Faulting The NIV

“8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. 9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.” Acts 21:8,9, KJV

I haven’t researched this thoroughly but I think the New International Version (NIV) is the most widely read Bible among believers. But in verse 9 of the above portion of scripture, whereas the King James version says “virgins”, the NIV says “unmarried”. In other words, the NIV refuses to ACCEPT the possibility of all these four girls, who were sisters, being virgins, and instead chooses to label them as unmarried.

Such a possibility (virginity) is unthinkable, even UNACCEPTABLE, in the world. And sadly this worldly viewpoint is being forced into the church. But to think that the Bible could be used…

But there is no doubt about it here: the NIV has been used. Through a subtle shift in wordage, the NIV effectively sets out to ERASE the possibility of these girls being virgins. Sadly, the NIV essentially denies the power of God.

This is the problem that the true gospel of Jesus Christ has had to contend with in every generation; and it is no less so in ours also. In our age, actually, the gear mode is in overdrive. There is just too much human wisdom being injected into the gospel of Jesus Christ.

But human wisdom is a resource of the devil. It is one of his biggest tools/weapons against the gospel.

And the devil is no fool. He knows the vital points of the gospel as well as of the Bible. And it is these that he goes after.

This scripture (Acts 21:9) is certainly one of the most powerful verses in the Bible for in it we see the power that was there in the Early Church through the holy lives that its people lived. It shows the central role that the Holy Spirit played in the lives of believers. Imagine four sisters, and all virgins. Moreover, they all prophesied. That is simply incredible. It is too difficult to conceive of in our modern era. No wonder the crafters of the NIV thought some modification of this very difficult scripture was in order. The enemy used these noble souls to hit a death blow to one of the most powerful scriptures. No one reading the NIV translation can truly understand the power that was in the Early Church through the spirit of holiness.

“Unmarried” is certainly not “virgins”.

But that is not all concerning the Early Church. One other factor was that the Early Church went through much suffering and persecution. Just here, in Philip’s house, a prophet by the name of Agabus would come by and foretell in the Spirit about Paul’s persecutions by the Jews in Jerusalem.

So what is the connection?

It is that the Spirit of Christ is the spirit of suffering. This was the spirit that the Early Church carried and lived, and it was through this very suffering and persecution that the church was able to live a holy and powerfully superior life in the Spirit.

It is in the crucible of suffering that true holiness is formed. Not anywhere else.

This was the fact that the engineers of the NIV never saw. And through being devoid of the revelation of the spirit of suffering that is in the gospel, they used their intelligence and totally robbed the Word of God of its power.

In the final analysis, of course, it is the enemy at work here. I have always wondered why the church would need all the versions of the Bible that are on the market today. But now it’s clear: the enemy is using these ‘Bibles’ to strip scripture of its power. That is the simplest explanation; but it is also the truth.

It is spiritually dangerous to go the way of the many, or to seek out the easy road. Many Christians probably believe that the NIV is an easy read. And that is where the danger lies.

[Through this one singular scripture (Acts 21:9) – and probably in others also – the NIV translation denies the power of God]


Heavenly, Not Worldly, Stars

I have read that stars die. And that the bigger the star, the quicker it dies, and vice versa. The smaller the star, the longer it lives.

It is comforting in the Spirit to hear that stars die. The only way we can achieve heavenly glory is to die. When we talk of God’s Kingdom, the foremost realization we should have is that it is a spiritual Kingdom, not a material or physical one. That is why many of the true spiritual heroes that we shall find in heaven when we get there will be men and women who were unknown in this world. They were dead to this world, and therefore unsung by it. They were men and women who did things before God, and not before men; who served God in, as the Apostle Peter says,

“the hidden man of the heart” (1 Pet. 3:4).

One of the greatest Books that I have ever held in my hands is the Swahili Bible (1952 Union Version). This particular Bible was translated from the King James Version of the Bible, and it is an incredible translation. There are a number of other adjectives that I would use to describe this Bible: amazing, spectacular, brilliant, magnificent, outstanding. In my assessment, it is one of the truly great literary works alive and deserving of all acclaim.

But there is another remarkable thing about this Bible. In its preface, the translators refer to themselves simply as “We, the translators”. That is all that is written about them: “We, the translators”. There is no mention of their names, nor of anything else about them. If I ever wanted to know who they were, I wouldn’t know where to begin searching.

I have often wondered about these translators. Who were these Swahili men (and women, probably) who were so educated in those early days that they could translate the Bible to such a degree? Colonialism had not even ended; where did they get such an exceptional education? And the truly great question: how did they arrive at the decision to not identify themselves? These two questions bothered me for a very long time.

But, one day, the light broke through. I finally realized that those two questions can be answered very easily when you realize that God was working in and with these men. I realized that, where God is involved, man steps aside. He is not visible because he has died to his natural state.

In that singular Book these people have done a far greater work in the Spirit wherever the Swahili language is spoken than all other works past, present and future combined. For that reason, these men ought to be the stars of our generation. But these men, who handled God’s holy Word firsthand, received from God the greatest gift of all: the wisdom to not leave a record of themselves.

God does not want us to be stars in the worldly sense. He detests the glory of this world which is of the flesh. The only goal acceptable to God in any and everything we do is to bring glory to Him alone, for He alone is worthy. Hallelujah!

Unfortunately, since we are prisoners of the flesh, we find ourselves sorely tempted to flaunt our own glory rather than God’s. In so many ways, we stand accused in this regard. But, interestingly, we are not done yet. That is still not enough for us. We have chosen to take things to another level, so to speak. It is normal nowadays to have superstar preachers, superstar gospel singers, New York bestsellers and all kinds of other superstars within the church. People are even using God’s ministries – the apostle, prophet, pastor, evangelist and teacher – to seek for stardom.

So many believers are getting lost in worldly glory. In my country, I have even heard someone tell of how, once they realized they could sing really well, they pulled out of their church choir and started a solo gospel singing career.

Sometimes God’s love for His children leads Him to do things that we think are cruel. But, in actual fact, it is God’s love in action. When gospel stars die young, people are full of grief, not realizing that, in most of these cases, God is saving that person from a dangerous situation. He is saving them from a perilous road they were hurtling down unaware of the consequences to their souls – the road of fame and stardom; the road of certain spiritual ruin and destruction. God decided, “Oh, no, I love this person too much, I am not going to allow them to go down that road” – and He took them home.

In most cases, gospel stars begin their ministry with a lot of humility and with the fear of God attending their souls. Unfortunately, that is the last time God will hear from them, so to speak. After the money begins rolling in and the fame begins surrounding them, they want to become stars in the natural.

But if we are to be stars in the Spirit, we have to die first. We have to die to worldly glory. Many of the gospel music artistes alive today, in my country and elsewhere, need to realize that they are alive because of God’s mercy. They are alive because God is giving them chance after chance to glorify Him alone through the gift of music that He has given them. In other words, God is giving them all the rope He can. It is because He loves them. And when He takes them home at an early age, it is also out of love.

[One day, even the sun will die]


Itching Ears vs God’s Word – Part 1

1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Tim. 4:1-4

[Before saying anything, let me express my heartfelt condolences and empathy to the victims and relatives of all who who were killed or injured during the Bastille Day terrorist attack this Thursday in France. Mine are not mere words, but my heart is torn apart by the violence that we are witnessing in every corner of the world on an almost daily basis. France has been hit particularly hard by terrorists, and my heart goes out to this lovely nation. May God bless and comfort you all.

All said and done, it is time for everyone to turn to God through believing the gospel of His Son Jesus Christ. Amen.]

Now, to the main article…

The Apostle Paul wrote many warnings and many “charges”, or commandments, to his spiritual son Timothy. This was because Paul, being an apostle and a prophet, saw in the Spirit things that would happen in the future, and what he saw troubled him greatly. He saw a time of great apostasy within the church, when God’s people would shun the truth and hanker after doctrines that would cater to the flesh. And it was revealed to him that there would be no shortage of preachers to lead God’s people down that road.

The Apostle Paul told Timothy there would come “perilous” times (1 Tim. 3:1), and that these times would occur on Timothy’s watch. “Perilous” means dangerous. Dangerous times for the church would come in Timothy’s time.

And so here we see Paul charging Timothy, and that before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, to… “Preach the word”. Then he adds something else there: preach “sound doctrine”.

What is “the word”? The Word of God is scripture. In our case, it is the Bible. The Bible is the reference point of everything we say or do. This was the same Book that was there in the early church’s time, even if not in its entirety. Jesus Himself stuck to scripture.

Here Paul was therefore telling Timothy: “You must be a stickler to the holy scriptures”.

I love that with all my heart. Sticking to the Bible seems to be a problematic thing with believers in our day. People read out the Bible all right, but they cannot seem to align their words (and actions) to what the Word says. More so, sound doctrine is lacking in an even greater extent in today’s church. People prefer to hear things that tickle them. But, if we are to believe Paul’s words here (which we should), sound doctrine has been lacking in the church for a long, long time. Two thousand years, to be exact.

Do you believe that Timothy met with the state of affairs that Paul describes in his two letters to him? I believe he did.

And so, therefore, Paul commands Timothy to “preach the Word”. God’s Word would be the answer to the coming apostasy.

It is incredible how the Word of God has been compromised today. I once attended a burial service in our town and the preacher who was to deliver the sermon, a man whom I knew well, read a scripture from the Book of Philippians. There was a huge crowd there that day and when it came to hearing the Word of God, there was dead silence. In our country, people respect the Word of God. They may not necessarily believe it, but they have a primitive fear of God.

The air was absolutely clear and, as the man read the scripture, I could feel every word dropping into my heart. So much so that I could also feel the hairs on my body stand. The Word of God, when read under certain circumstances, is tremendously powerful. I am sure that God wanted to speak to the sea of people there that day, and that He gave the man that particular scripture to read. God loves His people, and He wanted to bless them.

But it was not to be. It is beyond belief what happened the minute the preacher began his sermon. The minute he closed his Bible and began preaching, the man of God shot off on a tangent and from the first sentence to the last, nothing he said had any connection with the powerful scripture he had just read.

Utterly deflated and shocked, I looked for some shade and sat down. But I was not entirely surprised. I had known for some time that many preachers today read the Word of God in church only as a formality, but what they speak afterwards is the fruit of their mind rather than obeying God’s command to “preach the word”.

Amongst the more progressive circles within the church today, motivational speaking takes the place of preaching the Word. Preachers say things which have no basis in the Word of God and they expand on them to invent doctrines. The Bible calls these things “fables”. Motivational speaking in church creates “fables”. And here we are talking of Pentecostal churches.

This was what Paul warned Timothy about. In other words, he commanded Timothy to stick to the Word. He instructed him not to give heed to fanciful ideas that might come from his head – and from a lustful heart.

Let me end by saying that if there was a way to force preachers to stick to the Word of God, many – very many – would drop from ministry. Probably out of every ten preachers only one would remain. The situation is that serious. This is because these preachers would find in the Word truths that they are currently not aware of, either due to a lack of revelation, or simply because they cannot “endure sound doctrine” and they deliberately ignore Biblical truth. They would find that there are many things that they cannot speak and do. They would find, for example, that the Word of God curtails the freedom that they exercise in formulating their own doctrines. They would find, too, that the church is not there to amass worldly wealth. The church is not to say, “We are blessed” simply because someone has purchased a new car or a new private jet.

In the early days of my salvation, in the 1990s, preachers were attracted to a Korean car called Musso Ssangyong. Urban-based preachers competed to own a Musso. That was the “blessing” in those years. Many years later I would meet with those same Mussos, now very old, spewing smoke on the road like furnaces, and dragging to one side.

Today’s “blessings” amongst preachers consist of private jets and private estates. They, too, will pass away.

True blessings, however, are of the Spirit. It says so in Ephesians 1:3:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”.

You don’t see a private jet mentioned there, do you? That is the heart of God.

[This is one of my favorite songs. I hope you enjoy it]

We Bring Life By Suffering – Part 1

If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. 2 Cor. 11:30

This is undoubtedly one of the most profound statements in the Bible made by a man apart from Christ.

It is impossible for a person who has not suffered in the flesh to bring life into the Church. He may preach and do many things in the Church; but he will not bring life. I am not talking about this physical life. There are many things that we do, even in church, that bring life to us in the natural. And it is a man’s right to boast in whatever they have accomplished.

Today there are born-again Christians who have been ‘perfected’ in the flesh. They can therefore boast in the things of the flesh. A man was speaking at an open-air evangelistic meeting in one of our major towns and he said, “I have more than one degree. I have more than one car. I am not a thief. I am a big executive in one of the biggest banks in this country. My car that you see parked there is brand new, as you can see; I just removed it from its wrappings!”

Unbelievable, but true. He went on to say that his certificates had been prayed upon by anointed men of God, and that was how his journey to glory began. He was trying to point out that we born-again Christians are not supposed to live low-class lives; that we are to live the high life because we are blessed!

It is unfortunate, but the Church of Christ has been brought to the place where it believes that that is the life God has for them. Today, you are expected to apologise if you touch negatively on this aspect of the Christian life. You are supposed to say, every time, “God is not against us prospering materially, but…”

It is time to stop saying that. It is time to boldly reproof a Church that is clearly becoming more and more materialistic-minded.

When the Bible talks about life, it talks about the life of the Spirit, the life of Christ.

The Bible says we are to be “living stones” (1 Pet. 2:5). That means we have died with Christ and risen with Him. There are no short-cuts to becoming a “living stone” in the Body of Christ. The Bible also says that “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Mat. 7:14. I have asked this question here before, but I will ask it again: How can we believe that the many masses in churches today are truly following that narrow road? Jesus Himself said that “few there be that find it”.

The Apostle Paul was as human as you and I. When therefore God decided to work in him in order for him to become an effective vessel for Him, Paul instinctively tried to resist. It was painful. He says he prayed three times for God to remove the thorn from his flesh. Three times! For a man of the calibre of Paul to pray three times for God to set him free from a certain situation, it shows how difficult it will be even for us to accept the will of God in our lives.

But God was adamant. He told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”(2 Cor. 12:9). In other words, God told Paul, “No, my friend, I want to use you; and that is the only way you can become of any use to me. I have no alternative but to break you down.”

The Apostle Paul received much grace from the Lord. Why? Because he came to understand what the Lord wanted to do and he agreed to align his life with what God wanted to do in his life. He obeyed God. Immediately thereafter, Paul says, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Cor. 12:10

It is not easy to obey God. It needs the grace of God. I have heard of people saying they obeyed God and He blessed them with this and that material blessing. That is so easy! If someone tells me to “plant a seed” of so much money so that I may “harvest” a hundredfold, that is so easy and comfortable to do.

But it is time to believe and obey God in enduring suffering on His behalf.

Peddlers of the Gospel, Enemies of the Cross – Part 1

For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. 2 Cor. 2:17

I keep coming back to this topic because it is so vital to the Church. There is something about this topic that made the Apostle Paul to weep. In our culture, if you see a grown man weeping, it shocks you. When we as born-again believers read in the Bible about a man like the Apostle Paul weeping, that should shock us. There was something there that caused untold grief to the Apostle.

Before I continue, let me say that I know that in writing these kinds of things I run the risk of reducing the readership of this blog. But I am quite comfortable with that because, in the first place, I am not seeking any kind of popularity through running this blog. I am not even seeking to be accepted by anyone. I am simply seeking to present the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ as sincerely as I find it set out in the Bible. I want to thank WORDPRESS for affording me this opportunity. I also want to thank my dear sister, Louise Echstein, who encouraged me to begin writing this blog. Lastly, I thank my readers, and in particular Pastor Rob Barkman, for inspiring me on.

But I am also a part of the Body of Christ and I want to assure you that I write with a heart of love. I have to say this last one because some one accused me of being ‘insensitive’. I may not be the most loving person within the Body of Christ, but I know I strive to present my observations with as much love as I know how.

(Have you ever noticed that the Apostle Paul does not come out as a particularly ‘loving’ person in his epistles, in the way we have been conditioned to view love? He had many hard and difficult things to say to the Church of his day. But, I assure you that Paul was and still is the most loving father the Church will ever know. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not there to please anybody in the flesh. That is why Jesus and Paul could call people ‘dogs’ and ‘Satan’ and get away with it. When therefore someone writes or says some hard things about the Church it does not necessarily mean they are unloving.)

Secondly (as far as I am concerned), if even one person – just one – were to come to a realization of the true purpose of God for the Church through what I write in this blog, that would be sufficient for me. Sometimes we might not be writing for ‘the multitudes’. We hardly know the importance of a single person who has caught the purpose of God in their hearts. But God does. You can see that in the Bible.

During Abel’s time there were many men and women in the world. So it was with Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Ruth, the prophets and all of the Bible heroes that we read about. During each one’s tenure on earth there were probably thousands or even millions of other people living; but the Bible has space to talk only about these very few persons. Why so? It is because they carried God’s plan in their hearts.

You can see that also with John the Baptist. In Luke chapter 3, the Bible takes only one and a half short verses to chronicle the many powerful men that ruled the world during his time, after which it settles down to talk unhurriedly about John the Baptist’s life “in the wilderness”. In purely human terms, John was a nothing. But he was everything with God.

In 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 and in Galatians chapter 1 we read and recognize that even if there were other apostles in his day, yet the Apostle Paul “received” something – a revelation – that was distinctly superior and he received it directly from the Lord Himself.

All these men and women of God were a very small group who somehow paid the price to carry God’s plan and purpose in their hearts during their lifetime. That is how important one man (or woman) can be with God.

As I just said, there is a price to pay in carrying the plan and purpose of God on earth. Not many who are called are able or willing to pay that price. That is why Jesus said that many are called, but few are chosen. But Jesus said something else also concerning this. He said, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:14)

“Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way” That is the price. Jesus lays it out clearly.

But notice also that phrase, “few there be that find it.”

How we can believe that all the multitudes in the churches today are carrying the plan and purpose of God in their hearts is incredible. Jesus Himself said that few will find it. We must be scriptural and not let our emotions (or brains) overrun us.

When I see the number of preachers today and hear what the majority of them are preaching; and when I see how Christians love listening to a gospel that forever tells them that God loves them and that He does not want them to undergo any kind of trouble,  I realize that indeed, few will find that narrow way. For that narrow road is the road of the cross: it is the road (or lifestyle) of crucifying the flesh, forsaking our rights and this world and following Jesus.

In I Corinthians 11:1 Paul says, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” Through the example of giving his life, the Apostle Paul took up his cross, just as Jesus did.


Having established a ‘background’ of sorts there, let me now get back to my topic: Peddlers of the Gospel, Enemies of the Cross. You can follow it up in the second and third parts of this post…

Abraham’s Instant Obedience – Part 2

We can also see Abraham’s heart when the three men, the angels of the Lord, visited him. The Bible says about Abraham that he was sitting outside his tent. The Bible does not say that he knew they were the angel of the Lord; all he saw were three men approaching. But it was what followed that shows us the character of a Godly man.

Let’s try and see what went on here. I imagine that Abraham saw some very tired-looking strangers passing by his home and his tender heart was touched. They certainly were not walking with ‘Angel of the Most High God’ written on their blazers. Abraham saw these men and he purposed to do something about it. But imagine this man, 99 years old, running to invite passersby, literally forcing them, to accept of his generosity! Abraham had a generosity that would leave many of us reeling with disbelief.

The Bible says that Abraham ran and that he and Sarah personally ministered to these visitors; and it was not your ordinary “Another cookie, please?” Back then, what he and Sarah prepared was a 5-course meal.

(With regard to this, I have a few families to thank. I wouldn’t forget my wife).

God is looking at the condition of our hearts. God is interested with the ease with which we can keep our hearts pure and holy before Him. Christians are forever harping about how God is interested in many other things in our lives. True, yes; but first things must come first. Mind you, God could give us those ‘other things’ without necessarily being pleased with us. But we are interested in what pleases the Lord.

Only by obeying God as Abraham did will we become towering men of faith and mature in character as Abraham was.

And, pray, what price are we willing to make that happen? What price are we willing to pay to make sure our hearts are pure before God and man, especially in today’s world with its many stumbling blocks? Once God grants us to know the price we need to pay in order to live that kind of lifestyle, then we will have known the true price of Christianity.

It is truly sad to see how proud Christians are today. They do many things, but they are not ready to carry their cross and follow Jesus.

The Christian life is a given life. We must be willing to die to our pride and to ourselves!

And we must be swift to do it. We must be swift to release, quick to let go the things in our hearts that hinder us from pleasing the Lord.

Of necessity I find I often have to hit out at myself, “Don’t be stupid!” when I realize that my heart is deceptively moving towards a certain direction.

I want to run a different race. I want to run with father Abraham.

Recently a brother from a distant town called me on the phone and he began telling me about the problems that he has been having in his marriage. It was not the first time for me to hear about that particular couple; I heard about their troubles a long time ago and, being far, I had assumed everything worked out well eventually. Now he was telling me that nothing had changed and that, if anything, things just got worse between him and his wife.

This time, I knew exactly what to tell him. I felt he needed to hear the really Good News. I said, “Brother, if you are having a problem with someone, then the problem is not the other person, but you. Had you determined in your heart to not harbor problems, right now there would be no difficulty in your marriage regardless of what your wife is doing against you. You are taking too long to obey God!”

I assure you that I spoke those words with all the grace that the Lord had given me at that time.

We all have our job cut out for us.

I have a prayer in my heart. Maybe we all need to make this prayer. “Lord, deny me everything, but give me the swiftness that you gave to Abraham in heeding to your voice. Thank you, Lord. Amen.”

(You have the liberty of making this prayer without including the “deny me everything” part. That was just for me).

Suffering Is The Only Way

For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 2Co 5:14-15 

Did you notice the small print there? It says that Jesus died that we, too, might die. Afterwards we will be able to live a different, completely selfless life. But before we live that life there is a death to undergo.

Salvation is not easy, nor is it comfortable. It is tough – on the body, I mean. No one in their right minds can tell you that suffering or death is easy or desirable. But much is meant to die in us before we can claim to be spiritual. In order for us to stand in the grace we stand in today Someone (Jesus) had to die. Many more joined Him in His suffering and death so that His life could continue flowing to others. The Apostle Paul says of his life: (I) now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church” (Col 1:24). Did you notice something else there? Paul had to suffer in the flesh so the Church could benefit in the spirit.

The biggest lie in history is being perpetrated in the Church today. People are being taught that they should not accept trouble or problems. They are taught that suffering is of the Devil and that they should fight it.

It is true that suffering could be from old man Satan himself, but remember that Satan did not trouble Job without God’s permission. At the end of the day, if we are walking in the right spirit, we realize that in all things it is God, not Satan, who is at work. After he had suffered for a brief period of time, Job was immensely rewarded. Many people think that Job’s reward was the material blessings that God blessed him with; but no, the real blessing that Job received as a result of his suffering was that He came to know God better. He said: I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” Job 42:5-6.

We could say that Job grew spiritually through the sufferings that he endured.

The gospel that we hear today preached to the majority of born-again believers is simply misleading. I can listen to any of our local Christian radio stations and I keep hearing the same stuff rotated about in different garb: God loves you and He does not want to see you suffer.

So – how are we going to learn patience if we are not tried in the area of patience? Can we, for example, learn how to defeat anger by attending anger-management seminars? Is it not that we need the Lord Himself to shake us in that area? Remember the Bible says that God used Pharaoh – a ‘type’ of Satan – to trouble the children of Israel for 400 years! (Romans 9:17)

If we want to live the charismatic lifestyle – the emotional/intellectual gospel preached by a large percentage of prominent preachers today – we will live it; but that is not true Christianity.

In Christianity the only way to become spiritual sons and daughters of God is through suffering. That is a Biblical fact. In this blog I keep providing evidence after evidence about our call to suffer. I would be surprised if someone came up to me and told me they were Christians and they have no sufferings in their lives!

Recently, the Devil attacked my family. It was a deadly and vicious attack. Nowadays we live in such an ‘free’ and Godless society that there are things that will simply come as a shock to us. When the attack occurred, I was tempted to react to save my family; but my wife reminded me that although the attack was physical, its roots were spiritual. She said we should pray to God, which we did and He gave us the victory in the spirit. The next day, my family sat together and wondered at the grace God had given us. We prayed that God would deliver us from such attacks; but at the same time we were assured that if God were to allow any such thing to happen again, we felt we would have the grace to face it.

How do you expect God to ‘shake’ us and have us grow if not through suffering? That is the central question that born-again believers ought to be asking themselves.

I have kids and I seriously desire for them to grow up, to mature. If I raise them up on a soft diet they will never become mature. They need some ‘shaking’. That is not good news for anyone to hear, myself included. But there is no other way.

Suffering is the only way for us to become more like Jesus, the only way for us to know God more. We cannot avoid it.

The Apostle Peter, speaking of the glory that would be revealed to us (meaning the gloriously victorious life we ought to be experiencing today) says: Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” 1Pe 1:13.

There are Christians who deride the kind of teaching I am advancing here; they will say, ‘Oh, you are threatening the people of God’; that I am bringing them under law. I am ready to be accused of anything someone feels I am guilty of, but we cannot fight Biblical truth. That truth will set us free, if we are willing to pay the price.

God’s love is tough.

What Teaching Are You Under?

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils… 1Timothy 4:1

Did you notice that? The Swahili Bible says, “giving heed to deceiving spirits”.

That’s pretty strong, dangerous stuff there we are being warned against. It is not just your local trickster coming along and trying to pull a fast one on you. These are spirits, devils, demons! And these entities have power. And worse, they are after the Church.

My family and I love watching Disney’s animated stories like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty; and we can always tell when someone has been put under a spell. They become ‘not in their normal minds’. That is what is happening in churches today. God’s people are under a spell and they don’t know it. They are being robbed in broad daylight!

That is why the Apostle tells Timothy, in verse 16, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”

Paul is telling Timothy here: “There is danger ahead. Take heed!”

When I see what is happening in churches today, I realize how strong this deception that was prophesied by Paul is. Mind you, the Holy Spirit through Paul said this deception would take place “in the latter times”, meaning the last days. There are things that have crept into the Church within the last 2 decades alone, dangerous things; but they have grabbed God’s people with a power that can only be matched by the advancement of technology. In my country today there are churches doing the weirdest things – churches which teach questionable, non-scriptural doctrines and which operate with even more dubious MOs; and these are the churches you find the majority of Christians running to.

In one such church, they have employed guards with whips to clear the way when the man of God arrives! People are going to church to be whipped! This happens every Sunday, but the numbers keep increasing.

The sad thing is that it is not non-believers who are attending these kinds of churches, but it is born-again believers who have been deceived. These are believers whose eyes have been blinded by the god of this world and all they can see is the material and physical blessings. When a Christian’s eyes are on material or financial blessings he is on very dangerous ground. He is exposed to the devil. He could find himself under Satan’s spell in a second and he wouldn’t even know it. And he could live that life of spiritual deception the rest of his life firmly believing that he is serving God. Remember that Satan tried to deceive even the Lord Jesus using these same material ‘blessings’ (Matthew 4:9).

When I am sick and all I want is healing, then I am standing on very dangerous ground, particularly in these last days. There are Christians who have been taught that having a physical disability or an issue of health is a lack of faith. Jesus said it is far better to go to heaven hopping on one foot than to go to hell with both feet intact! I wonder what these preachers make of such scriptures.

Others have been taught that to live in financial or material poverty is sin! Preachers cite Abraham, et al. I wonder what they make of Lazarus – I mean the one who sat under the rich man’s table!… These kinds of teachings are unscriptural and they are destroying the Church.

When you see how people are being deceived and eventually being ripped off spiritually, financially, materially and even psychologically by preachers, you cannot doubt scripture. There are dark spiritual forces at work within the Body of Christ!

Even for those who are not preaching these extreme doctrines, for many the gospel has become something light – and cheap. There is no gravity to the things that people are hearing. It is no wonder, therefore, that many Christians are not growing spiritually.

It is time for the Church to wake up. The Bible says to take heed to the doctrine we are hearing. That is where everything lies. When you hear the right gospel your spiritual mind is balanced. When you listen to the wrong teaching, you get spiritually off-balance. This has nothing to do with your natural intelligence, your IQ; this is spiritual business.

I believe God is doing something new today. The Church must heed the gospel of the revelation of the Cross that God is bringing to light in these last days. The revelation of the Cross of Christ is not a strange or new gospel. It is the gospel the Early Church preached and lived. It is the gospel that the Apostle Paul preached. It is the gospel that fulfilled in their lives Christ’s words: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” because through living this gospel, the Church was taught to lose their lives and to desire the life of Christ in them.

There was a time I did not understand the real gospel of Jesus Christ. I did not know the gravity of the Pauline revelation. If someone had insisted, I probably would have said, “That is a strange teaching!” But the revelation that Paul had of the Risen Christ – that is the power of God in the life of the Church. The Church needs to understand it in these last days.

Heaps of Teachers!

Ezekiel 33:4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.

It is a time to take Scripture seriously. In my next few posts I want to take some time to talk about the Apostle Paul, and the gospel that he preached. You might want to ask, why specifically Paul? Well, simply because the Apostle Paul had the true revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, a fact which even the Apostle Peter affirms. If Peter could affirm something, we should be considering it doubly.

But before we talk about the life of Paul and the gospel that he preached I would like to discuss a word that is found in his writings. The word is “heap”. In order to get the right perspective let’s read the scripture in 2 Timothy chapter 4 verse 3 where this word is found: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine;  but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

You can see that word “heap”, right in there. That means that in the days that Paul was talking about that this state of affairs would occur, there would be not one or two or even three preachers scattered here and there who would be teaching these false doctrines; no, Paul says there will be ‘heaps’ of them.

I am sure that if you begin counting from the top-of-the-range televangelists to the unknown preacher way down the rung, there are literally millions of preachers of the gospel today. I wonder how many of these are in that group of ‘heaps’ of false teachers, which is what Paul is talking about here – an accumulation of false teachers in the last days.

But it is clear from the strange doctrines coming from the pulpits today that there is an incredibly large percentage of preachers who are in that group.

But Paul says something else, that it is God’s people who will be encouraging these false preachers simply because they cannot endure sound doctrine! When you sit there and  someone is telling you to give because it will be given back to you, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, and you are thinking in financial terms, what a lovely sermon!

It is no secret that in today’s version of Christianity, men and women are in it for their own personal gain – and the levels of lust after material gain are incredible. Just recently a pastor of a large congregation in my town bought himself a Hummer. This is a Third World country I am talking about. And don’t think I am being personal or subjective here. We are talking reality.

As Christians we should be very, very careful not to flow with the current. Christianity is not about masses… “Oh, y’know, I worship in a 5,000 member church, etc.” Jesus proved just that when one day He turned upon the Jewish masses following Him and fired one shot at them and they scattered like flies. Even His own disciples left Him. You can read about this in John chapter 6. The once-popular miracle-worker was left with 12 men who hesitantly decided to “endure” Jesus’ hard but sound doctrine. A few brave hearted women were there also, praise the Lord!

Now in our day we are witnessing a dangerous trend where there is only one message: God loves you and He will take care of you, and He wants to do you good. Today’s general Christian message is an adaptation of ‘Welcome to America’. Preachers filled with carnal lusts have dug into the Bible and found there are thousands of promises in there, all ripe and ready to be picked. People are listening to these teachings and they are jumping all over their seats in ecstasy, simply because preachers are promising them financial and material prosperity, good health, safety from all danger, etc., etc. Psalm 91 has been read to shreds, just because God’s people fear to die!

Can you imagine Jesus or the Apostles jumping up and down in their seats because a preacher has promised them financial prosperity? It’s not bad to be blessed financially, but after that, then what? The Apostle Paul says 1Cor. 15:19 that “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”

People are itching for this kind of life, that’s all they want to hear. It is a poor Christian world indeed we are living in today.

Let us be mature and realize that God is not against material or financial blessings. He is not against us living a good, prosperous, healthy, and trouble-free life. He is not against us enjoying life. It requires maturity to acknowledge that and move on. The issue for the Church is: Is that the crux of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Is that the core of this mighty gospel? Is that the bottom of the matter? Was that what Jesus came on earth to die for? Was that the message He brought? Was that what the early Apostles preached? Is this what we find in Paul’s letters?

We are living in dangerous times and it is time for Christians to take hold of their lives and locate the right place to put them in. Ezekiel’s words have more meaning to us than they did to the Israelites.

Heavenly vs Earthly Glory

Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1 Cor. 15:51

It is difficult for me to not cry whenever I read the story of Joseph in the Bible. The scene where Joseph is taken out of prison and into Pharaoh’s presence, and the events that follow, is particularly tough on me, and many are the times I have found myself crying so violently on reading it, that my body would shake and rattle like it was about to break apart. I take precautions when I am reading this explosive account because one time I bawled so loudly the neighbors came to see what was wrong.

I always wondered why I should grieve so intensely whenever I read Joseph’s account. There was a voice in my head telling me that because I was raised in a poor family, therefore I could identify with poor Joseph, and that was why I cried. In other words, this was a psychological reaction and I was empathizing with my physical situation. This line of thinking seemed plausible to me, and with time I even found myself reproaching myself whenever I was tempted to cry reading that story.

And then one day the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see what it was about this part of Joseph’s story that was so powerful. That was the day that I came to realize what made me cry so hard. The revelation hit me like a freight train, as they say, and that day I knew without a doubt that God had spoken to my heart. On that day, I came to understand the deep spiritual significance of Joseph’s instant promotion at the court of Pharaoh.

I also came to know that God called us to a spiritual purpose and that when He moves or touches our hearts it is always for a spiritual purpose. We should never interpret it otherwise.

What I understood from the story of Joseph was so contrary to the cheap ‘promotion’ gospels that we hear peddled in Church today. You know, today you will hear adverts on Christian radio and TV about the ‘uplifting’ work of Jesus: Jesus wants to promote you at your place of work, in your finances, in your studies, in your health; He wants to give you a wife, etc., etc.

It is hard for many believers to accept the truth of the Gospel because they have been taught that we get saved in order to live like ‘King’s kids’ here on earth; even though the Bible itself clearly negates that notion. Today there is another gospel, another Jesus and another spirit being preached and believers are paying heed to these things (2 Cor. 11:4).

The Gospel of Jesus Christ has nothing to do with whether you are rich or poor; whether you sleep with a full tummy or an empty one.

To be fair, there is nothing wrong with material things, for God is our Father and He wants to do us good even in this world. But that is not the blessing we are called to look to. The Apostle Paul said: If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” 1 Cor. 15:19

God showed me that the true value of this account of Joseph was in showing us how in the twinkling of an eye we will be taken out of our physical bodies and into the glory of the living God at the last Day. That account is about our initiation into the heavenly glory. It is a spiritual account. The Bible tells us how things will be at the end: For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” 1 Cor. 15:27-28

There was none above Joseph in all of Egypt except Pharaoh. Likewise, above Christ and His Body, the Church, there will be only One – God the Father.

The account of Joseph’s promotion has nothing to do with anything of this world. We await an incomparably far greater glory, one that far outweighs anything that our mortal minds could dare to think. It is a spiritual glory. We need to cry to God for this revelation. Such revelation will put us eons ahead of this present world, and enable us to see spiritual things that are “afar off” (2 Pet. 1:9). Consequently, we can rejoice in the present suffering we are undergoing in anticipation of that which only our spirits know about.