IM Writings | Dr. Stephen Phinney
"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. “For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER
MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN'S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS
HOUSEHOLD. "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. Matthew 10:34-38
Truth is relative in the minds of post-Christian, post-modern and Emergent type "followers" of Christ. The authentic Truth is under attack and often by our very own family members and closest friends. Finding a friend who believes what Proverbs 27:6 says is simply quite rare now days:
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
It is rare that a believer holds to the Truth in absolute fact, value and doctrine in all places, situations and relationships. You are more apt to hear family and friends say, "That may be true for you, but it is not necessarily true for me." Truth has become relative (not permanently fixed, but having a meaning or value that can only be established in relation to something else)! What is this something else? Satan? For I know that he does NOT understand Truth because he is denied the reality of it. I am not aware of a third power that Truth can be compared to - outside of the self-life, which is a manifestation of the character of Satan. What has happened to the days of knowing the difference between right and wrong? Remember when it was considered honorable to wound a friend with Truth to save his life or the life of one of his family members?
Matthew 10:34-38 is the greatest test of love for any human who claims to have asked Jesus into their mortal lives through the Holy Spirit - Salvation. I know of few who will sacrifice relationship to have the Truth spoken. I can see dedicated Christians sacrificing superficial relationships for speaking the Truth, but family and close friends? No! In thirty-five years of ministry, I can count that level of dedicated Christians on one hand.
Since the popular subject of the Emergent Church has flooded the headlines of Christianity today, I have had many "Christians" ask me what the simplest definition of the Emergent Church is. Based on the Biblical definition of the church of Laodicea, a lukewarm church person, or “Christian,” sacrifices the absolute Truth of God the Father, God the Son & God the Holy Spirit for personal relationship. This kind of person might find themselves face to face with Jesus hearing this:
"Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.' Matthew 7:22-23
How many "Christians" do you really know that hear the Word of God (the Truth) and acts on His Words no matter what the cost – i.e. losing a family member or close friend? Would you sacrifice your relationship with your parents, spouse, child or "best-friend" for the holy purpose of standing on the Truth? What did Christ mean by His statement?
Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
To some, those are words of permission to fight with guns and swords to protect the reputation of Jesus Christ. This passage is a set up for a deeper question asked later in the same passage. Jesus is making it quite clear that the relationship He holds with believers is THE most important agenda item in that believer's life and the glue to keep us "abiding" in that relationship is standing on Truth. There are few passages where Christ addresses the issue of "being worthy" of relationship with Himself. Since Grace is the bridge to this Truth, the topic of being worthy of a relationship with Christ is rarely spoken of. Well dear reader - you had better listen up!
"For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN'S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.
Jesus came to set the believer against any relationship that holds more loyalty (love) and dedication than that required of Christianity. This passage is classified by most theologians as one of the least preached passages in the entire Bible. Humm - I wonder why? I mean seriously, who really wants to sacrifice family and friends for Jesus? In this emergent, mushy, feel good society that we live in today - we could be arrested and charged with a "hate crime" for living out the Matthew passage. G-whiz, our kids might even rise to . . .
"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will revolt against parents and cause them to be put to death. Matthew 10:21
If family members will "sell out" their beloved because of being confronted with Truth - don't you think your "dear friend" will? Dear reader - it is time to stop people pleasing for the sake of the gospel! It is time to take the risk of persecution and loss of relationship. I have been personally threatened by government, the courts, friends and even family members for speaking the Truth. I have been a part of court cases where children have sued their parents for religious abuse because the parents required the teen to sit at the dinner table for devotions - and in one incident, the parents lost the case! Surprised? Not me!! Jesus warned us and placed a mandate in place to prepare us for such cultural divisions.
The warning: "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
The mandate: And he who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.
The mandate to take up your cross and follow Jesus is a simple command. Your cross is you're assigned, or allotment of persecution - as in the case of Christ. He sacrificed all human relationships to do the will of His Father. Remember at the age of 12 when His dear mother found Him after three days of leaving Him behind at the Temple? She said:
"Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, your father and I have been anxiously looking for You." And He said to them, "Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" Luke 2:49
If anyone understands the Truth of putting the "Father's business" before relationships - that would be our Husband. He Himself would not have been able to do this unless humility had its way. When God said through Paul:
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:8
Jesus was not given the "easy way out" because He was God! He too had to learn this lesson through the power of humble expression. It is plain and simple; humility is the path to death. It is in death if we see the highest and clearest proof of humility perfected. Humility is the blossom of which death to self is the perfect fruit. Jesus humbled Himself unto death itself, and opened the path in which we too must walk - yes, I said we too must walk. There was no way for Jesus to prove His surrender to God to the very uttermost, or to give up and rise out of the humanness that He adopted except through death. He knew this was the only way to truly give His Father honorable glory. Humility is ordered by the breath of God to lead us to commit suicide - die to self. When this happens, we prove how wholly we have given ourselves up to the power of humility and to God Himself - since this is where He lives. This is also where we find True Salvation.
So, is this enthroned Meekness? My former boss use to define meekness as "power under control." I cannot tell you how this level and depth of Truth has affected me. Now in my 60s, I am finally beginning to see clearly. God wants His children to live in meekness and the only pathway to this resting place is through death. Once death is complete and has its way, a flower, a blossom of sorts, springs forth from this plant. When humility blossoms, meekness finds its way into the garden, knowing that enthroned Meekness will NOT enter until it sees the sprouting of humility! In other words, True Christians cannot fully live victoriously until death has found its way into the core of the self-life.
Jesus earned the right and power to be meek through His obedience unto death. The pathway is NO different for us. We too must take the same journey. Those who decide not to sacrifice all human relationships for this atonement, well - will become tasteless. God loves us so much that He is dedicated to use this profound Truth to break us. Consider this:
Being born in the condition of sinful man, Jesus Christ humbled us by causing us to be obedient to Him through the power of being crucified with Him/Christ.
When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, not merely following Him, Christ comes to indwell us through the Holy Spirit – Christ in you. When this happens, He Himself being obedient unto death lives the victorious life through our mortal bodies. Therefore, when He is persecuted, we are persecuted. When family and friends despise us, they despise Christ in us. In May of 2017, the Lord awakened me with:
If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. John 15:18-20
His life, His person, His presence, all bears the marks of death and humility which produces True meekness in each Philadelphian believer (people who are known for His indwelling love – post salvation). This life of meekness cannot bring forth fruit unless we allow the Holy Spirit to work the power of death in our souls. Since death is what we strive to avoid daily, this becomes the challenge.
Humans are born with a fear of not being loved, accepted and forgiven. From conception, we move to please those around us to avoid being "nothing" so we work to make ourselves something pleasing in the eyes of others. The problem is - God is on a mission to reveal to each of us that we are nothing.
For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Galatians 6:3
Since “striving to be something” is what forms the self-life; our daily lives often become filled with resisting God in His process of producing meekness in our souls. If our humility leads us to perfect death, then true life leads us to give up the self-life, which ultimately means we need being resolute that we are nothing.
So - why is it that we refuse to sacrifice relationships for pure Truth? It is because we still believe that we are to be something in the eyes of those who are nothing to the Father. Those Laodiceans who think that salvation is in “love” are of this deception. This lie is birthed through their trademark of “helping” others to see they are something when actually they are nothing – we call this the “Me-Me Gospel.” True salvation is in Christ alone and TRUE salvation starts with the death of thinking you are something!
The “Me-Me Gospel” puts such significance on the importance of others – that it erases the significance of Jesus AND the sting of true salvation (DEATH to SELF). Satan’s greatest deception in the Millennial Generation is relationship before Truth – something we use to call idolatry. This is the very reason why Christ said:
And he who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.
The souls that enter His humiliation will find in Him the power to see and count themselves dead, and to those who have learned, and embraced, NOTHINGNESS, can
then walk in the lowliness and meekness of the life of Christ. Therefore, NOTHINGNESS becomes everything when persecution tries to deceive you.
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