I heard a pastor on the radio advertising something similar. He offered to help listeners discover their spiritual gifts. If you would request his questionnaire, fill it out and send it in, his staff would evaluate your particular gifts. Then they would tell you how to find your place in the body of Christ. The Bible says God gives gifts to his people, and I believe there are special callings. Our specific callings are gathered up in this single purpose, and every gift springs from it. And if we miss this purpose, all our desires and pursuits will be in vain.
Jesus sums up our core purpose in John Many sincere Christians think bearing fruit means simply to bring souls to Christ. But to bear fruit means something much larger even than soul-winning. The fruit Jesus is talking about is Christ-likeness. Simply put, bearing fruit means reflecting the likeness of Jesus.
It has to be central to all our activities, our lifestyle, our relationships. Indeed, all our gifts and callings — our work, ministry and witness — must flow out of this core purpose. If I miss this one purpose, I have lived, preached and striven in vain. They took Jesus on a tour to show him the grandeur of the structures, the huge crowds who gathered daily, all the religious activities that took place there.
They thought Christ would be just as impressed with it as they were. Instead, Jesus threw a wet blanket on their enthusiasm. Not one stone here will remain. All these crowds are going to scatter, and even the shepherds will flee. Everything here that impresses you — everything that looks so religious — is going to be rejected. And it will happen because this is not Christ-revealing. The fact is, the disciples had been focusing on the wrong temple.
They had their eyes on this man-made temple. Their focus was on the religious activity.
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And they were being impressed by the wrong things. What happened there did not represent the Father. The temple had become a den of thieves and moneychangers. The prophets and priests were out for themselves.
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They even robbed and abused their own parents. I believe that many Christians today are like the disciples. Those things will only distract us. Instead, our focus should be on our spiritual temple. The fact is, the Holy Spirit is in his temple at all times. He abides in our bodies.
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And he is prepared at any moment to bring us into his purpose. That means we have to have our spiritual house in order. There are times we are called to speak righteous judgment. Scripture calls every Christian to expose false doctrines and false prophets. But Peter says judgment begins in the house of God. Jesus will cast it out. Priests pocketing money on the side, greed and corruption, money madness — all of it would be shocking. Yet, the truth is, the condition of the temple would have been nothing for us to worry about. Jesus did cast out the wickedness there. And he brought down all the corrupt ministries that were operating in it.
Today, we serve the same temple-cleansing Christ. If he chose, he could bring down every false prophet overnight.
Our part is to make sure that no worldliness creeps into our own human temple. This truth causes me to wonder: Why are so many pastors worn out, weary and leaving the ministry in droves around the world? Why is there such awful competition between ministries? I see churches everywhere mired in materialism and deep in debt. And all the while, the people beg for answers in their lives.
Honestly, it looks like a life of misery. Just go into any Christian bookstore and read the titles on the shelves. Most are self-help books on how to overcome loneliness, how to survive depression, how to find fulfillment. When I was twenty-nine years old, an older, well-known evangelist asked me to lunch. I have five more years, and after that, my chances for success are gone.
He was lost in oblivion, all his dreams shattered. Sadly, I hear tales like his in my travels these days. The truth is, many of us are called to be ordinary Christians. Yet we put such pressure on ourselves to keep up with the competitive spirit in the world today. Paul says we are predestined to be conformed to the likeness of Christ, and that is our one purpose: Jesus was totally given to the Father, and that was everything to him.
I asked myself that question as I prepared this message. Simply put, bearing fruit comes down to how we treat people. And we grow more Christ-like as our love for others increases. His command is clear and simple: Give to others the unconditional love I have shown you. For single people, it involves how you treat roommates, fellow Christians, the people closest to you.
It all had to do with their marriages. If I am to become the man and minister God has called me to be, then my wife must be able to say honestly before heaven, hell and all the world: For example, in the past many teachers focused on preaching or lecturing as their primary teaching methodology. Since the introduction of the "Come, Follow Me" curriculum, far more emphasis has been put on discussion.
October: Becoming More Christlike
Both are important teaching styles. However, in and of themselves, neither is adequate alone to meet the needs of our students and to teach like the Savior. Teachers who strive to emulate the Savior use a variety of teaching methods in order to meet the needs of their students. I recently attended a gospel doctrine class where the teacher did this very well. The lesson was on the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament. The teacher, Sister Melanie Westcott, set up a beautiful painting at the front of the class which depicted several scenes from the life of Ruth.
This painting had been created by a class member, Sister Sallie Poet. What was most interesting to me were the analogies to the Savior and the temple that Sister Poet had identified in the Book of Ruth and had incorporated into her painting. Sister Westcott then got us directly into the scriptures. We read together a few of the most important verses, identified the symbolism found in those verses and discussed what the symbolism meant and how the associated lessons applied in our own lives.
Sister Westcott encouraged our comments and waited patiently, after asking inspired questions, for the Holy Ghost to teach us. As a result, when students finally raised their hands, they had profound answers that were edifying to all. Sister Westcott, who had put in a lot of preparation time, also took several minutes to instruct us about some of the cultural norms that would not be understandable to someone living in the 21st century.
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