Persecution IN the Church

Discussion in 'Bible Study' started by SueJLove, Sep 26, 2014.

  1. Friday, September 26, 2014, 6:26 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “All Through the Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 12 (ESV).

    As He Wills

    Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

    Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but 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.

    I believe that within the church today, particularly here in America, there is much lack of knowledge and understanding, and considerable confusion and even misinformation concerning spiritual gifts and how they are to be used within the body of Christ. I believe, as well, that spiritual gifts are often confused with our natural talents and abilities, or even with church ministries. All people have natural talents and abilities, but only those who believe in Jesus, and who are empowered with the Spirit of God, have spiritual gifts. Sometimes our natural talents and abilities work in conjunction with our spiritual gifts, but they are not one and the same. Sometimes, as well, our spiritual gifts are used in the performance of our church ministries, but they are not necessarily one and the same, either. It is possible to fill church ministry roles and never use our spiritual gifts.

    A spiritual gift is something given to us by the Spirit of God, is exercised in the power of the Spirit within us, and is supernatural, not natural. For instance, someone who stammers when he speaks in the natural may speak clearly and distinctly in the power of the Spirit. Someone who lacks education or book smarts may have knowledge about things far beyond his or her own ability when empowered with the Spirit. A person who is not naturally courageous and bold may be very courageous and bold when operating in the Spirit of God. One who does not have a natural gift of oratory may be empowered of the Spirit to speak the Word of God with great fluency and purpose, which will touch people’s hearts right where they are, even though the individual may have no specific knowledge of what those people are going through at the time. This is how the Spirit works in gifting us.

    Yet, spiritual gifts are often a scary thing for church leaders because they can be hard to discern or to manage, and so often they will either be abused or misused, or they will be discarded and avoided in order to maintain control and order within the church. I think such gifts as mercy, helps, giving, service, administration, faith and hospitality are pretty well accepted within the church. Yet, exhortation, prophecy, healing, miracles, knowledge, wisdom and tongues can be very controversial and thus avoided at all costs.

    Fear and Ignorance

    I believe a lot of this fear of the gifts comes from ignorance, misinformation, tradition, culture and misunderstandings of how the gifts are given, and how they are to be used. As well, because so much of the church today is run by humans who are following other humans, and their goal, for the most part, is to be acceptable and attractive to the world, these more controversial gifts are often tossed aside in the favor of being more pleasing and acceptable to the general public. So, those believers who have been gifted with the more controversial gifts are also tossed aside and avoided at all costs.

    Many church leaders, in fact, are being taught to watch out for those with certain gifts, which they often mistakenly judge to be just the believers’ personalities or natural bent, and they are taught to discourage these people from getting involved in their churches. They will even go so far as to tell you that you don’t fit with their church, but they will be glad to help you find somewhere that you will fit. But, we don’t fit with today’s modern church.

    The bottom line, I believe, is that today’s modern church is being run like big business with humanistic philosophy, worldly values and marketing schemes overriding the Word of Truth in many cases. So, humans are controlling and directing the course of the church, and are marketing it just like any other business, and thus, in reality, the Holy Spirit is being pushed out and is not even being allowed to work in their midst for fear that he might scare people away, might offend prospects, and may come across too judgmental or harsh.

    And, so the Holy Spirit is being quenched and grieved within many of our churches today. And, it is because many church leaders and church people today have forgotten that Jesus Christ is the head of the church and that the Holy Spirit is the one who gives gifts and assigns body parts (roles) as HE WILLS, not as humans will. We need to stop following after humans, and we need to begin again to follow God!

    Unity in The Body

    For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

    For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

    The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

    Perhaps most of you are aware that throughout the world the church, the Body of Christ, is being severely persecuted, and is even being put to death because of their faith in Jesus, and because of their testimonies for Christ and for the gospel of our salvation. We don’t see much of that here in America yet, but it is coming. Yet, this does not mean that Christians are not being persecuted here. They are. What we may not realize, though, is that a good amount of that persecution is coming from within the church – Christian against Christian – instead of it coming from without the church – the non-believer against the believer.

    From my own personal experience I can tell you that there is much persecution going on within the church against those believers who hold to the truths of scripture, who live what they say they believe, and who preach the true gospel of our salvation as taught by Jesus Christ and the apostles, the pillars of our faith, and who also do not conform to the standards and values of this world. As well, as mentioned above, those who have been given the more controversial gifts and who have been assigned particular roles (parts) within the Body of Christ by the Spirit of God – parts which are not valued and accepted within the modern day church movement – are being persecuted, mocked, discarded, ostracized, ignored and are being falsely accused and marked as crazy, or as trouble makers, disunifiers, bigoted, hateful, judgmental, critical and not loving and kind.

    So, we must look to the scriptures to see what the role of the Holy Spirit is to fill within the life of a believer, and within the life of the church. We must learn about spiritual gifts, how they are to be used within the body, and about how the Spirit works in assigning specific people to particular roles (parts) within the Body. We must also look to the Bible to see examples of those who had particular gifts and/or assignments from the Lord, and how they used their gifts to strengthen and encourage the body. And, we must stop rejecting and casting aside the Lord’s true servants just because they don’t fit in with our modern church marketing schemes for how to draw in large crowds of people within our meetings.

    God designed us to all work together, but NOT according to the schemes, goals and plans of humans, but according to the word of God and the working of the Holy Spirit in our midst. If we are rejecting those within the Body who don’t fit our particular “target audience,” then we are the ones controlling the church, and Christ is no longer the head. We cease to be the church, the Body of Christ, and we become another business of humans, just like any other business. Yet, just because Christians are part of the “business” does not make the “business” the church, any more than a restaurant is a church just because Christians are meeting there. This is important that we get this.

    One Body, Many Parts

    We don’t all have the same function within the body or serve in the same roles as each other. And, the roles we serve in are not to be defined by humans but by the Spirit of God. He is the one who determines our gifts and our roles within the body. Yet, when humans still try to take control, they quench and grieve the Spirit, they deny the working of the Spirit in their midst, and they say to parts of the body, “We don’t need you! Go somewhere else!” I know. I have been told that plenty. And, so I have no body with which to meet face-to-face.

    Yet, “God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” The body of Christ is not confined to one specific location or group, but is universal, stretching across the entire world. Just because a local fellowship of believers casts us aside and says, “We don’t need you,” does not mean that God is finished with us or that there is no place for us within the body of Christ. He gives greater honor to the parts which are lacking in honor, so that the body is not divided.

    In other words, he has a place for us, even if it is via the internet, or even if we have to go to another country where we will be valued and accepted for who God made us to be. Even though most of today’s modern church in our area has cast me aside and told me to go someplace else, it has not kept God from using me to encourage and strengthen the body of Christ. He assigned me the task of writing out what he teaches me each day through his word, and to post it on the internet, so that “a runner can run with it” (see Hab. 2). And, so this is my part of the body, and this is how I use the spiritual gifts which I have been given. So, if you have been cast aside, do not be discouraged. God has a place for you somewhere. Just pray and ask him to open doors for you and if you are listening to Him, he will.

    All Through the Night / An Original Work / December 7, 2013
    Based off Various Scriptures

    Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
    Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
    Blessed are you when people insult you,
    And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
    Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
    Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.

    When you are persecuted in one place,
    Flee to another. God will be there.
    You will be hated by all the nations
    Because you testify of God’s grace.
    Many will seize you and persecute you,
    And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.

    Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
    For I’m with you all through the night.
    I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
    And forgive as I forgave you.
    Pray for those who do evil against you.
    Rest in my love and grace from above.
  2. You know, Sue, All I can say is "YES!!!"

    As you know - your post ran through many hot button topics within the church..... As usual, there will probably be the naysayers who come along to throw rocks at you about this or that......

    The critical point, though.....
    We are here to do God's will. Jesus died so WE could do God's will without having to pay the price for issues that sometimes surface when following God's will.....

    It's unfortunate that as a CHURCH - we have gotten so happy with brewing Scandal and setting traps WITHIN the church.... We are all too happy to scandalize somebody who doesn't think the way we do or act the way we do... All too happy to throw rocks through somebody else's stained glass windows..... There are CONSEQUENCES for this - and we are seeing those consequences coming to bear against the Church....

    SueJLove likes this.
  3. Thank you John for sharing those thoughts. You are right. And, yes, many hot button issues but not trying to pick a fight, so hope no one tries to start one. Just sharing the word of truth and sharing from some of my own experiences, and from my heart, as well.

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