Let’s start this post by looking at Joshua, an individual who was “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph 6:10), as he makes a life choice.
“Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:14-15)
There was no group-think or corporate mentality within Joshua when he chose to follow the Lord – the member of the Godhead who had personal contact with His people, the same individual that we know today as Jesus. This Being, the Anointed of God, is the one sent by God to the church as a group and to each one as an individual as one who serves.
Dependence on Christ
At this point I’d like to insert a little disclaimer about what I am, and am not, saying in this series of blog posts about church groups. If you don’t make things crystal clear these days, some start making assumptions (and accusations) about what you really mean (like it’s some kind of conspiracy, or something). I am not advocating isolationism or independence! That is a hard road to follow, and we all need human warmth, support, and fellowship. What I am urging is a strong dependence on, and living, interactive faith in Jesus, the Christ of God. If you truly have that you are bullet-proof … no false minister can lead you astray.
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Heb. 10:19-25)
Fellowship is important, and if it’s available to you it is wise to partake, so you can support and strengthen others and so they can do the same for you. We always need to keep in mind that we are a part of a body. It is a sin to separate yourself from your brethren in the body of Christ and to forsake fellowship with others who hold fast to most of the same truths that you do.
It is wise to seek counsel, and listen to preaching from others who evidence the fruits of Godly character, and aren’t trying to take over lordship of your life from Jesus, the Christ of God. However, if things get so bad that fellowship with other believers is not available to you – and many of us have been through times when it wasn’t – the Christ of God is sufficient all by Himself to shore you up, and He will – with or without the help of anyone else – and in time, He will bring about fellowship opportunities as well.
Who Do You Trust?
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:5-6)
See what I mean? This kind of relationship with the One who is with us makes you bullet-proof! Indeed, what can man do to me with Him on my side? He is “Christ in you” as one who serves and is our “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?
Where we put our trust and who we trust in tells God a lot about us. Consider all the New Testament warnings about false ministers – wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15), Satan’s ministers disguising themselves as servants of light (2 Cor. 11:13-14). Who do you want to put your faith in? what arm of flesh can you rely on today not to turn to the dark side?
I’ve gone through the experience now of seeing people that I regarded as the strongest pillars of the churches of God standing up and preaching God’s holy truth one week, and then suddenly one week I arrive at church to find them advocating the violation of God’s holy laws and commandments. It makes no sense to rely on the arm of flesh … I don’t even trust me! We can’t afford to trust ourselves, and we can’t afford to trust in other men(Prov. 3:5-6). So, where does all of this leave us???
In Hebrews 11:1 we read, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This isn’t talking about faith in what we can do – the work of our hands or the work we do for God – or about men that we can put our faith in. Jesus asks in Luke 18:8, “when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” and I ask, what kind of faith that He is looking for?
Reading the first nine verses of Ezekiel 34 gives us a picture of irresponsible shepherding, the kind that I’m sure most of us have been exposed to in the past. We should realize we need to pray for those who fell into that snare – we may have done the same were we in their shoes. An antidote to this kind of fallible, human shepherding is described in the next few verses.
‘For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord God. “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.” (Ezk. 34:11-16)
This Christ is the the kind of Shepherd we must be following, listening to, and placing all our trust in. He is the One among us as a servant, who truly cares for us and is worthy of all our faith. Trust in the One who serves is the kind of faith He will be looking for when He returns to the earth.