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The Baptism of Love by Francis Frangipane

The Baptism of Love by Francis Frangipane
By Francis Frangipane

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It is hard for us in this anxious, fearful age to quiet our souls and actually dwell upon God in our hearts. We can engage ourselves with Bible study or other acts of obedience. In varying degrees we know how to witness, exhort and bless. We know how to analyze these things and even perfect them. But to lift our souls above the material world and consciously ponder on God Himself seems beyond the reach of our Christian experience.

To Dwell Upon God

Yet, to actually grasp the substance of God is to enter a spiritual place of immunity; it is to receive into our spirits the victory Christ won for us, which is oneness with God in Christ.

Thus we cannot content ourselves merely with the tasks we are called to perform. Ultimately we will discover that study and church attendance are but forms which have little satisfaction in and of themselves. These activities must become what the Lord has ordained them to be: means through which we seek and find God. Our pleasure will be found not in the mechanics of spiritual disciplines, but that these disciplines bring us closer to God.

Paul’s cry was, “That I may know Him!” (Phil. 3:10). It was this desire to know Jesus that produced Paul’s knowledge of salvation, church order, evangelism and end-time events. Out of his heart’s passion to know God came revelation, the writing of Scriptures and knowledge of the Eternal. Paul’s knowledge was based upon his experience with Christ.

On the other hand, we have contented ourselves not with seeking the face of God, but with studying the facts of God. We are satisfied with a religion about Christ without the reality of Christ.

The Bible is the historical record of man’s experiences with the Almighty. Out of personal encounters people had with the living God, our theological perspectives have developed. But knowledge about God is only the first step toward entering the presence of God. As much as the Bible is a book of truths, it is also a map to God. As Christians, we study and debate the map yet too often fail to make the journey.

Love Surpasses Knowledge

There is a place greater than knowledge; it is a simple, yet eternally profound place where we actually abide in Christ’s love. This is, indeed, the shelter of the Most High. Remember the apostle’s prayer was that we each would “know the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:19). As important as knowledge is, that verse tells us love “surpasses knowledge.” Doctrinal knowledge is the framework, the vehicle, that opens the door toward divine realities, but love causes us to be “filled up to all the fullness of God” (v. 19).

There is a dwelling place of love that God desires us to enter. It is a place where our knowledge of God is fulfilled by the substance of God. The Amplified Bible’s rendering states:

“May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, that you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; [that you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!” (Eph. 3:17-19)

Is this not our goal, to be rooted deeply in love, to grasp the breadth, length, height and depth of God’s love; and to know for ourselves the deep, personal love of Christ? Can any goal be more wonderful? Indeed, to be filled and flooded with God Himself is the very hope of the gospel!

You see, God cannot truly be known without, in some way, also being experienced. If you had never seen a sunrise or a starry night sky, could any description substitute for your own eyes beholding the expansive beauty? Awe comes from seeing and encountering, not merely from knowing that somewhere a beautiful sky exists.

Likewise, to truly know God we must seek Him until we pass through the outer, informational realm about God and actually find for ourselves the living presence of the Lord Himself. This is the “upward call” of God in Christ Jesus. It draws us through our doctrines into the immediacy of the divine presence. The journey leaves us in the place of transcendent surrender, where we listen to His voice and, from listening, ascend into His love.

The earth’s last great move of God shall be distinguished by an outpouring from Christ of irresistible desire for His people. To those who truly yearn for His appearing there shall come, in ever-increasing waves, seasons of renewal from the presence of the Lord (see Acts 3:19-21). Intimacy with Christ shall be restored to its highest level since the first century.

The Baptism of Love

Many on the outside of this move of God as well as those touched and healed by it will look and marvel: “How did these common people obtain such power?” They will see miracles similar to when Jesus Christ walked the earth. Multitudes will be drawn into the valley of decision. For them, the kingdom of God will be at hand.

But for those whom the Lord has drawn to Himself, there will be no mystery as to how He empowered them. Having returned to the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ, they will have received the baptism of love.

Is this possible, my Lord? Is it true that I might know the love of God that surpasses all knowledge? O God, I seek to know You, to live in the substance of Your love. For Your love is the shelter of my protection. Help me, Master, to recognize Your love, not as a divine emotion, but as Your very substance! Help me to see that it was neither Pilate nor Satan that put You on the cross; it was love alone to which You succumbed. Remind me again that it is Your love that still intercedes for me even now.

Francis Frangipane

www.frangipane.org

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Two Things, Two Things Only by Francis Frangipane

Two Things, Two Things Only by Francis Frangipane
By Francis Frangipane

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There are so many things to occupy our minds: so many books, so many examples, so many good teachings that deserve our attention, that say, “Here is a truth.” But as I have been serving the Lord these past years, He has led me to seek for two things and two things only: to know the heart of God in Christ and to know my own heart in Christ’s light.

Knowing the Heart of God

I have been seeking God, searching to know Him and the depth of His love toward His people. I want to know Christ’s heart and the compassions that motivate Him. The Scriptures are plain: Jesus loved people. Mark’s gospel tells us that after Jesus taught and healed the multitudes, they became hungry. In His compassion, Christ saw them as “sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34). It was not enough for Him to heal and teach them; He personally cared for each of them. Their physical well-being, even concerning food, was important to Him.

A lad with five loaves and two fish provided enough for Jesus to work another miracle, but this miracle had to come through Christ’s willing but bone-weary body. Consider: Christ brought His disciples out to rest, “for there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat” (Mark 6:31).

Consider: Jesus personally had come to pray and be strengthened, for John the Baptist, Jesus’ forerunner, had been beheaded earlier that very week at the hands of Herod. It was in the state of being emotionally and physically depleted that Jesus fed the multitudes—not just once or twice but over and over again: “He kept giving [the bread and the fish] to the disciples to set before them” (v. 41).

Thousands of men, women and children all “ate and were satisfied” (v. 42). Oh, the heart of Jesus! The miracle was for them, but we read of no miracle sustaining Him except the marvelous wonder of a holy love that continually lifted His tired hands with more bread and more fish. Out of increasing weakness He repeatedly gave that others might be renewed.

So, if my quest is to know Him, I must recognize this about Him: Jesus loves people—all people, especially those society ignores. Therefore I must know exactly how far He would travel for men, for that is the same distance He would journey again through me. Indeed, I must know His thoughts concerning illness, poverty and human suffering. As His servant, I am useless to Him unless I know these things. If I would actually do His will, I must truly know His heart. Therefore, in all my study and times of prayer I am seeking more than just knowledge; I am searching for the heart of God.

Knowing Our Hearts

At the same time, as I draw closer to the heart of God, the very fire of His presence begins a deep purging work within me. In the vastness of His riches, my poverty appears. The psalmist wrote, “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully.” (Ps. 24:3-4)

We cannot even find the hill of the Lord, much less ascend it, if there is deceit in our heart. How does one serve in God’s holy place if his soul is unclean? It is only the pure in heart who perceive God. To ascend toward God is to walk into a furnace of truth where falsehood is extracted from our souls. To abide in the holy place we must dwell in honesty, even when a lie might seem to save us. Each ascending step upon the hill of God is a thrusting of our souls into greater transparency, a more perfect view into the motives of our hearts.

It is this upward call of God that we pursue. Yet the soul within us is hidden, crouching in fear and darkness, living in a world of untruths and illusions. This is our inner man, the soul God seeks to save. Have you discovered your true self, the inner person whom truth alone can free? Yes, we seek holiness, but true holiness arises from here; it comes as the Spirit of Truth unveils the hidden places in our hearts. Indeed, it is truthfulness which leads to holiness.

God, Grant us a Zeal for Truth that We May Stand in Your Holy Place!

Men everywhere presume they know the “truth,” but they have neither holiness nor power in their lives. Truth must become more than historical doctrine; it must be more than a museum of religious artifacts—mementos from when God once moved. Truth is knowing God’s heart as it was revealed in Christ, and it is knowing our own hearts in the light of God’s grace.

As members of the human race, we are shrouded in ignorance. Barely do we know our world around us; even less do we know the nature of our own souls. Without realizing it, as we search for God’s heart, we are also searching for our own. For it is only in finding Him that we discover ourselves, for we are “in Him.”

Yet throughout that searching process, as I position my heart before the Lord, it is with a sense of trembling that I pray the prayer of King David: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”(Ps. 139:23-24)

Let us wash the cosmetics from our souls and look at the unadorned condition of our hearts. I know God has created us eternally complete and perfect in Christ. I believe that. But in the first three chapters of John’s Revelation, Jesus did not tell the churches they were “perfect in His eyes.” No! He revealed to them their true conditions; He told them their sins. Without compromise, He placed on them the demand to be overcomers, each in their own unique and difficult circumstance.

Like them, we must know our need. And like them, the souls we want saved dwell here, in a world system structured by lies, illusions and rampant corruption. Our old natures are like well-worn shoes into which we relax; we can be in the flesh instantly without even realizing it. The enemies that defeat us are hidden and latent within us! Thus the Holy Spirit must expose our foes before we can conquer them!

Concerning man’s nature, the prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9)  Quoting another of David’s prayers, a similar cry is heard: “Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me; then I will be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression.” (Ps. 19:12-13)

There may be errors inside of us that are actually ruling us without our awareness. Do we realize, for instance, how many of our actions are manipulated purely by vanity and the desire to be seen or accepted by others? Are we aware of the fears and apprehensions that unconsciously influence so many of our decisions? We may have serious flaws inside yet still be either too proud or too insecure to admit we need help.

Concerning ourselves, we think so highly of what we know so little!

Even outwardly, though we know our camera pose, do we know how we appear when we are laughing or crying, eating or sleeping, talking or angry? The fact is, most of us are ignorant of how we appear outwardly to others; much less do we know ourselves inwardly before God! Our fallen thinking processes automatically justify our actions and rationalize our thoughts. Without the Holy Spirit, we are nearly defenseless against our own innate tendencies toward self-deception.

Therefore, if we would be holy, we must first renounce falsehood. In the light of God’ grace, having been justified by faith and washed in the sacrificial blood of Jesus, we need not pretend to be righteous. We need only to become truthful.

No condemnation awaits our honesty of heart—no punishment. We have only to repent and confess our sins to have them forgiven and cleansed; if we will love the truth, we will be delivered from sin and self-deception. Indeed, we need to know two things and two things only: the heart of God in Christ and our own hearts in Christ’s light.

Francis Frangipane

www.frangipane.org


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The Nectar of His Love by Francis Frangipane

The Nectar of His Love by Francis Frangipane
By Francis Frangipane

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The return of Christ is not simply a war story, it is a love story. We read of Christ’s love, we accept the doctrinal veracity of His promise, yet how differently we would be both in faith and action if we truly lived in the fullness of His love!

In his letter to the Ephesians, chapter 3, Paul prayed that church would “be strengthened with power through [God’s] Spirit in [our] inner man.” This inner empowerment is not only so we might endure but so“Christ may dwell in [our] hearts through faith; and that [we], being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that [we] may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”Ephesians 3:17-19

We read the scriptures, but they may seem like just words or poetry. Yet, truly they are so full, so rich, it is hard to assimilate them. Look at just verse 19 as rendered in the Amplified Bible.

[That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!

This is God’s will for us, not only now, but ever more intensely as we approach the End Times. He prays that we would be “filled through all [our] being unto all the fullness of God.” What does that mean – all the fullness? What should we expect when we truly “have the richest measure of the divine Presence”? What is this eternal nectar, this incomprehensible love, that enables us to “become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself”!

A Prophetic Love Story

If God’s love is truly for us, carrying us into the depths of His heart, then how shall we respond? I am thinking of Mary Magdalene’s love for Jesus. Yes, here in the love Jesus has for Mary and in her response, we see flashes of Christ’s love for the church. Mary is at Jesus’ empty tomb. The apostles came, looked into the sepulcher, and went away bewildered. But Mary lingered, weeping.

It is noteworthy that Jesus did not immediately come to the apostles; He came first to a woman. It tells us Jesus responds to love more than position; He comes first to those who want Him most. The apostles went away wondering, but there was something in Mary’s inconsolably broken heart that Jesus Himself was drawn to.

In her sorrow she did not recognize Him. He said, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”   Blinded by her tears, she supposes Jesus is the gardener.  “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni,” (which means, Teacher).  Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” John 20:15-17

The instant Mary sees the Lord she clings to Him. And here is the most astounding event: Christ interrupted His ascent into heaven to answer this woman’s love! Jesus said, “Stop clinging to Me….I have not yet ascended.” In His next appearance, Jesus appears to the disciples. He tells them, “Touch me.” For Mary, He broke protocol. In whatever He meant in saying, “I have not yet ascended,” He stopped His progression to be with her!

I am staggered by this response of Christ to Mary’s longing! This is the nature of His love. His passion for His bride rules His every thought and action! We are the “joy set before Him” (Heb. 12:2). For us, He endured the anguish of the cross. In so doing, Jesus demonstrated that His love for the church is the highest, most powerful law of His kingdom!

It is His passion for the church that compels Him to come for us in His second coming. Yet, as He broke protocol for Mary, so He reveals His heart to us. If we will be satisfied with nothing less than Christ, it is Christ we shall possess. He will come to us. Of all the marvels in this universe, the greatest is the love Christ has for His church.

Francis Frangipane

www.frangipane.org


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The Staff of God by Francis Frangipane

The Staff of God by Francis Frangipane
By Francis Frangipane

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Imagine a church staff where each person’s primary vision is to attain Christlikeness. Picture working with this group of people: not only do they each fulfill their responsibilities, but they are also earnestly walking in both Christ’s humility and also His redemptive view of life. Add to these virtues that they are committed to unoffendable unity in their relationships. Is there any doubt that with such a team God could change the world?

Before you say the above is impossible, I’m actually describing my staff. While none of us is perfect, and we still have to match individual gifts correctly with ministry needs, the compelling vision for each person is to become Christlike.

It wasn’t always this way. We have had our share of misunderstandings and immaturity. We even suffered a couple times from “staff infection.” Over the decades, however, we have learned some things that are invaluable in creating both vision and right attitudes.

In Ancient Times

According to the dictionary, a staff is “a group of assistants to a manager, executive, or other person in authority” (The American Heritage® Dictionary). However, originally a staff was not a team of people but a strong, straight branch that was cut from a tree and sanded smooth. Upon this staff a traveler would lean as he walked. The purpose of the staff was for support, balance and also used as a weapon to protect the traveler. From this insight, perhaps we can better understand the genesis of the word staff and how a spiritual staff can provide strength, balance and protection for a leader.

Of course, when we talk about leader/staff relationships, the leader must first be passionate about personal conformity to Christ. Obviously, the leader will not be perfect, but he or she should be sincerely reaching for Christlikeness. A leader, by definition, is someone whom others follow. The more clearly leaders demonstrate that their life goal is conformity to Jesus, the more they will inspire their staff to follow them.

Amazing Power in a Godly Staff

Yet, there is further insight into the power of a Christlike staff. Remember when the Almighty appeared to Moses in the burning bush? The Lord told Moses to cast his staff to the ground. Immediately, the staff turned into a dangerous snake from which Moses fled. Rather than being the leader’s protector, it had become his enemy. My first point is this: if a staff has not been touched by God to serve a particular leader—if it still harbors jealousy and selfish ambition (see James 3:16) — then it has the capacity to suddenly turn into a serpent.

However, in the above story the Lord told Moses to pick up the serpent, and as he did, it returned again to being a staff. When we lay our staff at the feet of God, that staff will be different when the Lord tells us to lift it again. When God gives you the staff He has chosen, there will be supernatural power accompanying it. In fact, listen to what the Lord said to Moses: “You shall take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.” (Ex. 4:17)

The Holy Spirit placed an anointing upon Moses’ staff and with the staff he worked miracles. Repeatedly we see in the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt that it wasn’t Moses alone that released miracles; the signs and wonders came through his staff. Moses pointed the staff, struck the waters with the staff, and waved it up at the sky; the staff was the instrument through which divine power manifest!

Not only that, but from that point on Moses’ staff was called by an additional name. It was now called the “staff of God” (Ex. 4:20; 17:9).

Oh, I pray this is a revelation to your heart! It is not enough for a man or woman of God to be anointed—their staff must become the staff of God. And there is no greater means to fulfilling the purpose of God than when a leader and staff all choose to pursue conformity to Christ.

Again I assure you, no one on my staff is even halfway perfect (least of all me). However, everyone has been through In Christ’s Image Training, where the clarity of attaining Christlikeness has become our common goal.

It is time to focus upon the high calling of God for our churches, which is nothing less than “to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15). Regardless of how successful your ministry has been in the past, imagine the success that awaits you with a staff united in their pursuit of Christ’s likeness: the staff of God!

Francis Frangipane

www.frangipane.org


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Becoming a People of Mercy by Francis Frangipane

Becoming a People of Mercy by Francis Frangipane
By Francis Frangipane

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Throughout His life, Jesus reached to those rejected by others. He loved the outcasts, those who were despised, scorned, and excluded. Yet His practice of dining with known evildoers offended the Pharisees, and they confronted Jesus’ disciples with this question: “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners?” (Matt. 9:11)

When Jesus heard their question, He answered, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matt. 9:12-13)

Jesus told the religious Pharisees to go and learn what our heavenly Father meant when He said, “I desire compassion [mercy], and not sacrifice.” So many today are religious without being compassionate. Compassion in the Greek language means a “yearning in the bowels.” It is something that cannot be easily ignored.

You see, a religion without love is an abomination to God. The church needs to learn that God desires love and compassion, not merely an adherence to ritual and sacrifice.

It is right that we should be troubled by the sins of our nation. But we must remember, all nations sin. All cultures have seasons of moral decline and spiritual malaise. Yet these periods can become turning points if, in times of distress, leaders and intercessors cry to the Lord for mercy. Thus, Christ-like prayer brings redemption out of disaster.

Mercy, Not Wrath

The church was created not to fulfill God’s wrath, but to complete His mercy. True prayer is born of love and comes in the midst of sin and need. It comes not to condemn, but to cover.

Jesus said His Father’s house would be a “house of prayer for all the nations” (Mark 11:17). Consider passionately this phrase: “prayer for.” Jesus taught His disciples to “pray for” those who would persecute or mistreat them (Matt. 5:44). When Job “prayed for” his friends (Job 42:10), God fully restored him. We are to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps. 122:6), and “pray for” each other so that we may be healed (James 5:16). Paul wrote that God “desires all men to be saved” (1 Tim. 2:4). Therefore, he urged “that entreaties and prayers be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority.” (vv. 1-2)

The nature of our calling is to pray for people in difficulty, in sin, in sickness, and in need of God.

Conformed to the Lamb of God

 

Consider this: the only being in all the universe worthy to “open the book” and release God’s wrath on sin is the very One in all the universe least likely to do so. His commitment to man’s redemption was a total sacrifice, an offering that abides eternally at God’s throne. Yes, He is the lion of the tribe of Judah, but He is also the Lamb slain for men’s sins. He is the only One to whom authority is given to open the book of divine wrath (see Rev. 5).

Because Christ paid the highest price for redemption, we can be confident that He will not release divine fury until He fully exhausts divine mercy. Even then, when His judgments finally come, they will continue to be guided by His motive of mercy, giving time for sinners to repent.

God’s Word tells us plainly: “As He is, so also are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17) Our pattern is the Lamb. Our goal is not merely the exposure of sin, but also the unveiling of the sacrifice for sin. Our great commission is to bring healing and the message of God’s mercy to the nations. Until Christ breaks the seals that ultimately will lead to wrath, we must stand in intercession before God as ambassadors of the Lamb.

May the Lord give us a clear vision of this truth: intercession is the essence of Christ’s life. Not only is He now at the right hand of the Father interceding for us (Rom. 8:34), but His coming to earth and dying for sins was one extended act of intercession. Jesus beheld the depravity of mankind’s sin. He examined it carefully in all of its offensiveness, perversity, and repulsiveness. Yes, He rebuked it when necessary, but the wonder of the Gospel is that, in spite of mankind’s sin, God so deeply loved the world that He sent His Son to die for us (John 3:16-17).

We are called to follow this same amazing pattern of mercy.

We are not minimizing sin when we maximize Christ’s mercy. There is a difference between whitewashing sin and blood washing it. The reality that compels God’s heart—that is an underlying principle of life – is “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). To live a life of mercy corresponds perfectly with God’s heart. Mercy precisely fulfills the divine purpose: to transform man into the Redeemer’s image.

Francis Frangipane

www.frangipane.org


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One of You is a Gossip by Francis Frangipane

One of You Is a Gossip by Francis Frangipane
By Francis Frangipane

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A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends. – Proverbs 16:28

Jesus made a remarkable statement concerning Judas: “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?  Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.” (John 6:70-71 NASB)

To what was Jesus referring when He identified Judas Iscariot as “a devil”? Was He speaking figuratively or factually? Is Jesus saying that a human being could not only have an evil spirit living in his soul, but that a person could actually become a demon?

Some teach that Judas had become so perfectly possessed by Satan that he actually lost his humanity. Before we accept this interpretation, let us remember that after this fallen apostle delivered Jesus up, he felt such remorse for betraying Christ that he committed suicide. Could a demon feel such remorse for sin? I do not think so.

What I believe Jesus is identifying in Judas Iscariot as a “devil” is something that, today, exists unchecked among many Christians: slander. In the New Testament the Greek word diabolos, which is translated “devil” in this text, is translated impersonally elsewhere as a “false accuser,” “slanderer” or “malicious gossip.” In fact, 1Timothy 3:11 and 2 Timothy 3:3 both translate diabolos (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, #1228) as “malicious gossip(s).”

In other words, Jesus is not saying “one of you is a devil” in an organic or theological sense, but that one of you is “a slanderer, a malicious gossip.” So while the disciples were almost bragging about their loyalty to Christ, Jesus corrected them, in effect saying, “Yes, I chose you, but even among you there is one who is a malicious gossip, whose words will eventually betray Me to My enemies.”

Gossip in the Last Days

This problem of gossip in the Church, Paul tells us, will continue right into the end of the age. Listen carefully to what Paul wrote to Timothy about the last days: “Men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips” (2 Tim. 3:2-3), and the list goes on. In the midst of this list of great sins of the apostasy, the apostle includes “malicious gossips.” This is the exact same word translated “devil” in John 6:70.

Perhaps you know people who always have something negative to say about others, who always bring negative information about people into their conversations. I pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal to us how “malicious gossip” is kin to the nature of Satan himself!

The Scriptures say that we will be justified or condemned by our words. Yes, our words—even those spoken in secret with a spouse or friend about others—are used by God to measure our obedience to His will. James writes, “If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man.” (James 3:2)

Words have power. Scripture reveals that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21). Our words, expressed as a confession of faith, bring us into salvation; but words without faith can lead us and others with us into destruction and heartache.

James 3:8 warns, “The tongue . . . is a restless evil . . . full of deadly poison.” “The tongue,” he says, “is a fire, the very world of iniquity” (v. 6). And James reveals a most profound thought: “The tongue . . . sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell” (v. 6).

Satan gains access to our world, to destroy all that is good and holy in it, through our tongues. The very course of our life, the direction and quality of our earthly existence, is “set on fire by hell” through the words we speak. If we talk negatively about someone or maliciously gossip, the destructive fire of hell itself is released through our words. Lord, help us to understand the power of our words!

I believe God wants to break the power of gossip and negative speaking from the Church. We may have a perfect analysis of what is wrong and why it is evil, yet if all we do is talk about it, we have yet to disavow our allegiance to hell. God calls us to be a house of prayer for all nations—a spiritual community that is mature, fully capable of seeing what is wrong, but positioning itself to release redemption into the world.

If Paul Visited Your Community

Imagine if the apostle Paul came into a typical American city. Do you know what he might say about our divisions? Probably what he told the Corinthians: “I am afraid that perhaps when I come . . . there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances.” (2 Cor. 12:20)

Does that remind you of any churches anywhere? Strife? Jealousy? Slander and gossip? How can we approach God with these things existing in us? I believe God desires to give the Church a whole new approach. But we cannot lay hold of the future unless we first let go of the past.

Perhaps you are thinking, “So and so should hear this.” Yes, but we must start with ourselves. Pastors must stop talking negatively about people; they need to refrain from “leaking” problems with people into their sermons. Intercessors must stop negative gossip about the people for whom they should be praying. If we discuss what is wrong for ten minutes, let us pray for redemption for twenty.

Judge Not

How do you respond to life’s imperfections? Do you gossip? When you hear of someone’s failure, are you quick to spread the news? If Jesus was looking at the Christians with whom you fellowship, would He say to you what He spoke to His early apostles, that “one of you is a malicious gossip?”

Even if you are not a gossip or slanderer, you must be careful to avoid “fellowship” with gossips. Criticisms incubate. Paul warned that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6). If we walk with the wise, we will become wise, but if we open our hearts to the cynical and critical, then we become like them. That is why Jesus said we were to “take heed” to what we hear. For whatever we intently focus upon, we absorb in abundance (see Mark 4:24).

Thus, we must not even listen to gossip. When God shows us what is wrong in life, it is so we can pray for redemption, not spread the bad news all over town. Prayer has a positive focus. People with Christ’s love have a spiritual vision that causes them to see beyond the imperfections and limitations of the present world into the potential awaiting in the future—and they pray until what they see comes to pass.

Remember: None of us stands perfectly upright. Every time we judge someone, we position ourselves to be judged as well. Indeed, we each continually lean in the direction of our weakness. Only by the grace of God are we kept from falling. The moment we begin to self-righteously judge or gossip about another for their failings, we lean a little closer toward our own fall.

Our actions and words should be motivated by mercy. If we must discuss the situation or individual, let us harbor no malice or ill will. Let redemption be our guide, not revenge. Let us keep ourselves from becoming those who betray the working of Christ on earth. Let us keep ourselves from the realm of the malicious gossip.

Lord, purify my lips with fire from Your holy altar. Father, forgive me for my words that have not always been redemptive. Lord, deliver the Church from the realm of spreading gossip to the work of spreading grace. Help us to be a house of prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Francis Frangipane

www.frangipane.org


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The Gift of Discernment by Francis Frangipane

The Gift of Discernment by Francis Frangipane
By Francis Frangipane

If we will move in true discernment, our view of life must be purged of human thoughts and reactions. We must perceive life through the eyes of Christ.

To Discern, You Cannot Judge

We will never possess true discernment until we crucify our instincts to judge. Realistically, this can take months or even years of uprooting old thought-systems that have not been planted in the divine soil of faith and love for people. To appropriate the discernment that is in the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16), we must first find the heart of Christ. The heart and love of Jesus is summed up in His own words: “I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.”(John 12:47)

Spiritual discernment is the grace to see into the unseen. It is a gift of the Spirit to perceive the realm of the spirit. Its purpose is to understand the nature of that which is veiled. However, the first veil that must be removed is the veil over our own hearts. For the capacity to see into that which is in another’s heart comes from Christ revealing that which is in our own hearts. Before He reveals the sin of another, Jesus demands we grasp our own deep need of His mercy. Thus, out of the grace that we have received, we can compassionately minister grace to others. We will know thoroughly that the true gift of discernment is not a faculty of our minds.

Christ’s goal is to save, not judge. We are called to navigate the narrow and well-hidden path into the true nature of men’s needs. If we would truly help men, we must remember, we are following a Lamb.

This foundation must be laid correctly, for in order to discern, you cannot react. To perceive, you must make yourself blind to what seems apparent. People may react to you, but you cannot react to them. You must always remain forgiving in nature, for the demons you cast out will challenge you, masquerading as the very voice of the person you seek to deliver. You must discern the difference between the oppressing spirit and the person oppressed.

Thus, Jesus prepared His disciples to be proactive in their forgiveness. Using Himself as their example, He taught, “Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him.” (Luke 12:10)  Jesus prepared His heart to forgive men before they ever sinned against Him. He knew His mission was to die for men, not condemn them.

Likewise, we are called to His mission as well. In His prayer to the Father, Jesus said, “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them.” (John 17:18) We are called to die that others may live. Therefore, we must realize that before our perception develops, our love must mature until our normal attitude is one of forgiveness. Should God reveal to us the hearts of men and then call us to release them from captivity, we cannot react to what they say. As our perception becomes more like Christ Himself and the secrets of men’s hearts are revealed to us, we cannot even react to what they think.

If we do not move in divine forgiveness, we will walk in much deception. We will presume we have discernment when, in truth, we are seeing through the veil of a critical spirit. We must know our weaknesses, for if we are blind to our sins, what we assume we discern in men will merely be the reflection of ourselves. Indeed, if we do not move in love, we will actually become a menace to the body of Christ.

This is exactly what Jesus taught when He said:

Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. – Matthew 7:1-5

Repentance is the removal of the “logs” within our vision; it is the true beginning of seeing clearly. There are many who suppose they are receiving the Lord’s discernment concerning one thing or another. Perhaps in some things they are; only God knows. But many are simply judging others and calling it discernment. Jesus commanded us to judge not. The same eternal hand that wrote the Law on stones in the old covenant is writing the law of the kingdom on tablets of flesh today. This word to “not judge” (by “outer appearance”) is just as immutable as His Ten Commandments. It is still God speaking.

The Goal is to See Clearly

The judgmental carnal mind always sees the image of itself in others. Without realizing it is seeing itself, it assumes it is perceiving others. Jesus refers to the person who judges as a “hypocrite.” The Lord is not saying we should totally stop thinking about people. He wants us to be able to help one another. The emphasis in Jesus’ command to “not judge” is summarized in His concluding remark: “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” The way we help is not by judging but by seeing clearly. And we do not see clearly until we have been through deep and thorough repentance, until the instinct to judge after the flesh is uprooted.

We have seen that Jesus paralleled speaking to people about their sins with taking specks out of their eyes. The eye is the most tender, most sensitive part of the human body. How do you take a speck out of someone’s eye? Very carefully! First, you must win their trust. This means consistently demonstrating an attitude that does not judge, one that will not instinctively condemn. To help others, we must see clearly.

If you seek to have a heart that does not condemn, you must truly crucify your instinct to judge. Then you will have laid a true foundation for the gift of discernment, for you will have prepared your heart to receive the dreams, visions and insights from God. You will be unstained by human bias and corruption.

Francis Frangipane

www.frangipane.org