Freedom In Christ – Part 2

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” Jn. 8:36

Some time ago, I was sending money to someone through an electronic outlet. It was a substantial amount of money I was sending and if anything happened to it I knew I was a dead man.

After she had completed the transaction the teller went and sat in the far back of her booth and it was from there that she mumbled the name of the person she had sent the money to. (It is standard procedure here for the teller to tell you whom the money has gone to).

I did not hear the name properly and I asked her again who the money had gone to. The girl answered me and, once again, I failed to catch the name. I was about to ask her a third time when I noticed her body language suggesting that I was becoming a nuisance to her. I opted to not bother her further and I left the booth without really knowing who the money had gone to. But I was not at peace. If that money did not go the intended recipient…

One time my wife lost more than 1 million shillings of her company’s money in the same manner and we took a year to repay it. As the saying goes, once bitten, twice shy.

Anyways, as I was walking back home, the thought kept bugging me, What if it turned out that the money you sent did not go to the person you intended it to go to? Would you go back to that tough little girl and ask her for your money back?

But I hadn’t gone very far when I felt this big calm come into my heart. A very calm and satisfying thought came into my heart saying, No, I would not fight with her. I would simply look for more money to send.

I felt so free at the thought. And I immediately realized that this was a part of the inheritance that we have in Christ: freedom from these kinds of things.

In the world, money is everything. The world revolves around money. If the Bible took the time and space to write that “the love of money is the root cause of all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10), it is important for us to realize that money is the greatest god of this world. All over the world, daily, people are  scheming, fighting and murdering each other on account of money. All the wars in the world are about money. In the world, they say, “money is power”. The love of money is so powerful.

But the gospel of Jesus Christ sets us free from everything worldly, including the love of money. The gospel can set up completely free. Actually, that freedom takes us further than we can imagine.

One of the things that I rejoice with the gospel is that there are no contracts. Contracts are born of the law and there is no law with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Had there been law with Jesus, Judas Iscariot would never have been His accountant. Jesus would have made him to sign a contract at the first sign of trouble and the very next day or week or month Judas would have been out of a job. But the guy kept his job up till the very end of Jesus’s ministry even though Jesus knew he was stealing big from the treasury.

There is no paperwork with the gospel. No one needs to sign anything. If someone steals from you, you don’t take them to jail. You don’t even take them to the police station. God is far more wealthier than the little money you might have lost. His grace will uphold and strengthen you and if He deems the money or property you had stolen from you is worth refunding, He will refund it. And sometimes God will not refund that money because He does not need it for His Kingdom.

Oh, the ways and workings of God! And, equally exciting, what incredible power the grace of God has in our lives! May we daily partake of this grace and walk free in a world that is bound by these oh, so petty things.

[If you just lost some money, here’s something to brighten your day. A little girl preparing to go to school]

Mollel

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Receiving The Inheritance – Part 1

5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:

8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him. Eph. 6:5-9

For almost two years ago now, one of the brothers in our church has been working as a bus conductor in a certain bus company. The people who own this company, who are Muslims, really mistreat the brother. When he is not on the road they get him to do the most menial jobs at the office: sweeping the office floor, and sometimes the entire compound; cleaning and dusting the tables, windows, doors and even the toilets. His employer treats him like trash simply because he is saved. It is not his job to do these menial tasks, but his employer makes him do them out of spite. He regularly says to him, “I will break you until you agree to become a Muslim.”

His employer’s special “punishment” initially was to make sure the brother would not attend Sunday church service. Even when he was not on the road, he had to ask for permission to attend church by messaging; and if his message was not acknowledged – none of his messages ever were – he had to report at the office.

One day, I told him, “Brother, whenever you are not on the road on Sunday, come to church. God will take care of everything.”

The man began coming to church, and his employer has never asked him a question since.

Initially, the mistreatment he received at the hands of his employer placed a heavy toll on our brother’s patience. He had thought of leaving the job; but jobs are hard to come by nowadays. So he persisted. But the gospel teaches that we are to serve our masters from the heart; how could one serve such masters from the heart?

The secret, as the Bible teaches, is to do things “as unto Christ”, and not to men. Colossians 3:23-24 says:

“23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

Our “inheritance”, or reward, is not with men. It is with God, and therefore, it is God that we should serve, and not men. But that’s pretty tough when God commands us to serve Him by serving men!

But let us go back to our key scripture above, Ephesians 6:5-9.

Let us first begin by asking: what does the scripture mean by “neither is there respect of persons with him”?

Remember God is talking to the church here. This scripture therefore simply means that we are all equal in the sight of God. Due to our fallen nature, men have a tendency of categorising men in the natural. Having categorised them, we then handle them according to the categories that we have assigned them. When we encounter a rich or important person, for example, our demeanour changes all of a sudden. We bring out the best in us. Sometimes we can do things that can even surprise us.

Another example is when a person from the Third World meets a person from the West. I know this is tough to admit, but it is true. Under normal circumstances, such an encounter is quite a study in human psychology! But this state of affairs is of God because God said:

“25 … Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. 26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” Gen. 9:25-26

Some people have a problem with this scripture, but why should you have a problem with something that God said in the natural?

But in the Spirit, praise God, we are all equal in God’s house!

That is why the Bible is quick to remind the church that with God there is no respect of persons, lest any believer consider their natural score as anything with God. God only distinguishes in the Spirit, and this is why we need to strive to serve God in the Spirit, i.e. with the fruit of the Spirit. For we who are called to be spiritual, everything is to be done from the heart, the heart of Christ. The Bible tells us that God is love. We are to do everything out of love. When in a position of servanthood (or slavehood), therefore, we will serve out of love – love for the person we are serving and love for Christ.

Love engages our hearts. With love, it does not matter whether men see our service or not. We will not work very hard when the master is around and throw our tools down the minute his car drives out of the gate. We will not smile at him but harbor a grudge against him.

No, we will smile at our master and serve him with all our strength because we love him. Love is something far more superior than the cheap menpleasing stuff we carry on with. We could say that love is the true servant. If we do not have love in us, our service is hollow, and futile.

Today, of course, this scripture applies mostly to contractual, paid servants. But in Roman times, when Paul penned these words, most “servants” were actually slaves. And we all know who a slave is. A slave has no freedom of his own and he is to do his master’s bidding by compulsion, if necessary. And yet these slaves were the very people that Paul was addressing here, telling them to work for their masters

“with good will doing service, as to the Lord”!

I believe in our time and generation we are privileged. We have many privileges and one of them is that we are privileged to be free. Let us not abuse this freedom. Let us rather benefit from it by using our freedom to serve both God and men from the heart, with an open heart, joyfully and with all our strength.

Grateful Beyond Measure

Without a doubt, the greatest scourge that ravaged the African continent during the 19th century – although it is reputed to date back to as far back as the 6th century – was the infamous trade in slaves. The slave trade was an evil that was as indescribable as it was unprecedented and it brought untold misery to the African peoples.

There are many stories, all true, of how the great Scottish missionary, David Livingstone fought the war against the slave trade both in small and in big ways. The story is told of how David Livingstone once met a slave caravan and, although he could do nothing to halt it – the slave traders were armed and dangerous – David stopped the caravan and managed to bargain for the release of one of the slaves upon whom he felt extreme pity.

The negotiations ended successfully after money had exchanged hands, and the slave was untied from the caravan. And there he stood in front of David, thinking he had merely exchanged hands from one slaver to another.

At which Livingstone told him, “Friend, you are free. You are free to go home.”

Upon hearing these words, the slave fell down at Livingstone’s feet and declared, “I will freely serve you all my life!”

He was overcome with the love and compassion that Livingstone had shown him.

Apart from writing this blog, one of the tasks that I do on my laptop is to translate gospel material from English to Swahili. The material that I translate comes mostly from brethren in the West.

When local people find me working on my laptop, they often ask me about the nature of my work, and I tell them. I tell them, “I am translating gospel material written by brethren from European countries.”

When they hear that, more often than not they say, “You must be receiving a lot of money from the white people for all this work!”

To which I reply, “No. I do not get paid to do these translations. Actually, I do not need any money to do this work. It gives me the greatest joy to do it for free. If they paid me to do this work, I would not have as much joy as I have doing it for free.”

Serving my Lord Jesus Christ is my joy. The opportunity to serve God the way I do is an indescribable reward from Christ to me. Many times I wonder at the incredible favor that I have to serve my Master in this way.

This joy is something that only my spirit comprehends, for my spirit knows well the redemption that Christ wrought for me.

But translating gospel teachings is not the only way that I am called to serve Christ. There are many other ways that the Bible calls us to serve Him. In his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, chapters 11 and 12, the Apostle Paul lists three levels, or areas, of service to Christ, culminating with the famous thorn in the flesh. Paul’s bottom line in all his service to Christ is:

“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.” (2 Cor. 12:10)

Paul took pleasure, not only in serving God in peaceful terms, but even in conditions where the service involved suffering. This was a man who truly understood how much the Lord had paid to redeem him.

This is the place that the Lord calls us to arrive at.

[Below: In one area, at least, I serve my Lord with great joy!]

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Free To Give!

7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.

8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.

9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 2 Cor. 8:7-9

Giving away our finances and our material wealth is one of the ways that we serve God. The devil therefore works hard to bind us in this area. According to this scripture, to find yourself free in the area of finances and giving as our Lord Jesus Christ was is an incredible grace. Indeed, this is an unbelievable scripture. That a believer can “abound” in everything else – “in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us” – and yet not be free in the area of financial giving! This talks of the power of money upon the human spirit.

The area of giving, for most believers, is where “the rubber meets the road”. The human heart is so bound up with money that to find oneself free in the area of finances is true freedom indeed! He who is free from the power of money is free in nearly every area of his spiritual life. Just imagine how rich the Corinthians were in all these other areas; and yet, in this single area, it is clear they were woefully lacking.

The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10). According to Galatians 5, evil is “… adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings” (Gal. 5:19-21).

Nearly all these things are rooted in money.

Elsewhere, scripture also says:

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Mat. 6:24).

The word “mammon” means money, wealth or worldly possessions. Mammon is so powerful that the Bible equates it with God! Mammon is the god of this world.

But notice the Bible says that we cannot serve God and mammon. It is clear, therefore, that we as believers need to be set free from the power of this force or god, mammon. In other words, we need to be set free from the power of the love of money! We are to be free in our spirits with regard to finances in every area, including in our giving. That is the only way to serve God.

That was why Jesus said of the poor widow who put in two cents in the offering box, that she had given more than everyone else (Mk. 12:42-44). This old lady was so free she gave away all her “living”.

Do you think she was grieving and telling God, “God, I am planting a seed so that you might bless me a hundedfold”?

Hardly. Had she said that in her heart, Jesus would not have said those words about her. But Jesus spoke about her because in her heart she was free from the power of money. Although she was poor, yet she was the richest person in the temple. She was so rich she could give all her living for the gospel’s sake.

“For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”

The heart of this old widow was the heart of Christ. Free.

Had this widow died from hunger, she would have died gladly. She would not have been sorrowful about her condition.

Our love for money is a subject that we tiptoe about, simply because we do not want to offend the flesh. It is the flesh that is bound up with money, not the spirit. The spirit of the born-again believer yearns to be set free from the power of money.

Finally, let us consider verse 9:

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”

This is a verse that has become the bane of the church because carnal-minded preachers and believers use it for their own gain. They say, “Jesus became poor that we may inherit the wealth of this world.”

But this scripture is not even talking about that! Jesus did not become poor so that we might inherit worldly possessions for the simple reason that God’s Kingdom is spiritual. You will not find the dollar sign in heaven.

So what is the meaning of this scripture?

The Apostle Paul here is trying to show the Corinthians how free our Lord was in the area of finances. Christ did not serve mammon. He served God. That was how He could afford to become poor.  You do not become poor simply because you have decided to become poor. You become poor because a work of God has occurred in your heart and God has set you free.

And notice Jesus did not become poor for poverty’s sake. Jesus became poor that through His poverty we might be rich.

But, anyways, let us give the benefit of doubt to those who claim that this scripture is talking about Jesus sacrificing His worldly riches so that we might become financially and materially rich. This argument gets instantly killed by the fact that the Bible also tells us to become Christ’s disciples, to follow Christ’s example and manner of life. How about we follow Christ’s example in not just becoming rich, but also in becoming poor that through our poverty others might become rich? That would require  we go and sell all that we have and give to the poor! Incidentally, that was exactly what Jesus told the rich young ruler. And just like the rich young ruler, I am sure not many who follow this line would obey Christ’s command to go sell all.

The love of money is the root cause of all evil. We, being innately evil, have not the faintest chance of defeating this god, mammon. If we have been born again, we can only thank God for having delivered us from the power of darkness. Hallelujah to that! And to thank Him exceedingly for the Holy Spirit who, through the power of the cross, will fully conquer this most subtle and menacing of all our enemies, the love of money in our hearts as we willingly surrender our wills to Him.

The cross is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18).

[Below: God was so rich He gave us His Son Jesus Christ!]

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God’s Goodness For Our Repentance

Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? Rom 2:4

The Bible says that when God created Adam, He formed him from the dust of the earth all right, but then He breathed His breathe of life into Adam, and Adam became “a living soul” (Gen. 2:7).

In other words, God did not create a robot. Robots are beneficial, but they are also dangerous. I read recently that a newly-created robot – an advanced species – killed one of its handlers. It grabbed the man without warning and slammed him onto a metal plate, crushing him to death instantly.

Robots are dangerous because they have no mind of their own; rather, they are digitally pre-programmed to do certain tasks which, if the program has no hitches in it, they perform to perfection.

But when God created Adam, He gave him the greatest gift of all – a will, and a conscience. That means he set him free, free to will and to do. The Bible says that God made man to be like Him: He said,

“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” (Gen. 1:26)

God has a will, He has a mind, and He has a conscience. These are the components that constitute freedom.

When men therefore make choices in life, they do so out of the freedom that God has given them. Of every other creation God gave Adam power or dominion over them. But He did not put anything or anyone to have dominion over man. The Bible says that even angels are there to minister to us!

Man has so much free potential to please God.

Because of the nature of Adam’s sin, the first thing that man is required to do in pleasing God is to repent. Again, that is to be done in absolute freedom. If God ever wanted to have everyone saved by force, He wouldn’t need to do much. He would only have to come down to cloud level and say, “Before I finish what I am about to say…” – and in the blink of an eye, every church would be packed to the steeple.

But God is not like that. He gives us the freedom to choose to repent. He has given us a free will, and He is never going to take it back.

Out of the goodness of God’s heart there comes not law, but grace. God’s love for man is revealed in the freedom that He has given to us. Freedom to repent.

But the universal human cry is: What can soften a man’s heart enough to make him want to repent? That – living a life of repentance – is the greatest miracle of all.

Let us end by looking at the next few verses:

“5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath…” (Rom. 2:5-8)

We do not know much about heaven, and it is probably not for us to want to know all that is hidden up there. At present, though, we are here on earth. What should be of greater concern to us is how we ought to use the wonderful opportunity of freedom that God has given us on this earth to strive to please Him – to please Him by obeying Him.

May God help us. May He help us to willingly, lovingly obey him.

[Dar es Salaam’s ‘Central Park’]

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Free To Live!

11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:

12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,

19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:

24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.

26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.

27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.

28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.

29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:

30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. Lk. 15:11-32

One of the most horrible nightmares that plague my life is the fact that I find I am still a man of law. It’s a nightmare, and it’s real. To be fair, God has helped me in many ways, and I know I have changed in many areas. But to find myself entirely free from the spirit of law in my heart is a challenge that I have yet to fully surmount.

And yet… I believe the worst person in the world is a person of law. The person who carries law in their heart, I believe, is the person who displeases God more than anybody else.

On the other hand, I am convinced that the person who carries grace in their heart pleases God the most. Grace is an attitude of heart. It is not something that we can crank up through our own effort. In fact, to put it in even better terms, grace comes about only through a work of the Holy Spirit in a man’s heart. Only the revelation of the cross can bring grace into a man’s heart. Grace is not something natural; it is spiritual.

Law is also an attitude of heart. Law resides in the heart of a man who has not encountered the work of the cross in their heart. When we find ourselves exercising law in our lives, either towards others or towards ourselves, that is a sure sign that we are not carrying our cross and following Christ.

Neither law nor grace can be measured by what we do in the natural. I could invite you into my house and have you sit on my best sofa, and serve you from my best china – and I would still be a man of law.

On the other hand, I could rebuke you and still be a man of grace. Jesus often rebuked His disciples severely, and yet He embodied grace. The law in our hearts shows up in our attitudes, not in what we do or not do. That, as we shall see, is what happened with the elder son in the above story.

But before we get to the elder son, let us a take a glimpse of the father. The father in the above scripture epitomizes grace. This man was rich in grace. He had so much grace he was ready to lose!

When he “divided unto them his living” and allowed the younger son to go his way, the father was losing not only his son, but his property, and his pride. Pride is who we are, and when a man loses his pride he has lost his very self. But the father allowed the son to despise and to trample upon all that he represented to him.

He was willing to give his son all the freedom he needed. Maybe, this gracious father reasoned, maybe my son will one day come to his senses and return home.

And we see that was exactly what happened. The boy went into the world and, after he had suffered terribly, he finally came to his senses; the Bible says he “came to himself”.

What does it mean to “come to himself”? Surely, something must have touched his heart. The soft voice of the Holy Spirit spoke to his heart – and he heeded. He repented and went back to his father. He was now a changed man. He knew what it was like to be far from the safety and comfort of his father’s arms.

I wonder what would have happened if the father had prevented him from leaving home. The boy would probably have stayed on, but his heart would still have yearned for the world. He would have lived and died at home, but his heart would long have wandered elsewhere.

But by giving him all the freedom he wanted, the father allowed God to work on the young man, and when God confronted him, he came back to his father on his own accord.

The father’s attitude is what we need to have as people of God if we really desire to bring the life of God into the church. In retrospect, we see that this particular father carried his cross and in doing so he gave life to his son.

When we are men of law, we stifle people by trying to hold them back by our own strength. Because there is no work of the Spirit involved, and because there is no grace, the day they break free they will never come back.

Back at home, the father still lived with his elder son. This son apparently did all that his father commanded. At no one time did he fail to obey his father. More importantly, he never left home.

And yet… this son was a man of law. He had never come into contact with the revelation of the cross and he had never opened his heart to the working of the Holy Spirit. He was still the old man of self.

So it was that when the younger brother returned, and he was received in such glorious fashion by his father – instead of being punished, as the law demands – this action was the catalyst needed to unleash all the pent-up frustrations of the elder son. He had stoically held in his anger and condemnation; but now his heart was finally exposed. He had no revelation of the cross, and his heart was full of every kind of spiritual debris.

There are many such Christians in church today. They are always in church, good people, obediently doing all that the pastor asks of them. But if they have no revelation of the cross, they are still their old selves. They will never become people of grace, and they will never change.

All they do is obey the letter. When push comes to shove, they crack!

Being good is good, but God demands we be spiritual. True power is in taking up our cross and following Christ.

The person who carries grace may miss it here and there, but you will always feel the freedom in their hearts, which very freedom is the single ingredient that is necessary for the Holy Spirit to continue working in them. These are the kind of people that God is happy with.

I love the father in this story. At no one time did he exhibit a lack of grace: neither with his rebellious younger son; nor with his grace-less elder son. In every situation, this man was perfectly full of the grace of God. He must have lived a life full of inner joy and peace.

[Below: Are you free?]

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]