Gelássenheit, Community, and Brotherhood Agreements

Self-denial. It sounds like a very negative thing. But is it? What is Gelassenheit? What does it take for brothers to have Brotherhood Agreements? What does it take to live in true Community as Jesus intended? What does it mean to deny self? Why should I deny self? Why is it necessary to submit my life to other members in the church?

These questions get answered in this message, and the importance of denying ourself is explained. If viewed correctly, it is a glorious thing to deny self. Self gets in the way of so many things. Let us strive to deny and crucify self!


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Transcription:

I don’t want any of you to be spectators for the next number of minutes. I’d like all of you to be participants in this as well. We have a very interesting title that you see on your program there, and Brother Curt just read it to you. Really, there are three sermons here: Gelassenheit, Community, and Brotherhood Agreements. At least closely related concepts are here. The first two words in that title are words that are not found in the English Bible, though the teaching of those subjects is certainly there. But the title suggests a relationship between the three of these, with the evident focus being on the last one. But the title begins where Christ began. If we are agreed with each other, we would be able to make brotherhood agreements. If we are not agreed, there may be reasons why not, and these reasons are found in the title. So we journey this morning to the very root of Christian experience where we see what a healthy birth into a faithful and flourishing brotherhood looks like. It is where Jesus began; it’s where I want to begin.

I’m going to read three portions from the Gospel of John 12:24. We will eliminate context here because of time, but there is a context to this verse.

 Verse 24 says,

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”

I’d like to go to the next chapter. John 13:34-35 

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

And then John 17:21-23. This is Jesus’ prayer here.

“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; [or mature in one, or complete in one] and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”

1. Gelassenheit

It’s a German word. “Heit” in the suffix of that word turns it into a noun, much like the suffix “ness” does in English. Such as helpful, helpfulness or good, goodness. If you put “ness” on the end, you have a noun. That’s what “heit” does in that word.

Now, I will say early here, because some of you did not know what this word means, and there are probably people listening here that are concerned about us using this word in the title. There is considerable objection to the use of this term because of certain political and social usage and its meaning in those settings, but that’s not the way we’re using the word this morning. So I’m not going to apologize that we’re using this word. It’s a word that has been used in our history. (I say “our history” because I’m adopted into this history.) It was used by the writers of the radical reformation. When they used the word gelassenheit, they understood this word to mean as follows (and please understand this, because this is the way we will be using the word this morning): “Self abandonment.” That’s probably the closest English definition to gelassenheit that I could find. We could use some other words to help explain that same thought. “Self-abandonment,” “yieldedness,” “resignation to divine will,” “resignation of any form of selfishness.”

(In secular German society today, the word gelassenheit can mean such things as “composure” or “serenity” or “calmness.”) But we use it this morning with the above Biblical significance, adding to those words something I’ve not yet said: “submission,” “brokenness,” “a bowed heart.”

I’ve been asked many times over the last many years, “I want to be a missionary. I feel called to a certain place. I would like to prepare my heart. How do I do that? What should I do to be a missionary?” Someone asked me if he should get a pilot’s license. Some girls asked me if they should go to midwifery school. Some wanted to know if they should get some medical training. I’ve been asked if they should go to a school and take some language study. I’ve heard all kinds of questions. One person came to me and said, “If I would have $100,000, would that be enough to get me started somewhere on a mission field?” So there are all kinds of things that people wonder about and think about as they think about serving in that kind of place. But there’s only one qualification. Those people have not named it.

There’s only one qualification, and that would be using your word this morning: gelassenheit. It would be death to self. It is a bowed heart. It is a crucified self-life. If I have not learned to die before I go to the mission field, I have to learn to die after I’m there! Or there’s going to be great struggle; there are going to be great problems in the church. There are going to be problems with you and the national people. There are going to be problems with you – before it ever begins with the nationals; there are going to be problems with you and the other co-workers that come with you from the States or Canada or wherever you’re from. That is why many missions that start are finished within five years of their beginning, because we have not died. We don’t know how to live with the experiences that we would not have anticipated. We don’t know what to do with things that we cannot control. We don’t know what to do with the “No’s” and interruptions and problems that come in life that we did not expect, and we don’t know how to live with these [cross hard rain(?)] Everything that we’ve heard so far from the first night of this meeting on Friday evening points to this one problem – the lack of death in my life in the church. That’s problem number 1.

And Jesus began here. He began with this theme. And we need to begin with this theme. If we have not experienced the joy of submission – we never can experience the joy of it if we can’t submit, if we can’t do that. “I just cannot do that.” “I will not do that.” “You don’t know who I am. I don’t need to submit here. Somebody else might have to, but not me.” We can have no joy in submission.

We see this word gelassenheit, this self-abandonment in the kenosis of our Lord Jesus Christ. I’ll turn you to Philippians 2. You can see it there. That’s a Greek term. I will read verse 7. The self-emptying of Christ, the voluntary self-denial that was so evident in the life of Christ Himself. Your English Bible says,

“But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”

If you have a Spanish Bible in front of you, it says, “se despejo de se mismo,” which means, “He emptied Himself completely.” It takes few words in Greek to say that. It’s a verb form. The Greek word here is a verb form. “Emptying. Self-emptying. Emptying of yourself.” Kenosis is a noun form. This whole passage, these seven steps that Jesus took, coming from His eternal glory to the death on the cross – “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him.” There are seven steps there of His kenosis. It was a voluntary choice that Christ made.

No self-denial, no gelassenheit, no abandonment is of value if it’s not voluntary. I could take a young man and bring him up here this morning and have him stand here this morning. Maybe a boy small enough that I could handle it. Let’s say he’s twelve years old. And I tell him to stand erect. So he’s standing beside me erect. Then I take my hand around his neck, and I bend his head down till he’s bent, and I put him down to the ground. That is not self-abandonment. That is not self-emptying. But if it’s this young fellow at twelve years old who is facing something in life that is difficult for him, and he doesn’t know what to do about it – instead of fighting it and resisting it and trying to stiffen himself up, he bows. He bows over voluntarily.

This looks like a negative word. I use that later on. This looks negative – this whole thing of denying, surrendering, this whole matter of allowing self to die – it sounds very negative. But I read that verse to you. What do we expect to happen until that happens? What kind of life can be infused – what kind of divine nature can come in? What kind of change can we have in the church or in my heart until I’ve done that? I live with this thing. How is the Holy Spirit of God going to infuse and fill a life filled with self? This resistant, prideful, “I will have it my way” spirit. “I can afford to do it. I’m going to have it my way! I don’t surrender. You don’t see me yield. I will not die. I’m in charge here. I’ve got a handle on this thing.”

This is the problem in the church. And I’m sorry, but there are some elders and bishops that have problem, too. It doesn’t work very well. You saw the triangle on Friday night. Don’t forget that triangle. The teaching was fine. But there was something else wrong. Let that teaching come from a broken heart. Let that teaching come from a bowed spirit. Let that teaching come from someone who is meek and gentle and lowly. Let that teaching come from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ, and see the power that it’s going to have. Let the life back those words. Let the testimony of the life be equal to the eloquence of the teaching. I can talk, but I can’t teach until I practice what I preach. Jesus never needed to say that because He always practiced what He taught.

Seven steps of surrender found in this passage, which we call the kenosis, the self-emptying of Christ. The question is, has it happened to me? These surrenders of Christ – there was really only one, but it had multiple applications in His life. We see it through various steps of Christ’s journey. “Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.” (Hebrews 10:7) There, that decision was made. That was probably the logos of God making that decision in eternity past: “I will do that. I will go there. I am willing to do that. I do Thy will. I come to do Thy will.” It was a plan that He made. It was a decision that He made.

When you start your day, you pray that. You have no idea what God’s going to bring into your day. You have no idea how it’s going to turn out. You don’t know how this is going to resolve by the time the day is over, but you start off with this confession, with this decision, with this surrender, with this offering to God: “I do Thy will today.”

The problem is, we don’t look at the things that happen throughout the day as God’s will. That person should never have said that about me, and I shouldn’t have received that kind of an answer from somebody else, and the deal should not have turned out the way that it did. And this is all against me. What’s going on here? And God owes me something better than this. But we ask for God’s will to be done, in earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus faced all kinds of difficult things because He asked that His Father’s will be done. We see that voluntary surrender again in the wilderness temptations when He quoted from the book of Deuteronomy three times. We see it in His dedication in the Garden of Gethsemane. And often times in His public ministry, even in this text I read to you from John 12 when these Greeks came and said to one of the disciples, “We would see Jesus.” (Put this man up front here. Who is this? We want to see who this is. Show yourself. Prove it to us.)  And how did Jesus answer that? He said, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die . . .” (John 12:24)

If you want people to see Christ in your life, if you want people to hear Christ in your message, if you want your children to see Christ in your home, and your wife, you need to live with this spirit. I give myself.” No resistance and no fighting. “I’m done. I accept it. It’s all right. May God’s will be done.” That’s gelassenheit.

I’ll show it to you prophetically in Psalm 40, the kenosis, the gelassenheit of our Lord Jesus. That word’s not here. It’s not in the Bible; it’s a German word.

But we look at this here in Psalm 40:6-8.

“Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.”

And now go to Isaiah 50:4-5.

“The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.”

What do we have in these two pictures that I read to you? In both passages it says (the Lord speaking prophetically), “My ear Thou hast opened.” It is the picture of taking a voluntary slave way back in the book of Exodus to a doorpost or to a fencepost, or somewhere with an awl, some kind of a hole-making tool, and put that hole into his ear, pierced that right through there. And his ear was opened, and this hole was put in there. And everyone that saw that slave from that day forward knew that he was not there against his will, but totally by love and voluntary service he chose to serve His master in this way. And that’s the way Christ came. So you don’t have your ears pierced this morning in a literal sense. You look in the mirror and you don’t see any holes in there. Jesus didn’t either, but prophetically and spiritually, that’s what happened to Him. His ear is opened, and He’s doing it voluntarily from now on. What takes place in His life, God has total right to bring in His Son’s life anything He wants Him to do.

The reason why Christian life is boring, or we need more kayaking or more skiing or somehow – who knows what kind of game to play, and earplugs to put in, it’s because we’re not experiencing the work of God in our hearts. God is not using us the way He would like to use us. And we’re not available to Him, and we would resist it. And He gives us the little tests. We get one after another, after another. God gives it, and we fail the test. The heart is not surrendered. It’s not submitted. And what can God do? He takes us no further. He uses us no more. That’s as far as we got.

That’s what’s wrong in the church. You’re a preacher and you’re empty; you’re hollow and you feel dried up. You feel like it’s not working in your life. You feel like you’re going through the motions. You’re looking at the problem right here. It’s time to bow that heart and say, “Dear God, how many times in the last two months did You run into resistance in my life when You brought things to me, and here I am. This morning I must bow. This morning, I have wasted Your strength long enough. I’ve grieved Your Spirit long enough. I have held off my service to Your cause for long enough. I yield my heart to You.” This is what Christ did, and this is what He taught us to do. This is the call of Jesus to our own hearts. As I said, the title of this message begins where Jesus began.

Here’s where Jesus began:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Matthew 5:3

Poverty of spirit. Compare poverty of spirit with an exalted spirit, a lifted-up spirit. “I’m in control of myself” spirit. “I decide how it goes” spirit. “I know how to handle it” spirit. “I’ve got the capacity” spirit. “I’m doing ok” spirit. Compare that to poverty of spirit. Make a decision. Make a decision.

Just what is poverty of spirit? This is a simple definition: It’s death to self. Blessed is the person who dies to himself. Blessed is the person that does not have that old self to carry around. Can you imagine? Here’s Dale Heisey up here. He’s got these papers in his hands. He’s got a Bible open on this pulpit. Can you imagine him with this body that he’s carrying around, this old man that he’s carrying around, this life of flesh that he’s carrying around, this selfish nature – he’s got to carry it around. Every place he goes, he walks with it. He tries to talk, and it gets in the way. He tries to do something, and here it is. It’s a hindrance! You carry this around. Paul asked the question: “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). One surrender, one trip to the cross, one laying of self down, one corn of wheat falling to the ground and dying, will take care of it!  Until that time, it remains alone; it abides alone, and then who gets any benefit from it?

That’s poverty of spirit. That’s where Jesus began. Start right there.

You’re acquainted with this verse. Most of you could quote it by heart. I can too, but I’m going to turn to it here in the Bible. Sometimes I get Spanish words and English words mixed up, so I will look at it here. I’ll read Matthew 16:24-26.

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. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake [and that’s voluntarily] shall find it. 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?”

We must make an exchange here. We decide to lose this old life. This life I just talked about that I’m carrying around and it goes with me wherever I go, and people can smell it and see it. Before they even get close to it, they know there’s something wrong with him. What is wrong with that? There’s a spirit there that should not be there. There’s an attitude toward myself there that should not be here. It’s a hindrance to the cause of Christ. It grieves the Spirit of God. It cannot be used of our Lord. The Holy Spirit of God would like to infuse this and use this, but He cannot. I must do something about it. There’s something to be rid of first.

This is a call that Jesus is giving us here. It sounds strange; it sounds negative. It says, Dale, you don’t understand what you’re talking about. Jesus, here in this call to disciples: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself.” This is a call to greatness. This is not a call to defeat, loneliness, uselessness. It’s a call to greatness. Greatness of the Kingdom kind.

Listen to these words:

“Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.”

Matthew 18:14

Jesus had already said,

“Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 18:3

But this greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven is humility and brokenness, smallness, submission, surrender, yieldedness, self-emptying, self-abandonment. How can the Spirit of God inhabit a heart where self is enthroned?

This unconditional surrender is not the spiritual attainment of a select few. It is the narrow gate that we must enter that leads to life eternal, or we are still on the broad way. I don’t know if it was the Great Awakening. I don’t know if it was some kind of influence of pietism. I don’t know how it was, that the theological meaning for what we feel happens at baptism was changed from its earlier Anabaptist understanding of what baptism is all about. You can start this Schleitheim Confession of Faith and read down through the writers there for the next forty years, and you’ll find one quote after another where they will tell you that the significance of baptism is death to self. So when those people go to those baptismal waters, they understand what’s happening here. I go in there with too much of me, and when I come out of there, something of my own I choose to leave behind. It’s not that the water washes that away; it’s a choice. It’s a verbal, it’s a practical illustration of what I want to happen to me. When those Anabaptists took their new converts into that water or used the water with them (however they did their baptism at that time) they understood that this means “I want self to be slain.”

I’m going to ask you a question. When was the last time you were at a baptism where that was the emphasis, and that was understood, and the people that were baptized knew that though they had a choice before in life, they have none now. We have one choice after that baptism. The choice is this: “I choose for my life what God has already chosen.” That’s the only choice. Beyond that, there’s no other choice. I choose what God has chosen.

And can you imagine a congregation of people in any city of this nation, in any community or hedgerow in any of these counties, filled with people who have made that decision, whose baptism signified that for them? I realize there’s a commitment to the church. I realize there’s a faithfulness to the brotherhood position. I realize there may be some external differences that go along with that. It certainly is true in Costa Rica when these dear people get converted and come to the congregation. But the first choice is this: I decrease, but He must increase. And He can’t increase until I decrease. I can’t be filled with Him until I’m empty of me. I must be finished with this before I can receive this. O God, then pour it in. But Dale, get rid of it first. Dale, get rid of it first.

That’s the message we’re looking at here. Is this what we intend baptism to mean?

I’ll take to you Romans 12 and we’re going to soon finish this point. As you notice, it is an important point. It is the point. Romans 12:1 says,

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, (there you see it) holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (or your spiritual worship).

You can translate those last two words “reasonable service” several different ways, and still retain the original meaning there. The word “present” here is the same word as “yield” that we’ve had earlier in the book of Romans. Yield yourself. Yield your body. Offer it to God. Present it to Him. And how do we do that? By surrendering it.

So you come to a difficult decision in life, a difficult problem in life, an unexpected interruption, a great disappointment. Something you never thought was going to happen, it happened. What are you going to do about it? So here we are, and so the contest is on. It’s Dale against these circumstances. It’s Dale against what he never would have chosen in life. Here he is. And this is going on.

But there’s advice for us here. There’s a command for us here. There’s an opportunity here. There’s an invitation in verse 1. Dale, you’re at a tough spot, and you’re living by faith. And though you’ve made that surrender years ago, you’ve never made this surrender before in your life. You’ve made many surrenders in the past; you’ve never made this one. You’ve yielded, you’ve surrendered in times past, but you never have done this one. Bow your heart, Dale. Go under. Lose it. Don’t hold on to it. Give it to me. Surrender it. Turn it over. The miracle happens right there. That’s where the miracle happens. The miracle doesn’t happen until that happens. And when we do that, something glorious takes place in our lives. The life we now live in the flesh, we live by the faith of the Son of God. (See Galatians 2:20.) The word “flesh” there is body, by the way. We live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved us, and gave Himself for us. That’s the beautiful thing that happens. It’s a miracle that happens there.

I’ll show this to you without these words being used, but the thought is clearly here in Revelation 13:10. You can see it in these precious early Christians. In verse 10, look what it says:

“He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.”

Here is the gelassenheit of the saints. Here is the self-abandonment and the surrender of the saints. Here is the victory that comes because there’s yieldedness and self-denial. Here is the victory that comes because life was yielded to God.

In Revelation 14:12 we have the same thought:

“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”

And we can’t do it any other way! For the Anabaptists, gelassenheit had several practical applications. It enabled them to accept the martyrdom. Why? Because their death had already happened. It furthermore allowed for them to surrender their material goods to the needs of the Christian community. They were free to do that. We must help our converts begin their Christian experience right here. Don’t wait until they’re ten years into it. Don’t wait until they’re grandparents. Get them started the very first steps. Get them right here.

I don’t know if I should do this to you. It sounds a little grosera [Spanish word for “rude”] maybe, I don’t know. I was teaching an instruction class, and one of my daughters was in that instruction class. And this was the last time we were going to be together before the baptismal service that night. I told these new converts – I told these applicants for the baptism and for entrance into the Christian congregation, I told them I’d like to have a great big block of wood here on the floor, and I’d have a large hammer, and a large nail. And before you’re eligible for baptism, I want you all to come up here and lay your hand on that block of wood, and I’m going to drive that nail right down through there. I want to see if you mean it or if you don’t. I want to know if you’re yielded to this or if you’re not. I want to know if you’re ready to go to that cost or not. I wonder if that’s the way you’re committing yourself to Christ or not. I want to see visibly what you’re planning to do. I’ll never forget what happened. My daughter began to get excited. She jumped up from her chair. She said, “Please, Daddy. I’m first, Daddy. I’m first, Daddy. Please Daddy!” That’s what she said.

I’m asking you: Do you plan for it? Is it even part of the thinking? This is what we’re doing. This is the Christian life. And we see that in the victory that’s written through the pages of the last book of the Bible. Those people had that commitment. And if I don’t, they have something that I’ll never have until I get there. (“Please Daddy, let me be first. Please Daddy!”)

This morning, you don’t need someone to drive a nail down through. There’s something more holy than that that must be done. There’s something deeper that only God can do. And He’ll do it this morning. He’ll do it this morning in your life and in my life. He will do it.

2. Community

This is how disciples of Christ are born. The company of the committed. The gathered assembly of those who daily choose what God has already chosen for them. Your Greek word is ecclesia, “the called-out ones.” Now listen. This is true nonconformity. This is true separation from the world. And what a way! Where self is denied, and the flesh has died, and the torch is aflame! That’s true nonconformity to the world. The world doesn’t understand it. And when they run into that spirit, run into that experience, run into someone who lives that way, they notice that! Quickly, they notice that! That’s what true separation from the world is.

Can you imagine what would happen if 120 people like this would meet together with one accord in one place in an upper room? These anointed ones. These ones that had the same anointing upon them that Christ the anointed One had upon Him. God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into their hearts, into our hearts. (See Galatians 4:6.)

Yet they are known for something more in this community. We’ve already read it.

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

John 13:35

That’s the ultimate witness. According to Jesus, in that passage in John 13 and then repeated in chapter 17 where we read this morning, there is no higher witness for Christ on this earth than for the world to see the community of Christian people, the local brotherhood, the assembly of the saints in deep love for each other as Christ loved them – practicing the Golden Rule, first of all, among themselves, and then with those who live outside the Christian community. That’s the ultimate witness.

What is Christian community? Well, it’s certainly more than a colony. It requires more than so much acreage and some distinct architecture to create a Christian community. It requires koinonia, the fellowship of the saints, where I see my brother’s good as my own, where I see Christ in my brother. This is why we can esteem our brother better than ourselves.

Just think about this. It would be awful hard for there to be any gossip in the Christian community where this is the way we thought about our brother. In this community, there is one accord. In our Spanish Bible, we don’t have that word in the book of Acts. It uses the word, “unanimous” every time. Unanimous. One heart, one voice, living in harmony as we heard last night from Psalm 133:1. The word, “symphony” is used in Matthew 18:19. The verb form of that word is symphonizing one with another in the church. All these voices and hearts and gifts contributing to a holy orchestral philharmonic sound – symphony.

How do we become one? We have this verse that has identified Kingdom Fellowship Weekend now for many years. The verse reads like this: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). That is what they did.

Why can we be one? Because we all have one logos, and we’ve seen Him living – Christ! And we see it written in the Bible. We have it here. We all have it. It doesn’t change for any of us. We have it available. We have one Spirit. We have one Bible. We have one altar prayer, and one throne to which we go. There is one mercy seat. There is only one light and one love. It is God, according to 1 John.

We have all experienced the grace of God. It’s amazing that when Barnabas got to Antioch, sent there by the apostles at Jerusalem, the first thing he saw when he got there was “the grace of God” (Acts 11:23). I might have a brother or sister in the congregation that has some needs, and they have some struggles, and things are not going so very well. But there’s the grace of God that’s evident there. And so, we have worship. We join in worship with those four living creatures and the twenty-four elders. We stand in silence and adore. We lift up our voice with one accord to God in prayer, as the church did.

So are we experiencing community? (I see I must bring this to a close.)

Without gelassenheitand community, there can only be external or legal compliance, but not true unity, not true consensus, not brotherhood agreement. And so we see the negative and the positive, the emptying of self, the denying of self, the death to self, the laying it down, the resignation, the surrender.

Then we see something else being part of that Christian community – what is infused, what comes in, what becomes part of it. Where does that come from – that grace, that Spirit, that life of God in the soul of man? It comes in there, that infusion.

You may have read with me what a prisoner wrote. It was included in one of the Loaves and Fishes magazines. He was speaking there to fellow prisoners and he said, “We are in the prison, but we are not of the prison.” He said, “When the Roman people looked at those early Christians, they used two Greek words to refer to these Christians. The two words were en theos, which means they are filled with God. God is in them! And that infusion, that en theos does not happen until gelassenheit happens. And then the community of God’s children is en theos!

And you know that word very well. You don’t talk Greek, but you have an English word that says the same thing. Your word is “enthused” or “enthusiasm” – which is not so much excitement and emotional frivolity. It literally means being filled with God. Enthused! Infused! Filled with God! So those two work together. We empty. God pours in. As it goes out, something else comes in. In this exchange, life is replaced with something else.

3. Brotherhood Agreements

 A little more needs to be said about that. If we are not one with each other, we have probably already heard the reason why this morning. If a brotherhood is not agreed, it cannot make agreements. We’re called to be one. We’re called to love each other. We’re called to lay down our lives for each other. We’re called to submit one to another in the fear of God. We’re called to not eat meat as long as the earth standeth if it causes my brother to offend. (See 1 Corinthians 8:13.) We are called to consider the conscience of my brother. We’re called to have a brotherhood consciousness and not just a personal preference. An unsurrendered heart cannot submit and will certainly never find joy in submission.

Instead of looking at a Biblical rationale for brotherhood agreements, I’m just going to do something else, and read you several phrases that come from your Bible. All these are from the book of Acts, and they tell you how this church was in agreement. This should then give you an easy understanding as to how they formed their positions and together agreed to do things and represent things and identify with each other. And we can do the same when we have the spirit that they had.

Listen to these phrases:

“They lifted up their voice to God with one accord.”

Acts 4:24

“For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us.”

Acts 15:28

“And the saying pleased the whole multitude.”

Acts 6:5

“The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.”

Acts 4:32

“They were all with one accord in one place.”

Acts 2:1

“They rejoiced for the consolation.”

Acts 15:31

“It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord.”

Acts 15:25

“Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church.”

Acts 15:22

“That they may be one.” [Jesus said in John 17.] The problem must be addressed at the place where Christ put this concern at the very beginning of Christian life. We do not find eternal life until we voluntarily choose to lose our own life. How can we experience agreement in community until we have learned to die?

I don’t know if this person has learned to die. If she has learned to die by now in the last four days, then I’m happy. But I’ll tell you what happened four days ago when I told my wife that I think we should go visit a certain home. It just seems like there’s a problem. These people are not members of our congregation. I just had a love and concern for them. (Tears.)  When we got there, the man I wanted to see was not home. His wife came out and met us outside at the porch. I was not there two minutes, and here is what she said: “Brother Dale, the Lord sent you here. Thank you for coming. I know you came to see my husband. You wanted to help him. But it’s my fault. I’m the one that’s wrong. I have such turmoil in my heart, Brother Dale, I don’t know what to do. Can you help me? I am the one that needs help.” And she began to cry.

If you’re here this morning, and you thought this whole service this weekend was about somebody else, but this morning there’s a crying need in your heart, and you say, “It’s my fault; the problem is with me. Dear God, can you help me?” The answer is, that’s why we’re together this weekend. May God bless you.