Who is the greatest, then and now?
Matthew 23:11-12 "But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. "And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
A servant or as Paul spoke of himself as being a slave of love, was in service to the Lord, through thick and thin. This is to be the modus operandi for every believer, especially those who lead (by example as servants).
Jesus had to address the attitude of being known and recognized among his closest followers twice.
Luke 9:46-48 “Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, and said to them, "Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great."
When three disciples argued this matter Jesus immediately set them straight. Today the church has been convinced by men with other agendas of who is the greater, except this time they are not listening to Jesus to be corrected.
The world thinks of becoming great, as having power or authority, Jesus told us not to think this way, or in this manner. This is how you will know if people follow Jesus, or they are in it for themselves. Religion pays well these days, but being servant of Jesus will meet your needs but will cost you something.
Jesus explains our position in the kingdom he will bring to earth will be established through being a servant. God’s heart is for us to be active in serving others, ministering to their needs. But today it is often someone who gives orders and enjoys the public’s admiration and wants pay. Jesus showed what he meant by example at the last supper, the day before he was going to be crucified he was focused on what was about to transpire, yet we see him get up from the table and wash the disciples feet; even Judas, his betrayer, showing us that a servant can minister to those he knows do not have his best interest at heart.
Jesus spoke about serving, and a servant immediately springs into action for those in need no matter what their position is. The apostles’ leadership to the church was by their example of servanthood. Not by talking, by doing. They did not dictate what people were to do, but through being personally involved in their lives they presented themselves for the people to see. They did not prophecy whom to marry or where one is to move to for their business or ministry to succeed. There was no heavy handed control as was found among the Pharisees. This is the way to be great - serve. That means one must humble themselves, there is no other way.
Look at what the Lord told Paul at the beginning when he was chosen, how much he would suffer for his sake (Acts 9). A Christian is to be shaped into the one they follow, if you follow a man that is whom you will look like. If you follow Christ you will reflect him. We are to have his nature, which contains humility. Jesus did not say I’m trying to become great or to do great things. He did not promise or prophesy to make anyone great.
Today, to be called a prophet or an apostle more often than not is to have a greater position of power and influence in the church. Like politicians many crave the attention and the ability to move people to where they want them to be. This way they can live out their vision through them. That is pride.
A servant’s heart is for people; he is busy doing God’s work whether he is noticed or unnoticed. He doesn’t care if anyone watches him, or if he gets the credit, whether he is given money or not. Some will take credit for what you may do. Yes, it may hurt to see someone steal what you did and apply it to themselves, especially when they are trying to climb the ladder to leadership. This is the way the world acts; and our reaction should not be the same as the world..
You hear sermons and read books that ask “Don’t you want to be great?” “Don’t you want to have a larger ministry?” Your answer should be NO; that’s right.. You want to be effective, but this does not equate with greatness or the size of your ministry. We hear prophets constantly say of what incredible things someone is going to do. You hear people boast of this so called position the Lord has called them to. That’s how you know that God has nothing to do with it. Because the word says he will exalt the humble. this instead is flattery, a puffing up of the person.
The world teaches to look for those who have strength, have pride to be useful. But God looks for the weak, the meek, the humble to do the work needed, because they depend on Him for their strength. They know it is not of them but God. Watch out for those who constantly want to be in the limelight.
2 Corinthians 11:30 “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” Why, because it gives credit to the Lord, it shows that without him nothing good can be accomplished by us.
Paul asked the Lord to remove a certain infirmity from him, the Lords response was “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak , then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
The men who use flattery for you to be great, this has been spoken to the church for over 20 years as these quotes will indicate. It’s like a dripping faucet, eventually it gets other things wet as it overflows to all.
Jack Deere spoke of endtime apostles and prophets who would,
"do greater works than the apostles, than Jesus, or any other Old Testament prophets." (Jack Deere, "Intimacy With God and the End Time Church," Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Denver, CO, 1989, audiotape (session 2A).
Kenneth Hagin said “The Church will do even greater things than even the Early Church did. It will have greater power, signs, and wonders than were recorded in the Acts of the Apostles” (Word Of The Lord Through Brother Kenneth Hagin, Saint Louis, July 1997).
"The anointing of the endtime prophets and apostles will be ten times the anointing of Moses." (Bob Jones, "An Interview With Bob Jones by Mike Bickle," Kansas City Prophets, Kansas City, MO 1989, audtiotape).
That’s a lot of anointing, 10 times of Moses. Moses needed 40 years to be humbled. Today there is no use for testing or bringing humility, just claim it.
“He certainly did save His best wine for last. The most glorious times in all of history have not come upon us. You, who have dreamed of one day being able to talk with Peter, John and Paul, are going to be surprised to find that they have all been waiting to talk to you" (Rick Joyner, The Harvest (Pineville, NC, MorningStar, 1990, 9)
Did Jesus say he had more new wine to come? So many pastors, even biblical ones have adopted this new wine cliché. It’s nonsense.
For those who have this spirit working among them everything is “new” and “fresh” and it happens to have no connection to the old. Are we to think of ourselves as so great that the apostles will want to talk to us? Our names are not on the 12 foundations of the city in heaven, where is this even hinted in Scripture?
These men seem to offer the church to become super heroes, telling people we have been given powers beyond our normal ability, to do wonders and make people adore us. They have missed the point, it’s about Jesus not us, we are to honor him, to glorify him.
Its always about lifting up themselves, this is how you know whether it’s of God or not. The Spirit of Elijah? That’s what William Branham claimed.
And one of his contemporaries said “there is a new thing under the sun. And it is a new manifestation of God's power that, according to Isaiah 43” (O.L. Jagger’s the kingdom of God –tape on file)
"No prophet or apostle who ever lived equaled the power of these individuals in this great army of the Lord in these last days. No one ever had it, not even Elijah or Peter or Paul, or anyone else enjoyed the power that is gong to rest on this great army." (Bob Jones and Paul Cain. "Selections from the Kansas City Prophets," audiotape (tape: 155C) http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/quotes.html)
So who are these people? They are the self proclaimed prophets and apostles for our age, they are trying to convince everyone to come under their leadership. That they are more important than pastors because without them the church will not succeed.
The apostle over all the apostles says “But I’m the one that brings them together and when I bring them together things happen” (C. Peter Wagner, National School of the Prophets - Mobilizing the Prophetic Office, Colorado Springs, CO, May 11, 2002, Tape #1)
Remember the rhyme – “mirror, mirror on the wall who’s the greatest of them all?”
They all want to be the Greatest of all, they constantly prophesy of how one will do great things, they use flattery just like 2 Peter 2 warned. This is not how God works. God does not tell us how great we are or are going to be. He works humility in us so that we rely on how great He is and trust His work.
“There will be greater miracles of quality and quantity performed than have ever been recorded in church history” (Bill Hamon, The Eternal Church 1986, pp. 388–89.)
Rod Parsley “we are not to look to the Book of Acts, but to a far greater, future day of miracles. Parsley’s claim is that there is an end-time Church coming greater than the Church of the Apostles, which will routinely heal the sick and raise the dead.” (ROD PARSLEY: THE RAGING PROPHET “BREAKING THROUGH” HIS UNORTHODOX DOCTRINE AND PRACTICE, by G. Richard Fisher, http://www.pfo.org/parsley.htm)
William Branham whom they all admire also said “a great church universal that would sweep from one side of the world to the other side of the world. A great message, great signs and wonders, would be accomplished by this church. ...That's exactly where we're living at in this day” (61-0121, Mary's Belief, American Legion Hall, Beaumont, TX).
Indeed that is where we are at today, and it is not a good thing..Why do they all say the same thing, something the Bible does not say?
The believers in the church during the apostle’s time could not do the same miracles or wonders the apostles did, but now we hear believers will surpass them. This is what William Branham spoke of the latter rain
What of Jesus saying in
We will carry the Elijah anointing in preparing for the return of the Lord in the same way that John the Baptist carried the Elijah anointing and prepared the people for the coming of the Lord” (p.184, When Heaven Invades Earth).
It was Branham who claimed the Elijah anointing, (and said there would be others). [A] generation is now forming . . . that will walk in an anointing that has never been known by mankind before, including the disciples. (Bill Johnson, The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind: Access to a Life of Miracles (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers Inc., 2005, Kindle edition).
It is prideful to think we have the same powers and abilities as Christ, who is God that became man? If one reads their Bible carefully and correctly they find the apostles did no miracles that were greater in quality or in quantity than Jesus. So it must mean something other than power for miracles.
The Apostles’ miracles were limited in variety, mostly to casting out demons and healing diseases. They did not “feed the 5,000,” or “still a storm” or “walk on water” or “appear and disappear.” Not even the apostles who were personally trained by Him were able to exhibit power the same over nature as Jesus did. Remember Paul on his way over to Rome was warned of the storm that occurred off Crete. He did not stop it by praying, declaring be still, but rather suffered shipwreck with the others. The only instruction he gave to the others was to stay on board so no one would lose his life (Acts 27:9-44).
Jesus says, “the works I do” (works Gr. ergon), means to work; toil as an effort or occupation; an act of labor. They will labor greater in degree. The “greater works than these” meant a more extensive ministry, as the apostles went out to the gentiles that never heard and they were saved in great numbers.
There is no greater work done than Jesus dying for our sin. That is what we are to declare to the world so they may inherit eternal life. What Jesus gave to the apostles and to us today is the commission to preach the gospel, it is the power of God unto salvation. The “greater” in quantity is in reference to the gospel. We can bring somebody immediately into a relationship with the Lord and they can have the Holy Spirit live in them, something that the disciples could not do at the time Jesus said this.
To reverse the curse of Adam, to transform a life from being dead spiritually to alive spiritually, to have the potential of being raised from the dead and live forever. That is the greater works, as in more abundant works, because the ministry of the Spirit is not limited to one Person only (Jesus) in Israel, but now is empowering all believers in His Church.
called John the Baptist the greatest prophet. Yet he did not do one miracle.
Then many came to Him
(Jesus) and said, “John performed no sign,
but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true”
What keeps people following faithfully are not displays of power but speaking the truth.
Prov. 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom.”
Prov. 29:23 “A man's pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor”
What does Jesus say?
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk.14:11). God's way is not mans way.
If you desire greatness, even in the kingdom, you have missed the intent of Jesus’ words, remember what he said to his disciples.
If people prophesy of how great you will become as an individual or ministry, it is not the way of Jesus speaks, that is the way of the world. It is a different Spirit.
Who is the greatest? Not the one found in the church of self esteemers who tell each other the great things they are doing or how great they are. It is the one doing the Lords work without pride, he will not be among them.