Tree of Life Blog

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Healing Truths 04: Healing Means Healing

What Is Redemption? Christian Meaning from the Bible

One of the most foolish lies that the church tells to negate the truth of healing is that somehow healing in the Bible is a spiritual thing rather than meaning physical healing. People read Scriptures like 1 Peter 2.24 which says “By His stripes you were healed” and then they say “Well, healing here means a spiritual thing, it’s allegorical and metaphorical, it means you are better in your emotions, a better person, it means you are going to heaven”. That is simply not true. It just does not bear witness with Scripture.

Sin and sickness are both tied together. They both entered the world when Adam and Eve sinned, and the good news is that the redemption of Jesus Christ set us free from both sin and sickness! Salvation from sin, and healing from sickness are both parts of the redemption of Jesus Christ. Both are included! We do not have to choose. Someone once yelled at me after preaching “The new birth is more important than getting your body healed!” I said “If I had to choose, I agree, but I don’t, we get it all”.

Complete salvation is a born again spirit, a renewed mind and a healed body. It would be incomplete for your spirit to be totally transformed and your body to be sick still, just like getting your body healed but staying spiritually dead is incomplete. I know which is better long-term, but you can have both. The work of Jesus provided both salvation for the spirit and healing for the body.

God wants your spirit to be regenerated and He wants your body to be healed. That is a complete redemption. Every Christian should be healthy in their body, that is God’s will for them. It’s a double provision, so have both parts of it.

The problem is the church has realized Jesus is their substitute for sin, becoming sin so they can be righteous, but they have not realized that in an identical manner, He is our substitute for sickness, becoming sick so we can be healed.

When you preach the gospel to the lost, you should preach both bits. You should tell the lost to receive Jesus as Saviour and as Healer. He is both. He can heal you from all the sicknesses and deliver you from all sin at the some moment, and you can get both benefits of salvation. I like meetings where people get saved and healed in the same moment! But let’s not call the salvation a healing, it’s not. They are different.

Jesus told a man sick with palsy – this meant he could not walk or move his legs or arms – He said “Cheer up, son, you are forgiven”. That’s good news, Jesus revealed Himself as Saviour. But the man did not then say “Praise God, I am forgiven, that is the true healing” and was then carried out. Because Jesus also said “Pick up your mat and walk” – that was the healing. That man was saved and healed on the same day! He got both, and you can have both.

Jesus actually said “Which is easier to say to the sick of the palsy, your sins are forgiven or to say arise, take up your bed and walk”. This man was told the truth – your sins are forgiven, he believed it and he received it. He was then told the truth – you can get up and walk – you are healed, he believed that and he received that too. If we only preach half a gospel, we only get half the results. If we preach that healing is salvation, we get one benefit – forgiveness. But we can preach salvation for the spirit and healing for the body and get both! That’s wiser. That’s the way Jesus did it and that is the way to do it.

Always tell people – you can be saved and healed by Jesus! As many as touched Him were made whole (Mark 6.56). That means healing in the body, not some sort of spooky restoration and having a slighty better day while still sick! Jesus wants you well.

Christians do not need to be sick. Stop tolerating sickness in your body and start being healed. Jesus bore your sicknesses as much as He bore your sin. He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses (Matthew 8.17). That is the truth, and that is the reality of it, and sicknesses means sicknesses, not some spiritual spooky voodoo! Jesus healed physically back then and He still heals physically today.

If Jesus carried your sicknesses, then we do not need to carry them. We do not need to be sick. He bore them so we do not need to bear them. If you are bearing them then it was useless for Jesus to bear them. Do not make the work of the cross useless, believe and receive that healing means healing.

The Scripture is so clear. Jesus bore your sicknesses. He carried them away and set you free from them. So you do not need to bear them.

I have heard it taught that Christians were redeemed from their sins but have to keep suffering their sicknesses, that God may want them healed or may want them sick. I have been taught God has definitely healed others, but maybe they were blessed, holy, had a higher purpose. It was a special mercy God rarely bestowed. None of that is Biblical. None of that makes sense. The problem is if you accept that you can never have simple faith in the Biblical truth that Jesus bore your sicknesses. Not just some people, everyone’s sicknesses – including yours – have been borne by Jesus at the cross.

Disease is evil. It destroys bodies, and Jesus bought that body with a price. It is not reasonable after Jesus bore all the sicknesses across the world to expect God to still want people to bear them. To quote F F Bosworth, to believe that is “utterly unlike God’s Word”. F F Bosworth also said:

When I ask people if they think it is God’s will to heal them, and they reply that they do not know whether it is or not, I then ask them if it is God’s will to keep His promise.

This is what we all must understand. Sickness is part of what Jesus redeems us from. Healing is not a synonym for having your sins forgiven, healing is Jesus Christ eradicating all sickness from your body. He has done it all at the cross, and all you need to do is believe it and receive it.

The real reason more people are not healed is a lack of teaching on this. It’s that simple. If no one ever preached Jesus bore our sins, then no one would ever be saved. And because so many people have never healed the truth of healing, that Jesus bore our sicknesses, there’s not that many people being healed. But that’s not us – we preach the truth of healing. Healing is simple, all you have to do is realize Jesus bore your sicknesses and carried your diseases.

If I got up in church one Sunday, aware there were lost people in the room and I preached “I am not sure if God wants to save you or not, He might do, but probably not. It is possible you are sinning for God’s glory to advance His kingdom, and maybe God is using your sin to discipline you and train you, stay in your sin until you realize God’s plan to save you maybe one day. The day of people getting saved is over now, as the Bible has been complete”. If I said such nonsense no one in the room would get saved. But that is the nonsense about healing preached from so many pulpits! No wonder some places never see a healing. It is easy to grasp why some are not healed today.

And salvation is not healing, healing is not salvation. But you can be saved and healed. Today! Right now. Because Jesus bore your sins and He bore your sicknesses.

Healing Truths 03: Why So Many Sick Christians

Early Christian Responses to Epidemics Completely Unlike 1980s Response |  Canyonwalker Connections -- LGBTQ Advocacy

The simple reason is this. There are many sick Christians today because they just do not have faith that Jesus wants them well. Faith comes by hearing the Word and many Christians do not hear day after day that Jesus wants them well. They have had discussions about their pain, they have monologued about their sickness, they have talked about their pain, their aches, their sicknesses. Speaking about sickness does not cause faith to come. Faith comes when we hear the Word. When we hear the truth. When we hear the truth, the truth brings freedom.

If we as Christians want to see people free from the bondage of sickness and disease we have to tell people the truth. God wants you well. Jesus wants you well. The will of Jesus Christ for every person, including you, is for you to be healed. That is the Word of God and that is the truth. Some Christians have never heard that, others have heard it and dismissed it and retreated into their religious traditions and foolish ideas about God that do not match with the Word.

Too many Christians sympathise with the sick. They empathize with their pains and their sob stories of sickness and disease. The sympathy becomes an implied insinuation that God’s will is for them to endure that sickness, to learn patience from it, to be drawn closer to the Lord through their suffering sickness and disease. That is not the Biblical approach. That is not the way Jesus does things. And because the church is ignoring the way Jesus dealt with sickness and supposing themselves to be kinder and smarter than Jesus doing it their own way, that is why so many Christians are still sick!

We need to right now declare absolute war on every form of sickness. Take your God-given authority over every disease in the name of Jesus. And we need to go and heal the sick and set those captive by sickness free!

The truth is clear and obvious. Healing is for all, Jesus wants you well. You never need to spend a second in doubt of God’s willingness to heal you. Does anyone who knows the Word ever doubt the will of Jesus is to save the most rotten and selfish human? Then how can anyone ever doubt the will of Jesus is to heal the most broken and diseased human?

How do we know salvation is for all? Because the Lord is the Lord who saves us. God loved us so much He gave us Jesus so whoever believes in Jesus can be saved (John 3.16, Romans 10.9-10). That is the truth and when it is preached, people believe and are saved.

How do we know healing is for all? Because the Lord is the Lord who heals us (Exodus 15.26). Tomorrow morning, that verse will still be in the Bible. He will still be the Lord our healer. He will never change, and there is no maybe about it. He heals all who believe.

Jesus said “According to your faith let it be done to you” (Matthew 9.29) so have some faith. Ask in faith, nothing wavering (James 1.6). That’s the truth of the matter – we need to ask in faith, we need to start believing that healing is ours and declaring it and acting on it. That is where the answer to this question lies. The will of God has not changed since Bible days, but a lot of tradition has caused a lot of people to doubt it!

Healing Truths 02: Jesus Wants Everyone Well

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The reason I can confidently say Jesus wants you well is I can read the Bible and it clearly teaches Jesus wants everyone well. One of the biggest lies in the modern church is the idea that healing was for the past, for the good old days, but not for today. Another lie in the modern church is that God wants some people healed but not others. Both of these lies build the same barrier in people’s hearts for healing – the uncertainty that God wants to heal everyone. Because if you do not realize the clear Biblical truth that God wants everyone well, you will always be unconvinced Jesus wants you well!

Nearly every Christian knows Jesus heals some people, but there is a lot of nonsense in the modern church that keeps people away from the clear truth of the Word – Jesus wants everyone well, and has provided healing for all.

It is really hard – if not impossible – to get your hopes up and have faith for anything that we do not know Jesus wants for us. To quote Kenneth Hagin, “we cannot have faith for anything unless we know the will of God in that area”. To make that quote specific to healing – we cannot have faith for healing unless we know God’s will is healing. When we know the will of God is healing for everyone, when it sinks in that healing is for us, it is easy to receive healing by faith! Easy! You have to realize healing is for all! You have to realize Jesus wants everyone well, and that He wants you well!

How can we know God’s will about anything? Well, if I had a will, and I died and you wanted to know what was in my will, there would only be one possible way to find out what was in my will, to find out what my will was. Only one way. To read the will!

If you want to know God’s will on any area, there is only one way – not circumstances, not conjecture, not what aunty thinks – you have to read His will.

Imagine a lady came to me after her husband died and said “Ben, my husband was very rich, I don’t know if he left me anything in his will, would you pray that I could somehow know what his will contained”. I would say “I am not going to pray for you, read the will. When you read the will you will find out”

People come to me in the New Covenant, after Jesus died, and say “Ben, Jesus is very powerful, I know He can heal me. I don’t know if His will is to heal me or not. I don’t know what is in His will. Pray for me to know His will.” I tell them “I am not going to pray for you, read the will. When you read the will you will find out”.

Another word for will is testament. Read the Testament! Read the New Testament, it is God’s last will and testament and shows you what His will is. Because the New Testament is God’s last will and testament, anything that comes after that contradicts the New Testament is a forgery. That preacher saying God doesn’t want you well, when Healing is in the will, is a forgery – that preacher is guilty of probate fraud!

If healing is in the will, then to say God’s will is not healing, is to try and change the will! You cannot change the will after the testator has died. Jesus died as the testator, left us everything in the New Testament, then He resurrected from the dead and is now not just the testator, He is the mediator of the will (Hebrews 9.15) and also our advocate (1 John 2.1-2) making sure we get everythign in the will! He is not some earthly advocate who might try and stitch us up and take some of our inheritance, He is going to make sure you get everything in the will. And healing is in the will.

Today, read the will of God. Read the four gospels and look at every time Jesus healed someone. Jesus is the expression of the will of the Father, and His life is a revelation of the love and will of God – Jesus was the living will of God, and He healed the sick and healed them all! When Jesus healed them all, He was revealing the will of God to every human.

There was a leper in Mark 1.40 who prayed for healing the way some people pray today “Lord, heal me, if it be your will”. That man did not know God’s will. He did not know what Jesus wanted. He had never read the will. The first thing Jesus did was deal with this uncertainty. Jesus said “I will”. Healing is not “if it be your will”, healing is God’s will. Healing is Jesus’ will. Jesus wants you well. He wants everyone well.

The leper said “If you want to, you can”. Jesus said “I want to”. The modern charismatic church says “If Jesus wants to heal, He will, Jesus if it be your will, heal this person”. And Jesus stands in the background, ignored, as He says over and over again “It is my will. I want you well. I want everyone well.” Jesus is not willing that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3.9) – that includes sickness and disease!

Read these words and realize this is the last will and testament of Jesus Christ:

Great multitudes followed him, and He healed them all (Matthew 12.15).

That is the living, moving, breathing will of God. Jesus Christ. He healed them all. And He has never changed. He is still the same yesterday, today and forever. Right now, His will is to heal you. His last will and testament for you includes your total healing. Jesus wants you well.

Healing Truths 01: Jesus Wants You Well

Jesus Our Healer
Jesus Wants You Well!

I am the Lord who heals you – Exodus 15.26

If you are sick in your body today, I am going to tell you the truth today: Jesus wants you well. Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Universe, passionately wants you to be healed.

You have to be aware and convinced that Jesus wants you well to be able to receive your healing from God. If you do not realize Jesus wants you well, there will be doubt in your mind that you can be healed. As long as that doubt lives in your house, you cannot receive your healing by faith. We need faith to receive from God, we need to ask God for our healing in faith, without wavering, otherwise we have no grounds to think we will receive from God (James 1.6-7).

But once you are convinced Jesus wants you well, that sickness is not and never has been or will be God’s will or plan for you, then you will inevitably receive your healing. It is that simple and that clear.

Knowing what Jesus wants when it comes to healing is the basis for believing for your healing! Often people will say to me: Ben, I just don’t have the faith to receive my healing. My response is normally “Do you believe that Jesus does what He wants to do?” or “Do you believe Jesus keeps His promises?”. They tell me “yes, I believe that”, then I tell them they do have faith for healing, because faith is this simple. I believe Jesus wants me well! That is faith for healing in one sentence: I believe Jesus wants me well.

My spiritual great-grandfather is F F Bosworth, and he said this:

Do not doubt God. If you must doubt something, doubt your doubts, because they are unreliable but never doubt God or His Word.

Satan lies, Jesus never lies. I can show you all over the Bible from the Old Testament, from the New Testament, from the Psalms, from the Law, from the gospels, from the epistles, that Jesus wants you well. Your healing is declared in God’s Word, and it is true to say Jesus wants you well!

God announced to the world in Exodus 15.26 “I am the Lord who heals you”. Do you know He spoke that to over three million people, and all three million believed it, and all three million were healed? Every sick person in that crowd was made totally whole. Psalm 105.37 tells us about those people that “there was not one feeble person among their tribes”. Can you imagine three million people and not one diabetic, not one with cancer, not one deaf, not one blind? Not one weak, feeble, sick, not one with aches and pains, not one with sleeping difficulties, not one with migraines? That’s what the Bible tells us happened, and I believe the Bible!

Now, if Jesus did that for the nation of Israel under law, under the Old Testament, then how much more will He heal you under the New Covenant, the better covenant? You have been redeemed not by the blood of a lamb, but by the blood of the Lamb, living under grace and mercy? Jesus wants you well. He wants all of us well!

I want this truth to settle into your heart: Jesus wants you well. It’s as true as one plus one is two. Healing is for you! Healing is for you, because Jesus wants you well.

The will of Jesus, the will of God, is that every single person is healed. All you have to do is believe and receive! There is no maybe about this, there is not an “if” or a “but”, Jesus wants you well. God has no favourites, He wants you well!

We live in a world where sickness and disease ravage so many lives, medical science has achieved more than ever before but it still has not stopped sickness taking lives, ruining hope, destroying freedom. Disease is still around all over the world.

The saddest bit of that in my mind and heart is that there are still Christians affected by sickness and disease. This should not be. It is happening, Christians are dying of sickness, losing their freedom by sickness, being destroyed by disease while preachers are pontificating about why God has made them sick, when God makes no-one sick. Jesus makes no-one sick. Jesus wants you well! Jesus wants you well right now!

Sickness is not God teaching you a lesson as some ignorant people say. Sickness is not God chastising you or punishing you! Sickness is not God’s way of drawing you to Him, it is certainly not a gift to you for being so spiritual! Sickness is evil, a liar, a destroyer, a thief! It is an instrument of satan to steal from you. And the good news is that Christians do not have to be sick, any more than a Christian has to sin. It is always the will of Jesus, the desire of Jesus that you are well. Jesus wants you well!

The reason disease is still in the church is people just do not believe the simple truth that Jesus wants them well. In the Old Testament, three million people believed Jesus wanted them well and were all healed. That should be the normal in every church in the world!

The reason there were no feeble among them was that they all believed the Lord was their healer. They believed what God said. He is the Lord our healer. And they all got healed. God said it, they believed it, and they were healed.

The reason there are so many feeble, sick, unwell, infirm Christians today is that we do not believe Jesus wants us well. We do not believe He is the Lord who heals us. We heard it, but we ignored it, we filtered it through ungodly traditions and charismatic legalism, until we thought God doesn’t heal, and sickness is a blessing! It’s the same lie satan conned Adam and Eve with – has God really said, and does God really mean what He says!

We have taken the I AM and turned Him into the I WAS! Three million people were healed at once in the Old Testament, you can be healed today under the New. Say it out loud “I believe Jesus wants me well. I believe He is the Lord who heals me”. Say it until it registers, until it moves you – and receive your healing!

A Good Work 03: Don’t Be A Lazy Elder

Description of the painting by Alexei Venetsianov “Sleeping Shepherd”Description  picture - Venetsianov Alexey

When Peter wrote to the church, he was thinking very much of the elders. He told them that he wrote the letter “to stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance” (2 Peter 3.1). We need to be elders with a good memory! We need to remember what is important. Often people forget what is important. What is important for an elder?

  • Winning people to Jesus
  • Discipling people
  • Training people
  • Honouring your pastor
  • Being kind and sweet with people
  • Understanding people
  • Leading people to Sunday services
  • Leading people to conferences
  • Calling people
  • Winning people to the culture and philosophy of the church

Notice this list does not include:

  • Reaching out to goats and listening to all their complaints about the church
  • Sowing doubts in people’s minds about the church
  • Ensuring people are entertained
  • Playing power games
  • Sorting out the problems with pastor’s theology or praxis
  • Trying to get into the green room to meet your favourite guest speaker

You need to be doing the things that are important, and not be lazy. You might have worked a ten hour shift and be tired and want to rest and watch your soap opera, but maybe you feel a tugging to phone someone in your Living Church and make sure that they are sorted. They need your help! Maybe you feel that you can just miss Heal the Nations this year because you want to go on holiday and are tired of conferences, but if you do that then you are setting an example to the people in your living church. Every conference I notice the elders who come to the conference are the people who bring the most people from them Living Churches. Our conferences are life changing with miracles, great teaching and remarkable worship and exceptional pastoring. You need to be at them, and you need to set an example. That is good eldering and it is hard work.

One of the biggest problems in the UK is lazy pastors and lazy elders. People who cannot knuckle down and do the monotonous, wearying, work of loving people, making disciples, helping people. People who stop the gossip, put the effort into maintaining their role and their Living Church, and serving and living to honour the pastor that made them an elder and worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ and His goodness and grace!

A Good Work 02: The Character of an Elder

What Your Invisible Leadership Badge Reveals About You ...

The Scripture is clear, pastors appoint elders, and do to it the other way around is just unbiblical! I have done a lot of training with pastors and showed them how to appoint elders, but I have not done – outside of our training new elders – training and teaching to everyone about what sort of qualifications a good pastor should be looking for in a potential elder. The truth is that what really matters is character. Far far far far far far far far far more than capability! God can develop capability as you go, but you cannot develop character as you go, you have to develop it before you are put in the position of elder.

So many people I meet want to be an elder to be in the spotlight, but actually you should want to be an elder to help others. I watched a Bible study recently, and one person wanted to dominate the room, they always wanted their voice heard, they were determined to be the most important person in the room. And they could speak, they were capable and confident, but I will never make that person an elder because they lack character. Good character encourages others to speak, helps serve others, lifts others rather than just self-promotes all the time. So, let’s look at what the Bible says about character and elders. Paul told Timothy as the pastor he had to appoint elders in Ephesus and he told him what sort of people to look for, and everything Paul said was to do with character not capability:

Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. (1 Tim. 3.1-7. NIV)

Now to be an overseer is the same thing as an elder. They are the same task. Notice the pastor is given the job of appointing the overseers and it is up to the pastor to determine the character of the elder. If a pastor is not sure, I will always tell them, then don’t appoint, leave it six months and see what happens. But let’s break down this list of character essentials for eldership:

  1. Above reproach. This means nothing sticks to you. I know some people if you told me they did x and y, I would laugh in your face. Those people have proved to me again and again they are just not like that. Those are the kind of people I want as elders. Some people you could tell me they did this and that, and my first thought would be, they probably did. Those are the kind of people I – and the whole church – does not want as elders.
  2. Faithful to his wife. It’s a sad truth some people use local church as an excuse to avoid working on their marriage, Your first church is your family and if your wife is not happy, I don’t want to put you in charge of a small group. That’s just honest talk. This includes sexual fidelity, but it is so much more! Your wife should be appreciated and honoured by you, and it should be obvious to everyone. People notice these things, and if your wife is always hassled and harried, and you are gliding around looking after all the other ladies in the church (and the men) – it’s not going to help anyone to give you an position of eldership!
  3. Temperate. This means not over the top in anything. In the way you look, act, respond – are you over the top, or are you able to move forward at a consistent and steady pace. Always appoint tortoises as elders, not hares!
  4. Self-Controlled. Some people need to be “controlled”, you need to constantly be reminding them to come to church, you need to remind them to not take too long when they take a 3 minute offering and take 10 minutes. You need to remind them not to dominate a discussion, you need to remind them to pray, to give, to spend time with their families. Those people are not yet ready for leadership, they have not learned to control themselves.
  5. Respectable. This means literally “able to put things in order”. Is the person doing well at work, is their house in order, are the basics in their life in order? Do they turn up at church on time? Are they able to submit to other elders when they are not an elder? Do they respect the order of the church service, or do they yell out in the middle of a service? Do they get upset at the lowest level of hurt? Do they tell you to your face if they have a problem, or do they call someone else in tears and gossip and slander you? Those people are not elder material. We have some people in Tree of Life who are running their secret little Bible studies, their secret WhatsApp groups, their secret meetings, teaching what they want, what some other church or para-church ministry wants, and that is totally out of order. I let those things continue because I am not in control of someone’s life and choices, but I will never appoint those people as elders as they absolutely do not understand order. They are not respectable.
  6. Hospitable. Can they open their house and make people feel welcome.
  7. Able to Teach. Some people will tell me this is not a character issue but capability. No, all the items in this are character. You see the truth is in terms of capability running a house group and leading a Bible study does not take too much capability, it does take character. This is not preaching on a Sunday, it is small group teaching, discipling – those are the teaching an elder should be doing. Will the elder teach the study they are given, or will they try and put their own spin on it? Will they say “well pastor said this, but actually that…” – people like that have zero character and should not be in your leadership team and should not be discipling others until they deal with their immaturity and character issues that mean they cannot teach!
  8. Not given to drunkenness. The more your leadership influence grows, the less you should be seen with a drink in your hand. Tree of Life Church is not a “dry” church, but you should know and maintain your limits!
  9. Not Violent. This word means someone who loves fighting, and loves a fight. The word is similar in root to “smite”. We have some people who just want a fight. They want someone to bring some legalism into their meeting so they can show off their theological strength and “smite” them with the Word. They are always arguing about doctrine all the time. I do not put those people in charge of others!
  10. Gentle. The Greek word is epieikes, one of the most beautiful words in any language. It is different to directly translate into English, it means to be appropriately peaceful, to be fair, to be kind, to use the right amount of strength. Some people I can talk directly to, some I have to hold back and say things a lot more softly. That art is gentleness and that is an issue of character that if you do not develop you will never be a successful leader of people.
  11. Not Quarrelsome. This is a bad translation in the NIV if you want my honest opinion. The Greek means someone who is aware they are not invincible. I heard someone translate it once as “unmacho” which is actually spot on! If you want to be considered a leader, you have to be aware you are not perfect, you are not invincible, you are not the paragon of life showing all the plebs the way forward. We are all human, and we lead from a shared sense that we all need to keep learning, growing and develop. It stops you lording it over others or being utterly unreasonable. A lack of this quality is what leads pastors to make people bow before them, have personal offers every Sunday for themselves, their wife and their cat. It is what leads pastors who have been removed from ministry for moral failure join the church down the road, tell everyone they used to be a pastor and have a lot of experience as a pastor, but omit to tell everyone why they are not a pastor anymore. It’s all about building a persona rather than building a person! Do not embrace that quality. Be the first to own your weaknesses and vulnerabilities. I am not saying let it all hang out with everyone, that’s not wise, but just a healthy awareness of your lack of invincibility is vital!
  12. Not a Lover of Money. Never ever see any ministry as a way to gain financially. If you do not tithe you are not fit for any church leadership. If you do not know how to give generously, you do not have the faith to believe that you can disciple and help people. It’s that simple. Be free from the love of money, do whatever it takes to get free!0
  13. Mange his own family. Again, no family is perfect, but I look to see if someone’s children honour them and love them. If not, why would I want to give that person more “children” to help. If a person cannot listen to their children talk about how tough their day at school was, how can they be a good listener to a young Christian talking about how tough their day at church or work was?
  14. Not a recent convert. It’s not about years, it’s about character. Has this person been through enough experiences as a Christian to help others. I think this means anyone who has recently changed their mind about something. Someone who has been a Christian forty years but just last month got baptized in the Holy Spirit or realized the complete work of the cross, is a recent convert. They have not processed their new views and ideas enough to be able to help others yet!
  15. Not vulnerable to conceit. This word is the Greek word for a vapour or cloud. It means to be puffed up and inflated with pride to the point where you cannot see any more! There is an old English translation of the Bible that translates this word as “beclouded” – surrounded with a cloud of stupid trust in your own brilliance. That kind of person thinks they should be an elder because they are so brilliant, but they will never listen to the pastor, they will argue with the pastor, they will cause strife. They will if allowed to continue start arguing with the pastor, correcting him in private to other people, trying to build their power-base within the church. They will be like the false mother in Solomon’s issue – they will cut the church up just to own a dead half of it and not care one iota about the people being hurt as long as they get a powerbase, and they will think they earned the powerbase because they are so awesome.
  16. Good reputation of outsiders. I don’t translate this good reputation WITH outsiders, but OF. I don’t really care what your last church or employer says about you – who are they and what do they know? But I do care what you say about them. If you constantly tell me your last church was terrible, that’s on you, that’s your perspective. You will leave us soon telling the next church how terrible we are. You need to be positive about every situation and community you are in. You need eyes of faith. If you are critical of every other group you have been in, you will criticise the Tree soon. Best if I don’t platform you doing that.

So that is a short overview on the character necessary to be an elder in a healthy Biblical church. It also says that if you desire to be an elder, you desire to disciple people, you desire to help people, you are desiring a noble task. So it’s good you want to be an elder, but to be an elder quit vying for position, quit trying to hog the spotlight and start developing your character. That is what will open the door to helping others and that is what will mean that when you do start eldering, you will be a blessing and not a curse!

A Good Work 01: What is an Elder?

The Ubuntu Stratagem

In terms of the world, an elder is someone older than you, wiser than you, and with access to knowledge and abilities that you do not have. In terms of a tribe or village, the elders will be those people whose experience and consistency give them a voice.

In church, you do not automatically become an elder because you have managed to survive a long time. The is a Biblical model for appointing elders, there is a Biblical character essential for elders, and there are Biblical tasks for elders to do.

The first thing that must be understood in a local church that desires to be healthy and based on the Bible is that elders are appointed by pastors, not the other way around. In a number of churches the elders hire and fire pastors, and then the church is committee led. The elders are then either appointed by elders or appointed by the vote of the congregation. which means the most carnal and useless and unfruitful people in the entire church are choosing who should feed them. That’s as dumb as asking a three year old to choose what to have for dinner every night or when to go to bed or bath!

We had a lady in one of her churches who was convinced she was an elder in the church because she had contacted a para-church ministry which sold her a certificate saying she was an elder. It only cost £800, and she thought she was an elder. She was not because you cannot buy an eldership, you can only be appointed by a pastor. If you are an “elder” but have not been appointed by a pastor you are no more an elder than you are a helicopter. Stop believing and acting in ways that are not in the Bible. You might have got 98% of your church voting you into being an elder, that does not make you one.

Other times people have thought being an elder is transferrable, they were an elder in their last church, so they think they can be in Tree of Life. No, it doesn’t work like that. We don’t do things the way the church down the road does things. That’s not fair on them or us to give us the right to appoint people elders and then they go to other churches as elders. That could easily be abused and misused! It’s not God’s plan.

You go a church you are not an elder unless the pastor says you are. If he is a wise, godly pastor who cares about the Bible, he will know what an elder should look like, how an elder should behave and what an elder should be doing. We will look at that in other posts in this series, but today we need to settle on the fact that pastors appoint elders, not the other way around. There is no other way to be an elder.

Acts 14.23 tells us that Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in the church. Notice elders were appointed – not selected, not elected, not voted in, not chosen by the throwing of lots, no one was asked their age. To be Biblical elders must be appointed. Now there is a difference here between elders and pastors! Some people think elders and pastors are the same, but that is not Biblical, although there is an overlap being their roles. A pastor, according to Ephesians 4.11, is appointed and chosen by Jesus Christ, not men. Men can recognize that appointment of Jesus, but men cannot appoint a pastor. Only Jesus can! But elders are appointed by men – specifically pastors.

Paul told Titus, a pastor, that his job was to set things in order and appoint elders (Titus 1.5). A good pastor will be known for setting things in order and appointing elders. Timothy took on the church at Ephesus where Paul had previously appointed elders when functioning as the pastor there, but Timothy was clearly told he could remove elders from their position and had the authority as the pastor to tell the elders what to teach. If an elder cannot teach what the pastor tells them to teach, they have zero business being an elder in that church.

Jesus chooses and appoints someone as a pastor then called them to a place to gather a flock and feed that flock. The verification of that calling is that people actually gather to them. A pastor needs people in his church who the church knows are godly people, with consistent character, with a track record of morality, with a desire and passion for discipling others. He needs people to share the task of discipling people and raising them up into maturity. Those people are the elders, and only the pastors can and should be appointing them.

That is the introduction to the role of the elder, in the next post we will look at a few of the character requirements.

Stop Being Weak 04: Don’t Be Overconfident

The Mindset That Leads People to Be Dangerously Overconfident

Some people are weak because they over assess their own abilities. They do not trust in the Lord so are not strong in the Lord, they are too busy trying to be strong in themselves. Do not trust yourself too much! Do not be over-confident in yourself! Certainly do not place any confidence in your flesh, or your own righteousness. Do not assume you are more spiritual than you are!

The Bible tells us clearly: let him that thinks he is standing firm be careful lest he falls (1 Cor. 10.12)

If you think you are so wise you are a fool. If you think you could never end up off course, you are a candidate for getting off course. If you think you do not need to work on your strength in the Lord, you are going to weak for a long, long time.

Peter was the obvious example of this. He brags about never betraying Jesus and betrays him big time. I know so many people who have told me “I will never leave Tree of Life” – they are over-confident in their faithfulness, their ability to commit, their ability to handle offense, their ability to walk in faith. And so often they are gone in a week or two – walking out upset and angry and never coming back!

You can always see over-confidence by the way someone is critical of others. I have heard Christians rip other people apart, and they talk in a way that says “I could never, ever make that mistake, I would never, ever do that”. They are over-estimating their own ability, and they look down on others. Do not be like that – have some humility – if you stay arrogant, stay over-confident, you will one day fall, and find yourself in their shoes. You will be surprised, but no one else will. You staying on the right course, you doing what you need to do, you staying strong is by the grace of God! Do not be strong in yourself, be strong in the Lord!

When David heard that King Saul died, he wasn’t triumphant, he wasn’t over the moon about it – he didn’t get up and tell everyone what Saul did wrong. He did not even criticize him once. He could have taken the chance to put Saul down and expose his rebellion and witchcraft. He could have discussed all those things. But David was not strong in himself, David was strong in the Lord and said:

“Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon” (2 Sam. 1.20)

David never had an issue with being stubborn, but he did not attack Saul or talk about him behind his back, he was strong in the Lord, and realized that was because of God’s goodness, and God’s grace. Let this be your example and your path. If you think you are standing so firm that you can cast aspersions on others, be careful, you might fall!

Stop Being Weak 03: Stay on Course!

Iranian boats were forced to change the way US ship - Home ...

Be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord – 1 Cor 15.58

Here Paul tells the Corinthians not to be weak, but to be steadfast. I love that word “steadfast”. I see so many Christians who are not steadfast, and Paul does not get involved in counselling or mollycoddling the Corinthians, he just tells them straight “BE STEADFAST”.

The word steadfast is a nautical word, it means to stay on the right course. Ships need to stay on course. The sea is kind of big, and there is not that much food and drink on the ship, and if you get off course, you could be in the middle of nowhere for years – you could die of starvation stuck and lost. Nowadays, we have radios and satellite phones on the ships, but in Bible days, you couldn’t get help from anyone. If you had 10 sheep on board for lamb chops, once they were gone they were gone! It is the same in life today, if we get off course, we can end up starving, lost, and lonely. We must be steadfast, but to be steadfast we must be strong. We must keep doing the things that keep us on course!

If you were joining a ship you would want to ensure that the captain was taking being steadfast seriously. If you were joining a church, you would want to ensure that the pastor was taking being steadfast seriously.

It is not just ships who need to be steadfast – you do too. It really does astound me what sets a Christian off course. They storm out of churches because of some petty thing that upsets them. More than once I have seen Christians leave a church because they disagreed with one point the preacher made. One point! And it was a church that helped them. I am very wary when people come to us from another church and you find out they left for the most petty of reasons. They are not steadfast people, and unless they get strong soon, they will be off course again very quickly! They need to get strong! People get offended over silly things and disconnect from their course. It is a tragedy, but we must obey Paul and BE STEADFAST.

Some people do not stay the course when they are corrected. A scorner hates being corrected and will hate you if you correct them (Proverbs 9.8). There are people who if you correct them you will make them hate you, and if you do not correct them they will leave the path of righteousness. What can you do? Steadfast people realize they have to make course corrections, and realize they are not always the wisest person in the room and listen to and even embrace and welcome correction. You need to be open to correction or you will never be strong and steadfast. A good pastor is someone who corrects you! If you get angry when you are corrected, when you are told “hey this behaviour is wrong” – then you are not steadfast.

Any Christian who cannot handle correction should never be put in a position of leadership. A man who can handle correction is wise. Jesus was not afraid to speak the truth. He told one crowd “your father is satan”. That’s correction! If you received that correction, you would grow. If you hated Jesus because of it you would not grow.

Once Jesus told Peter “get behind me satan”, and it corrected Peter, and he became a great minister and preacher. I have never called someone satan to their face, thought I have seen a number of people act like it, but if I thought someone could receive that level of correction, I would, because it would lead them to a higher level of life, success and ministry!

You should praise God for people in your life who love you enough to share wisdom with you and correct you. So many people are spiritual orphans, they have disassociated themselves from anyone who could ever correct them. They are so far off course they are in a place of complete unfruitfulness, and they get angry if you try and bring them back on course.

Another think that makes us go off course is being stubborn. Ecc. 4.13 says that a stubborn foolish king will no longer be admonished. I know many stubborn Christians who will never listen to advice. Never change their ways. They will hold onto their lifestyle no matter what anyone says to them. That is stubborn. We all need advice!

I have told people not to do a certain act or respond a certain way to a situation. No one has ever been stubborn to Biblical advice and then grown in grace!

Another people go off course because they love the world. Demas turned his back from Paul – what a step out of course that would be. Having the chance to be mentored by Paul and turn your back on him. Why would anyone do something do destructive? Demas loved the world (2 Tim. 4.10). He lost his way and got off course because he loved the world. He was too weak to stand against the temptations the world offered him. If you love someone, you will move in their direction. If you love the world, you will steer towards the world and get off course.

That love for the world is one of the major reasons people are not steadfast. They get off course, they gravitate to things a Christian has no business gravitating towards – lust, foolishness, stealing, getting offended and bitter. This what prodigal sons do – they get offended they are not getting their inheritance NOW (whether it is the pulpit they feel they are entitled to, the chance to be heard, the promotion they want). They are weak so they are easily drawn off course. Christians feel that they are missing something in the world and chase after it.

These are just some of the reasons people go off course. The underlying reason is that they are weak. A little thing offends them and they leave a church. A little thing upsets them and they don’t pray all day. A little thing nudges them and they get so upset and they run off. A little temptation attracts them and they leave for some carnal toy.

But not you – no – you BE STEADFAST! Stay on course!

Stop Being Weak 02: Get Rooted

Deep calls to deep! Get rooted!

Psalm 42.7 says that deep calls to deep. There is a language, a calling, that deep people have – they can communicate in a way that shallow people cannot ever communicate. They understand words like honour and truth and life. Strong people are deep people. They have deep roots.

One of the greatest principles that ever has been shared by anyone in history is when Jesus tells us that the quality of harvest from the seed depends entirely on the ground that it is sowed in. A good heart brings a great harvest from the Word of God. A weak heart cannot produce a strong harvest! We need strong hearts that are deep.

Jesus said that the seed that lands on the rock (in his parable) means people who “when they hear, receive the word with joy, and these have no root, which a while believe and in time of temptation fall away” (Luke 8.13).

Weak Christians get excited but they cannot stand, they fall away. Because they are not rooted! Can I let you all know a secret – you will have a time of temptation at some point? You will be tempted. You will have pressure. There will be things happen in your life that will make you want to compromise, want to quit. Whether you fall away or stand depends on how strong you are – how rooted you are.

I have noticed recently a number of Christians who are just not rooted. They do not even really fellowship with the Lord, they don’t know Him, they just know about Him. They do foolish things and you ask them why and they cannot even tell you. I know Christians who go to churches that do not feed them, and they do not know why. I know Christians that hate tongue talkers, but do not know why. They get offended at the slightest things, they fall apart and fall away in times of temptation. They have no backbone, no sense of conviction.

We had a lady in our church left our church, she went and joined a cult. They told her she was not saved when she was with us because they were the only church in London that preached the true gospel. They told her that speaking in tongues was from satan, and she stopped speaking in tongues. They told her how to dress, how to speak, how to behave – it was very controlling. That woman was not strong in the things of the Lord, not strong in the gifts of the Spirit, and under pressure, she fell away from the Lord. I know many stories like that, and they are sad. I know Christians who do not know the difference between the true gospel and what that Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons believe.

You need to know what you believe, you need to know why you believe it, you need to know what the Bible says about this. You might be going to church, but when times of temptation come will you stand? Your commitment to the house of the Lord will absolutely be tested. People fall away when they are weak. I am not talking about being led by the Lord to another church, I am talking about falling right out of the church, right out of speaking in tongues, right out of reading their Bible, and right out of walking with the Lord.

You have to be a really shallow Christian to fall away from church because someone lets you down. You have to be a really weak Christian if the sins of someone else affect you walking with the Lord. You have to be shallow if you leave Christ because your pastor made a mistake or two!

My people in Tree of Life Church on the whole love me, but I tell them to follow me as I follow Christ and if I do something that is not following Christ, not to follow that. I make mistakes! I don’t always get it right. I tell my leaders you can always ask me “what Scripture is that based on? where in the Bible are you getting this revelation from?”

Pastors who do not base things on the Bible are the pastors who can steal from their church members, they can lead people far away from the Bible and lead them down a merry path. Shallow people will very quickly turn their back on the Lord and worship a golden calf. Shallow people listen to the ten spies above Joshua and Caleb. Shallow people will very quickly turn on Jesus and scream for Him to be crucified. Shallow people follow the crowd.

So, the first step to getting strong is to go deep. You need to go deep. What that means is three things:

  1. You have to have a backbone. You need to develop a strength of character in your own heart that means you do not follow the crowd, but you follow your heart. You need to fellowship with the Lord and spend time with Him until you are strong in the Lord. You need to read your Bible and pray until the truths of the Word go deep in your heart. Until the seed is not on the surface, but it changes how you think, feel and decide.
  2. You have to know why you believe what you believe. Get some books and start studying. Think about what you believe, read what the Bible says. Why do you speak in tongues? Why do you lift your hands? Why do you pray the way you do? Is it what the Bible teaches? Why are you sexually pure? Why do you vote the way you do? Is it Biblical? Ask yourself why and make sure you build a foundation that is deep. Not shallow.
  3. Decide in advance what you are going to be deeply committed to, deeply loyal to in advance. Your wife or husband, your church. You need to decide in advance. I never get up on a Sunday and decide “I wonder if I will go to church”, I never get up on a weekday and decide “I wonder if I will pray”. I made those decisions well in advance. Some people will never miss a day’s work, never turn up late for work, but they don’t ever make it on time for church! This is because – and absolutely because – they are not committed. You should make a list of things that you will every day whether you feel like it or not. You should make a list of things that you will do every week whether you feel like it or not. That will make you a deeper person, that will bring strength and wisdom to you.

    I know people who miss church because family just came round and turned up. I don’t do that, I miss family when church comes round. I tell all my extended family – if you turn up when church is on, and you want to spend time with me, I will be in church, and you will be welcome to join me, but as for me and my house – we will serve the Lord. I know people who miss church because they are tiling their bathroom. They are very weak people, and they are making choices that keep them weak! Selah.

God wants you to develop deep roots. You do not build deep roots moving around all the time. A plant cannot build deep roots when moved around, it needs to be planted and rooted somewhere. Selah.

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