Chapter Two (continued)
There will always be men of faith who will give themselves with a whole range of different motives, to put the infirm in at the troubling of the waters. The mind is presented with the caricature of a grotesque three-legged race, the able-bodied carrying those ravaged with disease, stepping on the palsied, tripping past the lepers, and suddenly airborne, crash with a hundred others into the pool and just as quickly rise up, examining wounds, open sores, twisted limbs for signs of life, signs that they were the first into the healing stream. What a heartbreaking picture. What a black comedy. Yet there is another possibility. One that expresses the true heart of God for you even as Jesus presented His true heart of compassion to the man at the pool of Bethesda. Jesus, the Word of God, presents Himself as the Ultimate Possibility. The day of the big preacher is over. You’ve got direct access to the fullness of Life! No more necktied middleman! The master is here to deliver you and induct you into the ministry of deliverance.
In concluding His visit to the five porches, Jesus instructs the man “Rise up and walk…” “Rise up!” the word says. Quit looking for outside help. Use what you’ve got inwardly. You don’t need any more word. You need to use the word you’ve got. Rise, take up your bed, and walk. Get active in what you have made excuses all your life that you couldn’t do, the work you hired your pastor to do for you. Don’t worry about him. He will have enough work trying to coordinate a building full of empowered, activated ministers of the new covenant. But if he comes around to fit you for a new wheelchair or body cast, speak the word to him and minister his deliverance. He doesn’t know how to cope with anything but spiritual cripples. This man was waiting on a move, but he got a visitation. You can wait on the move of God, or you can believe the Word of God. The Word is Now. What Jesus did for this man at the pool of Bethesda He will do for you. He offered Himself to this man, and He has offered Himself to you. Jesus is no respecter of persons, but He is a respecter of faith. If you do with your faith what this man did with his, put it in Jesus, not in the troubling of the waters or the move of God, you will experience the same results he did. Verse nine declares that the man was immediately made whole and took up his bed and walked!
All of these events took place on the Sabbath day. Prophetically, the Sabbath is God’s seventh day. A day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day. Adam fell approximately six thousand years ago. The millennial reign of Christ is the seventh day. This generation is standing at the threshold of cataclysmic change and upheaval in the earth. Jesus, in the hearts of millions of born again believers is commanding, “Take up your bed and walk!” Get your eyes off the distant future and look at Jesus dwelling within your own heart. He is your best hope. Not the preacher, not the big church or crusade. Stand up on your feet and walk away from the place of infirmity and impotence. On the way, stop to take some of your comrades with you. The church WILL grow to maturity in the last days. The early church in all its glory was only a corporate infant in the purpose of God. I believe that God in His sovereignty is raising up a glorious church that looks to Him and that points people to Jesus, and His person, not to creeds, or organizations. These all have their place, but it is time for Christians to fall in love with Jesus once again and look to Him for what they have mistakenly looked to man for. The great commission will only be fulfilled by those who place themselves in direct accountability to Jesus first and then from that position, involve themselves with the church. Every believer has a vocation or a calling to fulfill.
God does not acknowledge the clergy-laity distinction. He does not acknowledge the concept of secular work versus sacred work. If you are born of God, you have a calling and a holy vocation. You must also come to a place where you embrace the flawed church and the imperfect people around you as family. You cannot base your commitment to other believers, or your church on whether or not they measure up to the standards that you perceive are God’s expectations. Jesus died for the lost while they were unlovely, while they were indeed enemies of His Cross, He poured out his life and love to them. You must seek to walk in love with those around you. The division that is in Christianity today in terms of denominations and separate churches, etc. are part of the Christian religious system. These will not survive the purging and purifying work that Christ is doing in His people. Perhaps they will continue in expression, but among those that are hungry for the Person of Jesus, these distinctions will cease to be a wall of separation and haughty religious pride. In the millennia there will be no Baptist, Catholic, Assemblies of God or independent groups. He will not consult with their hierarchies when He comes to claim his bride. My grandfather says that those tags will fall off if you go to heaven and burn off if you go to hell, and that is about how much weight they carry with God. God gave the different ministries to train and equip you to fulfill the great commission. They have come to be known as ministers, but they are to equip and train every believer to do the work of the ministry (edifying and encouraging the body of Christ). This is precisely the opposite of the purpose of leadership generally in the Christian religious system. Christians have come to expect the minister or pastor to minister to the congregation, to pray, to instruct the ignorant and evangelize the lost.
The real purpose of the ministry is to equip you as a believer, not only to sit in a crowd. Proper training will involve you in evangelism in the world and encouraging and edifying in the church. This is your calling and your role in the ministry. You must go and be to others what your leader or pastor is to you. There are people who you can reach and minister to that will never listen to your pastor or may never step foot in your church otherwise. God gave your pastor and the leaders to you and gave you to the world to do the work of the ministry. This is your call, and this is your role: “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). This is the body that Jesus is raising up right now among His people. Jesus walked right into the midst of the sick and lame at Bethesda and gave a real living hope to the paralytic that had nothing to do with a move or an angel. It had to do with Himself. Likewise, this purpose of God is not being offered out in the desert or some secret place somewhere. This is a purpose that is being brought forth amid the Christian religious system. This is where the candidates for a visitation are. This is where the hurting, the lame, and the blind are hoping and crying out for spiritual reality. What will you do? Will you continue looking for a man to put you in the move of God? Or will you look to the Savior resident in your own life, who gave Himself for you that He might bring His Glory in You, through His person and intimacy with Him.