The Cup – Part 2

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 1 Cor. 12:13

Does it matter how we partake of the Lord’s Supper?

Absolutely. What we do physically in this regard has far-reaching consequences, just as living the rest of our Christian lives has. Let us read one scripture in particular.

“20 When you come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. 21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. 22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? what shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.” (1 Cor. 11:20-22)

That’s the Apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians. Paul realized what was happening in this church. People were so self-centered that the Lord’s Supper had become a free-for-all affair. Everyone did whatever was right in their own eyes. And in doing so (since the flesh had the fore) there was therefore a lot of despising of the church of God, and there was a lot of shaming those who had nothing. There was a lot of stigmatization going on in that church, and this in particular was something the Apostle Paul could not stand. Paul could not stand the poor and weak in church being slighted. He knew it for what it was: it was an affront to Christ. And Paul had harsh words for the Corinthians.

what shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.”

And Paul was forced to remind the Corinthians the exact manner that the Lord had administered the Lord’s Supper.

“23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: do this in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” (1 Cor. 11:26)

Today, there is a lot of despising and shaming that goes on in church. This is not something new, it has been there since the times of the Early Church as we see here with the church at Corinth. It is part of the onslaught of the flesh against the church. But the partaking of the one cup removes any stigma that might be attached to a brother or sister due to any physical, material or social lack that they might have. Partaking of one cup makes us one. It powerfully breaks any barriers that there may be in the natural, and joins us together into one Body.

Notice that this is the Lord’s Supper. It is not our supper. Our supper serves only to fill our stomachs; it ministers to our bodies. We can take our supper any way we want. On the contrary, the Lord’s Supper is spiritual, and it ministers to our spirits. When we are partaking of the bread, we are partaking of the Lord’s body, and when we drink from that cup, we are partaking of the blood of the Lord Jesus which was shed for the sins of many. This signifies that, in the same way, we too are called to share in the emptying of our own lives that others might live.

This is the powerful reason we should not deviate from the manner that the Lord Jesus Christ set forth in partaking the cup, and which the Early Apostles also carried out.

Let me end with the words of the Prophet Isaiah.

“3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” (Is. 40:3-5)

Recently, our government began putting up what they call a “standard gauge” rail road that will cut across the country. What surprised me was how level that railroad is. There is no valley, hill or mountain that is allowed to stand before that railroad. Every hill that stands in that railroad’s path will be leveled, and any mountain will be drilled through. That railroad will be as straight as a needle. When I saw that, I began thinking, If man can make something so level, can God not perfect His church even more?

The church is – literally – Christ and His Body. Here, he who is low will be lifted up, and he who is lifted up will be lowered… until we all become level, and truly one. In this manner, true love will be exemplified and given space to perform its good work in church.

The partaking of the cup at the Lord’s Supper is a good starting place.

[The Lord exalts Himself in the humble things of this world]


CTMI East Africa Youth Camp 2016

This year’s youth camp was held in Tanzania, in the town of Musoma, which is situated on the shores of Lake Victoria. The campsite was located in a resort situated at the extreme end of the Musoma peninsula.

The camp ran for five days, from the evening of 13th to the morning of Sunday, 18th December. More than 700 young people attended the camp. They came from all over East Africa; but we also had delegates from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mauritius and the UK.

The key speaker for the conference was Pastor Lenny Boy from Mauritius. His central message was two-fold:

  • a love for the cross, and;
  • becoming bearers of the spiritual inheritance.

Reading from the Book of Numbers chapter 21 verses 4 to 9, Pastor Lenny emphasized the danger of turning our backs on the cross especially in this rebellious generation.

“4 And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. 5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. 6 And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. 7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.”

East or west, north or south, our only hope of redemption is in the cross. The children of Israel had began to cultivate a love of (or, a return to) the world. They murmured against the way that God was taking them through. They did not like the long and difficult road one little bit, so they complained. Above all, and most displeasing to God, they “loatheth this light bread.”

But that “light bread” was Christ Himself! It had been given to them by God Himself, direct from heaven. But in their souls, they loathed this bread. In essence, they loathed Christ. They did not love the ways of the Lord. They wanted the bread and water of this world. God was deeply displeased with them, for they wanted their ways – the ways of this world – rather than the ways of the Lord.

In His anger, God brought fiery serpents in their midst, and many, many people died. When the people cried out to God, He gave them an antidote for the snakes’ poison; He instructed Moses to make a brass snake, and to set it up on a pole in the desert. Whoever got bitten and looked at the snake would live.

Brother Lenny told us that, in this adulterous generation, we are not to loathe the Christ who has been revealed to us, who is the crucified Christ. Our souls should not loathe the ways of the Lord. We should not tire of the cross. When we tire of the cross, sin quickly bites us.

But God is still merciful, and He has put a brass snake in the desert. When sin bites us, we can still turn to the cross and there find salvation and redemption when we repent and turn again to the Lord.

If we want to live in this rebellious and adulterous generation, we have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. East or west, our only hope of redemption is in the crucified Christ. If we fail to accept the ways of the Lord we shall die.

During the second part of this conference, Pastor Lenny also spoke of the need for the youth to desire to inherit the positions that the elders are leaving behind; not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Lenny spoke about “passing the baton”, referring to the 4×4 relay race. He spoke about the readiness and anticipation that the one who is receiving the baton has to have.

The youth, he said, need to have that same readiness in the Spirit. It is a preaparedness of the spirit. When the youth are thus prepared in their spirits, the elders can walk away into the twilight of their lives in the firm assurance that the gospel will continue to abound and prosper.

The real enemy against this preparedness is a love for the world. Pastor Lenny spoke about how today’s youth are keen on the ways of this world. They are extremely tech-savvy. They boast in how easily they can master every new technological app!

But God does not want us to be carried away by these things. He wants us to know His ways, which are the ways of the cross. To have a readiness in our hearts to suffer with Christ, and to be a light unto the world. That is the only way the youth can be prepared to take the baton from their elders.

The meetings were extremely charged with the power of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, on the last day, Sunday, there was a special session of prayer for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Hundreds of young people came forward and got baptized in the Holy Spirit.

On that same Sunday, immediately after the morning service, there was a water baptism for those who had not yet been baptized. After all, we were right by the lake and there was much water!

Many young people came forward to be baptized, and there was much rejoicing.

And with that note, the camp came to a powerful ending. There was joy all around. But of even more importance, there were new resolutions made, new hope imparted and a true revival in the Spirit in the hearts of the young people.

God bless Pastor Lenny, God bless Pastor Stephen, God bless all the elders, God bless the youth!

[Below: The camp meeting in pictures]

Many traveled to the camp by bus:


Lenny preaching the gospel:

God was at work in many young people’s hearts:


A section of the large tent meeting:


In the afternoons, it was time for games and recreation. Here, the young people prepare to go out to play…

… with the elders close in tow:


In the playing fields, there was a wide variety of games:

In the meantime, the elders took time off to relax:

The scenic landscape of the Musoma peninsula…

… and a lovely sunset:


The beautiful cottages of the Matvilla Beach Resort, where the camp was held:


On Saturday evening, Brother Lenny made a special prayer for the sisters from Malawi:

And Pastor Stephen ministered briefly:


The brethren who attended from Mauritius and the UK:


The IT crew:


The youth receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit!:

Scores of youth were also baptized in the waters of Lake Victoria:

And Bishop Elly Mpule was there to witness the occassion:


Joe and I in a photo-op with Lenny:


And, finally, the team from Singida…


… who brought along some very original photo-shooting styles:

Receiving the Right Thing

20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.

21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.

22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.

23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. Mat. 20:20-23

Notice that these sons of Zebedee and their mother came “worshipping” Jesus; but also desiring a certain thing of him.” So, these folks first worshipped Jesus, then presented their request to Him.

In other words, these folks worshipped Jesus because they wanted something from Him!

That is a dangerous combination, if ever there was one. If there is anything dangerous in church but which, alas! is going full steam ahead in many churches today, it is people going to church to “worship” the Lord because they want something of this world from Him. Many people are not aware of it, but this state of affairs is going on in their lives all the time!

Today, the 21st of December, 2014 is Sunday and this morning many folks are going to church ostensibly to worship the Lord. But God knows our hearts and He knows how many of us are truly going there to worship Him in truth and in the Spirit. He knows how many are going to church because all we want is the establishment of God’s Kingdom in our hearts. He knows how many of us are going there because we truly need an overhaul of the state of our spiritual lives.

He knows how many are going to church because we want to lose our lives more and to serve others more.

He also knows those who are going to worship Him simply for who He is.

But many, alas! are going to worship, but “desiring a certain thing” of Jesus – something of this world. They want the good things of this life. That is why they are going to church.

And today in many charismatic churches many preachers will end their sermons with an altar call where God’s children will be told to “Receive!” Many of God’s people will “receive” many things in church today.

Receiving is not a bad thing. We see Jesus also telling James and John to “Receive!” But what He told them to receive is vastly different from what many today will be “receiving” from their preachers.

Jesus told these gentlemen to prepare to receive only one thing: the cup and the baptism (Mk. 10). He did not promise to give them anything of this world. But we know they wanted something of this world. They wanted a place of honor in what they thought was Jesus’ impending worldly kingdom.

Today many people are going to church to receive the good things of this life. Personally I have no problem with a child of God receiving the good things of this life. I believe God also has no problem with that. But in reality, the things of this life are small change with God. That is why whether we receive the good things of this life or not is not a big deal with God; and it should not be with us. The Apostle Paul says in Philippians that he knew “both how to be abased, and… how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Phil. 4:12)

When it comes to receiving, there is something of far greater importance which we as the church ought to pay attention to. We should not miss this one. We may miss the good life, but we should not miss the one thing that Jesus wants us to receive.

What is this thing? It is what Jesus gave to James and John. It is what He told them to “Receive!” It is the cup and the baptism.

This is what we should all be going to church to receive this Sunday morning.

Unfortunately, many will be going to be entertained by the good music, or by the charismatic preacher. Many more will be going to seek and answer to their prayers – prayers for the things of this life.

But ours is a heavenly agenda. May God open our eyes to see the heavenly agenda. We will then worship Christ for who He is, not for what we want from Him.

Have a blessed Sunday service!


(Un)Loving This Life

20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.

21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.

22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.

23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.

24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.  Mat. 20:20-24

While everyone in Jesus’ camp was thinking about the glory that would be theirs once they had arrived in Jerusalem (or wherever), and while the more bold ones were taking matters into their own hands in charting their own destiny by seeking to secure those all-important positions of importance, we see one person, the Lord Jesus – alone – thinking about something entirely different.

He was thinking of the cup and the baptism. He asked James and John, “Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

While everyone else was thinking about a worldly kingdom and worldly glory (v. 24), Jesus was thinking about suffering – and death. He was thinking of what He would need to undergo in order to be finally free of the dictates of His earthly body.

Too many believers today are thinking about the good life – the good earthly life. But here we see Jesus’ spiritual mindset, which was to die to this life. That is why He told James and John, “Ye know not what ye ask.”

Too many of us do not know what we ask for when we pray. Unfortunately, we have been taught to “claim” blessings in Jesus’ name. We have never been taught to lose, and we see nothing wrong with this “claiming”. Our desires are all wrong, built on the foundation of self-preservation.

(I saw a big church on TV where they have been taught to hug their chests – to hug things to their chest – by faith – whenever the preacher says, “Receive!” It looked so childish.)

But there is everything wrong with a receiving mindset. With this kind of mindset, we will never be willing to share in the sufferings of Christ, and we therefore shall never know Christ’s resurrection life in us. We shall probably have everything of this world, but nothing of the true character of Christ and of the Kingdom of God in us.

We need to catch a certain revelation in our hearts – the same revelation that Jesus had, which was the same revelation that the apostles later on carried also. It was the revelation to lose.

I am not here to answer whether the good life is desirable or not for the believer. People with a worldly agenda want to dwell on these kinds of things. They pose their arguments with words like, “Do you mean to say that…?”

Why not, rather, we dwell on Jesus’ words, ““Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” Why should we not want to know more about this cup and this baptism that Jesus talked about? Why should we not want to identify our lives with the kind of life Jesus was willing to undergo here? What a wonderful place this is for the believer! It is a place of spiritual ecstasy as well as a place of spiritual safety.

People, let us desire the spiritual aspect of our calling rather than the material side. Yes, it is true Jesus can also give us the material things. But where were Jesus’ eyes fixed? While the worldly-minded apostles’ eyes were fixed on the worldly glory, Jesus’ eyes were fixed on another glory – the heavenly glory. And you do not arrive there by singing, “Glory, glory, hallelujah!” Jesus knew He would arrive there by first having to lose everything that He had of this world: worldly dignity (soon even the slave girls in the high priest’s house would be slapping away at Him!), worldly riches (His last worldly possession, His robe, was taken by the Roman soldiers); even His very life.

May God give us the grace to lose our lives as Jesus did.

Partaking of the Cup and Baptism of Jesus

35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.

36 And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?

37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.

38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?

39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:

40 But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.

41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John. Mk. 10:35-41

I am back, back where I belong. I am not talking about this blog, of course; I am referring to the fellowship of the saints, where I can be together with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I have missed all of you, but I am sure God’s grace has been upon each one of us, regardless of the outside circumstances that might have come upon us during the last week.

Today, I will begin with a startling confession. I do not expect this blog to become a popular blog by any standards. This is because I write from the viewpoint that the modern church has somehow left “the King’s Highway”, which is the revelation of the cross of Jesus in our hearts. The ‘unpopularity’ of this blog will arise from the fact that many in the church will not be willing to forsake the comfortable place the populist gospels of prosperity, etc have put them and embrace a gospel that clearly puts them in the danger zone.

But we cannot preach anything less than what Jesus Himself taught. And here clearly He is telling his disciples John and James to expect danger. Jesus was pointing them to the cross!

But even before we consider Jesus’ words above, it is clear even in the days we are living in that true Christianity is something that is costly. All over the world and particularly in the Middle East, Christians are paying dearly for their faith.

From Jesus’ words above we can see the attitude that we need to have as Christians. It is an attitude of suffering. Jesus talks about a cup – a bitter cup – and a baptism. We need to be in the Spirit to understand these terms. Jesus was not talking about being baptized in the river, for John had already baptized Him. He was talking about something much deeper, something that would touch the very core of His life.

On the other hand, you can see the disciples’ attitude. It was a worldly attitude. They were thinking of worldly positions. In fact in Matthew’s account it says they came with their mother – which is a traditional canvassing technique that has never been known to fail. And that is the attitude of the church today. It is headline news that today’s church loves the world more than it does God. The church has been taught to want the good life. We don’t want to suffer in any way. If any trouble comes it is considered a demon and we have been taught to rebuke it “in Jesus’ Name”!

Actually, the charismatic gospel is too simplistic – it knows everything about God! “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good!” And the church now has dredged up every “promise” from the Bible which it deems suitable to make it stay safe.

Under such a ‘gospel’ we cannot humble ourselves to accept what God has for us. It is indeed a gospel that teaches us to “stand up for our rights”! But if you read the Bible well, you will see exactly what God has for us: suffering and death. There is only danger for the born-again believer. That is the only way to bring out the life of Christ in us. The Apostle Paul puts it this way: “35  But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36  Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die” (1 Cor. 15:35-36).

Notice the word “die” there. When the carnal man in us dies, then we carry Christ’s life in us.

The result of desiring the world is that we will not carry the life of Christ in us. The gospel will be robbed of its power – the power to change a man – and we will carry all the fruits of a carnal life in us instead.

It is not easy to carry the nature or character of Christ in us. For that to happen there is a price to pay. We will have to carry a spirit of suffering, just like Jesus did. That is what Jesus was trying to get across to James and John (although it would appear that they were not getting a word of what He said! The thought of sitting at the high table can affect one’s sense of reasoning in an incredible way!!)

The more we listen to what Christ is saying, though – the more we know Christ – the more we realize and acknowledge that much needs to change in us. We discover the pride in us, the lack of faith, the hardheartedness, and many other undesirable things.

But we need to partake of the cup and that baptism in order to “sit with Jesus” in heavenly places. That “to sit” means we put off the old man of sin.

[Below: The Maasai in Tanzania have comfortably embraced other trades apart from pastoralism. But they are not about to abandon their traditional dress code!]


The Right Gospel Perfects Us

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.1 Corinthians 1:17

Some of the things that I remember with uncanny clarity, as if it were just yesterday, have to do with my courtship of my wife (which took less than a week), and the wedding preparations that followed a few months afterwards.

The most important item for the wedding, of course, was the wedding gown. I did not have the money to buy my wife one of her own. So I rented it from a shop in the city of Mwanza, some 200 kilometers away. (Expensive as it was to rent and transport, it was still a far cheaper bargain than buying one.)

That’s how important the wedding dress was to our wedding ceremony.

But the wedding gown, although so important, came a distant second to the person: the bride herself. In the days leading up to our wedding day, a multitude of women from all our churches descended on the house where my wife-to-be was cloistered and began working on her.

Up till today I have never asked her what they did to her. But when I finally came to see my wife on the wedding day, I almost did not recognize her. She was, simply, flawless. She was so beautiful, so pure. I remember thinking, instinctively, that I did not deserve her.

The Apostle Paul says that he was sent by Christ – and he was sent for a purpose. Christ did not send Paul to baptize, no. Baptism is important, of course, and even Paul did baptize a few brethren.

There are some churches which put such an emphasis on baptism at the expense of the gospel! To them, baptism is everything. No emphasis on spiritual growth, or a walk towards perfection.

The Apostle Paul says that Jesus sent him “to preach the gospel”. But what is equally important is that Jesus did not send Paul to preach any old gospel. Paul qualifies the gospel that he was sent to preach. He says, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”

The keyword here is “effect”. What is this “effect” that Paul is talking about? It is the effect of the gospel upon our lives: the effect to change us. It is the effect, or the power of the cross to deal with the flesh.

In verse 18 Paul says, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

That means a message that would change people. That is what is meant by the cross being the power of God.

Again it is not any old change the Bible is talking of here. The Bible talks of perfecting the church. Paul preached a gospel that would perfect the Bride of Christ; perfect her to appear before the Bridegroom without spot, wrinkle or blemish. Ephesians 5:25-27 says that “… Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

That is the message that Paul preached. It was a work. It was not an instantaneous miracle. But it would work its way to the perfect end.

You see, there are many gospels in the church today. Christians, without realizing it, switch on their TVs and swallow anything and everything from every “God”-channel they come across. They jump and run all over their living room on hearing a “powerful” message.

But they do not change. These gospels do not change or perfect them. These gospels do not enable them to walk in victory over sin. You can see that from the many Christians who are walking in sin. Or, sadly,  the many thousands who are suffering from a myriad of ‘heart’ ailments, chief of which is depression.

But there is balm in Gilead! There is a remedy for everything, right there in the gospel. But it has to be the right gospel. It is the gospel that Paul preached. It is the gospel of the revelation of the cross, as we just saw in the scripture above. It is a revelation of what that cross can do in our lives.

In Colossians 1:28-29 Paul says, “28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”

Paul labored to present “every man perfect in Christ Jesus”!

Perfect! That means free in our spirits, spiritually mature, and completely dead to sin.

That is the gospel that Christ sent Paul to preach. It is something so deep and life-transforming – because it is preparing the King of King’s Bride, the Church.

Let us desire to hear what God is saying and doing in our day. God is doing something new. There is no doubt about that, and I cannot fear saying that. I would fear sin more than fear hearing a gospel that promises me freedom from sin, which is the gospel that the Apostle Paul preached.

That is why this blog will continue speaking about the revelation of the cross in our hearts, which is the thing that will transform our lives, and perfect us.

[Below: Musoma Town, situated on the shores of Lake Victoria]


Of Baptisms…

Mat_20:23:  And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with.

I hate being bogged down in theology, and the subject of baptism is one sure quicksand in that respect. But, despite the clear risks, I want to attempt to address something about this subject here.

Did you ever notice that during His earthly ministry Jesus never baptized anyone in water? The Bible does say in John 3:22 that “After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized”; but in the very following chapter we read: “When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)” John 4:1-2.

The reason Jesus personally did not baptize with water was because He had not come to baptize people with that baptism. He had another baptism with which He would baptize His followers. In Mat_3:11  we see John the Baptist contrasting his (water) baptism with the baptism that Jesus would administer: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:”

The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:17: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”

Both Paul and John the Baptist caught the revelation of what Jesus would be coming to accomplish in men and women’s hearts. The difference, though, was that John, being of the older order, saw this revelation from afar, as it were – like the prophets of old. When he was in prison, he would begin doubting what he has seen of Jesus, for he had seen Him more in the natural than in the spirit. Paul, on the other hand, not only received a clearer and fuller spiritual revelation of who Jesus was and the work He was to accomplish, but he fully lived and experienced that revelation in the spirit. It consumed his entire being. The outcome of it is that today we are partakers of the fruits of Paul’s experiences through the gospel he received and lived. His gospel and life have enriched all believers’ lives. This was the same gospel that the Early Apostles and the Early Church lived.

Long before John the Baptist would talk of the Holy Spirit and fire, God had spoken these same words through Isaiah. Isaiah 43:2 says “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”

We see that even under the Old Testament God had never promised His people that they would live a life free of trouble. He promised to baptize them.

John and James were two of Jesus’ closest disciples, yet He could tell them these same words. I doubt that we can expect anything less.

What is the fire the Bible is talking about? The reality of the gospel that Paul preached to the Corinthians is brought to our lives through the many trials and tests that we are made to go through daily. Through these we experience first-hand the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives as He moulds us into the image of Christ and enables us to live a holy and righteous life in “this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4). When we live the revelation that Jesus brought and that Paul elucidates in his epistles, that is our true baptism.

We will be tempted and tried in many ways. Many of us, unaware of the need for this baptism, constantly cry out to God to set us free from these trials and temptations. But that is exactly the baptism that God desires to have us pass through: the baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire. We cannot expect, for example, to learn how to forgive if we are not hurt or wounded on the inside. We fear having our feelings hurt and yet that is the very area where God wants to touch our lives so that He may set us free from our selfish nature.

If there is an area in our lives where we are struggling in the flesh, we should stop everything and cry out to God to set us free. He will give us His Holy Spirit who will enable us to stand our ground as we are being put through the fire. That fire will purify us as we by faith anticipate the outcome, which is becoming worthy (golden) vessels to carry the Life of God, like the Apostles did.