18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Eph. 6:18-20
Notice that Paul was “… an ambassador in bonds”.
Have you ever seen a man in chains? Not handcuffs, but real chains. Sometimes we see prisoners in, say, the prison at Guantanamo, in chains. The chains make it impossible for the prisoners to move about with any amount of freedom.
That is what Paul is talking of here. But he is speaking in the Spirit. The fact that he was chained in the natural or not is not what Paul is referring to here. He is talking about being chained in the Spirit.
Paul was chained by God Himself. And the reason that God chained Paul was so Paul would not speak or preach anything that did not come from God. God did not want Paul to preach in his own freedom. He did not want him to preach anything he thought he wanted to preach. Above all, God did not want Paul to preach things that came from his mind. And mark you, Paul had one of the finest minds you will ever find on this earth. But God did not want anything to do with that.
(Some of the most misguided preachers today are men who carry the world’s most brilliant minds.)
When Paul therefore went to the Corinthians, he was already in chains, God’s chains, and this is what he tells them:
“1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Cor. 2:1-5)
Scripture here gives us, in a nutshell, a true picture of the attitude that a servant of God ought to carry in ministry. Notice Paul ministered “in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling” because he feared lest he compromise the message that God had committed him to bring.
It is incredible how Christians believe that every person who claims to be a preacher has been sent by God. And it is even more incredible the amount of garbage that Christians swallow believing it is the Word of God.
But the truth is that not many preachers actually carry the true, unadulterated Word of God. Most of today’s preachers have not even been sent by God, and all they carry is human wisdom, the lusts of their own flesh.
And why, pray, is it that most preachers cannot bring the true Word of God to the church? It is because not many are true “ambassadors in chains” in the Spirit. Not many preachers will allow themselves to be chained by God in the Spirit. Not many would accept to undergo the kind of life that the Apostle Paul or John the Baptist lived. Not many would accept to be debased.
Many preachers want to speak and live freely. But that is a dangerous place to be because that is exactly where the devil wants them to be. The devil wants preachers to be free in the flesh. Thus they can “speak their mind”, literally.
But Paul did not want “speak his mind”. He wanted to speak “… as I ought to speak.”
How did Paul ought to speak? Paul wanted to speak as God wanted him to speak. Sometimes we overlook the fact that we have a nature in us that wants to be heard.
God therefore stripped Paul of his freedom, and put him in chains. He put a bit in his mouth. He told him, “From today on, you, Saul, are dead. You will henceforth be known as Paul, my servant.”
Not too long ago, someone approached me and they wanted me to write something. They told me, “Mwita, you are such a fine writer, we think you should begin writing such and such a thing.”
The thing they wanted me to write on had to do with the gospel all right, but in a slightly different vein.
My mind thought about the proposal, but in my spirit nothing moved. It was quiet there as a graveyard. But I was too foolish to make the connection.
And then, one day, I read this scripture, where Paul revealed that God had chained him in order that he would not preach anything other than the Word that came from God’s mouth. Instantly, I knew that God did not want me to run that series.
I did not ever answer the brethren, and I am glad they never called back. For me, it was over.
By saying that, I do not claim that everything I write in this blog is God’s Word. There are times, I am sure, when I write before I have heard clearly – or even vaguely – from God. But, that notwithstanding, my desire is only to say what comes from God’s heart. Hopefully, one day, I will arrive at the full realization of that desire. But I know it will come at a price, a price that I am slowly becoming conscious of in my heart.
God’s church is sacred. We cannot play about with God’s church. We cannot preach whatever we want just because we are looking for money, fame or influence. As human beings all we have our own personal agendas, agendas which are not of God. Actually, the human agenda is all about self. We therefore cannot bring God’s agenda into the church or to the world, even with the best of intentions – unless we are on the right foundation. That foundation is the revelation of the cross of Jesus Christ, where we are daily crucifying the flesh.
Paul told the Corinthians: “I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” (1 Cor. 15:31)
This foundation is what Paul is talking about when he says he was “an ambassador in bonds”. The crucifying of our fleshly desires should be our aim as children of God. Only then can we be sure that we are serving God as we ought to.
[Below: Beautiful Tanzania – “Karibu!”]
Photo Credit: Carol Lanthier