The Church Today…

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.

5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. 2 Tim. 4:1-8

This entire portion of scripture ties in together.  When Paul tells Timothy:

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day”

he is telling him to do exactly what he did in order to receive what he will receive from God at his death. In other words, there is no other way for a preacher to fight the good fight than to do what Paul tells Timothy to do here, i.e., to

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (v.2); and to

“watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (v.5)

There is no short-cut to heaven.

More precisely, however, for our purposes today, let us zero in on verses 3 and 4; and, especially the phrase:

“For the time will come”.

In other words, the Apostle Paul is telling Timothy that it is not all times that people – God’s people – will turn their backs on sound doctrine in this manner. Even at the time when Paul was writing this there were false apostles, false prophets and all kinds of counterfeit preachers of the gospel. These people have been there throughout the entire history of the church, ever since Adam.

What Paul is talking of here is not a cranky preacher here and there; rather he is referring to something vastly monumental. He is referring to a time where the church as a whole (or at least most of it) will be overcome by the lusts of their flesh but, in order to keep a semblance of ‘church’, they will bring in preachers who will read from the Bible but who will preach/interpret scripture according to the lusts of the flesh. These preachers themselves will be men (and women) who have no heavenly agenda in them; their lives are centered on filling their bellies.

The Apostle here, by the power of the Holy Spirit, predicts a time in the future when God’s people will, wholesale and actively,

“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.” (vs. 3-4)

The “they” Paul is talking of here is the church. The Bible explicitly says that God’s people will not endure sound doctrine! That’s incredible, to say the least.

Now, about the “time” that Paul is alluding to here. I very much doubt whether that “time” is not now. When you turn on Christian TV today, what do you see? Can you sincerely claim to find amongst all the teachings there any amount of preaching that has a bearing on the true gospel of Jesus Christ? Can you find there anything remotely related to Paul’s declaration in 1 Corinthians 2:2:

“And I, brethren, when I came to you… determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified”?

Sound doctrine is there, no doubt, but it is infinitesimal. Without a doubt, more than 90% of what you find on Christian TV are material, worldly teachings, much of it conveyed through so-called motivational teaching.

Even in third world countries like mine, all you hear on radio and television concerning the gospel is how to get rich or die trying; how to exorcise demons; tales of how people have been to hell (and heaven) and back; encounters with witches, etc. These are fables!

That means over 90% of the church is turning away from the truth and turning to fables.

I heard a preacher in the West say on TV, “Next is now!” She was preaching the false ‘new dimension/next level’ gospel.

I will take her phrase and use it here. The time Paul was talking of is now. At no other time have God’s people have had a sort of ‘herd mentality’ in running after materialistic teachings – “the good life”, etc.

That is why today – now – is the time to

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” and to

“watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

That is the way it has to be with us today.

The word “watch” here is filled with meaning. It means not just to watch in prayer, but it also refers to carefully living a Godly lifestyle.

These are the two things that will bring Christ back into a dying church, and a dying world.

[Below: The church today is not much different from these wrecked vehicles. But there is comfort in Jesus’ words: “I am the resurrection and the life”. Jesus can resurrect the church if we turn to Him and receive the revelation of the cross in our hearts]

Image16140[1]

Advertisements

Abominations In The Church

The theatrical skills are straight out of Hollywood. And the words come from the devil’s own mouth.

Notice how cleverly the man drops the “F” bomb; and then, dramatically turning away, he listens in on the crowd and, when they take the bait, he carpet-bombs them: “F u! F u’all!”

It’s fascinating – and deeply troubling – the way this ‘preacher’ uses the Word of God (supposedly a sermon on forgiveness) to serve his own purposes. Clearly, he is in love with the “F” word, and he craves the opportunity to introduce his love for this word to a wider audience. But he is a preacher: what can he possibly do?

It is at this point that the devil – who is his real master – shows up and instructs him exactly how to do it and superbly get away with it…

These are the depths to which the gospel has been made to sink today.

But the Bible tells us:

“3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.” (Eph. 5:3-7)

Aside from these preachers themselves, people who go to such churches should reflect especially on that last verse.

Receiving The Inheritance – Part 1

5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:

8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him. Eph. 6:5-9

For almost two years ago now, one of the brothers in our church has been working as a bus conductor in a certain bus company. The people who own this company, who are Muslims, really mistreat the brother. When he is not on the road they get him to do the most menial jobs at the office: sweeping the office floor, and sometimes the entire compound; cleaning and dusting the tables, windows, doors and even the toilets. His employer treats him like trash simply because he is saved. It is not his job to do these menial tasks, but his employer makes him do them out of spite. He regularly says to him, “I will break you until you agree to become a Muslim.”

His employer’s special “punishment” initially was to make sure the brother would not attend Sunday church service. Even when he was not on the road, he had to ask for permission to attend church by messaging; and if his message was not acknowledged – none of his messages ever were – he had to report at the office.

One day, I told him, “Brother, whenever you are not on the road on Sunday, come to church. God will take care of everything.”

The man began coming to church, and his employer has never asked him a question since.

Initially, the mistreatment he received at the hands of his employer placed a heavy toll on our brother’s patience. He had thought of leaving the job; but jobs are hard to come by nowadays. So he persisted. But the gospel teaches that we are to serve our masters from the heart; how could one serve such masters from the heart?

The secret, as the Bible teaches, is to do things “as unto Christ”, and not to men. Colossians 3:23-24 says:

“23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

Our “inheritance”, or reward, is not with men. It is with God, and therefore, it is God that we should serve, and not men. But that’s pretty tough when God commands us to serve Him by serving men!

But let us go back to our key scripture above, Ephesians 6:5-9.

Let us first begin by asking: what does the scripture mean by “neither is there respect of persons with him”?

Remember God is talking to the church here. This scripture therefore simply means that we are all equal in the sight of God. Due to our fallen nature, men have a tendency of categorising men in the natural. Having categorised them, we then handle them according to the categories that we have assigned them. When we encounter a rich or important person, for example, our demeanour changes all of a sudden. We bring out the best in us. Sometimes we can do things that can even surprise us.

Another example is when a person from the Third World meets a person from the West. I know this is tough to admit, but it is true. Under normal circumstances, such an encounter is quite a study in human psychology! But this state of affairs is of God because God said:

“25 … Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. 26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” Gen. 9:25-26

Some people have a problem with this scripture, but why should you have a problem with something that God said in the natural?

But in the Spirit, praise God, we are all equal in God’s house!

That is why the Bible is quick to remind the church that with God there is no respect of persons, lest any believer consider their natural score as anything with God. God only distinguishes in the Spirit, and this is why we need to strive to serve God in the Spirit, i.e. with the fruit of the Spirit. For we who are called to be spiritual, everything is to be done from the heart, the heart of Christ. The Bible tells us that God is love. We are to do everything out of love. When in a position of servanthood (or slavehood), therefore, we will serve out of love – love for the person we are serving and love for Christ.

Love engages our hearts. With love, it does not matter whether men see our service or not. We will not work very hard when the master is around and throw our tools down the minute his car drives out of the gate. We will not smile at him but harbor a grudge against him.

No, we will smile at our master and serve him with all our strength because we love him. Love is something far more superior than the cheap menpleasing stuff we carry on with. We could say that love is the true servant. If we do not have love in us, our service is hollow, and futile.

Today, of course, this scripture applies mostly to contractual, paid servants. But in Roman times, when Paul penned these words, most “servants” were actually slaves. And we all know who a slave is. A slave has no freedom of his own and he is to do his master’s bidding by compulsion, if necessary. And yet these slaves were the very people that Paul was addressing here, telling them to work for their masters

“with good will doing service, as to the Lord”!

I believe in our time and generation we are privileged. We have many privileges and one of them is that we are privileged to be free. Let us not abuse this freedom. Let us rather benefit from it by using our freedom to serve both God and men from the heart, with an open heart, joyfully and with all our strength.

Suffering For Our Faith

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Mat. 16:13-25

In 1 Samuel chapter 22 verses 1 to 2 we read the following account of David:

1 David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. 2 And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.

Four hundred men… what a small number! But the Kingdom of God is built upon weakness, not strength; in inadequacy, not competence; in insufficiency, not abundance. Four hundred men is a perfectly sufficient enough number for God to bring about a world-shaking phenomenon, for that was what the kingdom of Israel would soon become under King David.

As we noted in an earlier post, we must move on – move on to maturity. Leaving the basic doctrine of our Christian faith, we of necessity must grow, or move on, to perfection. But, in order to find ourselves on this road, we need spiritual perception.

The account about David is therefore an analogy: an analogy of Christ, the cross and us. Throughout scripture, the Bible talks of only one Christ – the Christ who was crucified. The cross signifies Godly suffering. Hence, in one scripture we see David suffering; and, in another, we see Christ suffering.

Interesting, isn’t it… that David escaped King Saul by hiding in a cave. The Bible, talking of the righteous men of old, says in Hebrews 11:38:

“… (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”

The saints of old suffered for their faith. Many of us know David for his role as king of Israel. Yet, the Bible counts David among the men of old who suffered for their faith.

Equally amazing, however, is the fact that we see people who, in spite of the suffering they witnessed in David, still went out and followed him. But who were these people who went out to David? The Bible does not say that the rich and the well-fed and those contented with life gathered themselves unto David. On the contrary, the people who went out to David were all desperate people. The Bible says they were people “in distress”, “in debt” and “discontented”.

“In distress” here simply means they were poor.

In other words, the people who went out were people who had nothing to lose. They had lost everything already. Today’s world would call them ‘losers’. The men and women who went out to David were losers.

In the same manner, we can only follow Christ when we have lost all and have nothing more to lose. As long as you have so much as a shoelace to your credit, you cannot follow Christ. The Biblical standard for becoming a disciple of Christ is losing all. And when the Bible says all, it means all. The Bible says of Jesus, that He “poured out his soul unto death” (Is. 53:12).

Jesus lost all, including His life. On the cross, He died.

“24 If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

If you have something precious, better lose it now. When you go to the Lord, you go as the song says: “Just as I am, without one plea!”

But why did these people go out to David in the first place? The man was living in a cave; were they mad? Or had they lost hope to the extent that they were willing to suffer for suffering’s sake?

Hardly. On the contrary, these people saw something in the Spirit. The flashback to the reason these people followed after David is found in the key scripture above in Matthew 16. Jesus told Peter that upon the revelation of who He was, He would build the church, against which the gates of hell would not prevail.

In spite of David’s apparent weak circumstances, God brought a revelation into these people’s hearts that David was the anointed one of Israel, that he it was who would deliver them from their oppression. In David’s sufferings, they saw the plan of God for the nation of Israel!

In the cross of Christ – which represents Christ’s sufferings – we see God’s plan for us. In weakness, we see strength. In defeat, we see victory!

Jesus said,

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (v.10)

Those who will receive the things of the Spirit are those who have received a revelation of the crucified Christ in their hearts and who are ready to deny themselves and to share in Christ’s sufferings, with the hope of the Spirit in them. The Bible says:

11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. 12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” (Heb. 13:11-14)

The Bible says: “Let us…” God here is beseeching us. But God’s “Let us…” can sometimes be a command. Just as these people went out to David, we must move out – move out from our comfort zones, and from self-preservation. We cannot be contented with the status quo. We must desire real change in us – the change to live a sacrificial life. Blessed, indeed, is he who hungers and thirsts in their spirit for the things of God. He will learn to deny himself, to take up his cross and follow Christ.

[Below: Tanzanians standing for their national anthem]

image142841

The Need For Sound Doctrine – 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.

5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 2 Tim. 4:1-5

What a charge Timothy had! And yet it is today, more than ever, that this charge needs to be carried out to the maximum, despite the dangers that accompany its execution. Dangers, yes, for Paul here tells Timothy that, once he set out to implement this charge he would “…endure afflictions”.

There was a time when I used to wonder at the present-day phenomenon of the mega-church. These are single churches with mass congregations of ten, twenty, or thirty thousand people. It is in most of these churches that the “pop” gospels of prosperity and other doctrines made up by man are preached. In these churches also is where you find a form of hype and sensationalism which would turn the world green with envy.

I used to wonder about these things, just as King David also wondered at how God could allow evil men to prosper (Ps. 73:16).

I used to wonder… until I read 2 Timothy 4:3-4:

“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.”

Mark the “they” in this scripture. “They” are God’s people and with this particular group of people lies the whole problem of the church. Not all, certainly, but the majority. With God’s people lies the problem of the church. That’s incongruous, to say the least.

Notice there is “sound doctrine”, or “truth”; and there are “fables”. A time would come, Paul told Timothy, when God’s people would not endure sound doctrine. You don’t endure good things; you endure bad or difficult situations. Apparently, therefore, sound doctrine is not good for the flesh. Paul’s reference to sound doctrine here is to the gospel of the cross. He was saying a time would come when people would not endure pain. They would not endure the hard choices that the cross offers. Instead, they would choose the broad and easy road of the flesh.

That’s hardly surprising today, with the feel-good gospels that are being preached in most churches today. That is why people are flocking to these churches. The sad fact, however, is that the people who go to church to hear feel-good sermons are not spiritual people; they are worldly-minded people.

If there was one person who should have had a mega-church here on earth, it was our Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that He had such a large following that, at one time he fed five thousand men, apart from the women and children. That means that the number of people who followed Jesus were in the tens of thousands. But these people were not the church.

On the day that Jesus decided to start His church, He turned to these same people and to spoke them these words:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” (Jn. 6:53)

At this, His followers scattered like flies. They could not endure His hard words. Only 12 remained – the apostles. And they, too, hang on by a thread! (v. 67)

So, when Jesus was here on earth He had 12 members in His church! And we know that one of them was a devil. That left only eleven.

If things were so difficult in Jesus’ time, how can we possibly think that things are any different – or easier – today? The Bible expressly says that in the last days, the noose will get tighter. How can a man possibly claim to be breathing easier when the noose is getting tighter?

Today, we are living in times like the nation of Israel’s during Elijah’s time. At that time, the nation of Israel had forsaken God and they were worshipping pagan gods.

The nation of Israel is a type of the church. Now, we don’t want to make Elijah’s mistake and declare that there is no church in the world today. Even at the worst of times, God always has a remnant. And so it is even today. God has, within today’s apostate church,

“seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” (1 Ki. 19:18)

And yet, you realize, seven thousand in a nation as big as Israel was is a very small number. The number was so small that Elijah had no idea these people existed!

Now, more than ever, true ministers of God ought to heed Paul’s exhortation to Timothy:

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…

5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

[Children play in a drain. They have absolutely no idea the danger they are in if flood waters came crashing through]

image13874

Building Christ’s Victorious Church – Part 1

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Mat. 16:18

Notice in the above scripture that Jesus said He would build His church. That is extremely important for the church to understand. The reason for this is because Jesus knew men would try to build His church, and He knew that if men built His church, it would not stand. Unless Christ builds His church, it shall not be victorious against the gates of hell. The gates of hell refer to evil in its every form. If Christ does not build His church, evil will prevail against it. The church will not be holy as God wants it to be.

Why will evil prevail against the church? Evil will prevail against the church because the church will be weak. A weak church cannot stand, much less defend itself. A weak church is a baby church. In his first letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul tells us what a baby church or Christian is:

“1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” 1 Cor. 3:1-3

Thank God we begin as babies in Christ. That is as it should be. But after we have been born again in the Spirit, we ought to grow in that same Spirit. If we do not grow in the Spirit, we will forever remain babies in Christ, and we shall be overcome by evil.

Now, when many believers hear or read of the gates of hell or evil, they immediately think of the devil and his works. That is true, of course, but many do not realize that the only way that the devil works his works with any impact to the church is when believers have not crucified their flesh.

The knee-jerk reaction of a Christian who does not see in the Spirit is to think of the devil every time the word “evil” is mentioned. But for the believer who sees in the Spirit, he or she will understand that the gates of hell, or evil, refer nearly all the time to the works of the flesh in the believer. The devil may attack our bodies, but he cannot attack our spirit if the flesh is not alive in us.

The devil is not when my neighbor is persecuting me. In fact, in all likelihood, that is God at work. On the contrary, the devil works when I allow my old, carnal nature of the flesh to rule in me.

When the carnal nature is at work in me, I will exhibit the works of the flesh as laid out in Galatians 5:19-21:

“19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Notice the fine script in verse 21: “and such like”. That means that the things listed here by no means comprise the exhaustive inventory of the works of the flesh. Just because you have a trait of the flesh that is not mentioned here does not mean you are not a carnal Christian.

The church cannot take even one effective step in its heaven-bound journey without understanding and acknowledging two things:

  1. Firstly, the flesh is the church’s number one enemy. When the devil was coming at Him with all his fury, Jesus said he “hath nothing in me.” (Jn. 14:30) Jesus’s flesh was not alive in Him.
  2. Secondly, it is Christ Himself who has to build the church.

So how does Christ build His church? More appropriately, however, let us begin by looking at how men try to build God’s church.

When men can quote scripture, when men know the Bible from one end to the other; when men have been to Bible school and have graduated with degrees; when men know all the Biblical doctrines about “repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment” (Heb. 6:1-2); when men know all these things BUT ARE NOT CHANGING; when men know all these things BUT REMAIN WITH THEIR CARNAL NATURES AND ATTRIBUTES yet continue going to church and continue ministering to God as if there is something fruitful going on in the Spirit, this is how men try to build Christ’s church.

When we think that our singing pleases God, and we go to extremes to make our worship experiences as beautiful and powerful as possible, BUT ARE NOT CHANGING INTO THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST, this is how men build God’s church.

When men boast in their power to pray and we even hear of “prayer warriors” in church, BUT MEN ARE NOT CHANGING, this is how men try to build Christ’s church.

When preaching becomes the focus of our calling; when miracles and “mighty works” of the Spirit become our focus; when we hear of ministries that go by men’s names, this is how men will try to build Christ’s church.

When we boast in mega-structures and mega-numbers in our churches; when we plaster our churches with such exotic names like “Helicopter Church”; this is how men build Christ’s church.

The result of all these things and many others like these; the result, as we see today, is a weak, defeated church. We can clearly tell from scripture that the early church was a strong, victorious church. Sin was dealt with firmly and effectively. But the church today is overcome by every kind of sin. To begin with, the true doctrine of the cross (“Jesus Christ, and him crucified” – 1 Cor. 2:1) has been removed from the church, and it has been supplanted by false doctrines.

The natural outcome of this is that the flesh has thrived in the church. It is noteworthy that preachers today exhibit every work of the flesh in their lives. The prosperity preachers top this list, of course. And they have a massive following, which means that a large proportion of the church is following after the flesh.

Man has tried to build Christ’s church and the result is that the church has not taken one productive step in its quest for the life of Christ both on earth and in heaven.

Christ, therefore, has to build His church for it to be strong and victorious against the gates of hell. Finally, we arrive at the critical question: how does Christ build His church?

We shall see the answer in the second part of this post.

[Below: Today’s church is largely a cosmetic affair]

image11664

Seeing Into God’s Kingdom – Part 1

15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,

16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;

17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

19  And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power… Eph. 1:15-19

I have a brother, a fellow pastor, who goes from one conference to another, from seminar to seminar, and I have come  to discover that all he is really after is money. Most of the conferences that he attends are hosted by organisers who promise numerous perks to the attendees: return tickets, free food, free accommodation and even, sometimes, pocket money. The truly big fish that a preacher can land in these meetings, of course, is to ‘connect’ with a wealthy ministry that can support him financially.

In my heart, I have refrained from judging this brother because I was once in exactly the same boat that he is in right now. There was a time when I thought that “gain is godliness” (1 Tim 6:5)!

But the revelation of the gospel of the cross of Jesus Christ has helped me to know that God’s Kingdom has absolutely nothing to do with anything of this world, much less its material and financial propositions. Therefore now, even though I may not have everything that I need in this world, yet my eyes are not set on these things.  I run a different race now, a difficult one in the flesh, but refreshing in the Spirit.

Notice, in the above scripture, that Paul prays for the Ephesians that, as believers in Christ, their spiritual eyes may be opened to the end that they may see or “know” something different from what the world is chasing after. The things that he wants them to see are spiritual:

  • The hope of God’s calling upon their lives;
  • The riches of the glory of God’s inheritance in the saints; and
  • The exceeding greatness of God’s power in us who believe.

The Letter to the Ephesians is an incredibly powerfully spiritual letter. Right from the beginning, it compellingly portrays our spiritual inheritance in the Spirit. But for us to know these things, our spiritual eyes must be enlightened.

Most people assume that, because they are saved, that they can see everything, that they know everything. But that is a wrong assumption. Notice how Paul addresses the Ephesians in verse 13:

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise…”

In other words, these were people who had believed in Christ Jesus. They were saints. Moreover, they were filled with the Holy Spirit (“… sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” – refer Acts 2:39). The Ephesians were Spirit-filled, tongues-speaking believers!

And yet the Apostle Paul prays for their eyes to be enlightened. How can that be?

It is scenarios like that of my pastor friend that show that the church’s eyes are not enlightened yet, even though we are saved. When a baby is born, it is born with its eyes closed. The mother looks for nothing else but the eyes. She eagerly anticipates the moment when her baby’s eyes will flip open and, as she looks deep into her baby’s eyes she says, with deep emotion, “Welcome to the world, baby!”

It is even so with God. God’s earnestness is for us to see into His spiritual Kingdom. Not until our spiritual eyes have been enlightened to see into His spiritual Kingdom can God feel truly satisfied and say, “Welcome to My Kingdom, my beloved son/daughter!”

[Below: “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” Ps. 24:1. Many nationalities, including Chinese, are welcome in Tanzania]

image12536