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By Malcolm B Heap, Midnight Ministries
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In our work for God, we continually face opposition. Those who give us their hand of support face the same thing. It's to be expected (Jn 16:2). When that hostile attack comes from former brethren and ministers, you have to ask why? In ministers, the reason is often tied in with control. Men who hold positions of power invariably want to control others.
This is one means the devil uses to great effect in organised churches – control. In your spiritual walk, watch out for that. Whoever wants to control you spiritually or what you believe, is under demonic influence! It is a spirit of witchcraft. It comes from Satan.
Satan's strategy is not hard to see. By influencing the leaders of movements, he can effectively control and limit the spread of truth and its impact on those whom God wants to reach and lead forward.
Our journey in life is one of growing in grace and knowledge, as the apostle Peter wrote (2 Pet 3:18). God extends to us His grace so that we can learn to become more like Him. The transformation has been described by some as 'new birth', by others as 'being begotten' of God, by Paul as 'regeneration' (Titus 3:5, KJV) or 'renewal' (Titus 3:5 NIV).
Regardless of the label you give it, it doesn't alter Satan's hate for what God has begun in you. He wants to stop it. He tries in every way he can to thwart your spiritual development to prevent you moving on to the next level.
I would broadly 'categorise' the levels of spiritual development as:
First, you learn truth in the intellect. Then, as you move on in the Spirit, your belief is internalised and becomes cemented in your heart. You believe to a much deeper level than just that of intellectual assent. And, when faith deepens to its greatest extent, you live out in every circumstance the faith God has birthed within you. That's when your character really changes!
And that's what Satan wants to prevent.
Ironically for the devil, the very resistance God permits – Satan's active opposing of what God is doing in you – can be the catalyst of God's perfecting.
When Satan came against Job, he thought he could destroy Job's spiritual progress.... for good! I mean, he thought he could destroy him for ever. But what God had allowed Satan to do, was for good, in more ways than one. It was the very instrument of God's refining for eternity. It was God's means of helping Job move ahead.
In one of our meetings we received a prophetic word which said that out of tragedy God creates beauty (or words to that effect). What seems disaster to us, is often an important part of God's spiritual refashioning process.
And so it is in the progress of the gospel, as it is in our individual spiritual development. When the apostolic church was birthed in about AD 33, opposition erupted from the first day.
When the disciples were heard speaking in tongues, others mocked and scoffed (Acts 2:13). Mockers and scoffers continue to do the devil's bidding today, especially when the power of God manifests.
It was one reason our Kenyan evangelist friends were ostracised by ministers and brethren in their former association. The leadership of the 'Churches of God' do not accept spiritual gifts. Why? Because they have not yet moved ahead sufficiently in the Spirit. Their spiritual development is still at level 1. They 'know' certain truths in their intellect (at least, they think they do – some of those concepts are wrong, too). Their faith has not yet blossomed to embrace matters of the heart, matters of the spirit within. They are operating 'in the flesh' as Paul put it (as rendered by the Old King James Version). They are operating on the physical level only; not in the Spirit, not properly led by the Spirit of God.
I am being kind to them, giving them 'the benefit of the doubt'. Some of them are false ministers, deceitful workmen, masquerading as ministers of God (2 Cor 11:13,14). They are tools of the devil! So it is no wonder they oppose things of God!
One reason God allows these false believers to trouble true believers is stated by Paul:
No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval (1 Cor 11:19, NIV).
In Acts 8:1, we read that as opposition and persecution intensified against the gospel, so it spread. God allowed negative forces to be the catalyst of positive progress.
Every negative experience in our spiritual journey can be harnessed for positive learning.
Learning About Government
Many times, when God first calls His children out of this world, they are drawn into a church structure which is not ideal. Most organised churches are run on the hierarchic format like that of the church God describes in Revelation 17:5 as the mother of harlots. In western Christendom, she is the great structure of the Roman Catholic Church, ruled by the Vatican. This hierarchic monolith is an abomination to God. Besides its very wrong teachings, its structure of governing is no different than this world's. And that is Satan's!
In God's Church – Whose Authority? we explain what is so very wrong with this system of rulership. It excludes and even REPLACES the Spirit of God. It is a huge blasphemy, because men take control where the Spirit of God should be in charge. God has given us dreams about this – the biggest single abuse in the Church!
As His children move ahead, God is able to show how wrong this system of human rule in the Church really is.
A brother in Kenya wrote to me about a dream God gave him in October about this subject. Here is what he wrote:
I was visiting a Christian group site for the Feast of Tabernacles services. On the third day of the feast I dreamt the following:
I was in my room observing how some red ants were busy at work on one side of the wall. They were using several small fishes as building materials to erect a figure 'g' structure on the wall, some 5 feet off the floor. While some ants were sticking firmly on the wall supporting the structure, others were bringing in more materials. I looked, everything was going very quickly. The structure was increasing rapidly and protruding on the wall. Suddenly I felt the mother ant (Queen) fall into my open right hand from nowhere. Then something told me to dispose of the Queen into a small black paper bag inserted in a dustbin that I always have placed by the door. Immediately after disposing of the Queen, everything disappeared [the dream ended]. M. N., Mombasa, Kenya
What this dream conveys is to do with the matter of church governance and the speed with which things are moving ahead in Africa. "Everything was going very quickly" he says.
The red ants represent believers. Like ants, we are meant to be hard at work doing what God has called us to. I believe the 'g' represents the formation of God's Kingdom on earth (the nucleus of which God is preparing now in the Church), and, by extension, God whom we work for. Interestingly 'g' is the seventh letter of our alphabet, a number which represents God and His perfection.
The 'g' was 5 feet above the floor. Five, in biblical numerics, represents preparation or God's grace. God is preparing something of immense value to Him as He graciously works with His people.
Fishes can also represent Christians, too. There is a Christian movement in this country called the Ichthus movement, which employs the emblem of a fish symbol. Jesus, in His last conversation with Peter (John 21), exhorted Peter to become a fisher of men, not just a fisherman. He encouraged him to feed the ones God is pulling into His Kingdom. Interestingly, there the number of fish Jesus miraculously pulled into Peter's net prior to this conversation, was 153. 153 is 17 x 9, or the sum of 1 to 17. 17 numerically depicts salvation, healing and deliverance.
The dream shows how God has called people to various different functions in His body. Some are holding the church together within, by their service and caring. This would include many women, who are doing many worthwhile acts of physical service, such as preparing food, and providing for others' physical needs where required. Then there are mothers whose nurture and training of their children is of first importance. There are those who are called to pray for others, more than to 'do' in the evangelistic sense.
The dream also illustrated the evangelists' calling – "others were bringing in more materials".
What I believe God wants to highlight most by this vision is in the last part. The ants are all busy doing what they have been called to do by instinct. We know that from studying ant behaviour. A Christian's behaviour, in comparison, should be governed by his spiritual 'instincts'. These are transmitted to us via the Holy Spirit.
The ants do not need the queen ant to tell them what to do and how to do it. She is nurtured by them. In effect, she is a virtual parasite on all the worker ants. By comparison, in some churches, the queen ant represents the human leader. Where a man gains that much 'authority', he is grossly out of line with God's design.
The pope is perhaps the most obvious example of this. He presides over the Catholic Church, and if the Catholic Church were a church of God (which it is not; it was built by Satan as a counterfeit), the pope would be sitting in place of Jesus, enthroned by Jesus' subjects, ruling over them. It is entirely blasphemous. In fact, the pope is called the 'Vicar of Christ' or 'Vicar of the Son of God' (in Latin, Vicarius Filei Dei, which numerically adds up to 666). That is one of his official names, and 'vicar' means 'in place of'. He presides in place of Christ! It is a monumental blasphemy!!
Wherever men in leadership capacities in churches have become like the pope – like the queen ant – they should be discarded, just as in the dream. Why? Because they block the further moving of the Spirit of God. They prevent the people of God moving ahead. Malcolm B Heap
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