, powerful and NEW? How long will we cling to the former things, how long will we languish in that which is old and leaking? When will we so desire the new that we rise up and forsake that old and impotent way? A man’s desire for a thing must come to the place of such intensity that it produces the arising and the seeking for it.

*NOTE: Moab is a seed who springs out of the mighty deliverance from Judgement   In which Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt, Moab is a type of a people who desire to preserve THEIR way, THEIR position and THEIR relevance in the things of God. They will not change, they refuse to be “poured from vessel to vessel” and because of this THERE IS NO CHANGE in their lives. The taste of the wine that flows from them and the scent of their spirit and their heart remains intact and to such a people there will be NO NEW WINE. Moab’s inheritance and place of abiding in the Old Testament was the Dead Sea! Can we not see the end of such ways?

“Therefore also now,
saith the Lord,
turn ye even to me
with all your heart…”
Joel 2:12

Brian Troxel