for New Treasure
A uthority and order is critical in any successful endeavor. Whether in sports, in relationship, in vocation, in ministry, or war the issue of authority is paramount in an efficient, orderly execution of the purposes for which each relational unit exists. A family has many purposes, all of which will be most fruitful when nurtured in a framework of proper authority. A football team, an army and a national government likewise function within their respective forms of authority. In a modern society there are thousands of semi-independent spheres of authority operating every day to bring the peace and prosperity which so many enjoy. Tomorrow morning food distributors, communications companies, medical facilities, schools, police, postal systems, many business enterprises, etc will all function within systems of delegated authority to bless all of society. Authority is God given for the benefit of mankind - God is a God of order.
Prophetic 'end day' correction:
But how does the issue of authority relate to the Kingdom of God on earth? And how does 'new treasure' relate to authority? And why is all of these critical issues timely to us today? Those are some of the issues discussed in this article. There are many facets to this issue alone and many other issues relating to the drama of the end of the age, but taken together they are all parts of a whole picture that is about to become clear.
The subject of this article deals primarily with the prophetic 'end-day' correction to our existing concepts of authority and order in the church, the Body of Christ. We maintain the premise that the church represents Christ on this earth, who has been given all power and authority by God. Having that power, and handling it correctly, will be absolutely essential in the days ahead. Like a house that must be wired correctly before power can flow from the power source and be used safely and correctly, so too the church, the spiritual house of God, must be 'wired' correctly. The Spirit of God has been assigned to guide us into all the storehouse's of undiscovered truth that he has reserved for us in these critical days. He will reveal the correct 'wiring' diagrams and patterns for us to implement. But our responsibility is to seek and to implement what we find. That may require courage, discomfort, and change, but so be it. God's church will prevail, that is a sovereign truth, it cannot fail. But we have been given the privilege to participate in offering ourselves as living sacrifices, to the honor and glory of God's name in the earth. The earth will know the God is God.
Seeing the destination:
So, we must prepare for this destination - a glorious Body clothed in power and wisdom of God, serving the material creation as rulers and representatives of God. That is the truth we are being conformed too, but first a little self evaluation on where we stand today. If we are neither hungry or thirsty we will hardly be compelled to dine at the royal banqueting table. We so often mistake God's delicacies as distasteful. Like many of the best things in life, a taste and appreciation of some of God's best is acquired with use. Therefore, let us first look at the 'compelling truth' that will create a void, a realization of inadequacy, a hunger and thirst for more.
State of the Christian Union:
If we honestly look at the state of worldwide Christianity, which of the three conditions below would you say best describes it's actual spiritual condition:
1) Adolescent - Immature, unprepared, unholy
2) Progressing adequately, ready to meet the Lord today
3) United, powerful, disciplined, knowledgeable, holy
Without opening up another topic on what the final state of Christianity should be, I'll just quote two 'goal' passages. Goal passages help us distinguish our destination and therefore a more accurate perspective on where we are today. There are many, many goal passages in the Bible. They are there as navigating stars to guide us on our journey. That is the first purpose of prophesy - to provide goals - upon which faith can be exercised. For example, if the Bible said the absolute, unfailing goal of every man's lifetime was to have a wife and three children it would be easy for him to judge whether he was in the 'journey' phase, or in the 'destination' phase of his life. Similarly, the church has been given a rich storehouse of prophetic treasures so it may, at the proper time, determine it's actual position relative to the final goal. This is now happening. Knowledge of the goal, is knowledge of our current condition. If we fail to comprehend the goal we will fail to comprehend our condition.
So the goal is critical. Many will argue that the church presently has enough power to do what its been called to do. If that is the case, there is no compelling need to look for the hidden treasures. If that is the case, there is no reason for radical change, no reason to anticipate and long for 'unattainable goals'. As complacency sets in, a self delusion of adequacy. Unfortunately, the church has conveniently overlooked its more difficult goals. Confronted with its giants, it has wrongly looked inward at its power and faith quotients and adjusted its goals downward, rather than honestly looking at the seemingly impossible goals and asking God to increase our power and faith to attain them. If something seems impossible by the communities standard than we have our theological 'experts' 'explain' the goal in attainable terms. In effect, explain away the goal. Downsizing the goals is a highly dangerous and pervasive practice in the church today. Certainly God foresaw this day and the human tendency to avoid righteous struggle, so he gave us the account of the twelve men who spied out the Promised Land. The 'majority report' on 'goals' presented to the congregation was colored by personal spiritual biases and proved to be fatally wrong. This was undoubtedly prophetic and will stand as testimony against all those who claim to represent God's interests, but because of a personal failure of faith, report to the congregation that we cannot take our 'Promised Land'.
The Church's promised land:
But what is the churches equivalent to Israel's Promise Land? Does the Word of God speak clearly to us about specific goals of Christianity? Israel experienced a wilderness journey, Israel conquered it's Promised Land. Does the church have a wilderness journey, does the church conquer it's 'Promised Land'? Could the incidents experienced by Israel have been typological 'rehearsals' for the modern church? Before Messiah returns, will the church have in its history something equivalent to Israel's 40 year journey and 14 year conquest? Were those stories just rich in principle or are they treasure maps, mile for mile descriptions for the second 'Israel'. Could God have provided such a detailed plan? Ask yourself another question? Why would God so carefully lead three million Israelites thought the wilderness and into the Promised Land on such a highly symbolic journey, but leave one billion Christians with no transitional reference and no clear destination? No, Israel's journey was not so much the history of three million people, as it is the final exam of one billion Christians, and to a larger extent, the six billion residents of earth. God forged in Israel a living blueprint of the tests and examinations with which he will determine the true intent in the heart of each man and nation at the end of the age. Christianity has failed to comprehend the largeness of God's plan - and the grand scale on which he is able to document it. We must step back and look again. Only than will we see the awesome beauty of design and the breathtaking depository of detail he has provided for our journey in the days ahead.
Many will scoff at such conclusions, even when they are explained in great Biblical detail (there is much more to this plan), and even when their own theology provides not one clue as to the events that are going on around us in the world. A 'prove it to me' attitude is legitimate. A request for 'thinking' and 'study' time shows seriousness. But blind dismissal is a sign of a serious limitation to ones knowledge of the real God of Israel. What do you think? Your response will largely come from your faith muscles. If they are weak your response will likely be weak (although likely cloaked in mighty theological rational). Have you downsized God's goals to match your underdeveloped faith. Perhaps its time to begin a new search, to exercise the Word of God to produce a Godly hunger and thirst for God's very best. That is what this is all about, that is what God expects and will receive from millions of unsuspecting Christians who are innocently ignorant of God's ways. He has designed it to be a stretch for all of us, his goals are beyond all of our comfort zones, that we can be sure. But he'll be close at hand, guaranteed!
Paul sums up the goal of every believer in a very eloquent way:
... to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Eph 4:12,13
The Word does speak to use and say that the on the Promised Land (goals) will be wrong.
but unfortunately In the first passage, Jesus is praying for 'oneness' so that 'the world may believe ...'. If we know one thing for certain, we know that Jesus' prayers will be answered. But does the world believe God sent Jesus as his only son, would the governments and leaders of this world acknowledge that, and bow before Jesus as King. This passage must be fulfilled before Jesus returns.
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17:20,21
We could sum it up by saying we are going to be Christ like. I am glad Paul didn't summarize this statement and just say we are all going to reach unity and be Christ like. That would be too easy to dismiss as a general likeness of someone. No, Paul didn't give us a summary statement, he spelled it out in unmistakable detail. Lets paraphrase. By the authoritative ministry of a homogenous yet diversified spiritual leadership, individual members of the church of Jesus Christ would progress over time men would work We will become mature,
The downsizing techniques: another age (heaven), spiritual fulfillment, try to be , spiritual tension
The next passage gets even more specific. Not only will a profound 'oneness' characterize the 'body' of Christendom, but the personal goal of Christ's subjects will be to compare to the maturity level of Christ Jesus, in oneness with God the Father, in knowledge, and holiness.
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Eph 4:11-13
It's life is not one continuous sequence of day after day
Yes, Jesus, the Son of Man is our 'attainable' role model. Perhaps some may want to go back and reexamine the three conditions that describe Christianity. Unquestionably the Holy Spirit is at work preparing a glorious body and nothing will hinder the outcome - right on schedule. But there is clear Scriptural mandate for 'preparing ourselves' in this final manifestation of the Body of Christ. That is why we must be willing to see the truth and change as these time may demand it. After all it is in that same passage in John 17 where Jesus reveals the 'device' that God will use to affect such radical change. What is that device? Truth! Think of it. Not miraculous power, not love, not the anointing presence of God, not praise and worship, not evangelization, not tribulation, not cataclysmic events, but truth. Its a breathtaking prayer:
"sanctify them by the truth"
We will be sanctified, (set apart from humanity in Christ-likeness) by truth. Look out your window. Somewhere out there is truth so powerful it will transform the Christendom we see today (including myself) into an incomparably glorious, powerful, and pure body, that when tested and tried, will be prepared to represent the invisible God to all creation forever.
But what is truth? Truth is defined as conformity to fact or reality; conformity to standard, model, pattern or ideal; conformity to the requirements of one's being or nature. That kind of truth, deliberately hidden by God. As if it was placed in a childproof container, designed not to be 'opened' until we have the muscles to do so. God is so great!
The truth of authority
the challenges, as you perceive them, that lie ahead? The answer you give will place you in several different groups. It may be helpful to briefly examine this issue because it does have a critical impact on whether we are looking for change or not. After all if its not broken don't fix it. While we may not describe Christianity as broken we could certainly say it is unprepared, immature. Don't worry about defending God's honor. It is not his 'work' that is at issue. It is that part of human responsibility that he has so graciously delegated to us that is at issue. The outcome is safe and secure, God is not worrying, things are just as he sovereignty planed. His honor is safe, it is our privilege and reward to see to it that we (I) participate in honoring and glorifying his name among the nations. It is our business to be concerned and to affect change, first in our own life and than in others that are part of the same body.
This article is going to focus in on authority. But before that is done, the need for change must be established or there is little hope of introducing major change. Do you believe we live in the 'last days'? That there is something different about theses days unlike all others in history.
The Body of Christ is in transition! It must recognize that, and respond. What person, sensitive to God's Spirit, cannot sense the birth struggle within them. Birthing, coming of age,
How many Christians would say we are in transition, the passage from one condition to another. Jesus spoke of new wine and new wine skins. About searching for, and finding, new and costly hidden treasure. Treasure we would 'sell all' for. The Church must discern the nature of the task before it. Only then will it order and prepare itself to participate in it. For the sake of this article, we could divide Christians into two groups: those that
So the LORD said to Moses, "Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay your hand on him. Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the LORD. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in." Num 27:18-21
"Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old." Matt 13:52
Many say that an intervention of that magnitude will never come. God will never 'disrupt' the theological or social fabric of Christendom to that degree.
Ask yourself "How could God issue such a radical command"?
Many would concur until we get to specifics. But the Bible indicates a true transition, but warns that the world (and many believers) will choose to believe in a 'spiritual uniformitarianism' - a doctrine that essential uniformity cause and effects, forces and phenomena, has prevailed in all ages past and are similar to the present. Every day the sun rises like it did the day before - we can depend on that. That is uniformitarianism. The Apostle Peter said that many would scoff stated it: everything goes on as it has since the beginning First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.
4 They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, of creation."
The highest test of faith is an anti-uniformatarianism faith.
What the transition will look like..
they must be for but a little foundational truth is important to help us arrive there. To begin understanding
However, God has chosen to hid himself from mankind during this 'age of faith' to test our hearts to see who we will acknowledge as the supreme authority. If he displayed himself in all his power and majesty who would dare say in his heart "there is no God" - no one. He has given mankind true and faithful witnesses of his existence, nature and purposes. Ultimately there is only a single point of authority God.
God is the source of all authority. In the first chapter of Genesis, and in the first revealed inter-triune council, the Godhead confirms their unanimous decision to create a being, man, who would be made in their image and be granted the role of rulership over his habitation, earth:
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule... (Gen 1:26 )
After the 'fall', God imposes a hierarchical system of authority, and informs the woman that she should accept man as being in God's ordained lineage of divine authority. For hundreds of years the family unit, headed by man, is God's expressed method of guidance, provision, protection, and order.
As God began to call out a people for himself and bring greater revelation of himself and of his purposes for man, He also began to reveal a more sophisticated structure of authority. Perhaps it was in response to man's increased consciousness of his own 'God-likeness' and the power which he had been granted. God in His prophetic foreknowledge could see the day when man indeed would be able to rule the earth, as God had intended. In that day there will be two camps or divisions of mankind. How will authority be used? Degenerate man, personified in the 'man of sin', will actually attempt to throw off the absolute authority of God in the great 'rebellion', while the Body of Christ will, through the wisdom God, discipline and order itself in such a way as to be come a vessel of God's power and glory - making a spectacle of God's enemies.
So the comprehension and commitment to God's ordained structure of authority is critical in theses days. Just as one must 'wire' a building correctly to receive electrical power, so to the Body of Christ must 'wire' itself to receive and channel the future outpouring of God's power - made available to the just and unjust alike.
Body of Christ - take your positions please!
Lets trace the revealed lineage of Biblical authority. As God provided deliverance for His people Israel out of Egyptian slavery, He entrusted the task to a man specially trained and prepared to channel the awesome power of God. Why could God entrust Moses with such power? Meekness. Moses was the meekest man on earth the Bible says. Moses' great meekness inhibited the corrupting affect of the power that he was entrusted with.
But even as Moses was 'God' to the Israelites, God saw fit to establish the beginning of the three vertical lines of authority. In one family, God symbolically births the three branches of divine authority as represented by Moses, Aaron and Miriam. Jewish tradition gives much greater roles to Aaron and Miriam than Christians glean from the Bible.
I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam. Micah 6:4
But as Moses reached the end of his life we begin to see clearly the division of power God intends for His people. So the LORD said to Moses, "Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay your hand on him. Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the LORD. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in." Num 27:18-21
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Division of Function
Men Under Authority
ho would deny the critical role of leadership in the sucess of any endevor? God started with a single man, Adam, and a relationship to begin to reveal His intent and purposes for all of mankind. But after the fall, and especially with the revelation of the law on Mt. Sinai and the nationhood of Israel, God revealled specific leadership roles through which he would guide, discipline and prosper those that called on Him. In Moses, God vested asolute power of leadership. He was accountable to no one but God. Very few men would render such purity of selfless service in the heady environment of such absolut power. But moses was chosen and prepared for this task. One of the noteworthy characteristics of Moses, which likely qualified him for such service, was that he was called the meekest of all men. But after Moses, God saw fit to divise a power-sharing ystem of leadership. Joshua was anointed to lead Israel, but he was accountable to the Piesthood for guidance and correction.
Adam, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, the Judges, Prophets and Kings of Israel, Jesus, Peter and Paul, leadership always starts with a call.
God is the source of all authority. Its the distinguishing mark of a Christian that he acknowledges in word and deed the exulted place of God and his authority. It seems foolhardy to most Christians to question or deny the role of God as God but in fact most of this world does just that.