"Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'." (John 7:38)

"Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual." (1Cor. 2:12-13)


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Spiritual Oppression

As we become accustomed to the spiritual gifts imparted to us, its miraculous source can easily be taken for granted. This is why we witness so many who detach themselves from the purity of God's glory for them. Examples in the Old Testament offer us insight into this. Moses, Sampson, Balaam, Saul, David, Solomon, and others. In the beginning God was very near them and His laws were known by each. Over a period of time though, God pulled back His obvious presence, and expected His laws and precepts to be the governing authority for their actions and accountability, should they continually call on Him. Essentially, they were expected to walk in faith by obedience. But through time, from the lack of prayer, and a contentment toward His patience, familiarization crept in and bred contempt for what has never been anything less than the power of God sustaining them.

The nation of Israel did not have the Spiritual presence the church today possesses. They were governed by God's laws and accountability was the strict consequences established for breaking them, executed through the anointed authority assigned to the leaders over them. None the less, God's blessings were enjoyed by Israel when the leaders were obedient to His commands. At times though, the nation of Israel was led by laws adopted from the pagan nations around them, to the grief of God's true prophets. It is obvious that the people of Israel became spiritually oppressed because the leaders did not intimately pursue God.

Sadly, spiritual oppression has taken place even on this side of grace as well, and it is a shame that in this day and age, with such a wealth of theological information, it is still very common. But like the covenant of old, without the presence of God's Spirit accompanying the law, a knowledge of God's Word alone is powerless.

Today, despite that the Holy Spirit has become the law set in our hearts, and that the various gifts within the church are the declared sovereign authority for keeping intimacy and accountability among ourselves, the people continue to remain under the oppression of pastors and leaders who do not recognize, intentionally establish, and encourage the Spiritual gifts that would destroy any form of man's idolatry and authority within it. Assuredly, compromise, tolerance and complacency has become the spirit of many congregations.

However, there is always a remnant in every congregation that has been through a rigorous process of sanctification, and by their earnest desire to seek the depths of God through them, have come out on the Spiritually refined side of today's religious institutions. They possess a pure and true understanding of the apostolic foundation intended for the church, exhibited by their discernment and faith in action, and their hearts are burdened to see the fullness of spiritual gifts realized within the church. The dilemma in communicating this to church leaders is how to delineate between being respectful, while desiring to hold accountable, those who are "over you in the Lord"...but authority established and guided by people, rather than the Holy Spirit, is not authority that is to be respected nor feared. It is to be confronted...as did the true prophets of old. Church leaders who misuse their positional authority relish in their own ideals of how their 'own' church should be structured and maintained, in place of what is clearly defined as fellowship in the Bible. It is evidenced by the covetous nature they possess and display in their lust for recognition and control.


"But he looked directly at them and said, 'What then is this that is written:

'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone'?

Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.'" (Luke 20:17-18)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Welcome To Our World
music and lyrics by Chris Rice

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting
Welcome Holy Child
Welcome Holy Child
Hope that you don’t mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long-awaited Holy Stranger
Make yourself at home
Please make yourself at home
Bring your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven’s silence
Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world
Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born
So wrap our injured flesh around you
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Perfect Son of God

Welcome to our world

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Church Authority

There are many churches today that are ruled by a single pastor, having graduated from a pragmatic seminary school and primarily possess the gift of teaching. While this gift is as important as any other, the mistake here is the placement of this gift as the sole authority within the church. The entire congregation, including the elders, submits to this one person. This type of government will inevitably emulate that of the secular world. The result of this type of government, in order to maintain rank, demands that all other giftings in the church become submissive and therefore less significant. While there must be a structure of organization to prevent disorder, it is ludicrous that one person take on the responsibility for the whole church, even falsely claiming and exercising the majority of the greater spiritual gifts. He is front and center as the appointed and anointed saint.

To effectively sustain man's authority in church is to effectively remove the authority of the Holy Spirit, where by all gifts have their source and power. The ability to teach and lead is elevated as the ultimate authority and guidance for the congregation and fails to fully recognize and welcome the complete presence of spiritual gifts that belong to the body. If other gifts feel the unction to express the desires of the Holy Spirit, leaders and those who faithfully follow them will look down on and accuse these people of being insufficient and insubordinate.

The deception among leaders today is that they must be the entirety of knowledge, spiritual guidance, and counselor to everyone underneath them. The result of the spiritual health in churches governed this way is a pathetically powerless body of believers, themselves bound and oppressed, unable to effect the abundant life afforded them as long as they remain under the authority of man. They remain silent with their own gifts and heartfelt ministries because they have been too long a slave to this false and deceptive leadership. In their own minds, to speak up or to speak out would be an exercise of defiance, unsettling peace that has been established by the leader's desire for the church to remain comfortable, unchallenged, and confrontation free. Much of the accountability exercised in this church will be that which strives to maintain the present rule.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Apostles, Prophets, Miracles, and Healing

"Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts." (1Cor. 12:27-31)

It is interesting that the gift of teaching is tucked in the midst of these gifts, five of which many Bible teachers ignore or render obsolete, but there is simply no Biblical grounds for the neglect of these spiritual gifts. Apostles, prophets, miracles, and healing, along with teachers and the rest, are mentioned as being appointed in the church...the body of Christ. The same church that exists today.

"Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Heb. 13:7,8) The leaders spoken of here by the apostle Paul are the original apostles and disciples of Christ whom God anointed to establish the foundation of the church. These are the leaders whose faith we are to imitate: and if Jesus wanted the church equipped spiritually then, He wants it spiritually equipped today...and tomorrow.

Every generation has those new in the faith that need to be built up in the body of Christ. So it is up to the church to equip them, and that by the power of the Holy Spirit through those He has given specific gifts to. Without the accompaniment of the witness of other gifts within the body, teaching in itself is powerless; it appears as mere knowledge. All gifts rely on others for spiritual confirmations to accomplish unity in the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:1-16)

The testimony of Jesus is revealed by prophets. (Rev.19:10e) The mysteries of God are stewarded by apostles. (Romans 16:25, 1Cor.4:1) Teachers instruct the body on the gospel of God's grace. (Matthew 28:19-20, 1 Timothy 4:1-11) Miracles are the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:18, 19) And so on...but our most important role as ambassadors of Christ is as a servant to one another. (Matthew 20:26-28)

If apostles ceased after Paul, and Jesus was the fulfilment of all prophecies, thus ending the apostles and the prophetic gifts, if miracles, healings and tongues were intended for the sole purpose of confirming the first church, as many teachers would have you believe, why then were the Romans, Corinthians and the Ephesians being addressed about them and told to earnestly seek the higher gifts? If this has already been established and no longer needed, why does Paul desire they earnestly seek these gifts? If indeed, the church holds that all scripture is inerrant and inspired by God, then dismissing the relevance of certain spiritual gifts in today's church reduces the Bible to a history book, a simple reference for knowledge alone. By incorporating their own authority, pastors and elders have effectively removed the only power that God has designed for the church.

Again..."Pursue love and be eager for the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy." (1Cor. 14)

"Worship God, for the testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Rev.19:10)

"Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace." (1Cor. 14:29-33)

"For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness." (Rom.12:3-8)

While elders are certainly necessary, and we are to esteem those over us in the Lord with double honor, we are not to be followers of men.

"But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ." (Math.23:9-10)

"I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything—and is true and is no lie, just as it has taught you—abide in him." (1 John 2:27)

Why isn't this interpreted, beyond the obvious intent of the author, that since we now have the Holy Spirit within us, even teachers are no longer necessary in the church? Because it is the teacher who rules over the congregation. In the world, knowledge has always reigned over the masses. Jesus did not build His church to be ruled by a few men, exercising their own strength and understanding. Therefore it is necessary that all the members be recognized for the full equipping of the saints.

"Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward." (Math. 10:40-42)

If apostles, prophets, healing, and miracles are ignored, then the rewards of the same will not be received or known. The church will function, but only as an incomplete body. Handicapped, crippled, and powerless. As long as pastors/teachers continue holding the high office in church, contrary to what the Bible calls 'first' or 'greater' of the spiritual gifts, then the power of that church will be one of knowledge and religion rather than spiritual and relational.

Teachers can indeed instruct apostles,prophets, healers, miracle workers and those who speak in tongues to recognize God's sovereignty in all gifts. It seems, though, they would rather eradicate the gifts (which is far easier and comfortable to do) than to recognize and allow them to function in the church. Jesus knows the complacency of the religious. "No one, after drinking old wine wishes for new, for he says, 'The old is good enough.'" (Luke 5:39)

On the other side of the same religious coin is the misuse of spiritual gifts in many charismatic churches today. The enemy has so perverted these gifts, through those he is able to work through, that the immediate response of the conservative church is to discount these gifts altogether. Some theologians and pastors, on a quest to squelch the 'prosperity ministry's' false teachings have landed so far on the opposite side, that they unintentionally render relationship and faith as an enemy against doctrine. Rather than asking God for wisdom, they have created false interpretations of Scripture to facilitate their fear of what they don't understand.

When knowledge rules the church, the spiritual have no place. Teachers that go on about their own agenda and disregard the spiritual are no different than the spiritual who disregard sound doctrine. The control of both churches belongs to man and not the Holy Spirit. Titles and labels amount to nothing. The church can function beautifully without them, if it will but recognize and embrace the fullness of God's Spirit upon it.

No doubt, the presence of the Holy Spirit resides in the true believer within every church, whatever spiritual oppression it may be suffering. God will expose the religion of man, and reveal the truth to those that are His, that they may function as a body, and no one as the head, which is Christ Jesus.


"An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land:
The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule on their own authority,
And my people love it so."

(Jeremiah 5:31)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Recognizing Spiritual Gifts

Not every believer should feel guilted into preaching the gospel because they read in the Bible that Jesus said GO! Jesus knows whom he has equipped to go. Preaching belongs to evangelists, who have the guidance and power of God behind them because of the gift of evangelism imparted to them. The Word of God goes forth in power to those whom God has previously prepared, to speak and to hear what the Spirit has to say. Non evangelists have been equipped for the building up of the body and other such areas of service that will certainly have the testimony of the presence of God within them by their obedience to their own gifting, to be witnessed in the church as well as out in the world.

"Go and preach the good news" is so much more than preaching! It is living the gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit in us and our submission to the gifts God has exclusively equipped us with as individuals, collectively functioning as the body of Christ. Gifts other than evangelism will certainly possess the witness of God that will also proclaim the gospel to the lost without the guilt and pressure of going outside your own gifting.

I am extremely impressed, humbled, and in awe of each gift when it works according to the purpose and power it has been assigned. I feel one of the main reasons for spiritual lethargy, confusion, and disagreements in the local church, as well as between different denominations, is due to those who have not been properly instructed to realize and to mind their own gift. There is an obvious failure to recognize, understand, and utilize other gifts within the body due to the current structure and format the present church is bound and oppressed by.

"Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, 'It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 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. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.' And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith." (Acts 6:1-7)


"For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship." (1 Corithians 9:16-17)