Church of God, New World Ministries

The New World Order And The Church - Part 2

Jesus Christ trained His disciples for three and one-half years for a vitally important purpose. His time with them was not merely for their personal inspiration. It was not because He wanted to enjoy their company, or because He was lonely, or because He wanted protection.

He called and specially chose each of His disciples, including Judas Iscariot for a great purpose.

He said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you” (John 15:16).

Every parable, every healing, every example, every lesson, every rejoinder or rebuke, every miracle during those three and one-half years was intended by Jesus Christ to be remembered by His disciples so they could put those teaching and examples to work!

Christ’s teachings and examples were not for their “spiritual benefit”! He did not intend for them to bask in His friendship, enjoy His fellowship, and then sink down into their own narrow lives and go nowhere and do nothing! He did not call His disciples so they could begin twelve different, bickering, disagreeing, competing church organizations!

No, He was training a special cadre of men for a great purpose for a transcendental calling and commission!

From time to time, perhaps more than two hundred men followed along with Jesus Christ. Even after many left Him during His ministry, there were still one hundred and twenty who were His disciples at the time of the choosing of Matthias (Acts 1:15-26).

Peter said, “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us at the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that He was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection (vs. 21-22).

Since there were still one hundred and twenty disciples who had faithfully companied with Jesus from the beginning, and yet many “went back,” as we shall now see, that means a much larger group of men were accompanying Jesus Christ than must-have understood.

Christ sent out His twelve disciples (Matt. 10:1; Luke 9:1), giving them power to heal, and power over demons. This was for their training, for their experience. They would learn many important lessons during this arduous journey. Read both chapters in their entirety. Matthew’s account refers not only to the journey of the disciples then, but to the time in which we live, now, for he wrote, “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come” (Matt. 10:23).

Shortly after having sent out the twelve leading disciples, “the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before His face into every city and place, whither He Himself would come” (Luke 10:1).

Christ was preparing His disciples 82 of them in these accounts. He was training and teaching them, and sending them out so they would gain invaluable experience.

What were they to do? “Therefore, said He unto them, ‘the harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore that the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers into His harvest, and into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you; and heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, the Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you’ “(Luke 10:2-9).

Jesus Christ mapped out extensive trips in which He would visit many, many towns and villages. He sent out disciples in advance of His arrival so they would preach the good news of the coming Kingdom of God.

Christ was building His Church. He was teaching and training those who would become part of the foundation of His church (Eph. 2:19-22) and teaching many other disciples who would help form the nucleus of that church on the Day of Pentecost. Some of these men are mentioned in Acts 6:5: “And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch.”

When we read of the great healings and miracles of Philip and Stephen, we need to remember that these men knew Jesus Christ personally, and were no doubt among the 70 disciples He sent out a year or two earlier.

Jesus knew that many of His disciples were accompanying Him for the wrong reasons. He knew Judas would betray Him, and He understood how God would allow Satan to bring about His death on the stake. He knew Matthias and dozens of others.

For the first part of His ministry, Jesus knew that many of those who followed Him were disloyal; that they had their own ideas and concepts. Read the entire chapter of John 6. When Jesus spoke metaphorically of eating His flesh and drinking His blood, some of His detractors began to talk among themselves.

“Many therefore of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can hear (believe) it?” When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, does this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before? It is the Spirit that quickens (makes alive): the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him, And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him” (John 6:60-66).

There is much insight available in this account. First, Jesus Christ was not precipitating a crisis among His disciples by calling a special meeting and informing them He knew that there were many who were merely “camp followers,” or who were “hangers-on,” following Him about because of their own vanity, or their own hidden agendas. That this is true requires no great grasp of history or human relations.

No, Christ was contending with the Jews -some of the same people from among the five thousand who had been miraculously fed only the day before! (Study John 6:1-52).

Jesus did not precipitate a defection among His disciples. They reacted to some powerful statements He made to the general public, the Jews.

But some of those who followed Jesus Christ were smitten with their own grandiose ideas of their special relationship with God. Some of them wanted to get close to Him so some of His luster would “rub off” on them. Perhaps they could then gloat and enjoy the power they felt when large crowds gave them their undivided attention. Perhaps they could become a prophet, or a prophetess. Perhaps they would soon lead a group and bask in the admiration of followers.

Instead of going humbly to Christ and asking Him about His statements concerning His flesh and His blood, they murmured among themselves, talking, reasoning, drawing aid and comfort from seeing there were others who felt the same way they did. Now, they had their excuse!

Now, think about what you know of human nature. Do you suppose these disaffected disciples simply went back to their homes, hitched up the mule, and started to plant crops?

Oh, no. These people were following along with Christ for a purpose. But their purpose was selfish, vain, carnal! They wanted to share in the “limelight” for a time, but in hopes they would be center stage at some time in the future.

It is far more logical to assume these dissident disciples went about telling everyone they could, “Oh, Him! Yeah, I was with Him I knew Him well! Why, I’ve talked personally with Him many a time. I remember onetime, I really put some hard questions to Him! But when He started in on that flesh and blood thing, well, I knew right then I couldn’t stay with that man. So, I voted with my feet. I just got up and left!

Don’t think for a moment that all those dissident former disciples simply went back to their homes and said not a word about their experiences or did not attempt to justify their positions or explain why they left Jesus Christ!

Today, it is so very much easier for people to justify “leaving.” Today, one can become angry with a mere man, or become “upset” over some corporate policy, or the real or imagined sins of human beings, and easily justify their decision to get up and leave this or that church, or religious organization, or small, in home fellowship group.

Many search high and low for a perfect human leader, one who has never sinned, or, if he has, he repented long, long ago, and they do not know how he sinned, or what particular sin, other than a “bad attitude,” he may have committed.

Many cling to a human leader only insofar as they can believe he is better than they are, intellectually and spiritually: that he is closer to God than they are, or probably ever can be.

Most of us believe we would never have left Jesus Christ Himself! Most, perhaps all, of us firmly believe, no matter what decision we may have made concerning this or that church or religious organization, that we have not really departed from Christ.

No, we believe we have merely left a group which was not as close to Christ as we are, or as is the human leader of our new group.

For decades, God’s Church has received letters and telephone calls from people who have been members of many different churches; have gone from denomination to denomination searching for something that satisfied their feelings their search for a “church home.” This is commonplace throughout Protestant nominal Christianity. Like the “drifters” of the old West, many people drift from this group to the other, searching, comparing.

Most are looking for a man, a human leader, to follow. To many, associating themselves with a man requires a deep spiritual endorsement of that man. Should that man ever disappoint them, they fail to look to Jesus Christ directly; to look past a fallible human leader to Christ, but instead decide to go look for another man to follow.

How instructive it is to realize there were those who followed Jesus Christ personally; who looked into His eyes, heard His voice, saw His examples. They knew exactly what He looked like, how He conducted Himself. They were familiar with His stature, the color of His hair, His walk; and yet, in spite of all this, they turned away from Him, and left Him in scorn.

Most of us would believe, in our heart of hearts, that we could never turn away from Jesus Christ personally! We believe that if we had been there we would have not abandoned the way some of His own disciples did. Would God that were true, but, sadly, in every case it is not. Familiarity, after all, does breed contempt.

Today, you and I can understand that Jesus Christ was speaking metaphorically about His fleshy body, and about His blood. We know He said, “I am the bread of life,” and that He is symbolized by the unleavened bread we eat during the Days of Unleavened Bread. Not only this, but we see many scriptures which tell us we must take in Christ and allow Him to live His life over again within us, as well as deeply understand that He said the “bread” from heaven was “my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).

Today, we know the blood of Jesus Christ was shed on the stake for the sins of all mankind: that the “life is in the blood thereof” (Lev. 17:11-14), and that Christ died by the shedding of His blood. We can see and understand the type of the Passover lamb, and how Christ is called the “Lamb of God.”

But then, many, not a few, of His disciples seized on this “hard saying” to abandon Jesus Christ. They simply left Him on the spot!

Jesus turned to the twelve, and asked, “Will you also go away?” Then Simon Peter answered Him,” Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Nothing hurts quite so much as rejection. Most of us want to be loved. We do desperately wish to be liked, admired, accepted. When people we love reject us, the pain we feel is like the stabbing of a knife deep into our vitals. The most painful rejections come from close family members, or from a spouse, or from close friends and associates. When you have known and loved someone, shared many hundreds of hours with them, traveled together, enjoyed wonderful meals together, played sports together, talked together, and then they reject you, and never speaks to you again, it hurts.

Is anything more painful than a divorce? When two people, who used to look into each other’s eyes and say, “I love you,” are now hateful, angry, spiteful, bitter when love had been replaced with rage it is painful beyond our ability to describe. When a beloved family member turns against a father, or mother, a sister or brother, a son or daughter, it hurts worse than any physical wound.

When you have known someone intimately, and that person completely abandons you shunning you when you need him or her the most it causes one of the deepest, most agonizing pains. This is true suffering. It does not truly dull with the passage of time it is something that lasts for life.

Our Savior has been there. He suffered all these things for us, to set us an example. His church was founded through suffering, not through happy, ebullient committee meetings, or board resolutions, or organizational conventions.

“Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Eternal revealed? For he shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground. He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him: He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely, He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted” (Isa. 53:1-4)

Christ poured out love upon His disciples! He loved this world enough to die for it! He lived a sin-free, flawless, perfect life. Yet, He was despised and rejected of men! Is it perhaps a requirement Jesus Christ lays upon His disciples that, unless they, too, have experienced the suffering of rejection, of hatred, of having beloved brethren turn away, they cannot be truly qualified for His work?

The hammer, the anvil, and the forge that pounds malleable human character into a useful instrument in God’s hands is sometimes the hammer of hate, pounded out on the anvil of rejection, in the fiery forge of trial.

Is it because Jesus Christ knows that His true servants will need the courage of David, the patience of Job, the wisdom of Solomon, and the love and mercy of Jesus Christ to overcome the terrible trial of martyrdom, if that is to be their fate?

Must they be tempered like the finest steel through fiery trials and suffering to be prepared for what awaits them?

Jesus Christ said, “If the world hates you, ye know that it hated me before you: If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than His Lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you: if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. He that hates me hates my Father also, but this comes to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in the law, ‘That hated me without a cause’ “(John 15:18-25).

Jesus Christ was hated without a cause. But suppose you or I provide haters with what they believe to be a cause? Are they then justified in their hatred?

God hates sin, but He loves sinners! Thank God, and great praise to His Holy Name, that when we go to Him in heartbroken repentance, with tears streaming down our faces, and bodies wracked with sobs and crying, He does not say to us, “Well, I have no problem with forgiving you. I just don’t trust you anymore. I want nothing further to do with you.”

What if God Almighty were to say that to every human being who ever sinned after being baptized? Would there be any who would make it into God’s Kingdom? What if God Almighty applied the kind of selective judgments to we stumbling, failing, fallible human beings as that are applied by the modern Pharisees of today?

Jesus Christ prepared His disciples for rejection. How? By causing them to deeply repent of their own rejection of Christ!

Be watching for a follow-up, Part III, of this intriguing subject. Coming soon!

 
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