New Wine for New Wineskins April 2008

By , March 29, 2008 4:49 pm

It Is Time To Build (Part Seven)

Time To Build


Haggai 1: 12 – 14

12 Then … all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him; and the people feared the presence of the LORD. 13 Then Haggai, the LORD’s messenger, spoke the LORD’s message to the people, saying, “I am with you, says the LORD.” 14 So the LORD stirred up the spirit of … all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God.

Ephesians 2: 19 – 22

19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.


Acts 15: 14 – 17

14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name (church = ekklesia = called out ones). 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:
16 ‘ After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;
I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up;
17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says the LORD who does all these things.’

Why the Tabernacle of David?  Because it represented a heart after God!  It was a prophetic picture of the church!

John the Baptist said:

Matthew 3: 10

10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees.

IT IS TIME for the LORD’s house to be built – for that which is in ruins to be rebuilt!

Obviously, there are those to whom this message will be offensive.  There are those who don’t want to admit or acknowledge that they are part of a religious system.  To some the things that have been said in this series will be deemed unnecessary and even unkind.  Obviously, we all want people to like us and it would certainly make life easier for us sometimes if everyone did.  But if Jesus had taken that line with the religious system that he was anointed to dismantle so that he could build his church according to God’s pattern and design, then he would never have spoken to the pharisees and religious leaders in the the way that he did.

Only the truth exposes the false and only the entrance of God’s word creates light that infiltrates and dispels the darkness created by religious systems that are weak and ineffective in dealing with sin and its effects and yet still control and dominate people through fear!

Let’s look at an example of Jesus rooting out the religious system!

Matthew 19: 16 – 30

16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
18 He said to Him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said, “ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ 19 ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

This young man appeared to have everything going for him.  He was young, he had influence, and he was very rich.  From the outside this young man would have been the perfect candidate for membership and a fast-track to leadership in a pastorally-built church.

He came to Jesus asking about eternal life!  In most churches he would have been led in a  quick “sinner’s prayer”  and handled with kid gloves as he was welcomed into the fellowship.  But Jesus starts out by correcting him concerning the way he addressed him.  Jesus wouldn’t have won any contests here on tactfully dealing with seekers.  He wasn’t being very “seeker-friendly”.  He was willing to take the risk of losing this guy during the introductions!

Jesus' ministry was not politically correct!  Asking a sick man if he really wants to get well or asking a woman who is living in sin to go and fetch her husband is not P.C!  And it seems that Jesus obviously missed the seminar on being culturally relevant!  He was continually cutting across the cultural conventions and traditions. Remember- you must break out of the cultural mores (characteristic customs and conventions of a community) if you are going to break into and experience the MORE of God!

When you have the power and anointing of God you don’t need to be PC or CR!  Salvation  and forgiveness are always relevant where there is sin and its effects, healing is always relevant where there is sickness, and deliverance is always relevant where there is demonic bondage and oppression!

Jesus then goes on to simply tell this rich young man that if he wants to enter into life then he should keep the commandments.  When asked which commandments he should keep Jesus mentions a few.  The young man then states that he has been faithful in doing these things since his youth – but he obviously recognises that something is missing because he asks Jesus what is still lacking in his life.  Legalistically following a set of rules might make you into a fine upstanding example of morality but it will never satisfy the deep longing in your life for purpose – the relationship with your Creator, your heavenly Father – that is the basic reason for your existence.

We need to understand here that Jesus is not deliberately making things difficult for this young man.  In fact, Mark’s gospel very clearly and deliberately informs us at this point in the account that Jesus loved this young man.  Very often the apostolic-prophetic ministry and message is accused of being unloving but that is not true.  Generally speaking, that accusation comes from those who want to do things their own way and still have everything that God has.  The way or path to an easy yoke and a light burden can sometimes seem difficult and heavy.

Remember – Jesus was love personified.  Jesus came to define love for us and his message and ministry was always apostolic-prophetic before it was pastoral.

The axe needed to be laid at the root of the tree if this young man was going to be fruitful in the kingdom.  In a pastorally-built church this young man would probably have been hauled in and protected from anything that would have made him feel bad about the fact that his possessions and his business didn’t always take second place to the business of the kingdom.  Personally, I have seen business interests dramatically hinder people’s kingdom effectiveness many times!  That doesn’t have to be the case but if priorities are wrong then this will be the result. 

I remember speaking with a pastor a few years ago who had several millionaire businessmen in his church.  I asked him if their ‘busyness’ limited their involvement in the life of the local church and as a result stunted their spiritual growth.  He said that they were often caught up in things that meant that they were only in church very rarely but the financial contributions they made were very important to the church and so allowances were made for their lack of attendance and involvement.  Jesus said that ultimately there was no profit in gaining the whole world if we lose our soul.  The church can survive without our financial contributions but we cannot survive without the spiritual food and equipping that the LORD designed for us to receive in the church that he is building. 

Please understand, the religious system can provide you with an outward appearance of righteousness but Jesus said that our righteousness must exceed the outward righteousness of the pharisees.  Our problems are internal not external – we don’t need a form of godliness that is powerless.  But Jesus is building his church apostolically-prophetically and so he goes to the heart of the matter.  He just can’t stop rooting!

Jesus wasn’t asking this man to give everything up and live in poverty for the rest of his life – he was inviting him to make an investment. 

Proverbs 19: 17

17 He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, and He will pay back what he has given.

Luke 6: 38

38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Jesus was effectively saying to this rich young man, “If you’ve come to help me you’ll be willing to invest in my kingdom!”  These days we might say, “Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is?”

Sadly, this young man had great possessions and so he chose not to be built and planted!  Make no mistake – Jesus wanted this young man on board!  It is not God’s will for any to perish but for all to come to repentance and life!  But Jesus didn’t want this young man in the church that he is building if his priorities were wrong because he would be a liability.  Church is family – church is about being a TEAM – we cannot be solo players who put our own interests first!

Acts 2: 47

47 … the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

When you are born again the LORD adds you to the church!  If you were to do a survey of a group of Western believers and ask them what impact becoming a Christian has had on their lives you would probably discover that the majority of them have added Jesus and the church to them rather than them being added to Jesus and the church he is building. They will list all the positive benefits in their lives but just as with the ten lepers (Luke 17) Jesus is still asking, “Where are the nine?”  Ten were healed that day and received freedom from their affliction – but only one was made whole as he returned and presented his life to Jesus and discovered the purpose of his new-found freedom!  I don’t think this is necessarily the fault of the people who think this way – it is simply the result of how the Gospel has been presented to them.  No wonder so many people struggle and so much of what goes up come down again, and so much of what starts well finishes badly!  Outside of a Sunday morning any appointed meetings of the church could generate that question, “Where are the nine?”  Where indeed!  There is a malaise that has spread in our generation that has seen a drastic reduction in the numbers of those attending prayer meetings in all churches across the denominational spectrum.  Duncan Campbell – whose preaching helped spread revival in the Hebrides in the late 1940's / early 1950's – said just 50 years ago, “The people of Lewis would sooner believe that the devil himself was saved than someone who doesn’t attend the midweek prayer meeting!”

Throughout Jesus’ ministry he went about doing good and healing people – helping them – but when someone said that they wanted to follow him and become his disciple he upped the stakes!

Luke 9: 23 -24; 57 – 62
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it…57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.”
58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.”
But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”
61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”
62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

It is the same today.  You can come to Jesus and receive help from him – but if you want to follow him and become his disciple and partake of the life that he has come to give then he wants to know if you have come to help him!

We need to understand that we were created for something much bigger than ourselves and our own little sphere of existence.  Jesus said everything could be summed up in “Love God…love others”.  We can never get free from our “stuff” by focusing on the reasons that we are the way we are, or by trying to take large doses of self-worth or self-esteem coaching to try and cure the problem!

I was talking to a man recently who is a Christian but is also an active alcoholic and was trying to encourage him to dry out.  Later on, as I was thinking about him I realised that he will never get free as long as people try and get him to do it for himself and for his own good.  It is obvious that he doesn’t think that highly of himself and so all the attempts of well-meaning people to pump him up and prop him up simply result in more guilt, condemnation and sense of failure when the progress that is built on a foundation of sand comes crashing down!

I woke up to the reality that he will only get free when he looks beyond himself and decides that he is going to quit drinking for Jesus and for the testimony of Jesus and until he gets a vision for those others whose lives he can impact as a result.  This is the reason that faith-based initiatives like Teen Challenge have such a high success rate in helping people get permanently free from addiction while secular programmes generally have a dismal record of failure. 

Personally, I came to Jesus because I knew that I was a lost and hell-deserving sinner and I needed to be saved!  I didn’t come to Jesus to stop drinking – I was still affected by a desire for drinking after I came to him.  I stopped drinking later on because I wanted to do that for him!  I didn’t come to Jesus to stop smoking – I was still smoking after I came to him.  I quit smoking a lot later on because I wanted to do that for him.  I realised that I wouldn’t be much help to him – much of a witness to him – if I was still bound by these habits.  When I determined that I wanted to do these things for him I received his supernatural strength to help me. 

More recently there has been another ugly habit that has persistently plagued my life and that I have had difficulty shaking off.  Some time ago I asked the LORD, “How can I break this thing?”  He answered, “The same way you broke the drinking and smoking habits!”  It took me a while to figure out how that was but then it suddenly dawned on me – I must want to give it up for him!  My love for Jesus and my desire to follow him must exceed my desire to continue under the control of this habit.  I simply have to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow him!  Sound familiar?

Do you have anything that is a life-controlling, compulsive, habitual bondage in your life that is hindering your full-on commitment to follow Jesus?  You see, when you CHOOSE to deny yourself and take up your cross and crucify your flesh with all of its negative lusts and desires, resurrection power is released in you that gives you the victory and sets you free!

More next time…


Leave a Reply

Panorama Theme by Themocracy