Are We Open?
I have written this interpretation because I want to point out the differences between being open and believing. I would also like to explain some factors that arise when we understand the difference between the two, and then walk circumspectly according to those differences. This interpretation’s purpose is not only to equip Christians to become powerful witnesses to the lost, but also to reveal to the Body of Christ that there is a real need for Christians to become more open to what the Lord has to say. Finally, I intend to persuade that the process of becoming open becomes the first step necessary (the foundation) in order for mature belief to exist.
And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, [saying], I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
In both of these examples the Jewish people were blinded from believing because their jealousy, hatred and ignorance led to unbelief. These factors inhibited the word of God from touching their hearts (Luke 8:12). They also quenched any hunger or openness or teachable submission within the Jewish people, thus hardening their hearts so they were not in a position to believe. In order for people to eventually believe, the hunger for God and openness to God must first be formed. When this hunger or brokenness for God is created, then by default the inhibiting factors (sin, anger, pride) will lye prostrate in the background and the people will become uninhibited to believe. The Jewish people not believing was not their major problem, their major problem was they were hardened, not even open or in a place of teachable submission to believe.
A good comparison between expecting someone to believe before they are effectively opened is kind of like expecting a bee to force open a flower it wants to pollinate. Imagine that, a bee ripping open the petals of the flower. It doesn’t work like that. A bee’s job is to pollinate, but it must be patient and wait for the flower to first open. Regarding the lost or even the lukewarm Church right now, a lot of Christian’s opinions are, “Yeah, they basically need to believe.” Belief is not a commandment, it is a relationship. People first need to be opened up to the revelation of the existence of a Holy God and then, once that openness becomes real, we need to allow that openness process to mature them into becoming Spirit born bible believing Christians (Matthew 16: 16-19, John 16:31).
How can we understand or even liken the lost becoming hungry for God? Take a great chief for example. He can prepare the best food in the world but if the people are not hungry then all his work will be in vain. Not even Jesus himself could minister to those who were not hungry towards the truth; but remember, for those who were hungry even common bread sufficed (John 6:35, Mark 8:1-9, Luke 22:19). In order to witness effectively, Christians need to be prepared (good chiefs) but more importantly, the people must be hungry (open) for what is going to spiritually pollinate them.
Remember when Nicodemus came to Jesus by night (John 3). He was open and hungry for the Lord but he didn’t yet believe. Had he already believed he would of just worshiped Jesus like all the others (Matthew 2:1, 11, 8:2-3, 15:22-28), but he didn’t. This meant that although he was hungry and open for the truth, he was still being prepared (he was a flower opening slowly). Jesus, knowing all things, knew Nicodemus’ was becoming open so he wasted no time and immediately got to the point (pollinated); as a result, Nicodemus got saved (John 19:39-40).
We as Christians have no power over people’s belief. As Christians we can be wise stewards and use our gifts and our talents to induce a hunger or openness in the people but the act of believing is on them and God alone (Matthew 16: 16-19, John 16:31). When Jesus walked on this earth his humble attitude and servant mentality made the people curious and desirous to follow him, but it still became the people’s obligation to believe (Mark 12:37 Vs. John 1:12). We as Christian’s must remember that it is the Father who draws the people to the Son through the Holy Spirit, but He also uses Christians as a part of that drawing process. Basically our Christian witness becomes a vehicle for the people’s hunger to begin (Matthew 25:20-21, Romans 12:9-21). Then God, in conjunction with, and if need be even separate from (Matthew 25:26), will use the Holy Spirit to draw people to Himself (John 6:44-45, Matthew 16:17). It then becomes the people’s obligation whether they want to be called, or whether they want to be chosen (Matthew 22:14). To put it another way… whether they simply want to be drawn, or whether they want to fully believe and become doers (John 1:12, James 1:22).
I will next demonstrate how the people’s hunger or openness will not only put them in a position to believe, but will also summon the power of God to work through his Body (Christians) in order to insure that their belief becomes mature and accurate.
The hunger of the lost will release the power of God
When the Ethiopian Eunuch was hungry for God then God sent Philip in power to witness to him (Acts 8:26-40). This witnessing was not only successful but powerful (Acts 8:39). This act also gave testimony toward God’s desire to save any soul who was hungry for him, Jew or Gentile alike (Acts 11:1-18, Mark 5:1-20). The same could be said of Cornelius the centurion (Acts 10). Cornelius was so hungry for God that he was fasting and praying for God to meet with him. The Lord sent Cornelius an angel and then later sent Peter to preach to him and his entire household. This encounter resulted in Cornelius’ household receiving the power of the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
God will fill those who are hungry, and he will send his people to do it. Just like in the above passages, God will send members of His Body to the lost in order that they might be saved. Another example is Saul of Tarsus. The Lord blinded Saul and then sent Ananias in order that Saul might receive his sight (Acts 9:10-19). The power of God was there for the man who needed the Lord’s touch. A lot of people might say, “Well… this was the great apostle Paul, I don’t know how needy he was?” At the time, he was probably more needy than the Eunuch and the centurion. He was raging against the Church and was blinded by his unbelief (1 Timothy 1:13, Job 41:15, Acts 9:18). Now if God was this desirous for Paul then how desirous do you think he is towards the millions and millions of people who are blinded by their jealousy, hatred, pride, insecurities, baggage all of which ultimately lead to their… unbelief? Don’t you think He wants to save them just like he saved the Apostle Paul?
1 Timothy 2:1-4 (This is Paul speaking)
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
God wants all men to become enlightened. For Paul this enlightenment meant a little chastening and suffering (Hebrews 12:11, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). For others like Cornelius and the Ethiopian, God used his Spirit plus the effective witness of his people to draw them to himself.
God will use two basic methods in order to align someone toward the foundation of belief:
1 Effective ministering (inspiring a person using the Christian witness)
2 Effective suffering (humbling someone toward that witness)
Effective Ministering (the powerful Holy Spirit filled inspired witness)
Proper wisdom mingled with obedient ministering can destroy the works of the Devil (ignorance). Such ministering lays prostrate in the background the inhibiting factors blocking such belief. These factors can be pride, greed, jealousy, denial, self-focus, anger… basically any sin or frame of mind that separates us from enlightenment. Once these inhibiting factors are exposed and graciously dealt defused by the Holy Spirit, the doors within people become open for Godly hunger to mature (Acts 17:34). When the Church of God (Body of Christ) has settled into their proper gifts and are working effectively in their respective ministries then God will back those efforts and will rain down His Holy Spirit as Christians live and witness toward unbelievers (Acts 2:14-41, Ephesians 4:7-13). This faithful spiritual work will orchestrate a hunger for God and a desire for God that only the Holy Spirit can inspire. We as Christians are meant to be proper witnesses to induce a hunger but it is the Holy Spirit that will convict (John 16:8) the hearts of men and women in order for that hunger to mature into belief. We can also have faith that this hunger process will result in God doing the work (Matthew 5:6).
We must remember that when others see the fruits of our walk and the effectiveness of those fruits in our lives that they will become compelled (Galatians 5:22-24, 2 Corinthians 5:14). How many times can we say that we saw someone do something ten years ago and it stuck with us. That was a witness. Sometimes young kids grow up and become professional athletes simply because the right person at the right time inspired them. It’s the same way with a Christian witness; people will live off our fruits. The fruits they see in our lives feed their curiosity and digest within their spirit and mind. This digestion then becomes a Godly marker (Christian marker) that impacts the individual and, because God is faithful, continuously releases a witness through conviction in their life (1 Peter 3:15-16, Romans 1:13). This is the way it works, and our effective witness of walking in the fruits of the Spirit will live on in the people who have become a partaker of those fruits (Colossians 1:6, Philippians 1:7, 4:17). In order to become an effective minister one needs only to become an effective witness (John 15:8). Jesus has commanded us in the bible to do as he did, and to love as he loved (John 13:12-17, Luke 3:11). When this happens then the world will see it and our witness will become the vehicle to initiate their hunger, God then backing the entire process by his Holy Spirit. I want to quickly add this interpretation is geared toward witnessing to the lost but many of the examples can be applied to Christians who are hardened in their views. In this case, those Christian’s will need a faithful witness of greater enlightenment. This enlightenment should not come through preaching, but the stronger Christians should sustain the weaker ones by effectively witnessing toward their lives. Even Paul preached about being a good witness toward fellow weak believers (Romans 14). Notice Paul does not admonish us to judge them or preach at them, but to love them and become the right type of Christian witness in their lives.
There is a
difference between witnessing and ministering.
We as Christians are called to minister unto each other (Christian to
Christian) but toward the world we are called to become effective witnesses. Since when do you think God
has given the Church spiritual fruit for us to preach spiritually toward an
unbelieving world? The world is not
saved. They are not spiritual people but
carnal. So why do we take spiritual
gifts (that God has given to the church for its own edification) and point
these same spiritual gifts toward an unbelieving world? This is a grave ignorance that has caused
damage inconceivable. Toward the lost,
this same “spiritual ministering” as we like to call it, translates into judgment. In other words, when the Church takes their
spiritual gifts and points them toward the world, the world thinks we are
judging them. This is how it comes
across. God has a perfect way of doing
things. Toward each other (Christian to
Christian) we are to minister the spiritual things of God. The spiritual gifts Christ has given us so we
can be a sound spiritual body (1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4:1-16). We are to edify one another, admonish one
another and to encourage one another with our spiritual gifts. Toward the world we are to do the exact
opposite. We are to become Christian witnesses, as to the power of the resurrected Lord in us (Acts 1:8, 2:32, 3:15,
5:32, 10:39, 10:41, 13:31). We are to be
witnesses, and that is all. Do you think
it is a coincidence that Jesus warned his apostles not to leave
Of course the calling of the evangelist takes precedence with regard to these thoughts. But… unless God has commissioned you specifically for the work of evangelism, it would be wise for you to keep your mouth shut and your light shining as unto a light in a dark place. Creation groans awaiting the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:19) to break forth with the testimony and witness of Jesus in their lives (Revelation 6:9, 11:7, 12:11,17). The world should look at Christian’s and literally see little Jesus’ running all around. This is absolutely God’s priority for the Church.
Effective Suffering (geared more toward believers)
understand suffering. Throughout the
bible God used suffering time and time again to draw his people back to
God also used
suffering in situations where his people did nothing wrong.
Today God will use this same type of suffering in order to reach those whom he has called (whether believer or unbeliever). An example of such suffering could be sickness (Isaiah 38:1-5, Job 1,2), personal tragedy (Ruth 1:20-21), financial hardships (2 Kings 4:1-7), delayed answers to prayer (1 Samuel 1:5-18) or even frustrating circumstances (Judges 6:11-16, Genesis 37,39-41)… and the like. God will use situations like these and many, many more to awaken a spiritual hunger in people’s hearts. God does this so people will no longer focus on the flesh and it’s allure (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), but will be attentive to the Spirit of God, that they might be drawn into the fellowship of his suffering in order to receive the bounty of his grace (Philippians 3:8-10, 2 Chronicles 33). To those who don’t understand any better such circumstances might look like a curse (Galatians 3:13), but according to the bible such suffering has long been one of God’s most effective methods to draw people unto himself (Hebrews 12:5-6). I have a lot more to say regarding the suffering God allows in the lives of his people as well as in the lives of unbelievers. I am not going to release these understandings right now because I would be jumping the gun. Such revelation is given on a need to know basis, not to mention the understanding is not yet fully prepared within me. Right now it wouldn’t be edifying to share my thoughts. I believe as time goes on, this understanding will be greatly needed, and as a result, it will be increased.
What we can learn?
I wrote this interpretation because I wanted people to fully understand that the process of becoming open is very different from the process of believing. When it comes to those who need to be reached, we as Christian witnesses have a very minor role in their process of believing but we have every part in their process of becoming open.
I would like to also reiterate that this interpretation does not only apply to spiritual understandings regarding the lost. Many times we as Christians are saved and filled with the Holy Spirit but we are closed off to getting closer to God. Sometimes God will desire to bring Christians or other ministers into our lives in order to help us see the right of way, but because we are so closed off by the inhibiting factors (pride, anger, self, jealousy, impatience, non repentance), God has no route into our hearts in order to do a cleansing work in us. The problem is we are not open (teachable). If we were open then God would use his ministers and would allow a flow of wisdom and revelation to come into our lives. This revelation would continue to open us up (Proverbs 29:18) and we would receive edification and enlightenment directly from the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 14:3). This process of continued openness would then lead us to a more mature belief (we would become better Christians for it, and possess more spiritual fruit).
I was once wrestling with the problem that there wasn’t much wisdom in the institutional church or in the workings of their ministries. I wondered why ministers weren’t being sent. God basically allowed me to see that if we were closed off to the wisdom that He could reveal then He would just not send the minister in the first place (Matthew 7:6, Ezekiel 3:26-27, Proverbs 9:7-8). I then prayed regarding what could be done. God helped me see that if we were open to listening and receiving and if we were of a willing mind (2 Corinthians 8:10-12), then He would do the work to edify us through His wisdom. The sad part is that the wisdom is there, and God is willing, but because of our stiff necks and our hardness of heart we stop the flow of edification that God is more than willing to send through His ministers (Ezekiel 2:3-5, 3:4-7, 24-27, Proverbs 9:7-8).
God is willing. But we must first be open to what God has to say to us in order that we might come to believe (2 Corinthians 4:4). A lot of people say, “Well, I don’t believe and I don’t want to believe. You’re not even open yet! You first have to become open and then once you have lost your opinion and your pride and your self-focus then!!! you will be in a position for the truth of God to reveal itself to you in order that you might believe. This is a process, not a commandment. God didn’t command Peter to walk on water even though Peter desired it (Matthew 14:28-29) he invited him to. God will invite us to be open, and then to walk to Him through a faith process; but it will always be our wicked hearts that will desire a commandment for ourselves in order that we might never have to learn choice, relationship or accountability. Relationship is learned through both the choices we make and the consequences of those choices. It is the relationship process that grows our faith and teaches us the heart of God, which is exactly what Jesus was intending to do with Peter (Matthew 14:31). We must always remember that God does not command us to Himself, he invites us to Himself, and this invitation will require a process of faith on our part to the intent that our hearts might become more open (manifest) (Luke 2:35) and our belief matured.
To help you understand the difference between the commandment of serving God and the invitation of serving God think about a robot. A robot will do everything that is commanded of it, but even though it will always do what is commanded of it, the robot will never learn. Do you think that’s what God wants from us? Does God want robots? Does God want a relationship with something that will do everything that is ever commanded of them but will never fully understand or learn why they do it or why they even should? Does God want a relationship with something that will never learn from their mistakes or will never learn to trust or even understand the God who created them? If God just wanted simple obedience void from a learning relationship then He would never have created humans. God wants relationship (John 4:21-24), and relationship never comes from commandment because the commandment forces us to be withdrawn from the process of knowing God and actually forces us to point the finger at someone else, mostly at God rather than ourselves (Romans 7:8-11). The commandment will force us to fall back on our sin and we will never learn because it’s sin that has dominion over us through the commandment (Romans 7:15-24, 7:11). But the invitation on the other hand requires a relationship process that forces us to grow and to know and understand our creator (Jeremiah 9:23-24). This relationship process pushes us to learn faith and gives God children he is not ashamed of (Hebrews 11 Emphasis v. 16). God does not mind our mistakes (Psalms 37:24), He minds us not wanting to have a real relationship with Him. Peter, in his fleshly ignorance, was asking God to command him so he would never have to take responsibility for his actions; and if Peter did happen to fall, then because of the commandment, he would of felt justified in his mind because God was the one who commanded him to do it (Romans 7:8-11). But God, knowing all things, reversed it and basically said “Hey Peter, any falling happening today will be on you, but don’t worry, I’ll be here to catch you when you do fall” (Psalm 145:14, 37:24). This was a great lesson for Peter to learn because he received the gleanings of what it meant to have a real relationship (accountability) with the Lord and this meant taking responsibility for his actions and doubts, and then hopefully improving upon them. Notice what Peter says later in his life:
1 Peter 1:7
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
Peter understood that this very process of falling (testing) through relationship eventually turned his faith into something even more precious than gold. It was indeed the invitation process that opened the door for Peter to have a real relationship with God. This process yielded within Peter a greater openness and faith which ultimately lead to a more steadfast belief. The commandment was excluded (Romans 7:7-12) because the sin which surfaced through the commandment would have ignorantly blind Peter from understanding exactly how to serve God, which is to know and understand Him through (the veil - Matthew 27:51) … a live and learn process (faith relationship process) (Jeremiah 9:23-24)… via the mind, which is actually man’s instrument for learning. Notice Matthew 22:37 vs. Deuteronomy 6:5 below:
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Notice only the New Testament version includes the word “mind,” the Old Testament version includes the word, “might” instead. This is essential to our learning. It proves the Old Testament requirement was based merely on zealous tradition via obedience (it is interesting to note this is all that was required via the Old Testament commandment… obedience, not learning). The New Testament includes the mind for a very specific reason. Because it is via the mind that we learn (grow accountable and understand). This is the difference between the service toward God via the old and the new. Basically the old commandment required might (zealous obedience) whereas the new commandment required the mind (a learning relationship/accountability process – because the mind is the vehicle we use to learn…). If this evidence doesn’t sum up the explanation of this interpretation, I don’t know what will? These are all clearly truths we need to adhere to.
All of this extra information (where I gave myself occasion) was critical for this interpretations purpose. The focus of this interpretation is all about becoming more open to God (in essence, more humble). Once we become open (of a willing mind) God is able to pour all things in and through us. This also taxes our relationship with God, and it is where our faith will be turned into gold (Revelation 3:18). The more we walk with God, the more we will grow in sanctification (Hebrews 5:8, Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Hebrews 12:5-8, 1 Thessalonians 4:4, 2 Timothy 2:20-21). The more sanctified we are, the more open our belief is to learning to trust God fully (Matthew 22:37).