Editor’s Note: Guest article from David Popovici of FIRE School of Ministry: Chicago
“The Radical Center” or “Middle” is a statement used by many leaders in the body of Christ to denote the pursuit of both the Word and Spirit. Over the last several years God has, by His grace, steered me more towards that center in regards to understanding Him, His Word, Life and ministry.
There is a clear tension in Scripture that cannot be overlooked; on the one hand, you have the revelation of the God-who works out all things according to the counsel of His will. On the other you have the urgent command to the believer and unbeliever alike to act on what He has revealed. The concept of “mystery” is a very common theme in the New Testament, especially in the writings of Paul. Something protected in ages past and now revealed to the apostles and prophets and recorded in the ancient writings for our instruction.
We are called to “work out our salvation” as it is “He who is working in us.” We are called to be “diligent” to enter into “rest.” These are the two sides of the same coin of faith: fighting and resting. Paul desires to know both the “power of His resurrection” and the “fellowship of His sufferings.” Paul states that “he has worked” harder than any of his contemporaries, yet not him but “the grace of God.” We are both seated above with Him, yet still in the body. We are still imperfect yet called “saints.” We are “not of this world” yet called to be “in this world” and the Kingdom is “here now” yet coming one day.
This remains a wineskin that must be grasped by the Church, so that it will be able to carry the new wine in these last days. In essence it is a “renewed mind,” Paul tells believers to put on the “New Man” by being renewed in the “spirit of their minds.” The “renewed mind” is a state of mind anchored in the Truth of the Word and immersed in the fullness of the Spirit. To reject one over the other is foolish. Jesus was both the Living Word yet needed the Spirit to accomplish His mission and Father’s will. Depending on which side of the Christian tracks you grew up on, you probably already have a predisposed paradigm in regards to these things. However, let’s not forget that God will often offend the mind to reveal the heart. Our more textual brothers are wary of becoming a flake whose biblical understanding is “did you feel that?” and our more Spirit-oriented brothers of becoming powerless philosophers who are in lot with Thomas when he said “I won’t believe unless I see”.
Scripture, however, paints another picture. In Acts 13 in Antioch we find both prophets and teachers, representative of both Spirit and Word. When working in unity while in a disposition of worship, prayer, and fasting, the Lord supernaturally gave birth to one of the most powerful apostolic missions movements the world has ever seen. We need both the power to move the ship and the compass to navigate and steer. The historical event of the cross was validated by supernatural resurrection.
The five-fold ministry is radically important in regards to the Church’s ability to grow into Christ and fulfill its purpose, especially the role of apostle and prophet. We need to understand the implications of the “new creation,” the fact that Jesus inaugurated a new race – A people of whom He is the Head: the tabernacle of God on earth.
Brothers, God is real! His Word reveals His nature, character and will. It leaves us with no confusion over who He is and what He desires of His Church. The pursuit is a simple one because it is all contingent on knowing and following after Jesus! We must follow hard after Him. I for one, refuse to choose one over the other. You can’t know the Gospels without studying them, but we must be living epistles.
Let us not forget that dead people were brought back to life by touching the anointed man Elisha’s dead bones, sick bodies were healed by touching Jesus garments and articles of cloth that merely touched Paul’s – body were driving out devils that one thousand theological training books could never budge! That is, unless Paul touched those too. Paul himself was a great expression of Word and Spirit, scholar and mystic. The radical center is the “narrow road” of the Church in regards to both knowing and understanding God and His will and walking in the power necessary to accomplish it. If, in fact, that is something that we are still interested in.
Posted in Featured Articles, Revival & Prayer Tagged with: apostles, five-fold ministry, Guest Writer: David Popovici, power, prophets, radical living, spirit, word
“The end time demands upon the church will require a community situation.”
The cultivation of a community situation is crucial for the growth of an individual. The safety net of deeply spiritual relationships and honest love for one another is essential. Ephesians tell us that “Speaking the truth in love” is the way to maturity. “Love is the perfect bond of unity (Colossians 3.14)” and our unity is to be “of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4.3).” The Holy Spirit wants us connected to others in selfless love, speaking the truth to one another and bound in peace together by Him.
One person said, “you don’t gossip about the people you pray for.” I would go further and say, when you really pray for someone you are melting into them. We melt together in the presence of God. “God Himself is a sweet company (Bonheoffer)” so He reproduces the same. Jesus taught us to “love one another (John 13.34).”
It is my experience that when two individuals, that are flowing with God’s love, come together-they automatically love one another. The Church should be longing to be together. “The fruit of the Spirit is love (Galatians 5).” In the Revival in Pensacola I got right with God and was immediately connected with others who were right with God and we gravitated toward each other, burning for Jesus and one another. This is the product of Revival. Which is to say, the product of the Holy Ghost.
There was a brotherhood deeper than blood. Jesus said, “my…brother is He who does the will of God (Marl 3.35).” Those born of God are now the children of God, born of His Spirit and washed in His blood. We have an eternal connection with each other. Because of this we are in one another, needing one another so we should never neglect getting together (Hebrews 10.25). Actually, something is wrong if we do neglect Spiritual fellowship. Proverbs tells us that the man who “isolates himself seeks his own desire and quarrels against all sound wisdom (Proverbs 18.1).”
We should desire each other and what each one brings to the puzzle. We should never get so earthly with each other that we encourage each others flesh, but seeing one another after the Spirit, lift one another up to God encouraging each others gifts, even if they are not like our own.
The Church is not a building or place of worship. It is the new race (1 Cor. 10.32). They are the only other people in the world who share your mind. The church is a race and not a place; a people and not a steeple. Church isn’t somewhere we go but what we are.
The fullness of the expression of Christ will not come into the world any other way. It is to come through a community of born again individuals who love God and each other. We are a family with the most wonderful Father. Community is a people of common union, sharing spiritual communion keeping a common unity. Pastor Andrew Lamb from Acts 2 Church in Altamonte Springs, Florida always says, “the word of God never tells us to make unity but to keep it.” It other words, Jesus made us one at the cross. The rejection of the cross will cause a rejection of each other. Ephesians 3.10 show us that all things were created in order that the Church would have a platform through which to communicate a wisdom to the principalities of the air. That wisdom is namely, love. “The church is to perfect our wisdom and knowledge on how to live with each other (Art Katz, “True Fellowship”).”
Prayer with each other is the heat of the presence of God that melts us together in purpose, focus, heart and burden. We must pray together. We must tackle issue of life together. We must break things open together in prayer. Fasting together is such a powerful thing, we need to live this way. We should be so connected together in prayer, fasting and strengthening each other with Spiritual gifts, that the only other thing we have time to do together is preach the gospel in the world. Besides seasons of rest to regain physical strength there is no time for foolishness.
The problem that I am seeing is that the church is playing video games together instead of praying together. They play sports or watch sports together instead of preaching the gospel together. They would much rather call a poker night than a season of extended prayer and fasting.
This is not community. This is a bunch of friends that profess Christ. There is no spiritual union or divine melting through hours of movie nights or football. Community is spiritual union as we deliver Christ to each other and to the world together. A pizza night with two movies and a prayer will lead to the disaster of an apathetic complacency that eventually spiral into sin and death to the unity.
Lastly, we tend to gravitate only toward those who are as fleshly as we are or as gifted as we are. May God destroy partiality and bring in a flood of divine love for one another, connecting us as brothers who do the will of God, reaching to this world in prayer, fasting, true spiritual fellowship and preaching the gospel.
“There is no other way, for the way, to be the way, than the way, the way was, when it was the way.”
The first Church was not perfect but they shared their lives together. The first fruits of the Holy Spirit outpouring show us the heart of God for His people. I am convinced that the Holy Spirit upon our lives will create the same today.
We must allow the Spirit of God to move us in love for one another beyond our natural tendency. We need a close life. Many men of God have fallen because there was no brother doing the will of God next to him who could look into his eyes on a regular basis and see if his heart was compromising.
Most church systems in America today are an environment where men can satisfy a religious itch, get an ounce of God and hide from any real dealing with issues. This was never the oneness that Jesus wanted amongst His own (John 17).
Practically we should have at least one strong (preferably stronger than you) brother to talk to everyday if not see every day. We need a core group of people to look at face to face and share Jesus with and receive Jesus from. The fullest picture of Christ is released in the assembly when every member brings from his heart that which the Holy Spirit is impressing upon him.
We love the open participatory place of house to house, but must never substitute it for the devotion to the Apostles teaching in Solomon’s temple.
System churches in America are important to have; the structure, the leadership, the service. It is all good and to a degree necessary. But it cannot be a substitute from authentic Christian love or community as I have above defined it.
The Scriptures tell us that there is one body but many members; the hand and the eye, the foot and the knee. We are fitly joined together and have a part of the whole. We must not look down on the gifts or emphasis of others. We must respect them and let them grow in their area. When a person who is evangelistic meets with him who is pastoral, they need the love of Jesus to see each other’s sides.
It is like two blind men on either side of an elephant. One is holding the trunk and describing it to the one holding the elephants small tale. They must trust each other and hear each other to be able to put together what animal it is. If they insist on their side of feeling alone, they will divide. They must simply feel their side and listen to the other.
Robert Gladstone told me that when two men pray for bread, God may give one man two loaves and the other none. The man with two says, “God why didn’t you give him one of these loaves?” And God says, “I did, when I gave it to you.”
Eric Gilmour is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Revival & Evangelism. Visit his website at agonypress.podbean.com
Posted in Featured Articles, Revival & Prayer Tagged with: Andrew Lamb, apostles, art katz, Church, evangelism, prayer, preaching, presence of god, Robert Gladstone, spiritual relationships, the way
“…. you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” -1 Cor. 3.3
Paul received word from a messenger that there were all kinds of divisions and unhealthy comparisons seething in the church at Corinth. The schisms were rampant, and men were identifying with different apostles as their source, thinking themselves more spiritual because of that supposed identification. Some were even naive enough to make themselves superior to all the others because they were “of Jesus” Himself, hoping perhaps that this would put them in a more spiritual category than all!
All of this jealousy and comparison stems from an inadequate revelation of the supremacy of Christ, and the fact that in Him we have all been justified and “accepted in the Beloved.” We need oft to be reminded that His kingdom is not of this world. Paul went on to address this foolishness by declaring:
“So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.” (vv. 21-23)
The jealousy and strife that most believers deal with is not the overt kind we see in the Corinthian church, though even that is all too common today. The jealousy most saints are gripped and paralyzed by is more subtle and inward. We see someone in a more esteemed position than ourselves and we are gripped with a sense of inferiority. We hear of men who do great exploits, exploits of the kind that we’ve never come close to experiencing, and immediately we are seized with insecurity and depressions.
This is a pitiful state to live in, yet because of it’s subtlety most believers are fixed in a place where the inner-man is walled in on every side, kept from the experience of the love of God, and set into a mode of dullness. Insecurity and the sense of inferiority give way to poisonous lies, and before we know it, we are harboring secret bitternesses toward others, though they have done nothing to offend or injure us. The only cure for self-consciousness, the sense of inferiority, and the subtle jealousies that bind is a fresh revelation of Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the Church, which is His Body.
When at once we realize that “all things” and all believers belong to us, that they are gifts to us, our eyes are removed from our own plight and brought into an awareness of the marvelous generosity of God. When we realize that He is coming with recompense and reward, and that His glory and light will permeate the entire cosmos, what is a little petty comparison? When we see His glory and majesty, these jealousies are exposed as demonic and anti-christ. When we are washed thoroughly in mind and heart by the revelation of Christ, all things are made new. We have liberty to bless all men, even if we differ with them, and to have an authentic desire for their spirits to prosper. After all, we “belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.” Is there any greater identification than that?
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: apostles, corinthian church, foolishness, jealousy, Jesus, Jesus Christ, love, love of God, Paul, Revelation, the church, visions
Editor’s Note: A guest article from David Ravenhill
HELPING TO SHAPE A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
‘You put to the test those who call themselves apostle and they are not, and you found them to be false.’ Revelation 2:2
23 ‘Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as if insane) I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death.
24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty- nine lashes.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.
26 I have been in frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren.
27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure
28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches.
29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?
30 If I have to boast I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.’
2 Corinthians 11:23-30 NASB.
|The New Apostles
23 ‘Are they Apostles of Christ? (I speak the truth) I more so; in far more luxuries, in far more resorts, never beaten in golf, often in danger from overeating.
24 Fifty times I received massages at the Country Club where I play.
25 Three times I suffered heartburn, once I suffered sunstroke, three times I had to fly coach, a night and a day I have spent without my bodyguards.
26 I have been on frequent cruises, in dangers from jetlag, dangers from the Stock Market, dangers in my private jet, dangers from the IRS, dangers in my limo, dangers on my Harley, dangers on my yacht, dangers from rival televangelists.
27 I have been in spas and hot-tubs, through many six star nights, in buffets and steakhouses, often without my Perrier, or without ice in my Coke.
28 Apart from all these carnal pleasures, there is the daily pressure of counting my seed faith contributions.
29 Who is rich without me being rich? Who is led to give to my ministry without my intense joy?
30 If I have to boast I’ll gladly boast about myself and my mailing list.
New Apostolic Version
Posted in Scripture Tagged with: apostles, Apostolic Church, biblical christianity, carnal pleasure, compassion, david ravenhill, godliness, gospel, Guest Writer: David Ravenhill, New apostles, prosperity gospel, suffering, televangelists
“Pray without ceasing….” -1 Thess. 5.17
The apostles of Scripture, basing their lives on the pattern left by Jesus, gave themselves unreservedly to a life of prayer, and they called the saints to enter into the same reality by the grace of God. They knew that it was only by entering into the place of prayer that the saints would come into the intimate knowledge of God. Only in the place of prayer would they learn His ways and be conformed to them. Only in prayer would they attain a love for the Scriptures. Only in prayer would they learn to gaze upon His majesty in worship. Only in prayer would they enter into His joy and be touched by His burdens.
Prayer is the life-bread of the saints, for there is nothing greater for us creatures than to pour out our lives before the Creator in communion, worship, and intercession. Jesus is the pattern for us in this regard, not only as a model to mimic externally, but as the One who intercedes at the right hand of the Father even now. He is engaged in the work of interacting with the Father’s heart and interceding for the summing up of all things in Him. To abide in Jesus Christ is to walk through life with the Spirit of prayer lighting upon our souls. We may have everything in line externally and religiously, but if we lack the Spirit of prayer we lack everything. To walk with God as a man of prayer- this is the chief and high calling of every saint. Hear Adolph Saphir:
Prayer is connected with our whole life. The sincerity, spirituality, and strength of our prayer, is the measure of our self-discipline and of our walk; our attitude towards God determines our attitude to man; and our realization of things unseen is the source of our self-denial and victory over the world.
In the Lord Jesus Christ we see most clearly the union of prayer and life, the harmony and continual interpenetration of the two spheres of life- communion with God and work of earth. The Son of man, while He lived on earth, was in heaven and in uninterrupted fellowship with God; He glorified the Father on earth by word and deed.
…. we read of Jesus that He came not to do His own will. Looking up to God,- that is, by prayer,- He continually kept all that was within Him in harmony with the Divine will.
…. We are to be conformed to Christ: as He was, so are we in the world. It is in virtue of our union with Him that we pray aright, and that our prayer becomes the centre and power of our inner and outer life.
(Adolph Saphir, Our Lord’s Pattern for Prayer; Kregel Publications, pp. 25-26)
O, friends! Prayer is not a mere crutch for difficult times! Prayer is not a convenience shop that we visit on occasion to attain something from heaven. Prayer is the very gate to God Himself! Prayer is the only place where He is heard and known. Prayer is the only place where we are refined and revivified, cleansed and recharged, encouraged and empowered to walk in the reality of the Gospel. Better to forsake friends and hobbies than to neglect the place of prayer! Better to forsake riches and entertainment than to forsake prayer! Better to leave mechanical ministry by the wayside than to grow thin and threadbare in the place of prayer!
Clear out the inner-room, dear saint! Clear out schedule, location, and mental clutter. Seek the face of God. If you search for Him with all your heart, and receive and avail yourself of this great gift of prayer, you will find the Lord, and your joy will be made full.
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: adolph saphir, apostles, joy, prayer