Have you noticed the changes in the church?


Some of you may have heard about or noticed a transition in the church–a “new breed” of Christians that are arising (especially out of the pentecostal type churches).  Well, there are actually two transitions: some of the church is beginning to adopt New Age doctrine (the emergent church), others of the church are moving into a greater move of the Holy Spirit (we’ll need this outpouring in order to fight the spiritual battle at hand; Acts 2:17-21).

The two transitions seem alike without prudent discernment of the spirits.  Many in the fundamentalist churches are confused or mad about the changes.  The high percentage of Christians throughout the denominations, I think, haven’t even noticed.

I want to make it clear that the Lord freed me FROM New Age thinking.  As a result, I recognize it seeping into the church more clearly than most, and I’m not about to fall back into that movement.  That said, God has power (much more power than the enemy!) and He wants to work through His people as a demonstration of His glory.  I’m sure I’ll discuss both sides in more detail in the future.

What the church needs is to be fully opened to the Holy Spirit, and fully closed to the multiple deceptive spirits.

Fortunately we know that when we ask God the Father to reveal Himself to us that we may know and love Him more, He will not give us deceptive spirits but His Holy Spirit in abundance (Mat 7:11, Luke 11:13).  As long as we’re plugged into the right God, we’ll have the right Spirit.  If you love the Lord, there is no reason to fear what He has for you–He loves you too!

On the other hand, some personalities are so good at being open to new things, that they willingly trust and want whatever friends, family, pastors, etc advertise as being excellent ways to connect to God.  When it comes to spiritual matters, we should never trust anything but the Word of God (Psalm 146:3, Jer 9:4-6, Mic 7:5, Acts 17:11, Prov 3:5).  There are already many false prophets in the world, so it’s very necessary that we test every spirit to know whether or not it’s from God (1 John 4:1-6 and 2 Cor 11:3-4, 13-15).


God will never ask us to do anything He hasn’t done first!


The first commandment is to love the Lord your God with your whole heart, soul and mind.  This is absolutely the MOST important thing. (Deut 6:4-5, Ex 20:1-3, Mark 12:28-30)

The second commandment, while not equal, is also important.  We are to love our neighbors–to love EVERYONE with the love He’s shown us.  This is the second most important thing, and is catalyzed by our love for the Lord.  (Mat 22:36-49, Luke 10:25-37)

When Jesus commands us to love other people, it’s not arbitrary, it’s because HE LOVES them.  It’s Jesus giving us His heart for the people of the world–whether they will choose Him or not.  We can love the lovable and unlovable only through Him.  This is why the first commandment is first and the second is second!  Without a firm love of the Lord, we really can’t make ourselves love–we can go through the actions (even with enthusiasm), but that’s all it is: working out the expression of love rather than actually loving from that deep place in our spirits.  (1 John 4:7-21)

We connect to Jesus solely to experience Him, know Him, and love Him.  And as we enter into that relationship, He begins to give us His heart.  Our heart begins to break for the people we never thought we could like, let alone love; and it’s such a deep love that we are stirred to outwardly demonstrate that love through evangelism, giving, service, and many of the other spiritual gifts.  We can’t help but love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).


God is Love; What is Love?


The Bible says that God is Love (1 John 4:8, 16).  The Greek word for this particular kind of love is ‘agape’ meaning ‘unconditional love’–a love without cause.  But we know the pure essence of this love can’t be found in earthly language (even Greek!) because it’s representing a  spiritual entity, so the better place to find what this means is in the rest of the scriptures.

Song of Solomon 8:6 says that love is as strong as death, it’s jealousy as severe as Sheol, and its flashes are flashes of fire–the very flame of the Lord! Love is the flame of the Lord!  This is a pretty intense Love!!  We should be praying into this!  It’s also interesting that love and jealously go together!  (The Lord’s jealousy, by-the-way, is like ‘passion’ and ‘zeal’, rather than ‘envy’ or ‘covetousness’.)

The Lord, being Love, is jealous for our hearts!!  He will never stop pursuing and refining us because He wants ALL of us!

In Hosea, the prophet Hosea is told by God to marry a prostitute.  She keeps running away from him, and even bears another man’s child, but Hosea continues to chase her and bring her back.  This is the same love that our Lord shows, and, in fact, Hosea’s story is a living demonstration of God’s love for the Jewish people who He chose and will never forsake.

But whether Jewish or not, God has this same burning desire for all people.  God will do whatever it takes to get our attention (just as a suitor who is passionately wooing his beloved).  Unfortunately this also means that if our attention is set on another (any fleshly love or secular pursuit), then He may have to get our attention in a way that’s uncomfortable to us–not because He doesn’t love us, but because He DOES!


An explanation of the “body of Christ”


Christians are often talking about “the body of Christ” and how ‘the church’ is to be and act as His body.  I can’t recall that I’ve ever heard anyone ‘define’ this in a helpful way, which makes sense since different circles of ‘the church’ have an unspoken connotation of this lingo within their communities.

So, I’m going to do my best to articulate what “the body of Christ” means.  I think this is actually very profound. 🙂

Jesus came to earth as a man. He was fully God, but fully man.  And, being fully man, He had a “man” body rather than a “God” body (in fact, He still has a “man” body of sorts–though now a resurrected body).

Jesus was also fully walking in the Holy Spirit (read the gospels carefully to see this), which is how He could not and did not sin (1 John 3:6, 9).  And Jesus had all the spiritual gifts, and all power, and all authority, and all wisdom through the Spirit… Most Christians, I think, know this about Jesus, but haven’t put much thought into it.  The point, essentially, is that He is the fullness of “man”–the only one found worthy (Rev 5).

Okay, so anyone who calls themself a Christian is (or at least has the invitation to be) a member of ‘the church’, which is also called ‘the body of Christ’.

What this means is that, as a collective unit, we will embody Jesus.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul uses the metaphor of how each Christian represents a part (or member) of “Christ’s body”‘–this is a more literal description than I’d realized.

See, Jesus had all the spiritual gifts for Himself.  We each have one, or a few, or a bunch–whatever the Lord has blessed us with (and given us responsibility over).  Together, we will have all of the gifts to the full extent that Jesus Himself had them! That’s what it means that we are His body!

Jesus had all power and all authority, and He passed that mantle down to us (commanding us to walk as He walked!).  But only together will we have the strength and power worthy to be the “bride” of the King!

Jesus had the ability to stay in the Spirit, whereas we have “on” and “off” moments as we fight out the spiritual battle before us.  He never sinned because He walked in the Spirit, while we would be lying if we said we had that same fullness in the Spirit (1 John 1:8).  But as “the body of Christ” we will learn to walk in righteousness, and the members of the body left when our Lord comes will have made themselves holy and unblemished as the collective bride (Rev 19:7).

We can’t accomplish the fullness of Christ individually.  But if we AREN’T individually pursuing and cultivating a love for the Lord, godly character, wisdom, and the stirring of our spirits to walk worthy of our personal callings through our spiritual gifts, then the body of Christ will arise as His bride without us!  We’ll find we aren’t one of the members of His body.

Let’s spend the time to learn from Him on our own, so we can fulfill our unified calling as “the body”!