The Hunt For Living Water

The Hunt For Living Water

You need water to live. Each day your body required high quality H2O to continue its existence in this world. Yet that cool and refreshing living water can only do so much to bring life and restoration to the core of our being. I can flavor that water with anything I want, tea, coffee, kool-aid, tang, those weird little squares with syrup in them but no matter how I flavor that water it is still water. It can support my natural existence but it has no effect on my spiritual condition or my existence in eternity.

That is where we need something greater than H20, we need life, not just a glimmer of life but its very source, Jesus. Throughout the Bible we see this picture of “living water” appear in both the New and Old Testaments but it isn’t until the Gospel of John that we realize what God was talking about to the prophets. In John 4 Jesus in His conversation with the Samaritan woman comments on how the living water He possesses was far superior to the one beneath the well He was sitting beside. Let’s take a look at what He says:


John 4:10-14 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”


It becomes obvious to us that Jesus is talking about something far greater than the water that was sitting at the bottom of that well. He is speaking about a source of life which can lead not to more natural life but can lead us to eternal life. Not a cup of water which flows out of us a few hours later, but the very power of God’s life and power in us which brings about a change that lasts far longer than a few hours.  This is just one of the many instances where Jesus equates His life, purpose and reason for being on Earth is that those created in God’s image can once again receive life rather than the punishment of death through/by sin. Not long after the encounter in Samaria Jesus speaks of being the bread of life (living manna) which is once again available for God’s people.


John 6:47-51 47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes [j]in Me has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”


This is the core purpose for why Jesus came into our world, to bring an end to the domination of sin, to break the power of Satan and to restore covenant relationship between the Creator and the created. Jesus came to bring redemption for our sins, to bring adopting for us into His family and to provide a means by which the futility of creation and life can be turned back into its original purpose.

Digging Beneath the Ice For Living Water

To me it feels at times that God has frozen His living water that is available to us in our modern world. As if a great winter has come upon us and the living water of Jesus is trapped beneath several feet of ice. We can walk and skate on that ice, build igloo’s and snow forts but we are unable to access the waters beneath with our bear hands. The water continues to flow beneath the ice, and those who are determined are still able partake of it will forcefully breaking through the ice, wither with a shovel, a drill, an augur or even with fire.

These people feel to be in the minority while most others will simply pass over it and wonder what it would be like to partake of that living water that supposedly flowed in the land long ago. So to can we take for granted what Jesus has not only done in the past but what He is offering to us right now. Have we learned to be accustomed to the winter and its snow, forts, ice and covering that we forgot what the land used to look like, full of greenery and life?
Do enough of us in the church today want to learn to dig through the ice so God can provide His living water to not only them but all of the people who are searching for fresh living water? No matter how much we sing or confess that we want the living water of Christ I fear that too many people have grown accustomed to drinking thawed snow picked up from the ground. Water which will not sustain them, and it is water which will only furthers their coldness of heart.

I fear that too many people have grown accustomed to drinking thawed snow picked up from the ground. Water which will not sustain them, and it is water which will only furthers their coldness of heart.

In this proverbial winter we have to learn how to seek after Jesus and watch for the places where He walks upon the ice and creates pools and openings for the people to receive once again His living water. I’m not trying to be super-spiritual here I am talking about following His words, following His presence and following where He is moving in our culture and world. To take in the living water of Christ we first have to be aware of where He is and what He is offering to us.

At the same time when we do find Him we have to remain closely behind Him because after He passes by those proverbial pools and openings they will gradually begin to freeze back over. Leaving only a memory of what was, this is not nonsense it is actually the picture of the cycle of revival in action. The hearts of the people were cold, so Jesus came and brought His presence and thawed their hardness. The people came and partook of His offer of eternal life, then Jesus moved on from that outpouring to somewhere else. When that happened the people had two choices either continue to follow after Jesus or remain where they were before and be left with nothing else but a memory of the time God came to town.

That is why we must continually follow Him as He goes about opening up new pools (opportunities for ministry, revival, miracles and so on), or else you could find yourself left without His water yourself. Those who are over taken by the winter of this world, those who saw life but became frozen once again.

The 5 R’s of the Living Water of Christ

Now for those who are searching for the living waters that Jesus has come to give us I want you to pay attention to what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman in John 4:10, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him.” Look closely at what Jesus is saying here, He is stating that “if only she knew who I was, she would ask the right question. That is the beginning of our journey, it is the beginning to understanding God’s living water and it is the beginning to a life in eternity.

There are five things we can learn from Jesus as to what we must do to not only find the living water of Christ in our lives but also how to live out that new life: Revelation, Repentance, Relationship, Restoration and Revival.

Revelation

Begin by seeing Jesus as He really is then and only then can we accept what He is offering to us. If Jesus is the Son of God who was crucified for our sins, raised from the dead and is now on the throne in Heaven then it would be foolish not to receive what He is offering to us. We need a revelation of the identity of Christ in our lives if we are ever to truly live, because any hope of life in our own lives is rooted and grounded in the eternal life which Jesus is comprised of.

John 7:37-38 37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

Repentance

When we experience the revelation of who Jesus is we are left with two choices we can either accept His identity and offer and receive forgiveness or we can harden our heart like ice and continue on living our life without Him. For those who choose the life Jesus is offering us we now need to come into alignment with Jesus’s commands, expectations and desires for our lives. We take our revelation of who He is and allow Him to redeem and forgive us. But that redemption comes at a price we are to transform our lives so we no longer do the things or think in the same ways that we did before our great revelation of who Jesus is and what He did for us. That is what true repentance is, its not just saying your sorry then doing it again a week later. Repentance is when you make a fundamental change to your life, it is when you go the exact opposite direction than you were before. So you don’t end up in a destination of destruction, but your course has been altered to a destination of life.

Jeremiah 2:13 “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water. (see also Jeremiah 17:13)

Relationship

After repentance comes our inclusion into the New Covenant, we have been made a child of God and a joint-heir with Jesus. Our new life begins and we are able to pray and have a real two-way fellowship with God our Creator. It is a relationship that is grounded in word and spirit, that is to say it is grounded in the Scriptures and in our everyday conversations and experiences with God. When we don’t read and study the Bible our spiritual growth becomes stunted, and we either remain at the same level indefinitely or we regress into what we once were. Just like a river where as long as the water is moving down stream it can support life, but if fresh water is cut off or if there is no were to empty itself it becomes stagnant and the life within slowly dies (Luke 4:4). The same can be said about our spiritual life with God because without faith, prayer, experience and conversation with God all of our Bible knowledge becomes hollow and lifeless.

Hebrews 10:19-22 “19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Restoration

Now that we are followers of Jesus, we have been redeemed with evidence of repentance and our relationship is alive with God the process of restoration begins within us. Now God works to undo the damage done by Adam, Eve and Satan by restoring the original image God placed of Himself in us. Here at this juncture we become like Christ, we begin to love, think and act like He did, not as some sort of clone or zombie but we see the world through His eyes and begin to walk our or lives wearing His shoes.

It is the process of sanctification spoken of by Paul (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4), where we go through the process of daily refinement whereby we have the rust and barnacles of this world removed and we are polished and restored with the nature and conscience of God. This is the time where we begin to look beyond ourselves to see how we can serve God and be a blessing to others. It is the time when our priorities are challenged, our desires are refined and the truth of God’s opinion of us comes to light.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

Revelation 7:16-17 16 They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revival

Here we are awakened and released to go and tell others about Jesus. The great commission and the call to discipleship begins to materialize in our lives as we look to tell others of the original revelation we had about Jesus and how that has changed our own lives. We go from the place of spiritual and scriptural milk and move on to the meat, the things which not just sustain but cause us to help others as well.

Zechariah 14:8, Ezekiel 47:7-12 and Revelation 22:1-5 speak of the river of living water which brings life back to the land and how the trees grow from it to bring forth fruit each month for healing of people (fish of the sea) and the nations. It is our duty through the Great Commission and the call to Discipleship to spread the revelation of Jesus where ever we are so that as many people as possible can enjoy the benefits of those prophetic trees, that they receive the endless life of Christ.

I am talking about more than the type of revival I mentioned earlier where we go from bareness to God’s presence appearing to awakening to monument building to slumber to bareness once again. I am talking about us coming to life, it is the passing from death to life that we experience when we partake of the living water Jesus offers all people from all tribes and nations. It is the life that comes through the power of the cross and resurrection, that life which transforms us and brings us to the point where we can walk around this world in the love, power and authority of Jesus.

Ephesians 3:20-21 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Come To The Waters

Jesus represents the living water which brings us life, before we had a revelation or access to Jesus we were all like lone pools scattered throughout a field. Each one of us contained water but because there was no fresh water coming in we either became stagnant or there was so little water that it all sunk into the ground leaving nothing but an impression in the soil. When Jesus comes it is like He is digging a trench to connect all of these pools into the great river of His love and presence. Not that we are emptied because of this but rather we are ensured continually water to keep us alive and able to support life.
Compared to Jesus our life is a stagnant substance, one that needs revitalization, cleansing and renewal. Hope is not lost because Jesus longs to come into our lives and bring forgiveness, healing, love, friendship and purpose (Job 33:4) to us.

Jesus brings a purpose which transcends our jobs or occupation and rather has to do with our reason for being on this planet in the first place. Not everyone is called to full-time ministry, not everyone is called to the arts, or office work, or trade work, or IT or what ever else you can come up with. Our purpose is rooted in our relationship with God and how we bring about more of Him, in this world. Life is about so much more than preaching, our daily lives are the greatest witnesses of the gospel there is. We need living and active believers who understand their purpose in every walk of life, in every social and economic bracket and in every type of work. So there are no excuses why anyone and everyone cannot have the opportunity to experience the great revelation of who Jesus is.


Isaiah 12:2-5 2 Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’” 3 Therefore with joy you will draw water From the wells of salvation. 4 And in that day you will say: “Praise the Lord, call upon His name; Declare His deeds among the peoples, Make mention that His name is exalted. 5 Sing to the Lord, For He has done excellent things; This is known in all the earth.


Do you want “the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” present in your life? If you do want that then you have to ask the question “who is it who says to you” these things? When you know that answer then you can ask Him for some of that water, the water of eternal life, the water of change, restoration, transformation and adoption.


John 11:25-26 “25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”


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 how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth

 

Creative Commons LicenseThe Hunt For Living Water Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

 

When we don’t read and study the Bible our spiritual growth becomes stunted, and we either remain at the same level indefinitely or we regress into what we once were

06 – The Greatest Christmas Gift

Conway Christian Resources Podcast

What is the real reason for the Christmas and what is the gift which supersedes every other gift imaginable?

The Greatest Christmas Gift

the greatest Christmas gift

Podcast Of This Message

Listen to an expanded version of this message here

Good news everyone, it’s Christmas time! The time of year for presents, lights, music, decorations, fests, stress, shopping, fellowship and presents. Each year many people either loath or get excited for the magical Christmas season. A time of year full of white-haired fat guys, floating deer, The List Of Jericho… I mean Santa’s list, elves deported from Middle Earth, snow that covers all, egg flavored milk (or Bailey’s flavored depending on the day), department store Hunger Games, omnipresent glitter, Red Ryder Air Rifles, the conquest of pumpkin spice by the forces of peppermint, and finally Red Green, no wait a minute I mean the colors red and green.

Each year for a few short weeks (I’m talking to you shopping malls that put out their decorations in October!) the world around us changes from the dull and ordinary to a world full of cheer, colorful lights, and a little extra sparkle in the hearts of people. It’s the time when people happily skip through the malls looking for the latest unexplainably hot toy of the season, like Tickle Me (only after proof of consent) Elmo, Turbo Man, Johnny Switchblade, or even Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescue Hey Look A Squirrel Action Play Set.

For some this is a season of magic, others a blatant form of consumer driven religious sacrilege, and some see this time a year as just a slightly more chaotic and crowded version of normal life. No matter which category you find yourself in I hope that deep down you understand that there is something far more powerful and important that this season represents. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not the birth of Santa Clause, or the commencement of Festivus, it is the celebration of the day when God came to town and changed the world as we knew it.

It’s More Than Just A Season

I’m sorry to say that Jesus was probably not born on December 25, I’m afraid Christmas is cancelled sorry again everyone. I kid but what this time of year and the day the early church chose has to do with setting aside one day a year to commemorate the day of our Savior’s birth (won’t get into the debate of them superseding an existing pagan festival here today). I’m not saying we need to change the day we celebrate on but rather I’m pointing out the importance for us to recognize the event which are we celebrate.

Personally, I lean towards Jesus being born in September or October, possible during the Feast of Tabernacles. I believe this because it lines up with what we know from the scriptures, and it explains the reason all of the inns were full and why the shepherds were outside in their pastures at the time. The Feast itself (Leviticus 23:23-24, Deuteronomy 16:13-16, Nehemiah 8:13-18, Zechariah 14:16-19) represents when all of Israel was supposed to come to Jerusalem and live outside its gates for several days in tents (temporary shelters) made out of animal skins until the Day of Atonement when the nations sins were whipped away.

Jesus came into the world wearing the skin (and its legalities) of human kind to be the once and for-all sacrifice which permanently wipes and erases all of our sins away. This also follows the pattern of the three major Jewish Feasts lining up with the life and calling of Jesus. Jesus was born on Tabernacles, killed on Passover along with the sacrificial lamb, and Pentecost which is the feast celebrating the first fruits of the field was when the church was born and filled with the Spirit.

The Christmas Gift of God’s Presence

At this moment I want to focus on the birth of Jesus, which is the most important and mind boggling miracle in all of the Bible. In Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 2:1-20 we are presented with the circumstances of Jesus’s entry into the world. Here we see angels announcing the coming of God Himself into the world not in power and chariots of fire but through a baby entering the world.

You see what we need to focus on this time of year is not the gifts under our tree but we are to focus on the appearance of God’s presence in this Earth. That is His great Christmas gift to us and not only that it is also our God given solution to deal with the roots of all the problems faced by the world. Jesus didn’t come to bring a heavenly band-aid to cover our surface problems but rather He came to expose and repair the broken foundations of our nature and heart so we can experience an eternal solution for sin, death, rebellion, pride, fear, hatred and injustice.

We are to celebrate this season in commemoration of the day God entered our world. I’m not just talking about God’s presence like when He filled Solomon’s Temple but how His nature and heart entered into the world of mankind. On that day God entered the world through His creation and cried among us. Later He ate among us and as He grew he crawled among us, and then He finally walked among us so we could one day be picked up by Him who ruled from high above us.

Think about it, God didn’t force us to build a great tower to reach Him, He came down to us in a body just like ours so He could relate to us, redeem us, die for us, suffer for us, and be resurrected so He could reign over us as one of us and not an outsider or a distant God. God Himself closed the gap between the fallen and stained created and the Holy Creator. An action taken out of love, goodness and justice in order that our relationship with God would be restored, like embers that had grown cold that suddenly had fuel thrown on them.

Christmas is the time when we celebrate God coming down to us, we celebrate God’s goodness, grace and mercy for providing a way for us to reconnect with Him. He could have sent judgment, or fire or calamity to force our allegiance but that is not His nature. He came in love, power, mercy, holiness and justice to lead us back to Him. Christmas gives us an opportunity to show our gratitude and gratefulness for that mercy. The day the light of the world came and lived among us shining ever so brightly. This is not just good news it is “the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere!” (Luke 2:10 TPT).

This gift is not for a select few but it is available for anyone and anywhere to receive, there is no naughty and nice list which determines who gets to receive this gift. In reality everyone is on the naughty list and it is the great gift of God which moves us to the “nice” list.

The Great Gift of Salvation

This Christmas gift didn’t comprise of just God’s presence among us, that was only the introduction, the greatest gift came in the form of Jesus’s purpose to bring salvation and redemption of sin to us. This was the plan, this was always the plan going all the way back to Eden the plan was for God to come down so He could stomp on the serpent and undo the damage done that day.

We see this call through the name given to the Son of God through the angel, in Matthew 1:21 and Luke 1:31-33 both Mary and Joseph receive the divine call to call this promised child Jesus. I must remind everyone that this is the English form of the name and the angels spoke a different one. We see that Luke records the name given being the Greek name Iesous, while Matthew records Joseph receiving the name Yeshua (or Y’hoshua).


Matthew 1:21 “She will give birth to a son and you are to name him ‘Savior,’ for he is destined to give his life to save his people from their sins.” TPT

Luke 1:31-33 31 You will become pregnant with a baby boy, and you are to name him Jesus. 32 He will be supreme and will be known as the Son of the Highest. And the Lord God will enthrone him as King on his ancestor David’s throne. 33 He will reign as King of Israel forever, and his reign will have no limit.” TPT


I cover this topic of what Jesus’s original Hebrew name really means in The Secret Name of Jesus Christ, but to make a long story short the name given to Jesus literally means “savior,” or the LORD delivers/is salvation/is my savior. A name to ancient Jews was seen as a window into a person’s life, and especially so when God or an angel provided the name. From the beginning we see that the name we know as Jesus isn’t just a title but the name has a deep and glorious meaning. When we say Jesus is coming in our minds we think “a man named Jesus is coming this way.” While to those in the first century it wasn’t “Jesus is coming” but YHWH our savior and deliverer is coming.” We associate names with letters, but those ancient Hebrews associated names with meanings.

From the beginning then we see that Jesus’s purpose was set, He was Immanuel “God among us” and He was Yeshua “YHWH is salvation,” God’s presence and God’s salvation are fully seen through Jesus. On what we know today as Christmas that salvation and presence came into our world, that revelation alone justifies all of the celebrations we can come up with for this time of year.

What This Season Means To Us Today

Christmas time can be a contentious time even among Christians who disagree about what should and what should not be associated with this season. Some want Santa excommunicated, others want to ban tree decorating, others want all of the spotlight shone on a blond haired blue eyed baby in a store bought crib and others just want to make it to January without going bankrupt.

We need to come to the conclusion that our culture and everything we do to commemorate and celebrate this season only represents the decorations on the tree, while Jesus along with His purpose, nature and entry into this world is the actual tree which everything hangs upon.

I’m not against decorating a tree or giving presents but we have to understand the dividing line between the meaning of Christmas and how we as a culture choose to celebrate that truth. Christians in different cultures have various ways to celebrate Christmas but that does not make them more or less Christian. I have a tree and there’s nothing wrong with that (if I bow down to it that’s a different story) and I also exchange gifts. However, I see those matters as being part of a larger celebration, a fragment of something much larger. When your Christmas season only consists of decorations, presents and food then you are missing out on the larger picture.

Christmas is a time when we remember the miracle that happened and how it forever changed our world. So some will decorate a tree with lights and trinkets, others will put up lights outside of their house, others will have no decorations or cultural expressions at all. Some celebrate the event on December 24 at midnight, or even early January, with the rest celebrating on December 25.

How we celebrate at times is less important than what we are celebrating. I think at times that all of the pomp and circumstance which happens this time of year is a good thing, because it separates this season from all of the others. It is a time of year when for a few weeks everything changes, the music, the lighting, the activities and if done right it is a good thing.

We don’t want the celebration of Jesus’s entry into the world to go unnoticed like the August Civic Holiday in Canada or Presidents Day in the United States. The fact that so much changes this time of year points towards the centrality of Jesus in our world. Even though many people do not worship them they feel the effect of His grand entry into the world for a few weeks every year.

For us as Christians we then have to learn how to balance the event of Christ’s birth with the activities we engage in during this time of year. Because what does this season actually mean, is it about a serial home intruder leaving stolen toys from China under our tree’s, or is it about the greatest gift of all coming into our lives? Again, I’m not saying to abandon gift giving but we must understand that not matter what we give or receive it will never top what God gave us 2,000 years ago. These gifts we give and receive should remind us that no matter what is beneath that wrapping paper it will never compare to what we have already received.

The purpose of Christmas is to remind ourselves of the day everything changed, the day which marked God coming down not to judge us but to give us an opportunity to repent, receive forgiveness and become part of His family once again. Now then when you turn on a light remember the one who is the light of the world, when you open a gift remember the one who gave you the greatest gift, when you meet with family remember the family you have been adopted into and when you burst a button gorging on food remember the one who broke His body like bread to bring you salvation, redemption and life.


Luke 2:10-11 “10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” 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 how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth

Creative Commons LicenseThe Greatest Christmas Gift Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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.

 

 

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

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

Podcast Of This Message

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.