The fruit and gifts of the Spirit are outward but it is the inward that matters to God. For no matter how much is displayed outward, eventually, it is the inward reality that will come to the surface and this hypocrisy of a ministry will tear down its superficial facades that are seen. This is why Jesus gives the parable of the man who built his house on the rocks as opposed to the sand - Matt. 7:24. What happens to many is that they are too in a rush to create excitement rather than a solid foundation of the Faith for gains. They have not heeded Jesus’ Words of, “who hears these words of mine and acts on them is like a wise man” - Matt. 7:24.
Jesus is relying on a single source for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Many who examine Paul’s ministry concluded that part of his mission was to establish a physical church of four walls, often using the five-fold appointments for this justification. There is Truth to this for the Body of Christ has to gather somewhere and why not in a building called a church led by a pastor; one of the five-fold ministry role. Yet, this becomes a double edge sword and due to the human condition of a weaken flesh without realizing it the Post Testament church has actually reinstated the Old Testament of laws, rituals, and mindsets. It is why Jesus can forcibly deny those who although did miracles in His name; did it more from an Old Testament ritualistic mindset and not as those who wholeheartedly with unbridled enthusiasm preached the good news. It is the condition of the heart that determines how close we are to God and more importantly if we are accepted into the Kingdom of God; first here on Earth and ultimately in Heaven. The other thing is, just because many speak out the name of Jesus doesn’t automatically concludes that they are part of the Righteous Body of Christ for as stated, “They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them” - Matt. 7:15. The key Word here is “fruit”.
Paul asserts that to be a Righteous Christian there must be the display of the fruits but also the gifts of the Spirit. Both these manifestations speak to the Spirit but more so the heart of the individual. These are outward signs of someone who is inwardly Righteous before God. Now, to be clear; we are not talking about being perfect before God and having no manifestations of the Spirit in of itself is only an indication of the maturity of that particular individual. This is why Paul encourages the new born Christian to press into the meat and not stay in the milk of their Salvation. Paul wants all of the Body, as we ought to; to be the light of the world rather than its stumbling block. For the Body have many parts; all of which have different functions but nevertheless, each to be a light to the world. Paul’s discussion of the parts of the Body was never to limit parts of it but was to empower all parts to work as equal partakers of Salvation for themselves and the world. What make the difference are the inward parts of that individual, namely the heart but also the mind and spirit. If one's hand is willing to work but the arm is inflicted; then how can the hand do effective and meaningful work? This is the same with the Body of Christ.
Why did Jesus accept one set of individuals using His name over another? Take your pick! The bottom line was they were doing things for the wrong reasons and not changing to become the temple of God. They were outward and not inward people. It is better to push towards the right things of God; tripping over yourself than to sit around and do nothing. For what pleases God but only Faith - Heb. 11:6. When we step out of ourselves, God comes to our aid because of our Faith to do His will, but when we stay in our comfort zone, we stagnate any influence of the Spirit for His will.
The Body of Christ is individually responsible for the church’s growth, credibility, and fruit. But if the Body is lazy and doesn't embrace its mandate to be the temple of God; then all that will be left are empty shells in empty buildings. I heard of individual's church hopping looking for that ideal church that suits them and of others trying all they can do to partake in a church’s growth yet never making any progress because of too much control of the church's pastorship. I can’t speak without knowing the specifics of others but recently I left one church for another but only after two years of deliberation, examination and introspection on what is God’s will, not only for me and my family but for the Body of Christ. To put it in perspective; my family and I were very active in the church we left, wanting the manifestation of fruit and not the maintenance of it. Eventually, we did move to another church; not randomly but only after considering a few, and making a quality decision based on the will of God. Today, we do not miss the previous church and our focus is what the new one is doing, which is led by the Spirit to produce fruit for God and the Gospel. Consider when to follow the fruit of another church because quantity and quality of a church's body does not matter, but only its Spirit.
1) Foremost, the church; whether a building or the Body of Christ is already saved. So if the church is not preaching to the unsaved but rather has become more of a social project or a comfort zone for Christians who are unwilling to take up the Great Commission then that church, building or body is already dead or on its way to being dead.
2) Without change, there can be no growth. When Jesus started His ministry and started to engage ordinary people to be His followers, the underlining message was change. To change first their spirit, then the mind and finally the body and not be subjected to the flesh of need and want. To be the head and not the tail. This can’t be done unless the saved wants to change. It is not a Pastor's responsibility for the individual’s change; neither must he accept his congregation's unwillingness to change. He must, however, create the environment for change with widgets; but mainly with himself, to become the object of change for others to emulate. This is what Jesus did. Jesus started His ministry around age thirty, but He prepared for it from age twelve. By the end of His ministry; thousands were changed to change thousands. This is the law of sowing and reaping. A church cannot reap by sowing only words but must include action. Action outside the church.
4) A church’s vision should be external and not internal. Too often, we are more concern about appearance rather than the substance of the church building and Body. The church is wherever the Body of Christ is whether in a building or in the middle of a pasture; for as stated, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them" - Matt. 18:20. Where we want the church; we also want Christ to be. For without Christ, there is no church. Jesus never promoted the idea of a physical building for a church, but declared, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” - Jn. 14:9. You can’t see the Father unless He dwells in you, which means we ought to be as stated, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you” - 1 Cor. 3:16. Jesus promoted the individual’s change and not the building’s.
5) We can never offer God anything that is added on, like a magnificent building pleasing to the eye but not the Spirit. This is the same for any physical thing that rots eventually. Heaven is eternal and so must our offer be. This originally was only our spirit but by Jesus’ triumph over the grave includes our flesh which, “in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” - 1 Cor. 15:52. This is the eternal change of the body but starts with the change of the spirit. A spirit that has been commanded to, “store up treasures in Heaven” - Matt. 6:19. What is the Heavenly treasure to be stored up? As clearly stated, “that all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” - 1 Tim. 2:4. Isn’t it telling, that Paul who urged Timothy to change by becoming a leader states this in this epistle? Timothy is the epitome of change for the church as Paul says to him, “set an example for the believers” - 1 Tim. 4:12. The final example can only be Jesus.
6) There is no doubt many can hear the message of Truth and Salvation from a pulpit and the larger it is the larger ought to be the results. Yet, Jesus’ ministry was a personal one; meeting and declaring to each one of His apostles this Truth and Salvation. People who heard His message and saw the miracles of Jesus in an emotional surge came to the cross and many have stayed there, clinging to the cross for Salvation, but never embracing the Righteous Truth of the message. That we are the sons and daughter of God; heirs to His Kingdom. As the Body of Christ; His church; we have only one task to spread the good news of Salvation but especially the Truth of it. For as God’s heirs, we ought to do the Father’s bidding; to share the Gospel and be the Gospel. Whenever the individual’s of the Body of Christ do not reflect this within a church, then something is not Righteous. They may belong to the congregation but they have yet to embrace being the church. This is compounded when the right order of Righteousness is not clearly seen, starting with the individual; their family and finally their words and actions. The church was not meant to be a place for a holdover of transportation, like a bus terminus waiting for the Heavenly greyhound bus; but to be Christ in all its attributes especially with its people. Within the church, nothing can be hidden and if there is not a sincere effort to work towards Righteousness, then eventually discontentment, strife, and unfaithfulness will dominate, resulting in a church of suspicion, envy and every device of the devil.
8) Without the Spirit, there is no Revelation. If one can time a sermon to the minute then the church has excluded the one advocate that God gave us to stay within His will. Some pastors run their service exactly in the same format, time and order claiming grounds for organization and stability including consideration of their congregations other family needs. This is nothing short of man’s and the world’s need for peace and security, by control. Jesus’ entire three-year ministry had no pre-set agenda and often Jesus was diverted by God by the Spirit for a Revelation of God’s hand. God wants to be the author of every service so that He alone receives the Glory. The service of a church is neither school nor work with checking in or checking out, but a divinely Spiritual exercise of free will to come to God for His will.
9)If there is no manifestation or practice of the Gifts of the Spirit, then it’s just a set of people coming together for socializing and singing. God never takes without first giving. He gave Christ which is why we give Him Worship. Praise and Thanksgiving and in turn He manifests Himself through the Gifts of the Spirit in tongues, prophecy, and miracles. The church is a place to engage God and be engaged by Him. By these manifestation comes Faith which is essentially for the growth of a church and is what captures the attention of the unsaved not only by hearing but also first by seeing.
10) A church is about dedication and family. The Gospel is prime and the family secondary. Jesus with all His compassion did not wait for those who were getting good and ready to take up their cross; forsaking all and follow Him. This is because they have not matured in their Faith believing by Faith on the integrity of the Word as stated, “Truly I tell you,” said Jesus, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for My sake and for the gospel will fail to receive a hundredfold in the present age, and to receive eternal life in the age to come” - Mk. 10:30. If a church is not all in then we can’t expect Jesus to be for us. When Lot was saved, his family was told not to look back for which his wife missing her previous life pined after her lost resulting in becoming a pillar or rather immovable for the change that would save her. Paul also states that we ought to, “Forget what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” - Phil. 3:14. If the Body of a church is nothing more than “a fast food” mentality with greeting and hugs for an hour, then it is not maturing to becoming the Body of Christ. For we are called to be partakers of the Gospel as a body is for its head, which is Jesus; where all parts work in unison for God’s will and the edification and health of the church.
7) God makes it clear, “teachers will be held to a higher standard” - Jm. 3:1. This includes anyone that becomes someone who others seek for “rightly dividing the word”. The Word is what matters for it is the foundation of the Faith we have. It does not edify the church when the church especially the Pastor is unskilled in the Word often misquoting for ulterior motives and unable to provide Righteous Revelations of it. As small as one deception is, it will produce a harvest of sorrow and despair. Now, we are not talking about an honest mistake but one that is based on manipulation and ignorance. Jesus was transparent in all that He did because as cliche it sounds; honesty is still the best policy. Mistakes are easily forgiven but misleading is irresponsible and tears down any building up of the church and Body. The latter often taking years to build while the former destroying in an instant. The facts, Revelation, and Truths of the Word are paramount in the growth of any church.
Too often, pastors are more interested in a church building rather than in a church that is Spiritual. What your pastor promotes weekly is where his heart is. This wrong mindset has caused turmoil in the Body of churches where many of the Faith become dull, lusterless and unspiritual and before one realizes it; a dead church emerges that begins to use gimmicks and worldly means to attract an audience rather than convicted followers of Jesus. Some refer to this as the unchurch. Is this too harsh? Not when eternal damnation of souls is at stake. For the Body are called to demonstrate Jesus to the world not by an outward appearance but by an inward conviction because “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” - Jn. 12:24. Unless there is real fruit then we ought to examine our Christian walk, otherwise, all that we do will eventually crumble when the real test of our Faith comes. This is part of the falling away of many who are currently attending churches - 2 Tess. 2:3.
The cost of not making God the only source for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding is the destruction of the church, which are the people of God. It is not unusual to hear within the Body; of a church that is going through turmoil due to the pastor’s unrighteousness resulting in disbelief, mistrust, and abandonment of the Faith. It becomes too easy to lay all the blame at the pastor’s feet. Some pastor’s who have gone through such ordeals eventually attempts to regain their credibility but never rebuild’s what has been lost due to their lack of integrity as it concerns the heart of God in the first place. Jesus, our first true Righteous pastor did not have such turmoil because of one attitude; that absolute obedience to God is essential for a long term and a solid foundation of success. This was because, Jesus was not ignorant to what God desired of Him but diligently divided the Word that revealed by the Spirit, God’s will. Jesus made the decision to belong to God as a prime responsibility and not to all others who are as well required to do if they profess to be Christians.
Jesus makes an interesting statement that “I do not know you” - Matt. 7:23. Even though these individuals were manifesting miracles in His name and yet in another incident; He makes another statement of, “If they are for me then leave them” - Lk. 9:50. In both these incidents, the Bible is not specific as to who Jesus is referring to; who is not for Him and for Him respectively. Jesus by the Holy Spirit; God’s arm for Truth is led to make the discernment of these opposite factions. We can only conclude as God judges the heart then Jesus is able to make the distinction of those who are genuine in their Faith and those who are not.
Now, I can only speak of observations and no doubt there are many thriving churches that are doing God’s will, building a Righteous church and impacting the world with the message of Jesus. Ultimately, as an individual in the Body of Christ, we are responsible for the treasures we store up and the works we have done that will be under the judgment of Heaven, not by God but by Jesus who's only comparisons against us is those things He did while on Earth in His life and ministry. We cannot rely on another man for what is a personal call from Jesus but only do as commanded, which is to seek the Kingdom. That Kingdom is not only God’s sovereignty but His will which is not measured in bricks, mortar or stuff but only in the body, mind and spirit which is where He wants to dwell not to be unattainable but reachable because that temple for which we are, is moved as the Spirit guides among the lost of the world, just as Jesus did.
Flush it Out! - By their fruit will you know them.
By the Old Testament standards; only appointed priests and prophets were made to be conduits for God’s will. When Jesus stated on the cross, “It is finished”; “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” - Matt. 27:51; as an indication of the Old Covenant was voided and only by Grace are we to live by and be saved. No longer is anyone under that law and its rituals of going through the pastor or for that matter the priest. Jesus did not show, or appreciate the office of the Pharisee or Scribes, but gave them a tirade in front of all who would listen. Today, this office is the pastor’s or the priest’s and for that matter all who believe the offices of the five-fold ministry is a status position and not a servant’s role. Paul’s intention was for education through these offices and not to replace what Jesus taught and showed; that all who call on His name are individually responsible for what comes next. If the church is failing it is because the Body is failing.
3) God is very keen on a Righteous leadership and the Bible has stories when the king was not of His will; the people suffered. This is no different for the pastor or board of a church. Because if this leadership is not doing God’s will; then why should the congregation. It’s all about the example that is shown and not told. Jesus clearly did this; otherwise, He would not have any true credibility and have not integrity in His Words; and most of all; no followers. This also applies not only for the pastor but for every person that makes up the foundation of a church including the board, elders, and service personnel. If you are visible to the rest of the church; then you are an example.
May. 31, 2017.
Follow the fruit.
To be a Christian is just the same as the night is to light. God’s first act was to shed light upon the darkness of the Earth just as if one would shed a right perspective of clarity on an issue that is based on ignorance. Simply put; a Christian ought to be someone who is not subjecting themselves to the ignorance of darkness by not having wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. The Body of Christ is called to be the light of the world - Matt. 5:14 and to expose that light - 2 Cor. 4:6. Yet; on average most Christian’s are uneducated in the Word often relying on a single source; their pastor for education on their Faith. A Faith or the lack of it that takes them to Heaven or hell. Why hell?
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