Chapter 7: "You Ought to Be Teachers By Now," or "Not Many Teachers?"
Hebrews 5:12; James 3:1
THERE seems to be a conflict between these two Scriptures, does there not? Let’s continue on the course we have set, and see if these two passages do not harmonize readily in the context of organic, rather than institutional, Life.
REFINED BY FIRE
This key question re‑stated: What do you share of what you’ve learned? Are the gatherings now to be “free for all,” a chaotic gab‑fest? A “pooling of ignorance” (known affectionately among us as “P of I”)? Certainly not. That kind of thing makes for some worthless gatherings. Some of us know this first-hand, for sure!
What then do we share? How do we know what is chaff thrown on the mountain of words and what is from God for His People? How do we walk in the Ways of our Lord who “said nothing that He did not hear His Father saying?” How do we speak “as the very oracles of God?”
First of all, share what has “become flesh” in you. Share those things that have impacted your life in a dramatic way — not just “neat” concepts gleaned from a cassette tape of the latest fad ministry. Nor the borrowed-from-the-commentators wisdom of the “junior‑scholars” that is so prevalent in churchianity “Bible classes.” Often it will be months before any Truth is part of you (Truth that has “become flesh” in you), rather than only in your head. Wait. Maybe as a Truth becomes alive to you, it will be a full six months of absolute, total silence about this facet of Truth before you speak to anyone except God alone on the issue. Be cautious of a shallow way of life: learning something and immediately spilling it all out when you come together. Have you really petitioned God for the full impact and application of this Truth? Be wary of Ephraim’s half‑baked cake.
In my own personal experience, a few years ago I remember being swept off my feet (in a good way) by some prayer‑closet enlightenment about, “As many as are led by the Spirit are Sons of God.” The significance of that critical Truth’s relationship to one of its spiritual shadows, the “Tree of Life,” was shocking and Life‑giving to me. It literally undermined my whole engineer’s and attorney’s approach to Christianity and the Bible. I was travelling on the East coast some time after I had begun praying about all of this, and began sharing some things about the tree of life with a preacher out there. He excitedly asked me, “How long have you been learning about the ‘Tree of Life’ versus ‘the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?’” I replied that it had been over a year since I’d begun to learn to eat from the “Tree of Life” and to despise (as God does) the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Even so, it was months after that before I could put words on it to even mention it to anyone else. At that point I had still never expressed it, except in passing, in the church of which I am a part. (Occasionally, as the Saints were together en masse or in homes, I had mentioned that sometime I hoped to share some things that the Father was doing in me out of Genesis 3, Galatians 5, Romans 8, and some other passages. I’d offer a few thoughts to my brothers and sisters, and then I’d prayerfully let the subject trail off.)
The reason I didn’t just “dump the load” from the top of my head was that “the word was becoming flesh in me;” I was just beginning to understand it in deeper and deeper ways. By the time I first shared about this communion with the Father, the direction of His Spirit, and the Tree of Life in a little more depth in Dallas, my words were coming out of the overflow of probably hundreds of hours with Him and in His Word about this. Rather than scraping for words and manufacturing thoughts to fill in the holes, I was sharing my experience as easily as an eye-witness could describe a precious birth.
Even then, I would not have shared those thoughts, except we had had a powerful evening the night before with a group of Christians that vowed that they would change their lives and repent of the materialism and shallowness that had marked their earlier lives. I was torn as I prayed later that evening and concluded that if they were serious in their hunger to go into the “Most Holy Place” then they needed to know that they could never get there by simply studying their Bibles more, in an intellectual way. Many thousands of people know their Bibles and couldn’t be further from knowing Jesus in intimacy. Can anyone relate?
You may be able to see (from some of these thoughts about sharing cautiously from the “overflow”) how to resolve the dilemma of “Not many of you should be teachers” and “You should all be teachers by now.”
These problems (of “not many teachers” versus “you ought to be teachers by now”) are good “problems” to have. The vast majority of Christians have been raised up in a Lifeless (though possibly very busy) church situation where they are never required to do much that isn’t on a cue card for them, or presented to them on the silver platter of a program. What a tragedy!
But, here is the other side. With your new‑found freedoms to be more than an audience, or a puppet on a string, come the possibilities of making mistakes such as the one we have been speaking of: “talking off the top of your head.”
Teaching when we have but shallow experience with Christ is a bit like taking a cup that’s half full and trying to share something out of it. We can shake it real hard to get something from it, but instead it ends up being a sloppy mess. Have you had the experience of trying to share something that was all scattered and you couldn’t quite distill it and verbalize anything worthwhile? When you learned it, the content seemed so good, but somehow it didn’t come out as significantly as you had hoped. The reason that happens is because the cup isn’t filled to the point of flowing over. Instead, we’re taking a cup that’s not quite full and shaking it in an attempt to get something to overflow.
Our motivations for “forcing” truth like that may be pride (to impress others), or the classic attempt to fill those embarrassing silent moments in the meeting (we’ll no doubt need to talk more about this at some later point). Whatever the reason, our “teaching” needs to come from the overflow, not from our ambition, our head-knowledge, or our insecurity about quiet moments in a gathering.
By way of example, it is incredible to me that Jesus was 30 years old before He did anything publicly. Didn’t He know His Bible prior to that? Of course we know from His visit to the Temple at the age of twelve that He had an incredible understanding even by that time. Yet it was only to be released in the timing of God Almighty. “Today this is fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk.4:21). It seems certain that He was no “pew potato” prior to this day, but Scripture clearly shows that He did not presume the role of being a “teacher” to others prior to the call and empowering of God when He was 30 years old. If Jesus didn’t take upon Himself, even with His immense credentials, the position of “teacher” or “shepherd” or “leader,” we had better not either!
John the Baptist, in the same way, was 30 years old before he received “utterance” of the Lord. Was he unqualified to be a “teacher” of others prior to age 30, by the way we measure “qualified”? Actually, by “natural” standards, he was very qualified prior to age 30. He was seemingly a Nazarite, knew his Bible backwards and forwards, had possibly 15 years in the wilderness to study the scrolls, and his dad was a priest. No doubt he knew most everything there was to know about the scrolls, the Scriptures. And yet, according to the Bible, he was 30 years old before he received true utterance from the Lord (Lk.3:1-2). There was a critical time of preparation. Jesus, John the Baptist, David, Moses, Elijah, Paul, and many others were the same.
Please get this point: Slow down! Don’t quickly grab the next neat new thing that comes along and decide to share it with everybody, whether from some platform, in a living room, or at the dinner table. Treasure it in your heart. Take your time. Distill it, digest it, and talk to God about it. Ask Him about it, and just begin to work it through. Let it become part of you. Don’t jump at the first chance to spew it out. Wait and watch patiently as you work and pray through it, and wait for God’s timing to overflow from your heart. Yes, “everyone brings a word of instruction, a song,…” and more! Still, we must learn together the meaning of “from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.” We’ll talk more about this as we continue.
Read a few verses with me, and we’ll make an application.
At that time the king of Babylon sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered. And Hezekiah was pleased with the envoys, and showed them the house of his treasures—the silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, and all his armory—all that was found among his treasures. There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them.
Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah, and said to him, “What did these men say, and from where did they come to you?” And Hezekiah said, “They came to me from a far country, from Babylon.” And he said, “What have they seen in your house?” So Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them.”
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the Lord.
“However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.”
The application? Count as precious the “treasures” that our Father gives to you (Mat.16:17; 11:25‑27). Please don’t be guilty of just dumping from your mouth everything that comes to your conscious mind! God will sometimes “test our hearts” by allowing messengers from Babylon to come to us bearing gifts and flattery. Don’t be guilty of carelessly showing off all that is in your heart. Only in God’s Wisdom and Timing will anything of lasting value be accomplished anyway (1Cor.3:6; Mk.4:26-29; Jn.15:5‑8). At other times He will test our hearts by seeing if, even in the midst of the Saints, we can restrain from drawing attention to ourselves.
I am not suggesting that anyone “bury his talent.” I’m simply stating that to say something “Scriptural,” or even something “profound” and “Scriptural” is not necessarily to speak the “living and active” Word of God. Satan quoted Scripture to Jesus, but that was certainly not God’s word to Jesus at that moment of time. Everything that is “Scriptural” is not necessarily the “Word of God,” “the very oracles,” the “utterance of God” (1Pet.4:11; Jn.15:5; Rom.8:14; Mat.10:20; Lk.3:2) at a particular moment. Jesus wrote the Scriptures, yet still never said a single word that He did not hear the Father saying at that moment (Jn.5:19‑20, 6:57, 8:28‑29, 14:10). As long as you or I are flippantly “horizontal” (simply dealing with “principles” rather than with God Himself) in our approach to Truth, we can never know the meaning of…
“As many as are led by the Spirit are Sons of God,”
“If any man speaks, let him speak as the very oracles of God,”
“Christ in you, the hope of Glory,”
“the full measure of the stature of Christ,” and
“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
All of this applies (with Jesus as the Standard) regardless of how mature we are, or perceive ourselves to be. How much more should we guard ourselves from “shooting from the hip” when we are still relatively unchanged in practical life by the Truths that we are learning and desiring to teach others?
SHARED IN HUMILITY
If you are currently working through some Truth, and it hasn’t “become flesh” in you yet, there is a way of sharing it other than “presuming to be a teacher.” As a fellow lamb, still growing in the things that you are about to lay before your family, share the teaching, or chapter, or verse in humility and confession. If it is challenging an area of your life and has convicted and awakened you, then share it without apology, as pure Truth. Yet let the Truth you are discovering and not yet walking in be packaged in an unmistakable humility (rather than teaching “as one having authority”). In this way, you won’t come across as hypocritical, or daring to be a teacher of something that has not become part of your life yet. Share it, but do it in a spirit of confession and humility. In other words say “Hey, I’ve been studying this and reading this and it challenges the dickens out of me. It cuts me to the bone and here’s why…Here’s what I have been doing in my life. Here’s the way I have been thinking, and when I read this it made such an enormous impact on me. I want you to pray for me that I’ll line up with this.” That humble approach is much different than “presuming to teach.”
Note that, when sharing your life in this Godly vulnerability and humility, the sharing will not be in weakness and pity. Rather, it will be with conviction and eager anticipation of God directly transfiguring your life (1Thes.1:5; Rom.12:1-2). Don’t say “Oh, this is too hard for me; I can’t believe I act the way I do and when I read this it made me feel twice as bad.” Share not with that attitude of weakness and unbelief, but instead: “Look what God said! Jesus, the Word, became flesh. If that Word would become flesh in me, I’d be more like the Anointed One of God! And that’s God’s will. I know that all the Promises of God are Yes! and Amen! in Jesus. Would you all pray with me about that?” Instead of whining in despair or frustration, we speak (even in failure!) a message of Faith with an anticipation of the life and the power and the spirit of God working in our lives.
SHARED FROM REALITY
Although “not many should presume to be teachers,” there will definitely be occasions when God will want you to speak out. Difficult situations can come up that force us to figure out who we are. Sometimes, though we are “nobody,” we have a responsibility to God anyway! Let me give you an example.
Have you ever been in a gathering or in a home when all the words and songs fall to the ground (I Samuel 3:19)? They drop to the floor with a thud. Nothing seems to have anything other than “theoretical” significance. Words from a Believer who is truly functioning at that moment as a Vessel of God will be Fire and Light from Heaven that “sets captives Free!” A “Living and Active Word” will always “lay bare the motives and intents of the heart,” rather than just saturate the air with pious religious jargon. The words that “fell to the ground” were not the Words of God (though Scripture may have been quoted) because they were not “Alive and Active.”
Here’s where you come in. If no one has the vision and willingness to take the initiative to change that when it occurs, please learn to. Of course, do it in Jesus’ way (“full of Grace and Truth”), but stop the big show! If no one responds to your desire and prayers to draw the gathering to a real transaction with Jesus, you may actually even ask in a kind and wise way why everything is so “plastic.” When it’s a “show” — a little “devo” or “Bible Study” that does not touch Reality, Jesus says to us as He did (through Paul) two thousand years ago, “Your meetings do more harm than good.” Expect and thrust forward towards a true Christ‑led time together, and don’t be afraid to break the hypnotic spell of the religious meeting. For the sake of Jesus, be kind — but don’t be mastered by religious protocol and fear of men. “No man can serve two masters.”
Possibly it’s just our personal fear or lack of any convictions from God that hinder us. Nevertheless, we must have enough courage and honesty to break that barrier and be the People of God in reality. Then if songs start to thud, it’s no problem to say:
“Is everyone alright here? Is Truth reigning in each life, and each marriage? John, how are you and Linda really doing since you confessed your selfishness a few evenings ago? Mark, you seem a little “out of it” tonight. What’s up? Does anyone else notice a lack of God’s Fullness here, or is it just me? (It may be simply my poor discernment, or my lack of touch with God.)”
Realize that we can walk together in honesty. We must. I am not speaking of a “gripe session.” But at the same time I am encouraging the honesty to ask, “Does anyone else notice the problem here?” There will be times where everything is “falling to the ground,” and seemingly no lives are being changed “from one degree of Glory to another.” If we continue to simply go through the motions, a Gallup poll amongst even the visitors would probably reveal the dominant response to be “Yawn.” Contrast that with the visitor “falling on his face and crying out ‘God is really here!’”
I’ll tell you what brings people to their knees. It is honesty before God and men. “Truth,” “Aletheia,” “Reality,” is the conduit through which God works (John 8:31-32, 8:44, 4:24, 14:6; 1John 1:5‑10). With the right heart, you can freely say,
“I want the Power of God, rather than any mere words (1Cor.4:20) to reign tonight. Is the problem unconfessed sin, or lack of a prayerful life-preparation? Is our ability to drive hard towards the Throne of God waning because everyone is tired? Is the Spirit being grieved by something? Or am I missing the mark in bringing this up? Maybe Jesus is done with us for the evening. Should we call it a night?”
God can work through this honesty to reveal the hearts of men and do His Work. Watch and see. It won’t always be “fun,” but His Glory is an awesome thing whether it is “fun” or not (Acts 5:9‑14).
Often our reason for backing away from dealing truthfully in a gathering is that we may not want visitors there to feel “uncomfortable.” In our minds we want to protect the visitors from dirty laundry. We can’t allow such a fear to dictate the nature of our gatherings if we truly want to function honestly with one another and with God. In the New Testament church meetings everything was done “for the edification of the Body,” not for the visitors. As I mentioned earlier, God works through this honesty, through Disciples dealing truthfully with one another in Love, and through the gifts that are unleashed in response to this vulnerability. Whether it’s offering the simplicity and beauty of our gifts to Him and each other, nailing carnality in the assembly, bringing teaching from Heaven, Worship and Adoration, or confessing our failures and struggles…the unbeliever can see “these people aren’t playing games!” Allowing Jesus to touch us and use us in this way lays bare the hearts and motives of the honest visitors. We must walk in Truth, in Reality. No religious presentations will ever accomplish God’s best Work!
In endeavoring to do God’s work in this way, we have definitely now opened ourselves up to the possibility of carnality’s reign of terror. For instance, when a church or individuals in the church are still weak, a confession of sin may be prompted by carnality. Possibly we confess something designed to vent frustration. Guard against that kind of childishness. Still, it may be legitimate to ask, “Is there unconfessed sin here? What seems to be the problem? Did everybody come with their life in such a state that they could draw near to God?” It may be a very wholesome and freeing thing to lay it on the carpet.
I need to say it again because it is such a difficult thing for so many of us: Please don’t be intimidated by visitors. Don’t be anxious for their comfort or frightened by their potential judgments. Remember, again, that everything is done for Jesus Himself and “for the edification of the Body” (1Cor.14) — not for the visitor’s approval. Our purpose for sharing life together is for Jesus and the body of Christ. If the visitors do see Christ in this way, they’re going to be convicted by God’s Love and Righteousness. If they see our “love for one another” (John 13:34-35), they’ll know this thing is from Heaven and not from men. Our job is not to impress them with the things we say, but to show the life of Christ and to allow Him to penetrate their lives or expose their sins. Beware of performing for visitors. It is dead wrong. It is manipulation and hypocrisy. We don’t need to do that.
All important: be HONEST with what’s currently happening.
As foreign as it may sound to the ears of those of us who have grown up being stifled by the traditions of men and unbiblical clergy/laity distinctions, each of us do need to be able to touch reality in a gathering. To put it as bluntly as I can, for the sake of the millions of hurting people that “attend services” without finding “power from on High,” and for the millions who never will attend services for the same reason, we cannot be slaves any longer to religious exercises. God never intended to meet our needs by pushing them into a counseling office, or by sanctioning an “after‑service restaurant evaluation session.” Very often He intends to meet our needs through His Church, His “treasure in earthen vessels,” His Priesthood “competent to counsel and train one another,” that “the gates of hell cannot prevail against.”
It is a responsibility as a Priest of the Most High God to participate as God directs, in harmony, as far as is possible, with the leadership and the moment. In a difficult situation (and some will come up when the stage is removed and replaced with Truth and Life), God may call anyone to ask: “Does anybody have an idea of what might be causing the awkwardness here? It seems that something’s out of bounds.” Let’s all get off the showboat and talk honestly when we’re together — about the reality of our lives.
Can you imagine such a thing as a “common” person being able to speak up in your environment? Biblically, anyone has the right — no, the responsibility — to do the Work of the Father in a gathering of his Family. In the most difficult of situations you could still ask: “Would it be all right if I asked this blunt question?” If you are genuine, in asking it that way you’re still coming from a state of humility, rather than as an expert.
Approach challenging situations that come up carefully, with a quiet heart. If your heart is reactive and your pulse is racing, wait. Make sure that you’re speaking out of security and strength and peace in your heart (though you wouldn’t be human if you weren’t a little nervous!), not out of reaction. Do you know what I mean? You have probably felt that pounding heart — hold it, “can” it. You can restrain yourself — “the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet.” Pray through it and, if necessary, fast through it before you speak out.
We’ll talk more about leadership a little later on, but let me say a pertinent word here first. Hopefully you are seeing a distinction being made here. Your place, if you are speaking as a “teacher,” must be supported not by religious office, but rather the clear Life of Jesus in you — authority in the unseen world, as in Acts 19:15. Your life is affirmed amongst God’s Elect, and the Shepherd’s Voice in you is clear to all (not just your own assessment of yourself, or that of the pigskin, diploma, on the wall). Fullness in Christ is the subject James is promoting when he says that not many should presume to be teachers. As we’ve seen, that isn’t to say that not many should teach. “You ought to teach by now!” said the Hebrews writer to those who were still dull infants long after their conversions to Christ. Everyone should participate in the Priesthood, but usually from a posture of humility, rather than as a “teacher.” No one should be less than humble, but the admonition of the Scriptures is this: “not many should presume to be teachers.”
To take it a step further for a brief moment, the difference between teaching, sharing a word of instruction or revelation, and BEING an apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd, or teacher — is “giftedness,” stature, and fruitfulness in the unseen World. There are Gifts, the Scriptures tell us (Ephesians, Chapter 4), that Christ gives to the Church from on High.
Are you recognized by the fruit of your life (beginning with your wash basin and towel ) to be walking in a high measure of Christ’s Giftedness and Stature? If not, you will need to offer your life in more reserve than a tested, approved man or woman might. Rather than speaking as a “teacher,” often (except in a prophetic moment) it would be far better to say, “Would it be all right if I share this thing?” In that way, you make yourself more vulnerable to someone saying, “No.” And you won’t get defensive, indignant, or wounded if they do say “no,” because you’ve offered your question in honest humility. “The sheep know the Shepherd’s Voice.” If what you have to say is really from God rather than from ego, God’s true People will hear it and embrace it. It certainly could not be objectionable to offer a word in humility, laying it before the feet of the Saints, unless one were in it for his own recognition or security.
When the People of God are meeting together it’s not a given that it’s right for everyone to speak (or to remain silent!). Jesus, as the Head, makes the decisions, unless we are disconnected from Him. And I’m not speaking here of a far‑fetched “Jesus told me to tell all of you this” sort of charismatic exhibitionism. I am talking about a reasonable, intimate relationship with the Carpenter from Nazareth. And Jesus is very practical, as can be seen in the Gospels, and in the letters from those (like Paul and John) who knew Him well.
Let me give you an example about a wrong time to speak out or lead a song. It may sound silly, but believe me, it can happen! There may be times when, right after a purging of sin in a person’s life, someone in the Church begins the song “Purify Me.” Right then a new Christian may want to sing “Blue Skies and Rainbows.” Why would anyone want to sing this song at this touching moment? Possibly because he or she (in their immaturity) had no concept of the importance of what had just happened. They just liked the song. Or, maybe they threw in an upbeat song because they are deathly afraid of a serious moment and want to cheer things up. “. . . After all, Christians are supposed to be joyful.”
If someone does respond carnally or shallowly and start such a song, if it truly is not appropriate, someone will have to say, “No, please don’t.” That’s really not an easy, or common thing to do! Yet, disorder and an illogical sequence of teaching, or prayer, or even praise, is not likely to emanate from the Father. God is not the author of chaos. There’s a dynamic, a reasonableness, in the leading of Jesus. Sensitivity to God Himself is necessary. If a person wants to sing “Blue Skies and Rainbows” out of randomness and prayerlessness right after “Purify Me Lord,” they probably aren’t in touch with the Head of the church. Or if someone wants to talk about Grandpa’s hangnail immediately after a sober confession, I would want to talk to them about that. That’s probably not like Jesus.
Something of that nature really happened at a gathering some time back. Someone, a visitor actually, started talking about their dead cat (and various other side issues again and again) after a few people had opened up their lives in a very sensitive and heart‑touching way. And then, there we were, forced to talk about dead cats?! Though I had never met this person, after praying in anguish for a few moments, I passed a note to the one who was showing this insensitivity and asked them to stop doing that, and to simply listen for awhile. I suggested to them briefly in the note that beelzebub (Mat.12:27‑28) was, translated, king of the flies, and that the buzz‑buzz of interruptions is not like Jesus. In that case, though it was risky (and not warmly received), I was convinced that it was the right thing to say. A few days later, this person who had spoken in such spiritual tones prior to that gathering, was unmasked by a couple of saints that visited them in their home. They then admitted to being a spiritist and proficient in witchcraft — paraphernalia and all. I wish I could give you a happy ending to that account, but I think you at least understand my point.
Shouldn’t it be possible for Jesus to expose such demonic things and silence their dominance, as He did while He was here demonstrating His Life for us? Sometimes it will happen in such practical ways as passing such a note during a gathering, but it must happen. Otherwise, satan will see to it that we are slaves to the “beelzebub” interruptions of God’s Work in our hearts.
So again, be sensitive to what’s happening. Make yourself vulnerable. While not presuming to be a teacher, still refuse to “bury your talent!” Be willing to stand against that which seems to be harming God’s Work, in love, and with courage. It might have grave consequences, as in the case just mentioned, if we back away from our responsibilities.
As we discussed earlier, there are two different ways of sharing things. On the one hand, you can share from a “teacher” vantage point — yet God said “not many should presume to be teachers.” This “I am teaching you all something” attitude in sharing (what we hope is Truth) in the gathering depends on whether that Word has become flesh, real, in you. You are walking in it, not hypothesizing based on something you read or heard. On the other hand, if you’re still churning and struggling with the Truth of which you are speaking, you can speak it in humility. It would then come out more like: “Hey, I’m not really up to speed on this myself, but I really, really want to be. I can see the importance of this and I want to move hard into it. Anybody else want to join me?” In that way it is shared out of humility rather than out of stature, in a “teaching” mode. The concern you may have is brought out as an honest question, not an accusation. You’re asking in the humility of “What seems to be the problem here?” as opposed to being especially bold. That attitude would be a big problem coming from one of unproven fruitfulness and stature. While we allow for the prophetic element coming from even Balaam’s donkey, far more often it is Wisdom to share in humility.
I realize that all of this warning about “how to share” could tend to make one paranoid about stepping out and opening up your life. To make things worse, most everyone has had years of practice in passivity in gatherings, as the clergy/laity system has almost completely atrophied 95% of all Christians.
If you’ll just take a peek at all that God has given you, you’ll have no problem whatsoever with paralysis! You lack nothing except some “equipping” in the use of what God has already given you! All the riches of Christ have already been given to you (Eph.1:3). His life and power are already poured out upon us. You can make it! Stephen and Paul and Elijah are men “just like us.” God said that! We need only grow in Faith and Obedience, and go and “possess the land” that God has given us. Certainly it won’t be without battles and “giants” in the land. Once we get into that “land flowing with Milk and Honey” — a walk of Life and Power (reread, if you will, footnote #19 in chapter three) — we’ll still feel “like grasshoppers” at times. But the land will be ours. By the Word of the Living God. “Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit,” saith the Lord. When you approach the Word of Truth, do it with a spirit of strength and eager anticipation of what God has done and is doing — because you know the end of the story.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
And the end of this story is, according to the Word of God, nothing less than the “full measure of the stature of Christ.” Look it up! If your life terminates on this planet a little earlier than reaching that point (and it will, but that is not an excuse to lower the call of God to something else), so be it. You’ll see Him face to face and it’ll speed up the process. But the point is this: you know where God is going with your life. He’s committed to the task of transforming you, so there is no need to worry. You can go into that land knowing that you’re a grasshopper, but also knowing that “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
You don’t have to fear the giants in the land because God has already given you that land. He has already given you the potential — living inside of you — of “the full measure of the stature of Christ.” Care deeply and, as Paul, “work harder than all the rest,” “buffeting your body daily,” but don’t worry about discrepancies between you and the full measure of the Stature of Christ. Anticipate and exclaim “Oh, boy! This land is mine! As far as I can SEE.” He graciously gives “Life to the Full” little by little so that we’re not consumed by pride. Surpassing great revelation requires a thorn in the flesh so that we don’t become conceited. He gives the Land little by little, or it will eat us up. But know that the land is yours as far as the eye can see — wherever you have the Faith to plant your feet. As much Jesus as you can see belongs to you.
Therefore, don’t be afraid or condemned when you share the Word of God in confession and humility. “Reckon yourselves dead to sin” and alive to Christ Jesus. “Reckon” in this verse is an accounting term. The books are closed. Count it as done. You are dead to sin, and alive to Christ Jesus. If you’ll read Romans 6 and Romans 8 you’ll see what power is available for the victory over sin and death. Those things are clearly a matter of possessing the land (if we walk by the Spirit, chapters six and eight, rather than by the law, chapter seven). Even though we’re grasshoppers (there’s no denying it!), our God is able. There is nothing to worry about. It’s our land.
So, having given you much to think about, let me give you another (paradoxical) encouragement which is probably appropriate at this point: Loosen up and have some fun as you explore His Riches! Don’t take yourself so seriously!
36 Jesus was, and is, the perfect manifestation of all that God believes and values (Hebrews 1:1‑3; Colossians 1:13‑20). He was the first of a new race, the “Firstborn.” “The Word became flesh and dwelt for a while among us.” Though our lives are not yet fully transformed by His Word, that is the objective we have determined to pay any price for! We, too, want to have the Father’s Word manifested (not just quoted or studied) in our lives by His Spirit. Back
37 Hebrews 5:4; Philippians 2:5‑8; Romans 10:15. Back
38 Romans 11:36‑12:8. Back
39 Romans 15:14. Back
40 John 13:1‑17, 34-35. Back
41 This is, of course, true to an extent, but don’t forget that our Messiah was called (prophetically) “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” Back
42 1Cor.14:33. Back
43 Genesis 13:14‑18; Joshua 1:3ff. Back
44 Exodus 23:29‑30; Deuteronomy 7:22. Back
45 2Corinthians 12:7. Back
46 Cassettes available of gatherings where some of this thought was expressed or experienced: Spanky and the Gang Take the Land and Have Fun, and Do Take the Kingdom. Back