50 Things the Holy Spirit Does

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I am reposting a blog entry by Frank Viola that I thought was too good to pass up.  He posted it today on his blog located at http://frankviola.wordpress.com/2010/11/18/50-things-the-holy-spirit-does/.  Frank is the author of a number of books three of which I would highly recommend are as follows:

From Eternity to Here, Pagan Christianity & Reimagining Church.  If you read these 3 in this order, you will find it amazingly eye opening & enlightening.

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1.      He convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8).

2.      He guides us into all truth (John 16:13).

3.      He regenerates us (John 3:5-8; Titus 3:5).

4.      He glorifies and testifies of Christ (John 15:26; 16:14).

5.      He reveals Christ to us and in us (John 16:14-15).

6.      He leads us (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18; Matt. 4:1; Luke 4:1).

7.      He sanctifies us (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2; Rom. 5:16).

8.      He empowers us (Luke 4:14; 24:49; Rom. 15:19; Acts 1:8).

9.      He fills us (Eph. 5:18; Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31; 9:17).

10.   He teaches us to pray (Rom. 8:26-27; Jude 1:20).

11.    He bears witness in us that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16).

12.    He produces in us the fruit or evidence of His work and presence (Gal. 5:22-23).

13.    He distributes spiritual gifts and manifestations (the outshining) of His presence to and through the body (1 Cor. 12:4, 8-10; Heb. 2:4).

14.    He anoints us for ministry (Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38).

15.    He washes and renews us (1 Tim. 3:5).

16.    He brings unity and oneness to the body (Eph. 4:3; 2:14-18). Here He plays the same role that He plays in the Godhead. The Spirit is the life that unites Father and Son. He plays the same role in the church. When He is operating in a group of people, He unites them in love. Therefore, a sure evidence of the Holy Spirit working in a group is Love and Unity. Not signs and wonders (those are seasonal and can be counterfeited).

17.    He is our guarantee and deposit of the future resurrection (2 Cor. 1:22; 2 Cor. 5:5).

18.    He seals us unto the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13; 4:30).

19.    He sets us free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2).

20.    He quickens our mortal bodies (Rom. 8:11).

21.    He reveals the deep things of God to us (1 Cor. 2:10).

22.    He reveals what has been given to us from God (1 Cor. 2:12).

23.    He dwells in us (Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Tim. 1:14; John 14:17).

24.    He speaks in and through us (1 Cor. 12:3; 1 Tim. 4:1; Rev. 2:11; Heb 3:7; Matt. 10:20; Acts 2:4; 8:29; 10:19; 11:12, 28; 13:2; 16:6,7; 21:4,11).

25.    He is the agent by which we are baptized into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).

26.    He brings liberty (2 Cor. 3:17).

27.    He transforms us into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).

28.    He cries in our hearts, “Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6).

29.    He enables us to wait (Gal. 5:5).

30.    He supplies us with Christ (Phil. 1:19).

31.    He grants everlasting life (Gal. 6:8).

32.    He gives us access to God the Father (Eph. 2:18).

33.    He makes us (corporately) God’s habitation (Eph. 2:22).

34.    He reveals the mystery of God to us (Eph. 3:5).

35.    He strengthens our spirits (Eph. 3:16).

36.    He enables us to obey the truth (1 Pet. 1:22).

37.    He enables us to know that Jesus abides in us (1 John 3:24; 4:13).

38.    He confesses that Jesus came in the flesh (1 John 4:3).

39.    He says “Come, Lord Jesus” along with the bride (Rev. 22:17).

40.    He dispenses God’s love into our hearts (Rom. 5:5).

41.    He bears witness to the truth in our conscience (Rom. 9:1).

42.    He teaches us (1 Cor. 2:13; John 14:26).

43.    He gives us joy (1 Thess. 1:6).

44.    He enables some to preach the gospel (1 Pet. 1:12).

45.    He moves us (1 Pet. 1:21).

46.    He knows the things of God (1 Cor. 2:11).

47.    He casts out demons (Matt. 12:28).

48.    He brings things to our remembrance (John 14:26).

49.    He comforts us (Acts 9:31).

50.    He makes some overseers in the church and sends some out to the work of church planting [through the body] (Acts 20:28; 13:2).

Summary: The Holy Spirit unites us to Jesus Christ and to His body. He reveals Christ to us, gives us His life, and makes Christ alive in us. The Spirit takes the experiences of Jesus … His incarnation, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension … and brings them into our own experience. Because of the Holy Spirit, the history of Jesus Christ becomes our story and experience (see Chapter 3 of JESUS MANIFESTO for details).

GOD IS CHANGING THE CHURCH

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The following article can be found at the following website: http://www.housechurch.org/basics/simson_15.html.  This is one of the most concise and accurate expressions of my hearts longing for Father’s ekklesia.  This is definitely worth a read.

15 Theses. Wolfgang Simson

God is changing the Church, and that, in turn, will change the world. Millions of Christians around the world are aware of an imminent reformation of global proportions. They say, in effect: “Church as we know it is preventing Church as God wants it.” A growing number of them are surprisingly hearing God say the very same things. There is a collective new awareness of age-old revelations, a corporate spiritual echo. In the following “15 Theses” I will summarize a part of this, and I am convinced that it reflects a part of what the Spirit of God is saying to the Church today. For some, it might be the proverbial fist-sized cloud on Elijah’s sky. Others already feel the pouring rain.

1. Church is a Way of Life, not a series of religious meetings

Before they where called Christians, followers of Christ have been called “The Way”. One of the reasons was, that they have literally found “the way to live.” The nature of Church is not reflected in a constant series of religious meetings lead by professional clergy in holy rooms specially reserved to experience Jesus, but in the prophetic way followers of Christ live their everyday life in spiritually extended families as a vivid answer to the questions society faces, at the place where it counts most: in their homes.

2. Time to change the system

In aligning itself to the religious patterns of the day, the historic Orthodox Church after Constantine in the 4th century AD adopted a religious system which was in essence Old Testament, complete with priests, altar, a Christian temple (cathedral), frankincense and a Jewish, synagogue-style worship pattern. The Roman Catholic Church went on to canonize the system. Luther did reform the content of the gospel, but left the outer forms of “church” remarkably untouched; the Free-Churches freed the system from the State, the Baptists then baptized it, the Quakers dry-cleaned it, the Salvation Army put it into a uniform, the Pentecostals anointed it and the Charismatics renewed it, but until today nobody has really changed the superstructure. It is about time to do just that.

3. The Third Reformation.

In rediscovering the gospel of salvation by faith and grace alone, Luther started to reform the Church through a reformation of theology. In the 18th century through movements like the Moravians there was a recovery of a new intimacy with God, which led to a reformation of spirituality, the Second Reformation. Now God is touching the wineskins themselves, initiating a Third Reformation, a reformation of structure.

4. From Church-Houses to house-churches

Since New Testament times, there is no such thing as “a house of God”. At the cost of his life, Stephen reminded unequivocally: God does not live in temples made by human hands. The Church is the people of God. The Church, therefore, was and is at home where people are at home: in ordinary houses. There, the people of God: -Share their lives in the power of the Holy Spirit, -Have “meatings,” that is, they eat when they meet, -They often do not even hesitate to sell private property and share material and spiritual blessings, -Teach each other in real-life situations how to obey God’s word, dialogue – and not professor-style, -Pray and prophesy with each other, baptize, `lose their face’ and their ego by confessing their sins, -Regaining a new corporate identity by experiencing love, acceptance and forgiveness.

5. The church has to become small in order to grow big

Most churches of today are simply too big to provide real fellowship. They have too often become “fellowships without fellowship.” The New Testament Church was a mass of small groups, typically between 10 and 15 people. It grew not upward into big congregations between 20 and 300 people filling a cathedral and making real, mutual communication improbable. Instead, it multiplied “sidewards”, like organic cells, once these groups reached around 15-20 people. Then, if possible, it drew all the Christians together into citywide celebrations, as with Solomon’s Temple court in Jerusalem. The traditional congregational church as we know it is, statistically speaking, neither big nor beautiful, but rather a sad compromise, an overgrown house-church and an under-grown celebration, often missing the dynamics of both.

6. No church is led by a Pastor alone

The local church is not led by a Pastor, but fathered by an Elder, a local person of wisdom and reality. The local house-churches are then networked into a movement by the combination of elders and members of the so-called five-fold ministries (Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Evangelists and Teachers) circulating “from house to house,” whereby there is a special foundational role to play for the apostolic and prophetic ministries (Eph. 2:20, and 4:11.12). A Pastor (shepherd) is a very necessary part of the whole team, but he cannot fulfill more than a part of the whole task of “equipping the saints for the ministry,” and has to be complemented synergistically by the other four ministries in order to function properly.

7. The right pieces – fitted together in the wrong way

In doing a puzzle, we need to have the right original for the pieces, otherwise the final product, the whole picture, turns out wrong, and the individual pieces do not make much sense. This has happened to large parts of the Christian world: we have all the right pieces, but have fitted them together wrong, because of fear, tradition, religious jealousy and a power-and-control mentality. As water is found in three forms, ice, water and steam, the five ministries mentioned in Eph. 4:11-12, the Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers and Evangelists are also found today, but not always in the right forms and in the right places: they are often frozen to ice in the rigid system of institutionalized Christianity; they sometimes exist as clear water; or they have vanished like steam into the thin air of free-flying ministries and “independent” churches, accountable to no-one. As it is best to water flowers with the fluid version of water, these five equipping ministries will have to be transformed back into new, and at the same time age-old, forms, so that the whole spiritual organism can flourish and the individual “ministers” can find their proper role and place in the whole. That is one more reason why we need to return back to the Maker’s original and blueprint for the Church.

8. God does not leave the Church in the hands of bureaucratic clergy

No expression of a New Testament church is ever led by just one professional “holy man” doing the business of communicating with God and then feeding some relatively passive religious consumers Moses-style. Christianity has adopted this method from pagan religions, or at best from the Old Testament. The heavy piritualizationon of the church since Constantine has now been a pervasive influence long enough, dividing the people of God artificially into laity and clergy. According to the New Testament (1 Tim. 2:5), “there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” God simply does not bless religious professionals to force themselves in-between people and God forever. The veil is torn, and God is allowing people to access Himself directly through Jesus Christ, the only Way. To enable the priesthood of all believers, the present system will have to change completely. Bureaucracy is the most dubious of all administrative systems, because it basically asks only two questions: yes or no. There is no room for spontaneity and humanity, no room for real life. This may be OK for politics and companies, but not the Church. God seems to be in the business of delivering His Church from a Babylonian captivity of religious bureaucrats and controlling spirits into the public domain, the hands of ordinary people made extraordinary by God, who, like in the old days, may still smell of fish, perfume and revolution.

9. Return from organized to organic forms of Christianity

The “Body of Christ” is a vivid description of an organic, not an organized, being. Church consists on its local level of a multitude of spiritual families, which are organically related to each other as a network, where the way the pieces are functioning together is an integral part of the message of the whole. What has become a maximum of organization with a minimum of organism, has to be changed into a minimum of organization to allow a maximum of organism. Too much organization has, like a straightjacket, often choked the organism for fear that something might go wrong. Fear is the opposite of faith, and not exactly a Christian virtue. Fear wants to control, faith can trust. Control, therefore, may be good, but trust is better. The Body of Christ is entrusted by God into the hands of steward-minded people with a supernatural charismatic gift to believe God that He is still in control, even if they are not. A development of trust-related regional and national networks, not a new arrangement of political ecumenism is necessary for organic forms of Christianity to reemerge.

10. From worshipping our worship to worshipping God

The image of much of contemporary Christianity can be summarized, a bit euphemistically, as holy people coming regularly to a holy place at a holy day at a holy hour to participate in a holy ritual lead by a holy man dressed in holy clothes against a holy fee. Since this regular performance-oriented enterprise called “worship service” requires a lot of organizational talent and administrative bureaucracy to keep going, formalized and institutionalized patterns developed quickly into rigid traditions. Statistically, a traditional 1-2 hour “worship service” is very resource-hungry but actually produces very little fruit in terms of discipling people, that is, in changed lives. Economically speaking, it might be a “high input and low output” structure. Traditionally, the desire to “worship in the right way” has led to much denominationalism, confessionalism and nominalism. This not only ignores that Christians are called to “worship in truth and in spirit,” not in cathedrals holding songbooks, but also ignores that most of life is informal, and so is Christianity as “the Way of Life.” Do we need to change from being powerful actors to start “acting powerfully?”

11. Stop bringing people to church, and start bringing the church to the people

The church is changing back from being a Come-structure to being again a Go-structure. As one result, the Church needs to stop trying to bring people “into the church,” and start bringing the Church to the people. The mission of the Church will never be accomplished just by adding to the existing structure; it will take nothing less than a mushrooming of the church through spontaneous multiplication of itself into areas of the population of the world, where Christ is not yet known.

12. Rediscovering the “Lord’s Supper” to be a real supper with real food

Church tradition has managed to “celebrate the Lord’s Supper” in a homeopathic and deeply religious form, characteristically with a few drops of wine, a tasteless cookie and a sad face. However, the “Lord’s Supper” was actually more a substantial supper with a symbolic meaning, than a symbolic supper with a substantial meaning. God is restoring eating back into our meeting.

13. From Denominations to city-wide celebrations

Jesus called a universal movement, and what came was a series of religious companies with global chains marketing their special brands of Christianity and competing with each other. Through this branding of Christianity most of Protestantism has, therefore, become politically insignificant and often more concerned with traditional specialties and religious infighting than with developing a collective testimony before the world. Jesus simply never asked people to organize themselves into denominations. In the early days of the Church, Christians had a dual identity: they were truly His church and vertically converted to God, and then organized themselves according to geography, that is, converting also horizontally to each other on earth. This means not only Christian neighbors organizing themselves into neighborhood- or house-churches, where they share their lives locally, but Christians coming together as a collective identity as much as they can for citywide or regional celebrations expressing the corporateness of the Church of the city or region. Authenticity in the neighborhoods connected with a regional or citywide corporate identity will make the Church not only politically significant and spiritually convincing, but will allow a return to the biblical model of the City-Church.

14. Developing a persecution-proof spirit

They crucified Jesus, the Boss of all the Christians. Today, his followers are often more into titles, medals and social respectability, or, worst of all, they remain silent and are not worth being noticed at all. “Blessed are you when you are persecuted”, says Jesus. Biblical Christianity is a healthy threat to pagan godlessness and sinfulness, a world overcome by greed, materialism, jealousy and any amount of demonic standards of ethics, sex, money and power. Contemporary Christianity in many countries is simply too harmless and polite to be worth persecuting. But as Christians again live out New Testament standards of life and, for example, call sin as sin, conversion or persecution has been, is and will be the natural reaction of the world. Instead of nesting comfortably in temporary zones of religious liberty, Christians will have to prepare to be again discovered as the main culprits against global humanism, the modern slavery of having to have fun and the outright worship of Self, the wrong centre of the universe. That is why Christians will and must feel the “repressive tolerance” of a world which has lost any absolutes and therefore refuses to recognize and obey its creator God with his absolute standards. Coupled with the growing ideologisation, privatization and piritualization of politics and economics, Christians will, sooner than most think, have their chance to stand happily accused in the company of Jesus. They need to prepare now for the future by developing a persecution-proof spirit and an even more persecution-proof structure.

15. The Church comes home

Where is the easiest place, say, for a man to be spiritual? Maybe again, is it hiding behind a big pulpit, dressed up in holy robes, preaching holy words to a faceless crowd and then disappearing into an office? And what is the most difficult, and therefore most meaningful, place for a man to be spiritual? At home, in the presence of his wife and children, where everything he does and says is automatically put through a spiritual litmus test against reality, where hypocrisy can be effectively weeded out and authenticity can grow. Much of Christianity has fled the family, often as a place of its own spiritual defeat, and then has organized artificial performances in sacred buildings far from the atmosphere of real life. As God is in the business of recapturing the homes, the church turns back to its roots, back to where it came from. It literally comes home, completing the circle of Church history at the end of world history.

As Christians of all walks of life, from all denominations and backgrounds, feel a clear echo in their spirit to what God’s Spirit is saying to the Church, and start to hear globally in order to act locally, they begin to function again as one body. They organize themselves into neighborhood house-churches and meet in regional or city-celebrations. You are invited to become part of this movement and make your own contribution. Maybe your home, too, will become a house that changes the world.

You are welcome and encouraged to redistribute this article.

By Wolfgang Simson

http://www.housechurch.org/basics/simson_15.html

For further reading regarding the revolution of the church, please read the following: PAGAN CHRISTIANITY & then REIMAGINING THE CHURCHAlso, check out Wolfgang’s book entitled Houses That Change The World

A Response Explaining “Why?”

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This is a letter that I wrote to a friend back in AZ who had written me a long letter expressing his concern.  I am sharing it, because I believe there are others who might have questions.

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My dear brother!
I am so sorry you are going through these struggles.  My heart ached for you when I read what you are going through.  Father is so very faithful & will meet you in the midst of this.

All day my mind raced here & there as to what I wanted to share with you.  First, I want you to know brother that I have read & have been “influenced” by many people including several “no names” in the body of Christ.  The list of authors are as follows: Gene Edwards, Frank Viola, George Barna, T. Austin Sparks, Tony & Felicity Dale, Neil Cole, Jon Zens, Wolfgang Simpson, Floyd McClung, Robert Fritts, Watchman Nee (I may have forgotten a couple).  So you see ____, this is not just something that just “happened”.  As I said in my post, it actually started 26 years ago.

So ____, I don’t see myself as “part of a movement”, but rather a life….HIS.  I have a deep longing to experience “living stones” being built by HIM into a house for HIM!!!  For years (unknowingly for a long time) I’ve craved the body life He speaks of in His word.  I desire to see “God get what He wants: a Bride, a body, a building and a family – a corporate expression of His glorious Son.”  This is not just positionally it’s a reality NOW that was born in the heart of God from before time.

(btw…in ALL of the authors/speakers mentioned above I have not read/heard any of them attack the body.  As a matter of fact they all – especially Viola – constantly encourage those already involved in organic fellowships, to NOT discuss or make it all about “those institutional churches”.  They are encouraged to keep their focus on JESUS….period)

I love the body deeply & really desire to be a part of that “corporate expression” of Jesus.  To watch the body’s members EACH functioning as God intended, with Jesus as the ONLY head; to truly experience the “priesthood of the believers” (which we say we believe) in action each week.  Meeting for one purpose….Jesus; to discover & display Him in real life; not sitting there week after week watching just a few people exercise their gifts & then each “living stone” going back to their individual lives; separate from the other “living stones”.

____, I think I do understand what’s going on inside you right now, but brother please understand I deeply love the “brethren”, but I am appalled at the manmade system they find themselves caught in.

I was thinking of you today in regard to this all, and realized that this is nothing more than experiencing REAL intimacy in the ecclesia; the very thing I believe your soul longs for.  I love you brother & appreciate your honesty and desire for truth.

“To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through THE CHURCH [ecclesia] to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.” Ephesians 3:8-10

“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” – Col. 1:17-18
Resting In Him,

Anthony

THE Announcement of my life!

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This announcement is truly a long time coming.  I will start by coming right to the point:

I have left the “church”!

Seriously?  As you noticed, the word “church” is in quotes for good reason.  I have ceased “attending” a church in order to experience being THE church…HIS BODY!  Let me further explain.

About 26 years ago, while as a “Youth Minister”, Father had me “accidentally” find a book at a yard sale entitled Revolution: The Story of the Early Church; a novel about the first 17 years of the church.  I was captivated and mesmerized.  It resonated with my spirit.  I was so unknowingly bound up by legalism and religion that the reality of simply “being the church” went by the wayside.

About 7 seven years ago, through a series of contacts and books, our Lord resurrected this truth of functioning as His body.  Though, I found myself “stuck” in this institutional system of “DOING” church, just because I truly loved the “living stones” who gathered in the buildings.

As a matter of fact, about 1½ years ago I agreed to preach at a “church” building because of my passion to share the freeing message of God’s wonderful grace.  This lasted six months until I finally had to call it quits.  Quit?  Why would I do that, if I’m “doing the Lord’s work”?

The whole time I felt like such a hypocrite doing and being a part of the very thing I did not believe was in Father’s heart.

Then once again, out of a love for my family of God, I joined in one heart with my dear brothers and sisters at Highlands.  All the while, an inner turmoil stirred within, because my heart was not in agreement with what I was doing.

I QUIT TO PRESERVE MY FAITH!

Do I love those in organizational/institutional “churches” across America?  ABSOLUTELY!!!  I especially have a tender heart for my brothers and sisters who are in the paid “ministry” right now, and I deeply appreciate their sincere desire to please our Father.

If you would like to really hear my heart regarding this, then you MUST LISTEN to these two audio messages by Frank Viola.  I just discovered them and WOW do they ever express the depth of my heart’s passion:

Reframing the Mission: Pt 1
Reframing the Mission: Pt 2

Since moving to Minnesota and being very alone (with the Lord though…so NOT lonely…PTL!), I have wept several times out of a deep desire to see the fulfillment of Frank’s message.  Check out his blog at: http://frankviola.wordpress.com/

THE CHURCH HAS LEFT THE BUILDING!

you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 2:5

To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church [ecclesia] to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.  This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, – Ephesians 3:8-11

He is also head of the body, the church [ecclesia]; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit,… that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself… and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. – Colossians 1:18, 24; 2:2, 19

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above [God’s eternal purpose], where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. – Colossians 3:1

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.  AMEN.Romans 11:36

A JESUS MANIFESTO!

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THIS IS AN INCREDIBLE POST BY FRANK VIOLA & LEONARD SWEET.  IT IS NOT ONLY A MUST READ, BUT IS ABSOLUTELY A TRUTH TO BELIEVE!!!

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Posted by jesusmanifesto on the June 22, 2009

A Magna Carta

for Restoring the Supremacy of

Jesus Christ

a.k.a.

A Jesus Manifesto

for the 21st Century Church

by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

Christians have made the gospel about so many things … things other than Christ.

Jesus Christ is the gravitational pull that brings everything together and gives them significance, reality, and meaning. Without him, all things lose their value. Without him, all things are but detached pieces floating around in space.

It is possible to emphasize a spiritual truth, value, virtue, or gift, yet miss Christ . . . who is the embodiment and incarnation of all spiritual truth, values, virtues, and gifts.

Seek a truth, a value, a virtue, or a spiritual gift, and you have obtained something dead.

Seek Christ, embrace Christ, know Christ, and you have touched him who is Life. And in him resides all Truth, Values, Virtues and Gifts in living color. Beauty has its meaning in the beauty of Christ, in whom is found all that makes us lovely and loveable.

What is Christianity? It is Christ. Nothing more. Nothing less. Christianity is not an ideology. Christianity is not a philosophy. Christianity is the “good news” that Beauty, Truth and Goodness are found in a person. Biblical community is founded and found on the connection to that person. Conversion is more than a change in direction; it’s a change in connection. Jesus’ use of the ancient Hebrew word shubh, or its Aramaic equivalent, to call for “repentance” implies not viewing God from a distance, but entering into a relationship where God is command central of the human connection.

In that regard, we feel a massive disconnection in the church today. Thus this manifesto.

We believe that the major disease of the church today is JDD: Jesus Deficit Disorder. The person of Jesus is increasingly politically incorrect, and is being replaced by the language of “justice,” “the kingdom of God,” “values,” and “leadership principles.”

In this hour, the testimony that we feel God has called us to bear centers on the primacy of the Lord Jesus Christ. Specifically . . .

1. The center and circumference of the Christian life is none other than the person of Christ. All other things, including things related to him and about him, are eclipsed by the sight of his peerless worth. Knowing Christ is Eternal Life. And knowing him profoundly, deeply, and in reality, as well as experiencing his unsearchable riches, is the chief pursuit of our lives, as it was for the first Christians. God is not so much about fixing things that have gone wrong in our lives as finding us in our brokenness and giving us Christ.

2. Jesus Christ cannot be separated from his teachings. Aristotle says to his disciples, “Follow my teachings.” Socrates says to his disciples, “Follow my teachings.” Buddha says to his disciples, “Follow my meditations.” Confucius says to his disciples, “Follow my sayings.” Muhammad says to his disciples, “Follow my noble pillars.” Jesus says to his disciples, “Follow me.” In all other religions, a follower can follow the teachings of its founder without having a relationship with that founder. Not so with Jesus Christ. The teachings of Jesus cannot be separated from Jesus himself. Jesus Christ is still alive and he embodies his teachings. It is a profound mistake, therefore, to treat Christ as simply the founder of a set of moral, ethical, or social teaching. The Lord Jesus and his teaching are one. The Medium and the Message are One. Christ is the incarnation of the Kingdom of God and the Sermon on the Mount.

3. God’s grand mission and eternal purpose in the earth and in heaven centers in Christ . . . both the individual Christ (the Head) and the corporate Christ (the Body). This universe is moving towards one final goal – the fullness of Christ where He shall fill all things with himself. To be truly missional, then, means constructing one’s life and ministry on Christ. He is both the heart and bloodstream of God’s plan. To miss this is to miss the plot; indeed, it is to miss everything.

4. Being a follower of Jesus does not involve imitation so much as it does implantation and impartation. Incarnation–the notion that God connects to us in baby form and human touch—is the most shocking doctrine of the Christian religion. The incarnation is both once-and-for-all and ongoing, as the One “who was and is to come” now is and lives his resurrection life in and through us. Incarnation doesn’t just apply to Jesus; it applies to every one of us. Of course, not in the same sacramental way. But close. We have been given God’s “Spirit” which makes Christ “real” in our lives. We have been made, as Peter puts it, “partakers of the divine nature.” How, then, in the face of so great a truth can we ask for toys and trinkets? How can we lust after lesser gifts and itch for religious and spiritual thingys? We’ve been touched from on high by the fires of the Almighty and given divine life. A life that has passed through death – the very resurrection life of the Son of God himself. How can we not be fired up?

To put it in a question: What was the engine, or the accelerator, of the Lord’s amazing life? What was the taproot or the headwaters of his outward behavior? It was this: Jesus lived by an indwelling Father. After his resurrection, the passage has now moved. What God the Father was to Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ is to you and to me. He’s our indwelling Presence, and we share in the life of Jesus’ own relationship with the Father. There is a vast ocean of difference between trying to compel Christians to imitate Jesus and learning how to impart an implanted Christ. The former only ends up in failure and frustration. The latter is the gateway to life and joy in our daying and our dying. We stand with Paul: “Christ lives in me.” Our life is Christ. In him do we live, breathe, and have our being. “What would Jesus do?” is not Christianity. Christianity asks: “What is Christ doing through me … through us? And how is Jesus doing it?” Following Jesus means “trust and obey” (respond), and living by his indwelling life through the power of the Spirit.

5. The “Jesus of history” cannot be disconnected from the “Christ of faith.” The Jesus who walked the shores of Galilee is the same person who indwells the church today. There is no disconnect between the Jesus of Mark’s Gospel and the incredible, all-inclusive, cosmic Christ of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. The Christ who lived in the first century has a pre-existence before time. He also has a post-existence after time. He is Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, A and Z, all at the same time. He stands in the future and at the end of time at the same moment that He indwells every child of God. Failure to embrace these paradoxical truths has created monumental problems and has diminished the greatness of Christ in the eyes of God’s people.

6. It’s possible to confuse “the cause” of Christ with the person of Christ. When the early church said “Jesus is Lord,” they did not mean “Jesus is my core value.” Jesus isn’t a cause; he is a real and living person who can be known, loved, experienced, enthroned and embodied. Focusing on his cause or mission doesn’t equate focusing on or following him. It’s all too possible to serve “the god” of serving Jesus as opposed to serving him out of an enraptured heart that’s been captivated by his irresistible beauty and unfathomable love. Jesus led us to think of God differently, as relationship, as the God of all relationship.

7. Jesus Christ was not a social activist nor a moral philosopher. To pitch him that way is to drain his glory and dilute his excellence. Justice apart from Christ is a dead thing. The only battering ram that can storm the gates of hell is not the cry of Justice, but the name of Jesus. Jesus Christ is the embodiment of Justice, Peace, Holiness, Righteousness. He is the sum of all spiritual things, the “strange attractor” of the cosmos. When Jesus becomes an abstraction, faith loses its reproductive power. Jesus did not come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people live.

8. It is possible to confuse an academic knowledge or theology about Jesus with a personal knowledge of the living Christ himself. These two stand as far apart as do the hundred thousand million galaxies. The fullness of Christ can never be accessed through the frontal lobe alone. Christian faith claims to be rational, but also to reach out to touch ultimate mysteries. The cure for a big head is a big heart.

Jesus does not leave his disciples with CliffsNotes for a systematic theology. He leaves his disciples with breath and body.

Jesus does not leave his disciples with a coherent and clear belief system by which to love God and others. Jesus gives his disciples wounds to touch and hands to heal.

Jesus does not leave his disciples with intellectual belief or a “Christian worldview.” He leaves his disciples with a relational faith.

Christians don’t follow a book. Christians follow a person, and this library of divinely inspired books we call “The Holy Bible” best help us follow that person. The Written Word is a map that leads us to The Living Word. Or as Jesus himself put it, “All Scripture testifies of me.” The Bible is not the destination; it’s a compass that points to Christ, heaven’s North Star.

The Bible does not offer a plan or a blueprint for living. The “good news” was not a new set of laws, or a new set of ethical injunctions, or a new and better PLAN. The “good news” was the story of a person’s life, as reflected in The Apostle’s Creed. The Mystery of Faith proclaims this narrative: “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.” The meaning of Christianity does not come from allegiance to complex theological doctrines, but a passionate love for a way of living in the world that revolves around following Jesus, who taught that love is what makes life a success . . . not wealth or health or anything else: but love. And God is love.

9. Only Jesus can transfix and then transfigure the void at the heart of the church. Jesus Christ cannot be separated from his church. While Jesus is distinct from his Bride, he is not separate from her. She is in fact his very own Body in the earth. God has chosen to vest all of power, authority, and life in the living Christ. And God in Christ is only known fully in and through his church. (As Paul said, “The manifold wisdom of God – which is Christ – is known through the ekklesia.”)

The Christian life, therefore, is not an individual pursuit. It’s a corporate journey. Knowing Christ and making him known is not an individual prospect. Those who insist on flying life solo will be brought to earth, with a crash. Thus Christ and his church are intimately joined and connected. What God has joined together, let no person put asunder. We were made for life with God; our only happiness is found in life with God. And God’s own pleasure and delight is found therein as well.

10. In a world which sings, “Oh, who is this Jesus?” and a church which sings, “Oh, let’s all be like Jesus,” who will sing with lungs of leather, “Oh, how we love Jesus!”

If Jesus could rise from the dead, we can at least rise from our bed, get off our couches and pews, and respond to the Lord’s resurrection life within us, joining Jesus in what he’s up to in the world. We call on others to join us—not in removing ourselves from planet Earth, but to plant our feet more firmly on the Earth while our spirits soar in the heavens of God’s pleasure and purpose. We are not of this world, but we live in this world for the Lord’s rights and interests. We, collectively, as the ekklesia of God, are Christ in and to this world.

May God have a people on this earth who are a people of Christ, through Christ, and for Christ. A people of the cross. A people who are consumed with God’s eternal passion, which is to make his Son preeminent, supreme, and the head over all things visible and invisible. A people who have discovered the touch of the Almighty in the face of his glorious Son. A people who wish to know only Christ and him crucified, and to let everything else fall by the wayside. A people who are laying hold of his depths, discovering his riches, touching his life, and receiving his love, and making HIM in all of his unfathomable glory known to others.

The two of us may disagree about many things—be they ecclesiology, eschatology, soteriology, not to mention economics, globalism and politics.

But in our two most recent books—From Eternity to Here and So Beautiful—we have sounded forth a united trumpet. These books are the Manifests to this Manifesto. They each present the vision that has captured our hearts and that we wish to impart to the Body of Christ— “This ONE THING I know” (Jn.9:25) that is the ONE THING that unites us all:

Jesus the Christ.

Christians don’t follow Christianity; Christians follow Christ.

Christians don’t preach themselves; Christians proclaim Christ.

Christians don’t point people to core values; Christians point people to the cross.

Christians don’t preach about Christ: Christians preach Christ.

Over 300 years ago a German pastor wrote a hymn that built around the Name above all names:

Ask ye what great thing I know, that delights and stirs me so?
What the high reward I win?
Whose the name I glory in?
Jesus Christ, the crucified.

This is that great thing I know; this delights and stirs me so:
faith in him who died to save,
His who triumphed o’er the grave:
Jesus Christ, the crucified.

Jesus Christ – the crucified, resurrected, enthroned, triumphant, living Lord.

He is our Pursuit, our Passion, and our Life.

Amen.

GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE…THAT’S IT!!!

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THIS MESSAGE (BELOW) SO RESONATED WITH MY SPIRIT.  I HAVE BEEN REALIZING LATELY MORE AND MORE THIS TRUTH OF GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE!

In his last entry to his blog dated 5/26/09, Frank Viola said the following:

“Many of you have been asking me for the recording of my talk at George Fox Seminary back in February.

Also appearing at the event were Leonard Sweet, Alan Hirsch, Dan Kimball, and MaryKate Morse. Lance Ford moderated (and tried to incite a riot a few times).

In the talk, I had some weighty things to say to those who minister. Things related to God’s Eternal Purpose.

Here’s the recording of the talk: http://www.FromEternitytoHere.org/ViolaGeorgeFox.mp3 (or search for it on iTunes under my name). It’s only about 30 minutes long.”