“Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he (Matthew 11:11).”
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected, but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me (Philippians 3:12).”
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that you may filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-19).”
AS WE consider these passages of Scripture – all so crucial in these days – we find a major burden of the Holy Spirit in our times: the fullness of Jesus Christ, or the fullness of God, in Jesus Christ.
It is vital for the Church to comprehend and apprehend the fullness of her Head. We need to be reflecting and portraying or manifesting more truly and accurately the fruit, gifts, nature, character and ways of Jesus Christ.
There needs to be fullness of uncompromised truth (which alone sets free), but there needs also to be fullness of grace and love which enables people to embrace the truth. Otherwise, truth is just a clanging symbol. Many Christians tend to major either on grace, or truth, at the expense of the other. Jesus is both, flowing simultaneously.
In Jesus Christ, there is also fullness of righteousness, holiness, judgement, mercy. In His coming to earth and then resurrecting and departing, He made a way for the Holy Spirit to come. Yes, for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and all His fruit and gifts.
Jesus was, and still is, the healer and the great sign-and-wonder worker. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. The fact that you or I may have a ministry that does not move in supernatural wonders, does not mean that such are not for today – just that He has chosen not to use us in such a way. Equally, the fact that you or I may have a ministry that demonstrates the supernatural does not mean that you or I have the full revelation of truth, or even perfect doctrine.
Jesus’ Kingdom has come, but it is also still coming. Jesus was Jewish. He came to His own, but they did not receive Him. The Kingdom was extended to the Gentiles, especially initially, through the ministry of the Jewish apostle Paul. Gentile believers are a part of the Israel of God, but they have not replaced the Jewish people. And so on and so on and so on…
The Holy Spirit gradually leads us into all truth, and helps us to divide rightly the written word of truth – if we will, in all humility, allow Him to do so. We have not yet fully attained. But if we stay humble and teachable, the Church will get there. God’s passion is to get her there.
Right now, the Church of Jesus Christ is rather like a patchwork quilt, with the various divisions and denominations and non-denominations having comprehended and apprehended one, a couple or even a few of the patches. But no one, on their own, has the full patchwork quilt.
Many think they have the full picture. This invariably leads to pride, leading to incomplete redemption of the soul. Usefulness to God becomes, sadly, restricted.
I know that in recent years, the Church has overdosed on love and grace, at the expense of absolute Biblical truth. Some months ago, I was blessed to discover the emergence of a prophetic stream (ever growing) that was highlighting uncompromised truth – preaching repentance, righteousness and holiness. They feel the call to be the current day Elijahs and/or John the Baptists.
I was so happy to discover them. I was listening to one of them letting rip with the truth. There was this voice in me saying, “Preach it brother!” But then, sadly, I become aware of an absence of the precious, convicting power of the Holy Spirit in the meeting where the message was recorded. The Holy Spirit, alone, can break hearts over sin.
“Why, Lord?” I asked. “This one is full of truth.”
“Yes, that is true, but there is also pride and arrogance,” came the still small voice.
Many times, over months and years, the Lord has told me that, although He has called us to do the work of John the Baptist in “Preparing the Way” and making crooked and perverse paths straight, we have to do this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, not John the Baptist. We are called to prepare the Bride, not the friend of the Bride.
So many Christians have truth or grace, the Spirit or the Word, rather than both/and.
I remember when Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ hit the scene. On the one hand, there were those within the Church who went completely ga-ga in favour of the thing – most of them, because they genuinely believed this was the greatest evangelism tool ever. And then, on the other hand, there was the opposite camp who gave a detailed case for this film being from the pit of hell, basically.
At the time, someone put in my hand, one of the negative exposes. On reading it, I found there was much truth in what was being said, but, boy, was it vitriolic! They may have been speaking truth, but this certainly was not done in love. The truth was being wielded as a sword to kill, rather than to set free and bring the life of Christ.
Meanwhile, in the midst of this furore and fuss, there was launched, without fanfare, a little gem. The Gospel of John, featuring the fullness of the written Word. Produced by the Visual Bible people, this film featured a Jewish-looking, very believable Jesus, not over or under-acted. And of course the richness of the words and teachings of Jesus just poured forth abundantly. What a feast. What convicting power of the Holy Spirit.
So often we find the gems in quiet, unassuming places…
Oh, dearest Lord Jesus Christ, beloved Bridegroom, how we need You to arise in Your Church and to reveal Yourself as you really are – in all Your fullness. Full of grace and truth; Spirit and Word. For we have not yet fully attained nor are we already perfected. Please come TO Your Church, before You come FOR Your Church. That You may be revealed to the world, and there can be a turning from darkness into Your glorious light – and many may be saved.