The Distinctiveness Of The Church – Part 2

In Romans 3:27 the Bible says:

“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.”

I was in a burial recently. The man who had died was the regional bishop of one of the biggest Pentecostal churches in our country. He had under him all the churches in roughly one third of the country.

The burial ceremony was attended by a big government delegation, so illustrious was the man. But it was the bishops who came in their hordes. They literally covered the meeting. They were so many that I lost count as each was called up to the podium to be introduced to the massive crowd. And, in recognition of the position they held in church, each bishop was given the opportunity to address the meeting. The head bishop of that church organization was also there.

I had never been in such a meeting before. The introductions took more than three hours! But it was what was done by these bishops that truly amazed me. As each one stood and made their speech, they would turn around and address the head bishop who, together with the bishops, was seated on the podium facing the crowds. In fact, the bishops called him “Father Bishop”! And everything they said was directed at him. In other words, they were talking to the head bishop, not to the people.

When it came the turn of the head man himself to speak, he took the opportunity to remind the faithful (flock) of his position by telling them that it was he who represented them before the country’s president.

That is how the church is run today. But the early church, as we saw in the first part, was run differently. Then, nothing superseded the church body. Not even the leaders, be they bishops, pastors or deacons.

Had Paul been in this burial meeting, and had he had the opportunity to address the meeting, guess what? Paul would have addressed the people facing him. He would not have addressed the head bishop seated behind him. He would have addressed the saints. He would have said, “Saints”, or “Beloved” instead of “Bishop”.

Anyways, back to the scripture we started with.

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.”

Probably the thing that man loves above anything else is boasting. Man loves praise! If you say something good about them, men will give you “even to the half of my kingdom” (Mk. 6:23)!

But that is the spirit of this world. It has absolutely no place in the church. Unfortunately, today, men (and women) in the church love praise. They love to be called all the big names. They love being noticed, credited, accredited, applauded, respected, saluted, and everything in between. You cannot write a letter to a church and just address the “saints” or “faithful” like the Apostle Paul did. If you do not address the letter to the pastor, it will be thrown into the fire. Why? Simply because the pastor wants to be recognized! He wants to be noticed for who he is.

But – glory be to God! – the church is not about men; and the Apostle Paul by the wisdom and courage that was given to him made that emphatically clear in the epistles. On the contrary, the church is all about Christ and His bride, the church. And Paul stamped the mark of distinctiveness upon the church. In a wedding, men do not waste their attention on the best man. All the attention is on the bride and bridegroom.

John the Baptist told the Jews, when they enquired about him. They asked him, “Who are you? Are you the Christ?” To which he replied,

“28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John made it clear what the big prize was: it was the bride! John, the fore-runner to Jesus Christ called himself only “the friend of the bridegroom”. Then he said,

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

There is no place in the church for all the titles and self-serving positions that men have given to themselves in the church. Today, men in church are greater than Jesus Himself! But John said,

“There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.” (Mk. 1:7)

The Ministry Gifts

The church (as a body) is the singular most important thing with Christ. The church is the singular entity that Christ loves with all His heart. That is why He has given her the five-fold and other ministries. The ministries that Christ has put in the church are for serving the church, Christ’s Bride. Notice they are gifts. They are ministry gifts to the church. In fact, the Bible declares that Christ has put upon us His engagement ring.

“13 … in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Col. 1:13-14)

These ministry gifts have been given by Christ to prepare His Bride, the church, for Christ, who is the Bridegroom. They have been given to perfect her (Ephesians chapter 4). They are not garlands for men to wear around their necks. The gifts and callings of God are not for men to serve their egos with!

It is all about the church. It is all about every saint, every believer in Jesus, every “faithful”. Each one is equal in the eyes of God. No man or woman is bigger than the other.

The Leaders

So what about the carriers of the ministry gifts and church leaders in general? Who are they?

If John the Baptist considered himself not worthy to stoop and unlatch the shoes of Jesus, how much less so the new covenant servants of Jesus? These are simply men who have been entrusted with the responsibility to raise the church. They are servants. When Jesus was describing the role of the church leader, He told His disciples,

“… whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant”. (Mat. 20:26-27)

That is the spirit that ought to be in the church. Church is the place where every child of God ought to feel valued equally, their social, financial or any status notwithstanding. At any rate, the church is a Body. We all have bodies. At no one time have we ever felt that any part of our bodies was more important than the other.

[A tranquil beach in Mwanza City]


Women In Ministry – Part 2

1 And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him.

2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,

3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.

4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable:

5 A sower went out to sow his seed… Lk. 8:5

The issue of women in ministry is a touchy one;  but the reason this issue is so delicate is because the spirit of the world has been allowed to enter the church; the ‘Beijing Conference’ spirit. People are jostling for position; everyone wants to be somebody. So we have to tread delicately because we are fearful of hurting people!

But we ought to leave those attitudes to the world. Women want equal rights, etc. That is for the world. In church it is different.

I pray that the Lord may give me grace in disseminating this subject. But I want to introduce two scriptures that will lay the foundation for what I believe is God’s order in the church.

The first scripture is 1 Corinthians 11:3. The Apostle Paul writes:

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”

The word “head” in the Bible speaks of authority. God is fully sovereign. All power, dominion and authority is invested in Him. It is for this reason the Bible says that God sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth to accomplish His plan of salvation. God did not say to Jesus, “Ok, sonny, let’s throw the dice to see who goes”. No; God sent Jesus.

What did Jesus do?

He obeyed His Father.

Grasping these facts is pivotal in our understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Notice in the above scripture that there are three heads mentioned: God, Jesus, and the man. The woman is not mentioned with respect to the word “head”. That means she is not invested with authority in the church.

Moreover, the head of the woman is not Christ; it is the man.

Through this scripture, Paul was setting forth God’s order for the church. Each “head” of necessity has to have authority: God has authority, Jesus has authority; and the man has authority. Therefore the ministry gifts that Jesus gives are gifts of authority; and He gives them to the man, for the man of necessity must have authority. Jesus does not give them to the woman because the woman is not a “head”. Moreover, as we stated earlier, Jesus is not the head of the woman; the man is.

There can therefore be no women apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors or teachers in the sense that they have been ‘called’ by God (Jesus) into those ministries. Nor can they exercise the authority that is inherent in these ministries. God does not call a woman to a position of authority in the church.

That does not mean that God does not anoint women to teach or preach, or even to lead. What it means is simply that a woman cannot exercise authority in the Spirit. In the Spirit she always has to be under a “covering”, implying she always has to be under authority, the authority of the man, for that is the order that God has set forth.

There are women pastors today; women apostles, etc. That contradicts scripture, for those positions hold authority. How can a woman be a wife at home (submission) and be a pastor in church (authority)? It is a contradiction in terms; but, above all, it is contrary to the Word of God.

During His earthly ministry, Jesus did not give in to ‘political correctness’ and overstep God’s order by giving authority to a woman.

Jesus, who was obedient to His heavenly Father, has been invested with the authority to give the ministry gifts. Knowing God’s order fully, during His earthly ministry, Jesus gave His ministry gifts to men. And He did so because He is the head of the man. That was what Jesus did when He was here on earth; He gave gifts of authority to men, hence “the twelve” (apostles).

As it says in Matthew 10:2-4:

“Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.”

Those are the names of the twelve apostles that Jesus set up for ministry. No woman is included in that list. It is clear, therefore, that, if Jesus did not set up women apostles, there can be no grounds for women apostles in the church today. And this goes for all ministry gifts that form the authority of Christ in the church.

Does that mean that Jesus was a chauvinistic male bigot? Does it mean that Jesus did not value women as He did men?

Hardly. On the contrary, Jesus was following God’s order. God is a God of order, not of confusion. In Timothy 1:23, the Apostle Paul reminds us a simple fact about God’s order of creation.

“For Adam was first formed, then Eve.”

There is order with God. We cannot be what we want to be. We can only be what God wants us to be. God alone is sovereign; and we are His subjects.

I have heard that in a certain tribe in a neighboring country, there was, long ago, a woman “chief” who used to sit on men as one sits on a stool. That culture of control continues to this day among the women of that particular tribe and it has brought untold grief to that community.

But there is order with God. Another un-politically correct man, the Apostle Paul, states:

“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” (1 Tim. 2:12)

I believe there were things happening in church that were out of order during the Apostle Paul’s time.

Finally, let us look at a scripture that captures the grace that is in God’s wonderful plan for both the man and the woman. The Apostle Paul, writing in Ephesians chapter 5 concerning the responsibilities of both the husband and the wife, exhorts both parties thus:

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it…” (v. 25); and

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands…” (v. 22)

But it is the conclusion that blows us away. Paul concludes thus:

“This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (v. 32)

What exactly is Paul talking of in this and the preceding verses?

What he is saying is this: God has put two people in the world. He has put man to show the authority and love of Christ to His church; and He has put the woman to show the church’s obedience and submission to Christ.

What grace! When we see beyond our carnal understanding, it is something to be wondered and rejoiced at that God has made both the man and the woman equal heirs of His grace. Each complements the other.

The woman can teach and minister in different capacities in church; but always in submission to the man. That is God’s order in the Spirit.

[“… the head of the woman is the man”]


The Apostle And Unity In The Church – Part 1

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God… Rom. 1:1

I often joke with my family. I tell them, “I am the most important person in this family. In fact, I am so important I don’t need to do anything else apart from just being about. My presence alone here is work enough!”

That might be me joking; but the position of fatherhood within the family is more important than we think. A household without a father is like a body without a head. It is uncontrollable. The father is the authority figure in the house. A household that has no father has very little authority – and, hence, little order or discipline – in it. This is by no means a love-less attack on single families, no. But we must uphold God’s truth despite the odds we encounter in this life, for God is in heaven.

The scenario I have just described above concerning the family is the same with the church. In the same way that the father is of paramount importance in the house, the ministry of the apostle is the most important ministry in the church. For this reason, the Apostle Paul writes:

“And God hath set some in the church, first apostles…” (1 Cor. 12:28)

Why is this ministry paramount in the church? It is because this ministry is it that establishes the fatherhood of God in the church. The church is a household; and as we just saw there is no household without a father. The Bible talks of

“14 … the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Eph. 3:14-15).

In this scripture, the Swahili Bible substitutes the word “family” with “fatherhood”.

There are therefore fathers, and we cannot all be fathers. We thank God that we have a Father, God Himself. But God, through His manifold wisdom, has in Jesus Christ placed in the church men to represent Him in the office of fatherhood. These men are called apostles. Notice it is men, not women. There are no women in the 5-fold ministry. Women can work in other offices in the church, but not in the 5-fold ministry. Jesus set the precedent to this during His earthly ministry. There were no women among the 12 apostles that He chose.

The reason for this separation is because the 5 ministries encapsulated in the 5-fold ministry are ministries of authority; they represent the authority of God. Now, the Bible forbids a woman from exercising authority over a man (1 Tim. 2:12). God could not therefore break his own rule by allowing women into the positions of authority that the 5 ministries of the apostle, prophet, pastor, evangelist and teacher carry.

This representation of God’s authority by men working on behalf of God, is evident in Ephesians 4:11-13, where Paul writes:

“11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”.

When these ministries are in the church, the church can therefore become a true spiritual household. There is no longer any carnal independence because the church is now a family and each person is subject to one another in the fear of God. And the authority of God can be felt by God’s people because the father – the apostle – is there. This authority disciplines us to become true spiritual children, walking in the righteousness of God. This, in turn, creates the bond of unity that makes the church to become a body, the Body of Christ.

Today, the church is there all right; but it is a different church than the one God intended. There is little discipline in the church, and it is deeply fragmented because there is no authority. Today, any man can arise and do whatever seems right in their own eyes, all in the name of the Lord. There is no one to point the way; or to put a “STOP” sign where one is needed.

So, who is the apostle? Is it any man who declares himself to be one?

By no means, no. The apostle does not just declare himself to be an apostle. On the contrary, he is declared to be an apostle both by the ministry he carries of revealing the cross of Jesus Christ. This means he reveals the crucified Christ. And, pray, how does he do that? He does so by allowing the cross to work in his own life. This fact is of primary importance. The apostle is a man whose life has been crucified with Christ; he no longer has a life of his own. Rather, he is a bond-slave of Christ in the Spirit.

Secondly, he preaches no other gospel other than the gospel of the cross.

That was how Paul and the other apostles were declared to be apostles. Firstly, Paul states in 1 Cor. 1:22-23,

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

Today, the most important preacher is the miracle-worker. Not so in Paul’s day, as is so clear in his words above.

Secondly, Paul show us something else that is of even greater importance. In 1 Cor 2:2 he declares:

“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

When he says “I determined not to know” he is talking, not just about his preaching, but his lifestyle also. Paul lived a crucified life among the Corinthians and through his life that was crucified with Christ he revealed the power of the cross to the church. He revealed the power of the cross in his life first!

There are many apostles today; but there were many apostles also during the Apostle Paul’s ministry. But there was a basic difference between Paul and these other men. In 2 Cor. 11:13 he writes:

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.”

Many of today’s apostles are exactly as Paul describes those of his time. They are false apostles. Why? Because they do not live the crucified life. They cannot reveal Christ because they have no revelation of Christ in them. Rather, they have a ‘revelation’ of the flesh. They live for and serve the flesh. Chief among these are the prosperity preachers.

But Paul had a revelation of Christ in his life. His life is a testimony to that. Let us take time to read Paul’s defense of his apostleship.

“23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.” (2 Cor. 11:23-30)

That is the testimony of a man who has seen the crucified Christ in his spirit. Any other ‘revelation’ will produce something else.

For a lack of a father, therefore, the church today is fragmented. There is little discipline, order, love or unity within the church. In fact, we have gone to the extent that we glory in the non-existence of these things. We rejoice in our divisions, feeling proud of our denominations or groupings somehow thinking we had a monopoly with God.

So what’s the answer to this problem?

The answer is simple. The church must recognize and allow the true ministry of the apostle within its ranks. It must relinquish the position of the father to the true church fathers – men who have a revelation of the crucified Christ in their hearts and who manifest this revelation through living a life that is crucified with Christ, just as we have seen the Apostle Paul had. These men may be few, and few indeed they must be. But they are there even now, lurking somewhere in the background, just as John the Baptist told the Jews:

“26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.” (Jn. 1:26-27)

They are unknown, yes. Yet, when our spiritual eyes are open and we see what we as the church need (and what we do not need), we will turn and we will see them. And when these ministries have been given their rightful place in the church, then true spiritual healing and growth will come into the church, and the church will be a true abode of God, bringing joy to His heart as He beholds her order and righteousness.

[The Great Rift Valley]


The Apostolic Message (Part 3)

Under the Old Covenant, the highest spiritual ministry that God gave to his people was the ministry of the prophet. In other words, if God wanted to communicate something really important to His people He sent the prophets. The Bible tells us so in Hebrews 1:1:

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets…”

But in the New Covenant, we see the arrival of a new ministry, the apostle. This ministry is greater than that of the prophet, for in 1 Corinthians 12:28 the Apostle Paul writes: And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers …”

So what does the apostle do? Actually, he does not do much. All he carries is a message. But it is a message full of the power of God. The apostle’s message has the power to transform a man from being carnal to being spiritual. In other words, from a person of sin to a person of righteousness. In even better words, from a person who does not please God to one who pleases God.

The message that the apostle carries is the message of the cross. The Apostle Paul puts it this way: “17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 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” (1 Cor. 1:17-18).

The message of the cross of Jesus is greater than baptism or any outside markings. There are some Christian denominations that put all their emphasis on baptism. To them, getting baptized is synonymous with being born again. But one could come out of the water and be no different from someone who has just taken a bath.

The second birth, however, is a miracle of God that occurs in a man’s heart, and this miracle is what transforms a man. That is why the Apostle Paul says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (Gal. 6:17).

In Hebrews 6:1 the Apostle Paul also writes:

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection…”

And in Colossians 1:28: “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”

Even as God wills that we all be saved, yet it is our perfection that God is most concerned. Hence the revelation of the cross through the apostolic gospel.

In the Old Testament, the cross had been revealed since God’s dealings with Adam. But it was never revealed clearly, for God waited until the fullness of time would come, when Christ, the perfect Lamb, would be sacrificed on the cross. All the Old Testament prophets therefore saw the cross, but they did not see it clearly. Nonetheless, everyone who pleased God in the Old Testament had to have carried the cross, one way or another. But it is clear from the Bible that these were only a handful of people.

When Jesus went up to heaven, He sent us His Holy Spirit. Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment…” (Jn. 16:8)

That statement by Jesus immediately sets alarm bells ringing in us that these things – sin, righteousness and judgment – were not dealt with sufficiently under the law of the Old Covenant.

Or they were not dealt with at all.

But now, through the ministry of the apostle, the Holy Spirit would effectively deal with these things. If it is sin it would be defeated. If it is righteousness it would be established. And men will be made to know that a time is coming when all will be judged by a righteous Judge.

Everything is bound up within the cross of Jesus Christ. It is through the cross that these things will be accomplished. If these things were not made clear under the Old Covenant, now, under the New, they will become clear as day, for Christ has accomplished all.

The apostle, therefore, is like a professional, sent by God. If you are taught something by an amateur, it is not always clear or perfect. When the professional arrives, however, everything flows smoothly. He brings things out more clearly and perfects everything.

That is what the apostle does through revealing the power and grace that is found in the cross. Any child of God who submits himself under the ministry of the apostle can understand all that the cross is meant to do in their lives, not bits and pieces about salvation. When the message of the cross is delivered to the church under the anointing of the apostolic ministry, God’s people can understand that, even as they rejoice at the fact of their salvation, yet, more importantly, they realize they are called upon to suffer for the sake of the gospel.

In this way, both the flesh and sin are confronted in church.

In the Old Testament, very few people pleased God. Not many did His will. God had a difficult time dealing with His people. But God bore with them, sometimes punishing them according to the law, although He never punished them according to the extent of their evil ways because He is a merciful God.

But in the New Testament, God expects all His children to walk in the fullness of His will, and to please Him fully. Not by law, but by grace.

Still, for the believer who does not walk in this revelation, the gospel of the cross is as difficult as trying to commit a Ph.D dissertation to a kid in kindergarten. He will say, “Too hard!” – and seek for an option that eases the suffering on his flesh. That is why, for many Christians who are not under the apostolic ministry, all they know about the cross is that Christ died there for their sins (the initial salvation). They do not know the role of the cross in enabling them to live a victorious life over their flesh and over sin.

The apostolic message is one of self-denial, of taking up our cross daily and following Christ:

“…For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter” – Rom. 8:36.

“As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ” – Gal. 6:12

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” – Gal. 6:14.

That is why all the other ministries, including that of the prophet, must come under the ministry of the apostle, for grace’s sake. The grace of Jesus Christ diffuses from this one ministry – this ministry that clearly sees the cross – to the other ministries. Any ministry purporting to work outside the authority of the apostolic ministry is simply lighting strange fires.

The Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians, “You may have ten thousand teachers, but it is I who bore you in the gospel!”

There are many churches today where you find the pastor is the alpha and omega. In others it is the bishop, or the archbishop. In others it is make-believe ‘apostles’, ‘prophets’, etc. There are all kinds and all levels of spiritual leaders, but the true father of the church is the apostle. He has the authority and power in the Spirit to bring and men and women into the true image of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

Where the apostolic ministry is not, there is no grace, there is only law. That is why pastors introduce long strings of rules, laws and regulations (do’s and don’ts) in church.

The Apostle does not do that. Did you ever read how Paul dealt with the Corinthians even after they had reneged on their contributions for the church in Jerusalem for a whole year? He did not threaten them. Nor did he set a law on them. Nor did he tell them, “Ok, let’s try the ten percent.”

On the contrary, he used the example of the Macedonians to encourage the Corinthians to give. He dealt with them the way a father would deal with his children.

Instead of giving them rules and principles, Paul talked to them about the grace of God. Indeed, he was in effect telling them: If it is not of grace, it is not worth it. All that God accepts is what has been accomplished in our hearts as a result of the working of the Holy Spirit.

Now, today, you have very many teachings in church about giving. All are geared to make God’s people to give. I went to one church where I found five different categories of envelopes, each one for a different offering!

All this is due to a lack of a connection with the apostolic gospel. Without the apostolic message, law reigns supreme. It might be more so in some churches than in others; but still it is law.

The gospel is about setting people free and only the apostolic gospel of grace and truth can do that.

Have you seen the light? Which by interpretation means, have you met up with the true ministry of the apostle,the one who can show you the strait and narrow way?

Is the cross close enough to you that you are able to take it up daily and follow Christ? (Lk 9:23)

[“Have you seen the light?” One of the most beautiful songs, here beautifully sang]

The Apostolic Message (Part 1)

You notice in the Bible that the word “apostle” is not there in the Old Testament. We find it only in the New Testament. That means that the ministry of the apostle begins under the New Covenant.

But before we get to that, let me first share something in connection with this.

We humans are wired in such a way that we want to understand things rationally. We want everything that comes our way to be explainable and to be understood by the human mind. That is okay as far as this world is concerned. We wouldn’t be where we are progress-wise without the great rational and deductive minds of this world.

But this human predisposition becomes a problem when we turn to God. Deduction and rationalization are hardly the ways to get to know God. God is Spirit, and the human mind is matter; how can it understand spirit? It is not possible. And man’s inclination to do just that has proved to be his undoing.

This is why especially intelligent people of the world have a problem understanding God. I can assure you that when we get to heaven we will find very few intelligent people up front. Now, I know someone is probably about to burst a neck vein over this statement, but notice I did not say there will not be intelligent people up front. All I said is that they will be very few, at least in proportion to the ‘dumb’ people that you normally find in church.

This is because it is the lowly people that God choses to be the heirs of His Kingdom!

The Apostle Paul tells the carnal-minded, intelligently puffed-up Corinthians: 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”  (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

In James 2:5, the Apostle James also echoes Paul’s words: Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?”

Notice it is God who has chosen them.

Do you know the poor? Living in Africa, I know the poor. Being poor, of course, means, first, that they have nothing. Secondly, they are uneducated, and not very intelligent. Thirdly, they have absolutely no class. It requires a strenuous effort for someone who has class to even notice this group of people. These are people that no one has any need of.

I once knew of a certain rich man in my home town who would keep people – his own employees – standing outside his house the whole day waiting for him to get out and see them. And sometimes he would not come out at all.

Generally, however, worldly people are not so cruel. Most people do all sorts of kindly things for the poor. It is called philanthropy, and much of the time it comes from a true heart of compassion. More so in church we are taught to love others as we love ourselves. But let’s face it, there are very few even amongst the best of us who do not have a red line drawn somewhere deep in our subconsciousnesses where we do not allow certain classes of people to cross over.

But God is the great I AM, and He has no such qualms. He would laugh at our weak attitudes were it not for the fact they sadden Him so much. God is so rich in grace He can do things which we can only dream about. And to prove it, God reaches out and calls the very people that this world has no need of. Now, notice the Bible does not say that God first consults with the rich people of this world on whether He should call the poor, or which poor people He should call. No. Nor does He call up a panel of illustrious university professors and ask them to prepare a list of which uneducated folk He should share His deep mysteries with: (“Oh, y’know, I am not sure whether they can handle it.”)

God is above the high and mighty of this world, and He does not consult them.

God expressly calls and uses the ‘dumb’ and lowly. Some of the Old Testament prophets that we revere today were mere shepherds!

Even when God used educated people, in the spirit they first had to relinquish their stations in life. The great man of law, the Apostle Paul, says that he suffered the loss of all things”! (Phil. 3:8) All!! When he says all, it means even his intelligence, his doctrines and beliefs, his high office as a Pharisee; and even his very identity. Remember Paul was once known as Saul. He lost even that.

And why does God call and use “the foolish”, “the weak”, “the base” the “despised”, and “things which are not” and not “the wise”, “the… mighty”, or “things that are”?

It is so “that no flesh should glory in his presence”!

The biggest thing that mankind glories in is their mind. But we cannot presume to know God by our minds, however fine they are. We can only know God through our hearts and for that a miracle must happen in our hearts.

As we study the apostolic message, therefore, it is good to pray to God to open our spiritual eyes that we might understand His heart for the church, of whom we are a part.

[Below: In order to interact with God we must have humble hearts]


The Office of the Prophet

9 Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

10 See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.

11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Jer. 1:9-11

Today there are prophets popping up all over the church landscape, and it appears they have a message that is very different from the one that Jeremiah had. I wonder why that should be so.

At any rate, people are running to these preachers and their ministries at breakneck speed, something which is not possible if these prophets were preaching the same message that Jeremiah was sent to preach. You cannot preach the message that Jeremiah preached and have people running to you. On the contrary, the minute they hear your gospel they will scatter like flies – and speak evil of you in the process.

Today’s prophets are prophesying the sweetest things to God’s people. They prophesy things like: “Thus saith the Lord, you will get a promotion at your job!”, or,

“I see money coming to you right now!”

“God says you will have a baby within the year!”

“The Lord is blessing you right now! Receive!!”

All are biblically valid words.

And so the congregation goes, “Prophesy, man of God!!”

“Speak, servant of the living God!”



(One prophet was actually introduced as “a man and a half”!)

But the prophet Jeremiah was not given such sweet words to preach. He was given some very unsavory words to deliver to God’s people, the nation of Israel. God told him that through the Word that He had given him, He had put him there purposely to “root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down…” Afterwards, the Lord told him, he would build and plant. That’s pretty tough language.

As a result Jeremiah received no accolades from the Israelites. On the contrary, he was persecuted.

Let us, right from the beginning, set the precedent that, if God was tough on His people under the Old Covenant, how much tougher do you think He is going to be on us under the New? I believe He will be much more harder on us. And yet we behave as if God is going to deal with us like eggshells!

God is not going to deal with anyone like eggshells. The first assignment that Jeremiah was given as a prophet was to see in the Spirit how God would deal with wayward Israel: Jeremiah saw an almond rod; and we know a rod stands for chastisement. God was telling Jeremiah that He was preparing to chastise, or punish, Israel.

The gospel comes to destroy something, and to set up something else in its place. The gospel of the cross – which is the singular gospel that was revealed to the Apostle Paul for the church – comes to destroy the flesh. It comes against the flesh. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not flesh-friendly.

After it has pulled down the flesh, the gospel then establishes the spiritual Kingdom of God in a man’s heart and life. The two things, the flesh and the Spirit, are mutually incompatible.

That is why when someone – a preacher of the gospel – solicits money to buy a 65 million-dollar private jet, like I heard lately on the Pentecostal grapevine, the spotlight has of necessity to turn on him. We are a spiritual people and when you hear such a “big bang” in the flesh you need to look closely at what you just heard. You ponder how much of such a ‘gospel’ is flesh and how much is Spirit. The scales weigh heavily on the flesh side!

It is unfortunately that these are the people around whom a vast majority of the pentecostal world revolves!!

When we preach or live out a gospel apart from the gospel of the cross of Christ, it is like we are declaring that God is reinstating the same thing He came to destroy! But you cannot destroy something and replace it again with the same thing!!

But if we are truly serious about following Christ, the first thing that we must acknowledge is what our Lord Jesus Himself said: “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mk. 8:34).

Notice, “Whosoever”. It is a personal choice or decision.

We ought to realize just how important the church is to God. And God has put these two ministries, the apostle and the prophet, in the church in order to lay God’s spiritual foundation in the church. The Bible says that the church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph. 2:20).

These Godly ministries do not come to pamper the flesh. They come to deal with the flesh. They come to destroy this body of the flesh, so they may establish God’s spiritual Kingdom in men and women.

In this post we just looked at the office of the prophet. If a prophet does not deal with the flesh in his prophesying, he is not a prophet of God. He will bring many things into the church, he will even bring temporal blessings upon people’s lives; but he will not bring the life of Christ into the church, for this life can only come about where there is a death of the flesh through the revelation of the cross of Jesus Christ.

[Below: A prophet warns God’s people. The true foundation for the church is Christ, and Him crucified]]Image10242

Revelation for the Church!

1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,

4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. Eph. 3:1-5

In today’s Christian context, when you mention words like “revelation”, “the crucified life”, “the cross (as a revelation)”, “the gospel/message of the cross”, or even “the five-fold ministry”, most people will look at you and label you a cultist. They cannot understand where you got such words! And yet, these words or symbols form the very foundation of our Christian experience.

Moreover, whether through inference or directly, these words are right there in the Bible, clear as day. But again, we all know that daylight is meaningless to a blind man. And today’s church is as blind as blind can be. It was for this very reason that the Apostle Paul would pray that God would open the Ephesians’ eyes, that they might see in the Spirit and experience the true riches of Christ.

I like what the Apostle Paul writes here. He says that the gospel he carried was a mystery that was given to him “by revelation”. Furthermore, he says that this revelation was given to him through a dispensation of the grace of God.

I like that. In other words, Paul ascribes everything to God. Notice that even the revelation he had was given to him “by the Spirit.” Paul’s revelation did not come by anyone’s mental ability or perusal of scripture.

Terms like apostle, prophet, revelation, the cross (as a revelation) are difficult to understand by today’s Christian generation which relies heavily on the power of the mind.

And yet, these neglected or little-understood symbols are the very things that form the foundation and fabric of our Christian faith. Without these terms, there is no church. There will be born-again believers all right, but it is the equivalent of having stones but no building. Unless someone comes and begins putting up that building, those stones will remain just that – stones. No building.

The five-fold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers and pastors are the gentlemen whom God’s sends to put up that building. The first two lay the foundation.

The Apostle Paul, writing to the deeply fragmented Corinthian church, told them, “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:9).

When Paul says, “ye are God’s building” , he was not referring to the Corinthians individually, but as a body. You haven’t heard of a building that comprises of only one stone, have you?

These ministries have the necessary tools and expertise to accomplish the task. The tools they have are tools of the Holy Spirit. They are not human tools. These ministries – apostles and prophets – together with all the other revelatory symbols that the Apostle Paul mentions in his letters are the symbols that build up the church, the Body of Christ.

Much of today’s Christian generation, having imbibed the teachings of the prosperity gospel, do not want to acquaint themselves with anything more. They drift into simplicity, and they would rather end their learning at kindergarten. For example, for many, once they get saved, they will quickly memorize the 365 promises that their preachers readily find in the Bible – a promise every day – and that’s it for them. They will never hear a word about the “strong meat” of the gospel! (Heb. 5:12-14)

These believers have no idea that beyond kindergarten there is primary school, secondary school, college; that there are even things called Ph.Ds. In the Spirit, Paul was taken up to the third heaven.

We in today’s generation should be glad that we are getting an awareness of such spiritual terms as the Apostle Paul received. And we ought to be grateful. We live in exciting times, and this is a unique experience. The Pauline revelation was something that was so exceptional that even the Apostle Peter in his writings would refer to it in the most awe-filled terms (2 Pet. 3:15).

The revelation of the gospel is a fully-loaded package. It lacks nothing. It brings holiness to the church. It brings maturity and unity to God’s people. Believers become “no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14). Here the five-fold ministry is at work, directing and empowering God’s work by the Holy Spirit.

That is how God’s church is built.

I believe it is time for the church to begin praying God for revelation. The revelation of the gospel, as Paul received it, is all that is needed for the church to be formed and perfected.

The Great Fellowship – the Church (Part 1)

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

I will divide this post into four parts, and I hope my readers can travel with me to the end. It is but one message outlining the great fellowship that the church is in the Spirit.

Part 1

I once had a saved friend who worked on the 14th floor of a prestigious building in the city. That was not a big deal because I also worked on the seventh floor of another building in the city. But this man controlled the accounts of a very big corporation. In fact, the whole 14th floor of that building was his personal office.

Needless to say, my friend was extremely wealthy. Moreover, he worshipped in an upscale church, and he was always trying to get me to go to his church.

“Come”, he would say. “I want to introduce you to my pastor, so he can teach you how to become wealthy”.

But I feared to meet his pastor. This was because the favorite scripture that this friend of mine used to berate me with for not being as rich as he was, was Mark 10:29-30:

“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.”

He made it very clear to me that Jesus was talking about God’s children possessing “houses” and “lands” in this present time. Although what this brother said did not ‘click’ with me in the spirit, yet it made sense to the natural mind and I therefore had no way of countering his argument. I equally had no revelation of this scripture beyond what he had.

But as I grew in my salvation, it always troubled me that the people who talked on this scripture never touched on the “brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children”. Didn’t Jesus say we were to have a hundredfold of these, too, in this world?

Something appeared wanting, whichever way one looked at it.

But today I wouldn’t fear to go visit my friend’s pastor. In fact, I would rush to meet him. This is because I know exactly what Mark 10:29-30 means. This remarkable scripture simply talks of, or refers to the great fellowship of the church. The church being the body of believers worldwide and in every generation.

It has no connection, whatsoever, with owning material wealth outside the church setting. Many people have used this scripture to bring about their own personal spiritual downfall. They have used it to live a comfortable but selfish lifestyle, which is against God’s will.

Jesus envisioned a united church, a Body. In His scenario, all believers would have all things in common, having first surrendered their lives to Christ. They would live in great fellowship.

Fellowship. What a wonderful word! Actually, Jesus was telling the disciples, “You ain’t seen anything yet. Wait till you see the church! The church is the place to be!”

This was accomplished fully in the Book of Acts with the early church.

“32 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. 33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. 34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for 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: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. 36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” Acts 4:32-37

My friend’s interpretation of Mark 10:29-30 was a selfish, carnal and materially-motivated interpretation. That is why it could not fill up the sum. Nor, unfortunately, did his life.

As an aside here, let me propose that no one in their right minds would want a hundredfold mothers, sisters, brothers and children in the natural. Realistically, it would be impossible to live with them all. You wouldn’t want to handle the problems of a hundred clans (all your own) in the natural. You cannot try to do that and expect to live long in this world. Even with the best of families everyone there would be dying before their 20th birthday and they would die from a multitude of ailments, all related: high blood pressure, high-speed aging, fatigue, a burst neck vein, running amok, and an endless list of such-like diseases.

And the word “hundredfold” here does not mean “times one hundred”, no. It means “multitudes of”. That talks of infinitely more. You don’t want to come up against that in the natural.

But in the church we have an innumerable number of mothers, brothers, sisters whom we can relate to and live with and be at peace with all the time, and in any situation. I am not saying that the church is accomplished yet at this, but where the grace of the Lord is there is repentance and repentance brings growth. More and more, lives are meshed together.

The company of believers are incredibly precious people. These are people with whom we can share our hearts with, and who can provide an answer in the spirit to every tiny problem we might be facing.

On my part, I cannot think of any brother or sister in the Lord whom I know of personally who is not extremely precious to me.

“Strive To Enter In”

26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Jn. 6:26-27

In our culture, and I believe it is so in many other cultures as well, the bride cannot just be picked off the streets and straightaway handed over to the bridegroom. Once it has been established that she is the groom’s wife-to-be, great and meticulous care will be taken to prepare this young woman for her husband on the wedding day.

I have never heard of a bridegroom personally adorning or preparing his own bride. On the contrary, he engages the services of others, who mostly do it freely out of the love they have for him. The purpose is to present the bride to the bridegroom perfect and properly adorned. That is the joy of a wedding.

It would be a strange scenario indeed to find the bridegroom, all alone with his wife-to-be, cooped up in a room somewhere while he busily tries to scrub his bride for their upcoming wedding. It is not his job to make her ready for the wedding day. But there are friends of the bridegroom, people who are intent on bringing joy to the bridegroom. These are they who take it upon themselves to make sure the bride is well-prepared for the groom. And they don’t just pour buckets of water on her and put her out to dry in the sun. No, these people are professionals in the art of bride preparation. They will work on the bride until she is spotless and without wrinkle, perfect as perfect can be. Only then will she be ready to be presented to the groom on the wedding day.

Jesus engaged the services of His friends, the men who carry the five-fold ministry, to prepare His bride for Him (Ephesians chapters 3 & 4). Christ’s bride is the church.

There is no other gospel that can perfect the church except the apostolic gospel, the gospel of the revelation of the cross of Christ. When I say the apostolic gospel I don’t mean, of course, that every person who calls themselves an apostle carries this gospel. A true apostle is someone who brings to light the gospel of a crucified life.

The gospel of the cross is the gospel that comes to deal the death blow to the flesh, that rot that is our carnal nature, so that we might be perfected in the spirit, and become men and women who comprise the church, Christ’s bride in the Spirit. Sin dwells in the flesh.

Jesus is neither going to marry a child bride, nor an imperfect bride. Every born-again believer will have to submit themselves to the exacting work of the cross in their lives in order to become a part of this Body.

The gospel of the cross was the singular gospel that the Apostle Paul preached, because it had been revealed to him that this was the only gospel that was guaranteed to bring the resultant perfecting of the saints.

The gospel of the cross is invested in the five-fold ministry. This is the ministry which Christ commissioned to reveal the crucified Christ in men’s hearts.

It is very interesting to note how many born-again believers today have embraced the charismatic gospel, which in reality is a spiritually hollow gospel based solely on miracles, healings and prosperity. Not that these things are bad in themselves, but when they come without a revelation of the cross, then they have no life in them. On the contrary, they feed the flesh. This is exactly what we see the charismatic gospel doing today. It has become a doctrine in itself, but this is not the doctrine of Chist.

Jesus did many miracles, but one day He turned on the very same crowds that were following Him. He realized exactly what they were doing. They were following Him for the loaves of bread. He had fed them the bread out of compassion, but they were now building a doctrine out of that.

And He turned on them and told them they would now have to “eat His flesh and drink His blood”. Upon hearing this, they scattered like flies.

Why should we think that the people filling up today’s mega-churches are after Jesus’ flesh and blood; in other words, that they are there specifically because they want to identify their lives with Christ in His sufferings and death? Why not, rather, should we not accept the obvious truth that many of these people are in church because they are seeking after the things of the flesh?

And it is equally true that many of these churches offer gospels that cater fully to the flesh. It is no secret that many of these churches’ leaders are after money themselves. I hear that there are pastors who are listed in Forbes magazine!

I can assure you that when the true gospel of the cross of Christ is preached, very few people will remain in the pews – or in the ministry. Many will not be able to bear it.

When the gospel comes and tells you to forgive and the revelation of the cross is not in your heart, it is like switching off the sun at midday. You cannot find your bearings. That was exactly what happened to the Jews. Everything that Jesus said after that they found hard to swallow.

Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (Jn. 6:60)

If the Jews said that, I can assure you that not many among the rest of us will be willing to hear it. The gospel of the cross – our identification with Christ in His sufferings and death – is a hard saying indeed. Not many people can hear it. If at Gethsemane Peter fled and left Jesus alone, I can assure you that once the true gospel has been preached not many of us will be left around.

Someone once asked Jesus whether those who would be saved would be few. Jesus did not tell him whether they would be few or many. Instead, Jesus told him to strive to enter in at the strait gate.

Let us end this post by looking at this passage of scripture.

“23 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. 25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: 26 Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. 27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. 28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. 29 And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. 30 And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.” Lk. 13:23-30

“The strait gate”. This scripture is talking about the work of the cross in our lives. We can clearly see what will happen to those who will sidestep that work. They will be unable to cast off sin in their lives, and Jesus will disown them. They could not possibly become a part of His bride. The bride of Christ will comprise believers who have been worked on – worked on by the purifying work of the cross.

[Below: The bride, ready and prepared awaits, and is finally presented to the bridegroom]

Image3459 Image3512 Image3613

The 5-fold ministry: In Unity

1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Eph. 4:1-6

The emphasis is not how often the word “one” is repeated here, but rather on the fact that everything is “one”. Everything!

God is one, and therefore everything is one. If it is not one, it is nothing. That is the essence of Paul’s message in this scripture.

That is so humbling. All that we have and all that we know and all that we are becomes nothing if it is not submitted into that “oneness” of God.

God will never be anything but one. Anything to do with God will therefore need to be one. You and I need to be one. Everything needs to be one.

If God is one it follows, therefore, that Christ’s gifts to His church must operate as “one”. God is not concerned with what you can do. Nor is He interested in ‘your’ ministry. No, God is not about any of those things. As far as we are involved, God is concerned with how much we can humble ourselves and work in unity with others who are on the right foundation. God is about a Body – a Body with many members – and if you want to get involved with God, then you need to begin getting very, very small indeed.

We have many “mighty men of God” walking about, and they are outside Christ’s realm of operation.

In verses 9 and 10, Paul gives us the example of Christ.

9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)”

Notice that Christ descended first”. In other words, He descended before He would ascend. Words have a life of their own. Here we get the picture that Christ plunged Himself into the lowest parts of the earth. In essence, He became nothing!

We must experience nothingness before we inherit “all things”!

You seriously have to begin wondering where we are going if we are not going down. There is no going up except by first going down. Humility is the undergirding of any ministry. Christ’s own ministry was undergirded by humility. In gospel-speak, greatness is for the humble.

Since here we are talking of ministries, let us see what Paul tells the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 4:8: Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us”.

What does that mean? It meant they wanted to go up without first going down. Within the Corinthian church there were all these gifts of the Spirit operating, but because the flesh was alive, the operation of these gifts only brought about confusion. These ministries did not build them up and their lives were in spiritual disarray. These people were very rich in spiritual gifts (and, I presume, financially also); but they were poor spiritually.

He told them pointblank: “You are spiritually poor, because you have no humility in you!” They were very proud people.

Having the gifts of the  Spirit operating in you does not mean you are spiritual. This is what is creating confusion all over the church. If I were to raise someone from the dead today, people will build a church on the very spot that person resurrected upon, and I will become a celebrity!

We can have ministries stretching from here to infinity and back, but if they are not undergirded by humility, subjecting themselves one to another, working as “one”, in unity, they will never bring the church to Christ’s purpose, which is stated by Paul in Ephesians 4: 13: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”.

It is only when the ministry gifts operate as one that this goal for the church can be accomplished. That is how important humility is to the Body of Christ.

On the contrary, what happens if these gifts do not operate in unity is what we see happening all over the church today: we become “… children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (v. 14).

The result of this ‘self’ ministry within the church is that God’s children are “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine”. I can tell you that I have witnessed many strange doctrines in my life! I have read, heard, seen and even experientially passed through many of them. I remember many years ago a preacher came to the church I was in and he said he had been praying for people in his church who would not tithe, and they were dying one by one. I stood up and shouted “Hallelujah!” That’s a fact. What that preacher said sounded so spiritual!

Y’know, today you watch Christian TV and you think you are watching fiction. The things that are being taught and done in many of these ministries and churches are simply unbelievable.

I saw a church somewhere advertising itself as “Your church of choice”. They took a phrase right out of the world!

The fact is, not one of these things brings Christians to grow and mature. Therefore the goal of Christ – maturity and perfection that brings unity within the Body – will never be attained.

That is why it is very dangerous to run after a ‘ministry’ or a church without making sure that it is on that firm foundation of the five-fold ministry. Now, I know that sounds almost impossible because today, however hard one looks, it is difficult to find any one place where all these ministry gifts are operating together. But we cannot allow ourselves to be like Elijah who told God that he was the only Godly man remaining in Israel. God told him that no, He had 7,000 other men who had not bowed their knee to Baal. Seven thousand! And Elijah had no idea.

I am sure that just as in Elijah’s day, today also God has a remnant. God always has had a remnant, even in the worst of times. And so, today God has reserved for Himself a team or teams of the five-fold ministry. Yes, all five ministries, working together in perfect unity and perfecting the Body of Christ. We only need to look hard enough.

But we also need to have a humble spirit. The Bible says that “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (Jas. 4:6).

[Below: The Indian Ocean as seen from Wazo Hill]