"Imitate VS Partake"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 11 03/25/2007

I have been for 34 years a missionary of the Cross, and have no thought of deserting the ranks. I have great faith in God and I believe that we as His children are just moments away from great victory.

My purpose this morning is to call attention to our failures as Christians, in order to point the way to victorious life in Christ.
We are to hunger and thirst after righteousness Matthew 5:6 I believe that although most of us really do long to faithfully reflect our Master' image, we fall very, very short. Before your defense lawyer jumps up with your objections listen to the following verses:

We are to walk as Jesus walked I John 2:6
We are to love our enemies Matthew 5. 44
We are to forgive as Jesus forgave. Colossians 3:13
We are to be aggressively kind towards those who hate us, we are actually to pray for those who despitefully use us Matthew 5:44
We are to be victors, more than conquerors
Romans 8:37
We are to give thanks in all things believing that all things, even those which blast our fondest hopes, work together for our good Romans 8:28; Ephesians 5:20
We are to be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving to let our requests be made known to God, so that the peace of God which passes all understanding may guard our hearts and minds Philippians 4:6
We are to rejoice in the Lord always
Philippians 4:4
We are to think on whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report..... Philippians 4:8
We are to be holy, for God is holy I Peter 1:16
Rivers of living waters are flow from our innermost being John 7:38
We are to stand out in bold, unmistakable contrast from the crooked, perverse world, blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, shining as lights Philippians 2:15
We are positively to hate ourselves not to pamper, nor to caress, nor to seek, nor to love ourselves, but literally to hate and to renounce our own selves, daily Matthew 16:24
We are to renounce ourselves utterly and absolutely in all things, and at all times Luke 14:26
our affections are to be set on things above Colossians 3:1
Enough, already dare we go further. It would only increase Our shame, and our pain.
We are not What Christ would have us to be.
If the scriptures I just read are a measure of the Christian life, if they form the basis upon which we are to be judged, if this is what God requires of us, like Isaiah we cry: "Woe is me, for I am undone."
Why doesn’t Jesus, so tender, so understanding, so loving and wise, not make requirements more in keeping with our human nature? Why does He seem to be so unreasonable?
He demands we soar, yet we have no wings.
Why does Jesus go so far beyond the merely natural?
It is not natural to love our enemies; it is not natural to rejoice always; it is not natural to be thankful for the things that hurt; it is not natural to hate ourselves; it is not natural to walk as Jesus walked….. Honestly folks this is a dilemma!
Romans 7 talks of this The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do... I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but, I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Oh wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Paul struggles. He agonizes. He weeps. He strives all to no avail. Now Paul doesn’t go into smoke and mirrors mode, he states very plainly that in himself (that is, in his flesh, he can find no good thing.
Yes, he loved Jesus. Yes he was a soldier of the Cross. Yes, he was a consecrated Christian. It was just that he now saw himself in a new light, the blinding light of the Cross.
What before would have been excusable, now overwhelms him. Innocent little things, harmless attitudes, insignificant little sins which before would pass unnoticed, now break his heart.
They are repulsive. They are unbearable. They seem to burn with the fire of hell. They sting like the bite of a scorpion. They stink like a rotting carcass.
Paul wants to be like Jesus.
It is no longer a question of mere ethics.
It is no longer a question of right or wrong.
Is it Christ-like? That is the burning question.
Paul wants to be free. Self-love even in its secret forms, its harmless gestures, nauseates him. He would be like Jesus.
I am going to take a chance and speak plainly to you:
We are not what Christ would have us to be; sin is still rampant in our lives; we are not free from envy, pride, self-love, and lust of pleasure; the mountain of secret selfishness still crushes us and in spite of all our efforts remains immovable; there is so little joy, so little freedom of spirit, we agonize, and struggle,-but failure dogs our footsteps.
So what is the problem? I believe it is that we are attempting to do what the Savior Himself never expected us to do. We are trying to live a Christian lifestyle, rather than allowing Him to live through us! The Christian life is not Imitation, it is Participation.
For we are made partakers of Christ Hebrews 3:14

II Peter 1:3-4 According as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature...

Not! "... that by these ye might undertake the divine nature!
UNDERTAKE: to take upon oneself, agree or attempt to do..

"... that by these ye might imitate the divine nature!
IMITATE: to behave or attempt to behave in the same way as; to mimic or impersonate, to have or take on the appearance of

“... that by these ye might be a spectator of the divine nature!
SPECTATOR: One who veiws a show or game, an on looker

It says that we are to be Partakers of the divine nature!
To PARTAKE means: to take part ,have a share in, to recieve

What is impossible to me as an imitator of Christ, is perfectly natural as a participant of Christ.
Friends our Christian walk is not to be like straining over a role like some actor agonizing over poorly learned lines .
The Christian life is possible only when we become partakers of Christ Hebrews 3:14
Exceeding great and precious promises are given us, that by these we might be partakers of the Divine Nature II Peter 1:4
This Jesus whom you serve has by His divine power given you all things that pertain to life and godliness. It is His disire that you be partakers of His very own divine nature!

In Jesus and by Jesus Spiritual reality can be experienced!
You dare not settle for anything less.

Next week we will attempt to show you the way this is done!
In the mean time ask God to show you the way!

"The Family Of God"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos Christian Centre
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 10 03/18/2007

I’m so glad that I am in the family of God! Rudyard Kipling wrote about families, "all of us are we--and everyone else is they."
A family shares things like dreams, hopes, possessions, memories, smiles, frowns, and gladness...A family is a clan held together with the glue of love and the cement of mutual respect. A family is shelter from the storm, a friendly port when the waves of life become too wild. No person is ever alone who is a member of a family.

It is very important you realize that EVERY BELIEVER at the time of their re-birth becomes a vital member of the church - the body of Christ.

According to I Corithians 12:18 we have been “placed in His body where it pleases God the most.”

I Corinthians 12:12-28 “For as the body is one, yet has many parts and all the parts of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ…. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, Because I am not the hand, I am not part of the body; is it therefore not part of the body? And if the ear says, Because I am not the eye, I am not part of the body; is it therefore not part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? …. We are many parts members), yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, I don’t need you: nor can the head say to the feet, I have no need of you... there should be no schism in the body; but all the members should have the same care one for another. When one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or when one member is honored, all the members rejoice. Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”

Too many are actually unsure of their place in the body. Worse yet, some folk resent their God given place in the body.

To prove his love for her, he swam the deepest river, crossed the widest desert and climbed the highest mountain. She divorced him. He was never home.
The body of Christ and the church are one and the same. Ephesians 1:22-23 refers to Jesus being the head of the church, which is His body....

I Corinthians 12:7-26 “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every person to profit all. To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another different kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these are directed and used by that same Spirit, dividing to every person as He wills.”

Having a poor attitude regarding your place in the body can and does hinder the proper function of the body.

Paul in his twisted sense of humor describes the foot denying its place in the body because it is not a hand. The lesson is obvious.... the foot lacking the visibility, creativity and dignity of the hand gets filled with insecurity.

Unfortunately, many saints tend to be insecure.

We need to be careful not to depreciate our role in the body. We of course know the foot is a very important member, but if the foot doesn’t believe that, insecurity weakens the body.

Paul pictures the eye proudly rejecting the hand saying “I have no need of you”. But Romans 12:5 says we are all individual members of one another. Each part is important to the next. When one hurts they all hurt!

Matthew 25:15....He gave gifts to every man according to their personal ability We were born with natural interests and abilities.

Some are musically inclined, some mathematically gifted, some love working with their hands, others with children or seniors, some are mechanically inclined.

These natural abilities are not given by chance. According to Ephesians 2:10 we are specifically designed for God’s purposes..... we are his workmanship. And again in Matthew 25:15.… gifts given to our ability.

Our natural abilities are energized by the Holy Spirit, becoming gifts to the body of Christ. Romans 12:6 Having gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them.

Jesus said in John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing.

The body of Christ - the church consists of many members, each with gifts and talents that have been given by God.

It is important that you:
Romans 12:3
..do not think more highly of yourself than you ought, but think soberly as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

2. Remember the source of Your abilities:
I Corinthians 4:7
Who makes you to differ from another? and what have you that you didn’t receive?

3. REALIZE YOUR GIFT CAN INCREASE: God will reward faithfulness and diligence. In the parable of talents those who invested wisely received more.

Luke 22:27
I am among you as He that serves. Our gifts and callings are for the purposes of serving others and building up the body of Christ.
God hasn’t called you to be something you are not!
He has made you perfectly suited for the practical ministry he has called you to.

In order to help you find your place in the body here are few tips:

Submit yourself to God’s calling. We must be willing to accept whatever place or function He has for us.

Warning! Don’t compare your place with that of others. Be the best you, you can be! Then help others to be their best!

Give God time: Many Christians run ahead of God. Although you may receive a calling early in your walk it may well be some time before it is fully manifested!

Get involved: Once a basic foundation is laid in your life, you should get involved. All saints can pray, witness, or help some area of the local work. Trying your hand at helping in various areas can often reveal the areas of gifting in your life.

Consider your abilities and desires: We should honestly evaluate our talents and abilities to realistically determine what we are qualified for. If you are tone deaf it may not be the best choice to lead the song service, no matter your desire.

Further training and Preparation: Having discovered your place of function / calling you must diligently prepare yourself.

Be willing to sacrifice: There is always a cost involved!

As we the individual members of His body find and accept our place within His body this world will see a greater and a deeper revelation of Jesus!


Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 8 03/11/2007

Friends, there is a glorious dwelling place provided by Christ for all those who believe and trust in Him. This world is not their resting place: they are pilgrims and strangers in it. Heaven is their home…. They like the hymn writer so wonderfully proclaims, have a mansion just over the hillside!

In our Father's house are many mansions John 14:2
God provides a heavenly home in heaven for all who by faith have run to Christ. In Father's house are many mansions… It’ll bless God if heaven were to be very, very full.

By rights this shouldn’t be a long message because I can only tell you a little bit about heaven…. Who here on this earth can explain the full nature of the glorious inheritance of the saints?

Who can describe the glory which is yet to be revealed? Words fail, language falls short. Mind cannot conceive fully, and tongue cannot express perfectly, the things which have been prepared for the sons and daughters of God Almighty.

John said, I John 3:1-2 Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

The Bible only reveals a very little about our future home. We get but a small glimpse, just a peek under the veil. How could it be any more? We’re not able to understand much more than that. We are yet too earthly.

We get more of idea about what won’t be in heaven, than what will be. There will be no more night and no more curse. Death will be cast into the lake of fire, and all tears shall be wiped away, never again will we hear, "I’m not feeling well!"

No corruption! No taxes! No fading! No withering! No devil!
No curse of sin! No sorrow! No tears! No sickness! No death!

Praised God Almighty, no more disagreements, no more misunderstandings among believers. I’m sure we’ll blush to find how childish and blind we’ve been here on earth

Christ gave Himself for the Church, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing Ephesians 5:27

Think about it… an eternal good-bye to sin!

Do you long for a world in which you don’t need to be always watching and warring? We’ll have it perfectly in glory.

There remains a rest for the people of God Hebrews 4:9
The daily, hourly conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil, will all come to an end: the enemy shall be bound; the warfare shall be over; the wicked one will trouble us no more. the weary will be at rest. There will be a great calm.

Are you burdened by a feeble body?
Is your spirit willing, but often hampered by poor weak flesh?

We shall no longer have to mourn over cracks in all our earthen vessels.

Jude 24 Now to him that is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with great joy

Praise God, we’ll see all the saints we have read about in the Bible. Those in whose steps we have tried to walk. We shall see the apostles, prophets, patriarchs martyrs, reformers, missionaries and ministers, of whom the world was not worthy.

We’ll see the faces of those we’ve known and loved in Christ on earth. We’ll see them more bright and glorious than they ever were.

Best of all we’ll see them without hurry and anxiety, and without feeling that we have only met to part again.

In glory there is no death, no parting, no farewell!
I Corinthians 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
I Thessalonians 4:17 We shall ever be with the Lord

Our eyes will see the hands and feet which were pierced with nails, and that head which was crowned with thorns. Where He is, there will the sons of God be.

Friends we are dying in a dying world; all that is before us is yet unseen: the world to come is to us mostly unknown! But Christ is there and that is enough.

If there is rest and peace in following Jesus here on earth, there’ll be far more rest / peace when you see Him face to face.

If you have found it good to follow the pillar of cloud and the fire in the wilderness, how much better to sit down with Christ in the promised land.

If you are not yet among the heirs of glory, I feel sorry for you. You are missing so much! Oh, that you would hear Him call out your name - run to Him and get your life in order.
Mark 9:44 their worm doesn’t die and the fire is not quenched.

If you are an heir of glory, you should rejoice. For you can bear your cross without murmuring: your light affliction is but for a moment!

The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which is soon to be revealed.

As a believer you shouldn’t be cast down by your circumstances: the eternal part of you is safe! You can look calmly on death: it simply opens a door between you and your inheritance.

You don’t have to sorrow excessively over the things of the world, over partings and bereavements,- over losses and crosses: the day of gathering is before you; your treasure is beyond reach of harm. Matthew 6:20 lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal..

Friends glory in, hope in, rejoice in your inheritance. If you are a child of God: Heaven will be your possession. Luke 10:20 rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

Revelation 20:12,15 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works…. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 21:1-4 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away….

Revelation 22:3-5 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God gives them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.

I Peter 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

II Timothy 1:12 I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Matthew 24:36-38 But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be….Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord will come.

James 5:7-8 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draws nigh.

"Radical Commitment"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 7 03/04/2007

Radical Commitment: Radical means: One who carries his theories or convictions to their furthest application.

God makes an incredible observation regarding man in Genesis 11:6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

We know that it was at that time that God confused their languages, causing the people to scatter and relocate in other parts of the then known world. However, let’s look at this verse 6 one more time... the people is one, and they have all one language; now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. I believe it is now the appropriate time for us to be ONE; speaking the same language (that of grace and mercy and love) speaking the same thing!

Consider that when you hear these words from John 17:21 That they all may be one; as You, Father, are in me, and I in You, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that You have sent me And the glory which You gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and You in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that You have sent me, and have loved them, as You have loved me.

Consider also Acts 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; According to the Apostle Paul, God’s plan for human living is the exact opposite of an isolated self-sufficiency. The church according to Paul is one spiritual body of interdependent members.

I Corinthians 12:21 the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you: nor the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Paul insists every member of the body needs every other member.

John Wesley says the New Testament knows nothing of the solitary Christian. I believe he’s right! The New Testament is personal, but NOT INDIVIDUALISTIC!

The New Testament Church is a fellowship of caring and sharing - a community of believers - disciples of the the Lord Jesus Christ interacting with one another in one cause and purpose.

Christianity in it’s true form teaches that we need one another, as much as the hand needs the eye and the heads needs the feet. All of us need our brothers and sisters if we are going to develop into the productive disciples.

Psalms 84:4 Blessed are they that dwell in your house:
Psalms 84:10 I’d rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

Throughout the Word we see that God’s redeemed people joined together regularly with their brothers and sisters. This was a regular habit - as routine as eating and sleeping.

Participation in worship and fellowship was not something like a second cup of coffee after diner. It is not something to take or leave! Look even at our Lord’s life pattern - Luke 4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath

Worship was our Saviour's custom, His habit. He shared regularly in the fellowship of God’s house with God’s people.

Look also at the early church: Acts 2:42, 46 they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread and prayers. They, continued daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.

A daily fellowship that produced gladness and generosity a fellowship that stimulated spiritual growth.

Just in case you think I’m making this up - I’ll read the immediate verses following the two I just read you - I read Acts 2:42 now listen to 43: And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. I read you 46 now listen to 47: And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

So what should our regular practice be? We have an unmistakable directive in the book of Hebrews. Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more as you see the day approaching.

We dare not be careless about our fellowshipping with one another. We must actively and consistently participate in the body life! Fellowship is God’s way - His appointed means of stimulating growth in grace and ONENESS in the body of Christ!

There is something significant and interesting about Paul’s list of qualities in Galatians 5:22-23 the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: Did you see it as I read it? Let me read it again.

These personality traits can be developed only through relationship and interaction with one another. They cannot be developed by hermits or self sufficient individuals.

What is love? Very simply stated love is caring for somebody else as much as I care for myself. How then can I expect to produce this characteristic if I isolate my life from others?

What is joy? Joy is love rejoicing, but love cannot truly rejoice without other people. Selfishness can no doubt rejoice alone: love, however cannot truly rejoice unless the rejoicing is shared.

Peace? Peace is love manifesting quiet tranquillity, cultivating that same spirit among people.
Patience? Patience is love tolerating frustration / refusing to become frustrated with others.
Kindness? Kindness is love exercising compassion and forgiveness toward others.
Goodness? Goodness is love being Christlike in showing grace and mercy towards others.
Faithfulness? Faithfulness is love keeping its promises and commitments made to others.
Gentleness? Gentleness is love refusing to be harsh and demanding toward others.
Self-control? Self control is love voluntarily putting the brakes on its own feelings and actions.

All of these Christ like characteristics are dependent upon the soil of relationship.

If we want to be fruitful we must make it our practice to join with our brothers and sisters in fellowship in worship and study. BOTTOM LINE - WE NEED EACH OTHER!

Again and again the New Testament INSTRUCTS us how to INTERACT with ONE ANOTHER: We are told…
that we ought to be kind to one another!
Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another
that we ought to honour one another!
Romans 12:10 in honour preferring one another;
that we ought to teach and admonish one another!
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. that we ought to serve one another!
Galatians 5:13 by love serve one another. that we ought to bear one another’s burdens!
Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens that we ought to tolerate one another!
Ephesians 4:2 forbearing one another in love;
that we ought to be tender hearted / forgiving one another!
Ephesians 4:32 be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God has forgiven you.
that we ought to comfort one another!
I Thessalonians 4:18 comfort one another with these words.

Those statements add up to RADICAL COMMITMENT.
By faithfully pursuing this type of RADICAL COMMITMENT to one another we grow into oneness with Christ. And when we are one in Christ nothing will be impossible for God to do through us!

Call to ministry - Mutual ministry!
Being kind to one another!
Giving honour to one another!
Teaching and admonishing one another!
Serving one another!
Bearing one another’s burdens!
Tolerating one another!
Showing tenderness and forgiveness to one another!
Comforting one another!