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A Letter To The Church At Large

'Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?' Matt 7:12-16

And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. Gal 5:24-26

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. Gal 6:14-16

The Narrow Way

Which way?

Jesus tells us that there are two paths to choose from: there is a right way and a wrong way. The 'strait gate and the narrow way' is the right way, and the 'wide gate and the broad way' is the wrong way. The text, in essence, tells us that the wrong way is easy to find, but the right way is hard to find. Each of us needs to carefully consider whether he or she is on the strait and narrow path, for like many of Jesus' words, this principle is contrary to the prevailing mind-set. We live in a world in which people often assume that if many are following a certain direction, it must be the best road to follow. When we compare ourselves with ourselves, we are not wise.(1)

Pride will lead all who follow down the path 'that seemeth right,'(2) and pride is our unwillingness to accept God's point of view about sin, the world, and ourselves. To be sure that we are on the good way, the right way, we must compare our lives with the Word of God.

'Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.'(3)

Jesus Christ is 'the Way', and we are commanded to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.(4) There is no other Way, nor any other Hope! We must follow Jesus to the place of death, and this time we must do the dying. This is not a death of the physical body, but of the old life: a separation from the way of self, and a consecration to God. This is what baptism is all about: not a mere dipping in the water, but an acceptance of His death as our very own death, the embracing of His grave as our own grave. We die. Nothing can revive us from this death, nothing except the power of His Spirit resurrecting us in the newness of His Life.(5) Until His death is worked in us and we ourselves are dead, Christ Jesus does not live in us, nor does He know us.(6)

The Apostle Paul declared that he was crucified with Christ, and that it was no longer he that lived, but that Christ lived in him.(7) But how and when does it become reality in our lives?

Jesus submitted to the Cross so God, our merciful Father, would have the opportunity to bring us back into fellowship with Himself, and that this fellowship would continue through eternity. The only way in which this fellowship can begin and continue, is for us to submit to the Cross, allowing death to the self life.

Let us realize that dying to self is the first step in the walk of a true follower of Jesus Christ: we cannot go around it, we must go through it. It is the first ministry we are all called to, and without this kind of service, there is no other that is meaningful to God Almighty.(8) If 'I' am alive, then I am dead. Indeed, if 'I' am alive, then He is not alive in me. If ever 'I' desire, and this desire is not His desire working in me, then 'I' am alive, and thus He is dead to me. If there is anything that is fleshly or of the world, so that Christ is not working in me, 'I' am alive. If 'I' am impatient, hurt, or angry, 'I' am alive. If 'I' am unloving, bitter or unforgiving, 'I' am alive. If 'I' am lonely, or fearful, 'I' am alive. If 'I' 'am,' Jesus is not. Christ must be alive in us and fully formed in us.(9)

Jesus summarized all the commandments,(10) to first, 'love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,' and second, to 'love your neighbor as yourself.' If we are 'alive,' walking in the power of the flesh, we will not love God, and thereby we will utterly fail to love our neighbor.

In the gospel, some men came to Philip and made a profound request: they said, 'We would see Jesus.' The disciple could not speak as Jesus and say, 'Don't you know that when you see me you see Jesus?' No, he had to physically go find Jesus.(11) The world today does not need to see you and me, they need to see Jesus. If we are so alive that they can't see Jesus in us, they may go off into eternity without Him. The Word says that as He is, so are we in this world.(12)

Today, many Christians believe that giving God a tithe and putting in their time at Church fulfills their duty as a Christian. If we read the New Testament carefully, however, we will see plainly that God wants one hundred percent: the body, mind, soul, and all of our time. Everything we are, everything we have, we must give to Jesus Christ. This is the way of the early church, and the reason God did so much through them.

Prayerfully ponder these questions: Where are the signs that Jesus said would follow those that believe?(13) Why is the power of God not working through us to the point that the world is being turned upside down?(14) How is it that the world is content, for the most part, to live side by side with us? All through history, when Jesus was visible in His people, the world reacted! Some of them were pricked in the heart and repented, as with the preaching of Peter,(15) and many others did everything they could to shut up the message, even to the point of gnashing their teeth and killing the speaker, as with Stephen.(16) Jesus Christ still desires to reach into the world in mighty and wonderful ways today, and He wants to use you and me! Our greatest victory happens when we have witnessed to someone, and they are left seeing Jesus Christ, not the vessel that was used of the Lord.

The Way of Jesus Christ.

God loves us and desires to fellowship with us more than we could ever desire ourselves. If we will do our part, He will meet us there and do His part.

Let us come to God with an open heart and an open mind. Let us submit ourselves to the searching conviction of the Holy Spirit, and allow that conviction to work a deep repentance in us. We can expect that the depth of our deliverance from the power of sin will directly correspond to the depth of our repentance. Come now and let us break up our fallow ground.(17)

As repentance begins to bear its fruit, we need to confess our sins to the Most Holy One, and He will forgive, cleanse and make us new again. Let us not stop there, however, but rather give God the time He desires, to work the Cross of Christ into our life. He will make the death of Christ Jesus our death: out with the old, in with the new, 'behold, all things are become new.'(18) If we wait on the Lord, He will do a perfect work in us. Amen. If we won't wait, the work will be incomplete, and we will be incomplete. Please take some time right now, and seek God. Look to Him to see what is still lacking in your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no time like now. Amen.

Essentials

Each day we must go to God and serve Him in worship, in praise, in fellowship and in prayer.(19) Our first ministry is to minister to Him. Jesus made it clear that we must be ready to give up all to follow him. Nothing must get between us and the Lord. If we are willing to entrust everything to Him, we will find that He is faithful to care for our every need.(20)

Each of us must learn to know the voice of our Father for ourselves. It is vital that we each take the time to cultivate this relationship to the point in which we hear His voice.(21) His spoken Word will always be in harmony with His written Word. We need to discover and follow God's plan for each of our lives, for He has called all of His children into His service. Yet this will not happen until we truly know the voice of God, and become acquainted with the ways in which He guides. Some of us may be waiting on God to be sent out in power to minister His Word; waiting for God to bring 'our' ministry. However, God must be more important to us than even our service to others. As Jesus lovingly told Martha, only one thing is needed.(22) As we sit patiently at His feet, waiting on the LORD, we find that He has been waiting for us!

A God-anointed ministry comes as a direct result of, and in proportion to our relationship to the One Who works among men. Besides Him, we should desire nothing. How can God do great things through us if it is OUR ministry? We cannot take ownership of that which belongs to Him, for if it is our own effort, Christ Jesus is not working through us. If it is not Christ working through us, the world cannot see Him, so our efforts are in vain and are indeed worthless. Throughout the Bible, we can see men that were called to serve the Lord God Almighty, and that through their service to Him, they became witnesses to the world. In order for us to be true witnesses, we must know God for ourselves, so that we may share with others what we know first hand. If we are committed to obediently following Jesus, He will lead us in powerful ways, and we will see His mighty hand as it moves.

Closing Word

A short time in the near future, many of us will have the opportunity to show our faith to those around us in a real and tangible way. For some, this special gift will not present a problem, while for others, there will be a great struggle. For even others, there will be failure. What is this opportunity that is even now close at hand?

We are speaking of a blatant wide spread persecution of Christians in the so called 'religiously free western world.' The difference between those who honor the Lord and those who deface Him is whether they have truly died in Christ. Those who are truly crucified in Christ Jesus have died already and have nothing to fear from those that can only kill the body.(23) The Lord willing, we will share more on this subject in a future letter. For now we hope and pray that you will prayerfully prepare your hearts for the coming persecution.

Let us now search for the crucified life, the life filled with the Joy of the Lord, let us seek the 'good way.'(24)

© 1999 - 2016 Anthony & Gretchen Barbieri - All rights reserved.


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The following is a list of the references used in the writing above. All scriptures are taken from the King James Version.

  1. II Corinthians 10:12
  2. Proverbs. 14:12, Proverbs 16:25
  3. John 14:6
  4. Matthew 16:24-26
  5. Romans 6:3-8
  6. Matthew 7:21-23, Matthew 25:12, Luke 13:23-30
  7. Galatians 2:20-21
  8. Romans 12:1-3
  9. Romans 6:8, Romans. 8:9-11, Galatians. 4:19
  10. Matthew 22:37-40
  11. John 12:20-22
  12. I John 4:17
  13. Mark 16:17-18, Matthew 17:18-21
  14. Acts 17:6
  15. Acts 2:14-37
  16. Acts 7:1-60
  17. Jeremiah 4:3-4, Hosea 10:12
  18. II Corinthians 5:17
  19. Psalms 29:1-2, Hebrews 13:15
  20. Luke 12:22-31
  21. John 14:26, I Kings 19:9-13
  22. Luke 10:39-42
  23. Luke 12:4-5
  24. Jeremiah 6:16