In Acts 1 we have the requirements of apostleship and being a witness. In Revelation 2 :2 the Church of Ephesus is addressed by Jesus directly. The issues are the tests of apostles, which were prevalent at the time. It seems to me that once God releases a ministry dimension it seems that the bandwagon comes out for all to jump onto. This Church of Ephesus knew how to test the ministers and see who passed the test of a true apostle. So the tests are there to see if those tested completed the tests that God Himself places on those who claim to have that “marturia” witness. We dealt with the first qualification being that they were eyewitnesses. Now we are coming to the 2nd. It is “walking with Jesus”, which means living, hearing and working with Him.
Obviously this requirement is for those in the 1st century who actually were with Jesus, many did follow who were not included in the original 12. However today it is illogical and impossible to apply this standard, however “walking with Jesus” is a spiritual experience. It is evidenced by the fruits that are manifest.
The 3 and a half years of being dismantled from contemporary schools of thought
When you consider what the disciples lived in, and were weaned from, you can understand the processes that Jesus took them through. He had picked a company who were living in a country which was occupied by the Romans. The Hebrew way of life had been rudely been disrupted and great policing of society had come, with new taxation and a moderating of their faith. They had the Roman way of life also intermingled in their own life. This caused much friction, and we read in Acts where Gamaliel confronted the Sanhedrin when he cites examples of revolutionaries who were false Messiahs. The idea of a Messiah figure grew and grew at the time, and the idea also became embellished, so much so that when the real Messiah came they did not recognise Him.
It is so easy to draw upon modern ideas concerning our faith, cultural aspirations, actions against injustices that we embellish a narrative that corrupts the original context of Scripture. Then the idea of a Messiah King would come to set up a Kingdom upon the earth and impose His rule. When you see what He came to do, which was to first preach a spiritual Kingdom. This spiritual Kingdom was to be received by faith and lived out in good actions which had no hypocrisy involved. When you consider the founding of the Pharisees and their commitment to the Word, yet when Jesus the true Messiah came, they were the main opposition to His mission.
I see the same tendencies resurgent in the Christian society context, where our preaching and teaching is of a Messiah opposite to what He will come to do in our Generation. I believe in some parts the Church has become survival mode, maintaining what they have, and most of it is money oriented. We are preaching a Jesus who is narrowed down to His being a Saviour and not Lord or Judge. The great debate is if Jesus brings Judgment in our day. Our ideas of judgment are so well removed from the New Testament reality is frightening. There are ministers who speak to me about the Churches that they attend, either online or personally, and they complain of the milk coming from the pulpit. Whilst Jesus had to rein in zealots in His midst, today He is struggling to raise up warriors!
One person said to me “why do we need theology?” I cannot say how shocked I was to hear this not because of who said it, but that it demonstrated the tendency that prevails in the Church right now. Then they say they are “charismatic” but the gifts which they call charismatic don’t have room to flow in their meetings. They say they love the Word but when you probe they don’t know beyond the basics. We are diluting into cliches everything that needs urgent attention. The school of modern thought is coming through indoctrination, i.e various level of media. The Church is more preoccupied in how the world sees them, that the Church is begging for world approval than the God approval which is equal to obtaining the “marturia”.
The modern day Christian zealots
James and John were called the “sons of thunder” and in my new book “12 Foundations of the Church” about to be published I concentrate on John, who became the “Apostle of Love”.
The writings of John reflect this transformation. He was weaned from a deception, that is that change, transformation of hearts would come through a King, through revolution, through political process. This deception is creeping into our thinking, preaching, social media input. Right now two different but related processes have just played out, that is the Brexit process for the UK to leave the EU, then the American elections. There has been some prophetic interpretations for this process, and I am sure there are some implications in the realm of the reverberations of these processes. These brought great divisions and the way the Church embraced this process in the most part stretches from being weak to being zealot like. Somewhere there is a balance. The true focus for the Church is not engaging a political process in the context of a political system, but pray and act for the political process to engage God in His spiritual process. If the Church does not grasp this truth it could find itself outside of the revivals to come.
Hernandes Dias Lopes, Brazilian preacher and respected theologian asked this question: Could it be that persecution will bring the Church into a new holiness? No, because the Church is holy will provoke persecution. How very true is this! We have become so modernistic that we have turned theology on its head, and have made the Church run after the world for relevance!
Jesus spent 3 and half years trying to deliver the disciples from these tendencies. In fact it is evident that many times in those years they just did not understand him. Their ideas, aspirations clouded their judgment. The end result is them hiding away after Jesus’ death.
I am writing this in a moment in time of frenetic social media activity. The inauguration of a new President of the USA, with a nation really divided, is disturbing the nations. I sense in my own heart to switch off from both Social and Mainstream media to see what plays out in reality. The disconnect between media and reality has just emerged. Churches and ministries are also getting into it. There is no doubt that politics is a corrupt system and the people part of it, are those power mad and manipulative with their nations. My own meditation to keep sane and balanced has been to see how the Church navigated the early crises in its early history. They did not get messed up in the Sanhedrin, or the halls of Roman governors. They concentrated the central vocation, being witnesses for Jesus, with signs and wonders following.
The key is played out in Luke 24 and Acts 1, when Jesus breathed on the Disiciples the Holy Spirit, and after the Emmaus incident, spent 40 days showing them the Kingdom of God and how it functions. It is time the Church is breathed upon by the Holy Spirit and in that dimension know the Kingdom of God. At the time of His Ascension they were ready to receive the Holy Spirit and His power to make them into “martus”, witnesses. Is this not a transition we need to make now? I think so.
Those who have the “marturia” must know what the consequences will be
The marturia sets the martyr on a collision with political systems, rational systems of thought. Humanistic thought is really a demonstration of the carnal mind. The marturia makes us talk like Jesus, walk like Him, because as we walk WITH HIM, we shall walk LIKE HIM. This walk with Him spiritually will set us diametrically opposed to what the world thinks. In fact the Word says the carnal mind is at emnity with God. This means he who thinks naturally has God as his enemy. Yes, is strong language I know. The Church is the reflection of Christ, and once it walks and talks like Him persecution will come. Many have already paid the ultimate price. The “blood of the martyrs” has always been the seed of change. And in Revelation we get the imagery of the martyrs being under the throne calling out for justice. We know that the last persecution to come will bring almighty consequences upon the earth. God reacts to the prayers of the saints with the marturia, He opens seas and rains down fire at their voice. It is because those with the marturia know how to walk with Christ, and know the price of that walk is a price worth paying. That ultimate price is what causes God to initiate the shifts in the affairs of men.
Finally in the chapter 11 of Hebrews, it tells us that those set out on this “marturia” never look back, they know if they look back on former places, experiences, relationships, may give them opportunity to return. In returning they will forfeit what is perfect and better because they begin to fear what is before them, he who has this marturia must let go of fear, of self preservation, so that in letting go they release the conditions for all that which God desires to roll out.
Breaking news! The new book is to be shortly published: “12 Foundations of the Church”. In this book as the angel reveals the true Bride he reveals to John the city of 12 Gates and 12 Foundations. These foundations are all distinct and we need to know each one so that we may prepare for our perfect future.