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If you go to a restaurant to find that the waiters are squabbling about their roles – who is supposed to do what, instead of serving you and taking your orders, and the cook isn’t cooking and food is not served – and when you complain about the service or that the food is not what they have advertised, the manager then turns around and makes it out as if it is your fault, would you go back to that restaurant again? Would you complain to the owner of that restaurant who may not realise what is happening, so that he might do something about it?

So, if we, the church, were a restaurant, what would the customers find? Will they find us being able to do what we are supposed to do, and will they go away satisfied, looking forward to returning, or will they go away vowing never to return? In the restaurant industry, some customers may not return because they do not like the type of food served, but as long as the food served is true to the cuisine, then there is no cause for complaint.

So, is there a cause for complaint from our customers? Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing,”[1] and, “These signs will accompany those who believe (in Me): In My Name, they will drive out demons; …and they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”[2]

So, when non-Christians come to Christians, that is, those who call themselves Christians to denote that they believe in Jesus and have faith in Him, claiming even to be His church, with some giving themselves titles of being priests, pastors, evangelists and elders, do they get what Jesus promised?

If a blind man heard that those who have faith in Jesus can open the eyes of the blind just like He did, would he be disappointed if he sought out the help of the church or anyone who says he is a Christian today in Sydney? If a deaf man saw that it is written that Jesus healed the sick, even the deaf, and those who believe in Him can heal him by laying their hands on him, would he find the healing he is seeking from the believers of Christ, or would he be told that it was because of his lack of faith that he is not healed, or because he is a sinner he is not healed? If a famine ravished village brought their last loaves of bread and fish to the church, would they be fed by the multiplication of their food, or would they have to form a line, like beggars, to be fed food you and I would not eat in our own house? Is that what Jesus meant when He said we would do the things He has done?

If a father brought his demon oppressed or possessed son to the church or a group of believers to be released, would he receive a three part series on the role that the sins of his ancestors have played in the condition of his son, and then watch people yell and scream or perform rituals on his son that the local witch doctor could do better? Or will he find people of a gently nature and humble heart who would drive out the demon with a gentle word full of authority and return his son back to him cleansed?

This list can go on forever, but I think by now you have got the picture. We complain about the world, how it does not believe in Jesus, how there are so many other religions, how it is evil, violent, uncaring, money worshipping and materialistic. We complain about the world before God daily in our prayers and speech, even in our sermons, yet we forget we are complaining about something that God loved so much that He sent His one and only begotten Son to save it. God doesn’t hate the world—He loves the world, loves it enough to save it by the sacrifice of His Son. Sure, the world is not exactly perfect and does not live up to His standard; that is why God sent Jesus to save it and gave disciples to Jesus who, if they’d only listen to Jesus, could change the world and glorify His Son.

We complain about the world when we have no right to complain about the world, and we do not realise that the world has the right to complain about us. Who do you think Jesus said these words to: “O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to Me.”[3] Was He speaking about the father who had enough faith, love and humility in him to bring his son to Jesus and kneel before Jesus saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son.”[4] Was He speaking about the crowd that was with the man? Or was He not speaking about the nine disciples He left at the foot of the mountain who could not drive out the demon and were arguing with the crowd? His disciples were the subject of the man’s complaint, “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not heal him.”[5]

It was on hearing this complaint from the man that the Lord said, “O unbelieving and perverse generation…” to His disciples, the men upon whom He would build His church. Why did Jesus say this to the nine? Because earlier on He had given them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.[6] They were already taught and shown they could do it through faith in Him, so when they failed, it meant that their faith was not sufficient. Hence the rebuke, “unbelieving,” and when they failed, instead of acknowledging their failure and suffered in silence the mocking of the crowd as they waited on the Lord, they argued like a pack of neighbourhood dogs.

That is what we are like when we cannot deliver to the Lord’s guests what the Lord promised through us, not for us, but through us when He said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing.” The world gets to read and hear about what He has done, heal the sick, drive out demons, multiply food, raise the dead, cause the lame to walk and the blind to see, so they come to the Christians, those who profess to have faith in Him, only to be told, “No, not everyone can do those things, only the specially chosen and anointed ones.” I hope you can see we have made Jesus Christ out to be a liar. It is one thing for those who do not know Him not to believe in Him in the same way some of you do not believe in politicians, but to have those who use His Name make Him out to be a liar and justify their actions with cleverly invented stories, traditions and doctrines; that is betrayal.

So, what can we do; our little fellowship in the backyard of a nondescript building in a small city? Much – we can take our stand just like Eleazar and Shammah did and defend what ground we stand on, even if the rest of the army retreats. Perhaps we will die as Eleazar and Shammah should have died, or perhaps like them, we will remain alive until the reinforcements arrive, just like Eleazar and Shammah did. In the ancient armies, they were more likely to honour their enemies than to show kindness to their soldiers who ran from battle.

We can, here in this backyard, in this plot of ground no bigger than Shammah’s plot of lentils, defend the reputation and word of our Lord Jesus who put His reputation on the line for sinners like us when He said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me, will do what I have been doing,” and, “those who believe (in Me); In My Name they will drive out demons; …they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” We can redouble our efforts in our practice, and be silent and humble when we fail to deliver what the Lord promised, so that the world knows it is our fault that the lame remain lame, the blind cannot see and the famine victims die, our fault, not God’s fault, for He has already made His Son the sin offering that we might be His righteousness.

It is not for the avoidance of sin that God gave us to Jesus to be His disciples, but rather, to be the masters of sin and the proving of Jesus’ words to be the truth that God gave each of us to Jesus.

So, let us repent of our complaints against the world, for when we complain about the world, we are questioning God’s love for the world and the correctness of His decision to save it through Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. Rather, let the church be silent and hear the complaints the world has against it, and repent before the Father destroys us for making His Son Jesus Christ seem to be a liar because we have not obeyed, nor we have practised His word, and we have not done what Jesus promised the world that we are able to do in His Name for the world.

A restaurant that cannot deliver what it promises will be shut down by its owner. A servant who makes the restaurant’s reputation look bad will be fired. If the world knows to do this—how much more does God know how to do this? The end of the church age has come. Enough is enough, and the Owner of all things is about to shut down the church age and let another group take over this time under the constant supervision of His Son Jesus, and it will be called the Kingdom Age. Those who served in the church age faithfully with sacrifice of life and death will be retained for the Kingdom Age, and those who worked to be paid their wages will be paid and pensioned off to wait out the Kingdom Age in Heaven, then they will be judged by those who were retained for the Kingdom Age. For John wrote: I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge.[7]

So then, each of you, judge yourselves so that you may be fit to judge one another. Have you done what it takes to prove that Jesus Christ is the Truth and His words are true? If you profess to have faith in Him, what can you do of the things He has been doing, both in the flesh and in the spirit? Aside from healing the sick and multiplying the food, can you keep silent when false witness is brought against you as He did? Do you even know what He has been doing, or haven’t you read about it all, yet?

When the Holy Spirit set aside Barnabas and Saul saying, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them,”[8] that work is additional work on top of what Jesus had called them for. For Jesus’ instructions to Paul were: “Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of Me and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”[9]

The work that Jesus has for all disciples is clear and familiar:

· “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to all creation.”[10]

· “Go and make disciples of all nations.”[11]

· “Be My witnesses…”[12]

We were not to convert people; rather, we were to convince people. You can convert a person with intimidation, but to convince a person you will need evidence and witnesses.

The only time Jesus used the word ‘convert’ was in a most unflattering tone when He said, “Woe to you, teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you.”[13] Legalistic religion makes converts of people, especially when you kill them when they do not convert. But a convert can always revert once you give them an opportunity. This is proven in the history of all religions that covert people. However, witnesses are not for the conversion of a person’s decision, they are for the convincing of a person or judge. A witness does not convert a judge about his decision, no; they convince the judge of their decision.

You must realise we are not ever, never, called to convert people, but rather to convince people because Jesus never said, “You are My preachers,” but He said, “You are My witnesses.” We are not to convert people to the Good News of God, but to convince them of the Good News of God. The historical denominational church has been very effective in the making of converts, but how many of those converts are convinced because they have seen the evidence? A judge who makes a decision on what he believes to be true is a poor judge indeed, but a judge who makes a decision based on the evidence presented to him is a proper judge. If you only make converts, you are only storing up wrath for yourself, because one day they will know the truth, and they will turn on you and your fanciful theories and stories, but if you convince people with evidence, then whether they believe or not believe, they can never blame you but only thank you for showing them the truth.

The Holy Spirit set Barnabas and Saul aside for His work, not for Jesus’ work. So what is the work of the Holy Spirit that He wanted Barnabas and Saul to do that was more than what Jesus wanted them to do? You see, Jesus did not convert Paul, but rather, convinced Paul when He met with him on the road to Damascus, so that Paul would write in his letters again and again: I am convinced.”[14] And in only Paul’s letters do we find those words. Luke wrote about Jesus: After His suffering, He showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive.[15]

Jesus had to convince the disciples, so should not the disciples have done the same —convince those they preached to rather than convert them? Conversion without convincing evidence may well be the problem, for Paul and Barnabas told how the Gentiles had been converted.[16] If you convert a person, you have to give them a set of rules to keep them converted. If you convince a person, you do not need to box them in to keep them convinced, for no matter what they do or where they go, they are convinced. This is because, as I say, a conversion can be done by intimidation and coercion, but to convince a person, you need evidence. When you cannot produce the evidence, then you will find that many who seek to make converts now use intimidation and coercion; bribery of a most violent form. When we, the church, stopped listening to Jesus, and miracles, signs and wonders became a relic of our history, we had to resort to conversion by intimidation and coercion just like every other religion.

Just as the Holy Spirit elected Barnabas and Saul to do His work, so then the elect of the Lord, the Spirit, are to also do the work of the Holy Spirit as well as the work of God and the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus alone finished the work of the Father.

So that you may know, according to Jesus,“The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.”[17] The work of Jesus is, as I have mentioned, to preach, disciple and witness. And the work of the Holy Spirit is:

· “Teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. He will testify about Me.”[18] “He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement…”[19]

· “He will guide you into all truth.”[20]

· “He will speak only what He hears.”[21]

· “He will bring glory to Me by taking from what is Mine and making it known to you.”[22]

· “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses…”[23]

These are the things – the work – the Holy Spirit is to do to disciples for Jesus, to the world and to Satan, as well as His own work of testifying for Jesus.

Thus, as the elect of the Holy Spirit, if you have been elected and have taken up your election, staying true to it and not being led astray by the behaviour of other disciples or teachings of other men like Barnabas was;[24] on top of your duties in doing the work Jesus has set for you, you are to also do the work of the Holy Spirit. That is, like the Holy Spirit, testifying for Jesus to those who do not know or believe in Him yet, and to those who are supposed to be disciples, you are to likewise:

· Teach them all things, especially the Father’s command;

· Remind them of what Jesus has said.

· Convict them of righteousness, even as you convict the world of its sin of unbelief in Jesus, and Satan of His judgement.

· You are to guide disciples into all truth;

· Speak only what you have heard from Jesus and the Holy Spirit. (Now be careful not to speak what you have conjured up and credit it to the Holy Spirit.)

· Bring glory to Jesus by taking what belongs to Jesus and making it known to the disciples.

· And you are to empower the disciples, freely giving to them the power of the Holy Spirit that you have received, as Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give.”[25]

We are to do this until all His customers, both unbelievers and believers, are convinced to their satisfaction that they can make their own minds up as to who Jesus Christ really is.

So, it is all about customer satisfaction so that when people bring their lame, the blind, and their demonised children, they will leave the workshops of the Holy Spirit fully convinced of the truth of the Name of Jesus. So learn the lesson from the foot of the Mount of Transfiguration, repent, fast and pray, so that your faith is sufficient to do all that Jesus has assigned for you to do before He arrives again, and spare yourselves these dreadful words of His: “O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?”[26]

Look to your right and your left, and love one another as He has loved you; do to one another as you would want done unto yourself. Help each other to be worthy of the first resurrection as you desire to be in the first resurrection, forgiving one another as in Christ you are forgiven, until we can all stand before the Lord to await His trumpet call and those blessed words, “Come up here,” when He arrives on clouds of glory.

So put aside all childish ways, and work, not as civilians, but as soldiers of the Lord, and be like Shammah, take your stand in the field of the Lord’s words and defend it until the sword of the Spirit is frozen to your hand. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.[27] For to live is Christ and to die is glory until Jesus arrives with the rest of the army.

The Man who returns from the dead on clouds of glory with all of Gods’ angels with Him, He is the Son of Man who is the true Prophet and Apostle of God. Let every man be proved a liar, but God alone be true, for concerning Jesus He said, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!”[28]

So, let us put aside our works of conversion and repent of them, for they are dead religious works, lest the Lord will say of us, “Woe to you… you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you.” And get back to our proper work of convincing the world that Jesus is the Son of God by bringing Him back on clouds of glory with all His elect, so that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is the Lord to the praise and glory of His Name forever.[29] Amen


 

[1] John 14:12

[2] Mark 16:17,18

[3] Matthew 17:17

[4] Matthew 14-15

[5] Matthew 17:15-16

[6] Matthew 10:1

[7] Revelation 20:4

[8] Acts 13:2

[9] Acts 26:15-18

[10] Mark 16:15

[11] Matthew 28:19

[12] Acts 1:8

[13] Matthew 23:15

[14] Acts 26:26; Romans 14:14; 15:14; 2 Timothy 1:12

[15] Acts 1:3

[16] Acts 15:3

[17] John 6:29

[18] John 14:26; 15:26

[19] John 16:8

[20] John 16:13

[21] John 16:13

[22] John 16:14

[23] Acts 1:8

[24] Galatians 2:13

[25] Matthew 10:8

[26] Matthew 17:17

[27] 2 Samuel 23:11-12

[28] Matthew 17:5

[29] Philippians 2:10-11

 

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