For the last ten years Rod has been pastoring a small church in Lewiston California. After spending many years in the business world, raising four children, and working side by side others in local churches, God called him to full-time ministry. He is now beginning a new season of service doing itinerant teaching, gathering, and building up God's people for ministry in the simplicity of the pattern Jesus left us. Rod also enjoys ministering to those in the Body affected by false teaching.
The Kingdom of N.A.R.
Well, welcome to the 2021 Berean Call Conference. My name is Rod Page, and I had the pleasure of speaking here a couple of years ago. I gave an update on the New Apostolic Reformation at that time. Tom was gracious enough to ask me to come and give an update, and so that’s why I’m here today.
But really, what I’m here to do is just to point you away from what man has done and point you to what Jesus has done. And, of course, we all probably agree in this group that that is revealed to us in the pages of the New Testament in the Revelation of who Jesus is and what He has done, what He has accomplished, what He is doing. And from that, that is my platform. My platform is not as an expert on moves of God or movements of men or anything else. I do happen to have a sad experience in the world of New Apostolic Reformation issues, having gone to a church years ago where it was very much a Bible-preaching, very much “on fire for the Lord,” very much on fire for evangelism, and then, sadly, watching it kind of get gobbled up piece by piece into a movement.
And that’s kind of my background. It forced me…when we left that city where that church was, it forced us to get back into the Word and see what had happened. And it led us into the company of many dear friends, many dear believers, who were holding fast to “the faith once delivered…” and that really helped us understand what was really happening in our world.
We moved from that city and spent a few years just searching the Scriptures and kind of getting our own head on straight about these things. We didn’t realize we had kind of jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. We moved to Redding, California, which many of you know is kind of the center for the Apostolic teaching, what I would say is a “neo-Apostolic teaching,” very much a center for that in Redding. We realized we had just come into a place that was very much inundated, very much saturated in the Redding area with those teachings.
So, anyway, I developed some blogs at the time—some of them blogs that came out of a very personal anguish, very personal feeling—or depth of feeling, that really had to come to terms with what had happened, not just to a church but a family. We were that family, and we have been very much affected by that.
And, so when you find a real personal stake in something, it really becomes important, and thankfully we were among many, many faithful brothers and sisters who helped us understand the roots of the movement, really going back to the 1940s and the Latter Rain teaching, leading up to the changes that happened in the 1960s, 1970, especially in the 1980s with movements in Toronto and Southern California and all over the United States. And then, of course, whatever the United States says the nations of the world seem to follow along.
Some of the things I’m talking about today—this Kingdom of NAR, or New Apostolic Reformation, as it’s called by the one who coined that term, C. Peter Wagner, many years ago.
That message has really gone into the whole world, and even though maybe it is modified to some degree, honestly, I don’t hear quite as much about people talking in that movement about that New Apostolic Reformation, but they have never changed their mind on what they actually believe about Apostles for today. They’re very much entrenched in what I would call a “triumphalism” or a Kingdom-Now type understanding of the Scriptures.
And I want to say this at the beginning, that many of the people who espouse the ideas and also are part of that movement or have been swept into that movement are believers. They’re precious blood-bought saints. Some I worry and feel like they could be just swept up in a movement, and they don’t really know the “mover.”
Recently, a friend of mine who lives on the other side of the planet, posted a message by someone in the movement that was basically calling young people back to the simplicity of the Lord Jesus and His teachings, and as a response to that, many young people responded to that, and said, “Hey, you know, we’ve been in those ministry schools; we’ve been a part of that movement, and when we got out of the ‘hothouse,’ so to speak, and got into the real world, we have become very disenchanted; we feel like we’ve been told things that have just not been helpful in our Christian walk.”
The fact is, many people will tell you, who’ve come out of that world, will just say, flat out, that many of their friends who were formerly on fire for Jesus are walking in the world. And that is something that really hit home, even in our own family. Some of these ideas—and I believe these are ideas that have really come upon the church, upon the body, to distract us from the central core of what Jesus came to do, and that is to save sinners; to preach a pure gospel, and see people saved, see people won to the Lord, and then see them set free and walking in freedom, and walking in joy and walking in simplicity and in holiness.
So, I have, definitely, a personal stake in all this, and I pray that what I share today will be helpful to you, and I’m totally here dependent upon the Lord and His Holy Spirit that He’s given to us to lead us into all truth, and so, I pray that what I share with you will not be some kind of a bashing; I’m not being mean-spirited, it will not be in a spirit of harshness. For a very short time, I was affected and swept into parts of this—what became this Apostolic Reformation—so I know what maybe many of you are feeling.
The subtitle is probably even more important than the title of what I want to share with you, and that is an appeal from Scripture. A heartfelt appeal from God’s Word to get back to His Word. To get back to righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
I want to start out with something that may seem at first not to have anything, really, to do with the Kingdom of the New Apostolic Reformation, and that is what Jesus said to the Tempter when He was out in the wilderness for those forty days, and Satan came to tempt Him. And in one of the temptations, Jesus simply said to the enemy of our souls—and remember, people who are in this movement, they’re not enemies; they’re not my enemies; my enemies are not the body of Christ’s enemies. Inside the New Apostolic Reformation, people still preach the gospel. I’ve heard it, I’ve seen it, I’m a witness to that.
But getting back to what Jesus said to the tempter, He said this: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” And that was His way to push back on the scheme.
So, discovering, doing research, looking up articles online, that isn’t how we resist any movement that has problems, or any movement that is a problem, or any false teaching that comes as a result of a movement. The way that we push back as believers and protect ourselves and our families and the body of Christ is the Bread of heaven—Jesus himself is the Bread of heaven. And He is the bread that we partake. We take His teaching into us; we eat it up, we feed on Him as we feed on His Word and have fellowship with Him. In Jesus we have the full revelation of that Word, both of the living Word and the written word.
So, if you’re listening to this message and sometimes you wonder about the group that you’re part of—how you got drawn into it; how you fell for something; maybe you’re feeling that today, “Oh, I fell for something!” At one time or another, we’ve all fallen for something. Outside of Christ, we fall. We are sons of disobedience, right? We are under the sway of the Wicked One.
So if you feel like maybe you’ve had some things to you or words said over you, that you have not found right, true, or helpful in your Christian walk, I would appeal to you, start with humility. Start humbly and say, “Lord, it’s your bread. It’s the manna from heaven that I need.” It’s the Words that proceed out of the mouth of God. And that Word that we have is sufficient. And everything needs to be tested by it.
Humble, right? Humble. And I say this to myself, you know, before I ever share. I think these things, “Take heed, lest ye fall.” If you think you stand, take heed, lest you fall. Amen?
So, that’s the spirit of this message, and I have to add one more thing to this “kingdom,” because this is kind of what’s burdening me for people in this movement, for brothers and sisters caught up in this movement, for families thinking of sending their young people to schools that are involved in this movement. What I have found is that, sadly, the New Apostolic Reformation many times is about an earthly kingdom, and that’s not to slam anybody; that is from the words of those who say they are the prophets in this movement, the apostles in this movement. Many of the folks in this movement are attempting to bring a heavenly kingdom to earth. In short, that’s really what we’re talking about here.
Now, “kingdom” is not a bad word. In fact, “kingdom” is one of many words that we have from God’s Word that is a description or a definition, a partial element of what ecclesia is, and if you don’t know this already, ecclesia is the Greek word—Jesus said, “I will build my ecclesia (and most of our English translations are mistranslated to say “church,” which is from a word that originally meant a building or cathedral—a place where you could kind of gather God’s people—instead of just being a place where they could meet, it really was a place where the Bible was chained to the pulpit back hundreds of years ago, and it’s kind of a mistranslation. The ecclesia simply means “the gathered people of God; the congregation; the assembly of God’s people.
And Jesus goes to define that in several different terms: “Kingdom” is one of those. But remember, it was Jesus who said to Pilate: “If My kingdom was of this world, then My servants would fight.” Pilate couldn’t understand His silence before him. And Jesus talked about truth in front of Pilate as well. And Pilate looked at Him, as many people in this world are looking, and saying, “What is truth? Is there truth?”
Well, brothers and sisters, we have truth. We have God’s Word. We have the inspired Word of God. And the goal of anybody who is someone who equips the body, who has the heart of a pastor, a teaching elder, is to preach the Word in season. Not to preach truly and obsessively about a kingdom. There is a kingdom. That kingdom is within us—it’s Jesus Christ ruling over my heart, over the hearts of His blood-bought saints.
It’s also called a “Royal Priesthood,” so every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and is a priest unto God—an ambassador for Christ.
The ecclesia is also a bride. That speaks of family and intimacy. First Corinthians teaches that He who is joined to Christ is one Spirit. One Spirit! We are joined to Christ, so we are joined to the Father in a similar fashion to how a husband is joined to his bride, and they become one flesh.
Brothers and sisters, that is one of those “unsearchable riches” of Christ that we’re supposed to tell people about, that we’re supposed to experience. Again, another descriptor is “family,” or “citizens of the household of God.” Another could be that we are a “living temple,” living stones, from 2 Corinthians:6:14.
And lastly, we are members in one body. We are the body of Christ, Him being the head.
Now, all of these are elements, but not one of these has all of the revelation. You need all of these to understand and see the picture of what God has done in Christ. “I will build My ecclesia, my ‘gathered out’ people”—gathered out from the world.
Sadly, when we get into any one of these and just “camp out,” then we miss the fullness, and we actually miss this: this is the big thing! These are just elements within this. And sadly, for many years we’ve missed this. We’ve missed what Jesus said in John 17: “That they may be one.” I’ve been brought into oneness with God—into a union with God, and therefore I am one with the whole body!
I have to sadly say that there was a time when my work in so-called discernment ministries was very contentious, because I was very offended. I felt like I’d been lied to, and I really had to grow out of that. I had to mature in Christ and come to a place and say, you know, many people inside of a movement like the New Apostolic Reformation are my brothers and sisters. I desire to have oneness with them. Now, that oneness is for those who are also born again, who are part of the family, who’ve been made the Bride, who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who are born again. It’s not—this oneness is not ecumenical. It’s not bringing other belief systems and becoming one, like some people have tried to do. This is oneness in the body. I long for that. I hope you do, too.
I want to talk about how we get into this ecclesia for a minute. We’re going to kind of take a quick little sidebar and think about these verses. Remember we said it’s the manna, it’s the Word; it’s the Word of God that we need to live by.
This is from Luke’s gospel: “’Then one said to him, Lord, are there few who are saved?”
And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Jesus goes on to say in Matthew:7:13: “Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it; because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Why is it difficult? Because we are taught by our culture to be syncretistic—in other words, to bring all kinds of ideas together and then build some kind of synthesis out of it. The only synthesis that needs to happen is me being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ and being made one with Him, having died to sin, recognizing what Jesus has done on Calvary’s cross. That is the narrow way. “Enter,” He says, “by the narrow way.” And you know, in the same passage, even standing near the gate, standing by the narrow gate, there’s the enemy! There’s the enemy. So Jesus says, “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, and inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes?” (This “gather” word is so important here! Brothers and sisters, we are new creations in Christ, and when we’re gathered together, we’re not gathered together to hold on to the world and the flesh and the devil. We are gathered out—that’s what “ecclesia” really means.)
But Jesus says, “Beware! Some are going to come right at the very entrance to the kingdom of heaven and try to keep people away.” I don’t know—I don’t know the hearts of anyone in the New Apostolic Reformation. Only God knows them. So, I’m not anyone to judge them. God is their judge. But what I see in the “fruit” situation here is very, very frightening. When I see young people (and I saw this first hand, so I can tell you, it’s true)…when I see young people being entered into this movement, told that they are the new breed, that they are going to be the overcomers, that they’re going to be world changers, and then a couple of years later when they get out of that program, and they’re in the real world, and they can’t keep a job because they’re supposed to be the “head” and the “tail,” they’ve been puffed up in their minds, and then to see them crash and burn? That’s not good fruit.
I’m not saying that everyone in those movements crashes and burns. God knows. He’s the one that will determine. But I find this interesting: when Jesus is doing this warning in Matthew 7, that He says, “Not everyone who says Lord, Lord…” And if you look at the elements of these who just say “Lord, Lord,” and you look at the outcome and the desire and the goals of the New Apostolic Reformation, I can’t help but look at these words and say, “Man, prophesying in Your name? That’s part of it? Casting out demons, hyper-spiritual warfare? That’s part of it? Certainly, the signs-and-wonders issue? People have just obsessed over it. I’ve seen people obsess over it. I’ve seen men who called them apostles. I’ve sat with their children and watched them wrestle with it, and then at the end of the day, not determine that maybe dad was in error, but, no “God is in error.” There’s a problem with God here—almost to the point of blasphemy!
The end result is not pretty, according to Matthew 7. This is serious. This is a dire warning. I’ve been ridiculed when I was a pastor. I just left a ten-year season of my life where I was pastoring a little church. Diane and I had just stepped out in faith to be missionaries, partly of the message I’m giving you today, and, more importantly, the message of the gospel. The message of simplicity of meeting in Jesus’s name.
But when I was a pastor, I would preach on warnings like this, and I’d have people come against me and ridicule me. They’d say that I was preaching negativity, when I was just trying to say, “You know what? The Word of God has warnings in it. There’s polemic arguments. And really, the reason they’re polemic—and “polemic” means you’re giving an argument where there’s controversy, and the reason there’s controversy is because on that one side there’s false teachings going out.
You don’t want to be at the Judgment and have a false-positive for Christianity. You want a positive positive, not a false positive. You want to have a sincere faith that results in a love for the brethren.
[Presenting a photo] Now, this is a screenshot from one of the centers of the New Apostolic Reformation in Redding, California, on a website they put up called ariseandbuild.net. On the front of that page, one of the apostles of the New Apostolic Reformation, Bill Johnson, says, “We’re expanding our capacity to establish heaven on earth.”
Brothers and sisters, every religion in the world has as its goal to make heaven on earth. Our job as Christians is to do the will of God “on earth as it is done in heaven.” It doesn’t say anything about bringing heaven to earth or establishing heaven on earth.
We all know that King Jesus is coming, and He’s going to come in the clouds of heaven, and after judgment, He will establish what will seem like heaven in His Millennial Reign. But in the past, this thinking, which comes out of the Manifest Sons of God teaching, Latter Rain teaching in the 1940s—these folks are serious. They’re serious.
On the same website, I found this: “Bethel has been championing the cause of revival since the 1950s and has a longstanding history of generational movement toward the gospel.”
I underlined it here. If it was just the gospel, I’d be so happy. If it was just the gospel. But it’s “…the gospel and… We are well-established as a global force of equipping leaders of all spheres to lead with kingdom-minded priorities.”
Brothers and sisters, my appeal is based on this: I believe that this is overshadowing this, and I’m calling the leaders: If you really are born again, if you know Jesus Christ, and you are a new man in Him, come back to this. Come back to this.
Remember the words of Jesus, “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight.”
This last sentence is very troubling. What is the cause of Christ? What is the cause of Christ? The cause of Christ is He’s being very patient. He’s being very patient—until the last sinner is brought into the family of God, and He’s coming back in judgment.
Bethel says something very different, and they’re willing to spend 96-million dollars—96-million dollars—to build a bigger campus in Redding. So they say that “Bethel has a calling to equip generations to lead revival and to see the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdoms of our God.” Same website, ariseandbuild.net. This very troubling line here—I have a bachelor’s degree in social science, and I know what the world is teaching about social capital. It’s the same thing that’s going on throughout the world, and China.
Social capital is simply about “How much influence do I have for a particular purpose?” And let me tell you what: Satan has a purpose, and he’s influencing people. Oh, he’s a very social demon. I’m concerned about statements like this. It is not in Scripture that we are to bring the kingdoms of the world to become the kingdoms of our God. The scripture again is our only way to get discernment about statements like this.
Here’s the beauty of 2 Peter 3: “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by him in peace…without spot, and blameless. And consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation! Amen!”
He’s longsuffering. Why? Because He’s not willing that any should perish in the coming judgment! It’s interesting—2 Peter, right? Second Peter 2 is about false teaching—those who would make an emporium, or a business, out of people. And I’ve seen the business model, not only in the New Apostolic Reformation, but throughout Christendom, starting with Robert Schuller, going into seeker-sensitive movements, purpose-driven movements, and I’ll tell you what: there’s not this in those movements. There’s a business model, and there’s a lot of money involved. Because if you fashion the ecclesia, or what we call “the church,” after a business model, you’re going to compromise the gospel.
The warning in 2nd Peter goes on: “As also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you….” Paul wrote about the Second Coming. He also wrote about the glories of the riches of Christ fulfilled in the one Body, the ecclesia! Read it again, Ephesians 2 and 3 are incredible! “…as also in his epistles (his letters), speaking in them of these things, in which some are hard to understand….” They’re hard to understand if you don’t have the Holy Spirit guiding you into truth! If you’re not centered on Jesus, they become hard to understand. If you obsess about “kingdom-mindedness,” neglecting the other facets of the ecclesia, they’re going to be hard to understand, and you’re going to end up being with those who “twist the scriptures.”
And I believe that’s another dire warning I have for the body of Christ. Beware of those who twist the scriptures. Keep it simple! Stick with God’s Word. In verse 13 of that same chapter, Peter says this, “Nevertheless, we, according to His promise, look for a new heaven [a new heaven!], a new earth!” Man, that’s going to be great! But it’s not here yet. That’s for down the road.
Now, how do I know that we have a conflict here? Well, in a message given this year, a series of messages, Kris Vallotton, one of the leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation, says about his movement, “It is an apostolic prophetic movement, and it is what we are all about.” In the message, where he comes to this conclusion, he reads from two old prophets, one from Joel 2 about the Day of the Lord, a terrible day! A day of judgment, where Jesus Christ leads the hosts of heaven, the armies of heaven, into battle and judgment. He reads from that. I have to tell you, my heart leapt when I heard him reading from that! I was like, “Wow, Kris, great! Go for it, brother!” Then he turned over to Isaiah and read that, and said, “Now, this is the last days too.” Well, you know what Isaiah 2 says: “Beat your swords into plow shares, the lion’s going to be with the lamb, promises of a heavenly kingdom, or the millennial kingdom.” And then he says this, “Regarding these two passages, was there an alternative ending to the movie, depending on what you have faith for? Maybe it’s not the clock and calendar that determine the outcome of the Last Days. Maybe it is what you have faith for.”
Basically, what he’s saying is we people of God have control over which scenario: Scenario 1, Judgment and War, (Joel 2); Scenario 2, Isaiah 2, Peace, Prosperity! We’re the head, not the tail! We’re reigning! We can bring heaven to earth now.
In that same series of messages, Kris admits, “I could be wrong. If I’m wrong, I’ll be the happiest guy that the beast ate.”
It’s astounding! Do we not take God’s Word seriously anymore? Is it whatever we hope for that’s going to happen, or is it according to God’s clock? According to God’s calendar? My brothers and sisters, it is. It is.
What we have here is a “kingdom obsession” that pushes people’s focus away from the simplicity of Christ. And it’s nothing new. The enemy is always trying to distract people from the person and work of Jesus Christ. He tried to dissuade Jesus!
Take heed, right? “If you think you stand, take heed lest you fall.” So much of what we’ve taken for granted as bedrock Christian’s scripture perspective has been challenged. We hear in the world about Deconstructionism. In other words, “Let’s just take all the arguments apart, study them, and then maybe come up with some kind of compromise. You know, the Hegelian Dialectic, they call that. Synthesis. What we believe. What we believe is there is thesis and there is antithesis. There is Christ and there is Antichrist. Come back, I appeal to you. Come back, to the simplicity of the truth revealed in Jesus Christ.
Well, that’s part 1. NAR, in my perspective, is all about an earthly kingdom. NAR, New Apostolic Reformation, a term coined by C. Peter Wagner, a former missionary who became a seminary professor, got in touch with John Wimber, got into the signs and wonders movement, and then all of a sudden it dawned on him: “This is going to be the way that we bring Jesus down from heaven, is, we’re going to reinstitute the office of Apostles.” It was about a new paradigm of church governance. Other people tried that, starting after around 300 A.D. It led to the Dark Ages.
And I believe that this movement in part has brought in a Dark Ages because I believe this: that the NAR is in contradiction to scripture. I’m finding many Christians being distracted. I’m finding many Christians being obsessed with one thing or another. Politics is an obsession right now for many. I’m watching churches that used to preach truth, used to preach from God’s Word, preach from the Constitution—obsessively. I’m thankful for the U.S. Constitution, but that’s not my gospel. I’m thankful that we’re free to pursue freedom, to pursue a livelihood, to have freedom spelled out in the Bill of Rights, I’m thankful that God has given us that. It’s allowed us to send missionaries for years. It’s allowed us the freedom to worship as we want.
But the pursuit of happiness? Actually, it’s not scriptural. The pursuit of politics is a dead end, brothers and sisters. I don’t care what you’re obsessing over—and we all go into periods of time when we obsess. Worry can be an obsession. Fear can be an obsession. Pride certainly is an obsession. We have to just come out and say the truth. The New Apostolic Reformation that says there can be two “movie endings” to the End Times, that we, by our faith (and this is like a Word-Faith thing, we can speak something into existence). That’s in contradiction to scripture.
Let me show you how it’s in contradiction to scripture: Revelation 1 says this: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ…. (the—definite article) which God gave to Him to show His servants the things that must surely take place. That passage goes on to say “this is the testimony of Jesus, all the things that He saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written in it.”
How do we keep this? By hiding it in our heart and believing it, no matter what men say.
Joel 2 said this, “Blow the trumpet in Zion. Sound an alarm! The Lord is coming.”
Brothers, for us the Lord coming means salvation! But for the world, the Lord coming means judgment. Jesus said, “I didn’t come to condemn the world, but the world is condemned already.” Those who do not believe will die in their sins, and they will face judgment. “The Lord gives voice (in v. 11 of Joel 2, the prophet goes on) the Lord gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the one who executes His Word.” God will execute His Word. Jesus Christ has been given judgment, and He will execute His Word. “For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible. Who can endure it?”
Brothers and sisters, no one! No one can endure it unless they’re in Christ, safe in the arms of their Savior. What does Isaiah:2:2 say? Well, Isaiah:2:2 points to what the end of the Book of Revelation says, right? That’s the latter of the Latter Days, “ßwhen the mountain of the Lord’s house will come.” This is a glorious promise, but it’s not for now. It comes after the Judgment.
And I would point you back to 2 Peter. “We have the prophetic Word,” 2 Peter 1 says, “We have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in the darkness.”
Brothers and Sisters, the world is not getting lighter. It’s getting darker. Everything speaks to this. God’s Word is coming true! Rejoice! Look up, your redemption draws nigh! Amen? These are prophecies of Scripture. This the “breathed out.” This is the Word of God that we live by. The manna, the bread. It’s the Word itself that shines. It’s the Word itself that shines!
The NAR is in contradiction, so they are not free to enjoy these promises as I wish they would be.
I want to get back to this: this is my heart; this is why I’m willing to make a video and stand up, and I know I may suffer in some way for this warning today. My desire is to believe God’s Word and live in the joy of that Word. This is where my heart is, brothers and sisters. “And those who had gladly His received His Word…” What? “…came into union.” Baptism is coming into union, being immersed in Christ. Souls are added. Souls are added…why? Because the Word is preached. Not man’s dreams, not man’s stories, their imagination, their creativity—it’s the solid foundation of Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone. Why? So we can continue steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching. Teaching, doctrine—so we can come into simplicity and live this life together as one body, all things in common.
That was just a picture of the fact that their hearts had all things in common because Jesus Christ was their all.
So, continuing daily with one accord in the Temple, and breaking bread from house to house—and remember, six or seven years later, the Temple was gone. All they had was the simplicity of their own homes to meet in. But that was actually better, because it was safer. And, brothers and sisters, this could be our experience soon. I’m telling people, “Get ready! You’d better get to know the Christians around you. Even if they go to a different church, if they’re born again, they’re your brothers and sisters. You might need them. Form friendships. You agree on the truth. The truth is Jesus Christ. You may not agree on ecclesiology or even eschatology. You might have differences on timing issues of this and that, or baptism issues, or clothing issues, or what you eat—there are a million different things that divide us, but we are one in Jesus Christ. He’s given us His truth, He’s given us the Word.
The good news is we can agree to disagree on things that we can agree to disagree about, but we cannot disagree on the basics of the gospel based on the Word if we want to walk together.
On March 14, Bill Johnson was talking about this verse, v. 42. He was talking about the apostles’ teaching, the apostles’ doctrine. Here’s how he described the apostles’ teaching: “The word of the Lord for me is whatever the word of the Lord is for that season. We have watched it for years. It is not a list of doctrines, or it would have been listed.”
Then, Bill says about himself, “Amen, Bill! That’s a good point.”
He said that on Sunday, March 14th. I have it in my notes. You can listen for yourself.
The Word of God is the Word of God! It is not some “seasonal” rhema Word that takes precedence over God’s written Word. The Word of God says, “Test all things.” That’s not what the apostles are saying. It’s what God has said.
I know this is a very popular verse among you all. I commend you for this verse. “To the Law and to the Testimony” (I bet you’ve heard this in Berean Call conferences for years: “To the Law and to the Testimony; if they do not speak according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.”
But have you ever read on? In Isaiah 8, this is a result of those who have no light in them. They will pass through hard-pressed and hungry. It shall happen when they are hungry that they will be enraged, and curse their king and their God, and look upward, and then they will look to the earth. They will see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish, and they will be driven into darkness.” Brother, that’s a warning to those who have moved away from the Word of God! Serious stuff!
Revelation says the same kind of thing. Peter says the same thing when he talks about judgment. He says, “What kind of people should we be, having these promises?”
Just a couple of verses as we close today. Jesus’s heart is that we become one. He said this in His lengthy prayer in John 17: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who believe in Me through their word, that they all may be one, as you, Father, are in Me and You, and that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.”
Brothers and sisters, if we are one, based on the truth —you remember, in verse 14, six verses before this, Jesus said, “I have given them Your Word, so set them apart, sanctify them by Your truth.” We have truth. It is Jesus Christ. This is the gospel of His Person and His Work. This is what we get to make up. It’s not what I have faith for. I want you, as someone who has a pastor’s heart, what I desire is that you have your faith built up. But not so you can have “faith in your faith,” but so you can have faith in your God! Faith in your Savior.
And how do you do that? By being in the Word. By fellowshipping. The Word is the apostles’ teaching. The New Testament is given us because the apostles were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write down what they saw and heard, and Paul was given a revelation of the ecclesia, and he unfolds it and says, “Here’s the mystery revealed, that they may be one.” One body, one called-out assembly. Set them apart in that truth.
As I said a few minutes ago, we spent ten years here in Lewiston, and we are moving soon. Pray for us. It’s a totally of faith venture. We know the Lord, as He opens doors to share these messages, to share the riches of Jesus Christ—that’s our heart, the “riches of Christ.” To help build up the saints; to help them see that they are a holy priesthood, ambassadors for Christ—they are the ministers; to see people come together, meet together in simplicity, breaking bread, fellowshipping, praying, all centered on the Word.
That’s my appeal this morning. My fervent prayer. “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word….” We have the Word! The sure Word. The gospels, the prophecies, the epistles, the Revelation.
If you’re listening to this message today, and you feel like you’ve been drawn away from the simplicity of Christ, I appeal to you, “Come back.” Come back. Email me; my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. No organization anymore? No. No church building anymore? Just my wife and I traveling. We’d love to encourage you, even it’s just by phone or text or visit. If you don’t think that you have been taken away, if you instead feel pride, you feel like there’s no way you could ever fall, I would say, “Humble yourself before the Lord. Hear what the Lord is saying through His Word today.”
If you’re hearing things, and they don’t ring true; if you’re in a ministry school, and you’re hearing things that don’t abide, or don’t reside, in the doctrine or the teaching of Jesus Christ, there’s help. There are people who care about you, and we would love to sit down and just speak with you and show you from the scriptures what we’re saying.
But if you have a stiff neck and you’ve hardened your heart, I would say, simply, “Understand the warnings that Jesus gives in Matthew 7. Not those who say, ‘Lord, Lord.’ Not those who are seeing signs and wonders, but those who do the will of God.” What was the will of God? Jesus said it: “The will of My Father is that You believe in Me. Amen.” I pray that you be blessed and enjoy the rest of the speakers in the conference today. We certainly ask for your prayers in this new season of our lives. Amen.
The Lord bless you and keep you.