A Singular Gospel – Part 2

When I married my wife I was working in a certain company. Every day, immediately I left the office I would head straight for home, to see my heart’s desire. I did not pass by the coffee shop or the library or even at a friend’s house. I went straight home. And I can assure you that when I would enter that house and set my eyes on my wife, I would feel something like a “full stop” in my heart. I knew I had arrived home.

Incidentally, that love between me and my wife has simply grown with the passage of time, so you can go ahead and give us a round of applause before you continue reading!

I love the singular focus that the apostles had. The Apostle Paul expressly says, “I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified”. I love that. I love the singular focus that this man of God had.

The apostles did not go meandering all over, touching on this and that and the other ‘subject’. There is a difference between a drunken man and a sober man. A sober man can walk in a straight line; a drunk cannot.

In 2 Corinthians 11:4 Paul talks of “another Jesus”, “another spirit”, and “another gospel”. There are actually heaps of gospels out there! People are preaching on everything!!

I have been hearing the message of the cross preached for close to 20 years and in all that time I have never heard healing taught in our church. And yet we pray for the sick and they get healed.

I have never heard prosperity taught in our churches – and yet the Lord blesses us and meets our needs.

Let me tell you, church: we really need to hear only one message. Only one message – the message of the cross. We don’t need all the topics that are taught in church today. There are teachings even on health and countless other harmless topics, which are probably profitable somehow. But these are of no value to the spiritual man. They are things that are “not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh” (Col. 2:23).

Now, let’s wind up this discussion by seeing what it was about this cross that the apostles focused on. It is good to be singularly focused; but it is even better to know you are focused on something profitable. We need to understand that the apostles did not focus on the cross just for focus’s sake!

THE APOSTLES’ SINGULAR FOCUS ON THE CROSS WAS BECAUSE THEY KNEW IT WAS THE ONLY THING THAT COULD DEAL WITH THE FLESH AND BRING THE CHURCH TO SPIRITUAL MATURITY AND ON TO PERFECTION.

On the flip side, they also knew that a lack of this revelation in the church guaranteed that the flesh would come back wholesale, and the church would never arrive at what Christ had died for.

Take the example of the Corinthians. They were so full of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that they needed to be told to wait in line on one another during ministry times. In other words, that church was literally bursting at the seams with the gifts of the Holy Spirit! Not many churches today would boast of the arsenal that this church had.

And yet, sin was very much alive in this church. What a contradiction! And it was the same with the Galatian church.

But remember the Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:13 that “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.” Which means that God faithfully continued working in the midst of these people even though they were unfaithful to Him.

In the same manner, there are preachers today who have robust ministries but who are living in sin.

God is against sin. Any true apostle understands that and he will bring to the church something that sets the people of God free from sin and brings them into the liberty of the true sons and daughters of God. He will bring a revelation of the cross. In other words the message of the cross is the only message that does not compromise with the flesh. All other gospels, in one way or another, compromise with the flesh. Every other gospel has a hidden or open pact with the flesh.

The Apostle Peter writes: “15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:15,16).

Our goal is a holy, sinless life. A life of humility, true love and unity within the Body of Christ.

To be able to arrive at that goal, we need one single thing – that singular revelation of the cross.

[Below: In this church I reminded them of the single, uncompromising message of the cross, the only message that can deal with the flesh]

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Onesiphorus! – Part 2

Many of us think we love the Lord. We would be surprised to learn that we don’t. We might not be aware of it, but there are thousands, probably millions of Christians who love this world more than they do the Lord Jesus. The saddest fact is that they are unaware of it because they have been ‘taken captive’ by a different gospel other than the one that the Apostle Paul preached. They are unaware of the fact that the gospel is about denying self. It is about taking up our cross and following Jesus.

It is clear from Paul’s epistles that not many born-again believers in his time were willing to “partake of the cup” of the sufferings of Jesus with him. That being the case, why would we, the Church of today, think that we are so willing and ready to follow Jesus? Actually, we do not need a diviner to know that we are not. That fact is clear to even the most intransigent apologetic.

Because of an absence of the gospel of the revelation of the cross of Jesus which crucifies the flesh, many variant gospels have been fashioned and allowed into the Church which give Christians a false sense of following and serving the Lord, while clearly they are serving the flesh.

We little realize that we, too, are not any different from Phygellus and Hermogenes.

It is telling that at this particular time in his ministry Paul found only one person worth mentioning – Onesiphorus, who gladly identified with and served Paul during this time of Paul’s persecution.

When Paul was undergoing persecution, very few people stood by him. At times he stood absolutely alone. If you have read the Bible you know it is true.

But Onesiphorus was “not ashamed” of Paul’s ‘chain’. In other words, this was a man who took up his cross and, following after Jesus, welded his life to Paul’s sufferings.

Elsewhere Paul talks of Priscilla and Aquila “who have for my life laid down their own necks”. (Rom. 16:4)

Onesiphorus practically partook of the sufferings of Christ.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is not for the crowd. It is not for the thousands.

The gospel is for a chosen few – a very few. It is for those who will lay their lives on the line for the gospel’s sake.

Many of us are not willing to do so, in spite of our vocal declarations to the contrary. We are contented to live the gospel to the extent of our own personal gain and comfort, no more. We scream and rave upon hearing the prosperity message, the gospel of blessings. But when we hear the message of suffering, we suddenly turn cold. We say, “This is a strange doctrine!”

Probably it is time to wake up and walk away from the crowd. Probably it is time to have another look at the gospel we are hearing in light of the revelation that God is bringing to us today, and to determine to be born into that spirit of the sufferings and death of Christ.

Onesiphorus! – Part 2

Many of us think we love the Lord. We would be surprised to learn that we don’t. We might not be aware of it, but there are thousands, probably millions of Christians who love this world more than they do the Lord Jesus. The saddest fact is that they are unaware of it because they have been ‘taken captive’ by a different gospel other than the one that the Apostle Paul preached. They are unaware of the fact that the gospel is about denying self. It is about taking up our cross and following Jesus.

It is clear from Paul’s epistles that not many born-again believers in his time were willing to “partake of the cup” of the sufferings of Jesus with him. That being the case, why would we, the Church of today, think that we are so willing and ready to follow Jesus? Actually, we do not need a diviner to know that we are not. That fact is clear to even the most intransigent apologetic.

Because of an absence of the gospel of the revelation of the cross of Jesus which crucifies the flesh, many variant gospels have been fashioned and allowed into the Church which give Christians a false sense of following and serving the Lord, while clearly they are serving the flesh.

We little realize that we, too, are not any different from Phygellus and Hermogenes.

It is telling that at this particular time in his ministry Paul found only one person worth mentioning – Onesiphorus, who gladly identified with and served Paul during this time of Paul’s persecution.

When Paul was undergoing persecution, very few people stood by him. At times he stood absolutely alone. If you have read the Bible you know it is true.

But Onesiphorus was “not ashamed” of Paul’s ‘chain’. In other words, this was a man who took up his cross and, following after Jesus, welded his life to Paul’s sufferings.

Elsewhere Paul talks of Priscilla and Aquila “who have for my life laid down their own necks”. (Rom. 16:4)

Onesiphorus practically partook of the sufferings of Christ.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is not for the crowd. It is not for the thousands.

The gospel is for a chosen few – a very few. It is for those who will lay their lives on the line for the gospel’s sake.

Many of us are not willing to do so, in spite of our vocal declarations to the contrary. We are contented to live the gospel to the extent of our own personal gain and comfort, no more. We scream and rave upon hearing the prosperity message, the gospel of blessings. But when we hear the message of suffering, we suddenly turn cold. We say, “This is a strange doctrine!”

Probably it is time to wake up and walk away from the crowd. Probably it is time to have another look at the gospel we are hearing in light of the revelation that God is bringing to us today, and to determine to be born into that spirit of the sufferings and death of Christ.

Onesiphorus! – Part 1

This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: but, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well. 2 Timothy 1:15-18

I have come to realize that many people do not like reading long posts. That is why when I do a long post I divide it into parts, for ease of reading. That also gives the reader the option of reading on only if they want to do so. Karibu!

Upon reading the King James Version of the above scripture, one might be misled into thinking that it was only Phygellus and Hermogenes who had turned away from Paul; but the Swahili Bible says, “amongst whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes”. Which would agree with what that same scripture says, that “all” who were in Asia had turned away from Paul. Not a few, or some, but all.

That is awesome and difficult to comprehend. Can you imagine people – Christians – turning away from Paul, the great apostle? And not just some, but all! And these were people who had been born into the gospel through the ministry of Paul himself. We are so used to holding preachers in such high esteem (which we should) that this scripture appears somewhat odd.

But did you ever know that the Apostle Paul lived a life that one could hardly attribute to a preacher of his calibre? Did you ever know that at various intervals in his life Paul had inadequate clothing (and that’s probably an understatement. It is no stretch of the imagination to envision Paul, at one time or another, attempting to pull a torn piece of raiment over his spare body!); did you know that at times Paul went hungry; and did you know that much of the time he lacked many of the basic necessities of this life? Yes, he lacked. Not that he did not want these things; no, he lacked someone to supply him with them.  At times Paul had to work with his own hands to provide a living for himself and those who were with him. And this was a man who had preached the gospel to the entire continent of Europe and beyond!

Today I hear preachers saying they have 5,000 church members, and most live like it. Paul had much more, if it is numbers we are talking about. But apparently there were not many people who were providing for Paul! Despite the ‘greatness’ of his ministry, not a great many people thought of supplying him with his needs. You can read that in Philippians chapter 4.

The Apostle Paul lived a life that would have many an ‘apostle’ or ‘prophet’ of today throw their apostolic garb into the street and ran away very hard if they were confronted with the kind of life he lived! His was a classic case of being rejected for the gospel’s sake.

But let us consider again the question that why would people turn away from Paul? What was it that the Apostle Paul had that made people to want to run away on meeting him? It was the gospel he carried. It is clear from the Bible that the Apostle Paul carried a very dangerous gospel. The gospel that Paul carried and preached had something unsafe about it. It had an aroma of death. And we all know what our reaction to death is – we run away from it!

Paul’s gospel had a price tag on it; and it was not any price, but the highest price. It demanded one’s very life. It commanded a denial of self. But Paul’s gospel simply echoed Jesus’ words, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

Paul refused to compromise and he would not preach any other gospel or ‘water down’ the gospel of the Cross and denial of self that had been commissioned to him by Christ. He tells the Corinthians: “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2) Paul preached the gospel of the cross. Consequently his gospel alienated him from people.

It would appear that initially people accepted Paul’s gospel gladly; but the truth takes time to sink in. Sooner or later these same people realized exactly what the gospel demanded from them, and many (many, not a few) simply found themselves unable to pay the price. They turned away from Paul and his gospel. You can see it all over Paul’s epistles. He became, for example, an enemy to the Galatians. The Corinthians were up in arms against him also. (Paul had to start all over again with these churches!)

In every epistle, Paul had to confront the spirit of anti-christ – the spirit that is against the sufferings of Christ.

The Foundation of our Faith – the Pauline Doctrine (Pt.1)

I want to make it clear early enough that this is not an academic study on the life of the Apostle Paul, nor do I presume to add on what has already been written about Paul by the many outstanding men of God whom I consider vastly more capable than I. I humbly submit that I am not an authority in these matters, therefore I could be making mistakes. The reason I will be talking about Paul is simply because, since I write on many seemingly different topics, I just want to set the foundation or basis for the things I write. What I am going to write about the Apostle Paul in this and the following few posts should be considered by my eminent readership as the foundation of everything I write on my blog crossofchristblog@wordpress.com. Without the Pauline doctrine that I am about to discuss here this blog would not exist. It is the raison d’être, it is the cause I back, it is my whole life.

I will begin my survey of the Apostle Paul by stating that probably the single most powerful statement that Paul had to make about his doctrine is found in the Book of Galatians chapter 1 verses 12-13: “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

The Apostle Paul here makes clear the powerful and unequivocally spiritual nature of the gospel he preached. He was not taught it in a seminary or Bible school. It was not a study, or a discussion or anything that could be grasped by any means of human discourse. It was not a product of human intelligence. It was not homiletics. It was not even Bible study. It was none of these things. In fact, it was nothing other than a spiritual revelation of the Lord Jesus Himself, and it was an experience that could only happen in a man’s heart. It was what Jesus Himself had spoken  to the Jews: “The Kingdom of God is within you”, meaning in their hearts.

The revelation that Paul speaks about was the Lord Jesus Himself and the power that resurrected Him from the dead, coming to reside in a man’s life. It could not therefore be an education, just like you cannot teach someone how to get saved. Unless a person is born again of the Spirit of God, he can know the entire Bible by heart, and he could recite the sinner’s prayer and he could make every ‘spiritual’ motion there is to make, but none of these will get him saved.

The revelation that Paul received was not even a vision or a dream. Paul had many of these, but this is not what he is talking about here. The revelation that he received was an experience of far greater magnitude and significance. In a nutshell, it was Christ Himself coming to dwell in a man’s heart in His fullness. Far from it being a powerless ‘education’, this revelation was literally a birth, a spiritual birth. And this birth brought the Life that had the power to change a man from being carnal to being spiritual. Let us pause for a moment and reflect upon the fact that do we not find the need in our own lives today to have a true change in our character where we are walking in the exact image of Christ? The gospel that Paul received, that revelation, is the answer to our dilemma.