We have an enormous problem around what is called the church. I’m talking about a fundamental aspect of our relationship with God and ministerial responsibility. A problem that Jesus fixed when he first came some 2,000 years ago. But for many years now, we have broken it once more within church organizations. Let’s step back into the days of Jesus and take a careful look at the problem he fixed, and how he fixed it.
Jesus was a regular attender of weekly church gatherings in his day. Back then, they called them synagogues, but they were very similar to the church gatherings we have today. While at the synagogue, they had prayer, they would sing, and they had spiritual leaders that would teach them from the scriptures, and counsel them.
But as Jesus would teach at these worship meetings, a grief came over his heart. These church-like meetings are not supplying the full spiritual needs of the people. Something more must be done! And so he sanctioned a major change to the administration of the gospel. And for over a thousand years, this change has become lost and forgotten within most of our church organizations.
Let’s explore Jesus’ burden and his solution. And may our hearts not be blind and hardened to what Jesus feels, and his solution!
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” (Matthew 9:35)
Imagine what this would be like today. This next Sunday, Jesus is coming to your place of worship. And when he comes, he will heal everyone. You spread the news throughout your community, as it was done in Jesus’ time.
On Sunday morning, your building can no longer hold the crowd, and even the surrounding property and street cannot contain them. Everyone wants to hear Jesus, and everyone wants to be healed. And everyone is healed. So the shouting and rejoicing are enormous! We exclaim: “a great awakening revival has come! This is everything that we ever could have hoped for!”
Everything going on at this worship service is in order. It is completely fulfilling the purpose of God for a common sizable worship service. They used the gospel “net” to catch many people. But yet, Jesus’ work is not complete! The current result cannot meet all the needs of the people.
“But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)
Wait a minute! They are more gathered than they have ever been. And Jesus just said they’re scattered. What is he talking about? Can’t he see what we see? They are all healed and energetically rejoicing. Healthier than they have ever been before! How can he claim they’re fainting (about to collapse)?
Today, most of us don’t even consider asking these questions. We read this passage in Scripture and don’t even notice the sharp contrast between what Jesus sees and what we see. We do not connect our hearts to the burden Jesus is feeling. “He was moved with compassion on them.” But in a large rejoicing service like this, we don’t feel it, therefore we don’t even comprehend the full lesson he is teaching in this scripture. And so we also don’t clearly see the problem he is identifying, nor the solution that Jesus gives for the problem. Therefore, the problem Jesus identified persists to this day. Even amongst ourselves as we gather for our worship services. We cannot see it in ourselves, and therefore cannot see it in those who attend our worship services.
Jesus stated that the gathered multitude is scattered. He is looking at their hearts. Jesus knows the close love relationship he has with his heavenly Father, and he is comparing what that means in his heart to this large gathering. The sharp contrast between the two is making him grieve. And so it says “he was moved with compassion on them.” Can Jesus open our hearts to feel what he feels?
“That which we have seen and heard declare we to you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3)
“Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” The only way we can be heart gathered is at the heart of true fellowship. We need the purpose and burden of the Father and the Son actively working within us. Many people believe that simply being saved and actively involved in the church organization means we share the same heart purpose as the Father. But the reality is we have replaced the Father’s heart purpose with our “church” purpose.
We are disconnected from the deep heart concern of the Father and the Son. And our gatherings at worship services are not resolving this problem! Jesus believed we should gather at least weekly, in a common place of worship. He attended synagogues and taught the people there. But that is not a good spiritual leader’s primary responsibility. There is something much more important! We must do a greater work to insure we connect the people to the deep heart concern of the Father and the Son.
Many of the people attending our worship services are also spiritually fainting. At the right temptation, trial, and persecution, they are likely to give up. They are not strong. They are living their spiritual lives in a near fainting state: very weak. And to make it worse, fainting is an accepted spiritual weakness in many modern churches. They tell the people: “You can’t live holy in this world. So just accept that you will faint and fail.” In addition, those who teach true holiness also have many members on the edge of giving up. And Jesus is still saddened as he had solved the spiritual “scattered and fainting” problem a long time ago.
Jesus said further they are: “as sheep having no shepherd.” Wow! I wonder how the spiritual leaders at the synagogue felt when he said this? Are we not shepherding the people? We labor with them and know their families. They come to us for counsel concerning many types of problems. We sing and pray together. And we teach them from the scriptures. Why would he dare say they are “as sheep having no shepherd?” Some ministers would be angry: “Doesn’t he understand what we go through to keep a church organization going? Can’t he comprehend what it takes to help people through all their problems?”
And Jesus would respond, “I am grieved! I need you to get rid of your anger and humble yourself to feel what I feel.”
To grasp Jesus’ emotions and thoughts, we must study what he taught about the Good Shepherd. Not the ideal shepherd we had in mind. Jesus set the standard of a good shepherd by his own example.
“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
Convincing people of the minister’s genuine care is crucial. As Jesus said: “the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.” They need to be convinced of this about you before you are going to reach their heart’s needs.
“A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35)
Did you notice he does not compare this love to how we love one another? Therefore, he also taught:
“This is my commandment, That you love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13)
People need to “feel” that we really, deeply care about them, before they will hear what we have to say. Otherwise, they never will open their heart about the most sensitive things God has spoken to them. (By the way, what God has impressed upon their heart is their most important message to respond to.)
“But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees: and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep.” (John 10:12)
A pastor might say, “I am ever on the watch for false ministers and people who would try to scatter the people.” That’s good, but remember, when the people were gathered, Jesus said they were scattered. The wolf is more than a scatterer in the physical sense. The wolf is a spirit that potentially has sway to harden their heart, creating a distance from the heart of the Father. Even as they gather, this heart condition scatters them. So they are far from the Father’s heart’s purpose. The minister is not personally addressing the scattered heart, even as he may preach against the scattered heart. We must do something more for them to become “one heart and one soul” with God and with one another (like they were after the day of Pentecost.) But the ministry tends to over focus on managing the needs of the flock by teaching and preaching.
We are speaking about the individual heart response to God directly. Ultimately, about God’s calling on their individual life. The ministry doesn’t consider individual heart responses when managing the flock as it’s too personal and time-consuming. So the wolf enters the area the minister withdraws from.
“The hireling flees, because he is an hireling, and cares not for the sheep.” (John 10:13)
The ministry is concerned about the sheep of his organization, his local “church.” But the sheep belong to God’s pasture. In focusing on organizational plans and benefits, they actually harden hearts by desensitizing them to the Holy Spirit’s purpose. Consequently, there’s a distance that scatters the heart from the deep heart purposes of God. And so the people are bent towards spiritual shallowness and weakness, even as they gather.
“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if you will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:” (Psalms 95:6-8)
Are we enabling people to harden their hearts? When we focus only on the larger meeting, we enable people to stay spiritually scattered. We invite a spiritual dry condition that slowly becomes a congregational dessert. People are closing up into their group worship service, focused on their own existence. They have fewer heart revelations to share, and they become more irrelevant to the needs of the lost.
Many ministers today are treating their ministry like a job. It pays their bills and takes care of their living, and allows them a certain comfort in life. And so they manage the congregation, but they don’t know where the individuals are in their direct heart response to God. Wolf spirits affecting the heart are too difficult to discover and root out. It’s too uncomfortable to discuss the calling of God in the individual’s life because that may also change the minister’s calling, and they don’t want that for themselves.
Jesus is knocking at the door of people’s hearts. His sacrificial love call is actually coming from outside the church. And the spirit of disconnectedness fills that empty space in the heart, even while everyone attends “church.” So we respond to ourselves in the local congregation, but are disconnected and scattered from Jesus, who is knocking on our hearts from outside our organization.
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
Sup with us… We think: “he is talking about communion. We do that at church all the time.” Yes, we “do” the communion, but we don’t really commune with his heart’s purpose. We “commune” with the benefits we have received from Jesus because of the sacrifice he gave. But we don’t consider that he gave us the communion to remember his sacrificial love, so that his love might continue through us on the earth. He didn’t say just observe the communion. He said “eat it.” Let who I am become who you are! Let my sacrificial love replace your purpose in life, that you may fulfill my purpose for your life. And don’t replace my calling on your life with your church organization’s purpose.
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15)
What does he mean when he says: I know my sheep, and they know me? He does not compare that association to the way people know one another. He compares it to how he knows the Father, and the Father knows him. Pay close attention to the difference! This is a spiritual heart to heart connection that goes beyond the way people know one another.
We think we know people because:
- We know their name.
- We know their family.
- We know their upbringing, place of residence, and culture.
- We know where they work and the type of work they do.
- We know they’re likes and dislikes.
- We know their weaknesses.
But that is not who they are! All those things will be gone after they die. And only their soul will remain. How they respond directly to the call of God in their life reveals who they are in their soul.
“Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4)
The most important spiritual response: how they respond to the Spirit of God (in agreement with the Word) when he speaks to them directly: heart to heart. Not by how they went to church. Not by how they responded to the preacher and did what he said. Their individual response to the Spirit of God is most crucial to their soul! Sure, these other things are still important to help in their spiritual life. People need a local place of fellowship. And people need pastors to watch for their souls. But for years, we’ve been doing these things without personal conversations about our individual responses to God. Individual response has become secondary to church organization response and socialization. Meanwhile, Jesus is outside wanting to become our “first love” again, where individuals are responding directly to him.
I wonder what he has already said to their heart? Do we ever inquire or ask? Have we had one-on-one discussions about this yet?
We are not talking about counseling. People come for counseling with problems or life decisions. It is usually about something affecting them negatively in their life. Or it’s about potential personal benefit. And often they are coming to us after they have made unwise decisions. But how often is it about what God has already spoken to them in their heart? And when was their last discussion with us about answering God’s call to reach the lost?
Have we ever asked them about their personal calling from God? It’s strange that we think so much about what we think should be said to them, and we think so little to inquire about what God has already spoken to them. I wonder if God feels respected when he sees us operate that way? We don’t say it, but we operate as if God is far away and has never spoken to people. So we give many lessons about this impersonal God. And we tend to always speak on his behalf. And yet, he has already spoken personally to everyone, and we don’t know what he told them.
The bigger issue is our unfamiliarity with his preferred first language. The impressions upon the heart. A gospel language that everyone can quickly comprehend and understand if we have not already been hardening our heart. Today it is not only sin, but also our emphasis on our organizational ways above the language of the heart, that can harden the heart.
- “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
- “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)
Yes, God has already spoken to every heart about their most important spiritual needs. Long before the ministry and the organization ever reach them. The Word of God makes this actually very clear to us. But why is it we don’t seriously consider his personal message to their hearts as more important than what we have to say?
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” (Titus 2:11-12)
Long before the preached Word in our worship services reaches their heart, God speaks to their heart. His teachings are more valuable than ours. The scripture says God’s grace “has appeared to all men.” Not spoken in an audible voice. But “appeared.” A heart revelation and language, often without words. An impression about themselves and their behavior that they know, but hide within their heart. They know it, but often ignore or rationalize it. And by doing so, they have learned to harden their hearts. Even while they may attend and worship with others. Their life becomes the purpose of the “Christian hardened heart.” In fact, the typical operational focus of the organization helps them to focus more on the organizational purpose, than on the “appearance” of the revelation of Jesus Christ to the soul.
Certainly, the lessons taught in our meetings are important, but never as important as what God has already spoken to them about. Their spiritual identity is based on their response to God, not us. God understands perfectly their understanding and their heart. But do we properly respect God’s message to their heart as we minister to them?
“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law to themselves: Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;” (Romans 2:14-15)
Does God only write directly into the hearts of the Gentiles?
“Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them. (Hebrews 10:15-16)
Certainly, the scriptures show God speaks to every heart and conscience by his Spirit. He can make that impression upon the heart with no human words. And people comprehend that impression upon the heart, even more than words! And these heart impressions have the most impact on spiritual life. Because depending on whether they pay attention to them, they either soften or harden their heart. And they can harden their heart, even as they are listening to and following the teachings at their church. But does anyone else know when they do this? And how would we know?
In Genesis chapter 6 God explains to us why he will destroy the world with a flood. Mankind is completely ignoring God’s Spirit in their choices for their relationships. God has been speaking directly to their heart, and they have learned to ignore him. Therefore relationships among people and families are affected in a negative way. This sets the course of destruction for individuals and nations.
“That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” (Genesis 6:2-3)
Do you remember when Jesus spoke about the sin that has no forgiveness? It was not a sin against a commandment. It was a direct open disrespect for what the Holy Spirit had personally shown them!
“Why I say to you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven to men.” (Matthew 12:31)
Fortunately most people do not openly blaspheme when the Spirit speaks directly to their heart. So most have not gone this far. But God still takes it personally when we ignore the impressions of his Spirit upon our hearts. Allow me (the author of this article) to give his personal testimony concerning this. At 16, God revealed a need in my heart. He showed me I had unforgiveness and bitterness in my heart. I needed to let go and forgive.
The church where I attended all my life knew nothing about this. The ministry showed no interest in personal messages from God and didn’t inquire about them with anyone. The church’s lack of concern made it simple for me to ignore God and keep going. After all, I wasn’t out to kill anyone. Why should I be so concerned? No one else seems to be concerned about these things, especially the leadership at my church.
What if you have something important to say to someone and they ignore you? Would you want to continue to talk to them? And so God feels the same way. They totally ignored me. I’ll just remove myself from their presence and not bother them anymore.
As a young man of 16 years, it was not a good time for me to harden my heart and to stop listening to the Spirit of God. My life was walking into many new temptations and bad people influencing me. And now God’s voice became indiscernible to me due to my ignoring him. I was not feeling the heart warnings that I used to feel. One step at a time, I began to experiment with the temptations of sin. With each step, my life became darker and darker. And as I didn’t discern the Spirit of God anywhere, my life also became more and more unhappy. And I went on this miserable way for a couple of years before I came to my senses.
Finally, I realized that my bitter unforgiveness was hurting me more than anybody else I was bitter against. So I considered what God had already spoken to my heart a long time ago. I was now 19 years old. I decided to listen to his advice. So I forgave from my heart, and let go. And it showed up in how I treated other people, and especially one person. And so I made this very critical change in my life, with no one from the local congregation knowing about it, or talking to me about it. They had absolutely no idea. The ministry there was out of touch with the conversations God was having, even with themselves.
And then, as I showed God I would listen to what he already had spoken to me about, something special happened in my life. Again, I sensed the Spirit of God speaking to my heart. Realize that even though I was willing to forgive, I was not saved yet. The church organization that I had been a part of all my life had never taught us true salvation, where you repent of your sins and completely forsake them. And so there were other things that the Spirit of God began to show me about my life, even as the church organization was having little affect on my life.
I was instructed by God’s Spirit to cease certain activities and steer clear of detrimental people. I learned to take greater heed to his voice as he showed me step by step and stumble by stumble. And because of showing him respect, he eventually introduced me to people who would teach me the full gospel. I was 21 when I got saved.
And so let’s return to Jesus’s grief during common worship services. Jesus doesn’t just point out problems. Anyone can do that. Jesus also has the solution. And so he talks about it.
“Then said he to his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38)
He did not say send forth managers. It is unfortunate that many who call themselves pastors today focus primarily on managing: planning, orchestrating, instructing and counseling a congregation. They lack experience in working with people to identify what the Spirit of God has revealed to them. So for this reason, Jesus specifically names out the type of workers that are needed: Kingdom laborers. People who attend to the everyday spiritual details of individual sheep and help them embrace the Father’s calling on their life. This work doesn’t interest most church overseers because they don’t see it highly aligned with the church organization plan.
But Jesus took action beyond prayer. He knew people often do what they’re accustomed to. So he must initiate the change and make it happen. And so (in chapter 10) he does not just teach a lesson, he immediately sends his 12 apostles to these same people who are attending worship services. But he does not send them to their worship services. He sends them to their homes.
“And as you go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. … And into whatever city or town you shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till you go there. And when you come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come on it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.” (Matthew 10:7,11-13)
It is important that we pay close attention to the message Jesus gave them, to teach the people in their homes. “And as you go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And “inquire who in it is worthy.” The kingdom of heaven message differs from the church organization message. People in the heavenly Kingdom focus on responding to God, and their spiritual leaders help them understand how to do that. But people in church organizations focus on responding to and pleasing the organization. And that includes pleasing the leadership of the organization.
Jesus instructed the Apostles to identify those worthy of the Kingdom of heaven, not the church organization. How can we determine their worthiness for the Kingdom of heaven? It depends on whether they have followed or are willing to follow the King’s directions to their heart. Obedience in the Kingdom of heaven comes from the sacrificial love in the heart. A respect and direct response to the Spirit of God. This is the relationship Jesus has with his Father. And he was directing the Apostles to teach the people to respond like Jesus responds to his Father. They were to teach the heavenly Kingdom according to Jesus’s vision and point of view.
It was Jesus who introduced to us the heavenly Father as “our Father.” Jesus didn’t just die for us. He also died for his heavenly Father. Because his Father has a deep longing to become our Father. That cannot happen without the Savior’s sacrifice.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” (Romans 8:14-16)
So he instructed the Apostles to teach the people how to respond to their heavenly Father. Why? This will keep their hearts from scattering and make them strong and not fainting. Teaching them to listen from the consecration of the love in their heart. So this discussion about individual responses to God’s heart is delicate. It must be limited to trusted people in a small setting.
Another problem with an organizational focus: we don’t realize how many opportunities we miss within the home. When a soul gets saved at church, we immediately counsel them to diligently attend the larger church worship services. They must now devote time to church services, taking away from their personal time with family and friends. Why? “Because new converts are like new born babes in Christ. They need the spiritual mother, and the mother is at the church building.” Strange, I’ve always observed mothers of newborns spending most of their time at home attending to the newborn? I guess spiritual births are supposed to be completely different? Or are they?
So now the new convert shifts their time towards the church services, often leaving the rest of family and friends wondering “what happened.” And because the spiritual mother spends most of her “mothering time” at the church building, the family and friends of the new convert rarely meet the mother. Additionally, not spending time with the baby at home makes the mother less experienced in mothering the new convert and evangelizing the family and friends.
Did the Lord’s apostles and disciples approach it that way? What if homes became the primary place for spiritual upbringing again? And the spiritual mother went back to the home?
If we refocused on responding to the Heavenly Father at home, the mother would naturally feel at home with the new convert and family. And the mother would feel natural and experienced in inviting the new convert, family, and friends to her home. After all, today the family and friends of the new convert prefer the home over the church building. I wonder how many we would convert that know the new convert? And how many more would be saved if we spent equal time laboring at home and in the church building?
Allow me to share the testimony of one pastor who recently started home meetings focused on what God has been speaking to the hearts. It was a bit awkward and uneasy for his congregation at first. But they soon found that they were also more effective in reaching new souls.
“I have been working with people on home meetings. At first it was not easy. But after prayer and doing it more, Wow it’s true! I realized I had not understood that God is working in the hearts of many people. I have seen prostitutes give their lives to Jesus in tears…
…I call this a heart-to-heart approach” ~ Pastor Lucas Maweu
The following is a recent testimony given by a long-time minister, Boaz Ogweno, in a lesson he taught to other ministers in August of 2023. Boaz had only recently began to focus on smaller home meetings, seeking for what God had already been speaking to people. His lesson was titled: “Wisdom in Home Meetings.” Here next summarizes his lesson.
“We meet people who know the Word of God better than us. And we also meet those that are ignorant of the Word of God, because they are locked into their pagan culture. We can reach both types by directing their attention to what God has already revealed in their hearts.
The one who knows the scriptures well has also had the scriptures interpreted according to a certain denomination’s doctrine. It may be pointless to argue with them since they can defend themselves against anything that goes against their teachings. But when you speak about what God has already shown them in their heart, you are talking about something that they cannot deny. It bears more weight than any doctrinal discussion you can bring. By removing differences in religious beliefs, you can focus on discovering their true heart’s foundation. First, focus on sensitive matters of the heart. Then you can establish the true foundation, Jesus Christ.
Also, you cannot just bring the Word of God to someone who knows nothing but their pagan cultural teachings. You must start with what God has been speaking to them concerning the needs in their heart. This is powerful because it is undeniable. They know these sensitive things that the Spirit has shown them. And what God has already shown them, they have felt deeply. Even though they may have tried to ignore it, they cannot deny what God revealed to their heart.
Home meetings bind people together into one heart. Participation doesn’t require prior affiliation with your congregation or church organization. Talking about what the Spirit has already shown them in their heart has nothing to do with their denomination. So you are meeting on a totally different basis. And you seek to understand God’s personal heart message by studying the scriptures together.
In the past, Boaz felt like he was trying to carry the total weight of the congregation as he ministered to them at church. He now feels more free and comfortable without the responsibility of preparing everything. He discovers that the discussion revolves around how God speaks to the heart on a daily basis. He simply follows the Holy Spirit’s lead by discovering what the Spirit has already said.”
In spite of good teaching regarding the home meetings, some people still do not really comprehend the difference in the way these meetings are done. Consequently one minister, Stephen Musyoki, a minister who regularly teaches other ministers, felt it necessary to do hands-on training with certain ministers. (Similar to how Jesus trained his apostles by going into the field of work with them, not just teaching them.) This was his approach and the results:
- The training went on for 4 days.
- The First day had a brief instruction in the morning.
- He then broke them up into 6 teams to go to homes simultaneously for different meetings.
- Stephen would work with a different minister each time they went out.
- At the end of each day, they would all come back together to meet and share the results, and to learn from one another about what worked best.
- As they started, some ministers were not so sure this would work. But as they went for the first day, they came back with a very interesting report on how many from different church denominations were very much welcoming and ready to open the deep things in their heart.
- The ministers learned how important it is after listening, to further ask questions and listen. (Rather than preparing a lesson to teach them.) Through this approach many people were able to know that God has been already speaking to their heart. But they had not (in the past) understood clearly how to discern what God was speaking to them.
- Learning to listen to the true Spirit of God, will eventually expose any false spirit they have been influenced by. Including discerning the modern false tongues spirit.
- They conducted 24 home meetings during that 4 day period.
- In conclusion, they expressed: “we never realized how different these meetings are, and how powerful they are, until we were properly shown how. And then did them ourselves.”
Is this just a story told within Matthew chapter 9 and 10? Or did this fundamental change in how people discern and understand the correction of God and his calling upon their life actually happen? And did this fundamental change continue within the church? If yes, how long? Given rarity nowadays. Very few are having this type of personal individual meeting anymore. Most treat a home meeting like an extension of the larger church service or a prepared Bible study.
But Jesus did establish this fundamental change through the apostles after Pentecost.
“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:46-47)
This scripture reveals several things to us. First, they are no longer spiritually scattered. It states that they are in “one accord” and worshiping together in “singleness of heart.” But it also shows a fundamental change in how Christians are holding Christian meetings. They are in the homes.
In the past, when they were gathered in the synagogue worship service, in their hearts they were scattered/distanced from their heavenly Father and even from one another. But later, after Pentecost, when scattered in their homes, they were in “one accord” and they shared the bread of life “with singleness of heart.” A drastic reversal in administration and purpose of heart.
Let’s consider this for a moment. It states that they are attending the Temple. But the apostles and disciples were not the recognized spiritual leaders in the Temple. The Temple’s official spiritual leaders crucified Jesus. Peter and John prayed at the Temple, and a man was healed and rejoiced. And as Peter and John testified how Jesus Christ had done this, they found themselves immediately in trouble with the leaders of the Temple.
The apostles and the disciples were not the official synagogue leaders. If allowed, they would still attend and teach in the synagogues. However, the synagogue leaders would eventually reject them for preaching Jesus as the promised Messiah.
So the Christian home was the principal place of apostle and disciple leadership. And there they continued to share the Kingdom of heaven. It states that they were “breaking bread from house to house.” This reflects the last supper that Jesus had with his apostles. And so it is evident that the communion is not only a practice for the larger worship service. God intended it to be very personal. And that’s the way Jesus originally gave it.
“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered to you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24)
This is not just a fellowship meal. He said “this is my body which is broken for you.” And when he said “take it and eat it” he was alluding to something very deep. This broken body becomes you. You need to be willing to be broken for others, just like me.
Too often today, communion is only taught at a very shallow congregational fellowship level. Jesus presented it personally and seriously in an upper room of a house. It really is something you can only comprehend by the Spirit of God speaking to your heart personally. And this is how they shared bread from home to home after the Holy Spirit filled them on Pentecost.
The apostles and disciples led Christians in homes at the beginning. To have tried to create a public “Christian building of worship” separate from the Jews would have been blasphemy to the Jews. So they never had a separate house of worship amongst the Jews. Even as Paul went to the Gentiles, they had to be sensitive about this. He always visited the synagogue first when he went to a gentile city. And sometimes they would allow him to teach for a while. But eventually, the Jews rejected him, and he started teaching the gentiles.
“And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said to them, Your blood be on your own heads; I am clean; from now on I will go to the Gentiles. And he departed there, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshiped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.” (Acts 18:4-8)
We see in this example that Paul certainly would teach in the synagogue. But when they rejected the truth, he would go to a home. In this case, some believed and followed him from the synagogue. He went to a Jewish home. And from there, he would continue to labor house to house.
Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, was one of the Jews who believed. It is interesting that even though Crispus was the chief ruler of the synagogue, he couldn’t persuade his own synagogue to preach about Christ. Larger worship organizations tend to have internal political conflicts. And the politics of every organization will eventually crowd out the sacrificial love purposes of Christ. The chief ruler himself had to step outside the organization to meet with Christians in the home.
So it should not surprise us that Jesus has had to do this often with Christian church organizations. Even with the last church in Revelation, we see Jesus on the outside wanting to share the sacrificial love of his communion. But they are not letting him in.
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches.” (Revelation 3:20-22)
Too often the church today is responding to Jesus’s knocking this way: “leave your sacrificial supper outside please. Then we will let you in.” We have often replaced the sacrificial love with the “protect ourselves” love.
So the Jews would not let Jesus into their places of worship. Eventually, the Roman empire would ban Christianity. So it became impossible for Christians to establish a public house of worship. The church had to go underground, worshiping house to house. Christianity continued mostly underground for 300 years until Roman persecution ended in the 4th century. And then, they began to establish common public places freely for Christian meetings.
Then the public place of worship surpassed the importance of home meetings over time. Until the original reason for the home meetings became forgotten, and the home meetings ceased. And the language to describe the public Christian place of worship became “church.” And as the Christians organized more and more hierarchically (they had already been doing this for some time) the “church” buildings became larger and more important as well.
A fundamental change backwards happened in the gospel’s administration. And that backwards change has largely been with us ever since. Today’s focus is still on church organization and public worship. And so again, most people claiming to be Christian are spiritually scattered and fainting, and they have no shepherd.
Note: today this Bible word “church” is perhaps the most misunderstood word. Our modern dictionary reflects the confusion in the way we use it in common language.
We say: “let’s go to church.” And here we are speaking about the larger public place of worship.
We also say: “The church says we should do this, and that we should do that.” And in this case, we are speaking about the church hierarchy that decides what we should be doing.
And we also say: “I belong to this church (denomination or group) and you belong to that church (denomination or group).” In this case, we acknowledge that what is commonly recognized as the “Christian church” is also very divided. We speak more about “belonging to” a church organization than the Kingdom of heaven.
And finally, we say “there are many problems in the church today.” And in that case, we are referring to all these denominations and church groups as if God accepts this scattered condition as his Kingdom. Not realizing that Jesus fully solved the scattered condition some 2000 years ago, when he brought the genuine Christians into one accord and one heart, while they were scattered in their homes.
Now the word “church” in the Bible has absolutely nothing to do with those dictionary definitions and common language usage. In the original Greek, the word “church” is ekklesia, which means to answer or respond to the call. “Church of God” in the Bible refers to neither an organization nor a denomination. It is talking about people who are responding to the call of God. And at the time the New Testament was written, they were meeting mostly in the homes. They were responding from their hearts directly to God in heaven. That is why Jesus preached the heavenly kingdom, not the church organization.
They are the “called out” people. It’s a heart movement in response to God, like in heaven. Heaven has no denominations or sin. Jesus came to establish the kingdom of heaven within our hearts with no divisions and no sin. That is why he preached: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And that is why the Apostle Paul also described the Christian gatherings as a heavenly place.
- “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” (Ephesians 1:3-4)
- “And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” (Ephesians 2:6)
And therefore, it only makes sense to gather in small trusted meetings to talk about the personal call of God in our life. He has raised us to spiritual heavenly places, where God is on the throne of our heart. God is not silent. He speaks to our hearts, and that’s what we need to respond to. Let’s focus on making what God speaks to the hearts as the ministry’s top priority!
Jesus himself demonstrated to us his ability to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead by carefully listening to the heart burden of the rich young ruler. This account of Jesus and the young man is not fully understood by most. Our focus is on the riches he was not willing to forsake. Certainly that led to a failure for him. But we ignore the complete story of this young man’s clear and personal calling from the Lord. We overlook Jesus’ approach to discover the young man’s calling. Jesus sought to understand the Spirit’s work in the young man’s heart. By example, Jesus emphasizes the significance of God’s calling in people’s lives. Let us follow this account, scripture by scripture, to see the more important example and lesson.
 And, behold, one came and said to him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
Notice this young man’s question. The young man feels incomplete because of the Spirit’s impression, but he cannot comprehend the Spirit’s message.
 And he said to him, Why call you me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments.
Carefully listen to Jesus’s answer. The young is expecting Jesus to have an answer for him. But Jesus reminds him that all good comes from the Father. The answer to the young man’s need lies in grasping the Spirit’s direction. Therefore, Jesus starts with the basics: honor God by keeping his commandments.
 He said to him, Which? Jesus said, You shall do no murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness,  Honor your father and your mother: and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Notice that the commandments Jesus is emphasizing are focused on how we treat and respect others in our relationships with them. Properly respecting others is an important basic principle that must be in the heart to respond to the right Spirit.
 The young man said to him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
This young man truly has a tender heart towards God. From a young age, he has highly respected God’s commandments. In Mark’s account of this interaction, it states that when Jesus heard this, “Jesus beholding him loved him” (Mark 10:21). Jesus loves it when he detects that someone has such a high regard and respect towards his heavenly Father. Jesus now recognizes that this young man has a special calling upon his life directly from God’s Spirit. That’s what’s troubling the young man. Jesus admires the young man’s determination to find the answer to his troubled heart. We are all troubled when the Spirit of God speaks to us. But most of us learn to ignore it. This young man is not ignoring it.
 Jesus said to him, If you will be perfect, go and sell that you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
Usually we overlook this scripture and go straight to the man’s failure. We mostly fail to recognize the fact that there is a personal calling from God being shown here. He’s from a wealthy family. God intended it to be a means of helping the poor and participating in Jesus’s ministry. Jesus actually gives this young man the same calling he gave to his other apostles and disciples. Jesus told him, “come and follow me.”
 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Was it just about his money? Jesus was not just asking this young man to give up his money. The Spirit of God wished to change completely who this young man was. To give up everything that he had, would set him at odds with the family and the culture of the rich whom he was raised amongst. His sudden change in lifestyle would be viewed as strange and misunderstood by many. The decision would have a big social impact on the young man and his relationships. It was not just a loss of material value.
Anyone who listens and follows the Spirit of God will experience the same. It will always lead them to a life-changing path. It is the common pattern that God has for humbling and preparing everyone who answers the call. Most Christians don’t let the Spirit of God lead them that far. Therefore, what many of us know as the church today is very weak. We hide ourselves from such life-changing callings, just like this young man. Instead, we focus our hearts on our comfortable and controllable church organization purpose.
A W Tozer, a preacher of recent past, accurately described the modern church.
“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”
 Then said Jesus to his disciples, Truly I say to you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.  And again I say to you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.  When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
And we are just as amazed today whenever anyone would suggest such a life-changing calling. How can this be possible?
 But Jesus beheld them, and said to them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”
And so today are we ready for another fundamental change? A change that takes us back to how Jesus established the church: not scattered, not fainting, and having a “good shepherd.”
Note: there are two principal ways that the gospel gathers people to Christ.
“Behold, I will send for many fishers, said the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.” (Jeremiah 16:16)
The first one is more familiar because of how Jesus called three fishermen to become fishers of men. Jesus instructed them to cast the net once more, despite their unsuccessful night of fishing. And Jesus surprised them as the net came up completely full.
“For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, Fear not; from now on you shall catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.” (Luke 5:9-11)
Pentecost began with gathering by the gospel net. Anointed with the boldness of the Holy Spirit and the gift to be understood by people of many languages at once, they preached to the crowd. And many were saved in one day.
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:41)
And so even today, most of us have been busy laboring with the “gospel net” through:
- Revival meetings
- Radio programs
- Social media
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.” (Matthew 13:47-48)
So how do we separate the good from the bad? Is it by preaching only? The same gospel net methods? Remember, the Lord also talked about the need for hunters. “…and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.”
The methods of the fisher differ from the hunter. The net captures many. A hunter pursues one at a time. And an expert hunter aims at the heart. Because the heart is the most certain way to stop them in their tracks.
So we must learn to deal with the heart, one at a time. We need to aim for their heart’s connection with God. There are many places, or spiritual “mountains, hills, holes and rocks” where people hide what is in their heart. And they can hide those things for many years, even while they regularly attend the “mountains and hills” of large and small church organizations. Many knowingly or unknowingly have deep heart problems. And the “holes of the rocks” of many confused doctrines and ideas obscure those problems. God can reveal these through personal conversations, as he has already been impressing these things upon their hearts.
Heb 8:10-11: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.”
Yes, the intention is to acknowledge God and get back to the one who knows them, whose Spirit has already been speaking to them. “For all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.”
We don’t need to be afraid that this individual work will supplant the teaching and preaching done at the larger meetings. To the contrary, this enhances the effectiveness of larger meetings’ teachings. Active engagement in their own calling will make the teaching more relevant and effective. And the Holy Spirit anointed personal testimonies they bring to the worship service will also serve the spiritual needs of many.
Shall we return to home meetings where the ministers are refocusing on what the Spirit of God has been speaking to every heart already? Respecting first the voice of God upon the heart more than our own words? And then studying the Word of God to clarify and understand what God has already been troubling their heart about. Assisting them in distinguishing God’s voice from the enemy’s tricks.
As we focus on what God has been speaking to the heart of the individual, we find many individuals are confused. They don’t know how to discern God’s voice from the voice of the destroyer. Harsh parents may have raised someone who was taught they were worthless and would amount to nothing. The child internalizes this voice while growing up. And so now we are asking them what the Lord has been saying to their heart. They inform us of this voice that belittles. We can use the Word of God to show them God loves them and this isn’t his voice. And as we do, they will recall the times when a small loving voice spoke to their heart. And they will begin to discern the difference.
Helping people hear God’s voice strengthens their personal connection with Him, so they can let His Word and Spirit guide them. And by doing so, they spiritually mature much faster. We quickly enable them to do the same with others, extending the Kingdom of heaven one by one, in the heart, as they are answering the call of God upon their life.
Remember, God has already spoken to every soul. Christians should aim to soften people’s hearts and guide them to God’s Spirit. By this we can learn to effectively converse with anyone, including Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and even witch doctors. Because we can stop trying to first teach them our beliefs and to assimilate them into our church community. But rather, we focus first on what God’s Spirit has already been speaking to their heart. And once they start acknowledging the impressions of God on their heart, they will tend towards following the true Spirit in many other ways.
The existence of a good and an evil spirit is recognized universally. However, their organized religion enables them to disregard the impressions of the good Spirit and instead follow a system of rules as their spiritual guide. So if we can get them to soften their heart towards the “appearance” of the Spirit of God, we know the same Spirit of God will lead their hearts towards Jesus Christ. The conversations about Christ will come later more naturally.
So there is wisdom in avoiding an argument over doctrinal and organization differences. Focus first on testifying of how God’s Spirit appears to our hearts, and whether we have been responding to him. The right doctrine and the right place will naturally come with time. When we testify how the good Spirit of God appears to our hearts, we allow God’s Spirit to convince them of the right doctrine and the right place of worship. When we don’t wait on God, they feel like we are the ones trying to persuade them. We need to learn to be laborers together with God, by letting him lead.
“Now he that plants and he that waters are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are laborers together with God: you are God’s husbandry, you are God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:8-9)
We do not make a bunch of organizational plans for the gospel, and then say: “Lord bless and work with our plans.” That is the organizational way. Let’s put the Spirit of God in charge and follow his lead by asking how he’s been working with souls. That is how a kingdom operates.
So we ask questions: “what has the spirit of God been speaking to your heart?” That lead will bring forth fruit as we labor together with God. Allowing God to lead takes us to unexpected places to handle new issues. And yet following God’s path will bring success to the work.