The Rending of a Religious Mindset

There was a veil rent when Jesus finished His work of redemption. It was in the old temple. It was thick as a man’s fist. And it was rent from top to the bottom. 

In a narrow sense, this veil represents “the law.” Certainly this is the first instance of my understanding. One way of looking at the law, is that the law represents external authority. It can include commands, written regulations, and also authority structures, that is, ”hierarchy.” 

When God’s house becomes a hierarchical authority structure, again, I am reminded that judgment begins with the household of God. And in Ezekiel 9, it begins with the elders in front of the temple. 

About this, there is an interesting scene in the Mel Gibson film, THE PATRIOT. The British general is objecting to the patriot and his men shooting the British officers first. Understood in this light, the rending the veil from the top to bottom, would indicate that the rending begins with the leadership. 

On a more personal level, the rending of the veil has some implications for the “futility of Gentile thinking,” or those with a religious mind-set. In this case, rending the veil from “top to bottom” means being set free from faulty thinking, starting in our own heads. 

Jesus, in his own flesh, not only rent this veil of pre-existing external regulation, thus making possible real intimacy with God, but he rent every such veil, past, present and future. This is to say, we don’t have to tear anything down. He tore it all down on the cross. Institutional Christianity, then, has already been torn down. All we need do is walk through the rent curtain into the life which He has made available in its place.

By Jay Ferris


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To Oversee BECAUSE They’ve Seen

Unfortunately, it is not clear to me at this time, whether life is even possible on this side of an “authentic eldership.”

I’ll try to expound.

Once life begins, once it’s vital enough to be detectable, the “children of the slave woman” make war against it, Galatians 4:29. When there is no identifiable heaven-sourced eldership, that is, no one with the perspective, power, and authority of a Paul, men will rise up and tear the body apart. Sadly, I’ve seen this even among the ranks of “good” eldership with “well-meaning” agendas. (That should be our first red flag…agendas.)

I think that by now I’m correct in this. The body of Christ is old enough where there should be “elders indeed,” and not “elders in training.” These are those who are secure enough in the Lord that they don’t have to do something, in order to be somebody. They’ve been set free to see. And thus they can truly “oversee,” because they’ve seen.

One of my highest priorities of late, has been to find this holy city of men, and women. They are older, mostly. Probably old enough that many have gone on to be with the Lord, or are on their way.

Meanwhile the young, spiritual fast guns continue to come into town. They are being cranked out by the canneries faster than ever. So let us, only as we are equipped by the Spirit, continue to work against the tide, even the tsunami. 

“And I will send Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”– Malachi 4:5

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Something Worth Being Passionate About

Someone once asked me how I could continue to endorse, by silence, religious meetings that go on in the name of the Lord. He mentioned the fact that in the Gospel of John, Jesus virtually began his ministry by cleansing the temple, not ending with it. 

Well, I don’t know the exact number of those who have already dropped out of religion (with a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ), but my impression is it’s enormous. Perhaps even greater than those who continue to go to meetings! Add to this number those turned off by what we, as believers, have done with Jesus. Then try to add those still going to meetings, but who haven’t yet come into their inheritance because the “gate keepers” want to keep them in religion, rather than life. 

What does this number total up to? It seems to me there’s not many left for me to offend—if I was even called to offend!

That’s my brief summary of the multitudes. And it’s pretty hard to get very passionate about the multitude. Jesus did at times, but for me, I have to have a very uncommon anointing, or someone to share with in this connection, to be in a place by the Spirit where I am moved by a multitude. 

But what I am moved by, much more often, is by individuals who I love, being hurt, trivialized, trashed, shelved, or deceived by the religious system. It is very common for the Spirit to bring me to a very emotional, and very passionate place about this.

I recently went to a conference for believers who meet in house groups. It was a wonderful time, but robbed somewhat by religious factions. That served to make it even more clear to me: the issue is not where we are meeting in a physical sense, but where we are meeting in a Spiritual sense. “…Not in that mountain, house, or church building, but in Spirit and in Truth.” 

From my paraphrase of what Jesus said to the woman at the well, it is past time that we go up to God’s place, not the place our flesh finds comfortable or familiar.

With some people I can speak candidly about this; others I cannot. But I will say it nonetheless. Big meetings and pixie dust is not what we need. God’s “Church” is relational, not institutional. It should be passionate, like Christ was/is passionate, about a spiritual reproduction that raises and nurtures babies in a spiritual family. It should not be passionate, as the devil was/is passionate, about a carnal reproduction that raises and nurtures multitudes who support the religious institution! 

The saints are being worn out with meetings, conferences, training programs, schools of ministries, seminaries, seminars, crusades, camp meetings, prayer meetings, ministries, and all such other spin-offs. Where is the impassioned, fruitful, reproductive life that Jesus came to bring? I’ll tell you where it is: it lies in ruins, both in, and outside the gate. Why? Because life empowered by Jesus has always been bad for the business of religion.

On a positive note. Relationships in the Lord are awesome and fruitful! They cost a lot, but Jesus warned us about the cost going in. And they are really all that is worth being passionate about.

By Jay Ferris

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Unwrapping the New Birth a Little More

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold , all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

We are speaking about a new generation populated by new creatures. Before we get too carried away with our new selves, however, it’s important to note this new creation is in the Spirit. It is home to the DNA of God, from the Spirit of Christ, but it is not finished yet, any more than any of us are in the Spirit all the time. Our old man, that is our old creation person, is still in the flesh, bound up in old creation time. Old creation time can only touch Eternity in the moment. Jesus is “I Am,” not I was. His way with us today is not necessarily His way with us yesterday.

It is right here where we come to grips with Romans 8:23, “Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.”

The order of our entry into the new creation is first adoption, (a legal matter) then the “new birth.” (made possible by the very DNA of God) This just to say, the Romans 8 passage seems to deny our new birth in the present. How can this be when Peter tells us, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God,” 1 Peter 1:23. Clearly there is no seed involved in adoption, but there is in birth, even new birth. Since the Bible doesn’t contradict itself, there must then be a sense in which the new birth is already ours. It is ours in the Spirit. Would that we would be, or stay there longer and more often! Not to worry, though. He is faithful that promised.

All of this is foundational to what I would really like to do here, and that is to unwrap this new generation a little bit further. Look at the light of Isaiah 9:6, 7: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.”

Isaiah introduces this “great light” to a people who had been living in darkness. That would be us. This “great light” comes to us in a number of ways: “a child,” “a son,” “a governor,” “a Wonderful Counselor,” “a Mighty God,” “an Everlasting Father,” and “a Prince of Peace.” All of this comes to us packaged in the firstborn of a new creation. It takes some time to open so many Christmas presents, to say nothing of coming into some understanding and closeness with them all. In any given moment of eternity, brought to us by the Spirit of God, we may find ourselves with any one of those qualities or personalities wrapped in the flesh of another person. In short, Christ may give Himself to us in another person, for whatever we need at that moment. We can learn more from having a child, for instance, than we can from going to college. I think you can figure out the rest. It takes spiritual discernment to receive Christ and the things of Christ in another person. It is a spiritual matter, and Jesus Christ is Lord of it all.

And so, with gratitude in our hearts, we can say with Paul about these whom the Lord gives us as gifts: “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy,” 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20.


By Jay Ferris, originally posted April, 2012

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The Best View From the Hill

The day He died, Jesus had the best view on the hill.

Among other things He saw that day, He saw His mother standing beside John, “the disciple He loved.”  He gave them to each other that day – John to her as a son, and her to John as a mother.

But the beholding I would like to share about here is our own beholding; what we need to see in connection with the day He died.

Pilate presented Jesus to the crowd and said, “Behold the man.” Jesus was wearing a crown that day.

Many years before that day another king wrote: “Behold …” – Well, perhaps you might want to read it for yourself in Song of Songs 3:11.

While you are there, please note the context beginning with verse 7.

And here are a couple of clues that might help with your own beholding: Jesus said that these Scriptures were all about Him, and, another way of understanding the “Who” in this passage is to remember that king Solomon was also the Son of David.

Jesus began to put the solitary in families even before He died.

-By Jay Ferris, originally published March, 2011

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The Unlimited Liability of Jesus’ Home

Where the “cost” of following Jesus is concerned, you may remember He once said to a young man who wanted to follow Him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”(1)

Surely, having no place to live is a great cost, so great that most of us can dismiss the idea as not having relevance for us today. In seeming contrast to this verse, however, how many of us noticed that Jesus DID have a home?

“… Jesus … went and lived in Capernaum…”(2)

“When Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (3)

“… They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house…” (4)

Whether or not Jesus or His family owned the house, rented the house, or were more or less extended house guests, it is clear there was a place in Capernaum called “home”, and it apparently included a house.

Now before Jesus went to this location, however, He was in next door Nazareth where He was raised. It was here that He announced His anointed purpose in the local synagogue:

“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up … ”The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (5)

It was after this that Jesus went to the next town, even to the house where He was then living.  And it was here that the man was lowered through the roof.

Broken People Break Things

Jesus’ agenda of bringing the Good News and setting people free was not in an institutional context. His lifestyle, and the lifestyle of the early Church gave evidence God’s heart is not to institutionalize people, but to meet them in their brokenness and transform their lives in a vital community of faith. Jesus brought His work home with Him, and one consequence of this was the roof of the house where He was staying was torn off.

“Institutional ministry” by its very nature is “limited liability ministry.” The ministry of Jesus was unlimited liability. Where having a “place to worship” is concerned, an unlimited liability mindset is one which does not claim even bird’s nests or fox holes. It is capable of occupation without possession or grasping.

Our point for present purposes is to see how having a home does not disqualify us from following Jesus. The important thing is our attitude about the things we possess, and most poignantly the place where we live. If our homes are going to be available for Jesus to occupy, then we must face the cost. Jesus wants to accomplish His purpose “from house to house.” This means opening our homes, our families, and our lives to poor, broken and oppressed people; and broken people break things. In their desperation they, and/or their friends, have even been known to even tear roofs off.

Are we ready for this? Are we ready for unlimited liability? Or would we prefer to go on touching lives at the relatively safe distance of our institutional programs, churches, and buildings?  I need to confess that I do not lose much sleep contrasting my own ministry to that others, that of Mother Teresa, for instance. My problems of conscience come from what I am doing or not doing in my own home.

Having flirted with His purpose in the past, it is clear that isolated individuals and families are quickly overwhelmed by the enormity of the task and the world’s response to even limited success. As a result there are more broken people than even semi-sold-out saints can handle. Making the effort, one quickly discovers why in so many cases, those who take the Lord seriously do so by appointment, someplace else, and for earthly compensation.

It is still my hope that a vital community of faith could both risk, and actually walk in the heart of Jesus.

Isn’t it time for the nets, torn by our institutions, to be mended, and the limits of liability be removed from the Church? Isn’t it time for “church” to cease being something that we do someplace else?

  1. MAT 8:19,20, 2. MAT 4:12,13, 3. MAR 2:1-5, 4. MAR 9:33, 5. LUK 4:16-24

Jay Ferris,  2/14/91

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