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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Where’s The Beef? In the New Testament Command From Christ Himself

There are numbers of churches today that do a good job of bringing new converts into the body. Some of these churches even have “Equipping the Saints” as their ‘motto’ but, sadly, do very little in the way of actual equipping. Most of the Pastors of these churches preach and teach salvation only – that we get a dose of the Holy Spirit at salvation that lasts us a lifetime and is sufficient for any circumstance that we may encounter in Christian life. There is no warfare, no battle to win - except bringing more to God, which is great, don’t get me wrong – but these folks are missing something truly awesome!   

The really sad truth is that, even though Christians, ALL Christians, know there is more to it than salvation, some folks draw a line in the sand at that point and say “That’s it, that’s my limit. That’s all I want from you God” This is so perplexing to me, I can’t stand it! How can people that have come to know God, who have gone through the salvation and repentance experience (IF they repented at all!), say that they  aren’t interested in going further, into a deeper relationship with Him?  The Pastors and teachers responsible for this injustice to God do talk a good game. They preach about the Holy Spirit, quoting scriptures and reading the Word of God with authority, like they know what they’re talking about – unfortunately they do not. Their understanding of the Holy Spirit is as far away from actually knowing the Spirit as white is from black. With the Spirit you’re either there or you’re not…there is no ‘almost’ and this isn’t horse shoes.

Don’t get me wrong, they are saved and are going to heaven…but will only achieve the lowest rank amongst the souls worshiping the most-high God.  I can’t imagine standing in front of God and having Him say to me “I had all this for you, but you turned it down. Well, you’re in heaven…now go wash the dishes” 

For the vast majority of Christians, the knowledge that salvation is a free gift has led them to believe that heavenly rewards are free as well. This is an extreme error and a false teaching that causes many saints to just ‘hold on’ during their lifetime on earth, waiting for either death or the return of Christ.  The Biblical fact of the matter is that the rewards that one will reap in heaven are NOT free and that everyone in heaven is NOT going to enjoy the kingdom in the same way. There is a rank and file in heaven and we will be rewarded according to the works of the Kingdom that we have done here on earth!

Acts 1:4-5 “Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized (immersed or submersed) with (in) the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 

So, asking for the Holy Spirit is not only something that enables the only true equipping of the Saints, it was actually ordered by Christ Himself for this very purpose! Doesn’t it then stand to reason that if Jesus ordered this of His disciples that it applies to us, the modern day disciples as well? And doesn’t it then stand to reason that if we don’t at the very least ask for this gift from God that we are disobeying a direct order from Christ Himself? As Sarah Palin would say,”You betcha!” 

In 2 Corinthians 5:21, we are taught that we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and receive what we have done in this body, according to as we have done, whether good or bad. 1 Corinthians 15:38 states” God will give every seed a body as it has pleased Him” Luke 12:48 tells us “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” The parable of the talents, Matthew 25:14-29, teaches us that those who do not produce fruit will have what little they had taken away and given to those who did. James 2:26 states, “Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead”. Remember, signs & wonders were a huge part of Jesus’ ministry with 33% of His ministry devoted to miraculous healing and deliverance! In fact, the very last command that Christ gives His disciples in Matthew 28:19-20 is this, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” 

We have further established, through the very Word of God, that Jesus’ last command to His disciples was to teach their new disciples “all that I commanded you” We previously established, through the Word of God, that Jesus commanded His disciples to wait until the Holy Spirit fell on them to begin their individual ministries. Again I ask, doesn’t it stand to reason that the same applies to us, the current disciples of Christ? Some of these false teachers/preachers will say something to the tune of “Oh that was only meant for the original disciples” OK, show me! I challenge anyone to show in IN THE WORD OF GOD where it says that any of these commands were only meant for the first 12! Come on…any takers? I didn’t think so.

So, we have established, through the Word of God, that the only equipping of Saints to do the work of the Kingdom of God comes by way of real power, the true power of God  given only through the second visitation of the Holy Spirit - the baptism in the Holy Spirit (original Greek “bapto”, meaning to ‘immerse’ or ‘submerge’).  

So, where then does the water-down version of Christ’s message (and direct order) that these non-believing believers stand in the eyes of God? Since Jesus Christ is the Son of God, I’d say not very well! The damage done by non-spirit-filled ‘teachers’ and ‘preachers’, that do not teach the necessity of the Holy Spirit is astronomical to the Kingdom!  I dare say that they do more harm than good. The end result is that we have a multitude of baby food-eating infant Christians, unequipped and un-empowered to do the work of the Kingdom – and a very small number of true disciples, true warriors in Christ that are actually walking the walk.

I guess the question is, which party do you want to go to? The one where everyone is just kind of milling around bored out of their mind, saying things like “Hi, how are you?” “Fine and you” or the one where there is true celebration, champagne and ticker tape and stories of supernatural healings and other wars won – a warriors celebration. One where the only electricity in the air is from electrified instruments playing at an intense volume and the other where you can hardly contain yourself from the feeling of true joy and victory!

Pastor Jack Hayford says, “As leaders, we would well be warned of our common vulnerability to being distracted by the abundance of "enhancements" available to ministry today.  There is no excuse or substitute for leading believers to "take up" the disciple's cross and be shaped as His true followers. We're within frightening reach of being able to grow bigger churches while failing to grow bigger people. We are at risk of winning believers in Jesus while not growing stable, committed, empowered agents of Christ. Jesus spoke of people who "for joy" lay claim to faith, but who do not endure. They wither when trials or pressure comes - and Christians are facing an increase of both in our world.”

The scripture that Jack is quoting is Mark 4:5, the parable of the sower, in which is Jesus saying, “Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil.” The ‘depth of soil’ that Jesus speaks of here is the power of the Holy Spirit, or as He refers to it in Luke 24:49, ‘the promise of the Father’. Look also at Mark 4:17 “And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.” I have news: tribulation or persecution is coming – how will any of us survive, and not deny Christ without the power of the Holy Spirit in us?

Like a politician who works at glad-handing to make everybody happy and control their power positions in government, too many of today’s pastors work at pleasing their congregations, rather than speaking and teaching the truth in the word of God. That’s just plain wrong. But they will also stand before the almighty God. Too many of today’s church leaders act like the church is a bank – afraid to take a risk by stepping out in true faith. Instead they treat the Spirit like a loan – and when it comes to loans, banks don’t like risk-takers.  They only care about the "risk factors". This is why bankers only invest in established success, which means that banks invest in the past—not the future. These Pastors are not enabling saints – they are enabling infants into staying infants – hence there is no growth in the body.

As my parents long-time friend, Jamie Buckingham, once wrote, “To eliminate something that yields great reward, simply because it is risky would mean the cessation of life. The risk-free life is a victory-free life. It means lifelong surrender to the mediocre and dead institutionalism. And that is the worst of all defeats.”

The Holy Spirit is not a respector of persons; He’s not interested in your bank account, your status in life, how you dress or what car you drive. The Holy Spirit is given exactly the same as salvation, freely to everyone and anyone who will ask for it. Christ says in Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you” and in Matthew 21:22 He says “And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive.” He means it! Not only is the Holy Spirit given freely, it was ordered by Christ that ALL of His disciples pray for this, the promise of the Father.

The Spirit of the Lord wants to soar, but the fear of risk, plus what has become something of a religious pork barrel by established churches, denominational and non-denominational alike, has clipped the angel’s wings. The only risk-free world exists in the minds of lazy men. Our God is a God of great risk. After all He sent His only Son for us - and He's entrusted His church to us.

What are we doing with it?

May The Blood of Jesus cover, bless & protect you!

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