In Poor Jesus V, we observed that continuationism (the charismata, gifts of the Holy Spirit, did not cease but continue) is true and being demonstrated in the developing countries of the world. We discussed why the signs, wonders and miracles that stem from the proper use of the gifts of the Spirit are so scarce in the developed countries, and what needs to be done about it.
Poor Jesus V ended with this paragraph: In Poor Jesus VI I will endeavor to describe what I think is God’s blueprint for a local church. It will be presented as the observations of one of the sheep in the Chapel in the Pines fold who has been blessed by that association for 59 years. It will be presented hoping that everyone in the Chapel family will consider it, see if it appears to be scripturally correct and worth pursuing.
Poor Jesus VI
The Local Church
I believe that the local church is absolutely essential for the proper operation of God’s worldwide Church (Christianity).
In the Bible one analogy goes like this: mankind exists in two groups; God’s people are likened to sheep; those who are not God’s people (at least yet) are likened to goats. At this point we are concerned only with the sheep.
Each sheep needs to be associated with other sheep, and together they need a shepherd. A group of sheep with a shepherd is a fold, of which there are millions. All of the folds, though not in one place, comprise the flock, of which there is just one. Jesus is the owner of the entire flock and is the Chief Shepherd. He has appointed an under-shepherd for each fold, who is a sheep also (an older, more experienced and wiser sheep). The fold represents the local church, so as we talk about the Chapel in the Pines bear in mind that we are one fold in Jesus’ enormous flock.
As far as organization goes, there are two aspects:
- Legally-The Chapel is incorporated in the State of California as “The Twain Harte Community Church,” aka “The Chapel in the Pines.” We have a Constitution, a Board of Trustees and certain officers stipulated by the State so we can do our secular business;
- Spiritual-We have a Pastor/Elder (Under-shepherd) plus the other members of the Board of Elders, Deacons and Deaconesses as stipulated by the Bible.
The following represents what I consider to be the Bible’s ideal for this (and every) local church:
- Every adult who considers the Chapel to be his/her church, should be a born again believer in Jesus Christ who has publicly testified to their faith by being baptized in water;
- If the person did not receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit at the time of his/her water baptism, he/she should have the Elders lay hands on them and pray for them to be filled with the Spirit (same as baptized with the Holy Spirit). The initial evidence will be that the candidate speaks in an unknown tongue, and later evidence will be that one or more of the gifts of the Spirit (charismata) will become evident in the persons life. These gifs are the channels through which God’s power produces signs, wonders and miracles. Jesus and the Apostles insisted that every Christian be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
- The adults should attend the stated services on each Lord’s Day (Hebrews 10:24, 25) bringing any children still living at home with them. The adults will be able to engage in corporate worship, prayer, fellowship with God and each other, and be challenged and encouraged in their Christian lives by the Pastor’s sermon. Various ones may exercise the gifts of the Spirit as led (more about this later). Infants will be in the nursery, pre-schoolers in Sunday School, Grades 1-6 with the adults until sermon time, then in Sunday School or Children’s Church (number one priority of parents and Chapel is to raise the children to be gung ho Christians and take their place in the adult membership of the Chapel.
- The adults in the Chapel will only become gung ho Christians if they diligently apply themselves to Prayer, Bible study and having a personal relationship with Jesus Monday through Saturday. It cannot be picked up by listening to the Pastor for 45 minutes once a week. That time is to inspire and challenge us to do our duty during the coming week!
Now let’s turn to the charismata, the gifts of the Spirit, the continuation of which (Continuationism) this essay is all about. Nine gifts of the Spirit are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:1-10 (there are more, but we are concerned with just part of this list): Word of Knowledge, Faith, Gifts of Healings, Working of Miracles and Discerning of Spirits.
Now let’s suppose that the Chapel has become a place where the spiritual climate is favorable to the flow of the Holy Spirit’s power-no more grieving of the Holy Spirit, no more quenching of the Holy Spirit.
When a member of the Chapel get’s sick the Elders and brethren who have Gifts of Healings will pray for the sick person, the Elders will lay hands on them, and they will be healed. Not just from headaches, backaches, colds, but the difficult as well. Creative healings like are needed for Jackson Corum. Think what a testimony that would be! Oh Jesus, hasten the day!
Brethren with the gift of discerning of spirits and those with the gift of faith would minister deliverance to those who are being oppressed by the devil. This would include those addicted to substance abuse, sexual immorality and all forms of obsessive behavior. Brethren with the gift of the Word of Knowledge would search out mysterious, hidden afflictions. Situations that required a miracle to address would be ministered to by those with the gift of working of miracles.
It would be just like in the days of Jesus and the early church. Needy people would flock to the Chapel to be ministered to, would get their needs met, would have the Gospel preached to them and likely take Jesus as their Savior. We would have to add more chairs to the sanctuary instead of taking more and more of them out!
Note! We should not focus on and covet signs, wonders and miracles for their own sake (that they might give us fame or make us proud). We should desire, pray for and expect them, that they might accomplish today what they did in Jesus’ ministry and that of the early church!
What do you think? Can we, will we, turn this “Poor Jesus” into a Glory to Jesus Revival? Please let me know by: telling me at a Chapel service; phoning me (209) 588-1591 (leave a message if I am not there); sending me a note-Russell Peters, 17745 Wards Ferry Road, Sonora, CA 95370. Thank you! God bless you! I love and pray for you.