Exposing the enemy to those who have been born again.
The incessant toiling for the things of this world has usurped the clear call of Jesus on the lives of those in His church to deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow Him. They covet tangible growth over Spiritual growth which prevents them from walking out true faith, the evidence of such being prayer in the power of God for the cause of true fellowship. This can only exist by walking in the Spirit of the Word they talk about. If Christians are to worship God, "in Spirit and in Truth", then the ways of the world we have so conveniently incorporated into 'our church' must be confessed and repented of. The Kingdom of Heaven is all about power, not talk. (1 Corinthians 4:20) Perfunctory praying needs to turn into Spirit-induced prayer. Seeking what God presently desires for the church should supersede the traditional Sunday service, and at some point Spiritual growth should be witnessed in the congregation. The cause and guidance of leaders needs to turn into the cause and guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is done by calling on the name of the Lord rather than continuing to incorporate the standards of worldly concepts to conduct church. Otherwise, what we are endeavoring to accomplish within 'church' does not have God in mind but rather man's agenda. The efforts of the church may appear noble, but if its spiritual sacrifice is focused more on the comfort of their own community, then they have set themselves up for rebuke. (Mark 8:33)
It is such a discouragement to see the multitude of church denominations and DBA's assigned to individual church communities. In 1 Corinthians 11, when the apostle Paul was addressing divisions among the believers, his focus was on their devotion to certain men. He stated that these factions exist, "...in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized." (1 Corinthians 11:19) This was the division among the individuals. What they were actually clamoring for was someone to lead them in their religion. It is from this idolatry that leaders will rise up and take advantage of the immature believers, rather than correcting them as Paul did. He did not want this to continue because he was aware of how well the enemy can turn Truth into a religion of man. This is where denominations and individualistic church communities come from.
"And as He came out the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, 'Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!' And Jesus said to him, 'Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.'" (Mark 13:1-2) Figuratively, Jesus was alluding to the abolition of God's old covenant with His people. Jesus was the end of temple worship and the beginning of a nation who would worship in Spirit and in Truth. So what's up with all the religious formalities within Christian temples?
When religious socializing supplants the life of Christ, then the masses will also clamor for all the amenities that the socializing world has. It must have at least what the Joneses have. It is every congregation's desire to build an altar unto their own kind as soon as possible. So, it is necessary that they submit themselves to their government's laws and guidelines for erecting and maintaining these physical sanctuaries. In the U.S., they need to establish a DBA; and from there all else follows. Oh, the toiling of today's church! If Christians were indeed attentive to the Spirit that reminds us of all that Jesus has told us (John 16:13-15), the present day church would would not exist in its current form. Nothing even close.
A MESSAGE TO CHURCH LEADERS
Pastors, priests, teachers, elders: you are only equipped to oversee the assembly within your own gifting. You are but one of many gifts given to the priesthood of all believers. Yet you hold the reigns of leadership so tightly as to choke out the rest of the body of Christ. You establish for yourselves a lone priest who becomes the head in lieu of Christ. You are inhibiting the church from thriving as the Bride of Christ. You should not be dominating over the other gifts of the body. When your gift has fulfilled its purpose, allow the other appropriately gifted members to attend to the immediate work of the Holy Spirit, that they may participate as the blowing wind of the Spirit inspires them.
"If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent." (1 Corinthians 14:30) All members should be allowed to participate and communicate when the church gathers, rather than claiming that this is a responsibility that rests solely on the leaders whose nomination is usually based on the strength of their human character, much of which relies upon natural intelligence, reasoning, and resourcefulness. The church's leadership structure today has adopted many administrative designs from the professional world and has forced these methods into the fellowship. It then takes on a form of godliness, deceiving and corrupting the followers, causing them to submit to the guidance of man, rather than the Holy Spirit.
The rigid conformity to the weekly programmatic church structure has trained the congregation to become more devoted as passive members and participants of a self-consumed "church entity" instead of a living, breathing expression of their Savior. Leaders and followers alike fail to consummate with the Bridegroom of their faith through incessant Bible knowledge consumption and toiling with the overwhelming responsibilities of making their church compound presentable to themselves and the world. By example, a wife is not truly intimate with her husband by reading books on marriage and paying more attention to the house they live in.
Preachers and teachers "perform church" solely from the viewpoint of their own gifting and because they consider themselves as the predominant leader over the congregation, their church will always function in the format of a perpetual classroom or lecture hall. As long as leaders regard their congregants in the flesh, this oppressive church structure will remain a counterfeit of the true church.
Now the current format on Sunday mornings certainly has had an Eternal impact on many. The problem is that in the eyes of the world and Christians alike, this structure has declared itself to be the pinnacle of how church should function. In reality, there is little Spiritual intimacy between the people. Relationships tend to be built and based on mere social commonalities or practical networking. So much time, energy and resources are spent on buildings and programs while the congregation suffers from Spiritual deprivation.
When a church offers any form of fellowship program, they inevitably also provide someone to lead this meeting; which is fine for studies, lectures, and all other knowledge based discipling. But to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus then requires that there be the fellowship of believers whereby the Holy Spirit becomes the greater presence, apart from the inevitably assigned human leader. The presence of human appointed authority will carry an intimidating presence that prevents the hearts of the believers from confessing what the Spirit is trying to say, thus squelching the personal work of reconciliation and redemption.
So, why aren't there leaders assigned within the church to encourage intimate fellowship? I'm not talking about merely teaching the congregation what the Bible has to say about it. Other members of the body have been graced on how to draw on that intimacy, if the leaders would but acknowledge it.
The present form of 'church' does not and can not afford an environment in order to attend to those desiring authentic Christianity, that is, the power and life of the Holy Spirit; i.e., the oppressed, those held in bondage by the enemy, the Spiritually atrophied, etc. Instead, the church has adopted from the world the paid field of "Christian psychology" (talk about an oxymoron!), multi-step programs, motivational speaking, pragmatic discipleship studies, just to name a few, to administer these needs. How ludicrous!
Spiritual leaders within the church are absolutely necessary! However, humanistic leadership has taken its place and decided that it is better to sacrifice burnt offerings than to embrace intimacy by obedience.
When one member of the body moderates most of the celebratory and reverent functions of the church, they mirror the activities of the Old Testament Priest. Why would anyone want to pattern the church after the old covenant? This places the followers under the control of one man's discretion while at the same time he preaches that they are free in Christ!
King Saul was a leader of and for the people, rather than an obedient servant to God, and therefore God removed His witness and power from him.
"For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has also rejected you from being king." (1 Samuel 15:23)
There is a clear lack of the witness of the Holy Spirit in those that lead their church from the position of human authority. While they may have a popular following, Spiritual life in the body of Christ is not one of its manifestations. Like Saul, overseers will continue to covet their false position of headship over the followers regardless of their obvious lack of surrender. When asked to annihilate the enemy and its beasts, leaders will contend that at least the government should be spared and the most attractive beasts be milked for the religious pleasure of the the people. (1 Samuel 15:20-21)
And like Saul's kingdom, these dairy farms do continue on in spite of their rebellion.
When a leader's intellectual mind takes over the guidance of the church, then over time, its members will become easily bored with church. They certainly haven't exhausted God! "As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number:" (Job 5:8-9) Church attenders are simply exhausted with the incessant repetition of being taught the topical knowledge of the Bible without the life and witness of the Spirit. You know, the same old Bible stories, year in, year out, that teachers use to form comparative moral instructions for the member's to utilize in order to become better Christians. So, anything new and exciting must now come from their own resourcefulness. Leaders are forced to be creative in order to give the members something to look forward to.
What else should we expect, though, from the practical leadership that has become the norm in churches? The true interpretation of the leader's role in the body of Christ has been taken hostage. The pastor/priest/bishop, etc., has been elevated as the commander of everything Spiritual. If there is any time given to gifts outside of preaching and teaching (and if they are even acknowledged), they have but a slim slot in which to operate due to the inevitably prepared song and sermon show, Bible study, discipleship program, or small group.
Spiritual gifts are at least now being spoken of as still relevant today, (because they can no longer argue against what is plainly revealed in Scripture) but its message is still trumped by tradition. Most leaders are afraid that if they were to allow these gifts to manifest in their church it would become disorderly and chaotic, coming under the control of emotional charismatics. But is that possible when the the authority, discernment, and wisdom of Jesus also manifests itself among the gifts?
The problem here is that leaders have elevated themselves too high among the people to risk looking foolish. Another fear is that if they humble themselves and pursue the depths of what the Spirit has for the church, it would communicate to the people that they are insufficient as leaders. So they find it is safer and much more convenient to strive with tangible, yet meaningless sacrifices in order to appear religious or Godly. Therefore, they either argue Spiritual gifts away or simply teach an academic course on them without even putting them into practice, just to maintain every one's religious comfort zone.
Prophecy and tongues...? Not in this church! But who really understands how these gifts even work, according to the practices outlined in the Bible as they are empowered by the Holy Spirit? Just because we witness prophecy and tongues spoken out of order in many charismatic churches (much of which is mere babble or rehearsed incantations, for the cause of self notoriety) doesn't mean we throw out the gift.
This is where the bold gift of spiritual discernment comes into play, to expose the false prophets. Spiritual confrontation will be inevitable anywhere the power of God is called upon because it attracts the Deceiver; but that's one of the costs (and blessings) of being a true disciple. A mere knowledge about God will never be enough to combat the enemy. (Acts 19:13-17) These are Spiritual realities in God's word that stare the church in the face, yet the people stubbornly refuse to acknowledge and ask for them.
The spiritual gifts have also been so perverted by the enemy that it has caused most to distance themselves from them. But there is a very powerful working out of these gifts in those that have sought the heart of God for the revelation of their church, which is the ongoing intimacy between Jesus and His bride.
So my question to church leaders is this: how can you know what the Spirit is saying to the churches if your customs and traditions prevent Him from participating?
The apostle Paul did not restrain the Corinthians from exercising their Spiritual gifts when they were blundering in them; he actually encouraged them to continue, offering insight into how they may attain maturity as they exercised them. Nothing is ever taught by knowledge alone. Everything in the flesh must be exposed and experienced in the Spirit realm. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..." (John 1:14) It is by the Spirit that our carnality is revealed. This is the necessary work of sanctification.
God has determined that the Holy Bible has been given to us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We are to test every spirit we meet against the Spirit of God's Word, not merely by the practical and obvious commands and instructions found in the printed words. This being the case, how is it some contend that God no longer speaks to man except through the written word alone? Simply studying and understanding the topical text of the Bible can not and does not afford anyone the abundant life that Jesus speaks of. (John 5:39-40) It is by Christ in us, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, that we interpret life from the Scriptures. Those who have no intimacy with Christ (failing to surrender their own strength and understanding) are the ones who hold tightly to this errant suppression of God's continuous relations with His children.
"Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached?" (1 Corinthians 14:36) (While the identification of just whom this passage is speaking about is uncertain and remains ambiguous even among Bible scholars, its message is very clear in and of itself.)
How does it enter into the minds of leaders that they possess the pertinent message for the church, week in and week out? Is it because they've been through seminary school and know the written Bible better than most? Of course, this training has its purpose for the church, but does the Holy Spirit rely solely upon them in order to speak to and guide the church? Can the church become fully equipped under the control of one member of the body alone? Can the church become fully equipped by knowledge alone? How is it that the teachings and sermons from the mouth of man have overtaken the Biblical admonition to walk in the Spirit of that knowledge?
Since it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit upon the heart of the hearer that brings about the renewing of the mind, and God has given many gifts to the body by which He communicates and works through, why is the gift of teaching controlling the majority of what the church hears? (Which by the way subjects and limits the leader's message to be relevant to their own personal experiences and heart-felt agendas.)
The mind that has been equipped by God to effectively teach, also has the tempting ability to go beyond their gift to dominate groups of people by this supernatural confidence. Weak people love natural leaders. This is why the Holy Spirit remains quenched. Thus, few are truly testifying, few are truly being born again under this false sense of "having church".
Church leaders know they are unable to facilitate the whole of the body of Christ. But they're not willing to give up their position front and center during the most populous times of church service. To compensate for this, they provide the congregation the opportunity for freedom of spiritual expression in small groups; but this does not provide a solution for their lack of Spiritual fellowship. This idea actually fractures the church, dividing it up into practical and pragmatic theme based studies. Some groups are formed according to age or family status, and some simply for the sake of common social interests. Whatever their criteria is for establishing small groups, they rarely have much regard for cultivating intimacy with their Lord.
Small groups will inevitably reflect the format of the "big church". They can't help but suffer from the same lifelessness as the sermon based model. Remember... followers look up to and learn how to do church from their leaders and they have witnessed this current form of church for many centuries. Tradition has truly taken over where Christ should be thriving.
The protocol of today's church must be reconsidered by its leaders. One that places Jesus as the head, rather than man.
The world has already been trained where to find someone talking about God on Sunday morning. Transform these open door services into an evangelistic outreach. Let the evangelist evangelize to the unbelievers! Stop preaching to the choir and allow church members to be discipled in the power of the Holy Spirit! Open door church services should not be the time to disciple the congregation. Afford a separate time where believers alone can be discipled, rather than trying to juggle both believer and unbeliever in one short service. Encourage those long term milk drinkers to start eating some meat! Turn your dairy farm into a meat market! Establish a fellowship for the believers that will recognize, teach, and allow all gifts to speak into the church.
Leaders, release your stronghold on the church and humble yourselves to the Spirit of the church by participating alongside the other gifts, rather than ruling over them as though they should forever remain pupils under you! Destroy the false atmosphere of religiosity by refusing to entertain and cater to the demands of its goats. Then those truly seeking the Lord with all their hearts, minds, and souls can rise in their place, finally finding an environment where they can confess the convictions of their heart. Allow those appropriately gifted to guide them to rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit so they may establish intimate fellowship with Christ and among the believers.
Beyond this, those who really don't care for this type of church will simply not find any fellowship in which to participate. But after all, what fellowship is there between light and dark? It should be obvious to the church, those who have not responded to the gospel. Seriously, why do you continue trying to disciple unbelievers? Why do you continue to compromise the maturity of your saints for the sake of those who have yet to believe? Why do you continue to tolerate as pupils, those who should be teachers by now? You must discontinue this melting pot that passes for "church".
"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us." (1 John 2:19) This scripture was pertinent for its present time, but rarely pertains to the commonly embraced "church" of today. As a matter of fact, it is quite the opposite.
When the church begins to worship in Spirit and Truth, then the casual attenders will not desire any part of it. You are then left with the Way, the Truth, and the Life in your midst. It is here, though, you must be honest with yourself: are you willing to sacrifice the false existence of your religious profession, the recognition that comes from it, and the enormous amount of income that comes in by way of the casual religious attenders? To eradicate the erroneous demand upon the congregation to tithe, thus allowing God to move on the hearts of the givers for His causes? More accurately, are you finally willing to trust God with your life? To let the Holy Spirit lead, rather than you ruling over the church by means of natural leadership? To let God provide rather than relying on practical resources? To become a thriving community of authentic believers rather than a lukewarm church that Jesus wants to spew out of His mouth? Are you ready to start taking your faith seriously, to deny yourself that you might establish the Author of Faith as the "Lead Pastor" of "your church"?
This is a very real obstacle that exists when a leader is awakened to the Spiritual lethargy in "their church". Since they have invested so much into what they have created or maintained through all their years of service, pride is the first human element that must be crushed. There is also a false sense of guilt that will attach itself to the leader who thinks he has a responsibility to keep the church from becoming dismantled before he should entertain the thought of bringing such a change upon it. But again, who are you to think you should be calling the shots? After all, it is for this reason the church remains unhealthy! Wouldn't Jesus know what's best for His bride? Is it not better to obey than to sacrifice? This was King Saul's plight. He considered the desires of the people over the commands of God. (1 Samuel 15:24) His elevated position, popularity, and acceptance among the people were more important to him than was an unwavering relationship with God.
A MESSAGE TO FOLLOWERS
How long will you remain puppets for the pulpiteers? Isn't it time to release yourselves from the bondage of man's control over your faith?
"It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man." (Psalm 118:8)
"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." (Romans 8:14)
At some point in the life of a Christian, Jesus must increase and the proclaimer must decrease. (John 3:30)
"As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 2:4-5)
If you desire to be Spiritually active in your church but find resistance, it is because leadership has decided that the 'lay' Christian should only serve in areas of practical need. They have determined that since you have not attended any seminary or formal Bible training that you are not qualified in Spiritual matters. This is not Biblical. You have basically been "rejected by men". Scriptures clearly determine that, "... the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you." (1 John 2:27)
Obviously, I am not saying that we have no need of teachers, but have you not grown weary of being a full time student of your church, year in and year out? Surely you have wondered about the other gifts of the body of Christ and why you don't see them functioning in your church.
The apostle Paul tells us to, "earnestly desire the greater gifts, especially that you may prophesy". Teaching can be prophetic, if it has been inspired by the Holy Spirit, but it has certainly not been assigned to dominate the other "greater" gifts.
We need to understand that the appointments of God (listed below) are not titles to wear or even offices to apprehend. They are definitely not limited to leaders and elders! They are the specific powers of the Holy Spirit worked through the individual members of the body of Christ for the building up of the church. Every member will have at least one prevalent individual gift, but the Holy Spirit will work other gifts through you as well. No one is a leader in a church because of their Spiritual gift and certainly not because they have turned a title into a coronation of men. Gifts are freely given by God and in no way do they impart any form of hierarchical authority upon the recipient. Leaders will arise from within the local body of believers when they exhibit Spiritual maturity because it is God who raises up the humble so that He may be the power of the church.
"For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned." (Romans 12:3)
There is never to be a man-devised structure of leaders within the church! Never, never, never!
"Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed first..."
(1 Corinthians 12:27-28)
Below is God's prioritized list as He calls, equips, and encourages His church. I have given a basic and very limited description of their function.
apostles- Those sent in the authority of Jesus to deliver people from oppressive demonic strongholds and to gather them into a Spiritual family.
prophets- Those who testify of Jesus as Lord of all things.
evangelists- Those who proclaim that Jesus is man's only salvation and redemption from this corrupt world.
shepherds/teachers- Those who protect, nurture, and instruct the body of Christ.
miracles- Those empowered to call upon God to interrupt the physical realm by His supernatural power.
gifts of healing- Those who divinely intercede for the sick for the restoration of physical or emotional health.
helping- Those, who by God's grace, have surrendered themselves to serve others in need.
administrating- Those who have been given the wisdom to appropriate the physical affairs of the church.
various kinds of tongues- Those who have been given the intellect to speak and understand more than one language for mixed audiences.
"To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." (1Corinthians 12:7)
These are the revelatory gifts, the utterance through those whom the Holy Spirit will instruct, encourage, and empower the church. Spiritual gifts are not strategically planned by the church leaders. They are always inspired and orchestrated by the Holy Spirit.
word of wisdom- The supernatural judgment of a present particular situation.
word of knowledge- Specific information provided by the Holy Spirit concerning a specific person/group or particular circumstance.
faith- Undeniable God given confidence. (Faith is never generated by people. Its source is always God.)
healing- Having the Spiritually inspired knowledge that God wants to make you or someone else whole.
miracles- A Spiritually innate sense of God's desire to intervene in the physical.
prophecy- A divine communication, confirmed by the Holy Spirit upon the hearers.
discernment of spirits- the ability to recognize spiritual heresy, deception, error, and sin.
tongues- The Spiritually inspired utterances of a known or unknown language through a believer that carries a Spiritually empowered message. It could be solely for the one who is speaking, or if interpreted, for the assembly as well.
interpretation of tongues- The Spiritually inspired ability to comprehend known or unknown languages and communicate that message to the church.
This is church by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit!
Let's not labor ourselves with titles. They tempt man towards human hierarchical government and pride. Weak followers are always seeking out and susceptible to following strong natural leaders, and strong natural leaders love to lord their positional authority over them. Spiritual gifts are worked through us by God, not by us through God. Biblical descriptions of Spiritual gifts provide nothing more than a comprehension of how the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to His church. No titles. (By the way, this includes Pastor.)
There is very little Spiritual growth in a church whose message consistently comes from a few men behind the pulpit! Shepherds/teachers are not the cornerstone of the church!
Now the above list of gifts are by no means exhaustive. Even the practical areas of serving are just as consecrated as any other function of the church. When considering who should tend to the neglected widows, the 12 apostles concluded, "Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty." (Acts 6:3)
Observe for yourselves; is the Spirit present in those who serve in areas of the church's basic physical needs? If not, why have they been appointed? Is it because it is such a low level of Spiritual service that even crass, Spiritually immature members can be appointed, based strictly on their natural talents? Clearly, this scripture determines that even what men may consider to be menial is not to be slighted in regards to Spiritual purity.
There is nothing in our calling that is not subjected to the cause of intimacy with our Lord. If your church community places more emphasis on programs, practical human skills, and casual fellowship without encouraging your participation in the Holy Spirit to become its life and purpose, you are being cheated. By intimidation and other means of control, leadership has caused the congregation to submit themselves as pawns to their own causes apart from the guidance and power of the True Head of the church.
When man takes over the reigns of faith, the endeavors of that body become very humanistic. There is a continuous evidence of disagreement between the Word of God and the practices of the church...and because of the strong oppressive control the leaders have trained the people to submit to, everyone is afraid to point out the elephant in the room. So church goes on the way it always has: worldly, programmatic, Spiritually powerless, and ruled in the fear of man rather than God.
One of the most effective means of calling on the power of the Holy Spirit to work in our lives is confession. Not the kind that comes after we've done something wrong (though that should be done quickly), but the kind that agrees with the conviction of the Holy Spirit and admits that while holiness is God's desire for us, in and of ourselves we are incapable of achieving it, much less, understanding how it even plays out.
Confession is a heart that is authentic and chooses not to cover up its troubled soul, faking it for a Sunday; rather it opens up in the presence of others in the body of Christ, seeking out those whom the Spirit has previously worked out His grace upon. It is a heart that admits that its own desires are contrary to a life lived by a Faith that God alone gives to those who surrender their lives to Him.
Confession understands that it is human pride that prevents Spiritual growth. True confession is an awareness of the natural self, absent of the present work of the Holy Spirit. This is the power spoken of in the Bible that believers should be seeking.
By the continuing practice of surrendering pride, along with prayer, we become aware of just how much we are chained to the elements of this world. Experiencing freedom from its bondage will display the nature of the Holy Spirit through us, welcoming and inviting the other gifts of the body of Christ to participate and flourish. This is where believers experience forgiveness, redemption, and freedom, destroying the desire to be their own god. We find true fellowship in our love for one another by our vulnerability and allowing the life of the Spirit to take over; fellowship that is more defined by Spiritual intimacy rather than human hedonism.
The reality within church, though, is that many are not yet prepared to surrender themselves.
God desires to work His love in and through us as an available ambassador of reconciliation toward others, to become an authentic witness of salt and light and an evidence of the redeemed life in Christ which is the absolute foundation of Christianity.
Religion is the labor of man. Its ears are deaf and its eyes are blind to the work and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Life in the Spirit is the testimony of Jesus and recognizes the presence of the world as an infiltration of the enemy.
I am not saying we all need to vaporize into a Spiritual being, totally disregarding the flesh. I am saying that unless the affairs of this world begin to diminish in the affairs of our religion, we are destined to hear Jesus say to us, "I never knew you."
"Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (Revelation 3:19-22)