It is time…

As the Kingdom of God advances the challenge for those who are ‘sons of God’ is to become God-followers in an age of men-pleasing religion. In fact the creation is waiting in eager anticipation for the emergence of genuine sons of God. We are living in an age when God is preparing to reveal to principalities and powers, to all creation, a people who live on this earth as His Sons. This calls for a radical change of priorities for all who are called by His name, which will be expressed in a radical lifestyle; no longer unwittingly following teachings that produce ambulatory centres of selfishness but a people who choose to be living sacrifices. Who reject the common self-promoting self-help teachings and pursue the Word of the cross.

If we desire to have God’s presence in our churches then it is indeed time for judgement to begin in the house of God.

Lesley and I went to South Dakota with Dale and Jessie for a holiday. The joke in the family was that I did not understand the idea of holiday. To do nothing but rest was a strange concept. To travel overseas without having a preaching itinerary was something I had never done. So, I determined that I would do just that, I would rest and avoid any preaching engagements; avoid analysing the political or economic environment; and try not to listen to the Spirit’s concern for the church for a few days.

We agreed to meet with Pastor Gary and Evelyn, from Dove Christian Centre, for breakfast on the Friday before leaving South Dakota and while we were talking Gary asked what the Spirit was saying to me. As we talked I became aware of the Spirit’s prompting and Gary asked if I sensed I should preach on the Sunday? Even though I had predetermined a negative response the Holy Spirit had other ideas and so I agreed to share what was to be a prophetic message, one that the church meeting at Dove were ready to hear, but also a word which is for the western church.

1 Peter 4:17-19 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And,

“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,

what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. NIV

Knowing that the Spirit was going to speak and the challenge was for God-followers to emerge from the churches of society, I was praying for a way to communicate the word when a Spirit-inspired illustration came to me.

The Titanic was built by men who declared that what they had made was the greatest ship ever. One person reportedly declared that not even God could sink it. The general story surrounding Titanic, whether true or myth, encompass an air of confidence that was to prove unjustifiable. The ship was unsinkable; there were not enough life boats to transport everyone aboard; the evacuation process was chaotic; and there seemed to be no sense of imminent danger resulting in a casualness leading to the death of many.

In some accounts of the disaster the band played on deck while the boat sank. Even while the ship was sinking many aboard felt that all was well and that this ‘unsinkable’ ship would survive.

In similar fashion the western church has been built by some of the finest men who are impressed which what they have achieved. Like the Laodicean Church they are saying; ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But today the Holy Spirit is saying to the church ‘you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.’ (Rev 3:17)

The worship teams are playing; the people are enjoying the experience of worship rather than the object of worship; preachers are proclaiming the blessings of the Kingdom without teaching that they are only obtained through “sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” (Phil 3:10)

In short, this Titanic western church is sinking while the band plays and the officers calm the doomed with soothing words. They are saying ‘peace, peace’ when there is no peace; they are declaring mercy to those who are suffering under God’s wrath.

Like a rescue vessel coming alongside the sinking Titanic, the Holy Spirit is saying to those who would be God-followers, come out from among them and be separate.

Because God has said…

Reading through Hebrews chapter 13 the writer compels us to ‘keep on loving each other’; ‘marriage should be honoured and the marriage bed kept pure’ and other such exhortations. In the middle of this is the reason we should and indeed can live righteously; “because God has said, never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”

The ability to live a life that contradicts society is that uncomplicated… because God has said. When we are able to grasp these words then we will come to know and live in the genuine power of the Holy God who transforms people’s lives. “Because God has said”, is more than a simplistic statement such as ‘what would Jesus do’ as though He were an absent ethicist, or ‘Jesus said it I believe it and that settles it’ as if we had chosen one opinion over another; rather it is precisely what God has said; ‘never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.’

What God has said is that He will always surround His own; He will always indwell His own, constantly, with His own presence. Because God has promised His abiding presence we can live as His child pursuing His will and purpose rather than our own.

As the Kingdom of God advances the challenge for those who are ‘sons of God’1 is to become God-followers in an age of men-pleasing religion. In fact the creation is waiting in eager anticipation for the emergence of genuine sons of God.2 We are living in an age when God is preparing to reveal to principalities and powers, to all creation, a people who live on this earth as His Sons. This calls for a radical change of priorities for all who are called by His name, which will be expressed in a radical lifestyle; no longer unwittingly following teachings that produce ambulatory centres of selfishness but a people who choose to be living sacrifices. Who reject the common self-promoting self-help teachings and pursue the Word of the cross.

Because God has said, never will I leave you; never will I forsake you…

God’s Word is God’s presence. This is what is so profound about the gospel, ‘The Word [of God] became flesh and made His dwelling among us’.3 God’s Word is not simply writings in a book but literally the person of Jesus Christ who abides in His people by the Holy Spirit.

To call Scripture ‘God’s Word’ is to reduce God’s presence to a rule book. People may declare Scripture to be inerrant however this often means our inerrant interpretation. Scripture has been used throughout history to justify all sorts of actions. It is used by men of honour and dishonour to promote all sorts of doctrines – even ‘doctrines of devils’.4

The purpose here is not to belittle Scripture but to challenge the use of Scripture in the absence of the never will I leave you presence of God. Jesus, when tempted by Satan, used Scripture to rebut the devil. It should then be noted that the devil also used Scripture to tempt Jesus.5 In this encounter Jesus spoke Scripture to define or explain His actions in God’s presence;6 Satan used Scripture as a means to justify Jesus should he decide to obey Satan.

The Bible is not a book to be used by people to justify the corruption of their evil desires7 – in the same manner that legal systems have become about words rather than justice – it is the inspired message of God speaking about Jesus Christ.8

In defence of sound doctrine

Titus 1:9 [An elder] must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. NIV

It is time for those who are in Christ to speak up in defence of sound doctrine. Titus was told that elders have a responsibility to hold firmly to the trustworthy message of the cross9 and to refute those who oppose this message by perverting the truth.

Titus 1:11 They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach NIV

An example, but by no means the only one available, is the stand of churches on divorce and remarriage. The fact is I could pick almost any sinful lifestyle and the same indefensible doctrines would be evident.

Under Australian law the Marriage Act 1961 defines marriage as ‘…the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.’ In the US and in Australia there has been a push to change the status of marriage so that it can include same-sex unions. Churches have strongly objected to such changes because ‘God has said’. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman, not of a man to man or woman to woman.

But what of the statement; “to the exclusion of all others, for life”? Scripture declares in Heb 13:4 “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (NIV) And Jesus said on the subject of divorce; “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matt 19:6 NIV)

In our churches this is not something that is given the same measure of importance as ‘the union of a man and a woman’. Today divorce due to “irreconcilable differences” and subsequent remarriage is not the experience of a select few but the norm. Divorce is not a shameful act but an acceptable procedure for people who call themselves Christian. Celebrity ministers’ today divorce spouses who are partners in ministry, they remarry within weeks or months and their ‘ministries’ do not even skip a beat. If a voice is raised against their ungodliness it is the prophet who is crucified rather than the purveyors of teachings that oppose the cross.

The ‘doctrine’ excusing divorce and remarriage (or other forms of sexual sin in the church) is called ‘grace’. We may demand that same-sex unions are wrong, bad and/or evil yet we do not discourage divorce and remarriage nor encourage a divorced man or woman to ‘remain single”10 as we are called to because ‘God has said’.

I am not writing this to condemn people who have been divorced but to highlight that it is no longer an exception, it has become the norm. Moreover, my point is not one of divorce rather it is an example of how we have ceased to refute those who oppose sound doctrine. Why are we at this point? It is because we have a book rather than the presence of the Holy God.

The teaching of grace, which excludes the presence of the Holy God but purports to be based on the Bible, calls Christians to stop being judgemental, because God is a loving God who calls us to just love on everyone, even/especially those who profess to be Christians but live according to worldly lusts. This is nothing short of a doctrine of devils that is ruining whole households.

What then is the genuine message of grace that we have received in Christ? Scripture makes that very clear to us:

Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, NIV

Now that is real Bible… not some fanciful, man-pleasing message that denies the power of God.

The grace of God does not teach us to accept a church that is filled with all kinds of vice and corruption, a bride that is impure, unholy and unrighteous; the gospel of grace teaches us to say NO to ungodliness and worldly passion. The man who preaches the message of the cross exhorts his hearers:

1 Cor 6:18-20 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. NIV

When Paul was confronted by lustful living in one of his churches he didn’t love on them according to today’s perverted message of grace, he rebuked them harshly – indeed he taught his elders that their job was to correct, rebuke and exhort – and when there was no repentance he declared;

1 Cor 5:12-13 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.” NIV

The Kingdom of God – which is the realm of the rule of Jesus Christ11 – is the habitation of the redeemed of the Lord, those saved by grace, a grace that empowers us to say no to lust. Those churches that are in the Kingdom of God (as opposed to those that are the churches of society) promote the righteousness that is by faith in God’s enabling grace to make us holy, spotless and blameless in His sight. We do not judge those outside the church for that is God’s business – as Paul says – churches that are of the cross will however judge those inside. They will judge sin and expel the wicked; especially those who purport to be teachers but are peddlers of doctrines that appeal to the flesh of men.

As such Scripture declares what such churches should be like:

Eph 5:3-4 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. NIV

What does all this mean?

God has said, never will I leave you, never will I forsake you

The point is not about whether it is ok to divorce and then remarry, or about accepting this or that person, it is that God is present amongst His people. The glory of God in the church of Jesus Christ is the evidence of His presence. His glory is not revealed in large numbers, gold dust, emotional encounters, teeth being filled, nor even miracles, it is evident when His nature is revealed through the church and that nature is Holy.

The church is to the praise of His glory when it is holy. The church is the church of Jesus Christ when she is holy. The gospel of the church is only the gospel of Jesus Christ when it is the message of the cross – a word that reveals the holiness of God. Sons of God are only really sons when they display His Holy nature. And all of this is only possible when God is indwelling His people.

The call of the Holy Spirit today is the challenge of Scripture:

2 Cor 13:5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test? NIV

The test of being in the faith is proved in the character of God. 2 Peter 1:3 says that we participate in His divine nature having escaped the corruption caused by evil desires. Those who live according to the sinful nature do not have the Spirit of God12 and therefore fail the test.

Jesus Christ lives in those who are the elect of God and the evidence of Jesus living in us is the desire for holiness. As the Spirit declares in 1 John 3:6 “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning”.

If we desire to have God’s presence in our churches then it is indeed time for judgement to begin in the house of God.

1 Peter 4:17-19 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And,

“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,

what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. NIV

If Scripture, as it is revealed by the Holy Spirit, is what God has said, then the absence of the presence of God is the present reality of the churches today. If God’s presence produces holiness and our churches are as unholy as the societies in which we live, then we have failed the test. Ichabod, the glory of the Lord has departed.

It is time for judgement to begin in the family of God. It is time for the sons of God to reject the super-apostles and follow those apostles who are given by Jesus as gifts of Himself to the church. It is time to judge ourselves by crying out, Holy Spirit, search my heart and see if there is any iniquity in me. It is time for the sons of God to be revealed.

  1. Rom 8:14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. NIV; Gal 3:26-27 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. NIV
  2. Rom 8:19
  3. John 1:1,14
  4. 1 Tim 4:1
  5. Matt 4:1-11
  6. John 8:29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” NIV
  7. 2Pt 1L4
  8. John 5:39
  9. what else would this ‘trustworthy message’ be? For it was the message that Paul preached – the only gospel preached by Paul and the only message that can be attributed to his epistles. If Paul spoke of faith it was the faith of the cross, if he spoke of giving it was the giving of the cross etc. 1Cor 1:22-25; 2:2; 15:1-4; Gal 3:1; 6:14; Phil 3:8-10
  10. 1 Cor 7:10-11 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. NIV
  11. 1 Cor 15:25; Phil 2:9-11; Rom 10:9
  12. Rom 8:1-13; 1Jn 2:15

2 thoughts on “It is time…

  1. Michael Fewson Post author

    The following comment came from Joseph Ngeti of Kenya.
    I Have been reading the last few messages including the last one “Is there lack of godly leaders?” from the Apostle Fewson but this one has confirmed something. “When I read through this message I see great illumination as to what the Spirit is saying to the Church. The Challenge is that we live in a fallen world, full of sin, people with hardened hearts and cannot spell heaven in their deeds. The problem is that the trend has taken the church by storm, the devil planted the weeds in our midst.(Ref Mathew 13)Among us believers in the world exist the devil’s weeds — not only the idolaters, atheists, and the extremely wicked, but the false Christians, hypocrites, and heretics as well. Outwardly the latter may exhibit a faith and piety. Inwardly, however, they lack true faith in Jesus and do not do His holy will. We must remain faithful to Jesus and his gospel so we ourselves do not slip into becoming one of the devil’s weeds. One thing I’m fully convinced is that there is no day we can bend Gods holy laws to accomandate our own sins. We can’t develop our own theology to justify our “messiology” if such a word exists.
    I’m from a country(Kenya) that is recovering from post-election violence and the strange thing is that most of Gospel Ministers took sides based on their tribal Cacoons. This made their trust to fade away. What is happening is that there is always a remnant to take over the mantle. As judgement begins in the house of God I feel we share the responsibilty of sleeping spiritually. “The weeds were planted when men were asleep”. There are many Celebrity preachers all-over who have a mammoth following but have no Character. I’m also convinced about a believer who can’t perish, looking unto Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith.(Heb 12:1). (Romans 12:1-2) This believer will not conform to this world, Now do you believe, that God commands you not to be conformed to the world? Do you believe it? And DARE YOU obey it, let people say what they will about you? Dare you now separate yourselves from the world, and never again be controlled by its maxims, and never again copy its practices, and never again be whiffled here and there by its fashions? I know a man that lives so, I can mention his name, he pays no attention to the customs of the world in this respect. And what is the result? Wherever that man goes, he leaves the impression behind that he is a Christian. O, if one church would do so, and would engage in it with all the energy that men of the world engage in their business, they would turn the world upside down. Will you do so? Will you break off from the world now, and enter into covenant with God, and declare that you will dare to be singular enough to be separate from the world, and from this time set your faces as a flint to obey God, let the world say what they will? Dare you do it? Will you do it?
    God Bless!

    Joseph Ngeti
    Nairobi, Kenya.

  2. Andrew

    After reading through this article tonight I started reading through Amos and this passage in Chapter 5:21-27 jumped out at me. “I hate, I despise your religious feasts, I cannot stand your assemblies ….”. What earth shattering words these are (or should be). How often is God spoken of as a God of Love only, yet here He is using words like hate and despise. Stop and think about these words for a moment and the terrifying intent behind them. God HATES their feasts He DESPISES their assemblies! When they get together it makes him sick. When these people were gathering they were supposedly gathering in the name of the Lord but it was for THEIR OWN benefit, and God hated it! Does this sound like any churches around today? Can we be honest enough to say that it sounds like our church today? That maybe it includes me?

    In 5:14 God says this “Seek good not evil, that you may live. then the Lord Almighty will be with you, JUST AS YOU SAY HE IS.”

    It takes a brave people to step back and look at their own lives and ministries. In fact I think that it takes a people who are truly called by His name and who are empowered by his Spirit to recognise themselves in this passage, however this is the time when God is calling His chosen ones out. Can we hear Him?

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