Tag Archives: Church

LOVE IS THE KEY

LOVE IS THE KEY

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself (Eph. 5: 25-28).

Paul concluded his instructions to the church with a call to mutual submission. He also prefaced his picture of family harmony with the same call – to mutual submission. The Bible does not teach wives to submit to their husbands without the husbands’ reciprocal responsibility towards their wives.

However, nowhere does the Bible insist that wives serve their husbands. Now isn’t that strange? Why do many husbands, even within the church, equate submission with service – in fact, slavery? The moment he walks in the door, she is his servant, waiting on him hand and foot. While he is out at work, she still acts like his slave, picking up his clothes, tidying his cupboard, putting away the litter he has left around the house, preparing his favourite meals and generally ensuring his well-being in every part of his life. His home is his castle and in it he reigns supreme.

If believers are followers of Jesus, our role is to imitate Him, not the caricature of Jesus which many sections of the church present as the substitute for the real Jesus. Church leaders even lord it over their people, insisting on fancy titles and expecting to be treated like the pet lamb instead of being the shepherd.

Jesus insisted that He came, not to be served but to serve. The Old Testament prophecies present Him as the Ebed Yahweh – the Servant of the Lord. First of all, He submitted to and obeyed the Father. He served the Father by doing His will. It was the Father’s will that He serve His children in His earthly life and die in their place to pay their debt of sin. He directed every moment of His life to please the Father.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Jesus is the model of servant leadership for the husband. God intended marriage to be a visual aid of the oneness within the Trinity. The key to this unity is humility, and humility can only be fostered in the atmosphere of mutual submission – each person taking his or her place within the marriage, focussing on the well-being of the other without stubborn resistance, pride or rebellion towards one another.

It is pride and selfishness that ruin unity. It takes humility for a husband to serve his wife with sacrificial love and it takes the same humble submission for a wife to permit her husband to serve her without resistance or protest. God intended marriage to be, first of all, the union of two separate individuals producing, not uniformity but harmony in their relationship and fellowship with one another.

Children learn from their parents. They follow example before instruction. They will imitate what they see rather than what they are told. When they witness a continual power struggle between their parents, with each one attempting to control the other, with continual resistance and arguments, they will copy that kind of behaviour among themselves in the home and in their relationships outside the home.

Once again, divine wisdom paves the way for stable family life. Of course, human beings think they know better than God. They place the focus on what works (or doesn’t work) for them. Instead of following God’s pattern of protecting love, preserving unity and promoting contentment within the home by humility and mutual submission, they focus on what they believe to be the key to a happy marriage, their spouse. It is the other spouse’s responsibility to meet their need and make them happy.

The result? Discontented spouses, affairs and adultery, broken homes and rampaging divorce statistics. Men and women go from marriage to marriage to marriage in a desperate attempt to find happiness, only to have the same disappointment repeated over and over again. Their conclusion? Marriage does not work so let’s “shack up” instead so that we can go our separate ways if it doesn’t work out without having to go through the bother of a divorce.

Bending God’s rules or making our own is a recipe for disaster. God always gives His instructions and sets His boundaries to protect us from self-destruction. Within His prescriptions for living, we will find freedom and safety.

God’s pattern for a “successful” marriage is simple but not easy. Mutual submission and sacrificial service require “dying” to one’s own desires, needs and demands. We have both Jesus’ example to follow and the Holy Spirit within us to guide and empower us to do God’s will. In the doing, we will discover that, after all, God knows best. We will find peace and the harmony in the home which we desire and which is the outcome of doing life God’s way.

Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3, eBook 978-4828-0511-6

THE BOOK OF ACTS – THE CHURCH AT REST

THE CHURCH AT REST

“Things calmed down after that and the church had smooth sailing for a while. All over the country — Judea, Samaria, Galilee, — the church grew. They were permeated with a deep sense of reverence for God. The Holy Spirit was with them, strengthening them. They prospered wonderfully.” Acts 9:31 (The Message).

Whew! What a relief!

Sending Saul back home to Tarsus was a good move for the believers. They were able to stabilise and regroup for a while in preparation for the next wave of persecution which was sure to come.

Luke does not give us a time frame for these events but it could not have been many years before the church had fulfilled at least some of its commission to take the gospel from Jerusalem to the rest of the known world.

Already the three provinces of Israel were saturated with the Message. With the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch, there was a witness in Africa and Saul was no doubt actively preaching Jesus back in his home town of Tarsus in Asia Minor. There was already a strong church in Damascus in Syria. Who knows where else it had spread, with believers being scattered through persecution?

What was it about this new movement that made it so powerful? One would have thought that, with all the efforts to exterminate it, people would have been scared off instead of being drawn to it. It is not persecution that kills the church but a deadly disease that destroys the church from within. Like dry rot, which destroys the wood but not the structure, a church may have all the outward trappings of functionality but lack the activity of the Spirit that keeps it alive.

Luke drops a few clues that give us insight into the nature of the early church. Whether they were in a phase of peace or persecution, there was an inner resilience that came from the heart attitude of the people.

“They were permeated with a deep sense of reverence for God.” Could it be that this is one of the most important ingredients missing from the church today?

Here is Paul’s diagnosis of the terrible state of the world he lived in — and he was quoting a psalm which reflected the times of the psalmist!

“There is no fear of God before their eyes” Romans 3:18 (NIV).

This should tell us that this is an inborn characteristic of humankind which comes from Adam himself when he chose to disregard God’s authority and go his own way. The history of God’s people was evidence of a massive disrespect for God which they lived out in sinful rebellion and blatant disobedience to His Word.

The symptoms of this disease are easily recognisable. Number one is treating God like a mate or a servant. It’s “God, do this, and God do that,” and if He doesn’t, they call His character into question and even walk away.

Number two is usurping His authority in the church. How many church leaders are attaching people to themselves, acting like dictators and twisting God’s word to suit themselves, garnering the spoils of their greed to feather their own nests?

God’s response is clear and sobering. “What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? …These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face. Consider this, you who forget God or I will tear you to pieces with none to rescue. He who offers thank offerings honours me and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” Psalm 50:16b; 21-23 (NIV).

But there is another response from God to those who give God the honour due to Him. “The Holy Spirit was with them strengthening them. They prospered wonderfully.” The Holy Spirit has not left the church but He is often quenched or grieved into silence because He is no longer honoured in the church.

The Highly Exalted Christ

THE HIGHLY EXALTED CHRIST

That power is like the working of His mighty strength which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way (Eph. 1: 19b-23).

Jesus could go no lower than death. Death is the fate of the sinner; the body consigned to the dust from where it came and the soul consigned to eternal destruction, separated from God and never able to access Him again.

But it was impossible for death to hold Jesus because He had no sin of His own for which He had to pay. He suffered physical death and separation from the Father for the debt of the world, not for His own and, when the Father accepted the payment for sin’s debt, death could no longer hold Him captive.

It must have been the Father’s greatest moment when the Holy Spirit breathed life into Jesus again. He breathed life into the clay form of the first man, and that took power. But the power God used to raise Christ from the dead was the greater power because He lifted Him from the grave to the highest place in heaven and on earth. During His earthly life, Jesus was harassed by the devil who had the power to lure Him into independence from the Father and disobedience to His will. Jesus never succumbed to the devil’s temptations, but He willingly handed Himself over to death in obedience to the Father.

The Holy Spirit was there, in the tomb, waiting for the moment when He could release the life of God into Jesus’ physical body once again. Not only did He raise Jesus from death to life; He also raised Him from humiliation to exaltation. Jesus took His place at the right hand of the Father, carrying the position of all authority over every power that still claimed authority on earth. Every demonic being is subject to Him.

To be under His feet is a symbolic picture of the supreme power and authority Jesus has in the universe. In ancient times, a victorious king would put his foot on the neck of the vanquished ruler as a sign that he had conquered him (Josh. 10:24). Jesus has His feet on the necks of the devil and every demonic being under him. He has conquered them, and they are doomed. And He has His feet on the neck of death, the last enemy against us.

Jesus is the firstfruits of the resurrection, the guarantee that He will gather the harvest of men and women who have believed in Him and raise them up to share the glory of His resurrection with Him.

The Father also gave Jesus authority to rule the church. On one occasion a would-be disciple asked permission to follow Him. He wanted to be a part of the band of men who would accompany Him, night and day, year in and year out to learn from Him so that he could be like Him. Jesus declined his request with these words:

Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head (Matt. 8: 20).

As western-thinking people, we translate this statement to mean that Jesus was poor; He had no home and He could not, therefore, take on any more followers. Wrong!

Hebrew people would ask, “What do foxes do in dens; what do birds do in nests?” Dens and nests are used for reproduction. Jesus was talking about reproducing Himself in the world. He was the head, but He did not yet have a body on which to lay His head in order to reproduce Himself through it. Only after His death and resurrection, through the power of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, was the church born.

Now He had a body, and the Father appointed Him to be head of this body, so that the church, under His authority, could be His representative on earth, reproducing Him in the lives of those who believe in Him.

Some spiritual leaders think that the church belongs to them. They treat the members as though they own them. They mistakenly believe that it is their job to build the church. But Jesus gave His disciples a mandate, and it was not to build His church. He informed them that He would build His church (Matt. 16:18). Their task was to make disciples (Matt 28: 19-20). They would be the living stones out of which He would build His church (1 Peter 2: 4-5).

We must beware of ministers, pastors and priests who lord it over the laity, who claim absolute authority over them and who bind people to themselves. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. The shepherd’s job is to care for the sheep under the authority of the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5: 1-4), not to own or control them.

Jesus is the head, and when the body and the head are fused together and functioning as one, He is complete.

Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or Kindle version, on www.takealot.com  or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.

For more details, check my website:

http://luellaannettecampbell.com/

Have you read my blogs on www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com ?

 

 

On This Rock

ON THIS ROCK

Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then He ordered His disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Messiah (Matt. 8: 17-20).

What a golden moment . . . and what a mess we westerners have made of it! 

Before Jesus’ words can make real sense to us, we need to put ourselves into His sandals and the sandals of His disciples, taking note of where they were and what His words meant in the language and culture of first-century Hebrews and not twenty-first-century western Greek-thinking so-called theologians.

Where were they? They were in the middle of the “red-light” district of northern Israel. There were sexual orgies going on of the most depraved kind – people co-habiting with goats to worship their god. This was not the place for Jews to get their entertainment. Jesus deliberately took His disciples there to give them a taste of what went on in the real world and then to ask them an in-you-face question, “Who do you say that I am?” If they thought He was just a human, albeit a mighty spiritual one like their prophets of old, then He would be powerless to make an impression on the godless world.

Peter blurted it out. “You are the Messiah.” Well done, Peter! In a rare flash of insight, which Jesus acknowledged as from the Father, he recognised in Jesus something far more than just a man. Now the disciples were ready to receive the next part of their commission to continue the work that Jesus had begun.

No need to spiritualise here. The very environment provides the explanation of Jesus’ words.

“You are Peter – just a little stone, powerless in yourself to do anything. You cannot change what you see going on here. Look around you, Peter. What do you see? Terrible things happening because people have rejected the knowledge of the true God, and created their own gods as an excuse to indulge the lusts of their sinful natures? Yes, Peter, but right here, on this huge rock where the images of their gods are displayed, I will build my church. Nothing will be able to withstand the power of the truth, not even their stupid idea that the cave over there from which water flows is the gate of Hades.”

What will make the difference? Well-meaning but misinformed Christians have latched onto Jesus’ words and turned them into the fanciful doctrine about “spiritual warfare”. Binding the devil and loosing the Holy Spirit! Really? Yes, this is spiritual warfare but not the kind that is carried on in the name of truth.

It was every rabbi’s right, whose s’mikah – authority – was recognised and acknowledged, to teach his own yoke – his understanding of what the Torah permitted or did not permit as a way of life. A rabbi with authority taught his disciples his yoke and expected them in turn to continue to teach his yoke to their disciples without changing it in any way. They were given the authority to interpret the Torah in the disposition of their rabbi.

Jesus was a rabbi with authority to teach His yoke. Instead of interpreting the Torah in the tradition of the other rabbis with authority who had gone before Him, men like Gamaliel, Hillel and Shammai who added rules to rules, making their yoke impossibly enslaving because of their legalism, Jesus said that His yoke was easy and His burden was light (Matt. 11: 28-30) because He was gentle and humble in heart. He taught and practised the mercy and compassion of God in place of the rules of a demanding God who punished those who broke them.

Jesus clashed with the religious authorities who did not like the God He represented. But, His yoke of mercy would break down the hardest resistance, transforming the hearts and lives of people, and replacing their godless ways with loyalty and obedience to Him as His followers accurately represented Him and practised His yoke.

At that moment, when Peter confessed his recognition of Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus conferred on His disciples the authority to interpret His yoke (the keys of the kingdom) and to teach His would-be followers what the Torah meant according to the disposition of Messiah. They were to “bind” on people the truth which had already been authorised in heaven and “loose” them from the lies which kept them in bondage to legalism which was not the true message of the Torah.

In this way, through the work of the Holy Spirit in them, not by praying “binding and loosing” prayers, people would be rescued from the dominion of Satan. Jesus said that it is the truth that sets people free. The Holy Spirit convinces people of the truth and brings life to their dead spirits.

Real “spiritual warfare” takes place through the truth. We do not fight by shouting at the devil or doing imaginary “binding and loosing”. Jesus waged war with error by speaking the truth and so must we. Our most powerful weapon, the sword of the Spirit, is the yoke of Jesus taught in the disposition of Jesus, gentle and humble in heart.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my new book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (copyright 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or kindle version or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

Check out my Blog site – www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com

 

 

Supreme In Everything!

SUPREME IN EVERYTHING!

And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in haven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. (Col. 1: 18-20)

What does ‘supreme’ mean? The dictionary says, ‘Highest in rank or authority’ or ‘greatest of the great’. How does Jesus fit the criteria?

He, not some lower-ranking god who is far removed from God, is the Creator of the universe. The consistent witness of the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments is that Jesus is the Creator of all things. It was Jesus who, in the Old Testament, was called ‘the angel of the Lord’, and who, as Jesus Himself said, appeared to Moses at the burning bush (John 8: 58); and to Isaiah in the temple. (Isa. 12: 39-41)

It was Jesus, whom the Bible called ‘the Word’ (John 1: 1), through whom God created the universe and everything in it, both seen and unseen, and to whom God gave the authority to rule (Eph. 1: 22) for the sake of the church. Jesus is the beginning or initiator of Creation and the sustainer of all things. He holds everything together by His powerful word. (Heb 1: 3)

Just as Jesus is the initiator of Creation, so also He is the initiator of the New Creation, the church. The church came into being through Him. He shed His blood to reconcile God’s alienated children to Himself and to bring them back into His household to be His beloved family once again. The church is the visible representation of His kingdom on earth. He is the supreme Head of the church. (Col. 1:18)

He is also the firstborn from among the dead. He raised dead people to life again during His sojourn on earth but they were doomed to die again because of sin. Jesus’s resurrection from the dead signified that He had beaten sin. Sin killed Him but sin could not hold Him in the grave. Without the resurrection, His death would have been no different from the death of any other human. His death would have been proof that the devil still has the power of death.

But death could not hold Him in the grave. He busted out of death into a resurrection life that can never die again. He became the prototype of all those who believe in Him, the firstborn from among the dead. He fulfilled the requirements of the firstfuits, which guaranteed God’s blessing on the rest of the harvest.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfuits of those who have fallen asleep. For, since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. (1 Cor. 15:20-21)

The resurrection is the final proof that all Jesus ever said, did or promised is authentic. Because He lives, we shall live also. (John 14: 19) Paul was writing to counter the nonsense people were teaching for which they had no authority except the fanciful imagination of human minds. He not only had the backing of the ancient Scriptures but also the historical truth of Jesus’s life, death and resurrection to write what he wrote and teach what he taught without fear of contradiction.

What other religious teacher could claim what Jesus claimed and then pull it off to prove that He spoke the truth? Did Buddha, Mohammed, Joseph Smith or any other person who made great claims, ever do that? Did any of them say they would be killed and raise again? To try to disprove the words and works of Jesus, some even declare that the Bible has been corrupted and is no longer the truth. On what grounds? No amount of maligning the record can disprove the resurrection.

Millions of people throughout the centuries after Christ have trusted Jesus’s word and committed their lives into His hands. The early Christians and many since have paid for their faith with their lives. Even today, thousands die brutal deaths rather than deny their faith. Why? Are they sacrificing themselves for a lie? No. They are convinced that Jesus spoke the truth and they have staked their destiny on it.

Jesus said to her (Martha), ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ (John 11: 25, 26)

SCRIPTURE TAKEN FROM THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.