Continuing in the Book See the Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls. 

         Chapter 8

         The Challenge

Do we dare face the truth of what Jesus sees the church of our day to be? 
To see ourselves as He sees us, and not as we think of ourselves?  If so, there is hope if we have the courage to change our path from our will to His will, from our ways to His ways, from what we are, to what He is in our lives and ministries.  Will the sheep change if the under -shepherds do not?  

What will happen if we do not change our path? I cannot say for sure,as to the details.  However, as the Lord is consistent in His actions, God’s Word tells us what we can expect. Just as God brought His judgment on His people Israel for their half-heartedness and disregard for His Word, so I believe we can expect the same. Consider the fact that God brought persecution on the early church to drive them out so they would scatter and multiply.  Should we not expect Him to do what He has done in the past.  Do we really believe the Lord is the same today as He was yesterday

It could well be like the following scenario: 

Local governments may place restrictions on all public buildings that will include churches, such as demanding equal access for use by all classes of people, including Sodomites, apart from Biblical qualifications.   They may require that there can be no restrictions on those who want to be married in a church if they have a state license, disregarding Biblical requirements.  

The federal government may drop all tax-exempt status of churches that do not comply with state and federal requirements for unified standards set for all government- approved churches.  They may not allow volunteer staff or workers in churches, demanding that they have to pay all staff and workers at least minimum wage, have workmen’s compensation insurance, as well as health and hospital plans, social security, or other retirement plans. 

This would effectively do away with all independent church families, as the new world government prefers to have a one-world church that would be easier to control.  The state may demand that the pastor submit the goals and purposes of the church, make reports of its activities and programs.  The state may require changes where they deem it necessary to avoid what they call hate crimes, or offend belief and the  rights of others in our Democratic society. If these requirements are not followed, the state may assume the care of the church and place a state-approved clergy to operate it in their prescribed manner.  

What will happen to the church then?  It may be like the following scenario: 

The church will go underground, scatter and multiply as it did in the first century.  Pastors will go from place to place as a shepherd feeding and watching over the Lord’s flock.  By necessity they will have to be with small groups of the flock, not only every day of the week, but several times a day to meet the needs of the whole flock. This will sift the clergy from the shepherds, the real from the unreal; it will separate the men from the boys, the goats from the sheep. Amen! 

Could it happen? Will it happen?  Do we have the same God as Israel and the early church?  If we do not turn from our path and follow God’s plan for His church willingly, He will have no other way to bring us into His will, but to drive us to His will by persecution as He did in the past. The flock will grow strong and multiply as it did in the beginning.  The church will have more resources than ever before because the tithes and offerings will now be going directly into the ministry of people instead of buildings and programs.  Praise the Lord!  He will have brought us back into His plan for His church, once again it will be in His place of blessing. Then when the church has some substance, a tangible faith others can see, it will probably grow more than it has from its conception to this day. Amen and Amen!  

May God help us to have the courage to face the facts of our condition as He sees us. The courage to lay down our pride, repent, seek His face, turn from our wicked ways and return to His perfect and proven plan for our lives and His church.  He can forgive our sin, whether we are sheep or under-shepherds and perhaps He will bring revival to our churches and our nation.  All of God’s Word says: He will not bring revival while we are out of His plan, for lives individually and collectively as His church.  As one under- shepherd to another may I add, if the sheep do not see us, lower our pride and face our need for change, turning and trusting in the Lord’s plan, why should they?  Is this not what leadership is all about?  

How can we move from the traditions of the past to God’s pattern for His church. 

Here is one way it might be done.  

1. We may start making disciples in small cell groups in the homes of the faithful.  Remember the church is not a building but an assembly of God’s family.  Each cell constituting a local family, which is part of an extended family of a group of cells making up the flock of God.  The under-shepherd is accountable for all the families in the flock which is the local church.  

2. Each cell would practice evangelism and discipleship enlarging the cell. The under-shepherd would circulate among the cells as needed to care for the flock. As did the Apostle Paul. Preaching, teaching counseling, edifying the flock.  

3. Once a month or so they would assemble together at a single meeting place.  So long as this ungodly world allows, it may be an existing building.  It would however be to the advantage of all not to own buildings as they are a needless drain of funds given for the Lord’s work. They may be permanent buildings rented for the occasion or where climate provides temporary buildings such as tents would be adequate.  

4. The monthly meetings would be an all day affair like the Tabernacle tent meetings of old. Occasionally  they could be for a few days at a time as were the old time camp meetings.  A time of praise, worship, singing, and fellowship, with work shops for training and encouraging each other in the work of the Lord.     

5. As soon as those in the cell are living the Christ like life, and know how to disciple others they can be sent out to evangelize others enlarging the cell. When the cell group grows too big to assemble in the home  it is ready to divide into two cells repeating the  process.  When a man recognizes Gods call to the ministry he is sent out to apprentice with the under the under-shepherd. Assisting the under- shepherd until they learn to establish and care for another flock of their own.  Then the under-shepherd places his disciple as the leader of that cell under his guidance. That cell grows and divides with the help of the apprentice  and under- shepherd.  When several cell groups have been formed the apprentice gains wisdom for caring for the flock.  Then the under-shepherd turns over the care of one of the two flocks to the new under shepherds.  Thus the church practices the principle of multiplying and dividing. Other new under-shepherds may be sent out to other places as missionaries to evangelize and start new  flocks applying the principles of multiplying and scattering.

Christian education could follow similar pattern. Children being taught at home.  Teachers could have tutoring at their homes or could circulate among the cell as do the under-shepherds. With groups of all the children of a cell together or at the individual homes of the children. They would work as a team with the parents, instructing the parents as their aides.  Teachers would be paid for their services by the families and the church sharing the expenses.  Such an arrangement would make Christian education within reach of all of God’s family.  Teachers could be better paid for their services as there would be no buildings to be built or maintained   So that even the poorest families could be totally subsidized by the Church body not leaving their children without a Christian education. Amen.   

Physical education could be approached like ‘Little League” with volunteer coaches and aides setting up practice and competition among churches.  The expense of gyms could be avoided through the use of those in public parks,  YMCA etc.  

The work of the church and the under- shepherd would be financed through the tithes and offerings of the members of local flock of God’s family. The finances for the work of the church and care of its physical possessions would be handled by the deacons of the local church family.   

As the Lord’s plan for the church is that of a family: their relationship is not like an institution or corporation, it would not be tax exempt. There would be very little record keeping needed. The under-shepherd and his families needs of housing and transportation are to be cared for by the flock  Therefore, he would only require a modest outlay of cash, for their food and clothing and other personal needs that would require records for federal and state governments.  A deacon or his wife could act as the church secretary keeping necessary records in a file at their house.  A computer and printer would serve the purpose to keep the records and to make up fliers and other printed material would be the only equipment needed.  

Just think what such changes would mean in additional financial resources for the work of the Lord. No financial waste going into the building programs for “churches” offices, schools, gyms etc.  No money wasted on building maintenance.  No more paid staff  needed, bank loans,  insurance and utilities all of which are bleeding the local churches finances dry. Then there is the icing on the cake so to speak little or no expense and hassle meeting governmental requirements and  restrictions to keep tax exempt status.  Amen and Amen.  

Now all the sacrificial giving of tithes and offerings will go directly into the Lord’s work. Caring for under shepherds and education of the children of the flock.  Meeting the needs of missionaries helping other church flocks being established at home and abroad. The financial resources for the church will increase as those that give see their sacrifice go directly to the work of the ministry,  At last we can get the devil’s fingers out of the pie! Hallelujah Amen   

Following the Lord's pattern takes the pork out of the family of God making it lean and clean; ready to carry on the work of the Lord in any place at any time.  It is flexible and adaptable to any condition in the open or underground in which it may exist.  So it was in the early Church that turned the existing world of its time upside down as a result of its growth and influence.  If that can be called old time “religion” that’s the kind to have Amen.  

Please remember, I did not put these notes together as a rebuke to others, as I am dreadfully aware that I have just as much to turn from as any other. In time past I tried to follow the example of those who produced as they say “great works” in their ministries. I used their methods, their formulas for success in my ministry but without the same results. For a time I thought that I had been cursed, by not having their reading and oratory skills, and personal charisma. I asked  many of my peers what they thought attributed to the power of God in their ministries.  I sought the Lord to help me search my heart to see what was hindering me. It drove me to deep introspection of my own walk with the Lord.  For Jesus said: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” John 15:7. Looking for sin to be cleansed and attitudes to be changed He pointed out some deep rooted ones which by His grace He removed.  Yet there still were not the results many others seemed to be having in their ministries.  

Again I sought why. This time investigating the life and ministry of the Shepherd and Bishop of Our Souls.  Now where as I once thought I had been cursed, I know I have been blessed.  For had I been endowed with those same gifts of personal charisma and oratory skills, that I once envied, I would have followed the same paths many have followed.  Therefore, I cannot fault them. Those gifts and skills, methods and formulas, for success, do produce what many see as success today.  But by the Lord’s grace being void of those things I was compelled to search the mind and heart of the Lord to see His will in the matter?  It is the answer to those questions found in the Word of God I have shared with you.  Again I say, I have not written this pointing fingers at others as three would be  pointing back to me, but rather to open the door of hearts to see the true condition of the church, and ourselves as our Lord sees us in these last days.  

May these brief notes and observations inspire you to know Him better and to examine yourself as to how you measure up to our Chief Shepherd and Bishop of our souls “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,  21Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”  Hebrews 13:20-21  “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” 1  Peter 5:4  

It is my personal prayer to anyone, that realizes they have not given themselves wholly unto the Lord, and the following of His Word, they will make it sure today.

Why not accept Christ as your Lord and Saviour and make this day the first day of your life with Him, and the Word of God will be open to your understanding that He may instruct you in living your new life in Him. If that is your desire Press Here  

Now go do what is right in the eyes of the Lord and may
your decisions bring you the promise of Romans 8:28   

“ And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”   
Your friend in Christ Warren T. Smith

 

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