Living In His Dream

"So then, those who received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls....And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved." Acts 2:42,47....."Unless we have apostolic consecration, apostolic faith and apostolic power, we shall still fail to see apostolic results....We must not overlook...the greater need of apostolic spirituality, nor be dismayed if along the way we encounter apostolic trials." Watchman Nee

 

So often in my years in ministry, many, including myself, have pointed to the early, first century church, and how many souls were won to Christ through it's ministry. They were truly a people who "turned the world upside down." In doing that, the message was, "We can be that church as well. We can see great numbers of people coming to Christ too. We can turn the world upside down as well." So we exhort our people and one another to step out and do exploits, to turn the world upside down again. Yet too often, the result is weary, discouraged, frustrated, even cynical people. The world remains indifferent, and we become worn out. How can this be? What has changed? Certainly not God. Certainly not Christ. Certainly not the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit. What's the missing element? Dare we say that it's us, that we may be present, but hardly accounted for?

 

We want to see, long to see, the apostolic power of the body of Christ unleashed in this severely broken world and culture we are in. We come together, we pray, we plan, we strategize, yet a dying world remains unchanged, and too often, unaware of us. We seem to ask, "Where is the God of Elijah?" We miss what I saw as one answer to that question, "He's waiting for 'Elijah' to appear." We ask, "Where is the power and fruit of the apostolic church?" Could it be that He seeks an apostolic people through which He may move? 

Dwell upon what Nee writes; to have the fruit of what took place on Pentecost and the days, weeks, and even years afterwards, there must be a people who are fully consecrated, spirit-filled, God empowered vessels of His Life. We must walk in apostolic spirituality. Without this, all our planning, working, even praying, is in vain. Francis Chan once asked two penetrating questions. The first was, "Would we really want to be a part of the first century church?" Dwell on that....They were not a perfect people, but they were marked by one thing; they were His. Fully His. Their agenda's, plans, desires, resources, were all on His altar. They were not their own. Their time was not their own. Even what they "owned" was not their own. Do we really want to be that "sold out" to Him? Secondly he asked, "If we were to walk into a first century church gathering, what would we see? Everyone sitting down, facing forward, listening to one person speak, and then we all go home in our cars?" We have presentations more than we have worship. Onlookers far more than participants. They couldn't get enough of Him. We've had enough after an hour or so. The result is a world turned upside down, but not by us. It's being done by an already defeated enemy as a complacent church stands by. A church that looks for apostolic results without having to live apostolic lives.  As Nee writes, "To simply adopt apostolic methods is not enough." We can imitate their methods, hold multiple prayer meetings, commission workers, but we can never imitate the power of the lives they walked in. They possessed a desperation not only for the manifestation of God around them, but even more, within them. When we lack that, there are not enough "methods" in all the world to make up for the lack.

 

I don't write this as a scathing review of the church in the west. I write it as one longing to move in and be a part of the kind of church Nee describes. I'm weary of seeing what people can do. What I can do, which is nothing apart from Him. I hunger more each day for the apostolic power Nee writes of and the world witnessed in that first century. I can't accept anything less anymore. Where is the God of Elijah? He is moving, but is He moving in us? May He move, with all His power and life, in and through you and me. Apostolic consecration, faith and power. This is His dream for us. Is His dream being realized in you, me, your fellowship, and mine? Are we living in His dream?

Blessings,
Pastor O

 

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