T245 Source de Vie - http://www.sourcedevie.com
© SdV - Any reproduction authorized and even encouraged
put on the site 07/18/2007
The above teaching is the transcription in English of a spoken message recorded on audio-cassette given in French by Henri Viaud-Murat. The written transcription and subsequent translation have been done in such a manner so as to preserve the spontaneity of the spoken word. Only a few minor changes have been made when necessary for the comprehensiveness of the text.
The Spirit of Truth
Let the spirit of truth reign in the church
and God's power will be manifested
Are you waiting for the return of the Lord ? Jesus is coming back very soon ! You may say : "Oh, yes, but people have been saying that for 2000 years. Over the centuries many people have said it, and yet Jesus has still not returned !" One thing that Jesus said was : "I am going away but I will return. I will come back to take you with me. "
What is wonderful with God, is that every time He has had to send a judgment on the earth, He has always warned us first ! Although He has often had to send judgments, God is a God of love and doesn't wish to do so. When He has to send a judgement, it is only because He can do nothing else ! What is incredible is that in the Bible, each time that God sends a judgment He not only warns His people, but He warns the person or persons that He intends to judge. In warning them, He tells them : "If I am warning you, it's because I want you to change"
For this reason He not only warned them once, twice or even three times, but He also sent someone at the last minute in an attempt to rescue them. For example, before the Flood, Noah spoke to all those around him, but very few listened. They called him an old fool. Only his family entered the ark with him. When Sodom was destroyed by fire from heaven, God sent two angels to warn Lot and his family : "The fire is going to fall, you must leave. " Members of his family laughed at him and stayed in the city : they all died when the fire fell. You can look at any part of the Bible ; each time that God sent a judgmentt, He gave forewarning. Consequently, the same thing will happen concerning the great judgments announced by the Bible for the end of times. Already God has warned us through the Bible. You only have to look at what it says. The signs that Jesus announced for His return are already visible. They have all come to pass, or are happening at the moment, which means that His return is imminent.
And we, who are His children, earnestly desire His return. He will not come back to judge His own. He will come to judge those who did not listen to His warnings. But we, who are His children, must know in our hearts that Jesus is not coming to judge us, but that He is coming to take us to be with Him. He wants us to be with Him for ever because He loves us. He will not take everyone. He will only take those who are expecting Him, because He prepared them in advance. If a friend says to you : "I shall be arriving soon, and these are the signs which will let you know that my arrival is imminent", and then you see these signs coming to pass, you will joyously wait for your friend's arrival because you know that he promised, that he is trustworthy and that he will therefore soon be arriving.
This evening, if you don't already know that Jesus is coming back very soon, I'm forewarning you, I'm telling you ! What's more, He is telling us that we must prepare for His return. You know that many will be caught up into the air at the rapture. I'm not talking about those who don't know the Lord, they can't go with Him. At the moment when Jesus comes back, it will be to take away from the earth all those whe were ready. He left one day in full view of all His disciples who were there with Him on the Mount of Olives. They saw Him go up into Heaven with their own eyes. And then two angels appeared saying : « Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky ? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven » (Acts 1 : 11). This means that our eyes will see Him, and that He will come back to fetch us in exactly the same way that He went up to heaven. And we shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye : « Behold, I tell you a mystery ; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment , in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet ;for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable and we shall be changed » (1Corinthians 15 : 51-52). We shall be changed and we will be caught up into the air to meet the Lord.
Why will the Lord do this ? Because straight after the rapture, a time of judgment for the earth will begin, and the Lord doesn't want His Bride to be caught in the fire of judgment. These will not be judgments confined only to certain specific places ! It will be a judgment of the whole earth. There will be terrible disasters, some of which have already begun. Ask the people in the street, who do not know God. They say : " Something strange has been happening in the past few years : the weather is becoming unbalanced, nothing's right any more. In one place there's a terrible drought, in another there's flooding, or earthquakes... a catastrophe here, a catastrophe there... " These things have always existed, but they are intensifying at the moment to make us think and to show us that things aren't as they should be.
Above all, there is God's voice in the heart, God's voice speaking to the whole earth saying : "Jesus is coming back soon ! Get ready !" When we are ready, there is no need to be afraid. If Jesus were to come back in one second's time, all I can say is : "Thank you, Lord !" Can you imagine ! We will rise up through the ceiling : some will go and others will remain seated in their armchairs or on their chairs. Do you realize ? Just think of the effect it will have on those who stay behind. It's a once-and-for-all operation ! And the day that this happens , if you are not taken, you will be a witness of all that Jesus has prepared : they will be taken up in front of your eyes, or you will realize that they have gone, and that you have been left behind, that the moment has passed and you have not been taken. In that day, you will know that the judgments are imminent !
But God, in His love, warns us so that we can be ready, and go with Him. Either death will come because it is our time, or Jesus will lift His church up to meet Him in the air at the rapture. Either way we must be ready to go. There are people, many of whom are Christians, who are afraid of death because they don't know what lies beyond, they don't know if they will go directly to heaven or not. They don't know if they will be judged or not. Our hearts must be at peace, and the only way to be at peace is not by believing in the Baby Jesus in the crib or the Sunday School Jesus, but by believing in our hearts that Jesus is the Saviour of the world, and that He died on the cross to pay for our sins.
On the day when you say : "Lord, I ask your forgiveness for all my sins, forgive me in the name of Jesus, who died for me", know that God forgives all your sins. In one instant He erases all the sins you ever committed, because He took them all upon Himself on the Cross, and He was condemned for you, in your place. That is the Gospel ! It's incredible to think that someone paid the price for me. I was born under sin. I inherited it from my ancestors. And I was not only born under sin, but I committed sins, lots of them ! When I come to the Father as I am, to say to Him : " Lord, I confess, forgive me because Jesus died for me. He was ill-treated because of me, He was nailed to the Cross because of me, He died for me so that I could say : Lord, I accept you as Saviour now. I give you my life, wipe away my sins ", in that instant He erases everything !
And if death takes me at that moment, I go directly to heaven. No purgatory ! No waiting room ! Nothing ! Directly to heaven. Why ? Not because I am better than anyone else. Not because I have any merit whatsoever, but simply because the One who died for us has paid the price, there is nothing left to pay. So, whether by death, or by the rapture, once we have made this commitment to the Lord and have given our lives to Him, we are ready ! There is no question of saying one day : " Lord, forgive all my sins " (which He does) and then to continue to act as before, constantly falling back into the same ruts, without victory over sin…in this case you are not ready to go !
This does not mean that you will lose your salvation, but it means that if Jesus comes to take His Church, and although you say you are a Christian, you continue to live in a conscious sin, resisting the Lord, despite knowing that He is asking you to stop, then it is absolutely certain that you will not be part of the rapture. Even if you have abandoned all your other sins , there only needs to be one conscious sin, lived in disobedience, to prevent you from being taken.
The Lord tells us : "I have given you the means to obtain the victory." The means to obtain victory is the knowledge of Jesus Christ and of His accomplished work. Victory over our sins is not a question of will power, it's a question of faith in the person of Jesus and faith in what He accomplished. Jesus lives in our hearts through faith. He gives us the strength to walk in victory. But to do this, our lives must be totally dedicated to Him. A life dedicated to God doesn't mean becoming a monk or a nun. It simply means that in your heart, you have given all things to God. If you give 99% to God and you keep just 1%, you haven't given everything to Him. God wants us to give Him everything.
Remember what Jesus said to the rich young man (Luke 18:18 onwards). The rich young man had kept all God's laws except one ! He came to the Lord saying : "Lord, tell me what I must do to be saved ?" He was sincere ! Jesus said to him : "You lack one thing ; your heart is bound to your money." He was a very wealthy man. "You lack one thing." It wasn't umpteen things to be saved, it was just one thing ! And Jesus tests him by saying : "I ask you to sell all your possessions, to give them to the poor and to follow Me, and you will have a treasure in Heaven." But because his heart was bound to his wealth, he went away sad. This means, that for the sake of one single thing that he didn't want to give to the Lord, he refused the salvation that God was offering him.
We must be ready to abandon everything for God. He sees our hearts and He will ask you to surrender everything that you hold most dear. He will say to you : "Give it to Me now." If you are prepared to give it up, then you have truly given all your life to the Lord. God will not ask you to surrender things which are not important to you. If there are things to which you attatch no particular importance, God isn't going to say : "Alright, it's those things that I want." God will ask you for the thing you hold most dear, and for each one of us it is different. For one it may be food, for another his bank account, for another his car, his house… God will ask you for everything. And you must know in your heart if you are ready to give everything. At that moment, if you are truly committed : you are ready to go. You are ready to go ! That's all that counts ! The greatest joy in our life is to see Jesus face to face as soon as possible ! My heart knows Jesus. I know through faith that He is in my heart and that by faith I am myself in Him, but my eyes want to see Him and my hands want to touch Him. To touch His pierced hands and feet, and His pierced side. To say to Him : "Jesus, I bless you. I want to spend eternity with you." What a wonderful thing to be able to spend eternity with Jesus. We will never tire of it ! Not one moment of boredom ! We will enjoy eternal happiness face to face. What joy !
It is difficult to understand why some Christians don't want to get ready for the Lord's return ? Why is it that they want to remain attatched to something ? Even to the point of not giving it up if God asks them to. And what is the hardest thing to give up ? It's our own life ! Sometimes we are prepared to give everything up, absolutely everything we own, except give up our own selves : "Oh ! Don't touch me, Lord ! Don't touch my projects, my desires, all that I want to do in my life, don't touch that, Lord. Alright, I agree that you can take all my possessions, but let You control my life, Lord, and direct it as you wish... oh no, please don't ask me that !" Well ! You're not ready ! You're not ready to be taken because you want to keep something back for yourself.
God, in His infinite intelligence, has prepared wonderful plans for us. Only we must first of all give Him our lives and let Him take over. He will lead all things in order to accomplish His wonderful Plans in our lives. God's Plans for our lives ! If you want to live your life your own way, God will leave you free to do so all of your life, if that's what you want ! But imagine that you manage to live your life just as you want to, right up to the last five minutes of your life, and then you are suddenly touched by God. You suddenly understand and you say to Him : "Lord, I understand now. Forgive me. From now on I dedicate my life to you." There's not much left of it... just five minutes. Nevertheless, God will take those five minutes, and He'll make something of them ! And He'll take you to be with Him…but you can say to yourself : "I've wasted all my life ! God could have used it in His service here on earth to save souls, to witness, to exhort His Church…" All that is lost forever ! It's lost !
God continually searches out men and women who want to collaborate with Him, to work with Him. When He calls us, it is not to enroll us in a religion. He doesn't call us to be members of a particular church… only of His Church ! The Church that is invisible, that is everywhere. He doesn't call us to do things for Him, or to not do things for Him…He calls us to enter His Body, to be filled with His life, to walk on earth as He walked, to be filled with His love, His joy, His peace, to think of heavenly things, to desire holiness as He is holy, to throw aside all the futilities of the world which encumber our feet, our legs, our hands, our hearts, and to walk in the presence of the Lord, to walk in the light of God ! That's what He wants for us. He wants to give us all of this ! When you give everything up to God, it's as if you come to Him with a thimble, full to the brim, and you say to Him : "Lord, I give you everything." But God is bigger than an ocean. He says to you : "You are coming to me with your thimble, and I accept it with all my heart. And in exchange, I give you the ocean. It's all for you." By faith you can draw from all the riches of God. For the one who walks in total dedication , these riches will never dry up.
The Lord wants to prepare you. He wants you to be sure that you are ready. For the moment I'll leave the subject of preparing for the rapture, and instead, share with you certain other important matters that God has laid on my heart.
The first is the subject of telling the truth… of telling the truth in every single situation and of eradicating from our lives all forms of lie, deceit, or hypocrisy. You know that hypocrisy is a form of lie. The word 'hypocrite' means : "appearing to be something that we are not". Wanting to project a personal image of ourselves which is in fact false. You already know that the Lord loves liars and hypocrites, but what He really wants is to be able to reveal these faults to them so that He can change them, and say : "Now I want to teach you to walk in the truth". Generally speaking, why does a liar lie ? Why does he lie ? Either he is afraid, or else he wants to protect certain personal advantages that he might lose if he told the truth. Or else he uses lies and trickery to obtain something that he desires. What is clear is that he will use lying as a means to protect himself, which is proof of selfishness. In fact, a liar is a person who thinks of himself, and who by lying, seeks, either to protect himself, or to obtain things that he normally isn't allowed to have. The hypocrite is the same. He puts on an appearance so as to win other people's approval. It may be that he doesn't want to be misjudged, or that he fears criticism, or that he tries, through pretence, to take on a role that he is not entitled to. But, of course, it all boils down to falsehood. If you try to pretend to be what you are not…if you hide who you really are in order to pretend to be someone else, then it is lying and hypocrisy. And God said : "Begone, you liars and hypocrites."
Don't start doubting your salvation just because you may have told a lie or been hypocritical, or just because you have a tendancy to be a hypocrite or a liar. The Lord will take care of all that because He sees your heart. If you trust in Him and you cry out to Him, saying : "Lord, I confess my lies and my hypocrisy before You, and I want You to change me. I want to walk in the truth", then the Lord will answer your prayer. Jesus said that He is the Truth, and that we are the children of the Truth. He has given us the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit. He has given us the Word of Truth which is the Bible. We are all sons and daughters of the Truth. He wants the truth to be in every part of our lives ! Lies no longer exist in the lives of sanctified Christians ! As for the Christians who are not sanctified, I'd say : "Well, that's normal. It's quite natural that they should lie, because lying is the fruit and consequence of their lack of sanctification." However, for the committed Christian who has truly given all his heart and all his life to God, you can be sure that the Lord will reveal to him all that is wrong in his life. But it is not with the aim of judging or condemning him. It is so that he can confess these sins and free himself of them. God will reveal all things !
Christians encounter many problems in their lives, but there are two sorts of Christian. The difference between the two types is that whilst one sort lives their trials with joy in a positive way, the other is full of misery and complaining. Why is it that the first group are able to live their hardships in such a positive way ? It is because they know that the problems they encounter, whatever they may be, are ways that God has chosen in order to lead them to a deeper purification and sanctification. It is because they have totally given their lives to God that they are able to accept these trials as important lessons in their lives. God said : « And through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God » (Acts 14:22) It's not because God likes to send us hardships... it's because He knows that it's the only way for us to learn certain lessons.
You are probably already familiar with the experience of seeing a brother or a sister doing something wrong. You go to see them, begging them to stop and exhorting them to return to the right path. They listen, saying : "Yes, yes !" But they don't seem very convinced and very soon resume their old ways. And then, all of a sudden, during a time of difficulty, they begin to listen and pay attention to what you are saying. That is what I lived ! It's what a lot of us live. Often we have trouble hearing God when He speaks to us, because we want to do things our own way. It's only when we get into difficulty, when we are suffering hardship and we are in despair, that we call out to God : " Lord, help me !" And God comes to our help.
What rejoices the heart of the true Christian is that he knows he will always understand what God is trying to reveal to him, because his heart is open to receive. Those who compromise their walk with God, who drag their feet and do not want God to work deeply in their lives, will never understand, because they do not want God to speak to them. Because their lives are not totally dedicated to God, they will not understand the things that happen to them. They will blame those around them, and rebel against the circumstances and against God Himself, because their lives are not totally surrendered to Him. And yet they should understand that God is behind their trial with the aim of bringing them through with a new lesson to learn. And it won't stop there, because He will lead them onwards to face yet another trial, through which they will learn new things again. When I am suffering under some hardship, and I know that God is with me, what can I do ? Rejoice ! When my heart is totally given to God, I know that I will come through. I know that whatever happens, the trial will bring about good in my life.
I must insist on the Spirit of Truth, because we are all called to walk in the truth. Those Christians who continue to compromise their lives by tolerating lies, even the smallest ones, cannot expect to be part of the rapture. I am not speaking here of the occasional lie, the sort which slips out unintentionally and which is a distortion of the truth. This can happen to anyone. But immediatly the Holy Spirit reveals it to us, we confess it and ask for forgiveness. Our hearts cry out : "Lord, I want to go deeper with You. I want this to be eradicated from my life. I want it with all my heart. " However, those who retain some form of lie in their lives, (for example falsifying a tax return, obtaining a document by false pretences, or anything else that requires some form of lying) only prove that their hearts still cling to this sin. They have not understood that God hates lies, and that as sons and daughters of the Truth, they should no longer be practising these sins voluntarily. If God has revealed a lie in your life, even a small one, but you continue to practice it and excuse it, then this lie will prevent you from being taken ! Put your life in order ! If you have any false documents, or if you have obtained anything by deception or by fraudulent means, then rectify the situation as quickly as possible !
God has been keeping your "accounts" for a long time ! He has kept the registers scrupulously up to date, and if anything has not been confessed before Him, then it will prevent you from being taken. There's no point in singing : "Alleluia ! Lord, I love You and You love me, and I'll soon be taken up into the air to be with You. " God will not take you, because He knows. If at home you have any stolen objects, or things that you have taken, or not returned to their rightful owner, or things that you have not abandoned when God asked you to, then these things will stop you from being taken. Search carefully in your houses, search in every corner, search amongst your papers. Ask God to reveal all things. Say to Him : "Lord, help me to see. I'm ready to confess and I'm ready to give up these things.... all of them." You can imagine God's joy when He sees your heart ! He will begin to reveal all things, bringing that which was hidden to the surface. And you will be able to confess these things joyfully to Him, restoring truthfulness to your life. It will happen very quickly, because God wants to make sure that you are ready to go to be with Him. He will allow you the time that it takes to confess your sin. You know as well as I do that such things unfortunately do exist in the lives of certain Christians : illegally obtained objects, white lies, things that were not said properly, or not said in time, and these things can exist in any part of our lives. The truth is serious business ! Lying is serious business !
In our relationships with other Christians and in our daily fellowship with church members there exists another form of lying. Often we say things which are a distortion of the truth. We pass on lies or rumours which we have not verified beforehand. Other Christians then pick up the rumours and pass them on. All those involved participate in a process of lies ! Gossip, rumours and lies circulate freely in our churches, with no discipline to verify or stop them. When a truly dedicated Christian is confronted with this problem, he must say to himself : "For the moment I shall keep this information to myself until I can check it out. I shall only pass it on when I am sure that it has been verified and that it has been proved to be true. " A great many problems would be solved in our churches if this was lived by everyone. We simply need to speak the truth to one another ! God encourages us to speak the truth to one another in love. To speak the truth in love ! This doesn't mean waiting until the problem has become explosive and blown out of all proportion, before we run to find our brother or sister in the Lord to quickly confess the truth. This is not speaking the truth in love ! When the truth is shared without love it is no longer the truth, because the spirit of hate which surrounds it has distorted it. Only Jesus' truth can be the true truth because it is spoken in love. The whole package is complete and true... nothing missing.
I am going to read you a passage from Matthew. It is from the wonderful Sermon on the Mount ! If you read the Sermon on the Mount attentively you will see that it is very demanding, far more demanding than the Law of Moses. What it asks of us is very exacting. If we accept Jesus' sermon as a law for our lives, there is no way that we can live up to it... it's impossible ! However, if we receive Jesus and His Word, He will change our hearts and we will be able to live what He asks of us.
It says in chapter 5, verse 21 : « You have heard that the ancients were told, ( in the days of the Law) 'You shall not commit murder' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court'. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court » Do you really believe that the person who is angry with his brother will be part of the Lord's rapture ? You may say : "Oh, it's nothing. It's just a small annoyance between husband and wife, between wife and husband, or between a brother and sister." « ... whoever shall say to his brother : 'Raca !' » Raca means 'good for nothing'. This expression seems a bit old fashioned today, but I can assure you that there are several modern words that could take it's place, but that I won't mention ! « ... whoever shall say to his brother : 'Raca' shall be guilty before the supreme court... » The Sanhedrin was the supreme Jewish court, consisting of 70 elders chosen from all Israel. Usually, if someone had to appear before the Sanhedrin, it was to be condemned to death. Look at the example of Peter and the apostles... when they were summoned before the Sanhedrin it was't simply to receive a fine ! « ... whoever shall say (to his brother) : 'You fool, 'shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. » These words were spoken by Jesus Himself ! He says to us : "You are my disciples, and yet, if amongst brothers you become angry and speak these words to each other in a spirit of hate, then you deserve to be punished in the fires of hell !" Of course, that is not what the Lord wants. He wants us to be delivered ! I am not here to put you all under a spirit of condemnation. I am here to warn you, so that you can be freed from these things, and be taken up to meet the Lord at His Coming because that is His Will ! I am here to show you that these things are deadly serious in the Church of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes, you can try to control your anger so that no one else notices it, but it is nevertheless there in your heart. Through willpower, you manage to control your temper, but it is still burning inside you. Let's carry on reading at verse 23 : « If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering » Here Jesus is referring to Christians who have become angry with each other, because one of them had a grievance against the other. Imagine the following situation. You know that a brother has a grudge against you, because of something that you did or said that was wrong. As you begin to pray, the Lord says to you : "Your brother holds something against you." What do you think the Holy Spirit expects you to do ? To seek reconciliation with him, of course. It couldn't be more obvious ! What's more, it has to be on your initiative because you are the one at fault in the situation. Sometimes, people can bear a grudge against you, despite the fact that you have not wronged them in any way. In this case it is not up to you to go and ask for forgiveness and seek to put things right, although of course, you can always try to make peace with them. However, when you are guilty of wronging a brother, then it's up to you to take the initiative of going to seek reconciliation with him. This is one of Jesus' commands : « Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, in order that your opponent may not deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. » The prison He is referring to here is a spiritual prison. Many Christians are in "spiritual prisons" because they don't want to seek reconciliation with those that they have wronged. Obviously, those who were wronged should not have let their anger get the better of them, but the guilty party is the one who committed the wrong in the first place. And Jesus says : « Truly I say to you, you shall not come out of there (the prison) until you have paid up the last cent ». Do you really believe that such Christians will be taken up with the Lord when He comes ? They hypocritically pretend that all is well and continue to fellowship together, but in their hearts nothing has been settled. They still feel animosity , hurt and anger towards each other. There is no initiative for reconciliation. And when I say "reconciliation", I don't mean : "Um ! I'm sorry if I acted badly.... but you were wrong too, you know !" Not at all ! What I mean is going humbly to your brother, saying : "I have sinned against you and hurt you. I ask for your forgiveness."
I want to come on to a second point now. In Matthew 18 verse15, it says : « And if your brother sins... » Here we are coming to an area where obedience to the Lord's Will is even more uncommon ! In the case that I have just mentioned, Christians usually end up by seeking reconciliation with each other, because they can see the hypocrisy of their position. However, in this second situation, obedience to God's will is even scarcer. That is because Jesus is saying : « If your brother sins... » It's not necessarily a situation where a brother has sinned against you, but more a case of you becoming witness to his sin, either because you actually saw him sin, or you heard about it from others. Whatever the case, you know about his sin. Of course, I'm not talking here about someone you don't really know, like someone on the other side of the world. The Lord is speaking here of local church fellowship. The brother with whom you live. If he sins... « ... go and reprove him ».
Do you understand what I mean ? The phrase : « ... go and reprove him » shows clearly that the brother (or sister) is not far away. He's just nearby ! What are you waiting for ? The passage even says « go and reprove him in private ». You often hear Christians say : "Who am I to go and see him ?... I couldn't possibly... and anyway, I'm not perfect myself... he might take it badly... he'll think that I'm judging him". Firstly, this is a blatant case of disobedience, because God clearly asks us to reprove our brother in private. Secondly, if Christians don't do it, it is often because they are not filled with the Holy Spirit. They succumb to fear and timidity which leads to cowardice. And yet it is obvious that if Jesus asks this of us, then He will give us the strength, through His Spirit, to reprove our brother in truth and love.
Let us suppose that a brother comes to reprove me in love, but that in actual fact I have done nothing wrong and that I have a clear conscience. If I myself am in the peace and love of Jesus, I will listen to all that he has to say, and then I will reply in love : "But, brother, you are making a mistake. Listen, I'll explain to you all that happened with an open heart and in all truth. I will help you to see that you are mistaken. Let's discuss all this openly together in the love of Jesus." It's obvious that all will go well ! And even if the brother, or the sister, that comes to me, is in the flesh and reproves me angrily with false accusations, so long as I myself am in the Spirit, I will take it peacefully. I will say : "Alright, brother (or sister), let's talk it over, and I'll prove to you that you are making a mistake." If he doesn't want to listen, then that's his choice, but I can say : "Brother, you are sinning in this situation. You are not judging according to the truth, you are criticising me under a spirit of judgement. Take it as you will, but I have to tell you this so that all is clear between us."
« ... if he listens to you, you have won your brother ». When we reprove someone, the aim is to win them to Christ so that they can walk in holiness and be ready for the rapture. We do it out of love. « But if he does not listen to you... », what then ? Lots of Christians say : "I've done what I can, but he won't listen. I've committed it to the Lord. What else can I do ?" No ! That's not enough ! Jesus said : « But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you... » Of course, the "one or two more" that Jesus is talking about here, should be reliable, mature Christians, not people who are incapable of judging fairly, because they are not walking according to the Spirit of God. « ... take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed » You take with you one or two reliable people and you go together to see the brother, or the sister, who has sinned. You then say : "Brother, you must put your life in order. I told you on my own, and now I am telling you in the presence of two or three witnesses. I am doing this because God requires it."
« And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church... » It's not a question of saying : "Oh, we can't do that... it would be gossipping !" If your brother has sinned, telling it to the church is not at all the same as spreading rumours or scandal-mongering ! If you have first been to see your brother alone, and he has refused to listen, and then in the presence of one or two witnesses you have said : "Brother, you are continuing in your sin", then you have lived the first two stages. It may be adultery, or lies, or theft,... whatever it is, the brother persists in holding on to it. In this case, when the first two stages have failed, then the Lord commands you to tell the whole church, saying : "This brother has sinned and refuses to repent. I went to him in love, to try to win him over, but he refused. I then went to him with two witnesses, but he still wouldn't listen. I now have the proof that he refuses to renounce his sin, and I share this openly with all the church." Whether the brother is physically present, or not, « ... and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer ».
Considering your brother as a "Gentile" doesn't mean that you are to consider him as an enemy ! You will continue to pray for him and love him in your heart, but in the reality of everyday life, this brother will henceforth be considered by the church as someone who is unconverted. There will no longer be a deep relationship of Christian fellowship with him. Although we can enjoy friendly relationships with other non-Christians around us, there can never be the same oneness of spirit as with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We do not meet for prayer with other non-Christians, nor do we share the Lord's supper with them... it's impossible because they are simply not interested in such things. « ... let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer ».
You must sever your former relationship with such a person. Others will say : "But, brother, it's a lack of love. How can you say such things ? What if we all started doing things like that in the church ? You're under a spirit of judgment !"
No, this is not the action of a negative spirit of judgment ! Why ? Because God wants to teach us and help us to live all things in truth and love. If someone admonishes his brother in love, but the brother rejects what is said and becomes angry, then God will deal with him, teaching him a vital lesson in his Christian walk. Whatever happens, you have remained obedient to God's command, and that's all that counts ! Unfortunately, the church is under God's judgement because of open disobedience to this command. Why is it not practised ? As I said before, the main reason is disobedience, because those who tolerate sin in their own lives are loth to denounce other people's sins. Our own lives must be truly dedicated to God if we want to be able to reprove a brother with a clear conscience. This does not mean that we ourselves are perfect, and that we have nothing left to rectify in our lives before God... it simply means that we are living a consecrated life. We are open to being admonished by our brothers and sisters, and even to be accused unfairly. Those who peacefully accept reproval, despite having done nothing wrong, can rejoice in the Lord because in His Grace, He permits us to suffer injustice as a test. It's a subject I often talk about.
If you are reprimanded despite having done nothing wrong, and you are unfairly treated, you should rejoice ! However if you deserved to be reprimanded, then you should rejoice all the more, because in this way the Spirit of Truth can work and spread within the church. Problems will come to the surface which the Lord can then resolve. God wants to teach us these things because we don't live them in the right way. The Holy Spirit will gently convict us, revealing what is wrong in our attitudes, and how we should correct them. All this will lead to a greater spreading of the Spirit of Truth, not only in the church, but also in our lives. There is too much cowardice in the church... too much silence. Certain wrong things are known to all, and yet no one wants to talk about them. Situations fester and get worse because no one wants to tackle them. Congregations continue to meet together to worship God, despite the fact that there are skeletons in the cupboard that are never brought to His Light. The things that are wrong must come to God's light, be washed in the Blood of Jesus and forgiven by the Holy Spirit. There needs to be a true spiritual reconciliation amongst the brethren, and a new start in love and unity.
In chapter 18, verse 18, it says : « Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven ». People too often understand this purely in the sense of binding evil spirits or freeing from wrong ties, etc... This is quite right, of course, but here it is in the context of speaking the truth to one another in love. If we don't speak out in love, we allow individuals and even the whole church to remain in bondage. Until people accept to bring certain things to the light, in order to let God deal with them, they remain in bondage. Those things that remain bound on earth will be bound in heaven. If here on earth you deliberately hold onto a ball of string that is a tangle of knots, it cannot be unravelled in heaven. Do you understand what I'm saying ? You will unfortunately stay tied up in your knots. This passage must also be understood in this way. It's not just demons that are bound, but also all those who refuse to do what God is asking of them in order to free themselves of wrong ties. Unfortunately, they will remain in this situation until, as Jesus says, all things will come to the light before their brothers and sisters. We must all accept willingly to be reproved by others, and also to change our conduct once we have been reproved. If not... well, we can only pray.
Let's carry on reading at verse 19 : « Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anyting that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My Name, there I am in their midst » It's important to understand the context here. Just before this passage, Jesus was talking about how we should deal with wrong relationships between brothers and sisters. He concludes by saying : "... if two of you agree." Why is there agreement ? Because what lay between us has now been removed. I accepted your reproof, I told you the truth or you accepted my grievances... and why ? Because we both saw that it was right ! Because we accepted to bring all things to God's light. Now nothing lies between us any more and we are in unison of heart. When two people are in agreement, God says : "Ask Me what you want, and I will grant it." But how can I be in agreement of heart with you if there are still skeletons in the cupboard between us ? If I am under the impression that you have done something against me, but I have never dared to talk to you about it, or if I have talked about it but in the wrong way, then that grudge lies between us. How can our hearts be united in order to ask something from God in prayer ? It will not be accepted. On the other hand if two people "agree" because they are in unison of heart, then they can ask anything, and it will be granted. God says : "You can ask Me anything and I will give it to you."
Imagine the power that would be present in a church where these things were lived regularly, where all grievances were settled in the light and love of Jesus and where brothers and sisters are in total harmony together ! Jesus doesn't say : "If a brother sins against you, forgive him in your heart, but keep your mouth shut and don't say anything." No ! He says that we should reprove him in love. And in that moment, because we are God's children and we want to walk in the light of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit comes down on us and on the church. How many disciples were there in the beginning ? Twelve. And yet when the Holy Spirit empowered that little group, the shock waves spread over the whole earth ! And why ? Because they were of one heart and mind together. There was no backlog of hidden grudges or grievances amongst them; only the love of Jesus and the Spirit of Truth. The power of God was able to descend on the church and work in their midst just so long as the truth reigned amongst them.
When the spirit of lies tried to creep into the church through Ananias and Sapphira, the power of the truth was so strong in their midst that immediately, the lie was revealed and condemned and they both fell dead. That is because the Spirit of Truth reigned, and God's power was able to descend in their midst. There were miracles, signs, conversions and healings. I am convinced that one of the main reasons why there is a lack of power in the church, is because of disobedience to these two simple commandments that I have talked to you about tonight. Firstly, if you are angry with your brother, go and ask for his forgiveness. Don't go to bed until you have said that you're sorry. And secondly, « ... if your brother sins, go and reprove him » first of all on your own, then with two or three others, and then before the whole church. These two commandments must not be lived in a spirit of judgement, anger or domination, but in a spirit of love , humility and desire for the truth.
When a person is unwilling to reprove others, it is often because he doesn't like being reproved himself. Think carefully about that ! If he doesn't want to be admonished by his brother, he will himself avoid going to reprove others. If you have the courage to go and reprove your brother in love, then you will have the courage to accept the reproof of others. It's obvious ! And in this way, we bring all things into the light. « For where two or three are gathered together in my name » in the unity of the Spirit and unity of the heart, then « I am there in their midst », says Jesus.
Lord, you are in our midst and I pray that you would speak now into the hearts of all those who have heard your Word, so as to draw them closer to you, with a renewed revelation of yourself as the Lord and Saviour of their lives. Father, I pray that in your Church, you will help us to walk in your Truth and to deal with our problems as your Word teaches us to do. We pray that all gossip, slander, resentment, grudge, and animosity will disappear from our midst. We recognize that these things exist because all too often we do not want to bring them to your Light, and that we do not seek to speak together about these things in love and humility. I pray, Father, that these sins will be removed from your Bride. You are soon coming to take your Bride, and I know that these sins will be removed because that is your perfect will. You can only take a Bride who has resolved these problems. Father, help me in this area. Search in the depths of my heart, Lord, and reveal to me all the things that remain. Cleanse me, Father, I beg you. It is only through your Light that we are able to see the light. Show each one of us where we stand before You, Lord, and I thank you for shedding your Light so that we can see. Draw us ever closer to you and deliver us from all evil. I thank you in the name of Jesus. Amen !