How should we function when we gather together? (2018-03-13)

Christ is transforming us today, through the Spirit dwelling in us, into his own image. He gains his expression through us when we realize this. Realizing this is to “live by faith, and not by sight.” It is very hard to do. We need to surrender our wills to his will. We need to empty ourselves and humble ourselves, being obedient to the cross following Jesus’ example. We need to “put no confidence in the flesh.” Why do we need to do this? Because only then can God work through us. God will not force us because he gave us free will. (See the blog, “Are we predestinated or do we have free will?”) When we submit ourselves to him, surrendering our wills to him, our humanity with its frailties will be swallow up by his divine life. As we grow older in Christ, we begin to realize how poor we really are and how far we from his glory. We become even more thankful for his marvellous plan. God wants to express hus divinity through our humanity, so the invisible God is made visible in us. That is the preciousness of Christians today. God’s will, God desires are expressed in Christians today. “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phi. 2:13) So Christ is the head and Christians are his Body. God’s will becomes our will so he works through us. His expression becomes our expression, so we become one with God. That is why humans will judge angels. (1 Cor. 6:3) That is why we are the sons of God. (John 1:12) That is why, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat. 5:3)

Given this reality, how are we to meet? What should we be doing when we assemble together? As believers who are born of God, (John 1:12) we are all sons of God. To be sons of God, it means we all have received the Spirit, the divine and eternal life of God. (John 3:16) This Spirit within us is living and active, not dead like the law, leading and guiding us in our lives today. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14) As such, “when [we] come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation.” (1 Cor. 14:26) Every member should be led by the Spirit to speak. “For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged.” (1 Cor. 14:21) “It is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” (1 Cor. 12:6-11) When we assemble together, it is the Spirit that should be empowering each one of us. It is God who should be working in each one of us, both to will and to do for his good pleasure.

I meet with a raggedy bunch of men whose primary purpose is to seek the truth, a “remnant…[who] seek the Lord.” (Acts 15:17) We all get together on a Wednesday evening, not because we have to, but because we want to. Each man has not “left [their] first love” (Rev. 2:4) for Christ, but “nourishes and cherishes” (Eph. 5:29) him. Each man desires to “know him”, (Phi. 3:10) earnestly “trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” (Eph. 5:10) When we come together, each one has a lesson, a revelation from the Lord, (1 Cor. 14:26) so we can all speak, rather than listen to someone talk. We don’t “hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans,” (Rev. 2:15) so there is no leaders, no one ‘over the laity.’ (See blog “What does God not want of us?”) We have no ‘priesthood’ and no ‘laity,’ no one to ‘handle God’s affairs for us,’ but are all sons of God, each one of us desiring to form a deeper relationship with our Father. So we try our best to learn and to encourage one another (1 Cor. 14:21) so we could come to know him. We are organized and have an outline, but the Spirit is free to go where it wills, leading us as “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) We are not afraid of the hard questions in the Bible. In fact, we enjoy solving its mysteries (1 Cor. 4:1) as they are revealed to us by the Spirit. (Eph. 3:3) We have no leader, but Christ is the head who is in us, willing and working for his good pleasure (Phi. 2:13) through each one of us, the members of his body. (Col. 1:18) Although we come from different denominations, there is no division among us. We are one body and one Spirit (Eph. 4:4; 1 Cor.10:17) before him and do not let our differences in practice get in the way. In fact, our differences are not important, only our oneness. We have formed a bond to care for each other and for his people, so in “everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving [we] let [our] requests be made known to God,” (Phi. 4:6) and practically help each other out. Although it is difficult to do, we love the unlovable because of the Spirit within – we pray and truly encourage each other to love those who have slighted us. We are surrendering our wills to his will, so he can work in us for his good pleasure. (Phi. 2:13) Why would this group of grown men do this? “Because of the great love with which he loved us…[God has] made us alive together with Christ.” (Eph. 2:5) The love of God is causing a hunger in us to love him back and to love one another thus fulfilling his great and new commandments. (Mark 12:30-31; John13:34) “For love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7) Perhaps this is the way of function when Christians assemble that God desires.

When we develop routines and ways of practice, we must be careful not to hold them as primarily important or to just function automatically. We need to guard against our “confidence in the flesh.” (Phi. 3:3) We need to “live by Spirit.” (Gal.5:25) Only in this way can God work in us, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Phil. 2:13) Then our love for him will stay fresh and new, (Rev. 2:4) guarding us from being lukewarm. (Rev. 3:16) We must always realize that “apart from him, [we] can do nothing,” (John 15:5) and guard against thinking “[We are] rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.” (Rev. 3:17) “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Gal.5:25) “For to me to live is Christ.” (Phi. 1:21)

On the Lord’s day, I meet with my local gathering of Christians who see this reality. There is no longer one speaker, but all God’s children speak. We come and spontaneously praise Him and sing to Him. Anyone can pick a hymn, anyone can pray, anyone can give praises to Him. Then after realizing our oneness with God, anyone can prophesies. Anyone can share about the reality of their walk with the Spirit during the past week. This is Christ expressed in each one of us. This is the establishment of His kingdom.

…This is bringing heaven to earth…

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