The Strait Gate, Part 1
February 8, 2019
Before we launch into another lengthy series, let me take the next two or three weeks to deal with an issue that faces the body of Christ right now. My approach may be a bit different on this topic, and if I offend certain Christians with some of my comments, please bear with me and hear me out.
Because of the present call going forth by the Holy Spirit in the earth to the Bride, and the unfolding of the Day of the Lord, it is imperative that we all see and recognize the call into the Holy of Holies in its true perspective.
(I am indebted, by the way, to Rick Joyner's sharing a portion of this picture in the book, THERE WERE TWO TREES IN THE GARDEN. It is not my intention to plagiarize his writing, nor take away from that which he shared, but to share that which the Holy Spirit has placed in me.)
We have all been experiencing the processing of the Lord in being delivered from the "Tree of Knowledge." In the past, Della has shared the revelation the Lord gave to her regarding "the Original Sin", and how it has impacted us. Most of you may have heard about or read the prophetic word delivered by Charlotte Baker several years ago in "The Eye of the Needle," and know that in order for us to come into the place of true worship, it is absolutely necessary to lay everything down in order to come through "the gate called Strait". (I will share this Word with you at the end of this series.) The following, therefore, is shared from the perspective of "the other side" of that gate.
Having grown up in traditional Pentecostalism, having done the "Bible College" routine in order to "prepare for the ministry," and having had the Lord take me through the "furnace of affliction" (thlipsis, if you will) to deliver me from all that, I have been able to readily empathize with those of my brethren who, for a wide variety of reasons, have struggled to lay down “the cloth.” It isn't just difficult to lay aside the priestly robes -- it's impossible -- unless, and until, one has a genuine revelation from the Holy Spirit.
This struggle comes from the fact that we have experienced a genuine calling by the Holy Spirit (and for many of us, this calling is from birth -- or at least our early youth) to the place of ministry we have enjoyed. Because of the strength of that calling, and the fact that it is literally bred into the very core of our existence, the concept of laying it down flies in the face of all we know and have experienced.
For those who have come through the "Charismatic" era, and experienced the remarkable miracles of healing, deliverance from evil spirits, creative miracles, raising of the dead -- not to mention seeing hundreds, if not thousands, of people come to accept Jesus Christ through the preaching of the Word; and similar numbers of people instantly receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit when hands have been laid upon them -- all as a result of the ministry of the Holy Spirit flowing through them, the difficulty of "laying it all down" is greatly compounded. For those who have not only ministered in these areas but also been recipients of healing, deliverance, creative miracles -- and even being raised from the dead -- the struggle is compounded by a quantum factor.
It ceases to be something which one "knows" because they "read it in Scripture" and subsequently had it confirmed by the Holy Spirit. It is not the knowledge which comes of education -- it is a knowing in the core of one's being. It cannot be reasoned away or explained away with logic or human deduction. It is there!
The problem with all of this is that it still feeds us from The Tree of Knowledge. The fact that we know what we have experienced, the fact that we know the calling of the Holy Spirit, the fact that we know the power and authority of God functioning within, all tends to confirm and validate our position. What gets lost in the process is that this is not the end of all that God is calling us to!
That we have experienced all these things is marvelous! That we know the voice of God is exciting! That we have been a part of what God has been doing in the earth is nothing less than His miraculous grace! It is not His objective for us, however. It is not even a stopping place! It is only a part of His call. All of our training over the years "for" ministry teaches us that the ministry (and I highlight this word deliberately) -- whether it be to function as an apostle, or prophet, or evangelist, or pastor, or teacher, or perhaps missionary -- is a high calling, and an objective in itself.
I accent for because I have learned that one cannot be “trained for the ministry.” No amount of education in Bible College or Seminary will ever prepare one to be anything other than a trained parrot for the religious doctrines or “truths” of the denomination or organization of which the Bible College or Seminary is a part. In so saying, I do not intend offense towards those who have been so trained and acknowledge that there are many who have been so "trained" who have also experienced the personal preparation of the Lord Jesus Christ through much thlipsis or what we have come to define as “processing.”
The concept, however, that our training and/or that the position of apostle or prophet, or pastor, or whatever, is a “high calling,” is deliberately and methodically bred into our existence by the Enemy, the Beast! It is a lie contrived by taking God’s Word out of context. (This is a classic tactic of Satan.) The purpose of this lie is to bring us to a stopping place in the Holy Place -- to keep us from entering into the Holy of Holies, where all true intimate relationship exists, where all real authority and all power is vested.
The Call of the Bridegroom is what we have been responding to in our spirits. It is what led us into the place of ministry. A good illustration occurs in Rick Joyner's sharing in THERE WERE TWO TREES IN THE GARDEN, in which he demonstrates three areas of ministry: (1) the first being to the multitudes, i.e., the Outer Court (to continue the metaphor of the Tabernacle); (2) the next to the Ekklesia, or twelve, in which they experienced the anointing -- "The Holy Place; and (3) thirdly, to the Lord -- the place where His Glory is manifested: that is, The Holy of Holies.
Outer Court ministry is evangelical in nature. There is nothing wrong with Outer Court ministry. It serves a vital and necessary function in God's economy. It just was never intended to be a stopping place for either those who receive ministry in the Outer Court, or those who minister. It could also be described and illustrated (musically) as the place of gospel songs and hymns.
Ministry within The Holy Place encompasses those who have pressed forward beyond the Outer Court in response to the Bridegroom's call. It takes in the so-called Five-Fold ministries. It is the place of Ekklesia, the preparation of the Bride. It includes the realm of praise, but not worship. The Holy Place, likewise, was never intended to be a stopping place or an objective goal.
The Holy of Holies is the “Secret Place”; it is the “Bridal Chamber”; it is the place in which we express worship -- love and adoration -- for the Bridegroom. It is the place where we minister to Him! It is the place where He reveals His Glory to His Bride. This is the goal! Any other goal we pursue cheats or subverts the heart's desire of Jesus Christ, whose purpose is to bring us to oneness, to unity with Himself.
The objective of the Lord Jesus Christ, from the time He first began to call and draw us to Him, was intimate relationship, a relationship in which we express and share our love for one another, a relationship in which there are no barriers, a relationship where we are absolutely and completely naked before Him.
There is another illustration relevant to the call of the Bridegroom. In Ezekiel 44:17-19, we have a picture of a select group of priests, the sons of Zadok, who were commanded to put on the linen garments when they came into the Holy of Holies to minister unto the Lord. They were commanded to put off their woolen garments -- the garments with which they ministered to the people. There was to be no "sweat" in their ministry to the Lord, no labor, no human endeavor or effort; hence, it was a picture of ministry which comes out of the spirit, and not from the flesh.
The crux of this picture is that of laying down our ministry. There are no apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors or teachers in the Holy of Holies. There are no books of learning, no Master's degrees, no Doctor's degrees, no academic achievements. There are no titles of recognition, no denominations, no organizations and no churches or home fellowships in the Holy of Holies. There is not even Ekklesia in the Holy of Holies. Even though we may jointly enter in the midst of worship, we cannot bring others with us, nor can we assume any responsibility for those around us in our great desire to bring them in. In this realm, responsiveness in totally individual!
A question which most often arises among many of my brethren is this, “Why can't I worship, and then continue on with my ministry? Why is it necessary to lay it down?”
The issue is not “the ministry.” The issue is “The Ministry!” Sound confusing? Just wait! It's going to get worse!
The issue is not ministry for ministry's sake. The issue is our mental or psychological pre-conditioning to coming into His presence. If we worship with the intent, or plan in the back of our minds, that once we are finished, we will continue on with what we were doing before we began worshipping, then The Ministry has become the goal and objective, and not the Lord. Sharing with others becomes the objective. “Holding fast our calling” becomes the objective. Being concerned about “what will happen to all those people” becomes more important than ministry to the Lord!
Do you see the difference? We were not called to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers -- or anything! We were called........to Him!
In the prophetic vision shared by Charlotte Baker (attached as an addendum to this letter), entitled The Eye of The Needle, she saw that those who came through the “Strait Gate,” the gate of worship, after laying down their callings, their gifts, their ministries, etc., in fact had lost nothing! What actually happened was that they ministered from a new realm, from a completely new perspective.
In truth, ministry which goes forth from the realm of worship goes forth with a completely different working than anything we have known before. There is no sweat! There is no labor, no human effort. We no longer do things "the way we have always done them." We no longer pray for the sick because they are "there." We no longer lay hands on people to impart gifts, or whatever. We no longer worry about prayer or intercession. We no longer concern ourselves with spiritual warfare.
See, I told you it was going to get worse! (grin) We no longer have to worry about “preaching the Word!”
In the realm of worship, there is no more room for titles. One no longer has to be Pastor Jones, or Evangelist Smith, or Apostle James. Are you understanding what I am saying? There is no more need for “church.” There is no more need for home fellowship. There is no more need for elders and deacons. There is no more need for "government," as it is expressed through our brethren and sisters in the Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ, our Apostle, our High Priest, our Bridegroom, is everything! Government still exists, but in radically different form.
The secret is revealed, again, in the picture of the sons of Zadok where the Lord says to them (once they enter in to minister unto Him), "And it shall be unto them for an inheritance: I AM their inheritance: and ye shall give them no possession in Israel: I AM their possession." (Ezekiel 44:28)
The next question that most often arises is, “Are you saying that all ministry, otherwise, ceases to be for those who enter?”
The answer is simple.
Those who enter this realm to live (and enter without pre-conditions before the Lord) soon realize that ministry continues to go forth, but in the spirit -- in a dimension for which there are no appropriate descriptions. The secret is that we enter this realm to live, NOT to leave! The Lord Jesus Christ becomes the totality of our existence.
We may, indeed, continue to share in the ministry of the Word. We may, indeed, continue to lay hands on people from time to time. We may, indeed, continue to minister deliverance to the captives. In fact, it can be guaranteed that these things will happen. It’s just that they will no longer be an objective -- a goal which needs to be accomplished. We no longer continue to do these things because “they need to be done.” They are done only at the specific direction and timing of the Lord. They are done because we still live in a natural realm, and because it serves the purposes of His good pleasure. It is likewise His good pleasure to bring thlipsis into our lives, and to bring us through trials and afflictions.
Let me digress for just a moment.
Our tendency to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in this realm of healing, deliverance, prayer -- ministry in general -- is overwhelming. We know that Jesus did these things. What we often fail to take into account is that He did not heal everyone who was sick and in need. He did not minister to all of the sick at the pool of Bethesda -- he only healed one man. He did not cleanse all the lepers. He did not raise all the dead.
Were the needs there? Absolutely! Why, then, did He not heal, cleanse, raise, minister to all who were in need? The answer is simple. Though we read of His works in many places, we are told in some instances that "He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief." There is no doubt that all who were present at the pool of Bethesda wanted healing. Yet only one man met Jesus' conditions.
Would it have been "good" to heal all the sick? Of course -- at least from our perspective. Would it have been good to minister to the needs of all the poor? Certainly. At least we would think so. Yet Jesus did not! Of those who were sick and in need, some recovered, but many died of their sicknesses and diseases without ever receiving ministry from Jesus!
It is a lesson we have not learned. Jesus does make requirements for healing, for health, for life, for receiving from Him. The first and most basic is, faith. The second and equally basic is, relationship with Him. Not religion. Not attending church. Not agreeing with certain doctrines. Not meeting a set of standards required by a committee of Christians. It is relationship! Relationship! Relationship!
And that, folks, is where we have to stop for today. We will pick this up again next week.
At the same time, in case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:30AM Pacific. That conference number is (712) 770-4160, and the access code is 308640#. We are now making these gatherings available on video using ZOOM. If you wish to participate by video on ZOOM, our login ID is 835-926-513. If you miss the live voice-only call, you can dial (712) 770-4169, enter the same access code and listen in later. The video call, of course, is not recorded – not yet, anyway.
Blessings on you!
RIVER WORSHIP CENTER
Temple, Texas 76504
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