I’ve had a word throbbing in my heart for the last few days. I believe the Lord has placed it there.
The word is “generations.”
In the Old Testament this could be the Hebrew word “tôledâh” which refers to the generations in a family tree or it can be “dôr” which refers to “an age” or a “revolution in time.” Of the 112 times “generations” shows up it is one of these two Hebrew words.
In the New Testament one Greek word is translated as “generations” in the English. It is the Greek word “genea” from which we get “genealogy”. It has to do with physical generations in which people are descended from the people before them.
The word “generations” is throbbing within my soul. As a male…I wonder: “Is this what the very beginnings of childbirth feels like for a woman?”
What I sense is a different sort of “generations.” I call these “spiritual generations.”
I believe that all around us the Lord is preparing people to father and mother spiritual children at a pace that hasn’t been witnessed on the earth since the Day of Pentecost.
I can “FEEL” this building deep inside my soul.
I’m not talking about physical generations as we know them. In a typical physical generation a person comes of age, finds a mate, is intimate with that person and a new generation results from that union.
Physical generations take time.
We can look at Jesus, choosing His original 12 disciples as the beginning point of something wonderful. Jesus is: ““the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29b)
As He chose them and spent a scant three years with them, preparing them to begin to build His Church on the earth they became His first spiritual generation. That generation grew to include 70 others.
“After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.” (Luke 10:1)
By the time the Day of Pentecost had arrived there were about 120 people in that generation just in the upper room alone (Acts 1:15). Doubtlessly, there were many more who were scattered all over Jerusalem in addition to that 120.
These were first spiritual generation of Jesus on the earth.
After Jesus ascended back into heaven and before Peter proposed that the original Twelve choose Matthias to replace Judas who had died after betraying Jesus…
“…they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” (Acts 1:12-14)
We know that Holy Spirit manifested in and on those 120 believers in that upper room and they spilled out of that room and into the streets of Jerusalem. They were no longer afraid of those who had killed their Lord, emboldened by Holy Spirit in them.
Peter stood and delivered the first teaching in the history of the Church, ending with a harsh truth: “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36)
The truth is that, because of the sin that every human practices, this statement applies to every one of us. We ALL crucified this Jesus Whom the Father has made both Lord (Owner of all creation) and Christ (Deliverer from bondage).
To this day, when Holy Spirit delivers this message to people through us they respond like the first hearers did:
“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’”. (Acts 2:37)
Peter tells them (as reported in Acts 2:38) to repent, receive the gift that is the Holy Spirit, being baptized into Christ and HIS Church. Many (3000), upon receiving this truth, are born again at one time!
“Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” (Acts 2:41)
Oh, please! Let’s hear this:
These 3000 people were a new spiritual generation: the first spiritual generation to be born again through those 120 people.
How much preparation went into those who ministered salvation to these 3000? For 12, just three short years but for most of the rest, hardly any time at all.
How did they live after being born again? They basically did what the original 12 disciples did: they spent time with Jesus…..in and through their new brothers and sisters in Christ.
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42)
This is exactly what those in the Upper Room did while they awaited Pentecost. They spent time together. They held onto the teachings of Jesus as delivered through the apostles. They shared food. They prayed with one another.
As we read on in Acts 2:44-47 we see that God worked miracles through the apostles, the first spiritual generation from Jesus. They spent time together, shared themselves and their stuff with one another, ate meals together, had the Lord’s Supper and praised God.
The lost people around them responded to Jesus in them.
In the selfish world of 33 A.D., this kind of sharing was rare. The season in history in which we live is one of the most selfish there has ever been. When we matter-of-factly live in unity and selflessness with those around us….people will notice that. The result will be in this season what it was in the first days of the Church:
“…the Lord added to the Church daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47)
As time went on, the conversions to Jesus in Jerusalem caught the attention of the Jewish leaders in that place. Whenever Jesus manifests through people, the worldly systems in place will notice it and resent it. The result is always and will always be the same, even when the systems are Christian religious ones: persecution.
“At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” (Acts 8:1b)
The Greek word translated as “persecution” is “diogmos”. It means “to follow (as in paying attention to), pursue and be hostile toward.” As was true in 33 A.D., modern persecution involves someone observing those following Jesus simply, pursuing them and becoming hostile toward them.
Why is this? The unclean spirits that control worldly systems are afraid of Jesus and always will try to kill off simple obedience to Him because He comes against their true agenda which is always, ultimately, worship of satan in some form. Satan’s motto is: “Anything but Jesus.”
When persecution came upon the first spiritual generation of those who ministered Jesus on Pentecost, all those thousands of brand new, Holy Spirit filled Christians were scattered all around the regions outside of Jerusalem.
While satan intended the persecution to quench this new Church, God took satan’s persecution and used it to spread the Body of Christ. God always wins.
This was predicted by Jesus as He addressed His first spiritual generation prior to His ascension:
“And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’” (Acts 1:7-8)
Over time, subsequent spiritual generations have taken that witness of Jesus all around the globe…“to the end of the earth.”
The season in which we find ourselves is one in which every Christian is being released from religious bondage. We are being freed to be witnesses of Jesus in their own Jerusalem (their most familiar places), their own Judea (those arenas just outside their most familiar, comfortable places) and their own Samaria (those arenas in their lives in which we feel extremely uncomfortable.)
The original 12 sent out…and then the second wave of 70 (Luke 10:1) both had less than three years of training with Jesus. Most of those 120 in the Upper Room on Pentecost had much less than three years with Jesus. Thousands were saved in a single day through their ministry.
Most of those dispersed during the first persecution in Jerusalem had NO actual time with Jesus Himself, yet the book of Acts reports more and more people coming to Jesus through these people with minimal training.
We Christians are living in spiritually exciting times.
Satan has equipped the world to depend on anything but Jesus and this is failing miserably at bringing real fulfillment into the lives of people. There has never, since Jesus’ arrival on the earth been such a rampant lack of hope, joy, peace and true comfort. Loneliness is pandemic. People are empty and dying of spiritual hunger and thirst.
As is true in physical famines, people are eating spiritual dirt in hopes of being filled.
What we can bring to this lost and dying world is REAL spiritual water and food: Jesus, and we are being equipped and empowered to step out (no matter how little spiritual training we have) and minister to those that the Lord Himself brings into our lives.
Am I against spiritual Christian training? Certainly not! I have, for years, taught the Word of God from pulpits when allowed to do so as well as in small groups and one-on-one in discipleship relationships. I LOVE to equip the Body of Christ.
At the same time, I recognize that in the Bible we see people simply led by the Holy Spirit of God receiving “on the job training” from God as they go. In fact, this was the point Jesus was making when He sent out those original 70 “nobodies” in Luke 10.
“Then He said to them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road.’” (Luke 10:2-4)
What did Jesus tell them? I’ll paraphrase:
“The need is HUGE but hardly anyone is harvesting. (Luke 10:2a)”
In the modern Church this is because the system, generally, only allows professional ministers….a tiny percentage of all Holy Spirit-filled Christians….to minister. Therefore, there are FEW laborers (except when it comes to menial housekeeping tasks.)
“Pray with Me that more like you will be willing to step out and be uncomfortable on behalf of MY Kingdom. (Luke 10:2b)”
We DO need to pray that more and more Christians catch on to the reality that they are SO important to God’s plan in this place and time. Each of them has access to others that will receive them….and no one else. Those people need Jesus!
“As you are going, be aware that there are those…wolves…who will resent what you are doing on My behalf." (Luke 10:3)
To be sure, religious somebodies will resent your simple obedience to Jesus. Those people will mock your lack of formal education. They will accuse you of being rebellious for not submitting to a worldly system….or to them in the auspices of a worldly system. They will scrutinize you and gossip about you and those with whom you associate and work spiritually.
Be ready for that. These are intended to cause you to take your eyes off Jesus as HE directs your steps.
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Do what Jesus says to do in spite of any opposition you might face.