July 20, 2007
In the Wrong Order
Acts 9:31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
We read this verse a few weeks ago in our family Bible reading. My dad pointed out the importance of the order of progression here.
In thinking about that, it crossed my mind how the devil likes to get that turned around backwards. He seems to get a great deal of mileage out of turning things upside down and backwards. He also gets a lot of power in the lives the people who turn things around from the order that God ordained. Think about women taking charge of their husbands and/or churches, children becoming the main focal point of the home, sexual relations before marriage, exalting the pastor instead of Christ, etc. Much joy and peace that God intends us to have by following His order are lost when we turn things around backwards.
In looking at the above verse I started from the end and considered how you can see right from this verse why so many churches are far from the order and peace that God wants for them.
In most Bible believing churches "multiplying" is the emphasis. Pastors, deacons, Sunday School teachers, pastor's wives, youth pastors, etc. all push for more numbers. "Bring more people. Invite your friends." "Let's see if we can all invite one person to church next week." "We need to have a 'Bring A Friend Sunday' and everyone bring at least one guest to church." And so it goes. [Dec. 2011 note: My dad found out from personal experience that they efforts don’t usually bring desirable results.]
But, according to the verse above, what is lost when the order is reversed and the multiplication is put in first place by man or the devil?
People who are constantly being nagged to increase numbers and attend "visitation" usually don't have much comfort of the Holy Ghost. They are more likely to be living under guilt or a compulsion to push the people around them to perform better. They also tend to live with frustration toward the ones who won't "perform" according the requirements.
Next they usually are walking in the fear of man rather than the fear of the Lord, and the man they fear is usually a pastor or "great man of God."
The saints stop being edified because the emphasis is on increasing the membership role, not feeding the sheep and lambs.
The church most certainly does not have rest. They are usually exhausting themselves and each other with the large selection of “ministries”, “outreaches”,
“visitation”, programs, etc. which they feel driven to perform so they will “grow”.
All this because the multiplying is not put in God's order - last - but in man's and the devil's order which is first.
[Dec. 2011 note: This has been graphically illustrated for us in the “seeker sensitive” churches where what people want has become all-important in order to accomplish growth – multiplying.]
John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Romans 14:16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of: 17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. 19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.