The Preacher – A Man in Bonds

For which I am an ambassador in bonds… Eph. 6:20

The word “bonds” means chains. Why would God put Paul in chains?

There are two things that characterize a true man of God. By a man of God, we mean a person who represents God. That is what an ambassador is. A man of God is a person who characterizes Godliness.

The first thing that characterizes a man of God are his words. By his words I mean the Word of God that he speaks. Many preachers preach for preaching’s sake. Yes, they know the Word and they can expound on it. But skilfully expounding on scripture is hardly God’s Word. A preacher must preach what he has been sent to preach, not what he wants to preach. We cannot preach a message just because it sounds good to us. The Apostle Paul says:

“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 Paul asks the Ephesians to pray for him that he may be enabled to preach as he ought to preach, not what or how he wants to preach. That means that Paul was asking the Ephesians to pray that God would put His Word in Paul’s heart and mouth. It was not that Paul could not preach. I believe he could preach very well; moreover, he knew so much he could have preached the world to his hearers.

But Paul desired to do or speak nothing apart from what God had told him to do or speak. For God looks at His Word and His purpose to accomplish it. He does not look to accomplish the whims of man.

That is the first important thing that characterizes a man of God. He must be able to speak God’s Word as he has been sent to speak. He must not speak God’s Word just because he can speak it or because he wants to speak it.

When he speaks God’s Word according to God’s directions, his hearers will hear God’s voice and they will be edified. They will be warned, encouraged and given direction – all in the Spirit.

The second thing that characterizes a true man of God is His life. Our Lord Jesus Christ said,

“16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” (Mat. 7:16-18)

Jesus is not talking about the preacher’s message here. He is now talking about a preacher’s life.

One of the most prominent tele-preachers and faith healers in our country, who has a huge following, was recently caught on video insulting and threatening to kill his neighbor. The neighbor is not saved. But, for a long time, he had kept chiding the pastor: “You are not fit to be a pastor!”

Without a doubt, the neighbor knew things about this pastor that many people, including this pastor’s congregation, did not know.

On this particular day, this pastor parked his car right in front of his neighbor’s gate, got out, and said, “This is your day!”

Someone was passing by and he recorded the whole saga – all the insults and the threats – on their cellphone. It is now all over social media.

The pastor was subsequently arrested and interrogated at the police station.

Now his loyal congregation is writing on social media: “Do not talk evil of the anointed man of God!”

But whether we are to heed Jesus’ words or peoples’ whims on social media is a choice we have to make on our own.

In a separate incident, a lady once visited my house and in the course of our conversation she told me about how her pastor had prayed for her to get healed from an ailment that had troubled her for a long time. She had in fact spent a lot of money in a private hospital trying to get treatment, but her condition only worsened.

“But”, she told me, “ever since the day that the pastor prayed over me, that condition ceased troubling me. I was set completely free.”

But she told me many other things about this pastor and the way he ran the church, things which brought only confusion to her spirit. In short, his character and behavior did not in the least reflect that of Christ.

The true man of God must live a life that conforms to that of Christ: a life where the flesh has been put to death and where Christ rules supreme in that man. The Bible says:

“2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.” (1 Tim. 3:2-9)

It is up to the church to choose whether to follow God’s guidelines in the running of its affairs or to respect men instead. Today, there are men in the church who are bigger than Christ Himself. But, in the true church, it is Christ, “the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (Eph. 1:23)

For that to happen, the man of God must of necessity be put in chains by Christ. This is so he cannot do or speak his will, but Christ’s.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

The Sin of Complaining

[Warning: Long post. But I encourage you to read on].

14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world. Philippians 2:14-15 

Recently the Lord has been speaking to me clearly and unequivocally about the sin of complaining. Now, I know I have written on Philippians 2:14-15 in an earlier post. But the Lord keeps hammering away at our evil attitudes, so I am not surprised. 

The Lord has been showing me how much He hates complaining. And that includes, and especially so, where a clear wrong has been done to me. (If during our “peace time” moments we are going off like an iron factory, how much more when we have been wronged!) 

The Lord showed me about our Lord Jesus Christ. He led me to 1 Pet. 2:21-24, and particularly to the place where it says, “Neither was guile found in his mouth”

I read that again, “Neither was guile found in his mouth”. 

How could Jesus have walked this earth and have no guile found in His mouth? Not one unseemly word. Not one word of complaint, even when intolerable injustices were done to Him! That is an utter impossibility!

But right there it says Jesus did. Actually, Jesus did more than that, if that were possible. He pleased God perfectly

When I read this I cried tears. And I knelt down and repented. I repented like never before. And I asked God, “Where is this grace?” For it was clear to me that I could never pull this off by my own strength; and I knew that neither had Jesus. 

In the Old Testament book of Zechariah, the Prophet Zechariah had a vision: “6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. 7 Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.” (Zec. 4:6-7) 

In Zechariah’s vision, there would be no impossibility –referring to the Godly lifestyle – because everything would be accomplished by God’s grace. 

So we know that it was not by His strength that Jesus accomplished this, it was by the grace of God. Jesus walked in the perfect grace of God. And nothing was impossible with Him. 

But notice, it was God’s grace. It was not Jesus’ grace, for when He was here on earth Jesus was perfect man. (The Bible says in Philippians 2 that Jesus put off His Godly form when He descended to earth). The grace therefore that He had had to come from another source: it came from God Himself. 

So what was it about Jesus that made Him so “acceptable” to God that God could give Him all this grace? God gave Jesus so much grace that “no guile was found in His mouth”! 

Probably we need to look into our hearts. This is because the Apostle James says that God gives grace to the humble. 

Did you ever notice that when God said of Jesus, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mat. 3:17) Jesus was thirty years old? So what had been going on? God had been observing Jesus all these years. He had been testing His heart. He had seen Jesus’ obedience. He had seen His humble heart. 

Indeed, the Bible gives us a glimpse of Jesus’ attitude of heart in Luke 2:51-52: “51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them… 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” 

No humbler man ever walked this earth! 

Probably we need to confess to the pride in our hearts. Pride is one of the biggest barriers to God giving us His grace. Not that God does not want to give His grace even when we are proud, but our pride acts as a barrier preventing God’s grace from penetrating into our hearts. 

I am sure that if we have humble hearts, God will give us grace. He will give us the grace to not complain, grumble or dispute. 

(Disputings refers to an attitude of heart whereby we cannot accept things “lying down”. Disputings is another big problematic area with we grumblers). 

I thank God for His clear word. And I thank Him even more for giving me the grace to repent and seek to guard my heart against this very loathful sin. 

I wonder – just wondering, mind you; not that I have arrived there – I am just wondering what kind of person I were to be if no guile was to be found in my mouth. And to think that God’s grace is there for me to arrive at that exact place! 


[Below: Happy is the man in whose mouth no guile is found]