The people of the Lord welcome His attention

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good.
–  Proverbs 15:3

It’s a good thing if this thought brings peace and joy to your heart.  It’s even better if you constantly keep it in mind.

Suffering with Christ

Suffering with Christ is suffering for the name of Christ.  That is, it is suffering that comes to us because of our association with, and obedience to, Jesus Christ.  We should not shrink from this kind of suffering, but rather we should embrace it.

We should welcome this kind of suffering because 1) it brings honor to the Lord’s name, and 2) because He promises to reward us for enduring it.  The reward is great.  The  down payment on it is the comfort that comes almost immediately to our hearts in the form of peace and joy as we do His will.

Let us therefore meditate on this truth through the following scriptures.  I have put “suffer,” its synonyms, and correlative terms (e.g. “complaint” implies some sort of “mistreatment”)  in bold and trimmed some of the verses to help focus concentration on the theme of this meditation.  Note that the verses come from both the Old and New Testaments.  In Old Testament times, the value of suffering for God was not as fully appreciated as it came to be in the time of Christ.  He Himself demonstrated in a dramatic way just how much benefit can come from “bearing up under sorrows while suffering unjustly” (1 Peter 2:19).

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps…
–  1 Peter 2:21-23

If His suffering for us was an example, shouldn’t we follow it?

…bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
–  Colossians 3:12

Paul is here making the same point that Peter did in 1 Peter 2:21-23 above, which is that Jesus is our example for how to deal with slights and offenses.

Be hospitable to one another without complaint.”
–  1 Peter 4:9

As He is hospitable to us in His creation without complaint (i.e. “not taking into account a wrong suffered” – 1 Corinthians 13:5), so we should be hospitable to each other in our respective parts of His domain without complaint.

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
–  Luke 6:27

This was what Jesus preached…and we see that He practiced what He preached.  Therefore, whether we follow His instructions or His example, we will be adopting the same attitude and taking the same action.

..choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin…
–  Hebrews 11:24-26

As Jesus followed this example of Moses, so we should follow the example of Jesus.

…the Lord has comforted His people and will have compassion on His afflicted.
–  Isaiah 49:13

This comfort – righteousness and peace – comes to our souls through the Holy Spirit – “the Comforter.”  This is the down payment on our reward for enduring this kind of suffering about which I spoke above.

Blessed be the God…who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.
–  2 Corinthians 1:3-5

We needn’t fret about an increase in our sufferings, because if our suffering becomes abundant, then His comfort becomes abundant as well.

For the Lord…will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.
–  Psalm 149:4

Salvation is the process of healing in our souls – that soothing balm of peace and joy in our hearts.

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
–  Romans 8:16-17

Note that the inheritance – that is, the “reward” or “credit” or “glory” – comes only as we are willing to suffer for His sake.  No suffering, no reward.  Much suffering, much reward.

…I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.
–  2 Timothy 2:10

See that the salvation – that is, the peace and joy – come in the moment, and then throughout eternity the glory shines.  Thus our suffering for Him has benefits both in this life and in the one to come.

For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
–  1 Peter 2:20

Note that it is suffering for Christ that has been our focus – not suffering that we have brought on ourselves by sin.

So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.
–  Acts 5:41

The apostles rejoiced not because what they were suffering was fun, but because they had some to see through Christ’s life that there were indeed rewards from God for such suffering.

that I may know…the fellowship of His sufferings
–  Philippians 3:10

The greatest reward is knowing that He is with us in our suffering for Him.

…”Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
–  Acts 9:4

Jesus is here communicating that the persecution of His people is persecution of Him.  Thus He and His people have “fellowship” those sufferings.

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,
–  2 Timothy 1:8

We join with Paul – and with all the saints, all the people of God from all generations – when we suffering for the good news of God in Christ.

…those…who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
–  1 Peter 4:19

Enduring this kind of suffering is an act of faith by a creature in his Creator.  Thus we demonstrate to the rest of creation – that is, men on earth and angels in heaven – that our Creator is not only powerful, but that He is also righteous.

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
–  2 Timothy 3:12

Let us always remember that the kind of suffering we have been thinking about in this post comes only to those who “desire to live godly in Christ Jesus.”  Therefore, let us never let this kind of suffering, or the fear of it, diminish our “desire to live godly in Christ Jesus.”  After all, that is the purpose for which Satan – the god of this world – inspires the suffering that comes our way.  Let us therefore deny him his purpose, and remember always that Jesus said to us:

 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
–  John 16:33

Questions from Ashley About the One True Church

Someone named Ashley made this comment on the post How to Be in the One True Church.  I thought it contained some very good questions and so I wanted to answer them in this full post where I have a little more “elbow room.”  Here is her comment in full:

I understand that the true church is spiritual and not a building. My pastor teaches this he also teaches that not everyone that belongs to our church is in the true church and that Jesus is the Pastor of it, not him. However, he does teach that Jesus sends out others to be pastors that are after His (God/Jesus) own heart, as the bible says. The bible says how can we hear without a preacher? I believe a pastor is one who leads us to Jesus by preaching Jesus’ (THE Pastor) words. If you were to take everything you have on your website, and preach it to people on a particular day and at a set time, when convenient, what would you call it? Are you not pastoring, or leading, or sheparding, this certain group of people to Jesus, who is Pastor of all? My pastor teaches that he is no more qualified to know the Lord than any of us, but is simply chosen to be used for God’s glory. We have a building where we meet, and we call it church. What else would we call it? Before I joined this assembly of people, I was led by Jesus Himself to it, because I knew something was wrong with all the other churches I went to. So what am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to stop going to thus church where many of the truths you know is being preached, and just read your website? If I did, wouldn’t I be being led, or pastored, by you? What is the difference in my particular situation, keeping in mind that my earthly pastor acknowledges that he is not the mediator between me and Jesus, but just a messenger just like you? Would you not want to teach all you have to say here on this website to a group of people in a building where they can sit and ask questions and communicate and share testimonies in person?

Ashley, I want to thoroughly address every point you raised.  Let me start with your opening sentences.

I understand that the true church is spiritual and not a building. My pastor teaches this he also teaches that not everyone that belongs to our church is in the true church and that Jesus is the Pastor of it, not him.

So far, so good.

However, he does teach that Jesus sends out others to be pastors that are after His (God/Jesus) own heart, as the bible says. The bible says how can we hear without a preacher? I believe a pastor is one who leads us to Jesus by preaching Jesus’ (THE Pastor) words.

Jesus did send apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers until He would come in His kingdom.  The kingdom has come.  If you do not know about this, read the post Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again, and, if necessary, the accompanying book.  In the kingdom of God, we who serve Him are His children – sons and daughters.  This calling is greater than any other (Luke 7:28).  As children, we are to mature.  A sapling becomes a tree; it does not remain a sapling.  An infant becomes an adult; it does not remain an infant.  We are to mature and one aspect of maturing is to help those younger than ourselves (Hebrews 5:12).  For this reason your pastor and I – and, presumably, you as well – share truth with others less far along than we are.

In ancient times, literacy rates were far lower than what they are now.  Moreover, it was not possible to hold all the Scriptures in your hand – that many scrolls was unwieldly.  Therefore, people went to gatherings to hear the word of God.  Are we to ignore the fact that we can read – and therefore “hear” – the word of God anywhere?  Should that fact have no bearing on our habits?

It is true that we cannot know of Christ or His ways without a “preacher” – but that “preacher” comes in many forms in this the eternal age.  When you speak of Christ to your neighbor, you are “preaching.”  When you read your Bible, the prophets and apostles are “preaching” to you.  In this age, God does not call us to be preachers – He calls us to be sons and daughters.  And one aspect of being a son or daughter is to speak truth – that is, “preach” – about Him who calls us sons and daughters (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Therefore, your pastor under-appreciates what it means to be a child of God in the kingdom of God.  He is reverting to a system God has made obsolete.  The kingdom of God is “something greater” than all that has come before.  If it is not, then let us all become Jews and go back to slaughtering animals in the tabernacle of Moses.

Now I will answer your questions one by one.

If you were to take everything you have on your website, and preach it to people on a particular day and at a set time, when convenient, what would you call it?

The same thing I call it now – me sharing with others what I have read and come to understand in the Bible.

Are you not pastoring, or leading, or sheparding, this certain group of people to Jesus, who is Pastor of all?

No, I am proclaiming that there is One who pastors, leads, and shepherds.  His name is Jesus and He is Lord of all.

My pastor teaches that he is no more qualified to know the Lord than any of us, but is simply chosen to be used for God’s glory.

The calling he has is the same calling we all have – the calling to share with others what we know (Ephesians 4:15, 25).

We have a building where we meet, and we call it church. What else would we call it?

A building.

Before I joined this assembly of people, I was led by Jesus Himself to it, because I knew something was wrong with all the other churches I went to. So what am I supposed to do?

Keep being led by Jesus Himself.  If He led you there, it was for some purpose other than turning over His leadership role in your life to the pastor.  Perhaps Jesus led you to there to hear something or to meet someone or for someone there to hear you or for you to experience something.  I can’t tell you what His purpose was in leading you there, but I can tell you that it was not so that you could stop following Him and start following somone else.  I encourage you therefore to pursure the purpose or purposes for which He led you there, all the while continuing to be led by Jesus Himself.

Am I supposed to stop going to thus church where many of the truths you know is being preached, and just read your website? If I did, wouldn’t I be being led, or pastored, by you?

There is no more virtue in not going to a local church than there is in going to a local church.  Virtue is in hearing the word of God and doing it.

What is the difference in my particular situation, keeping in mind that my earthly pastor acknowledges that he is not the mediator between me and Jesus, but just a messenger just like you?

There is no difference.  He is a child of God, you are a child of God, and I am a child of God.  Your pastor and I are sharing what we have learned of Christ and, it is to be hoped, living lives that conform to the truths we proclaim.  In this regard, his contribution to your life is more valuable than mine because you have more visibility to his life.  But you have even more visibility to the the life of Christ because His thought life is revealed to us in the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 2:16).  Therefore, accept what contributions of truth come to you from your pastor or me or others – but keep drawing nearer to Christ Himself.

Would you not want to teach all you have to say here on this website to a group of people in a building where they can sit and ask questions and communicate and share testimonies in person?

Not necessarily.  For one thing, that approach would be a lot more expensive than this one.  I have certain costs associated with this blog and the accompanying podcast but they are far less than it would cost me to rent or buy a building.  Moreover, everything I teach here is “portable” and can easily be shared from one person to the next; this would not be the case if I relied on speaking in a building to a group of people.  I would value the “face to face” aspect of speaking and, for this reason, do a weekly video teaching.  It’s not as good as “face to face” but it’s better than no face at all.  The point of all this is there are trade-offs in comparing any one form of communication to another.  The essential dynamic is sharing the truth from one person to the next.  May the word of the Lord spread!

I could say much more, but time is short.  If I’ve not answered your questions sufficiently you can always ask others.  Thanks for the thought you gave your comments.

The Lord and His People

Every day the people of the Lord awake.  And they awake to obey their Lord.  The essence of that obedience is to imitate Him.

Because the people of the Lord imitate the Lord, His glory is reflected through their lives.  They do not look like other people because they do not think and act like other people.  They think and act like their Lord.

How else can unbelievers see what Jesus is like except through seeing the people of the Lord?

Psalm 81:13

Romans 8:29

Does Jesus think you are a Christian?

What would it matter if the whole world agreed that you were a Christian, but Jesus didn’t?

2 Timothy 2:19

SC130 – Misfits

This is another weekly podcast. It’s about 30 minutes of teaching. It’s available both as a podcast (iTunes, Sticher, etc.) and as a YouTube video (below). God bless you as you seek and serve Jesus our Lord.

Podcast: SC130

Notes

Psalm 118:22; 1 Peter 2:5
1 Peter 2:11  aliens and strangers  1 Peter 1:1
Hebrews 11:13  strangers and exiles  Hebrews 11:13-16
2 Peter 2:7, 8  Lot oppressed (and) tormented
the shortness of life Hebrews 2:9; 1 Peter 1:17; James 4:14
We can “gush” about a sports team, celebrity (band, singer, musician), but not Jesus
Christopher Hitchens v. Noah on the eyes of the Lord
1 Peter 4:4  they are surprised that
Ephesians 5:7 and surrounding context: do not be partakers with them
Psalm 73:25; Colossians 3:2
The pressure to “fit in” is enormous.

Don’t Go to Church – Be the Church!

Don’t go to church.  Instead, be the church!

The true church consists of those who hear the voice of the Son of God and do His word.

They are His people at all times and in all places.

They never leave the church because they always are the church.

Bible notes on this post.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ to those who want to hear about Him without having to join a church – or anything or anyone else – but Him.

If You’re Building Up the Organized Church You Can’t Be Building Up the True Church

The organized church has human leaders.  For this very reason, it cannot be the true church for the true church has the Lord Jesus as its leader.

If you are building up the organized church it means you are building up human leaders.  This is not God’s way.  We are to lift up Jesus – not anyone else.

There’s only one name we are to be promoting – and it’s not the name of a human pastor, or the name of a local church, or the name of a denomination.  It is the name of Jesus Christ our Lord!

Bible notes on this post.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ to those who want to hear about Him without having to join a church – or anything or anyone else – but Him.

Instead of Visiting the People of God, Be the People of God

Churchgoers want to gather as the people of God.  But the true people of God in this age gather to God – not each other.

The true people of God are unified in their devotion to Him.  They gather to the true Shepherd.

If you want to gather with rest of the people of God, pray.  For it’s around God’s throne that they are gathered.

Bible notes on this post.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ to those who want to hear about Him without having to join a church – or anything or anyone else – but Him.

Don’t Go to the House of God; Be the House of God

Rather than making trips to His house, God has designed that we should be His house.

If we are His house, then there is no going to and coming from it.

Be His.

Bible notes on this post.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ to those who want to hear about Him without having to join a church – or anything or anyone else – but Him.