Do You Qualify For Ministry?

Do You Qualify For Ministry?

What are the qualifications in our day for pastors, deacons, elders and leaders in general?  Is it the ownership of several freshly pressed suits and ties?  Is it pieces of paper with a signed by someone most people wouldn’t recognize?  Is it the personal collection of books filled to the brim with other people’s personal opinions of Christ and the church?  Is it in masterful trickery of the tongue upon tickled ears? Have we ever really asked ourselves the question, “what qualifies us for ministry?”  What plumb line, or bar are we measured against that allows us the privilege of open ministry (both corporate and individual)? Or on a personal level, what qualifies us to openly display the gospel to the unbeliever?

My desire is to know what the scriptures say on this matter, of qualification.  Ever in my searching I have yet to find the verses commanding the attendance of and accredited university for 4 to 7 years.  Nor do I find the doctrine of, the issuance of golden sealed papers to be rewarded for the regurgitation of cold information.  No, in my ventures across the scripture I have found something, yes something somewhere which hints, no, declares the qualities of true leaders and servants. Now I am not discrediting the usefulness of proper education, I’m speaking as one who earned a Bachelor of Theology with highest honors (the Canadian equivalent to summa cum laude.)

However, that bachelors may be recognized by the people around me and those reading, watching and listening to my words but in God’s eyes it’s not a permit to be part of the ministry. That bachelors did not force God to place a call of ministry on my life and neither did that degree replace or cancel out 16 years of informal self-study and previous ministry experience. To be honest my years of personal experience and previous studies made getting my bachelors much easier and allowed me to complete it in record time.

I’m a huge advocate for learning the scriptures, theology, hermeneutics, doctrine and the like but possessing information, books or degrees does not equal a call to the ministry. There are a great many people who have attended Bible Colleges and Universities who were not called into ministry. On the other hand there are many who are called and are active in the ministry who have never been to school at all. Perhaps I am just jaded about this subject because I have been on both sides of the fence. I have been called and active in ministry without a degree (including teaching people with Bible school degrees) and now I have a degree and am still living out my calling.

I feel that people treat me “better” now than before, but my heart has not changed. I remember one encounter with a church I used to attend in Winnipeg, I was having a deep theological conversation with a man who was an elder in the church and a high-ranking member of the denomination. At one point he asked me where I went to school and how I became so insightful for my age. I told him that I didn’t actually have a degree and he looked at me turned his back and walked away and refused to talk with me any longer. (I should probably mention that at this time I was also the church’s volunteer youth pastor.)

Paying an institution thousands of dollars and writing theses and book reports did not stir up or validate a call on my life. Rather it merely encourages people to trust me more as I live out that calling

Paying an institution thousands of dollars and writing theses and book reports did not stir up or validate a call on my life. Rather it merely encourages people to trust me more as I live out that calling, because honestly would you rather buy a book written by some guy from Canada called Cam, or from Cameron D. Conway B.Th? We must go beyond the sights and sounds of paper and ink and begin to look at the qualities of the heart, the experience of trials, testimonies unwavering faith and a devotion to build the Kingdom as the true signs of a call to ministry in a person. The education which comes later (either formal, through discipleship or self-taught) then acts as a foundation to maintain a person in ministry. It provides the scaffolding for a heart to witness the gospel to the world. We must always remember that a heart will always cry out louder than an idea, our heart motivates us and leads us to God while knowledge and information ensure that we are correctly sharing the truths of the gospel.

How many times have we had information presented to us that was either not believed by the person speaking, flat out incorrect or focuses on the wrong things. I’ve seen fiery evangelists who have known next to nothing about the scriptures or discipleship and I have seen experts on the scriptures who have never lifted a finger to spread the gospel. We need both, we need a heart of fire and mind of raw fuel to sustain those flames and give them purpose.

We need both, we need a heart of fire and mind of raw fuel to sustain those flames and give them purpose.

Paul’s Standard

Paul was an apostle in the truest sense; he built churches, raised up disciples, and provided the framework for churches to flourish without his direct supervision. Later in his life Paul approached the twilight of his mortal journey wrote to his spiritual sons Timothy and Titus what the true heart of a leader must look like.  It is a message I fear is often overlooked throughout the church. It is not a message that has to do with externals but matters of the heart. Now I ask you to gaze upon yourself in a mirror as you read the words of Paul and see his qualifications for ministry.


1 Timothy 3:1-7 “1 The saying is true and irrefutable: If any man [eagerly] seeks the office of bishop (superintendent, overseer), he desires an excellent task (work).  2 Now a bishop (superintendent, overseer) must give no grounds for accusation but must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, circumspect and temperate and self-controlled; [he must be] sensible and well behaved and dignified and lead an orderly (disciplined) life; [he must be] hospitable [showing love for and being a friend to the believers, especially strangers or foreigners, and be] a capable and qualified teacher,  3 Not given to wine, not combative but gentle and considerate, not quarrelsome but forbearing and peaceable, and not a lover of money [insatiable for wealth and ready to obtain it by questionable means].  4 He must rule his own household well, keeping his children under control, with true dignity, commanding their respect in every way and keeping them respectful.  5 For if a man does not know how to rule his own household, how is he to take care of the church of God?  6 He must not be a new convert, or he may [develop a beclouded and stupid state of mind] as the result of pride [be blinded by conceit, and] fall into the condemnation that the devil [once] did. 7 Furthermore, he must have a good reputation and be well thought of by those outside [the church], lest he become involved in slander and incur reproach and fall into the devil’s trap.” (AMPC, emphasis mine)


This is not merely a bullet point thesis of a Christian leader, this should be the calling card of everyone in the church.  This entire list is grounded upon matters of the heart and is directed towards those that have been called by God and can prove their character to not just those inside the church but to those outside as well (1 Timothy 3:7). The fruits of our inner soul is to be one third of our ministry foundation along with knowledge of the scriptures and a living encounter with Jesus. That foundation is not built upon puffed up poster boards of self-righteousness, empty actions, clever words or selfish motives.  The eyes of God see far beyond the masks we wear to our very core being and nature. Thankfully in His grace He sent Holy Spirit to recreate our core in His image and likeness.

We are called to be children of wisdom, holiness and Christ-likeness no matter our age (in the flesh or in the spirit).  We are called to be diligent within our own home before we attempt to gain authority within the translucent walls of the church.  We are forbidden to covet what is not our own and we are commanded to teach with humility and honestly the mysteries of God. We are called to be holy, not for the rewards or to maintain a public show, but because it is the desire of God’s heart.

What Applies To Ministry Applies To All

We can also look to the epistle to Titus and one again see Paul repeat and reaffirmed his view on those who are qualified for ministry.


Titus 1:7-9 For a bishop (overseer, local leader, pastor) must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. (NKJV)


This is the heart of all those who carry the banner of servant, helper, teacher, pastor, evangelist, prophet and apostle.  It is not merely the collecting of knowledge, though we are not to be ignorant or ill-informed.  But our personal conduct and love will shine brighter than any thesis or quote ever will.  We are to be wise as serpents and as gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16).  For within us is wisdom, knowledge and understanding revealed by the Holy Spirit. Revelation which goes far beyond anything found in books, CD’s, blogs, podcasts, or videos because it is from the spirit of the living God within. Yet these words of mine fail to compare with the words of Paul.


Titus 2:7-8 “in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.”


Have we forgotten that we cannot have the gifts of the spirit spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12 until we have learned to walk in the fruit of the spirit found in Galatians 5:22-24? We cannot have one without the other, one cannot be a helper without love, a teacher without faithfulness, a pastor without longsuffering, or an evangelist without peace.  No prophet is without self-control, and one cannot be an apostle without kindness.  Always remember that the fruit is the “horse” which pulls the cart of “gifts”.  I cannot refrain from repeating the notion that these truths are not exclusively for those in ministry but for all within the Body of Christ.

Those who reject this truth will never qualify for ministry in God’s eyes and will forever remain vessels of dishonor at the masters table.  Yet for those who wish to attain honor at the table must live the life spoke of by Paul to Timothy


2 Timothy 2:20-26 “20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, [h]sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (NKJV)


 

A Pattern Of Commission Combined With Servanthood And Relationship

When we search the scriptures we begin to see a pattern emerge of those whom God chose for ministry roles (leaders, prophets and so on). In most of these cases a call or a commission was first given, then the life of that person would be then marked by servanthood and continual relationship with God. A relationship which included an abundance of time learning God’s nature through the scriptures and revelation.

a call or a commission was first given, then the life of that person would be then marked by servanthood and continual relationship with God. A relationship which included an abundance of time learning God’s nature through the scriptures and revelation.

We see that Jeremiah wasn’t called because he went to the right school, but rather through the sovereignty of God. Moses wasn’t commissioned because he excelled in his Egyptian homeschooling but because God saw a heart which could carry the burden of the nation. Isaiah didn’t have a Doctor of Divinity but saw the throne and God’s glory. Elisha didn’t become Elijah’s servant because he impressed the school of the prophets during their summer internship program. Joshua didn’t emerge from a great military academy, Ezekiel didn’t receive his visions because he scored better than his fellow Levites in standardized testing. John didn’t witness the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ because of faithful tithing, and on and on we go.

What we do see is that when God commissions a person, it is the person’s responsibility to act upon that commission. To get up and go where God has commanded them to go, to live a life according to God’s standards and to make it so the words and voice of God were more familiar than their own voices. The things we associate with a person receiving a call to ministry are in reality the things people are supposed to do after they are called, commissioned or released into ministry. Education is good, oversight is good, certification is good but all of those things cannot transform a person into a pastor, prophet, teacher, evangelist or apostle. All they can do is reinforce the platform which God has appointed them to and to bring comfort to those that the person in ministry will guide, teach, encourage, disciple, train, and equip.

Paul was perhaps one of the most educated writers of the Bible but that information was irrelevant until his encounter with Jesus. Paul went to the best rabbinical school of the day and sat under the most respected teacher in Jerusalem but that didn’t produce a call to ministry or a revelation of who Jesus is. Even after the encounter on the road to Damascus Paul spent another decade back in Tarsus preparing for his launch into ministry. Paul had an experience, a commission and the knowledge to not only be in the ministry but to have success. He had the heart, mind and feet of one called by Jesus to not just witness to the message of the cross but to build the church as well. But even he needed letters form the Jerusalem Church and the accompaniment of Barnabas in those early missionary journeys to give people reasons trust him and to listen to his words.

Ministry is For All

In a frail attempt to craft a conclusion I ask that you examine your own hearts and ask God if you are lacking in any area, or if there is any place in you life that He is excluded.  Then ask if there is any place where He may use you as a vessel of honor to enlarge the boundaries of His kingdom.  For it is not by gilded golden paper that you are called, but by His spirit.  For “many are called yet few are chosen” are the immortal words of our King. The revelation of this mystery is this, that those who are chosen are merely the ones who appear when called. They are the ones who hear the call to preach, teach, encourage, pray, prophecy, disciple, write, create, support and evangelize.

To receive the call to the ministry is only the first step you must then take those steps into that new land where your life reflects that of Christ. Don’t limit this truth to thinking that I’m not called to full time ministry, these words apply to all of us because at our heart every Christian is a minister. We are all called to preach, teach and disciple so our lives, intentions, faith and time should reflect the words Jesus commanded in the great commission.

In closing may we never forget these words:


Titus 3:2-7 “to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (NKJV)


To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but learn how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth.

 

Creative Commons LicenseDo You Qualify For Ministry? Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

 

 

The Key Ingredient Forgotten By Many Christians

The Key Ingredient Forgotten By Many Christians

Today it feels like there’s something missing in the lives of many Christians, we go to church, and occasionally read our Bibles but it feels if that it isn’t enough. As Christians we are good at listening, pondering, and absorbing information, revelation and insights but what do we do with all of that knowledge? Do we write it down, store it away in our minds for a rainy day, or do we replace it with whatever is heard the following week?

These are the questions we must begin to ask ourselves if we want to fully reflect Christ into this world, these are the questions we must ask if we are serious about growing and developing the Kingdom here on earth. However, being able to grow personally and corporately hinges on the fact that we must begin to practice what we preach and to apply what we have learned. It is as if many churches and Christians have become drunk on knowledge but are starving for wisdom and application.

Being able to grow personally and corporately hinges on the fact that we must begin to practice what we preach and to apply what we have learned. 

Knowledge is the accumulation of information, while wisdom is knowing what to do with that knowledge and how to apply it in real world situations and in your own life. I believe this is where many Christians get tripped up, we are good at hearing a sermon or reading a passage but we lack the ability (or discernment) to apply those truths in our own lives (or for more than a week). It is easy to sit and listen but it is much harder to act out what was heard.

Look at it this way would you invest time and money to go to a trade school (carpenter, electrician, mechanic) and never do anything except the book work. Imagine getting a master’s degree in carpentry but you’ve never picked up a hammer during the entire experience. It sounds ridiculous but this is how many of us approach church and the Bible. Each year we sit through at least 52 sermons plus all of our personal reading but rarely does a real lasting change, refinement, course correction, or new type of action materialize in our lives. What is happening here?

Christians Must Do the Do

The Christian life is based on more than just attendance and homework, it is based on action, belief and trust. You can have knowledge about Jesus and not be saved (member of the New Covenant), you can have an understanding of Paul’s writings and not be a contributing Christian and you can have insights about God and still be without a relationship with Him.

The Christian life is based on more than just attendance and homework, it is based on action, belief and trust.

What is the tipping point between knowledge about Christ and relationship with Him? James the half-brother of Jesus and leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15) wrote about how to bridge this gap.


James 1:22-25 “22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” (NKJV)


You see it is not enough to read the scriptures, we must learn how to apply them to our lives and how to live them out. Paul in Romans 10:9-10 talks about believing in your heart AND confessing with your mouths, to receive salvation both must happen not just one or the other. My own salvation experience reflects this. I believed in my heart in April of 2000 but I didn’t make a verbal confession until July 2000. Jesus revealed Himself to me and gave me a choice, from that day I believed in Him but I didn’t speak it out until just over three months later. For those three and a half months I had knowledge of who Jesus really was but my actions to back that up were delayed.

We can take this truth in James 1 and apply it to more than just salvation, we can apply it to the entirety of the scriptures and especially the words Jesus spoke of in the Gospels. Jesus went and did, Jesus didn’t sit at home in Capernaum and revel in the knowledge of who He was. No, He went out and demonstrated the reality of His life and calling. Jesus didn’t just mentally frame the words of the magi, Simeon, Anna or His cousin John and look over them when He was frazzled with a His carpentry work. Jesus brought life to the words, promises, proclamations and call on His life.

We have to get over the trap of thinking that collecting popular scriptures, Christian catchphrases, dank-Christian memes, or simple pleasantries is enough to sustain our faith and life. We can squirrel away all of the quotes and verses that we can, but it is irrelevant if we don’t do something with them. Just think of a squirrel, what is the point of gathering all of those acorns if you never intend on eating them, or you constantly forget where you left them. You’re just running around from yard to yard hunting down acorns just for the reason of collecting them. You won’t benefit from eating them and depending where you are stuffing them they will never fulfill their own potential of becoming a tree themselves.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, What Did the Pastor Say Two Weeks Ago?

It is that forgetfulness which is the great trap James is trying to warn us about, often we don’t act on scriptures, revelations or insights because we get busy or distracted or enamored by the next revelation, insight, prophecy, interpretation or whatever else gets our attention. When we read James 1:23 we take for granted the word “mirror.” For the people James was originally writing to a mirror was not a common household item. They didn’t have a bathroom with one, they didn’t have one in their purse or on their phone. No, to them a mirror was something rare, and in that culture it would have not been a clear glass mirror but a slab of polished bronze.

No matter how much it was polished it would always give a distorted view of the subject, so it is easy to see how someone could forget what they looked like. Even though we have high quality mirrors today, in our minds we are still prone to looking at ourselves through warped reflections. We are still prone to forgetfulness, we lose sight of who we are in God’s eyes and we disconnect our hands from our heart. What we read and study must influence what we do and say, it must all somehow contribute to the development of first our own lives and second the development of your church.

What we read and study must influence what we do and say, it must all somehow contribute to the development of first our own lives and second the development of your church.

Look at it this way, each insight, revelation, prophecy, scripture, interpretation, or nugget of wisdom is like a piece of Lego. Over time you gather enough pieces to build something, the more time goes on the more you can build, at times you will build only one thing, other times you will tear down and rebuild, then there are those who will build multiple things. But that is only if you use what you have received, many people on the other hand have lives that are nothing but giant plastic buckets full of unused pieces. The pile gets bigger but nothing gets built, or worse still the bucket of pieces gets periodically thrown away because there is only so much room in the bucket.

This is what our life as Christians looks like, God gives us these pieces to build with, first to build and develop ourselves and then to build and develop others. We take our pieces and develop not just our own creations but those of others as well. Yet far to often people are content with only collecting and have no foresight to at least give away what they have to people that are building and developing. We forget that we will be judged by what we do (Romans 2:13) along with what we think. We forget the price paid by the unfaithful servant in Luke 19 who had knowledge of the type of person his master was but failed to do anything despite that knowledge.

Finish the Circuit

Here is another way to understand the connection between Believing and Doing. Take a look at how electricity works in your house, you plug something into the wall and it does as it is designed to do. I plug in a blender and I can make a smoothie, I plug in a laptop and I can write a blog post. Now that electricity has a negative side and a positive side (not bad and good) both are necessary for the current to flow through the cables into the device and out again. Now we can look at the concept of believing and doing in the same way, but are necessary to get the power out of the wall, through the device and back into the current.

The Holy Spirit is the power and electricity of our lives He is looking to move through people to develop them, to fulfil the Great Commission and to strengthen the church. He like the power in your wall is ready, willing and able to jump into action if we connect to Him. But we must have the + side of belief, the – side of action and we must be grounded in Christ. Then He can move in our lives and bring about change, power, glory, transformation, giftings, wisdom and so on. If we only have belief, we can’t complete the circuit, if we only have action we can’t complete the circuit, and if we have both and are not grounded then we’re not protected if something fails or overloads in our lives.

When we look through the Gospel’s we see that Jesus didn’t bless the people who simply heard Him speak, but He blessed and healed those who had the truth of those words become real to them. It was one thing for people to see Jesus heal but it was a totally different level for those who saw Him as the Messiah and publicly declared that truth (Matthew 9:27, 15:22, 20:30).

With Jesus He proclaimed parables for the crowds but gave interpretation to the disciples. However, because of this the disciples where expected to live out what Jesus preached when He was gone. Jesus taught the disciples because He expected them to follow the words He spoke and to bring them to life in their own lives.

The Miracle of Doing

This concept of combining belief and action is not limited to the New Testament alone we see this all throughout the Bible. Abraham believed God and moved away from Haran, Joshua and the people believed God for victory and marched around Jericho, David believed that God appointed Him as the next king so he left the farm. We see over and over that you can’t please God or fulfill your purpose in life if you don’t have both of theses facets working together equally. If we only have one then we will never progress, or if we do have both but are inconsistent in one we will never reach our full potential.

Consider the story about elderly Elisha and Joash the King of Israel (1 Kings 13:14-19), in this story the king goes to the prophet to receive a word about dealing with the Syrians. Elisha tells the king to take an arrow and shoot it out the window, the king does so. Then Elisha tells the king to take some more arrows and to hit the ground with them, so the king does as he is told, but something happens that he was not expecting. In verse 19 we see that “the man of God was angry with him, and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times.” King Joash believed Elisha to be a prophet, so he acted in going to see him and to do as he said. But his heart was not in it, I can imagine the king gingerly tapping the ground 3 times and thinking that was enough to satisfy the prophet.

There was a disconnect in the king between his belief, his action and his relationship with God. God was wanting the king to act out his trust and to go to town on the floor with those arrows to show an expectation for God’s help.

There was a disconnect in the king between his belief, his action and his relationship with God. God was wanting the king to act out his trust and to go to town on the floor with those arrows to show an expectation for God’s help through the simple act of hitting some arrows on the ground. Because of this attitude the king was only promised a partial victory and the king’s son had to endure the consequences of that partial victory.

How much different is it with us today, we take in the words of pastors, prophets, teachers, apostles and evangelists but have a heart similar to King Joash where we take what is said and just tap the ground with our arrows. That is if we even go that far, at least King Joash went to the prophet, which is more than many of us do.

Getting Involved In What God Is Revealing To You

Jesus has an expectation for us to follow His words and put them to work in our lives and world, Jesus wants us to get involved in what God is doing and that happens through the unity of belief and action in our lives. Jesus makes it clear that those who follow them will be able to be recognized not my the amount of scriptures they have memorized or how good their church attendance record is but by their faithfulness to both believe His words and to act on them.


John 15:12-14 “12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (NKJV, emphasis mine)


Our actions confirm our beliefs, what we say and do is rooted in our heart and in what we really believe about God, ourselves and the world at large. If we claim to love, honor and serve Jesus then our lives must testify about that. A bird does not have to show off its feathers to prove it can fly it simply leaps from the tree and soars in the air. This should be how we live we don’t have to boast about our relationship with God or the wealth of knowledge and wisdom in our hearts, rather we simply walk as Jesus walked and the world will watch us soar. Yet those of us who have failed to combine their beliefs with actions are no different than a chicken or ostrich, those who have wings to fly but are forever trapped on the earth.

The Apostle Jesus loved reminds us of Jesus’s expectation in his epistle.


1 John 2:3-6 “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God [a]is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (NKJV, emphasis mine)


John combined proof of our love for God with us following His commandments, how is this different from what James 1:22 and Romans 2:23 say? It is the same truth in action? I can’t actually love Jesus if I don’t follow Him and His words. I can follow Him, I can admire Him but I can’t love Him if I don’t follow His words. Following His words entails honor, respect, trust and seeing Him as being worth listening to. It is not just a blind love based on obedience, no it is a love which is exemplified in our actions, we do as He says because of our relationship with Him, because of our faith in Him and out of our gratitude of what He has lovingly done for us.

Following His words entails honor, respect, trust and seeing Him as being worth listening to.

John again in The Revelation of Jesus Christ records a life altering statement which should force all fo us to re-evaluate our own lives, motivations, and relationship with God.


Revelation 22:14 “14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” (NKJV, emphasis mine)


Now ask yourself “what will I do with this blog,” what will I pray about (personal and intercession), what will I change, what action (action, intervention, support, evangelism, ministry, service, fellowship, talking) will I take? Honestly ask yourself “what will I do with this handful of arrows?” Then challenge yourself to ask that question again every week for the next month, bookmark this post if you need to, just don’t allow what you see here to become another unused brick in your life.

To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but learn how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth.

 

Creative Commons LicenseThe Key Ingredient Forgotten By Many Christians Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

 

 

A Living Revelation of Jesus Christ – Part 2: Our King

A Living Revelation of Jesus Christ – Part 2: Our King

So far in the last two weeks (HERE and HERE) in our journey of revelation we have seen Jesus as our high priest and adopted brother, we see Him not as just a man but as the Messiah. We understand that He was hidden throughout the entirety of the scriptures and Jesus lived His live to fulfill them. We are beginning to see Jesus clearly as He was before the earth was created and equally so during the time He wore a suit of dirt when He walked the earth. We have come to the place where know that He is, was and ever will be.

To fully see Jesus we must go beyond the images of Him with the disciples, or Jesus on the cross and see Him for who He is today.  No longer just a lamb, but a lion, no longer a servant but the King of kings.

The Book of the True King

Let’s look to the least read and most misunderstood book of the bible the book of Revelations, a book of mystery, images, chaos, glory, hope, and fear. A book that seems to say different things each century and one which is most often studied to find the sources of evil in our world. However we must begin to look at the book according to its full and proper title “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”.

We are looking at the Revelation of who He is today and what He accomplished on the cross.

Put aside your eschatology (end times doctrines) and just focus on Jesus for a moment, not on the end and not on any book or movie you’ve seen. We are looking at the Revelation of who He is today and what He accomplished on the cross. For a moment take off your glasses of Futurist, Preterist, Spiritualist, Historicist, Pre-Tribulation, Amillennial, Post-Tribulation, dispensational, progressive, literal, allegorical or anything else of the like and take a good long look at Jesus in these pages.


Revelation 1:12-18 “12Then I turned to see [whose was] the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13And in the midst of the lampstands [One] like a Son of Man, clothed with a robe which reached to His feet and with a girdle of gold about His breast. [Dan 7:13; 10:5.]  14His head and His hair were white like white wool, [as white] as snow, and His eyes [flashed] like a flame of fire. [Dan 7:9.]  15His feet glowed like burnished (bright) bronze as it is refined in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. [Dan 10:6.]  16In His right hand He held seven stars, and from His mouth there came forth a sharp two-edged sword, and His face was like the sun shining in full power at midday. [Ex 34:29.]  17When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as if dead. But He laid His right hand on me and said, Do not be afraid! I am the First and the Last, [Isa 44:6.]  18And the Ever-living One [I am living in the eternity of the eternities]. I died, but see, I am alive forevermore; and I possess the keys of death and Hades (the realm of the dead).  AMPC


 

Understanding John’s Worldview

Before we go any further we have to understand that this is written in poetic imagery, prophetic language and pictures, just like the book of Zechariah or even some of the Psalms (I’m not saying that John didn’t see Jesus but rather I am talking about how he describes Him). We have to differentiate our logical and literal Western (ancient Greek) method way of thinking with the image based way of thinking (worldview) of ancient middle eastern cultures.

For example take a pencil, a Greek/Western mind is focused on its appearance and would say it is yellow, made of wood, is so many inches long and has a point made of graphite. Where a Hebrew/Eastern mind is more drawn to the purpose of the pencil, thereby seeing a pencil they would say it is something I can draw or describe things with. In the Hebrew worldview words, actions and verbs are interconnected and often are not differentiated, such as the word “sword” being rooted in the word to “cut.”

We also have to differentiate the two methods of storytelling used between the two cultures. Where a Greek/Western mind uses a steady progression of time, with beginning, middle and end, Hebrew writing on the other hand which is seen throughout the scriptures as a poetic flow, where themes and moments are repeated much like a rhyme scheme in a poem.

Where a Greek poem or song would go AABB CCDD, in Hebrew it often follows a pattern of ABCDCBA (aka chiastic structure), a progression we find often in Psalms and longer prophetic writings. The ABCDCBA is not always found in each line but can also be the progression of an entire chapter or prophecy.

An example of this Hebrew progression is found in Revelation chapter 12 we see the same story unfold from two different perspectives. Even though one account is at the beginning of the chapter and the other is at the end, both take place simultaneously on two different levels (natural and heavenly). Another example is Psalms 110:1-7 where we see verses 1 and 7 speak of YHWH establishes the king. Verses 2 and 6 speaks of going out to conquer, verses 3 and 5 speak of contrasting days of power and wrath. Then we encounter verse 4 which anchors the poetry and speaks of YHWH’s unbreakable oath. Verse 4 then becomes the most important verse in the section, unlike Greek or Western thought which generally places that importance either at the beginning or the end.

Another thing to remember is that throughout the Scriptures God is notorious for repeating Himself. In Genesis 41:42 using the hermeneutic principle of first mention we understand why God repeats Himself. It is done to draw our attention to what He is saying and to confirm that the words will come to pass. We see this played out in King James Version and other classical Bible translations when Jesus says Verily, verily or truthfully, truthfully. Jesus didn’t stutter He was declaring and confirming what He was saying not only was not only true but established by God and guaranteed to come to pass.

What Did John See?

Now that we understand all of this we can take a better look at what John is describing in Revelation 1:12-18. I will now include a version of this verse that has the Hebrew imagery included in John’s account so we can better understand what he saw.


12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven (perfect quality) golden (purity, durability, superiority) lampstands (source of light, God’s presence), 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man (Dan 7:13), clothed with a garment (covering, Mt. of transfiguration, priesthood) down to the feet (stability, authority, to be bowed down before) and girded about the chest (righteousness) with a golden band (Is 11:5, symbol of priesthood). 14 His head (kingship, authority) and hair (glory) were white like wool, as white (pure, clean) as snow (rarity, pureness, transcendence), and His eyes (beauty, gateway to his soul, God’s omnipresence) like a flame of fire (refining, purification); 15 His feet (strength) were like fine brass (metal of the altar of sacrifice, Moses’s serpent on a pole Num 21:6-9), as if refined in a furnace (refinement), and His voice as the sound of many waters (powerful); 16 He had in His right hand seven stars (angels), out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword (words and authority, Is 49:2), and His countenance was like the sun (light, source of life) shining (glory, Ex 34:29) in its strength. 17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand (power, strength) on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am (I AM that I AM) the First and the Last (Is 44:6, A to Z / Alpha and Omega). 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive (zoe, eternal life) forevermore. Amen (so be it). And I have the keys (authority) of Hades (where the dead go) and of Death (the power of sin over mankind).


 

In this expanded picture we see several things in common, Jesus is alive and not only that but He now has power, strength and authority as King of the world. Jesus also comes to us as our pure and holy heavenly high priest to bring about redemption for our sins and provides the strength for us to stand before God. Jesus is pictured here as someone who is already endued with power and authority, He is no longer just the humble lamb but the mighty lion of Judah the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Jesus is pictured here as someone who is already endued with power and authority, He is no longer just the humble lamb but the mighty lion of Judah the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Understanding how the people John first showed these visions to would have understood and interpret this passage gives us a clearer view of Jesus as the reigning King. Hidden here are many attributes and revelations about Jesus can typically go unnoticed with a casual glance of these scriptures. Other times while trying to fit square theologies in round truths we miss out on what Jesus is trying to reveal to us.

Seeing Jesus’s True Identity

If we only see Jesus as the lamb we miss out on His full identity and we cripple our own lives without knowing it. We must go beyond the facts of Jesus being king to having a revelation in our spirit, soul and flesh that He is King over all now. Not someday, not every other day, not far in the future. He is King of heaven and earth now, He is seated next to the Father now.

Let’s now look at another passage in the Revelation of Jesus Christ and see how this event unfolded just after the resurrection.


Revelation 5:11-15 11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” 14 Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever. NKJV


 

This has only been a small glimpse into the wonder that is Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah, our Savior, our High Priest, our Covenant Brother and our King. Understanding all of this helps us to answer the great questions of “Who is Jesus (his person and identity)” and “What shall I do with Him (his purpose and destiny).”

Having this information is only one part of the great battle, we must believe these things and put them to work in this world so that the gospel can be preached and the territory under the direct control of the King (Kingdom) can be expanded. Not with force, coercion, violence but through, love, power, glory, forgiveness, truthfulness, miracles and the uncompromising reliance on God’s words. It is not enough for us to say Jesus “was,” but we must declare that Jesus “is” and “forever will be”,  our lives and hearts then must reflect that truth.

The great revelation which we can encounter is that Jesus is King right now, just as He is our Savior right now and just as He is our High Priest right new we must see Him as King. We must recognize that He is the King He spoke of in Luke 19:11, 27 who went to take a kingdom and the people rejected Him. Jesus is King but the world is still in open rebellion, it still fights back against the light of the gospel and it is our task as ambassadors to bring that light into the world. We are the representatives of the great King who is taking back the territory of hearts and spirits one person at a time so that all peoples, tribes and nations can be redeemed and join Him in covenant for all of eternity.


John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.


To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but learn how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth.

Creative Commons LicenseA Living Revelation of Jesus Christ – Part 2: Our King Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

 

A Living Revelation of Jesus Christ – Part 1: Our High Priest and Brother

A Living Revelation of Jesus Christ – Part 1: Our High Priest and Brother

Podcast Of This Message

Right now you need a revelation that Jesus is just as alive today as He was during His ministry in Judea. Often, we tend to separate the two stages of Jesus’s life (divine and Son of Man), we see them as two different books on our shelves. One speaks of who Jesus was for those three and a half years, and the second one about what Jesus could be like one day.

We look at Jesus as the lamb of sacrifice, or the humble servant during the time of His ministry and assume that nothing has changed. But what does Jesus actually look like now in terms of his nature, power, authority and existence? Then we have the second question of how do we engage and relate to Him today?

From Reading To Revelation

First we must go beyond just reading or hearing the words from the Gospels and Paul, because unless these words become a revelation they will pass away from our minds and never reach our heart. Paul says emphatically in Romans 10:9-10 that we are to “believe in our hearts and confess with our mouth” who Jesus is.

We must go beyond simply hearing and understanding and arrive at a place where we become fully aware that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God and Savior of the world.  We must come to a place where we know and believe, then we find ourselves in a place where Jesus Himself confirms who He is to us in our spirit through the Holy Spirit.

We must go beyond just reading or hearing the words from the Gospels and Paul, because unless these words become a revelation they will pass away from our minds and never reach our heart.


Galatians 1:11-12 11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.  NKJV

Galatians 1:11-12 11 For I want you to know, brethren, that the Gospel which was proclaimed and made known by me is not man’s gospel [a human invention, according to or patterned after any human standard].  12 For indeed I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but [it came to me] through a [direct] revelation [given] by Jesus Christ (the Messiah).  AMPC


Not all of us get to have an experience like Paul did on the road to Damascus, but through the indwelling and communion of the Holy Spirit we can become just as aware of His presence, character and identity right now. Even if we did have an experience like that it does not excuse us from holding on in faith to who Jesus is right now despite what may be happening around us. Paul’s experience did not preclude him from persecution but it did give him faith to continue believing and preaching.

Paul’s ministry was birthed out of a revelation that Jesus is alive, right here and right now.

Paul’s ministry was birthed out of a revelation that Jesus is alive, right here and right now. Jesus was not just a story some drunk fisherman came up with, but was alive and beyond the confines of death. Paul saw Jesus and that encounter produced an awakening in his heart to follow Him no matter the cost. Many thousands of people saw Jesus during those thirty years He walked around the earth but only a couple of hundred had a revelation of who He was before Pentecost. That is the tipping point in our hearts, it is one thing for me to say that “I acknowledge Jesus existed” and it is an entirely different thing for me to believe that He exists right now!

All of this is based in the victory Jesus reaped from the cross, a victory which defied the wisdom of men and brought about His eternal plan to redeem those created in His image. Jesus through his death and resurrection has become our high priest, our covenant brother and finally our King (more next week). How we view each aspect of Christ will determine not only how we answer the Two Questions I asked last week of “who is Jesus” and “what shall I do with him”.

How we understand Jesus also determines how we will live out our own lives.

How we understand Jesus also determines how we will live out our own lives.Our faith and belief shapes our identity and what we worship and follow will decide whether we rely on our own personal strength or on Jesus’s  power and wisdom which is rooted in His eternal existence. Whichever power we choose to live by in this world will reflect back to the unsaved world around us. Those outside of the church look to us to see if what we claim to believe is true and they gauge that according to how they see us live, act, believe, speak and focus our time on.

A true witness for Christ does not come from regular church attendance, it comes from a life that reflects the reality of His existence, not just in the past but right now. A true witness for Christ is rooted in demonstrating that Jesus is real, Jesus is alive, and Jesus is King.

Our High Priest

The first way we encounter Jesus is through the His duties as our high priest. The high priests of the Old Testament were responsible for taking the offerings and sacrifices of the people and presenting them before God. These gifts were given to honor God and in the hope of continued blessing and a substitution for the penalty of sin on their lives. The highest honor for one of these Levitical high priests before the Babylonian exile was to be able to enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement. Here on this annual festival the high priesst would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice endued with the nations sins upon the Ark of the Covenant.

Interestingly the top of the ark was referred to as the mercy seat, which represented redemption along with God’s throne. Those priests stood before the LORD to offer sacrifice then immediately left the room, however when Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice in teh Heavenly Holy of Holies He was able to sit down and remain (Hebrews 12:2).

Jesus was not just another adherent to the order of Levi/Aaron, His is a more ancient order one that traces back to before the covenant of Moses was ever cut. The writer of Hebrews compares Jesus to Melchezedek (king of righteousness) the King of Salem (king of peace). This is seen as a higher order beyond the capabilities and responsibilities of the priesthood of Aaron.  For a more detailed account of Jesus as our high priest we can turn to Hebrews 10:1-18. In this section we see that the sacrifices of old were only temporary, like plastering over holes in drywall but when Jesus came He metaphorically tore down the house and rebuilt it.

The old system under the natural high priests were only a band-aid solution to sin, it provided a stop-gap remedy until the true healing of the heart could come. The Old Testament system would take a person who figuratively lost a limb and stitch up the stump and provide a crutch to continue on, but Jesus came to restore and replace that lost limb. From the beginning God had no desire for a crutch to be the answer for sin, He knew that the day was coming when the great Healer would come.

He would not just come for one generation, one nation, one people, or one city, no Jesus came so all nations and peoples could experience His forgiveness and restoration. A gift which exists not just because Jesus died so many years ago but because He lives right now and continues to be our high priest who restores us and cleanses us from sin and works to make our hearts look like His.

Our Covenant Brother

Through Jesus we have forgiveness, remission and annulment of sins.  The wall of separation had been torn down, the veil of the temple had split and the Holy of Holies now lives in those who receive and believe in Christ.


Hebrews 9:15 [Christ, the Messiah] is therefore the Negotiator and Mediator of an [entirely] new agreement (testament, covenant), so that those who are called and   offered it may receive the fulfillment of the promised everlasting inheritance — since a death has taken place which rescues and delivers and redeems them from the transgressions committed under the [old] first agreement.  AMPC


God did not stop with redemption alone, when we accept Christ we go beyond merely just believing in what He did.  No, rather we are adopted through Christ into the New Covenant.  Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about being born again, not of flesh but of spirit.  This is what happens we when we are brought under the new covenant we are re-born spiritual and adopted as a child of God (1 John 3:1, Galatians 3:26-29).

We are born anew to a greater Father, our true father, we as sons/daughters of God become alive and awaken to a more abundant life (this goes beyond just prosperity). Yet at the same time through the cross we die to sin, to the curse and to the power of the enemy.  Now being dead to these matters we are free from their judgments (Galatians 3:13-14, Deuteronomy 28:15).

In John 17:2 and Romans 10:10 we are assured that whoever believes and confesses in the name, authority and actions of Jesus will be saved.  None of this is by our own works, but by the works already done by Jesus.  We have simply been grafted like a vine (John 15:1-5) into His reward, and now we have access to God through Him. You could say that we have been added into Jesus’s rewards plan and have full access to it because of grace and our faith. Not only that but the Holy Spirit has access to come into us to lead us into our lives partnered with Jesus, so we can follow Him and He insures that our lives reflect His heart and nature.


1 John 2:1-2 1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not   sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.  NKJV

Galatians 2:20-21 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  NKJV


Jesus then is not just a far off God hiding in eternity but He is a living part of our lives, He is not just Supreme God but our brother and friend. He bridged the gap between us and the Father so we could have relationship with them. That is a key piece of covenant, to bring two people, families, tribes or nations together in a way which would be impossible otherwise.

We live our lives to try and please not just a divine judge but a loving father and faithful brother that is duty sworn to be there for us in our times of need.

We live our lives to try and please not just a divine judge but a loving father and faithful brother that is duty sworn to be there for us in our times of need. In return we turn away from our old sinful ways and demonstrate to others the great things that have happened in our lives since the day God entered it. In covenant what is God’s is now available for us and through grace Jesus takes the brokenness, vanity, and emptiness we bring to the table and exchanges it for healing, purpose and love.

But this is only half of the story next week we will take the next step in this journey of revelation and a look at Jesus as our King!

To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but learn how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth.

Creative Commons License
A Living Revelation of Jesus Christ – Part 1: Our High Priest and Brother Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The Understanding Who You Are – Group Discussion Guide Bundle is now AVAILABLE

UWYA SG F Cover

Are you desiring to go even deeper into your relationship with God? Are you looking to share your experience and pursuit of truth with others? Looking to lead a small group class, home group, leader training course or a new believers curriculum?

Then the Understanding Who You Are – Group Discussion guide can help you. This edition takes you through Understanding Who You Are in 52 sessions and provides deep and provoking questions and insights to help you become who God created you to be.

Go through the course cover to cover or choose your favorite chapters to facilitate smaller (3-4 week) studies. Each lesson covers roughly 4 pages of Understanding Who You are but provides ample room for further discovery through the challenging and though provoking questions provided

This file contains two versions of the guide, one streamlined for easier printing (64 pages) and a second deluxe version (114 pages) which provides ample space for notes.