Moses 3 verse 1 – What is the purpose of the LORD with me?

This question can keep someone thinking for quite a long time. How many times have I wondered about this, thought I had the answer, only to find out that it was not the answer. I also found that a number of other people I met also wondered about the same question.

We must of course realise that there are different times in one’s life, which could have an impact on this answer. Therefore one cannot easily exclaim that this is your purpose in life without taking your current situation into consideration. As a child your purpose is to grow up, as young adult to find your wife or husband, as a married couple to get your own home and to bring up your children, in your forties and fifties to get your children married, and at the end of your life to meet your Redeemer. I remember at university we had a subject called Management by Objectives. We were told that as a manager you had to have objectives to meet, as without objectives your value to the enterprise could not be measured. Without objectives how could your manager actually measure your worth to the company?

The same question is also applicable to our lives as Christians. How do we know what our worth is without any objectives? We all say that yes the LORD knows that I am willing to bring my share to support the local congregation, and that I am willing to help where needed. Is that how you feel? Or maybe you feel very spiritual in that you know that the LORD has called you to excel in your work to provide financially for various ministries. Although it is a very noble answer, it is unfortunately not true. The true purpose is that we must love the LORD and our neighbour as ourselves. Now you might ask me what the difference is. My answer is that the LORD does not need your means, he needs you. He wants us to know Him and to stand in a love relationship with him. This will allow us to exhibit the message of love and redemption in our lives. That is our only purpose.

How do I know that? It is the message of the Bible. Mark 16 ends as follows: “Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” (Mark 16:14-20). Here we find our first objective as defined by the Bible. It does not mean that we all have to study to become pastors or ministers, no, we have understand the message of the Bible, and live this message. We have to realise that people reads us everyday, whether it be at work or in the supermarket, or even on the sports field. Everywhere we go, people will look at your actions, and this will influence their lives. Our lives have to exhibit the love of Jesus in every aspect.

The Israelites called out to the LORD while they were in Egypt. He accepted their plea, and called on Moses to lead them to the Promised Land, even though they had to wait eighty years for it. How many people calls out to the LORD on a daily basis, and whom can He send? The scripture in Mark teaches us that we have to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus to a every creature, but without a Moses, who can He send? This is what the LORD wants you to do. He wants to use you as a Moses to lead these people into the Promised Land. He says that we will move in signs and wonders, just like Moses did in the time of the Israelites. That is why it is written in Mark that we will move in signs and wonders. Moses did it, and so can you. We only have to believe it. When an unbeliever sees you moving in signs and wonders, he will know that your are sent by God, and that you can lead them to the Promised Land. What does Paul say to the Corinthians? “But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.” (1 Corinthians 14:24-25)

But before you can be used as a Moses, you have to place yourself in a relationship with the LORD, and get to know Him, intimately. If you do not know how, ask the LORD to send a Moses into your life. You will be able to see from his life how to live as a Moses, and then the LORD will use you. The LORD wants the same relationship with you as He had with Moses in the dessert. Every time Moses went into the tent outside the camp, the people saw the glory of the LORD descending on the tent like a cloud from heaven. That is the relationship the LORD wants with you. He wants to fill our lives with His glory. He wants us to be content with nothing less than His fullness. That is His purpose in our lives. He does not want for anyone to go astray. But if you are not willing to used as a Moses, he cannot use you. It doesn’t help saying that you cannot talk to people, as people does not listen to your words, but they listen to your deeds. If you feel you still want to support various ministries financially, do it, as long as it is not your only objective as a Christian. You cannot use your contribution as a measure of what you do, but your life is what counts.

When you do act like a Moses, you must listen to what He tells you, and not follow your own doctrine. Moses followed his own wishes, and hit the rock at Meriba twice, even though the LORD told him to only speak to the rock. This cost Moses not to enter into the Promised Land, and at the end of the day, his life. Even though he pleaded with the LORD, the decision was that he would only see the Promised Land from a distance. We have to remember that obedience is the only offer acceptable to the LORD.

Matthew declares our objective as follows:  “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20). So if you still wonder how you will receive the power to execute this objective, Jesus first said that we will receive the power before we can be used in verse 18. Remember, He is the one supplying the Power, as He is the Power.

Moses 4 verse 4: How do I react when confronted by false teachers and their representatives?

This might sound like a silly question to answer. You might tell me that you never even thought about this type of question. But you know, I had to think about it. I want to use two incidents in my life that might shed some light on this question as we will see how people react, but also what we should learn from this.

One evening while having supper, someone knocked on the front door of our house. I must admit that I was not in the best of moods, as I had a difficult time trying to convince a prospect that it was time to make a decision and give me the order. At that stage I still did not even know if they had made a decision.

How could people at my front door upset me? Easily. It was two young women from the Jehovah’s Witness that tried to convince me that their Gospel was the one and only Gospel. I explained to them that they should not even try to convince me and that they should rather believe the Bible than their own writings. As they turned and left, I suddenly found myself shouting at them that they should stop with their deception.

As I sat down again, it suddenly dawned on me that I probably didn’t react like a good Christian should. Didn’t I perhaps act like a thug or something similar. I had no reason to lose my temper. A Christian should never react this way. These were some of the thoughts that crossed my mind. I must admit that I felt terrible. What will the neighbours think of me?

Has it ever happened to you? We are told to never react this way, but in the heat of the moment, this is what happens. Maybe it is not a problem for you, but for me it was a huge problem. I felt hopeless, as they did not even want to listen to someone else’s view and just continued with their deception.

I ended up asking the LORD to forgive me for the way I reacted and tried to leave the incident at that. I suddenly felt that the LORD wanted to use this incident to talk to me about this subject. I wrote down everything I could recall and then, when I started looking at what the Bible taught about this subject, found something that I did not expect to find.

We must at all times project the image of Christ in our lives. We have to act like He did. Only when I started meditating on this idea, did I realise that I might have acted like Christ would have. Remember the incident in the temple? Matthew 21:12 “¶ And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

This incident gives us a look into how Jesus reacted when people did not show God the necessary respect. This is exactly what these two women did. They treated their leaders revelation, which is a lie, higher than the Word of God. They are part of the false teachers we are warned against in the Bible.

What did Jesus and the Apostles say about these people, as they also had to deal with them.

Let us see what the Bible says.

1 – Firstly Jesus:

  • Matt 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
  • Matt 24:11. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
  • Matt 24:24. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

2 – Secondly Paul:

  • 2 Cor. 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
  • 2 Cor. 11:26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
  • Gal 2:4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

3. Thirdly Peter:

2 Pet 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

4. Lastly John:

1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

Some of these false teachers were part of the original group of people that came to salvation through the early work of John, Paul and Peter. The above scriptures inform us that there would be false prophets (fortune tellers), apostles, (reverends, pastors, professors) and then lastly false people, but it still does not tell us how to act when confronted by them.

I found two scriptures that will shed some light on it.

1 Cor. 16:22. If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be a curse. The Lord comes! (YLT)

2 Joh. 10-11. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

When I read this it seems to me that the first Christians did not receive these people well at all. It seems that we must learn to act like God, and that is to love those that love Him, and to hate what He hates. One statement that I found from Paul also surprised me, and this is found in 1 Cor 14 verse 38: “But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.

Jesus also declared that He did not come to earth to bring peace, but He came to cause separation according to Matthew 10 verse 34 and 35: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law”. Do not be surprised if people do not like you when you declare that you do not want to abide with an unbeliever.

The LORD wants us to act like He did, and that is to make a difference in peoples lives, to share the Gospel, and to make people His disciples. But we have to learn that if someone does not want to receive us, then we should not even greet him or her. So next time when someone tries to worm their way into your house, know that you have the right to close the door without feeling bad about it. Jesus chased them out of the synagogue, so they have no right to confront you in your own home.

The second incident happened about six months later.

That night was catastrophic to me. I firstly allowed that my wife submitted herself to another man, and then I allowed that the same thing happened to a very dear friend of ours. And all this in my own home. The Bible declares that a woman must subject herself to her own husband, and not to other men. This is why Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 14 that a woman should be quiet during a meeting, but that she and her husband will sort out how their relationship will function without anyone else having any say over it. No other man can give your wife any orders of how to live. If he does, then he does not act like a true Christian.

After everyone left that night, Hettie, our friend and I sat down and discussed what happened, and why we acted the way we did. But first a bit of information as background concerning the situation that night.

A mutual friend contacted us and asked if we would open our house to another person who wanted to invite some people to find out what they thought of him going into full time ministry. He wanted to hear from us if we all thought that it was from God, and wanted our input. He also invited a fairly older man who was a so-called prophet, who would serve the people with a word from God if they felt that they needed a word from God. We decided to help this person, as the verse immediately came to mind that declared if you received a prophet that you would receive the same wage as a prophet.

Hettie had like normal, made herself attractive to me by wearing my favourite necklace and earrings. This “prophet” arrived and immediately asked her if she wanted a word from God, which she immediately agreed too. While he was busy with her, our mutual friend arrived and was immediately included in this “word from God”.

What the person told her as if it was a word from God was his own doctrine. He was brought up as a member of the “Members in Christ” church, a group that believes that woman are not allowed to wear any jewellery as this would make them spiritually blind and deaf, using the incident in Israel’s history of the golden calf as their proof.

What I learned through the years from the Bible is that one should be careful when saying that it is a word from God. Peter describes this for us in 1 Peter 4 verse 11: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

How do I know that it was not a word from God but a word from his doctrine? After the event I heard that he has used this at most meetings he attended.

During the meeting my wife and our friend had to remove their jewellery as this person would not continue with them still wearing their jewellery. He then took over the meeting and bragged about all his escapades and how he ended up in the African jungle without even informing his wife where he was. All he could talk about was how great he was.

What format should we have followed at the meeting? The answer I know of is found in 1 Cor.14:26 to 33: “How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. 28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. 29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints”

What happened here was that the person was glorifying himself, and not Jesus. He also did not know that there were four other people at the meeting who moves in the prophetic gifting. His word was judged, and rejected. If I want to say something and all the attention is drawn to me, it means that I have not yet been to the cross, to lay down my own life and to follow Jesus. I am not making people my disciples, but disciples of Jesus. This did not happen that night.

A question I had for myself that night was: Why did I allow it to happen? There were a number of reasons. The first reason was that this so-called prophet was a guest in my house and an invited guest by someone using our house as a venue. The second reason was that the LORD used this incident to teach us how to identify a false prophet. The LORD was busy the whole week prior to this incident to talk to me concerning being watchful. Luke 11 verse 21 and 22. “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: 22 But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils..”

I was not watchful that night. The person was said to be a prophet. I did not even imagine that he would take on my wife in our home.

But the LORD is always faithful and true. He gave me the answer even before I could jot down notes about this incident. The scripture comes from Amos 5 verse 13: “Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time.”

To recap. A false prophet was allowed to take on my wife with his doctrine in my own house. I allowed it, as I was not watchful. The LORD however used this incident to teach me about being watchful at all times, and about identifying false teachers. He also gave us a word of comfort before going to bed that night.

Moses 4 verse 3: What do people mean when they say that you are preaching a gospel of Jesus plus?

This morning while in bed I was thinking about the types of questions that we as Christians have in our daily life. Some of these I have tried to answer, while some not. The same time another question entered my mind. It is not a question that one would always think about, but nevertheless it is a question that is often heard in discussions on Church, namely, do we preach a gospel of Jesus plus.

This took me back to a Sunday in church, when our minister at our local congregation, mentioned how pleased he was with us as a congregation as he had just returned from a three month long sabbatical. He was so pleased as we were on fire for Jesus. During this three-month period he visited a number of other church groupings, but unlike us they were all preaching a gospel of Jesus plus, either Jesus plus baptism, or Jesus plus obedience, or whatever their specific plus was.

While thinking on this subject, I suddenly thought that maybe you too can think that I am preaching a gospel of Jesus plus. I then asked the LORD to give me a scripture that I could use to explain my own interpretation of what it means to be a Christian. What I found is that it is not a subject that can be taken lightly, but that John must have had the same question in his time. Fortunately he gave us a fairly clear definition. 1 John 5:1 “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.” This scripture declares that whoever loves Jesus is a child of God. So far it fits with all groupings that I have had dealings with.

In verses 2 and 3 John goes a little bit further, explaining how someone that loves Jesus will act like. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” We have to love God, and obey His commandments. In other words I have to act in a certain way. If I do not act in a loving way to all Christians, I am exhibiting the life of an unbeliever. So people must be able to see it in my life. This now becomes a gospel of doing.

Next John states that one must be born again. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5). How is this achieved? “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:5-6). This now becomes difficult, as one has to overcome the world, which is our own self and our own sins. I have to be able to rule over my sins. I have to now start believing that I can live a sinless life for Jesus. I cannot cling onto this one little sin, as I then demonstrate to the world that I am not acting like a Christian. If I do not act like a Christian, the chances are that I am not a Christian. If it is sin I have to break with it. So if you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, then you must be able to break with sin. Why? When one is born of God, His Spirit is placed within you, and we all know that His Spirit cannot sin.

Let us continue with John’s definition. “This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” (1 John 5:6-8). Jesus is the one that not only went through the water to be baptised, but He also shed His blood for us in order for us to inherit eternal life. Jesus not only went through the baptism water to show us the way, but He shed His blood for us in order for us to receive forgiveness of sins. Both the Blood and the water point to the new covenant He has with us. You see the Father, the Word, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost witness in heaven, while on the earth, the water of baptism, the blood of the new covenant, and the Holy Ghost will witness on earth. So in order to be a Christian, I have to be baptised, become part of the new covenant, and move in the gifts of the Spirit.

John also warns us not believe in what people are saying, but we must believe what God witnesses about his son. “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:9-13)

“We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” (1 John 5:18-21)

How does Paul sum up people with the attitude of saying that you teach a gospel of Jesus plus? He writes to Timothy as follows: “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” (1 Timothy 1:5-7)

Moses 4 verse 2: How do I judge the genuineness of a pastor and the genuineness of a local church?

Why would I try to give an answer to a question that most people do not even consider? I would like to answer the question with another question. How would you recognise someone who is ordained by God?

Let us start by looking at a couple of passages in the Bible. 2 Peter 1:1 “1 ¶  But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 ¶ And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. 4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 7 ¶ And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) 9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: 10 ¶ But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. 11 Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. 12 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; 13 And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; 14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: 15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. 17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. 18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”

2Tim 4: 1 “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

Now that we know what the Bible says concerning false teachers, let us start at the beginning. I would like to start with the priests in the Old Testament, and use this as a basis to evaluate our current situation. It is difficult to believe that there were false priests very early on in the history of Israel with priests like Samuel and Elijah. But it started even before Samuel. Let us look at Eli. 1 Samuel 2 verse 11 “And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest. 12 Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD. 13 And the priests’ custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand; 14 And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither. 15 Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw. 16 And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force. 17 Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD. 18 But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. 19 Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20 And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The LORD give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the LORD. And they went unto their own home. 21 And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD.”

Verse 12 tells us that Eli’s sons did not know the Lord. “12 Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD” The first pointer for us then in evaluating the local pastor or reverend is to look at his children. The Bible tells us that Eli’s sons were sons of Belial, meaning they were worthless, or even worse, sons of Satan. They had no idea about what was happening in the temple, even though they were brought up in the temple and had to succeed their father when he died. They did not know the Lord. So the first step in evaluating a pastor/reverend is to look at his children. Can he control them? If he cannot, how do you expect him to have authority in the local church? “For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” 1 Tim. 3:5. Eli’s sons did not know the LORD. They wanted to do what they felt like. They were not interested in eating boiled meat; no they wanted grilled rump steak with the fat on. As the Bible puts it: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD. That is why the LORD rejected them. These two sons had to become the high priest when Eli died, but they did not know the LORD. So the first step in evaluating a pastor/reverend is to see how his children behave. If the pastor’s children do not know the LORD, how do you expect him to control a local church?

How did Eli treat his sons? When he was told that they were causing Israel to sin by having sex with woman at the temple, he only told them that what they were doing was wrong. He did nothing to stop this behaviour. How many pastors do you know that does the same? He never confronts his children, and likewise never any of the members of his church living in sin. How many people just live together and never marries. Some pastors actually prefer this, as they do not have to worry about the divorce statistics in their congregations anymore. How many people play the lotto, gamble, sleep around, but the church says nothing as the pastor does not want to lose his income. You see the moment he addresses this problem, his members will leave and join another congregation or church group, and he would lose out on income for the church. It is easy to see if a pastor is really serving the LORD. If he is soft on sin, he is like Eli. The next step after this is actually teaching people that it is preferable to have a trial marriage as you first have to see if you can fit into this role. I know of pastors that are homosexual but everyone accepts this behaviour.

Ezekiel outlines another facet of this type of pastor. “Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?” How many pastors/reverends are there that does not tell their members the full story of the Bible, as they want to ensure that their members stay dependant on them? How many knows the full impact of the new covenant but leave their members ill informed? One of the reasons for doing this is that they want to cling to old covenant rules like tithing. If he tells his members the full story, he cannot put them on a guilt trip using Malachi 3 anymore.

The other problem we face is that all monies collected will be spent as the pastor sees fit. This is what Ezekiel describes in chapter 34 verse 3: “Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.”  We have to remember that according to the Bible the fat belonged to the LORD. So this is what is happening: The shepherds are taking that which belongs to the LORD for themselves, without giving real food to the congregation. Just look at how many pastors are living in comfort while their members are living in need. One thing you can expect is at least a monthly sermon on why they should give to the “church”, because if you don’t, the LORD can’t bless you. They never inform their members of what Paul states in 2 Cor. 8 verse 13: “For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:” How many times have I seen people that was turned down by their church when they asked if the church could assist them financially. No, they are not a welfare institution. This is what I mean that they are stealing from the LORD. For a full discussion on finances, it is discussed in a separate article.

What was the judgment Eli received? 1 Sam 2 Verse 29: “Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people? 30 Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 31 Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house. 32 And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever. 33 And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age. 34 And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them.”

This scripture addresses a couple of issues.

The first issue is that the LORD announces that He has decided to change His promise. This is never taught in any church I ever attended. No, it is said, once the LORD has decided this, He will never change His views concerning you. You can now sit back and relax and continue with your life as you have done what is required. No, this passage tells us that he LORD will honour those that honour Him, and those that despise Him, shall be lightly esteemed.

The second issue is that the LORD says he will cut of the right arm of Eli and of his ancestors, meaning He will lose the power of his ministry. But what is the power of our ministry today? Again Ezekiel 34 has the answer. Verse 3: “Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. 4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.” How many people in your congregation have been heeled after the elders prayed for them? How many people were supported when in dire straits, and healed? Has anyone been raised from the dead? How many of the members that were members in name only were returned into the local church serving the LORD again with a new passion? Is the sermon on Sunday just a short exegesis of a Bible verse without calling on you to implement it in you life? Or maybe the Bible is quoted just to give the sermon a religious flavour. This is what the LORD is saying here. The services will continue, but they will have no effect on the people. We do not even bat an eyelid if the government wants to bring in doctrines at school that clash with our very beliefs. No, we are told, to handle these issues at home. How do we do it if these doctrines specifically address the issue on handling authority, and that parents have no legal authority over their children anymore. Similarly government ministers enter into covenants with sangomas, and still sit in the elder’s chair on a Sunday at the church service. Major sports and other gatherings are opened with rituals by sangomas and other cults, but as Christians we have to accept it as we do not want to cause an uproar. This is what happens when the power of God is not there anymore. But do you realise that if His Power is not there, then He is not there either. When someone dares to differ from the pastor he is expelled immediately from the church as no one dares to take on the pastor in his church. Before you can return you are told to ask for forgiveness for coming against the LORD and His anointed. You can check this on numerous websites of local churches. They even print it on their new member information brochures. Others proclaim again that if you do not bring you tithe for three or four months that your membership automatically ceases. They won’t ask you if you have food to eat, no you are no longer a member, and hence they don’t have any obligation towards you anymore. Remember, the pastor does not want to share his money with you.

Another sign that the LORD with all His Power is not there is when we have to start new programs to ensure that the current members stay at this church, and to attract new members to the church. How many courses are there for pastors on how to grow your church, and of course how to double your income. No, if the LORD is there, He will add those that are saved. When we do have outreaches, new converts are visited maybe once or twice, and are then left to their own devices. The wolves and jackals can have a field day now, as we have done our duty. Another sign that the LORD is not there is when we have to handle everyone’s hang-ups, as the person is very important. No the LORD is important. When He does not have the first position in our church, we are busy with humanism.

And then there is the time. If the service dares to continue for one or two minutes longer than the published time, we all start looking at our watches as the pastor is wasting our time again. I did not come to listen to him; no I came to have my ego boosted. I have now recharged my spiritual batteries and look forward to facing the week again. What or who church is does not bother me at all, as it is something the church board has to address.

Then there is the issue of prayer. All people involved in the service, from the musicians to the ministry team, to the people on door duty are asked to meet for prayer before the service. When you arrive there, nobody is there. After a couple of weeks someone else sticks their head into the room, and all of a sudden all panic breaks loose as everyone is reminded to get there in time before the service. After a while it is back to normal with nobody showing up. The alternative is that one or two people who can start at 8 and finish at 12 without taking a breath control this time. And then they did not even pray for the service. Or as I have experienced for many years, that if there is a set schedule of who should open and close meetings on a Sunday, that you have to inform people two to three weeks before hand in order for them to have time to work out an appropriate prayer.

You might tell me that you know of very few of these types of churches. I can take you to so many churches where this is the case. But, fortunately I can also take you to churches where you can experience the LORD every moment. Thank the LORD for this.

The Bible also declares what the end of both types of pastors will be. Ezekiel 44:6 :”6  And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations, 7 In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations. 8 And ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves. 9 Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel. 10¶ And the Levites that are gone away far from me, when Israel went astray, which went astray away from me after their idols; they shall even bear their iniquity. 11 Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them. 12 Because they ministered unto them before their idols, and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity; therefore have I lifted up mine hand against them, saith the Lord GOD, and they shall bear their iniquity. 13 And they shall not come near unto me, to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in the most holy place: but they shall bear their shame, and their abominations which they have committed. 14 But I will make them keepers of the charge of the house, for all the service thereof, and for all that shall be done therein. 15 But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord GOD: 16 They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge.”

My question to you is: What does your local church look like? Is the LORD there in all His power, or not?

I would like to end this with a further quote from Ezekiel 34, saying what the LORD will do in the last days. Verse 10: “10  Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. 11 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. 13 And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. 15 I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. 16 I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment. 17¶ And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. 18 Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? 19 And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet. 20 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. 21 Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad; 22 Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. 23 And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. 24 And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it. 25 And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods. 26 And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. 27 And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them. 28 And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid. 29 And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. 30 Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the Lord GOD. 31 And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God,”

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Moses 4 verse 1: What is the Church of Jesus Christ?

This is one question that could set your thoughts going for quite a long time. These are so many definitions that we can spend months just going through the Bible looking at the different views. We can argue about subjects like is it the bride, the elected, a nation, or what ever. But that is not the question.

The question is: What is the Church of Jesus Christ?

There are so many books on the subject that I think most people are not even interested in this subject anymore. So many persons have given their own interpretation that we have all lost interest in finding out what the Church of Jesus Christ is.

I want to approach this question from a different angle. I do not want to argue the case of the institutional church or the house church movement, or even look at the meaning of the word ecclesia. I also do not want to look if a Pentecostal or whatever type of church is the real church. No, I want to look at our approach to church and from these hopes to give you an idea of what Church is.

Let us look at what we think is church today. Suppose I am driving through the Karoo, a very sparsely populated area in South Africa, and I approach a small town. The first thing I will notice is the tower of a church building. I will now drive to this building, and let us suppose that it is a Sunday morning, I will find that the church service is in full swing. I will enter into the building and find people sitting in rows all facing in one direction. This is the place where I will find a podium or steeple. The seats on which the people are sitting will be made either of wood or plastic, or if the reverend or pastor has a long breath, it might even have padded seats. If it is a new building, the seats might even remind you of the seats at the movies, soft and individual.

Depending on the group affiliation, it will either have a church organ, or their might be musicians on a stage. It might even have separate seats for the church elders and deacons.

If we look at the church service, we will find that the people will sing a couple of songs, the preacher or someone else might say a prayer, and then certain confessions might be read. Once this is completed, the preacher would normally read from the Bible, explain to you what he just read, and maybe even explain to you the relevance of this scripture to your every day life. Somewhere during this service, you will be asked to produce your offer in order for the church to meet its expenses. Someone might even read a portion of scripture trying to convince you that you are actually not giving it to the local church, but that you are giving it to God Himself. The service would then come to an end. The exact sequence might differ from church to church.

After the service some of the people might even stay for a while and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea together. They will undoubtedly talk about what happened during the past week, or even about the rugby or cricket game on Saturday. Once everyone is done, they will all go home.

You as stranger might also stay for a cup of coffee. You will then ask the preacher what you have to do in order to become part of this group of people. He will undoubtedly go through a physical or mental checklist to find out where you come from, which groups you have affiliated yourself with in the past and if you have any proof of this. You might even be invited to attend a meeting where this subject will be addressed and any questions you have will be answered. Or he might even suggest someone visiting you to establish all these credentials before admitting you to this group.

You now go off to the next building where you also notice people congregating. This group might even clap their hands while singing, and they might break out in strange voices or tongues that you have not heard before. But, when this service is done, you find that to join this group the steps are basically the same as for the previous group. They might even tell you that they are totally different from the first group in that they have groups that meet at various houses during the week, and that you should attend one of these meetings.

When you get to this meeting during the week, you find that they will sing a couple of songs, and the leader will then pull out a piece of paper and discuss the message the preacher delivered on Sunday with the group. He might ask you some questions on how you have experienced the particular subject in your life, or maybe give you some pointers on how to apply this subject to your everyday life. There will normally be a time devoted to prayer, and people might have the openness to ask for prayer for themselves or for someone they know. At the end of the night you find that the only difference between this and Sunday’s service was that there was some interaction, and that instead of a general prayer time, prayer might have been more personal.

To help you in your search as to which group to join, you decide to look at what the Bible has to say about church. You suddenly remember that there was a very clever Pharisee that wrote quite a number of the Epistles in the New Testament. And seeing that you want to join a New Testament church, this is the place to look. You eventually stumble on to a section that covers this subject in 1 Corinthians 14 from verse 26: “¶ how is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. 28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. 29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 34¶  Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. 36¶  What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? 37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. 38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. 39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order.”

Your immediate reaction might be one of surprise as what you read here is not what you encountered at any of these meetings. But this is what the Bible declares. You might even argue that this type of service is impossible to have at our large gatherings on a Sunday, and that this should be what the cell meetings should be like. I would like to question that as at most cell meetings the cell leader is only allowed to do what he is given to share, nothing more. The cell leader is also not allowed to teach anything that is not allowed by the “church”. But this is not what the question was, as we still have to find an answer as to what is Church.

To make your task even more difficult, you remember that Paul also wrote to the Ephesians on this subject. Ephesians 4: “1 ¶ I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 ¶ With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 what we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. 17¶  This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

This portion of scripture tells us who the Church is, who are members of this Church, and what the purpose of the Church is. Let us start at the beginning.

Acts 2:46 “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”

What does this scripture teach us? Firstly that the early Christians met daily. That there was a very close bond between them, and they all knew each other intimately. I know we have a problem with living this way today, but we should pursue this daily. They also had communion on a daily basis. Not once a month or once a quarter as we know it today, but it was part of their everyday procedure. They also did not sit there with long faces everyday. No, they were full of joy for what Jesus did for them. We also learn from this passage that the LORD added to the church daily such as should be saved. Not you or I can add anybody to the church, only God can. Why? As only He has the power to offer a rebirth. People may decide on being a Christian but the LORD does the work, the actual rebirthing of a person. Being a Christian will also then confirm that we are all members of His church.

What determines membership of His church? Let us look at seven points that determines this. I have taken the liberty of including a section found in “The Normal Christian Church Life” written by Watchman Nee to elucidate on this subject.

Seven Factors in Spiritual Unity

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all” (Eph. 4:4-6). A person is constituted a member of the Church on the ground that he possesses the unity of the Spirit, and that will result in his being one with all believers on the seven above points. They are the seven elements in the unity of the Spirit, which is the common heritage of all the children of God. In drawing a line of demarcation between those who belong to the Church and those who do not, we must require nothing beyond these seven lest we exclude any who belong to the family of God, and we dare not require anything less, lest we include any who do not belong to the Divine family.

1) One Body.

The question of unity begins with the question of membership of the Body of Christ. The sphere of our fellowship is the sphere of the Body. Those who are outside that sphere have no spiritual relationship with us, but those who are inside that sphere are all in fellowship with us. We cannot make any choice of fellowship in the Body, accepting some members and rejecting others. We are all part of the one Body, and nothing can possibly separate us from it, or from one another. Anyone who has received Christ belongs to the Body, and he and we are one.

2) One Spirit.

If anyone seeks fellowship with us, however he may differ from us in experience or outlook, provided he has the same Spirit as we have, he is entitled to be received as a brother. If he has received the Spirit of Christ, and we have received the Spirit of Christ, then we are one in the Lord, and nothing must divide us.

3) One Hope.

This hope, which is common to all the children of God, is not a general hope, but the hope of our calling, which is to be with the Lord for ever in glory. There is not a single soul who is truly the Lord’s in whose heart there is not this hope, for to have Christ in us is to have “the hope of glory” in us (Col. 1:27). All who share this one hope are one, and since we have this hope of being together in glory for all eternity, how can we be divided in time?

4) One Lord.

There is only one Lord, the Lord Jesus, and all who recognize that God has made Jesus of Nazareth to be both Lord and Christ are one in Him. If anyone confesses Jesus to be Lord, then his Lord is our Lord, and since we serve the same Lord, nothing whatever can separate us.

5) One Faith.

The faith here spoken of is the faith – not our beliefs in regard to the interpretation of Scripture, but the faith through which we have been saved, which is the common possession of all believers, that is, the faith that Jesus is the Son of God (who died for the salvation of sinners and lives again to give life to the dead). The children of God may follow many different lines of Scriptural interpretation, but in regard to this fundamental faith they are one.

6) One Baptism.

Is it by immersion or by sprinkling? Is it single or triune? There are various modes of baptism accepted by the children of God, so if we make the form of baptism the dividing line between those who belong to the church and those who do not, we shall exclude many true believers from our fellowship. There are children of God who even believe that a material baptism is not necessary, but since they are the children of God, we dare not on that account exclude them from our fellowship. What then is the significance of the “one baptism” mentioned in this passage? Paul throws light on the subject in his first letter to the Corinthians. “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? or were you baptized into the name of Paul?” (1 Cor. 1:3). The emphasis is not on the mode of baptism, but on the name into which we are baptized. If anyone is baptized into the Name of the Lord, I welcome him as my brother, whatever be the mode of his baptism. By this we do not imply that it is of no consequence whether we are sprinkled or immersed, or whether our baptism is spiritual or literal. The Word of God teaches that baptism is literal, and is by immersion, but the point here is that the mode of baptism is not the ground of our fellowship, but the Name into which we are baptized. All who are baptized into the Name of the Lord are one in Him.

7) One God.

Do we believe in the same personal, supernatural God as our Father? If so, then we belong to one family, and there is no adequate reason for our being divided.

The above seven points are the seven factors in that divine unity which is the possession of all the members of the divine family, and they constitute the only test of Christian profession. If we impose any conditions of fellowship beyond these seven – which are but the outcome of the one spiritual life – then we are guilty of sectarianism, for we are making a division between those who are manifestly children of God. If we apply any test but these seven, we are imposing conditions other than those stipulated in the Word of God. All who have these seven points in common with us are our brothers, whatever their spiritual experience, or doctrinal views, or “church” relationships. Our unity is based upon the actual fact of our oneness, which is made real in our experience by the indwelling Spirit of Christ.

Just as there are seven reasons for binding people together, seven reasons are mentioned for not excluding people from a church. Again I am quoting from Watchman Nee.

Seven Forbidden Grounds of Division

On the positive side we have just seen the ground on which God has ordained that His Church be divided. Now, on the negative side, we shall see on what ground the Church ought not to be divided.

1 ) Spiritual Leaders.

“Now this I mean, that each one of you says, ‘I am of Paul’; and ‘I of Apollos’; and ‘I of Cephas’; and ‘I of Christ'” (1 Cor. 1:2). Here Paul points out the carnality of the Corinthian believers in attempting to divide the church of God in Corinth which by the divine ordering was indivisible, being already the smallest Scriptural unit upon which any church could be established. They sought to divide the church on the ground of a few leaders who had been specially used of God in their midst. Cephas was a zealous minister of the Gospel, Paul was a man who had suffered much for his Lord’s sake, and Apollos was one whom God certainly used in His service, but though all three had been indisputably owned of God in Corinth, God could never permit the church there to make them a around of division.

Hero-worship is a tendency of human nature, which delights to show preference for those who appeal to its tastes. Because so many of God’s children know little or nothing of the power of the Cross to deal with the flesh, this tendency of man-worship has expressed itself frequently in the Church of God and much havoc has been wrought in consequence It is in keeping with God’s will that we should learn from spiritual men and profit by their leadership, but it is altogether contrary to His will that we should divide the Church according to the men we admire. The only scriptural basis for the forming of a church is difference of locality, not difference of leaders.

2) Instruments of Salvation.

Spiritual leaders are no adequate reason for dividing the Church, neither are the instruments used of God in our salvation. Some of the Corinthian believers proclaimed themselves to be “of Cephas,” others “of Paul,” others “of Apollos.” They traced the beginning of their spiritual history to these men, and so thought they belonged to them. It is both natural and common for persons saved through the instrumentality of a worker, or a society, to reckon themselves as belonging to such a worker or society. It is likewise both natural and common for an individual or a mission through whose means people have been saved, to reckon the saved ones as belonging to them. It is natural, but not spiritual. It is common but nevertheless contrary to God’s will. Churches are divided on the ground of geography, not on the ground of the instruments of our salvation.

3) Non-sectarianism.

Some Christians think they know better than to say, “I am of Cephas,” or, “I am of Paul,” or, “I am of Apollos.” They say, “I am of Christ.” Such Christians despise the others as sectarian, and on that ground start another community. Their attitude is: You are sectarian. I am non-sectarian. You are hero-worshipers, we worship the Lord alone.

But God’s Word does not only condemn those who say, “I am of Cephas,” “I am of Paul,” or, “I am of Apollos.” It just as definitely and just as clearly denounces those who say, “I am of Christ.” It is not wrong to reckon oneself as belonging only to Christ. It is right and even essential. Nor is it wrong to repudiate all schism amongst the children of God; it is highly commendable. God does not condemn this class of Christians for either of these two things; He condemns them for the very sin they condemn in others – their sectarianism. As a protest against division among the children of God; many believers seek to divide those who do not divide as from those who do, and never dream that they themselves are divisive. Their ground of division may be more plausible than that of others who divide on the ground of doctrinal differences or personal preference for certain leaders, but the fact remains that they are dividing the children of God. Even while they repudiate schism elsewhere, they are schismatic themselves.

You say, “I am of Christ.” Do you mean to say others are not? It is perfectly legitimate for you to say, ‘I am of Christ” if your remark merely implies to whom you belong; but if it implies, “I am not sectarian; I stand quite differently from you sectarians,” then it is making a difference between them and other Christians. The very thought of distinguishing between the children of God has its springs in the carnal nature of man and is sectarian.

What then is right? All exclusiveness is wrong. All inclusiveness (of true children of God) is right. Denominations are not Scriptural and we ought to have no part in them, but if we adopt an attitude of criticism and think, They are denominational: I am undenominational; they belong to sects, I belong to Christ alone – such differentiating is definitely sectarian.

Yes, praise God, I am of Christ, but my fellowship is not merely with those who say, “I am of Christ,” but with all who are of Christ. I do not so much mind what they say, but I very much mind what they are. I do not enquire whether they are denominational or undenominational, sectarian or unsectarian. I only enquire, Are they of Christ? If they are of Christ, then they are my brethren.

Our personal standing should be undenominational, but the basis of our fellowship is not undenominationalism. We ourselves should be non-sectarian, but we dare not insist on non-sectarianism as a condition of fellowship. Our only ground of fellowship is Christ. Our fellowship must be with all the believers in a locality, not merely with all the unsectarian believers in that locality. They may make denominational differences, but we must not make undenominational requirements. Their denominationalism or sectarianism will mean that severe limitations are imposed upon the Lord as to His purpose and mind for them, and this will mean that they will never go beyond a certain measure of spiritual growth and fullness. Blessing there may be, but fullness of divine purpose never.

When we come to a place where Christ is not named, we must preach the Gospel, win men to the Lord, and found a local church. If we come to a place where there are already Christians but on various grounds these believers separate themselves into denominational “churches,” our task is just the same as in the other place – we must preach the Gospel, lead men to the Lord, and form them into a church on the scriptural ground of locality. All the while we must maintain an attitude of inclusiveness, not exclusiveness, towards those believers who are in different sects, for they, as we are children of God, and they live in the same locality, therefore they belong to the same church as we do. For ourselves, we cannot join any sect or remain in one, for our church connection can only be on local ground. Let us be clear on this point, that an undenominational church is not a local church. There is a vast difference between the two. A local church is undenominational and it is positive and inclusive, but an undenominational church is not a local church, and it is negative and exclusive.

Let us be clear as to our position. We are not out to establish undenominational churches but local churches. We are seeking to do a positive work. If believers can be led to see what a local church is – the expression of the Body of Christ in a locality – they will certainly not remain in any sect. On the other hand it is possible for them to see all the evils of sectarianism, and leave them, without knowing what a local church is.

I do not condone sectarianism and I do not believe we should belong to any sect, but it is not our business to get people to leave them. If we make it our chief concern to lead people to a real knowledge of the Lord and the power of His Cross, then they will gladly abandon themselves to Him and will learn to walk in the Spirit, repudiating the things of the flesh. We shall find there will be no need to stress the question of denominations, for the Spirit Himself will enlighten them. If a believer has not learned the way of the Cross and the walk in the Spirit, what is gained by his coming out of a sect?

4) Doctrinal Differences.

In the Greek the word rendered “heresies” in Gal. 5:20 does not necessarily convey the thought of error, but rather of division on the ground of doctrine. The Interlinear New Testament translates it as “sects,” while Darby in his new translation renders it “schools of opinion.” The whole thought here is not of the difference between truth and error, but of division based upon doctrine. My teaching may be right or it may be wrong, but if I make it a cause of division, then I am guilty of the “heresy” spoken of here.

God forbids any division on doctrinal grounds. Some believe that the rapture will be pre-tribulation, others that it will be post-tribulation. Some believe that all the saints will enter the Kingdom; others believe that only a section will enter. Some believe that baptism is by immersion, others that it is by sprinkling. Some believe that supernatural manifestations are a necessary accompaniment to the baptism in the Holy Spirit, while others do not. None of these doctrinal views constitute a Scriptural basis for separating the children of God.

Though some may be right and others wrong, God does not sanction any division on account of difference as to beliefs or minor matters other than foundational truths of the Faith. If a group of believers split off from a local church in their zeal for certain teaching according to the Word of God, the new “church” they establish may have more Scriptural teaching but it could never be a scriptural church.

If we wish to maintain a Scriptural position, then we must see to it that the churches we found in various places only represent localities, not doctrines. If our “church” is not separated from other children of God on the ground of locality alone, but stands for the propagation of some particular doctrine, then we are decidedly a sect, however true to the Word of God our teaching may be. The purpose of God is that a church should represent the children of God in a locality, not represent some specific truth there. A church of God in any place comprises all the children of God in that place, not merely those who hold the same doctrinal views.

If our hearts are set to preserve the local character of the churches of God, we cannot fail to come up against problems in our work. Unless the Cross operates mightily, what endless possibilities of friction there will be if we include in one church all the believers in the locality with all their varying views. How the flesh would like just to include those holding the same views and to exclude all those views differ from ours. To have constant and close association with people, whose interpretation of Scripture does not tally with ours, is hard for the flesh, but good for the spirit. God does not use division to solve the problem; He uses the Cross. He would have us submit to the Cross, so that through the very difficulties of the situation, the meekness and patience and love of Christ may be deeply wrought into our lives. Under the circumstances, if we do not know the Cross, we shall probably argue, lose our temper, and finally go our own way. We may have right views, but God is giving us an opportunity to display a right attitude. We may believe right, but God is testing us to see if we love aright.

Rom. 14 shows us how to deal with those whose views differ from ours. What would we do if in our church there were vegetarians and Sabbatarians? Why, we should consider it almost intolerable if in the same church some of the believers kept the Lord’s Day and others the Sabbath, and some ate meat freely, while others were strict vegetarians. That was exactly the situation Paul was facing. Let us note his conclusions. “But receive him that is weak in faith, yet not to disputes over doubtful things” (Rom. 14:1). “Who are you that judges the servant of another? To his own lord he stands or falls. Yes, he shall be made to stand; for the Lord has power to make him stand” (Rom. 14:4). “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block in his brother’s way, or an occasion of falling” (Rom. 14:13). Oh, for Christian tolerance! Oh, for largeness of heart! Alas! that many of God’s children are so zealous for their pet doctrines that they immediately label as heretics, and treat accordingly, all whose interpretation of Scripture differs from theirs. God would have us walk in love toward all who hold views contrary to those that are dear to us (Rom. 14:15).

This does not mean that all the members of a church can hold whatever views they please, but it does mean that the solution to the problem of doctrinal differences does not lie in forming separate parties according to the different views held, but in walking in love toward those whose outlook differs from ours. By patient teaching we may yet be able to help all to “the unity of the faith.” (Eph. 4:13). As we wait patiently on the Lord, He may grant grace to the others to change their views, or He may grant us grace to see that we are not such good teachers as we thought we were. Nothing so tests the spirituality of a teacher as opposition to his teaching.

The teachers must learn humility, but so must all the other believers. When they recognize their position in the Body, they will know that it is not given to everyone to determine matters of doctrine. They must learn to submit to those who have been equipped of God for the specific ministry of teaching His people. Spiritual gifts and spiritual experience are necessary for spiritual teaching; consequently not everyone can teach.

5) Racial Differences.

“For in one spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). Jews have always had the strongest racial prejudice of all peoples. They regarded other nations as unclean, and were forbidden even to eat with them. But Paul made it very clear, in writing to the Corinthians, that in the Church both Jew and Gentile are one. All distinctions “in Adam” have been done away with “in Christ.” A racial “church” has no recognition in the Word of God. Church membership is determined by domicile, not by race.

Today in the large cosmopolitan cities of the world there are churches for the whites and churches for the blacks, churches for the Europeans and churches for the Asiatics. These have originated through failure to understand that the boundary of a church is a city. God does not permit any division of His children on the ground of difference of colour, custom, or mode of living. No matter to what race they belong, if they belong to the same locality they belong to the same church. God has placed believers of different races in one locality so that by transcending all external differences they might in one church show forth the one life and the one Spirit of His Son. All that comes to us by nature is overcome by grace. All that was ours “in Adam” has been ruled out “in Christ.” Let us remember that the church in any locality includes all the believers living there and excludes all who live elsewhere.

6) National Differences.

Jews and Gentiles represent national as well as racial distinctions, but in the Church of God there is neither Jew nor Greek. There is no racial distinction there, and there is no national distinction either. All believers living in one place, no matter what their nationality, belong to the one church. In the natural realm there is a difference between Chinese, French, British and Americans, but in the spiritual realm there is none. If a Chinese believer lives in Nanking, he belongs to the church in Nanking. If a French believer lives in Nanking, he also belongs to the church in Nanking. The same holds good for Britishers, Americans, and all other nationals, provided they are born again. The Word of God recognizes “the church in Rome,” “the church in Ephesus” and “the church in Thessalonica,” but it does not recognize the Jewish church, or the Chinese church, or the Anglican church. The reason why the names of cities appear in Scripture in connection with the churches of God is because the difference of dwelling-place is the only difference recognized by God among His children.

Since the churches are all local, if a believer – whatever his nationality – removes from one place to another, he immediately becomes a member of the church in the latter place and has no church connection in the place of his former residence. You cannot live in one place and be the member of a church in another. If a Chinese brother moves from Nanking to Hankow, he becomes a member of the church in Hankow. In like manner, a British brother coming from London to Hankow immediately becomes a member of the church in Hankow. A change of residence necessarily involves a change of church, whereas national origin has no bearing on church membership.

Our fellow-workers who have gone from China to South Sea Islands must be careful not to form an “Overseas Chinese church” there. It is possible to have an “Overseas Chinese Chamber of Commerce” or an “Overseas Chinese College” or an “Overseas Chinese Club.” Anything you like can be “Overseas Chinese,” but not a church. A church is always local!

The usual conception of an indigenous church, while quite right in some respects, is fundamentally wrong at the most vital point. Since the divine method of dividing the Church is according to locality, not nationality, then the Church of God knows neither native nor foreigner, neither heathen country nor Christian country. If we would be in full accord with the mind of God, we must make no difference whatever between the Chinese and foreign church, between Chinese and foreign workers, or between Chinese and foreign funds.

The thought of the indigenous church is that the natives of a country should be self- governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating, while the thought of God is that the believers in a citywhether native or foreign – should be self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating. Take, for instance, Peking. The theory of the indigenous church distinguishes between Chinese and foreigners in Peking, whereas the Word of God distinguishes between the believers in Peking whether Chinese or foreign – and the believers in other cities. That is why in Scripture we read of the churches of the Gentiles, but never of the church of the Gentiles. There is no such thing in the thought of God as the church of the Chinese, but there is such a thing as the church of the Pekinese. Scripture knows nothing of the church of the French, but it does recognize the church of the Parisians. A clear apprehension of the divine basis of church formation – according to the difference of cities and not of countries – will save us from the misconception of the indigenous church.

7) Social Distinctions.

In Paul’s day, from a social point of view, there was a great gulf fixed between a freeman and a slave, yet they worshiped side by side in the same church. In our day, if a rickshaw coolie and the President of our Republic both belong to Christ and live in the same place, then they belong to the same church. There may be a mission for rickshaw coolies, hut there can never be a church for rickshaw coolies. Social distinctions are no adequate basis for forming a separate church. In the Church of God there is “neither bond nor free.”

In Scripture we have these seven definite points referred to which are forbidden by God as reasons for dividing His Church. As a matter of fact these seven points are only typical of all other reasons the human mind may devise for dividing the Church of God. The two millenniums of Church history are a sad record of human inventions to destroy the Church’s unity.

As we now know that there is only one church, and that this church comprises of everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ, we can ask the question of how everything fits together and where do I fit in?

How does everything fit together?

Let us examine Ephesians 4 from verse 11 again: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

On examining this scripture we come to the conclusion that the task of the Church is to educate the believers in the knowledge of Christ, to unity in faith, until we all reach the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. So this means that when I look at someone I should not see the person itself, but the person in his role within the body of Christ. When we come to Christ, His Spirit is put into us and we are washed by His Blood. This means that I should act like and be like Christ. My question to you is: Do people see Christ or do they see you? As I should be like Christ, I should also move in His anointing and his gifts. So it is not a question of having received the gift of healing, but have I allowed that gifting to manifest in my life.

We also have to remember that we became sons and daughters of the LORD, with Jesus. We are therefore all brothers and sisters of each other, one family. From this we can see that it is impossible to chase a brother or sister away and declare that they no longer belong to the church, as I cannot disinherit a fellow brother or sister. I do not have the authority to do this. We are also of the same Blood, the Blood of Jesus Christ. If you know more about this family life than your brother, then it is up to you to teach the younger one in what is acceptable to our Father. The same way an older brother or sister has more duties to perform in a house, applies to our Spiritual home. Those who have been around for a long time ought to be able to teach the younger Christians in what is acceptable to the Father.

This brings us back to the first part of our scripture in the Epistle to Ephesus. Here we read that some were given as Apostles, some as Prophets, some as Evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers. So within our household, we have different duties for the different people. But the one thing we can learn from this scripture is that none of these people were appointed because of who they were. No, everyone was appointed after asking the LORD whom to ordain for the job at hand. Nobody was given any job just because they had attended the bible school of Gamaliel. No they were appointed after fasting and praying. This to me means that the LORD himself appointed them, as we read that they all moved in signs and wonders. To say today that you have an academic qualification, which took eight years to achieve, and that this qualifies you for the post of Apostle or pastor, is simply not Biblical. Only the LORD can appoint you.

Why do we as brothers and sisters get together on a regular basis? The only reason is to proclaim the name of the LORD Jesus Christ. During this time we will minister to each other in the gifts we received from the Holy Spirit, and build each other in faith. How does Paul describe this type of meeting? Ephesians 4: 16 “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

This portion of scripture confirms that there is only one Church, and that we should build one another in order for us to get to the full stature of Christ.

When I now look at myself, I do not see myself anymore, but I see how Christ is taking shape in me. When I look at the people around me, I see every person in his or her role within the body of Christ. When I understand this, I will never be the same anymore. Life is not about me, but what matters is my function within the body of Christ. Then I can declare with Isaiah 61 verse 1: “¶ The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”

This is being Church.

What about “my” church? Whatever form of church you belong to is not the issue, be it a home church, cell church, Pentecostal church, Methodist church, Anglican Church, or any other grouping. It is about being Church. These different churches are not any different from the groupings we find in the time of Jesus, with the Pharisees and the Sadducees. But Jesus did not try to convince them that He was the Christ. No, He went to people like Matthew, a tax collector, or Peter a fisher. Today’s church is not any different. The best analogy I could find is to compare our churches of today with a club. You will find that a club has certain rules that specify who can be members and they have rules that you have to abide by; there is a club captain or chairman that decides on how the club will function (Pastor); there is a clubhouse where everybody meets (Church building); there are membership fees that one has to pay (tithes), and all the members normally have a common interest. But that is not what the Bible tells us what Church is.

You might feel that you would like to differ from me in that Israel had a Tabernacle and later a Temple in which they gathered, and that is why you feel this way. This is what you see as people getting together, a place where the Spirit of the Lord will manifest. Now we also know that Jesus came to destroy the temple in three days. During this time Jesus fulfilled every commandment and prescription Israel had to adhere to as far as offers and the first covenant was concerned. That is why there is no temple anymore, as Jesus came to restore the relationship Israel had before being disobedient. This relationship is explained in Exodus 20 verses 18 to 20: “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. 19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” The Lord wants to have a relationship with each one of us, but we have to realize the impact of this situation. We cannot like Israel tell Moses to stand between the LORD and us, as He promised in Ezekiel that He will come and live inside of us. Once we realise the immenseness of the situation, we will do as He commands. This is the relationship he wants with each one of us.

How is a local congregation managed? By being unanimous. No one person can be left in charge of everyone else. This leads to one assuming a higher position than the other in the church, and thus leads to someone being in charge. Even the apostles did not assume that the one was more gifted than the other. They all worked to establish a unity in the local church. This is what Jesus did before he was crucified. He washed the feet of His disciples, declaring Him to be subordinate to them. To put this into practice in the local church means that every person would rather have someone else’s proposal accepted than his own.

How do I know that this is true? Know the Word of God; know the message of the Bible. Search the whole Word of God before jumping to conclusions. Let me give you a quick example of how we can misinterpret the Bible. Malachi 3 verse 8 informs us to bring the whole tithe to the temple, while Deuteronomy 14 verses 24 to 26 informs me to enjoy the tithe and spend it on whatever I feel like, even strong drink. Which one is correct? Examine the whole Word of God to find out what the true meaning of the passage is before jumping to conclusions.

One point that we have to remember is that all the apostles warned against false teachers that would come from within the church to try and convince the believers of a different gospel.

So, what is church? You and me doing the will of the Father: That is Church.

Moses 4 – On Church

Jeremiah 7: 3 – 8

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.For if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour;If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to you hurt:Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit

What is the Church of Jesus Christ?

This is one question that could set your thoughts going for quite a long time. These are so many definitions that we can spend months just going through the Bible looking at the different views. We can argue about subjects like is it the bride, the elected, a nation, or what ever. But that is not the question.

The question is: What is the Church of Jesus Christ?

There are so many books on the subject that I think most people are not even interested in this subject anymore. So many persons have given their own interpretation that we have all lost interest in finding out what the Church of Jesus Christ is.

I want to approach this question from a different angle. I do not want to argue the case of the institutional church or the house church movement, or even look at the meaning of the word ecclesia. I also do not want to look if a Pentecostal or whatever type of church is the real church. No, I want to look at our approach to church and from these hopes to give you an idea of what Church is.

MOSES 4 – ON CHURCH AND THESE TYPES OF QUESTIONS

Moses 4 verse 1: What is the Church of Jesus Christ?
Moses 4 verse 2: How do I judge the genuineness of a pastor and the genuineness of a local church?
Moses 4 verse 3: What do people mean when they say that you are preaching a gospel of Jesus plus?
Moses 4 verse 4: How do I react when confronted by false teachers and their representatives?

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Moses 3 verse 11 – What does the Bible teach about people with HIV/AIDS?

This question is extremely relevant today, especially to us in South Africa where nearly forty percent of the black population is HIV positive. But is there a Biblical answer to this pandemic? I cannot find a direct answer anywhere in the Bible that gives us an answer to this and many of our current problems in life. So what do we do? How do I then have to treat people that live with HIV/Aids, especially in the light of our constitution and the whole human rights issue?

In order to get an answer, we have to, like with any other problem in life, analyse it. We have to look at its origin, how it is communicated from person to person, and only then can we look at what the Bible declares about this. That is the only way I know of.

Origin

To get to the origin of HIV/Aids, we have to go and delve in the history books. The first report where I read about this, was dated somewhere in the early eighties. In this report reference is made to case zero, a person with a very loose homosexual life style. He worked at a international airways company, and according to this report most probably got the virus from having sex with an ape. Everyone who died of Aids in the first year, could be linked directly to him, and practiced a similar lifestyle.

This also gives us an indication why we are still struggling to find a cure for it, as it was a virus that spread from an animal to a human. We also have not had exposure to this condition for centuries, like with other viruses and illnesses. As far as I know, up to today, it is also not yet possible to isolate the virus.

How is it communicated or spread?

Basically there are two methods. The first method is by having sexual contact with someone who has the virus. The sexual method is the most prevalent method. The second method is by receiving blood from a person infected. This could happen by using a syringe used by someone who is infected, like drug addicts, and by blood transfusion.

In South Africa the virus is spreading rapidly by sexual contact. That is why we have all sorts of campaigns for people to use condoms, the safe sex and love life campaigns. The virus also spreads from mother to child during the birth process. We are all aware of the current fights going on about the free provision of retroviral drugs to babies at hospitals.

But should we, as Christians really get involved in this, let alone trying to find an answer?

I believe that every situation in life affects my life as a Christian, and therefore demands a Biblical answer. I would like to start with what Paul said about this question. “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:26-32)

These are awful words that Paul is using here. But why does Paul do this? I want to use two examples. The first example I heard from an elderly lady. She described it as follows: If I enjoy a beer or other alcoholic drink, and decide to go to the pub and get myself drunk, the headache I will wake up with in the morning, is my own responsibility. I decided to get drunk and therefore I have to pay for this. I will have to buy my own medicines for this, and hopefully feel better after taking it. Let us take the same type of example, and give it a slightly different flavour. After getting myself drunk, I end up picking up a girl and end up having sex with her. Unfortunately for me she did not tell me that she was HIV positive, and hence I will test positive eventually. The problem is now not mine, but the government’s problem, and societies problem. I don’t have to worry about getting medicine for this, as the government or society has to provide for this free of charge. The fact that I will pay with my life is beside the point.

The second example I want to use will put the spotlight on a different aspect. If I am not happy with my spouse and decide to kill him or her, I can use a slow poison like arsenic to kill the person over time. I know of a case in our country’s history where this happened. The poisoning took place over a long period of time, and only after the persons death it was found that he was poisoned. Exactly the same thing happens with HIV/Aids, except that I do not need repeat dosages to kill the person. The only difference is that if I use HIV/Aids, I am not counted as a murderer.

What do we glean from these examples? If I misuse alcohol, the problem is mine. If I sin sexually, the problem is that of government, and eventually, the taxpayer. If I use arsenic to poison someone, I am a murderer, while if I use sexual methods, it is not murder, but I can now demand medication as I have my rights even though it is sin.

Let us leave the subject there and see what the Bible tells us about similar situations. While we are looking at HIV/Aids, let us stick to sexual sins, and the effect it had on people’s lives.

“And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:1-7)

We all know the history of Noah. He and his family were the only survivors. Why? Because of sexual sin. No exceptions. The LORD already used this portion of scripture to tell us what He thinks of sexual sin. It is punishable with death. Why? Every other sin is outside our body. Sex is the only sin where we use our bodies to sin with, and as temples of the Holy Spirit, that is not allowed. The LORD will not allow His Spirit to become part of sin.

The next example also comes from Genesis. “And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat. But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.” (Genesis 19:1-5)

Sodom was destroyed because of sexual homosexual behaviour. Nothing else. No, the men of Sodom even wanted to have sex with the angels the LORD sent to Lot. What was left of Sodom? Nothing, it was utterly destroyed. That is what happens if we do not believe the LORD. We think we can continue in our own ways and the LORD will accept our sins. Never. He has never done that in the history of Israel, so why would He do it to you today? I know there are even pastors and reverends who not only say that nothing is wrong with it but even practice it. I have news for them, as they make the LORD out as being a liar. His Word declares that He is the same today as He was yesterday and as He will be tomorrow. If He destroyed everybody in the days of Noah, and Sodom in the time of Lot, why would He accept it today? We even read in the laws of Moses that anyone who would try to practice homosexuality was to be stoned immediately, with no exceptions.

You might argue that all the cases so far had nothing to do with Gods chosen nation, Israel. Lots descendants were the Moabites and Ammonites, so what about His people? “And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah. And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him unto her father’s house to Bethlehemjudah, and was there four whole months. And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak friendly unto her, and to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of asses: and she brought him into her father’s house: and when the father of the damsel saw him, he rejoiced to meet him. And his father in law, the damsel’s father, retained him; and he abode with him three days: so they did eat and drink, and lodged there.” (Judges 19:1-4) This section is only as a background to the next example, in order for us to better understand the whole story. They stayed a couple more days and eventually decided to go back to the Levites town, and decided to overnight in a town in Benjamin, part of Israel.

But what happened there? “And, behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even, which was also of mount Ephraim; and he sojourned in Gibeah: but the men of the place were Benjamites. And when he had lifted up his eyes, he saw a wayfaring man in the street of the city: and the old man said, Whither goest thou? and whence comest thou? And he said unto him, We are passing from Bethlehemjudah toward the side of mount Ephraim; from thence am I: and I went to Bethlehemjudah, but I am now going to the house of the LORD; and there is no man that receiveth me to house. Yet there is both straw and provender for our asses; and there is bread and wine also for me, and for thy handmaid, and for the young man which is with thy servants: there is no want of any thing. And the old man said, Peace be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street. So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink. Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.” (Judges 19:16-22) These men were from the tribe of Benjamin, in other words, part of Gods’ people. Their request was not agreed to, and in their anger they grabbed this Levites wife and raped her the whole nightlong. The next morning they found her dead outside the house.

This Levite then cut her body in twelve parts and took it to the elders to seek an answer as to what to do. Everyone representing Israel agreed to go to the town and ask that the culprits be handed over to the elders. The people in the town did not do it, and the next part of the Bible tells us the result: “And there fell of Benjamin eighteen thousand men; all these were men of valour. And they turned and fled toward the wilderness unto the rock of Rimmon: and they gleaned of them in the highways five thousand men; and pursued hard after them unto Gidom, and slew two thousand men of them. So that all which fell that day of Benjamin were twenty and five thousand men that drew the sword; all these were men of valour. But six hundred men turned and fled to the wilderness unto the rock Rimmon, and abode in the rock Rimmon four months. And the men of Israel turned again upon the children of Benjamin, and smote them with the edge of the sword, as well the men of every city, as the beast, and all that came to hand: also they set on fire all the cities that they came to.” (Judges 20:44-48).

Something that stood out to me when I read through the story, was that Israel asked the LORD what to do, and the answer was the same every time: “(And the children of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until even, and asked counsel of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up again to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother? And the LORD said, Go up against him.) (Judges 20:23) The LORD does not tolerate sexual sin. We live at a time when we are so distant from Him that we think we can get away with it. The LORD told Israel in Exodus 20 that He want to be close to them, which they didn’t want. We are exactly the same. We do not want to have the LORD with us every moment of our lives. When He is kept at a distance, it is very easy to think that He will not notice this sin, but when He lives inside of you, it is a different story. Then you will hate sin as He hates it. This is the God that we are afraid of. This is the God that calls you to justice. He wants to be close to you, but you have to allow Him.

How do we then react to people with HIV/Aids? We have to teach them not to sin any longer. The LORD will accept no loose sexual life. Teach the person that someone poisoned him or her, and that by continuing with that lifestyle, the person is committing murder. Teach them that there is forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ, but then I will have to change my life. I will have to exchange my life for His. Teach the person that they are responsible for their own situation, and as such, should bear their own cost for this. Teach them that they cannot demand that others should pay for their medicine, as they chose that lifestyle.

Should the state pay for the treatment of such a person? No, the person is responsible for his own medication. Let me use an example. If you suddenly find that you have cancer, do you think that the state will pay for the treatment? No, you will be expected to pay yourself. Why then should people with HIV/Aids get treated any different? The only reason they are getting preferential treatment is because they intimidate everyone around them. Does a murderer have the right to intimidate the general public? In South Africa, yes. We all want to do good to them because you never know when you might get it, and I am not going to pay out of my own pocket for treatment.

But what about people who got the virus through other means apart from sex? What about babies that get the virus at birth? Do I have to react the same? Definitely not, as the person did not receive the virus through sexual sin. My conduct with them should be one and the same as with anyone else who does not have HIV/Aids. In fact, I might even spend more time with these people, as they need our support.

In conclusion. Aids is the punishment the LORD is meeting out to people living in sexual sin. But I have a responsibility to bring the Gospel of Jesus to them, to teach them that there is forgiveness. The LORD still wants that every person be saved.

Moses 3 verse 10 – Is your sieve clean?

You will obviously ask me which sieve? A while ago the only water that came out of our warm water tap was a trickle. It didn’t matter what strength you selected, it was just a trickle. I wondered what the reason was, and started my investigation. It is then that I saw this sieve at the end of the tap. This got me thinking about our own lives.

What do you do when you hear a story? Do you listen attentively and are you able to tell the story exactly as you heard it? Or does the story lose something along the line? Or maybe you consciously cut out certain parts of the story because it doesn’t rhyme with your beliefs?

We all have our own examples of this in our lives. Maybe you heard something from somebody, and the first time you told someone else the story you added something just to give it more credibility. Or maybe you left out a small detail, as it doesn’t really matter.

When I removed the sieve I found a whole lot of chalky stuff blocking the flow of the water. After emptying the sieve, I had to take a brush to remove some of the stuff blocking the sieve. This was a very difficult task, but once completed, I could return the sieve to the tap. When I opened the tap, I showered myself with all the water that rushed through the tap.

No my question to you is: How clean is your sieve?

The Bible declares that streams of living water will flow from us. What is your flow like? Does it drip out like my tap before cleaning it, or does it cause a flood when you open it? How does Jesus put it? “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38)

This scripture declares that rivers of living water will flow from us. If I look around at many Christians that I come into contact with, I sometimes wonder if there is any water at all. Why? Because their sieves are blocked. How did it happen? The impurities of our lives are blocking the flow.

What are all these impurities, and how do I clean my sieve?

Just like my basin tap, I have to start at the beginning. I first have to realise that the water flow is blocked. What does your life look like? Do you exhibit Jesus in everything you do everyday, or not? Maybe their are moments that you are not proud of. You might even have a habit that you are not happy about. Maybe you even use a couple of choice words when a taxi swerves and stops in front of you.

The moment I realise that my sieve is dirty, I can start the cleaning process. I first have to remove the sieve from the tap, and require a spanner or pair of pliers for this. It is also not easy to loosen the sieve, but after exerting a lot of energy, it will come loose. The same applies to our lives. I must decide to break with everything that is wrong in my life. How tight is your sieve? You might even tell me that there is nothing wrong with your sieve, as you are not connected to a pipe with a very strong water flow. You might even live in denial. That is normally the biggest problem. I am all right. There is nothing wrong with my life. I am just not connected to a pipe with a strong flow. That is not what the Bible declares. Jesus did not say that rivers would flow from some people only. No, He declared that whoever believes in Him, rivers of living water will flow from him. If it doesn’t happen, then your sieve is blocked.

But why is it difficult to loosen my sieve? Maybe the problem is with you theology. Maybe you were brought up that one doesn’t talk about you Christianity, as it will almost always cause words. You may even specialise in traditions of man. You say that your dad was brought up and believed this way, as well as his dad and everyone before him. Paul (Saul) was like that before he met Jesus. “And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.” (Galatians 1:14) But then he met Jesus. I know we have to preserve our traditions, but I shouldn’t elevate my traditions to be more important that my relationship with the LORD.

You might say that you are like Moses and that you cannot express yourself well. Remember, the Bible says rivers of living water will flow from you. Give the LORD a chance to work through you; He will anoint your lips. Most times people do not read your words but your life, meaning that your life must be a life filled with living water.

What else can cause the sieve not to loosen? You might still enjoy your life as it is. You might think that by loosening your sieve and cleaning it that you might become like someone you do not really like. I do not know what your reason might be. Ask the LORD to show you, and He will.

We can then start cleaning the sieve as soon as it is loosened. We can get rid of everything that is blocking the water flow. Some of it might be easy to get rid of, other not so easy. But what are all these things that can block my sieve? Let us look at two scriptures that will shed some light on it.

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

“But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;” (Colossians 3:8-9)

This is the list of things that we have to shed. Some people might find it easy to remove all the blockages, while others might find it difficult. It might also reveal to you that you have been so brainwashed by people that you don’t even know what living water looks like. Maybe you need to replace your sieve completely, or in religious terms your doctrine, in order for living water to flow through.

But what does living water look like? Living water is words and deeds that benefit others, and not yourself. When you do something for someone else, you have to do it as if you are doing it for yourself. Jesus himself declared the following: “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” (Luke 10:27). Put differently, it is as follows: I will live my life in order not to benefit myself, but others around me. If I still try and favour myself, or, if I still try and put others down, my sieve is blocked and needs cleaning.

If you do not know what I am talking about, or if you think that you are okay, investigate your life to see which water pipe you are connected to, the one leading from the LORD, or maybe Satan’s pipe, your deeds will tell which one.

In conclusion, how long does the sieve stay clean? As long as I give everything through that I receive from the LORD. The moment that I start filtering things out, my sieve needs cleaning or replacing. Seeking forgiveness from the LORD does this. Remember that sin will cause your sieve to slow down and block the water flow. Remember that this sin could completely block your sieve, but fortunately we can go to Jesus and get forgiveness for our sins. The Blood of Jesus will clean our sieves.

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Moses 3 verse 9 – How do I overcome rejection, inferiority, rebellion and those types of emotions?

What do you struggle with in life? I do not know, but I know what you mean when you tell me that people don’t really like you. I think we all have had a situation in life where we got hurt. Or maybe you are that thick skinned that you do not even realise it.

But where do these feelings come from? Maybe like most people, you made a suggestion to solve a problem and your suggestion was disregarded as being totally illogical or something like that. A lot of people might not even remember why, as you are not interested any longer. Or maybe it has always been like it, ever since you can remember. You are just the black sheep of the family.

Maybe you are in rebellion, as you never get the attention you feel you are entitled to. Maybe your parents are divorced and you got hurt in the process, or maybe you were ill treated by your parents or even your stepparents. Maybe your spouse is rejecting you, or the kids.

We can write down all these reasons why we have these feelings, but I actually want to give you some advice on how to overcome these feelings, doesn’t matter what they are.

The first step is to identify the root cause for this feeling. I would define that as the first time you became aware of this feeling. Maybe it happened while you were playing rugby as a youngster and your dad shouted at you not to drop the ball again. Maybe it was when you realised that you were not welcome. Maybe you find that it happened while your mother was expecting you and said that they didn’t really plan on having you yet. That is the first step. If you cannot find it, ask the LORD to show you. The Holy Spirit will guide you to that moment. It might mean that you have to open up old wounds that you do not want to open. Fortunately once these wounds are open, healing can take place.

The second step in the process is to forgive those who caused this wound. You might say that it is impossible to forgive someone who molested you as a baby, but Jesus declared that we have to forgive seventy times seven times a day. I have been there, and know that it is not easy. In fact, it is the most difficult thing I had to do for years. But it is necessary, as I also have to receive forgiveness from the LORD for my inequities. The prayer Jesus taught His disciples state that I will receive forgiveness as I forgive those who sinned against me. If I cannot forgive, how can I receive forgiveness from the LORD?

My wife Hettie was a full time Christian counsellor for many years, and gave people a pen and paper to use to draw the face of the person that caused this hurt. The person could then tell the picture exactly what they had stored up inside of them. They could deface this picture, as they wanted. What she found was that after such a session, people could actually forgive the ones that caused the hurt. I am not saying that the offender became the person’s best friend, no, but the feeling of hatred or rejection was gone.

Another method I use is to go for a walk. I will then find a church building with a cross in the garden, and stretch myself out before this cross. I will then physically act out taking the hurt from my inner being, and putting it down at the feet of the cross. I will then physically act out taking my forgiveness from the cross. Jesus told us to put our burdens on Him, and then to receive His forgiveness. This might sound and look very funny, but it works for me. I know people might think that I am completely mad lying down before the cross on the grass. It doesn’t bother me, as I know that I receive forgiveness.

If we look at the Tabernacle of Moses, the sequence of events also followed this pattern. The high priest had to first offer up a sacrifice for his own sins on the brazen altar, and then washed himself with the blood of the lamb before he could risk appearing in the holiest of hollies before the presence of the LORD. That is what we have to do. We first have to receive forgiveness ourselves, and that can only happen when I forgive those who sinned against me.

I will not help you at all to continue in unforgiveness. I am only binding myself. I must forgive in order to free myself. The person who sinned against you may even be dead by now, but you are still bound by your own unforgiving. It won’t cost you anything, except to bow in humility before the LORD. But it will free you from this negative influence in your life.

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Moses 3 verse 8 – Which is which, sin or demon?

It is, depending on your beliefs, very difficult to give an answer to this question. On the one hand you will have people that believe that there are no demons, and at the other end of the scale you will find people who credits everything to the workings of demons.

Who is right?

It is actually very interesting to note that when we look at the happenings in the Bible, we find that everything that was written before Israel went into exile, all things, both good and bad, were attributed to the LORD, and everything that was written afterward, all good was from God and all evil came from Satan.

How do I prove it?

“Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye multiplied more than the nations that are round about you, and have not walked in my statutes, neither have kept my judgments, neither have done according to the judgments of the nations that are round about you; Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, am against thee, and will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations. And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations. Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds. Wherefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD; Surely, because thou hast defiled my sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall mine eye spare, neither will I have any pity. A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them. Thus shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted: and they shall know that I the LORD have spoken it in my zeal, when I have accomplished my fury in them.” (Ezekiel 5:7-13)

This does not sound like any good news to me. But, these words were from the LORD. I can already see some of today’s people, if they were alive at that time, breaking curses and declaring Ezekiel’s words null and void.

How do I know that their writer’s attitude changed after being in exile? The books of Samuel were written before they went into exile, while the books of Chronicles were written after. Let us examine the same happenings.

“And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.” (2 Samuel 24:1)

“And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” (1 Chronicles 21:1)

Does this confuse you? I did confuse me. But why did this happen, and why the different ways of writing about the same situation? The writer of Samuel attributed everything that happened to God, while the writer of Chronicles could not believe that good people like David, could do something wrong, and hence attributed bad things to Satan. This is exactly how we react also. When I do something wrong and do not want to accept the consequences, I will attribute it to demonic workings in my life. Why? Because I am alright. Me sin? You must be out of your mind. No, I am such a exemplary member of my church. Me, no I cannot sin anymore, it must be demonic.

We always want to attribute that which causes a rift between the LORD and myself, as demonic. Unfortunately it is not what the Bible declares. “For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion. And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”  (Isaiah 8:11-20)

This scripture tells us the difference between what is right and what is wrong. The first point Isaiah makes is that we shouldn’t always believe everything we are told. No, do not fear what they fear, but fear the LORD. “and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.”

But why do we have to fear Him? We are told that He is love. Is that what you were told? He is also the one that gives both life and death. In today’s life we have forgotten how enormous a God He really is. We treat Him as something we can play with. Something we can switch on when needed, and then put away when not needed.

Let us look at a number of examples we find in the Bible. “And Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of the congregation. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment. And they fell upon their faces. And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun. And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed. Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah.” (Numbers 16:43-49)

When we act incorrectly, or as the Bible puts it, when we sin, either forgiveness but be gotten for it or it has to be requited. The Bible teaches that blood must flow to receive forgiveness. This Jesus came to do, and that is why forgiveness must be asked for in His name in order for His blood to be reckoned for the forgiveness of sins. This is what happened in this scripture. Even though Aaron got forgiveness for the Israelites, fourteen thousand seven hundred people paid with their lives for it. They paid for this sin with their lives.

Another example is from Joshua. “And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done:” (Joshua 7:19-20)

What was the reaction to this? “And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.” (Joshua 7:24-25)

This is what happens when we sin. Maybe that is why we want to give the credit to the devil when we sin. Maybe I am too afraid to face the wrath of the LORD. But unfortunately, if it looks like sin, smells like sin, feels like sin, or tastes like sin, the chances are that it is sin, unless I can blame it on the devil. That is why we find people chasing away demons with names like rebellion, greed, fear, fornication, and all sorts of sins. All because we do not want to admit that we have sinned.

“And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” This is what Jesus meant when He told the disciples to take up their cross daily, and to follow Him. I have to know that I will be given choices everyday to sin or not to sin. What are you going to decide?

We are all told to accept Jesus as our Saviour, but once this is done, we can continue with our sinful life. That is not what the LORD wants. He wants that I will turn away from sin, and to be freed from my sinful life. What does Isaiah declare? “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.” He wants us to live an exemplary life, and for people to see that we are His disciples.

What do we have to teach then? “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20) If we do not call sin a sin, and do not live as a testimony to the LORD, then we are a people who do not know what is happening. Then we cannot bear His light. I know we all want to attribute sin to the devil, but the Bible does not give us any right to do it. No, we have to call sin, sin. Only then can we receive forgiveness, and live in victory.

But Jesus declared that we would drive demons from people in His name? Absolutely. But then I have to be able to distinguish between sin and the works of demons. Let us look at an example in the Bible again.

“And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.” (Mark 5:2-5) This person had a problem. But Jesus freed him. It is unfortunately one of the few examples we find in Scriptures that describes how someone reacted that was demon possessed. In most other cases we are only told that people were freed from demons.

How did they know that these people were possessed by demons? Probably the same way we should know. We have to receive and develop the gift of discernment. We must be able to discern between spirits. If someone starts walking up a wall, or starts doing other so-called wonders, like divining for water, or things that have nothing to do with serving others, the origin of this is most probably demonic, and such a person must be set free.

What about heredity illnesses and other bindings? If someone in your family suffers from a heredity disease, or maybe is caught in poverty for generations, it is possible that it may be caused by a binding or unforgiven sin. Let us take an example. Lets say John suffers from asthma, as did his dad and his grandfather and so on. The cause of this is probably sin, as we know that sickness is caused by sin. What do we have to do? John will have to stand in the gap and ask for forgiveness of these sins. If he does not know what is was, then ask the LORD, and He will show you. This way John will be cured of asthma, and none of his descendants will get it.

What about things like poverty? That is most probably due to a curse that someone has uttered over a family. It could even have been done generations ago. That curse has to be declared null and void, but only if forgiveness for the original reason has been asked for. It could also be as a result of the person not understanding the new covenant. According to the new covenant, we become His responsibility, as the LORD will be our Father. Any real father will ensure that his children have food to eat, and clothes to wear. The same with our heavenly Father. Ask Him to supply you your every need as a result of standing in a covenant relationship with Him, and He will. This He will do if you are obedient to Him and the requirements of His covenant. Always remember Hebrews 13 verse 5: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Don’t expect that He must give you a new house or some other asset that you covet.

What now if people still want to chase demons from me? Ask them first if you could ask for forgiveness of the sin causing the current situation. If they persist, ask them to submit to Jesus, to proclaim Him, and not to proclaim Satan. It might sound very hard on them, but unfortunately I know of people who would even try to change your personality, as everything they see, are demons. To them, the following scripture has become a reality in their lives: “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” (2 Peter 2:19)

So, to conclude. There is sin, and there are demons. But we need the gift of discerning of spirits to be able to know which is which.

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