As you are aware by now we are praying for the power of the Holy Spirit to return to the church. Jesus told His disciples to wait and be clothed with power from on High; they waited and they were clothed at Pentecost. We have been talking about the miracles of Jesus and we have seen that power was also and is available to all who believe so that His disciples will go and do as He did. When talking about the power, we usually think of healing, miracles and casting out demons. We saw that with Jesus Matthew 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them” and with His disciples. Acts 5:16 “Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.” That was the power that was made available to the church yet the church today is powerless due to disobedience.
This chapter following Pentecost also shows us something that is missing in the church and that is truth. Jesus promised us the Spirit of truth. He said, John 4:23 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” John 15:26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.” John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” As I talked about on Sunday, when you do not adhere to the words of Jesus, you are rejecting Him. John tells us Jesus said John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” When you talk about Jesus you must speak truth because He is truth. John goes on to say 15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” God does not dwell with those who deny Him by disobeying His words. When God dwells among us, that means Jesus and the Holy Spirit are also with you as we are the temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”
So what happened when the Spirit of truth was present among His disciples? Acts 2:1 “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” It wasn’t just the gift of tongues that they were filled with. Peter stood up a changed man and spoke the word of the Lord without fear. Then we have this summary Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” This happened just as Jesus said it would. Mark 16:20 “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Acts 3:6 “Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.” Acts 4:13 “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.” Then again we have this summary of the early church (when I say the early church I mean the one Jesus started, the one with power and authority, the way it was supposed to be) Acts 4:32 “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”
We then see an example of those who sold their possessions and put the money at the Apostles feet. Acts 4:36 “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.” Today many who do this want credit, maybe their name on a building or some form of recognition. Most in North America want a tax receipt for charitable giving. Here’s a question for you. Will you still give if you don’t get one? I find it interesting that many of these churches that are rebelling against the government enjoy their charitable status. Some even received money from the government during this pandemic. Our church stopped giving receipts because God can bless far more than the government can. Okay back to selling property. This example from Barnabas showed us the right way. Then we see a couple who decided to lie instead. Acts 5:1 “Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” 9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.”
So what was the difference? All they had to do was tell the truth but they lied and said they gave all the money they received from the sale of their property. I remember one pastor who told me their church received a donation from a member who had defrauded the insurance company. He gave the extra materials to be used at the church. They then expected God to bless them? This couple kept money for themselves but made it look like they did just as Barnabas did. This is another aspect of the Holy Spirit that is missing in the church today. There was so much power flowing from the presence of God in their midst that when this man lied, he died instantly. Yes we want that power to return and yes we should be afraid. When the power of the Holy Spirit is present, we will also be able to see when someone is lying to us. Peter said “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?” Then the same happened to his wife because she had full knowledge of the scheme. She too lied and Peter said how could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord?” She too died just like here husband.
Yes we are praying that the power of the Holy Spirit will return but remember we are talking about the Spirit of truth. Ask yourself how many people in church today would be dead in the presence of this kind of power because they lie? People in today’s church have absolutely no fear of God but noticed after Ananias died “great fear seized all who heard what had happened.” Then after his wife died, “great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.” Notice that after this passage we see Acts 5:12 “The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people.” We saw the same in Acts 19:13 “Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. 17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.” The church must fear God once again.
Imagine with me what the church would be like if events like this were to happen again today. Remember this is the New Testament and just as all these miracles are possible, the accountability in the presence of the Spirit of truth is also possible. I have been following some of the churches in California that are rebelling against the government’s health orders. Setting aside their teaching of terrible theology, you have ministers of the gospel lying to their congregations and you have some very gullible congregations. On Sunday I listened briefly to one minister start his sermon with conspiracy theories and flat out lies about the pandemic and then he started to preach. Another one I heard lied about what was happening to the Canadian minister who was in jail for breaking the health regulations. He wasn’t in jail for preaching the gospel. I have heard them brag about their churches growth during the pandemic while they spin their lies. They think they will get away with it but they will not. Jeremiah 5:2 “They have lied about the Lord; they said, “He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine. 13 The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them; so let what they say be done to them.”
Then if you include all the false teachers, apostles, prophets, preachers and evangelists and the lies they tell, you have a desolate church where there is no truth. As Daniel said Daniel 8:12 “Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.” The truthless church is already here. Isaiah 59:15 “Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.” Jeremiah 5:31 “The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” Micah 3:9 “Hear this, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of Israel, who despise justice and distort all that is right; 10 who build Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with wickedness. 11 Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, “Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.” God says otherwise. 12 Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble.”
Where there are lies, satan rules. John 8:44 “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Some churches have been caught in their lies but not all of them and their day is coming. You have churches like Willowcreek and their pastor Bill Hybills, or Carl Lentz of Hillsong, Ravi Zacharias of RZIM, and a whole list of others. They stood in the pulpits and carried on as if they were actually servants of Jesus Christ but really belonged to their father the devil. This is what happens in the powerless church where men and woman continue to go their own way. Then you have those who have not committed these kinds of moral failures but are teaching untruths from the pulpit. Obviously it is satan behind the doctrines of demons and these doctrines have deceived many. It has to be all truth but as you know all deception has a certain amount of truth to it but it is still completely false. There are going to be those who say they are disciples of Christ and some will even say they are apostles. The apostle part is not the problem but being a false apostle is. Here is the plan for the church. Ephesians 4:1 “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” This was how the church was supposed to operate. What is wrong is they are false apostles. As in counterfeit money, where there is false there must be real to counterfeit from. 1 Timothy 4:1 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” This is happening all over the place. For example one who calls himself an apostle is in Aylmer, Ontario. You can see him on W5 – “A Town Divided” Hildebrandt the pastor who thinks he is an apostle said after this interview, “It's good that they did what they did because it's a lot of free advertising, "He told his devoted churchgoers that he didn't sleep well because he was so 'joyful.”
It is easy to see this church is not a follower of the words of Jesus Christ and are about as close to a cult as you can come. They say they are followers of Christ but all you have to do is listen carefully and observe and you will see they are not. Paul said 2 Corinthians 11:12 “And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” John tells us 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” satan is very good at distorting the words of Jesus. He even tried it on Jesus when he tempted Him in the desert.
It is also important to keep our focus on the truth even when pointing out the false. In Revelations we see this warning to the church of Ephesus. Revelation 2:2 “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” Just as there are false apostles, there are also real apostles and not just those at the beginning of the church. When you look at this church in Aylmer you will see the words apostle, prophets and even Jesus but the words are different especially their anti-government stance and their beliefs on raising children just to name a few. Paul told Timothy 1 Timothy 1:3 “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. 8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.”
Another area the presence of the Spirit of truth will change is with those who are malicious liars. Paul said to Timothy 1 Timothy 6:2 “These are the things you are to teach and insist on. 3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.” We are seeing many robbed of truth so that those who teach can gain financially. God makes it clear. Proverbs 6:16 “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” Proverbs 26:24 “Enemies disguise themselves with their lips, but in their hearts they harbor deceit. 25 Though their speech is charming, do not believe them, for seven abominations (above) fill their hearts. 26 Their malice may be concealed by deception, but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. 27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them. 28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” Proverbs 16:28 “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.” Proverbs 19:5 “A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will not go free.” For those who are malicious and those who gossip they will not get away with it just as Ananias and Sapphira didn’t. Romans 1:28 “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” David tells us those who do evil will be turned back in shame. Psalm 6:8 “Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. 9 The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. 10 All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.”
When you pray for the Holy Spirit to come, make sure you understand the full implications of His coming but keep praying. There will be power, signs, wonders, healing and casting out of demons. We will see what Paul described in 1 Corinthians 14:24 “But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” The church will do as Jesus did and truth will prevail once again. No longer will the people love it when “the prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority.” Instead our teachers will be hidden no more. Isaiah 30:20 “Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.” Malachi 2:5 “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. 7 “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth.” Malachi 3:6 “Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. 17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” Revelation 21:6 “He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. John 8:31 “Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”