In a former article I wrote a section called “Who is wise among you?” It states;
In relation to how a man builds Paul wrote;
“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise”
After giving the reason why each of us must become foolish to be wise he concludes with this:
“So then, let no one boast in men.” Now why would men do that? And what was Paul’s solution to that problem? “For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.” [1 Corinthians 3:18-23]
The wise man no longer sees himself as separate from his brothers and sisters in Christ. He does not view himself as separate, he does not view his belongings as separate, he does not view his job as separate- he views nothing in this world (present) or even things to come as separate. He sees all in Christ; and needless to say that those who wisely view things and their family as such will live in such a manner that exemplifies that view…..that is consistent with that view…..the way God sees things.
Gone are allegiances to men. “My pastor” will no longer work. Gone are allegiances to various entities. “My church” doesn’t work either.” Gone are allegiances to things. “My possessions” doesn’t cut it. Can you see why all these things are opposed to true Biblical Christianity?
It seems unfortunate for the few who have been ostracized from formal religion to be cast aside as unnecessary or unwanted. Just as we once thought this unfair and ourselves wronged, oh how we now see the bigger picture as it really is. No longer are we deceiving ourselves. Just as Him who was cast far from the eyes and hearts of men, so we too know the pains of being sacrificed for the few He will eventually call unto Himself. We no longer regret having died to that former manner of living now do we?
These days, God is still calling for men to be sacrificed once again. We are called to a new manner of living, all divisions aside, nothing remains but a cross laid upon the path in front of me. It is my duty, my responsibility, my privilege in sharing that cross. Only as I do, will any remaining independence and the pride of independent accomplishment be diminished and abandoned.
THE CROSS PREPARES ME FOR SCRIPTURAL SUBMISSION
Every true Christian has been taught things by God Himself. For others, they simply follow the direction of someone who they believe to be more spiritual and enlightened- they take that persons word for what they say is the truth. At other times, people believe He is speaking to them when in reality what we they hear has an altogether different source than God. Are we all free to believe whatever we want or is their a consistent pattern all Christians are obligated to follow?
In my last post I wrote out the verse found in 2 Corinthians 11:3, 4 which says;
“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we (the apostles) have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not (initially and through us) received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully” (you put up and tolerate this as if it is no big deal)
Several things can be ascertained from the verse above:
- True spiritual devotion is to a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ
- There are people about who preach false conceptions of Jesus (they don’t preach the real Jesus)
- There are “spirits” that accompany these false teachers and their false concepts of Jesus- they do not derive from the Holy Spirit.
- There also exist false concepts of the one true gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is obvious by the surrounding verses in this chapter that Paul is concerned about these falsehoods affecting the saints. These falsehoods lead people away from the simplicity and purity of devotion Jesus commands and deserves- they corrupt both the gospel message itself and the one practice of the true gospel.
We have talked much about the fact that only ONE TRUE GOSPEL exists and that there is only ONE TRUE PRACTICE of this gospel among the saints. (See: 1 Corinthians 4:17, 11:1, 16, 14:33, 37) for some aids about this.
It becomes readily apparent if we believe the Bible that what Paul called “my gospel” and “my ways” (that which he claimed he received by revelation (not by or from men, Galatians 1:11, 12) are the real thing- they are the real gospel and practice which we are commanded to believe. Paul even says to those in his day to those who considered themselves a prophet or spiritual (referring to those who thought they were capable of bringing God’s message to others) that they should recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment, AND if anyone does not recognize this (refuses to believe this) they themselves are not to be recognized. (as having the message from God as his messengers). See 1 Corinthians 14:37. In other words, those who were not speaking the same message as Paul in word and practice were not sent from God!
The simplicity of Christ
If you could think of a single Bible verse that would describe the simplicity of the mutual gathering of the saints with Jesus at its center, what verse would that be? How about this:
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” [Matthew 18:20]
Looking closer, this is an illustration of exactly what Jesus is building. One, two, three, (or twenty, the number isn’t relevant)gathered together in His name in various locales (not in any other name) with Jesus present. (Jesus dwelling in the individual Christians gathered)
What, that’s it? That’s what Jesus is building you ask? Yep, that’s it, nothing more. Surprised? Could it be that you have forgotten who the real Jesus is and what He promises to build?
Many people have all kinds of ideas about religion, about Christian service and what they deem to be right, reasonable or acceptable to God. These ideas come from many places from one’s imagination, ingenuity or personal experience or what others around them are claiming to be Christian. The trouble is, God isn’t interested in what we think at all, He’s only interested in whether we will obey what He has clearly said in His Word, the Bible. We don’t dare just assume God’s direction for us until we know for certain what He is speaking.
When an individual is truly converted unto Christ, all that should matter is Him and what he desires- conversion is UNTO HIM. My sole priority as a Christian should be to discover what He desires and to desire by grace to live that out.
God is calling individuals together and these individuals comprise one spiritual body. It is these individual together who share their lives and together discover what God is speaking to them. If you are a Christian, the very first responsibility you have in the area where you live is this, TO LEARN TO DIE TO YOUR INDIVIDUAL INTERESTS. Only after God has sufficiently crushed what remains of “our ways” can we be trusted to help build with Jesus and others. The proof of your arrival here is simple: YOU HAVE NO INTENTION OF DOING ANYTHING FOR GOD, BUT HAVE LEARNED TO DESIRE GOD HIMSELF ABOVE ALL THINGS. Once Jesus becomes our all, then He starts to orchestrate our surroundings and bring along the people that He knows will fit with us in our calling and His purposes for our lives- the two’s and three’s of a local fellowship.
BEING SPIRIT LED THROUGH MUTUAL SUBMISSION
Knowing God’s heart and seeing Jesus’ promise to build His ekklesia, we should pray to that end. We should be looking for opportunities to share:
- The gospel of Jesus Christ
- The scriptural practice of that gospel
In time, God will bring others to participate in what he is building in our locales. Most of these people will have previous experience with these things and some are living in or exiting God’s wilderness where He has taught them to rely upon Himself alone. At first these gatherings have no specific agendas as the members are simply enjoying true fellowship one with another. In time though, He will start to move the members in unified directions (they will see the same things, desire the same things and act in a similar manner). The most important things to remember through this is: NO ONE MEMBER DECIDES FOR THE OTHER BELIEVERS. ALL THE MEMBERS PARTICIPATE IN MINISTRY AND ALL DECISIONS ARE MADE CORPORATELY. More and more individual decisions are abandoned for the corporate witness of Jesus among the members. Individuals still hold their individual convictions, they are not forced to abandon them, but the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace becomes paramount. The saints learn to speak and act as “one man” in Christ.
FELLOWSHIP IS THE MINISTRY
Contrary to our old way of thinking, our primary service is not “out there” but among our brothers and sisters. We learn to lay down our lives in service for them as any have need. We find this priority toward the saints’ needs here:
“So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Christians). [Galatians 6:10] and here:
“Do nothing from selfishness of empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” [Philippians 2:3, 4]
This does not negate some of the saints’ individuals callings for various service (such as a service to orphans or widows), but all SERVICE STEMS FROM A LOCAL EKKLESIA, where each member submits to the others members. NO ONE ACTS INDEPENDENTLY but has learned to trust the judgments of the saints’ corporate witness. This is especially crucial as it relates to “saints coming in” (for fellowship) and others “going out” (in service).
THE MEN GOD IS MAKING AND HOW
This is the manner Jesus is building His ekklesia, and every Christian is required to submit to the process. The intimate relationship of the families, brothers and sisters, teenagers and young children grows as Jesus is expressed through each one. Jesus remains the head and therefore remains preeminent and the Holy Spirit guides the majority of functions spontaneously.
THE PROMISES OF GOD
The scriptures are chock full of promises that any and every Christian can claim. Most of these promises are conditional and apply to very specific people, places or circumstances. For example, the Bible states in Matthew 16:18 where Jesus speaks to Peter;
“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church (“ekklesia”); and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (them).
Any honest person can quickly realize that Jesus is not talking about the gates of hell prevailing against some particular church (building). That doesn’t even make sense. Hades is used here as a substitute for sin, sin is what can prevail against people and often does. Jesus is actually saying that the gates of hell (power of hell and sin) will not prevail against His ekklesia (His spiritual body of believers, comprised of living stones that He is bringing together- that which He is building AND that which is founded upon Himself as the rock. Despite what some say about Peter being the foundation, Peter himself refutes that here (1 Peter 2:4-8) and even if that were true, that would only make Peter the foundation of an earthly religion and not the foundation of a heavenly kingdom. Jesus Himself said His kingdom is not of this world.
The scriptures show plainly that God’s people are to follow Jesus, not anything that might act as a substitute. We were never called to follow a church, some religious list of doctrines, some list of laws or any man regardless of how humble or holy. Jesus said and says plainly, FOLLOW ME. If you make that your priority, if you desire Him more than all, you just might be used in the very place and in the very manner He has called you. You can affect the people around you, you can alter the local landscape for His name’s sake- but only as you follow Him and His ways as well.
Things are not what they appear friends. Trust Jesus to show you His truth and become the light this world so desperately needs to see and embrace.
All things will eventually be summed up in Christ, why wait another day to fulfill your part.