The Attributes Of God

23 Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord. Jer. 9:23-24

This is a big one…

But, before we start… We have to realize that every word written in the Bible is written to believers, not to unbelievers. The Bible is the believer’s handbook. The words above, therefore, written by the Prophet Jeremiah, were written to the church, not to unbelievers. And the way these words are written suggest that here, right in the church, in the Body of Jesus Christ, there are believers who are boasting in all kinds of things which God never thought that a child of His would boast in.

There are believers boasting in their wisdom. Have you ever heard of people called motivational speakers? In church, I mean. They talk all kinds of lofty things and they have all these grand ideas of how you can achieve practically anything you want to achieve and how you can basically become anything and anyone you want to become. You would think they work for The American Dream, Inc. But motivational speakers are just a small part of this large group of wise men and women.

There are believers boasting in their might. I heard one owner of a Christian denomination in a neighboring country tell his bishops, “Any bishop who does not respect my wife I will throw out of my church. This time I will show you my power.” These are powerful men. They have lawyers and all kinds of musclemen who will do their bidding at any cost.

In my country, there are preachers who have all kinds of titles on them, ranging from “Transformer” to “Caterpillar” (equated to the famed heavy earth-moving machinery), to “Chief”. A little further down south we have the Major, of course.

All these self-given titles talk of earthly (not spiritual) might.

There are believers boasting in their riches. Have you ever heard the gospel called the gospel of prosperity? God’s Word hits the nail on the head with this one. The people who subscribe to this gospel are many and they flaunt their wealth about “in the Name of Jesus”.

There are a million and one ways that God’s people use to show off their “godliness”, or how much they “know” God. In addition to the few we have mentioned above, there are all kinds of circuses (real ones) going on in church today. People vibrate, pole vault, and do all kinds of gymnastics in church, all geared towards making a statement about their “knowledge” of God. Some preachers are capable of roaring like lions, with devastating effect upon their blind, terror-filled followers.

As I said, man is capable of doing a million and one things to try and convince people – and God, hopefully – that God is on his side.

But God is not in any of these groups. God does none of those things. In fact, notice how humble – and simple – God is. He states simply that He exercises

“lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth”.

Just in case you are tempted to think that those are lofty, unattainable ideals, the answer is no. They are simple, everyday principles which every believer in Jesus Christ can practicably attain to.

In the Swahili Bible, the word “lovingkindness” is translated “goodness”. How so clean and simple! Goodness is the opposite of evil, or maliciousness. It means not doing evil to your fellow man, only good.

God is simply good. His goodness has no strings attached to it.

“Judgment” speaks of a lack of favoritism.

“Righteousness” talks of not sinning against God.

All these are the simplest things that a child of God can do. And the Bible says that these are the things that please God. Not those other things which we saw so forcefully put forward in church.

But we must realize that we can attain to doing the things that please God only when our flesh is crucified; when we are crucified with Christ, as the Apostle Paul says of himself in Galatians 2:20:

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

[Goodness is doing no ill to your fellow man, only good]

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Where’s The Light?

… this present evil world Gal. 1:4

Have you ever looked out at night? What do you see? Darkness, of course. I am sure this is no news for anyone. What might be news is that the darkness you see out there at night signifies the spiritual condition of this present world. In the Bible, evil is equated to darkness. And the physical darkness that we see in the world is an metaphor or symbol of the spiritual condition of the world. The earth rotates on its axis and we see both light and darkness, signifying the two kingdoms of God and the devil. But in this present world that we live in, the sun has not risen yet. That is why the Bible talks of

the rulers of the darkness of this world” (Eph. 6:12)

In the spirit, the present world is under the rulership of the rulers of darkness. The world is under deep darkness. If you want to know just how evil this present world is, just look out into the night. You will see only darkness. In the spirit world, much, or all of that darkness resides in the heart of man.

But there is something else! At night you see the stars. Bless the Lord for the stars, for they are they that brighten the night (the moon does not). Have you ever gazed up at a starry sky? It is incredibly beautiful.

We are like the stars. We bring light to this present world. How? Through our works of righteousness. In the spirit, the church is the only light in this present world. The sun has not risen yet. When our Lord Jesus Christ comes the second time, then the sun will have risen. Then this present world will run from His presence. The light chases away the light.

At present, as I said, we are like the stars in the sky. We are the only light that shines in this darkness.

Unfortunately, the church today is not shining brightly. I know I will have my critics; but I have to say what needs to be said, namely, (and I need to write it in capital letters) THERE IS REALLY NO MORE CHURCH IN THE WORLD TODAY, JUST A GLIMMER.

How can we say there is a church when what is called “church” today is full of anything and everything (too much to enumerate here) other than the beautiful fruit of the Spirit that shines in darkness; the works of righteousness; fruit that can only be had through an identification with the denial of self, the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ; Christ living in us.

How can we say there is a church when the true gospel, the gospel of the cross of Jesus is not being preached in church? On the contrary, we find that the most popular gospel in the church today is that of which the Apostle Paul spoke:

“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom” (1 Cor. 1:22)

God’s people run after miracles, signs and wonders, while others seek after intellectual understandings of scripture rather than desiring the inner work of the cross. But what did Paul preach?

“But we preach Christ crucified… Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. 1:24)

Christ crucified is the real power and wisdom of God.

Judge ye yourselves. Should the church preach any other gospel other than

“Christ crucified”?

Then there is neither power nor wisdom of God. If it preaches anything other than Christ crucified, the church ¬†will never shine like the stars in heaven. It will never bear the fruit of the Spirit – which is the true “light” of the world – without the cross working in her. Look at the Corinthian church. They had all the gifts of the Holy Spirit: so much so that they overlapped each other during ministry. But they had no fruit of the Spirit. They were carnal Christians, babes in Christ.

If we are to grow and become mature in Christ and reveal the glory of Christ in us, we must bend ourselves under the cross and allow it to do all it needs to do in us (breaking us) to the end that all the works of the flesh in us might be crucified and that Christ in all His glory might be seen in us!

[There is really no more church in the world today, just a glimmer]

The Greatest Promise Of All

11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him… (2 Tim. 2:11-12)

What powerful words! What an incredible promise! And right here, as an aside, let me say that I have heard both powerful and unpowerful preachers enumerate the promises that God has for us in the Bible, and I have never heard them mention this one. You wonder, What are Christians being taught in churches today? Aren’t Christians being taken for a ride by the very preachers they have entrusted their souls to? And it is a ride straight to hell.

But let us embark on our lesson today by looking at another incredibly powerful scripture.

“Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” Acts 2:24

That’s talking of our Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture here plainly states that it was not possible that death could hold Jesus.

If language is anything to go by, the words “not possible” mean something, don’t they? Another word for “not possible” is “impossible”; and other words for “impossible are, “impracticable”, “unachievable”, “out of the question”.

It is clear, therefore, that there are some things that death can achieve; and there are others that it cannot. That’s interesting, because even the Bible makes clear the power of death, for in 1 Corinthians 15:25-26, we read:

“25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”

Death is an incredibly powerful enemy. No man is free from the grip of death. Even the great partriarch David was held by death, as the Bible says in Acts 13:36,

“For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption.”

But of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible states:

“But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.” (Acts 13:37)

Death had no power over Jesus simply because it was not possible for it to have power over Him!

“not possible”. What beautiful words! In the context they are in, they probably are the sweetest words in the Bible. But they are not just beautiful; they are also powerful. The power in those words is incomprehensible. And the stratospheric question here is, Why was it not possible that Jesus should be held by death?

The Bible says it is because God would not allow it.

“Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” (Acts 13:35)

God would not suffer, or allow Jesus to be held by the power of death. Again, that is awe-inspiring. How could that be so? Why?

You see, God is the determiner of everything. He is the I AM. All things exist in Him. All things and everything therefore is easily under the control of God. So when God says or does or even so much as wishes something (for He always does so according to His irrefutable wisdom), there is NOTHING that can rebuff Him. In fact, it is much more than that. When God was creating the universe, He just wished it, and it was so.

In the same manner, God did not wish Jesus to see corruption – and it was so.

So how come that every man since Adam has seen corruption but not Jesus? What made Jesus so special? Why would God wish and therefore not allow Jesus to be held by death? Was it on a whim?

Certainly not. The reason why God would not allow Jesus to see corruption is, simply, because Jesus obeyed God! It is that simple; and yet, again, it is not that simple. The price that Jesus paid to obey God is uncomprehendable. The Bible says in Isaiah 53:12 that

“because he hath poured out his soul unto death”.

Jesus poured out his soul unto death. The Bible is full of the sufferings and ultimate ignoble death of Jesus. Jesus lived the kind of life that we find practically impossible to live here on earth.

It is in this context therefore that the Apostle Paul makes clear the importance of our identification with Christ. He tells us that in order for us to achieve anything of value in the Spirit, we MUST identify our lives with the sufferings and death of Christ.

“11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him…” (2 Tim. 2:11-12)

Notice the sequence of events here. If we die to self as Christ died to self, we shall have the life of Christ in us here on earth. As the Apostle Paul says,

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…” (Gal. 2:20)

If we suffer with Christ here on earth, we shall reign with Him in heaven.

And pray, what, exactly, is suffering with Jesus?

The words of Jesus Himself explain this best.

“39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” (Mat. 5:39-41)

[God’s call to the church is to crucify self just as Christ did]

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“I am Crucified With Christ”

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2:20

The former president of the United States, Barack Obama is famously reported to have stated that the sweetest sound he has ever heard is the Moslem call to prayer, or the “muezzin”. That call has been there since Mohamed; and the Moslems never tire of hearing it.

What about us? What is the sweetest sound that we have ever heard, and that we should never tire of hearing? What are the words that we should daily welcome enthusiastically into our hearts and lives until the end of time?

My vote goes to the words by the Apostle Paul,

“I am crucified with Christ.”

These are the sweetest words that could sincerely come out of the mouth of a Christian believer. After all the singing, after all the praying, after all the preaching, after all our service to God and man; our ultimate destination is to find ourselves crucified with Christ. If we did all of the above without crucifying our flesh, it would amount to nothing.

Indeed, the above words by the Apostle Paul ought to get sweeter and sweeter to the believer’s ear by the day. They ought to be a daily call in our lives, a call that we relish and eagerly look forward to every day of our lives: to absolutely lose self, that the life of Christ may be found in us.

Indeed, our Lord Jesus Christ said so Himself. In Luke 9:23 we read:

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

There is much ado in the church today. Unfortunately, a disproportionate amount is much ado about nothing, for the church has a singular calling, which is to crucify the flesh to the end that Christ may live in us.

[The beautiful land of central Tanzania]

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Understanding Faith

(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 2 Cor. 5:7

What a singularly powerful statement by the Apostle Paul! This scripture has been on my heart for a while; but it has not evoked the emotions I would have wanted, for instead of joy, it has brought me deep sadness. When I look at my life and the lives of my fellow brothers and sisters, I see how much we in our generation have misunderstood faith. And how, for this reason, we are walking by sight – by a mile!

At the same time, I cannot help wondering what a truly incredible man the Apostle Paul was. Who would write such words? To understand faith and to actually state that we walk by faith and not by sight! Oh, to have theman or woman who can walk by faith!

Notice the word “sight” here. This is the saddest word in the world. Through what the Bible says here – “we walk by faith, not by sight” – it is clear that “sight” is the absolute opposite of faith.

For this reason, nothing in this world can bring true joy to the spiritual man.

Sight and intellect have a lot in common. The word “sight” as used here encompasses everything that has to do with our earthly nature. It encompasses everything that is of this world. And whatever is of this world goes into our spirits through our intellect. The word “sight” therefore includes everything that has to do with our physical and emotional senses. It includes what we see, hear, taste, and feel. It also includes our ‘heart’ feelings, the emotional things.

When we see or hear or are affected by something physically or emotionally, our brain processes it and it becomes part of our ‘being’. Let’s say, for example, that someone says something good about us. Our brain will process that and we will have a good feeling about ourselves on account of what we have heard. Likewise, if someone says something bad about us, that same brain will process the words we’ve just heard and we will feel bad.

Likewise, lust. When we see a beautiful car and crave after it, it means we are drawn by what we see.

There is nothing spiritual about any of these things. Any attachment to them, therefore, is a hearkening to “sight”. It is a hearkening to that old man, self.

Faith, on the other hand, has nothing to do with the intellect. The intellect cannot comprehend anything that is beyond “sight”. But let us see what the Bible says faith is.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 1:1)

Faith sees beyond the curve of “sight”.

The words “substance” and “evidence” mentioned here basically mean the same thing. They refer to things that are tangible. So therefore faith is about things, but the Bible tells us it is not about the things that can be apprehended by the intellect, (the things of “sight”). Rather, faith sees into another realm, the realm of the Holy Spirit. This is the realm of the heart, where God works. Our hearts are God’s drawing boards. Faith therefore sees things that are tangible in the Spirit.

And pray, what do we see in the Spirit when we are walking by faith?

Faith sees the character of Christ. It beholds Christ’s character forming in us. That is what faith is. Miracles, signs and wonders form a minute portion of faith as far as the believer is concerned. That is why the apostles did not dwell on these things in their epistles. They knew what true faith was: a crucifying of our bodies on the cross with Jesus.

Hence the need for the revelation of the cross in a believer’s life. The cross crucifies our intellect to the end that our spirits might become alive to God. The Apostle Paul asked:

“Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath God not made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1 Cor. 1:20)

He was talking about our intellect.

But concerning himself, Paul wrote:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

He had of necessity to die to who he was. To walk by faith – to carry Christ’s grace – demanded his death. So much so that even his name was changed. Formerly known as Saul, his name was changed to Paul. Few of us have arrived there.

The crucified life is the pinnacle of faith. This is the pinnacle of Christianity. I am amazed that all the great ministries in this world are built on miracles, signs and wonders, not on the revelation of the cross. But if we would know the breadth and length and height and breadth of God, we need to know… Christ crucified.

[What are we teaching our congregations?]

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Doing Only Good Sets Us Free!

God can afford to be free because He is love. What does that mean?

It means God does only good. When someone does only good, they are completely free. But when we are unable to do only good, we are not free.

God is love and love does only good. That is why the Bible says,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Jn. 3:16)

Imagine that goodness!!

When Jesus was here on earth, the Pharisees and other religious leaders tried to prevent Him from doing good. They tried to prevent Him by using scriptures which they did not understand.

But Jesus was love and for this reason He was free to do whatever He wanted to because whatever He did He did only out of love.

So Jesus healed people on the Sabbath despite prostestations by the priests not to ‘work’ on the Sabbath. He sat with lepers, tax collectors and was ministered to by former harlots. Nothing could deter Jesus from doing good. He was free in His spirit, for He was love.

That is why we need the revelation of the cross in our hearts, so that we can deny ourselves and live lives that conform perfectly to the will of God. Conforming to the will of God means doing only good, something which our fleshly nature is simply incapable of. The fact is that the cross is the only power that can crucify the flesh and bring about God’s perfect will in our lives. The Bible says of the flesh:

“7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8:7-8)

For this reason, therefore, the Apostle Paul had only one message:

“But we preach Christ crucified…” (1 Cor. 1:23)

Moreover, he tells the Corinthians,

“1 And I, brethren, when I came to you… 2 I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:1-2)

The cross sets us free from the power of the flesh. When we are free of the flesh, we can be as loving, and hence free, as Christ was.

[The cutest niece in the world!]

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Those Amalekites!

1 Samuel also said unto Saul, The Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord. 2 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” (1 Sam. 15:1-3)

Many people have a problem with God on account of such scriptures. They cannot reconcile how a loving and merciful God can at the same time be so unforgiving and brutal. God told Saul through Samuel,

“I remember that which Amalek did to Israel…”

‘I thought He was quick to forget’, you say.

Forget about forgetting.

What we do not realize is that the Old Testament is a shadow of the New Covenant, which is the real thing. Hebrews 10:1 says,

“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things…” (Heb. 10:1)

Yes, the entire Old Testament, upon which the law rests, was a shadow. The Bible states it right there. The real thing is the New Covenant.

I am glad the Bible uses the word “shadow”. Now, we all know what a shadow is. A shadow is less than a dead thing. It is not even comparable like, say, with vapor to water. A shadow is not the real thing; rather, it is simply an indicator of the thing that is there. And therefore here, in Hebrews, the Bible talks of:

“a shadow”; and

“the very image of the things”.

Two very different things: one real; the other, unreal.

All that happened under the Old Testament – that is, before Jesus came to earth – was a shadow.

So, under the Old Testament, the Amalekites were a shadow. What, pray, were they a shadow of?

The Amalekites and all the other enemies of the nation of Israel were a shadow of our fleshly lusts. Yes, the real thing that the Bible is referring to when it talks about the Amalekites here is the flesh. The Amalekites were a shadow of the same bodily lusts that you and I are subject to as men and women of the flesh. In other words, you and I have Amalekites living inside us! And, believe it or not, these Amalekites are more real than the ones King Saul went to deal with.

The enemy under the New Covenant is more real and deadlier than the enemies the Israelites encountered during the Old Testament times. That is why the gospel of Jesus Christ is about crucifying the flesh.

God is so merciful and loving, but when it comes to the flesh, He gives no quarter. “Giving no quarter” means no mercy. God has only one word for the flesh: extermination.

Why?

Once again, we reference the Amalekites.

“… he laid wait for him in the way”.

I have only one instinctive response to a snake, and that is to kill it. Any other response will come looong after I have killed the snake.

The Amalekites ambushed the Israelites along the way. They were determined to not let them pass and go on to inherit the good land that the Lord had promised them.

In the same way, the flesh – our fleshly desires – are determined to hinder us from inheriting the many good things that God has for us in the Spirit and even from making it to heaven.

Moreover,

“And he gathered an host, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them.” (1 Sam. 14:48)

Notice that the Amalekites “spoiled” the Israelites. They plundered them, they killed them; they were hell-bent on wiping them completely off the face of the earth.

In the same way, the flesh is bent on destroying us spiritually.

We see this also in 1 Pet. 2:11.

“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul”.

Our fleshly lusts war against our souls. To what end? It is to the end that they might destroy us spiritually.

Need we ask any more why God would tell Saul,

“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”

Need we any more reason to understand why Paul would preach no other gospel other than

“Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23).

The revelation of “Christ crucified” to the church is the revelation of the true gospel of Jesus Christ, for it enables us to wage war against the flesh.

And, finally, need we any more reason on why we should go out and wage war against the flesh – our own flesh and its lusts – bearing in mind that this was the same charge that God gave to King Saul?

But we are to do it through crucifying the flesh.