Saturday, 15 October 2011
Word and Power
Part 1; an Introduction
1 Peter 4:10-11 “10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” NKJV
It’s been 9 posts in the last two and a half months all focusing on reinforcing our foundations, to know the name of God, the power of Jesus, the gift of covenant, the function of the church and how each one of us should be acting 7 days a week. I’ve spent all this time preparing in order to present these messages that will follow to the next few weeks. With out these foundations these messages would do more harm than good and leave us to put our trust in things other than a love for Christ. For those who have missed the past messages, the Archive is waiting for you.
For the better part of the church’s 2000 year history we have been consistently working at one thing, talking. We can preach from dozens of different translations (just in English), attend hundreds of universities and Bible Colleges. And leave merely with an ability to talk the gospel each and every Sunday. We have even created our own dialect called “Christianese” glory hallelujah amen, in order to explain the deep things of God without actually explaining the truth behind them. We can talk yes, but so can the Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Mormons and Scientologists. A gospel in word only is like a bird trying to fly with only one wing, or a car racing without tires, or Christmas tree with out electricity. This is a safe gospel, an intellectual hands off gospel, one where converts are birthed through our own limited wisdom rather than the grace and power of I AM. One that never takes the risk of relying on the Holy Spirit to show up and move in a miraculous way or even in a subtle whisper. No, this is a gospel Paul warned us about in,
2 Timothy 3:5 “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof…”
It can be hard to break centuries of tradition, from 300AD to 1700AD, what I am going to talk about would have been called blasphemous or reserved for only the most senior and elderly ministers. But over the past 300 years Christ has given us back our Bibles, the knowledge of our Identity and Authority and the truth of
John 4:21-24 “21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. KJV
Yes, now is a time for us to receive all that the Father has for us and to go out and show every creature that salvation has come. Not merely in vain words that may erode the minds defenses but leave the heart untouched. But rather in the power of the Gospel that is accessible to every believer and follower of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Removing vain excuses administer by those who have rejected the power and mercy of Christ. Those who have raised their voices and decreed that “those things were for a different time”. Such words are a farce, in our day we live on a world with 6 970 000 000 souls compared to the 250 000 000 that walked the earth in the days of Jesus and the Apostles. And we are to believe that despite these numbers that the Hand of God is no longer needed or wanted? Far be it, in these days we must shine brighter and brighter we have 1200 years of history were the church looked more like the devils “butt-crack” than a shining city on a hill. And relying merely on our natural tongues will do nothing to rebuild the church of God into a Lighthouse for the planet. There must be something more, something that was and must be again. There have been glimmers and flashes of this light, yet were extinguished through pride, religion, fear, and the lack of knowledge of who we truly are as children of God and joint heirs of Christ immersed in the Holy Spirit.
Many speak of revival, praying for God to wake us back up from slumber, but I am calling for a Revolution, a returning to the ways of the first church. In the ways they loved, helped each other, spread the gospel and moved in miraculous power with no fear. It is time for the circle to be completed and the children of God to march with the Word in one hand, the power of God in the other hand and the love of God written on their hearts. I am not saying that we are to abandon the knowledge of the Bible, never so I am saying that we must have both the Word and the Spirit. Again I invoke the perfect circle; you cannot have one without the other. This is why foundations are needed in matters such as these. If we focus solely on miracles we eventually loose our holiness and honor, and if we focus solely on the word we eventually loose our compassion and love. Our lives must revolve around Christ, in His fullness not in fragments.
I am not alone in this way of thinking and believing, even the Apostle Paul himself expressed to the churches at Corinth, Rome and Thessalonica that the Gospel of Christ was not some made up story peddled by clever men, but it was ordained and confirmed by the demonstrations of God power and mercy. That Christ had truly risen from the grave and is alive, and continues to operate in our lives today in the same way He operated in His own life. That he continues to show compassion, to heal the sick, restore sight to the blind, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, open deaf ears, cast out demons and most importantly cleanse our sins and unrighteousness. Let us look at the exact words used by Paul in,
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 “1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” NKJV
And he repeats himself a few chapters later in,
1 Corinthinas 4:20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. NKJV
Here we have two utterances of this truth, that when ever the gospel was preached signs and miracles followed (in that order!). That God is always ready to move and act, and that we ourselves are the anchor keeping the ship at bay. As I said before Paul also spoke this to other churches, so must turn to,
1 Thessalonians 1:5 “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. NKJV
Romans 15:18-19 “18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient 19 in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” NKJV
Paul calls it to “Fully Preach the Gospel of Christ”, we can only achieve this when we work with the Holy Spirit in all of our actions inside and outside of the church. One can assemble a three point salvation sermon without the Spirit of God but no one can heal the sick or speak a true prophecy without the Spirit. And how much more a sermon that would be if God was allowed to intervene and speak clearly through that person. I eluded to this in “Pentephonics” where what would happen if an unbeliever entered the church and saw the Spirit prophesying through them. This is not for the church leadership alone this is for every believer of Christ.
Now Paul was not the only one to understand the connection between the Mouth and Hand of God, we have another witness the Apostle Peter also spoke of this in
2 Peter 1:16 “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” NKJV
Next week we begin to reveal exactly what Jesus has given to us and how we are to operate in our lives and in the church.
To Be Continued
Written by Cameron Conway
Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Dust Upon the Crown
It seems we will be remaining in the basics for one more week, though this is not a bad thing. Perhaps a return to our roots and the core of our existence is worth re-examining now and again. It is easy sometimes to actually forget what it means to be a Christian and a child of God. And I’m not talking about just going to church on Sundays and voting conservative. Or wearing a cross around our necks in public, or following the list of social don’ts. I fear that with everything going on in our lives day in and day out we tend to forget that we actually saved and redeemed from something to something else. That the core of our lives is based on Someone, and not on somewhere we go week in and week out. Amidst the toil and turmoil have we forgotten Christ? And have we as Christians unknowingly forgotten Christ and become “ians”?
It isn’t something we consciously do, no one wakes up and says I’m going to be a Christian without Christ. A detachment from Jesus comes slowly and isn’t realized until our own strength has failed us. And we are left looking up, asking for forgiveness for our stubbornness and blindness. Even when it comes to prayer, we can speak without thinking and race to finish our shopping list, never stopping to think of who we are talking to. At the greatness and nearness of His grace and power, we unload and move on never stopping to know that “He is God”. Yes, the enemy does want to separate us from oneness with the trinity, to bring us back to a state of “self”. Truth is our weapon, but what truth is that?
1 John 5:19-20 “19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” NKJV
The constant realization that Jesus the Messiah is with us always should be the cornerstone of our entire existence. He is always here, yet we are rarely here, rather we are there and everywhere else. At work, at church, at the game, at the store, in bed, on the couch, always alone (by choice) on the inside. It is one thing for those outside the new covenant to feel this way, it is entirely different for the adopted children of God to do so. We need to be reminded that we are “set apart” that we are saved, that we have been given eternal life. By no merit of our own, but by Christ alone, and at one point we turned and accepted Him and our lives changed. All was stripped away, and all that was left was.
1 John 5:1-5 “5 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” NKJV
How often do we stop to think of ourselves as overcomers? Now compare that to how often we think of ourselves as believers and lovers of Christ. Answer that question and you will see where your heart lies. You cannot have one side without the other. If you want to overcome the world, believe and truly know Christ and keep His commandments. Then and only then will He reveal all He has to you. This again comes down to spending time knowing Jesus, by worshipping, reading, praying (with Him not at It), or just being still (psalm 46:10) and silent. Most often it is in the silence that we see the clearest, when we silence our heart and ignore the chaotic world around us, we can remember who He truly is. And all the assumptions from the world, radio, TV, internet, leaders, church-goers, and unbelievers about Jesus fade into the abyss of silence. Then we can remember and know with all our being.
John 3:14-21 “4 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God." NKJV
Do we as light still cling to the shadows, is there still corners of our heart that long to be re-assimilated into the night. Now I’m not talking about becoming a murderer (hater) or a adulterer (luster) I am talking about the most dangerous manifestations of the darkness. The little whispers that kill us, thoughts of our own strength and ability and the amnesia of grace and truth. Becoming a Christian the experience of being born again is not a “set it and forget it” experience. Everyday we must humble ourselves, come to the throne of grace and know that He Is, not was or will be. We must create a lifestyle of being aware of Christ and God and Holy Spirit at all times. A lifestyle of not relying on our habits and traditions to get us through the days and weeks. We are children of God, joint-heirs of Christ first and foremost, above all else, be it families, denominations, nationalities or color. If we keep Christ first in our actions and thoughts and not just in words then we will be the light spoken of in John 4.
If you have drifted in anyway from God in anyway, there is a way back. I’m not talking of just being unsaved or if you are backslidden and running from God. But in any situation where we have forgotten Him in any degree, or have become a mere Christian by association. Drifting in and out clinging merely to our first cry of salvation. There is a promise and a path back into the arms we never actually left.
Romans 10:8-13 “8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." NKJV
Remove the dust from the crown that Christ has given you through his shed blood. Remove all in your hearts that distract us from Him, and abandon all thoughts of life without the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A choice must be made: are you a Christian never forgetting or watering down all He has done for you? Or have you taken the Christ out of Christian becoming an “ian” always running without ever stopping, claiming the traditions of others as your Source and declaring to know Christ yet never seeking, never knocking, never asking.
Written by Cameron Conway
Wednesday, 28 September 2011
Matthew 7:13-14 “13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. NKJV
After the past month of teaching on the “positions” within the church, I believe some teaching is in order. More specifically how those who are apostles, prophets, teachers, pastors, evangelists, miracle workers, those with gifts of healing, helpers, administrators, well ALL Christians are suppose to conduct their lives beyond Sunday mornings. We all have a responsibility to God to be the brightest lights that we can be on the earth. That is why he has called us to a level of holiness unattainable without His spirit. He wants the best for his children and has given us a guide of how to fulfill His will without loosing our credibility. How many ministries and denominations have fallen into the ashes because they became greedy, prideful and consumed by lust? When they fall, all around are swept away and the church as a whole has a shadow not greater light cast onto it. When we live the life of Christ there are sacrifices, there are challenges and there are ways of living that we cannot return to. And this is not because we want to be an elitist gloating over our victories over this vice and that sin. No it is so that we remain blameless and can focus all our attention at Christ and the various calls he has gifted to us. Because the world will never take us seriously if we continue to look and smell like them.
Now if only God had written clear instructions on how to act or what kind of people should participate in ministry (for those of you who have been reading you should know it’s everyone). But He did, and in typical God fashion he repeated himself. Again we turn to the writings of Paul, and the letters he wrote to Timothy and Titus, two of his successors. First off in 1Timothy 3:1-8 Paul is talking about the qualifications for bishops (overseers) for the local body. However this list should apply to all of us inside and outside official ministry. (Instead of quoting the entire passage I have rather placed a list of all the qualifications)
1 Timothy 3:1-8 (compiled from the NKJV & AMP)
blameless (above reproach)
sober minded (self control)
of good behavior
able (capable and qualified) to teach
not given to wine
not violent (combative)
not greedy (or lover) of money
rules his own house well
have his children under control (commanding respect, keeping them respectful)
not a novice (lest he be puffed up with pride)
have a good testimony (be well thought of) with people outside of the church
Now how many difficulties could be avoided in the Body as a whole and each church individually? A bottom line you could assign to this would be that we are to be holy, honorable, wise, peaceful, loving leaders who are not in it for the money. Our reward is in the changes in the hearts and communities that surround us. Jesus’ name be glorified is the call not bickering over minor points of doctrine. I’m sure many of us have glanced over this list a few times, but now we must truly make it a revelation in our hearts. As I have said before I am a believer of having two or three witnesses on matters as these. Now again Paul is talking to another one of his successors speaking of the same thing. The qualifications of those who could be leaders in the church, and again all of us should be subject to these words. (Again it is phrased in bullet points)
Titus 1:6-9 (NKJV)
husband of one wife
not self willed
not quick tempered
not given to wine
not greedy for money
a lover of what is good
holy (set apart), self controlled
holds fast the Word as was taught
able by sound doctrine both to exhort and convict those who contradict (the Word)
Nearly an identical list, how much could we accomplish with only these words? Great things indeed, but this is only the beginning. We also must look elsewhere, such as Paul’ exhortation to the Thessalonians.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 “14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil”. NKJV
These are the simple things, the fruit that grows naturally from a well-tended tree. Let us dig further into the life Christ has called us to live. You see most of these lists speaks of what we can see when we watch a person. Our spirit and souls are hidden to men but open and bare before the Holy Spirit. We turn to another familiar passage in Galatians this could be considered the inner branches for the outward fruit we have already seen.
Galatians 5:22-26 “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. NKJV”
These are the matters where God truly tests us, to see if we are ready for what he has for us. To see if we have sharp swords ready for battle or whether we must reenter the forge and be sharpened once more. It is these matters of the heart that will sway our outward walk. If we are kind we will not lie, if we are self controlled we will not be adulterers, if we walk in love we will not be greedy and callous. Before we can master the lists in Timothy and Titus we must submit to the Spirit and receive His fruit. Then the seeds within will grow and we will produce in like manner.
Again I must submit to you another passage as evidence, Peter also spoke of these fruits and the need to cultivate them. Pay attention to how he stages his wording, he is ascending from faith all the way to love (or charity in the KJV) and not just basic love but agape (see “covenant this” series) unbreakable covenant love.
2 Peter 1:5-9 “5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.” NKJV
A common theme is becoming evident is it not? These are basic calls of Christ yet they cannot be obtained by flesh and determination alone. All I have spoken of is only through the power of Christ and the grace of the Spirit of God. As Peter said those who lack these are unfruitful. They will never match the Bar set by Paul, they will fail the tests of the spirit and will do a greater job destroying the body than expanding it. Without God we are doomed to failure and destruction. But upon the Rock we shall thrive.
Perhaps it is time to examine the root of the tree? It is time to look whole heartedly at the words of our savior. He is the root, the apostles and all of us are the branches. Christ managed to compress everything I have been speaking of (and a great deal more) into this one simple statement. Until we know that we know this statement and walk in it daily everything else in our “Christian lives” is utterly meaningless.
Matthew 22:36-40 “36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" 37 Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." NKJV
This is the truth, the one truth, the only truth from which all other truth flows. It is sadly easy to forget God in the midst of church, work and life in general. And when we loose that love everything else dies. When we truly love the Father, the great I AM, then our light begins to flicker and grow into a flame that cannot be hidden. And that light must grown and consume all those around us. When we love God and all those round about us then everything else in 1Timothy, Titus, Galatians and 1Peter comes to life and flows out of us. We have followed our life as believers from the tip of the fruit all the way back to the root. We have found that our love (agape), that unbreakable, unshaking, unyielding love is the qualification for ministry and everything else in the Body of Christ. From the pulpit to the back row, this love is the key that opens all doors, the rock on which we build faith, self control, kindness, perseverance, joy, and the power to heal the sick, raise the dead, and destroy the works of the devil. Through Christ alone may we walk this narrow path.
1 Peter 2:1-6 “2 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame." NKJV
Written by Cameron Conway
Wednesday, 21 September 2011
Pentephonics Part 3
Now after 2 posts of foundations we can make our way to the good stuff. I hope you now have a good understanding of the five fold ministry, its functions, roles, responsibilities and dependencies on one-another. Because now its time to search out for the second and third witnesses (Deut 17:6, 19:15, Matt 18:16, 2Cor 13:1, 1Tim 5:19, Heb 10:28) to this model of the church. Because I am a firm believer of
2 Corinthians 13:1 ..In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. KJV
This is an important key to all Bible study, God has established that all testimonies are based on the words of two or three witness. So as Christians we shouldn’t be satisfied because we found one verse that fits our sermon. We must search out every corner and page for all God has to say. God does tend to repeat Himself (Gen 41:32) and for good reason, to confirm it and to get our attention. So then, where else does Paul or any others talk about the “order” and “gifts” in the church? Well Paul also wrote of this in his First epistle to the Corinthians mainly in chapters 12 through 14, but we shall look first at.
1 Corinthians 12:27-28 “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.” NKJV
There we have it the common five fold ministry, or, wait, what. There seems to be a couple missing and a few more have appeared. It seems that pastors and evangelists have disappeared, a veritable 180 of how the church is operated now. But something’s are the same, apostles are first, prophets are second but then teachers are third, then there are all these other calls. Maybe we should reread this in the amplified to make sure no one made a typo
1 Corinthians 12:28 “So God has appointed some in the church [for His own use]: first apostles (special messengers); second prophets (inspired preachers and expounders); third teachers; then wonder-workers; then those with ability to heal the sick; helpers; administrators; [speakers in] different (unknown) tongues.” AMP
It appears that our clean and cozy little formula may be lacking. As I said in the last post please refrain from burning your laptop and washing you eyes with soap. We may have to accept that things are a little bit bigger than we realized. And that there are more people in the church that have a responsibility to stand up and contribute. Ok so let’s rework the model with our new information. Now Paul says that in the church (local not global) there are also people who can work miracles, heal the sick, operate as a helps (like Stephen and Phillip), people who can administrate and those who can speak in other/unknown tongues. All outside of the common five fold, it is beginning to sound more and more like the church is a corporate ministry, and not just a group of people going to be ministered to. And it looks less like leaning on one person only and more about leaning on Christ with each other. I realize I am proposing the complete realignment of the entire church as we know it, or maybe I just want to change it back to the beginning (revolution). For many years I have heard many people talk about revival, revival here, revival there, revival no where. And very often people expect the pastor to be the one to bring it to pass, alone, with or without God. And this, this is why people want a revival they think they want to wake up from their slumber dance around and go back to sleep. What I have always preached is Revolution, and part of that is by rebuilding a “pre-catholic” church model where the only “one” is Christ, and we are all the same body working together to bring light and the gospel to the world. No I am not talking about brining in Christian anarchy where leadership is abandoned. There always must be order through the apostles and prophets, doctrine and wisdom from the teachers, and shepherding and discipleship from the overseers (pastors). If we go back to the second half of the list in 1 Corinthians 12:28, everything in that list is a basic gift from the Holy Spirit to all believers (see Mark 16:16-18, Luke 9:1, John 14:12-15, Acts 5:16 etc). Yes some will excel at certain things over others, but it is all from the same spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:8-11 “for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.” NKJV
The point is, we all individually and corporately have access to a greater amount of God than ever thought possible. And it is imperative that we have a deep revelation of our identity as an individual believer and as a member of the church body. As Paul said in
Romans 12:4-8 “4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” NKJV
Why? You may be wondering, should we live this model, this way of looking at church? What difference would it make? The difference is that a church that walks in love, power and truth, is a church that draws people out of the darkness, and doesn’t just entertain those at the edges of darkness. It’s a lot like my message “The Perfect Circle”, you must have all three Truth (word), power (faith) and love (relationship) or you will collapse and wither. Again I ask, why should a church be moving in its fullest in spirit, love and in truth. Paul gives us an example in
1 Corinthians 14:24-25 “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.” NKJV
The unbeliever won’t fall on his face over a video Sunday school program or a 20 member choir. But they will fall down when the tangible presence of God reaches out and touches them in front of a loving united body of believers.
I may look like I have gone off track, but perhaps that is the point, what would happen if we went off track from the “normal” or “casual” way we go about our daily and Sunday lives. What if we all took a long look and the book of acts and looked at our own lives and were honest with ourselves. I think it is time to jump off the tracks completely, train tracks only take you in one direction, the same way they’ve always gone. Be it right or wrong, it is easy to go along and not question or ponder why things are done. It is the curse of the mundane with its blind acceptance. What would happened if we would honestly ask ourselves these questions and wait for God to answer?
Now then, where are you apostles, where are you prophets, where are you teachers? Where are you elders and overseers, where are you miracle workers, where are you helpers and organizers? Where are you healers, dreamers, preachers and proclaimers? Where are you intercessors, givers, exhorters, ministers, where are you worshippers, preachers, tongue talkers and dead raisers. Are you out there? Can you stand up? Can you abandon the excuses that “it’s not my job”. We all have a place we all have a call. Can we all, each and every one, embrace what Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit for the Glory of I AM has given us. Can you rise up and can we all work together?
Written by Cameron Conway
Wednesday, 7 September 2011
Pentephonics Part 2
Ephesians 4:11 “And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers.” AMP
Onward to the evangelist (not televangelists), this is one of the more receivable ministries in the church, they’re not teachers so they can’t challenge doctrine, their not pastors so they wont steal the flock, they come and go like the wind. At least that’s how their treated in our day. Today they’re used by pastors as a way of waking their sleeping congregations, they come in get people excited, then preach a light salvation message and move on to the next town. And within 3 months things are back to the old ways, which isn’t a surprise since they can’t remove the all the churches or towns problems in one service. It is very rare though for churches to have their own evangelists (who are not overseas) and this presents a very real problem for the local body. Let me put this in a picture “if the church is a boat, the evangelist is the net”. These are the street preachers the ones who continually bring in new members into a church. Which is vital because an effective church should have a constant flow of new believers coming in and trained/prepared believers going out for the work of the gospel. When either one stops the heart of the church dies. Ok let’s get technical for a moment back to our greek studies; evangelist (G2099); literal, preacher of the gospel or bringer of good news. Or how Thayer translates this “those heralds of salvation through Christ who are not apostles.” Here are the only two examples (outside of Ephesians 4) of the word evangelists in the New Testament.
2 Timothy 4:5 “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” NKJV
Acts 21:8 “On the next day we who were Paul's companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.” NKJV
That kind of opens up the door doesn’t it. Like prophets we are all called to hear from God, so it is with evangelists that we are ALL called to preach the gospel to every creature until the whole world is filled with the knowledge of Him. Evangelists can be anyone who goes out into the world and brings in consistent harvest. And we need this desperately in the church I know for many witnessing to people can be hard and it’s not everyone’s strength. Then there are other people (including some I know personally) that will take any opportunity to stand up on a street corner and start a healing meeting. Or take trips to the mall just to talk to people about Jesus, not because the church decided to have an evangelism program or because they saw it in some book, but because that is the cry of God in their hearts. This is part of the unity of the church, the evangelist brings in the new believers, the teachers give them the knowledge and wisdom to understand the Word, the pastors give them council and accountability, the prophets also teach while also exhorting, rebuking and edifying them when needed, and the apostles prepare them to be released into the ministry.
We all have a place in the church and we are all someone’s disciple and someone else’s teacher, there is no more sitting on the fence, or just expecting the pastor and the leadership team to do everything in the local body.
Next we are onto the Pastor the central figurehead of all Protestant churches. I want to get right down to the definition as our foundation. Pastor (G4166) literally it is a shepherd or an overseer. Or “one who tends herds or flocks, not merely one who feeds them”. Funny I didn’t see anything about a seminary degree or a 3 piece suit in there. Now this is where things get interesting, if not heretical. Now in the original context pastors weren’t seen as the heads of the church but rather as overseers in the local churches, or in what we would call today elders and deacons or bishops (for our baptist and southern friends). Now before you set your computer on fire and wash out your eyes with soap, we have some scripture to read. Now in 1 Peter 5:1-4 the word elder is the same word as pastor, both are the same greek word (G4166 poimen) now lets take a breath and read
1 Peter 5:1-4 “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;” NKJV
And its not here alone we can also turn to the book of Acts chapter 20 and keep an eye on the words elder and overseer, once again they are translated from (G4166 poimen)
Acts 20:28-29 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” NKJV
Acts 20:17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.” NKJV
*Before I continue, I am NOT rejecting the office of the pastor in the modern church nor the authority they have over their congregations. I have a pastor who I respect and see socially in and out of church and I have another close friend who is also a pastor of 30+ years. They have their place and call, but so do the other 4 branches of ministry.*
When we see the term pastor in this light I helps give new meaning of their role in a church. Not ruling as a king, but serving in a council with all five ministries in agreement, remember Christ is the head of the church. Now to some degree we are all called to be an overseer in the church, by looking out for one another. Supporting our brothers and sisters in Christ, by building them up and not tearing them down in the good and bad times. To give another illustration pastors can be seen as “the mothers in a church, teaching, cleaning, protecting, feeding and loving her children. Giving them the best environment possible to develop, grow up and reproduce.”
That is the ministry of the pastor/overseer lets once again look at 1 Peter 5:2-3 but this time in the amplified. And consider all that has been said
1 Peter 5:2-3 “Tend (nurture, guard, guide, and fold) the flock of God that is [your responsibility], not by coercion or constraint, but willingly; not dishonorably motivated by the advantages and profits [belonging to the office], but eagerly and cheerfully; 3 Not domineering [as arrogant, dictatorial, and overbearing persons] over those in your charge, but being examples (patterns and models of Christian living) to the flock (the congregation). AMP
Last but far from being least we come to the Teachers it is from the word didaskalos (G1320) and simply means instructor or “one who is fit to teach”(unlike Hebrews 5:12). It is a simple concept to grasp but carries a great burden. This is one ministry that all others must be must be both capable and proficient in. But there is a call just for those who solely teach (yet still walk in power with signs following), and not just in youth ministries or Sunday day-cares. But also to teach the body as a whole, individually, corporately and even online with a blog J. As I said before everyone in ministry must be able to teach something. Teachers though are the ones who dig deeper in searching out God’s word, who have a gift of wisdom and discernment to understand and share the scriptures with others, so they may learn and show others. Teachers are dependant on the others around to keep them from loosing sight of their call and Christ. And to stay in line with the scriptures, that’s where pastors and prophets come in. And they need evangelists to bring in people to be taught.
It is the responsibility of the teachers to keep false doctrine and the lies of the world out of the body. They are charged with bringing the unfiltered truth of the Gospel, Trinity, Holy Spirit, New Covenant, and the Authority/Identity of the believer into the body. They are to be ready at all times to do as Paul said in
Titus 1:9 “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.” NKJV
We also cannot forget that when one is called to teach they must remember these two warnings found in James 3:1 and Matthew 18:6. You must practice what you preach and believe.
James 3:1 “NOT MANY [of you] should become teachers ( self-constituted censors and reprovers of others), my brethren, for you know that we [teachers] will be judged by a higher standard and with greater severity [than other people; thus we assume the greater accountability and the more condemnation].” AMP
Matthew 18:6 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in and acknowledge and cleave to Me to stumble and sin [that is, who entices him or hinders him in right conduct or thought], it would be better ( more expedient and profitable or advantageous) for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be sunk in the depth of the sea.” AMP
Seeing how by the power, wisdom, commission and mercy of Jesus Christ the Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers work together we have finally finished laying down the foundations of what I wish to speak about. Tune in next week for Pentephonics Part 3, where things get… interesting.
To be continued
Written by Cameron Conway
Wednesday, 31 August 2011
Pentephonics Part 1
1 Corinthians 12:7 “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” NKJV
Ok, now don’t be confused by the title of this rant, no I havn’t been spending too much time learning music theory and pentatonic scales. I want to talk about the five fold ministry and really all church ministry in general. “Pente” means five, and “phonics” because and I’m going to talk about the basics and foundations of ministry in the church. No, I’m not going to teach you how to read with “hooked-on-phonics”. We’re going to explore the differences, responsibilities and the places of the five fold ministry through the lenses of the New Testament. Not tradition. I’m sure everyone who is reading this could name them off the top of their head, but can you name them in your church? Now then off let’s find out where this whole concept comes from, so let’s open our bibles up to:
Ephesians 4:11-16 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 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; 14 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, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — 16 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.” NKJV
So Paul is laying the ground work on how churches and the body of Christ are to act and function, and to point out that it isn’t by our own merit or ratification but by Christ giving these gifts to us. These gifts are for a purpose, to build up the whole not ourselves. This isn’t a race against each other or some sort of competition to see who is the best at whatever. It is about building the body of Christ through the local churches & denominations. Now I know that for the better part of the last 100 years the five fold has been seen this way; apostles are the heads of the organization/denomination. Prophets hide in the basement. Evangelists go to other countries. Pastors run the church. And teachers baby sit the infants and school kids. Also that the shape of the five fold is a pyramid, which you climb up based on seniority, personal merit and tithing.
We also have the situations where different… well, most churches will only accept one or two of the five and forget the rest (mainly apostles and prophets). But this isn’t how Christ designed it, for a group of believers of any size to grow, mature, and reproduce. All five are mandatory, or else you run into problems and stagnation. Let me put it this way, if a church only has apostles it will become deadlocked in bureaucracy. If a church only has prophets if goes into a charismatic tail spin. If there are only evangelists it becomes a “Ferris wheel” of revivals. If there are only pastors they inevitably build a wall and become isolationists. If there are only teachers then legalism enters in and brings pride with it. We are one body remember 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, we cannot all be eyes, or feet or mouths, yet one will be the “corn-chute”. We are only complete when we have each other. And we cannot be content with excuses with the divisions of denominations, where one group has faith, and another has teaching, and another works miracles. They think as long as everyone is doing there own thing the body is complete. No, each individual church must operate in all aspects, we are suppose to be working together not avoiding and shunning because an arm can’t agree with a rib. As Christ is one with God, so we are to be one with Christ and one another in love.
Now back to the five fold, first off lets re-read Ephesians 4:11 in the amplified and see if we can spot a difference
Ephesians 4:11 “And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers.” AMP
It looks a lot different doesn’t it. There seems to be more behind these words than common church going has taught us. So lets dig into each one.
First off Apostles, (or G652 for those with a Strong’s Concordance.) The literal definitions of this “call” are; a delegate, ambassador, commissioner of Christ (with special powers) and the root definition “one set forth with a message or orders”. It sounds a little different than someone in a suit at the denominational office. Probably our best example of an apostle in the church age would be Paul. Here are a few examples
1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,” NKJV
2 Timothy 1:11 “to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.” NKJV
2 Corinthians 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds. NKJV
1 Corinthians 9:1-2 “Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2 If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.” NKJV
He preached the gospel, with signs following, he founded churches and he left successors. He heard God, ministered to the people, and laid foundations for others to build on. He was “sent forth” on the road to Damascus and carried out his call al the way to the end. And this is still our example today, it is funny how in our day most of the work of an apostles is actually done by missionaries who most only consider as evangelists. It’s not about pushing paper or calling your self an apostle on your business card your life inside and outside church must back up your claims. Also the term apostle (G652) can also be translated as messenger, which goes back to the original meaning “one sent forth”, here’s an example.
2 Corinthians 8:23 “If anyone inquires about Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker concerning you. Or if our brethren are inquired about, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ.” NKJV
Next prophets, the most feared, forgotten and shunned of the five. Let’s start with some dictionary work, G4396; a foreteller, inspired speaker, one who speaks forth openly, proclaimer of a divine message. When most people think of prophets they usually assume people who know the future, and this is partly true (see Acts 21:10-11) but not the whole story. There is much more to these people, their primary job is, to hear from God and to speak out His words. It isn’t unusual for prophets to also be teachers since it is part of their call to build, watch over and encourage the congregation. New Testament prophets weren’t birthed in the last 100 years or the Pentecostal movements, they were part of the original church I the book of Acts.
Acts 13:1 “Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers:…” NKJV
Acts 15:32 “Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words.” NKJV
They were and still are a vital part of the body of Christ responsible to teach and expound the word of God, to perform signs and wonders, to call down fire and holiness and to be the watchtowers. However in our day the prophets are rejected, this is best summed up in a quote by Leonard Ravenhill “a prophet is the villain of today and the hero of tomorrow”. It is their place to prophecy and to teach others to hear directly from Jesus. (Later I’ll get into the difference between a prophet and everyone being able to prophecy.) The gift is not for themselves but to teach the others how to hear, see and touch the Father.
Next week, we’ll study Evangelists, Pastors, Teachers and a few surprises.
To be continued
Written by Cameron Conway
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Passing Through the Veil
Now where were we? Jesus just declared His divinity to the Pharisees and they reacted by picking up the same stones they brought to kill the adulterous woman with and aimed for Jesus. They abandoned the adulterous and targeted the blasphemer, it’s one thing to sleep around it’s another thing to declare yourself God. Yet Jesus was right in his statement and the Father confirmed it for 3 years all the way to the cross, the grave, and the throne. Jesus had the right to claim himself as I am because he came out of YHWH and is always a part of him just like the holy spirit, the 3 in 1 yet 1 in 3. Only the Christ knows and can behold God, that is how it was for millennia, and in the minds of the Pharisees, the way it will always be. But this is not the case, the truth is that in the resurrection, and in our own individual repentance and redemption a door has been opened. The day the veil of the temple was torn in two something else opened. What is it, well first we have to turn to Isaiah in one of the most commonly quoted non-messianic chapters in the book.
Isaiah 6:1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. (KJV)
Now don’t get ahead of yourselves this is the only verse you should be paying attention to right now. Look, where is the throne? It is high and lifted up, far from Isaiah’s reach he can only look on at a distance. This is a picture of the old covenant in action, he is able to make out the shapes at a distance but could not approach. The burning coal had to be delivered to him by a messenger, he couldn’t go himself to receive the gift from Almighty. He saw YHWH as his distant Lord and master the one he served but could never touch. In that time there always had to be a mediator, a messenger, a middleman for all interactions between God and the people of His covenant. That is until Jesus the Messiah came down. Allow me to jump ahead for a moment, to another time the throne is written about, in the book of “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” or the book of Revelations to most, John also sees and speaks of the throne but in a different way in
Revelation 4:1-2 “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. 2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. (KJV)
This time John was not looking far up, he was there standing infront of it beholding it with his own eyes. There was no longer a gulf between YHWH and the prophet. Something had changed, something had opened the way. And yet this is not how we approach God, we are still like Isaiah calling out to a lord somewhere off in the distance. Not knowing if he is there. And if he is listening the distance is too great to ever expect an answer. We choose rather to see God as the janitor of the cosmos, too busy with galactic alignments and gamma ray levels to ever really care about us. The throne is above and we are beneath, how dare we think we can be close to Him. We should call him LORD, He is our master and should remain distant and let Him work. Never could we think to know Him to call Him I AM or to claim a relationship with Him. But none of that is true, you see in Christ We Are joined to Him. Like John in the throne room so do we have the same access and right as he did. To know the creator, to know our redeemer, to be one with them as they are one with eachother. This is exactly what Jesus prayed for us in
John 17:20-23 20 "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” NKJV
Now shouldn’t this change your prayer life and your entire marathon as a believer? Just as Jesus declared Himself God infront of the Pharisees so too can we declare to the world that we are joined to Christ exactly as He is joined to YHWH. He is not far off in the distance somewhere. Father, Son and Holy Spirit exist, speak, and live within us. We do not look up and hope for an answer when we pray and call out, we have been given the right as joint-heir with Jesus the champion of our covenant to
“… come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 KJV
To stand before it just as John did, not begging a master as strangers and servants. But asking our Father the I AM as sons and daughters. We have been given that right as blood washed believers in Christ’s life and sacrifice, to declare ourselves children of I AM. We are no longer under the veil Paul spoke of in.
2 Corinthians 3:15-18 “15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (NKJV)
We are being transformed from glory to glory because of Christ in us and the promise he made to us to be in us. I’ve been writing this study of YHWH so that you truly know what your saying when you pray. It’s easy for the word LORD to slip off our tongues and loose sight of what it really means. And when we do that we make God smaller in our lives, we loose faith in Him when we forget who He Is. We’d rather remember who he was, and let the Trinity slip away. Knowing that LORD = YHWH is not just some theological ramblings, it is about reconnecting us with God’s identify and our place within Him. He is the one who IS now and forever, and he is never too small or distant to care or answer us. Jesus said in.
John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. KJV
We have to cut out the cancer of religiousness out of our hearts no one is immune to it. In everyone the enemy tries to poison us with it, in the littlest ways most often. And its easy to loose sight of our own identity and call when Jesus’ true nature is clouded, and we begin to doubt or forget what we knew was true. That is another type of veil you could say, The Veil between what we see/feel in our everyday lives and what is the reality of our Covenant. Despite how we may feel in our darkest days, when we feel our worst and furthest away from God. The truth is He’s always there waiting to hear from us. And to answer us, be it with miracles, signs and wonders or with a still small voice. With everything that Jesus did and even by putting His spirit inside of us God has done everything to reach out his hand to us. There really is when we think about it no wall, or division stopping us. We must simply respond and reach our hand back to Him, no complications, not theological tricks, to traditional motion, no pop-pundits advice. It’s solely a matter of us and Him and whether or not we are ready to respond to what we say we believe.
The point of all this is “We Are” because “He Is”, and as long as “He Is” and “Jesus Did” we will always be One.
John 15:1-8 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” NKJV
Written by Cameron Conway
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Passing Through the Veil
Lord, Lord, Lord its second nature to refer to the Almighty and Jesus in this way, we don’t question it it’s a natural reaction to the Father. Its all over the word throughout both the new and old covenants you can’t escape the “LORD”. Or its variants the LORD my God, or the LORD almighty or sweet LORD (ok that’s not in there, but you’ve heard it.). Have you ever wondered why the entire word is capitalized? When the Bible refers to God, or Him, or Almighty, or Lord of Hosts its just the first letter that’s capitalized. Why would the original writers do that, well, they didn’t, what you say, yes I did say. You see in Hebrew they don’t have capital letters like in our modern English vernacular. Those barbarians some of you are probably thinking well fear not, this was common in most sanskrit style alphabets. But that isn’t what I’m trying to pull out of the darkness. Why are all four letters in LORD spelled like that, you may be wondering now, and why am I taking the time to talk about it? It goes far back long before the old Hebrew texts were translated into English with the King James Bible and the earlier Wycliffe translation. This has to do with what is hidden behind those four letters, and the implication it has on our lives as believers. Something hidden but not secret, buried just beneath the surface.
Let me back track a moment, when we think of the word Lord we think it in the context of a master, supervisor, owner, one who reigns over or a British person with a funny wig. These are all correct and this is how we identify with God, it’s a name or title we use to communicate with the infinite and eternal creator and sustainer of ALL. We see God as the supernatural supervisor of our lives, minus the shirt and tie. The one who owns all, sees all and has authority over all. And us, we are kept back at a safe distance, lest we combust into a rainbow colored explosion just as it is written in the book of 2Opinions, wait what? The Old Testament showed us that we are not worthy to approach the Ark of the Covenant or anywhere within the walls of the Tabernacle or Temple. And this was true for a time, until the Messiah came, now I’m getting ahead of myself.
You see there is a difference between Lord, and LORD. And we have to go back all the way to Moses to get a glimpse of this. We turn back to the story of Moses and the burning bush, now you can read the entire saga for yourselves but I want to fast forward to the part where Moses is asking for the proverbial “certificate of authenticity” that he can bring back to Egypt to prove to Israel that he is infact a prophet and not just someone who’s been left alone with the sheep for too long. And God answered, and revealed His Name to Moses and the proof. Lets read.
Exodus 3:13-16 “13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? 14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. 15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. 16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: (KJV)
I AM that I AM, or in Moses’ ear “Hayah et Hayah” (strongs #H1961), this wasn’t merely a name it is a statement of all that he is. The strongs dictionary says hayah means; to exist, become and come to pass. The one who is, was, and ever will be. Now for a quick Hebrew linguistics lesson every word has a root word, And every secondary word carriers the same definition of the root on top of their own definition, like sword is from and is bound to the root word “cut”, and sword is always attached to the action of cutting the same goes for the word covenant it is formed and bound to the word “cut”, and this goes on and on for the entire language. Now lets go back to verse 15, here we see God call Himself “LORD God” the word LORD is in Hebrew YHWH (strongs #H3068) this is the name He has placed upon himself, its root word is hayah/I AM, if we read this in the literal Hebrew it says “the I AM, the plural (think trinity) creator of your fathers”. YHWH the name of our creator, notice that there’s no vowels well again that is thanks to the old Hebrew script where vowels were dots and lines under the consonants, and well, which dots and lines (or jots and tittles; think Matthew 5:8) which went under the YHWH was lost.
This is because Israel under the old covenant were so respectful, well maybe more likely stark raving afraid of something terrible happening if they ever spoke the name, decided to make a workaround. You see back then they decided that no one should ever speak the true name of God so everywhere in the bible where those 4 letters appeared they would pretend it said “Adonai” instead. The name YHWH was on the paper but only adonai came out of their mouths and after a few hundred years the vowels sorta disappeared. Which is why we get modern pronunciations like Yahweh, Yehovah, or Jehovah; this is the least likely since Hebrew didn’t have the letter J, so much for Joshua/Jesus, Jeremiah, and Jonah just swap the J for a Y and your back on track. Now back to adonai, this is the Hebrew word for lord, lord as in master, boss, owner and so forth. Again instead of risking religiously assumed lighting and brimstone by uttering YHWH the substitution adonai or lord was created. And it remains to this day in every bible we see LORD, while hidden beneath it cries out not master but I AM that I AM.
Century after century this carried on until one day Jesus came upon our world in his dirt suit. And in two instances he utters something that is overlooked over and over again. And easily so if you don’t know what I AM and LORD represent. Let’s turn to the first story, now to actually catch this you need to read from the amplified bible or a greek transliterated version, for simplicity sake we’ll read from the amplified after we first read from the KJV. This is when Jesus is walking on the water in Matthew 14:25, and we pick up right when the disciples make out something walking towards them
Matthew 14:25-28 “25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” KJV
Nothing new here that we haven’t seen before but I want you to pay attention to the phrase “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” And now lets reread this in the amplified and look for the difference.
Matthew 14:25-28 “25 And in the fourth watch [between 3:00 — 6:00 a.m.] of the night, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified and said, It is a ghost! And they screamed out with fright. 27 But instantly He spoke to them, saying, Take courage! I AM! Stop being afraid! [Ex 3:14.] 28 And Peter answered Him, Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” AMP
Did you notice that, there in verse 27, take “courage I AM”. This is a far cry from “it is I” or in modern slang “hey guys it’s me”. No, Jesus is calling out His divinity, He is declaring to his disciples that he is not merely a prophet but He is the great I AM, the one who spoke from the burning bush, I am Almighty creator of all. Haven’t you ever noticed how quickly Peter offered to jump out of the boat. Would this of happed with Elisha and Elijah? Probably not Elijah was a prophet not God in the flesh, and the disciples at this point may have though the same of Jesus. Yet Peter in one of his moments of spiritual clarity and over abundant faith saw what Jesus was saying. He heard Him speak the forbidden name over himself and walked on the water as he did. Peter seeing this had no choice but to jump out and join YHWH on the water. And this is not restricted only to Matthews Gospel the same I AM is also written in the accounts of Mark 6:45-51 and John 6:15-25.
It was one thing for Jesus to declare his true identity to the twelve out in the middle if the Sea of Galilee. It was another thing when he revealed himself to both the public and the Pharisees in Jerusalem at the climax of Jesus’ speech against the Pharisees in John 8 (please read the entire to chapter fully grasp what was happening here). They had accused Him of being a Samaritan and having a demon (v48), they thought he was suicidal(v22), they thought he was crazy(v52), they called Him a liar(v13,57). Yet they continued to listen to Him speak, this is also right after they brought the adulterous woman to Jesus (v2-11). All of this and they listened, even when Jesus was accusing them of; not knowing God(v19), of being from beneath(v23), of being in bondage(v33), of being servants of sin(v34), of being children of the devil(44), of being liars(v55). All of this the Pharisees could tolerate, until Jesus utter those forbidden veiled letters. Lets read (or better yet watch this scene in the Gospel of John DVD for the full impact)
John 8:57-59 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. (KJV)
That was the breaking point, when Jesus called himself God the religious mindset of the crowd switched from “lets hear him out” to “kill, kill, kill.” They knew what he was saying, they knew that Jesus had just claimed that he was their Creator, that he was there with Adam, Noah, Abraham and the rest, that he wasn’t just a madman from Nazareth. Jesus proclaimed his identity of being both Messiah and YHWH, the I AM, God of your fathers. And the sparks of adonai erupted in their minds and they raced for the closest rock they could find.
Where does that leave us as joint heirs of salvation with Christ? What does this mean for us today, well check back next week for “Passing Through the Veil Part 2” to find out
To be continued
Written by Cameron Conway