“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. You, my brothers were called to be free. But, do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Loveyour neighbour as yourself.”
Galatians 5:1, 13,14
“Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honour the king.” 1 Peter 2:16,17
“Be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how His ways will really satisfy you.” Romans 12:2 Living Bible
It is because of a realisation that without fresh newness present freedom can be gravely imperilled that I set out the following Scriptures, insights and revelation. May you be encouraged as you read this and stirred to fresh newness in your walk with the living Christ.
WALK IN LOVE –
2 John 6
The Lord Jesus has commanded His followers to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37 )
Let us remind ourselves that:
The Holy Spirit equips the children of God with a ‘divine love, sacrificial in its essence’ (2 John 5 Wuest)
There is an irrevocable commitment quality in the love to which we are called and with which we are equipped.
There also needs to be an adoring, worshipful and even emotional aspect to our love for our very wonderful Lord Jesus.
There must be a whole-hearted expression of our love for God manifest in continuing glad obedience, regardless of deprivation or cost. Of course we are well convinced that it doesn’t cost, it pays’ to serve Him.
When love drifts into being simply formal, matter of fact, or just the maintaining of a pledged relationship, the sparkle, joy, wonder, life flow and life begetting miracle of vital communion with God is lost.
The on-going nature of our love for God and for one another is well expressed in John 13:34,35 (Wuest) : “A commandment, a new one, I am giving you, that you should be constantly loving one another with a divine and self-sacrificial love; even as I loved you, you also be loving one another. In this all shall know that you are My disciples, if you constantly have love among one another.”
(Matthew 13:9) Wuest. “He who has ears, let him be hearing Jesus.”
The Holy Spirit is still speaking! Crave and highly value excellence in discerning the voice of God. Heed and respond to what He says so that your hearing does not become dull, as is the tragic plight of too many in the Church of Christ today. Discover how to develop an eager, sensitive, ‘perfect pitch’ hearing ear.
BE CONSTANTLY CONTROLLED BY THE SPIRIT
Ephesians 5:18 (Wuest)
I invite you to meditate on the following Scriptures:
“In view of the fact that we are being sustained in spiritual life by the Spirit, by means of the Spirit let us go on ordering our conduct.” (Galatians 5:25 Wuest).
“For as many as are being constantly led by God’s Spirit, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14 Wuest)
“Stop leading yourselves astray.” (Galatians 6:7 Wuest)
There is so much more undiscovered treasure in God’s purposes for your life and mine in this particular hour of history. Let us not miss out or fall short! Be eager to hear and then absolutely committed to full and whole-hearted response to every prompting of the Holy Spirit. It has been said that delayed obedience is disobedience. Have you ever wondered why God has to repeat what He says again and again? Parents will understand what this means, and may well know how to deal with it too. Shame on us!
MOVING BEYOND PRESENT BOUNDARIES & CURRENT UNDERSTANDING:
Set your heart to spiritually ‘GO BEYOND’ anything that you have thus far experienced of God’s amazing grace.
I dare to challenge you to ‘GO BEYOND’ indeed, far beyond anything you may have glimpsed of a God glorifying nature in this writer’s life and more importantly that you have seen in the choicest saints you know. There is a crying need today for a new spirit of adventure to captivate sweet believers who will dare to trust God to lead them not only beyond their own present boundaries but also beyond anything known at this time. You could be one such person!
In faith, prayer and expectation, GO BEYOND anything yet seen in relationship with other believers in true demonstration of church life. This will please the Lord no end, for we have heard Him say concerning His Church, ‘It will be My way or no way!’
There is a gloriously fulfilling aloneness in Godliness for those whose hearts are set on going beyond. A love relationship in the Spirit with even one other believer of like heart and mind provides a magnificent foretaste of heaven itself.
As I approach the end of this first section let me further encourage you in the desires of the Lord for your life.
Rejoice in the Lord. Extol His grace. Be adventurous. Maintain high expectation. Be an enthusiast. Encourage yourself in the Lord. Be an encourager, and not a judge, of other believers. Exercise thoughtfulness and love. Develop sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s gently expressed desires. Be sensitive of the sensitivity and needs of others, just as you would desire of others for yourself. Love God with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself, thereby escaping the rampant selfishness and censoriousness, which cause great harm to the Body of Christ and sorely grieve its Head.
Remember that God’s provision is abundantly and overwhelmingly sufficient for every step, every need, every holy longing and indeed every aspect of life all through life.
God’s promises are absolutely sure and certain. Refuse to doubt them. Ever! His purposes are immutable and there is absolutely no doubt whatever that His highest desires for eternity will be fully accomplished. We have His unconditional and irrevocable guarantee that His kingdom will surely come and He will reign, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, forever and forever more. Hallelujah.
NO TURNING BACK
A word of warning don’t look back, and don’t turn back. We would be wise to recognize that looking frequently leads to turning, with disastrous results.
Here is the word of vital importance: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) We become burdened again with a yoke of slavery whenever we lose some aspect of the freedom we have obtained by God’s grace. Jesus told the Pharisees and teachers, “You have let go the commands of God and are holding onto the traditions of men.” (Mark 7:8) Wouldn’t it be shameful to return to, and accept again the traditions of men when once we have been set free from them?
Note Paul’s wise counsel in Colossians 2:6-8. “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of the world rather than on Christ.”
This was written for believers, both then and now. Let me share concerns and insights which I earnestly pray will encourage you to reign in Christ in the freedom in which He has established us.
THERE IS UNSATISFYING SATISFACTION IN JESUS is a wise adage of days gone by. We should be fully contented with Him, deeply satisfied with Him, but never self-satisfied with the stage that we have reached on our spiritual pilgrimage.
FELLOWSHIP, FELLOWSHIPPING & FELLOWSHIPS
Wherever they will have it, it is good to fellowship with all believers regardless of differences in belief and practice. The early church indicated that this should be, with two provisos. The first is a sincere acknowledgement that Jesus is Lord. The second is that high moral standards give proof to the reality of the profession.
In 1 John 1 we learn that we fellowship with the Father and with one another of those who are walking in the light. Fellowship with ‘Fellowships’ [or formally or informally structured groups] is an entirely different matter. Regardless of the justification for this it is fraught with danger, and in fact it has brought many a ‘free’ believer back into bondage to the traditions of men-created church structures. Doesn’t this bring a corresponding loss of the fresh newness we should be experiencing with our Lord, as well as tending to dull our spiritual ears quite alarmingly?
A TROJAN HORSE!
I recently wrote a paper about ‘Breaking Bread,’ seeking to point out the beautiful and meaningful purpose intended in the Scriptures, contrary to much of what is practised in Church life today. I carry a concern that many ‘free’ believers are not seeing the dangers involved in following old sub-standard traditions in the realms of ‘Communion’ baptism, weddings and funerals. Any one of these can be a Trojan horse to bring the old ways of churchdom back into our lives. This would not only be to our personal detriment, but also a hindrance to the deepening and spreading of God’s highest purposes for His people.
My friends will probably be interested and perhaps a little intrigued to know that I have just completed full arrangements for my own funeral so that our Lord Jesus is as glorified as possible, and His grace magnified. It will be different because I believe that the Lord has given me clear revelation on the return to any aspect of human church tradition. For example: Not for me an ordained clergyman or the use of a ‘church’ chapel or ‘church’ hall!
Have you ever noticed that in the New Testament baptisms were a ‘stand alone’ affair, not enveloped in a ‘service’ of some kind? Nor were gowns, indoor baptisteries and subsidiary rites using certain set terms and phrases to validate the occasion.
Have you ever thought that in many circles weddings are very artificial [that is, unnatural and too different from normal life]? In my view, words and terms like expensive, showy, wordy, falsely religious, and very tedious could be used to describe some such events. And doesn’t the borrowing of church buildings and the use of clergymen indicate that we endorse their validity, at least in certain circumstances?
Have we cut all the ties that should be cut with our ways of yesterday? Are we different enough? Are we standing still in the revelation that we have received rather than eagerly moving on in fresh revelation, and are we thus in danger of ‘turning back’ from the freedom that we should be treasuring at least as highly as we did when first we heard the word of the Lord?
I cannot conceive of believers returning to regular or routine gatherings [except for a brief Spirit directed season] without a return also to human control [leadership] and human structures. I fear that this would bring a loss of spontaneity, Holy Spirit sensitivity, truly anointed sharing of the ‘now’ word of the Lord, blessing, joy and freedom. Fresh newness and a new release would surely be required.
There seems to me to be much relevance to us in the record of Abraham. I remember years ago sharing that “He abandoned present possession that he might gain future fulfilment.’ Read again the stirring record: “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking for a city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Hebrews 11:8-10. In verse 14 of the same chapter we learn that, with others, if he had been thinking of the country he had left he would have had opportunity to return.
Isaac and Jacob shared the tent life with Abraham. How wise the parents who encourage their youngsters to highly value their present situation and encourage them to have no thought of turning back but rather to look for a better country ‘ a heavenly one.’ There is a repeated cry in my heart that the children of ‘free’ believers will [be encouraged to] understand that all that their parents have entered is intended to be for them a starting place to move on from in the Spirit.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF ALL THIS?
Why have I shared as I have in this paper, not shirking some things, which you may consider debatable, trivial or contentious? I sense a strong desire in God’s heart [mirrored in some of yours] that ‘free’ believers press on diligently from their present situation, while at the same time be showing forth the fullness of God’s grace in their every day lives.
I believe that we need to see a direct linkage between
A. Living in an on-going sweet love relationship with Jesus, B. Jealously safe-guarding the full freedom that is ours to obey God at every step, unfettered by the bondage of sub-standard Christianity, and C. Almighty God’s fulfilment of His eternal Kingdom purposes.
Let me remind you again of some of the ‘bigger picture’ in those majestic purposes so that our hearts may be stirred afresh both in worship of the Lord and also in eager responsiveness to the Holy Spirit’s leading and direction in our lives. His purpose is:
THAT GOD ALONE BE GLORIFIED. THAT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST PRESENT TO HIMSELF A GLORIOUS CHURCH WITHOUT FLAW, BLEMISH OR SIGN OF AGING. THAT GOD’S KINGDOM COME, AND HIS WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN. THAT CHRIST TRULY BE HEAD OF THE CHURCH AND ALL THAT IS AT FAULT BE EXPOSED AND ABANDONED. THAT WE FREELY RESPOND WITHOUT RESERVE OR LIMITATION TO EVERY PROMPTING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. THAT BELIEVERS COME TO MATURITY AND LEARN TO RELY ON THE LORD AND RECEIVE FROM HIM THE SUSTENANCE, LIFE, AND VITALITY THAT IS REQUIRED FOR VIBRANT, VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIVING.
God claims and retains for Himself the right to build His Church His way, and requires that we be fully pliable for His moulding. He asks that we keep our focus on spiritual and eternal things and thus save ourselves from becoming bound in mediocrity and earthiness.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen!”
Don’t forget, we will all be in heaven soon, by grace alone, through faith alone.