God Defends The Weak

For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. Ps. 72:12

“… he that hath no helper.”

Did you know?

There are those who can defend themselves; and there are those who cannot.

God defends those who cannot defend themselves.

God’s Protection

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil… Mat. 6:13

The world is an incredibly evil place. People undergo all sorts of tragedies every day, perpetrated upon them either by fellow men or by nature. Every day an incredibly large number of people suffer unspeakable horror and suffering the likes of which many of us would never dream of. But for we believers, the threat is double-edged: the devil would love to see us not just suffer in our bodies; but, even more importantly to him, he would absolutely love it for us to become lost spiritually. It is my firm conviction that the devil would even be willing to forgo harming us physically if that action would lead to our spiritual downfall. For this reason, therefore, the real place we should keep our eyes peeled really hard is in the spiritual realm. We should not be deceived when calamities and other forms of suffering appear to be visiting other people and not us. In the spirit, Satan is as close to us as our skin. That is why the Bible says in 1 Peter 5:8:

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…”

Satan is a relentless foe. The Bible likens him to a roaring lion who is walking about, seeking someone to devour.

This is why Jesus’ words in this prayer are so important. That God can – and does – deliver us from such an enemy is such a grace.

One time a brother was describing to me how the Lord delivered him from the sin of adultery. This man was an army man and on this particular occasion, he had agreed to rendezvous with a strange woman in a certain location. It was his first time to attempt such a thing and he expected it would go smoothly.

But when the woman arrived, she was dressed from head to toe in a black hijab, the traditional garb for Muslim women here. The man had never seen this woman dressed in such clothes before and when he saw her, his heart was struck with mortal fear. He got so scared that he ran away. Literally. The minute he realized it was her he quickly walked away from the scene and left the woman standing there alone. In our country, many women wear hijabs and this brother told me he could never comprehend why he got so scared of this particular woman.

When I heard that I said to him, “Brother, that was not ordinary fear. That was the Lord. The Lord personally appeared to you and rebuked that sin in the Spirit and His rebuke was what caused that fear in you.”

The Lord works over-time to protect and preserve us against the many different forms of attacks from the devil. We should be constantly praising and thanking God for this inexpressible gift.

Two Messages

I once saw a man of God do a fund-raising campaign on TV and he said the money was for “spread(ing) the message of healing to the world.” By this he indicated that healing is to be preached as a message. But I hold that the healing ministry, although genuine, cannot stand alone and survive unless it is built upon the foundational message of the cross of Christ. Indeed, any message which is not built upon that foundation is a weak message indeed, and it is bound to fall.

The prosperity message, on the other hand, is of God to the extent that He promises to meet our daily needs. Any teaching beyond that is carnal, and of the flesh. The foundational message of God’s provision teaches that “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” 1 Tim. 6:8

But the true, foundational message of the apostles was “Jesus Christ, and him crucified”. 1 Cor. 2:2

Any message outside of the message of the cross is a weak message because it will invariably cater to the flesh. The prophetic, healing, deliverance and prosperity ministries, operating as they do without the underlying message of the cross, all fall into this category. They carry a message of self-preservation, and they will ultimately fall.

That was why Jesus told the Jews, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth…” Jn 6:27

The weak character of these gospels is revealed especially in the way they are “spread” or preached by the charismatic preachers, for it in no way resembles the way Jesus and the apostles of the Early Church preached the gospel. The message of healing, as I have seen it conducted by many preachers, seeks to advertise itself, literally.

Many years ago, I was in the neighboring country of Kenya and I saw an advertisement that read: “A man of miracles comes back to Nairobi.”

The flesh loves advertising itself.

Jesus, on the other hand, never advertised Himself. He never allowed the cameras to roll on Him during ministry. In fact, He did the exact opposite: He suppressed any “news” about His miracles. Even when, during His open-air meetings, miracles were happening right, left and centre, Jesus quickly sought to part with the crowd and go to the mountains to pray alone!

On reading the gospels we find an incredible number of instances where Jesus literally ordered those He healed not to publicise the miracles they had received. In one particularly interesting case in the gospel of Mark 8 Jesus healed a man and in verse 26 it says that after Jesus had healed him, “he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.”

I first saw this scripture in the Swahili version, and there it says: “He took him right up to his house and told him, ‘Do not even enter the village!’” Jesus led this man all the way to his home just so he would not tell anyone that he had been healed by Him!

How could Jesus tell people not to broadcast His healings and we do the exact opposite? Aren’t we missing something here?

I believe all this lust for publicity is carnal. It is a thirst for fleshly glory. When the flesh is alive in a man, he wants to be recognized as a great man of God, a man of power.

And when people seek after earthly glory, it is because the flesh is alive in them. Whatever is going on in these ministries is nothing other than the spirit of the world, and it should not be confused with giving any glory to God. God is given glory when we are partaking of the sufferings of Christ, period. There is only one thing for which Jesus was not shy of being recognized. He was not afraid of being recognized as a man of grace. And for this to happen He had to die.

When we are being lifted on the world stage, that is something utterly worldly, carnal, and of our own making.

Many other things follow in the wake of this seeking after worldly glory. The love for money easily comes in. The healing message, like kindred other messages, is accompanied by much lobbying for money. Fundraising becomes an auxiliary but established message within the main healing message. In some cases, it becomes the main message!

And then there is the issue of bodyguards. In all my saved experience, I have never understood why a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ would ever need to walk about with a bodyguard. I once heard of a man who went to preach in the Sinai region of Egypt and the Egyptian government insisted on giving him security personnel. That I can understand. But today, even in environments that would not need a night watchman, many prominent and respectable men of God have bodyguards. What message, pray, are these people sending to the Body of Christ? No wonder recently I read of a pastor in the U.S. who shot a man with a gun! That’s a pastor walking with a gun there. He was probably defending an American right, Americans have so many rights!

I doubt if Jesus carried these attitudes whether He would have allowed Himself to be nailed on that cross. Jesus did not seek to publicize Himself, nor did He defend Himself. On the contrary, we see that the only thing that Jesus did with all His strength was to preach and to live that foundational gospel of repentance and of a transformed life. Jesus preached the message of the new birth and of the Kingdom of God: righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. And this was the same message that the apostles would also later preach. That is not a message that you can live by simply “falling under the power” or by driving the latest Mercedes Benz car. Living that message requires a revelation of the cross in one’s spirit. Jesus and the apostles preached about the victory that would be found in identifying our lives with Christ’s life on the cross. In fact, Jesus and the apostles spoke of this identification infinitely more than anything else. It was their sole message.

In his first letter to the Corinthians chapter 2:2 the Apostle Paul informed them pointblank that this was the singular message that he carried: “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

Ditto to the Galatians: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” (Gal 3:1) Notice Paul says that Jesus Christ was clearly revealed to the Galatians as “crucified among you”.

I cannot find anywhere in the scriptures where it says that Paul or the other apostles preached any other message apart from the message of the cross, the believer’s identification with the sufferings and death of Christ.

And with this message there is nothing about self-preservation. This message talks about losing your life, period.

I have every reason to believe that the message of prosperity is totally carnal. It brings competition, division and pride. God never said He would make us rich in material things. He did promise, though, to meet our daily needs.

And the message of healing, while genuine, is not the message that Jesus brought. In fact, as we just saw, Jesus suppressed this message. But He was very vocal with the message of the new birth and of the cross. And so were the apostles. The message of the cross covers the entirety of the New Testament, like a blanket. It is the singular message of the New Testament.

Any other message apart from this is a carnal message of self-preservation and self-gratification. Such a gospel will ultimately destroy its adherents. Jesus said to lose your life in order to gain it.

[Below: In the city of Mwanza during the non-rush hours, a daladala conductor has to ‘advertise’ the worthiness of his vehicle to lure passengers in]

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The False Doctrine of ‘Deliverance’ – Pt. 1

The Bible states in Colossians 1:13  that God, through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus on the Cross, “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son”.

You can see clearly from the above scripture that deliverance from the powers of darkness is an accomplished task. Christ already did it. Why should someone want to perform deliverance on you again? What is he delivering you from? And why should the Church of Christ find itself in such a compromising situation where it needs a deliverance ministry to help it to carry on? What justification is there in having such a ministry in a strong, victorious Church? Isn’t there a problem somewhere?

I believe there is a problem. There is something missing in the Church today, which is a revelation of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. The fact is, not everything that comes with the name ‘gospel’ affixed to it is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul talks about the false apostles of his day who presented the Church with another Jesus, another spirit, another gospel (2 Cor. 11:4). Does that not reflect what we see happening in our day?

My humble submission is that the Church has deserted the true Biblical doctrine of the Cross and it is running after quick fixes.

The root problem of humankind is the flesh; and the solution to that is the Cross. For someone who has been born again, he/she has been granted victory in the spirit on a silver platter if they will only accomplish one thing: crucify their flesh. That is why the New Testament, of which every born-again believer is a partaker, has only one doctrine: deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Christ. That is what Jesus taught and did, that is what the Apostles and the Early Church taught and lived. We do not see any ‘deliverance’ ministry in that Church. We see the Apostles preaching a gospel that confronted the flesh. And the Church was strong – and victorious!

The Bible says in 1 Cor. 1:18  “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

Further along, in verses 22-24 we read, “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”

The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of suffering (Rom. 8:17; Phil. 1:29), hence the Cross. Therein is the power of the gospel. That is where you will find men and women losing their lives, surrendering their rights, and humbling themselves one to another; in other words, living the true Christian life.

The road to Heaven has no shortcuts. It is straight and narrow. It is the road of death.

In 2 Cor. 15:42-44 we read: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” Note those words, ‘corruption’ (death); ‘dishonor’; ‘weakness’. That is our earthly portion. And only when we are walking on the road of the Cross can we be true partakers of that portion.

The revelation of the Cross is the key factor throughout the New Testament Church, of which we are a part.

Even when it comes to confronting the forces of darkness, of which much of the doctrine of deliverance is built upon, we find a very simple and straightforward way in dealing with them in Ephesians 6:10-20. The Apostle Paul shows us that the way to spiritual victory is through living a life that is laid at the altar! The weapons of our warfare are spiritual. They are in a broken, crucified life. When you are living that life, you will have power over the forces of darkness.

When the first apostolic team from Church Team Ministries (www.ctmiworld.com) visited our church in December 1995, they found us casting demons out of Christians at every service. They never told us to stop casting out demons, in fact, that subject was never touched on at all; but as the brothers and sisters who carried these essential five-fold ministries continued coming and ministering in our midst, that deliverance ‘ministry’ simply died a natural death because no one had a demon in our church any longer! We did not need that ‘ministry’ in our midst! The preaching of the Cross brought the Spirit of Christ in our midst to set us free from the flesh – and the powers of darkness! What would happen to find us needing such a ministry in our church again after all these years? No doubt, a terrible spiritual reversal would need to have taken place.

We as a church still have our battles with the flesh; but not in the area of spiritual powers of darkness. When a new believer joins the church and they are under the influence of such powers, we simply cast them out. If we need to fast, we do so; but in everything we do with regard to spiritual powers of darkness we do in the full assurance that it is a finished work. Jesus did it all on the Cross!

The Devil is very cunning. He presents a gospel that is weak and which does not address the real problem. If he can make you believe in that, he is ready for a nap!

At best, the deliverance ministry is a placebo. A placebo is something that does not address the root problem. It could scratch at the surface of the problem and make you feel good here and there. But if the flesh is not addressed in a believer’s life, there will be no victory in his life.

At its worst, the ministry of deliverance is even a door for witchcraft (the real thing) to enter the Church.

Our God is a God of compassion

Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother Lk 7:12-15.

We cannot begin to imagine the commotion that followed the execution of this high-end miracle. In fact, the Bible takes note of three things that took place as a result of this sensational deed:

And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people” (v.16).

And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about” (v.17).

“And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things” (v.18).

Likewise, we today are easily taken in by the “activity”. But don’t get distracted by the hyper-action. Whatever else that was accomplished through this miracle, and whatever importance that was attached to it – and there certainly was much – the Bible nonetheless makes clear the one thing that drove Jesus to resurrect that young man: He was driven by compassion.

Today there is much emphasis on the practical aspect of Christianity, but the “practical” we want to deal on is the works per se, as it were. We want to show off the miracles, the healings, the so-called deliverances, etc.

Yet, with Jesus, the practical was always about the heart. He invariably did all the great works He did out of the deep compassion that filled His heart. This is as it should be for the Bible says the reason that God sent Jesus to earth in the first place was to “to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant” Lk. 1:72. Moreover, “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” vs 77-79.

We see the same pattern of conduct with the early Apostles, as can be seen from what is written in the Book of Acts and the Epistles. The Apostles were not men who overly emphasized the works. They had something else to talk about, something much more profound. They talked about the revelation of the cross, and the power it has to change a man’s heart and make it tender and compassionate like Jesus’ heart was.

Have you ever read the Sermon on the Mount? The only reference there to workers of miracles is one that should make us sit and consider more the condition of our hearts rather than the miracles themselves.