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by Jacob Ninan
We read in 1Sam.19 about King Saul coming into the midst of some prophets, and beginning to prophesy under the influence of the Holy Spirit. This was after the Spirit of God had left him, and an evil spirit had come upon him (16:14)! But this prophesying did not change his character because he still tried to kill David, and still behaved foolishly.
Is it not possible that when people come into the midst of the church, where prophets are bringing forth the Word of God, that they too begin to be moved by the influence and feel and say many good things, without any permanent change in their lives? We must examine our own lives and see how much of this there is in us.
People say and do many things, and do not say or do many other things, because they are in the church! Since something is done in a certain way in the church, that is the way they also will do it, as long as they are in the church. If someone asks them why they do it that way, their innocent answer is that that is the way it is done in the church or that that is what the prophets have taught! But have these things become real or important to them? Such people are more careful to abide by the external commandments (or the so called unwritten rules of the church) so that they are accepted in the church, rather than being concerned about faithfulness in their inner lives. They pick up the language of Jerusalem (for example, they are not 'worried' about things any more, only 'concerned'!). They learn how to pray in the accepted form, and understand what type of dress to wear (at least when they come for the meetings!), what type of subjects to avoid in conversation with the brothers and sisters, what type of things should be kept in the house, etc.
The Pharisees also took special care to do correctly all things which could be seen by men (Mt.23:5,25). But they stood face to face with Jesus and did not recognise Him at all!
God offers all of us the privilege of knowing Him personally, (He.8:11), under the new covenant. But we can also, like the Pharisees, stand face to face before Jesus in the church, and miss out on the most precious privileges that are open to us.
In heaven, there is no marriage relationship (Mt.22:30). In other words, we cannot stand there as the wife or husband of so and so, but only in our own right. We cannot also go there as from such and such a family or even as from such and such a church. There is also no group ticket for entry, as a family or as a church. We cannot say that we used to know such and such a man of God. The important question there will be whether we ourselves are men and women of God.
What credentials we will have in heaven will be solely on the basis of our personal relationship with Jesus and our closeness with Him.
When Moses and the people of Israel walked together for several years and went through many fantastic experiences of God together, it turned out that Moses knew God and His ways, but the people saw only God's works (Ps.103:7). Is our life guided by the commandments that we hear from the prophets on Sundays, or by the knowledge of God? What is the difference between the two? In the first case we try to keep the commandments so that we might receive some blessings from God or so that we do not get any chastisement from Him. In the second case, we have become one with the commandments so that it is our own desire to keep them.
If we know God, it will grieve us when we notice little things in our secret thoughts and attitudes which are grievous to the Spirit of God. If we know only the prophets, we will be satisfied when they think well about us. If our loyalty is only to the church and not to God Himself, we will not even recognise that there is something strange when we have one life in the church and another at home and in our work place.
We are in a most privileged position, that there is now a real possibility to know God intimately, and to walk in actual fellowship with Him the rest of our days. Let us not then satisfy ourselves with mere intellectual knowledge or with second hand knowledge from the prophets of God. God calls the least to the greatest of us to have an intimate knowledge of Him.
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