Joh 15:12-13 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
1Co 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
This is the true gospel of Jesus Christ, a gospel that crucifies the flesh. This is the revelation that the Apostle Paul received from Jesus and it is the gospel that he and the early Apostles preached.
The following account is the fictitious story of two fictitious Pentecostal churches in a fictitious country. The two initially started off as one church in the early years when Pentecostalism was taking root in that country. Indeed, this church was the first and biggest Pentecostal church in the land. One day the top bishop convened an impromptu council meeting in which he announced that there would be some leadership restructuring involving some of his subordinates. Unfortunately, the move was perceived by a section of the leadership to have not been made in good faith. The brother who was affected by the reshuffle had a lot of influence and he stood his ground and refused to surrender his position. The leader, on the other hand, declared that this brother would have to move. A deadlock ensued and the outcome was that this second brother and his supporters broke away and started another church, under a different name.
Many years passed and both these denominations grew and became powerful and had large followings. They were the vanguard of the Pentecostal movement and they were easily the two biggest Pentecostal denominations in that country. The two leaders of these churches became not only powerful bishops, but God gave them much grace and both were endowed with much spiritual power and they had miracles, signs and wonders evident in their ministries. The bishop who broke away had the more powerful ministry and one trademark of his ministry was that during his evangelistic crusades he would simply breathe into the microphone and demons would begin popping out of people. The whole country was filled with the knowledge of them as the two most powerful Pentecostal preachers. More importantly, they were recognized the world over as great men of God, men who had birthed and nurtured the Pentecostal movement in their part of the world.
During the years that followed the signs of bad blood that flowed between these two leaders showed in the many battles that they fought in courts of law over buildings and many other things. In the natural course of events, many other ministers broke off from these two big denominations and started their own churches. These young ministers, aware of the inner struggles that these two leaders were engaged in, tried to bring them to reconcile. One such occasion was done on such a huge national platform that it was reported even in the nation’s media. They shook hands in public and everyone breathed a sigh of relief, confident that these men of God had at last settled their differences.
The years went by and our two leaders had become old. Then, one day, the bishop who started the second denomination died. There was a large, national mourning for him because many prominent people had passed under his ministry. A number of government officials had got born-again under his ministry. Even the president of the country announced he would be attending the bishop’s funeral.
But, alas! just a day before the funeral of this bishop was to take place, the other church, from which he had broken off, moved to court to block his burial because news had transpired that this bishop was to be buried at the grounds of one of the churches where there was still a case in the courts regarding the ownership of that property!
The judge who was to preside over the new case realized that a scandal was looming because the burial had already been announced and the president was to attend. He therefore called the two parties together and, using some diplomacy, he allowed the burial to proceed while he promised to handle the matter later on. The upshot of it all was that the bishop of the first church failed to attend his compatriot’s funeral!
This unbelievable state of affairs had gone on for over 40 years. End of story.
This account might seem far-fetched and it could be fictional indeed, but there are many such stories in real life. Preachers and Christians alike appear to be okay on the outside – powerfully proclaiming the gospel – but in their hearts they harbor every kind of unpleasantness towards one another. We are like the graves that Jesus talked about in Luke 11:44 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.”
We need to make sure that everything is okay on the inside – in our hearts – while we still have the opportunity here on earth. God is not interested in our ministries. Nor is He concerned with outer appearance and all our ‘busy-ness’ on His behalf. Not, certainly, as much as He is in the condition of our hearts. That is why we need to hear the gospel that is founded on the apostolic foundation, which is the only gospel that can confront our carnal natures. It is the only gospel that can renew us from the inside. I thank God there is power in the gospel of Jesus Christ! We need to humble ourselves and allow God’s hand to deal with our hearts. Otherwise, we risk being rejected by God on the last Day, even if we were effective ministers or Christians here on earth. We need to hear the gospel where the Cross of Christ is preached in its fullness. There alone will we learn to walk with a pure and humble heart, gladly turning the other cheek; losing our lives and our rights; patiently giving our lives to one another and showing forth the example of love that Jesus left us to follow.