Monthly Archives: April 2015
THE LOCAL CHURCH
Even though Paul as an Apostle definitely had Spiritual Authority, still, he could not force the Church at Corinth to do what the Holy Spirit through him had stated concerning this matter. He could only point out the correct direction, and it was up to them to follow it to its conclusion.
When one considers that Paul had planted this Church, and that many, if not most, of the Converts there had been brought to Christ under his Ministry, one would think that he had the authority to say and do whatever. However, the Holy Spirit as is here obvious, limits that authority to pointing out direction.
This means that it is terribly wrong for any outside influence to exercise dictatorial control over the Local Church. While they might advise and counsel, even as Paul did here, which is the pattern given by the Holy Spirit we are to follow, that is as far as it should go. When Religious Leaders, so-called, who have been elected by popular ballot, and in no way are Apostles, etc., exercise dictatorial control over the Local Church, they are in fact abrogating the Headship of Christ, which causes the Holy Spirit to cease and desist all operations. Consequently, some Pentecostal Denominations are all but totally bereft of the Working and Moving of the Holy Spirit, and for this very reason. They have instigated a secular type Government in the Church, which the Holy Spirit cannot condone, because it is not Biblical.
HEADSHIP IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The Greek word for head is “kephale.” It is used much like the Hebrew word “ro’s,” which refers to the head of a person, the beginning of a month, the source or mouth of a river, etc. The Greeks viewed the head as the superior member of the body, the seat of reason and authority.
“Kephale” appears over 75 times in the New Testament, usually to designate the literal head of a person or animal. In certain Passages, we need to know the background of certain New Testament sayings before we can understand them.
For example, “Do not swear by your head” (Mat. 5:36) is a reference to a Rabbinical Judgment that one who makes an oath “by his head” (by his very life) cannot be released from the oath under any circumstances.
Other sayings, such as Jesus’ assurance of God’s Care as expressed in the statement, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Lk. 12:7), are easily understood.
There are, however, three theologically significant uses of “head” to which we need to pay careful attention. They help us gain insight into issues of great concern for Christians today.
CHRIST, THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH
A review of these Passages suggests that Christ’s Headship emphasizes His role as Sustainer, Protector, Organizing Principal, and Source of the Church’s life. The Passages emphasize Jesus’ exalted position so that we may have complete confidence in Him. We respond to Him because He is Lord and the only One with wisdom and motive to direct us into God’s Perfect Will.
AN ORGANISM, NOT AN INSTITUTION
On the other hand, the New Testament pictures the Church not as an institution but as an organism (something which is alive—a complex structure of interdependent and subordinate elements whose relations and properties are largely determined by their function in the whole).
In the place of institutional principles of organization, the New Testament advances organic principles of organization for the Church (Rom. Chpt. 12; I Cor. Chpt. 12). In fact, Jesus stressed the importance of rejecting all thought of rank in relating to fellow Believers (Mat. 20:25–28; 23:8–12; Rom. 12:3–8), which means that even though all Preachers of the Gospel should be respected as should be obvious, however, all man-instituted Religious Offices, are to be looked at as administrative only and never in the position of Spiritual Leadership.
In thinking about Leadership in the Church it is important to recognize the fact that Jesus is the Sole Head of the Church, the only Lord. Whatever Leaders are within the Body of Christ, they are not superior persons of higher rank whose office gives them a right to direct and control other Believers.
~J. Swaggart Ministry
THE AUTHORITY OF BELIEVERS OVER OTHER BELIEVERS
The Scriptures teach and assume that in a world warped by sin, governing authorities are a necessity.
But a vital question for Christians has to do with the nature of authority within the Body of Christ. In its philosophical and theological sense as freedom of action to control or limit the freedom of action of others, do Christian Leaders really have authority within the Church?
The issue is an important one and deserves much study and debate. But a number of observations should be made to help us think about this issue.
For instance, Jesus delegated authority to His Disciples (Mk. 3:15; 6:7; Lk. 9:1; 10:19), but this was authority over demons and diseases. No Passage suggests freedom to exercise control over other human beings. In fact, the freedom of choice of those to whom these Disciples came is clearly protected (Mk. 6:11; Lk. 10:8–12).
One incident reported in the Synoptics is especially significant. Matthew Chapter 20, Mark Chapter 10, and Luke Chapter 22 all tell of a heated debate among the Disciples over which of them would be greatest. Jesus took that opportunity to instruct them on Leadership and its character within the Church.
Each Passage reports that Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.” In each Passage Jesus bluntly rules out this kind of Leadership Authority for His Disciples and Followers. He said, “Not so with you!”
The alternative that Jesus spells out is a “Servant Leadership.” And a servant is a far cry from a ruler!
These Passages suggest strongly that whatever authority Christian Leaders may have, their freedom of action does not include the right to control the actions and choices of their Brothers and Sisters in the Lord.
THE APOSTLE PAUL
The Apostle Paul is deeply aware of the fact that as an Apostle he does have authority. He speaks of it in II Corinthians, Chapters 10 and 13. He told the Corinthians that the Lord gave him authority with a specific purpose: “For building you up, not for tearing you down” (II Cor. 10:8; 13:10). In II Corinthians, Chapter 13 Paul speaks of his concern not to be “harsh in the use of (his) authority” (I Cor. 13:10). The context shows that the Christians in Corinth refused to admit that Christ was speaking through this servant Leader.
Paul did not respond by threatening. He did not try to manipulate or to coerce. He simply reminded them, “(Christ) is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you” (II Cor. 13:3). By that he meant the following:
Paul had no need to resort to manipulation or to coercion, because Jesus was alive and acting as Head of His Church. Jesus remained powerful among His People and was free as the Head of the Church to exercise His Authority in disciplining ways. Paul relied on Jesus to bring about a response to the Words that He, Jesus, had given to Paul to speak to the Corinthians.
LIMITATION OF AUTHORITY GIVEN TO LEADERS
These Passages, and studies of Paul’s style of Leadership, suggest strongly that in the Church God limits the authority given to Leaders.
The Leader’s authority is not an authority to control, but an authority to help the Believer to use his or her freedom to respond willingly to Jesus as the Head of the Church.
Using Paul as an example, which is what the Holy Spirit intended, it becomes easy to observe how wrong it is for so-called Church Leaders to attempt to exercise dictatorial control over others, even going so far as to demand that they do things which are unscriptural. As should be obvious, this is not according to the Word of God, and must be rejected hands down, irrespective of the cost.
The melting-pot of the world isn’t so hot anymore.
WHO IS JESUS CHRIST?
Jesus Christ is the Eternal Logos, the Living Word, the Son of the Living God; Jesus Christ is God!
He was and is Very God, was and is Very Man. This means that He wasn’t part God and part Man, but totally God and totally Man.
THE EXPRESSION OF HIS DEITY
When God became Man, He, not for a moment, lost the possession of His Deity, rather retaining it completely; however, He did lose the expression of that Deity, which evidence is, that such expression will be lost forever. But on another side of the Incarnation, God becoming man, He is greater today than ever before.
Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things (Jn. 1:1–3); however, He is also now the Saviour. So, coupled with Creator, He is now the Saviour, which is greater than ever. One cannot improve upon Perfection, but one can add to Perfection, which has been done in the case of Christ.
THE SELF-EMPTYING OF CHRIST
Paul wrote, and I quote from THE EXPOSITOR’S STUDY BIBLE: “Let this mind be in you (refers to the self-emptying of Christ), which was also in Christ Jesus (portrays Christ as the supreme example):
“Who, being in the form of God (refers to Deity, which Christ always was), thought it not robbery to be equal with God (equality with God refers here to our Lord’s co-participation with the other members of the Trinity in the expression of the Divine Essence):
“But made Himself of no reputation (instead of asserting His rights to the expression of the Essence of Deity, our Lord waived His rights to that expression), and took upon Him the form of a servant (a bondslave), and was made in the likeness of men (presents the Lord entering into a new state of Being when He became Man; but His becoming Man did not exclude His position of Deity; while in becoming Man, He laid aside the ‘expression’ of Deity, He never lost ‘possession of Deity’):
“And being found in fashion as a man (denotes Christ in men’s eyes), He humbled Himself (He was brought low, but willingly), and became obedient unto death (does not mean He became obedient to death; He was always the Master of Death; rather, He subjected Himself to death), even the death of the Cross. (This presents the character of His Death as one of disgrace and degradation, which was necessary for men to be redeemed. This type of death alone would pay the terrible sin debt, and do so in totality.) “Wherefore God also has highly exalted Him (to a place of supreme Majesty; Jesus has always been Creator, but now He is Saviour as well), and given Him a Name which is above every name (actually says, ‘The Name,’ referring to a specific Name and Title; that Name, as Verse 11 proclaims, is ‘Lord’):
“That at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow (in the sphere of the Name, which refers to all it entails; all of this is a result of the Cross, the price paid there, and the Redemption consequently afforded), of things in Heaven, and things in Earth, and things under the Earth (all Creation will render homage, whether animate or inanimate);
“And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (proclaims ‘Lord’ as the ‘Name’ of Verse 9; it means ‘Master’ of all, which again has been made possible by the Cross), to the Glory of God the Father. (The acknowledgment of the Glory of Christ is the acknowledgment of the Glory of the Father.)” (Phil. 2:5–11).
(14) “AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH, AND DWELT AMONG US, (AND WE BEHELD HIS GLORY, THE GLORY AS OF THE ONLY BEGOTTEN OF THE FATHER,) FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH.”
The phrase, “And the Word was made flesh,” refers to the Incarnation.
That God, the “Eternal Word,” in all of His wondrous Glory as the Creator of all things, which is beyond the comprehension of man, would become “flesh,” portrays a type of love which cannot be imagined by mere mortals. As well, He will retain this “flesh” forever, albeit in Glorified Form.
This made Jesus, God’s Son, for Sonship in connection with Jesus Christ always refers to humanity, never to Deity. He was always the “Word,” but not always “flesh!” However, He did not cease to be the “Word,” even when He became “flesh.”
When Jesus “Became flesh,” His moral glory brought back to the human family the very Image of God. Man departed from God and lost His Image. So, the True Image of God came to dwell with man, in order that the Holy Spirit could dwell in man, that man might dwell in God.
Man has never observed man as God originally made him, other than when men observed Jesus Christ. Man, who has fallen from his lofty state, has no idea as to what he was before the Fall. There was, and is, no way he could know except in Jesus. Jesus was, even in His consummate flesh, the Perfect Man, “The Man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5). But sadly, man does not desire to accept God’s Standard of Perfection, and continues to try to produce his own, which always fails. The very idea of Redemption as portrayed in verse 12, is to make men “Sons of God,” in effect, in the Image of Christ, Who is the Image of God.
The phrase, “And dwelt among us,” refers to Jesus, although perfect, not holding Himself aloft from all others, as many or most of the self-appointed greats of the world do, but rather lived as all men, even a peasant. His Mother and foster Father, at least as far as the economic sense was concerned, were of the poor. Joseph was a carpenter, and it seems raised Jesus in this same occupation, for tradition says that Jesus mostly made plows and yokes. Consequently, as “flesh,” He knew exactly how most of the world lives, laboring to earn a bare existence. As a result, He is “Touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Heb. 4:15).
The phrase, “And we beheld His Glory,” speaks of His Deity, although hidden from eyes which were merely curious. Someone has said that in the Incarnation, Christ, while always retaining possession of His Deity, did lose its expression.
His “Glory” was represented not only in Who He was, but, as well, in what He did. His Miracle-working Power, which He used to heal literally thousands, was in a sense a transferring of a tiny part of His Glory from Himself to the needy soul. The same could be said for Miracles and Deliverances.
The Greek word for “beheld” is “theaomai,” and means “a careful and deliberate vision which interprets its object.” It is more than merely seeing, but has the idea in mind of an object, in this case, a Person displaying a certain aura or attribute which causes one to see something far above the ordinary. Such was Christ! Consequently, the Pharisees and Religious Leaders of Israel had no excuse for their actions, inasmuch as this “Glory” was obvious to all. There is none so blind as those who refuse to see, even though plainly obvious to them.
The phrase, “The Glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father,” presents Jesus Who is, and was, and always will be “The Only Begotten Son of God.”
Men never will be “begotten,” or “born” in the same sense as Jesus was (Mat. 1:18–25; Lk. 1:34–35), for their sonship is on a different basis—that of adoption, not an actual begetting and coming into existence (Rom. 8:15; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5).
The phrase, “Full of Grace and Truth,” proclaims with the word “Full” His Deity, for only God is “Full of Grace and Truth,” as “flesh” proclaimed His Humanity.
So, the Glory in which He was seen was that of an Only Son with the Father, the One Sole Object of the Father’s delight. Such are the two Glories displayed in these verses—His Glory as the Word Who was with God in Eternity, and His Glory on earth as the Only Son of the Father.
If one is to notice, there is no pedigree in this Gospel, for how could Deity have a pedigree? In Mark as well, there is also no pedigree, for a servant needs none; he only needs a character (Williams).
~J. Swaggart Ministry
ADMISSION INTO THE CHURCH
Admission into the Church is strictly spiritual, but with a physical, domestical and economical result.
Admittance into the “Church” is by Faith in Christ, which means to accept what Christ did at Calvary and the Resurrection. Paul stated, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
“For with the heart man believeth unto Righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto Salvation.”
Paul then said, “For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:9–10, 13).
As well, the invitation is given to all, irrespective of race or nationality. Paul also said, “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him” (Rom. 10:12).
As is obvious, other than witnessing or preaching the Gospel to individuals, man has nothing to do with admitting the individual into the Church, except to recognize what God has already done, and, likewise, man cannot remove one from the Church.
As well, belonging to a certain congregation, organization, Religious Denomination, or any other type of group, has absolutely nothing to do with being a member of the Body of Christ, i.e., the Church. Unfortunately, many Church groups have led others to believe that association with their group guarantees association with Christ, and disassociation with that group, whatever it may be, causes one to lose association with Christ.
Nothing could be further from the Truth. Association with an earthly group has absolutely nothing to do with one’s Salvation and, likewise, disassociation in no way removes one from association and fellowship with Christ.
So, admittance into the Church, the Body of Christ, is the making of Christ as one’s Saviour, which results in a heartfelt, born-again experience (Jn. 3:3).
Upon being born again, one should certainly seek to be associated with a group of local Believers, if at all possible, who are attempting to follow the Word of God, with it as their criteria.
The phrase, “And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” actually means “The power of death” shall not prevail against it.
The reference here is to Resurrection and not to infallibility in Doctrine, as asserted by some.
Christ, being the Living God, and His people living stones, they could not be held captive in the mansions of the dead.
On the third day, He, as the True Samson, rose and carried away the gates of hell. They could not prevail against that Rock, i.e., “It.” He prevailed against them; and when He arose all His people arose in and with Him (I Thess. 4:14).
As well as referring to “the power of death,” the “gates of hell” also refers to the iron grip of sinful bondage which binds all of unsaved humanity. This includes sin, sickness, poverty and all other domains of darkness. With the Death and Resurrection of Christ, all of these “gates” fell. As a result, any authority presently held by Satan is a pseudo-authority, or, more particularly, that allowed him by Believers.
This is what Jesus was speaking of when He said, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My Name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
“They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mk. 16:17–18).
To be sure, most, if not all, of these Promises have to do with demon spirits and their expulsion.
For instance, the words, “Take up,” in verse 18, and concerning serpents, have absolutely nothing to do with snakes. The Greek word for “Take up,” is “airo,” and means to “take up, in order to remove, to put away.” It refers to the putting away of demon spirits, which takes place when the Gospel is preached in Power and Anointing, and by the authority of the Name of Jesus, as used by Believers.
The Church is meant to tear down the strongholds of Satan, and to do so by the Power of the Holy Spirit, which is brought into focus by the use of the “Name of Jesus.”
Regrettably, much of the modern Church is no longer a “Living Organism,” empowered from On High, but, instead, an intellectual or academic organization. Unfortunately, Satan does not respond to the intellectual or academic posture. He only responds to the Power of God, as evidenced in the Name of Jesus, used by Spirit-filled Believers.
Tragically, most of the modern Church is a far cry from that intended by the Holy Spirit, according to what Jesus built. Actually, the Book of Acts is meant to serve as an ideal of what the “Church” ought to be.
Regrettably, many have foolishly claimed that the modern Church has outgrown the Book of Acts.
If that is the case, then it means that mere man is more intelligent than the Holy Spirit, which is ludicrous to say the least!
No! The Book of Acts is meant to serve as the criteria, and should not be deviated from. To do so, institutes man’s ways instead of God’s Ways, and proves catastrophic.
The Church is the Body of Christ, not a particular building by the side of the road. Actually you are now a part of that Body, and Jesus Christ is its Head. So, if at all possible, it is very important that you find a good Church to attend.
The following is what should be taught and preached in the Church:
1. Salvation through the Blood of Jesus Christ should be preached. Any Church teaching Salvation by any means other than the shed Blood of Jesus Christ, in other words, what the Lord did on Calvary’s Cross, in order to redeem humanity, is promoting something contrary to the Word of God (Mat. 26:28; Acts 20:28; Col. 1:20; Heb. 9:22; 1 Pet. 1:18–19).
2. The Church should teach the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking with other Tongues, which is available to all Believers, and is received after conversion (Isa. 28:11–12; Acts 2:4; 10:45–46; 19:6; 1 Cor. 14:4–5, 14–18).
3. A victorious, overcoming Christian life should be preached (Rom. 6:11; 1 Cor. 15:57–58; Eph. 6:10–13; James 1:22; 1 Jn. 5:4–5; Rev. 2:7). This means victory over sin in every capacity.
4. Divine Healing according to the Word of God should be preached (Ex. 15:26; 23:25; Isa. 53:5; Mk. 6:13; James 5:14–15; 1 Pet. 2:24).
We believe that the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ heals today, the same as He did in Bible days.
5. The Rapture of the Church should be taught and preached. This refers to the time when the Church shall be taken out of this world in order to be with the Lord. It could happen at any moment, with every single Believer whether dead or alive, being resurrected. In fact, the Resurrection and the Rapture are one and the same (I Cor. Chpt. 15; 1 Thess. 4:13–17).
6. The soon and eminent return of our Lord to Earth, to take up His rightful position as King of kings and Lord of lords should be preached. He will be accompanied at that time by every Saint of God who has ever lived. In other words, all who were taken up in the Rapture (Resurrection), will then come back with Him to this Earth, which will begin the Kingdom Age (Rev. Chpt. 19).
7. Whatever Church is attended, should be a Church filled with a group of people, whether the number is little or large, with the consuming desire to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the entirety of the world. The taking of the Gospel to all is priority with God, as should be obvious.
Someone brought you the Gospel, and you should love the Lord enough, to desire strongly that everyone else have the opportunity to hear exactly as you did. Whether they except or not, is their privilege; however, that they have the opportunity is absolutely paramount.
To be frank, the greatest way we can thank the Lord for giving us His Great Salvation, is to tell this grand story to others in whatever way we can, and as well, to help support those who are taking the Gospel to the world. That must be our consuming desire in all things (Mk. 16:15–16).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).
then said David to the Philistine, You come to me with the sword, and with the spear, and with the shield: but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, Whom you have defied (I Sam. 17:45).
When David, who was just a young stripling, probably sixteen or seventeen years old, went to the battlefront where his brothers were, he went there to bless them and do them good; however, like Joseph’s brothers, when he was sent to bless them, he was met with envy and hatred. Thus it was with God’s Beloved Son. His brothers, Mary’s sons, did not believe on Him (Jn. 7:5), and, with her, sought to lay hold upon Him as being beside Himself (Mk. 3:32); His spiritual brethren, Israel, nailed Him to the tree.
When David offered to fight the giant, not for money, nor for the hand of the king’s daughter—every man he spoke to had no higher thought than that—but David knew that the matter was more noble and more serious than this. He was to bring the Philistine giant and the Living God face-to-face. What had a woman and her money to do with that?
Saul tried to get David to use his armor, but David knew that God could not give victories to “the flesh,” nor can faith use it. In the Name of the Lord, David had privately vanquished the “lion” and the “bear.” This is one of the fundamental principles governing the Christian life. Public victories can come only after private victories are won.
Going toward the giant, David chose five smooth stones out of the brook. If the brook, with its living running water, pictures the Holy Spirit, then the five smooth stones picture Grace; to be sure, Grace won the day! The Stone, picturing Christ, smote the giant in the forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.
The Scripture then says, “David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith” (I Sam. 17:51). This is the posture for the Child of God. We are to stand as “more than a conqueror” on the head of any giant that may come against us, which we can do in Christ.
The Believer must understand that the terrible forces of darkness facing him are beyond his power and capabilities. As Goliath, Satan can only be defeated by and through Christ and what Christ has done for us at the Cross. To face the giants that come against us in any other fashion is to guarantee defeat. To place one’s Faith in Christ and the Cross guarantees victory, and a total and complete victory, at that (Rom. 6:3–14).
and the LORD said unto Samuel, How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go, I will send you to Jesse the Beth-lehemite: for I have provided Me a king among his sons (I Sam. 16:1).
At the very time that Samuel the Prophet was “mourning” for Saul, i.e., he saw no positive future for Israel, the Lord was planning great things for His People.
Let me say that again:
Whatever the circumstances might be, however the situation may present itself, the Lord is planning great things for us, that is, if we will only believe Him.
Look at it again!
At this very moment, and no matter how it may seem to be otherwise, the Lord is planning great things for you. To receive those great things, obedience is demanded, but obedience which we can easily carry out, that is, if we will truly follow the Lord. This means that there is no reason that any Believer should “mourn.”
Concerning Saul, the Lord told the Prophet, “I have rejected him from reigning over Israel.”
There are untold numbers of Godly people who are spending their time and attention on something that God has already rejected. Some of you holding this small book in your hands are still trying to hold on to a Church, or even an entire Denomination, which the Lord has already rejected. Such a Church, even as Saul, may continue right on; however, if the Believer is to truly follow the Lord, he will have to look elsewhere, even as Samuel is here told to look elsewhere.
The Lord told the Prophet to quit his pity-party, and “Fill your horn with oil, and go.”
“Oil” is a Type of the Holy Spirit. We readily see here that the Holy Spirit had departed from Saul. If the Holy Spirit is no longer present, we should find out where the Holy Spirit is moving, and there situate ourselves. Nothing else matters!
The Lord had already chosen another king. He would be in the family of “Jesse the Beth-lehemite.” It was the Lord Who chose a certain member of this family, David; man had no choice in the matter.
The trouble with the modern Church is men appointing men; consequently, they wind up with Saul, whom God has rejected, rather than David, whom God has chosen.
Last of all, the Lord told Samuel, “For I have provided Me a king among his sons.” Whatever we think, God has provided! We, unfortunately, all too often look in the wrong place.
The Lord didn’t tell Samuel which one of the sons He had chosen from the family of Jesse the Bethlehemite.
The Lord was looking for faith on the part of Samuel; to be sure, such faith was ultimately found!
~J. Swaggart Ministry