“I believe that many professing Christians are cold and uncomfortable because they are doing nothing for their Lord; but if they actively served him, their blood would begin to circulate spiritually, and it would be well with them.”
or a Foolish approach to a (nevertheless) Genuine desire to serve Christ?
I have learned of a family (2 parents, 4 children all under age of 10) “raising support” for a so-called 6-week missions trip to Africa to the tune of $30,000…a trip during which they MIGHT be helping this ministry to do some construction, and they MIGHT be teaching vacation Bible school to some local children, that is IF they are allowed in, and if not, well – this ministry would just enjoy the family’s company as they visit, so would you please make your checks payable to Family-Dad/Husband by such and such date….
WHAT?? I do not see anything of the Spirit of God in this! – NO calling, NO clear direction, NO confidence that the Lord has prepared the way for the declaration of his word, NO “transparency” as far as the ethics of raising that kind of sum, NOT EVEN a way to have spiritual oversight for the trip? such as would be required to raise money through AT LEAST a sending church?, and an up-front resignation to the fact this may just be a 6-week vacation, basically, for their family of six, and so, would y’all be so kind as to fund it for them?? I will be so bold as to cry: Fraud and veritable Embezzlement in the name of Christ!! (My boldness comes, too, in part for knowing some of the family dynamic, here….)
I find this intolerable!! (and an OFFENSE to my heart, for Christ’s sake!)
So, I hope I have advised my friend wisely – I have directed him to follow the pattern set forth in Matthew 18:15-20 – Approach your “brother” whom you believe to be in sin, openly (humbly) asking questions so you are able to DISCERN if this is just foolishness or willful selfishness; offer either confrontation of sin, or wisdom to correct the folly, and if your “brother” remains unteachable and unsubmissive to the Spirit of Christ, involve a mediator – In this case, I suggested my friend seek the input, then, of your family’s elder in your church, perhaps ask some more questions to gain additional discernment, and approach your “brother” again with the elder present. If your “brother” still remains unteachable and unsubmissive to the Spirit of Christ, be prepared, because this may need to be brought publicly before the whole church – especially if your “brother” has sent this “support” letter to other members w/o the Leadership’s knowledge/approval/support, and is therefore potentially sinning against (stealing from!) the whole Body.
Oh, God help us, we are ALL of us foolish at times. Sure enough! And I hope, by GRACE, that if I were so publicly zealous in my folly (before God, I am sure I have been, at times!) that I would be approached lovingly and carefully by a brother/sister in Christ to at least seek out my motivation, discern my heart, and offer counsel if not correction. And if I were so “foolish” to SIN blatantly in this way, I would hope for Christ’s sake! that someone would intervene that I might not bring such shame to the cause of Christ.
But still? And failing all other intervention? I pray that God, by his GRACE, would nevertheless cover ALL of our own foolishness and sinfulness with the blood of Christ and STILL bring about some good for his Glory, that we might nevertheless say with the Apostle Paul – imprisoned and bad-mouthed by other “preachers” of the Gospel, and exactly in a situation when we might expect him to “defend” himself and rebuke the nay-sayers/abusers – in Philippians 1:12-21 ~
They Can’t Imprison the Message
12-14 I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. All the soldiers here, and everyone else, too, found out that I’m in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they’ve learned all about him. Not only that, but most of the followers of Jesus here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah.
15-17 It’s true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they’ll step right into the spotlight. But the others do it with the best heart in the world. One group is motivated by pure love, knowing that I am here defending the Message, wanting to help. The others, now that I’m out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves. Their motives are bad. They see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better—they think—for them.
18-21 So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!
And I’m going to keep that celebration going because I know how it’s going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done. I can hardly wait to continue on my course. I don’t expect to be embarrassed in the least. On the contrary, everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn’t shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose.
Glory to God! and Help us all, in JESUS’ name….
- “Your personal, ‘journal-like’ approach to teaching is not profitable to the whole Body! You may well be learning much, but you need to broaden your pithy one-liners and marginal reflections to find what the Text is really saying, for the benefit of ALL!”
- “You are speaking as though every word you’re saying is ‘thus sayeth the Lord’; you must let the Word be the Word – draw a distinction, or people will flock to YOU rather than GOD!” …
- “DO NOT BE AFRAID! I have given you authority over the creatures of the sea, AND over the waves!”
- “I have made you for this time and this place – you are here to be taught, to learn submission, to trust the spiritual authorities I have placed over you, and to be prepared.”
- “You have everything you need – you can already walk on water! – but I will determine the time and place when you step out.”
- “You DO have a place; you DO have a purpose in the Body, even in THIS Body! Be watchful, be teachable, be patient, continue to serve, and I will make it clear what you are to do; I will open the way at the proper time, and you will know it when you see it.”
I listened to another famous preacher, today, per the recommendation of a friend. The man was very zealous about his particular end-times interpretations, and clearly believed most of the pastors/preachers in our generation are ignoring the signs of the times, and preaching only to “tickle the ears” of their listeners. Then he spent about half his show castigating one other preacher in particular for the way it appeared this other man was handling himself. By the end of the half hour program, I found myself frustrated, tempted to fear, and somewhat indignant as if I needed to defend this other preacher (with whom I don’t even particularly agree) against the onslaught, as none of this really directed the viewers’/listeners’ gaze to the face of Christ and the truth of the Gospel.
It seemed like so much more separatist junk – and yet, Christians ARE to be a separate people. Just had an excellent sermon delivered at my church, yesterday morning, on the “separateness” or “peculiarity” of what it means to be a holy people, characterized by the righteousness of Christ (how we hate even the garment stained by sin, and how we are a people of whom it is evident we are QUICK to repent, turn from sin and turn to God in Christ)…..
Then again, just cuz his appeals didn’t sit well with me doesn’t mean I can say he wasn’t anointed of God to preach this specific message. It was (to the best I could tell) biblically based – and perhaps the “purpose” of his passion was to address those who particularly AREN’T biblically based (and though I was so aware of a lack of anything winsome, here, I yet know there are MANY preachers who fall into a 2 Tim. 3 or Jude or 2 Peter [false/licentious teacher/prophet] type category). But what saddens me most is that this friend and relatively new Believer ONLY listens to this TV preacher, and isn’t part of a vibrant, Christ-filled community of believers, and he seems only to pick up on the most divisive and vitriolic, and not that which should otherwise fix our gaze and dependence on JESUS.
*sigh* ….So now what?
There is, I admit, a time for the seemingly “vitriolic” – The apostles, themselves, minced no words when it came to Gospel compromise! – and there is a time for being winsome….Shall I take my example from the Word? 🙂
Please read on ….
2 Timothy 3
Difficult Times Ahead
3 1-5 Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people.
6-9 These are the kind of people who smooth-talk themselves into the homes of unstable and needy women and take advantage of them; women who, depressed by their sinfulness, take up with every new religious fad that calls itself “truth.” They get exploited every time and never really learn. These men are like those old Egyptian frauds Jannes and Jambres, who challenged Moses. They were rejects from the faith, twisted in their thinking, defying truth itself. But nothing will come of these latest impostors. Everyone will see through them, just as people saw through that Egyptian hoax.
2 Peter 2
Lying Religious Leaders
2 1-2 But there were also lying prophets among the people then, just as there will be lying religious teachers among you. They’ll smuggle in destructive divisions, pitting you against each other—biting the hand of the One who gave them a chance to have their lives back! They’ve put themselves on a fast downhill slide to destruction, but not before they recruit a crowd of mixed-up followers who can’t tell right from wrong.
2-3 They give the way of truth a bad name. They’re only out for themselves. They’ll say anything, anything, that sounds good to exploit you. They won’t, of course, get by with it. They’ll come to a bad end, for God has never just stood by and let that kind of thing go on.
Predators on the Prowl
10-11 God is especially incensed against these “teachers” who live by lust, addicted to a filthy existence. They despise interference from true authority, preferring to indulge in self-rule. Insolent egotists, they don’t hesitate to speak evil against the most splendid of creatures. Even angels, their superiors in every way, wouldn’t think of throwing their weight around like that, trying to slander others before God.
12-14 These people are nothing but brute beasts, born in the wild, predators on the prowl. In the very act of bringing down others with their ignorant blasphemies, they themselves will be brought down, losers in the end. Their evil will boomerang on them. They’re so despicable and addicted to pleasure that they indulge in wild parties, carousing in broad daylight. They’re obsessed with adultery, compulsive in sin, seducing every vulnerable soul they come upon. Their specialty is greed, and they’re experts at it. Dead souls!
15-16 They’ve left the main road and are directionless, having taken the way of Balaam, son of Beor, the prophet who turned profiteer, a connoisseur of evil. But Balaam was stopped in his wayward tracks: A dumb animal spoke in a human voice and prevented the prophet’s craziness.
17-19 There’s nothing to these people—they’re dried-up fountains, storm-scattered clouds, headed for a black hole in hell. They are loudmouths, full of hot air, but still they’re dangerous. Men and women who have recently escaped from a deviant life are most susceptible to their brand of seduction. They promise these newcomers freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, for if they’re addicted to corruption—and they are—they’re enslaved.
20-22 If they’ve escaped from the slum of sin by experiencing our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ, and then slid back into that same old life again, they’re worse than if they had never left. Better not to have started out on the straight road to God than to start out and then turn back, repudiating the experience and the holy command. They prove the point of the proverbs, “A dog goes back to its own vomit” and “A scrubbed-up pig heads for the mud.”
16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. 17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.
Maintain Your Life with God
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Glory to God
24 Now to Him who is able to keep you[f] from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior,[g] Who alone is wise,[h] Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power,[i] Both now and forever. Amen.
“People filled with the Holy Spirit should be marked with the true features of witnesses. They neither dither nor dogmatize. They are sure of their aim but are not arrogant. They have the cool assurance of knowing that two plus two equals four with no need to prove it – no polemics. They are passionate but not pushy (with a few exceptions). They let the truth speak for itself, no browbeating people into submission. They do not wear boxing gloves. The preaching formula is always ‘thus says the Lord,’ not ‘I’m telling you!’ Witnesses just pass on what they had heard and saw. It is not their business to defend it or even to invite questions. It is the Lord’s responsibility to confirm the righteousness of His own Word.”
What a beautiful quote!
I confess, I have spent the better part of my life aspiring to more knowledge, particularly spiritually, and desiring to convey that discovered “truth” to any and all I could. Sometimes this looked like spiritual fervor, sometimes this took the form of evangelistic frenzy, sometimes it felt like academic zeal, and always it represented my deep and abiding desire to KNOW GOD and to see as many others come savingly to the knowledge of him, also…..And being a Philosophy major in college only fueled my passion for the DEBATE! I loved to be RIGHT, and to PROVE I was right (to the degree I would even now say that “being right” is one of my most dominating heart idols!). I was convinced this was what it looked like to “love the Lord my God with all my *mind*!”
Even though I desired that others might be saved, it was still colored by my feeling the need to fight to persuade (which had very little about it a *heart* of love, at least that any of my would-be listeners could discern).
So more recently, with the advent of some of the “discoveries” (RE-discoveries?) I’ve been making by God’s grace over the past year, I am becoming more consciously aware of what the Apostle Paul means, in the letter to the Colossians, to “let the peace of Christ RULE in your hearts” ~ and it is this very peace that I think Brother Bonnke is referring to above, when he talks about that “cool assurance” of disposition. Akin to when Paul also says in Philippians that our “gentleness” should be evident to all…..
I have had many occasion to *fail* in how I’ve lived by or displayed this peace, or gentleness, or cool assurance. I am definitely not “mature” in this area, yet. But just hearing these words sends a thrill to my heart, and I know it is that to which I am aspiring, and it is the FULLNESS of this that I am convinced the Lord is working in my own heart (yes, *heart*)….and it is the overflow of these “meditations of my heart” that I hope will increasingly characterize the “words of my mouth.”
Jesus was full of grace AND truth ~ too long I’ve felt compelled to *prove* the truth, when all I’ve needed to do is stand on it. If anything, perhaps I ought to look at this as a way of *proving* grace? not in a “straining effort” kind of way, but just in terms of being *intentional* about living forth from the grace of Christ, and I can only do that if I am totally immersed in it….in HIM. And I can trust the Lord to *prove* himself when it comes to the “truth” of who he is…..how very freeing!
Lord, I’m hanging up my gloves. 🙂