Friday, May 29, 2009

Pleasing and Acceptable: Allowing the Word of God to Define the Definitions - Part 4

Gathering of the Body (1 of 3)

* Remember to read the previous parts of this series first

As I am well aware that I often address this issue, I will be as brief as possible as to not repeat what I often speak of on this matter. I just cannot honestly get away from it – I can't help it. I believe with all that is within me that this is perhaps the greatest error within the Body of Christ, for most "ministry" flows from it. We must know how a Gathering of the Body that is pleasing unto God functions.

"However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says: 'HEAVEN IS MY THRONE, AND EARTH IS THE FOOTSTOOL OF MY FEET; WHAT KIND OF HOUSE WILL YOU BUILD FOR ME?' says the Lord, 'OR WHAT PLACE IS THERE FOR MY REPOSE? WAS IT NOT MY HAND WHICH MADE ALL THESE THINGS?'" Acts 7:48-50

"The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands." Acts 17:24

"But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built!" 1 Kings 8:27

One of the main issues that I have with "attending church" is that it becomes a special occasion, not a daily lifestyle. Attendees dress differently than they would if, say, they were going to the grocery store. It is validated by saying that it is "honoring the LORD's house". It is understood that you are to sit quietly (usually in the same place) and listen to someone "feed" you. You stand when you are told and you sit when you are told. You sing when you are told to sing. You sing what you are told to sing. You give your tithes and offerings and it will be assigned as the "leadership" sees worthy, unless you designate its use otherwise. You know what is coming and when. It is ritualistic religion rooted in pagan practices and age old doctrines of men. Call it what you want, it does not change what it is and it does not fit the biblical mold.

There are contemporary services, services at 8:30, 9:45, 10:30 and 11:45 AM. Services after lunch, services on Saturday nights, family-friendly church, modern church, emergent church, traditional church, denominational church, non-denominational church…. just "make it out to the service" and "go to church"! If I could choose one church sign that sums up the biggest fallacy in commonplace Christianity it is this, "Home Improvement: Take your family to church!" My friend, we have exchanged the real thing for a form of godliness. Masses of Believers meet again and again and again, following the same "orders of service" and wonder why nothing ever changes. If the "church", as most know it to be, is so fantastic, then why are so many of them all over the place yet we see virtually no fruit from any of them beyond some community-minded efforts that "secular" organizations are already doing… and doing better?

Again, I urge you, return to what God deems as acceptable, what He deems as worthy. He desires His Body to be a real, living Body! When did you last distribute Communion? When did you get up in front of anyone and teach what God is teaching you in the Word? When do you ever exercise your "Body part"? Do you not sit "under" someone week after week after week, always listening to what God is telling them? At best, you might have a ten minute window to share what you thought about what they just taught you. In the current order, a small handful of people do the "ministering" and the rest? Well, they should just pray silently, I guess.

The Body has been disqualified!

They have been reduced to volunteers, nursery workers and Sunday School teachers! My Bible tells me that if you are in Christ, you are a royal priesthood! Too many people say today to their pastors, leadership, disciplers (call them whatever you wish) what the Israelites said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die!" (Exodus 20:19) I personally feel that it is spiritually detrimental to rely on someone else to be your primary source. If one does not mature into capably handling the Word of God on their own, how does personal, first-hand revelation ever come? I challenge you to be willing to let go of relying on someone else to tell you what to study and how to study it. I'm not saying we don't need shown how, but many have already been shown how but lazily continue to be "fed" rather than feed themselves.

Until one willingly lays down their reliance upon others to be taught, they will never know the depth and width to personal discovery with the LORD Himself as their Teacher.

Will we always need instruction? Yes. Will we always need godly examples of other who have gone before us? Yes. Will we always need a teacher to hold our hand and tell us what God is speaking? I personally don't think so. Some might say, well then why do you take the time to write and "teach" others then? Is this not contradictory? I don't think it is. My entire goal and purpose is for regular people like me to understand that they too can study the Word and allow it to define biblical Christianity. I desire to be an example of how anyone can discern what the LORD is speaking when they hear what the Spirit is saying. My whole purpose is to say, "You can do it! Yes you!"

Next up, we'll see what God has said in the past about ritualistic services and vain traditions. Can we continue to approach God on our own terms and expect Him to approve of it?


Daughter of Wisdom said...

Hi Joel,
You covered a lot in this post, but I am going to address the issue of "first-hand" revelation. While it is true that God speaks to all of us in our hearts, I do not believe that God has given the gift of prophecy to all believers. The gift of prophecy was designed to build up the body of Christ as a whole and not for personal use, and thus God wisely assigns this gift to persons of His choosing, who would use this gift for the church (1Corinthians 14:3-4). In 1Corinthians 12 and Romans 12:4-8 it says that God has given different gifts to different people within the body. Therefore, we cannot all be prophets, or all teachers, etc. I, like yourself, do not personally believe that these gifts lie solely in the clergy, because according to the Bible, these gifts are dispersed within the body (1 Corinthians 12:4-31).

I know for myself God has gifted me with teaching and prophecy, and yet I am not a pastor! (I have "on-the-job training" teaching Bible, writing, authoring). Many churchgoers mistakenly believe that these gifts can be learned in school or seminary, but according to the Bible, these are gifts from God (not of works lest any man should boast!). I respect pastors and Bible teachers, and yet I can tell who is anointed with the gift and who is just an academic. Seminary should be about helping persons to develop their God-given gifts, and not about training people to acquire a gift.

As church members, the weekly church service has become a substitute for personal Bible study, when it should be an adjunct. I agree, that we have been trained to rely on someone else as our "primary source." We need to take more personal interest in our own salvation, and search out truth for ourselves, and get to know God for ourselves. No pastor can make us know God. Pastors may tell us about God, but knowing God is our responsibility.

I like to compare knowing God with getting married. Who marries a spouse by just reading about that spouse, or by just talking to that spouse's friends/family? None, unless it is an arranged marriage. Nothing beats getting to know a person than having a relationship with that person. There is no other way! Having others tell you about that person might give you an idea about that person, but you need to find out and experience that person for yourself. In the same way with God, we not only need to hear about Him, but we actually need to spend time getting to know Him.

As usual, I enjoy reading your blogs. Very thought-provoking topics that get us thinking.

jsolo said...

Our Choices

If you had a choice, right now, to choose to be with Christ Jesus in heaven would you choose to do so? Being human and having the power of choice, can we choose to ask God to grant us a wish? You see, there are three realms, earth, heaven, and hell. We live on the earth in the now, and we believe, as Christians, that at some point Christ will return to the earth and judge us in the final days. Between now and judgement day, death will end our stay on earth and God will judge our fate when that happens.

Christ said: "And all things whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you shall receive." What if, we asked God to stop this game that is being played out on earth, and grant us the one wish of living with him in heaven right now. What if, we choose to not allow Satan any more control over our lives and our future and made the decision to ask God to end this game. What if we, as human beings, with the power of choice, made a conscious decision to choose Christ Jesus, right now, over the day to day challenges and temptations that Satan offers.

Say, if in 2015, we were able to gather 9 billion, or 8 billion or 5 billion people, Jews, Catholics, Baptists, Protestants, Jahovah Witnessers, Lutherians, Episcapalians, Muslims, Buddists, Hindu's, and every other worshiper, together to pray to God, asking him to bring us home. If we ask Jesus Christ to come, would he be with us??? If we asked him to bring us home to his kingdom in heaven, would we receive??? Do you want to stop playing this earthly game??? Our home is in heaven and not here on earth. Is that a challenge?? Can you see the vision???

Christ has said: "And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks it shall be opened." We can ask billions of people to take one moment in time to act as one, crying out to God, our heavenly Father, "Take us home." OH GOD, take us from the land of the Pharaohs!!! Take us from the hands of evil, bring us home to your kingdom!!! Can we ask strong enough?? Can we ask hard enough?? Can we ask loud enough??? Do you believe???

Christ said: "And in that day you shall ask me nothing. Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it to you. Hitherto you have not asked anything in my name. Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full." Do we want to be filled with eternal joy?? Why have we not asked???

Can you imagine how we can make this happen?? Can you understand the power that God has given us in order that we may choose our own destiny, right now. We don't have to wait until tomorrow, while Satan tricks and traps millions more souls into the fires of hell!!! The decision is ours. Can we choose?? Can we make this happen?? Can we start a holy movement around the world and set the date of our going home??? Or are our hearts hardened so much by this earthly realm that we can not conceive of the idea that God will grant our request???

Christ said: " I say to you further, that if two of you shall agree on earth about anything at all for which they ask, it shall be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together for my sake, there am I in the midst of them." Christ come into the mist of millions, of billions and grant our wish!!!

Take the poll!

Come, bind your spirit with mine so that we may work together to express this message. If you believe, leave a message so that we may communicate and the spirit of oneness and love may grow within us!!!

Make it happen!!!

This is your seed, plant it and watch it grow!!

Pass this message on to your friends and family!!

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love!

Give a contribution! Donate to this cause!


Joel Spencer said...

Daughter: I understand what you're saying. I have however seen far too many times to count the misuse and exaggeration of "five-fold" ministry. I don't believe anyone is "limited" to a certain gift. While one may excel in a certain area, if the Holy Spirit indwells someone, He can use them for whatever He chooses.

I think we must be careful how we label people to possess this gift and that. Too many times I've seen people miss great opportunities because they were told "thats' not their gifting".

I'd like to borrow what an online brother recently stated on this matter as he said it quite well:

"Notice that Paul also specifically says that some are gifted at giving (Rom 12:8), but we don't have a problem saying that everyone should give. Similarly, Paul says that there are those who are gifted at exhortation (Rom 12:8), but we are comfortable saying that everyone should exhort. Paul says that some have gifts of faith (1 Cor 12:9), but we still say that all should have faith. Paul teaches that only some have the gift of service (Rom 12:7), but we also know that everyone should serve.

Paul also says that some are gifted as prophets (Rom 12:6, 1 Cor 12:10, Eph 4:11), and he also says that all are not prophets (1 Cor 12:29). Yet, in spite of the fact that only a few are given the spiritual gift of prophecy, Paul also says that all can prophesy (1 Cor 14:31), and he exhorts his readers to "earnestly desire to prophesy" (he doesn't say to earnestly desire the gift of prophesy here)."

I agree with your "getting to know your spouse" analogy. One must enter into intimacy with the Father. There is no other way!

Thanks again for your participation.

Jsolo: There is much I could address within your comment, but I'll stick to where you stated "Say, if in 2015, we were able to gather 9 billion, or 8 billion or 5 billion people, Jews, Catholics, Baptists, Protestants, Jahovah Witnessers, Lutherians, Episcapalians, Muslims, Buddists, Hindu's, and every other worshiper, together to pray to God, asking him to bring us home."

My friend, this will not and cannot happen.... ever. We would not all be crying out in unity to the One True God so it would be futile at the outset. Unity is much more than just all saying the same thing.

(On a side note, I kindly ask that you don't solicit donations within this blog.)

Thanks for stopping by!

Harriet said...

I SO long for a group of friends to meet with who each come ready to share what God has been teaching them during the past few days...who will pray with and for me and allow me to do that with and for them..who can sing praises to God without a "song leader", and who desire to help each other grow.... I KNOW that THAT is the way God intended the church to be.. and yet people are either too lazy to stop and have time with God on their own( and thus let someone else, a pastor teach them) or they are too brain washed to think this Holy walk can be BETTER!
keep on telling them Joel! maybe one day (before it is too late) they will HEAR!

Joel Spencer said...

Harriet: Even in the gatherings we're a part of now, we fall short of all that it could be, but we're trying! With the LORD as our Guide, we will continue to seek what He deems as acceptable and right. Even in our baby steps of obedience and openness to the leading of the Spirit, great ground is gained! May the LORD lead His beautiful Bride into truth.

(And may you be blessed with what your heart desires regarding others to gather with in His name.)

Valerie said...

Ooh Harriet, you're not on your own there. I used to say that I wanted people to worship with, but now I'm content that Father really is more than enough. It's such a privilege to be in this place of intimacy with Father. When I did feel lonely at first I would remind myself that it's not about me, it's about Jesus.

Joel, I agree with all you are saying in this part of the series. Wonderful encouragement to read what is straight from the Holy Spirit.