Transmit Life Rather than Preach It
Apostles are essential to the Body of Christ, but not necessarily always visible. They’ll be visible during certain stages and invisible during other stages. For example, I’ve talked more in this car than I’ve talked in public in my city in the last month.
I promise. : ) It’s because my part is to see and help across country lines, across cultural lines and across barriers in the Body of Christ. Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, charismatics, Nazarenes, Seventh Day Adventists—I cross all those lines and help people learn how to hold hands. I help them see what’s most important so the old clothing can fall away. My part is to help brothers and sisters build together so that we can all be One as He and the Father are One, that the world may know.
You have lots of conversation and communication but not in a public way.
Right. I communicate a lot day to day to help put hands into other hands and to help others do their part. There are also situations like here with you. I don’t know you so well, personally, but I think I know you pretty well in here, in the heart. But some would say, I’ve only “just met you.” The part I’d play with you might be a stronger part than other brothers and sisters where I live would play. Their gifts might be, and are in fact, much stronger locally, but they wouldn’t be able to play this part as well as I would. I wouldn’t be able to do what they do locally, as well as they do. I can help and sometimes I even have to grab the steering wheel a little bit because the one who’s got the car keys in a certain situation is driving a little recklessly. : )
But you see my point. I become less necessary, the better I do my job. I decrease when Christ increases. It’s not “the more the numbers, the more I increase.” No, I decrease!
You think that was the heart of Paul?
Yes, I believe so. I believe there are leaders in hundreds of denominations and religious bodies (with numbers in the thousands, to tens of thousands, to millions) that also have that heart. But they just don’t know how to bring about the Life of Jesus. They groan inwardly as they come into a new body of believers. They think that the exciting series of sermons they have and the new programs will make everything glorious in ten years. That’s how they see it in their mind’s eye. But ten years go by and everyone in the congregation is still a baby!
And it begins to wear on those leaders. They get a little demoralized and a little disappointed. Or the congregation is disappointed and they throw the leader out. Or the leader gets disappointed and goes to a bigger congregation because at least there, he can make more money. Or they speak at larger conferences because they begin to substitute adrenaline for the Spirit. Or they substitute wealth for the Spirit. Or they look for compliments to fill them. “Oh, you are so important! Will you sign my book with your autograph?”
They ought to say, “Are you CRAZY?! You don’t need my signature on a piece of paper! Who am I?! What do you want that for??” But they don’t say that. They go ahead and give their signature.
That is quite common in the U.S.?
Yes, it is. To make 60 million dollars off of one book is very common. You see, it’s innocent lambs who read the book, and they’re encouraged by it. And it’s written by someone who at one time probably did have a vision and a dream that was right. But they got disappointed because nobody around them grew. Because they were building wrong, nobody grew. So they substituted adrenaline, wealth, and power for the Spirit, because it feels almost the same.
Paul said, “Be not drunk with wine, but be filled, or drunk, on the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). Wine can feel like the Spirit sometimes. Adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin—brain chemistry can feel like the Spirit sometimes. I can get soooo excited, and if I sing enough I can sound spiritual. But then I go home and I beat my children. Was it really that I was being spiritual or was it adrenaline? It was not the Spirit of Christ, because the Spirit of Christ changes how I live; it doesn’t just make me feel good during the meeting.
In the religious system, there are people in every denomination imaginable who have good hearts. They have a vision, but the vision is stolen from them because they don’t know what to do next. A decade goes by and they’re disappointed, so they substitute adrenaline, wealth, and power. Or they just give up. Something like 30% of all pastors quit after 15 years.
Here’s another example of what I’m talking about. David Wilkerson said that 25% of all pastors are addicted to pornography. He really said that. In his experience—in his conferences and pastors’ meetings and from talking to these men—he found that 25% of all pastors are addicted, not just exposed to it. It’s not just that they sometimes look at it, but they are slaves to pornography on the internet. Why is that?
I don’t believe it’s because they were intentionally evil men. I believe it’s because they were trying to use a man-made system to do God’s work, and they became demoralized. Then they began to try to find an outlet to make them feel better because they were disappointed that all their good sermons and programs didn’t bring results after 10 or 20 years. There were still a bunch of babies. Nobody could drive the car.
After 10 years, they were still the only one that could preach a sermon because they were building wrong. It wasn’t because the sermons were wrong or because they were ambitious and had bad hearts. It was because they were approaching the problem like trying to teach someone how to drive an airplane in a simulator. The simulation can get only so real before there’s no adrenaline anymore. When you hit real turbulence you have a different feeling than when you hit simulator turbulence, right? In a simulator it’s, “Whew, that was fun!” Well, in a real plane it’s not fun!
You made that point earlier today, and it’s the same way with sermons and how we build. The person with an apostolic gift should be putting car keys in others’ hands and then sitting far enough away to make them have to drive. They’re not using a car simulation, but instead making them really drive. They are reaching over to help them drive when they need to and then getting away again. Eventually they are stepping even farther out of the car and letting them drive. Then they get back in the car and maybe gather all the cars together sometimes and talk to everybody. But everybody in the cars has equal opportunity to drive.
When you build that way, ten years go by and the disappointments don’t turn you to pornography or alcohol. Instead of giving the sermons you step away from that and step into the sermons and draw other people into them too.
Remember in Acts 20 when Paul raised the man from the dead? He climbed on him, hand to hand, eye to eye, mouth to mouth. Elijah and Elisha did the same thing, right? In Troas, in Acts 20, Paul didn’t just speak to him. The implication in the Greek seems to be that he did something similar to what Elijah did. He transmitted life rather than preached life. And like a father, transmitting life rather than giving rules is harder, but it’s Better.
We’re still working on stepping into the picture.
We talked yesterday about formation versus information. Information is a sermon. Formation is when you apprentice someone and walk them into the sermon and then help them to become. You help them become a father that can help children become fathers and so on. For that reason there’s no reason to separate along party lines like the religious world has done. They separate along party lines.
Presbyterians say, “We have a better view of church government.”
Methodists say, “We have a better view of how to have a meeting.”
Charismatics say, “We have a better view of the workings of the Spirit.”
They center on a theme in Scripture and then they divide. What we’re talking about actually begins to melt those distinctions and everybody’s strong points begin to become part of the whole, and the denominations begin to fall away. That’s why we have people from every denomination contacting us, because we’re talking about Jesus and the apprenticeship of walking with Jesus. We’re not talking about their party line or their belief system.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t some wrong teachings in the world. Of course there are. But how do you solve wrong teaching? You can try to rebuke them into believing the “right thing” instead of what they believe, which is the “wrong thing.” Of course that never works anyway. There’s a saying in the English, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” You won’t be able to beat them into submission with words.