Truth is a Person

By Francis Frangipane

Over the years we have received many encouraging emails and letters from people who appreciate our call and passion for Christlikeness. We are both thankful and humbled by those who have taken the time to write. On occasion, however, we hear from Christians who have been troubled by criticisms they've read about us (and others) on "attack websites." These sites often exude an air of legitimacy since they focus upon false religions, new age teachers and openly heretical doctrines. Yet, many of these sites also aggressively misrepresent and attack true Christians as well.

Who are their targets? The fact is, if you open an Internet search engine (such as Yahoo, Ask or Google), type in the name of a well-known Christian leader, and then add the words "false teacher" next to his or her name, as fast as you say, "Oh no!" you will likely find a number of sites that openly, and often viciously, attack that leader. Frankly, having had my life and teaching repeatedly misrepresented by these attack sites, I would not trust their opinion about any ministry.

As for us, when we hear from a disquieted believer, we usually direct them to our "Statement of Faith" page. Our beliefs square with the Association of Evangelical's statement of faith. (Since the Lausanne Covenant clearly communicates our doctrines, we actually use it to define our spiritual positions: Statement of Faith). We also adhere to the truths stated in the Apostles' Creed.

This is not to say we've never made a mistake or that all our peripheral doctrines are infallible; each of us in this ministry is still growing and learning. Yet when an attack site fails to list even one good thing about a ministry, you cannot help but believe their goal is not to discern, but to destroy.

Biblical Test of Faith
Yes, there are false teachers in the modern church. But let us remember that throughout history, true Christians have always been accused of heresy. Jesus Himself warned, "Beware when all men speak well of you" (see Luke 6:26). He also taught us to examine the fruit of a prophet. In other words, what kind of life does a ministry inspire in those who ascribe to its teaching?

Yet, beyond our statement of faith, the Bible itself provides a number of fundamental tests to authenticate the soundness of one's doctrines (see the book of 1 John, especially the verses that contain the phrase "by this"). Another important test comes from the apostle Paul. He writes,

"Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you - unless indeed you fail the test?" (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Paul takes all of Christianity and boils it down to one irreplaceable reality: "Jesus Christ is in you." You might be wrong about the timing of the rapture or off concerning spiritual gifts, but you still are a true Christian because you have accepted the living reality of Christ in you!

Do you see this? You are a Christian, not because you said a prayer at an altar, but because when you prayed the Spirit of Jesus Christ actually entered your life! When He promises, "I will never leave you nor forsake you," He means He is with you forever. The devil knows you are a Christian not because you carry a Bible, but because he actually sees Christ's presence burning within you.

It is Christ dwelling in us that produces fruit, works deliverance and manifests power through us. Our living union with Him makes us His temple; our connectedness to Him enlivens us as His body. In the swirl of religious deception in our world, Jesus reduces all we truly need to know about truth and error by focusing us upon Himself. He said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). "Truth," Paul tells us, "is in Jesus" (see Ephesians 4). And when Jesus is in us, He transforms us.

Listen carefully my friends: many of these attack sites do not believe that Christ actually dwells within His people! Of those who accept Christ as dwelling within them, an additional number do not believe we can actually hear from the Lord Jesus! They will accuse you of heresy if you believe you can have a relationship with Jesus Christ! This is in spite of the fact that Jesus affirmed: "My sheep hear My voice" (John 10:27).

Consider also Paul's quest. His magnificent obsession was to know Christ, being conformed to His life and death (Philippians 3:10). Consider also the profound words Paul wrote to the Galatians:

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20).

Paul wrote, "Christ lives in me." The Son of God is not a mere doctrine, He is Emmanuel, "God with us." Eternal life comes from knowing God, and Jesus Christ whom God has sent (John 17:3).

So, when a number of these attack websites posture themselves as "keepers of the true faith," then reject the reality that Jesus Christ lives within His church, they reveal that it is they, in fact, who are walking in deception.

So, in an era of great confusion, we must see truth as a person: Jesus Christ. Everything we need to know about God, heaven, hell, salvation, sin and redemption is centered in Him. We must also apply our hearts in humility and focused faith to become like Him, even as John taught: "The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked" (1 John 2:6).

Eternal life does not come from having a religion about Christ, but from actually knowing Him (see John 17:3). He has purchased our forgiveness, our healing and our well-being. As our Redeemer, He works all things for our good. As our King, He grants us His authority and sends us as His ambassadors. He calls us His body, not just His people, underscoring His oneness with us, and also extending to us His sanctification and righteousness. We are His bride, wooed by His love to His side.

If anyone tries to convince you that Christ does not dwell within His people, remind them of His word: "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him" (John 14:23).

Beloved, truth springs from our oneness with Jesus Christ. The vision of those walking in truth is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 2:27). Warn those who deny the indwelling of Jesus Christ that the test of true faith is the reality that "Jesus Christ is in you" (2 Corinthians 13:5). Yes, remind them truth is a person, not merely a doctrine.

The Harvest is Plentiful

By Francis Frangipane

It is amazing how Jesus stayed riveted upon His life's goals. We never read of Jesus being distracted by the turbulent conditions of the world around Him. Indeed, reaching and saving the lost was always the vivid center of His focus.

I think some of us imagine life in first century Israel was considerably more serene than conditions in our world. In some respects, the times may have been simpler, yet the world of the Messiah was anything but calm. Israel, you'll remember, was an occupied territory. Nationalistic Jews, known as Zealots, were continually either plotting, stirring or launching insurrections against Rome. Israel was, in fact, a brutal and fearful place and violence always simmered beneath the surface.

In addition to the societal upheaval caused by the Zealots, most of Israel's religious leaders were proud, self-satisfied people who had "seated themselves in the chair of Moses" (Matthew 23:2). Under the pretext of "defending the faith," they twisted Christ's doctrine and slandered His character. Christ's ministry was constantly being undermined by their malicious lies.

Thus, the ministry of Jesus Christ emerged in a world made turbulent by fierce, nationalistic zeal and false religious priorities. Political needs were urgent, yet Jesus did not become a politician (John 6:15). Jewish, nationalistic fervor was uncompromising, yet Jesus mustered no militia (John 18:36). Injustice was rampant, however Jesus refused to settle earthly disputes (Luke 12:13-14). Instead, He treated these major needs of His times as though they were incidental issues. He focused on one thing: loving the lost.

Looking past the conflicts, issues and horrors of His times, Jesus directed His disciples to fix their eyes upon the most important issue. He said, "Lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest" (John 4:35).

A disciple of Christ must forever look beyond the urgent need of one's times in order to stay focused on the greatest priority: winning the lost. Beloved, let us look steadfastly into the heart of God, for His heart is ablaze for the lost. As disciples, we must "lift up [our] eyes" beyond the fears and sideshows of life and see what God is looking at: "the fields . . . are white for harvest."

Balance and Focus
If you know me, you know I passionately believe we need to elect godly politicians; we need righteous judges in our land. I believe we need Christians in government - in all places of leadership, really. I am fighting for the rule and influence of God to infiltrate our national leaders. Yet, my primary vision is to attain Christlikeness - and nothing so embodies the nature of Jesus than His quest to redeem the lost.

So, while I encourage men and women to run for office, it is not merely a political move, it is evangelistic: God desires to model in them Christlike leadership, that through them souls might be rescued! Even as we fight and pray on behalf of the unborn and children, I am ever mindful that the greatest weapon I have is to convert the opposition. You see, transformed hearts transform laws. I am after the heart of Christ, and He is after the salvation of man.

The goal is souls, and our weapon is Christ's desire to save and transform sinners.

Jesus said the harvest was not only plentiful, it was ripe. A number of people who were outwardly avowed enemies of God are, even now, inwardly being invaded by grace. My wife recently read a book by Anne Rice called Christ the Lord, Out of Egypt. Previous books by Rice were mainly demonic ventures about vampires and witches. They reeked of darkness. Yet someone was praying for Anne Rice. As a result, irresistible grace began to undermine her arguments against God. Her testimony, which she presents at the back of Out of Egypt, reveals her personal exodus from darkness to behold the glory of God in Christ.

With God, not only are all things possible, but no one is impossible.

So, Jesus said that, in spite of the wars and persecution of His times, the harvest would be massive. Let us ask ourselves, Are we looking at the conflicts of our times or have we heard Christ and lifted our eyes to see the harvest? Indeed, the very best thing we can actually do in light of worldwide conflict is for each of us to win our neighbors to Christ.

Beloved, in spite of the apparent darkness of our world, the times are always right to reach the lost. True, "one sows while another reaps" (John 4:37). Our role may be prayer, not evangelism. But let us be faithful, then, in prayer. For no one is saved who was not first lifted to God in prayer.

How to Pray
In a world rattled by distractions, Jesus gave a succinct focus in prayer. He said,

"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest" (Luke 10:2).

God has already raised up people in businesses, in government, in neighborhoods, in every nation and subculture on earth who are "laborers" in His harvest. If God has raised up a laborer, it is because He has a harvest in that area. However, because the laborers are few, they tend to be overwhelmed and hesitant. "Therefore," Jesus says, "beseech the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers."

There is a power that comes from God, that is released uniquely from prayer, which activates the "send" signal in God's laborers. Thus, we are commanded: "beseech the Lord of the harvest." As we pray, the appointments of God begin to take place, laborers receive supernatural opportunities, and the harvest takes on divine dimensions.

Most of us look at the news and see conflicts, catastrophes and chaos in our world. We are like "deer in the headlines." Let us, even in these times of terrors and wars, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send forth His anointed and powerful laborers! Let them be sent into the Muslim world; let them serve the state of Israel and sit as judges in supreme courts of earth. Let us pray for laborers to walk the hospitals and gather souls in the great byways of life.

When I discuss the great vision of becoming Christlike, at some point that vision must become functional within us. The more we become Christlike, the greater we will be compelled by God for the lost. Let us not lose sight that, even in our world and in these turbulent times, the harvest is still plentiful.

Into a Place of Abundance

By Francis Frangipane

I read recently of a fast, totally electric sports car which is being tested right now in California. The same magazine reported that researchers were testing new drugs and therapies that might cure cancers. A few pages later I also noticed a large software company had released a new "beta" version of its popular product ("beta" means it was still being tested, although it is released on a limited scale).

What do all these various enterprises have in common? Before each product was released to the general public, it had to be repeatedly tested for effectiveness and functionality. Did it do what they projected it to do? Before manufacturers spend a fortune in promotion, they need to know if their product will work outside the lab. So they test it under stressed conditions. Once it passes the tests, then it is released.

A New Creation
God has an idea, a product, in mind for us. He desires to reveal a new species of man, a new creation. At the center of this new man is a Christlike heart. This new man also comes with a heavenly mind and spirit. Even though this new human outwardly looks like the old version of man, yet spiritually its inner mechanisms are entirely different. Yet, the process of releasing the new man to greater authority, require levels of testing. The more tests we pass, the greater God releases us to the general public.

Right now, I would say that most Christians are in the "beta" stage: they are released to a limited group for testing. God desires to see how well what He has created in us works outside of church (the "lab"). These small test groups may consist of co-workers, one's neighborhood or even one's family. But during this time of "limited release" you will go through various tests before being released to the larger, general public.

It is also important to note that when God tests us, He does not descend into our thought-life with a loud public announcement, warning, "This is a test, this is only a test." A true test examines what we are under stress and in real life conditions; it appears in our lives without forewarning that a test is coming. You see, God isn't testing how well we can outwardly look "Christian," He is examining the quality of what we actually are. Even more than possessing right answers, He desires we possess right attitudes and responses. He wants to know if we can function under adverse conditions, spiritual warfare and stress.

Consider Job
Let us underscore this truth about God: He will test the quality of His work in us. Remember the Lord's conversation with Satan? God asked, "Have you considered My servant Job?" The Lord described Job as being unique in all the earth: "a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil" (Job 1:8).

The implication in that question, "have you considered . . . Job," is that God had worked some deep things in his servant and now it was time for this inner transformation to be tested.

Let us also note that Satan had "considered" Job. He had a dossier on him filled with information. When Satan sought to attack Job, the devil couldn't get near him. God had placed "a hedge about [Job] and his house and all that he has, on every side." Probably for many years Satan had examined Job, but couldn't touch him because of the impenetrable protection Job and his family enjoyed. For all the devil tried to do to stop it, God had "blessed the work of [Job's] hands, and his possessions have increased in the land" (vs 10).

Yes, Satan had "considered" Job. We too would do well to consider the story of Job and the revelation it provides us concerning our tests and their outcome.

  • If we walk with God in integrity and intercession, as did Job, we can trust that the normal status of our lives will be completely protected and hedged "on every side."
  • The second thing we should recognize is that, if we do come under severe spiritual attack, it is because God is testing the quality of His work in us. He knows the capacity to overcome is within us, otherwise He would not have allowed the enemy access to us.
  • The third thing to note is that, while tests in the world are usually accomplished in labs or controlled environments, God's tests come in the real world. Thus, we might not realize that what we are going through is a "test," for the test will be a real life experience.
  • The test often comes just before we are released into a "double portion," which is what happened to Job.
  • We probably won't know what the test is about until much later. Job's test was not whether he would "rejoice always" or maintain his good works; nor was he made vulnerable because of fear or unbelief, as some think. The great test in Job's life was whether or not he would curse God. For all he went through, Job passed his test.
The Outcome is Greater Than We can Imagine
God took Job, a righteous man of great influence in his culture, and brought him through a terrible test. One might say the costs of Job's test outweighed his reward, even though Job did receive a double portion. Yes, Job's wealth and influence increased greatly, but that was not the end of the story: God has since used the life of Job as an example for billions of people. Before the test, Job's range of influence touched his culture; afterward, Job's integrity has inspired nations throughout the epochs of time.

Likewise, the Lord tested Joseph, Moses and David; He tested Israel in the wilderness. Jesus Himself endured many tests, not the least of which was His time in the desert.

Let us understand, if we want to advance spiritually, God will lead us through fiery ordeals which test us, yet bring us out to a greater place. Some of us are in "beta,' being tested in limited small groups; others have gone through significant battles recently, but God is about to bring them into a double portion.

For us who are followers of Christ and whose goal is conformity to Him, God gives us one answer to every test we experience: become like Jesus in the test. When the devil realizes what he is using to destroy you is actually being used by God to perfect you, Satan will withdraw his attack.

"For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins. You made men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water, yet You brought us out into a place of abundance" (Psalm 66:10-12).

The test is the door to abundance.