Statement of Faith Current Teaching Teaching Index
The Changing Church -
Part Three

March 2014

           Before we start this month's teaching, let us recap last month’s discussion.  We have learned that God is going to,

1.      Bring about a Holy change in the Body of Christ.  He will produce a church just like the one He established in the first century A.D.  A church that is unified, active, productive, strong and healthy.  It will be evangelistic and world changing.  One that will not be injured by the world, the devil or any other unholy, unnatural or by the unending scandals or offenses that come against it.  But God will use these scandals to purify it and make it strong and viable.

2.      Reestablish all the administrative offices in the church, as they are described in Ephesians 4:1-16.  These offices will be for the same purpose as described in verses 12-16. 

            This world changing church can only come about once unity among the Body of Christ becomes a reality.  This unity must be grounded on the Chief Cornerstone, Jesus Christ.  He is the only superglue (if you will) that will hold us all together under the stress and pressure the evil one will put on us.  There will not be nor can there be any division or strife whatsoever between God's people.  We must do away with any and all prejudices no matter what the cost to us physically or emotionally.  This is the only Church Christ will come for.  So the question is, what is it going to take to establish this type of Church?  Or should we try and establish a church as heathenish as the nations around us.

            In 1st Samuel 8:1-8 we see this exact scenario.  It is a story of God's people who insisted that God establish a different system of rule.  God's people asked for an earthly king to rule over them, rejecting God's theocratic desire.  Their reason for this choice was because God's chosen ruler, Samuel, was now advanced in years and his sons were not living according to God's precepts.  Let us notice one thing before we go any further.  Nowhere in the scriptures did God tell His people that these two unholy sons of Samuel were to become their ruler.  The Israelites just assumed they would!  So God knowing that His chosen people were rejecting His plans and leadership gave them a king exactly as they had asked, one just like the heathenish nations around them.  But God in His infinite mercy gave them a glimpse of the future under this petitioned king.  God described to them the downside; taxes, a military draft, how the people would be put under servitude, and other injustices that would come upon them.  This warning did not change their minds.  They still wanted an earthly king like the unholy, heathen nations around them.  The love of God was shown in the fact that this king, Saul, was anointed, given wisdom from above, and had God fighting for him.  God gave him every advantage to rule righteously.  The problem was he did not want it!  Saul did not follow God's ways, His humble heart turned proud and arrogant, and eventually violent all in the name of religion. 

            The power given to him by God turned into a belief that he was like God, with the power to do as he wanted, in God’s name, with no consequences.  The power to conquer an enemy, turned into murdering anyone who disagreed with him or his plans.  His wisdom turned to deceit.  He believed that his kingly office would protect him from every decision or action he took.  Israel suffered.  Saul was rejected.  Another was chosen! 

David did not ask God to help him in his plans, but asked God to make him a helper in God's plans.

            It has been said that "a biography should be read with an endeavor to find out what the vital forces of the man were, and what the leading principles that ruled his conduct and relations were.  Find the one thing that most impresses you in every life, and that will suggest the message God meant to send by making, endowing and guiding that man."  In King David's case we have a man after God's own heart, who believed that in spite of changing fortunes, God was a living and righteous being.  David did not ask God to help in his plans, but asked God to make him a helper in God's plans.

            David made political and moral mistakes but his humility at all times made him strong enough to subject himself to the hand of God, and this humility was based on the quality of his spiritual attitude toward God which shows itself in his Psalms.  Beyond any other king, David was a connecting link between God and His people.  The distinguishing attitude of David as a king was that he recognized in the most loyal manner a higher loyalty to God, and regarded himself as a mere human tool used by God.

            A short outline list of David's early life looks like this:

1.      Called and ordained by Samuel as a teenager (1st Samuel 16:1-13)

2.      He was raised up to be a ruler and a warrior (1st Samuel 17-18)

3.      David running for His life, because of His calling (1st Samuel 18-19)

4.      David was placed in charge of about four hundred people who were in distress, in debt, downtrodden and discontented (1st Samuel 22:2) and turned them into a formidable army of mighty men.

 

     For the most this describes the body of Christ today?  A true church relatively small in number most of them hurting, in debt, disappointed, limited in power, lacking in true direction, looking for a true leader to lead them.  A leader they knew through past contact, through his life style, by what had been said of him, that he was a man chosen by God.  This leader is now turning them into a formidable army of mighty saints. 

            David a vagabond, running for his life, with enemies everywhere all bent on destroying him, runs to a cave in Adullum where God sends him four hundred hurting discontented men with no leader.  Doesn't this sound like the perfect congregation, to start with?  But this is exactly what David, the greatest king Israel ever had, started with.  Jesus said; Matthew 9:13b “For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."  Jesus also said; “Then He also said to him who invited Him, "When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid.  But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.  And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just" (Luke 14:12-14).  And; But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty (1st Corinthians 1:27).   We as ministers should not look at the people we have been given to us, but the God that gave us the people.

            David wasn't left without help however.  God sent David a prophet to help inquire of Him and in turn direct David in the path he was to travel (1st Samuel 22:5); his name was Gad.  A young priest by the name of Abithar was also given to David for counsel (1st Samuel 22: 22-23).  Abithar remained with David for a very long time to comfort and console him.  Abithar was eventually named High Priest and held that office until the reign of Solomon. 

            David while still at Adullam was also given by God, a family to fellowship with.  A family that loved him respected him, and a family that was in unity with him.  David had all the tools he needed to help him carry out the calling God had placed upon his life.  He was the ruler, Abithar was the priest, and Gad was the prophet, a family for strength and fellowship, and God the master builder!  This is what God does for us when we are downtrodden, hurting, and alone.  "He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.  And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,  for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,  till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;  that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,  but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head‑‑Christ‑‑from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:10-16).  This place of fellowship in our modern era is called the CHURCH!

The Church, and its people, in the presence of the Lord, is our stronghold.

            But God did not keep him at Adullam.  "Now the prophet Gad (whom God appointed to David) said to David, "Do not stay in the stronghold; depart, and go to the land of Judah." So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.  

            Please notice what God calls this place of fellowship.  He calls it a stronghold.  Every person in the body of Christ must learn this simple lesson; the Church, and its people, in the presence of the Lord, is our stronghold.   It is the place of fellowship with others of like beliefs, divine ordinances - such as breaking of bread, a place of corporate prayer, mutual assistance, worship, oversight, and discipline.  Participation in a local church is not an option, it is a command; Hebrews 10:25!

            This vagabond group of desperate men after a time walking with God, experiencing the Love, Grace, and safety throughout all the situations of David's life, became a unified fighting force who had grown in number, might, and strength.  They became an army no one could conquer.  They went through their ups and downs their trials, their pains, perils, failures and triumphs.  But they went through them together.  Until one day God brought David, who is the Old Testament counterpart to Jesus, and his now trial tested army of valiant warriors, and their families, (his Church if you will), to a place called Hebron (2nd Samuel 2:1-4).  Hebron means “covenant” or a “seat of association.”

            Covenant is a word meaning a confederacy or a league, a treaty or compact made with blood.  A covenant was made by passing through torn, ripped or separated flesh (Genesis 15:17-18).  In a covenant there is a mutual agreement confirmed by oath in the name of the Lord, which is held in tact throughout all future generations, this covenant can only be broken through the death of one or both of the parties.  Seeing that this particular covenant was made between God and His chosen people, and neither God nor his chosen people have perished, it stands to reason that the terms of the covenant are still in effect today! 

            Let us look at some of the terms of Covenant God made with David. 

1.      The seed-royal was to be in the house of David (2nd Samuel 7:12; 22:51)

2.      An increased line of descendants.  They would become a numerous people

3.      Material and spiritual prosperity “I will bless thee"

4.      The exaltation of Abraham's name “Make thy name great"

5.      Abraham was not only to be blessed by God, but to be a blessing to others, implicitly by the coming of the Messiah through Abraham's descendants.

            There is another covenant that God made with His chosen people; it is called the New Covenant made with His blood.  The New Covenant offers something the Old Covenant could not.  That is freedom from sin and the power to obey God!  This New Covenant started at the cross, but was first described in Matthew 26:26-28.  "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body."  Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you.  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." 

            This New Covenant is a better covenant built on better promises.  Notice what Hebrews 8:10-13 says:  "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.  For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.  In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away."  And Hebrews 9:11-15 says:  "But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.  Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance." 

            This New Covenant, is one of Grace not Law, it gives the believer the power to overcome all sin, destroy the yoke of the enemy, and gives eternal redemption through the blood of the our God and Savior,  Jesus Christ.  What a great New Covenant!

            It wasn't until after God had brought David and the men through trials, wars and scandals, that God brought them to a place of covenant (2nd Samuel 5:1-9).  That is when these men, who were once known as hurting, in debt, disappointed, limited in power, and men lacking in true direction, became a truly unified powerful conquering nation that they brought peace and prosperity throughout the world. 

            Let us look at the principles discussed so far.  David inquired of the Lord for guidance through the Priests and Prophets God had given to him.  Everyone followed a God appointed, and anointed leader.  God's chosen covenant people through fellowship, and unity where brought to a covenant place.  They did the work that God had ordained in unity of purpose and went out an conquered their enemies (1st Kings 4:24), unified a divided nation (2nd Samuel 5:3-5), establish peace and prosperity in the world around them, and in one generation became the most beloved, feared, powerful, yet peaceable and wealthiest nation in the world.  Look at what the Queen of Sheba had to say about the covenant people of God and their kingdom.  "And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his servants, the service of his waiters and their apparel, his cupbearers, and his entryway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, there was no more spirit in her.  Then she said to the king: It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom.  However I did not believe the words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard.  Happy are your men and happy are these your servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom!  Blessed be the LORD your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because the LORD has loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness” (1st Kings 10:4-9).

            Jesus as our covenant ruler has shown us how to accomplish the same work, and be blessed the same way as David and his covenant people were in their day. 

1.      Jesus has brought us together in love (Romans 5:8)

2.      He has established a new and everlasting covenant with us in His own blood (Matthew 26:26-28)

3.      He has given us appointed, anointed leaders (Ephesians 4:12-16)

4.      He has given these leaders all the help they will need through the administrative, and spiritual gifts of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:12-16; Romans 12:6-8; 1st Corinthians 12)

5.      Leaders are to inquire of the Lord for the strategy needed to establish God's kingdom on earth (James 1:5)   

6.      Through the power of God's Spirit we must go forth to conquer.  One step at a time (Acts 1:8)

            It is up to us to listen and obey!  If we do all we can do for Christ putting all else aside, following only the voice of the good shepherd; the body of Christ or the Church will become visible, powerful, a mighty resource, a base for all the ministries needed by the world.  One that is financially and physically able to do all the work that is needed to usher in the return of Christ.  The body of Christ will exercise enormous and devastating influence in the heavenlies.  The Church of Christ will also effect and bless nations around the globe.  It will manifest God's glory in a way the world has not seen. 

            Here are a few prayerful ideas on how to grow into the ministry that God has for you

1.      Visualize your ministry as only one part of the whole plan of God

2.      Change your thinking from one of an owner to one of a steward

3.      Seeing yourself as part of the whole leaves you open to receive the help of the administrative gifts of the Spirit, found in Ephesians 4:11

4.      Prayerfully ask for these gifted men and women of God to be raised up in your congregation, or that God would send you these individuals

5.      Look for and prayerfully ask for all the gifts of the Spirit to operate in your ministry and be not afraid of them, encourage their use

6.      Distinguish the differences between associations, relationships and covenant partners

7.      Look for and establish covenant partners that God has chosen for you

8.      Establish a covenant with the people God has given you

9.      Want unity with the body not autonomy.  Autonomy is the enemy to unity and to the body of Christ

10.  Look for and establish outreaches with other Pastors

11.  Be sold out for Christ, let nothing stand in your way

12.  Die to yourself. "for it is not I who live but Christ living in me"

13.  How?  "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' Says the LORD of hosts” (Ref. Zechariah 4:6)

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