As I sit here and seek guidance from God’s Holy Spirit about how to begin this, my mind wanders to missionaries being (sent out) from any given Church. Speaking of missionaries, I know my calling is to the lost members of Churches, Church members that have said they believe in Jesus Christ, been baptized and even joined their local Church but, they have never been born again. They know nothing about the new birth in Christ Jesus.
With that being said, I remember a missionary coming to a Church I was a member of once and telling us he felt led to go to the Philippines to do mission work. As a young believer, I wonder, how does he know that? How does he know that God is calling him to that area of the world?
What missionaries in most denominations have to do is to come out to local Churches in their denominations and do what they call (deputation work). It’s the art of getting local Churches to support you on the mission you say you fell led to go on. After some time, one day I and my pastor were together on visitation. I asked him about how I felt concerning understanding the leadership of God’s Spirit. I used that missionary as an example. My pastor told me that the missionaries’ wife was from the Philippines. I said, Oh! Now I understand!
Now, I ask you, did God’s Spirit lead the man? I can’t say, I’m not his judge. However, I can say that God has impressed upon my heart to reach out to the people that are lost within the average local Church. It has nothing to do with any denomination, any desire for the support of any group of people and I’m not seeking to approval of any particular local Church. As a matter of fact, not many pastors will allow me to even confront their congregation about (making their calling and election sure)!
(2 Peter 1:10)
WHEREFORE THE RATHER, BRETHREN, GIVE DILIGENCE TO MAKE YOUR CALLING AND ELECTION SURE: FIR IF YE DO THESE THINGS, YE SHALL NEVER FAIL:
Our Churches today are calling as many people as possible in but sending very few out! I believe that one of the first things we must understand is: (What is the Church)!
Jesus Christ said this:
AND I SAY UNTO THEE, THAT THOU ART PETER, AND UPON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH, AND THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT.
Now, let’s look at these verses as it concerns the Apostle Paul:
AND WHEN HE WAS COME UNTO US, HE TOOK PAUL’S GIRDLE, AND BOUND HIS OWN HANDS AND FEET, AND SAID, THUS SAITH THE HOLY GHOST, SO SHALL THE JEWS AT JERUSALEM BIND THE MAN THAT OWNETH THIS GIRDLE AND SHALL DELIVER HIM INTO THE HAND OF THE GENTILES. (12) AND WHEN WE HEARD THESE THINGS, BOTH WE, AND THEY OF THAT PLACE, BESOUGHT HIM NOT TO GO UP TO JERUSALEM. (13) THEN PAUL ANSWERED, WHAT MEAN YE TO WEEP AND TO BREAK MINE HEART? FOR I AM READY NOT TO BE BOUND ONLY, BUT TO ALSO DIE AT JERUSALEM FOR THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS.
I’d like to take the time here to teach another lesson. We see in (verse 10) that a prophet named Agabus shared this with Paul and the people in that place. What I believe about what is happening here is this. Up until the birth of the Church God spoke to his people by prophets, During the life of Jesus Christ, we see in the gospels that God spoke to us by his Son.
GOD, WHO AT SUNDRY TIMES AND IN DIVERS MANNERS SPAKE IN TIME PAST UNTO THE FATHER BY THE PROPHETS, (2) HATH IN THESE LAST DAYS SPOKEN UNTO US BY HIS SON, WHOM HE HATH APPOINTED HEIR OF ALL THINGS, BY WHOM ALSO HE MADE THE WORLDS;
I show that verse to back up the statement about God speaking by his Son. However, since the birth of the Church, now God’s Spirit is within every born-again believer. Personally, I don’t believe that the prophet Agabus understood that as he was speaking about, and to Paul. Possibly, many of the people in that place didn’t completely understand it as well.
Today, as a member of the body of Christ (the Church) each of us have God’s Spirit within us. God has the ability to lead all of us to do different things even if the Church we attend totally disagrees with what we say we feel led to do. We can even debate this. Was The Apostle Paul right in his decision or wrong? My answer to that would be, as far as the Apostle Paul’s relationship with Jesus Christ is concerned, what difference does it make what any man might think?
I’d like to share this story about a friend of mine many years ago. This young man actually married one of my former pastor’s daughters. We were members of the same Church. As time moved forward, his father-in-law, my pastor resigned the Church. My friend and his wife left the Church, but I stayed.
After a few months my friend visited me at my house just to talk and share his feelings. He told me that he believed God was calling him to preach. He knew that I had surrendered to preach and just desired to seek some answers or to see what I thought about it. He also said that he had shared his feelings with his pastor. He said that his pastor had told him he needed to go to school if God was calling him to preach.
When he told me that, I replied, is God calling you to preach or your pastor? I told him that God wasn’t calling him to go to school but to preach his word. He told me he couldn’t afford to go to school with two children and a wife to support.
This story happened about thirty-five years ago. this young man never surrendered to preach. Now, I ask you, who did he listen to God the Father or his pastor (that of a local Church)? To whom did he listen?
Our Churches today are far more concerned about (drawing people in) to the local Church and having control of what they as individuals do than they are allowing God’s Spirit to (send people out) to do his will. For the most part people are more inclined to listen to Church leadership than to be obedient to the call of God. As a matter of fact, we now have a mindset that the local Church is the very voice of God when it’s often far from it!
So, let’s consider some things. When Jesus Christ said: (upon this rock will I build my Church and, the gates of hell shall not prevail against it). What was he saying? Who is the Church? The Church are those that believe that (THOU ART THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD)! It has very little to do with local Church membership, being baptized or, for the most past the fact you say you believe in Jesus Christ!
I want us to look at a word we see in:
BUT THIS THOU HAST, THAT THOU HATEST THR DEEDS OF THE NICOLAITANES, WHICH I ALSO HATE.
If you will notice here, he says (deeds of the Nicolaitanes). Now, look in verse:
SO THAT THOU ALSO THEM THAT HOLD THE DOCTRINE OF THE NICOLAITANES, WHICH THING I HATE.
Here we see it changes to (THE DOCTRINE OF THE NICOLAITANES). So, in the Church of Ephesus what was simply deeds, now, in the Church of Pergamos it has become a doctrine. Do you realize that this word cannot be found nowhere else in scripture? However, (NIKSO)means (to conquer). (LAOS) means (the people). These two words are (root words) of the word Nicolaitanes. So, what is being taught here?
Look at these two verses:
First: 1 Timothy 2:3-4
FOR THIS IS GOOD AND ACCEPTABLE IN THE SIGHT OF GOD OUR SAVIOUR; (4) WHO WILL HAVE ALL MEN TO BE SAVED, AND TO COME UNTO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH.
Second: 2 Timothy 3:7
EVER LEARNING, AND NEVER ABLE TO COME TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH.
Now, let’s look at those verses in the light of the Apostle Peter that said this: (thou art the Christ, the son of the living God). When we watch Peter’s life we see where he made many mistakes as he walked with Jesus Christ. However, he, at the same time was gaining a spiritual education that was given him by, at that time Jesus Christ and later on, the very Spirit of God that came upon him on the (Day of Pentecost). God didn’t expect Peter to be perfect, ever. However, he was expecting him to (come to the knowledge of the truth). Although it might have taken years for the Apostle Peter to come to an understanding of (the Church) that Jesus Christ spoke of and, (the Church) that the Apostle Paul was given the mystery concerning: (Ephesians 3). he did, in the end recognize exactly what he was teaching! Look at these verses:
2 Peter 3:14-16
WHEREFORE, BELOVED, SEEING THAT YE LOOK FOR SUCH THINGS, BE DILIGENT THAT YE MAY BE FOUND OF HIM IN PEACE, WITHOUT SPOT, AND BLAMELESS. (15) AND ACCOUNT THAT THE LONGSUFFERING OF OUR LORD IS SALVATION: EVEN AS OUR BELOVED BROTHER PAUL ALSO ACCORDING TO THE WISDOM GIVEN UNTO HIM HATH WRITTEN UNTO YOU; (16) AS IN ALL HIS EPISTLES, SPEAKING IN THEM OF THESE THINGS; IN WHICH ARE SOME THINGS HARD TO BE UNDERSTOOD, WHICH THEY THAT ARE UNLEARNED AND UNSTABLE WREST, AS THEY DO ALSO THE OTHER SCRIPTURES, UNTO THEIR OWN DISTRUCTION.
So, who brought the Apostle Peter to this truth? Was it a council of men? the rest of the Apostles? No, it was the Spirit of God within him that revealed that truth to him! I showed you to word (Nicolaitans) to make the point that men have a desire to control how you think, what you know and to govern you. Almost every Church you might attend today has a group of men that govern how that Church is run outside of that group of Church members. In other words, that Church is not led by God’s Spirit but rather what man says is God’s will for you to know, what to teach, how to spend the money within that Church, how you decide your missionaries, pastors and so on.
This is what Jesus Christ is saying in (Revelation 2) that he hates! The Church today desires to control who comes in and who goes out and where! I was born again in an Independent Baptist Church. Exactly what does that mean? By definition it appears that that Church is completely self-governed apart from any other Church or group of people. Now, that, in some cases might be true but, I learned very quickly that in most cases if you don’t agree with some other pastors of other Churches, you’ll be cut off from any fellowship with them and any other people they might have influence over.
Can you see how that if that happens then you’re not independent at all? You are bowing to the will of men. Let’s consider something else here. When the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to any Church, do you see where there is a denomination, he sends it to? Of course not! He’s sending that letter to born-again believers within that area, not to a pastor.
Let be honest! Most Church denominations today are seeking to draw as many people into those denominations as possible. As far as any of those people going out to do anything beyond what that denomination desires for them to do is not even considered. We now boast about how many members we have. We never say one word about how many men are called to preach from our Church, how many missionaries we send out from our Church. How many new Churches we have helped establish, even supplying the pastor we helped to start.
I believe in the local New Testament Church! I also believe that within that assembly there are multiple opinions, mostly wrong, sometimes even the man that is called pastor has a wrong opinion. I believe that within that assembly ever person has a God given right to voice out loud what they believe. At the same time, I say that I also believe that each born-again believer has a hunger to learn truth and is willing to listen to every other person as they share. How each local New Testament Church handles the way that is carried out must be (descent and in order).
The Bible says that (God is not the author of confusion):
1 Corinthians 14:33
FOR GOD IS NOT THE AUTHOR OF CONFUSION, BUT OF PEACE, AS IN ALL CHURCHES OF THE SAINTS.
What? Does that verse mean that you are not confused? No, it doesn’t! Most people in the average Church today are confused about something in scripture, they just don’t ever say anything about it. We are so afraid of being wrong that we just except wrong and never say a thing about it. Our pastor can say something we disagree with, and we will never even question what he said, not out loud anyway.
(I believe) that when people are born again then God’s Spirit will show them truth, no matter who it comes from. Let’s say there is someone in an assembly that questions eternal security. In open assembly that person stands and tells the congregation how he feels. The pastor, after the question is asked reveals that he doesn’t know if he can answer that question rightfully. Therefore, a member of the congregation stands and says, I can! Therefore, the pastor allows him to speak. He takes God’s word and, look at this verse:
HOLDING FAST THE FAITHFUL WORD AS HE HATH BEEN TAUGHT, THAT HE MAY BE ABLE BY SOUND DOCTRINE BOTH EXHORT AND TO CONVINCE THE GAINSAYERS.
This man that is speaking is allowing God’s Spirit to speak through him. When this happens, he both exhorts and convinces the people that question (truth). This is not because he is anything special but rather because he is speaking truth and God’s Spirit is doing the teaching!
We have built what we consider to be Churches! However, our Churches often are far too big, with too many people to be able to properly allow God’s Spirit to work within them. Often the people are confused and unlearned spiritually but they never move forward from the place they are spiritually.
I’ve shared this true story before, but I believe this is a good place to share it again. My wife and I visited a mega Church one Sunday. After the singing was finished and the pastor took the pulpit, he made this statement. He said that he knew that many of the people had a desire to speak in tongues. If you feel you have something, you need to share see one of our deacons, share it with him, if he deems what you have to say worthy to be heard then we will allow you to speak.
I thought to myself, what is this? So, a man gets to decide whether another believer has a right to speak? Of course, not one person said a word, including me! It was just excepted as being spiritual insight. Look at these verses:
1 Corinthians 14: 27-31
IF ANY MAN SPEAK IN AN UNKNOWN TONGUE, LET IT BE BY TWO, OR AT THE MOST THREE, AND THAT BY COURSE; AND LET ONE INTERPRET. (28) BUT IF THERE BE NO INTERPRETER, LET HIM KEEP IN SILIENCE IN THE CHURCH; AND LET HIM SPEAK TO HIMSELF, AND TO GOD. (29) LET THE PROPHETS SPEAK TWO OR THREE, AND LET THE OTHER JUDGE. (30) IF ANY THING BE REVEALED TO ANOTHER THAT SITTETH BY, LET THE FIRST HOLD HIS PEACE. (31) FOR YE MAY ALL PROPHESY ONE BY ONE, THAT ALL MAY LEARN, AND ALL MAY BE COMFORTED.
Can you see hear where on a normal Church service the man that calls himself the pastor may never get to speak? In the story I said that person, if it was a man had every right to be recognized and allowed to speak. If he spoke in an unknown tongue and there was no one to interpret what he said, then what he said was all a moot point. He can just sit down. Now, personally I don’t believe the Spirit of God would be in that! It would be useless for God’s Spirit to allow any man to stand and speak when no one there could understand what he was saying. However, if any person desired to stand in any Church and speak on any given meeting then that person should have that right even if the pastor didn’t speak that morning.
Have we built a conglomerate of Churches where no one ever learns anything? I can see how a pastor should be prepared to preach on any given service, but he should always allow any person that is at that service to speak, ask questions or give a testimony even if he never gets to speak. I can also see how he, being the leader of the service could feel compelled by God’s Spirit to speak at any given service as well, being led by God’s Spirit.
I believe we have built doctrines and Churches of men and God’s Spirit has very little to do with what is happening. Therefore, the people are starved for spiritual food! As many of you know my burden is for people, members of Churches that have never been born-again. I personally believe that this is where the problem lies. There are so few people that have God’s Spirit living within them that most are not concerned about (Knowing Him) or (understanding God’s Word). If we are to simply know the truth that is within the average Church member’s heart, I’d say it would be this. They go about their average work week doing the things that their local denomination asks them to do with the act of satisfying their Church members, looking good to them but, at the very same time most of them, a very high percentage are concerned about where they will spend eternity if they die. They have no assurance of the salvation the say they have! They never speak about it but down in their hearts, they wonder!
Most of the pastors are not (God Called). They are Church called, sent to a school to make sure they teach, say and act like that Church thinks is correct. They do what they do as a career, a job. They have a boss, maybe more than one. They know they have to make sure the Church members are happy with them and, they also listen to (The Presbytery). We see that word one time that I know in scripture.
1 Timothy 4:14
NEGLECT NOT THE GIFT THAT IS IN THEE, WHICH WAS GIVEN TO THEE BY PROPHECY, WITH THE LAYING ON OF THE HANDS OF THE PRESBYTERY.
We truly need to understand this. What is the gift that is in a man of God? And, once this group of men he is calling the presbytery (so to speak) anoints this man, what else do they have to do with him?
Now, let’s look at how this world defines this word:
THE PRESBYTERY IS THE NAME FOR AN AREA IN A CHURCH BUILDING WHICH IS RESERVED FOR THE CLERGY. IN THE OLDEST CHURCH IT IS SEPERATED BY SHORT WALLS, BY SMALL COLUMNS AND PILASTERS IN THE RENAISSANCE ONES; IT CAN ALSO BE RAISED, BEING REACHABLE BY A FEW STEPS, USUALLY WITH RAILINGS.
So, we see this word one time in scripture. In the scripture it’s saying this: (with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery). Did a building or an area in a Church lay hands on Timothy?
Now, let’s take it a step farther.
(Revelations 2:6 and 2:15). We have already looked at this but what happened is that men took an act of approving a man into the gospel ministry and created a way to control that man or men, even people totally apart for God’s Spirit. The Bible says that God hates the deed and doctrine of the Nicolaitans. However, the world loves it because of the control they have.
I’d like to make a point here. I, as an individual surrendered to preach in June 1984. Even before that day and still until this I have had (continuing education) daily. That education is always solely given to me by God’s Spirit that lives within me. Often his continual education comes through other people, they might even be lost. Sometimes it will be by other pastors, other brothers and sisters in Christ. Very often it will be through life experiences and little simple things I see as I live out my day. However, it always goes back to scripture and the study of God’s word done by me personally alone with the Holy Spirit.
Although I had a group of men lay hands on me, ordaining me into the gospel ministry, even giving me a license to preach, I haven’t seen but one of those men since that day. As far as I know, they are all dead now. In other word. I have never answered to those men. Do you realize that most pastors today have to have yearly continual education presented by the (Presbytery) they are licensed by? And, if they don’t conform to that bylaw of (continuing) their license, they can lose that license? That my friends is ( the Doctrine of the Nicolaitans)!
I’m very concerned about the size of our Churches today. The fact that people are drawn into a building but, many are never sent out? I often said this. There is completely no difference in God Spirit’s need for a body to work out of than it is for Satan to have a body. They both need someone to use to carry out their will! The problem comes in when people can’t tell what’s of God and what’s of Satan.
We are often deceived in our thinking that just because a man uses a Bible for his text and the name of Jesus Christ what he’s saying is truth. What I always try to emphasize is that you are and individual and you will stand before Jesus Christ as an individual. It doesn’t matter how many members are in your Church, how many great things might be said about you as a member of your Church, or all the great things are said about at your funeral. All that will matter is have you been born again and, what kind of walk did you have in your life for Jesus Christ.
What we often fail to understand and are very seldom taught is this: Salvation is in all three tenses. (PAST TENSE SALVATION) is the fact that you have been born again, God’s Spirit has moved into your heart. I often tell people that the day of their (past tense salvation) the only sin they actually repent of is (unbelief). Then we see (PRESENT TENSE SALVATION). Each day we live, God’s Spirit is showing us or, should be showing us sins, things that he desires that we turn away from (repent of). He teaches us daily to be transformed into what he desires for each of us to be. The we see (FUTURE TENSE SALVATION). One day our journey will be complete! We will stand before our Lord in our new home. If we have been faithful to him as he directed us, we will receive rewards given to us by him!
In closing, I can’t remember whether I have made this statement in this article or not but, it bears repeating. The Nation of Israel started out with just one man and his wife. That man and his wife grew to become a nation. That nation was to become the very voice of God in this sin cursed world. It was to represent the complete value system of all the God embodied. However, the more it grew the more like the world it became.
The Church was to be the replacement for the failed Nation of Israel. In the beginning of the Church, it was a very powerful voice for the Holy Spirit of God. However, as it grew the more like the world it became. The Bible says this:
1 Corinthians 10:7
NEITHER BE YE IDOLATERS, AS WERE SOME OF THEM; AS IT IS WRITTEN. THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND ROSE UP TO PLAY.
Here, he’s making a spiritual comparison between what he sees within the Church and what happened to the nation of Israel. Be not deceived people! Know who you are, know where you as an individual stand with Jesus Christ. Often, we are far better off to take the road less travelled! It can be lonely but far more rewarding in the end.
Don’t allow any Church just to simply draw you in. Be an individual that (goes out) seeking to be used for the glory of God! That is, even if you have to go alone! I’ll also add this. Be sure that what you say you are led to do spiritually can be supported by God’s word. Like I’ve stated, there are many things we see in this word that is done in the name of Jesus Christ, often being supported by Churches that have little to do with the will of God!
I could name a few but, I’m going to name one such organization the bothers me simply by the name they use. (MY LIFE MATTERS). What are we teaching our young people there? Does your life matter? I have some very bad news for those that are taught that their lives matter, if your life hasn’t been transformed by the (BORN AGAIN EXPERIENCE) then it makes no difference what you might do in this world, your life doesn’t matter to Jesus Christ.
Are we teaching people that they can say they believe in Jesus Christ, basically stay as they are, pursue the dreams of this life and, at the same time be prepared to stand before Jesus Christ as our Judge? There is nowhere in scripture that teaches that! That organization teaches the same mindset that we see in most Churches today. It has a tendency to draw people in but, they never go out and do anything for Jesus Christ!
I might (stand-alone) there! But that’s the very opposite of all the God’s word teaches. I’ll stand before God as a concerned believer in what I’m seeing. Again, I often say: (God and one is a majority). It is now and always has been. If you say you disagree with me, fine. At least, as an individual look into yourself, see where you stand with Jesus Christ!
2 Timothy 1:7