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Growth

So often when we think of Christian growth we think of it in terms of being transformed from something we are not into something we are to become. Even though we don’t want to hear this the hard truth is that much of what is taught and practiced in our churches has no basis in a New Testament relationship to God. We live from an old covenant quid pro quo paradigm thinking we have to do certain things to warrant God’s blessing and favor. There is more of a difference between the Old and New covenants than blank space in our bibles. The New Testament enacted in His blood provided a way of approach to God that has NOTHING to do with the old ! Our attitude is that we don’t have it so we need to strive to try and get God to give it.

Luke 2:52 states that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. Here is a question…was Jesus any less God’s Son when he was born than He was when he was raising people from the dead ? The obvious answer is no , but… I don’t think we consider the fact that when we were saved we were also born from above by the very same Spirit that indwelt Jesus. We may poop our pants and make a mess of things but we can rest assured that we are His chldren because of his work and not ours. When I am born naturally I have everything I need to function in this world. The process of develpment comes as I learn to exercise and use what I already have…I am no more a human being now at 42 than I was when I was conceived. The same thing is true spiritually…we are transformed into His image by His Spirit as we renew our minds to what has ALREADY been freely given us in Christ and as we have our senses exercised to discern between good and evil.

Matthew 4:19

And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

I am convinced that Jesus is not only our Savior and Lord but also our example. Why is it that we think we know better how to do “ministry” than Jesus. Jesus told his disciples to “follow me” and he will make us fishers of men. The command to follow him does not mean to follow behind but rather to be like. In other words Jesus was telling his disciples that he would show them what to do to become fishers of Men and they were to do it like he did. This is evident by the fact that when he sent his disciples out to minister he told them in essence to go do what he himself was doing.

Sadly the Church (specifically the Charismatic branch of the Church) has adopted some methods for soul winning that not only fall short of his command to “follow him” but are downright goofy and many border on the Gnostic heresy because they deny the work of Christ. In Matthew chapter 10 we see an example of how Jesus sent out his disciples to minister. He  NEVER, EVER, EVER  told his disciples to go out and do spiritual warfare the way it is being taught today and he never operated in this manner himself. Many of the spiritual warfare models of today are borrowed from the Old Testament and have no business operating in the life of a New Testament Saint.

Please search the life of any of the Apostles and our Lord himself and try and find one example that promotes the idea of binding principalities and powers over a city or country in order to clear the air for ministry…I will save you the time…it’s not in there !!!  In Acts 4 the believers did pray but what happened ? Did the heavenlies change ? No… THEY were filled with the Spirit so THEY could preach with boldness and power.  The only scriptural examples of this sort of thing are deduced from Daniels example,  the Cross and the indwelling presence of Christ changed everything for us and for us to engage in these kinds of things can actually put us into Anti Christ territory !!!

If this were the way it was to be done then why did Jesus need to do so much personal one on one ministry, why did he not simple pray and fast all day and gather all of his disciples to pray and fast around the clock to “warfare in the heavenlies” until they experienced a “breakthrough”. All of this stuff is garbage and it leads to complacency in the church. Rather that actually preaching the Gospel to men’s hearts we are setting up world prayer centers and organizing global prayer ministries. This is exactly the kind of Satanic deception that keeps Gods people in religious bondage and keeps the lost lost because we are not doing what Jesus said to do.

Think about this. Jesus tells them to go into all nations and make disciples.  What do they do? Settle, and build a Bible study and prayer group (Acts 6 . .we will give ourselves to the word of God and prayer, in Jerusalem.) That is not what they were told to do . . . but it sounds “spiritual”. Just like the hyper spiritual “spiritual warfare nonsense.” It gives a false sense of spiritual significance and spiritual progress to people who are really accomplishing nothing, and who don’t have to get their hands “dirty’ dealing with real humanity because they are too busy in “the heavenlies” binding this and that principality.  Just pure rubbish.

The result?  God gets a man who will go, do it his way, Saul/Paul, and the boys in Jerusalem who are staying and studying and praying are singularly responsible for UNDERMINING the real work of God (Galatians: “Brethren sent from James . . .etc) The “pastor” of the church of Jerusalem almost destroyed God’s mission to the world.

The only way breakthrough takes place in the life of the unbeliever is when they repent and believe the Gospel that comes throught the lips of a preacher ! Yes the Holy Spirit does draw the unbeliever but the question is how ? Does the Holy Spirit draw the sinner as we “war in the heavenlies”  No !… He does the convicting as the preacher preaches the Gospel !

Our modern revival paradigms also best bear a striking resemblance to the Old Covenant and at worst. We hear a-lot these days about God “sending” revival on our land. I want to challenge you to think about the fact that the concept of God “sending” revival is very old testament and has no place in the New Covenant, it is actually an Anti Christ concept because we end up taking the place of a mediator between God and man through our constant begging and pleading with Him.

When we are going through a struggle in our faith the tendency is for us to “wait on God” to bring deliverance our way but I dare say that God is actually waiting on us. We plead with him to send revival to our nation all the while forgetting that he has deposited himself in you and I individually and in the Church corporately. We repent and repent and repent some more thinking that if we repent enough God will respond to our repentance by sending revival…after all that’s in the bible right ?  God has established a NEW covenant and no matter home sincere we may be He has decided that HE will never, ever deal with man according to the old order…so if we are going to approach him it needs to be on the basis of Christ and Him crucified not on the basis of our religious performance. 2  Chronicles 7:14 is how we try to get God to move but that prayer and approach to God  has no place in a New Testament believers life and vocabulary for far to many reasons to get into here.

What we fail to realize is that deliverance and revival has ALREADY come when we were born again and filled with the Spirit of God. The New Covenant and Pentacost IS REVIVAL ! The New Covenant is God himself dwelling inside us by his Spirit based on the work of Christ not ours…PRAISE GOD FOR THAT ! He has “past tense”  freely given us all things that pertain to life and Godliness. Are these not the words of our Lord Jesus himself in Luke 17:20-21 ” The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” The promise of James 4:7 is that if we submit to God and resist the devil he WILL flee from us, NOT he might flee from us if it’s God’s will. This scripture says it plainly if the devil is not fleeing then we are not submitting or resisting or both. James said WE need to resist and not ask God to resist for us. We have this treasure in earthen vessels but it is up to us to release the treasure.

The word of the lord for the new creation in Christ is that we don’t need to wait for God to send revival, he did send revival at Pentecost and that revival has never stopped being available to us. DO WE ACTUALLY BELIEVE THAT WE ARE INDWELT BY GOD RIGHT WHERE WE ARE? IF SO THEN WHY WOULD I NEED TO TRAVEL TO A CERTAIN LOCATION TO BE TOUCHED BY GOD AS IF GOD IS NOT WILLING TO MEET ME RIGHTWHERE I AM!!! WE ARE AS REVIVED AS WE WANT TO BE SO LET’S STOP ASKING GOD TO SEND REVIVAL OUR WAY AND GO OUT AND GET REVIVED!

I was saved in an environment where it seemed the entire goal of the Christian life was holiness. Of course this was defined in light of what I did not do. I did not touch alcohol, did not go to movies etc… The problem was that none of these actions in and of themselves actually drew me closer to my Lord. In fact they made me a self righteous zealot who others found impossible to be around. There needs to be a re thinking of the subject of holiness in the church. Can I submit to you that holiness is not the goal of the Christian life, if it were then what is the difference between us and a Christ denying cultist who observes many of the same outward holy standards ?

Christ and his life being manifest in our mortal bodies is the goal. It just so happens that as we abide in Christ the inevitable outworking of His life in us by His Spirit will produce and increasing desire for purity in our lives. A holiness that does not flow out of relationship with Christ and that does not lead to a greater apprehension of Him is quite frankly useless religious chalistenics. We are only the branches, the life source is the vine. Christ himself is to be our focus and He produces the fruit in our lives.

The victory we so often strain to obtain is quite simply a greater apprehension and manifestation of Him in us. It is all fruit that flows from the vine.  Holiness is the fruit of knowing him and Gal 5 speaks about Love as a fruit that is produced by His Spirit in and among us. Romans 6:22 speaks about holiness being a fruit not a root of our salvation. Matthew 22:37 speaks about the two great commandments that flow from a heart of love for God and others. Only the Spirit of God can create that kind of love in us so if we lack holiness in our life it is quite frankly because we lack love for the Lord and others which is because we are not walking in the Spirit.

The human heart was created to be captured and enraptured with the Love of God. I am of the opinion that God created the human heart with the capacity for addiction and I believe that everyone is addicted to something at every moment. The question is not do you have an addiction problem but rather what are you addicted to ?  Why do I say this ? What is addiction? it is a dependence. When we were created we were created to be fully dependent on God but in our fall the heart began to look for other things to depend on.

The great news of the New Covenant is that we have been given a new heart that loves the Lord. If you are a believer there is a part of you that is fully in love with Jesus, fully captured by him. That part of you is the new man that was created in righteousness and true holiness.  All we need to do believe it and renew our minds to the riches of the treasure within and begin to by faith walk it out by faith.

Matthew 6:25-30

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life

Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!

Something to consider about this verse and the current financial teachings in the Church:

How much financial teaching in the Body of Christ is centered around fear, it says that if you don’t tithe and give you will not have your needs met …”have a need sow a seed”…this verse out of the mouth of our Lord told us to consider how the birds of the air that NEITHER SOW NOR REAP NOR GATHER INTO BARNS yet our heavenly father feeds them. Jesus is telling us to look to them as an example to gather faith from. Notice how he ends his teaching with “You of little faith”. Struggling people in churches are being told that the reason they are having financial trouble is because they have not tithed or given to the ministry…this is garbage that borders on the heretical because it MAKES MONEY RATHER THAN CHRIST THE MEDIATOR BETWEEN ME AND GOD’S PROVISION !

In light of Jesus statements here I would say that the current teaching in the body of Christ about sowing into the kingdom so your needs can be met are in flat our contradiction to the teachings of Christ in this verse. We are taught to sow a seed if we are in debt and need help financially and God will meet our needs yet Jesus actually said that that kind of thinking is not a faith concept. Faith is Knowing that we have a Father in heaven who loves us and has promised to provide our needs even if we have not sown nor gathered into barns.

It also makes their ministry the mediator between you and Gods provision…if you don’t believe me try asking one of these prosperity guys or the pastor if you can expect the same blessing by giving to the poor or the prisoners or the widows or your brother in need or even a different ministry other than theirs. Because we have faith in God as our Father we are free to give from a pure heart and not out of fear !

I have heard and seen it all on this subject. The problem with all of the teaching on tithing is that it’s just no where to be found in the New Testament. It denies the work of the Cross and it is the new “Galatianism” in the church. The problem in Galatia is alive and well but we have simply substituted tithing for circumcision. Circumcision and other works were promoted in Galatia as necessary to be an A-list Christian. I would go as far to say that if we are under any teaching that promotes the idea that we need to tithe in order to have God’s favor we are under an Anti Christ doctrine…a doctrine that replaces something other than the work of Christ on our behalf for our blessing access to the Father.

Jesus has become our everything for us. Tithing also places faith in our tithing rather than the cross of Christ. If we are encouraged in Hebrews to draw near with full assurance of faith then this tithing issue kills that because if we miss a payment we don’t have faith, in that situation we make God look more like a mob boss who need protection money rather than a loving Father who promised to take care of his kids.  Yes, tithing is pushed hard in the Word of Faith circles because of their emphasis on financial prosperity. You are made to feel that if you will simply give enough you will be blessed and God will meet your needs. It is a false doctrine that is pretty much accepted as foundational in the majority of Christian Churches.

The Theology of Adam

Adam will work and sweat in church for Jesus, Adam will study to make sure he has his theological I’s dotted and T’s crossed but what Adam will NEVER do is go to the Cross.

I think many “myself being the top dog ” tend to gravitate toward’s a theology that is designed to make us feel better about ourselves and our situations and tha path we have chosen rather than be apprehended by Christ who is the Truth and the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Whether it is to make us feel better about our accomplishments for Christ or our own sinfulness I see this as a very real dynamic in peoples lives. We are unwilling to allow differing opinions often because it may mean a season of very negative emotions, wrestling with uncertainty and the fear that He may want to invade that space of our lives where our security actually lies.

We are to build our lives on The Rock and that Rock is a person, not a philosphy, not a theology and not another mans or denomonations idea of who He is. I am convinced that much of the Time we actually form opinions about God that are tailor made to help us avoid actually engaging Him at the deepest part of our hearts. Often times the Fight that we put up to defend our position is our attempt to aviod His cross and avoid the one who wants to shine the light of truth in our lives.

Think about these questions for a moment from different points of View. . What if He is a God of Grace and Love and it really is not about our works ?  What if He is a God who will one day execute wrath ?  What if it actually is His will to Heal all ?  What if He actually did Kill Ananias and Sapharia ?  What if Tithing is really not in the New Testament ?  What if There are actually churches that do it Right ?  What if God is behind the Organic Church movement ?  What if I can Lose my salvation ?  What if I am eternally secure ? What if He does not deal with me according to my performance ?  What if He is concerned with Holiness ? What if we do have a free will ? What if He did predestine everything ?

All of these questions pose problems for different schools of thought. God wants to engage us and teach us about who He is IN TRUTH. He is not at all concerned with abiding in our theological box. He wants us to trust in and Engage Him. Our God is Perfect but our understanding of Him is not. If the end goal of my study is not meeting with the living God and letting him take me wherever he wants…guess what…He is not my Lord. In other words, if I have anything other than the Truth about God and Myself to protect then… my Life, My understanding of God and Myself will be flawed by default even with bible verses in hand.

I am learning that the pathway to healing and Life is in fact death, death to my adamic need for recognition, death to my adamic need for God to be who I want Him to be, Death to my adamic need to feel like I am accomplishing something FOR HIM rahther that simply walking with Him. Death to my adamic need to know what tomorrow is going to bring so my security can rest in my plans rahter than in His arms.

At times I have had my theology rocked and it forces me to trust and engage God without having to have all of my questions answered. This can be a very frightening and frustrating experience because in our goal setting, self actualizing culture we want it all figured out, we are unwilling to engage him unless we know where He plans on taking us.I have had to ask myself this question ” why do I WANT to believe what I believe? ” is it because I am truly convinced it is the truth or is it because somewhere deep in my psyche there is a need to believe this because I am protecting my turf and if something contrary to what I believe is true I will be forced to ACTUALLY TRUST HIM !

Do we recognize HIM ?

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

If I had a dollar for every time I have heard someone stand up and get worked into a charismatic frenzy while quoting this verse I would not need to work.  The idea being that God is a mystery and with our finite brains we just cant know the things he has in store for us . Can I be so bold as to say that if this is your paradigm you may actually be opposed to Gods interest in the Earth and not even Know it.

Getting emotional about this verse in a positive way might in fact suggest that you do not really know Him. There is a very specific point that Paul is trying to get across to the Corinthian believers with this and to represent it any other way than the way Paul represented it is error… NO MATTER HOW STRONG OF AN ADRENALINE RESPONSE YOUR INTERPRETATION MAY GIVE YOU.

In CONTEXT this is talking about Pharisees (religious performers) not recognizing our Lord!!!  It is speaking about them not having the Mystery of Christ that Paul was given revealed to them which is what ultimately led to them crucifying our Lord! It is essentially saying that because their eyes have not seen, nor their ears have heard nor has these things entered into their hearts they did not see God’s eternal purpose and KILLED HIM! They Mystery that Paul is speaking about is spoken of in many places but for sake of argument it is this…Colossians 1:27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We see the same thing happening today. Someone comes along who preaches the grace of God in truth and the religious elite rise up in condemnation to crucify him and ultimately crucify the truth about Christ and His work on the Cross and in His resurrection.

We have a heavenly Father who does NOT want to remain a mystery to us. He can be know, think about this …2 Corinthians 5:19 says that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. OK how was he doing that? Obviously we know that he did it through His cross. Beyond that though we know that to truly be reconciled both parties want to be reconciled. If a wife leaves her husband and he desperately wants to get back together with her, unless she also wants to they won’t be reconciled even though the husband may have made every possible attempt to do so.

I see reconciliation this way. God was in Christ revealing the truth about himself to the world so that the world would WANT to be reconciled to him. Think about the religious atmosphere when Jesus began his ministry. There was a hugs clergy/Laity separation in the culture that divided people into 2 basic classes…those who God accepted and those who he rejected (sound familiar?). Think for a moment about the Leper of Matthew 8… why do you think he asked the question “If you are willing you can make me clean”? He was not sure if Jesus was willing, this man was an outcast to society.

He was looked upon by the religious elite. The words “I am willing” meant much more to him that we can possibly imagine. Not only was he healed physically but in one moment his rejection turned into acceptance and it had nothing at all to do with his Goodness or works. Jesus did nothing unless He saw his Father doing it first. His desire was to reveal the truth about himself to the world so that the world would not be afraid to come to Him. John 17:3 says that Eternal life is to Know God and He is trying to make Himself known to the world. He does not want to be a mystery to His own flesh and blood Kids and contrary to popular belief He does not simply want to be served. He wants to be Known and when He is truly known He will get our time and energy.