Thursday, January 13, 2011

Who owns the church?

Who is the head of the church?

“And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy”. Col 1:18

“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood”. Acts 20:28

“And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,”       Eph 1:22
The Bible says that Jesus is the head of the church. The church belongs to God and no man. To be a member of the church you have to be bought with the blood of Jesus. That’s the only way to get in.

The church is not a social club. You don’t have to be rich; you don’t have to be famous. You don’t have to be smart or talented. You don’t have to bully your way around to get your way. You don’t have to be a little pope. On the contrary the Bible says that God choose those that were considered nothing in the world.
(If a brother or sister treats you with disrespect you can know that they don’t have respect for God and that something is seriously wrong in their relationship with God. That was something that became very clear to me when I got saved 25 years ago, that respect for God and respect for people goes hand in hand. Unfortunately I’m as much at fault in this area as anybody else and things happen in our Christian walk that can tarnish this revelation, but I know it’s true).
“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” 1 Cor 1:27-29.

At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes”. Matt 11:25
When Jesus is allowed to be the head of the church, (yes we do have a choice), there is a place for everybody. God has a unique calling for each and everyone. We may not have entered the fullness of it, but if we walk in spiritual discernment we know and respect each others calling.
“They run like mighty men, They climb the wall like men of war; Every one marches in formation, And they do not break ranks. They do not push one another; Every one marches in his own column”                               Joel 2:7-8
They do not push one another, every one marches in his own column. I don’t have to be something that I’m not. I don’t have to try and be like somebody else or try to take their place. I don’t have to compare myself with anybody. I can be inspired by somebody else but only to become more that which God has called me to be.
There is such a wonderful freedom in this but we can lose it in the church if we, or worse, the leadership in a church are living by their own agenda. If we have our own secret plans that are not God’s plans.

We should always seek after God’s vision and God’s plan; for our own personal lives and for the best of the church. Sure we can do it in ourselves and in our own ability but then the church becomes something else. Corruption creeps in.
What is corruption? The meaning of the word is the opposite of eternal. It’s something that is spoiled, impure and rotten. If we are corrupt, we no longer live with eternal values in our lives and we’re just like the world.
We know that corruption is bad in politics and there are countries that are so corrupt it’s everywhere; you can’t trust anybody, not even the police. It’s like a disease and very hard to deal with. We are the salt of the earth. If we’re corrupt, there’s no hope for us or the world. If we are corrupt we are offering our lives to a different God.
“The king also desecrated the high places that were east of Jerusalem on the south of the Hill of Corruption—the ones Solomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the vile goddess of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the vile god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the people of Ammon”. 2 King 23:13
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot”. Matt 5:13

“Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires”.2 Pet 1:4
The Bible talks about Eli the priest and how his wicked sons were corrupt. They didn’t distinguish between the holy and the unholy. The Bible doesn’t clearly state this, but they probably learned their ways from their father Eli. I can picture them growing up sitting around “the kitchen table” where Eli would talk to them about the things of God and the people of God in an unholy way. It didn’t go well for Eli and his sons. The sons both died in one day just as God had said through the prophet Samuel and Eli broke his neck and died suddenly falling off a chair. Read all about it in 1 Sam 2-4.
If we don’t live in the truth, who will?
We are to be like a city up on a hill and a light that can be seen from afar.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden”. Matt 5:14
The living church of God is instituted by God. It’s His creation and His plan for this world.
“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms”, Eph 3:10

“to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen”.      Eph 3:21
“and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” Eph 5:27
In the book of Revelation Jesus says seven times: “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
The voice of God, the Truth of God here and now is to be heard in our churches to manifest His Kingdom on earth. We are one heart and one soul. If we’re not, we need to change. It’s His Kingdom, not ours.
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought”. 1 Cor 1:10
Our foundation is the Word of God. That’s where our unity is. We believe in the Word of God.
“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ”. 1 Cor 3:11
We need to let God melt us down. You may be born again and a child of God, but are you broken? We have to let Jesus brake us so that we don’t have any strength of our own. We need to be poor in spirit.
“ Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth”. Matt 5:3-5

I’m preaching to myself as much as I'm preaching to you. I love Jesus and I want to see His Kingdom here on earth. Don’t you?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Holy Spirit and Speaking in tongues

Many Christians think that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is just about speaking in tongues and to them it seems odd and not something they want to be part of. It IS speaking in tongues but it's also most of all an ability to just get lost in the spirit. To shout and worship from your spirit in a way that can't be expressed by human words. To express the inexpressible. And I think it makes it easier to give yourself completely over to the Lord and His will. It’s simply to have more of the Lord in your life.

If you're not baptized in the Holy Spirit, ask the Lord to fill you with the signs of speaking in tongues. Speaking in tongues will help you stay filled with the Holy Spirit. The tongues can be used in many ways. To me personally it's mostly a prayer language where I can pray out things that I don't even know about in the spirit. I also worship in tongues where I speak to God about His greatness and His love and His wonderful plans.

It’s a wonderful gift from God to us as believers that will increase our understanding of His love and give us boldness and fire for Jesus.

"On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." Acts 1:4-5
Christians know about the day of Pentecost which you can read about in Acts 2:1-4. Many seem to rationalize and try to imply that what happened then were just for that particular time.

Verse 4 says:
"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."

I think Acts is a model for how we as Christians should spread the gospel. Wherever people in Acts heard the gospel they were also baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. That's how they knew, they spoke in tongues!
"While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God." Acts 10:44-46
In Acts Acts 19:2-6
"he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”
So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied."

Here's what John the Baptist said about Jesus:
"I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Mark 1:8
"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." Matt 3:11
So it’s Jesus Himself that baptizes us with the Holy Spirit and fire.

In Paul's letter to the Corinthians he talks a lot about the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit.
"For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries." 1 Cor 14:2

"He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification." 1 Cor 14: 4-5

Many misinterpret this to say that we should not speak in tongues, but that's not what Paul is saying because in 1 Cor 14:18 Paul says: "I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all;"
No, he's just talking about being careful of how to display the tongues in public. I believe it can be done, if it's done in order. We used to pray strong in my church, all together in tongues, but when it came to speaking out loud it had to be done in order and the pastor was in charge of who could speak or prophesy or interpret.
"What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding."
1 Cor 14:15

I think being born again is the greatest miracle of all and of course it is a work of the Holy Spirit. But I believe there's MORE! We, just like the apostles in Acts need to be transformed and filled with the Holy Spirit so we boldly can proclaim the gospel. We are called to proclaim the gospel and not some sophisticated, intellectual, worldly religion. We need power! If we don't have power, the enemy has power over us.

If God hadn't transformed my life I had never set foot in a church. I had no need for conformity or tradition. But when Jesus saved me on that beach in Spain, I couldn't wait to meet my brothers and sisters. And God led me to a church where the Holy Spirit was so strong, His presence came over you already in the foyer and you couldn't walk straight sometimes.
And you were not the same when you walked out of the church as you were when you came in. An ongoing mighty transformation happened all the time.
And you can't hide in an atmosphere like that. You become transparent which may sound scary, but it's not, because the love of God is there to cover you. (Kind of like in the Garden of Eden where they were naked but they weren’t aware of it.) And when you're loved like that it's easy to love everybody. It just flows out of you.

I do believe that speaking in tongues is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit but I also believe that it’s a sign that you are filled with the Spirit. I have never seen anybody flow in any of the other gifts of the Spirit that does not also speak in tongues. I have never seen the gift of prophecy at work for example where people are not spirit filled.
"If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” 
 Luke 11:11-13

I also think we need the power of God more than ever to win this world for Him. His power is so much stronger than anything this world can offer. We know that, but people out there need to see it through us.