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The Greatest Gift
of   T H E   H O L Y   S P I R I T
                         The Greatest Gift




                                                                                                                                          w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
                         of     T H E                  H O L Y                      S P I R I T
      H      ave you ever wondered why the
             initial effect of the outpouring of
                                                   works of God” being expressed in
                                                   their own native languages. Indeed,
                                                                                                   and in all Judea and Samaria, and to
                                                                                                                       ”
                                                                                                   the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
—2—




      the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost      the most wonderful work of God had              It was only fitting that the Holy
      was speaking in other tongues? Could         just happened, and only a handful of        Spirit would empower them that day
      it have been that God had something          uneducated Jews could tell of it, so        to speak in languages they had never
      really important to say to the multi-        the power of the Holy Spirit came           learned, so that the thousands of
      national crowd who were gathered for         upon them to “be His witnesses in           visitors from other countries could hear
      the festival?                                Jerusalem,” just as their Master had        and fully comprehend the Good News.
          It is clear from the account in Acts     said in His very last words to them:        But an even greater miracle was soon
      2:4-11 that the disciples were not just          “But you will receive power when the    to follow, as seen in their response to
      babbling incoherently, for men from              Holy Spirit has come upon you, and      the message they heard that day. And
      many countries heard “the wonderful              you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem   it wasn’t only the fact that 3000 men
                          were pierced to the heart and cried out
                          to be saved…
                              THE GREATEST MIRACLE WAS
                          WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!
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                             All those who believed were together
                             and had all things in common; and
                             they began selling their property and
                             possessions and were sharing them with
                             all, as anyone might have need. Day by




                                                                                                                                                                   —3—
                             day continuing with one mind in the       Now the full number of those who              as were owners of lands or houses sold
                             temple, and breaking bread from house     believed were of one heart and soul,          them and brought the proceeds of what
                             to house, they were taking their meals    and no one said that any of the things        was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet,
                             together with gladness and sincerity of   that belonged to him was his own, but         and it was distributed to each as any
                             heart, praising God and having favor      they had everything in common. And            had need. (Acts 4:32-35)
                             with all the people. And the Lord was     with great power the apostles were             There is no greater demonstration
                             adding to their number day by day         giving their witness to the resurrection   of the Holy Spirit’s power than a
                             those who were being saved.               of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace      people actually living together in unity,
                                                    (Acts 2:44-47)     was upon them all. There was not a         willingly sharing all they have so that
                                                                       needy person among them, for as many
      everyone’s needs are met. It actually            your remembrance all that I have said        and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God
      says that all who believed were together,              ”
                                                       to you. (John 14:26)                         has given to those who obey Him.”
      and all were of one heart and soul,              It was clear that the Helper was             (Acts 5:32)




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      and not one person was overlooked or         helping those first disciples, not just           Obviously, the Holy Spirit had
      neglected. It was the beginning of the       to speak in other tongues, but to make       poured His love into their hearts,5 for
      fulfillment of God’s original intention       disciples out of those who heard,            they were now able to love one another
      for His people, that “there will be no       teaching them to obey everything the         just as the Master had loved them.
      poor among you,” 1 and that they will        Master had taught them,3 beginning           They had received the greatest gift
      have “one heart and one way.”2 That is       with the total surrender of their lives.     so that they could obey the greatest
—4—




      truly what “abundant grace” produces,        Just as Peter and the other disciples had    commandment and thereby fulfill the
      and that is the true “witness to the         given up everything to follow Him in         greatest longing of God’s heart:
      resurrection” — the evidence that Jesus      obedience to the gospel,4 so did those           “A new commandment I give to you,
      actually rose from the dead, ascended        who received their word. And it was              that you love one another: just as I
      into heaven, and sent the Helper to          only those who obeyed the gospel who             have loved you, you also are to love one
      empower His disciples to remember and        received the gift of the Holy Spirit, as         another. By this all people will know
      to do all that He commanded them:            Peter explained to the religious leaders         that you are My disciples, if you have
          “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom   in Jerusalem who were disturbed by the                               ”
                                                                                                    love for one another. (John 13:34-35)
          the Father will send in My name, He      miracles that were taking place:                 For He has always desired a people
          will teach you all things and bring to       “And we are witnesses to these things,   who would truly represent Him on the
                          earth,6 making His name great7 by             they have doctrinal differences? Do              Those who live according to the sinful
                          demonstrating His love in their self-         they agree to disagree? Is one rich and          nature have their minds set on what
                          sacrificing care for one another, and          the other poor? Or do they share all             that nature desires; but those who live
                          expressing His oneness in their self-         things in common?8 Don’t they have               in accordance with the Spirit have
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                          denying unity. After all, that is what His    one heart and one way?                           their minds set on what the Spirit
                          only begotten Son prayed for on the eve           So if the Spirit of the Father and           desires. (Romans 8:5, NIV)
                          of His death:                                 the Son is poured out in and upon                What then does the Spirit desire?
                             “The glory which You have given Me         those who are saved, what should be           We believe that He desires exactly what
                             I have given to them, that they may be     the effect? Well, what happened in            the Father and the Son desire: a virgin




                                                                                                                                                                    —5—
                             one, just as We are one; I in them and     the beginning? Was it a mistake? Was          bride,9 without spot or wrinkle, made
                             You in Me, that they may be perfected      it only for back then? Shall we shrug         ready for her Bridegroom.10 We know
                             in unity, so that the world may know       our shoulders and resign ourselves to         that the Bridegroom will not come
                             that You sent Me, and loved them, even     the obvious division and economic             until His bride has made herself ready.11
                                                       ”
                             as You have loved Me. (John 17:            disparity among Christians today? “It’s       That is why she needs the Helper, and
                             22-23)                                     just man’s sinful nature; it won’t change     the gifts and grace He gives, in order to
                             What degree of unity is there              until Jesus comes back.” But what about       purify herself12 and grow to full stature,
                          between the Father and the Son? Do            the Apostle Paul’s conclusion:                becoming compatible with Him in
                          1
                           Deuteronomy 15:4 2 Jeremiah 32:39 3 Matt 28:19-20 4 Mark 10:28; Luke 14:26,33; Matt 13:44-46; 5 Romans 5:5 6 See Leave, Enter, Become,
                          page 49 7 Malachi 1:11 8 John 16:15 9 2 Corinthians 11:2 10 Ephesians 5:27 11 Rev 19:7-8 12 1 John 3:2-3
      every way, so that He can return for His             Speaking the truth in love, we are to       reasonably hope to be called His bride?
      bride. In fact, that is why the gifts of the         grow up in all aspects into Him who         For that, indeed, is our hope, and we
      Holy Spirit are given,13 and the greatest            is the head, even Christ, from whom         hope you will come and see why we




                                                                                                                                                  w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
      of these is Love.14                                  the whole body, being fitted and held        have this hope. The Spirit and the Bride
          Love is not a feeling or a concept.              together by what every joint supplies,                 ”
                                                                                                       say, “Come. 16 ß
      Love is laying down your life for the                according to the proper working of each
      object of your love. Love produces                   individual part, causes the growth of
      community because Love loves to love                 the body for the building up of itself in
      others. Love produces unity because                  love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)
—6—




      love is not proud. Those who love one                Just as it did on the Day of
      another live together in unity. They are         Pentecost nearly 2000 years ago, the
      the embodiment of Love. They are                 true outpouring of the Holy Spirit
      the body of the One who is Love. He              will always produce the fruit of love
      laid down His life for them, so they             — a people who dwell together in
      lay down their lives for one another             unity, loving one another as their
      — every single day.15 And that is exactly        Master loved them. What else could
      how His body, His bride, is formed and           adequately express the heart of the One
      perfected:                                       whose Spirit fills them? Who else could
      13
           Ephesians 4:8,11-16 14 1 Cor 13:1-13; Romans 5:5 15 1 John 3:16-17; James 2:15-17; Hebrews 3:13; Acts 2:46-47 16 Revelation 22:17
                                     O    ur bodies are roughly 80 percent water.
                                          Without it we die. When contaminated
                                     it can spawn pandemics. With good, clean
                                                                                           change has been a skyrocketing increase in
                                                                                           cancer, diabetes, obesity, and other terminal
                                                                                           health problems. Coincidence?
                                     water we can lead long, healthy lives. Today              Culturally, our society has changed as
                                     however, people are drinking less and less            well. The nuclear family is virtually a thing
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                                     water. Think for a moment; when was the               of the past. June Cleaver is no longer at home




                          Thirsty,
                                     last time you drank a couple of quarts in             in Mayfield. Now she’s out working to pay for
                                     a day? The once-normal water intake has               the Beave’s Xbox 360. In the romantic days of
                                     been replaced by a plethora1 of energy                Leave it to Beaver there were always hot meals
                                     drinks, sodas, and teas, most loaded with             ready for the family. Today most children




                                                                                                                                                —7—
                                     concentrated doses of caffeine, refined sugar,         hardly eat at home. Due to the “grab-n-go”
                                     and high fructose corn syrup. In fact, peoples’       nature of our culture, the dinner table has



                          Anyone?
                                     diets have changed more in the last forty             moved to places like McDonald’s.3 Children
                                     years than it ever has.2 Accompanying that            growing up today have been dubbed the latch-
                                     1
                                       plethora – an excess of something. 2 Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation, pg. 7, Houghton Mifflin,
                                     2001 3 “In 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2001, they spent more than $110
                                     billion…In 1975, about one-third of American mothers with young children worked outside the
                                     home; today almost two-thirds of such mothers are employed…the entry of so many women into the
                                     workforce has greatly increased demand for the types of services that housewives traditionally perform:
                                     cooking, cleaning, and child care. A generation ago, three-quarters of the money used to buy food
                                     in the United States was spent to prepare meals at home. Today about half of the money used to buy
                                     food is spent at restaurants – mainly at fast food restaurants.” Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation, pg. 4
      key generation by sociologists. Behavioral problems at school have
      gone from gum to guns in a relatively short span of thirty years or
      so, and schools are being outfitted with armed guards, security




                                                                                           w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
      cameras, and metal detectors that would rival some international
      airports.4
          Let’s face it, we live in the richest, most powerful country in the
      world, and despite all the wealth and technological advancements
      which promise to make our lives more comfortable and fulfilling,
      we have an unprecedented number of children and adults who
      are depressed, taking record amounts of anti-depressants in
—8—




      their attempt to cope with life in a toxic society.5 According to
      researchers, many are losing the battle.6

      4
        “Every year, 3 million young people in the United States fall victim to
      crimes at school. Almost 2 million of these incidents involve violence.”
      http://www.crf-usa.org/violence/school.html 5 “The number of children and
      teenagers diagnosed with mental disorders has not just risen in the last decade
      and a half, it has exploded. Today’s juveniles, among the most materially
      prosperous ever to walk the earth, are either suffering or thought to be suffering
      from unprecedented levels of mental affliction.” Mary Eberstadt, Home–
      Alone America, pg. 57, Sentinel 2004 6 Michael Yapko, PhD, “…depression
      is on course to being the world’s second-most debilitating illness by 2020,”
      http://www.mcmanweb.com/article-202.htm
                              You may be surprised to learn that many               was to be a committed follower of
                          Christians suffer from severe depression.                 Jesus Christ.
                          Though it may be somewhat embarrassing                    2) Born again Christians spend seven
                          to admit it, more and more Christians are                 times as much time on entertainment
                          turning to pharmaceuticals to cope with the               as they do on spiritual activities.
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                          difficulties of life. Whether “stressed out”               3) Desiring to have a close, personal
                          due to the cares and worries of life,7 or lost            relationship with God ranks just sixth
                          among the masses in a multi-media-mega-                   among the 21 life goals surveyed,
                          church, at the end of the day, many are left              trailing such desires as “living a
                          feeling alone and thirsty, hardly different               comfortable lifestyle.”




                                                                                                                                                                                       —9—
                          than their unbelieving neighbors.8                        4) Born again adults are more likely
                              Taking a closer look, there may be                    to experience a divorce than are non-
                          good reason to be depressed. Consider the                 born again adults (27% vs. 24%).
                          following research results from a popular                 Meg Flammang, project director of                  than non-Christians, when we look at
                          Christian research group:9                            another Barna study conducted one year                 their behavior… It’s hard for Christians
                              1) In a representative nationwide survey          later, said the following of the Christian             to understand because it seems contrary to
                              among born again adults, none of the              divorce crisis:                                        what people think would happen…We would
                              individuals interviewed said that the                 “We have found that in a lot of ways               love to be able to report that Christians are
                              single, most important goal in their life             Christians are not living different lives          living very distinct lives and impacting the
                          7
                              Matthew 6:24-34 8 John 4:13-14 9 “The Year’s Most Intriguing Findings,” Barna Research Studies, December 12, 2000
           community, but ... in the area of divorce   about never thirsting again.
           rates they continue to be the same.” 10         According to the scriptures, there
            So where is the transcending life          is a water of life that does quench the




                                                                                                       w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
       that is promised to those who believe?          dissatisfaction of an empty life in this
       The Son of God said, “…whoever drinks           world.13 But not all who claim to have
       of the water that I shall give him will         it truly do. For one to drink of this
       never thirst. But the water that I shall        water however, he must not have any
       give him will become in him a fountain          other cause he values more.14 Drinking
       of water springing up into everlasting          of the water of life is drinking from a
—10—




       life.”11 With Christianity no happier or        new Spirit, which satisfies your soul and
       healthier than the general population,          makes you truly different. Perhaps you
       where, one might ask, is this the thirst-       are one of the few who are honest enough
       quenching power of the one Spirit that          to admit that you are still thirsty.15 If so,
       all believers are made to drink of?12 At        we invite you to come and drink of the
       first glance you might question whether          true water of life. ✦
       the Son of God meant what He said


       10
          John Rossomando, “Born-Again Christians No More Immune to Divorce than Others, Says
       Author,” CNSNews.com, January 21, 2002 11 John 4:14 12 1 Corinthians 12:13; John 17:21-23;
       1 Corinthians 1:10 13 Revelation 21:6 14 Revelation 22:17 15 Matthew 7:14
                           He is thirsty, dying of thirst, but
                            the cool oasis is a mirage; the
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                             water he sees does not exist.
                                                             H E W I L L G I V E T H E WAT E R O F L I F E ( T H E H O LY
                                                             SPI R I T ) F R E E LY TO A N YON E W HO I S THI RST Y
                                                            ENOUGH TO OV ERCOME EV ERY OBSTACLE TH AT




                                                                                                                             —11—
                                                            S TA N D S I N T H E WAY O F O B E Y I N G T H E G O S P E L .




                                                                 Thirsting for the
                                 “The one who is truly
                          thirsty will gladly give up his
                            possessions, his career, his
                            social status for the sake of
                           the treasure he has found.”              Water of Life
       Y    ou’ve probably lived all your life in
            towns and never been in a desert, but
       there is a vivid image imprinted in your
                                                        animals and for themselves, for their daily
                                                        existence, and yet the well had never run
                                                        dry. The people had been drinking from
                                                                                                      life. But was she willing to pay the price?
                                                                                                           “Go, call your husband, and come
                                                                                                      back.”




                                                                                                                                                       w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
       mind of a man crawling across the sand           it for many generations. Deep beneath the          “I have no husband.”
       towards water. He is thirsty, dying of thirst,   dry ground the water had a source that had         “You are right in saying, ‘I have no hus-
       but the cool oasis is a mirage; the water he     not failed them. Without it, they could not   band,’ for you have had five husbands, and
       sees does not exist. The costly waste of         live, and she knew better than we how pre-    the one you have now is not your husband.
       precious effort — only one who was truly         cious a source of water is.                   What you have said is true.”
       thirsty would risk it all again at another            When the man at the well offered her          Ohhh! That hurt! How did He know
—12—




       promise of water. Would this oasis be real       “living water” she could only wonder where    that? It seemed like He could look right
       or another bitter disappointment?                He could get better water than was in the     into her soul. Five marriages… five disap-
                                                        well. She had not yet perceived that He was   pointments… All her life she had thirsted
       The Woman at the Well1                           speaking of the spiritual realm. Then He      for a covenant relationship that would ful-
           So many times she had been to the well       said that the water He gave would become      fill something deep in her soul, but it always
       to draw water. It was part of life. Every gal-   a spring of water that would well up in her   eluded her. She went into each marriage
       lon used for cooking and washing had to be       to eternal life. Oh, what water was this?     with such hope that it would satisfy her, but
       fetched in heavy clay jars. So many times        She desired more than the humdrum life        each time hope evaporated like a mirage.
       a day, she, like everyone else, came to get      of drawing water and just living. She asked   Finally she had given up hope, not daring
       water. So much water was needed for their        Him for this water that held the promise of   to open up her heart to another man, but
                          just settling for mere physical pleasure as     shame of her sin and the futility of her life   says that many believed in Him.
                          long as it lasted. But it troubled her con-     in order to receive that living water.
                          science, and this man saw right through             The Bible does not say much more            Living Water
                          her outward composure. She struggled to         about this woman’s life beyond the fact              What is this “living water” that the
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                          overcome the urge to just run away. But         that she excitedly told everyone in her vil-    Master offered to the woman at the well?
                          obviously this man was a prophet, a man of      lage that she had met the Messiah and how       Is it available to just anyone? How does one
                          God. Maybe He could answer some of her          He had told her “everything she ever did.”      receive it? And how do you know that you
                          nagging questions…                              The effect this had on them was amazing,        have it? These are vital2 questions. You may
                              “How is it that we worship according        considering two undeniable facts: 1) Small      be surprised at some of the answers that are




                                                                                                                                                                               —13—
                          to the faith of our fathers, but you Jews       villages being what they are, everyone knew     found in the Scriptures, which are not the
                          say that God doesn’t accept our worship or      very well what this woman’s life was like,      traditional answers you may have heard in
                          hear our prayers?”                              and what “everything she ever did” en-          church.
                              That question had never come to rest        tailed; and 2) Most people would not want            The first question is answered very
                          in her. She had tried to fill up her soul with   anyone to tell them everything they ever        clearly a few chapters later in the gospel
                          many things, but still she was empty. Noth-     did. But evidently there were many thirsty      according to John:
                          ing had satisfied her. She was still thirsty,    people in that village, for they overcame the        On the last day, that great day of the feast,
                          and the offer of “living water” that would      natural urge to keep the walls up around             Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If any-
                          well up like a spring within her was very       their hurting souls and they compelled the           one thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
                          appealing, and she was willing to face the      Master to stay there and teach them, and it          He who believes in Me, as the Scripture
           says, out of his heart will flow      closely at the Master’s words. He
           rivers of living water.” But this    said, “If anyone thirsts, let him
           He spoke concerning the Spirit,      come to Me and drink.” So you




                                                                                                                                                 w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
           whom those believing in Him          have to be thirsty, truly longing for
           would receive; for the Holy Spirit   spiritual life that you don’t yet have
           was not yet given, because Jesus     (for the Master told the woman
           was not yet glorified. (John 7:       that whoever drinks of this water
           37-39)                               will never thirst again).
           So “living water” is the Holy
—14—




       Spirit, right? That’s not so surpris-    Coming to Him
       ing. You may have been told that              And then you have to come to
       you already have this living water, if   Him. Where is He? Now you may
       ever you said the “sinner’s prayer”      think this means you just need to
       and asked Jesus into your heart.         “draw near to Him in your heart”
       After all, the Holy Spirit, like sal-    or something like that, since, after
       vation, is a free gift, right?           all, He is literally in heaven right
           The Holy Spirit is given freely,     now so you can’t physically go to        “Our Master said, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come
       but who is He given to? To under-        Him, right? Wrong! Another time,          to Me and drink.’ So you have to be thirsty, truly
       stand this, you must look more           the Master said:                          longing for spiritual life that you don’t yet have.”
                               He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this
                               world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him          “Nowhere in the New Testament is there a single
                               follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also…               example of a person getting saved or receiving the Holy
                               (John 12:25-26)                                                         Spirit apart from receiving a flesh-and-blood disciple.”
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                               The first sentence describes someone who is thirsty,
                          not satisfied with his life in this world. Then it says
                          that someone like that who desires to serve Him must
                          serve where He is. Where is He? He is where His Body
                          is — where His disciples are living together in unity, in




                                                                                                                                                                 —15—
                          community. That’s where eternal life is.3 Now there is a
                          lot written about this elsewhere in this paper,4 which I will
                          not go into here. But suffice it to say that nowhere in the
                          New Testament is there a single example of a person get-
                          ting saved or receiving the Holy Spirit apart from receiv-
                          ing a flesh-and-blood disciple (sent from a community
                          of disciples) who preached the good news to him.5 The
                          notion that a person can pick up a tract on a park bench
                          and say the “sinner’s prayer” and ask Jesus into his heart,
                          all by himself, is totally foreign to the Word of God.
       What it Means to Drink                                    Clearly, to drink is to believe in Him.          Christian faith, could that be considered
           So in order to receive the water of life,        So what does it mean to believe in Him?               the few ? Did you ever consider that what
       you must be thirsty, and you must come to            According to the latest statistics, approxi-          He meant by believing in Him might be




                                                                                                                                                                 w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
       Him, and then you must drink. What then              mately two billion people claim to believe            fundamentally different from the popular
       does it mean to drink? The thirsty man in            in Him. Are there really two billion people           understanding?
       the desert gives all his strength to get to          on the earth who have rivers of living water
       the oasis he sees in the distance, but if it         flowing from their inmost being? That is               Believing in Him as the Scripture
       is only a mirage, his effort is wasted — he          about one third of the world population.              Says
       cannot drink. But what if it is real? What           But the Master said:                                      Perhaps there is a hint here: “He who
—16—




       will he do then? With great joy he would                  Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the        believes in Me as the Scripture says…” Most
       immerse himself in that water and drink to                gate and broad is the way that leads to de-      translations associate the phrase “as the
       his heart’s content! He will live and not die.            struction, and there are many who go in by       Scripture says” with the words that follow
       Can we relate this to the Master’s words?                 it. But narrow is the gate and difficult is the   it rather than the words that precede it,
           “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and            way which leads to life, and there are few       but remember, there was no punctuation
           drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scrip-           who find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)                    in the original Greek manuscripts, so it is
           ture says, out of his heart will flow rivers of        Surely those two billion “believers” are         up to the translator to supply it according
           living water.” But this He spoke concern-        not the few the Master spoke of. Even if you          to the context. If the phrase “as the Scrip-
           ing the Spirit, whom those believing in Him      estimated that only half of them — one                ture says” refers to what follows it, you
           would receive… (John 7:38-39)                    billion — were really serious about their             would expect that to be a quotation or at
                          least a paraphrase of something in the Old        believe in them!6 They believed, but not in             food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.
                          Testament scriptures, but there is nothing        the way the Scriptures say you must believe             He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood
                          even close. We take it as prophetic of the        in order for Him to entrust Himself (give               abides in Me, and I in him… From that
                          Master’s words and the apostles’ writings         His Holy Spirit) to you. He only gives His              time many of His disciples went back and
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                          being recorded and preserved as the New           Holy Spirit to those who obey Him.7                     walked with Him no more. Then Jesus
                          Testament scriptures. In that light, the               So how do the Scriptures say you must              said to the twelve, “Do you also want to
                          Master was speaking of those who believe in       believe in Him in order to have rivers of               leave?” But Simon Peter answered Him,
                          Him according to what the Scriptures say it       living water flow from your inmost being?                “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the
                          means to believe in Him.                          What does it mean to drink? The Master                  words of eternal life. Also we have come to




                                                                                                                                                                                  —17—
                              You see, it is entirely possible to “be-      spoke about drinking another time, and                  believe and know that You are the Christ,
                          lieve in Him” apart from salvation. For           what He said totally separated the true                 the Son of the living God.” (John 6:53-
                          example:                                          believers from those who only believed in               56,66-69)
                              Now while he was in Jerusalem at the          their minds:                                            What was the difference between those
                              Passover Feast, many people saw the mi-            Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly,      who left and those who stayed? Those who
                              raculous signs he was doing and believed           I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the   stayed had nowhere else to go. Oh, it’s not
                              in him. But Jesus would not entrust himself        Son of Man and drink His blood, you have       that they couldn’t have gone back to their
                              to them, for he knew all men. (John 2:             no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and       old jobs and families. Physically they could
                              23-24)                                             drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will   have done that. But in their hearts they
                              They believed in Him, but He did not               raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is   were totally identified with their Master,
         What does it mean to drink? The thirsty
          man in the desert gives all his strength
         to get to the oasis he sees in the distance,




                                                                                                                                                         w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
            but if it is only a mirage, his effort is
         wasted — he cannot drink. But what if it
         is real? What will he do then? With great
           joy he would immerse himself in that
—18—




           water and drink to his heart’s content!
       totally devoted to Him and dependent upon            Here is another one of the shocking           And also:
       Him as their source of life. They had all left   things He said:                                     Do not think that I came to bring peace
       everything to follow Him8 — their posses-            If anyone comes to Me and does not hate         on earth. I did not come to bring peace
       sions, their occupations, their causes, and          his father and mother, wife and children,       but a sword. For I have come to set a man
       even their families. They believed in Him            brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life     against his father, a daughter against her
       with their whole hearts, entrusting their            also, he cannot be My disciple… So there-       mother, and a daughter-in-law against
       whole lives to Him, and even when He                 fore, no one of you can be My disciple who      her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies
       said things that shocked them, things they           does not give up all his own possessions.       will be those of his own household. He who
       couldn’t understand, they trusted Him.               (Luke 14:26,33)                                 loves father or mother more than Me is not
                               worthy of Me. And he who loves son or           identified with Christ because they have           Spirit) freely to anyone who is thirsty enough
                               daughter more than Me is not worthy of          received a false understanding about the          to overcome every obstacle that stands in the
                               Me. And he who does not take his cross          “free gift” of salvation and have revulsion       way of obeying the gospel. That is what it
                               and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.        toward anything that sounds like “works           means to drink. The one who is truly thirsty
1- 8 8 8 -T W E LV E -T




                               He who finds his life will lose it, and he who   salvation.” Indeed, salvation is a free gift,     will gladly9 give up his possessions, his
                               loses his life for My sake will find it. (Mat-   but who is it given to ? Only those who show      career, his social status — all that “his life
                               thew 10:34-39)                                  by their obedience to the gospel that Christ      in this world”10 consists of — for the sake
                               You can water these words down all              is worth more to them than their own life         of the treasure he has found. He will over-
                          you like, but whoever does not drink them            and possessions. It does require effort to ob-    come the opposition of family and friends




                                                                                                                                                                                     —19—
                          full strength is not really thirsty for eternal      tain the gift of eternal life, as is clear from   who try to dissuade him from abandoning
                          life, and will not receive the life the Master       these words of the Master:                        all for the gospel’s sake. He will overcome
                          promised those who believe in Him enough                 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the      the tugs of his own emotional attachments
                          to obey Him.                                             Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and        to the comforts, pleasures, and security of
                                                                                   the End. I will give of the fountain of the   his old life, as well as the fears of being ridi-
                          He who Overcomes                                         water of life freely to him who thirsts. He   culed and ostracized by his peers.
                              Notice that the Master spoke of those                who overcomes shall inherit all this, and I        Indeed, there is much to overcome in
                          who were not worthy of Him. Most Chris-                  will be his God and he shall be My son.       order to obey the true gospel of the king-
                          tians are not used to thinking in terms of                                      (Revelation 21:6-7)    dom. And those who fail to overcome all
                          being “worthy” of belonging to or being                  He will give the water of life (the Holy      that must be overcome in order to obey the
       gospel will also fail to inherit eternal life.       and therefore had no opportunity to believe       woman at the well, we offer to you the same
       Instead, they will inherit eternal death, for        unto eternal life, but of those who did hear      living water that has fully satisfied us.11 It is
       that is what the very next verse says:               the gospel but were too cowardly to obey it.      not a mirage. Please come and drink! ß




                                                                                                                                                                 w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
           But the cowardly and unbelieving, the            Such ones do not consider our Master wor-           “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’
           abominable, murderers, sexually immoral,         thy of surrendering their life and all they         And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let
           sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have   possess, and He does not consider them               him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let
           their part in the lake which burns with fire      worthy of receiving His life. In rejecting               him take the water of life freely.”
           and brimstone, which is the second death.”       the living water He freely offers, they make                   (Revelation 22:17)
                                     (Revelation 21:8)      themselves worthy of leading the pack of
—20—




           The attributes “cowardly and unbe-               abominable perverts, murderers, adulter-
       lieving” go together, in contrast to the             ers, sorcerers, idolaters, and liars who shall
       courageous believers of the previous verse           have their part in the lake of fire.
       who overcame all opposition in order to                  We sincerely hope that you are not one
       drink the water of life. It is not speaking          of them, but are instead truly thirsty for
       of those who never heard the true gospel             eternal life. Just as the Master offered the
       1
          John 4:5-43 2 Vital means necessary to sustain life. 3 Psalm 133:1-3 4 See articles in It Takes a
       Community on our web site 5 Matthew 10:40; John 13:20 6 The word translated believe in verse 23
       is the same as the word translated entrust in verse 24. 7 Acts 5:32 8 Mark 10:28 9 Matthew 13:44
       10
           John 12:25 11 John 4:13-14
                          A Search for Truth M    any teenagers get pimples all over their
                                                  faces; I just got a couple. And many youth
                                            have the wildest, most rebellious mischief of their
                                            lives during these years, and others go through
1- 8 8 8 -T W E LV E -T




                                            this difficult transformation inwardly, somehow
                                            keeping a good performance on the outside.
                                            Born a son of a pastor, with two grandfathers




                                                                                                  —21—
                                            as pastors to boot, fate seemed to have paved for
                                            me a road to walk on that only a revolt would
                                            let me off. I could either become a preacher or a
                                            pot-smokin’, beer-drinkin’, Harley-ridin’ rebel.
                                            Don’t ask me how, but I avoided both callings.
                                            And don’t ask me what I became instead. I was
                                            somewhere in between, wanting neither what
                                            appeared to be all-out good nor what appeared
                                            to be all-out bad.
       A Youth with Unanswered Questions             thoughts with anyone. What was I to do          After considering the options as best as I
            During ninth grade, the simple Sunday    — disappoint my parents with my struggle,       could as a 15-year-old, I came to the logical
       school answers I had learned as a boy no      or make an insincere vow? The moment I          conclusion that there is a God. Now what?




                                                                                                                                                     w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
       longer satisfied me. One forbidden question    was dreading finally came. We three pupils       Summer camp came that year, and I gave
       came to my mind with frequent visits. I       stood there on display, waiting for the big     my life. We sang songs around the campfire;
       wanted to know, “Is there really a God?”      question. I knew the other boy, John, was       there were girls crying emotionally; the call
       I wasn’t asking because I wanted to be        smoking dope and reading dirty magazines,       came to give your life to Jesus. Then there I
       rebellious. I just wanted to know whether     but who was I to judge? Plus, when the          was, standing at the campfire’s edge. We all
                                                     time came, I was really glad John was there     broke a stick and threw it in the fire. The
—22—




       He was real, or whether Christianity was
       just a made-up religion.                      next to me. When the pastor finally asked,       deed was done — Jesus was now in my
            In the midst of my dilemma, my parents   “Will-you-vow-to-serve-God-for-the-rest-        heart, I guess. The next morning, I felt very
       announced that I was to start confirmation     of-your-life-if-so-answer-I-will?” he was       different, happy in some way. It must have
       class. This meant several months of           there to boldly answer, “Yes, I will,” while    worked! Now what?
       pointless classes, but even worse, it meant   I just mumbled and moved my mouth                   Everyone else seemed to have such a
       that after it all, I would have to stand in   without speaking. No one noticed. I had         heart-wrenching story of how wretched
       front of the whole church to pledge my        gotten away with it; I had escaped the ritual   they had been, or how hard their life had
       life to God. That pledge I was not ready      without telling a lie.                          been before the Lord saved them. I felt
       to make, nor could I talk about my true           Later, my grandmother gave me a             deprived that I could not truthfully muster
                                                     religious book that actually helped me.         up such an exciting testimony of God’s
                          grace in my life. I wondered whether I        crazy hours for low pay.You wished it could      Campfire Talks
                          should go out and sin a good bunch so that    last forever and you’d never go home. But             If you have ever been to summer camp,
                          I would have more to praise the Lord for.     as the summer came to a close, the leaves        you know that the kids come for one week,
                          Fortunately, I met two brothers at the same   always lost their green color and fell off the   and the goal is usually to get them saved by
1- 8 8 8 -T W E LV E -T




                          camp who would become my two best             trees. One by one, everyone left the camp        the time they go home. In the middle of the
                          friends as we helped each other through       and went home for another year.                  week, there is the commitment campfire,
                          high school.                                                                                   and one of the staff gets the opportunity of
                              We all went back and worked at this                                                        speaking to try to get the kids to give their
                          camp every summer for years. The camp




                                                                                                                                                                         —23—
                                                                                                                         life to Jesus. This year, the lot fell to me.
                          staff lived together, ate together, and                                                        I really wanted to be prepared. Early that
                          worked together. The constant fellowship,                                                      summer, I set aside a whole week to study
                          the deep friendships, and the sense of                                                         my Bible, about salvation. After my week, I
                          common purpose produced the closest                                                            had more questions than answers, but I did
                          thing I had experienced to the life of the                                                     see that the early disciples were baptized
                          early church in Acts 2 and 4. I worked                                                         when they believed, not just praying a
                          my way up the corporate echelon — from                                                         prayer or throwing a stick in the fire. Even
                          assistant dishwasher to lifeguard to song                                                      more, those who became disciples stayed
                          leader. No, it wasn’t for money or for a                                                       with the ones who told them about Jesus.
                          career. We all loved being there, working
       How was that supposed to               I     believe      every
       work at camp where all the         religious     person      or
       parents show up and take           preacher gets to this same




                                                                         w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
       the youth home? And how            hour of decision at least
       would these parents feel if we     once during his life. In the
       baptized their minors?             presence of real doubts
            To make it even worse,        or a bad conscience,
       there were still unanswered        do you continue the
       questions for me. Who was          show and push past
—24—




       I to promise anyone eternal        your conscience to say
       life? Eternal Life?! I did         something that you really
       not have the confidence to          do not believe? Or do you
       promise somebody that. Well,       just admit the truth and
       we did things a little different   accept the consequences?
       at the campfire that summer.        Two choices: “shine
       Somebody somewhere won’t           God on,” or be real. The
       like it, but I am happy to say,    choices a person makes
       no children were converted         in these crucial moments
       that summer.                       will greatly influence
                          his eternal destiny, if he falsely promises   settle for the status quo; the question was      who was truly saved.
                          eternal life to someone.                      just a matter of strategy, or so we thought.     Without Many Options
                          College Friends                                    During my senior year, more and more
                                                                                                                             My career ambition had been to
                                                                        questions emerged. I was reading many
                              In college I was fortunate to find                                                          become a missionary doctor in some third-
1- 8 8 8 -T W E LV E -T




                                                                        books about the Bible as well as materials
                          seven other Christian friends who shared                                                       world country. Graduating from college, I
                                                                        from many churches. I wanted to know
                          the same interests as I. I loved to read                                                       found myself with two major hindrances.
                                                                        the truth, and just assumed that if I kept
                          the Bible just as much as I loved to talk                                                      My applications to medical school were
                                                                        reading I could find it. The more I studied,
                          about the controversial questions in life.                                                     rejected, but more importantly, I was not
                                                                        the more I concluded that Christianity




                                                                                                                                                                          —25—
                          We called ourselves the “Round Table”                                                          saved. It was not just a casual doubt, but a
                                                                        needed a great deal of help. It simply did
                          where any topic was fair game and all                                                          sincere realization that my life just did not
                                                                        not line up with the Scriptures. What I read
                          opinions were welcomed and challenged.                                                         line up. I wanted it to, but it did not. I had
                                                                        in Acts was not what I had grown up in.
                          From predestination to politics to our own                                                     to be honest with myself — yes, I went to
                                                                        What is more, a greater and more personal
                          personal struggles, our lighthearted bunch                                                     church; yes, I read my Bible; but my life did
                                                                        conclusion was becoming increasingly
                          was determined to be how it says in the                                                        not demonstrate the love or power of God
                                                                        evident from the Scriptures. My conscience
                          Proverbs, “As iron sharpens iron, so one                                                       working in my heart. I was still in the world,
                                                                        nagged at me as I became keenly aware of
                          man sharpens another.” Our great idealism                                                      and still in my sins. Believing at that time
                                                                        the fact that I really was powerless to
                          would surely change the world and the                                                          that there were only two eternal destinies,
                                                                        overcome the sin in my life. My personal
                          church. We certainly were not going to                                                         I came to the shuddering conclusion that I
                                                                        life did not line up with the life of a person
       was headed for the lake of fire.                    like never before — I was desperate for
           Being a missionary was still my hope for       salvation and forgiveness. The stars at night
       the future, but it sure seemed to me that I’d      were witness to my many prayers to God




                                                                                                          w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
       better have eternal life first before offering it   to please save me, please show me what I
       to others. Not sure what to do, I thought I’d      should do. I had to know the truth. I had to
       try the “third-world country” part at least,       find His people, if they even existed.
       and maybe God would help me figure out                  The search continued — reading
       the rest. My roommate from college got me          books, visiting this church and that
       a job teaching in Honduras, and away I went        church, studying history, and talking to
—26—




       for a year.                                        many people. I took some classes from
           When I left, I was keenly aware of my          Wycliffe Bible Translators, a missions
       needy condition, as it says in Ephesians 2:        organization. I really liked the classes and
       12, “Remember, brothers, that at that time         teachers, and they really liked me. Some of
       you were alone, strangers to the covenants of      the missionaries wanted me to enlist with
       promise, without God, without hope, and in         them, but I told them frankly that I was not
       the world.” If you have ever felt as if no one     saved and showed them in the Scriptures
       understands you, a year in a foreign country       why it was so. Carefully, I avoided their
       won’t really help. By the time I returned to       required chapel time, not wanting to be a
       the States, my thirst for the water of life was    hypocrite. To me the time was much better
                          spent reading and praying, though it really   how they held scriptural debates during        quickly learned to follow his example, so
                          was a question whether God even heard my      Sunday services. It really appealed to         grateful to finally have a spiritual mentor
                          prayers. One day, the people at chapel were   something in me. Skeptical at first, I finally   who could teach me how to be like Jesus.
                          singing a song from Isaiah 53:4 in Handel’s   decided to join that church. My search         It was so satisfying to do the Lord’s work,
1- 8 8 8 -T W E LV E -T




                          Messiah, “Surely He has borne our griefs      in lostness had ended. “Home at last,” I       maintaining the very high standard that
                          and carried our sorrows.” Crouched by         thought.                                       the narrow way was all about. Mark and I
                          the door I sat, listening to the words,           Mark was the pastor, and he was really     became good friends.
                          knowing whom those words were about,          into end-times prophecy. We all believed           About two years later, my eyes started
                          but knowing my grief, sin, and sorrow was     Jesus could come back at any moment, so        seeing what my first enthusiasm had




                                                                                                                                                                     —27—
                          still upon me. Outside the chapel door that   we had to be on guard not to be deceived by    overlooked. Many people in the church
                          day, I wept alone.                            anything false. Everything we believed and     were suffering. While the strong among
                          Almost Home                                   everything we did had to be proven from        us traveled land and sea to make converts,
                                                                        the Bible. The sermons would expose the        the weak in the church were oppressed and
                              Continuing to search, I finally found
                                                                        false teachings in the other denominations     silent. Others were fearful of the brothers
                          a very conservative church where they
                                                                        and prove our own beliefs as true from         in authority, though I did not understand
                          studied the Bible just as I did, and really
                                                                        the Scriptures. Mark was also a zealous        why.
                          wanted to be obedient to the Scriptures. I
                                                                        evangelist, with a great ability to use the        One summer, I decided to move in
                          liked their emphasis on right doctrine and
                                                                        Scriptures to show the lukewarm Christian      with the other single men in the church.
                          proving things from the Scriptures, even
                                                                        and heathen alike their need to repent. I      We lived together in an apartment with
       five bedrooms and one kitchen. Coming           for the church, doing whatever I could do    determined to use every spare minute
       home from work, I was so excited at the        to make it work — care for the sheep, help   in reaching out to the lost. Members of
       thought of living and eating together like     the brothers, fix the buildings, whatever     our church would go all over, handing




                                                                                                                                                w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
       the early church. My attempts to bring the     was needed. I would give my savings, my      out papers and talking to people, even
       brothers together soon ended in humorous       car — everything I had I would give to       going door-to-door. But I could not run
       disaster. The elaborate dinners I prepared     wherever he thought best. All I asked in     away from the hurting souls in church
       for all drew no one to the table. Instead,     return was that he would teach me how to     on Sunday, or turn away from the lack of
       I watched as one by one, the door of each      be a spiritual Christian. Mark told me the   love and fellowship in our midst. Visiting
       brother’s personal bedroom would open,         best way to help the church was to keep my   my brothers and sisters in their homes, I
—28—




       the brother would shuffle out to his own        good-paying job, as I was one of the few     found out that there were deep unspoken
       personal cabinet, and take out his own         who was earning good money. This news        rifts in the relationships among members
       personal canned vegetable and cook it,         was disappointing to me, but I gave myself   — especially with the leaders.
       eat it, and clean his own personal dish. I     to working hard and giving all the money I        It appeared that the high standard
       couldn’t get them to change. So much for       could to the church there.                   applied so arrogantly to all other groups
       the early church. So much for taking our       Shattered Dreams                             was turning inward and crushing the
       meals together with glad and sincere hearts.                                                very spirits of our own members. Some
                                                          I declared the next summer as the
       Something was terribly wrong.                                                               members wanted us to lower our standards
                                                      “Summer of Evangelism.” Discarding all
           With determination, I told Mark that I                                                  on certain things so as not to be so
                                                      distracting projects or influences, I was
       wanted to quit my job and work full-time                                                    exclusive; other members felt strongly to
                          keep our original positions. If there ever     me of such things as arrogance and pride.
                          was a time that we needed true spiritual       He shouted, “Okay, you figured it out! I’m a
                          authority, it was then. We were divided, and   sinner, but you are, too! Get out of here!” I
                          the division was only getting larger. The      apologized and left the room, finding out later
1- 8 8 8 -T W E LV E -T




                          “Summer of Evangelism” was canceled;           that Mark had punched the hole in the door
                          the fire in my heart for saving the lost was    when he was in a rage with his wife.
                          extinguished to ashes by the reality of the        “Could this be the reason for the
                          state of our church. There simply was not a    oppressed sheep in the church?” My mind
                          home to bring the lost sheep back to.          spun quickly, trying to make sense of it all.




                                                                                                                            —29—
                              “We have got to do something, Mark,”       “Are leaders allowed to be like this in the true
                          I said in his apartment. “We cannot keep       church? Was God really with us? Or was it my
                          going on like this.” As we talked about the    own pride and arrogance that caused this?
                          problems in the church, I noticed a large      Am I just being a Judas or Korah?” So many
                          hole in the bedroom door. “What is that?       thoughts, so much confusion.
                          How did that happen?” I asked, assuming            The situation went from bad to worse.
                          that one of his children had thrown            Confiding in another leader about my terrible
                          something into it. Shock and dread struck      encounter, this other leader decided that it
                          me like never before as my good friend         was time to finally bring charges against Mark
                          and pastor exploded in anger, accusing         and ask him to step down from leadership.
       We went together to talk to Mark. Mark             An innocent victim I was not, for Mark      gone far down the road of trying to find
       wouldn’t talk to us both, insisting that       and my other friends were hurt by my own        God by doctrine, and I knew that you
       “correct doctrine” was that only one           unwitting pride and arrogance, though I did     could not find Him that way. God was not




                                                                                                                                                      w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
       person should come. The situation              not see it at the time. We had tried to live    going to be found by reading books or any
       escalated. Mark became convinced that it       the life of disciples, but without the power    other intellectual approach. I was starting
       was a conspiracy of Satan to depose his        of God within us to accomplish this high        to realize that maybe my whole approach
       rightful authority. He would not listen, but   calling. Most of the members quit coming;       was off, based on arrogance and intellect
       demanded that he could present his case        a few leaders just departed; the church was     instead of childlike trust — doctrine
       before the entire church. We begged him        shattered. We were disappointed to the          instead of love. The Master had said that
—30—




       not to, but he insisted. He was sure that      uttermost. It was as if God had forsaken us.    you have to enter the Kingdom as a little
       the church would side with him, but they       Though the details may vary, many other         child, a little trusting child. How could you
       did not. We met as Mark wished, so there,      believers have suffered in similar or greater   possibly trust like that if you had to be a
       in front of the sheepfold, the shepherds       ways. It is usually at times like these that    doctrinal expert? Isn’t that just leaning on
       bit and devoured each other. Roots of          people become cynical and give up hope.         your own understanding?
       bitterness had broken forth and defiled             With only the faintest trace of hope in     Island Pond, Vermont
       many. My dream of finding the true church       my soul, I remembered one other place
                                                                                                         I heard of a place in Island Pond,
       was shattered there before me. The gates of    that might have the truth. My leaders had
                                                                                                      Vermont, where people loved each other
       Hell had prevailed against this church, and    warned me that their doctrines were way
                                                                                                      and lived together as the early church did.
       I had opened them.                             off, but what did that matter now? I had
                          When I visited for a week, I was totally        once again to trust.                           doctrine, and thought they were something
                          amazed. The life of this people was just            For a while, I tried to defend my          when they were nothing.
                          like what I had always dreamed about,           faltering doctrines. One brother looked             The roommates in the brothers’ room
                          just like the early church described in the     at me and said, “You think you are alive,      where I was staying were Greg, James, and
1- 8 8 8 -T W E LV E -T




                          book of Acts. When I asked my technical         but really you are wretched, pitiful, poor,    Kevin. We had all been thirsty, and we had
                          questions about doctrinal beliefs, I only got   blind, and naked.” So true it was. Who was     all found the water of life. Greg had sought
                          back blank stares. This place obviously ran     I kidding? I thought my great knowledge of     for it using marijuana before he became
                          by some force that I knew nothing about.        the Scriptures counted for something, but      a disciple. James had thought it could be
                          The people here loved each other, and they      the truth was that my spiritual condition      found hiking the Appalachian Trail. Kevin




                                                                                                                                                                         —31—
                          trusted their leaders, because their leaders    was truly wretched. I needed to surrender      was a quiet yet loyal man from Maryland.
                          cared about them. It wasn’t a doctrine about    my life and humble myself, like I never        You couldn’t pick four people with more
                          faith; it was a life of faith. All my reading   truly had, because no one had ever called      different backgrounds, but we became
                          and studying about the Bible had failed to      me to. No one had the authority to require     good friends together, as we still are ten
                          produce this life — intellectual knowledge      this kind of obedience because no one          years later. Previously, my arrogance had
                          was worthless. But I knew enough of the         had done it himself, up until now. He was      kept me from knowing and appreciating
                          Bible to recognize that these people had the    quoting Revelation 3:17, which was written     people of different walks of life, but I came
                          same Spirit as was present in Abraham, and      to a church in danger of falling away.         to see that we had the same yearning in our
                          in Yahshua,1 and in the early church. I fell    Evidently, that church had made a shift        hearts. We ate our meals together, worked
                          in love, and determined to move in and try      from a community life of love to a system of   together, lived together — and unlike
       summer camp years ago, we never left               Yahshua has not disappointed me. My
       each other.                                        wife and I have been happily married for
            My life was transformed. Having               seven years, have two boys, and our lives




                                                                                                             w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
       tasted the bitter fruit of trusting in my          are completely in the hands of God. We
       own understanding through doctrine,                have given up everything for Him, even
       I came to see that a person comes to               the comfort and security that this world
       believe in his heart, not just in his mind.        offers. My search for truth is over, and I
       It is with our hearts that we come to trust        found what I was looking for. The water
       Yahshua with everything, surrendering all          of life is truly satisfying, and I shall never
—32—




       to inherit eternal life.                           thirst again. ß
            Yahshua said, “If anyone is thirsty,
       let him come to Me and drink. Whoever
       believes in Me as the Scripture says,
       streams of living water will flow out of
       his heart.”2 All my religious experiences
       had left me truly thirsty, desperate for
       eternal life. Ten years later, I can say that
       1
         I came to learn that Yahshua is the real name of the man called Jesus in the Bible. See What’s in
       a Name on the following page 2 John 7:37-39
       G   race… faith… works…
           such common words, but
       what do they mean? What is
                                        Amazing Grace                                                              Grace
                                                                                                                        First comes grace, the
                                                                                                                   unmerited favor of God. As it




                                                                                                                                                        w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
       grace, and how does it work?                                                                                relates to salvation, grace is the
       What is faith, and where does                                                                               working of God in a person’s
       it come from? Where does it           For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not          life to protect him, prepare
       lead? What are the works that         of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone      him, and bring him to the time
       cannot save us, and the works         should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ          and place where he can hear the
       we are saved to do? And for                                                                                gospel from someone who has
—38—




                                             Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that
       that matter, what is salvation,       we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)                           been sent with the authority to
       anyway? In his letter to the                                                                               proclaim it.2
       Ephesians, the apostle Paul was not preach- salvation.1 That is why we must look to the           It was grace to Peter that he had fished
       ing the gospel, but rather giving the disciples Gospels to find the foundation of these fa- all night without catching anything, and that
       understanding about what had happened to miliar terms Paul uses in his letters.                he happened to be cleaning his nets in that
       them and what lay ahead of them — the pro-          There is a process or a progression in- particular place where the Master wanted to
       cess and the purpose of salvation. The gospel volved in salvation, and in the Gospels and teach that day, and that the Master chose his
       is found in the Gospels. The letters of Paul the book of Acts there are many examples boat to speak from.3 It was grace that caused
       and the other apostles consist of instruction of people going through that process, or in the Master to pass by the sycamore tree where
       and correction for those who are already in some cases stopping short of salvation.            Zacchaeus was waiting, and to notice and call
                          to him.4 It was grace that caused the Ethiopi-     Faith                                              the gospel. The only thing that gives a person
                          an eunuch to happen to be passing near Philip          Faith is persuasion. That is true both in      that spiritual authority is that he has obeyed
                          and to be reading the scroll of the prophet        the natural and the spiritual realm. A natural     the gospel himself and is living the life that
                          Isaiah, and it was grace that caused Philip to     man can be persuaded in his mind to do             it demands.9
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                          hear from the Spirit the urging to approach        many things, and it is a sort of faith, but the        So grace draws a person near to hear,
                          the chariot and ask the eunuch whether he          faith that saves is the persuasion of the Holy     and then through hearing the gospel from
                          understood what he was reading.5 And it was        Spirit which comes to a person as he hears         a true disciple, faith comes — but not auto-
                          even grace to the “rich young ruler” that the      the gospel. As Paul said, “Faith comes by          matically. It requires something very impor-
                          Master came to teach in his town.6                 hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”7         tant, and very rare, on the part of the hearer:




                                                                                                                                                                                   —39—
                              So grace brings a person near in order to      But as Paul also labored to explain, the word      he must be willing to do the Father’s will.10
                          hear the good news. But what happens next          of God must be spoken by a flesh-and-blood          He must have ears to hear, which means a
                          depends on the one who speaks and the one          person who is “sent” 8 — that is, someone          heart to obey.11 Otherwise he will not submit
                          who hears.                                         who has the spiritual authority to proclaim        to the spiritual authority of the one speak-
                          1
                            It is ironic that most of the popular “plans of salvation” make little use of the Gospels and much improper use of Paul’s letters. As a result, very
                          few people have actually heard and obeyed the gospel. 2 John 7:17-18 3 Luke 5:1-10 4 Luke 19:2-10 5 Acts 8:27-39 6 Mark 10:17-30 7 Romans
                          10:17 8 Romans 10:14-15; Matthew 10:40; John 13:20. There is not a single example in the New Testament of a person receiving the Holy Spirit
                          without receiving a flesh-and-blood person filled with the Holy Spirit. So it is peculiar, to say the least, that most Christians believe that a person
                          can become a disciple by simply reading a tract and saying a prayer, all by himself. 9 John 7:18b; Otherwise he is living a lie and can only pass
                          on the same deceptive spirit he is in communion with, according to John 7:18a; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 1 John 2:4; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. 10 John
                          7:17 11 Matthew 13:9,15; Luke 14:26-35
       ing; he will not receive him as coming from         gloom, for he was not willing to give up his      whom they had crucified,17 that He had paid
       God.12 He will not be persuaded, for he is in       own life, in order to receive the eternal life    for their sins through His death, and that He
       the grip of a stronger persuasion — the fear        that Yahshua offered him. He loved his life       had risen from the dead and ascended to




                                                                                                                                                                w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
       of losing his own life.13                           in this world.                                    the right hand of the Father. And what hap-
           That is what happened in the case of the            But in the case of the 3,000 on the day       pened next? Did they all go their separate
       “rich young ruler” who came asking what he          of Pentecost, we see a very different story.      ways, having added a new dimension to their
       must do to inherit eternal life:                    The many other words14 they heard that day        lives? No. The message they heard called
            Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and     from Peter evidently imparted faith to them,      them to be saved from the perverse genera-
            said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your      for it says they “gladly received his word.”15    tion they were living in.18 The Bible doesn’t
—40—




            way, sell whatever you have and give to the    Gloom did not descend on them at the              record the “many other words” Peter spoke
            poor, and you will have treasure in heaven;    thought of giving up their lives, for they were   to them that day, but we do know what the
            and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”   fully persuaded that this Messiah was worth       Master had commanded the apostles to do
            But he was sad at this word, and went away     dying for. Thus they were baptized into His       in the preaching of the gospel, which surely
            sorrowful, for he had great possessions.       death and received the same Spirit that had       they were careful to obey:
                                      (Mark 10:21-22)      filled the ones who spoke the good news to
                                                                                                                 Therefore go and make disciples of all na-
           Although there was abundant grace at            them.16
                                                                                                                 tions, baptizing them in the name of the Fa-
       work, bringing him into the very presence           Belief that Impels Obedience                          ther and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
       of the Master, he did not receive faith from           The faith that came to those 3,000 caused          and teaching them to obey everything I have
       hearing the gospel, but rather dread and            them to believe in their hearts in this Messiah
                               commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20)                   It is doubtful that Peter would have for-           were being saved. (Acts 2:44-47)
                                                                               gotten to include this story in his many other
                              And what was the first thing the Master                                                                    It was neither a coincidence nor a misun-
                                                                               words, considering how deeply it had affected
                          had commanded them when He called them                                                                   derstanding that those 3,000 new disciples
                                                                               the disciples the day it happened.20 But re-
                          to follow Him? It was to forsake everything.19                                                           all gave up everything, including their in-
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                                                                               gardless of the exact words Peter may have
                          And lest we think that requirement applied                                                               dependent lives, and shared a common life
                                                                               spoken, the outcome speaks for itself:
                          only to the apostles, remember that after the                                                            together.21 Their belief impelled 22 obedience
                          woman broke her alabaster jar, her most pre-             All the believers were together and had all     to what they heard. It was not merely a men-
                          cious possession, and poured out every drop              things in common. Selling their possessions     tal assent to the fact of Yahshua’s death and




                                                                                                                                                                                     —41—
                          of the fragrant oil upon Him, He instructed              and goods, they gave to anyone as he had        resurrection. It was a total identification with
                          His disciples:                                           need. Every day they continued to meet          Him and His people that cut them off from
                                                                                   together in the temple courts. They broke       all past loyalties and occupations.
                               I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is
                                                                                   bread in their homes and ate together with           There is a belief that doesn’t impel obe-
                               preached throughout the world, what she
                                                                                   glad and sincere hearts, praising God and       dience. The Master encountered this kind of
                               has done will also be told, in memory of her.
                                                                                   enjoying the favor of all the people. And the   belief on several occasions, such as:23
                               (Matthew 26:13)
                                                                                   Lord added to their number daily those who           Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Pass-

                          12
                            Matthew 10:40; John 13:20 13 Hebrews 2:15; Luke 9:24; John 12:25; Revelation 21:7-8 14 Acts 2:40 15 Acts 2:41 16 Acts 2:38 (NKJV); Rom
                          6:2-5 17 Acts 2:36 18 Acts 2:40 19 Mark 10:28; Luke 5:1-11; Luke 14:33 20 Matthew 26:8,14-16 21 Acts 4:32-35; 5:20 22 Impel means to urge,
                          constrain, or motivate a person to an action; to cause to move forward with force. 23 John 8:30-44 is another vivid example of vain belief.
            over Feast, many people saw the miraculous         Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead,        Works
            signs he was doing and believed in his name.       being by itself. But someone may well say,              Certainly, there are no works that a per-
            But Jesus would not entrust himself to them,       “You have faith and I have works; show             son can do to earn his salvation in Messiah.




                                                                                                                                                                   w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
            for he knew all men. He did not need man’s         me your faith without the works, and I will        All of his good deeds have no more value
            testimony about man, for he knew what was          show you my faith by my works.”You believe         than filthy rags in the currency of redemp-
            in a man. (John 2:23-25)                           that God is one? You do well; the demons           tion.26 It is only Messiah’s worth that counts
           The words “believed” and “entrust” in               also believe, and shudder. But are you will-       — the infinite value of His blood which He
       this passage are actually the same word in              ing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith   shed on our behalf.
       the Greek manuscript. You could well say                without works is useless? (James 2:17-20)               In fact, anyone who really understands
—42—




       that they believed in Him but He didn’t be-                                                                the futility of his own unredeemed life, with
                                                               Sadly, many are so foolish as to be un-
       lieve in them, for He knew it was only a belief                                                            all the material manifestations of his own
                                                           willing to recognize the futility of a faith that
       in their minds and not in their hearts. They                                                               selfish works,27 will be eager to abandon it
                                                           does not result in the works that followed
       admired Him, but He knew they would not                                                                    all as soon as he discovers the pearl of great
                                                           the first preaching of the gospel in Acts
       obey Him at all costs, therefore He could                                                                  price.28 It would not even enter the mind of
                                                           2:42-47 and 4:32-37. But the Master said
       not entrust His Holy Spirit to them.24                                                                     someone who truly hates his own life in this
                                                           that those who have ears to hear will bear
           So the faith that saves produces a belief                                                              world29 that giving up his possessions in or-
                                                           abundant fruit — thirty, sixty, or a hundred-
       that obeys; otherwise it is not saving faith.                                                              der to gain eternal life30 could be considered
                                                           fold — and so prove to be His disciples.25
       That is exactly what the writer of James was                                                               “works salvation.” He would be like Paul,
       laboring to express:                                                                                       who wrote,
                              Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the   That is the revelation he had that caused         his life employing his gifts36 to build up the
                              surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus          him to write to the Ephesians,                    Body of Messiah:
                              my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss
                                                                                    For we are His workmanship, created in            “From whom the whole body, joined and
                              of all things, and count them as rubbish,31
                                                                                    Christ Jesus for good works, which God            knit together by that which every joint
1- 8 8 8 -T W E LV E -T




                              in order that I may gain Christ. (Philip-
                                                                                    prepared beforehand that we should walk in        supplies, according to the effective working
                              pians 3:8)
                                                                                    them. (Ephesians 2:10)                            by which every part does its share, causes
                              Paul understood in the very core of his                                                                 growth of the body for the edifying of itself in
                          being what he was saved from and what he                   The word translated as works here (and
                                                                                                                                      love. This I say, therefore, and testify in the
                                                                                in verse 9, for that matter) actually means




                                                                                                                                                                                         —43—
                          was saved for. The “loss of all things” was                                                                 Lord, that you should no longer walk as the
                          part of the reality of his old life being bur-        employment or occupation. It is not speaking
                                                                                                                                      Gentiles walk, in the futility of their minds.
                          ied with Messiah in baptism,32 not a “good            of isolated good deeds that one does from
                                                                                                                                      (Ephesians 4:16-17)
                          work” that he did to earn his salvation.33 Paul       time to time, but rather the direction of one’s
                          was glad to be free of his old life, career, and      will35 — what he does with his time, energy,         Paul and the other apostles did not
                          possessions so that he could lay hold of that         skills, and strength. Everyone who is saved is    conceive of the Body of Messiah as a
                          for which Messiah had laid hold of him.34             saved for the purpose of spending the rest of     mystical union of isolated believers who live
                          24
                             Acts 5:32; Hebrews 5:9 25 Matthew 13:3-9; John 15:8; John 13:34-35; 1 John 3:14-18 26 Isaiah 64:6 27 Even if those past works looked good to the
                          natural man, as in Titus 3:5. 28 Matthew 13:44-46 29 John 12:25 30 Mark 10:28-30; Luke 14:33 31 The Greek word Paul used here means something
                          worthless and detestable, such as the excrement of animals. 32 Romans 6:4-7 33 Titus 3:5 34 Philippians 3:12 35 See the article Friends & Enemies on
                          on our web site for more on this theme. 36 His “calling” or employment in the Body of Messiah, Ephesians 4:1.
       their own independent lives all week (“walk          If you love Me, keep My commandments.            love one another. That is where God has
       as the Gentiles walk”), and get together for                                    (John 14:15)          commanded the blessing of eternal life.41
       an hour or two on Sunday. It was to be a




                                                                                                                                                               w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
                                                            He who has My commandments and keeps             Amazing Grace
       full-time, visible demonstration of disciples
                                                            them, it is he who loves Me. (John 14:21)
       living together in unity,37 loving one another                                                            The amazing thing about grace is that
       just as their Master had loved His first              He who says, “I know Him,” and does not          it brings about the purpose of God on
       disciples38 — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week          keep His commandments, is a liar, and the        the earth through willing human beings
       — serving one another according to their             truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His       who receive faith when they hear the word
       gifts and abilities. Such people do not need         word, truly the love of God is perfected in      of God, which causes them to believe
—44—




       to be concerned about what they will eat or          him. By this we know that we are in Him.         to the point that they actually obey His
       what they will wear,39 but can actually seek                                    (1 John 2:4-5)        commandments.42 Together they bear the
       first His kingdom and His righteousness,                                                               fruit of the kingdom43 — the life that bears
                                                           It is impossible to obey His
       knowing that all their needs will be met                                                              witness to the fact that the Father actually
                                                        commandments on your own. It takes a
       through the “effective working of every                                                               sent His Son,44 because as He is, so also are
                                                        community. That is where the love of God
       part” for the benefit of the whole. Such is                                                            they in this world.45 n
                                                        is perfected in us — where we can truly
       the miracle of self-sacrificing love.40

       37
          John 17:20-23 38 John 13:34-35; 15:12-14 39 Matthew 6:31-33   40
                                                                             2 Corinthians 5:14-15 41 Psalm 133:1-3 42 John 14:15,21; Revelation 22:14 (KJV,
       NKJV) 43 Matthew 21:43 44 John 17:23 45 1 John 4:17
                                                                            THE
                                                                                       LITMUS T EST
                                                                             A     litmus test is any test in which one       statements, which may vary depending
1- 8 8 8 -T W E LV E -T




                                                                                   factor is decisive. In chemistry,          on the denomination. What does not vary
                                                                             litmus paper proves whether a solution           greatly is the importance placed on mental
                                                                             is acidic or alkaline. It is a term often        assent and the unimportance placed on
                                                                             used in political discussions, especially        the life of good deeds that demonstrate




                                                                                                                                                                            —45—
                                                                             of appointments made by the President            whether one actually believes in the truth
                                                                             to the federal courts. There, a nominee’s        of those statements. It was not this way in
                                                                             stand on abortion, how the Constitution          New Testament times.
                                                                             should be interpreted, etc., form the                The litmus test in the first century
                                                                             litmus test for various groups of people         was their community life together. This
                                                                             who attempt to promote or defeat the             is what proved the presence of the love
                                                                             appointment based on this issue alone.1          of God in their hearts.2 It was a life that
                                                                                 For Christians, the litmus test of           could only be sustained by those who
                                                                             faith is adherence to a set of doctrinal         actually loved one another in deed and
                          1
                              Article on “Litmus Test”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Litmus_test 2 That is, whether Romans 5:5 had ever happened to them.
       truth. Their obedience to the Master’s           And the congregation of those who believed to the apostles’ teaching, as it was through
       words led them to share “the world’s             were of one heart and soul; and not one the apostles that they heard all that He
       goods”3 with one another until there             of them claimed that anything belonging had taught His disciples. In obedience




                                                                                                                                                  w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
       were no needy among them, fulfilling the          to him was his own; but all things were to His words, they made disciples who
       ancient prophecy about Israel.4 Doing in         common property to them. And with great also obeyed Him, fulfilling the Great
       the New Covenant what the Israelites             power the apostles were giving witness to Commission of Matthew 28:18-20.
       couldn’t do in the Old, they proved that         the resurrection of the Lord
       Jeremiah’s prophecy of a New Covenant            Jesus, and abundant grace
       was being fulfilled. It was a covenant            was upon them all. For there
—46—




       where the Word of God would be written           was not a needy person among
       on the heart, not on tablets of stone.5          them, for all who were owners
          However, there shall be no poor among         of land or houses would sell
          you, since the LORD will surely bless you     them and bring the proceeds of
          in the land which the LORD your God is        the sales, and lay them at the
          giving you as an inheritance to possess, if   apostles’ feet; and they would
          only you listen obediently to the voice of    be distributed to each, as any
          the LORD your God, to observe carefully       had need. (Acts 4:32-35)
          all this commandment which I am                   Their love for their Savior The litmus test is simple: is the church today
          commanding you today. (Deut 15:4-5)           caused them to be devoted             the same as it was in the beginning?
                             In time, as historians would record,                  spirit, considers the clergy the necessary       that was once not extraordinary. It was
                          the churches fell from the place where                   medium of access for the people to God.6         rather the state of the entire church
                          “abundant grace was upon them all.”                      With such monumental changes,                    when abundant grace was upon them all.
                          Philip Schaff writes in the elevated                 the decisive factor proving the presence             Overcoming sin, being set apart from the
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                          language typical of those who must                   or absence of faith changed as well. As              world, caring for widows and orphans,
                          excuse and explain away the fall of the              love slipped away, so did the Holy Spirit.           bridling one’s tongue, being outspoken
                          church:                                              Confidently, doctrine stepped forward to              in the gatherings — these and many
                             After the gradual abatement of the                take its place. Hardly anyone noticed                other characteristics of “all those who
                             extraordinary spiritual elevation of the                                                               believed” were now part of the lessons of




                                                                                                                                                                                        —47—
                                                                               that the Holy Spirit did not come with
                             apostolic age, which anticipated in its           it. Doctrine was readily received by the             history, and grist for the endless mill of
                             way the ideal condition of the church,            leaders as the new standard of faith,                doctrinal debate.7
                             the distinction of a regular class of             and was passed on to the now-apathetic                   Doctrine was readily received as
                             teachers from the laity became more               followers. This apathy could only be seen            the new litmus test because the leaders
                             fixed and prominent. This appears first             by those who could make the comparison               were no longer teaching what they were
                             in Ignatius, who, in his high episcopalian        to the “extraordinary spiritual elevation”           also no longer practicing — obedience
                          3
                            1 John 3:17 4 Deuteronomy 15:4 5 Jeremiah 31:31-34 6 Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church,Vol. II – Ante-Nicene Christianity (A.D. 100-
                          325), p. 80, 1910 edition by Charles Scribner’s Sons. 7 That mill is still grinding, just as purposelessly as it ever has… That is, just as devoid of life,
                          of actually coming from the same kind of life of love the early church was known for. Rather it continues to come from the same violence of spirit
                          it ever has, which to this day is capable of inciting the populace and authorities to acts of oppression and violence.
       to the many commands of Messiah in                 and decrees they came up with. This                the persecutor. No one was actually
       the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke,                made the decisive break between                    put to death for disagreeing with the
       and John — the Good News of Salvation.             faith and life which has characterized             bishops until after Constantine merged




                                                                                                                                                               w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
       Hence, regardless of what crowns of                Christianity ever since. The importance            church and state early in the fourth
       orthodoxy they crowned themselves                  of leaders actually being examples to the          century. Long before that, however,
       with, they were apostates, having forsaken         flock correspondingly decreased, and all            the same spirit of controversy and even
       the apostles’ teachings. The downward              the more so as they no longer lived with           persecution was at work in the fierce
       spiral continued.                                  the ones they professed to shepherd.               arguments with dissenters, and the
           In philosophical debate with other                 When the basis and sign of unity               lengthy lists of heresies and heretics the
—48—




       Christians holding different doctrines,            became this assent to doctrine and                 orthodox drew up.8 The day soon came
       as well as with Roman authors mocking              not the life of love they’d once lived,            when your presence on such a list meant
       their beliefs, these apostate early church         another profound change happened                   that life and limb were in peril. That day
       fathers came to view faith as agreement            in the churches. In a brief time, she              will come again.
       with a list of theological terms, concepts,        went from being the persecuted to being                Paul warned of the coming of Satan’s
       8
         The grinding of the mill began very early on with Ignatius (executed by the Emporer Trajan in A.D. 107), who was “the incarnation of… the
       hatred of heresy” as Christian historian Philip Schaff writes. (History of the Christian Church,Vol. II: Ante-Nicene Christianity A.D. 100-325, Third
       Edition, 1910, by Charles Scribner’s Sons, page 417). Iranaeus made up one of the first lists in “Against Heresies” (written between A.D. 182 and
       188). Not long afterwards, another list, thirty-two in number, was drawn up by Hippolytus before the year A.D. 217 in his book “The Refutation of
       All Heresies.”
                          ministers in the churches as early as his                                               And this was all done in absolute
                                                                                When love left the church,
                          second letter to the Corinthians:                                                   violation of the Savior’s words, the
                                                                              unspeakable woe came to those   counsel of Gamaliel, and the command
                              For such are false apostles, deceitful
                              workers, transforming themselves into
                                                                               who had “wrong” doctrine!      of Paul the Apostle.
1- 8 8 8 -T W E LV E -T




                              apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For                                             • And if anyone hears My words and
                              Satan himself transforms himself into an                                           does not believe, I do not judge him; for
                              angel of light.Therefore it is no great thing                                      I did not come to judge the world but to
                              if his ministers also transform themselves                                         save the world. (John 12:47)
                              into ministers of righteousness, whose end




                                                                                                                                                             —49—
                                                                                                                 • But they did not receive Him, because
                              will be according to their works.
                                              (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)                                           His face was set for the journey to
                                                                                                                 Jerusalem. And when His disciples
                              The absolute proof of their triumph
                                                                                                                 James and John saw this, they said,
                          over the church – these minions of Satan
                                                                                                                 “Lord, do You want us to command fire
                          – was what such bishops and theologians
                                                                                                                 to come down from heaven and consume
                          as Augustine did to dissenters. Woe to the
                                                                                                                 them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned
                          man or woman brave enough to point
                                                                                                                 and rebuked them, and said, “You do
                          this out! They often found themselves
                                                                                                                 not know what manner of spirit you are
                          stretched on the rack or burned at the
                                                                                                                 of. For the Son of Man did not come to
                          stake as well. The Dark Ages had come.
                                              ”
          destroy men’s lives but to save them.         that had moved the Savior to speak such       a reign of ignorance, fear, and terror
          And they went to another village.             words. With it came another gospel,           which no other religion or political
                                 (Luke 9:53-56)         and finally, as Paul had warned the            philosophy has ever matched. Countless




                                                                                                                                                     w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
                                                        Corinthians, another Jesus!                   are his slain.
          • “And now I say to you, keep away from
                                                           For if one comes and preaches another          In these last days, this “Christ” is
          these men and let them alone; for if this
                                                           Jesus whom we have not preached, or        restrained by the secular powers, which
          plan or this work is of men, it will come
                                                           you receive a different spirit which you   is not to say that he and his “bride” aren’t
          to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot
                                                           have not received, or a different gospel   angling to be at the center of worldly
          overthrow it — lest you even be found to
                                                                                                      power once again. The oft-renewed
—50—




          fight against God. (Acts 5:38-39)
                              ”                            which you have not accepted, you bear
                                                           this beautifully. (2 Corinthians 11:4)     courtship of politicians for her influence
          • For what have I to do with judging                                                        over “the masses” is at work in such
                                                            This was another kind of “savior”
          those also who are outside? Do you not                                                      things as “faith-based initiatives.” Great
                                                        — one that a conquering Roman
          judge those who are inside? But those                                                       and terrible days are once again coming
                                                        emperor like Constantine could relate
          who are outside God judges. Therefore                                                       on the earth.
                                                        to! He gave victory in battle, and most
          “put away from yourselves the evil                                                              Still, a little sprout is growing under
                                                        certainly, judging by his followers, was
          person. (1 Corinthians 5:12-13)
                 ”                                                                                    the gentle care and protection of the True
                                                        not one to turn the other cheek or forgive
                                                                                                      One, that is, the Messiah who laid down
          Another spirit had been received to           his enemies. Rather he has walked astride
                                                                                                      His life for us. A people are gathering
       go directly contrary to the Holy Spirit          the history of the world like Leviathan in
                                                                                                      in communities like the one lovingly
                          recorded by the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 and       latest in Christian entertainment, there                and that the world may know that You
                          4. Once again, those who believe are together   is only one way the world will know who                 have sent Me, and have loved them as
                          and are sharing all things in common.           His disciples are:                                      You have loved Me. (John 17:22-23)
                               They are contending earnestly for the          A new commandment I give to you, that             If you are tired of being part of the
1- 8 8 8 -T W E LV E -T




                          faith once for all delivered to the saints on       you love one another; as I have loved you,    false witness of the Kingdom, hopelessly
                          the Day of Pentecost by striving to keep            that you also love one another. By this all   entangled with the world, and which
                          all selfishness and love of the world out            will know that you are My disciples, if       has neither the Son nor the life, come
                          of their hearts and homes.9 Community               you have love for one another.                and see. Our hearts and our homes are
                          life is once again, among them, the litmus                                  (John 13:34-35)




                                                                                                                                                                         —51—
                                                                                                                            open. ß
                          test of faith. It proves in whose hearts the        It is only such disciples who can
                          love of the Father dwells.                      proclaim the good news. And there is
                               It was for this cause that He was          only one way the world will ever know
                          born, and for this cause He came into           how much the Father loves them and
                          the world, that the truth of God’s love         that He sent His Son to save them.
                          would be witnessed by the entire world.10
                                                                             And the glory whichYou gave Me I have
                          Regardless of the political power, the
                                                                             given them, that they may be one just as
                          wealth, the soaring cathedrals, and the
                                                                             We are one: I in them, and You in Me;
                          majestic centers of “higher learning,” or
                                                                             that they may be made perfect in one,
                          even the mega-churches pulsing with the                                                           9
                                                                                                                                1 John 2:15 10 John 18:37
       The Church
                                                                 dancers, and marchers moving            For centuries Chinese thought,
                                                                 with graceful precision to          mannerisms, and sensibilities were
                                                                 honor the Chairman.                 the result of life under the various



       and China:




                                                                                                                                            w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
                                                                     The latter imagery is far       dynasties that rose and fell,

                      H                                          different from the former. A
                                                                 radical change occurred, and
                                                                                                     one after the other. Within
                                                                                                     that ebb and flow of the
                                                                 now China is so unrecognizable      Chinese kingdoms there
       A Parallel History                                        that one is tempted to call it by
                                                                 some other name. How did all
                                                                                                     was one stable, consistent
                                                                                                     focal point. People could
—52—




           When you think of China, what images     this happen? What set it in motion?              find their stability and
       run through your mind? If you’re over 50,        Beijing had a culture of its own. That       maintain their orientation
       you might envision conical thatched hats,    culture was the natural
       two-wheeled, human-drawn conveyances         outcome of Chinese
       called rickshaws, bowls of rice, wizened     people       interacting
       faces with long, wispy beards, fine           with other Chinese
       porcelain, ornate dragons, and chopsticks.   people, and maybe
           For those 40 and under, it is more       some foreigners. The
       likely to be thoughts of Mao Tse Tung,       influence of this city
       brown-uniformed armies, banner-waving        affected all of China.
                          by unconsciously adhering to it. That focal           The history of Beijing is the history of   who did know remained silent out of fear
                                      point was Chinese tradition.          Moscow, and much of the world to a certain     of severe reprisals. The place is still called
                                          Tradition is what defines          degree. The transition began when the          China, but few, having known the old, can
                                      every culture, and culture            traditions came under attack. The dissident    appreciate the complete cultural change
1- 8 8 8 -T W E LV E -T




                                                                            voices were the minority, yet they were        that has taken over in the new China.
                                                                            clamorous to the point that the majority           What happened in China was a
                                                                            voice became intimidated and silent.           political transformation. Some people
                                                                            The traditions that defined the Chinese         rose up within the old society, attacked
                                                                            culture, and the culture that defined the       the traditions and those who held to them,




                                                                                                                                                                            —53—
                                                                            Chinese people, were criticized and finally     and finally set their own culture in motion.
                          defines every                                      eliminated. Something new, brutal, and         That was something that happened in the
                          people. Tradition in all its varied forms         totalitarian was set in place. Every voice     political realm. But is it possible that the
                          is what remains constant in any culture,          that spoke out in protest was eliminated.      same thing can happen in the spiritual
                          giving it stability. Most traditions have their   Everyone was forced to study daily the         realm? Could it happen to the Church? Is
                          roots in the basic, instinctive understanding     Little Red Book of Mao’s quotations,           it conceivable that the traditions and life of
                          of what serves the greatest good in human         whether they believed the doctrine or not.     the Church could come under attack, and
                          interaction. Of course there are exceptions,          Those born within the new regime had       the result would be something completely
                          but for the most part, traditions recognize       no idea what the truth was. They knew          unrecognizable as the Church, even though
                          and preserve human worth.                         nothing of the old traditions, while those     it would still be called the Church?
       The Church                                        As time went by, something else began   the churches had been exhorted to pay
           The Church, in its beginning, was         to creep into their midst.                       closer attention to the things they
       recognizable only as a group of believers     It was subtle and in tiny                         had heard from the Apostles, in




                                                                                                                                            w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
       who lived together, sharing all things        doses at first. Some                               time they drifted away.6
       in common.1 They had a common life            began taking exception                               One of the distinguishing
       together. Their common life was based on      to     the      Apostles’                         marks of the believers in
       their common experience of forgiveness for    teachings in seemingly                            the beginning was their
       their sins, through the blood of the One      minor      ways,      not                               outspokenness.
       they called Yahshua. The Spirit He gave       keeping the traditions                                  They      exercised
—54—




       them filled their hearts with undying love     they had established.
       for Him, and for each other.2                 Such disorderly people
           They developed certain traditions         should     have     been
       based on the teachings of the apostles,       shunned,4 that they
       bringing back how the Creator wanted His      would be ashamed and
       people to live.3 The culture which arose      brought to repentance,
       from these traditions made these believers    but instead they formed
       recognizable as a distinct people. This was   factions,        drawing
       God’s heart from the beginning. All true      a     following      after
       believers would live this way.                themselves.5 Although
                          their freedom of speech in love, causing        Church worked and taught in diametric            find it in China. Yet even if he left and
                                    a vibrant, thriving life to exist.7   opposition to all that belonged to the           went searching, he would not find those
                                               But with the repeated      original foundations and traditions of the       traditions anywhere else.
                                                 indoctrination by        Church.8 Just as in China, if anyone spoke           Likewise, if one wants to find the
1- 8 8 8 -T W E LV E -T




                                                                          up in opposition to these men in the church,     original foundation and pattern of the
                                                                          reminding them of the Apostles’ teachings,       Church, he has to come out of the fallen
                                                                          he was put out of the Church.9                   religious system that has developed over
                                                                              When the traditions died, the culture        centuries, calling itself the Church.10 But
                                                                          died. Just as the new China is completely        for this person there is hope, because,




                                                                                                                                                                         —55—
                                                                          unrecognizable to those who knew the old         unlike China, he can find a people who live
                          the few who were most vocal and seeking         China, so is the system called the Church        according to the original foundation and
                          recognition, the outspokenness of the           today completely unrecognizable in relation      pattern of the Church in Acts 2 and 4. They
                          many was quenched. They sat silently back       to the foundation and pattern of the true        are living together in communities all over
                          and allowed the self-proclaimed leaders to      Church described in Acts 2 and 4.                the world — places where you are welcome
                          take over.                                          It is sad to say, but if a Chinese desires   to come and see for yourself. ß
                              Like the new leaders of China, these        to find the old traditions that made
                          new leaders (called Nicolaitans) in the         China distinctly Chinese, he would not
                          1
                            Acts 2:36-47; 4:32-37 2 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 3 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6 4 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 5 Acts 20:30 6 Hebrews 2:1 7 Hebrews
                          3:6 8 Acts 20:29-31 9 John 1:9-10 10 Matthew 21:43
                     Leave, Enter, Become




                                                                                                                                              w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
       Abraham, Circa 2000 BC                           This man’s name was Abram. At 75         immediately left the land of his fathers,
           Thousands of years ago, God found         years of age, he heard this call from God   and after a long and difficult journey, he
       a man who was completely willing to           and he obeyed without hesitation.1 He       entered into the land that God showed
       do His will. His heart was longing for                                                    him and became a new creation in the
       something greater than the life he was                                                    land of promise.2 God called this new
       living. Then one day he heard a voice                                                     man Abraham, because he would be
—56—




       speak something very clearly to his                                                       the father of a great nation, for God
       heart.                                                                                    wanted a whole nation of people with
                                                                                                 the same heart as this man. Abraham’s
          Now the LORD said to Abram, “Leave
                                                                                                 response to God’s call would forever be
          your country and your kindred and your
                                                                                                 the foundation for all those who would
          father’s house and go to the land that I
                                                                                                 come after him, desiring to follow their
          will show you. And I will make of you
                                                                                                 Creator.3
          a great nation, and I will bless you and
                                                                                                    Abraham was called to leave one
          make your name great, so that you will
                                                                                                 place and enter into another. Had he
          be a blessing. (Genesis 12:1-2)
                                                                                                 not left the land of his fathers, he would
                          not have been qualified to be the seed of           in his chronicles, “…yet did many of              Galilee, Circa 30 AD
                          the nation God wanted to establish. He             them stay at Babylon, as not willing to              These stories of Abraham, Israel,
                          had to obey the call. Some 4000 years              leave their possessions.”7                        the Babylonian exile, and the return
                          later, the same response is required of                The journey back to Jerusalem was             to rebuild were passed down from
1- 8 8 8 -T W E LV E -T




                          anyone who wishes to be saved from this            over 700 miles. It wasn’t easy. The               generation to generation until Yahshua
                          perverted generation.4                             comforts of Babylon could not accompany           heard them from His mother and father,
                          Babylon, Circa 500 BC                              those who left on the journey. But for            and from the rabbis. Surely, with His
                                                                             those whose hearts were stirred by the            tender and pure heart, He must have
                             Many years later, God called
                                                                             call to return to the land that God had




                                                                                                                                                                           —57—
                          Abraham’s wayward offspring, who had                                                                 asked His parents and teachers why
                                                                             promised to their forefather Abraham,             so many stayed behind in Babylon. It
                          been in Babylon for 70 years of discipline,
                                                                             and to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem,           must have been so difficult for Him
                          to leave and return to Jerusalem and
                                                                             the suffering could not compare with              to understand why anyone would not
                          rebuild the temple.5 Of the roughly
                                                                             the joy set before them. It was only the          heed the call to return and rebuild their
                          one million Jews who were living in
                                                                             remnant who thirsted for their land that          beloved city. Imagine the look on His
                          Babylon at that time, only about 42,000
                                                                             heard the call and obeyed.                        young face when His parents had to
                          returned.6 Most had grown comfortable
                          with their lives in Babylon. As Josephus,                                                            explain to Him that it was because they
                          the first-century Jewish historian wrote                                                              had grown comfortable and didn’t want
                          1
                              Genesis 12:4 2 Genesis 17:1-8 3 Hebrews 11:8; John 7:17-18 4 Acts 2:40 5 Ezra 1:3-5 6 Ezra 2:64 7 Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 11:8.
       to leave their possessions and unwilling   extending the very same call to his fellow          immediately they left the boat and their
       family members. Why would anyone           Israelites.8                                        father, and followed Him.” (Matthew 4:
       hesitate if their God was calling them?       And Jesus, walking by the Sea of                 18-22)




                                                                                                                                                 w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
       Why would anyone value “things” over          Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called          After that He went out and noticed a
       doing God’s will?                             Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a         tax collector named Levi sitting in the
           As time went by and Yahshua               net into the sea; for they were fishermen.        tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow
       grew into a man, He found Himself             Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and            Me.” And he left everything behind, and
                                                                    I will make you fishers of         got up and began to follow Him.” (Luke
—58—




                                                                    men.” They immediately            5:27-28)
                                                                    left their nets and followed
                                                                                                       Yahshua called His disciples in the
                                                                    Him. Going on from there,
                                                                                                   very same way that God had called both
                                                                    He saw two other brothers,
                                                                                                   Abraham and the Jews out of Babylon.
                                                                    James the son of Zebedee,
                                                                                                   Those who were stirred in their hearts
                                                                    and John his brother, in
                                                                                                   did not hesitate, but left everything to
                                                                    the boat with Zebedee
                                                                                                   follow him.9 It was consistent with the
                                                                    their father, mending their
                                                                                                   way His Father had always called those
                                                                    nets. He called them, and
                                                                                                   who were willing to do His will.
                                                                   8
                                                                       Mark 1:16-20 9 Mark 10:28-30 10 Mark 10:22
                              However, like the many who
                          had stayed behind in Babylon,
                          there were many in the Master’s           Can one accept the world’s values, judgments, and
                          day who chose comfort over their          political pursuits and be a disciple? The answer is
1- 8 8 8 -T W E LV E -T




                          salvation. When a well-to-do young        the same today as it was then: No.
                          man came running and knelt down
                          at Yahshua’s feet, asking what he
                          must do to gain eternal life, Yahshua
                          answered,




                                                                                                                          —59—
                             “Go your way, sell whatever you
                             have and give to the poor, and you
                             will have treasure in heaven; and
                             come, take up your cross, and follow
                             Me.” (Mark 10:21)
                               Though the rich young man
                          heard the clear call just as his
                          forefather Abraham had, his face
                          fell.10 He valued his possessions
       more than following the Master. He             entire world yet forfeits his own soul?14     desires to be saved.16 All those in the
       had a cause to not obey Him.11 The dark           In the same manner as Abraham,             first century who were cut to the heart
       shadow of the torment he would someday         those who heard the good news on the          by the gospel they heard knew what they




                                                                                                                                                  w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
       face in death slowly fell over his face with   day of Pentecost, gladly received the         had to do before they could call upon
       the deepest gloom. He would rather have        message and left everything.15 Their          the name of the Lord to be saved. They
       heard another message, one that would          possessions were used to establish the        understood that the terms of gospel were
       have allowed him to hold onto his life         first community, as it is recorded:            life for life, without compromise. If they
       and possessions, but this was not the             Now all who believed were together, and    wanted to drink of the living water, it
       command, nor had it been for Abraham                                                         meant forsaking their life, and all that it
—60—




                                                         had all things in common, and sold their
       or the Jews in Babylon.                           possessions and goods, and divided them    encompassed, and being immersed into
           Peter, Andrew, James, and John left           among all, as anyone had need.             the new culture that was before them.
       their nets,12 which were their profession           (Acts 2:44-45; see also Acts 4:32-35)    Here and Now
       and livelihood, to follow the Master.                                                          Then He said to me, “It is done. I am
                                                         So these steps are the steps of a faith
       Paul also “suffered the loss of all                                                            the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning
                                                      that works. Abraham did it and started
       things,”13 counting it as rubbish. All who                                                     and the end. I will give to the one who
                                                      a whole new culture and nation. The
       responded to the gospel left everything                                                        thirsts from the spring of the water of
                                                      first disciples did the same. Therefore,
       behind. The contrast between Mark 10:                                                          life without cost. He who overcomes
                                                      these same essential steps of that faith
       28-30 and verses 17-22 is chilling. What                                                       will inherit these things, and I will be
                                                      must be followed today by anyone who
       does it profit a man if he gains the whole
                               his God and he will be My son. But               a cause that is greater in their eyes than    Those who are willing to do the will of
                               for the cowardly and unbelieving and             the call of Messiah and His Bride:            the Father will come gladly, with great
                               abominable and murderers and immoral                “And the Spirit and the bride say,         joy over the hope of gaining the thirst-
                               persons and sorcerers and idolaters and             ‘Come!’ And the one who hears say,         quenching water of eternal life.20
1- 8 8 8 -T W E LV E -T




                               all liars, their part will be in the lake that      ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come.      The First Step
                               burns with fire and brimstone, which is              Whoever desires, let him take the water    in Obeying the Gospel
                               the second death.” (Revelation 21:6-8)              of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17)            Like Abraham and the disciples of
                               At the head of the list of those worthy
                                                                                    The word translated freely literally      old, the first step in obeying the gospel
                          of spending eternity in the lake of fire are




                                                                                                                                                                           —61—
                                                                                means without a cause to hinder them          is to leave one place and enter another.21
                          the cowardly and unbelieving. They are
                                                                                from drinking. The word come means to         You leave your old life in this world and
                          those who, for the fear of losing their own
                                                                                leave one place and arrive at another.18      are born again into a brand new culture,
                          life and possessions in this world, reject
                                                                                So if anyone is truly thirsty for the water   with a brand new heart that is quenched
                          the gospel that they hear from a righ-
                                                                                of eternal life, let him overcome anything    of all thirst.22 Abraham did what the rich
                          teous sent one.17 They do not overcome
                                                                                that would hinder him, leave behind all       young ruler would not do. He turned
                          all that stands in the way of drinking the
                                                                                that he possesses, and follow the Master      his back on his previous life. He did not
                          water of life. They are unwilling to leave
                                                                                in the same way the disciples did.19          cower back at the command to leave it
                          their life in the fallen society. They have
                          11
                            Revelation 22:17 12 Matthew 4:18-22 13 Philippians 3:8 14 Mk 8:36 15 Acts 2:41 16 John 8:39 17 Matthew 10:40-41; John 13:20; 7:17-18 18 John
                          6:44 19 Luke 10:16; Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26,33 20 Matthew 13:44 21 Colossians 1:13 22 Acts 5:20; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 2:36-45
       all behind. He said his farewells, kissed      Can one accept the world’s values,              in this world and enter into the new life
       his loved ones good-bye, and placed his        judgments, and political pursuits and be        of love and forgiveness that the Messiah,
       life in the hands and care of the One          a disciple?25 Is it possible to wallow in the   Yahshua, is establishing in these last




                                                                                                                                                     w w w.t welvet r i be s .or g
       who called him to the land of promise.         world’s excesses, letting your children         days.28 Only there can you serve Him29 by
       None but the willing will come to this         be trained by the world’s ideals,26 being       serving your brothers and sisters, night
       new place.                                     fully identified with the world, yet claim       and day.30 And only there can you become
           So can someone be a disciple, yet          to follow in the steps of Abraham?27            one of those whom He is not ashamed
       remain in Babylon? Can one become a                The answer is the same today as it          to call His brothers,31 who together are
       disciple while remaining in his old life,      was then: No.                                   being built into an eternal dwelling place
—62—




       at the same address, working the same              If you are willing to do the will of        for God by His Spirit.32
       job, enslaved to the same passions,23          God, you will hear the call and come.               We welcome any who are still thirsty
       immersed in the affairs of this world?24       You will leave your rotten, stinking life       to come. ß

       23
          1 John 2:1 24 2 Timothy 2:4 25 John 18:36 26 In a recent poll of Christian families concerning how they raise their children, the top
       goal that parents had was their children getting a good education. Considering the words in Matthew 5:13-16, you may find the following
       quote surprising: “You might expect that parents who are born-again Christians would take a different approach to raising their children
       than did parents who have not committed their life to Christ, but that was rarely the case,” Barna explained. “For instance, we found that
       the qualities born-again parents say an effective parent must possess, the outcomes they hope to facilitate in the lives of their children,
       and the media monitoring process in the household was indistinguishable from the approach taken by parents who are not born again.”
       Parents Describe How They Raise Their Children, February 28, 2005, Barna Research Group. 27 1 John 5:19 28 John 13:34-35 29 John 12:26
       30
          Acts 26:7 31 Hebrews 2:11 32 Ephesians 2:21-22; 4:16
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                                    Have you ever watched a beehive?
                               It is fascinating seeing thousands of
                               little bees working together to produce
                               honey. As you come near the hive,
                               you can hear an exciting buzz as they
       Savannah, GA            go about the many tasks necessary to
                               keep the hive alive. The workers are
                               responsible to collect nectar and guard
                               the hive. The young bees keep the hive
                               in good condition, feed the larvae, and
                               support in other household chores.
                               There is never a dull moment in the busy
                               life of a little bee.
          Vista, CA                 This is much like the life that we
                               have. No matter what we do, we love
                               to do it together. Daily we gather to
                               thank our Master for His salvation, and
                               to hear Him speak to us through one
                               another. This gathering keeps alive a
                               genuine love and care for each other.
                               As we work, we take advantage of the
                               daily situations, guarding ourselves from
                               the selfishness and pride that would
Honiton, Devon, England come in to separate us and take away
                               our love. Our children are a vital part of
                               our life. We not only homeschool them,
                               but we work with them to accomplish
                               the simple tasks necessary to maintain
                               a family life. Our life is not a dull routine
                               of chores, but is full of the warmth
                               that comes from the sweet fellowship
        Sus, France
                               of friends speaking their hearts to one
                               another.
                                    But there are a few things that differ
                               in our life from that of a beehive. One is
                               that we are not driven by instinct or con-
                               trolled by something separate from our
                               own will. Each of us is here because we
                               chose to leave behind our own separate
     Sydney, Australia         lives to increase the life of this hive. Our
  For more information, or to  life is not enclosed like the hive of a bee,
  request more literature or a nor do we have a stinger to harm any
complete list of our community uninvited guests. We welcome anyone
     addresses, please call:   to experience our life with us. Please
 1- 888 -TWELVE-T              come and see what it is like to be part
 1-888-893-5838                of a beehive of people expressing the
    or visit our web site at:  warmth and love of our Creator. n
www.twelvetribes.org

				
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