Messages to a Resurrected Army

Take the Sword of the Spirit
Pray for Boldness
Pray for Clarity of Speech
The Word of Reconciliation
Doing What Is Necessary
No Fooling on Sound Doctrine
Current or Conviction?
Saving Our Children
Overwhelming Conquerors
Attitude Adjustment
What Lies Ahead
The Obligation of Church Leadership
Rebuilding the Temple
First Steps in Rebuilding the Temple
What Lies Ahead
The Role of Prophets
Ingredients for Evangelism
Overcoming Personal Discomfort
Leadership and Perspective
Equipping the Saints
Building Wisely
Serving Your Apprenticeship
Moving To Bigger Things
Congregations in Transition
These Entrust to Faithful Men
The Day of Small Things
By My Spirit
The Last Living Stone
Victory for the Resurrected Army
Saving The World
The Global Commission
The Application of the Great Commission
Publicly and from House to House
Publicly and from House to House Today
Riots, Confusion, & Focus
Straight Talk from Hebrews
More Straight Talk
G.E.A.R. U.P.
God's Financial Backing
The Big Picture
Congregational Goal Setting
Doing A Quality Job
How to do a Quality Job
Be A Quality Congregation
Marks of a Great Church
Marks of a Great Church (Cont.)
Marks of a Great Church (continued)
Awareness of Satan
Destruction of You and Your Family
Satan Will Divide The Church
Satan Will Persecute The church
Satan Will Introduce False Doctrine
Satan Will Make Christianity Illegal
The Church’s Ultimate Victory
Goal Setting
The Goal of an offering for the Poor Saints
Achieving the Goal in Corinth
A Proper Appeal
The Trustworthy Brethren Involved
Confidence and Care for the Corinthians

 

 

Take the Sword of the Spirit

The reason a soldier is a soldier is to fight! Sometimes he stands watch in the dark of the night; sometimes he wastes time in some desolate outpost; but these are merely "in readiness" stances. When the flaming missiles of the enemy are falling, when the troops of the opposition are being mustered into formation, and when his own regiment is called into action by the echoing bugle call, then he is ready to do what a soldier is to do:

Fight!

But how shall he answer the call to charge into battle? Shall he as a first century soldier prepare for the engagement empty-handed? Shall he approach his enemy with sticks? To be effective, he must take his sword.

Thus it is with the Christian soldier. After putting on the full armor of God - having girded his loins with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, having shod his feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, taking the shield of faith, and having put on the helmet of salvation - our soldier is now to take "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). As one whose reason for being a Christian soldier is to fight, and whose only weapon is the sword of the Spirit, the soldier of the cross knows he must take up the word of God in order to do what he was called to do.

The soldier in the resurrected army is exhorted to take up the sword of the Spirit. He is not to lay it down and replace it with Reader's Digest, Guideposts, or Time. He is not to substitute his own thoughts and ideas for those, which have been written by the Wisdom of God. He is not to try to carry some other weapon and give it equal weight with the word of God. He is to take up the sword of the Spirit.

Neither is he to blunt the sword. He is not to dull its edges by banging it on the rocks of human opinion. He is not to put the rubber cap of being nicey-nice over the tip so no one gets hurt. The sword of the Spirit is intended by its Designer to be a sharp weapon, which has the capacity to cut, maim, and pierce its intended victims.

The bugle calling soldiers of the cross into battle sounded 20 centuries ago. Modern soldiers must follow the examples of Christian heroes who have gone before, take those sharp swords out of their scabbards, and charge boldly into the warfare. And remember: only the trumpet announcing the final victory of God's forces is yet to sound.

 

 

Pray for Boldness

Boldness scares people. The timid are afraid of the reprisals, which come to all when one member of their circle speaks out boldly. The wisdom of men would say that the preacher of the word should not be bold, that he should wait until he has a favorable time to proclaim its truths, that he should make sure his audience is prepared to hear his words before he delivers. But there is never a good time, "for the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (I Corinthians 1:18).

The resurrected army will pay close attention to these words by the apostle Paul: "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak" (Ephesians 6:18-20).

The first century church was successful in carrying out the commission of Jesus Christ because there were men like Paul who were extremely bold, and because there were brethren who prayed that he might have that boldness. To be successful today the church needs men who are extremely bold, brethren who will pray that they might have that boldness, and who are willing to stand with them when they too are ambassadors in chains.

 

 

Pray for Clarity of Speech

It is not easy to speak or to write clearly in every day matters. Companies spend millions each year to train their people how to communicate more clearly. Executives are taught to make sure that everyone understands exactly what was agreed upon at the meeting, and exactly what each one's responsibilities are. Even small businesses have to work very hard to ensure that what the customer ordered at the front counter is what is produced by the workers in the back room. Husbands try very hard to share with their wives, and smart families have procedures to keep lines of communication open between parents and their children. It is not easy to speak or to write clearly.

But it is much more difficult to communicate in clear terms the mystery of the gospel because it is intangible, and can be understood only by those hearers who make a real effort to bridge the language barrier and understand spiritual things communicated in spiritual terms. The apostle Paul requests of the church in Colossae: "Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; in order that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak" (Colossians 4:2-4).

The resurrected needs to pray that those who speak and teach can have insight into the mystery of Christ. And the brethren today need to devote themselves to prayer that God will open up a door for the word, and preachers can speak forth the mystery of the gospel with clarity!

Pray, brethren, pray this prayer.

 

 

The Word of Reconciliation

The world is lost The world in its wisdom has not come to know God. Seeking glory from men, they have rejected Him who made all things from the beginning; they suppressed the truth in unrighteousness, and refused to have God in their knowledge. In spite of that, the love of God is so great that He was "in Christ reconciling the world to Himself not counting their trespasses against them" (II Corinthians 5.19).

However, in order for the reconciliation to occur, the alienated need to hear and obey the terms under which a reuniting with God may be realized. So God has an army of resurrected soldiers out in the world whose main purpose as soldiers is to fight to carry the message. "He has committed to us the word of reconciliation" (II Corinthians 5:19). Some key scriptures come to mind:

We are the army of the Lord, bringing true liberation to an enslaved planet. We are carrying the message of reconciliation; we are bringing in the year of jubilee. "For He says, 'At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you'; behold, now is 'the acceptable time,' behold, now is 'the day of salvation' " (II Corinthians 6:2).

 

 

Doing What Is Necessary

Every business, which intends to stay in business periodically has to stop and ask itself, "Why are we in business?" Large companies and small shop owners alike find that there is a tendency to drift away from the original intention of the business, and a continual need to refocus. Thus it is in the church of the living God. "It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance," averred the apostle Paul, "that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (I Timothy 1:15). The "business" of the church is to save sinners, and the record of the first century church shows that they preached the gospel to all creation under heaven. The resurrected army of today must imitate their example, and do what is necessary to carry out the will of the Lord Jesus in truly saving sinners.

Jesus wants the church to grow. He is interested in multitudes being truly immersed into Christ, and working faithfully in local congregations to get the uncompromised word to a lost and dying world. The individual Christian and the local congregation must never forget that it is the business of the church to save souls, and that there are certain things necessary to get the job done:

Biblical conviction, teamwork, and goals.

 

 

No Fooling on Sound Doctrine

What did Jesus see when He came to earth? In His own words, He saw an "unbelieving and perverted generation" (Matthew 17:17), which taxed His patience and love. The overall message of the scripture is quite clear: without the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross, all men would be doomed to an eternity in hell.

But there is another message in the word of God that is equally clear: only true doctrine will save the souls of these lost men. False doctrine sends both the blind teacher and the blind follower into the pit:

Insist on and endure sound doctrine. Let those with itching ears take themselves elsewhere.

 

 

 

Current or Conviction?

The winds of controversy have always blown. And just a puff of wind is enough to blow some people away. But the follower of Jesus must prepare to stand firm in his faith during the strongest hurricanes of peer pressure and the most powerful tornadoes of persecution. As is recorded in the gospel according to John, "Many even of the rulers [of the synagogues] believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God" (John 12:42-43). Paul later described the pressure he personally put on the early Christians: "And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme" (Acts 26:11). The key questions of spiritual survival come down to whether the individual loves the approval of men or the approval of God; is he going to fold due to the prevailing current, or will he stand with conviction?

"You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. The ultimate test of our faith is not only the convictions, which we personally hold, but - even more so - how much conviction we can develop in others. Men without conviction will bend in the face of pressure; only those who operate with full assurance will stand in the day of testing that is about to come on the whole earth.

 

 

Saving Our Children

The raising of children by God’s will has always been a parental responsibility. "Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4) is one scriptural injunction. But the rearing of children in Christ is not an exclusively parental responsibility. Those who lead and shepherd the flock of God have a tremendous obligation to teach parents how to be parents and to provide solid educational programs for the young people in the congregation

The record of the modern church is not good. If you do just a bit of traveling around the country, you will find buildings generally empty of high school and college age young people, and many of those who do happen to be present are not particularly spiritual. If the churches of Christ in America had even been able to save even half of their own young people since World War II, the membership of those congregations would be much greater than what it currently is. When you couple the direct losses with the modern loss of conviction in those who do still attend, the decimation in the ranks is horrifying. Judaism, from the Babylonian captivity onward, without any sort of commission to save the world, had a better record!

What must be done?

The resurrected army needs vision. Each soldier of the cross must look beyond the selfish confines of himself and his family, and join with others in the blessing of common sacrifice to save their children.

 

 

Overwhelming Conquerors

The Holy Spirit, who knows the future as well as the past, has assured His army of certain victory, of total triumph over the forces of evil. There are soldiers of the cross who have wallowed through marsh and hog to carry out their mission for the King. There are those who have given all their financial resources that the rest of the army might march; there are those who have stood on the cutting edge to press the battle of true enlightenment in the fiery halls of academia; and there are myriads who have willingly perished, rejoicing in their persecution for the name of Jesus.

"Who," asked the apostle Paul, "shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, 'For your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.' But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:35-37). There probably are no earthly words which can describe our hypernukomen, our totally awesome; magnificent, splendid triumph in this battle for truth, right, and the souls of men.

But, lest this euphoria of the moment be but a fleeting tide, consider these thoughts:

The resurrected army has a clear vision of victory given by the Lord Himself, the certainty of which has been established by God's record of success in all those recorded physical victories in the Old Testament. Join with the Lord, pick up the sweet smell of victory above the heat of the battle, and crush the opposition. "This is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith" (I John 5:4). We are indeed overwhelming conquerors.

 

 

Attitude Adjustment

Overcoming adversity is the name of the game. No one makes it "to the top" without facing some serious challenges and some major obstacles along the way. This is especially true of the great men of faith as recorded in the Bible. These are men who faced defeat after defeat, and disappointment after disappointment, but who overcame adversity to become conquerors.

The church of the Lord in our time has, and will have, great challenges. Satan, the liar and murderer, master of violence and deception, is at work to create a scene in which the cause of Christ is pictured as outmoded and destroyed. Christians are supposed to hang their heads in shame over their "unscientific beliefs;" they are to wring their hands listlessly in the face of decaying moral order; and they are to shut their mouths helplessly before the onslaught of anti-Biblical legislation, executive branch policy, and judicial flat. Even the dating of our years is being switched from B.C. (meaning "Before Christ") to B.C.E. (meaning "Before Current Era") and from A.D. (from Anno Domini; which means "in the year of our lord") to C.E. ("current era"). Satan's goal is to present an image of his hollow victory as strongly that the world rushes after his illusion, and the army of the Lord lifelessly slogs through the sludge of defeat.

Each soldier in the resurrected army is faced with such a picture, and is faced with his own personal adversities. He needs to draw strength from God through the inspired examples of men who overcame adversity, and where necessary, he needs to undergo serious attitude adjustment so that he marches in the sense of victory. Consider:

These men all kept the vision of victory ever before them as the means by which they maintained their confidence through adversity. As the writer of Hebrews says of Christ: "who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2). Go, and do likewise.

 

 

What Lies Ahead

In the words of Arnos, "I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet" (Amos 7:14). I cannot claim inspiration for the words and perspective, which follow (in fact, anyone who claims to be inspired ought to be pierced with a spear for being a false prophet). But as one who is more than a casual observer of the past, I offer for your consideration a perspective of a major spiritual storm darkening just over the horizon, and also light shining through that darkness. In the somewhat altered language of Charles Dickens, it will be the worst of times, and the best of times.

I regard the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD to be a foreshadow of the destruction of the world at the end of time. As God destroyed the Jews by the armies of Rome because of Jewish rejection of the Messiah, so He will also destroy the world with the hosts of heaven because of its similar rejection of Jesus. As it was the worst of times then, so it will be, in a sense, the worst of times in connection with the coming of our Lord Jesus. Here are three darkening clouds to note:

From a worldly perspective, prospects for the future indeed look bleak. Those who fix their hope on this world either get very discouraged, or pretend not to see the reality in front of them.

But it will be the best of times. God is already laying the groundwork for reaping the greatest harvest in the history of the church. When we realize that there are more people alive on the face of the earth today that have - in total! - died since the days of Noah, we realize how ripe the harvest really is. Here are some powerful preparatory steps the Almighty has taken:

Such are the characteristics of the resurrected army, revolutionary detachments from heaven, who march with a vision of victory over a worn out earth.

 

 

The Obligation of Church Leadership

"Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls says the inspired writ (Hebrews 13:17). There are several obvious implications here: Not everyone is a leader in the church of the Lord; there are leaders in the church; leaders are supposed to lead and leaders are to keep watch over the flock's souls. The rapidly emerging anti Christian policies emanating from Washington, D.C. are setting the stage for a major crisis in local congregations in the not so-distant future. In view of that impending crisis, the leadership of each local congregation has a tremendous obligation to the Lord and to those entrusted to their care.

Leaders in each flock will give an account to the Great Shepherd of the sheep. May the accounting go well.

 

 

Rebuilding the Temple

One cannot help but note the parallels between ancient Israel and the church. Fresh from the crucible, which fired the nation, Israel began with a generation that was faithful to the Lord all the days of Joshua. Step by step, however, Israel began her descent into idolatry and apostatized from her original faith. It finally became necessary, in the wisdom of the Almighty, for Jerusalem to be destroyed and the Temple of Solomon - symbol of the presence of God - to be leveled. As the Lord spoke to the exiles of Israel in Babylon through the prophet Ezekiel: "Thus says the Lord God, 'Behold, I am about to profane My sanctuary, the pride of your power, the desire of your eyes, and the delight of your soul; and your sons and daughters whom you have left behind [in Jerusalem] will fall by the sword' "(Ezekiel 24:21). The gavel of God's judgment fell, and the temple was razed. But after the completion of a 70-year period of captivity, God allowed a remnant to return to the land, and to begin the process of rebuilding the temple. Under the leadership of Zerubbabel the builder, Joshua the high priest, Ezra the scribe, Haggai and Zechariah the prophets, and Nehemiah the governor, the temple was restored, the city rebuilt, and service to the Lord resumed.

The parallel between Israel and the church is striking. Formed from a remnant of honest Jews, the church began with power on the day of Pentecost, 30 AD. Those of true Israel who turned to the Lord and those of the Gentiles who were immersed into Christ in the first century AD constituted a "faithful generation." But the lawlessness the apostle Paul spoke of was already at work, and those who claimed to be "of the church" for the most part descended into idolatry and apostasy. But in the Providence of God, He allowed a step by step "restoration" of His spiritual temple to take place just as He allowed a restoration of the physical temple in the days of Ezra.

These five stages in the restoration of the New Testament church are akin to the restoration of the temple in the days of Ezra and Zerubbabel. The difficulties they faced, the lessons they learned, the challenges from their preachers, and their reliance upon God all stand as divinely inspired markers for us, that we may learn as those to whom the instruction was intended, we who truly are the ones upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

May each soldier in the resurrected army snap to attention at the reading of the Law, and may he learn from the word of God in the examples to follow.

 

 

First Steps in Rebuilding the Temple

The resurrected army of Christ today is called to rebuild the true temple of the Lord. From the time of the first century onward, apostates attempted to move in and desecrate the temple, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. Breeches formed in the walk, and this spiritual temple lay in such ruin that scarce a trace of its original glory could be found upon earth. But there is a God in heaven who wants His only begotten Son to be glorified. And by His grace and mercy, and His Providential control of history, He has allowed the church, this true temple of Jesus, to be in the process of being restored. The spiritual army of Christ, called to rebuild this temple, is charged to examine the inspired pages of history of the restoration of Ezra's day, and to learn the lessons thereof. Come, then, and see, from 530 BC.

There are some lessons here for the Christian soldier:

Learn your lessons well, soldier.

 

 

What Lies Ahead

Nothing important ever gets done without obstacles and opposition. Thus, as the sons of Israel gained some success in reestablishing sacrifices at Jerusalem's altar and in laying the foundation of the temple, their enemies stepped up their attacks. Though subtle at first, their tactics eventually involved bringing in the iron fist of government to stop the Jews from restoring the temple in Jerusalem. As the resurrected army of the Lord is involved in restoring the true tabernacle - the church of the living God - it can expect similar obstacles, and should mentally and spiritually prepare for them.

First the enemies tried to infiltrate, then they used discouragement, then fear, then lawsuits, and finally force of arms. "Then work on the house of God in Jerusalem ceased, and it was stopped until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia" (Ezra 4:24).

The resurrected army of the Lord, at work in restoring the church of Christ, will face similar obstacles and opposition. But we must learn from what is written here, and by the strength which God supplies, that our work of restoration must never cease!

 

 

The Role of Prophets

Sometimes people quit. When the returnees of Judah were supposed to be rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem, they quit. Their enemies discouraged them frightened them, used lawsuits against them, and finally used the force of arms against them. And the Jews quit work on the house of God ceased" (Ezra 4:24).

But God wanted the temple rebuilt. And what God wants done He gets done. But what is significant here is what the Almighty used to get that temple rebuilt - He used preaching from the prophets. "When the prophets, Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them, then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshue the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them supporting them" (Ezra 5:2).

The word of the Lord first came to Haggai. "In the second year of Darius the king, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts, "This people says, 'The time has not come, even the time for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt" (Haggai 1:1,2).

The people were saying that right then was not the time to rebuild. Listen to the voice of the Lord through Haggai as He demolishes their excuses:

Listen to the commentary of the word of God concerning the response to the preaching of Haggai: "Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people showed reverence for the Lord" (Haggai 1:12).

"Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke by the commission of the Lord to the people, saying, 'I am with you,' declares the Lord" (Haggai 1:13).

"So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubabbel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God" (Haggai 1:14).

When the resurrected army gets discouraged or intimidated today, and wants to quit rebuilding the spiritual house of the Lord, the Lord is going to encourage His people through the preaching of those commissioned by Him. And if the people will reverence the Lord, and get to work on the spiritual temple, the Lord will be with them.

 

 

Ingredients for Evangelism

The church evangelizes, or it dies The church gets excited about redemption, or it withers The church broadcasts the word of God or spiritual famine sets in. And the church is only as effective in its evangelizing, as excited about redemption as powerful in its broadcasting the message as the individual saints are personally willing to pick up their responsibilities as soldiers in the resurrected army. Lets examine some of the key ingredients in the development of personal responsibility in evangelism:

Christ's church evangelizes, or it dies. It gets excited about redemption, or it withers. What are you doing, and what can you do to improve as a workman of God, working with friends, relatives, and outsiders?

 

 

Overcoming Personal Discomfort

Some people get so excited about the word of God that they don't feel discomfort in spreading the good news. Most of us, however, have certain mental blocks we must overcome in order to generate the proper amount of excitement, good sense, and discipline necessary to go about preaching and teaching the word of God. Here are some common problems, and (because of space limitations) an abbreviated solution.

All these things require that the Christian extend himself, that he go the extra mile. In the words of our Lord, "If any one wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24).

 

 

Leadership and Perspective

To the leadership of each local congregation belongs the privilege and responsibility of setting the tone or establishing the atmosphere of the local community of saints. As those who will give an account (Hebrews 13:17), these men have the burden of generating the proper attitudes in the congregation. While they are not responsible for the action of each straying sheep, they are accountable to Christ for the direction of the herd.

Leaders in the 20th century church are evangelists and pastor-teachers (Ephesians 4:11), the church's foundation have been originally built upon the apostles and New Testament prophets (Ephesians 2:20). Preachers (evangelists) and elders (pastors) are to work in partnership in the Lord's churches in equipping other saints for the work of service, developing, training, and directing them in their personal growth. There is a perspective – an overall view - that these leaders must have in order for them to do their part in generating the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. These leaders must:

Those who take their leadership responsibilities seriously, in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, will truly receive the unfading crown of glory at the return of the Chief Shepherd.

 

 

Equipping the Saints

Saints do not come miraculously inspired and driven by the Holy Spirit. in the language of the Spirit Himself, "And He [Jesus] gave some as apostles and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11). The saints have to be equipped; they have to be trained; they do not come out of the waters of immersion instantly ready to perform in the church. They have to be equipped in the word, and they have to be equipped to perform certain specific jobs.

  1. The Bible can be proven to be the word of God.
  2. There are no contradictions in the Bible.
  3. Certain basic truths are contained in plain statements of fact.
  4. Plain statements of fact can be used to understand God's definition of key terms like faith, repentance, immersion, the kingdom of heaven, etc.
  5. Symbolic language and the parables can be understood from the plain statements of fact and from the definitions of key terms. Once the term kingdom of heaven has been defined as referring to the church, then the meaning of the parables can be unraveled.
  6. The New Testament interprets the Old Testament.
  7. All this information is necessary to tackle the book of Revelation.

Many of the brethren need to be trained how to reason clearly through and from these principles, not having learned to do so in their "formal" education. The message of the word of God is communicated by "reasoning and persuading" (Acts 19:8). It is here that the devil has his opportunity, blinding "the minds of the unbelieving" (II Corinthians 4:4). It is imperative that the brethren be taught to think clearly, and that they develop convictions based on the word of God, and they in turn can pass those on to others.

 

Congregations which are going to really get the work of the Lord accomplished are those which have two elements in motion:

  1. Good training programs.
  2. People willing to submit to those training programs.

May you, by the grace of the Lord Jesus, get the job done!

 

 

Building Wisely

"You are God's building" (I Corinthians 3:9). Not only is the church of Christ as a whole described as the temple of the Lord, but also each local congregation is a building or temple of God. And as each local building of the Lord is being constructed, the leaders of each congregation have some instructions derived from the building trade laid upon them. The apostle Paul writes, "According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it" (I Corinthians 3:10).

The soldier of the cross will do well to carefully ponder these words: "If any man's work which he has built remains [after the fire], he shall receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire" (I Corinthians 3:14,15).

 

 

Serving Your Apprenticeship

Paul said that he was a "wise master builder." Implicit in the concept of a "master builder" is that an individual must go through some sort of training program; that he must serve as an apprentice, develop his skills as a journeyman, and finally attain the level of master. Joshua served Moses, Elisha poured water on the hands of Elijah, the apostles walked with Jesus, and John Mark bailed out on Barnabas and Paul. Scripturally, the way to become a master builder is to begin by serving your apprenticeship.

Within the Lord's church there must be a general willingness to serve. Many jobs, which need to be completed are not glamorous, exciting, or even necessarily challenging. But if you are willing to serve your apprenticeship, you will gladly do those tasks in order that others might devote themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.

 

 

Moving To Bigger Things

Congregations generally remain small because they think small. If the resurrected army regards itself as having no territory to conquer, or if it thinks the "giants in the land" are too powerful to overcome, it does not conquer. Each local unit of the church of God in Christ Jesus must regard itself as in a period of transition; it must have a vision of itself as moving on to bigger things.

There are boundaries, or course. The gospel is not to be compromised, or subtly hidden away so that it is not so "offensive." Eight people were all who could be reached in Noah's day, and only Lot and his daughters could be salvaged from Sodom and Gomorrah. To have increased in numbers in either of those cases would have been done only by compromising or disguising the message of God.

But, generally speaking again, the local congregation remains small or stagnant, not because the harvest is not plentiful, but because the workers are few. What do we need to recognize, then, to move us on to bigger things?

Yes, there is opposition to the gospel. That was true in the first century. Yes, people are entrenched in the religions of their ancestors. That was true in the first century. Yes, there is increasing governmental opposition to Christianity. That was true in the first century.

The resurrected army needs to march in confidence. Yes, there is opposition and persecution, and even physical death. But the fields are white, and the Lord is counting on us, and "greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world" (I John 4:4). Let's move onto bigger things.

 

 

Congregations in Transition

As units of the resurrected army move into an area, they first lay the foundation for the local church of God. The local communities of the saints are often small to begin with. But as the gospel is preached, and numbers are added to the Lord, the congregation is in transition, and adjustments in thinking sometimes have to be made by some of the brethren.

Growth is a great challenge and learning experience. May each soldier learn to enjoy that challenge, and may all adjustments be made in a manner consistent with the instructions and spirit of the New Testament.

 

 

These Entrust to Faithful Men

Not all Christians are faithful. Not all Christians are trustworthy. However, all are loved, because love is not earned. "We love," said the aged John, "because He first loved us" (I John 4:19). Trust, on the other hand, must be earned. You love your five year old, but you don't trust him to back your car out of your garage. There are many proverbs, which indicate that you cannot trust every person; in fact, the wisdom of Solomon and others indicate that if you trust the untrustworthy, you personally are foolish. "He cuts off his own feet, and drinks violence who sends a message by the hand of a fool" (Proverbs 26:6).

So the word of the Lord comes from Paul to Timothy and to all who would follow in their steps: "The things which you heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also" (II Timothy 2:2). The great challenge for leaders in the resurrected army is to find or develop faithful men who will teach others.

When a murmuring arose in the congregation in Jerusalem because certain widows were being neglected, the apostles said to the congregation, "Select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task" (Acts 6:3). These were obviously faithful, trustworthy men. And, with regard to faithfulness, our Lord brings forth a significant point in the parable of the unfaithful steward: "If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust true riches to you" (Luke 16:11). Let's consider these characteristics of faithful men.

The great challenge for leaders in the resurrected army is to find or develop faithful men. These are the men who can be entrusted with spiritual responsibilities, and who in turn will be able to teach others also.

 

 

The Day of Small Things

The temple of Zerubbabel’s day was built with volunteer labor. The temple of Solomon, which was destroyed by the Babylonian’s in 586 BC, was built with forced labor and in grand style. "Now Solomon had 70,000 transporters. And 80,000 hewers of stone in the mountains, besides Solomon’s 3,300 chief deputies who were over the project and who ruled over the people who were doing the work. Then the king commanded, and they quarried great stones, costly stones, to lay the foundation of the house with cut stones" (I Kings 5:15-17). But poor old Zerubbabel…all he had to work with were the poor returnees from the Babylonian captivity.

"Volunteer labor" is, in a way, fickle. Because the rewards for the volunteers are intangible, the laborers tend to quit easily - or nothing in the world will stop them – you get both extremes. Thus it was in the days of Zerubbabel’s reconstruction of the temple, and thus it is in the days when the resurrected army is restoring the spiritual temple of the Lord, the laborers tend to quit easily, or nothing in the world can stop them.

Poor old Zerubbabel’s army quit. Their enemies frightened them, threatened them, and finally forced them to quit. But the Lord raised up the prophet Haggai and Zechariah to preach to the people and when the people started working again, nothing in this world could stop them.

Volunteers have trouble with small things. There is recognition, which comes to the volunteer who does big things. But for the so-called little fellow who carries out all the minute details there is little recognition. Imagine yourself as a worker on Zerubbablel’s temple. The foundation is laid, and the prospects in front of you are several years of day after day, back-breaking labor of cutting, hauling, and setting stones in place. All this is with no pay, and the small mention of your name in a list of several hundred "to whom thanks is also given." You might just decide that it’s not worth it, there is no appreciation here, and you’re taking your tools and going home.

Hear, then, the word of the Lord: "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will finish it. Then you will know that the Lord has sent me[Zechariah] to you. For who has despised the day of small things?" (Zechariah 4:9,10). God had the prophets keep preaching to the people so that they could keep the proper perspective, so that they could know that their labor would not go unnoticed or unrewarded by the Almighty. "And the elders of the Jews were successful in building through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo" (Ezra 6:14)

The Lord Jesus reminds us of the importance and the reward of carrying out the small things. "He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man in the name of righteous man shall receive a righteous cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward." (Matthew 10:41,42).

So, volunteers in the resurrected army, keep on cheerfully cutting those stones. Keep on whistling as you haul those bricks. Keep on singing as you slap, slosh, slap the mortar in place, remembering that you are working on this spiritual temple for the glory of the Lord. You will not lose your reward.

 

 

By My Spirit

Man gets to thinking that he is really something. "My money did this," says one. "My intelligence devised this, "says another." "My hands built this," says a third. "My people skills accomplished this," says another. And, "My armies conquered this," says the last.

But who are these who boast, who are they but dust of the earth? Who are these who speak great, swelling words, whose breath is in their nostrils? Who is this who says he came, he saw, and he conquered? "So then it does not depend on the man who wills of the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might by proclaimed throughout the whole earth’" (Romans 9:16,17). As our Lord Jesus explained to the Roman governor Pilot "You have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above" (John 19:11).

The word of God contains, among other things of course, a record of those who thought they were to be built by their own might. And conquered by their own power.

So when it came time for Zerubbabel to finish the restoration of the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, these famous words from the Most High were delivered by Zechariah the prophet: "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel , saying,’ Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6)

It was painfully obvious to Zerubbabel and his Jewish cohorts that if the temple was going to be restored, that it would be by the Spirit of the Lord. By the same token, the spiritual temple of the Lord today is going to by restored, "not by might not by power," but by the Spirit of the Lord. All the man-made church-growth techniques, Bible colleges, titles, degrees, and programs are simply an attempt to build by human might and human power.

The very simple equipping and encouraging of each saint to go, make disciples, immerse those disciples, and teach those disciples to observe all that Jesus commanded will get the job done. Thus says the Spirit of the Lord.

 

 

The Last Living Stone

It was a great day when the tabernacle of Moses was completed. The word of God records, "Then the cloud covered the tent of the meeting, and glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it. And the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle" (Exodus 40:34,35). When the house was completed, the Lord moved in.

It was a great day when the temple of Solomon was completed. The word of God records, "And it came about when the priests came from the holy place[after putting the ark of the covenant in its proper location], that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord." (I Kings 8:10,11). When the house was completed, the Lord moved in.

But the Lord allowed the house, which Solomon built to be profaned because of the idolatry and rebellion of the children of Israel. The words of Solomon were empty: "I have surely built You a lofty house, a place for Your dwelling forever." (I Kings 8:13). Empty words from an empty king, who allowed his wives to destroy his own devotion to the one true God.

After the temple site lay vacant for 50 years, work on its reconstruction was begun by Zerubbabel, ancestor and foreshadow of Jesus, the true builder of the true house of God. The word of Lord came to Zechariah the prophet, encouraging people after the construction of the temple had ceased. "What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel, you will become a plain, and he will bring forth the top stone [of the temple] with shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it’" (Zechariah 4:7).

Zerubbabel and those who worked with him were being encouraged by the great Jehovah. While the task seemed impossible to them, like a great mountain looming before them, God would make it possible, like crossing a plain. "Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘If it is to difficult in the sight of the remnant of the people in those days, will it also be too difficult in My sight?’ declares the Lord of hosts." (Zechariah 8:6). God was going to work with them, and, against seemingly impossible odds, the last or top stone would be moved into place, by the grace of God.

But as important as Zerubbabel’s temple was, it was nothing compared to the temple of the Lord, which is being built today. Modern Zerubbabels have the assurance from Almighty God that those mountainous obstacles before them will become level plains. It was really to the church and not those of Zechariah’s day that these words were written: "If it is too difficult in the sight of the remnant of the people in those days, will it also be too difficult in My sight?"

The Father in heaven is intensely interested in the construction of His spiritual house. He is watching over the placement of each living stone in this construction of His spiritual house. He is watching over the placement of each living stone in this house and he is continually walling up its breeches and sharing up its defenses. It is His house.

Someday soon the great event will occur. The top stone of this spiritual house – the last living stone – will be put in place with shouts of "Grace, grace to it!" And the spiritual temple of the Lord will finally be complete. Jesus will come, and the glory of the Lord will fill the tabernacle. When the house is complete, the Lord will move in.

Work, brother, work. Who knows when that last immersion of that last repentant sinner will occur, and the God of heaven will declare an end to the earth, and dwell in the house made without hands which He has prepared for Himself?

 

 

Victory for the Resurrected Army

The troops are gathering. Satan is step by step setting up his regime for global tyranny. On every imaginable front, the truths of God are being attacked. The devil is in the process of deceiving every nation in the four corners of earth and is gathering them together for war. The clink of Armageddon’s armor can be heard by those who have the discerning ear.

But how are things in Zion, in the city of the living God? "Then I lifted up my eyes and looked," said Zechariah, "and behold, there was a man with a measuring line is his hand. So I said ‘Where are you going?’ And he said to me, ‘To measure Jerusalem, to see how wide it is and how long it is.’ And behold, the angel who was speaking to me was going out, and another angel was coming to meet him, and said to him, ‘Run. Speak to the young man. Saying. "Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls, because of the multitude of men and cattle within it. For I," declares the Lord, "will be a wall of fire around her and I will be the glory in her midst."’" (Zechariah 2:1-5). Jerusalem, the church of Christ, figuratively speaking without walls, and with the glory of God in her midst, has many people inside its boundaries.

But there is trouble on the horizon. Gog and Maygog are being gathered, as Ezekiel prophesied. "And after many days you [Gog, Maygog, Beth-Togarmah, etc] will be summoned, in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel…and they are living securely…And you will go up, you will come like a storm, you will be like a cloud covering the land, you and all your troops, and many peoples with you." (Ezekiel 38:8,9). You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud to cover the land." (Ezekiel 38:16)

Should the people of God be afraid? Should spiritual Israel tremble like an aspen leaf? Is the city, though unwalled, defenseless? Hear the voice of the Lord: "It will come about in my last days that I shall bring you [Gog, Maygog, etc] against My land, in order that the nations may know Me when I shall be sanctified through you before their eyes, O Gog…And it will come about on that day, when Gog comes against the land of Israel…that My fury will mount up in My anger." (Ezekiel 38:16,18)

Christians have come up out of the watery graves of immersion. The Spirit of God came into them, "and they came to life, and they stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army" (Ezekiel 37:10). But this final victory for the resurrected army is clearly the Lord’s. "And I saw," said John, "the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies. Assembled to make war against Him who sat upon the [white] horse, and against His army. And the beast was seized. And with him the false prophet…these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat upon the horse…" (Revelation 19:19-21). "And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:10). "And I shall magnify Myself, sanctify Myself, and make Myself known in the sight of many nations, and they will know that I am the Lord." (Ezekiel 38:23).

Rejoice, O army of Israel. The day of the Lord, burning like a furnace, is coming soon. "The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to God." (Proverbs 21:31)

 

 

Saving The World

God has always had a true global perspective. When God created Adam and Eve in His image He told them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth" (Genesis 1:28). Nine generations later by the time of Noah "the earth was corrupt in the sight of God and the earth was filled with violence" (Genesis 6:11). And God, with His true global perspective, sent a global Flood to rid the earth of its global violence and corruption, and to begin afresh with Noah and his family. Listen to the earth: the greatest catastrophe of all history was due to moral pollution.

After the Flood, God began working with Noah and his descendents, beginning particularly with Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees. As the message and plan of God threaded its way through history, it is clear that God never lost His global perspective of saving the world.

Gad has the true global perspective. The world is still polluted through sin, and the loving Father has engaged Himself in a major rescue operation, saving an endangered species called "truth-seekers." He has followed that up with a massive clean-up and reclamation program, cleansing their consciences through the sprinkled blood of Christ when their bodies are washed with pure water. The next global catastrophe brought on by moral pollution will be the destruction of the world by fire rather than by water. God wants all men throughout the world to be saved from that destruction.

 

 

The Global Commission

When God had properly prepared the world, Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, His purpose being to save the whole world. "But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons" (Galatians 4:4,5). Again, the apostle Paul emphasizes, "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). The death of Christ on the cross, and the redemption associated with it, is the demonstration of God's love for all mankind, and His willingness to greatly extend Himself for their salvation.

Following Jesus' resurrection from the dead, He appeared to the apostles over a period of forty days, "speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). And these things concerning the kingdom of God primarily had to do with the apostles' and future disciples' carrying the message of salvation to the world - a global commission. Note these accounts:

As the synoptic gospels close with the instructions to spread the message of the Christ throughout the whole world, the book of Acts begins with this same global commission to the apostles, and later extends it to the apostle Paul.

The apostles and first century Christians received their marching orders to get the gospel to the world. This global commission to the resurrected army has never been rescinded.

 

 

The Application of the Great Commission

The last words of Jesus on earth were to spread the word to the ends of the earth. The first century church took the Great Commission to preach the gospel to the whole creation seriously: This gospel "was proclaimed in all creation under heaven" (Colossians 1:23). The question is whether the 20th century church (what there is left of it) and the 21st century church (if the world lasts so long) will take the Great Commission as seriously.

Properly understood, carrying out the commission of Christ is not a burdensome undertaking. In addition to saving countless souls who would otherwise be lost for all eternity, there are some real blessings, which accrue to those individuals and congregations who will seriously carry out the goal of preaching the unvarnished, uncompromised gospel throughout the world

The Lord is wise and good. He could have had the angels carry the message of salvation to men. But by His grace He has allowed each Christian and each congregation to be full partners in the spread of His glorious word, and the blessings which result overflow, to the praise of His glory through Jesus Christ. Amen!

 

 

Publicly and from House to House

The intensity and desire of the apostles and first century Christians to broadcast the word of God is clearly recorded in the scriptures. When the apostles were first flogged and ordered to preach no more in Jesus' name, they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer shame for Christ. "And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ" (Acts 5:42). Nothing, nor nobody, was going to shut their mouths. As Paul later said, "I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching publicly anal from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:20,21). The twin-pronged attack of public proclamation and teaching in the homes is the one, which conquers.

They did it - publicly, and from house to house. If we are going to accomplish God's work today, we are going to get it done the same way - publicly, and from house to house.

 

 

Publicly and from House to House Today

The first century church did it - publicly, and from house to house. If we are going to get the job done today, we are going to get it done the some way - publicly, and from house to house. But because of the modern false doctrines we face, and because of the way people live in 20th century America there are certain factors we must keep in mind as we, the resurrected army, get on with the work.

But, in focusing on house to house work, the questions come: How do we get the job done? What is available for help? What must we do?

The church of the Lord, the resurrected army, must take the offensive. Each congregation must move forward, teaching and preaching publicly and from house to house, as rapidly as it possibly can. Time is short!

 

 

Riots, Confusion, & Focus

In April of 1992 riots broke out in Los Angeles following a not guilty verdict handed down by the jury in regard to four L A policemen and their rugged arrest of a black man, Rodney King. The results of the riots: 55 dead, 2300 wounded, and millions of dollars worth of property destroyed. In a throwback to the Watts violence and other "civil rights" outbreaks of the 1960's, operating behind the scenes of the "spontaneous" riots of 1992 were the California Workers Patty, the Trotskyite Workers Party, and others of their revolutionary ilk. These riots are but a precursor of what is yet to come.

In his powerful late 1960's presentation, Anarchy, U.S.A., G. Edward Griffin outlined five steps revolutionaries systematically use on the nations of the world to break down their internal law and order, and used to set the stage for world-wide martial law in The New World Order under the aegis of the United Nations.

  1. Divide the people
  2. Create the appearance of popular support
  3. Neutralize the opposition
  4. Dramatize demands with "non-violent" demonstrations
  5. Outbreak of violence, and imposition of martial law in preparation for final revolution

These elements have been at work for sometime, and have deeply imbedded themselves in the fabric of American and Western society. The people are not only being split along racial lines, but the environmentalist movement, the feminist movement, the "children's rights" movement, the "abortion rights" movement, and now the perverted homosexual movement are shredding America. The media gives, as an example, the "gay rights" movement favorable publicity, creating the appearance of popular support reaching even to the White House. Those who would speak out against homosexuality as an "alternative lifestyle" are saddled with the invectives of "hate speech" and "homophobic." The "non-violent" demonstrations are occurring, complete with "Dikes on bikes" and open perversion on parade in Washington D.C., and other cities. And some of the reactionary violence these open displays were intended to perpetrate are beginning to occur. These are but a precursor of what is yet to come.

The resurrected army of the Lord must recognize that these times simply parallel those of Jerusalem when she approached her 70 AD destruction. The people were split into fighting factions, the immorality was great, law and order had broken down, and disaster was just around the corner. Concerning these times, our Lord had predicted some 40 years earlier: "At that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many. And because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold" (Matthew 24:11,12).

The brethren need to remember that this world is not our home. Regardless of the reaction of the Gentiles trapped in the circumstances, which surround them, the child of God is to remember that he is to act, rather than to react. As a soldier in the resurrected army, he is to remember the words of Paul: "If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth" (Colossians 3:1,2). Though things are confused on earth, things have not changed where Christ is. Focus on Him!

 

 

Straight Talk from Hebrews

Our situation today parallels that of first century Jerusalem as she approached her 70 AD destruction. As the riots and political shake-ups rocked Jewish society, the people were disoriented, lawlessness and looting increased, people's love grew cold, and destruction overwhelmed them. The book of Hebrews was written to prepare the Hebrew Christians for that imminent destruction. So as we look at Hebrews, we can get, among other things, some positive admonitions from the Holy Spirit through the writer of Hebrews on how to handle ourselves during the times which lie ahead.

As the rotting corpse of Judaism was surrounded by vultures because of her rejection of the Messiah, so the rotting corpse of the world as it approaches its end is surrounded by vultures because of its rejection of the Messiah. Let us then be faithful in the assemblies; let us not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin; and let us endure suffering, focusing on our reward.

 

 

More Straight Talk

The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD at the hands of the Romans was a devastating event. Secular historians tell us that the Romans systematically cut the Jews apart in case they swallowed gold to get it out of the city, that they raped and ripped women, and threw the babies over the city walls. Jesus had this to say, 40 years before these events happened: "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are in the midst of the city depart, and let not those who are in the country enter the city; because these are the days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled. Woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land, and wrath to this people, and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21:20-24).

In the face of that oncoming onslaught, the writer of the book of Hebrews gave instructions that would help first century Christians hang on to their faith. The resurrected army today faces a similar onslaught. The soldier of the cross will do well to listen to these instructions and apply them carefully to himself and his family. We have seen that the Holy Spirit does not want His soldiers to forsake the assembly of the saints, or to be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. He wants the Christian to endure suffering, to hold his faith firm to the end. And He has other important instructions:

The Christian soldiers who march onward must keep these six points in mind, and they must begin now. As Jesus Himself said, "For if they do these things in the green tree, what will happen in the dry?" (Luke 23:31).

 

 

G.E.A.R. U.P.

Get Excited About Redemption, Uplifted People! In Acts chapter three, Peter and John healed a man who had been lame from birth. This man was excited about his being healed and his excitement gathered a crowd. If this man could get excited about being healed physically how much more should the Christian be excited about being healed spiritually in the redemption of his soul?

In Luke chapter 7, as Jesus dined with Simon the Pharisee a woman of poor reputation came in and began to wet Jesus' feet with her tears and to wipe them with her hair. When the Pharisee began to wonder about what sort of "prophet" this Jesus might be who didn't even know what sort of woman this was who was touching Him, Jesus taught a lesson on forgiveness. "For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little" (Luke 7:47). The basic principle is that if we don't perceive that we have been forgiven very much, we don't love very much. On the other hand, if we really love God deeply because of our consciousness as to how much He forgave us, that will be translated into love for our fellow man. And love for our fellow man is first of all concerned about his redemption and His eternity.

So how can the resurrected army maintain and increase its consciousness of God's redemption? The following suggestions, if the individual soldier of Christ will practice them, will result in a deeper appreciation for the forgiveness found in Christ, greater love for God, and greater concern and action in behalf of the lost.

Maintaining and increasing your consciousness of God's redemption will cause you to love God and your fellow man more and more. So... G.E.A.R. U.P.!

 

 

God's Financial Backing

Sometimes the local congregation is scared. Take the church in Corinth as an example. The apostle Paul is in the process of collecting a goodly sum of money from the Gentile congregations to take to the poor saints in Judea, and is motivating them to individually contribute, without that contribution being affected by covetousness. When an individual would look at his own personal finances, or the church leadership would examine the congregation's finances, it would be generally pretty easy to say, "We'd like to help, but we just don't have it." The apostle has already noted how the Macedonians have impoverished themselves, giving beyond their ability, participating in this gracious offering for their fellow brethren from the circumcision. The congregation would thus tend to be afraid that the apostle was pushing them beyond their limits.

A modern congregation of the resurrected army might feel the same way today about some of the demands placed on them to spread the gospel, or to share with those laboring far away. Listen to these Holy Spirit inspired points to the congregation of saints in Corinth:

God used the apostle Paul and others with him to bring an offering to the poor brethren in Judea. Through Paul this ministry produced thanksgiving throughout the brotherhood of the first century church, and both the giver and the receiver were blessed. May we remember these lessons, and extend ourselves voluntarily for the great spiritual causes among true brethren today. God has His resources available to those who have faith enough to use them!

 

 

The Big Picture

There are two pieces of information which help an individual to he motivated, two questions which he asks: "What is the big picture?" and' "What is my part in this picture?" As the apostle Paul writes to the church in Corinth, he has made it clear what each Christian can do to help the poor brethren in Judea; give abundantly, as the Lord has prospered each. As he closes his appeal to the brethren in Aehais, he paints the big picture so that each could see how important his contribution is. Soldiers in the modern resurrected army will pay careful attention here, because the big picture has not changed since the days of the first century.

A key part of the big picture is for each Christian to see in the other's necessity his opportunity. Sometimes people's needs are self-generated through poor judgment or lack of discipline; sometimes these needs are generated through large scale forces that the Majesty on high has set in motion. In either case the soldier in the resurrected army must recognize his responsibility and his opportunity for God to be glorified in his generosity, and to realize what bonds of love can be established through this sharing. God works through Christians so that which is written may be fulfilled: "He scattered abroad, He gave to the poor, His righteousness abides forever!"

 

 

Congregational Goal Setting

The congregations of the first century serve as examples for us in the closing portions of the 20th century. How they handled the problems they encountered, and how they worked through the great challenges before them are recorded in the sacred writ that we may profit from their experience. In particular details of a major offering from the Gentile churches for their impoverished Jewish brethren are recorded that we might see how to set some congregational goals, and that we might see how to spiritually work together to accomplish those goals. Leaders in God's resurrected army in particular need to pay attention to this great example, and govern themselves accordingly.

One of the applications of these lessons today has to do with congregations' setting spiritual goals, and how to go about achieving them. Leaders in the Lord's church should make sure that the commitments they make are in line with scripture, and that they have truly prayed for good judgment before they go ahead. Then the spiritual obligation of the congregation should be clearly set forth, and the responsibility of each individual Christian must be delineated. The qualifications of those who lead the project should be put forth, so that all things are done honorably in the sight of men and God. And the congregation should then be motivated by scriptural principles using Paul's exhortation to the church in Corinth as a model.

These types of goals are necessary. Without specific goals congregations drift along, maybe doing some good, but without really accomplishing what needs to be done. Had not Paul and others set goals for the offering for the saints in Jerusalem, all there would have been would be good intentions. Goals give direction and meaning to activity. Goals intensify activity and increase efficiency. Goals provide the necessity of and the blessings of teamwork. Praise God for His great wisdom, His unspeakable gifts in so many ways!

 

 

Doing A Quality Job

"Let each man be careful how he builds," wrote the apostle Paul. He was speaking of building in local congregations, specifically as he wrote to those who followed in his footsteps in Corinth. The implication of these words is that a workman can build the church of God poorly or he can build well, just as in the construction of a physical building. And, just as in the physical construction trades there are those who have experience and who build to please their Master, there are those who build not to last but to get their money and get out, and there are those who are inexperienced. The dishonest guys we can't do much about. But the honest and inexperienced are to be exhorted to do a quality job of spiritual construction.

"Do you see a man skilled in his work?" asks the wise author of Proverbs. "He shall stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men" (Proverbs 22:29). The point of the proverb is that a skilled craftsman will be honored for his work; he will be honored in the presence of kings. Hear, then, brother in Christ, the skill, which will honor you before the great King: "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth" (II Timothy 2: 15). God wants us to be skilled in handling the word of truth. In this particularly we want to do a quality job.

Certain very positive things happen when the word of God is presented skillfully. We are not talking about earthly oratory expositions and worldly entertainment pretensions of presentations of the word of God. We are speaking of solid scriptural rebuking, reproving, and exhorting ins knowledgeable and understandable manner. And when this is done by many members of the local body of Christ, the impact of God's resurrected army is awesome. Here are some of the areas where Saints must do a quality job of presenting the word of God:

When a quality job is done in these areas, with a consistent emphasis on basic truths of the word of God, then small congregations grow into large congregations, and large congregations split off into two or more, and the word of God keeps on spreading and being glorified. He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, will set an open door before those quality workmen who do not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.

 

 

How to do a Quality Job

Sooner or later, the spread of the message of Christ comes down to the presentation. Sooner or later, the individual Christian needs to present the gospel of Christ to his neighbor, his friend, his fellow worker, his family. Sooner or later, the message of the cross needs to be presented publicly to a Bible study group, or in the assembly, or to a group of interested hearers. Sooner or later, each soldier in the resurrected army finds himself in the position that he needs to preach or teach the message of the gospel of the glory of Christ, and that it is important for him to be able to do a quality job!

How does the child of God develop to the point where he can do this quality job? What sorts of steps can he take to ensure that when his time to perform has come, that he can step up and meet the challenge? How does he become a "workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15)? Consider the following:

If each man or woman in the Lord would carefully practice the above suggestions, he would be ready to do a quality job any time of sharing, individually or in a group, the wonders of the gospel of Christ. He would always be "ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is within you" (I Peter 3:15).

 

 

Be A Quality Congregation

The church in Antioch was a quality congregation. This congregation, in the Roman province of Syria, was an aggressive congregation from its inception, with a massive amount of involvement by each Christian. "So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose in connection with Stephen," begin the inspired records, noting that the martyrdom of Stephen as recorded in Acts 7 set off a widespread scattering of individual soldiers of the cross, "made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone" (Acts 11:19). "But," continue the accounts, "there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks [Gentiles] also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord" (Acts 11:20,21). The church in Antioch was a quality congregation.

What are some of the characteristics of a quality congregation, and what can we do to be quality congregations today?

Antioch was a quality congregation. The word of the Lord sounded forth from them into Western Asia and Europe. The first congregation, which was a mixture of Jew and Gentile was in Antioch, and this congregation has the distinction of being the place where disciples of Christ were first called Christians. Let us look to their example today, and spread the word with the same zeal and conviction, which they did. Onward, Christian soldiers!

 

 

 

Marks of a Great Church

The word great is a superlative word, and one not to be used too freely. So when the Holy Spirit, in His inspired word, uses the word great, the soldier in the resurrected army should take note. The first century church was indeed a great church, and we have wanted to note from the scripture some marks of a great church so that we in the 20th century (and the beginning of the 21st, if the Lord tarries) might do our part to make the contemporary church a great church also

Great power, great grace, great fear, and great multitudes were three marks of the great church in the first century. I have an idea that great fear is where we need to start today, and the other "greats" will follow utter.

 

 

 

Marks of a Great Church (Cont.)

There are always those who wish to be great without paying the price. Our Lord Jesus was the greatest to ever put foot on the face of the earth, but He suffered the greatest persecution and died the greatest death. There are those who would like to be a great Messiah like Jesus, but who certainly would not, and could not, pay His price. Similarly, there are those in the 20th century who would like for the church to be as great as it was in the first century, but without the church paying the price. Consider the following characteristics of that great first century church:

Great persecution, great uproar, great dispute, and even great dissension within did not stop the great church of the first century. Let us recognize that great forward movement always creates great resistance, and rejoice in the progress of the gospel.

 

 

 

Marks of a Great Church (continued)

In the midst of great persecution and great dissension, there are also some great positive things, which happen to a great church. There are great men of God with a great congregation, and at times determined by the Lord, He uses these men in a great way. It is important that members at the church not he so involved in their own problems or families or circumstances that they miss their great moments in history. Think about these great events in the history of the first century church:

If soldiers in the resurrected army will search the word with great eagerness, and, experience great joy at the immersion and continuing steadfastness of individuals in Christ, then the great learning will become evident to the world as the Lord wills it, and there will be those times of great hush and great pomp in the midst at which the gospel of the glory at Christ is proclaimed. These are truly marks of a great church.

 

 

 

Awareness of Satan

There really is a devil. One of his goals is to get people to believe that he does not exist, that he is a fairy tale figure, a throwback to some ignorant, benighted time in the past, before modem, enlightened man gained all his wonderful scientific knowledge. Another of his goals, if he fails to accomplish the first, is for men to simply lose their consciousness of his actions, to cease to be aware that the "prince of the power of the air" is at work, making his sinister suggestions through sundry sensual appeals. But, in spite of men's lack of belief, or lack of consciousness, the devil is real, and is hard at work. And one of the purposes of the word of God is to reveal to men Satan's existence, and to expose to their spiritual view his actions.

Our Lord Jesus was constantly aware of the cunning of His adversary, and checked him at every turn. When the tempter met Jesus in the wilderness after His forty days of fasting, Jesus was ready with a memorized Old Testament. When the devil incited His home synagogue to kill Him, He walked through the crowd. When Satan worked with the multitudes so that they would want to make Him an earthly king, He hid on the mountain. When the destroyer worked with a Jewish conspiracy to ensure the death of the Messiah, Jesus kept Himself free from sin so as to be ready for His death as the pure Lamb of God. As He Himself said, "I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me" (John 14:30). Praise be to our God for our Lord Jesus Christ, for even in His death He conquered Satan and sin, and in His resurrection He was absolutely triumphant over Satan and his spiritual rulers of darkness. "When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him" (Colossians 2:15). And, as the writer of Hebrews put it, Jesus rendered "powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Hebrews 2:14).

But, in God's will, the triumph of Christ over the prince of darkness is not so abject that the soldier in the resurrected army is unconcerned about the deceiver's activities. Both the apostle Peter and the apostle Paul have some somber warnings for those who have enlisted in the cause of Christ.

Jesus was continually aware of Satan, and governed Himself accordingly. Peter was continually aware of Satan, and governed himself accordingly. Paul was continually aware of Satan, and governed himself accordingly. Are you continually aware of Satan, and governing yourself accordingly?

 

 

 

Destruction of You and Your Family

The devil is a killer. He wants to destroy your life, and the life of your family. In the words of our Lord Jesus, "He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies" (John 8:44). Let us go back to "the beginning," and learn how Satan destroyed the first family on earth, and then take some positive measures to ensure that it does not happen to our own.

So how can we stop the slaughter?

Individually, we must obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must check the spread of destruction personally by being immersed in Jesus' name for the remission of past sins, and, through the Holy Spirit and commitment to Christ and His church, overcome sin in our own lives.

And as families, we must implement the teachings of Jesus Christ. Children must be trained up in the way they should go. They must be extracted from the government school system, and worked with in congregational Monday through Friday educational ministries. They must be taught to work with their hands in that which is good. They must be disciplined corporally with the rod when necessary. They must be prayed with, loved, hugged, and pushed down the road of life. Children must be shown by their parents that attendance at all services of the church is a joyful and important activity, that Bible reading, prayer, and spread of the gospel are not just talked about, but actually done.

"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:31,32). The devil must be firmly resisted in the home, and the positive principles of Christ must be diligently implemented.

 

 

Satan Will Divide The Church

The church is the whole plan of God. Just as the church trusts Christ as her husband, and is confident that He will do what He has said that He will do, so Christ also trusts the church, and has counted on her to be His helper in accomplishing His task on the earth. Thus He calls her his bride; He calls her the kingdom, the family of God, the temple of the living God, the redeemed of the earth, His body, and a host of other endearing and uplifting affections. God is counting on the church, the whole church, and nothing but the church.

Satan knows this. So he engages in "monkey-wrenching." He does everything he can to foul up the church's working machinery, he puts legal roadblocks in its way, and he "spikes" certain timber in the path of the spread of the word of God so that the one who lays the gospel saw at the root of the trees is maimed or killed when he contacts this "hidden reef" in the love feast. He works to divide the church, to get the congregations so fighting among themselves that they cannot accomplish the plan of God.

What are some of the techniques the master of division and deception uses?

Satan is the one who is behind the division game. But the way to beat him at his game is to have the attitude of Christ and willingly sacrifice ourselves for the gospel. "And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). "If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me," (John 12:26), said our Lord Jesus. When we really have the sacrificing attitude of Christ, we can conquer, and Satan cannot divide us.

 

 

Satan Will Persecute The church

The natural tendency of the flesh is to avoid pain. And persecution by definition involves pain. Therefore the flesh lends to avoid persecution. In the devil’s war against God, he uses persecution and threat of persecution to shut the mouths of those who would otherwise speak he simply cranks up the pressure of resistance until very little gospel flows through the conduits

But the early church faced intense persecution and faced it successfully. Satan was not able to shut their mouths.

The soldier in the resurrected army knows when he signs up that he is in for a fight. He has counted the cost. He knows that "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (II Timothy 3:12). Satan's attempts to hinder him do not succeed, for he marches on with the one hope of his resurrection fixed firmly in his mind's eye; he is looking for his approval to come from the Lord at the blessed hope and appearing of his great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. And he marches, armed for persecution, rejoicing when he is considered worthy to suffer shame for the sake of his Savior and King, the Lord Christ.

 

 

Satan Will Introduce False Doctrine

False doctrine will kill you! We are freed from our sins in obedience to the form of the doctrine to which we were committed, our immersion into Christ being the form or mold of the likeness of the doctrine of Christ expressed in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension to glory. Thus, our Adversary, Satan, would like to adulterate the gospel of God by introducing just a small amount of strychnine into our gospel food, so that we are poisoned spiritually. Since the soldier in the resurrected army moves on his spiritual belly, so to speak, he must pay close attention to the purity and wholesomeness of his intake.

The word of God itself, recognizing that the Christian must live off every word which proceeds from the mouth of God, has a number of serious and solemn warnings about the sneaky introduction of false doctrine. Hear, then, the words of the Lord as He speaks from heaven:

These wolves pervert the plan of salvation; they attempt to widen the narrow gate, which leads to life. They disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness while they lie to people about the word of God, when they are in fact servants of the dark angel who disguises himself as an angel of light. They indicate that a person can be saved without repenting, or being immersed for the remission of his sins, and wolfishly smile in the name of unity and brotherly love. And the word of God clearly establishes that they are on their way to hell.

Satan will do everything he can to introduce fake doctrine into the church, because fake doctrine kills. Beware, soldier, beware!

 

 

Satan Will Make Christianity Illegal

Suppression of the truth is more dangerous than competition. The truth of the word of God can win in the face of any competition, because those who will take the time to examine the claims of the word of God can prove to themselves that the message of the scripture is true, and they can also understand what it says. So the devil and his agents seek to suppress the church of the living God by destroying her freedom to preach the living word. These are those who, in the language of Paul, suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).

Over the centuries wars have raged on the surface of this planet, and ultimately all those wars have to do with the war of darkness against the light. The hosts of the prince of darkness have endeavored to destroy political freedom in every nation on earth in order to prevent men from being saved and coming to a knowledge of the truth. Enter political oppression that darkness might gain suppression of the truth.

Thus it was in the first century. Shortly after the beginning of the church in Jerusalem as was prophesied through all the prophets, the persecution of the church at the hands of the Jews set in. This oppression had the backing of Roman authority, with full use of public jails and outright capital punishment for those who preached the resurrection of the Christ. First Peter and John are threatened; then all the apostles beaten and jailed. Zoning ordinances are passed which forbid the preaching of Jesus in restricted areas because of the disturbances caused by the crowds. Stephen is stoned for the faith, and oppression sets in earnest. Believers in Jesus are dragged from their homes in the middle of the night, beaten, and forced to blaspheme the name of Christ or die.

So how did these first century Christians handle the oppression? They kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ!

As the church spread throughout the Roman Empire, the persecution continued. In Lystra, Derbe, Iconium, Ephesus, and Thessalonica the beatings continued, the court cases multiplied and soldiers in the resurrected army died in fond hope of a better resurrection. They fought with the wild beasts in the circus at Ephesus, they were cut to shreds in the gladiators' rings, and used as torches for the Emperor's parties. Their religion, somewhat tolerated by Roman authority at first, was declared illegal, and brothers and sisters died by the millions or survived in catacombs.

How did they handle the oppression? As long as they believed in the word of God, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ!

What can we expect? Anyone with half an eye can see that in America the forces of Satan are arising to do all they can to suppress the church once again. Here is a sample of some of the ugly specters whose heads are already peering over the horizon;

So what are 20th century Christians to do? Keep right on preaching and teaching that Jesus is the Christ!

 

 

The Church’s Ultimate Victory

Here stands the bride! Breathless, she waits expectantly for her bridegroom to come from the sky and rescue her. Clad in her linen wedding dress, she continues to pray for her Savior to hurry while she hears the gravel crunching under the feet of soldiers who now entirely surround her. In the darkness she can dimly make out the shroud of the false prophet who has so viciously lied about her, and she can see the faint form of the beast who so cruelly oppressed her. And in the distance she notes the eerie gleam of Satan, smirking in stolen light as he superintends the whole scene. Somewhat frightened, but confident too, she apprises the condition of the approaching army, awash in the wine and lusts of Babylon.

Having issued her last call for anyone who would to come out of Babylon, she now turns her entire attention skyward. Earnest in prayer, loving her bridegroom passionately, in her own reflected light she awaits the appearance of the Prince who has given her the assurance that He will come and take her from the encroaching darkness.

When the foul breath of the drunken soldiers are already upon her, when their lustful hands stretch forth to lasciviously paw her, then the heavens break open to reveal the jealous wrath of the Prince. Shouts of a multitude from heaven ring:

The Prince has come for His princess at last. Having been taken out of His wounded side, His bride has suffered the tests and tribulations of time, and she has proven herself faithful and true, a help meet worthy of her Husband-to-be. Full of righteous anger, He rides in on His white charger, Faithful and True Himself, leading the armies of heaven with Him. His eyes are a flame of fire, out of His mouth comes a sharp sword to strike down all His enemies, and He is prepared to tread on them in the wine press of God the Father’s wrath. He has come from different country, and is now wearing more crowns than His heaving bride ever imagined that He had. His robe is soaked, having been immersed in blood, and His robe and the clothing on His thigh bear the dreaded insignia: "King of kings, and Lord of lords."

By this time the drunken army, the shrouded false prophet, the oppressive beast, and the red dragon have all begun to hide, to call for the rocks and mountains to fall on them, and save them from the wrath of the Prince. But it is too late. The anger of the Prince toward those who have in any way besmirched His precious intended is only appeased as they are tossed into the lake, which burns with fire and brimstone.

Then, clutching His bride to His breast with emotion, which has been choked back for over 6000 years, the Prince takes her in her now radiant gown to His castle. There she finds the whole of heaven anxiously awaiting her, and with more joy and love filling her heart than she could have truly understood even in the pictures, she and the Prince and all the servants in the castle live happily ever after.

 

 

 

Goal Setting

The resurrected army of the Lord is assured of victory over the forces of evil. But, by the will and wisdom of the Almighty, each Christian soldier decides what extent he wants to participate in that victory. He can participate a little, he can throw himself wholeheartedly into the battle, or he can even shrink back in shame. In any case, he is going to consciously or unconsciously, intelligently or unintelligently, set some goals..

But, again by the will and wisdom of the Almighty, Christians function together in the local body of Christ. And congregations set goals, consciously or unconsciously, intelligently or unintelligently. Congregations which intelligently set goals in accordance with the will of God, and work and pray to achieve those goals are commended by the Lord Himself. Those congregations, which allow themselves to drift eventually have their lampstands jerked by the Lord. Goal setting is a part of the character of God, and the focusing of attention which goal setting provides results in an intensity, which shows in the lives of holy men in the Bible and in our Lord Jesus.

Jesus in the flesh set goals, and Paul and the other apostles set goals. In fact, God Himself set goals, even putting them in writing in the Old Testament. Looking to the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles as part of His plan through Jesus and the church, the Father promised Abraham 20 centuries before Christ: "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 22:18).

Thus it was that "at the right time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6), was raised from the dead, was seated at the Father's right hand, and sent the Spirit from heaven to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

The child of God, then, needs to be a goal setter, imitating the Father through the revealed character of His Son, and through the positive example of men like Paul. In this way, we also are to "become partakers of the divine nature" (II Peter 1:4).

But, in the church, we need to be goal setters together, to work together to achieve common and God-pleasing goals. Without goals we drift, slowly sliding into routine "going through the motions"; with goals we become a city set on a hill which cannot be hidden.

 

 

 

The Goal of an offering for the Poor Saints

To accomplish any project goals have to be set. Targets must be placed before the people, deadlines must be put forth, procedures must be implemented, and communication channels set up. While all of these sound like instructions from a business motivation series, they are actually from the Bible, the greatest practical "how to" book ever written.

During the early years of the church the congregations of Jewish heritage impoverished themselves that the gospel might be spread to the Gentiles. The problem was compounded by Roman persecution of the Jews, and by famine. Thus by the will of God a situation was set up so that the Gentile churches could greatly assist their brethren of Jewish background, and the Lord could record, for our benefit, the steps which they went through in setting and achieving a complicated goal.

Targets were placed before the people, deadlines were put forth, procedures were implemented, and communications channels were set up. And, by the grace of God, the goal was achieved - the money was collected, and the offering delivered.

 

 

Achieving the Goal in Corinth

How do you motivate an entire congregation? How do you motivate them honorably and spiritually? The dishonest man has all kinds of schemes and scams to pull on the congregation so that the sheep are expertly fleeced. But the honest. scriptural, and sincere leader of Christ's people looks to the word of God to see how to inspire the local assembly to set and achieve great goals.

Paul was collecting an offering for the poor saints in Judas, brothers in Christ who had given their all so that the Gentiles might hear the word of Christ. As he wrote to the church in Corinth to motivate them to get their portion of the offering ready, he brought several points to their attention, that all things might be done right in the sight of men and God:

The words of Paul echo through the ages. We today are to be motivated by those same principles, and to use those principles when encouraging others. Onward for the sake of Him who freely gave that we through His poverty might become rich.

 

 

 

A Proper Appeal

The resurrected army of the Lord is not just an infantry slogging through the mud. It is more than armored units and weaponry; the resurrected army is also its own source of supply (backed by the resources of heaven, of course). While physical armies concentrate essentially on carrying out orders in their specific domains, the church of the Lord is concerned about fellow soldiers who by the will of God have come under persecution and impoverishment. And, by the will of that same God, they then act to help supply those needs.

The apostle Paul was exhorting the church in Corinth to participate in a large offering taken from the Gentile churches to assist the struggling brethren of the circumcision in Judea. Having appealed to their sense of honor in pointing out the efforts the Macedonians had already made, and having pointed to the impoverishment of the Lord Himself that we through His poverty might become rich, the apostle continues in his exhortations:

God's people do need to be motivated to do what God wants them to do. They need to be exhorted to finish, and they need to be aware of the Father's desires in all money matters. The leadership of any congregation will pay close attention to the principles here, and the saints in each congregation will recognize the scripturality of them when they are applied locally.

 

 

The Trustworthy Brethren Involved

Those who handle money must be trustworthy. Money can be a source of temptation, and was the downfall of Judas Iscariot. Those who were carrying the offering to the saints in Jerusalem had to be men of extraordinary character, or the Christians simply would not contribute. The apostle Paul spends some time in his letter speaking of the trustworthy brethren involved.

Responsible brethren in Corinth would justly be concerned whether the monies they contributed would actually reach those for whom they contributed. The apostle and the Holy Spirit allayed those concerns by pointing out the trustworthiness of the brethren involved, by establishing that this offering was for the glory of the Lord, and by reaffirming that all things would be done honorably and above board. Church leadership today should establish the same credentials in motivating the brethren to participate.

 

 

Confidence and Care for the Corinthians

Confidence and care are major factors in motivation. An individual who knows that someone else cares deeply for him can perform much better than someone who is not sure if anyone cares. A person who has confidence is able to step up and meet challenges better than the one who lacks who is unsure of himself. Those who would motivate others inspire confidence in them, and make it clear that they love and care for them.

The apostle Paul, a great commander in the resurrected army. was involved in collecting an offering for the poor brethren in Judea, and was a great motivator. His confidence in the brethren in Corinth, and his deep love for them stand out as he writes to the community of believers in that city.

Paul was a great motivator. Having learned from the Holy Spirit, the apostle was able to establish his confidence and his care for the Corinthians, and the offering was eventually delivered to the elders in Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit furthermore made sure that this was recorded that leaders in the resurrected army today might have an example to follow, and that these great practical principles might be studied and practiced as we go out to conquer the world.