2 Timothy 2:1-3
1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 9:16
16 Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
Something foreign and unusual has taken place over the last several years regarding ministry and the presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This phenomenon has swept through the Church and caused her to embrace a level of tolerance and dullness that has in many ways stripped the authority and effectiveness that we as the Body of Christ are called to walk in. In the place of a true “spirit-filled/led” lifestyle, many have adopted a new paradigm disguised as freedom and liberty, when in truth it is founded on humanistic aspirations, along with a very real sense of compromise.
With the above stated, it is important to say here that in no way am I insinuating that anyone should embrace a legalistic mindset when it comes to living for Christ. I am well aware of the perils of a works based philosophy and how it can and does create a spiritually sterile environment for those who ascribe to it. However, on the flip side, there is clearly a sense of commitment and allegiance to Jesus and the Gospel that we must acknowledge and embrace. Even though the level of holiness that we live in is directly connected to the level of intimacy with the Lord that we ascribe to, the fact is that we are called to live in such a way that brings honor to Jesus, especially when it comes to those of us who preach and teach the Word of God.
In the past 28 years of living as a follower of Jesus, I have been blessed to meet and spend time with dear saints who lived with a burning passion for the Lord and His Word. Their lives were characterized with elements such as: prayer, Bible study, purity of heart, separation from worldliness, hospitality, gentleness of spirit, divine joy, authority over darkness, mentoring other believers, consistency, faithfulness to their spouse and children, etc. Though many of their ways would be considered legalistic by some today, in truth their lives were built on a relationship with Jesus that spontaneously developed His character and attributes within them.
Another group of individuals that I have been honored to fellowship with and even minster alongside of are those who have suffered for the sake of the gospel, due oftentimes to their country of origin and the various factions that are antichrist in their regions. Some have even been imprisoned, stoned and beaten with canes, simply because they believe in and preach Jesus as Savior and Lord. They clearly understand the value of the Gospel and are willing by life or by death to honor Jesus through their commitment.
In many ministry arenas today the basic foundations of our faith are being overlooked, while human ability, gifting and charismatic personalities are being polarized and promoted in the name of “A MOVE OF GOD”. Please understand that I long for and love to see God move in power and have been blessed to see and experience a genuine outpouring! However, if the results of any move of God are built on faulty foundations, while we overlook the basic issues of purity of life, hearts and motives, then we stand in danger of more spiritual train wrecks, just like we have witnessed in the past. There must be a sense of “awe and honor” when it comes to desiring and experiencing an outpouring of God’s Spirit. Below are some areas to heed when it comes to a move of God, and especially for those of us who walk in a leadership role.
1. Does the movement (outpouring) truly put the focus on Jesus Christ and give glory to Him?
2. Is there a focus on “Holiness and Harvesting Souls”, or is the focus on demonstrative displays and or manifestations? Note-I acknowledge and believe completely in God touching and moving upon people supernaturally in corporate or private settings. However, if the results are not creating a deeper intimacy with the Lord, then there is something wrong and off spiritually.
3. Does the character and lifestyle of the leaders reflect that of the Lord? Note-In no way do I mean that everyone has to be completely perfect, but there must be purity of heart, spiritual maturity, consistency in character and a passion for continual conformity to Christ among leadership.
4. Is the movement designed to become a huge funnel for finances to flow through the marketing of personalities and or ministries involved, or is there a real spiritual stewardship and fear of God involved that keeps the leadership from plundering the attendees in the name of sewing in order to reap personal financial rewards. Note-Giving and receiving are clearly Biblical themes, however the abuse of these subjects in this hour is nauseating at times and must grieve the Lord as He is used in order to manipulate believers.
5. Is there a willingness to overlook and explain away blatant sin and rebellion among leadership, as long as gifting and anointing are present?
I have touched on some key themes, but will continue to write more on this subject in the days ahead. In the meantime, may your heart burn for Jesus and may his eternal purposes keep you from distraction.