FEASTING WITHOUT FEAR
By C.R. Oliver, PhD
These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. (Jude 12,13)
One of the great attributes of the early Church, as well as the nation Israel, was a matter of the fear they both produced in those outside their ranks. In Jude, the little power packed book that gave a second witness to those things brought out by Simon Peter in his second epistle, the author adds a bit of ingredient which addresses the amalgam which is the modern church. NONE fear it!
When the church was holy and speaking the oracles of God, those outside the body of believers observed miracles, signs and even death among its members. They feared: 1) the presence, 2) the power, 3) the prayers and 4) the persistence of the early church’s membership.
How quickly this has changed. Jude looked into the future and prophesied about a coming state of weakness that would produce a world which would have little regard for or fear of the power of the believer. It is time for that to be a prime concern for those of purity and truth! We have been warned. We need not remain as co-operatives in such a toothless regime. Our goal should be to so press into the four attributes the outside fears and persist in them.
For the moment, review the Word of God regarding the parallel between the nation Israel (the people of God in the Old Testament) and the early church (the people of God in the New Testament) when both were obedient to the voice of God. The result of their purity and holiness was fear by those opposing them.
A prime example, used many times by the Apostles and Prophets (on which the foundation of the church rests) was the Exodus. As Israel ceased to dwell at peace with the Egyptians and began to follow God into deliverance, an ever increasing fear came upon their captors.
37 He also brought them out with silver and gold,
And there was none feeble among His tribes.
38 Egypt was glad when they departed,
For the fear of them had fallen upon them.
39 He spread a cloud for a covering,
And fire to give light in the night.
40 The people asked, and He brought quail,
And satisfied them with the bread of heaven.
41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
It ran in the dry places like a river.
42 For He remembered His holy promise,
And Abraham His servant.
43 He brought out His people with joy,
His chosen ones with gladness.
44 He gave them the lands of the Gentiles,
And they inherited the labor of the nations,
45 That they might observe His statutes
And keep His laws.
Praise the LORD!
Two areas are highlighted in this passage for a reason. When the people of God begin to live and act as His chosen, then the world grows increasingly AFRAID of them. That is a supernatural phenomenon, but a recurring one throughout the life of Israel and the church. Verse 43 is what happens within the camp of the Beloved as a result of their walk with God. (Pastors are aware of the joylessness attendant to most congregations and seek to “conjure up” a sense of it. Let them learn these values. No one thing causes joy to rise up faster than triumph over the enemy. Let the missionaries report how God delivered them and gave them witness and behold the joy that overtakes the people of God. Let the congregation report how God has prospered their way and given them triumph over death, sickness or the economy and see how joy rises. Let the pray-ers report answers to their travail and behold the response of the brethren.)
Disciples, fresh from the upper room, were framed in the four elements of fear power.
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)
The church, which was taught to fear no man and nothing in this world, caused fear to spring up on all sides as they preached, prayed, powered and persisted. They purged their ranks and fear fell:
But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?” She said, “Yes, for so much.” Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things. (Acts 5:1-11)
Look at the results of inner cleansing. Fear fell on THE CHURCH and everyone else that even heard about the event!
Imagine how much cleansing it would take to rebuke the debauchery and sin there is within the church today. From pulpit to pew, there would be bodies strewn from front to back and into the street and throughout the neighborhoods. Great fear would attend such action as the Holy Spirit brought purity back to the ranks. False religions would falter and fail. The body of believers would straighten out their lives as repentance would again fill the altars.
Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and,”The laborer is worthy of his wages.” Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear. (1 Tim 5:17-20, NKJV)
It is past time for action! Fear must return to the church and to the streets! Fakery would cease!
Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed. (Acts 19:11-20, NKJV)
No need for a protracted meeting or conference when such is going on in the streets!
Paul knew what Isaiah meant when he wrote to the Romans: “And the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom 3:17,18).
What demonstrations are there lately in the present-day church that produce such response? But, God is slowly and methodically bringing about cataclysmic events that are producing great fear among the nations:
The LORD and His weapons of indignation,
To destroy the whole land.
6 Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand!
It will come as destruction from the Almighty.
7 Therefore all hands will be limp,
Every man’s heart will melt,
8 And they will be afraid.
Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them;
They will be in pain as a woman in childbirth;
They will be amazed at one another;
Their faces will be like flames.
Is it not time for the true church to launch itself as the entity of the Holy and Blameless in order to reveal those who are not?
…to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord. (2 Pet. 2:9-11)
Let the Holy walk in the four postulates.
1. Their Presence:
- Stephen’s assailed the governing religion becoming the first martyr. His face was that of an Angel and Jesus stood up to welcome him. He could not be ignored!
- Daniel’s witness brought this result in the Old Testament: “I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.”
(The Supernatural aspects of the people of God cause fear to rise in the hearts of those they are in the presence of—the sinner wishes to repent, the wayward confess; those who are seeking for God search them out in fear and trembling many times. The world fears the presence of God’s people! This is the reason they are persecuted, their worship places destroyed, and their homes and businesses targeted. The Bible describes them as: “men of whom the world was not worth” (Heb. 11:38).
2. Their Power:
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
- Peter took that power and exercised it:
- All the people of God were characterized by power.
Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? (Acts 3:12)
And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:33,34)
3. Their Prayers
- Peter’s imprisonment was halted by prayer and fear came upon his assailants.
- Paul’s journeys carried in prayer:
Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. (Acts 12:5)
For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Phil 1:19-21)
4. Their Persistence:
- The Early Disciples:
- The early church would not give up:
Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:29-31)
And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:21,22)
In the last days, whether there is a continuance of these four attributes in the hearts of believers or not, there will be a witness on the earth which will produce fear before them.
Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven. (Rev 11:11-13)
O let the church return to being the church! Let the multitudes fear them. Let communities reverence them. Let the powers of government fear them. Let the media fear them. Let them return in presence, power, prayer, and persistence! Show the church to the church!###
Dr. C. R. Oliver, PhD, is a retired college professor, author, and ordained minister. He has five books to his credit that have ministered to thousands around the world. Many of his articles are published in professional educational journals. He served as a pastor for 28 years and traveled to 53 nations as a missionary educator and advisor to pastors and other leaders. His website is at: http://www.zadokpublications.com/
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