Perserverance helping each other to the end
Between 1933 and 1945 evangelicals in Germany formed what became known as the Confessing Church. They opposed the German Christian Church Movement sponsored by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945. As Nazi dominance increased, the Confessing Church was forced underground.
In 1935 the Confessing Church formed a preachers’ seminary near Zingst on the Baltic Sea, which soon moved to Finkenwalde. The principal and main teacher of the 25 students was a man by the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a 29-year-old pastor and university professor from Berlin. Bonhoeffer led the students in a disciplined life together that included daily prayers, meditation, worship, study, recreation, and work.
All the seminarians knew they lived on the edge of eternity in those sobering days because of the events those days. In September 1937 the seminary was closed by the Nazi police, and in November they were put under arrest. That same year Bonhoeffer published a book entitled, The Cost of Discipleship, and in September of 1938 put in book form the lessons of Finkenwalde entitled, Life Together.
It’s a book that gives insights into how to be Christians in a community when life is being lived on the edge. Bonhoeffer was arrested April 5, and two years later, April 9, 1945, Bonhoeffer was hanged by the Gestapo in the Flossenberg concentration camp at the age of 39.
One of his students in the Finkenwalde wrote about those days, and said:
Bonhoeffer wanted a genuine, natural community, and this community was practiced in play (recreation), in walks through the richly wooded and beautiful district of Pomerania, during evenings spent in listening to someone reading, … in making music and singing, and last not least in worship together and holy communion. He kept entreating us to live together naturally and not to make worship an exception. (I Knew Dietrich Bonhoeffer, p. 155)
I believe that Bonhoeffer’s little book, Life Together, is a word for our times because we are plagued in the western church lethargy, and passivity that lacks the vigorous camaraderie and discipline that unites a kingdom in wartime. We don’t have a wartime mentality and therefore people don’t gather together corporately late at night and throughout the day (IHOP) to hear from heaven to receive strategies to detonate Satan’s strongholds and liberate his captives. The prayer movement is a 24/7 worship warfare ministry.
Isaiah 56:7,The classic chapter the prophesize the end time prayer movent of the Holy Spirit. Is 56 is the classic chapter. Zach 8 is another one. Zach 12:10 especially talks about the power of God in the ministry of prayer at the end of the age.
The reason why this prayer ministry is so essential is; there is an escalating war happing in the spirit realm. There will be more sickness more perversion more torment than any other time in history just vomiting out of hell an unholy explosion of demonic oppression demonic torment perversion of every kind imaginable, sin and bitterness false signs and wonders, and on and.
It’s an escalating war. Revelation 12: 7-17 talks all about it. A war breaking out in the heavens it’s been going on since the beginning but it’s going to escalate. But God is raising up an preemptive strike by raising up the House of prayer before the explosion of evil.
Again it’s a preemptive strike, before the devil makes his great stand Gods going to have the intercessors/worshipers trained in place, fascinated, lovesick and unified with one another before the plan of evil vomits out of hell in fullness.
He’s raising up the Anna’s and Mary’s. He raising up those men like David and John Elijiah and so on.
Theirs an end time prayer ministry it’s a preemptive strike, it’s essential it will change the course of human life if we answer it or if we don’t answer it. But I’ve got good news I’ve read the word we will answer it! We will answer it!
It has to be night and day, there’s several reason it has to be night and day in which I can’t go into tonight because of the time but I will give one of 5 reason; In Rev 12;10 the devil is accusing, (I’m going to make this really personal, because I’m so possessed by this the Devil is accusing this city night and day, and God says ) “I will answer the accusation, they will agree with me and my glory night and day in “Chicago land area” The accusations night and day Rev 12:10. God says I have an answer for that, Voluntary worshiping intercessors and signers musicians agreeing with my glory, night and day as voluntary lovers on the earth.
These ideas have already been signed in heaven, there waiting to be co-signed from a voluntary bride here on earth a Bride that will come into agreement with His opinion. (a little bunny trail)
But right now most of us don’t have a spiritual warfare mindset and we don’t see ourselves as insurgents in the alien territory of sin and therefore our life together is not intense but petty.
There are no coded handshakes of joy, or secret passwords. And there are few tearful embraces and songs of thanks because a squad of witnesses has returned safely even bringing some liberated captives home.
Bonhoeffer’s words about “life together” have the ring of authenticity for us because they were written not at the nerve center of comfort but on the edge. They have the taste of radical commitment that all of us dream about, many of us crave, and only a few pursue.
The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer … It is true, of course, that what is an unspeakable gift for the lonely individual is easily disregarded and trodden underfoot by those who have the gift every day … Among earnest Christians in the Church today there is a growing desire to meet together with other Christians in the rest periods of their work for common life under the Word. Communal life is again being recognized by Christians today as the grace that it is, as the extraordinary, the “roses and lilies” of the Christian life. (Life Together, pp. 8–10)
Then Bonhoeffer comes to a very sobering point that I want to emphasize. He writes,
If somebody asks [a Christian], Where is your salvation, your righteousness? he can never point to himself. He points to the Word of God in Jesus Christ, which assures him of salvation and righteousness. He is as alert as possible to this Word. Because he daily hungers and thirsts for righteousness, he daily desires the redeeming Word …
But God has put this Word into the mouth of men in order that it may be communicated to other men. When one person is struck by the Word, he speaks it to others. God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of a man. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. (Life Together, pp. 11–12)
Let’s turn to Hebrews 3:12. a verse that we looked at to illustrate point 4 last week (minister the word) but tonight I want us to see from this verse how true and essential Bonhoeffer’s words are for you and I today.
The question to ask yourself as we read these verses is: How important is it to live with other Christians in such a way that I can give to them and receive from them the Word of God every day? “Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end.”
Three observations I would like to make from this very important text:
1. Sin wages a constant battle to deceive and harden the hearts of professing Christians. If it succeeds, a person slips into unbelief and falls away from the living God.
2. The evidence and confirmation of whether we have any share in Christ is whether we hold our first confidence firm to the end. From this text there are only two possibilities for professing Christians: either they hold fast their first confidence
or they become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin and fall away from God with a heart of unbelief. Please keep in mind the “I shall and we Must” teaching to understand the balance.
3. The way that God has purposed to enable the saints to persevere to the end is daily exhortation from other saints. “Exhort one another every day as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” That is not an empty admonishment, that’s not just an up lifting encouraging idea.
This text makes it clear that the means by which God intends to guard our hearts is the corporate body. It’s not just in prayer, not just worship, not just the sacraments, not just Bible reading, but daily exhortation from other believers is God’s appointed means to enable you to hold your first confidence firm to the end. (it is also those things).
One of the most important questions I face as the leader of this body is:
What should I do to encourage and enable you to live together or meet together, So we can obey this text and exhort each other with the promises and warnings and commands of the word of God? How can I make the priesthood of all believers a reality? How can I help to form the kind of group life or community life that makes Hebrews 3:13 a fact and not a fairy tale? “Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
Part of the answer for us here at CHOP is given in Hebrews 10:23–25 (turn). The writer is concerned not only how to help people hold fast their faith but also how to help them be set ablaze with love. Faith toward God and love toward men—how shall they be stirred up and preserved?
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging (same word as in 3:13) one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
The closer we get to the second coming of Christ, the more we ought to meet together to encourage each other to hold fast our hope and to pour ourselves into acts of love. (again the emergence of 24/7 as a sighn of the times).
The text envisions not just haphazard meetings on the street but planned gatherings for the purpose of exhortation.
Bonhoeffer said, “The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer.” Hebrews says: “Meet together!” “Meet together!” Meet in homes. Don’t neglect meeting. How else can we exhort each other to hold fast to our confidence? How else can we stir each other up to love and good works? And when you meet, don’t throw it away with glib conversation: Consecrate it with the Word of God and prayer.
Do you see the warning in this text? “Don’t neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some.” Believers are always in danger of forming the habit of not meeting with other believers to encourage and be encouraged in faith and love. Have you fallen out of that habit? Are you a part of a regular gathering of believers which is cultivating relationships so that you can give and receive personal exhortation from Scripture?
I said last week When I am…., give me the word of God.
Minster to me. . All who have any access to me, give me the word of God.
give me the word…. “A lover of God needs another lover of God who will speaks God’s Word to him or to her. We need one another in rejoicing as well as when we becomes uncertain and discouraged.”
Three Relationships Every Believer Must Pursue
I’ve been putting together with the staff a strategy to enlarge the staff here…I’ve been working through a philosophy of ministry that shapes what we do and how we plan. That philosophy says that there are three relationships of life which every wholehearted lover must pursue.
1. First, and most important, is your personal relationship with God, characterized by trust, devotion, worship, and obedience. IE Going hard after God.
2. Second is your relationship with other believers in the body of Christ, characterized by mutual exhortation to strengthen each others’ faith and stir each other up to love and good works, IE helping each other to live deliberately unto the end.
3. Third, and flowing out from the first two, is your relationship to unbelievers and to Christ’s global purpose of redemption, characterized by witness in words of hope and deeds of love. IE extending to unbelievers the joy of salvation.
A radical, all out God-centeredness abandonment, putting the 1st Com 1st will remain priority number 1 under my leadership at CHOP—I don’t think you would have it any other way. That’s why we stress worship/intercession and seek to guard intimacy in the beauty of the Lord from the ever-present encroachments of the horizontal.
All our relationships with each other will be deepened and empowered and purified if we focus our minds’ attention and our hearts’ affection on God himself.
We Are in Wartime
If we knew that the Gestapo was closing in on us, if we knew that at any time some could disappear from our number never to be heard from again, we would gather often in our homes and in secret rendezvous to strengthen our hands in God.
And love would cover a multitude of sins, and our handshakes and embraces and the meetings of our eyes would really be from the heart.
Well, we are in war time.
We need to exhort one another every day to have strong confidence of victory in Christ, and to dream of new strategies of love to pull down and destroy the enemy’s concentration camps of unbelief!
Exhorting on another in the authority of God, in the aroma of his sovereignty, and with the urgency of the hour in which we live.