The evangelists George Whitefield and John Wesley were two of the greatest preachers in history. These men preached to thousands in open meetings, on the streets, in parks and prisons, and through their ministries many were brought to Christ. But a doctrinal dispute arose between the two men over how a person is sanctified. Both doctrinal camps defended their positions strongly, and some vicious words were exchanged, with the followers of both men arguing in unseemly fashion.
A follower of Whitefield came to him one day and asked, “Will we see John Wesley in heaven?” He was asking, in effect, “How can Wesley be saved if he’s preaching such error?”
Whitefield answered, “No, we will not see John Wesley in heaven. He will be so high up near Christ’s throne, so close to the Lord, that we won’t be able to see him.”
Paul called this kind of spirit “enlargement of heart.” And he had it himself as he wrote to the Corinthians, a church in which some had accused him of hardness and who had sneered at his preaching. Paul assured them, “O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open” (2 Corinthians 6:11).
When God enlarges your heart, suddenly so many limits and barriers are removed! You don’t see through a narrow lens anymore. Instead, you find yourself being directed by the Holy Spirit to those who are hurting. And the hurting are drawn to your compassionate spirit by the Holy Ghost’s magnetic pull.
So, do you have a gentleness of heart when you see hurting people? When you see a brother or sister who has stumbled in sin or may be having problems, are you tempted to tell them what’s wrong in their lives? Paul says that hurting ones need to be restored in a spirit of meekness and gentleness. They need to encounter the spirit that Jesus demonstrated.
May the cry of our hearts be: “God, take away all narrowness from my heart. I want your spirit of compassion for those who are hurting…your spirit of forgiveness when I see someone who’s fallen…your spirit of restoration, to take away their reproach. Take away all exclusiveness from my heart, and enlarge my capacity to love my enemies.”
The early church not only faced temptation to become numb to the perversions of the world around it, it also faced the possibility of numbness toward God. They could go through the motions, sing their songs, preach their sermons, give their tithes and offerings, have their meals together, but the presence of God could still be missing from their assemblies.
The most frightening aspect of this is that it can happen and hardly be noticed. If you know your church history, you’ll know that there was a 400 year silence between the book of Malachi, the minor prophets, and the book of Matthew.
There was a long season where God seemed silent and the windows of heaven seemed shut, and the church was simply going through the motions. On the outside, they had a strong religion. They looked very faithful and godly, but they were missing the heart and what it really meant to be a follower of God. Then Christ came, God in the flesh among mankind, and many of them missed him too.
But some of them went into the Upper Room, and they waited for God’s power to descend, and it came in the form of the Holy Spirit and tongues of fire. These anointed believers burst onto the scene.
“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4, ESV), and those who heard them said, “‘We hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God’” (Acts 2:11).
In the middle of a broken culture and a dead church, the Spirit began to move. It is in the midst of the darkest hour that the Holy Spirit shines his brightest light.
One of your biggest responsibilities is towards your family. God calls you to grow personally because it is impossible to help your children grow if, as parents, you are not growing.
Right from the start, we have tendency to favor or to neglect certain areas of knowledge according to our backgrounds, personalities and lives. We must, therefore, ask God to help us find and maintain a balanced personality, in order to guide our family members in their growth.
However, I would like to point out two terrible lies that the enemy of our souls uses to suffocate us and curb our growth as well as that of our family.
Together, we have to expose and overthrow them in order to free ourselves and keep hope in our family. The first one is “It’s too late” where you end convincing yourself that nothing can change in a particular situation. It is a danger, a temptation and a lie that drives us to give up in our relationships and spirituality.
The second lie is “I don't need to change.” It takes root in our pride and convinces us that it is up to others to change.
I cannot help my spouse to grow if I don’t grow myself. With Jesus, I am called to grow in four spheres:
Today, your family needs to hear you say, "Lord, keep changing me. I confess my pride to you. I still need to change. I stand humbly before you and ask you to mold me into the image of your son, Jesus. I want to grow in you and be used by you to inspire and help each member of my family grow in you.”
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.
Paul warned Timothy that a time was coming when some of God’s people “will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
History records that this happened just as Paul had predicted. After the apostles died—and the generation that sat under their teaching had passed away—a conspiracy of wicked error flooded the church. Believers were seduced by strange doctrines, and science and philosophy eroded the truth of Christ’s gospel.
Consider what Paul said of the purity of Christ’s church: “Christ…loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27).
God’s great concern is not about the apostate church. Even apostasies will not be able to kill or destroy the church of Jesus Christ. In spite of these problems, God has everything under control, and his mystical, invisible, overcoming church is not dying. Rather, the river of the Holy Spirit is flowing into the “dead sea” of apostate churches, exposing iniquity and lukewarmness. And it’s causing new life to spring up.
Those who are turned from the dead, lifeless churches may be but just a remnant. Nevertheless, Jesus declared: “The fields are ripe for harvest. And there is still time for laborers to go forth.” Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Holy Spirit has fled the scene, leaving behind a withered harvest. God’s Spirit is still at work, convicting, wooing and drawing the lost to Christ, including those in apostasy.
The cloud of heavenly witnesses would tell us not to look for judgment, not to focus on “holding the fort.” It is still the day of the Holy Spirit, who is waiting to fill every willing vessel.
God still loves his church, blemishes and all!
In Matthew 24 Jesus uses a parable to teach about being ready for his return:
“Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:44-51).
Note that Jesus is speaking about servants here, meaning believers. One servant is called faithful and the other evil. What makes the latter evil in God’s eyes? According to Jesus, it’s something he “says in his heart” (24:48). This servant doesn’t voice such a thought and he doesn’t preach it. But he thinks it. He has sold his heart on the demonic lie, “The Lord delays his coming.” Notice he doesn’t say, “The Lord isn’t coming,” but “he delays his coming.” In other words, “Jesus won’t come suddenly or unexpectedly. He won’t return in my generation.”
This “evil servant” is clearly a type of believer, perhaps even one in ministry. He was commanded to “watch” and “be ready” (Matthew 24:44). Yet this man eases his conscience by accepting Satan’s lie.
Jesus shows us the fruit of this kind of thinking. If a servant is convinced that the Lord has delayed his coming, then he sees no need for right living. He isn’t compelled to make peace with his fellow servants. He doesn’t see the need to preserve unity in his home, at work, in church. He could smite his fellow servants, accuse them, hold grudges, destroy their reputations. As Peter says, this servant is driven by his lusts. He wants to live in two worlds, indulging in evil living while believing he’s safe from righteous judgment.