Jesus' Greatest Miracle: A Changed Life!
This is a transcript from an evening in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It is therefore available in Portuguese, if that would be helpful to anyone. May He fill you and protect you in every way…
The Bible talks about Jesus as being Messiah or Savior. You normally think of “Savior” as one who forgives our sins and takes us to Heaven. But Jesus as Savior is far more than that! He wants to not only save our souls and take us to Heaven, but also deliver us from slavery on this earth.
I was thinking about different miracles that Jesus did when He was here physically. (He STILL wants to do miracles for us—He’s the same today and forever.) The first miracle I thought of was raising Lazarus from the dead. I thought, “This is a wonderful miracle. Is this Jesus’ greatest miracle?” If you take a body that is stone-cold dead and all life is gone and then it comes back to life—that’s a great miracle! Maybe that’s the greatest miracle, to raise a person from the dead. But maybe there is still a greater miracle that Jesus does. I thought about the people who were blind and Jesus gave them the ability to see again. One man was born blind, could never see, and then he began to see. Jesus still wants to do wonderful miracles such as this. Think about having total darkness and then beginning to see color and texture, and the people you love. Is this the greatest miracle that Jesus does, to give sight to blind people? Jesus also gave hearing to people who could not hear. Their worlds were totally silent. They could not hear the people they loved. They couldn’t hear the birds, they couldn’t hear music, they couldn’t hear a baby laughing. And Jesus gave them hearing. Is this a great miracle? Our Jesus still wants to do things such as this. We must never stop believing in a Jesus who gives eyesight and hearing, and raises the dead. Other people Jesus healed were people that had skin diseases like leprosy. They had much pain and agony. They had to stay away from all the people they loved so that they would not catch their disease. Jesus would touch those who had the skin disease and their skin would become brand new, like the skin of a little baby. This is our Jesus who does wonderful miracles!! But are these the greatest miracles that Jesus did?
I want you to think about other miracles that Jesus does. He is our Savior and our Deliverer. He can take away our sin. He can take away our blindness or our deafness. He can take away our skin disease and our pain. But also as a Savior and as a Deliverer, He does another kind of miracle that is greater than all of these. Think about this with me. If a man was dead and Jesus raised him from the dead, how would that man feel if after he woke up from being dead he remembered that all of his family hated him and all of his neighbors gossiped about him and called him names? That man might just prefer to still be dead! Suppose a man had been deaf his whole life and he was healed by a miracle from Jesus and now he hears everything, yet he discovers that everyone in his family is yelling and angry and calls each other names and gossips. It would break his heart. He would almost rather not hear these things. What if he was blind from the day he was born and Jesus healed him? Now he opens his eyes and he can see the sunrise and the birds in the trees… but his family and his neighbors have terrible pictures and pornography and they do terrible things around him. He would almost wish he could see no more.
So what I am saying is this: The greatest miracle of Jesus is not raising someone from the dead, because if a man comes to life and his world is a bad world, he doesn’t need to live. The greatest miracle of Jesus is not to see or to hear, because if we see and hear hatred and evil and sin, we don’t want to see. We don’t want to hear. The greatest miracle of Jesus is that He wants to change our lives. He wants to take hatred and make peace and love. He wants to take anger and selfishness and make gentleness and self-sacrifice. The greatest miracles of Jesus are when He changes our lives from the inside… because we don’t need to see if there is only evil. We don’t need to hear if there is only hatred and anger and gossip. The greatest gift and the greatest miracle of Jesus IS that He wants to save us to be like Him in personality.
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except you, drunkenness and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again as I have before that anyone living this sort of life will not inherit the kingdom of God. They cannot inherit the kingdom of God. “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love and joy, peace and patience, kindness and goodness, faithfulness (ever true), gentleness, self-control. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited or irritate one another or be jealous of one another” (Galatians 5).
“The grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed by God to turn away from godless living and turn away from sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with self-control, with right conduct, with devotion to God while we look forward to the wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ will be revealed. He gave His life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us and make us His very own people, totally committed to doing what is right” (Titus 2).
“We too once were foolish and disobedient. We were misled by others and became slaves to many wicked desires and evil pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy. We hated others, and they hated us. But then God our Savior showed us His kindness and love. He delivered us, not because of good things that we did, but He delivered us from sin because of His mercy. He washed away our sins and He also gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out His Spirit upon us, not because we were good, but because of what Jesus Christ our Savior did. He declared us ‘not guilty’ because of His great kindness. And now we know that we will inherit eternal life” (Titus 3).
Many, many things that God says to us in the scriptures tell us again and again about the wonderful miracle of changed lives. But you probably notice when you look at yourself in the mirror or when you really get to know other people who follow Jesus that this greatest miracle of all, a changed life, takes some time and hard work. If you look at yourself in the mirror, you probably know there are many things that are still not like Jesus.
Jesus wants to do a miracle in your life. He wants to replace your anger with love and peace. He wants to replace your selfishness and your pride with His love. He wants to take away your bad moods and make you a gentle and kind person. He wants to crush your gossip and lust and bring flowers to your heart instead. He wants the greatest miracle of all for each of us—that we could become like Him in personality. But there is an important part that we play in this.
The Importance of the Church in the Miracle of Change
There is a great and wonderful picture in the scriptures of the importance of the Church, of other believers. Jesus said, “I will build My Church that the gates of hell cannot prevail against.” He wants to build our lives together so that the miracles can happen in each of our lives. He made us so we would need each other very much for these miracles to happen. No one finds this greatest miracle by himself. He wants to change us as we help each other to become like Him. So it’s important that EVERY DAY you have deep relationships with each other.
He has called us to be priests and to do the work of God. So we must use the eyes that He’s given us to see things that are not like Him in ourselves and in others—and then we must choose to help! He gave us the miracle of being able to hear so we can listen when others speak to us about our lives. If we are willing to listen, if we are willing to be soft and open, and if everyone is willing to do their part to have courage to talk to each other about things in their lives—then Jesus will do this wonderful miracle in each of our lives. It is a better miracle than raising someone from the dead or giving sight to the blind. He can take our stubborn, selfish hearts and make us like Him. But we must use our ears to hear and be soft when people talk to us. We must have the courage to speak to others so we can work together to do this miracle.
I should say too that the definition of a Christian, a follower of Jesus, is someone who has become a slave to Jesus. Jesus said, “Unless you take up your cross and deny your very life, you can’t be My disciple.” In Acts 3, the Scriptures say that everyone who won’t listen to Jesus will be completely cut off from amongst the people. It’s very important that we understand that we are not our own; we are bought for a price. A true Christian is one who has given his rights to the King. True Christians trust the King to provide and care for them and to lead them. They don’t have to be big and tough and smart. They can be soft and let Jesus decide for them. “Whatever God wants is what is best.” We don’t need to be afraid anymore.
“No one can serve two masters. You will hate one and love the other.” You can’t serve yourself and your own desires and also serve Jesus. Jesus tells us that we hate Him if we choose to serve our own desires. But if we serve His desires and not our own, then we show that we love Him more than we love ourselves. Jesus goes on to say that we don’t have to be afraid anymore:
“So I tell you, don’t worry about everyday life. Don’t worry if you will have enough food or drink or clothing. Doesn’t life consist of more than food or clothing? Just look at the birds. They don’t need to plant or harvest or put food in barns. Because your Heavenly Father feeds them. You are far more valuable to the Father than the birds are. Can all of your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not. And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing. Yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. If God cares so wonderfully for flowers, and these flowers are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t our Father surely care for us even more than that? You have so little faith. So don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans? The pagans are so deeply concerned with these things. Your Heavenly Father already knows all of your needs. He will give you all you need from day to day.”
Jesus began by saying you cannot serve two masters. And then He goes on to say that to run after protecting or helping yourself is what the pagans do. It shows that you do not trust your Father. Our Father says that if you totally trust Him and make all of your decisions for Him and seek first His Kingdom, if your primary concern is the Kingdom of God and not yourself, the Father Himself will make sure all of your needs are met. Very few people have ever trusted Jesus’ words. Very few people have put these words into practice. We want to encourage you to trust the Father because He cares so much for us. We don’t have to be afraid anymore. We don’t have to be selfish in order to protect ourselves. We don’t have to be angry. We can trust our Father. He is a very good Father. And if we will seek His Kingdom first and primarily…if we seek His Business, He will take care of “our business.” But if we seek “our business” and try to add Him to that, if we try to add God on the side of our own lives…we will make Him very unhappy, we will break His Heart and we will never see His miracles. We want to encourage you to trust God for miracles, to seek His Kingdom primarily and first, and to be involved in each other’s lives—in order to be able to see your character changed to be like Jesus. And we will see many wonderful miracles in the days ahead.
Jesus’ Promises for Those Who Will Live This Way
Even though it sounds difficult and certainly it is very different from the way most are used to living, Jesus made a promise: In Matthew 7, Jesus talked about building a house. He said storms will come to beat against the house, but for those who have built the house wisely, the house will stand in spite of the storms. He said what makes the house strong, so that it can stand up to the storms, is that we would help each other put into practice His Word. There are many people who do not know His Word; they don’t know the principles of Jesus and His teachings. There are others that know all of His teachings, but don’t put them into practice. In both of those cases, the storms will trash the house (Mat. 7:13-27; 2Thes. 1:5-8; Lk. 12:47-49). But the promise from Jesus is true for us if we will help each other put into practice His Word. When the storms come, and they will come, the house will stand against the storm. We must help each other put into practice His Word. If I am being prideful or selfish, I may not see it myself. But when YOU see it in me and choose to help me, you are not hurting me, you are helping me overcome the storm. So I am not afraid for someone to come to me and say, “I think you have this problem or that problem.” Why not? Because I know the storms are going to come and I want to put His word into practice, and I need others to help me put it into practice! These are not bad things. They are very good things. The storms will come and this will help us overcome the storm.
Another promise Jesus made was that if we will give away our lives to others, if we give away everything for Jesus and have no more rights for ourselves, then He will give us a hundred mothers, brothers, sisters. He will give us a hundred homes and lands and possessions. If we totally give away our life, He will bless us a hundred times in this life and in the life to come give us eternal life. If I had one dollar and it was the only dollar I had and I needed it to feed my family, it would be very hard to give it away. But if Jesus promised me that if I give Him one dollar that He would give me one hundred dollars, then it is easier to give away the one. When we are selfish and fearful and prideful, when we have sin in our life and we don’t want to hear anyone talk to us about it, when we see sin in others’ lives and we don’t want to talk to them (maybe we are afraid to talk to them because we think they will be angry or won’t like us)—if we make the wrong choices with these things, we lose all of the great and precious promises of Jesus. That’s like holding on to “the one” even though He promised us that if we give it away He will give us one hundred. It’s a very good investment to live this way for Jesus. Because the storms WILL come into our lives. And if we try to do it alone, with the sins in our lives, the storms will trash our house. But if we do it together, helping each other to obey God, willing to see, and also willing to hear…then the house will stand and Jesus will do miracles. It is hard to give away the one, but it is wonderful to receive one hundred in return.
Caring Versus Controlling
Now this is NOT some “control thing” at all. Jesus said anger and hatred are just like murder, right? So if one of your brothers decided, “I think I’ll go kill two or three people”—would you think it is a “control thing” to say, “No, no. Please don’t do that!”?? That’s not control. That’s Jesus-life. If a brother or sister has unforgiveness or pride in their heart, it is exactly the same. We say, “Please do not have unforgiveness or pride in your heart.” “Please don’t kill; please don’t have hatred and anger.” It’s the same. Neither one is control. It’s Jesus-life.
Let me give you an example of someone that I know who lives in California—many miles away from where we live…. He is the editor of a “Christian” magazine. This magazine is sent to many places. He has told me several times exactly “how many” people and exactly “how many” countries his magazine goes to. He told me this when I first met him, he told me again a few weeks later, and he told me again a few weeks after that. Now, what does that sound like to spiritual ears? If I love him and I want his house to stand when the storms come, I’m going to listen for things that can hurt God’s heart and harm his walk with God. Do you remember when David took a census in the Old Testament? He wanted to count all the people that he was in charge of. Do you remember how God was angry about that? God brought judgment on David and on many of David’s people because of David’s pride. David had pride, and he wanted to know how many people he was in charge of. This friend of mine in California wanted to keep track of how many countries and how many people received his magazine. Many of the things that he writes in this magazine are very important and good, and I want him to be able to serve God very well. But the Bible says God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. The Bible also says a trap of the devil is pride. So, if I love him, I’m going to talk to him and try to help him put into practice the Word of God about pride. It IS possible to know about “how many” are “added to their number that day,” or how many fish are in the net. God did record such things, on occasion. It is not impossible if the motive is Right—ONLY to encourage God’s People—never for our own glory or to draw attention to mere men, rather than to Jesus.
I’m not controlling him by saying, “Please, please, please don’t have pride.” I’m saying, “Please. There are many good things God wants for your life. Don’t let the devil ruin them. Forget how many countries. Forget how many people. Don’t take a census. Just serve God with all your heart.” There is no control there. It is pleading from the heart for his sake and Jesus’ sake. We can plead about killing or murder; we can also plead about pride or selfishness. I said to him, “Perhaps there is no pride in these words, but please be careful.” I’m not judging him, because I don’t know if there is pride or not, but I do know it is very dangerous territory, and he should be very careful with these things. All David wanted to do was want to take a census. Maybe to you that doesn’t sound so bad. But God was very unhappy about that. What if some trustworthy lovers of Yahweh had gone to David (alone and then together if he wouldn’t listen) when he first thought about that idea and said, “David, please don’t. Make sure there is no pride in your heart.” What if a good friend had gone to David and said, “If there is pride here, please don’t think about this.” If a good friend would have helped him put into practice the Word of God, 70,000 lives would have been saved. That’s how many were killed. 70,000. That’s a very large number. But if a friend had tried to help him turn away from pride just by asking him, pleading with him—70,000 lives could have been saved. I hope you can see the difference between pleading and loving and caring versus controlling. In both cases, you talk about what you see, but the heart is different.
Working it Out, TOGETHER… in the Midst of Immaturity
Let’s say that someone does come to you and tries to help you see something in your life. Perhaps that person is immature. Perhaps the issue gets clouded. When someone is immature, there can be mixture sometimes. So, what do we do?
There are two or three things I want to say about it. First of all, Jesus honors the fact that we are doing this together. So, even if there is immaturity, He said that “if two or three come together to discuss a problem, there I will be.” He didn’t say everyone had to be perfectly mature or have perfect knowledge. He said He would come if we do it HIS WAY. If we do it HIS WAY, He said He would be in our midst. In Matthew 18, He said that “if you come together to solve a problem I will come too,” and He doesn’t talk about how mature the people are, or that they should have a title of elder or pastor or any such thing. I do understand perfectly the dilemma…it does create problems when there is immaturity or mixture. But it is important that we honor something “bigger” than ourselves. It takes faith to see something bigger than ourselves.
There have been people who I’ve brought to Jesus and helped to find Jesus who were very immature. I’ve had those people come to me and talk to me about things in my life. Sometimes they are totally right. Sometimes they are totally wrong. Sometimes there is mixture (some good mixed with some bad)—that can be frequently true. But it’s very important, even if I brought them to Jesus, that I honor something bigger than myself and that I humbly listen to them. Jesus said that if someone comes to me and has a grievance, if we can’t work it out—then we bring in two or three others. That’s what the Bible says. And if we still can’t work it out, we tell it to the whole Church. The beautiful part about that is, even if there is immaturity, good things can still happen from it. If they come to me and say something that I don’t think is true—according to the words of Jesus, I ask them to bring two or three others to talk to me, too—because something really good will happen if we do that. Jesus promised that He will come if we do that. And then… either I will see what I was blind to before, or they will see their immaturity if they discover that they were wrong.
BUT either way, I must never make them feel bad for coming to me. I must not discourage them from being a priest. I must be grateful that they had the courage to try. And perhaps I will learn from their effort. Or perhaps they will learn from their immaturity. But either way, if everyone is humble, then God will receive glory. If I want someone to not be immature anymore, I must not discourage them from doing the work of God. That’s how they become mature—they try to do God’s work, even if they make mistakes. So, sometimes it is hard when there is mixture. But God even works that together for the good, and it’s okay.
If someone comes to me and says, “I really think you should do this instead of that”—I might think they are totally wrong, but I must not make them feel bad for trying. What I should do instead is bring others in to help talk about it, too. There are examples in the Bible of this. When Paul was far away from Corinth, they had problems (disagreements) in Corinth. Some were taking each other to court, others didn’t believe in the resurrection. There were crazy things going on there and they were not getting the problems solved. So they asked for help from the outside. On another occasion, Paul was with some Judaizers (some people who believed in circumcision) and they couldn’t solve the problem. Paul thought that circumcision wasn’t essential. Other people thought that they must become Jews first and then Christians. They couldn’t solve the problem. Both thought that they were right. So what did they do? In Acts 15 it says they all went to Jerusalem and talked about it with other people. They could have gotten angry and separated from each other. But instead they brought in more help. So when we have this mixture or immaturity, we bring in more help—even if we have to bring it in from the outside: from another part of the city, from another part of the country, from another country. We just bring in more and more help, rather than separating from each other. This is the biblical pattern for overcoming mixture and for finding and hearing God.
At the end of Acts 15, after they brought in much more help to help clear this up, James said, “It seems good to us and to the Holy Spirit and here is the solution…” So there was a battle with different opinions. There was immaturity. Jesus said if we have problems, bring in more help. So we have been doing this where we live for nearly fifteen years now, and it’s getting better and better without all these problems. We even have many people that used to be “pastors” or leaders who thought they knew everything. But as we all learn to be humble, we can work together to build the House. And even all the smart guys become humble, like little children, and help each other—because we know we need help, and we want other people to look into our lives.
This Truth applies even as it relates to a husband and wife. There may be disagreements about this thing or that, but if the matters have to do with spiritual things, if it’s about Truth—then this all applies. Here is an example: If your husband does not like broccoli and doesn’t want you to fix broccoli and you really, really like broccoli…that’s okay. Don’t fix it. But if you go to someone else’s home and they have broccoli there, and he comes home with you and he is complaining about it and upset and angry about it…THAT is a spiritual issue. A personal preference is okay, but when sin comes in, that is not okay.
Stretching Beyond Those We Know Well
How about when you don’t know someone very well? How does all of this apply then? What if you don’t have very much relationship with a person, yet you see a way to help that person? Part of this is simply faith. Because we understand that Jesus has bought His whole family with His blood, and if Jesus lives inside of people, then to talk to someone we don’t know very well is still very safe. It may be more difficult in some ways, but it is still very right to open up. There are times when you may be with people you don’t know very well and you see something that looks like it may not be like Jesus. Though you may not have seen it correctly, it’s still important—in most cases—that you try to talk about it.
God can give us prophetic eyesight to see things even if we don’t know a person well—even someone from a different city, a different state, or a different country. Because that is true, it is also true that people we don’t know very well can see prophetically into our lives and help us. And so, because we believe in Jesus and the Spirit of Jesus, we “open up” even though we may not know each other very well. And it is very important that we learn to do so and that we learn to trust Jesus to help us through that. If we wait until we know someone deeply before we open up, we will never know anyone deeply!!
“I feel anger inside when they talk to me…”
What happens when someone comes to you, trying to help you, and inside of yourself you find many different feelings going on? Sometimes those feelings are not good. Paul said that we are not unaware of satan’s devices. In other words, satan has tricks that he plays that are predictable. As we grow to be more like Jesus, we become very wise to satan’s tricks. We learn how to battle with satan as we become more wise and more mature. When we find ourselves getting upset, we should stop and say, “Why am I so upset?” An unwise or immature person just says, “I’m angry. That’s not fair. You don’t understand.” But as we become more like Jesus, we say, “Whoa! My heart is going BOOM, BOOM, BOOM…and I have a lump in my throat. I am angry, and that is not a fruit of the Spirit. If it is not a fruit of the Spirit, what is it a fruit of? It must be a fruit of sin. So I better stop and find out why I am upset before I go forward.”
And as we become more wise and more mature, we can think and talk about it in peace and say, “You were right on these three points. I’m not sure I agree completely on this next point, but we can talk and pray more about it. Maybe we can bring in some others to help us talk about it.” That would be a wise and mature way to respond to things that upset us. Instead of being frustrated and angry and having barriers, instead of clenching our fists and being upset and striking back and saying, “Well, what about you?!” Instead of that we can say, “Let’s talk about it, let’s pray about it. Maybe you are right.” That is Jesus’ way, and it brings much fruit. But it’s not our habit, is it? We need to make better habits.
Helping Each Other Over Time
As it relates to all relationships, even husbands and wives, there are very real, difficult things that happen. The beautiful thing about the Body of Christ in a lot of these things that we have been talking about is that as you begin to open up your lives with sisters and brothers, those sisters and brothers will help. The brothers, over time, will talk together with the husband and say to him, “You need to be more considerate, more observant.” The brothers will help show him ways to do that. The sisters will say to the wife, “You need to be more patient, you need to be more kind and loving.” That’s what a helpmeet or rib is for, is to help, not to be upset. So the sisters will help, and the brothers will help, and altogether in twelve or eighteen months, everyone will be totally different.
Quality of Life Brings Confidence
There is something else that can help very much in embracing all of this and can make it easier for you to hear things from people that you might not know very well. It’s not because you know someone very, very well that you are able to hear them. Rather, you can “hear” someone because you know the quality of life that they are a part of. Likewise, if they know the quality of life that you are a part of, it will give them the same freedom to receive what you say, even though they don’t know you well. That’s a very powerful truth—if the Church is really the Church! If I were to live here and there were 500 of us, maybe I wouldn’t know you personally very well, but you would still be able to warmly receive the things I say without being offended (and vice versa), if the quality of life—the Foundation—is proper throughout the whole Church. The time when it becomes a problem is when the church is not really a Church, and people in the “church” just live any way they want to live. People are scattered. This is VERY unBiblical, but 98% of all places called “church” in every country live this way. God said if things are scattered in this way that “Your meetings do more harm than good!” In such a scattered, unBiblical environment (even if the singing and “preaching” seem “Biblical”) much of God’s will cannot be accomplished in lives.
For example, imagine an environment where you don’t really know anyone too well and someone comes up to you and says, “You need to change, you need to change.” You would likely say (or think, or gossip), “I don’t know you. I don’t know if your life is any good. I don’t know if you love me, I don’t know if you love anyone. What you are saying may be true, but I don’t really appreciate it very much.” That’s what happens when the church is all scattered and it’s not really a Church, as the Bible defines a Church. Of course there will likely be many Christians there, but that does not make it a Church, according to Jesus.
Now think of an environment where there are 500 people who are totally devoted to Jesus—and you know they are—and all 500 people are laying down their lives for each other every day. A daily quality of Life is there, and “from the least to the greatest, they ALL know Him.” “See to it brothers that NONE of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart.” “Admonish, encourage, warn, be called along-side one another DAILY, so that NONE are hardened and deceived by sin.” “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the Law of Christ.” “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed!” If THIS is the quality of Life, THEN even if you don’t know them very well and they say something… it’s okay. You still want to hear it. So the quality of life, the Foundation, makes all the difference in how easy it is to hear. It’s not just whether or not they know me very well. It’s that I trust that they know Jesus very well.
When the Church is really the Church, if something is not working out, you can bring in other people that you trust. There IS a way to work it out. It doesn’t just end up in the air some place. If the person coming to you is immature, or you don’t know them very well, and you don’t quite understand what they are saying; well, you know that they are committed to other people that you do trust and know…so, you are able to bring those other people in. You can always bring in other mature people to help clarify. If you know they are committed to people, they are committed to God, and their life is accountable to others—then it is easy to bring in other trustworthy people so you can get it all resolved. However, if everyone is just doing whatever they want and no one is really laying down their life for anyone…then it is just a bunch of words floating around and you don’t really know what to make of it all. You wouldn’t even know who to bring in to talk about it! Who would you bring in? They don’t know anyone. You don’t know anyone. It’s all just a big guessing game. Then it’s all suspicion and hypothetical stuff and you end up just being a rag-doll tossed around all over the place. But, if you know someone who is committed to daily life and you are too…and you hear something that’s immature (or you think it is), it is so easy to bring in other people that you know are solid people to help clear it all up. Then everyone goes home “new and improved.”
In an average religious assembly—hundreds of thousands of religious assemblies all over the world—most people can be part of that for twenty years and never really change very much. That’s a very sad situation. The reason it is that way is because they are building wrong. Someone is giving a speech or sermon to them on Sunday morning. Maybe they have a bible class over here or over there, and another religious meeting with miniature clergy in a home on Friday nights, once a month, except during summer family vacation and sports season. But they don’t have intertwined “joined and knit together” lives as a Priesthood of Believers. So most people don’t change, even after twenty years! That is very sad. But if we use God’s blueprint—the teachings of Jesus—then we can all change to be like Him. If we are humble and we work together as priests, the greatest miracle of all can happen—we can change.
The Stench of Death, the Aroma of Life
The Way of Life, the Jesus Life, is so different. The world and the religious system see it as so, so different. Remember when Hitler took over the religious system in Germany? Dietrich Bonhoeffer had the courage to say, “That’s not Jesus.” He stepped outside of the religious system and as a result, he died in a prison. There are many stories throughout history of those that wouldn’t cooperate with the larger system. Many of our “heroes” whose books are widely read would have been totally rejected if they lived today like they lived in their days. “We build monuments to the Prophets out of the rocks that we stoned them with.”
While these Godly men and women refused to cooperate, they also didn’t call other people names or judge them (although there IS a right way to “judge” those that call themselves Christians—[1Cor. 5:12]) or insult them—rather they wanted to love them. Jesus said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, I would have gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks, but you would not.” Jesus wouldn’t be part of the system, but He tried His best to try to love them and care for them, and change them. He did NOT accept them where they were. He simply had Hope that they would change. Eventually many did not change, so He took the Kingdom away from them, and gave to their betters. Nevertheless, this isn’t a matter of being insulting of others, but it is living Jesus’ way and trying to help everyone live Jesus’ way, too.
We live in a city where there are 1,500 denominational assemblies. We have visited many hundreds of these. We have given things to read to 1,200 or more of them. We have visited Believers of every background in almost every state, and every continent. I mention this so that you can know that no one I know wants to cut themselves off from others, unless they do not desire to love and obey Jesus, and “love the Light.” We try to meet people and love them and care for them and help them know Jesus, with the people that they know and care about. But as Jesus prophesied, not everyone wants to know Jesus. “Many will say to Me on that day….” Some people just want to go and listen to a speech, have prayers and then go back to their “own life.” But there are many, many good people out there who do love Jesus and do want to know Him. So we try to go to the synagogues and religious meetings and try to meet those people. Some will call you names, and some will love you very, very much. Paul said that the Good News of Jesus is the stench of death to some, and the aroma of life to others. So we just do the best we can.
When Martin Luther stepped outside of the “expected” norm of religious life, not very many people admired him for it. Some did, but most hated him for it. They said to him, “You must recant.” And he said, “I can’t. This is what the Scriptures say. I have to do what God wants.” We are in the same situation today. God has shown things that His Scriptures say, and we must put them into practice. Regardless of what is popular, we cannot “recant” unless what is being brought to us is seen to be of God, and not simply human tradition and accommodation of the flesh of man.
As you know, the work that Martin Luther did has affected many millions of people. Today, there are people in many, many countries who are beginning to understand these things that we are talking about tonight, and it is growing very quickly. It may seem like you are alone, but you are not alone at all!
Together We’ll Walk it Out
I know the price that He paid was so very high
To let me be made one with you, my brother.
The price of Jesus’ offering was His very life
He was thinking of you, He was thinking of me,
Thinking of us.
I know the price that He paid was so very high
To let me be made one with you, my sister.
The price of Jesus’ offering was His very life
He was thinking of you, He was thinking of me,
Thinking of us.
He healed us by His blood and gave us new Life,
So that for each other we could fight.
We now work side by side,
To build His House with our lives.
And to break down all the barriers by His love.
By the power of the Holy Spirit,
We declare right now,
That we will pay whatever the price
To be one heart in the Lord.
And though the darkness may fight against us
And try to tear us apart,
With our eyes fixed on Jesus
Together, we’ll walk it out.
When we look down at our physical children, so often we want to just make the hard things go away. I know that is how Jesus feels about us too. He would like to make all the hard things just go away for us. But then we wouldn’t grow. These hard things are better than not growing into His Love and His Likeness.