A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Body of Christ. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Body of Christ. Show all posts

March 6, 2024

The Body of Christ Needs a Damascus Encounter

 Before I embark on today's blog topic, I just want to comment on the landmark and  unanimous Supreme Court decision that allows Donald Trump to remain on the ballot in Colorado, and which will pave the way for his victory in other states who seek to bar him from their state ballots. Make no mistake ... this is not a partisan article supporting Trump. But it is a moment of applause for the 9 Justices who stayed steadfast in their commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law. As I stated in my previous post, "If there are no righteous judges, there is no rule of law, and no nation". For the time being, at least, our Constitution remains the bedrock foundation of our national stability through adherence to our laws. I do not expect that this victory will go unchallenged, so I adjure you all to pray, thanking God for preserving our legal system and asking Him to hold the line against unrighteous forces seeking to destroy our country. And let us continue to do our part in retaining our liberties.

As I've continued in my Bible study on the Book of Romans, I am in awe of how Paul is able to appeal to both Jew and Gentile alike that God is the God of all people; that His righteousness and justification is available to all; and those who confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord, and who believe in their heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. And I am equally in awe of the instruction that He must have received from the Risen Christ to become an Apostle to the Gentiles. If you will recall, Paul [as Saul] was a persecutor of Christians, and extremely zealous for the traditions and religion of his Jewish ancestors, many of which were established during the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people. 

I will confess that I am no scholar of the Jewish religion, but it is my rudimentary understanding that because the Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar during the Siege of Jerusalem in 587 BC, the Jews who were transported to Babylon no longer had their ancient scrolls and Temple documents by which to follow the teachings of their faith. So over the period of their exile, their religion was "reformed" by elements of the Babylonian and Persian belief systems; including the beliefs in the ideas of angels and demons; a figure that would become known as "Satan"; and the idea of judgment at the end of one's life. 

Additionally, new "laws" were added to God's statutes and commandments in Torah, resulting in a much-expanded [and bloated, restrictive] set of religious regulations. The language of Judaism was different as well, with the people of the exile now speaking Aramaic as well as their native Hebrew. And this period in Jewish history is also where the beginning of what came to be known as "Jewish mysticism" began to take root among the community of believers. This oral tradition, which would eventually become known as Kaballah, claimed to have secret knowledge of the unwritten Torah, as communicated by God to Moses and Adam. This mystical approach to God grew religious dimensions down through the centuries and still exits today. 

So, I can only imagine that the encounter Paul had with Jesus on that road to Damascus, as well as the additional three years of instruction, rocked his world and greatly altered his "religious" mindset (see Galations 1:11-18). His pride in his "Jewishness" must have been shattered as he realized how easy it was for men and circumstances to corrupt the purpose of God and His plan for His followers. What Paul thought was his witness of righteousness was, instead, offensive to God -- that instead of fortifying God's "true faith", he was destroying it!

Can any different assumption be said about us? Are we distorting the Gospel of Christ as well? Have we let men -- both those who claim to be spokesmen from God, and those who defiantly oppose Him -- convince us that the revelations of Christ need to be reformed? It almost seems to me that the true revelation of Christ in His Word is now declared to be the perversion; that's how far we have wandered! And the more I seek His voice and His Truth, the more I am ridiculed and doubted for adopting wrong teaching. Believe me, I do not claim that others should agree with me; only that they have a heart to seek His righteous and true revelation. 

And regarding that thought, I will steadfastly assert He still desires to meet with us and set our thinking and false religion aright. Oh, how I wish the Body of Christ would make themselves available to the supernatural nature of Jesus! The limitations we have put on Him, while giving ourselves permission to redefine Him, are only going to restrict our ability to walk in the identity, power, and authority He died to give us -- the very power and authority that we are going to need to walk in our righteous identities as overcomers and victors, preserving mankind against the powers of Evil that are poised to crush us. The Body of Christ doesn't need more religion! We need a Damascus encounter to escalate the Kingdom in every life!   

Galatians 1:11-12     For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.    

January 17, 2024

What Happened To the Power of the Church?

I know that I probably have a false reputation as a "Church Hater". But that would come from people who misunderstand my motives and my heart when I am critical of  "the Church". First of all, I draw a distinction between the Church as the organized religious structure, and the Church as the Body of Christ; the individuals who are the family of Believers and are God's children.

While I am greatly encouraged by the Body of Christ, who are my Brothers and Sisters seeking to understand their relationship with God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit at a greater, more intimate level, I am also discouraged by the lack of equipping offered to these Believers for their ministries -- which is the job of the institutional Church. Power and authority belong to both groups called "the Church", but it is used for very different purposes by each.

As Christians, we can no longer avoid the uncomfortable conversation ... there is a growing schism among the Western Church. People who, five or ten years ago, were comfortable "in the box" suddenly find themselves at odds with what they are coming to realize is a powerless Church.  And they also find themselves in conflict with people [who are quite content with where they are]; people who they've worshipped beside for decades. So more and more Christians are becoming dissatisfied with the status quo of the Western Church.  And I would suspect that there are more than a few who are caught between those two paradigms ... out of the box, but not yet comfortable to let go of their traditions. 

But we have come to a point in history, where we can no longer remain apathetic -- or even sympathetic -- to a powerless Church. Both the Body and the Institution must step into their purpose to influence the culture of our country and resist the evil that threatens to engulf us. As simplistic as it sounds, it is time for both factions to Wake Up! We cannot hold on to our man-made [or worldly] identities and traditions and expect to be effective against a spiritual enemy. It's those identities that the devil laughs at, because he knows they are incapable of defeating him. 

For each of us, there is a grid or a system that we relate to. And that's called Religion. Everybody says that by following their steps, you can know God better, you can be happier, you can...(insert claim here)". So, everyone's faith comes with attachments. And those attachments differ, depending on which religious traditions you embrace. But here is what we need to understand: Jesus wasn't promoting man's traditions. He came representing the Father, with a clear message to His Disciples of how His Father wanted the Gospel of the Kingdom advanced. The Disciples were to wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them, and then baptize people in both water and the Spirit; healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, and spreading the Good Word that all this is possible because our Father in Heaven wants to partner with us to bring Heaven to Earth. All that -- the works and the Gospel Message -- is all about POWER.

The problem is that a lot of our denominations haven't preached the Gospel with the Power component [which is the Holy Spirit] for so long, they are freaked out when they see it!  The Western Church proclaims they have the correct knowledge of the Bible (in all their variations), but what we need is the obedience the Bible calls for.  Therefore, the institutional, religious Church has become a system. We even take tests to see what "gift" we have, or what "office" we should occupy. But if we look for a model, or instructions, on how Jesus told the Disciples to "do Church", it is the Church that sprang up in the Book of Acts.  It is the only Book of the Bible that clearly shows that the Disciples were doing all that Jesus taught them while He was on earth.

But how many of your fellow Christians do you see healing a sick person, then baptizing them in water, and then urging the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to come upon them as it did in the Book of Acts?  Right now, some of you may be thinking, "But I'm not a Pastor. I don't have the authority in the Church to baptize someone". But we are called by Jesus to do it! Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20).

Those disciples were not part of the religious system of their day! They were not rabbis and they were not recognized as having the authority to do those things -- neither by the public nor the religious leaders. Yet Jesus told them He had the authority to commission them to do far more than the religious establishment was accomplishing. Furthermore, He told His disciples to then teach others to do what He had taught and shown them! Remember: Jesus, God, and Holy Spirit are the same today as they were then, and will be forevermore. So, why aren't we being obedient to His teaching?

Notice the difference in how Power was used .... Jesus transferred His power from the Father and the Holy Spirit [to heal and baptize and make disciples] to His followers, [thereby defeating the Enemy in those lives]. The leaders in the religious system used their power to maintain their status and authority, and to control the masses. Furthermore, their power was man-driven, not bestowed upon them by Heaven.

Our religious traditions have reduced millions of Christians to sitting in a pew, or a class. They get taught and receive knowledge, but unless you go out to do "all that Jesus commanded us to do", you are not going to bear fruit or advance the Kingdom. So how much is that knowledge really worth in the Kingdom of God? Since we are not just supposed to be "hearers of the Word", how much does that model result in "doers of the Word"?      

The reality is that more and more Christians are awakening to the fact that Church, as we know, it is no longer satisfying to their soul and spirit.  They can no longer deny that the world doesn't look or feel any better because of the Church. In fact, the Church is looking more like the world. They are recognizing the Truth about what the Great Commission really is -- that it's more than sharing the Message of Salvation; more than Jesus dying to cover our sins. He died to remove our sins and to create in us a new man or woman -- one that bears fruit for the Kingdom by doing what Jesus did and doing the things the Church in the Book of Acts modeled for us. And so they are leaving the traditional Church model and seeking ways to observe all that Jesus commanded those Twelve Disciples.

As we see Evil increasing in our lives, and as we get closer to Jesus's return, I believe we are going to see a split in the Western Church. One side thinks we have evolved beyond the actions of the Disciples in that First Century. They think that laying on of hands to heal the sick, delivering a Christian from demonic torment, or baptizing in the Spirit is not for today. They believe we are to submit to the authority of the Pastor and the Church system. The other side has been awakened to the power of the Holy Spirit in the Believer [to bear much fruit for the Kingdom], and they believe they are to submit to Jesus's authority and see the Body of Christ become the Church Jesus intended it to be.

The bottom line is this .... I don't care if a Christian goes to a 5,000 member mega-Church, or is part of 20 devoted Believers who meet in a home. If there is no fruit being produced by either group, then the Holy Spirit is not present. And when the Holy Spirit is absent, there is no power to fight the spiritual battle against the sinful nature of this world.  And that is not what Jesus had in mind for His Church.  Yes, we receive the Holy Spirit the moment we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior. But I want the Fire of the Holy Spirit to be recognizable in my life! Remember that John the Baptist said He baptized with water, but "He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire".  It was that fire and Power that changed the world; and it is that same fire and Power that will change the world today.

God poured out His Holy Spirit with fire and signs, healings, and spiritual gifts on the Church of the Book of Acts. He knew if the Early Church was going to survive the horrific attacks that would come against it, Believers would need the spiritual power of the Holy Spirit to counter those attacks and advance His Kingdom on earth. He has awakened us in the 21st Century Body of Christ to the same truth. We need the joy of being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to counter the ambivalent, compromising, and weak institutionalized Church.  As we begin to walk out the power that Jesus and the Book of Acts Church modeled for us, we will see God renewing us; restoring us; and equipping us to do what must be done if mankind is going to resist and defeat the system that Satan is bringing.

The question is, can the institutional Church join hands with the Body of Christ who are walking in that heavenly Power? I am in total agreement with Gabe Lyons, a Christian media/culture expert, who recently wrote "A Letter to Christian Leaders", in which he said, "Together, we can be smarter, more informed and creative than if we try and go this alone. I write with a desire for unity, clarity and sharpening as we consider how Christian leadership ought to be exercised during our time of confusion. To be blunt, I believe we are in a spiritual, psychological, biological and informational war accelerating into a crisis of isolation, distrust, polarization, censorship and physical harm. Discernment and wisdom from Christian leaders will be critical, but the time to be convicted, clear-minded, and courageous is now. The enemy wants us divided, but the strength of the Church has always been in her unity in the essentials, and charity in the non-essentials". 

Spiritual leaders -- both in the Body of Christ, and in the Church building -- have an opportunity to stand in their God-given authority, resisting the temptations to follow what the world systems are mandating. It is time to keep our lamps filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit, so that we might constantly be supplied with His wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear [awe and reverence] of the Lord. There is no time or room for fear and compromise. We are at a pivotal moment. We must be faithful to all of God's commands, while standing firm in our resistance to Evil, and we must prepare our Brothers and Sisters in Christ for the season ahead. God bless you as we boldly advance the Kingdom of God in all its Truth.

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Jeremiah 6:16     Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’