Monthly Archives: August 2010

I’d Like to Prophesy, But … (Part II – 7)

This is a continuation of the nine-part series,  I’d Like to Prophesy, But…

Click on the following links for earlier articles: Part II-1, Part II-2, Part II – 3, Part II-4, Part II- 5 and Part II-6.


Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say? (Luke 6: 46)

Just as a reminder: God never changes, Jesus never changes, and therefore, we can safely assume that the Holy Spirit never changes. Okay, with this bit of information refreshed in our minds, let’s move forward.

I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you. (John 14: 18)

Jesus spoke the above words to His disciples at the Last Supper, just hours before He was arrested, and then, eventually crucified on the following day. It is an important promise to all of us believers, but how is it being fulfilled today?

After all, Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven and with rare exceptions, He does not visit us believers here on earth. So, what’s the big deal on Jesus’ promise?

I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever. (John 14: 16)

The Helper, also referred to as the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of God, dwells within each believer, but He is not a willy-nilly gossiper. He only speaks to us what Jesus or the Father says.

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, he will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. (John 16: 13)

Jesus is called the Truth and each believer has His Spirit, the Spirit of truth, dwelling within his (or her) heart. Thus, that’s how Jesus has fulfilled His promise not to leave us as orphans and alone in the world.

But how does this relate to the further work of the Holy Spirit as mentioned in Part II-6, and is this further work still relevant in today’s world?

(Continued in Part II- 8)

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My Journey Out (Part 16)

An Updated Rerun Series

Click on following links for earlier articles: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14 and Part 15.

Feed My Sheep.

According to the Bible, what do sheep eat?

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. (Psalm 23: 2)

Sheep are herbivores; and thus, in the Bible, sheep graze on grass. No other diet or dietary supplement is mentioned for sheep.

Now, when it comes to comparing the word, or scriptures, to food products, Jesus used the analogy of sowing seed in Mark Chapter 4. The word was the seed and the sower was a type of preacher.

But in the Bible, sheep do not eat wheat or oats, they graze on grass.

In Hebrews 5: 12-14 , the word is referred to as milk and strong meat. And in John 6:48, Jesus refers to Himself as the Bread of Life, and you could make a good case that the Living Word is bread. Milk, meat and bread are certainly foods.

But once again, in the Bible, sheep graze on grass. Period.

If the words Feed My sheep are an analogy signifying that modern pastors are supposed to preach sermons to solemn congregations, then we are stuck with nonsensical mental images. (Remember: every analogy in the Bible is used to give clarity to the reader, not to add confusion.)

So, in order to justify a modern interpretation of Feed My sheep, you would have to envision a pastor walking out to his back lawn, clipping the grass, bagging it, carrying the bags to church; and then, tossing grass out of the bags from the pulpit to bleating, hungry sheep. Not a good mental analogy, right?

Furthermore, there are no supporting verses in the Bible for the interpretation of Feed My sheep as having the meaning of a pastor preaching a sermon to a congregation. None. Zip. Nada. It is a modern tradition which is really a cloud without water, carried along by the winds of time.

But interestingly enough, the answer to what Feed My Sheep truly means is provided for us by Peter.

(Continued in Part 17)

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I’d Like to Prophesy, But… (Part II – 6)

This is a continuation of the nine-part series,  I’d Like to Prophesy, But…

Click on the following links for earlier articles: Part II-1, Part II-2, Part II – 3, Part II-4 and Part II- 5.

Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)

On May 20, 1985, I – an agnostic – walked into a friend’s insurance office to ask some questions. While I sat on a chair in front of his desk, the Holy Spirit spoke to the man.

Then the man said to me, “You’re thinking about committing suicide, right?”

His words shook me up so much that I began thinking that there was a God and He cared about me. Not only that, as I left the office, the man said, “And I speak in tongues, too.”

As you can see, my whole life was changed in a matter of minutes by the power of the Holy Spirit and His gifts.

Afterward, I hung out with Charismatics who asked this question of almost everyone: “Have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit?”

Whether or not you believe that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit has to do with speaking in tongues or the gifts of the Holy Spirit is unimportant to me. The arguments one way or another have their merits in scriptures and throughout church history. This issue is not worth chewing on, okay?

But the important point I do want to make is that the Charismatics and Pentecostals do recognize a further work of the Holy Spirit after salvation, which is scriptural.

But you will receive a power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and even to the remotest part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

The one hundred and twenty men and women in that upper room were already believers. But yet, they waited for something more, a further work of the Holy Spirit after their salvations.

Five years later, Peter and John went to Samaria to help Philip in an evangelistic crusade. And what did the two disciples do?

…they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.  (Acts 8: 14-17)

Once again, the people were already believers, but they received a further work of the Holy Spirit when the two apostles prayed for them.

Then, twenty-four years later, look at what another apostle did.

He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”

And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. (Acts 19: 2, 6)

From these scriptures, we can infer that one of the most important questions that the early church asked each new believer was: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

Now, is this further work of the Holy Spirit after a person’s salvation still relevant for today’s church?

(Part II – 7)

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My Journey Out (Part 15)

An Updated Rerun Series

Click on following links for earlier articles: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13 and Part 14.

Let’s say that we conduct a survey of every Christian in America, asking, “What do you believe is the number one duty for church pastors?”

Do you have any ideas on what their responses might be?

Well, I would guess that 95% of the Christians would say something like, “Feeding the sheep.” And of course, what this really means is, “Pastor, bring on the sermons.”

What’s the scriptural logic behind this answer?

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to him, “Lord, You know all things; you know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.” (John 21:17 NKJ)

Out of this single discourse between a newly resurrected Jesus and a broken, discouraged Peter has grown the tradition of pastors preaching sermons in today’s traditional churches. So ingrained is this tradition that few of us even question its scriptural validity.

But wait a second! What was Peter’s calling? Pastor? No!

Peter was one of the original twelve apostles, chosen to be a part of the foundation for the Church, with Jesus being the corner stone. He was never a pastor, restricted to a local assembly. But instead, he was a traveling, church-planting apostle. This is an important point, one which is usually overlooked when this section of scripture is studied.

So, what was Jesus’ main purpose in His “Feed My sheep” discourse with Peter?

I believe our Lord’s main purpose was restoring and reconfirming the apostolic calling on Peter’s life.  Do you want to know why I believe this? The answer can be found in a prophecy spoken by Jesus to Peter a few days earlier:

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren. (Luke 22: 31-32 NKJ)

How would you like to receive a prophetic word like this one? And then, have it come to pass? Wouldn’t you be so discouraged that you’d believe your calling had been tossed out of the windows of heaven forever and ever?

This particular discourse between Jesus and Peter is the most personal and intimate conversation recorded in the New Testament. It reveals the compassion and love that the Head of the Church has for an individual and his unique calling.

But yes, there are some other scriptures with a “Feed the sheep” theme.

(Continued in Part 16)

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I’d Like to Prophesy, But… (Part II – 5)

This is a continuation of the nine-part series,  I’d Like to Prophesy, But…

Click on the following links for earlier articles: Part II-1, Part II-2, Part II – 3 and Part 4.

Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)

The mainstay of today’s traditional church is the sermon based on a text from the Bible, which is usually given by a pastor.

Now, if you did a survey, asking Christians if the sermon was scriptural, ninety-five percent would say, “Yes.”

Then, if you asked a follow-up question of the ninety-five percent who agreed with the validity of the sermon, inquiring where in the Bible the sermon and its importance were located, you would receive blank stares. And maybe a few might say, “Man, because just because, and it’s always been done this way!”

Well, has it always been done this way? The answer is emphatically “NO”.

The early church had no Bibles. Yes, it’s true that letters were written by Paul and other apostles, but these came into existence thirty or forty years after the first Pentecost. And actually, the letters answered questions and settled problems that the churches were struggling with at the time.

So, what did the early Christians do when they assembled together?

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2: 42)

On the first day of the week, when we gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them… (Acts 20:7)

So, then brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. (1 Corinthians 11: 33)

The early church’s centerpiece for their meetings was not the sermon, but rather a meal, which they called the Lord’s Supper. The believers gathered around tables.

And what else did the early believers do?

What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. (1 Corinthians 14:26)

For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted. (1 Corinthians 14: 31)

And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another… (Hebrews 11: 24 – 25)

Early believers came to church meetings to give, rather than just sit on a pew like bumps on a log, and receive a sermon from a professionally trained clergyman.

And what was one of the most important questions asked of new believers?

(Continued in Part 6)

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My Journey Out (Part 14)

An Updated Rerun Series

Click on following links for earlier articles: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12 Part 13.

What peerage titles come to mind when you think about the Kingdom of God? Prince? Princess? Duke? Duchess? Baron? Baroness? Earl? Countess? Lord? Lady?

Probably none of these, right?

We only think about the King, the Lord Jesus, when we consider the Kingdom of God.

But as you know, the Kingdom of God is not a democracy or a dictatorship. No one is ever elected to head it or can take it over by a coup d’etat. It is an ongoing, never-ending kingdom with the King being the supreme ruler and authority over His royal monarchy. And royal monarchies usually have peerage titles, right?

So, this being the case, what are the various titles for all the different citizens of the kingdom of God?

But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)

The only title given in Scripture for a citizen of the Kingdom of God is son. No other hierarchical or peerage titles are mentioned at all, as in none, zero, nada and zip.

And guess what?

Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”  (Matthew 25:34)

The Kingdom of God was a part of the Father’s plan when He created the world, even before the creation of the first man.  How awesome is that?

And yet, the Father’s plan only includes a King and His sons. No other hierarchical levels were ever envisioned by our Father, as in never-ever-never!

Every believing reader, or at least 99.9% of you, would most likely agree with me so far, right?

Then, if the above is true, why would the King allow feudal fiefdoms known as traditional churches to exist in His kingdom, with lords in the pulpits and peasants in the pews? Is it possible the Kingdom and the Church oppose each other, as in America’s separation of church and state policies?

The answers are simple: the Church was created along the same lines as the Kingdom of God without any artificial hierarchical separation known as the clergy classes or the laity classes. Period.

After all, what is the message of the Church?

This gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)

The word gospel is a shortened form of the phrase the gospel of the Kingdom of God. This is the church’s message to a hopeless world.

So, is it possible that we Christians do not really understand the pastor’s calling or the role of leaders in the Kingdom of God and in the Church?

(Continued in Part 15)

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I’d Like to Prophesy, But… (Part II – 4)

This is a continuation of the nine-part series,  I’d Like to Prophesy, But…

Click on the following links for earlier articles: Part II-1, Part II-2 and Part II – 3.

Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6: 46)

Christianity is not supposed to be a rigid set of rules. Period.

All Christians will give lip service to the above statement, but in reality, few believers actually practice this belief, and fewer yet, attend churches who practice this concept.

Why? Because if you remove the  rules, you will have to depend on Jesus who is the Head of the Church, the Holy Spirit and grace.

Now, I know that almost everyone who is reading this article believes that he (or she) attends a church which follows the guidance of the Holy Spirit to the best of its ability. And that the church’s pastor only does what the Holy Spirit tells him to do. Right?

Well, here’s a little something you can do to check out your beliefs:

The next time you attend your church, ask the Lord to give you a prophetic word for the assembly. And then, right in the middle of the pastor’s sermon, stand up and say, “Pastor, excuse me, but I have a prophecy for the church.”

What happens next will tell you (and everyone else) whether or not your church follows after the Holy Spirit or a rigid set of rules. You see, prophecy is something that can not be controlled by a system or its leader. Once the person opens his (or her) mouth to prophesy, no one knows for sure what that person is going to proclaim.

And guess what? The person who prophesies could be dead-on accurate or could miserably err with his (or her) prophetic words. Or even worse yet, the prophecy could be a combination of accuracies and blunders which then need to be checked out and spiritually discerned bit by bit.

A prophecy is most pastor’s and most traditional church’s worst nightmare. What do you do with the prophecy? When do you give it? Where do you give it? How do you filter it?How do you check it out? How do you handle the fallout from the prophecy?

But even more importantly, most pastor’s and traditional church’s chief concern is how do you stay in control of the service and the members. For after all, everything has to be done properly and in an orderly manner, right?

(Continued in Part II – 5)

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My Journey Out (Part 13)

An Updated Rerun Series

Click on following links for earlier articles: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11 and Part 12.

A bunch of nice losers!

Would the Holy Spirit really make this statement about His church?

After all, look at the forefathers of our traditional church system:  Martin Luther. John Wesley. George Whitefield. Jonathan Edwards. Charles Finney. Dwight Moody. William Booth. Maria Woodworth-EtterSmith Wigglesworth. Katherine Kulhman.

Plus, what about the leaders of today’s traditional churches? Billy Graham. Oral Roberts. Bill Hybels. Mike Bickel. Rick Warren. Joel Osteen. T.D. Jakes. Joyce Meyers. Charles Stanley. And many, many others.

All of these great men and women of God have been proponents of the traditional church system. If the “old time religion” was (and is) good enough for them, shouldn’t it be good enough for you and me?

NO! Absolutely not!

When Jesus arrived on the scene in 30 A.D., the Judaic Temple system had its forefathers and heroes, too. Moses. Joshua. Samuel. King David. Elijah. Elisha. King Hezekiah. King Josiah. Ezra. Nehemiah. Jeremiah. Etc.

And yet, Jesus became the Head of a new wineskin: the ekklesia or the assembly or the called-out ones or the church.

Jesus is the Head of the Church. Period.

Yes, it is important to learn truths from our church forefathers, but we are to follow Jesus. If He turns right, we must go right. If left, go left. If He stands still, do the same. He knows where we are going and why. Our duty is to follow and trust in Him…even if He walks out the doors of our traditional churches.

Okay?

When the Holy Spirit called the church “a bunch of nice losers,” He wasn’t talking about our personal beliefs in Jesus as the Savior or Lord. No, not at all. He was referring to who we are as sons of God, walking in the kingdom of God.

Do you realize each believer is:

an heir of God,

a joint heir with Christ,

more than a conqueror,

a chosen generation,

and a royal priest?

When we do not walk in our royal benefits as sons of the Kingdom of God, we are losers; and always will be. Every wave, every wind of doctrine, the trickery of men and their craftiness will toss us here and there like cork bobbers in the midst of a hurricane.

And guess what?

(Continued in Part 14)

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I’d Like to Prophesy, But… (Part II – 3)

This is a continuation of the nine-part series,  I’d Like to Prophesy, But…

Click on the following links for earlier articles: Part II-1 and Part II-2.

Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)

The number one mentioned ministry of the Holy Spirit throughout the entire Bible is the empowering of people to speak or prophesy.

…And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied… (Numbers 11:25)

Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy… (1 Samuel 10:6)

“And it shall be in the last days,” God says, “that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy… ” (Acts 2: 17)

Then Peter filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them… (Acts 4: 8)

…and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31)

One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would be a great famine…(Acts 11: 28)

And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. (Acts 19: 6)

My emphasis on a single part of the Holy Spirit’s ministry does not lessen the importance of the rest of the Holy Spirit’s ministry, such as convicting people of sin, righteousness or judgment or of teaching.

Now, all of Christianity recognizes the importance of the convicting power and the teaching ability of the Holy Spirit. After all, how can people be saved or discipled without the ministry of the Holy Spirit, right?

But sadly, approximately ninety per cent of American Christians see little or no value in the Holy Spirit’s ministry on empowering people to speak or to prophesy!

Now, if I reiterate that God has not changed and Jesus has not changed, and therefore, the Holy Spirit has not changed, every Christian would nod his head up and down and say, “Amen!”

Wait a second!

Do you see a disconnect in this trail of logic? How can ninety percent of American Christians believe that the Holy Spirit has not changed and still see no value in prophecy?

(Continued in Part II – 4)

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