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The Mandate for a Grace Filled, Guilt Free, New Testament Church

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Arthur’s messages during our Restoring Leaders conference have really challenged me and lifted my thinking.  He is possibly the single most powerful Bible teacher in our generation (yes, I know I have said something superlative there and I have considered my thoughts and words carefully).

Something he said several times was this: we have to take a stand.  And that is so true.  It’s all right claiming that we are a grace church, and that we are a church that take the New Covenant and the complete work of Christ seriously, but then when it comes to worship we sing “I’m so hungry, so desperate, I’m going to the enemy’s camp, I surrender all” when it’s nothing to do with “I” but with “HIM”.  This Sunday I determined to only select songs that would be appropriate in heaven – that led to me rejecting a huge number of songs.  Well over 80% of what is written today is about us, about begging God, and about “warring with the enemy”.

That is not the worship of heaven and it should not be the worship of the redeemed either.

Then we have the offering and we beg and plead for money and make prosperity something you have to “DO” to be prosperous, when prosperity is rooted in the redemptive work NOT IN OUR ACTIONS!

No – I am taking my stand.  This Sunday.  If I lose 1/2 the church, then that is what will happen, but Tree of Life Church is a New Testament Church.  We are not going back to the law.  I have already dealt with a lot of this in the series I did on Witchcraft in the Church, but I am going back to this ground and staking a claim.  The foundation of our church is God’s grace as found in the complete redemptive work of Jesus.

No more do to be.  No more heavy burdens.  No more guilt, no more fear, no more shame.  No more condemnation.  No more law – law was our master until grace set us free.

That nagging, doubting, harsh voice inside you – IT’S NOT GOD!  He loves you.  He adores you.  He only has thoughts to prosper you.  He isn’t angry at you, and he isn’t mad at you, and He isn’t out to get you.  

When people say it’s greasy grace: GOOD!  We need to slide in, we couldn’t even walk in through the door of works, none of us could!

When people try and make you feel ashamed because you preach and believe grace and that the law is over, let them know: you are NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL!

I’ll let you know how it goes.  I believe it will go awesome because God is initiating it, and God is in it. And our church are a bunch that just want to know His Word so they can know Him better.

 

 

Dave Duell’s Heart and Message

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This is in preparation for Dave Duell preaching at Tree of Life Church (in less than 24 hours!).  It is an article from his website where he outlines his “life message”:

“The concept of an angry God has so permeated the Church that when someone has the audacity to challenge the accepted perceptions, it sounds strange to our ears. But you must get this truth into you-God loves you with an everlasting, unconditional, unwavering, unalterable, non-cancelable, perfect, pure love. There was nothing that you ever did to cause Him to love you in the first place. There is nothing you can do to cause Him to quit loving you. And there is nothing you need to do to keep Him loving you. He has always loved you and He always will love you. If you have given your life to Him, He has adopted you into His family and you are a joint-heir with Christ and every spiritual blessing is stored up for you in heavenly places. (Eph. 1:3)

When we get this perception into us of how much God loves us, it will change us. When you understand that God is love and that God sooooo loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to save us, it will change the way you look at the world. It will change your perceptions. It will change your values. It will change your decisions. It will change the very way you live.”
(Excerpt taken from teaching article,” How Should We Then Live?” by Dave Duell)

This is OUR MESSAGE. We want you to know that God loves you with a passionate, undying, eternal love and that He came to set you free to really live. You will read about this unconditional Love in all our articles and books and hear about this Love in all our video and audio messages. Partake of a generous serving of some good news!

Romans 2.13

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(For not the hearers of the law [are] just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

This is a verse that without paying careful attention to context and to systematic theology is one that you could easily take to mean the exact opposite of what Paul actually means.

Paul is talking to religious people.  He has essentially just told that God has no favourites and that they will be judged by the law.  They think because they know the law they will escape condemnation and be welcomed into heaven.  There are still people like that in the world today – I go to church, I will therefore go to heaven.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  You cannot be justified by hearing the law.  You cannot be just (righteous) by hearing the law.  It does not matter how many times I stand up in the pulpit and tell people “Do not lie”, that will NEVER make them right with God.

So many preachers seem to have no idea of this Biblical truth: you cannot be made righteous by hearing the law.  I could get in the pulpit and go to people “Do not lie”, “Do not commit adultery”, “Do not steal” and it would not make anyone right with God.  It might make someone feel guilty or condemned, it might make someone feel out of sorts, depressed and sad, but it will never make someone right with God.

Yet today there are whole sections of the church where if you go to their churches and conferences, you will be a hearer of the law.  They will tell you what to do, what the law says, what holiness is all about.  I was in discussion with someone about one of these preachers once and they say “I love that preacher, when he preaches it is like a kick in the kidneys”.  Who wants a kick in the kidneys?  Who goes to church to be told how vile and horrible they are and how much they have broken the law?

Yet some people want to get involved with sermons that tear them to pieces.  Some people venerate sermons that are hard-hitting and condemning.  One example is a sermon once preached called Sinners in the Hands of Angry God.  We are not sinners in the hands of an angry God.  God’s not an angry God – He is a loving Father.  Sending Jesus to redeem us was HIS IDEA!  The man who preached that we were sinners in the hands of an angry God depressed people in his church so much people went and killed themselves!  When he was told, he said that God made them kill themselves.   That’s not Biblical – and no matter how much law you hear, it will never make you right with God.

But religious people think because they have heard the law, they are right with God.  Because they went to church heard the sermon and now feel like dirt, they think they are right with God.  Everyone else who has not heard the legalistic message of the law is not right with God, and being religious they then judge everyone else.  Especially if you know about grace and love and you have some joy and some contentment and some security in your walk with God.  They want to drag you down to their level and have you meditate on how evil you are.  There is one guy even calls his radio ministry “Wretched” to emphasis that we are wretches.  That is true without God’s grace and goodness, but we are never without God’s grace and goodness.

But then Paul says this: you are made righteous by obeying the law.  Now, in several places in Romans Paul makes it more than clear that we are not made righteous by obeying the law.  But here Paul says: doers of the law will be made righteous (justified).

How can this make sense?  It makes sense when you realize the point Paul is trying to make: if you want to use the law to be made righteous, you need to do it.  Yes, all of it.  Every single bit.  Just hearing a message on the law is not enough, you need to put it perfectly into practise.  Paul is trying to take the sails out of the wind of the religious people by saying just hearing a condemning message is not enough – you need to put it entirely into practise!

If you cannot obey God perfectly and obey the entire law of Moses perfectly, then you are never going to be made righteous listening to the law.  So, go and listen to the gospel instead.  The word gospel means good news – find a preacher preaching good news.  Find someone preaching life and faith, find someone preaching repentance and the kingdom.  Stay clear from people who punch you in the kidneys and find someone who places a hand on your shoulder and tells you: God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.

Romans 1.16

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For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

This is one of my favourite verses ever. Everyone should memorize this verse in my opinion, it is so powerful. It is life changing truth.

Paul starts by saying “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ”.

The Greek word for ashamed is the word epaischynomai which means guilty, disgraced and embarassed. How do we feel about the good news of Jesus Christ? Are we disgraced by it? Does it embarass us?

I think it often does embarass us. I am not talking about not sharing the gospel and being afraid to share the gospel – you should never be afraid to tell people the good news. I think that the gospel embarasses us as Christians because it is a message of entire grace and no merit.

The gospel (Gk. euaggelion) is the good news of Christ. It is the truth that we don’t have to be spiritually dead, we don’t have to be sick, we don’t have to be poor, we don’t have to be rejected because of the redemptive work of Christ on the cross.

I think Christians are embarassed of the gospel because it is so unbelievable – as Andrew Wommack calls it, it is the “too good to be true news”. So what we do is add a little to the gospel to make it more acceptable and less embarassing: you have to go to church for it to work, you have to be a good person, you have to change, you have to pray for this long. None of this is the gospel – the gospel is that we are redeemed, we are righteous, we are healthy, we are wealthy because of Jesus Christ and because of His goodness and His brilliance.

Stop being embarassed of the gospel. Tell people the truth: Jesus Christ has done it all. Jesus has paid the price for every sin you have ever committed, ever will commit, and you are free in Him if you believe in Him. You are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

This gospel – this news that it is all Jesus and not our works, not our righteousness, not our attitudes, but His redemptive work on the cross – this gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.

This is the most important truth you can ever, ever receive: the power of God is in the good news that Jesus has completely paid the price for us.

The power of God is not in fasting. The power of God is not in prayer. The power of God is certainly not in binding demons and screaming in tongues for hours. The power of God is not in our holiness. The power of God is not in special people – charismatic superstars.

The power of God is in the gospel – the good news that Jesus paid the price.

If you know someone who needs healing, you don’t need to pray and fast. You don’t need to bind the devil, you don’t need to drag them to a crusade.

You need to tell them the good news. You need to tell them the truth that Jesus Christ has completely paid the price for their healing. The power of God is in the good news.

Don’t be embarassed about the good news. Tell people they can be healed – not because of their merit, but because of Jesus. Tell people they can be wealthy because of Jesus – not because of their background or any other reason. Tell people that they can be righteous because of Jesus – not due to their actions, their prayer life, their anything! It is all Jesus.

The power is only in what Jesus has done. It is not anywhere else. If we don’t tell people boldly that Jesus has done it all, then we will not see the power of God.

This is why the church at large does not see the power of God. Galatians 3 says that we see miracles because of grace and faith, not works of the law. We have made miracles subject to our holiness, to our goodness. We have told people that they need to clean up their lives to see the goodness of God, to see healings, to see wealth, to see salvation, to be righteous.

It is all untrue – in fact, Paul calls it witchcraft in Galatians 3. It is witchcraft to say that you need to do something to be saved other than believe in Christ and His redemptive work.

Get out of witchcraft, and get into the gospel. Stop being embarassed about the gospel and tell people boldly that Jesus has done it all. Then you will see the power of God – you will see people born again, people healed, people released from poverty, from shame, from rejection. You will see people who used to hold their heads down low lift them high, their entire faces will change as the gospel renews their mind.

Stop trying to find the power of God where it is not. Stop being embarassed that Jesus has done it all and you have done nothing, are nothing and deserve nothing without Him! Admit it – you are nothing without Christ. You can do nothing without Christ. You deserve nothing without Christ.

Christ has done it all – paid the total price so we, and the world, can be righteous, can be saved, can be accepted, can be loved, can be redeemed, can be joyous, can be healed, can be happy, can work miracles, can enjoy life in abundance. It is all HIM!

All we have to do to enjoy salvation (which in the Greek means healing, peace and prosperity) is believe. That is the greatest truth in the Bible. It is the most wonderful truth in the universe. That is the most important truth you can ever realize.

Romans 1.15

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So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

I want to show you this verse in a couple of other translations before I dig into it:

So I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to preach the Good News. (NLT)

So, for my part, I am willing and eagerly ready to preach the Gospel to you also who are in Rome. (AMP)

Paul was eager to go to Rome to preach the wonderful, happy, good news. He was also ready to go.

If you read the KJV it says Paul was “ready”, if you read the NLT you find Paul was “eager”. The Amplified does what it does best and amplifies the word to “willing and eagerly ready”.

The word used here is the same word used by Jesus when He says the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. In fact, I think in Mark’s gospel it is translated “the spirit is ready” in the KJV.

Paul was willing and ready to preach the gospel. Are you?

I believe that Paul was willing because he was ready. Being ready makes you willing. No one is willing to do something they are not prepared to do.

I believe that because Paul knew the gospel so well, knew its wonderful power and wonderful benefits and knew he could preach and present it powerfully with signs and wonders following – that is why Paul was so eager and willing to preach. What you are prepared to do, you are enthusiastic to do.

If you start praying for boldness, start praying for open doors to preach the gospel, start studying the books of Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews (the three books Paul wrote explaining and defending and outlining the gospel) and start realizing what the wonderful news of our redemption actually is.

I guarantee that as you start getting ready to preach the gospel, you will start being willing. You will start getting excited to preach the gospel, start getting passionate about going and telling people in the street, in your work – even in your church (because not everyone in church knows!) – the good news.

Many people try and pray for willingness. “Oh God, give us a passion for souls.” “Oh God, make me love the lost…”

That is not a prayer God can or will ever answer. God is not going to give you emotional pain to motivate you to do something! That is not the nature of our Father. We are willing to do what we are ready to do.

If you want a passion for evangelism, get ready to evangelise! Study the gospel, study common objections and find Scriptures to counter those objections.

If you want a passion for worship, don’t beg God to force you to worship Him – God is not a forcer, rather get your Bible out and study the concept of worship. You will soon be singing praises to God.

If you want to be willing to give millions into the gospel, get ready. Find out what the Bible says about giving and receiving. Understand what the tithe is and how it functions. Soon enough you will be giving what you have and shouting with joy. You will start a life of financial fruitfulness that will change the world.

If you want a passion for the Word, study it, get into it, get ready to understand it.

What you are ready to do, you will be eager and willing to do.
What you are not ready to do, you will not be eager and willing to do.

So – don’t beg God to make you willing, but get ready, get ready, get ready!

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

Romans 1.11

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For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;

Here is a question for you: do you long to see the church? I mean do you long to be with the crowd of Christians, worshipping Jesus, living with the church, helping them in their problems, putting up with their carnality, helping them to grow up, laying down your life for them.

Listen the body of Christ is the church. If you don’t long to see the church, you don’t really love Jesus. You might have emotional feelings about Him, but love is expressing in how you treat someone.

Paul longed to see the Romans. In the midst of 2 Corinthians 11 when Paul is talking about some of the situations he went through in his life, he puts the burden of his love for the churches as being more difficult than being beaten with sticks or lashed with a whip!

How much do you long to be with the church?

And what was Paul’s motivation for being with other Christians? It was not to get.

I will say this, most Christians go to church to get. That is true. It is an absolute indictment on the church, its structure, its understanding of love, its understanding of the kingdom of God.

Most Christians leave church and they rate the service. They comment on what the worship was like (I won’t spend the time necessary to explain how you cannot rate worship!), they make their judgment on how anointed the preacher was, and they assess how good the offering was. They never came to give, they never came to offer.

Well, they came to offer some cash, to tip good and pay their protection money, and to sit on the seat. But that is not the offerings that God is looking for.

Paul longed to be with the church to offer (impart = Gk. metadidomi – to offer, cf. Luke 3.11) a spiritual gift to the church. Paul wanted to go to church to offer spiritual life to the church – to impart faith, to teach the Word, to inspire with His testimony, to give a message in tongues, to prophesy over people, to have a word of wisdom for someone, to help a sheep find their way.

Why do you go to church?

Are you imitating Paul the way he copied Jesus? (1 Cor. 11.1).

Are you longing to go to church to offer something?

Not for your glory, not so people write about you or praise you or thank you, not to establish your ministry – but to establish (Gk. sterizo – to make constant, to make strong or to make stable) the church.

Is your joy found in going to church?

Is your goal in going to church to strengthen the church and offer something?

Is your motive in giving and imparting spiritual wisdom and revelation and gifting, selfless and to make strong the church?

If so, you can say that you are copying Paul like he is copying Christ.

If not, you have some adjusting to do in the way you think about the church and about Christians!

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

BBC highlights squeeze on Christian street preachers

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BBC highlights squeeze on
Christian street preachers

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

A BBC report has highlighted some of the religious liberty issues facing Christian street preachers.

Listen to the report

An extract from BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme, broadcast on 23 August 2009. Visit the BBC’s website to listen to the entire programme.

The report, featured on Radio 4’s Sunday programme this weekend, included a recording of a recent incident where a street preacher was told by police officers that it is a criminal offence to identify homosexuality as a “sin”.

They said this to Andy Robertson, an evangelist with the Open-Air Mission (OAM), even though he had never mentioned homosexuality in his preaching.

Mark Jones, an employment lawyer who specialises in religious liberty issues, told the programme: “Giving offence of itself is not against the law.

“There is no protection that I may have from somebody simply walking up to me in the street and saying something that I might disagree with or I might be offended by.”

Mr Robertson is not alone in encountering problems while preaching in public.

Earlier this month it was reported that a street preacher had been arrested after reading out Bible passages in Maidstone, Kent.

Last summer a street preacher in Birmingham was arrested after he had mentioned homosexuality while preaching about sin and its consequences.

The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge told the Radio 4 programme why more cases like this are taking place.

He said: “I think the reason for this increase has been there is a diversity and equality agenda that doesn’t seem to allow for Christians to express their faith in a way where other people may disagree with them.”

He said that sensitivity about issues such as minority faiths and sexual orientation has put police officers and local authorities “under huge pressure to be seen to be responding”.

He added that “sometimes you get over-zealous public officials who want to step in and say, ‘you can’t say that because someone might be offended’, and that over-zealousness is I think part of the problem”.

Another evangelist with the OAM was recorded for the programme as he preached in Hounslow, West London.

Tim Whitton told the reporter: “Our approach generally is just to speak but not shout, to be friendly”.

He said the aim was to make sure that “if anyone is ever offended, they’re offended by the message of the Bible, rather than by anything that we’re doing”

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