Ralph Waldo Emerson said:
Luke started his journal of the Acts of the Apostles referring to the things Jesus did and taught.
I think it is note worthy that He did, then He taught. Frequently He sent His disciples out to do supernatural work. When they failed or became confused, He then taught.
Even when they were on a mission and were arguing about who among them was the greatest, He didn’t rebuke them for wanting to be the greatest – He informed them regarding the path. Just be the finest slave and you will be the greatest.
Theology continued to follow action as we read the rest of Acts. There is an argument among theologians that insists that we should not change our theology because we think we are seeing God do something new. We should only have faith in things we can find already happened in the Bible.
Pentecostals were persecuted because they were experiencing something and then declaring that “normal” had shifted. Our rules for deciding what God is up to keep men in charge, not Him.
If you see believers doing something new or weird, ask the Spirit what He thinks about it. He’s a Genius about the past, the present, and the future. He likes sharing things like that with friends like you.
In order to advance in our level of faith, or of commitment, or understanding, etc, we frequently need to have the input of what I call a “credible witness.”
Credible means believable, or worthy of being believed. Incredible means not believable, or not worthy of being trusted.
When we see someone we trust standing further out on the ice ahead of us than we thought the ice was thick enough to stand on, they can give us courage to walk out further than we would have without their witness. They may be a friend, a mentor, a public leader, or someone who was a hero 80 years ago when they were alive. They may be influencing us as we read their writings or what someone wrote about them.
We need to be credible witnesses to those who are not as far out on the ice as we have found ourselves. We need to be trustworthy, and we need to be bearing witness of what God’s depth has cried out to ours.
In his book, The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy said, “Never ask advice of someone with whom you wouldn’t want to trade places.” There is still the issue of what direction Yahweh is calling you. Don’t follow someone even into real deeper truth if the Spirit is calling you to another place or work or team.
Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: no sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. Some of you were like this; but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
“Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be brought under the control of anything. “Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods,” but God will do away with both of them. The body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. God raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-15 from Holman Christian Standard Bible®)
I think that one thing Yahweh loved about Jacob was that Jacob recognized the value of the inheritance of promises that Yahweh had made to his family. It caused him to live his life as if the inheritance was of supreme value.
Manifestations of the Kingdom of Heaven are sometimes within our reach to interact with them. Some are future, some require special circumstances or unified human actions to be accessible. We can’t see the Kingdom until we are born of God. We can’t enter in without being born of God. We can’t inherit authority in it while wasting our lives in stupid activities like those Paul listed in the letter quoted above.
Finding rules won’t get us into the right place for inheritance. Following the Spirit of the King does. If everything is permissible for me, like Paul said was so for him, I am not responsible for finding a good set of rules. I am responsible for laying down my old man and taking up the new set of values that are established by the King of Glory.
Being a Believer in Jesus, a follower of Jesus, involves me in a WAY of doing things, a WAY of valuing relationships, a WAY of Life.
In Ephesians 4, Paul wrote prophetically about a time of maturity in the Body when every joint is supplying what it should to the Body, and therefore we are built up to the full stature of Jesus – an appropriate Bride for the Wonderful Son. A joint is a place where two parts come together and therefore can do something.
Failing to be assembled, as referenced by the writer to Hebrew Believers, means just being present in the box, not looking at all like a new bicycle or train track or doll house. Just showing up for all the meetings is not being assembled together. Becoming a fun or useful item is.
If I am not in new relationships, or deeper relationships, or more effective-in-ministry relationships than I was 2 years ago, I am failing to be assembled with other Believers.
I am just dressing the set.
Benjamin Franklin is quoted as having said:
A man convinced against his will
Is of the same opinion, still.
Having freedom doesn’t mean you only get to do what your flesh thinks is best, or not having anyone tell you what to do. It means having a choice. Your “yes” is meaningless if you could not have said, “no.”
A train only experiences liberty in the places where tracks have been laid. You will only experience liberty by walking where Jesus has laid out tracks for you. You are His workmanship, created in His wondersfilled imagination to fit into a wondersful design.
You got your new spiritual life not by works, but for works. They are laid out ahead of you. Choose that way of liberty and Life.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Raising the Dead is Kingdom work.
Western medicine can keep a person alive even when they are dead. We can make a dead man’s heart keep beating and lungs keep breathing and kidneys keep peeing. Making his brain work after he’s dead is hard. So, maybe we are just raising his flesh from death, not really him.
Most places on the earth, things haven’t progressed much past the fact that if you stop breathing, you’re dead. They bury you. Death is seen as an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26-27). One that we are sometimes given power over.
Jesus interrupted a funeral to raise a young man from death (Luke 7:11-17). Jesus sent disciples out to do mighty works, including raising the dead, as they preached His Kingdom (Matthew 10:5,ff). Peter raised people from the dead (Acts 9:36-43). Paul raised a boy from the dead (Acts 20:7-12).
One day, death will be thrown in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14). Until then, when we can peel death’s fingers off the throat of a person, especially in parts of the world where supernatural things are expected (and not explained away with pretentious answers that attempt to brand them as magicians’ deceptions), people will take notice of displays of power and submit to their Source.
When we overpower a force as unbeatable as death, we have done it with the power that comes from the One Who has taken death’s keys. It is an act of domination of the King over His enemies. We should do it more often. Ask…
When the hemorrhaging woman mentioned by Mark in chapter 5 of his gospel record touched the hem of the clothing of Jesus, she was not reaching out to Jesus, but through Jesus. She did not have a clear theology regarding His Kingdom or His salvation or of His divinity. She did, though, recognize Him as the Door. She realized that if she could reach through Him she would access the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that God loved her, and that in His love He not only was able to heal her, but that he wanted to heal her.
When she accessed the Father’s love through Jesus, He did not see it coming. He was not sure what had happened when it happened. He simply felt heaven touch earth through His body. Love was not just a motivation to ministry in this picture – it was the power to heal.
Jesus was not directing His love toward the woman. He was manifesting the Father’s response to her faith in His power. Father was drawing her to His love through Jesus.
You need to experience His love or you cannot bear the weight and cost of your cross. You must draw as often as possible on His love – directly from His Spirit, and through people you know love you with real love.
Do not waste your time and emotion looking for love through selfish or stingy or greedy or bitter people. There is none to be found there. You may find that they will offer something that looks like love which you will only discover is their desire for your person or your possessions, but you cannot find love where it does not reside.
Don’t let their self-centeredness stop you from having a relationship with them, or from loving them, but do not expect them to love you just because you want them to. They cannot give you what they do not have. Look for it where it is, and take full advantage of it.
It will not be an unfair advantage or abuse for you to draw heavily on love where it exists. It will be life to you and to the person you allow to love you.
I don’t think that you read my writings because you like average or popular or old fashioned things. I believe that you are some of the people to whom God will reveal things He has prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9,10).
I believe that you are people who will do the things Jesus did and greater things because He sent His Spirit to make you able to do greater things. I believe that, as Sparky Claiborne says, some nights you will go to sleep and think that you dream that you went to another country and did powerful ministry, only to find a coin from that country in your pocket later in the day, because you really were there.
I believe that you will take the mantle that you have been given by those who invested in your ministry and strike it on the water and it will part for you to walk through it. I believe that you will find the faith and the power to overcome time and space whenever it is needed.
I believe that, even though a financial world war is in our near future, you will find provision for every need hidden along the path as you take each step that the Spirit leads you to take (Isaiah 49:8-11).
The foundation of the Church, built with Jesus as its Cornerstone, includes prophets and apostles, as Paul described in Ephesians 2:18-22. There is debate whether the apostles and prophets he described there as part of the foundation are all deceased, but since there is no Scripture that declares that the time of needing apostles or prophets in the Church has come to an end, it is rational to presume that the time for their presence has not come to an end.
In contrast, to presume as some do, that the time for their presence has come to an end simply because I may not know someone with either one of those ministries, fits one of the definitive marks of a cult: basing core doctrine on extra-Biblical information or revelation. Someone said, “There are no apostles or prophets today.” Since there is no Scriptural statement declaring, “There are no apostles or prophets today,” only a cult would accept such a statement, basing it’s authority or truthfulness on something other than Scripture.
Paul wrote to the Church at Ephesus (quoted above in verse 13) that Jesus gave apostles to the Church “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;”. Perhaps there was some period of time in the Church when that amazing condition was achieved, but I am not aware of it.
I am convinced, instead, that such a time has yet to appear, and that it is only going to become possible for it to appear when we not only allow, but approve and endorse and encourage, the Holy Spirit to give apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelists and teachers to the Church, so that all of the rest of the believers can be equipped for their ministries, empowered by the gifts the Holy Spirit wants to set each member in place with.
Based, then, on the fact that apostles and prophets are still required to be active in their ministries for the Church to function properly, and based on the fact that Paul took Barnabas and Silas with him as partners in Church planting, and that Paul called these two ministries part of the foundation on which the Church is built, I am deducing that a new congregation can be started with these two ministries as a minimum pair of foundational building blocks.