“Much Tribulation”

21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,

22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. Acts 14:21-22

What would you rather have preached in your church?

Today, the church has a wide range of choices when it comes to what people want to hear. But this wide range of choices is a dangerous thing for all these things cater to the flesh. The Apostle Paul warned his young protégé Timothy:

“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.”

To which he added an admonition:

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

Notice that “endure afflictions” is firmly tucked in there. We may have a choice today, but the early church did not have the luxury of hearing what they wanted to hear. No doubt they, just as much as we, would have liked to hear a “soft” gospel, one which promised them a comfortable and trouble-free life here on earth and eternal life in the hereafter. But God would not allow that, for in surrendering to the flesh there is no life.

The apostles were men sent of God. They had in their hearts a revelation of Christ, Christ crucified. They therefore had only one message to deliver:

that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

I wonder how you can reconcile this Biblical message with the man-made messages of financial and material prosperity, promotion and whatnot. In today’s gospel setting, it seems you are not allowed to upset people. It is more important to talk about the “abundant life”, whatever that is, than the suffering that we are to endure for the gospel’s sake.

But if we live, we live for Christ, and if we die, we die for Him also. This is borne out by the example of the Apostle Paul himself who, when addressing Timothy, writes:

“16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me… 17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” (2 Timothy 4:16-17)

It would have been wonderful to read that God delivered Paul from harm in order that Paul could continue living his own life. But this account states otherwise. It says here that God preserved Paul in order that he might continue preaching the gospel. God preserves us for a purpose – His purpose. There is no place in scripture to believe that God preserves us in order that we might continue doing our own thing here on earth. God preserves us in order that we might preach and live the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is for this reason that God brings the cross into our lives. The cross is God’s plan for mankind. The cross involves all the things listed in 2 Corinthians 12:10:

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

In this gospel, people will stamp on you and you will tried and tempted in many different ways. And God expects us to take all that patiently.

The Bible makes clear that you can enter into the Kingdom of heaven minus many of the things that we think are important in our lives – financial success, promotion at work, healing; Jesus even said you can enter with one eye and one hand (Mat. 5:29,30) – but you cannot enter the Kingdom of God without living out the cross in your life. The Bible says that we must through much tribulation enter into God’s heavenly Kingdom. That means suffering and bearing with a lot of negative things in our lives as believers.

That being the case, how about we begin thanking God for the problems instead of wishing them away. We might have been taught otherwise in the mega-churches; but we just might find we are on the right track here. Actually, the Bible says we are.

“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

To exhort means to encourage. You encourage someone when they are undergoing challenges and hardship. The Christian life is a challenge. Living the Christian life is actually the greatest challenge there is in life. The reason for this is because this challenge is not necessarily about physical or material deprivation. Rather, it goes deep into the nether parts of our souls and challenges us there. Here, the deepest things of our hearts are challenged. Here, our pride is challenged. If you are white, your whiteness will be challenged. If you are an African, your Africanness will be challenged. If you have a greed for material wealth like the rich young man we read of the other day that will be challenged also.

These and other carnal traits are the things that make up the un-Christlike character in us, and God wants them out of our lives. God sends us His servants to exhort us to bear with hardships for the gospel’s sake. They encourage us to die to self and to our lusts. After we are truly and fully dead, the grace of God – which is the life of Christ – will increase in us, and we will be able to please God in every area of our lives.

[What would you rather have preached in church?]

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Grace, Grace For The Church – Part 2

28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.

29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,

30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first. Mk. 10:28-31

2. The second significant thing that we find in the above scripture is the manner in which Jesus answered Peter. Jesus was always – always – in the Spirit. Everything He did was spiritual; and if you asked Him a question in the flesh, like Peter did here, He would answer it in the Spirit. Jesus never answered anyone in the flesh, no matter the spiritual mode in which the question was made. He never missed the mark. This is because in His heart Jesus never lost focus of the Kingdom of God.

Peter’s question was in the prosperity-gospel mode, which is a carnal approach; but Jesus answered him in the Spirit. He hit the bullseye: He told him it was all about the church.

I believe that in answering Peter, Jesus found the best opportunity to talk about the glories of the church. This must have been one of His finest moments. He must have enjoyed this moment tremendously.

But judging from the way Peter presented his question, it was a tense moment. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to believe that Peter was even contemplating leaving. At that particular moment, after Jesus had made the no-riches declaration, the atmospehere within the camp was verging on the mutinous.

The wonderful news is that Jesus remained cool as a cucumber. He gave it to them exactly as it was, and stayed put. He did not compromise God’s standards to please anyone. I am not saying that Jesus would have loved to see His disciples leave; but He would not have been fazed in the least had they left.

“…he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me” (Mat. 10:38).

The bottom line is that God is not a respecter of men. He respects those who humble themselves and take the road of the cross.

But Peter had a humble heart, and he stayed, despite the disappointment. So did the other apostles.

3. Finally, let us consider the essence of Jesus’ answer to Peter.

Notice carefully Jesus’ answer: “29… Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions…”

That is Jesus’ promise to the church concerning what it would receive in this world.

When Jesus said, “But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands”; do you really think Jesus was talking about worldly material things here? No, sir!

On the contrary, Jesus was talking about the abundance of God’s grace that would be found within the church. The Kingdom of God is not about things. It is about God’s grace, the grace of God that is revealed in God’s people’s lives as they give their lives sacrificially one to another.

The Kingdom of God never has been, and never will be about the things or riches of this world.

The Kingdom of God is all about the grace of God in believers’ lives.

The Bible says of the early believers:

“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common” (Acts 4:32).

They had all things common.

In our contemporary self-driven, self-made and self-possessed setting, it probably is rather hard to imagine such a state of affairs where people have all things in common. But that is simply because we have allowed the flesh into the church.

But personally, I have tasted of this joy of the church. I have spiritual brothers and sisters and mothers galore all over the world. And when it comes to the things of this world, I have everything I need on account of the church. I have houses, I have cars, I have lands. None of them is in my name, of course, but they are mine all the same simply because they belong to brethren who literally love me as their own soul.

Finally, notice the phrasing of Jesus words, “with persecutions…”

“With” speaks of “going together”. In other words, grace for the church and persecution go together. Jesus was making it clear that there is no grace without the crucified life. Grace goes with persecution. Where an abundance of grace is there is also an abundance of persecution. We can see that with the Early Church, and with the life of the Apostle Paul.

Persecution comes in many forms, but the crucified life is a state of heart. You have either seen the light or you have not. You are either ready to surrender your life or you are not.

This grace that would be found in the church would come from people whose lives have been crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20).

If we are not carrying the crucified life, we will end up like the Corinthians. There was no grace, and there was not much of a “church” there at the time of Paul’s writing. Only divisions and selfishness.

But where there is the revelation of the cross there is much grace, grace for the church.

And the final reward?

“…and in the world to come eternal life.”

[Below: The fire of persecution brings much grace to the church]

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Grace, Grace For The Church – Part 1

Grace, Grace For The Church

 

28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.

29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,

30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first. Mk. 10:28-31

As usual, with the Bible no amount of writing can exhaust the riches to be found within even a tiny portion of scripture. All our blogs and all our posts just tap at the tip of these riches.

Having said that, let me begin by summarizing what I want to discuss with regard to the scripture above:

  1. Peter’s “carnal mind” (Rom. 8:7).
  2. The manner in which Jesus answered Peter’s question.
  3. The essence of the answer that Jesus gave to Peter. This one is guaranteed to blow away your mind.
  1. Peter’s carnal mind.

Someone showed me a clip of one of the world’s top prosperity preachers ranting: “If I want to believe God for a 65 million dollar plane you cannot stop me!”

Apparently, someone had told the man not to buy the plane, and he was not happy about it. As I watched the clip, I saw a man under siege; and I was reminded of how Peter also one time felt under siege; so much so that he began to hound Jesus after Jesus made it clear that the Kingdom that He had come to establish had nothing to do with worldly riches.

Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.”

That might appear to be a very innocent phrase, but it is not. When it says “Peter began to say”, it means there were other things he wanted to say. What the Bible is actually talking of here is a declaration of war: Peter was declaring war on Jesus!

In Matthew’s account it says: “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?” (Mat. 19:27)

It is important to notice that Peter brought up this issue immediately after Jesus had finished telling His disciples how difficult it would be for those who love worldly riches to enter heaven. He had told them:

“24… Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Mk. 10:24-25).

And the Bible says: And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?” (v. 26)

Clearly, they hadn’t been expecting this. It is clear that Peter and his fellow apostles had all along been tagging behind Jesus expecting to receiving these very riches that Jesus was now declaring were not a part of the Kingdom He had come to establish. The news did not settle well with Peter and, being the edgy man that he was, he couldn’t hold in his impatience any longer: he wanted to know right away if, as it appeared, riches were out of the equation, then what was he and his friends who had “forsaken all, and followed thee” to profit in?

“C’mon, man, answer me!!” That was what he must have wanted to shout out aloud and he probably wanted to get his hands on Jesus and shake Him up. The Lord had just executed the biggest upset in the history of his life!

In engaging Jesus thus, Peter unwittingly exposed the lust in his heart. Peter is therefore the first self-declared prosperity gospel disciple that we find amongst the followers of Jesus.

But Peter was representative of all the rest of Jesus’ disciples… and he is representative of many of us today. There is no denying the fact that many believers today love the world and the things in it more than they do God or His spiritual Kingdom.

But – praise God! – Peter eventually parted ways with that “mind” of the flesh. After the cross, Peter repented and mended his ways. For, when the Jerusalem church was born, Peter and the apostles probably set the Guinness World Record for becoming the richest men within the shortest period of time. The Bible states that on the very first day that the church was born, 3,000 souls were added to the church! Subsequently, “…the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47).

That was surely a large number of people in that church. We have no idea of the total number of believers the church at Jerusalem eventually arrived at before it was finally scattered abroad by persecution.

Now, the Bible records that within this church, “34 … as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:34-35).

Notice the word “prices”. That is talking of hard cash; and with all those numbers, that must have been a lot of money in that church. And all this money, the Bible says, found its way to the apostles’ feet. But, somehow, it did not find its way into their pockets!

The apostles did not use it to fulfill their own lusts in the name of “ministry”. They did not use even a dime of it for themselves. On the contrary, we see Peter and John walking to church without a cent in their pockets on the day they healed the lame man.

All the money that the apostles received they appointed Godly men to distribute to the needy. They did not even handle it themselves.

It is in this light that I believe God is waiting for all the prosperity preachers and their followers within the church today to face the cross and embrace the true gospel of Jesus Christ, of Christ and Him crucified.

[Below: Under the shadow of the Uluguru Mountains lies the main bus stand in Morogoro]

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The Apostolic Message (Part 2)

8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. Gal. 1:8-9

Again, here, before we talk about the apostle and his message, let me state what an apostle is not. There are many things that a true apostle of Jesus Christ is not. But for fear of getting bogged down with these explanations, I will cut through to the heart of the matter and mention the two most important things that an apostle is not, beginning with number two.

The secondary explanation of what an apostle is not is that an apostle is not a person who peddles the Word of God for monetary or any other worldly gain – fame, position, etc.

In 2 Cor. 2:17 the Apostle Paul writes, For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”

‘Corruption’ here means to twist, or to dilute the Word of God for carnal gain.

Now, unless you are an alien just dropped in from Mars, you most certainly are aware that in the church today there are many preachers who are doing just that – twisting scripture for their personal gain. These are, in effect, crooks. But the church is so blind it holds these villains in the highest esteem. It is no secret that many of the most highly regarded preachers today, whether in Africa, Europe or the U.S., are in this category; but again, if one does not see, they do not see.

People flow to these churches like the Nile River.

But, in his day, the Apostle Paul saw in the Spirit and exposed these villains for who they were. He said of them: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” (2 Cor. 11:13).

Let us move on and see even further. Let us see the really important description of what an apostle is not.

The primary description of what a true apostle of Jesus Christ is not is SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT PREACH THE GOSPEL THAT THE APOSTLE PAUL PREACHED. This is who a true apostle is not. Any ‘apostle’ who does not carry the message that the Apostle Paul carried is a false apostle. Paul himself says as much in Galatians 1:8-9:

8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

This is our primary scripture in this second part of this series. Notice the emphasis that Paul lays on this particular aspect of his ministry… the gospel that he preached. It points to the importance that he attached to the particular message that he carried.

This is a subject that needs to be laid to rest within the church once and for all. Just as in Paul’s day, today there is an influx into the church of people calling themselves apostles. But in the scripture we just saw in 2 Corinthians 2:17, the Apostle Paul says that not a few of these, but “many… corrupt the word of God.

And how come these ‘corrupters’ are so many? They say supply goes with demand. It means there is a demand by God’s people for this corruption. When there is a lack of spiritual revelation within the church as the early church had, people see only the world, and in that kind of atmosphere these kinds of preachers slide into the church as naturally as breathing air. Actually, the church welcomes them in with open arms.

In our final instalment in this series, following, we will look at the message that the first apostles and the early church carried.

[In a humble café in rural Singida, a man enjoys his early morning breakfast of ‘chapati’, beans and black tea]

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“Absent From The Lord” – Part 2

6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 2 Cor. 5:6-8

Notice, clearly, that the Bible states that when we are “at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord”.

One day, many years ago, a brother and I were walking in the hot, punishing Musoma sun when I made the unfortunate remark that I wished we had a car or even a motor-cycle. The brother kept walking for a minute and then he said, “Y’know, pastor, nowadays we are too soft on ourselves. The early church never even thought of such things.”

I winced at the brother’s words. But on closer reflection, I realized how truly “absent from the Lord” I was. Somehow I was reminded that cars and motor-cycles have nothing to do with the Kingdom to which we have been called, for it is a spiritual Kingdom!

Indeed, when we reflect on the lives of the early disciples of Jesus Christ we find they were men and women who despised their own lives and the material trappings of this earthly life (Heb. 10:32-39). The apostles themselves lived lives that were materially far below even those of the common pauper (1 Cor. 4:9). And yet with all the wealth that was daily being laid at their feet, the early apostles could have lived like kings! (Acts 4:34-37) Which points to perhaps the most surprising fact about these early believers – that this was a choice on their part. It was not forced upon them by anyone. But these Godly men and women knew they were engaged in a war with their flesh and they therefore deliberately chose to cut themselves from this worldly life. They purposed to take up their cross and crucify the flesh in every possible way.

It was not that this scorning of the material life was in itself sufficient to make them spiritual, but they knew it was a necessary part of the road that they were called upon to take.

We reflect on men like the Apostle Paul, who one time commanded his team to go ahead by ship while he himself purposed to walk the long distance by foot (Acts 20:13).

Much more, of course, could be spoken of our Lord Jesus Christ who preached to the crowds from a borrowed fishing boat, and without even the aid of a public address system. And yet this Man, being the Son of God, could have stunned His peers as He flew from one ministry point to another in a post-modern superjet.

Moreover, nearly all Jesus’s journeys were made on foot. Can you imagine that! This was a Man who could walk on water; but on account of crucifying the flesh, Jesus planted His feet firmly on the ground and walked the Judean roads. At one point as He was passing through Samaria, Jesus was so exhausted from fasting and the long walk that He sat by a well to relax and ask for a drink of water. It was there that He met the Samaritan woman, and a beautiful story unfolded.

Space would not suffice to write about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; of Joseph, of Ruth, of Esther, of David, Daniel and the many other Godly men and women who in so many different ways were willing to lose this world that they might gain God’s riches in the Spirit. We see clearly that our spiritual fathers utterly despised the things of this world and this earthly life. They were seeking after a spiritual heritage. They were seeking to be “present with the Lord”.

Unfortunately, it is not so today. Clearly, we in this generation are certainly more “at home in the body” – and “absent from the Lord”. We are a “rights” people. We have so many rights! And we love the soft, comfortable fleshly life.

But this only takes us far from the Lord. Our only recourse to being “present with the Lord” is to crucify our flesh.

[Below: From the surrounding hills, one gets a beautiful view of Lake Victoria and Musoma Town down below]

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Persecution and Grace – Part 1

32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;

33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.

34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. Heb. 10:32-34

The early church certainly did undergo persecution. There is no question about that. But there is also no question about the fact that, despite this persecution, or probably because of it the early church was also a church in which the grace of God flowed abundantly.

In Acts 21:8-11 we read: 8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. 9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy. 10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. 11 And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. Acts 21:11

This man, Philip, had four girls, all virgins, who prophesied! Without a doubt, this ought to be declared the first wonder of the modern world.

Here we have all four sisters in one family prophesying. Not one or two, but all four. And the Bible goes to pains to point out that all these girls were virgins, which I am sure points to the importance that God attaches to those who are willing to pay the price to become “vessels of honor” (2 Tim. 2:20-22).

But notice also that these four girls were not prophets; they simply prophesied. This is a ministry of exhortation or direction to the church through a direct Word from the Holy Spirit. It is a slightly lower ministry than the ministry of the prophet. (The functioning of the Holy Spirit within the church is infinitely unlimitable, and that is why we cannot have a tunnel vision of the Holy Spirit’s operation within the church.)

And, therefore, these girls stayed with Paul for “many days”, but it was not given them to tell Paul what would befall him in Jerusalem. It required a prophet of God, Agabus, to travel all the way from Judaea to come and confirm to Paul the weighty matter of his impending persecution in Jerusalem.

Notice also that the Bible refers to both Philip and Agabus by their spiritual offices, “evangelist” and “prophet”. The Bible does not call the girls prophets.

In other words, women may not hold office in the Spirit, which designates authority; but women can minister in the Spirit in many different roles.

(One more thing we need to point out is that these girls were prophesying in the church. There are people who will say that women ought not to open their mouths in church; but I can assure you that these girls were not prophesying in their father’s living room. They were prophesying in the church. There are all kinds of misunderstandings of scripture simply because people will not rely on the Holy Spirit, but on their minds. But the Holy Spirit is faithful, and the minute we turn to Him, He opens up the Word to us. Actually, there are two ways of reading scripture: you can read and try to understand it by using your very fine mind; or you can decide to become a fool for Christ’s sake and pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide and help you. One approach will bring you life; the other, law (“It is written!”) – and death.)

But what I want us to notice here is the incredible grace that was in the early church. This church, which was persecuted left, right and centre, was the same church that produced men like Philip, Agabus, and Paul – and these four extraordinary sisters.

Probably the modern church is not as persecuted as the early church was, and that is why it is difficult to find this pervasiveness of grace operating in today’s church as was the case with the early church. Maybe someone will point to the great move of the Holy Spirit during the charismatic era, and the many miracles and healings that took place then. That was the grace of God at work all right; but it is what I would call the “tip of the iceberg”. There is so much more grace at work when people are denying their flesh and partaking of the sufferings of Christ: there is so much more inner glory. There is victory over sin, joy, and peace. Even death has no power over such people.

No one desires persecution, nor does the Bible tell us to pray for persecution. But on the other hand, if you give the flesh too much rope, the Spirit is stifled. That is why, whether we are persecuted or not, we should always carry the mind that Christ had of denying the flesh. The flesh is our No.1 enemy. The Bible says about our Lord Jesus Christ, “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me… By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:5, 10).

Notice the word “offering” there. The believer’s body has been given him/her, not to be pampered, but to be sacrificed. And that is the mind that we need to carry.

[Below: Life for the early Christians was a life of great persecution and profound want]

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The Apostolic and Prophetic Ministries

The father figure is God’s greatest creation. There is no bigger tragedy than for a child to grow up without a father. I know people who will point to so-and-so to try to prove that you can achieve so much without being raised by a father, but I am not talking about achievements here.

Whatever way one looks at it, God certainly had a purpose in putting a man in the house. A father in the house carries authority. That is what he was created for above everything else. And authority brings order.

To be honest, I personally cannot claim to have accomplished even half of what I know I need to accomplish in my house. I cannot even claim to be half the idea of what some people regard as a man (After these two submissions, I am sure my enemies can now sleep in peace).

But one thing I have stone-cold accomplished in life is that my children know that there is a father in the house. Of that I have no doubt. They know the meaning of authority in our house. There are times I have gone to extremes, sure, but it has served in them knowing that there is something called authority in our house.

My wife can scale Mt. Everest and come back, but she can do nothing when it comes to authority in the house. That is my office and even if I am not there she cannot usurp it.

I have been away from home many times and there are times when my wife thought she could “control” our teenage kids. But every time she would try such a stunt, it always back-fired, and she had to call me from wherever I was, even when I was far away in a neighboring country. And all the kids needed to hear was my voice – and order would return to that house.

I am not saying they became angels or anything. Nor am I saying that my children will succeed in life because of that. But my children have always known there is a father in the house. And that has always brought order back to that house even in the worst of situations. If my children refused for me to chastise them, they would become bastards. The Bible says so in Hebrews 12:8.

Today people fear the term “order”. But it is a spiritual term.

(It is in connection to these issues that the Bible says that every woman must be under the authority of a man, and that every man must be under the authority of Christ (1 Cor. 11:3). Anything outside this order is unbiblical.

That is why also there can be no woman in the five-fold ministry because these are ministries of authority within the church. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:11-12: “11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

A woman can minister in many other areas within the Body of Christ, but not in the five-fold ministry.)

A lack of a father in the church has brought about all the chaos and disorder that we are witnessing in the church today.

And the Apostle Paul, speaking with regard to the ministry of the apostle, he writes the Corinthians, “14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. 15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” 1 Cor. 4:14-15

Paul was telling the Corinthians that he was their father. He had begotten them in the true gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of the cross (1 Cor. 2:2). He had preached the singular gospel – the gospel that tells you to deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Christ – that only could produce mature sons and daughters in the Spirit.  As a result, they were now his bona fide “sons” – but sons of God’s Kingdom also because Paul was under the authority of Christ.

Paul therefore could “shame” them if it came to that, as he does in 1 Cor. 6:5 and elsewhere, he could warn them; indeed, he could do anything with them to bring order into their lives.

No other ministry can beget sons in the gospel of Jesus Christ except the ministry of the apostle. He alone has been put by God in the church to bring the revelation of the cross in the church. All other ministry are dependent on this ministry together with the ministry of the prophet. Upon these two ministries is the church built (Eph. 2:20). People may beget many other things, I don’t know; but the Bible makes it clear that it is only the ministry of the apostle that can beget sons in the gospel.

Indeed a lack of this ministry within the church, or a lack of submission to it, has brought about so much destruction to the church of Jesus Christ.

I doubt any book exiting would suffice to list all the different things that are going all wrong with the church today. Every one of us is a witness of at least something that is wrong with the church.

The root of this problem is that there is no father in the house. There is no man in the house to bring order.

That is why, if you look carefully particularly on many Christian TV channels, you will find many young preachers today. (In Africa nearly all of them dress the same way). You will find these young men saying and doing the most abominable things in their “churches”; and if you follow them up they will tell you they have their own independent “ministries”.

They have no one they are subject to. They do not know anything about authority, nor submission.

But with the early church, if you saw a young man preaching or pastoring a church, he always had a father behind him. The Bible is replete with these examples. We find Timothy and Titus, for example, and many others.

You wouldn’t have found these young preachers telling their congregations to eat grass, for example, or to bring in all their money so they could live like kings.

No; these were young men (notice, not women) who had been raised the hard way. There was no spiritual frivolousness about their lives. They had a father, and there was order in their lives.

It is high time that the church woke up and acknowledged that it desperately needs the five-fold ministry, and to allow the ministry of apostle and prophet to have their true place in church – that there may be order and growth in the Body of Christ.

As long as this blog exists, it will be dedicated to bringing out the singular apostolic revelation that Christ bequeathed the church, and which the Apostle Paul so ably set forth in his writings and without which there is no true church.

[Below: the twin ministries of the apostle and prophet are the foundation of the true church]

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