Easter Sunday is over and the next church event to look forward to, is Pentecost. When the disciples and apostles of the first century experienced this period of time, it was the most exciting time in their lives. Jesus promised to send the comforter. They watched Him rise up into the clouds and heard the angels promise that He would return in like manner. But there was only one problem. They had no idea at the time, when the comforter would come, and what to expect.
The majority of the Christian church today is still in the same position. We’ve been led to believe that we are learning how to be spiritual, but the vast majority is afraid of living spiritually. Our only examples of spiritual living have been largely devilish. Astrology, palm reading, oriental tea leaves, spells, enchantments, and seances are all commonly found in both large cities and small towns. Beginning in the mid 1800’s, spiritual matters were commonly associated with devilish matters. We’ve even been told to reject the spiritual signs that God used in the first century as meaningless. So we are expecting something, but we don’t know what to expect. We know God is spiritual. We even know we are His spiritual children, but we have no idea what it really means to be spiritual. So we spend all of our time and energy cleaning up our habits, our thoughts, and our appearance believing that changing our flesh is spiritual.
But those who reject God really know that there is a difference between the flesh and the spirit. They know how to develop a relationship with their god. They know their god is spiritual, and they really believe their god is the god of love, humanity, prosperity, and peace. And, (by the way), their god helps people feel better by the compassionate service they perform with the assistance of their god. Their god helps them accumulate wealth so they can become great philanthropists and be known for all time as humanitarian leaders of the New World Order. Who needs Jesus? Who needs salvation? They have the whole world in the palm of their hands.
Mark 8: 36 “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
Oh, I’m sorry, they don’t believe the Bible. They just know what the Bible says. Sometimes even better than you or I. This is the state of our world today. But this was the state of the world in the first century, when the disciples were waiting for the Comforter to come. Nothing has changed. It’s still the same.
The disciples didn’t have the Holy Spirit and the world was filled with familiar spirits. The disciples were filled with fear and the world was running, well, pretty much the same as today. The wealthy controlled the economy and the military, the poor served as pawns serving every whim of the wealthy. If you’re like me, then we are part of the 99% and that means we are not part of the worldly leadership of our nation. We go to work for somebody to help them become wealthy. We go to war for somebody to defend an idea, a territory, a business, or free a nation. We give our lives in service to “our country.” But that really means in service to these people who control our country. The bankers, businessmen, and politicians who make more money in one day than most of us make in an entire year.
When the disciples received the Holy Spirit fifty days after that first Easter, something changed.
Acts 2: 14 “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:”
Peter and the disciples became fearless. They knew they were connected to God the Father and they knew Jesus was with them by being within them. They were ready to take on the world and kick spiritual butt. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. During the interim period, they were like this.
John 20: 19a “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews,”
They were afraid of the Jews, meaning the Jews that hated Jesus and had Him crucified. The disciples were also Jews, but they followed Jesus. Now Jesus was dead, and until He presented Himself to them, they were afraid.
John 20: 19b “came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.”
They were still walking by the flesh because, until they received the Spirit, they had to see first and then believe. Just like so many of us who say we “walk by the Spirit,” but really “walk by the flesh.”
John 20: 20 “And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.”
How many of us really walk like Thomas? He was one of the disciples.
John 20: 24 “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.”
Until the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost, he still walked by the flesh. He wasn’t there when Jesus showed up and still refused to believe what everyone told him. He refused to believe.
John 20: 25 “The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
We call him “Doubting Thomas,” because he had to see Jesus before he would believe. Why should we begrudge Thomas, when really, we walk just like him, but we’re not about to admit that we walk by the flesh. No, we don’t say that we doubt anything, we say we are simply praying. We do the very same thing that the disciples did in the upper room. We are praying in expectation of receiving something spiritual.
Acts 1: 4 “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”
But at the same time realizing that our doctrine generally tells us NOT to expect anything that the Bible tells us to expect, because everything that is Biblically Spiritual is supposed to have died with the apostles. We are growing up in an environment that rejects Biblical spirituality but accepts devilish spirituality. Either our religious doctrines and traditions are off the mark and Biblical spirituality is still available and true, or our doctrines and traditions are correct and Biblical spirituality is dead.
This leaves every Christian believer in a position of chance. If you grew up in a traditionally accepted denomination like this author, spiritual matters were a pipe dream and unknown. If you grew up in an evangelical, prophetic church, then spiritual matters were a known and openly practiced factor. Our expectations and experience are completely different. My experience leads me to believe that “cleaning up my act” is spiritual. But you know the truth that changing the flesh is meaningless to a spiritual relationship with God, you know that faith is very different from believing. And the difference is the direction of the focus and the expected result.
I had to search for years to understand this difference and realized in the process that the teachers who knew spiritual truth, also had two real problems to overcome. The first problem is the general rejection of Christian spirituality. We are taught to be afraid of spiritual experience. The disciples and apostles were not afraid, because Jesus openly and fearlessly demonstrated spiritual power and taught them to expect that same power when they received the Holy Spirit.
John 14: 12 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”
So the first problem to overcome is fear combined with unbelief. We are afraid of God’s spiritual power because we don’t believe it’s relevant for today. But at the same time, we allow unbelievers of Jesus to practice and believe in alternative spiritual sources of power that they embrace and practice openly. We may call this power devilish, but we cannot deny it’s powerful and real, so we’ve classed all spiritual power as devilish and refuse to seek or expect God’s true power in our lives.
The second problem Christian spiritual teachers need to overcome is Christian religion itself. We’ve gone way past the need to see before we believe. We need to experience God’s spiritual power for ourselves. When Thomas saw Jesus, he believed, but he also had to experience Jesus in the flesh.
John 20: 26 – 28 “And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.”
We can watch a person demonstrate the power of God, teach about its truth from the Bible, and even testify to its reality, but still reject it. We’ve become numb to the truth. This is natural stubbornness, just like a goat. It is rejection due to reason and logic, (the reason and logic of the flesh). Hearing and seeing the truth isn’t enough for us any longer, we have to personally experience the truth our self. But we can’t experience the truth using the vocabulary of religion or the vocabulary of the world. We have to use the exact same words that Scripture uses to really understand it. Let’s consider healing.
When a medicine man accomplishes physical healing using spiritual help, it’s called “faith healing.” When a religious Christian experiences healing due to prayer, it’s called “the gift of healing.” If we extend the “gift” aspect of that healing to every other description of spiritual experience, (as so many evangelical and apostolic churches have done), then every form of spiritual demonstration is a “gift.” And then that gift is given by God at His determination and whim. We may get the “gift” or we may not get the “gift” but it’s not in our power to expect anything so the “gift” becomes an elusive and random experience. We are able to justify non-performance by placing the blame on God even though the non-performance is directly due to misinformation, wrong instruction, or even our own fear.
God’s Word doesn’t call the physical demonstration of Holy Spirit power a gift.
1 Corinthians 12: 7 “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (bold added)
Of the nine things mentioned in the next three verses, only healing is called a gift. But all nine are grouped as a single “manifestation.” All nine things are part of the demonstration of the presence of Holy Spirit in a Christian believer and only healing is called a “gift.” By reading the five verses altogether (12: 7 – 11) and keeping in mind proper grammar and syntax rules of language, we can easily see that the issue of non-performance is no longer blamed on God, but blamed on the man instead.
1 Corinthians 12: 11 “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”
The words “all these” refer back to “manifestation” in verse 7. It does not refer back to “spiritual gifts” in verse 12: 1. The nearest context of verse 7 over rides the remote context of verse 1. Next, we have to question, who is doing the willing at the end of the verse? Religion has taught us that it is God because of “one and the selfsame Spirit.” But grammar teaches us that the pronoun “he” is controlled by the closest associated noun, which is “man.” The man works the Holy Spirit manifestation that he needs at that moment in time by his will. Now it is a “pick and choose” how the Spirit manifests according to the need and will of the man. It’s not God’s fault that we don’t experience the Holy Spirit, it’s our own fault. We can’t have or experience something if we don’t ask for it.
James 4: 2b “ye have not, because ye ask not.”
We have to understand the Word of God just as the Word of God explains itself. So if we try to understand it according to our religious instruction and cast off proper rules of language, we will never learn the truth. Our own words taught by the logic of religion are being used against us to keep us in spiritual darkness. We have to use God’s Words, in the way He reveals it, in order to learn God’s Truth.
Wrong vocabulary and religious logic will keep God’s desired truth hidden from us.
These are the two problems that evangelical ministers have to overcome in every religious Christian’s life before we can ever experience God’s power personally. These are the two problems I had to overcome personally as well. Fortunately, if you are a lamb of God, you will always know when the Good Shepherd speaks.
John 10: 11 “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”
Jesus speaks today through men and women who are walking by His Spirit. And when we are speaking by our own logic without His assistance, the lamb will also know the difference.
John 10: 27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:”
Lambs of God will always follow the true spiritual voice of Jesus spoken by a man or woman who walks in His power by the Holy Spirit. All of Jesus’ flock are figuratively called sheep and instinctively follow Jesus. Those who do not follow Jesus or resist His truth are simply not part of His flock.
John 10: 26 “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.”
Jesus divides the whole world into two figurative flocks: sheep and goats.
Matthew 25: 32, 33 “And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.”
Only the sheep are going to inherit the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 25: 34 “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:”
The truth is only attractive to those who are part of Jesus’ own flock. His flock is entirely composed of the lambs of God. Lambs are sheep, not goats. Just as real goats are stubborn and fight against their shepherd, the goats of the world are equally stubborn and self-willed against Jesus and His Truth and Power. If someone rejects to know how to operate the power of God, rejects to learn about the Holy Spirit, and rejects to hear about building a spiritual relationship with God, then they are one of the goats of the world. They will never want to follow Jesus or His Truth, only a lamb of God will want to know God’s Truth. You can take 48 years of your life, and search every Christian church to learn the truth like I did, or you can learn all of the principles of building a relationship with God and experience His power in your own personal life in one weekend.
Religion is too busy pleasing the goats of the world. They occupy every religious doctrine and church throughout the world, both Christian and everything else. They seek after the flavor of spiritual instruction that pleases them the most. Whether it is the truth of God or a doctrine of man is irrelevant. Religion is truly the opiate of the people (and of goats). But truth is the only thing that will ever satisfy a lamb of God. Goats may be content with enlightenment, a lamb is only content when they are in the presence of their shepherd, the light of the world. What have you got to lose by reading a book when you know in your own heart that God has something more for you that you aren’t getting? If you want to live in the presence of the Good Shepherd every moment of every day for the rest of your life, then this book is written for you. Only you can decide whether you are a lamb of God, or a goat of the world. Nobody has the right to tell you what you are, that is your right. You can get this book here by clicking the link below.
When you get it, read it through in one weekend and cast your vote for the book at the Author Academy Award site also below. It is nominated in the best Religious Non-Fiction Category and I would really appreciate your vote.