Extremes

No, Never, None, Not, Always, Every, Entirely, Only, Just, All, Must.

Absolute words. Black-White words that allow for no exceptions, no gray, middle area. I have to tell you, I like those words. I like them because they are clear, honest, straightforward. I guess, well…I have to admit it, I am a person of extremes.

I am beginning to realize it seems to be human nature. We grab on to one idea, one concept, one belief and it seems from then on we have blinders on and it takes the shattering of heaven and earth (or at least our own world) before we are willing to concede that, jeez, maybe there’s another side to the story.

Everything around us, however, is balanced. Look at your body, it is balanced, is it not? Can you imagine what life would be like if we were beings with only one eye, one nostril, one row of teeth, one arm, one leg? Maybe we’d have evolved differently, so maybe it’d be alright, but seriously, life is much better when it is balanced, work/play, awake/sleep, day/night, etc.

Well, let me get to the point. It comes from message 3 of the Conclusion of New Testament. God is a balanced God. Many Bible extremists take certain ideas or concepts from the Bible and become like a crash of rhinos trampling not only mankind but also the truths within the word of God and even God Himself. Naysayers will sometimes point out contradictions in the word to attempt to negate its validity and authority. But, the Bible and God is properly balanced even in His person.

What do I mean? God is Triune. Meaning God is both three and one, one and three. This is a prevailing truth within the Bible. It has happened throughout the ages and continues to happen today that either truth can be pushed too far. We however, need to be balanced Christians, holding to the truth of the Bible in simplicity and humility whether or not something makes sense conceptually. God is One. God is also three. God is Triune.

So, why? God is not Triune so that we could understand Him and enter into theological debates, God is Triune so that we can enjoy Him. God is Triune for the divine dispensing.

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It’s a matter of dispensing

It is the number one most read book in the world. It has been translated into just about every imaginable language. It has been read throughout the ages by those barely literate, by great kings and queens, and by the scholarly. It has been read by millions of people from all walks of life, all faiths, and all manner of opinions, thoughts, and agendas. People have misquoted it, misapplied it, and quoted it out of context. People have cut it up into parts, broken it down into layman terms, dissected it, and argued over it until they are blue in the face.

Well, tell me, it may be debatably the greatest book ever written but it is a book nonetheless, so, what is the whole point of it? What is its main subject and what is the main story line? We may not know or agree on the Author or the authors, but it has been put together and there must be an order to its madness.

So, this morning I read Message One of the The Conclusion of the New Testament and it was all so very clear to me, it’s a matter of dispensing.

First God created man, a vessel, a being in His image and likeness with thoughts and feelings and emotions, with needs and wants and the desire for fulfillment and above all a desire for life, to live. This vessel was placed in front of the tree of life and told to eat.

And things happened, God was thwarted, man was foiled, but all the seeds were sown and if you have ever seen those tiny weeds breaking through the concrete sidewalks you know, life may be thwarted but in the end it finds a way to break through all the barriers.

God’s all-conquering, barrier-breaker is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is just God Himself incarnated to be a man not to redeem us and then attempt to make us good people and one day take us to heaven to play on harps. But He is God incarnated to be a man, live on the earth, be crucified, die, resurrect, ascend, and descend for dispensing.

God’s desire has been and continues to be to dispense His life into man for the mutual fulfillment of God and man. It’s there, in The Book. Open your mind, open your heart, read it! And you will see that only in God can you find life and only through God’s life can your life find its fulfillment.

A Life of Failure

If you read my last post you will know that there are many failures in the church. You can see it. The church time and time again has failed the Lord because we are all just failures. It is in our nature. We fail and fail, but just like Peter we have a hope. We have a  precious treasure contained within our earthen vessel. If we look to this treasure, to this One whom we have in our spirit, we can overcome!

However, we must be wary. We must realize the tendency of our fallen nature. We must have our eyes opened to all these failures so that we are not ensnared and so that we do not fall into the same destruction and degradation of the church in the past. May the Lord enlighten us to see the next eleven failures in the churches in the New Testament.

Judging one another in eating and observing of days

We are each so full of tradition and doctrinal concepts. These things, which we ourselves may or may not follow, become our basis for criticizing and judging others. We see this was the case of the believers in Rome in the epistle to the Romans chapter 14. Saints, do we realize that one, we ourselves will stand before the judgement seat of God? We should not concern ourselves with judging others but instead be wary in how we ourselves walk because we will stand before His judgement seat. Do we desire mercy or judgement from Him? As He told us, show mercy that we may obtain mercy. And two, dear saints, do you realize that, “If we cause any one of the believers to stumble by our doctrinal concepts, we break down, destroy, God’s work of grace in him.” ? Oh Lord. May we be those taking care of God’s building work and not our doctrinal concepts.

Making divisions

Though we do not want to cause stumbling in other believers due to our doctrinal concepts and traditions we must be those watchful concerning those who make divisions that are apart from the Apostles’ teaching. This is the teaching of the Apostles which we find in the New Testament. In 1 Timothy 6:3 Paul writes to us regarding the healthy teaching. This healthy teaching is the teaching of the Apostles. How do we know if it is healthy or not? Well, as the point before says, God is concerned with His building. He is doing a building work in the believers. When we place healthy food into the body this food does not damage the body but becomes a supply of life that causes healthy growth. The words and teaching that are according to the Apostles’ teaching supply God’s people with life and produce growth resulting in godliness, that is a life that lives Christ and expresses God in Christ.

Strife and divisions because of gifted persons

Who do you prefer? Paul or Apollos? Or maybe you prefer someone a lot closer to failures like us, maybe you prefer Peter? Or maybe you will condemn them all and choose to be puffed up that you choose Christ. No, saints, we need to set aside our preferences. We need to denounce all these things that lead to our causing strife and division among the saints. We need to be those whose only, unique, choice and preference in Christ. Not as a doctrine that causes strife and our judging others, but as a reality. He must be our unique center, in this way all strife and division will be terminated.

Fornication

We must always be on our guard against our flesh. It will NEVER get any better. Saints, we may think that such a sin as fornication, a gross sin like incest could never happen in a church with a genuine believer. However we have this record in 1 Corinthians 5:1 which states, “It is actually reported that there is fornication among you, and such fornication which is not even among the nations, that someone has his father’s wife.” Saints, we are failures because in our flesh Satan, the evil one resides. We must be on our guard that we do not fall into such sin, especially fornication since it is not only sinful but damaging to our humanity.

Lawsuits

The believers in Corinth were fighting with one another to such an extent that they filed lawsuits against one another. This is a matter of our being unwilling to suffer loss but instead demand our rights. This came in because of the believers preference and their lusts. The saints in Corinth were quite soulish and fleshly. Saints, may we be on our guard from this. May the Lord have mercy on us to be those walking in our mingled spirit.

Questioning the Apostle’s Apostleship

In Corinthians we see that because of money matters Satan came in to try to damage the relationship between the Apostle and the believers. We, like Paul, must be wise in our dealing with money matters, and we must allow the Lord to touch this matter in our being that we would not be lovers of money, greedy for gain, but would be pure so that the enemy has no ground to come in and destroy our relationship with the saints.

The Lord’s table

First we cannot partake of the Lord’s table and the table of demons. What does that mean? When we partake of the Lord’s table we are being identified with the Lord. If we partake of idol and idol sacrifices, though idols are nothing, we are being identified with idols and behind the idols are demons. Thus we are identifying ourselves with them. Our God is a jealous God, idolatry is utterly abominable and hateful to Him. Thus we must flee from idolatry.

Second, we must not eat the Lord’s bread in an unworthy manner, without discerning the body. To eat the bread in this way is to not see the significance of the Lord’s table. The bread and blood signify His body broken for us and His blood shed for our sins through His death for our redemption. Discerning the body means making the distinction that this is no ordinary bread, it is not common food, but it is our God as our portion. It is also the mystical body of Christ into which we have been placed and of whom we are a part.

Tongue-Speaking

We must not be those who abuse the gift of tongue-speaking. Paul wrote, “In the church I would rather speak five words with my mind that I might instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:19). What we need today in the church meetings is not gifted-persons speaking unintelligible words in a tongue, but each believer speaking words of wisdom for the building up of the body.

Saying there is no resurrection

Resurrection is the life pulse of the divine economy. Resurrection is the living proof of justification by His death (Rom. 4:25). Because of resurrection there is the imparting of life (John 12:24). Because of resurrection there is regeneration (John 3:5). Because of resurrection there is renewing (Titus 3:5). Because of resurrection there is transformation (Rom. 812:2; 2 Cor. 3:18). Because of resurrection there is conformation to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). Because of resurrection we are members of Christ (Rom. 12:5). Because of resurrection we are the fulness of Christ (Eph. 1:20-23). Because of resurrection there is the Bride of Christ (John 3:29). Because of resurrection there is the new man (Eph. 2:15; 4:24; Col. 3:10-11). Yet, the believers in Corinth were saying that there is no resurrection of the dead. However, we must be like the apostle Paul who taught and emphasized Christ’s resurrection.

Walking Disorderly

Having a disorderly walk is a practical point. I enjoyed our brother’s sharing:

“I believe that the disorderliness in Thessalonica came from the misconception regarding the Lord’s coming back. Some believers thought that the Lord Jesus would be coming back soon, and therefore that it was not necessary for them to work. Their concept may have been that as long as they had something to eat and could survive, that was adequate. Those who hold such a concept go beyond the level of proper spirituality and walk disorderly.”

Oh Lord, have mercy on us that we would not be careless in our walk and in our life in the church. May we, by Your great mercy be kept from repeating the same failures in the churches and instead may we be those who excel in the building up work that You may have a built-up Bride, prepared and ready for Your return, for Your rest and satisfaction.

 

(From message 222 of The Conclusion of the New Testament: “The Church: The Failures in the Churches (2)”. This message can be read here.)

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.)