Thank God for Peter

The universal church is heavenly, holy, and divine. It is truly a golden lampstand having the divine nature of the Father, the shape and form of the Son, and the essence and expression of the Spirit. But in the bible, just like in our experience, there are recorded all the failures of the churches.

The failures in the churches, just like the failures in all the saints have only one source. The source is Satan. The enemy and adversary of God instigates the weak ones to cause all sorts of problems and have all sorts of problems. These problems and failures are what contaminate and pollute the churches. This is the dross with which the Lord must deal. If we look to this divine record, we shall see and have a way to be wary of those things that Satan could use to cause us to fail before the Lord and become a source of these problems.

First: Hypocrisy

Ambition, the seed of all the failures in the churches is the reason why we become hypocrites. Hypocrisy is to pretend to be something you  are not in order to gain a name for yourself. If we are ambitious and desire to be something in the church, we become hypocrites who allow Satan to fill our hearts and even go so far as to lie and test God.

Saints! We need to be on our guard always! Never forgetting that Satan is so near to us, always watching and waiting to lie, cheat, and steal, ready to deceive. We must be alert so as to not be deceived by him. 

Second: Racial Discord

Acts 6:1 states, “In these days, when the disciples were multiplying, there was a murmuring of the Hellenists against the Hebrews, because their widows were overlooked in the daily dispensing.”

Race, culture, language, since the time of Babel, this division is the basic problem of the human race. Will there ever be peace? Can we ever be one? Will we ever come to the point that we can truly erase all the cultural and racial boundaries that keep us divided?

This is a very real problem, not only among mankind in general but also, just like at the beginning of Acts, it is a serious problem and failure in the church. Let us first look at what happened with the early church.

Because of the racial discord, the cultural differences specifically in the matter of eating, another failure was brought in, one that  ends with the bringing in of mixture, one which spoils the purity of the church life, and one that culminates in the termination of the polluted church by the judgement of God. This failure is the…

Third: Bringing in the Legal Practices of the Old Testament

The three main and strongest ordinances according to the law of Moses are circumcision, keeping the Sabbath, and a particular diet. The situation within the church at Jerusalem was that it had within it genuine believers who were keeping and forcing others to keep these Old Testament practices as part of their salvation. This was annulling their freedom in Christ and making all that Christ did on the cross for them null and void. As a result of this murky situation, the purity of the church was spoiled. The pure testimony of Christ was damaged and in 70 A.D. Titus with the Roman army came in to destroy the city of Jerusalem and terminate this religious mixture. This mixture is something not only wrong in the eyes of God but also abominable. For this He judged the city and the mixture, completely ending the church in Jerusalem.

Saints, this is a very serious, serious matter. And I must confess, that I, too, am guilty of this. Oh Lord! What failure we are. In all of these three failures…I am sure I am not alone when I say, yes, that is me. But saints…oh…SAINTS!

THANK GOD FOR PETER!!!

Galatians 2:12-13 state, “For before some came from James, he continually ate with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to shrink back and separate himself, fearing those of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also joined him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was carried away in their hypocrisy.”

In the following verse Paul goes on to rebuke Peter before all those present for not walking in a straightforward way in relation to the truth of the gospel.

Yes, Peter, despite having received such a clear revelation and speaking directly from the Lord (Acts 10:9-16) was still a weak one in faith who shrank back and had to be rebuked and corrected. How encouraging this is. Yes, there are failures, yes we have failures, but we also have patterns who have gone before us, by the Lord’s mercy and grace we have the way to repent, turn, forgive, forget and go on!

(From message 221 of The Conclusion of the New Testament: “The Church: The Failures in the Churches”. This message can be read here.)

The Golden Lampstands

A Hanukkah Menorah sits atop my bookshelf. Though a large number of Menorahs are made to resemble the Lampstand that stood within the Tabernacle it is not. What’s the Lampstand all about?

Well, In Exodus chapter 25 we see that the Golden Lampstand is a type of Christ as the embodied Triune God. This is the first stage of the revelation.

The second stage is found in Zechariah chapter 4; here we see that the Golden Lampstand, representing God’s testimony on the earth is the nation of Israel. In the millenial kingdom, once again, the restored nation of Israel will be the Golden Lampstand as the testimony of God.

But, it is in Revelation that we find the third and consummate stage of the significance of the Golden Lampstand. In chapter one we see that it is no longer one lampstand, but it has been duplicated and has become seven golden lampstands. These seven lampstands are the local churches as the shining testimony of God in the dark night of this age. These golden lampstands shine and through their shining bear the testimony of Jesus, for this they have three main characteristics:

  • Gold: They have the Father’s divine essence without any dross, that is there is nothing even good things like ethics, culture, education, and proper religion. There is nothing other than God Himself. 
  • Definite Form or Shape: They are lampstands, not just a lump of gold. God is invisible, unapproachable, vague, indeterminate, de-localized; In the Son, however, this God took on a human form. The church, as a duplication and as the testimony of the embodied Triune God, is not vague and ethereal but should stand having the form and shape of the human Son.
  • Seven lamps, shining: The seven lamps are the seven Spirits of God who in Zechariah roam to and fro over the whole earth. This is for the shining of the testimony of Jesus to the entire inhabited earth through the church as the embodiment of the Triune God.

As the great High Priest, Christ is walking in the midst of the golden lampstands, in the midst of the churches caring for them in love by the divine strength. He cares for the churches by “trimming the wicks” and adding more “oil.”

He trims the wicks by dealing with the churches, dealing with us, His believers and everything in us that is not according to God and not for God’s purpose. Oh Lord! What a mercy it is that the Lord will not let us go. Our entire person is so wrong. Not even just in our bad character traits, but even in the good things. Even the good things of our natural nature are laced with self, laced with so many things that are not good for God’s building, they do not shine forth God. So, He, in His tender, fine care for us deals with these things. At the same time, He adds the oil. The fresh oil is the Spirit applied to our being, to the churches that they would be filled so that they may shine!

Eventually, consummately, the city of New Jerusalem, is in nature (gold), shape (a giant mountain), and expression (wall of precious stones) a golden lampstand. It will be the testimony of Jesus for eternity.

(From message 220 of The Conclusion of the New Testament: “The status of the church; the Golden Lampstands (2)”. This message can be read here.)