In the Church today many have a Kingdom mindset but many still don’t. What do I mean by that? Beginning in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s many denominations began to form around a core set of agreed upon doctrine.
Doctrine became the focus and not the message of the Kingdom. Now before I go any further with this I want to make two things clear, doctrine is important and there is nothing wrong with denominations.
The problem with doctrine is this, as Bill Johnson puts it, “doctrine without an experience only serves to make us more religious”. He also says this, “many people stop short of an experience from the Holy Spirit, simply because they are satisfied with good doctrine”.
The message of the Kingdom is more than doctrine, it is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and an experience, a life of experience in the power of the Spirit.
We must understand that the umbrella we stand under so to speak, is the Kingdom, the problem is some of the denominations have pulled certain doctrines out from under the Kingdom and made doctrines the umbrella.
I’m not saying we need to get rid of denominations or put aside doctrine, I am saying that the Church needs to become unified under the message of the Kingdom and begin to spread the message together.
Ephesians 4:1-10 NIV “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (2) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (3) Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (4) There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; (5) one Lord, one faith, one baptism; (6) one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (7) But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. (8) This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.” (9) (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions ? (10) He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)”
This is what Paul begins with, we need to live a holy life. It is interesting in today’s church it seems you can divide all denominations into two categories, ones that embrace the moving and gifts of the Spirit, and those who don’t. The denominations who tend to shy away from most of the gifts focus on holiness. To be fair there are denominations that focus on both.
I say however, the message the Church should be preaching is both holiness and the move of the Spirit.
John Wesley wrote the following in his journal on August 15, 1750 “I was fully convinced of what I had once suspected: 1) That the Montanists (those who believed in healing, prophecy, and other gifts of the Spirit.), in the second and third centuries, were real Scriptural Christians; and 2) That the grand reason why the miraculous gifts were so soon withdrawn was not only that faith and holiness were well nigh lost, but that dry, formal, orthodox men began even then to ridicule whatever gifts they had not themselves, and to decry them all as either madness or imposture”.
Does that sound familiar to anything we hear today? Those who see manifestations they declare odd say those people are crazy and that cant be the Holy Spirit. Was it the Holy Spirit when Jesus spit on mud and stuck it in the guys eye?
Instead of us being so afraid of excess and getting “out of balance”, I would say, for most, it is their “balance” that keeps the Holy Spirit out of Church. Yes there is order, yes there is a purpose in planning and in order. But to many times the cry for order is actually men wanting to control how the Spirit moves.
Back to the Scriptures, we need to live holy lives and be humble, gentle, patient, loving, and making every effort to be in unity.
Part of being a unified Church is actually practicing what most all denominations say, unity in essentials and liberty in non-essentials. The denominations problems are they have made things essential that are not. Not only for themselves but if a denomination agrees with another all except in one point the vast majority of the time they can never seem to be able to unify and do something together.
The one thing I absolutely love about my local Church is we come together with other churches (that are not in our denomination, and probably don’t share all our doctrines and have ones we don’t) we come together and we do outreaches and minister to our community. That my friends is THE KINGDOM! Who cares if they don’t have all your points, do they believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died and rose again for our salvation? Yes, then minister with them. But they don’t…. who cares, minister with them! But they…. who cares, minister with them!
Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, (12) to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (13) until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Notice it says, Christ himself gave. The “ministry gifts” are from Christ, the “administrative gifts” found in Romans twelve are called the gifts of God, and the “gifts of the Spirit” in First Corinthians twelve are from the Holy Spirit. The Church needs all three areas of gifts to function properly, we cannot afford to pick and choose the gifts we like, or only those we are comfortable with.
To understand these offices and how they relate to the body we need to define them (from the Greek).
Apostles: A delegate, an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ with miraculous powers. Messenger, he that is sent.
Prophets: A foreteller, an inspired speaker.
Evangelists: Preacher of the Gospel, to announce the good news.
Pastors: A Shepherd.
Teachers: An instructor – doctor, master, teacher.
We must have all of these gifts present in the local and general Church so that the body can function at its highest ability.
We are given each of these so that we are equipped for works of service and so that we may be built up and come into…
1. The unity of faith.
2. Knowledge of the Son of God.
3. Become mature.
4. Attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Let’s examine these four things by looking at the Amplified bible.
1. That it might develop until we all attain oneness of faith.
How did the disciples attain oneness of faith? Acts 1:14 AMP “All of these with their minds in full agreement devoted themselves steadfastly through prayer, [waiting together] with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”
How did they maintain oneness of faith after they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:1-4? Acts 2:42 NIV “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and prayer.”
The missing ingredient to most of our churches is unity in prayer. We must be a praying church!
2. In the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the son of God.
What is the full and accurate picture of the Son of God? The message that He carried.
Matthew 6:10 NIV “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.”
Matthew 10:7-8 NKJV “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ (8) Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”
This is THE message of the KINGDOM and until we get on board with it we will not and cannot walk in full and accurate knowledge of the Son of God.
3. That we might arrive at real mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection).
This deals with holiness, which is the subject of the next two posts in this series, so we will deal with this then.
4. The measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him.
Jesus healed the whole man on the Sabbath, he forgave his sin and healed his blindness. It was only the religious that got mad at miracles. It is only people that don’t have an accurate picture of who Jesus is that would drive Jesus out of town after delivering the demon possessed man.
Think about this, it scared them seeing the man in his right mind, yet they though it normal for him to be naked, cutting himself, and living among the tombs. COME ON NOW, HOW BACKWARDS CAN YOU GET?!
The modern day Church is fine with doctors, fine with filing for bankruptcy, and says sometimes divorce happens, but say you’re standing in faith for healing, that’s crazy. Stand in faith to be out of debt, bankruptcy makes more sense, its easier. While none of us are fans of divorce, I mean, come on, they have stuck it out long enough, let them divorce and be happy.
The Church for the most part is so backwards today! Let;s get an accurate picture of Jesus and quit allowing for things Jesus didn’t allow.
Why is there divorce? Because of the hardness of people’s hearts, Matthew 5:31-32.
Why do so many Christians live on medication and doctor visits? Because we have more faith in those things than we do the WORD.
The world we are most aware of is the world we have faith in. Our we more aware of Kingdom or are we more aware of natural?
Now before somebody get’s mad and says I am against medecine and doctors, I am not, but we should be looking to Jesus more than we do.
In wrapping up, to get an accurate picture of Jesus we cannot allow this world to trump the KINGDOM we truly live in. We are ambassadors to this planet and we are supposed to bring the KINGDOM here, on earth AS IT IS in heaven.
When we get that issue squared away in our thinking, speaking, and preaching, then the rest of todays portion takes affect.
Ephesians 4:14-16 NIV “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. (15) Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. (16) From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work”.