Belief Vs. Being

2009/09/26 at 9:51 上午 發表留言

Article taken from Fatherly Talk.

Note: highly recommend every Christian minister (fivefold), lay leader, and people involved in any positions of service to read. "Love" and "humility" are the essence and the highest degree of all true beauty and power in the sight of God and Heaven, for God’s central attribute is Love (1 John 4:7-8). To love is divine. Where love is found, there divinity is found, for there God is found (1 John 4:16).

Dearly Beloved,

We live in an era in which what people believe and what they are may not be the same. People have their convictions but if their convictions are not back up by their life than such convictions are nothing but mental gymnastics. No doubt what we believe is part of the process of becoming what we are. Sadly in this modern world where knowledge is abundant but wisdom is lacking, many people are in pursuit of acquiring knowledge rather than in pursuing a lifestyle of holiness and love. As Paul declares knowledge puffs up but love edifies (1 Corinthians 8:1).

Many Christians have watered down the full understanding of what it means to believe which James correctly points out. Even demons believe and tremble (James 2:19). The key is believe with a change in character and nature – faith with works (James 2:26). The works that James speaks about is not an outward form of works for that would be contradictory to not earning our place in God through our own works (Ephesians 2:8-10). There are two types of works, one which is done before there is a change of nature and character and one that is done from the change of nature and character. One is the works of the flesh seeking to earn merit which is wrong whilst the other is actually a fruit of a life and nature. For example, a good tree produces good fruit and a bad tree produces bad fruit (Matthew 7:17-20). It is the natural result of the nature of a tree. Thus the Pharisees, who were by nature serpents and dead spiritually, can never produce good fruit for their natures were evil and covetous (Matthew 23:33; Luke 16:14). Yet the Pharisees had a set of belief system which they teach and adhere to.

We are warned of the leaven of the Pharisees by Jesus (Matthew 16:6). Entrance into heaven is not based on just what we believe but rather by who we are! People go to heaven not because of their good works or their beliefs, they go to heaven because their natures and character are in line with the nature of heaven and they belong there. For this reason a person has to be born again. And the various stages of God’s heavens and glory are the dwelling places for those whose natures belong to those realms. Progress in heaven and in spirituality is not based on what one knows but what one is. It is based on love and character and not mere knowledge. Thus on earth we should not just seek to have knowledge, although correct knowledge is part of that transformation process. The best and most accurate knowledge is that which has been proven in a life and not just mere concepts and theories. Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). It was not just Jesus’ words that moved us, it is His life!

Jesus did not have a problem with the belief system of the Pharisees for they originate in the law of Moses but Jesus had a problem with them being leaders and guides to others (Matthew 5:20). They might have some concept of the truth but truth is not just a concept. Truth involves concepts, methods, lifestyles, implementations, etc. A concept that has not been tested and proven is full of raw sharp edges which will hurt and injure as many people as it helps. It takes a lifestyle to deliver a truth and methods are born out of experience and not mere theories. And usually, when one implements a concept, one finds many areas of adjustments to be made to the original theory. For example, before my wife and I had children, we read every child training book we could and digested concepts and theories from many diverse authors. When we had our own children, we found that much of the theories were not workable because of the differences in context plus some of them had a lack of Scriptural basis for their theories. In the Baptist seminary, I found it unhelpful to hear lecturers teach about church planting who had never planted churches, teach evangelism who had never evangelized, etc. In the end, through studying the Scriptures and testing them out in our thirty years of ministry experience, we have come out with more practical concepts and understanding of some of these areas. When they are taught, they are not taught from a position of a Scriptural theory that has been untested but from experience.

Just because one reads a book or heard someone else preach about it and one comprehends it intellectually does not mean that one has got it. The last person who should teach on a subject is one who has heard it from someone and not tested it themselves! Would you allow yourself to be operated by a surgeon who has not had actual experience? Would you allow yourself to be treated by a doctor who has never had practical experience and training? Would you allow an architect or an engineer who has no experience to build your building project? Would you trust a lawyer who has no experience to defend you on an important life and death matter? If we don’t allow that in the temporal natural, why should we lower the standard when it comes to eternal things?

Many people who are inexperienced in ministry, no matter how young or old they are, have a habit of telling others what they think they know better. No doubt some of them could actually have far reaching ideas and callings but the first place to start is humility and not pride. They have no humility and that is where grace begins. On the other hand, you have those who are very experienced in life and have success in various areas of life but not in the area of ministry that they seek to be in. In these areas, again humility is required. It is sometimes even harder for the older with fixed habits and lifestyles to change than those who are young. Sometimes you have one who is experienced in those areas but their past methods and lifestyles no longer can serve the present generation and they will no longer succeed until they humble themselves and learn the new Spirit-way to reach the present generation.

What is the fastest way to progress in fivefold ministry? The first and foremost quality is humility. For without humility nothing else matters. The entire ministry is by ministry grace which comes as one is humble before God and before man (1 Peter 5:5-6). Without the grace of God there is no ministry. And grace comes only by humility before man and at the throne of God. If one has to choose between a very capable man or woman without humility and the grace of God and a half capable man or woman who is humble, choose the humble one. For in humility, they will grow and learn better than the one with pride. Money cannot buy ministry, intellect cannot buy ministry and all humans and organizations cannot make one a minister. Ministry comes from God and God alone but even if one is called into ministry, one will never be recognized until one is humble and serving.

It is important not only to teach what one should not be but also what one should be. Progression in ministry can be accelerated in the following ways:

1. All ministry is based on love. Unless one is established in love and the motivation is love, the foundation is wrong. We are not just concerned about ministry performance (although that is important as a measuring yardstick for organizational evaluation) but about the eternal reward and the quality of a ministry. The quality of a ministry is always measured by the level of the love of Christ that is flowing through the individual and the standard of Scriptural dependence used.

2. Humility is a key requirement. Without humility nothing else can be received. A person has reached their plateau and going downhill when pride fills their heart and mind. Part of the ministry training is mentoring; pride prevents a person from being mentored and trained by others.

3. Character comes through experience. There is no other way to gain character except through tribulation, perseverance than character (Romans 5:3). You can feel the power of the cross in the words and life of a person who has been through tribulation from one who has not. Every one of us has our cross to bear but many people run from their own cross and still seek to be a disciple and minister of Christ. There is always the cross before the resurrection power is demonstrated. Also it has to be the right type of experience. Some experiences make people more bitter, hurt, resentful and this hinders future ministry. Once in Malaysia, Ps Teoh and I tried to help a senior minister by giving him an opportunity to minister and pastor in a church with all the support that we could give both material and spiritual. Every time the minister stood up at the pulpit to speak hurt and bitterness would come out no matter what topic is covered. Sadly, we had to let this minister go as he could no longer be anointed by God unless he overcame his own internal hurts from his bad experiences. Another good minister I know whom we tried to help in Malaysia also was given the opportunity to preach. Every time he preached he always judged others and criticized from the pulpit. We had to stand him down after several chances were given because he had too much anger and unforgiveness towards others which was coming out through his preaching. In the end, he died prematurely and never saw his ministry took off. No one can help you if you do not want to grow in love. The only thing that should come forth from our lives at all times whether it be in an informal one to one fellowship or small gathering or at the pulpit is love, peace and joy and the pure Word of God. People should feel that they have been deeply loved by God after every word we speak. Yes, even when we do corrective teaching, it is always done in love and humility (1 Timothy 5:1; 2 Timothy 2:24-25). For any correction given that is not done in love and humility is done only out of pride and self-recognition or superiority; and it will destroy rather than build up the person being corrected.

It is important that we differentiate between what we know and what we are; what we think we know and what we truly know; who we are and not just what we think we are. Our character speaks louder than words. People will not receive our words if we do not have the character that backs up our words.

And heaven measures us not by what we know but who we are. Heaven measures us by our heart’s love for people and not our mind’s knowledge of things. The best place to always be anywhere in the world in any profession is to be humble. Seek to be the most humble person on earth and you will be the greatest person on earth in the sight of God.

Being is better than knowing for being includes knowing but knowing does not always include being. To be completes the knowing and knowing is only the first of many processes towards being. Our lives are an epistle which others read better than our words.

Be disciples. Be loving. Be humble.

In Christ Jesus

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