Message 6
John Myer
February 17, 2008
Goshen, Indiana

[00:00] There’s a line from that song, “Soon Thou wilt come again.” There is always a section of the Bible that just rings like a bell in me when I read it, and that is Matthew chapter 24, toward the end of that chapter, the Lord Jesus put His servants in charge of the household and then went away. And sometimes when I read that, it kind of calls to my mind the image of a house of slightly unsupervised children. It brings back to mind some of the best times in my growing up years that I remember was when my parents went out for the evening, they left me in charge. No kidding! We would watch, no kidding. We would listen first for the car doors to slam, the engine would start up, they’d get out on the street. We’d be looking through the drapes, watch the tail lights vanish over the hill, and let the games begin. I’m not kidding you. The pillow fights would start, jumping on the bed, somebody would discover an oven burner as a source of entertainment—“O wow! This magazine burns purple!”—stuff like this. We would do all…and I haven’t even begun to address any snacks that may have been had—I’m talking about pop tarts, I’m talking about donuts, I’m talking about soda, I’m talking about all of that. Have you ever seen one kid eat a whole dozen donuts all by himself? It kind of starts off like, “That was good, I want another one…that was good, I want another… that was good, I want another…” Quickly the house is destroyed. Then we started getting these kooky ideas. One time we said, “Let’s go up in the attic!” It didn’t dawn on any of us that the attic floor is different than the floor of the regular home. OK, so one of us went through the ceiling—at least our leg did. Then we patched up the hole and said, “Daddy will never notice this.” It’s right over his bed. Go figure! He lays down, and there’s 42 pounds of masking tape on a leg-size hole above his face. He didn’t even need to go to bed to notice that one.

[02:30] Well, sometimes it seems like, in the Christian church, what has happened is that the Lord’s gone away, and then the monkeyshine starts. It seems like the longer He stays away, the more stuff happens that ought not to happen. So, OK, He goes away in the early part of the first century, and by the time you get to the book of Revelation, there’s some stuff being pulled in the house of God that shouldn’t really be going on, i.e., the seven churches. You look at the epistles to the seven churches. Yesterday I addressed the church in Ephesus. They lost their first love, but they were doing a lot of other things. But then eventually, if you look at some of the other epistles, the believers were…worshipping idols? How’s that going to work? You know, what happened to Jesus saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Where did the idols come from? You look at other situations, the church is dead, or the opinions run the whole church, not Jesus anymore, just the opinions of the majority, etc. You wonder, what’s happening in the church, in the house of God? What’s gone on here? Something has gone amiss. And if you’re a believer who is not necessarily involved in the idolatrous activities in Thyatira or something, you’re looking at the believers over there asking, “What is happening here?” When is somebody going to say, “Enough.”

[04:09] Alright, fast forward into our present time. We also have some difficult circumstances. We wonder, “What is going on? It seems like right-side-up is up-side-down, people are doing things, people are saying things. How, oh how can we get a handle on anything anymore? Was all that stuff back there wrong? Is all of Christianity right?” Actually, nobody in Christianity would say that all of Christianity is right. So then, the question, the challenge becomes, how do you get a handle on anything, and that’s what I hope to give you before you leave. I’d like to put a little handle on this, give you a couple of practical pointers.

[04:56] If you will turn to the book of Revelation chapter 1, verse 19. This is going to be a simple one. At a time when the church is in a kind of a questionable era, sort of hard to know what is happening, God instructs—at least, is this the angel talking or God talking? This is Christ talking. In verse 19 He says this, now just get this, He says, “Write the things.” That’s clue number one. You want to get a handle on the current situation, either now or anytime in the future, here is an important clue. Something has been written down. That’s clue number one. Alright, we’re going to skip to the next one really quick, then go back and I’ll explain. But chapter 2 verse 7 says, find this phrase, “What the Spirit says.” That’s the second thing. And then the third thing, right after that phrase, “To the churches.” Three very important things to keep in mind to get your bearings in any situation: “write the things,” “what the Spirit says,” “to the churches.” This is how God nails down a questionable time period among the churches. This is how God brings clarity to the situation, three big things.

[06:57] Now, what do we mean by “write the things”? Well first of all, literally, “write the things” here would be the book of Revelation, but I’m going to borrow this principle. We have an accumulation of revelation written down. It is written down. God doesn’t change His mind every week depending on social opinion, depending on what people in the church are saying or feeling. God doesn’t change His mind every week. That’s good news.

[07:35] One of those good things is that the Bible keeps ending the same way. You can have a bad day, and the Bible ends the same way: the devil’s in the lake of fire, and the saints are serving Him for eternity in the New Jerusalem. That’s how it ends. That’s how you have to say it. You say, “Wow, look at this mess in the church,” well, the Bible ends the same way. It doesn’t matter. The roadmap takes you to one destination if you’re a believer. Now if you’re an unsaved person in the room, there’s also a roadmap going someplace else. Please see anyone of us after the meeting to get you off that route.

[08:20] So that’s the first thing: We’ve got something written down. That’s the reason why, when your boss walks up to you, he’s kind of in a good mood, when he’s in a real good mood, and he says, “Nigel, the board has gotten together, and we’re looking for a professor to head an entire department, and there’s a…I hesitate to mention this but…there’s about another fifty thousand dollars a year involved in the position. I just thought I’d let you know that.” And then Nigel might say, “Excuse me, sir. Could I get that in writing?” Because once it is committed to writing, it’s very, very difficult to go back and say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I said there might be some extra perks. We’d hire you a secretary. You’d have fresh coffee every morning, something like that.” No, no, no, I’ve got this in writing. That’s how that works.

[09:19] The Bible is the ultimate commitment of God in a certain sense. I’m not trying to compare that to the cross. But once you commit all the promises to writing, oh my goodness, all these promises. You know, God has put Himself on the line, because a yahoo like me, anytime it seems like He’s not coming through, I can wave this document: “Hey, You said….” As a matter of fact, a bunch of people who pray in the Bible start their prayer with, “Hast not Thou saidst (Have You not said)?”; “Was it not written?”; things like this. The redeemed have a…I don’t know, but to God it’s annoying, but the redeemed have a habit of reminding God, should He forget. Abraham reminded God, “Remember, You’re a righteous God. Remember that? At least I heard this.” <God said, “Remind Me.”> You see? It’s a matter of God’s faithfulness; it’s something God’s written down. This is a protection to us. It keeps us from being reinvented every year into something that we are not. It’s a protection.

[10:48] Now, when I say the Bible—now, I’m going to kind of go carefully into this—when I say the Bible, I don’t mean the interpreted Bible, per se. I’m going to qualify this in a minute, so don’t start squirming and, “Oh, he’s going to tell us to throw out our commentaries, no more footnotes….” No, I’m not going to tell you that. I’m just going to say at least right now that the plainly written word is a guardrail and a protection to you. Otherwise, listen to what could happen. I can come and begin to overburden you with things, with new things, with new rules—“Vern, there’s this new rule. I’ve got new light.”

[11:34] Listen, some groups do this kind of stuff. They tell their members things they imagined, they got these imagined revelations, or “We’re moving on and we have new realizations.” And one group even told its members you’re not allowed to have pets. “See, you need to have your pet put to sleep.” And some people in the group went and did it. It’s a new revelation. Now, if somebody had had a slight Bible ethic in the group, they might have said, “Excuse me, could you tell me where it says that? I mean, granted, I’m kind of slow, I’m not very imaginative, and I don’t have a poetic soul, and I’m not in touch with God like you, but could you give me a little something to go on here?”

[12:25] Here’s where it gets a little challenging, because a skillful person who’s got an agenda could just turn to… “OK, let’s go to the book of Leviticus; see what happens to animals there.” Can’t you borrow…This is sometimes an unfortunate byproduct of agenda plus what I call a flawed hermeneutic. A flawed hermeneutic means basically your scientific approach to interpreting the Bible. So I’ll borrow stuff, thoughts, stray thoughts, other verses and all that, and try to make a case out of something that’s not really there. So we’ll go to the book of Leviticus, and I’ll say, “Look, you see that guy’s pet ox? He doesn’t have that ox to love on. He’s taking that ox to have it killed. He’s going to cut its throat, and he’s going to put it on the altar; and you need to put Fifi on the altar.”

[13:37] Don’t think this hasn’t been done. That example I heard about not too long ago, not to mention the ones that are even more extreme, like mass suicides and things like that. You know what happened was a central person was invested with so much trust, so much authority, that people forgot, no, we have something committed to writing that would protect us from the extremes, the excesses, or the mistakes of an otherwise godly, good man. We would have been protected. So in a certain sense, I would like to tell you today, when we handle the Bible, how about this: Nobody gets just a free pass like that, just because he’s Bro. So-and-so, and that means he gets free pass. Excuse me. We can’t afford that. That’s what earns groups the title of cult and stuff like that. We don’t want that. We don’t want it. I think that we can all respect one another. We can do this. We can respect teachers of the word, but nobody should get automatic free pass.

[14:46] So when we handle the Bible, one of the first things we need to ask is, “Is that there? Did that say that?” Now, this sounds terribly simple, but the fact of the matter is, when some Christians handle certain words in the Bible, this thing takes place up in their head. I call it transposition. You take that word out, and you, at some level that you’re not even aware, you plug another word in. For instance, I’ve got this Charismatic friend. Actually, I think he’s Pentecostal. And of course, being under a particular ministry that stresses anything related to the Spirit, any kind of release of the Spirit will be tongue speaking. So he told a friend, he said, “Whenever I see the word Spirit, immediately I substitute the word tongues in there. Well, how do you walk in tongues? I’m not against…I realize, if you’re a tongue-speaker in the room, you may feel very bothered. Don’t, because I believe that. I believe that’s a legitimate gift for use today if it’s used Scripturally, if it’s used rightly. Then that’s a fine gift. It’s for building up. It’s not for showing off. But to take something good like that, and transpose another word and put that in its place—I mean, how does this work? John says, “I was in spirit on the Lord’s day.” What does that mean now? John was in tongues on the Lord’s day. <He was speaking in tongues, John.> Yeah, that’s right. That must have been what it is. And then you start going down a road, and then there’s this entire belief system and theology that begins to develop based on accumulated interpretations. Because there will be an interpretation based on that interpretation. Because some would say you walk in tongues. What does that mean? You speak in tongues as much as you can. Well, what does that mean? Well, that means if you want people to understand you, you always need to have a brother with you to interpret. It keeps going and going and going, until it just begins to violate common sense.

[17:04] Here’s another one. Christians have a habit, they see the phrase “eternal life,” and there’s immediately a transposition, and they put the word heaven in its place. Now, I caught somebody doing that not too long ago. I’d been preaching the gospel, and I said, before we ended the encounter, “How about we read a verse from the Bible before I take off.” The guy said, “How about John 3:16, going to heaven.” I said, “OK.” So then he read the verse, and at the end I said, “Ooo, you must have the wrong verse.” He said, “W-what do you mean?” “I thought you said we’re going to read a verse about going to heaven.” And he looked back at it again, and it was like that there was this dawning realization, and he literally did this…. “Man, it doesn’t say it!”

[18:01] Now I’ve got no beef with heaven. I don’t even have a beef with going to heaven, if that’s the way that you conceive of it, but beware of the transposing mechanism that puts that thing, that changes that word up, and puts a concept there that’s easier—allegedly easier—for you to understand. Because on top of that interpretation, there’s another one: “Well, what is heaven?” I’ve heard some interesting interpretations of that. Heaven is the best golf game you ever played. Listen, I’ve heard Christian leaders say this. “Heaven is your golf game. Heaven is whatever that you like now, magnified to the uttermost extent. So that would mean if I like fishing…well, there is that river of water of life, right? Somebody fly fishing there. I heard the same thing about football: “It’ll be a Super Bowl every day.” And on top of that, oh, I’ll be the quarterback in it, too. So eventually, when you take all that—I am not kidding you; this is in the concept of some Christian—and port it into the place of eternal life in John 3:16, it looks like Jesus died for you to be a quarterback. It looks like Jesus died for you to catch a world-record marlin. Something does not compute anymore.

[19:45] Now let me pick on us for a minute. When we see the word church or when we see the word ministry—Vern was just alluding to this; I think that that was an outstanding way of presenting what he just did just a few minutes ago—when we look at the word church, OK, the Biblical way of looking at that is that this is a profound matter. It’s very, very profound. You say, “Wow, church, eternal purpose of God!” OK, so far you’re doing fine. You’re staying with the thought of the apostle Paul. You ask, “Did Paul mean this when he wrote this?” Yes, so far, eternal purpose of God. OK, “We are standing as the church. This is the reality we want to have.” OK, pretty good still. OK, then you say, “We are the church.” Alright, uh, OK, careful. The limb’s getting a little bit weak out here at the end, but you’re OK so far. It’s OK. Then you say—and you hear a snap—“Others are not. We are.” And then you can be on the ground already with a broken arm going, “I know exactly what it looks like, too. It’s 30 people in a room telling each other, ‘We are what God’s doing, and not with anybody else.’ That group down the street with 6,000 people, God’s not doing much with them.” They’re flourishing, they’re growing, they’re turning out disciples like hotcakes. We’re getting tireder, we’re getting older, and we keep trying to impress one another, and it ain’t working much. Something has gone terribly wrong. Sometimes we see the word church, there’s these things going on in our heads where: “I know what that is.”

[21:42] Sometimes you know what we need to do? Have a brain dump. That is where you go back and ask yourself, “Did Paul mean that?” You know, we have a practice called calling on the Lord’s name, which I personally practice every day of my life. I get a lot out of it, and I believe that there is Scriptural support for calling out upon the name of the Lord. However, you take it just two, or three, or four, or five, or six steps out it looks like, “O Lord Jesus!!!” complete with pumps, complete with volume, complete with cadence, smiles. I don’t know that that was what was meant when Abraham builds an altar and called on the name of Jehovah. What did he do? “O Je-hovah!!!” I don’t know that. Somehow my accumulated interpretation has led me to think that every time I see the word calling, where somebody is calling on the Lord. So we have to ask, was that what he meant? Was that what the writer meant?

[23:02] I sat with Aleisha once in a study group. They were supposed to study this short story by George Orwell, and it was called, “The Elephant Hunt.” You ever read that one, Mark? It’s an essay, “Shooting an Elephant,” that’s right. OK, so we were all sitting together over this essay, and you know, Orwell was always trying to get at Communism and stuff like this, totalitarian systems and stuff, and you know the whole thing is kind of set up that way, so you can expect that there’s a level of interpretation that you can reasonably get into. But this one girl had concocted an alternate universe. And finally—I wasn’t even in the class, I just agreed to join Aleisha for support, which she obviously needed in this case, and it wasn’t even the Bible and I was being offended by all this—finally I said, “Would George agree with you?” I was just about crying over my waffle, we were at Denny’s, you know. “Do you think Mr. Orwell would agree with this? Is this what he meant?” And then the girl went, doing “I don’t know.” I said, “Well, how can you say he meant this and he meant that and he meant that?”

[24:10] There’s a level of reasonable inference that we can make. I mean, let’s not go overboard and say, “If the Bible didn’t come right out and say something you can’t say that it doesn’t belong.” Like, for instance, I can’t tell my wife, “Well, honey, there’s no emphasis in Scripture on keeping the yard cut.” Let’s use a little common sense. You can brush your teeth and be Scriptural, even though that’s not in the Bible. Some of the guys in the room might be thinking, “Aw.” So we’re not saying that.

[24:59] What we’re doing is we want to be clear, when we talk about ministries, commentaries, things like that, especially beware if you are under only one kind of way of looking at things all the time—no other admissible way of looking at it. And you are, in fact, afraid to consider any other interpretation, because now you are fear driven. I’m afraid that something that I used to believe might get shaken up.

[25:29] You know, I remember one time, we have a strong teaching about partial rapture, you know, there will be a rapture of the firstfruits, and then a rapture of the general harvest and all that, and I got a book and I was just literally afraid to read it, because it was multiple viewpoints on the rapture. It was one of these symposiums where these Christian experts get together and then they put their view out there, and the next guy takes it apart, and one of those was the partial rapture. I thought, “Do I want to read this?” At first I thought, “This is stupid.” I got it because it was a buck ninety-nine. It said, “Rapture”; it was a buck ninety-nine, and I got it, and I thought, “No problem. I have such a bullet-proof case for what I believe. I have nothing to fear. Then I read the first essay from some professor down in Dallas Theological Seminary. I read it and thought, “Ooh, he has points.” And then the next guy, I read, “Oh man, he’s got points, too.” And then all of them went to town on the partial rapture theory, just tore it all up. (crying) Hey, I don’t know, if we’re scared of truth, something is wrong with us. If we’re afraid of truth, let’s just hang up the hat and go home. And then my thought was, “Well, let’s see, what would I lose if we were all raptured before the great tribulation? Man, if I’m wrong, I’ll take it!” As a matter of fact, I heard one brother say, someone said, “Do you believe in the rapture, all raptured at once before the great tribulation or a partial rapture?” What one brother said, “I believe in a partial rapture, but I’m hoping I’m wrong.”

[27:25] When it comes to commentaries, things like this, I know that there’s a lot of feeling in the room, how about brother Witness Lee’s commentaries, what do we do with that? Some of you have been hurt just badly enough, where you feel like, “I don’t want to read anything anymore with that name on it, or the imprimatur of Living Stream Ministry. I don’t want it.” And then others say, “Well, I read some continually, and I do some editing.” I just have no desire to try to tell you to do either one of those things. I have a personal view about it. Feel free to read it; it’s online: A Future and a Hope, chapter three, if you’re interested in what I think. But I would just like to say this: Be careful of one view that only allows for one view, and everything else is off. Be careful of that, alright? What this will do, it will free you up to look at the verse, how it was written, without other things having been imported on top of it.

[28:25] And then, of course, commentaries do have their place. They can confirm. Like one time I just got froze up. I could not figure out what this verse meant. I got help from other men of God. They were able to make good input. I was able to break through. Commentaries are useful that way. But this is the first and probably most important thing: “It is written.” Scripture. What this does is it removes unnecessary barriers.

[28:55] Listen to this. I heard a weird story. I think Bill Gilbert told it one time. He said if you get some fleas and you put them in a bowl and you stretch a cling plastic wrap over the top of the bowl, for probably, I don’t know, a few minutes the fleas will keep jumping and they’ll keep pumping that plastic, and then they’ll stop, and they will only jump just so high with that plastic stretched over it without touching it. But if you take the plastic off, they’ll continue jumping just so high. They’ll never figure it out. And sometimes I think this is the people of God. You’ve got the power to really jump, but what happens is that there is this artificial interpretation or meaning that is stretched over the bowl, and then pretty quick, “That’s it. That’s it pal, that’s all the vertical I’ve got for you,” because there’s this plastic covering right over me. So we need to keep challenging, in a sense, in a good way, not in a disrespectful or ugly way but in a good way we challenge what has been stretched over us. Perhaps you will find, in a very plain reading of Scripture, that your interpretation is, in fact, correct, and sources that you may not like very much got it right. You know, the Catholic church in some ways gets some things right, but that doesn’t mean you are Roman Catholic. So that’s the first big thing, Scripture.

[30:27] Now the second is this. The second one, “what the Spirit says,” kind of comes out of the first one, because having pulled the cling wrap off the bowl, now the Spirit can start talking in ways that you thought were illegal, that you thought were wrong just a little while ago. Like for instance, when the disciples went up to Antioch and then they were there praying, and you could just tell, they’re in a whole different world now. They’re in a Gentile city—that’s in Syria, right? That’s outside the holy land, and now they’ve got people from all races involved in that thing, and they’re all praying, and you could see that the responsible brothers in the church just got together, and the Spirit talked to them and led them to do something that had no precedent: a church sending out people on a mission, especially to reach the Gentiles, to go all over the Gentile world. That’s incredible! But the Spirit had the freedom to do it. What if Goshen was at a prayer meeting, and you prayed, and then somebody said, “I feel that we need to go to Yuma, Arizona, and reach the American Indians there.” That would be kind of a bold move, wouldn’t it? And then two guys went out, and then they started a revival that changed the world. That’s about as “unlikely” as what was going on in Antioch. You know, what went out of Antioch changed our planet. The Spirit spoke, they followed, it changed our world. Amazing. So expect that having…You ask, “Well wait a minute. Where’s the precedent for this? Are we allowed to do this?” Maybe the first step is, well, what does the Bible say? Does the Bible prohibit it? What does the Bible say? Then you find out, well look, the Bible doesn’t prohibit it. It seems like the Spirit is capable of speaking so much more. Alright, that’s “what the Spirit says.”

[32:44] OK, look at the last one—“to the churches.” Now again, I’d like to invite you to leave for a moment the prevailing concept. When I said “to the churches” I mean like to Columbus and to Cleveland and to wherever the network of so-called local churches are, and just look at this in terms of Christians at large, because when the Spirit starts leading, that’s scary. Where’s this supposed to go? I’m scared you’re going to push the door open and I don’t know what’s going to happen—you’ll let the mule out, and the chickens will get loose, and the hogs will run around. Don’t open that door! So it’s scary.

[33:28] But if you look around, the general Christian world, a lot of Christians are being led in similar ways. For instance, there’s a desire…we started with a desire to revolutionize our Sunday morning meeting because it just wasn’t affecting our world. Our kids were squirming; they were trying to escape. It was like Stalag 17 sometimes, at least to them: “I don’t like to be here. As soon as I get to college I’m gone.” All this kind of stuff, they’re thinking it; they dare not say it, because they’ll disappoint Mom & Dad. They’re escaping, they’re in the lobby, they’re fighting, something’s getting torn up, there’s something going on in the parking lot, tires get stolen, or something like that. They want anything but to be in this room. So we said we need to revolutionize our Sunday morning. Well, guess what? We did not have to reinvent the wheel. Other Christians were reaching their world, so we got to learn from them. Remember, it’s not just what the Spirit says to you; it’s also what the Spirit’s saying to the churches. You can look around, say, “Hey, the Spirit’s speaking all over the place, in us, too.” What’s the Spirit speaking to them? That may confirm or strengthen what we’re trying to do: “Yeah, the Spirit’s speaking to us the same way.” Some of them have brought in instruments. You know this <electronic drum set> would not be here, this thing, this item right here, this cool thing. “This is not allowed!” Alright, how do we establish whether or not this is allowed? What does the Bible say about drums? Well, let’s see, I’ve got a handful of verses here, but none of them talk about drums. Just cymbals. OK, so we can have cymbals. So eventually you begin to look around, and you realize the Spirit has spoken to Christians about these things, and we can learn.

[35:39] So then we pick up a kind of learning Spirit. But even prior without this we had this not invented here syndrome. Ever heard of that? If it wasn’t invented here, we’re not interested, because that is not of the Lord’s Recovery, or whatever kind of language we would couch it in, but we started to look around and learn and found out that others had things that we could learn from. We became students. I feel like I’ve been more of a learning person in the last handful of years. Part of this is I’ve gotten freed up by asking, “What did the Bible really say? What’s the spirit of it in prohibiting things?” OK, then the Spirit starts to speak, “Well John, if I didn’t write it down, if I didn’t prohibit it reasonably, or I didn’t infer that there’s something wrong with it, then why could you not listen to My speaking? What is preventing you?” “Well, Lord I’ve got two hundred concepts.” He says, “Well, that’s your problem, son. Sit down and have a brain dump. Figure this thing out.”

[36:50] This brings up another item, and this is something that I’ve heard on a handful of occasions. Some of the saints in churches wonder, “Why not just go join other groups? What are we doing? Why not just join another group?” You know what that kind of sounds like when I hear that kind of thing? Well, one thing, I think Vern mentioned this. I’ve been with Vern and Nigel for 20 years in various ministry endeavors and all of that—by the way, when do you get to retire? Is there any retirement in this thing? What would that sound like if I went to the two of them and said, “Look, based on the fact that we are not an elite group, sayonara, I’m done with both of you.” Do you think there’s something wrong with that, something slightly strange, that if I am not required by a legal commandment to be with you that I’ve been with for decades, that I’ve been built with, that I’ve become just about a family with—you know, some of us are like family. Even it we don’t see each other on a daily basis, we’ve been seeing each other on a regular basis for decades. And now all of a sudden I say, “Since the Bible doesn’t require of me to be with you and make me be with you, good-bye! I’m out of here. I’m going to join another outfit.” Let’s think about it. It’s sort of like the family unit. Here you are, you’re in this little family. You’re kind of struggling, and you’ve got one car, and there’s one bush out in front that somebody planted and it’s dying, and the house needs painting and all that. Meantime, down the street, somebody builds a ten bedroom home and puts in a swimming pool. Then you go to your Mom and Dad and say, “Based on the fact that they’re doing better than you, I’m out of here. I’ll be changing my name, too.” You know, you have to trust the sovereignty of God that put us together for a reason.

[39:10] Now, we’re pretty sure that reason is not to just stand somewhere and throw rocks at everybody else. We’re pretty sure, if you listened to what Vern said earlier. That is not what we’re doing. You see this? <music stand> This is a stand. That stand does nothing. It stands there. It holds some information for me. That’s it. But we’re not just standing. We’re standing and we’re doing. So when you look into what the Lord called us into, it was not just some kind of doctrinal proposition. He put us together, and under His sovereignty in a unit of people that have a contribution to make to the overall Body of Christ. Do you know, we can make a contribution. Let me tell you what that is. We talked about that a little bit. We can make a contribution.

[40:06] No, there’s not really a need for you to run down the street to join the Vineyard. Now they are beautiful believers. I love their music. I learn a lot from them, but I don’t have to join the Vineyard. And you know, if Vineyard leaders were here, they’d agree. They’d say, “Man, please, don’t. We’re big enough already.” In one place the even tell people, “You know, there’s a lot of people here. Why don’t some of you go to other places?” They did that at a recent service. I heard about it. I can’t see myself doing that. You know, I see the room flooded with people… “Stay here!” That’s my feeling, partly because we’re struggling to get through something right now, and the thing to do right now is not to go running off for greener pastures. Let’s see what this new era holds for us.

[40:53] You know, we have the potential to be a transformative agent in the Body of Christ. This is why, number one, I don’t know of any other groups of people that have the same regard for the book of Ephesians and all that and the eternal purpose of God, caring… “What does God want, what does God want?” like we do. In fact, we’re almost a little bit obsessed: “What does God want?!” Maybe we’re almost a little overboard with it, because you can get to the place where somebody says, “Well, you know, I’m going bankrupt, and I have marital problems.” And the guy says, “That doesn’t matter! God’s eternal purpose…!” No, we don’t need to be that. We don’t need to be that intense, but the fact that we have that ethic, we have that concern, that is not a common feature in Christian groups. The feature there—and perhaps we should be tempered a little with this—is that, “What do you need? And what do you need? And what do you need? We’ll try to meet all of your needs.” And the question of what does God want doesn’t even enter into the conversation. In fact, a study of the book of Ephesians wouldn’t make sense to some Christian groups. So I would say that we have something kind of, I almost hate to use the word unique, but I would say we have a contribution that we can make.

[42:34] OK, here’s another one, and this got brought up just in the last session: We have developed an attitude that it is wrong to simply go to church, and that it ought to invade and be a pervasive reality in every area of our life. That is, I’ve got a life with you. I don’t just go to church with you. And my companionship…well, companionship is not shaking hands at the door, and Nigel says, “Good message.” <See you next week> “OK, great. See ya, and your tithe next week too.” So we stress the matter of the church, the Body of Christ, with its attendant living on a daily basis. Now many, many places stress the church almost like it’s a nice place to hang out for Christians on a particular day of the week, or something like that. Now, some do better. Please don’t take this as meaning we have this and nobody else does it. But we seem to have a lot of this. We may not be doing good at it, but we tell each other this a lot, and we teach it, and we strive for it. So the idea of the community of the faith is somewhat with us, and this is a contribution that we can make to the overall Christian populace.

[44:03] Now here’s another one: The idea of an inner life, an internal condition. You know how much we talk about that? And we really respect that, too. When we say, “Turn to your spirit,” now hopefully, we don’t just mean “O Lord Jesus” and fist pumping, but whatever it is that causes your interior condition to be healthy; whatever it takes, do it! Just that emphasis is really, really important, and we say it, and teach it a lot, we try to practice it. We do whatever we can. Again, it’s uncommon to ask maybe five people in Christian groups you ask, “How’s your conscience doing these days? Have you had a good flushing out lately? Oh man, I had a good flushing out. I feel like I’m walking in the light.” Some of that language is unknown, even though it’s soundly Scriptural. “Man, I had a good confession session with Christ the other day. I am just walking in the light. I feel like I have been cleansed and forgiven. My inward condition is really good.” I’ve tried sharing this and saying this in front of some Christian audiences and with some individuals, and they just looked at me like… “Well, I’m going on a ski trip, a ski mission trip somewhere.” This is how they counter it: “Well, I’m down at the mission.” This is how they counter it. Again, we don’t have it all, but we have a contribution.

[45:47] And here’s one more: The very idea of oneness. Not oneness legally dictated—like, if you want to be one, you’ve got to come here; you’ve got to be meeting with Mark Jordan to be one; in the flow. We had all kinds of ways of almost abusive ways of describing it like that. “Oh, he’s not in the flow.” “That guy’s in the flow.” Usually what that means is that they are following all the directions from ministry headquarters somewhere. “Now we’re in the flow!” No, we don’t mean that, not oneness that way. We mean the oneness, that salient reality described in Ephesians chapter four, that’s based around the Christian faith. That’s what we mean. Just that idea of freely receiving based on the faith and rejecting things that disturb that kind of oneness, that’s a contribution we could make.

[46:51] So before we start thinking, “Ah, it’s probably better just to break up and go meet other places.” Wait a minute. Hold on a minute. It’s like we’ve got these two extremes. Either we are the elite. We’re the it. Or we’re nothing. You got it all wrong if you’re thinking that way. God has a plan for us, because under His sovereignty we have absorbed many, many healthy things. Now, yes, there are some things we’re talking about jettisoning right now. We don’t need that. But the things that I just brought up, for instance, should we major in these things? My goodness, what a strength, what a contribution to the overall situation in whatever city that we live in, providing an example of this, being an example of this.

[47:47] That’s what I’d like to send us all home with today, just this thought. Remember, first thing, “it is written,” second, “what the Spirit says,” third, “to the churches,” and that is, we can learn from others, and we can give things to them as well.