This is the first of a three-part edited blog repost in which the fruitful outcome of the nationally televised Billy Graham broadcast and the man are celebrated. Too, I joyfully pivot to celebrate the Lord’s perfect program plainly laid out in the New Testament that makes a Billy Graham and all of His servants gifted and called to ministries possible--if churches would be obedient. This leads finally to the blog title and content of parts two and three that tragically acknowledges prophets as servants of God being among those historically persecuted in sin by professed Christian church authorities. It is only in repentance from all biblically defined sin that revival will come to those seeking it.
Originally Posted November 10, 2013
I want to follow up my blog, Billy Graham’s “My Hope America,” (reposted November 6, 2016 under the category, Glory To God!) first by commending the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for a job well done in a broadcast concept that faithfully retains the centrality of the cross in the Gospel of Jesus Christ as did Rev. Graham throughout all of his ministry. For Rev. Graham’s part, in his nineties with an age weakened body, the Gospel message and fire in his belly to preach it is still powerfully seen as every authentic preacher called of God could see and appreciate.
Second, I want to publically commend our Portland area Fox Channel, KPTV 12 for being among those of that secular network to air Graham’s broadcast. I continue to pray that a great harvest will come from this and await the reports in weeks to come.1 Finally, as the Holy Spirit has led, I also want to expand on comments I made in the aforementioned blog about the relationship of the churches with men whose gifts, calling and ministries are clearly intended for them to serve God’s purposes beyond, but with the support of the local church.
Let me begin by making it clear that I fully accept the New Testament instruction that as a genuine manifestation of Christ’s Church, every local church and its governing authorities are to be respected, submitted to and obeyed as they respect, submit to and obey Christ as Head (Matthew 16:18; John 21:15-17; Acts 2:38-42; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18; Hebrews 13:7-8, 17). This instruction presumes that the local churches and their leaders are in fact, honoring Jesus as Lord and faithfully obeying His will recorded in Scripture as the final authority, not the manmade rules and traditions of religion.
For this reason, with Christ’s leadership, every born again believer is to seek out and become part of a Bible teaching local church. Also, in accord with Christ’s will in those churches, every believer is to be taught His Word, encouraged and given the opportunity to serve Him out of the spiritual gifts and calling He has given them recognizing not all such persons are intended exclusively for service in or to be controlled--even if supported financially--by those assemblies (John 20:19-23; Acts 1:8, 2:1-21, 8:4-8, 26-40, 11:19-26; 2 Corinthians 11:7-9; Philippians 4:10-20; Ephesians 4:7-12).
Now, if any so-called church does not fully recognize the essential biblical doctrine of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit to include all of the spiritual gifts He imparts to believers, then it cannot possibly think legitimately of itself as a church of Jesus Christ (John 3:1-8, 14:15-17; Romans 8:6-9; 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; 1 Peter 4:7-11). And those that refuse to recognize, deploy into or support the service of a gifted and called servant of Christ assembled with them are in willful sin (1 Corinthians 12:12-26; 3 John 5-11).
Biblically, the spiritual understanding and sensitivity of the local church is to be like that of first century Antioch when the Holy Spirit commissioned “Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them,” (Acts 13:1-2, NKJV). The prophets, teachers and all others present in that local church who were fasting and ministering to the Lord concluded their consecrated devotions with the physical laying of their hands on Barnabas and Saul in a tangible expression of submission to and ratification of the Spirit’s directive (no doubt, spoken through one or more of the prophets present--1 Corinthians 14:29-33) to send them forth (Acts 13:3).
Please note that the men in their work as apostles (sent ones, missionaries; Scripture does not say Barnabas was an eye witness of Christ risen like Saul--Acts 4:32-37, 9:26-30) were not under the control of that local church, but the Holy Spirit! Righteously, however, the Lord gave the church the responsibility to joyfully cooperate with Him in authenticating and sanctioning His calling of the men. For their part and also righteously, Barnabas and Saul not only reported back the results of their work in a voluntary accountability of their service to Antioch, but also the mother of all other churches at Jerusalem and the original eye witness apostles (Acts 14:26-15:35; Galatians 2:1-10).
Thank God there were enough godly pastors remaining in the days He raised up Billy Graham as a gifted evangelist that he was supported by his local church and many thousands around the world that came together for the cause of bringing souls to Christ! No one was successful in re-directing him from the work God called him to; no one was successful in controlling him, his biblical message and ministry under the guise of mortal accountability, though godly men surrounded and encouraged him.
Like the apostle Paul, Rev. Graham voluntarily and transparently reported the results of his work. In this media age, his doctrine was examined by all--what person professing to be a Christian could really argue with the simple and pure biblical message of the cross though today, there are many? Rev. Graham’s honor by God and men is well deserved. However, as the Lord Jesus taught, there is a group of His servants that should not expect to be honored at all by those they serve.
1 Visit https://myhopewithbillygraham.org/about/ for campaign results to date.
This is the conclusion of an edited three-part 2013 blog repost that exhorts professing Christians and churches that are guilty to stop resisting and persecuting God’s gifted, called and sent prophets so that our ministries for good might be fulfilled among them. Even so, how glad I am that while sinful men may not honor His prophets, the Lord Jesus does now inwardly and will in days to come, provide sweet vindication to us before the entire world near and at His glorious return to earth!
Originally Posted November 24, 2013
As foretold by His eye witness apostles and confirmed by the Lord, many of the leaders of the churches planted in the first century corrupted themselves and launched a trend that has never been reversed, but only enlarged to this hour (Acts 20:28-31; 2 Timothy 3:13; 2 Peter 2:1-3; Revelation 2:12-29). Indeed, as l have already written about many times, after the passing of the Lord’s eye witness apostles, corrupt shepherds along with false prophets and teachers introduced many heresies and brought forth manmade Christianity the religion which has a form of biblical Christianity (1 Corinthians 4:18-20; 2 Corinthians 3:1-6), but is powerlessly far from it (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
It is in the satanically fostered context of human ordained religiosity in churches and related organized ecclesiastical bodies that faithful saints and prophets have been martyred for the faith as by divine unction they cried out against the corruptions they saw standing faithful and true to the Word and causes of Christ--a truth recorded in many reliable sources including Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. These are churches and ecclesiastical entities that have called, sanctioned and sent out their own workers to spread their corrupt, religious doctrines while they willfully murdered those standing in their way falsely claiming divine approval (John 16:1-4).
With that history, what is it today--hundreds of years after the Protestant Reformation that also spawned its own round of violent persecution and martyrdom of godly opposition--if the churches of manmade Christianity the religion purposely persecute perceived opponents and prophets with oppression, mistreatment, ostracism, loveless abandonment to hardship and murder by words? This is done without hesitation by men controlled by the sinful flesh while outwardly decked out in deceitful religious piety as I can testify (Matthew 5:21-22, 27:46-49; Galatians 5:13-15; James 2:14-26; 1 John 3:16-17).
As if to plug up their ears to God’s outcry against their sins by His prophets, some of the scholarly especially have gone so far as to assert prophesying and preaching are synonymous so that to preach is to prophesy and all preachers are prophets. Others of that group in attempting to expose false prophets declare that prophecy and prophets ceased after the first century and surely by the completion of the entire Bible in the 4th century. Both of these views are corrupt since one does not have to necessarily preach to prophesy (2 Samuel 12:1-15; Luke 2:25-35) and may be used by God to prophesy to an individual or many through preaching (Luke 1:67-80, 3:1-20)!
While the completed Bible is our written, living foundation and landmark (Hebrews 4:11-13), it does not mean the living God has muted Himself with no further communication to be made to us at all (John 14:15-26; Acts 22:17-21, 23:10-11, 27:21-26). There has not been a time since the passing of the eye witness apostles to this hour when the Body has been without contemporary need for the eyes, ears and messages of her prophets sent from Christ the risen, living Head even with many false prophets who have existed simultaneously from ancient times (Jeremiah 23:9-32, 27:12-18, 29:1-9; Matthew 28:20b). The Lord’s foretelling of false prophets did not mean there would not be any that were true (Matthew 24:11).
On the contrary, it certifies their existence since Satan raises up the false to subvert the words of the true. The Lord’s prophets are faithful to His Word as it is written; they do not rely on or cite for final authority the opinions of sinful, mortal flesh--no matter how credentialed. And who better suited to accurately interpret God’s already written prophetic Word when He is ready (Daniel 8:15-27; 1 Corinthians 13:2a)? As the evangelist burns to win lost souls, so the prophets of Christ burn for the purity, holiness, righteousness, obedience, fidelity and fruitfulness of His bride (2 Corinthians 11:1-4)!
The Church in its infancy may not have had need for many messages of rebuke and warning--although, what is the apostle Paul with the gift of prophecy doing in most of his New Testament letters to churches? Beyond question, however, the Lord Himself continued that aspect of the work of New Testament prophets with His Revelation to the apostle John given and written down for all professing believers and their churches near the end of the apostolic period (Revelation 1:9-3:22). He has also continued to gift, call and send His prophets to faithfully fulfill every aspect of their ministries in the churches including crying out against sin and warning of divine retribution upon the unrepentant.
As the Lord foretold, His prophets have been so much without honor they are singled out among the martyred faithful saints as recipients of God’s vindication (Revelation 11:15-18, 16:1-7, 17:1-6, 18:1-8, 20, 24-19:3). This is because of their suffering to the end at the hands of unbelievers and those professing to be Christians they were sent to serve especially in the churches of manmade Christianity the religion whose leaders in the West today generally and America in particular through their proud, independent spirit, resent being told they are in sin and resist rebuke as well as warning preferring instead, to cut off the messengers to their own hurt (Jeremiah 2:29-30, 5:1-3, 7:28; Amos 7:10-17; Matthew 23:33-24:2).
Therefore, in this month of praying for persecuted believers, among them I pray for and honor my brethren, the Lord’s prophets without honor in the churches who are held in contempt and persecuted in various ways by those claiming to be Christians. As for me, I do not seek or require the honor of mortal flesh though I desire for their sakes that God’s people would give proper heed to the words of warning He has put in my mouth in perfect alignment with what is plainly written in His Word (Ezekiel 33:1-9)--woe to the teachers of falsehood who teach believers in Christ face no eternal peril for sinning in willful disobedience without repentance (Jeremiah 28; Galatians 5:19-21, 6:7-8; Hebrews 3:7-19, 10:26-31, 35-39; Jude 1-11)!
I repeat in part what I wrote in my April 17, 2016 blog repost, Disembodied, Pt. 2 under the category, The Faith: “I am deeply honored in the Lord and pleased to the highest degree to serve you as a watchman/prophet and teacher in the footsteps of those faithful servants of Christ from the first century until now...” Glory to His Name!
This is the second of a three-part edited blog repost celebrating the results of Billy Graham’s ongoing “My Hope America” campaign and more broadly, God’s glorious design of the Church to function through the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. To my great joy also in this installment, I am led by the Spirit to focus on and give instruction about the demonstrated service of the prophet in the New Testament. So, pastors, elders and others that have tried to figure out what my angle is and who do I think I am (1 Corinthians 1:26-31), I invite you to open your Bible and learn as I had to if you will, what it teaches. Too, of course, I hope you will repent from rejecting God’s Word in favor of leaning on your own understanding up until now if guilty (Proverbs 3:5). Have a great Thanksgiving!
Originally Posted November 17, 2013
How often over the years have I heard the hypocritical call even by what are otherwise serious Christian leaders for God to raise up prophetic voices among the churches to cry out against the unfaithful drift, willful compromise and increasing wickedness of professing Christians in the supposed hope that repentance and revival will break forth? Yet, when such voices as my own cry out from God against the evil in His house, these same men are among the first to resist, reject and renounce us as uncalled critics and troublemakers. As is typical of proud, independent religionists, they want to listen only to those they choose and deem fit (Exodus 2:11-15; Acts 7:22-28, 33-35, 51).
As the Old Testament prophets before and Christ as “the Prophet” in one of His multiple assigned roles by the Father, so, He commented sadly and warned those He would gift and call to follow Him in similar service that they would be without honor among their own countrymen and families; those they were sent to serve who professed to be God’s people (Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Ezekiel 3:1-7; Matthew 13:53-58; John 7:1-5). He spoke the truth! Even so, New Testament prophets are an integral and continuing part of the leadership gifts Christ places in His Body from the first century.
In fact, through the apostle Paul, God ranks the ministry of prophets only behind apostles in functional importance to the Body (1 Corinthians 12:27-30, 14:1-6, 20-25; Ephesians 4:11). In general, the multi-gifted eye witness apostles (and missionaries today as their descendants) preach the Gospel, make disciples and establish churches in areas where Christ has not been named and after a season, move on to another locale (Acts 13:4-14:25). Evangelists, as we saw with Billy Graham, are consumed with preaching the Gospel to whomever, wherever the Spirit leads to make disciples. Pastor/teachers and elders lead and teach an established local assembly of disciples.
Prophets privately or corporately prophesy, teach, preach and/or exhort to reveal, instruct, encourage and build up through revelation, knowledge and wisdom as well as when directed by the Lord, rebuke and warn seeking the repentance of any professed disciples of Christ that are sinning regardless of their position in the Body. If “the righteous are bold as a lion,” the prophets the more so and are all most assuredly aspiring strong men of God in the image of Christ (Proverbs 28:1, NKJV)! They serve as the eyes, ears and mouth of Christ, the Head of His Body (1 Samuel 3:1-18, 9:6-19; Proverbs 29:18; Isaiah 29:9-10; Jeremiah 1:4-19; Ezekiel 3:8-27; Amos 3:7-8) and govern themselves under Him (2 Kings 2:1-18; 1 Corinthians 14:26-33).
Thus, no local church leadership controlled or ruled over the Lord’s prophets as the earliest kings of Israel never did even when they were on the payroll except when persecuting them (2 Samuel 24:10-14; Jeremiah 37:6-21). As those of the Old with godly kings, so, the first century New Testament prophets gladly submitted to the authority of the original eye witness apostles, elders and brethren of the Jerusalem church who even sent them on missions (Acts 15:22-23, 30-35). Clearly, righteous rulers of the churches as again, the kings of Israel had nothing to fear from the Lord’s prophets and welcomed them; the prophets for their part honored and worked cooperatively with godly leadership in the churches which would also be true of me.
The Lord’s original eye witness apostles served to initially fulfill His prophecy that He would send prophets to Israel’s religious establishment since they claimed to have such reverence for them and they would reject, persecute and murder them--though Stephen was actually the first prophet murdered (Matthew 23:29-36; Luke 11:46-51; Acts 3:1-4:22, 5:12-42, 6:1-7:2a, 52-60). After the persecution that scattered the church from Jerusalem, they made disciples of Jews and Gentiles as they traveled and churches formed in places such as Antioch in Syria where Barnabas--a named prophet and teacher--was sent by the Lord and the Jerusalem church to help (Acts 8:1, 11:19-26).
It is at Antioch that we are first shown the service of New Testament prophets beyond the Jewish context at Jerusalem; men that were not pastors or preachers only and whose service was consistent with Old Testament prophets not only as forth tellers, but foretellers of things revealed to them by God and speaking to inform the disciples so that they might respond accordingly (Acts 11:27-30, 21:10-14). These gifted first century prophets were accepted into the churches and their authenticity through their lifestyle and messages, judged by all in accord with already established Old Testament criteria, the instruction of Christ and His eye witness apostles (Deuteronomy 18:20-22; Matthew 7:15-20; 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22).1
Godly women that prophesied did so in honor of God’s order (1 Corinthians 11:2-16, 14:34-40; 1 Timothy 2:11-15). Moved by the Holy Spirit who would never lead them (or any of us) into sin, they exercised their gift primarily with women (Exodus 15:20-21), individuals or in a small group of inquiring or passing individuals with no commanding proclamation involved, but simply, faithfully repeating a word of prophecy, knowledge, wisdom or instruction from the Lord (2 Kings 22:12-20; Luke 1:39-45, 2:36-38; Acts 21:8-9). The prophetess Christ names “Jezebel” and rebukes with the church pastor was clearly out of order and false (Revelation 2:18-29, NKJV). Deborah was exceptional in an exceptional time for Israel unfaithful to God as King and with men of great spiritual weakness (Judges 4:1-10).
1 See the October 30, 2016 repost, No One Speaks For God? under the category, Instruction.
I have five children and four are daughters. So, I wrote this edited 2011 post with many years of experience learning about and attempting to live out with many failures a still God recognized biblical worldview of fatherhood in the midst of a world and compromising Christians in rebellion against it (Malachi 3:6; Ephesians 6:1-4; Hebrews 13:8). Being a father is one of three temporary roles God has assigned most men that only His aspiring strong men in the image of His Son, Jesus Christ, are equipped to fully please Him in living out. Honoring her father’s headship until marriage is the will of God which in these evil latter days will truly take a great woman of God daughter to fulfill.
Originally Posted October 2, 2011
Recently I heard a professed Christian woman speaking on one of the Christian radio talk shows about needing to have her father’s guidance and protection while she was apparently governing her own life in arrogant independence. In God’s family design every virgin and/or unmarried daughter is given the benefits of guidance and protection by their father as their head while they live under his roof (and beyond if they will continue to honor his headship). A father’s responsibilities to his daughter only ended upon her death or marriage in which case her husband took over the headship responsibilities (1 Corinthians 7:36-38; Ephesians 5:23).
In today’s feminist attempt to unravel God’s design of the family, so many single young women are buying in only to crash and burn on the rocks of unanticipated pregnancies, abusive relationships and financial hardships. The proud among these young women demand that their fathers take care of them and their problems while they continue in their rebellion; others just as proud seek no help considering themselves heroically self-sufficient. However, the humble like the prodigal son of Luke 15:11-19 come to their senses and realize that a father in the image and likeness of God will give the long-term benefits of headship only with their submission to it. There is no one without the other.
In a biblical worldview, a father is under no obligation to guide, provide for or protect an adult daughter that is unwilling to submit to his leadership and instruction. Periodic help in the form of food and a temporary stay at home out of compassion for the proud rebel is appropriate. But the father that is emotionally manipulated into providing for and protecting his daughter long-term with no accompanying insistence that she honor his headship is setting her up for failure as a future wife.1 As the Holy Spirit leads, I write more about a father’s responsibilities to his children in The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics. If you have not already, I urge you to get a copy of the book today!2
1 If this teaching is out of step with the times and the way it really is in the world, then truly, the world is about out of time (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Peter 3:9)! Read my May 5,
2019 post, Out Of Step With The Times?, under the category, Bible Prophecy.
2 The book is available in print or digital download formats at major internet booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com and Apple (digital only).
You can also get the Hard or Soft Cover print versions of the book in the Strong Man Store. I ask the saints to pray with me for a 2020 release of The Great Woman Of
God: Women’s Group Study drawn from chapters in my book.
Without equivocation or apology for over fifteen years I have stood and stand on God’s Word as it is written to call all professed Christians that are guilty and assemble weekly ostensibly as His house to recognize and repent from the satanic stronghold of deceit embodied in worldly feminism they have welcomed in their midst. As the Lord has graciously directed, since July 2011 at the end of my last pastorate I have been winning men and boys to Christ, teaching and urging them with others to go or return to local churches as I wrote in a March 2019 repost.1 I knew in the grip of Satan’s feminist stronghold many would tear down what I had biblically taught as well as spiritually emasculate them! However, I was hopeful with the Lord for repentance as I was in this edited 2011 post (Luke 13:6-9).
Now, I have heard from the Lord that it is enough (Revelation 2:18-29)!2 I am announcing this day that in obedience to the Lord I will no longer send men and boys I reach for Him and teach to churches that are in willful rebellion with the world against the plain teaching of His Word from Genesis to Revelation on the roles, rank, responsibilities and order of mankind. By the express will of Christ I am also again adding to my ministry responsibilities shepherding of willing men I find anywhere in the Portland/Vancouver Metropolitan area that are disconnected from Him, disaffected from Christianity and discontented with hypocritical and disobedient local churches; pastors and elders that do not truly care about them as men (Ezekiel 34:1-11; Matthew 9:9-13; Luke 19:1-10).
Therefore, if you live in the Portland/Vancouver Metropolitan area and what I have written resonates with you, I am seeking at least five men to start meeting with me to be taught, mentored and equipped to join me in the work of fishing for and restoring men, their families and communities! Write to info@thestrongmanofGod.org by November 17th to express your interest; arrange to meet with me at a time and place we by consensus agree on to hear my vision and learn more.
Originally Posted October 16, 2011
At the risk of overdoing it, I must make a final application of the truth I have presented over the last two blogs specifically concerning fathers to the broader role of leadership men have assigned to them by God beginning in the home. It is very clear in this 21st century that our secular society is on a quest to totally destroy God’s order for the family through the implementation of its version of equality. Re-define a man here, a woman and a family there and presto, it’s done! The only problem is the social experiment is not working so well. I cite statistics in my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics that reveal just how badly the experiment is failing.3 But that is not the worst of it.
I see and hear of churches all of the time proclaiming the responsibility of men to be the heads of their households. But then, they turn right around and trample upon that responsibility by putting women over them in God’s house in clear disobedience to His Word. If God is the One that made men leaders in the home, it stands to reason in consistency that He would require their leadership in His own house too. Indeed, the apostle Paul shows how the home is even the first stage of leadership training for men as they prepare to serve God in His house (1 Timothy 3:1-7).
The local church is not a worldly institution which mimics and reflects the world’s values. It is the redeemed of God assembled together on purpose to honor Him, His will, way and Word! You cannot call a man to biblical leadership in his home and then disregard what the same Bible teaches about his place of leadership in God’s house. There is no one without the other as so many churches are attempting to accomplish. The result is that those churches are sending mixed and confusing messages to their men and boys as well as teaching there is a place to disobey the plain teaching of God’s Word.4
In my book, the Lord uses me to call pastors and their churches to repentance from their partial obedience reminding them of how He responded to king Saul for the same sin (1 Samuel 15:1-23).5 What hope is there for restoring men and their families if the folks with the right answers from God’s Word do not honor it themselves (Luke 14:34-35)?
1 See the introduction of the March 10, 2019 repost, Appeal For Incarcerated Christians, under the category, The Cause.
2 Jesus Christ is Lord and Judge of the churches! Like Father like Son, so, the Holy God who judges sin does so now because there is no repentance! Before He
fully judges the world, He judges the churches already in progress (1 Peter 4:17-18). Read my June 10, 2018 post, God’s Judgment Upon His House, under the
category, Bible Prophecy. Unless you do defiantly share in the sins of the guilty church without opposition, I suggest you depart so as not to also share in its judg-
ment (Revelation 18:1-8). Yeah, that is how serious it all is at this late hour!
3 The book is available in print or digital download formats at major internet booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com and Apple (digital only).
You can also get the Hard or Soft Cover print versions of the book in the Strong Man Store.
4 See the July 20, 2014 post, Confused Men, Compromised Sons, under the category, Call To Repent.
5 Additionally, read the series of blogs the Lord led me to write on the topic of obedience and addressing the sin of partial obedience beginning September 7-October 5,
As I have stated before, many professing American Christians live and their churches carry on as though Jesus--their ostensible Lord--is dead (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)! Dead men cannot lead or govern from Hades and are completely cut off from this life (Psalm 88:10-12). “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep,” (Psalm 16:8-11; 1 Corinthians 15:20, NKJV). So, upon announcing His authority and giving charge to His disciples in all generations (the ones standing before Him would die) He declares, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:18-20, NKJV). As He worked with the first disciples to build His Church, so, those that are His last (Matthew 16:15-18; Mark 16:20; Acts 2:1-41, 47, 4:1-4, 5:12-14).
Christ reigns with all authority over all to include His Church from the throne of God to which He ascended (Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 1:15-18; Hebrews 1:1-4)! About sixty years or so later He spoke to seven churches of Asia and broadly to all in every generation to follow through His last living apostle, John, with mostly rebuke and warning in what is the last book of Scripture (Revelation 1:9-3:22). Living in believers, He continues His Lordship in real time; giving among other things vision, commands, knowledge, rebuke and warning to those who will hear Him from Scripture (Romans 4:3a) and the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:27-30). As this edited 2012 repost asserts, not without consequences are any professing Christians and churches treating Jesus as dead; doing as they please.
Originally Posted August 5, 2012
A powerful truth in John 15:5 being ignored in many churches today is the Lord instructing, “…for without Me you can do nothing,” (NKJV). I say this after being in and around American churches from coast to coast since childhood where I have seen the unmistakable pattern of religious authority, human strength and works in action that are an artificial imitation of biblical Christianity. The Bible teaches Jesus is the Head over His Church and the Holy Spirit the empowering source of the activity He wills to the glory of God the Father (Ephesians 1:22-23, 3:14-21)!
Perhaps we have misunderstood; the “much fruit” that the Lord refers to in John 15:5 is in accord with His leadership (which presumes abiding in Him and Him in us) in the power of the Holy Spirit who is our Helper (NKJV). It is impossible for this fruit to be produced in the flesh. Therefore, if we kick the Lord Jesus to the curb as our “first love” (Revelation 2:4, NKJV) or in willful disobedience do our own thing in His name, we are doing nothing. This is evident in the very sad, fruitless state of so many churches today with either passive dispassionate or selfishly ambitious, tyrant pastors attempting to make a name for themselves to climb the religious corporate ladder or leave brick and mortar legacies.
There are elders and deacon boards that wickedly conspire to control pastors and churches. Church fights and splits are common along with thefts and sexual immorality. Churches with money in the bank display what they think is spiritual power when they do whatever flesh works seem right to them; offering token prayer petitions for what they intend to do anyway. Other churches steeped in tradition and manmade religion endlessly entertain themselves with annual events to raise money to do little or nothing of what the Lord wills. Is it any wonder that exercising spiritual or grace gifts--another aspect of doing things in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit--is not taken seriously in such churches?
Spiritual gifts are supernatural abilities the triune God gives as a matter of grace to each person that believes on Christ and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit at the new birth (John 1:12-13). So basic to the Christian’s ability to function in God’s program and the Church is the Holy Spirit, one cannot even say from the heart “Jesus is Lord” except with His enablement (1 Corinthians 12:1-3, NKJV). Nothing Christians have been commissioned by Christ to do can be done without the agency of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts--nothing! Now, there are many gifts, callings and ministries members of the Body of Christ have and all flow from the triune God by way of the working of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
No pastor or local church can say to any member, “you or your gifts are not needed here” since it is God who places each member in the Body as He wills by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). No pastor or church can declare as some have that certain of the New Testament gifts are no longer in play since it is the Lord who has established the purpose, function and order of spiritual gifts in the Church (1 Corinthians 12:28-30; Ephesians 4:7-11). Indeed, it is because of the faithless, flesh driven dissertations of especially the guilty religious educated elite devoid of the Spirit that the spiritual bedlam I have seen and experienced in so many churches of various ethnicities and sizes exists today.
Again, the only remedy God provides for this is revival if proud and withering men will see their wicked ways and seek Him for it in all confession, repentance and heartfelt petition before it is too late. Otherwise, the aspiring strong man of God in the image of Christ accepts his gift(s), calling and ministry as part of accepting his assigned roles from God. Specifically, he will yearn with love and zeal to serve the divine purposes as a son of God, disciple of Christ and servant through the spiritual gifts, calling and ministry he has been given by the Holy Spirit (Jeremiah 20:7-9; 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13)! There are no exceptions; every believer has at least one spiritual gift to serve God with.1 The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, "Who is on the Lord's side?"
1 In 1992 a Fort Worth, Texas church first allowed me to present instruction on the Lord’s spiritual gifts out of the teaching gift I have been given. I have continued to in-
struct on this very important subject as a pastor and welcome any opportunities to do so now through our Strong Man Institute. I am also now in the process of devel-
oping Strong Man Of God resources on the topic to help Kingdom minded pastors and seeking Christians. Let me know of your interest by answering a single survey
question on the Feedback Page of our Web Site. In the meantime, as the Lord has led, I have laid a foundational introduction to the service of aspiring strong men of
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Consistent with His Word, the Lord would know who authorized corrupt and abominable worship in His house including the leadership of sexually perverted men and out of order women? It certainly was not Him! But it has been men seduced by the coaxing and teaching of lying spirits as well as the self seeking and exaltation, arrogance, wickedness and selfish ambition for worldly success borne of the sinful flesh that have lied on God concerning His will while usurping His authority in defiant disobedience; unrepentant men God rejects who have fed off of and copied each other’s errors (Jeremiah 23:30-32; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; James 3:13-18; 2 Peter 2:1-3, 12-22; Jude 3-19).
No one can claim ignorance of what God wants in worship since what He has required for His worship is plainly and thoroughly presented in the Bible. Rebel hearts, of course, disdain the word, “required” because they wrongly believe they have freedom under grace to do as they please; the corrupt shepherds among them even acting as lords over God’s house in place of Jesus who is Lord! Also, the experience of ancient Israel is again our example in all things not to do in displeasing God when Christians assemble to worship. Both the Lord’s instruction from His Word on worship and the outcome of Israel’s failure to heed it are summarized in this second part of my 2013 blog post.
Originally Posted September 15, 2013
True Christian worship does not spring from external stimulus such as singing and music, but internally from connection to and relationship with God through the Spirit! Out of love for Him arises in the inmost being the desire to glorify God the Father in admiring praise and worship for who He uniquely is as do the hosts of Heaven (Psalm 100; Revelation 4); to thank Him for all of His benefits not the least of which is His seemly inexhaustible riches of grace and mercy as did the saints of old (Psalm 103).
Spontaneous worship of God wells up in the spirits of the faithful as do geysers from the earth leading to vocal expression as demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 10:21-24). And when the saints assemble together as drunk men, yet, not drunk on wine but filled by the presence of the Holy Spirit, we express the joy of our hearts “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody” in our hearts together to the Lord not as a performance, but loving devotion (Ephesians 5:18-20, NKJV). From such hearts flows the sold out dedication of our lives to God in obedience with immediate confession and repentance when we sin.
If our bodies and lives thereby are to be offered as of first importance as a continual “living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God” as our rational service of worship (Romans 12:1, NKJV), then it stands to common sense reason that willful disobedience of any kind in sin including ignoring how God has expressed He is to be worshipped pollutes such worship and in accord with the written Word, rather than pleasing, offends Him leading to His rejection of it!
Notice that for similar reasons the Lord Jesus--who should be considered by all as the highest authority on worship that pleases God--tells the woman at the well Samaritan worship was not accepted by God: ‘“You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews,”’ (John 4:22, NKJV). The net result historically and for us today is that untold numbers of individual professing Christians privately and their churches assembled for it at whatever time, offer worship to God without His attending presence or acceptance because of willful disobedience manifested in many ways.
It does not matter what style or how excellent, energetic, emotional or sincere the singing and music or animated the worship leader in fleshy performance, worship polluted by sin is rejected by God. Quick, outward and falsely humble prayers of confession and repentance preceding what is to be served up as worship does not change the result either since God sees into the heart (Psalm 139:1-4; Jeremiah 17:9-10; Luke 16:14-15). The Lord already knows what sins we are clinging to including unforgiveness and bitterness toward along with even ongoing persecution and mistreatment of our brethren as if He is not serious about His command that we love and forgive each other (Matthew 5:21-24, 6:12, 14-15; John 15:12; 1 John 4:20-21).
Then there are the seminary trained pastors who were rightly taught that worship songs should support the preached word, but who take it upon themselves in the flesh to see to it; tightly controlling the song style and selection without any real consultation with the God to be worshipped for His guidance or reliance upon Him. Not only does God reject the outcome, but those that are His genuine worshippers in spirit and truth--aspiring strong men and great women of God in the image of Christ--recognize the divine offense and lack of attendance as well as consequential spiritual deadness in these so-called “worship services.”
While the Lord was unflinching in declaring to the Samaritan woman that the worship of the Jews as prescribed in the Law at Jerusalem’s temple was more to God’s approval than what the Samaritans were doing, nevertheless, His declaration of something “coming” that transcended what had been historically done by the Jews suggested it was superior and ultimately what God wanted--what is supposedly now to be seen in Christians!
Israel had co-opted what God had given them as His worship program and made it a thing of cold, dead, empty ritual and manmade religion in spite of the constant rebuke of her prophets. The Lord quoted Isaiah from seven hundred years earlier in a rebuke of Israel’s religious establishment that should painfully resonate within professing Christianity at this hour: ‘“These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men,’” (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8-9, NKJV). Connection to Him in obedience was more important to God than the sacrifices and rituals of worship as the Lord Jesus Christ--our example in all things--showed (1 Samuel 15:22; Psalm 40:6-8, 51:16-17; Proverbs 21:3, 27; Micah 6:6-8; Hebrews 10:5-7).
God’s primary concern was always with Israel’s collective heart and conduct. But the people in willful disobedience turned away from authentic worship of God to practice their own corrupt, outward form of religion. Through the prophet Isaiah God had protested their duplicity by declaring His displeasure with their phony worship and demanded to know who had required them to “trample My courts,” (Isaiah 1:10-12, NKJV)? Rather than reverence, the sacred ground of the temple was treated by the people with a disregard similar to untrained animals in a clean space that do not distinguish between the holy and the profane for they practiced all manner of perversions then assembled for worship.
Thoroughly disgusted with this endless desecration of His house and disrespect of His Person, God had had enough and told Israel ‘“Bring no more futile sacrifices…I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them,’” (Isaiah 1:13-14, NKJV). Then God says He will not hear their prayers nor accept their worship because of their disobedience (Isaiah 1:15; Jeremiah 6:20). Without repentance (which God invited), He would and did judge Israel for their sins including corrupt worship in 586BC and again in 70AD (Isaiah 1:16-20; Jeremiah 7:1-27; Matthew 23:37-24:2).
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