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Standards III

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“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” [John 14.12] When you have believed Jesus enough to practise His words and have experienced for yourself that you can do the things that He has been doing, then and only then are you ready for the greater things.  However, if you have never believed Him enough to even attempt to do what He has been doing, then how can you ever hope to go onto the greater things?

As such, many exclude themselves from experiencing all that the Lord has for them by this simple truth – they do not have enough belief or faith in Him to put His words into practice, that is, to do what He has said to experience what He has in mind.  The eleven never experienced what Jesus had in mind to show them had they gone to Galilee on resurrection morning, for when the eleven went to Galilee to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go, they only saw Jesus, and though they worshipped Him, some doubted. [Matthew 28.16-17]

You see, elect, when they finally turned up at the Mount of Transfiguration near the end of the 40 days, there was nothing on the mountain except bare rock and Jesus.  There was no cloud of glory to behold, no voice of the Father to hear, and no plans of the Kingdom of God to receive.  It was just themselves and Jesus and a normal looking mountaintop like any other mountaintop.  For those who were not there the first time and had heard what Peter, James and John were finally telling them as they were on their way, saw nothing of what the other three saw.  No cloud that enveloped them, no Elijah and Moses, no transfigured Christ, and no voice speaking to them.  Oh, Jesus was there, but none of the other things that the three would have been telling them as they were on their way.  Little wonder they doubted.  So would you if you were Thomas or Simon or Bartholomew, for they were looking forward to seeing what Peter, James and John would have told them, yet saw nothing… only Jesus.

You see, elect, when what you see does not live up to what you have been told, you will doubt and that is a mistake we make over and over again.  Many doubt the church and its use and function because they have heard about what should have happened from the gospels – the miracles, signs and wonders.  And when they come and see nothing but just a group of people standing, sitting, talking, singing, eating and drinking, yet no blind seeing, no lame walking, no lepers cleansed, no deaf hearing and no dead raised, that is when doubt arises.  For any religion can present you with a group of people in a building standing, sitting, kneeling, praying, talking, singing, listening, eating and drinking.  But only Christ offers the spectacle, yes, the spectacle of the blind seeing, the lame walking and so on.  For when John doubted and sent his disciples to Jesus with the question, “Are you the One who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” [Matthew 11.3; Luke 7.19-20] Jesus told them to observe the spectacle and listen to the message, saying, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard…” [Luke 7.22]

For those who call themselves ‘Christians’, or rather, are called ‘Christians’ by unbelievers are supposed to be ‘little christs’ or little messiahs’.  This started, according to Luke, in Antioch. [Acts 11.26] Now what was in Antioch that a person could see the moment he arrived there?  This is what Luke wrote:  Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.  The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.  News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.  When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. [Acts 11.20-23]

So what did Barnabas see that was the evidence of the grace of God, that is, the evidence of salvation, and more importantly, the evidence of Christ in their midst, so much so that the believers in Antioch were called ‘Christians’ or ‘little christs’ or ‘Christ like’?  That they were a happy, friendly group who sang well and collected money for the poor, who greeted everyone who came with a smile and a hug?  Is that the evidence of God’s grace?  Even pagans can do that, so what credit is it to us if we do that?  The clue to what Barnabas saw, which Luke called ‘the evidence of God’s grace’, lays in his earlier words:  The Lord’s hand was with them… [Acts 11.21] which is another way of saying …and the Lord worked with them and confirmed His word by the signs that accompanied it. [Mark 16.20]

What Barnabas must have seen as he entered the fellowship in Antioch was people healing the sick, driving out demons, and speaking to God in the native language of God, as well as heard testimonies from those around him; how they were once blind but now can see, were lame but can now walk, deaf but can now hear, leprous but are now clean, even dead but are now alive, and all around him were the poor hearing the gospel of the Kingdom of God being preached to them.

You see, any pagan can put on a religious service to worship God, but only when the Lord works with His people to confirm His word are there signs and wonders.  As such, would you not hear the Lord say, if He were here, “So you stand, sit, kneel, pray, sing and talk, and then you eat and drink when you come together… do not the pagans do that?  What credit is that to you?  But open the eyes of the blind, cause the lame to walk, heal the lepers, cause the deaf to hear, raise the dead, and preach the good news to the poor that you may truly be like Me – a christ.”

And what is the extra mile of loving one’s enemies beyond just blessing them, praying for them, or giving them food, clothing and shelter?  Are pagans not able to do that?  Indeed they can.  But to ensure that your blessing takes place and comes to pass, and your prayers are effective, that is, your words manifest what they mean, just like Jesus who blessed the cripple and his friends, saying, “Friend, your sins are forgiven,” [Luke 5.20] which was a blessing, and then said to the cripple, “Get up, take your mat and go home,” [Matthew 9.6; Mark 2.11; Luke 5.24] and the man got up and went home… [Matthew 9.7] surely that is the minimum standard.  To not just give food to your enemy, but to multiply the food so he never needs food again.  To not just clothe and shelter them, but to dress them in garments of salvation and praise, and help them enter the Kingdom of God, even as you change their bronze to gold so that they can also buy some clothing and shelter.  For whenever we are together, we must also ask this question:  “Are not the pagans doing that?  What credit is that then to us, and more importantly, to the Lord?”  What credit is it to the Lord when a descendant of some pagan visits a cathedral that is decorated with the gold stolen from his forefathers?

So do not complain about those who come in, who see and hear what we do as a fellowship and doubt.  They only doubt because they are not seeing what they were told to expect to see from a group of people who call themselves ‘Christians’ or ‘little christs’ and in truth, ‘little messiahs’.

So end your days of delusion and deception, and consider carefully what we let people see and hear when they come into our midst, and be in continuous humble unceasing repentance until pagans can come into our midst and the evidence of God’s grace causes them to beg, yes, beg for the truth about Jesus Christ.

So do not be satisfied with what you have, but be thankful for what you have that you may receive the more.  If people tremble and quake because of the presence of the Lord, expect more.  When demons scream out, “You are a bunch of loonies!” rejoice and expect more, for so they yelled out in the presence of Jesus, except do not expect them to say that you are the holy one of God, for they are sent to tempt and test us.

So continue in your faith in the Lord until His words are fulfilled in each of you, and each of you are doing what He has been doing, and when pagans, believers and visitors from other fellowships come, they can go back and report that they have seen and heard things that do not happen and are not spoken of in their religious services.  Perhaps they will have eyes to see and ears to hear, but whether they do or do not, it is first our responsibility to give them something to see and something to hear that they may go away with something to report.  And if they are truly blind, truly deaf, truly dumb, then we will heal them, and if they are lame, we will give them legs so that they can run away from us faster to report whatever they wish to report.

As for you, saints, then you will have earned the right to be nicknamed ‘Christians’ like the brothers and sisters of Antioch.

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