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THE GLORY OF THE LATTER HOUSE

(HAGGAI CHAPTER 2 V 9)

If you were about to adopt several children (even if it is only one) then no doubt the adoption agency would come to your home, interview you and your partner and look around the place in order to establish that the place the children will be going to is a place where they can be loved and developed in every way whilst under your care.

If this is the care that we take to ensure that the children go to the best possible place for them just think how much care God is going to take to ensure that the people who will be swept into our churches during the coming revival will be going to a place where they will be loved, cared for, encouraged and given every opportunity to develop in every area of their lives that they need to.

Let us look back now to the book of Acts to see if we can find out how God intends His church to operate in these last days. The second chapter of the book of Acts verses 42 through to the end state something we shall look at piece by piece in our search for God's original plan.

"They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. All that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

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 favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."

Jesus spoke much to His disciples during the short time that He was able to spend with them before His crucifixion; much of that time was spent teaching them many things. He put into their hands many keys, not the least of them was to tell them very clearly how they could be a very good influence on the society they lived in.

John chapter 13 verses 34 and 35 tells us what Jesus said to His disciples shortly after He had humbled Himself and washed their feet. "A new commandment I give unto 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 loved one for another?

The question therefore has to be asked "How did Jesus love His disciples?" The answer is so simple it can be summed up in one word sacrificially. Today because of greed and a lack of belief in what the scriptures really say it is very unpopular to talk about sacrificial giving.

Luke chapter 6 and verse 38 quotes one of the things that Jesus told not just His disciples but all those who wanted to truly follow Him. "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

If people really believed this then there would be nobody living in poverty in any of the church congregations and the developing nations would be able to develop in much better conditions than those they experience every day. In Isaiah chapter 58 God states something of what He requires of His people.

Verses 6 to 11 inclusive read: "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Are it not to give your bread to the hungry, and that you bringing in the poor who are cast out to your house?

When you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you hide not yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall spring forth speedily: and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of The Lord shall be your reward.

Then shall you call, and The Lord shall answer; you shall cry, and He shall say, here I am. If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; and if you give out your soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall your light rise in obscurity, and your darkness be as the noonday: and The Lord shall guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and make fat your bones: and you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not."

There is further instruction in another passage of scripture, Micah chapter 6 verse 8 reads: "He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what The Lord requires of you, to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. "Today most people do look after someone, usually it is they first but this is clearly the exact opposite of the sacrificial love Jesus demonstrated to the world.

Let us take another look at chapter 4 of the book of Acts and analyse another section of it. Verses 37 to 42 read as follows: The multitude of those who believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that any of the things they possessed were their own, but they held all things in common. With great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of The Lord Jesus and great grace was upon them all.

Neither were there any poor among them, for as many as were owners of land or houses sold them and brought the money to the apostles, laying it at their feet. And distribution was made to everyone according to their need. Barnabas (which is being interpreted son of consolation), a Levite from Cyprus, sold land, brought the money and gave it to the apostles.

Here is a wonderful example of sacrificial love, do you think the church could persuade you to sell your property and give them the money you got from it? Would you even keep the property but allow anyone in the fellowship or who was interested in joining the fellowship to stay in your home for an indefinite period of time? This is apparently what the members of the early church did. I wonder how many people today would be as hospitable.

This section of scripture begins with a remarkable statement that the multitude was of one heart and one mind with the apostles. Where can we go today to find a church that can say this about their congregation? Then it tells us that the apostles were able to witness with great power the resurrection of The Lord Jesus Christ. If the church were to come together in unity like these members did then many signs and wonders would surely be worked in a multitude of congregations today.

Acts chapter 2 verses 42 to 47 inclusive tell us other things about the early church also. "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. The fear of The Lord came upon every soul: and many signs and wonders were done by the apostles.

All who believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and gave them to all as anyone had need. 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 favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."

At the beginning of this passage we are told that the members continued steadfastly in the doctrine of the apostles. Many people today wish it were the same for the average church across the world. Unfortunately so many people, leaders of churches as well as members of their congregation are constantly damaging the church by arguing about essential doctrine such as the virgin birth of Jesus and whether He really did die upon the cross or whether He simply went into a coma. Unless you believe the correct biblical doctrines on subjects such as these you will find yourself unable to stand in innocence before God on the certain to come day of judgement.

Because everyone accepted the doctrine of the apostles and the whole congregation were faithful in prayer and remembering The Lord's death and resurrection every day through the breaking of the bread many miracles were worked by the apostles. A Muslim will pray at least six times per day, have you ever tried to get the average member of your congregation to pray even as many as 6 times per month? If you have you will know how difficult this is in many of the churches in the western world.

Now let us go to Acts chapter 6 where we will look at another passage, short though it is but important never the less. Verses 1 to 8 tell us more about the people of the early churched who communed with the apostles in those days. "When the number of disciples was multiplying, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not good that we should neglect the word of God and serve the tables. Therefore brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good report, full of The Holy Spirit and wisdom whom we may appoint to carry out this business whilst we give ourselves over to prayer and the preaching of the word.

This seemed right to the whole multitude and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and The Holy Spirit along with Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicholas, a proselyte from Antioch. These they set before the disciples and when they had prayed they laid their hands on them.

The word of God increased, and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly, and a great company of priests were obedient to the faith. Stephen, full of faith and power did great miracles and wonders among the people."

When the disciples (not just the twelve) began distributing bread to those in need great miracles began to be worked at the hands of others than the twelve and the number of disciples multiplied greatly.

Perhaps the same thing would happen today if these things were done among the community in which they live and this would free up our pastors and leaders to preach the world of God more widely.

What sort of people were these disciples other than the twelve apostles? Scripture does not tell us but we can imagine that in those days the churches were far more pure than they are today and the people in them had characters much more glorifying to God than in many churches throughout the world.

Paul describes one of the essentials of a Christian, whether that be a minister or a member of a congregation. This is found in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 verses 1 to 13 and read as follows: "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I would have become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails: but whether there are prophecies, they shall fail; whether there are tongues, they shall cease; whether there is knowledge, it shall vanish away, for we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child: I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. "It should be noted that some translations use the word charity instead of love though the more modern translations say love.

Paul wrote much about what the true church should be like and in Ephesians chapter 4 verses 1 to 6 inclusive he wrote: "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the vocation that you are called to with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." Again in his first letter to the church at Corinth he drew out another very important point.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 12 verses 1 to 26 Paul writes: "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. You know that you were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as you were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God can call Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. There are diversities of operations, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit all. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit.

To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another diverse kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these work are the works of one and the same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he wills.

For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

The body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the ear shall say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were hearing, how would it smell?

But now has God set the members every one of them in the body, as it has pleased him. Now there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of you: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, who we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

For our comely parts so not need such honour but God has tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it."

The point that Paul is making here is very important, what he is saying is that everybody should be given an equal opportunity to develop and exercise whatever gift that God has given. The church is not just those who hold a calling to the five-fold ministry, if the work of the church is going to be done as God designed it to be then everyone must play their particular part.

In Mark chapter 10 verses 35 to 44 Jesus summed up the situation brilliantly: "James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that you to so something for us. Jesus said unto them, What would you ask me to do for you? They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on your right hand, and the other on your left hand, in your glory.

Jesus said unto them, you know not what you ask: can you drink of the cup that I drink of? And be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They said unto him, we can. Jesus said unto them, you shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized you shall be baptized: but to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to those for whom it is prepared."

When the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John. Jesus called them to Him, and said unto them, you know that they who are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.

But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the greatest, shall be servant of all, For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."

This is one of the most important things for the body of Christ to be successful in the way that Jesus designed it, if this is to be done then the churches must be led by and filled with people of humility.

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