And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. Judges 7:2
Notice in the above scripture that God was concerned “lest Israel vaunt themselves against me”. God is against human pride, and that pride is most evident when we accomplish things in our own strength. That is why God decides to do things His way, which nearly always throws out the human factor. God does so in order to seal every avenue that man would use to “vaunt” himself against Him.
There is a certain belief in church today that if you can read the Bible and you have the Holy Spirit in you, then you are self-sufficient. But that would make too many ‘self-made’ believers, and God is not about to do that.
So with the church, God decided to use a foolish way called a revelation – a revelation of the cross (1 Cor. 1:21). This revelation was the way of which Jesus spoke when He said, “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Mat. 7:14).
God would reveal it to a few men – prophets and apostles – and on this foundation He would build a church upon which “the gates of hell shall not prevail” (Mat. 16:17).
Paul confirms that in Ephesians 3:1-5:
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”
If the apostles received the gospel through revelation, I wonder how we can receive it any other way. The way – or gospel – of the cross is a revelation. No man can know that way except it be revealed to him by God Himself.
Anyone can have the basic knowledge about the cross, that Jesus came and died for our sins, and that He rose again for our justification.
I was once invited to a wedding in a certain church and during the sermon I heard the preacher elucidate on the gospel in as clear and concise a manner as I have ever heard. And yet this is a sect which is known to have some of the most erroneous doctrines concerning the gospel.
There is a very large portion of the church today which does not have a revelation of the cross in their hearts, and that is why there are many strange doctrines within the Christian church because the minute you decide to forge ahead with the ‘gospel’ without the revelation, you throw yourself wide open to every worldly doctrine that comes along – and there is no shortage of these.
The church must submit itself under the foundation of the apostles and prophets, men who bring the revelation of the cross into the church. That is the way God builds His church.
And what is the basis of our submission to the ministries that God has ordained to build and put His house in order?
In Luke 10:21 we read, “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight”.
It is not a cut-and dried case of “So who can and who can’t receive such revelation?” Jesus here tells us exactly the kind or type of people that God has chosen to reveal the things of the Kingdom to: “babes”. He is talking about the condition of our hearts.
It is clear from scripture that God looks upon the human heart. There are many “wise and prudent” men in church, and these cannot receive the revelation of the gospel. These are men who will always contend with scripture. The Bible says God has hidden the mysteries of the Kingdom from such people.
God knows the kind of heart in which He can entrust His mysteries. In our human understanding, we would entrust things to those people who appear ‘capable’. But this is the very idea God is dead against. Not that God does not appreciate capable people, but His definition of ‘capable’ is slightly different than ours. God’s definition of ‘capability’ is humility.
The apostles were humble men. They lived the crucified life. That is why God could entrust them with the gospel. The fact that they were educated (Paul) or not (Peter and all the other fishermen) is insignificant.
God Himself tells us the kind of heart that He dwells or works with.
Isaiah 57:15 reads, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones”.
And in Isaiah 66:1-2: “1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? 2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”
You don’t find many trembling Christians today. There are self-appointed ‘apostles’ today who by this definition are not apostles at all. These men are neither humble, nor do they live a crucified life. For that very reason, even the gospel they carry is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. They have a blueprint of the church which is not God’s.
In the same manner there are believers today whose walk is not of true faith. Today’s church generation has been taught to “claim” things from God. But “claiming” is not faith. Throughout the gospels we see men and women who sought different forms of help from our Lord Jesus Christ, and the most notable thing about them all is that they came in humility, beseeching Him. I have not seen one instance in the scriptures where someone “claimed” or demanded anything from Jesus.
A classic case is that of the Syrophenician woman who besought Jesus “that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter” (Mk. 7:26). Jesus had closed the door. But she opened that door through her humble heart. Notice she did not “claim”. Instead, she came “and fell at his feet” (.v.25).
Many of God’s children today have a lesson to learn about humility – and about Who God really is!
True faith is found in humility. There is something about a humble heart that draws God to men.
Scripture makes it clear that we cannot choose to receive the revelation of the gospel. But we can choose to humble ourselves and order our hearts aright – and desire to know how God builds His church.
Thus only can we hope to live spiritually victorious lives, just as the Israelites under Gideon defeated the Midianites.
[Below: The bottom line: “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise” Mk. 21:16]