Welcome to Leaving LaodiceaThe Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church
In our study on Spiritual gifts, the question before us is this: Why does the Holy Spirit give us His gifts? What’s the point? How does giving us gifts, that we don’t believe we have, benefit Him?
The answer is found in 1 Corinthians 12:7. Here it says: But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.
Got that. But what does this verse really mean?
The word manifestation means “expression, to make visible or observable.” Think about that. The “expression” of the Holy Spirit, or the way the Holy Spirit expresses Himself is “given to each one for the profit of all.” Or, the way the Holy Spirit makes Himself “visible or observable” is by the gifts He gives to “each one for the profit of all.”
Do you see how important these gifts actually are? And what specific gifts are we talking about?
To continue in context: for to one is given the (1) word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the (2) word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another (3) faith by the same Spirit, to another (4) gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the (5) working of miracles, to another (6) prophecy, to another (7) discerning of spirits, to another (8) different kinds of tongues, to another the (9) interpretation of tongues – 1 Cor. 12:8-10.
And this is only the beginning. There is so much more to learn. Are you interested? Then keep listening.
In the final few words in his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, the apostle Paul leaves them with some heartfelt, bullet-point warnings and admonitions that speak to living in the Kingdom. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 he said,
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.
If you look closer, you will see this is another classic, life-changing if / then passage. If we do the first three, then we won’t experience the last. Or, if we don’t do the first three, then the last, quenching the Spirit, is ours as a consequence of the first three. And who in their right mind wants to willingly quench the Spirit of God in our life. But there is so much more to be found here. Interested? Then keep listening.
This truth is never more apparent than at the crucifixion of Jesus. There, at the foot of His cross, standing faithful with their Lord, we find several women and only one disciple, the one characterized as the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23). We see Mary the mother of Jesus, and her sister, Salome, the mother of James and John and the wife of Zebedee. We see Mary the wife of Clopas who, along with Mary Magdalene, kept vigil at the tomb (Matt. 27:61) and was one of the women who tried to persuade the disciples that Jesus was alive (Luke 24:10). We also see a larger group of women, possibly as many as a dozen, standing together “at a distance” from the cross (Luke 23:49).
But what we don’t see are the bold, self-confident men who pledged their very lives to Christ just a few hours earlier. Nowhere is Peter, the “even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (Matt. 26:35) disciple. Andrew, James, Matthew and the others disciples are conspicuously absent. AWOL. Scattered like dry leaves in an October wind.
The men are gone. These bastions of courage and determination fled like frightened children while the women stood faithful with their Lord to the end. Why was that? What was it about the quality of love and devotion found in these women that propelled them to such courage when the men, who should lead in that area, drifted off into the landscape? What does this show us about true faith and devotion? What does this show us about the love of women and the apparent apathy of men? And how can that change our lives today?
We all assume we are totally objective when it comes to things in the Scriptures. But nothing could be further from the truth.
We often believe, not what the Scriptures say, but what we’ve been taught they say and why – all confirmed by our experience. In essence, the main reason we, as Bible-believing Christians, do not believe in the miraculous gifts of the Spirit is simply this: We have not seen nor experienced them. And our theological traditions support our lack of belief in them.
These are the top three reasons much of the church in the West refuses to believe in the more miraculous gifts of the Spirit.
One, we have not personally seen nor experienced New Testament quality miracles in our Christian lives.
Two, we don’t see New Testament quality miracles in the later history of the church and they are not part of our theological traditions.
Three, we are repulsed by the misuse of those who claim to possess New Testament quality gifts of the Spirit in contemporary churches and healing movements.
But none of these are based on Scripture. They are based on personal experience. Do you want to know the truth? Then keep listening.
For those who live in the Kingdom of Heaven, this question is of profound importance. What gifts of the Spirit are manifested in your life? (1 Cor. 12:7).
We know the gifts of the Spirit are listed in at least four places in the New Testament: Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 1 Corinthians 12:28, and Ephesians 4:11.
Admittedly, some of these gifts we readily embrace today. Gifts such as teaching, showing mercy or administration we affirm as necessary and present in the church. But those of healing, prophecy or the distinguishing between spirits? That’s a completely different issue.
But where does the truth lie? Are spiritual gifts for the church today? And, if so, which ones? All of them? Or is it just a select few? And if a few, which ones make the cut? And why? By what merits?
These are just a few of the questions we are going to look at today. Are you intrigued? Then keep listening.
When we look at the chilling words of Jesus that tell us “unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20) we are perplexed. And rightly so. When we then see the requirement of becoming a “new creation” in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) in order to possess the “righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees,” we are faced with even more questions.
Are you a new creation in Christ?
Has God changed you from the inside out?
Do you possess a righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees?
If so, how do you know?
Can your friends and family tell?
And then one more:
Does this describe you?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law (Gal. 5:22-23).
Have you ever asked yourself these questions? How did you answer? What does it mean if your answers to these questions are, no? To find out more, keep listening.
This has been one of the most contentious election seasons I can remember. Good people have been dragged into the mud with lies and character slander for the sole purpose of trying to win an election. Which raises a few questions for the Christian.
How does a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, who is also a citizen of the United States of America, reconcile their responsibility as citizens to both? Especially in this election.
What is the purpose of human government? And what is our duty towards that government? But what if that government is oppressive? Are we to obey a government that commands us to sin? Then what are we to do as Christians when we are appalled by the corruption in our own government?
Have you ever asked yourself these questions? I have. To find the answers from Scripture, keep listening.
Some of the most chilling words of Jesus begin with a condition that seems impossible to meet. He begins this by saying:
“For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20).
But what does this mean? Who were the scribes and Pharisees and what was the characteristic of their righteousness? What is the nature of the righteousness that must exceed their righteousness and how is that righteousness obtained? And once it is obtained, how do we know? How can we be sure? In what way does our righteousness have to exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees? And finally, what does Jesus mean when He says, “You will by no means enter the kingdom of Heaven”?
These are tough questions. Important questions. Eternal questions.
Jesus spent much of His Sermon on the Mount preaching about the Kingdom. What’s the Kingdom like? What are the unique realities that belong only to those in the Kingdom? Are there promises to those who live in the Kingdom? And, if so, what are they? How does one receive the Kingdom and, more importantly, how does one enter into the Kingdom?
The key is found in Mark 10:15: “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
Did you catch that? Receiving must precede entering when it comes to the Kingdom.
What if God was bigger than the box in which we try to place Him? Wouldn’t that be incredible? You and I both know that He is bigger than anything we can imagine. But nevertheless, we have a tendency to always try to place Him in a box that allows us to understand Him on our terms.
Think of the boxes in which we try to place Him. We have our experience box that rejects God moving in any way other than what we have experienced in the past. This box makes our experience with Him as the defining element of His character and the full expression of His will. God can never be bigger than He has been in our past. He becomes one-dimensional, myopic, and is not allowed to do anything that makes us feel uncomfortable or stretches and expands our faith.
We have our denominational box that limits God to the tenets of our theology, our sacred creeds, or our agreed upon statements of faith. But this box assumes we know all there is to know about the Unknowable One, the One who defies human description. This box cannot be true. For how can the created know all there is to know about the Creator, no matter how infested the created is with pride and arrogance and self-exaltation?
Then we have our spiritual maturity box. This box states that the way God is dealing with us right now, at this present moment, at our current level of maturity, is how He deals with everyone. Why? Because we can’t accept the fact there may be others who are more mature than we are in the things of the Lord. That would make us feel uncomfortable. Or, worse yet, convicted. And there are other boxes we conjure with different labels. We have our faith box, our feelings box, and the like. But God cannot be contained by the constraints of our fear or insecurity.
God is beyond all that. He’s incredible. He’s beyond comprehension. He cannot be understood or described by mere human words. It is foolishness to assume we can know the Almighty and all His ways. Why? Because He says about Himself in Isaiah,
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Often we find ourselves hamstrung and impotent in our spiritual lives, when compared with Scripture, because of the limitations we place on our God by the box we try to force Him into.
Something About Us
This is a collection of the many questions I have struggled with and the answers I have found regarding the relationship between authentic faith in Christ and much of what is portrayed today as Biblical Christianity. Especially with the coming darkness looming over all of us, including the church.
Come with me. It should be a wild ride!
To find out more about us and what we believe, just continue reading…