Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, ‘Now I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.’
This is the work of the Lord in us–and our calling to the world–that we, without fear, would speak the word of the Lord.
However, what we preach, we must first receive, as a message implanted in our heart by the Holy Spirit.
Notice, while our calling is personal, the Lord’s message is corporate: for He has called us out of the world as one body.
Therefore, when we gather, we need to be mindful of these things:
There are always some things in us that the Lord wants to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow–things that need to die–so that other things, new things, can live.
There are always some things in us that the Lord wants to build and to plant and to bear fruit in our lives.
As the Lord speaks through His people, it is important that we listen carefully to one another, so that we can hear the heart of the message that the Lord is bringing forth through those who are gathered as a local expression of the Lord’s life in His people.
The witness the Lord gives us in our hearts will never be singular, but corporate, as there are many witnesses: and therefore, it is only when the Lord’s counsel is established in the multitude of counselors who are gathering as a local body that we can be certain that we have heard correctly from the Lord.
Each gift tempers our own weaknesses, even as our own gift tempers the weaknesses of others: in the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses shall every word be established (2 Corinthians 13:1).
Righteous judgment was never intended to come from one individual, but from the hearts of the multitude who gather in His name–for there is one Lord, faith, and baptism–even as we are one body born of one Spirit (Ephesians 4:4-5). Consider this admonition:
Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.
We are not to respect the brethren on the basis of wealth or worldly influence–rather, we are to hear all of those among us–both the great and the small. Of course, the person whom we most tend to have respect for is ourselves–our own ideas and giftings–and perhaps, this is the most deceptive form of favoritism.
We see this same Spirit of wisdom in the New Testament:
Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
–1 Corinthians 12:22-26
Therefore, when we gather in this manner, every heart willing to suffer loss, according to the corrective work of the Holy Spirit, we are able to follow this command:
Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
What is this meekness that the Lord speaks of, concerning how we are to labor together?
We must be willing to endure the fiery furnace of affliction that is common among the counsel of the faithful: for only those who are tempered together by the work of the Holy Spirit will stand together as a unified witness of the Lord’s counsel in the day of adversity (Daniel 3:19-23).
Where saints labor long with one another, endeavoring to continue in the bond of the unity of peace, they are bound together, not only in the Spirit, but by the purified condition of their own souls, united in love for the Lord and one another.
What is the evidence that those who are gathering have gathered in this way?
We read of one such example in chapter 5 of the Acts of the Apostles:
But a man named Ananias, with the consent of his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property; with his wife’s knowledge, he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet.‘Ananias,’ Peter asked, ‘why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, were not the proceeds at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You did not lie to us but to God!’ Now when Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard of it. The young men came and wrapped up his body, then carried him out and buried him.
After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter said to her, ‘Tell me whether you and your husband sold the land for such and such a price.’ And she said, ‘Yes, that was the price.’ Then Peter said to her, ‘How is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.’ Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, so they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear seized the whole church and all who heard of these things.