The Eminence Of The Cross – Part 1

38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. 39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Mat. 12:38-40

Our lives are bound up with God to the extent that we live the crucified life. That was what Jesus was telling these Jews here. They – just like many believers today – believed the Kingdom of God consisted of signs and wonders. But Jesus here set the record straight: when it comes to the Kingdom of God, the only true sign that would be given this generation was the suffering, death and resurrection of our souls.

Actually, Jesus reprimanded the Jews for seeking after a sign. He said that seeking after a sign is the mark of “an evil and adulterous generation”.

That’s quite telling. That’s talking of people who are not interested in seeking after the holiness of God. Rather, they are using God (religion) to seek after their own gain. Material, financial and physical gain, to be exact. But Jesus said,

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God”.

Even seeking after bodily healing of itself is a form of selfishness. Seeking after your own healing first (you will know you are doing this in your heart of hearts) is a form of idol worship. Today, there are so many believers who worship their bodies. But we are to seek for God’s Kingdom first to be established in our hearts.

I believe it grieves God’s heart the way many believers today throng to these miracle-working churches. All they are seeking after is a sign, a miracle, a healing, or an awe-inspiring wonder. According to scripture, these are “an evil and adulterous generation”.

In fact, let’s up the ante. Or, rather, let us see how the Bible judges today’s generation of miracle-seekers. Yes, God judges all miracle-seekers, as we shall see. Firstly, the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 1:22-24 declares something which is very contrary to popular charismatic belief:

“22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified… 24 Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”

In his day, Paul’s generation was demanding a sign. Today’s generation loves preaching Christ; but not “Christ crucified”. Today, the gospel is all about being blessed – materially, financially and physically. They preach another Jesus. The cross is out. And so is God’s wisdom and power.

But the real killer is 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12. Here scripture says:

“9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

What, pray, is the “truth” the Bible is talking of here?

The truth is Jesus. He Himself declared,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (Jn. 14:6)

And, who, pray is the Bible talking of here? Is the Bible addressing pagan sinners? By no means. The world is already deceived. Satan’s work is to deceive those who have been called to the truth. Here, therefore, the Bible is talking of God’s people who refused to love the truth (Jesus), but had pleasure in a lie.

There is no shortage of believers today who are so deceived even the drunkard in the bar can see what is going on, for it is happening in broad daylight. In Africa, congregations of the deceived are so vast that some ‘churches’ use football fields to hold their services. So many people running to receive a lie! There is so much damnable folly and unrighteousness going on in these charismatic churches today. Just to mention a few: People are persuaded to eat grass and snakes in church. Apparently, this is done under a form of hypnotism for no one in their right minds would do such a thing. Many other things are done to God’s people in these churches under this particular form of hypnotism.

Merchandise, purportedly from the holy land, is sold in churches: flags, oil, sand, water, etc. Women are raped in church under the guise of being healed and receiving other ‘blessings’. And preachers live the high life at the expense of fooled believers. The list is inexhaustible. There is a church whose members worship naked. They read the Bible and they discovered that Adam was naked (although Adam was not naked; he was covered with the glory of God). Then there are the mainstream established churches, who have taken centuries to establish each their own particular form of lie.

The common factor amongst all these groupings is that they have refused to affirm the singular Truth that was preached by the Apostles: Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. They have cast aside the cross of Jesus Christ. They have cast aside the singular thing that connects them with the living God.

So what is that scripture we just read in 2 Thessalonians saying? It is warning us. It is stating that you cannot fool God. God can see when His people have no love for the truth, and he is not happy about it at all. God saw through the mask of people’s worldly desires and He realized people did not really love His Son, Jesus (the Truth). All they wanted were the miracles. The Bible here says that, for this reason, God let loose a spirit of “strong delusion”. A spirit of signs and wonders. They had refused to believe in the singular gospel of the cross, so God let loose Satan (in a spirit of “deceivableness”) upon them. This spirit is at work in the church today and, as we just saw, it is not working in parables. It is plainly see-able.

But it is the cross and what it does in our lives that will usher us into the presence of God. We saw in our last post that Jesus has received the ultimate reward from God the Father: He is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. And the Bible makes clear that Jesus did not receive this honor on account of the miracles that He performed when He was here on earth. Rather, it was on account of the cross that He allowed to work in His life.

Many believers, as we just saw, make a big fuss out of miracles and signs and wonders. But when we get to heaven, these (whether we worked or whether we received them) will be of very little consequence to our final accounting with God. What will determine how God receives us in heaven will be how we denied ourselves by partaking of the sufferings and death of Christ when we were here on earth.

This was what Jesus was trying to tell the scribes and Pharisees here.

[Our reward is to live forever with Jesus after we have taken up our cross]

A Man’s Heart

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jer 17:9

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 1Pe 1:18-19

I have not been very active lately on this blog. My house has no electricity and I have had minimal time to work on my computer. (This computer, by the way, is a gift from Carol and Frank Lanthier, a Canadian missionary couple who have worked tirelessly for the African continent and for whom I pray that they may continue to receive a fuller and deeper revelation of the gospel of the Cross of Christ).

Today’s post is dedicated to my wife. My wife does not read this blog for the simple reason that she is not the reading type. The only book she ever reads is the Bible; and even then she never seems to memorize where any particular verse is situated. Invariably, whenever she has to preach in church, she will ask me where such and such a verse is located.

The thought occurred to me that when my wife retires from her job not long into the future, she may choose reading as one of her retirement pastimes and in the course of it all she just might be tempted to see what it was that I had been writing on my blog all these years… and I can imagine her horror and disbelief on reading all the beautiful sermons that I have been posting out to unsuspecting readers. If she comes up and says: “You hypocrite, look at all the wonderful things you’ve been writing..!” I will bring up this post and tell her, “See, I did write something about myself.”

It is in that sense that this post is dedicated to her. So, here goes…

In this post I want to make a confession about a problem that I have. The problem is one that a casual observer would hardly notice and which my close associates might vaguely be aware of. The credit for people not seeing too much of my pride goes to the working of the gospel in my life because I know for a fact that things would be radically different if it were not for the gospel.

And here let me emphasize that I have witnessed major changes in my life since I got saved. There are crucial areas in my life to which I can point and say, “I have seen the Lord change me here!” Indeed, I am full of joy and gratitude as I observe the great work that God has clearly accomplished and the many victories that I have witnessed in my life. It is also good when people can see and testify to what the Lord has done in my life. But whatever anyone may or may not have noticed is of little consolation to me because for me personally this problem is as big as Mount Everest.

The problem I am referring to is pride… deep-seated pride. There is an area (or areas) in my life I never seem to like being touched. The truth, however, is that the Cross has not got to these areas.

I come from a proud, fierce and war-like tribe. My ancestors made cattle raids against the feared Maasai tribesmen of the Serengeti plains and vice versa, and the undocumented assessment is that before those days ended the Maasai feared us more than we did them.

My tribesmen are renown throughout the diaspora for their rash, irrational behavior. When we were kids growing up, if any one of us boys crossed dad the wrong way, he unvaryingly would grab at the nearest object and smash you with it. One day my elder brother provoked dad and in his fury my dad grabbed at the nearest thing – which happened to be our baby sister; and it was at the point of hurling ‘it’ that he realized what it was that he was holding.

I often see traces of that in my character. It is not something that I am proud of.

Now, I am not writing all this to justify myself. On the contrary, I simply wish to provide a background for where I have come from.

Now, I know that my detractors, on reading this confession, will clap their hands to their ears and say things like “Mwita, don’t write such things, you are shaming the gospel!” etc; but my rejoinder is: “They stripped the Lord Jesus naked and I haven’t done even half that much.” Which in itself is less than an understatement.

It is interesting how the Bible spares no one in exposing their weaknesses and folly, and yet we seek so much to be honored in the eyes of men! I have no desire to receive the honor of any man. The fact that I have a problem with pride is one that I joyfully wish to confess before I die. I don’t want to stand one day before God and hear Him accuse me of being a hypocrite.

May I conclude by saying that I am not discouraged by this problem. I take consolation from the fact that just as the Lord has helped me in other areas of my life, He also will give me victory in this area also. The Cross of Jesus has the ability to reach into the deepest parts of our flesh and uproot our deep-seated carnal natures. Probably some take much more time to uproot than others but… the Apostle Paul confidently states that the Lord who begun a good work in us “will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” Php 1:6.

I am a man of faith. I firmly believe that even now God is working something wonderful deep in my heart. I am assured that one day I shall wake up and find myself free. In the meantime, I can only trust God’s grace and His work in me.

This is the confession I would want my wife to read one day in the future. Hopefully, by then the working of the Cross in my heart will have perfected me in the image of Christ and I can have something to boast about before my wife – and God.