Category Archives: Christianity

Self-Help Christian Living

self-help solutions“Seven Reasons You Don’t Get Healed.” “Ten Steps to Personal Success (and Why You’re Not There Yet).” “Eight Reasons Your Prayers Are Not Answered.”

Do these titles sound in any way familiar? Christian teachers preach and write on topics such as these a lot. They start by telling us how we’re doing it all wrong and then offer us the alternative solutions they’ve discovered. Some of us become hopelessly overwhelmed — first, by the extent of our revealed failure, and second, by the myriads of steps we must take to fix ourselves. We feel tempted to cry out in despair, “Why should I even try? I’ll be sure to do something wrong to keep me from receiving what I need from God anyway! Why does it have to be so hard???!!!”

The truth is, the message presented by many of these teachers is basically flawed. It is a humanistic, self-help approach, just like the secular world churns out. Based on following methods and formulas (backed up with a smattering of isolated Bible verses, of course), it is all about depending on yourself, not on God. You determine your own destiny by either doing all the stuff right or doing it wrong. Mess up? Too bad. You should have followed the game plan laid out by Christian Expert So-and-So.

The true Bible message, however, is quite the opposite. We are to depend, not on ourselves, but on Jesus. Consider what our Lord said in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” It’s like a fresh, revitalizing breeze washing over you, isn’t it?

Ever since the Garden of Eden, the devil has been whispering to mankind, “You can have all the knowledge for yourself. You can be like God.” It was an invitation then to rebellious independence, and the message has not changed. It has only been repackaged by well-meaning Christian teachers and sometimes backed up with Bible verses which make it seem right. Meanwhile, the Lord has been calling to us, “You can’t do it yourself. You never could. Come to Me, and depend on Me. I want to help you.”

The deception is in putting a formula first, with a dash of God thrown in. The truth is in making relationship with the Unlimited One our foremost priority and then letting Him lead us. He wants to show His might on our behalf, to override our weakness with His strength as we walk through life’s difficulties with our hand in His.

The Pharisees of old made it difficult for their listeners to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 23:13). Likewise, some Christian teachers today are hindering God’s children from entering into a joyful, victorious life by placing the emphasis on ourselves, rather than on Jesus. Perhaps 2 Corinthians 11:3 is an appropriate verse for us to freshly apply: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity which is in Christ.”

“The simplicity which is in Christ.” Let’s remember that.

My next post will be an extension of these thoughts. We’ll talk about some current teaching on intercession which I find troubling, and how we can receive answers to our prayers without striving in the flesh.

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inner peace

 

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Bible studies

 

 

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

The Other 9-11s

9-11This week we commemorated 9-11-01, the infamous day when Muslim jihadists attacked our nation. It is a day not to be forgotten. Life in the United States will never be the same because of it.

On 9-11 this year, the Lord happened to remind me of one of my favorite names of God, found in Hebrews 9:11, which speaks of our Lord Jesus: “a high priest of good things to come.” After posting it on Facebook, I noticed the 9:11 / 9-11 correlation, and I began to think about other 9:11 references in the Bible.

While 9-11-01 was a time of great devastation, God has His own set of 9:11 words, and they are full of hope for us. Here are some of them, starting with my two favorites:

Hebrews 9:11“But Christ being come a high priest of good things to come….”

Psalm 91:1“He who dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Are you afraid? There is a haven of safety and rest for you in the secret place of the Lord’s presence. He is inviting you to enter into intimate fellowship with Him, for it is there that the other wonderful promises of Psalm 91 will become real to you. I spend a lot of time in Psalm 91, especially when fear knocks at my door.

Genesis 9:11“And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off anymore by the waters of a flood; neither shall there anymore be a flood to destroy the earth.” God has established a forever covenant with you through the blood of Jesus Christ. He never reneges on His promises, so you can absolutely count on Him to do for you what He has said in His Word. The hard part is waiting for the fulfillment, but if we cling in faith to Him, we will see Him perform the good things He has promised.

Nehemiah 9:11“And You divided the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; and You threw their persecutors into the deeps, as a stone into the mighty waters.” Are you hemmed in, with nowhere to turn? God will make a way for you, as you release the insurmountable difficulty to Him. He will fight for you and personally go against those who are trying to destroy you.

Psalm 9:11“Sing praises to the LORD, Who dwells in Zion; declare among the people His doings.” Praise your way through to your victory! Praise is a powerful weapon of our spiritual warfare. It brings breakthroughs when nothing else seems to budge the circumstances.

Proverbs 9:11“For by Me your days shall be multiplied, and the years of your life shall be increased.” Do you want to live a long, healthy life, so that you can be as fruitful for Jesus as possible? God wants that for you too! Declare this 9:11 verse as your own.

Amos 9:11“In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old.” This verse is about the restoration of David’s kingly line through Jesus, the Son of David. It prophesies His physical return to earth to rule in righteousness. It’s an exciting word for all who love Him: Jesus is coming, and it is going to be good!

Zechariah 9:11“As for you also, by the blood of your covenant I have sent forth your prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.” Do you feel like you are in the pits? Do you feel dry and thirsty? You have a covenant with the Father by the blood of Jesus your Savior. He has promised to set the prisoners free and to give His living water to all who thirst. Check out Isaiah 55:1; 58:11; 61:1 and John 4:13-15; 7:37, 38, just for starters.

Matthew 9:11“And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, ‘Why does your Master eat with publicans and sinners?'” Aren’t you glad that Jesus wants to spend time with people who sin and have issues? I am — because I know I don’t have it all together. He takes us where we’re at, and cleans us up as we fellowship with Him. Now, that is good news!

Luke 9:11“And the people … followed Him: and He received them, and spoke to them of the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing.” He received them, He spoke to them, and He healed them. Jesus receives you, no matter what a mess your life is right now. He wants to speak to you. And, He wants to heal you physically and emotionally.

John 9:11“… A man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ I went and washed, and I received sight.” I’m going to take the liberty of applying this in a spiritual sense. Jesus provides for us a “pool of Siloam” in His Word. It washes us (see Ephesians 5:26). The Holy Spirit uses it to guide us into all truth (see John 8:31, 32; 14:26; and 16:13). He gives us spiritual eyes to see what the world around us cannot see.

Romans 9:11“For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not because of works, but because of Him Who calls.” God always planned for you to be His very own. He doesn’t love you and give you good purposes to fulfill because you have somehow been a super-Christian who earned His favor. No, He has favored you from before you were ever born, and now He’s helping you all along life’s way. That’s more good news!

2 Corinthians 9:11“Being enriched in everything to all bountifulness, which causes through us thanksgiving to God.” God “daily loads [you] with benefits” (Psalm 68:19) so that you can “pay it forward” to others. Did you know that when you are kind in various ways — even small ways — it causes other people to thank God for His goodness to them? We’ll only find out how much this has gone on when we get to heaven. You were meant to be a blessing and to give glory to God in all that you do.

I hope these 9:11 verses bless and encourage you as much as they have me!

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topical KJV Bible

 

 

Encouragement from God’s Word,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
(Topical verses from the KJV to encourage and strengthen you)

 

 

Bible verses for intercessors

 

The Intercessor’s Companion,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
(Topical verses to encourage you and help you intercede on specific subjects, in a modernized KJV format)

 

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 8) — Conclusion

balanced churchWe started this series by looking at what “church” (ekklesia) means — a called-out assembly. We are called out of the darkness of this world into God’s family and kingdom, not as individuals only, but as a united body of believers, meant to live and carry out our purpose together.

I also gave you a core job description: The Church is the expression of Jesus Christ upon the earth.

Throughout the series, I emphasized that healthy church life means we function as the family of God. When we forget that we are family, some of the other components of who we are — an army, discipleship center, or even a house of prayer — can get out of whack. But if we stay in the context of family, the many purposes God has for His Church work beautifully together. When we overemphasize one aspect of the Church to the exclusion of others, we become like a wheel out of round, or one missing some spokes, but properly balancing who we are and what we are supposed to do causes us to thrive.

There is one more element of the Church that I would like to mention. Really, I’ve saved the best for last:

We are Christ’s bride.

It is definitely a “now, but not yet” part of who we are. We are betrothed to our Bridegroom Jesus, but the wedding celebration will not take place until He returns for us. While we wait for Him, we are in a two-fold preparation time. We are already spotless in the sense that we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ, blameless and pure through His atonement for us at the cross. But Jesus is also bringing us through a wedding preparation process, “that He might sanctify and cleanse [His bride] with the washing of water by His Word, so that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26, 27).

We have our role to play as well. Just as an earthly bride goes through much preparation to look her most beautiful on her wedding day, we are to give great attention to readying ourselves for Jesus. Revelation 19:7 says of the marriage supper in heaven, “for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”

In this present hour, the Lord is doing His part to cleanse His Church, even sometimes through the painful, public exposure of sin. We must do ours as well, in setting aside every encumbrance, every distraction, which would keep us from looking eagerly for our Bridegroom to come for us. We must get our attention off the temporary pursuits and cares of earth, and firmly fix our gaze on Jesus. He is coming. Let us be eagerly anticipating Him.

Summing things up:

The expression of love, mercy, and compassion should always be prominent in the Church. We carry out the practical functions to which we are called as Christ’s body on earth, but forever in the context of these three attributes. This is why the Spirit led the apostle Paul to insert “the love chapter” (1 Corinthians 13) between the the gifts and church order chapters (1 Corinthians 12 and 14).

We must also remember that our Sunday morning services are only a slice of what it means to be the Church. If that is all we ever experience, we are missing out on a great deal. The early Church not only met together in large gatherings; they met “house to house” informally, eating and fellowshipping with one another (Acts 2:46), receiving teaching (Acts 20:20), and praying together (Acts 12:12) too. We can do the same in our day. They also lived out the life of Christ in the world around them, including showing forth the power of God through miracles, signs, and wonders, which are supposed to “follow those who believe” (Mark 16:17). “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20).

I hope you have enjoyed this series and that it has provoked some new ideas for you. I would love hearing any additional thoughts you have!

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)
Part 2 — We Are Family
Part 3 — We Are One Body
Part 4 — We Are an Army
Part 5 — We Are a House of Prayer and Worship
Part 6 — We Are a Healing Center
Part 7 — Other Church Attributes

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nature of God

 

 

Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Christian character

 

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

intercession, prayer

 

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

 

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 7) — Other Attributes of the Church

Supreme Court buildingWe’ve talked about the Church being a family, a body, an army, a house of prayer and worship, and a healing center. Here are a few other attributes of the Church which should not be neglected.

 

The Church is a governing body upon earth.

We carry out our governing function in a couple of ways. One is by bringing the power and presence of God with us wherever we go.

We are meant to influence and bring change in our world through our words and actions. We are “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20), meaning that what Jesus did to demonstrate the Kingdom of God, we do also. Jesus “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38); we do likewise. He spoke light and truth; we are to do the same. Jesus said of His disciples, “You are the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”“a city set on a hill [that] cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:13, 14). Paul worded it, God “makes manifest by us the savor of His knowledge in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:15). So, we govern by bringing the Lord’s kingdom to our world in how we do life.

Each of us can do this in the process of going about our daily occupations. But in order to be as effective as possible, we should stay aware that this is why we have been placed by God in our particular spheres of influence. We must not miss our opportunities!

The second way we govern on earth is through prayer. In Matthew 18:18, 19, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them by My Father Who is in heaven.”

In his book, Secrets of a Prayer Warrior, Derek Prince said this: “The Bible reveals that this world is not really ruled by presidents and governors and dictators. They only seem to rule. The people who really rule the world are those who know how to pray.” We need to grasp this idea and run with it!

Our governing function is carried out both individually and as a church body. While each of us should be an ambassador and a prayer warrior, when we join together in unity with other believers, our effectiveness is greatly multiplied. Corporate governing as a body ties in with what we already saw in Part 4 about the Church being an army. No man fights a war all by himself.

Ultimately, we will physically govern on earth with Christ when He returns (and we with Him) for His millennial reign as King. The governing we do now is a seed, a foretaste of what is to come.

discipleshipThe Church is a center for discipleship.

What did Jesus tell His disciples before He left earth? “Go, therefore, and teach [make disciples of] all nations… teaching them to observe all things which I have commanded you….” (Matthew 28:19, 20).

Paul called this discipleship “the perfecting [equipping] of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ, until we all come, in the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, into maturity, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we are no longer children, tossed to and fro, carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery and cunning craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:12-14).

Some of our local churches are fulfilling the discipleship function well. However, based on the amount of serious doctrinal error which has become commonplace in the Church today, apparently many of our churches are not getting the job done. In Charismatic / prophetic / apostolic circles, we often focus on “equipping the saints” in how to do the supernatural works of Jesus, but we have neglected to lay the firm foundation of the core doctrines taught by the original New Testament apostles. Indeed, we have neglected teaching the Bible as a whole. On the other hand, in fundamentalist / non-Charismatic streams, there is often a great adherence to Bible teaching, while not emphasizing pursuing intimacy with Jesus Himself. As you can see, the Church needs a lot of improvement in the discipleship area!

The discipleship function can be worked out in a variety of ways. The Word of God should be preached from our pulpits (in many cases, this is not happening as it should). Home Bible studies and Bible classes within the local church can further enhance the work. One-on-one discipleship, with mature believers mentoring newer Christians, is just as vital as what we receive through sermons and structured teaching.

I personally believe we should see more teaching from the Bible on God’s nature. If we understand Who He is and how He acts, we can then apply that understanding to develop Christlike character in our own lives. Too many believers in our day have little understanding of either God’s nature or how to live like Jesus. These things can be taught systematically, however.

It is a large task, and may seem overwhelming, but each of us can do our part by being connected into a local fellowship where true discipleship is taking place, and by being willing to disciple others who are just beginning their life in Christ.

In our next post, we’ll wrap up this series with one more aspect of who the Church is and a few final thoughts.

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)
Part 2 — We Are Family
Part 3 — We Are One Body
Part 4 — We Are an Army
Part 5 — We Are a House of Prayer and Worship
Part 6 — We Are a Healing Center
Next: Part 8 (Conclusion)

________________________________________

nature of God

 

 

Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Christian character

 

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

intercession, prayer

 

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 6) — We Are a Healing Center

healingJesus is the Healer, and He has commissioned us to labor with Him in that capacity, because “…as [Jesus] is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).

Jesus commissioned His disciples, in Matthew 10:7, 8, “And as you go, preach, saying, ”The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons; freely you have received, now freely give.”

We are His ambassadors, so we should be doing the same things He did. Indeed, He said we would: “Truly, Truly, I say to you, He who believes on Me, the works that I do, he shall do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to my Father” (John 14:12).

We all love miraculous healing stories, whether in the Bible or in modern times, don’t we? While we’re excited and delighted to see people healed instantly, some healing takes a long time — especially inner healing. Yet I have heard it said, time and again, by multiple preachers, “The church is not supposed to be a hospital!” Ahem. Yes, it is.

If you travel in apostolic circles, you are probably having fits with me about now. Because, most likely you are into hosting spiritual boot camps to equip the saints for battle, right? But let’s think this through a bit.

You want a harvest of souls, don’t you? What kind of world do we have around us? One full of hurting, traumatized people. More than half come from broken homes. At least one in four has been a victim of sexual abuse. Still others have suffered other types of physical or emotional abuse. Some are refugees and have lived through the greatest atrocities imaginable in their home countries. Some have tried to commit suicide because they can’t deal with the pain anymore.

Now tell me the Church is not supposed to be a hospital! What are you going to do with them once you have brought them to Jesus, if you won’t provide a place of healing for them within the Church? Will you just push them through boot camp and out to the battlefield?

And what about Christians who once were healthy, but now are not? Should we just ignore their hurt, perhaps write them off as unfit? Do we pressure them to pretend everything is all right, when it is not? Or should we instead be compassionate enough to be an active part of their healing process, realizing with a heart of humility that any of us could also experience a stretch of life where we aren’t in top form?

That’s my human reasoning, but let’s look at what the Bible says about it. “We, then, who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1). Jesus bound up the brokenhearted (Isaiah 61:1). “A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, until He sends forth judgment to victory” (Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 12:20).

Realizing that the Church should be a healing center — including a “hospital,” if you will — doesn’t mean that we let people sit around and lick their wounds for the rest of their lives. The whole purpose of doctors and hospitals is to get people well, so they can lead healthy lives when possible. Indeed, healing people of emotional wounds is an element of equipping the saints — because part of healing is giving them the tools to stay well and strong, so that they can go out there and make a difference in God’s kingdom.

I think that might be a worthy reason to think the Church should be a hospital. How about you?

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)
Part 2 — We Are Family
Part 3 — We Are One Body
Part 4 — We Are an Army
Part 5 — We Are a House of Prayer and Worship
Next: Part 7 — Other Attributes of the Church

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healing

 

God’s Word on Healing
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Christian encouragement

 

 

Encouragement from God’s Word
by Lee Ann Rubsam

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 3) — We Are One Body

In our last post, we saw that God uses the model of family for His Church. He also likens His people to a human body. The two ideas are similar in how they cause us to relate to one another, if we heed them. Let’s take a look at the main passage which describes us as a body, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27:

For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are still one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body … and have all been made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.

If the foot shall say, “Because I am not the hand, I am not part of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, “Because I am not the eye, I am not part of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?

But now God has set every one of the members in the body as it has pleased Him. And if they were all one member, where would be the body? But now are they many members, yet only one body.

And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you.” Nor can the head say to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, how much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary. And those members of the body which we think less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; our less presentable parts are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts have no need. But God has tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to those parts which lacked.

This is so there would be no division in the body, but the members should have the same care one for another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

In a healthy family, every member is valued. We share each other’s joys and sorrows, triumphs and defeats. When one hurts, the rest are empathetic to his or her pain. Little children are not disdained because they are small and weak; they are treated more tenderly. If a family member moves away, passes, or chooses to be estranged, he is sorely missed. A healthy family pulls together as a team.

In a healthy body, every part is also valued. If one part hurts, the whole body is affected. Parts which are naturally weaker and more susceptible to injury (such as the internal organs) are protected, not despised. If a part of the body has to be surgically removed, the rest of the body suffers great hardship. The left eye, ear, leg, or hand does not compete for dominance with the right eye, ear, leg, or hand. They work together.

So it is meant to be in the Church, the “body” of Christ. We are supposed to take special care of those who are weaker or less capable. Those who are sick should be tenderly nursed back to health. Those with less visible functions (like the internal organs of the human body) are vital to the life of the church as a whole, and should be valued accordingly. If someone leaves or passes away, it is like an amputation has taken place: the rest of the body tries to compensate for the loss, but it is not the same without the one who is gone.

In the church body, we should not be envious of one another, vying for dominance. Instead, we should pull together, recognizing the unique purpose God has for each of us. There is room for more than one “eye” or “ear” (the prophetic gifts of spiritually seeing and hearing). In fact, the sight range and depth perception of two eyes working together is better than what one eye can do by itself. In short, we need each other, each fulfilling our God-given purpose, in order for the church to be healthy and fully functional.

Appreciating each other and being willing to work together in the church body is not easy. It takes commitment to unconditional love, as we see laid out in 1 Corinthians 13. It takes dependence upon the Holy Spirit and a continual dying to our own selfish ambitions. Some members of the local body are not as easy to love as others, due to irritating personality quirks or character flaws. We may be tempted to wish they would go elsewhere. But if we can remember that they, too, have a unique, God-designed place to fill, and that the body will be missing a part if they are gone, it helps our own attitude. Many is the time I have asked God to show me the good He sees in a brother or sister, when I couldn’t find much to like. He has been faithful to that prayer, so that when I saw their value from the Lord’s perspective, I came to love them.

In our next post, we’ll look at the Church as an army. We’ll see how that can be good or bad, depending on whether we keep it within the biblical concept of family.

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)
Part 2 — We Are Family
Part 4 — We Are an Army

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prophetic teaching

 

 

Growing in the Prophetic,
Audio teaching by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

nature of God, Christian discipleship

 

 

Before Whom We Stand, by Lee Ann Rubsam

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 2) — We Are Family

familyIn our first post, we said the Church’s core job description is to be the expression of Jesus Christ upon the earth. We also talked about the meaning of ekklesia, the Greek word which is translated “church.” It is an assembly of called-out ones.

The Church is referred to in the Bible using several different metaphors, but I believe the Scriptures reveal that the Church’s primary way to function is as a family. This is true of the universal church, but its best practical application is within the local congregation.

God’s people as family shows up already in Genesis, beginning with Adam and Eve. We see the idea woven throughout Noah’s, Abraham’s, and Israel’s story. It is a continuous, consistent thread flowing through centuries of Old Testament history.

Mankind was originally created in the image of God. “And God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness'” (Genesis 1:26). Family is God’s very nature, with two of the Persons of the Godhead being Father and Son. Since we have been made in His likeness, it should not surprise us that functioning as family is part of the Lord’s plan for His people.

In the New Testament, it becomes still clearer that God’s people are to follow the pattern of family. Believers in Jesus are referred to as the “sons of God” six times, including 1 John 3:1: “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God….”

Romans 8:15-17 explains that we have been adopted by God the Father. As His adopted sons and daughters, we enjoy the same privileges and inheritance that Jesus does:

For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs: heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.

Throughout the New Testament epistles, members of the Church are referred to as “brethren,” “brothers,” and “sisters.” Those terms are used approximately 190 times in the apostles’ letters to the churches. Paul reminded the Corinthian church, which he had founded, that he was a father to them (1 Corinthians 4:15). He called Timothy and Titus his sons, although they were not biologically related (1 Timothy 1:2, 18; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4). John repeatedly referred to the Church as “little children” in 1 John. Paul also instructed Timothy in how to treat fellow believers: “Do not rebuke an elder, but entreat him as a father and the younger men as brothers; the elder women as mothers, the younger as sisters, with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1, 2). The portrayal of church as family is clearly primary.

You may already be thinking, “My church experience is not very much like family. I wish it were.” Sadly, that is often the case. It is one of the things which needs to shift, in order for our congregations to be healthy.

Or, perhaps you are thinking, “My family life growing up was a total mess! Why would I want my church experience to be like that?” You wouldn’t. None of us would. But, because we are made in God’s image, each of us has some understanding of what family should be, even if we have not had the opportunity to enjoy it growing up. There is a knowing in your heart what family done right should look like, and you long for that. And that is what God wants His church family to demonstrate to each other and the world.

In a properly functioning family, children are not valued for what they do, but for who they are. All the sons and daughters have equal value in their parents’ eyes. Younger children do not have the same responsibilities and options as the older ones, not because they are less important than older siblings, but because they do not yet have the maturity to handle those responsibilities or choices well. In larger families, older children often help care for the little ones, even teaching them some of the basic skills they will need to possess.

In the same way, God values all His sons and daughters, not for our deeds, positions, or functions, but simply because each of us is His own dear child. In the Church, we must learn to see each other as God sees us. Yes, there will be mature members who pastor or mentor newer believers. Some will have more visible ministries than others. But their position is not a measure of their importance. Neither maturity nor individual function within the congregation has anything to do with value, so may God help us to stop acting as though they do!

In our coming posts, we will examine other biblical aspects of what the Church should look like. We’ll also see how each of them can, and should, fit with the family model.

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)
Part 3 — We Are One Body

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prophetic teaching

 

 

Growing in the Prophetic,
Audio teaching by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

nature of God, Christian discipleship

 

 

Before Whom We Stand,
by Lee Ann Rubsam