Report From The Tower
I have been hearing these two words: Enforced Deadness. The Holy Spirit has been repeating them over the last few days in connection with my continuing meditation regarding true discipleship unto Jesus Christ. True discipleship has become the red headed stepchild of Christian religion. Just cruise a bit around the internet to peruse the thread headings of various Christian chat rooms. Many things are discussed but discipleship is not ranking very highly among them right now. I do not think that I ever remember hearing a man say or write these two words, "Enforced Deadness", to form a unified thought, but I do know the scriptures that come to mind when I ponder these matters. Let us begin with this one in dealing with the subject of deadness:
SCRIPTURE #1-Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
To be crucified with Christ means, in so many words, that you are supposed to be dead. You are really D.E.A.D. dead! This is the intent of real, biblical Christianity: to kill you! Do you understand this? Dead is dead! This is not some exaggerated case of hyperbole at work here. To whimsically leap off of another Galatians scripture and change it around a bit for emphasis, it is for deadness that Christ has made you dead! Those exact words are not in the Bible but that exact thought is seen through and through. Don't you get it? Dead people have no rights. Dead people are not irritated by anything. Dead people have no plans or goals. A dead man does not get to choose one single blessed thing, let alone an unblessed thing, after the day of his death. One pastor of mine illustrated this about thirty years ago...he was an Italian. He said "dead men don't smell pizza." The Galatians 2:20 passage also says, paradoxically, that you still live. You live, that is in the flesh. Your body is still walking around but your soul, which is comprised of your mind, will and emotions, is supposed to have been crucified with Christ. You still look like you, but on the inside, someone new, Jesus Christ, is supposed to be pushing all of the control buttons, ringing all the bells and blowing all the whistles. One sister used to say to me that I had seen Jesus wearing the Stephen skin when I saw myself in a vision, doing some future thing. That is right and that is biblical.
Vocabulary.com has this definition for the word "deadness": "the quality of being unresponsive; not reacting; as a quality of people, it is marked by a failure to respond quickly or with emotion to people or events."
I realize that I can only draw my conclusions regarding the present day condition of all believers from that little corner of the Christian universe that I have occupied, but I can tell you what I have seen in my sixty years of life. Only the Holy Spirit can be in all churches and in every heart of every believer at the same time, but I have not observed very much of this "deadness" in the wild, as an anthropologist might term this in the making of a search or study for it. The bible talks a great deal about the need for Christ to take over and rule in the heart of the believer, but I have seen the opposite dominating in the hearts and lives of those people who have gathered in places around me. These are all called Christians today. Biblically though, a Christian was first supposed to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Somewhere during the church age, the word Christian came to designate every person who attends a Christian Church. Discipleship was forgotten. I wonder aloud just how many Christians today can even give a full definition of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Our pastors almost never preach about it. Our internet groups and chat rooms are silent about it. A few on Facebook talk a bit about it but almost no one gets involved in any give and take on these issues.
I believe that most who are called Christians seem to adopt this posture today: they believe that they are to make the big decisions regarding their lives. They are to decide where they are to live, what career they are to work and toil in, where they will go to school, whom they will marry, how many children they will have, where they will go to church and on and on. This is called choice, or freedom of choice and has been extended to the place where women feel they have the right to legally commit murder inside of their own bodies. Our government agrees with them. Then, after they have made their personal choice based decisions, they pray that God will help them to do and to succeed at what they have decided to do. This seems to be the quite expected outcome when you consider that almost all "Christians" (modern version) today have gathered in churches where there is little to no emphasis on their personal need to hear directly from God. The believer who has never heard the voice of Christ cannot possibly know exactly what the will of God is for their life for any specific thing. It is therefore not surprising that the way things are with most "Christians" right now is as I have described things to be above. You can only obtain counsel directly from God if you can hear directly from God. How can you really be D.E.A.D. on the inside and alive to Christ if you are unable to hear His voice? It is impossible.
I put it before you then, in a direct manner. You cannot be His disciple if you cannot hear His voice! Furthermore, you must be able to continually hear His voice to obtain the kind of direction that a truly dead man would need from Christ on the inside if you are going to be able to successfully navigate through this thing called life. Horrifying though it may be, Hollywood may, once again, be presenting things in a very prophetic way. Could it be that most Christians are closer to resembling the "walking dead" than they are being true disciples of Jesus?
I have been hearing about even more than this aspect of deadness of the disciple, however, as I have been hearing the Holy Spirit speak the term "enforced deadness". I know exactly what that means as the Lord put several scriptures together for me about twenty four years ago. I will share them with you now as I believe this "enforced deadness" requires Jesus to be the enforcer. This is supposed to be the case with every Christian disciple, not just me, though I have never heard anyone but me preach this in such a direct way. Consider these scriptures:
SCRIPTURE #2-2 Chronicles 13:5 Ought ye not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?
SCRIPTURE #3-Rom 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
SCRIPTURE #4-Mar 9:49-50 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.
First, have you ever heard of the covenant of salt? The Lord spoke to me in 1993 and had me enter into this covenant with Him at that time. I realize now it is a covenant that every single disciple of Jesus Christ needs to make with Jesus. Most of them do so without knowing where it is found in the Old Testament. I am no special case. In short, I was asked by Jesus to give Him permission to bring fire into my life; to salt me with fire, whenever He thought that I needed it. Modern "Christians" have often been so obsessed with material prosperity that they have ignored the biblical mandate that they are to pray that they will prosper as their souls prosper. Their souls must be crucified with Christ in order to prosper. It therefore logically follows that all prosperity without enforced deadness is like iron pyrite: it is fools gold.
The covenant of salt was an ancient covenant and this part should really fascinate you: it was an eternal covenant. Eternal means that it still has a function for us today! Circumcision is an eternal covenant, but we know the modern way to carry out circumcision is that the true believer in Jesus Christ must walk before God with a circumcised heart. In a similar way, the modern, true believer in Jesus Christ must also carry out the spiritual terms of the covenant of salt. Every offering to God under that covenant must have been accompanied by salt. Jesus gives us the updated, spiritual interpretation in Mark chapter 9: every sacrifice is to be salted with salt and that salt, in terms of our dealings and life, will have to do with fire. Most specifically, fire will be levied upon us through affliction, suffering and difficulty.
Finally, you have been called by God to present yourselves as a "Living Sacrifice". This has not been forced upon you. You are to go willingly to your crucifixion, just as Jesus went willingly before you. You may be ninety years old and have spent those years in church, but perhaps, you never willingly went to take up your cross...YOUR CROSS, and followed Jesus. It is not too late. You can still do it. Jesus could have put a stop to His crucifixion and you can put a stop to yours. Most people have never considered the need or the requirement for this. Once you agree to this however, you are to enter into a thing called "the crucified life". Who will be doing this crucifixion? Why, Jesus, of course. Who will be monitoring you on a daily basis to review whether you are in the crucified life? The same Jesus. He is the one who will be salting you with fire, whenever He deems that you need it.
Jesus as an enforcer: what a picture! The lamb of God is no soft touch. He really is the toughest of the tough guys. None of this absolves you from your responsibility. Romans chapter 6 clearly instructs you that you need to reckon yourself dead to sin and alive in Christ. The implication is that you need to do this daily. You are elsewhere instructed to put off your old man and to put on your new man. You should be doing all of this, but lurking behind you, overseeing your crucifixion and the maintenance of it, is Jesus, the enforcer.
One may ask what happens to the disciple when he fails to achieve this deadness, even with the help of the enforcer. There is forgiveness. Jesus is the only student of the Father to ever achieve a perfect score. The rest of us must do our best to require washing and cleansing as infrequently as possible. Nevertheless, you must have purity in order to have power. You must be walking with Christ to hear from Him and see Him doing the will of the Father. There is no victory: no prayer victory, without obtaining just what is the will of God before entering into the labor or prayer. To fight otherwise is to fire into the wind without aiming, hoping to hit your target. I believe the failure of discipleship, resulting in the base carnality of the average "Christian", is one of the primary reasons why our churches have no power from God. This also explains why these individuals have no influence with God. Yes, Mark chapter 16 does say that "these signs will follow those who believe". Apparently, those who believe are required to do more than to believe in the identity of Jesus, as even Satan and the demons do. The belief that prompts God to respond in power involves more than a carnal confession of thought agreement. You cannot expect that God would share all of Himself with you unless you have given all of yourself to Him. In short, it is an all or nothing proposition.
All of this is perfectly in line with the basic scriptural requirements for discipleship: Mat 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Mat 16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Mat 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Mat 16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
I remember how it was for me, so many years ago, when God explained all of this for me. I was very troubled about the future destination of those who are not disciples or who are failed disciples. Once again, Jesus referred me to Mark, chapter 9:
Mar 9:49-50 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.
Please note that everyone will be salted with fire! Disciples will not be the only ones. Every single human being who has ever lived shall be salted with fire. Disciples who agree with the terms of discipleship permit their Master to salt them with fire. They have willingly presented their bodies to their Lord as living sacrifices. What about the others?
1Co 3:10-15 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
The disciple has the hope for a much greater resurrection than to enter heaven with all of his or her works burnt up. Yet, the condition of that carnal believer who has just escaped through the flames to enter into heaven is immeasurably better than that of the one who has never believed on or called upon the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Such a one is certainly salted by the fires of hell. And so, everyone will be salted with fire! The disciple is one who has made the wise choice to take the fire, in measure, a little here and a little there, as our merciful Lord decides to mete it out.
Stephen L. Bening
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