The Holy Spirit And Prayer

The Holy Spirit And Prayer

26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Rom. 8:26-27

This is just a brief take on this grand subject; but I will present it all the same.

It is incredible what we don’t know about God. Actually, we know nothing about God. The Bible says so right there. That means, basically, that we do not know what His will is. But the Holy Spirit who lives in us knows exactly what God’s will is. And therefore He prays for us according to God’s will.

God is a mystery. Even the need to pray talks to us about the mystery of God. Prayer acknowledges that God’s ways are far higher than our ways. So much so that we actually do not just pray to God; but we need the Holy Spirit to intercede for us, so lofty and high is our God. What an unfathomable mystery all these things are!

There are people who deride the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. But it is foolish to do such a thing. Actually, speaking in tongues is a singularly incredible gift from God. It is one of the most direct ways that mortal man can connect with God, for the Bible says,

“For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.” (1 Cor. 14:2)

Notice the Bible acknowledges – states, rather – that there are unknown tongues. So next time you hear a brother or sister speaking in an unknown tongue, just realize you are observing the most wonderful conversation that any mortal man could ever bear witness to.

Moreover, it says that the man or woman who speaks in an unknown tongues speaks mysteries; that he or she speaks mysteries to God. Speaking in an unknown tongue is therefore a direct conversation between man and God deep in the Spirit zone.

But let’s go back to Romans 8:26

“26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

The Bible says that “we know not what we should pray for as we ought”. That is because, as mortals, we are weak. Actually, without the Holy Spirit, we are as weak as Samson was after his hair was shorn off his head. Let me try and explain this in practical terms.

I could be praying; and at the same time the Holy Spirit is praying in me. The Holy Spirit in me might be aware of a need or situation that I am not aware of. The need could be personal, or it could be about another person(s). The Holy Spirit will therefore lead me to pray in the direction of that need, even though I am not intelligibly aware of such a need. The Holy Spirit, by utilizing just my surrendered spirit, will pray in me in tongues, and He will pray over that situation; He will pray over something that in the natural I have not the vaguest idea about. In that way, the Holy Spirit in me will accomplish the will of God!

Moreover, the Holy Spirit “maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

No earthly or human medium can communicate the depth of our needs to God. Only the Holy Spirit can. Can a man groan like the Holy Spirit does? The answer is no. We are too weak for that. But the Holy Spirit utters the deep need we have of God.

God is a mystery; but even the word “mystery” is insufficient to the extent that we want to understand that word with our minds. We want to interpret it according to our intellect. But God is unspeakably far above our intellect. Comparing our intellect with God is the equivalent of trying to launch a spacecraft with a firecracker.

We therefore need to humble ourselves and desire to have all that God has for us, and not to think too highly of our intelligence. It says in 1 Cor. 14:1:

“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts…”

We are told to desire after spiritual gifts, not deride or make light of them. Spiritual gifts reveal to us the infinite awesomeness of God; and God uses these gifts to work exceedingly great things in our lives.

[We should never make light of the ministry of the Holy Spirit]


A Gospel And A Life – Part 2

1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

When the Apostle Paul set out to write 2 Corinthians chapters 11 to 13, he set out to accomplish the greatest mission of all: to prove how the gospel of Jesus Christ worked in his life. This is the greatest accomplishment that any man can accomplish this side of heaven: proving the gospel of Jesus at work in him. Let us not forget the gospel that Paul preached.

“But we preach Christ crucified…” (1 Cor. 1:23)

Simple and clear. Paul did not preach any other gospel. Paul did not try to bring up any ‘smart’ doctrines or anything to show how clever or intelligent he was. Nor did he try to show how ‘powerful’ he was. Paul wanted to show the power of Christ.

Any other gospel other than the gospel of the cross will produce false ministers of the gospel – the kind of fellows that we talked of in Part 1 – who in turn will turn out unproven Christians under their watch. Paul therefore set out to prove that the gospel of Jesus Christ was at work in his life. He gave the example of his own life as proof that the true gospel of Jesus Christ was working in him.

So how did the gospel work in Paul?

The gospel worked through Paul through weakness!! Hallelujah to that! The gospel worked through Paul allowing himself to become weak. The gospel brought in Paul a broken man. Paul would gladly boast of nothing of himself except his weaknesses.

“… of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.” (2 Cor. 12:5)

The “infirmities” Paul talks about are his sufferings for the sake of the gospel. The sufferings for the sake of the gospel are the mark of a true servant of Jesus Christ.

This is according to God’s will, for Jesus says in Revelation3:19:

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten”.

Paul rejoiced in the rebuke and chastening of the Lord! It was his only joy. That’s so different from us.

Paul lays out his sufferings in 2 Cor. 12:23-33.

“… in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft… 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness… 32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:  33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.”

An apostle let down through a window in a basket!

Paul was hounded and pounded. And here Paul lays down the challenge: “If anyone wants to boast in the Lord, let him boast as I have boasted – in his sufferings for the gospel!” This was proof that Paul was a minister of Jesus Christ.

That seems incredible enough, but what is even more important was the reason for Paul’s sufferings. In Colossians 1:24 Paul talks about the reason he endured his sufferings:

“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church”.

This life – laid down on the altar of sacrifice – produced the kind of person that God could use, one that could do the whole will of God. Such an one would love Christ’s church as Christ Himself loved it. Such was the man, Paul. He loved Christ church as Christ Himself loved her and gave himself for her.

In 2 Cor. 12:9, Paul writes:

“… Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

What “power” is Paul talking of here. Is it the power to lord it over God’s people?

No, on the contrary, it is the power to give of his life for God’s people sacrificially. The power to do all he could so that others could be built up in the Spirit. The power to lay down one’s life.

With such a man God was well pleased. Need we wonder, then, why Paul was given the mandate to preach the gospel throughout the known world and to single-handedly write half the entire New Testament?

[Recently sighted…]



4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;

5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:

7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Cor. 4-9

 In Romans 1:28-29 we read:

28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. 29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

Verse 28 is talking about the Israelites. Verse 29 is talking about the Israelites and us. Both these scriptures are talking about God’s stand with regard to these two groups of people.

These scriptures reveal the paramouncy that the gospel has over even the gifts and calling of God.

I was surprised to read somewhere that the nation of Isarel has one of the highest levels of gays worldwide. Yes, you heard it right: homosexuals. That kind of statistic was something I had never contemplated in my life and this knowledge kind of toned down my cheering for Israel; but I am sure it hasn’t fazed God in the least. The Bible says that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. God will never back down one inch from the promises He made to the nation of Israel.

Any nation which tries to attack Israel in the natural will find itself coming up against the armies of God (angels) – literally. The world has witnessed this countless times. The Six-Day War of 1967 has remained one of the most historic mystery (read miracles) of our modern times.

That is because Israel is the elected nation of God. God, in His wisdom, has put these few people in this world to declare how His election works.

Indeed, wherever the Jew sets foot becomes blessed. America is (or was once) a prime example.


“As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes”.

Hmmm. Yes, the Israelites have become enemies of the gospel in order that we, too, might be included in the mercies of God. And the Bible declares that they, too, have been hardened in their hearts to the end that they, too, just like us, might obtain mercy from God (v. 32).

Notice, they are elected, but ultimately they will need to receive mercy. In the end, both we Gentiles and the Israelites will be products of God’s mercy.

It is clear, therefore that, if it is of mercy, it is not of us. The gifts and calling of God come, not from us, but from God Himself. And if it is so, then, no one has anything to boast of there. Indeed, the wisest person in this regard is the person who recognizes this and daily humbles themselves under the mighty hand of God.

This – the non-repentance of God – explains why preachers and Christian believers in general can continue to witness the grace of God in certain areas of their lives even when it becomes clear they are living in sin. This was true of the Corinthian church as we read in 1 Corinthians 1:4-7:

“4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

But notice verse 8.

“Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In spite of all the gifts of the Spirit that the Corinthians had, yet it was their confirmation unto the end that was pivotal. Why? Because it was this that would present them blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This confirmation is what we ought to seek for above anything else.

But let us backtrack and ask, What is the meaning of the word “confirm” here?

It means to approve, or to validate. We will not go to heaven on the basis of the gifts and calling of God, but on the basis of our approval by Christ Jesus. Christ will first have to prove us, whether or not we passed through the narrow road that He also passed. If we do not get the stamp of approval from Jesus, we will not make it to heaven.

Jesus’s stamp of approval reads:


We become approved when we share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. The Apostle Paul makes that very clear in Philippians 3:10:

“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death”.

Are you carrying Jesus’s stamp of approval? Are you denying yourself daily, taking up your cross and following Jesus?

The most important thing for us are not the gifts and calling; rather, it is to be confirmed.

[God’s beloved nation, Israel.]

Of Ministry and Love

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant…

31 … and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 1 Cor. 12:1-13:1

Have you ever noticed how each member of our physical bodies fits into the body? Each part is so useful in its proper place and this fitting usefulness of each part perfects the body.

And you probably have noted also that the reason these parts work together in such perfect harmony is because they love one another. There is no doubt about it… the body loves itself!!

Finally, it most certainly will not have escaped your attention that no member of the body can do anything without the body, i.e. outside the body. Each member is dependent on the body. In the final analysis,  it is clear that the body works in perfect unity!

It is even so with the Body of Christ. Every member, put and working in their proper place, perfects the Body of Christ, His church. When each member of the Body is working out their gift in their proper place and in perfection, the church is edified and it is perfected more and more.

When it comes to gifts of the Holy Spirit, I know of dear brethren who fit in their place so well that, when they are ministering, you can feel the palpable presence of the Holy Spirit at work. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit and it is being put to good use.

Now, this is good and extremely needful in the Body of Christ. It is important that all the gifts that Christ has given the church work in perfection in order that the Body may be built up and perfected. What could be better than this?

But the Apostle Paul shows us “a more excellent way”! In other words, important as it is to have all these gifts working perfectly in the church, yet the more excellent way for them to work is when they are carried out in love.

Why is that so? It is because, although the gifts may be administered perfectly in the church, yet it is love that bonds them together.  The body is all about unity. So is the church. And where there is no love there is no unity.

It says in Colossians 3:14:

“And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”

This scripture tells us that if there is no love, God’s desired result for His church, i.e. perfection, will not be achieved. We could have the faith to raise the dead, but faith cannot perfect the Body (1 Cor. 13:2) simply because faith is not the bond of perfection.

The gift comes from God, and it is perfect. But the gift in itself does not perfect the Body. What perfects the Body is love.

Someone said that when we crucify the flesh we become dead as a nail. He said we become like a corpse in the morgue. But that is hardly the Bible’s description of the believer’s state. The Bible says that when we die to the flesh, we become living stones (1 Pet. 2:5)!

“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”

The church cannot be built up by dead stones – however ‘holy’! The church is built with living “stones”, living souls. Love cannot reside in a dead “stone”. But it can be found in a living one.

That is why the Bible always comes round to us, to the way we live. Holiness is more about how we carry on with our lives, than anything else. The bottom line with God’s Word is that it always confronts us. It desires to work in us so that our hearts and lives may conform to God’s will.

We should be thankful to God for the great ministries that He has given the church. But we cannot rest in these. We must rest in the “more excellent way”, which is love.

There are many men of God, great and small, who exercise the gifts of the Spirit perfectly well. But they all – we all – ought to learn that that line of operation alone will not perfect the church. Only love can perfect the church.

The Corinthian church is an example in perspective. This church had all the gifts of the Holy Spirit operating in their midst. But they lacked in love and the result was that, in spite of all the gifts they had, the Corinthian church was breaking apart. There was no unity, no cohesion. They had many gifts in operation, but there was no spiritual growth, no step towards perfection. How so contradictory!!

We can see even in Paul’s description of how they ate the Lord’s supper that the Corinthian church lacked in love (1 Cor. 11:20-22). That particular account tells us that some brethren came to show off their expensive food and to oppress those who had nothing in their midst! This is completely against the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul told them, “If you want to eat your expensive food alone, please do it in the privacy of your own homes.”

The church is all about love. Love is the more excellent way. Love is the bond of perfectness.

[Below: Even the ministry of witnessing must be driven by Christ’s love; how much more the greater ministries?]


The Test For Our Faith

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 1 Cor. 13:1-3

It is incredible, don’t you think, that someone can speak with the tongues of men and angels and yet be of no consequence before God. Or that they can have the gift of prophecy and an understanding of all the heavenly mysteries and be considered nothing.

These are almost unbelievable things to hear. Verse 3 is even more astonishing:

“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

How can one bestow all his goods to feed the poor, or give their body to be burned and still profit nothing from it?

How can such things be possible?

They call it the litmus test. Webster’s Dictionary gives the definition of the litmus test as “something (such as an opinion about a political or moral issue) that is used to make a judgment about whether someone or something is acceptable.”

They further describe it as “a test in which a single factor (as an attitude, event, or fact) is decisive.”

The litmus test of our faith therefore is our life. It is the life we live. Our faith and the grace of God that goes with it are measured by the life – and love – of Christ in us. This talks of the Christ-like nature. What matters with God is the nature of Christ in us.

But this requires us to surrender our old, carnal nature.

Did you know that the Galatian church was so rich in faith that they had miracles occurring in their midst (Gal. 3:5)? Great faith was at work in that church.

And yet Paul told them they were “bewitched”! (v.1)

Now, that sounds like a contradiction. God’s people bewitched?

Oh, yes. These people were bewitched because they had the Holy Spirit working overtime in their midst to the extent of doing miracles – and yet they would not change! Those miracles and the presence of the Holy Spirit in their midst did not profit them in the least.

With the gospel, if we are not changing into the character of Christ, whatever we are doing is of no profit to us. No change, no deal.

It is good to have the Holy Spirit upon us; but it is infinitely better to allow Him to work in us. This is where He deals with the old man of the flesh. This is where He works to bring a mortification, or death to our earthly, carnal nature:

“5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth” (Col. 3:5-8).

The Galatians had faith to perform miracles but not faith to change!

This is where God has a problem with us. We cheer the great faith and the miracles, but at the same time deny the Holy Spirit a foothold to work in us, to break us. But that is exactly the price we need to pay.

Whatever does not lead us to take the strait and narrow road should be viewed with great suspicion. Whatever gospel does not require you to take up your cross and follow Christ cannot be of God. That is the simplicity of the gospel.

It is in following Christ through taking up our cross that we are transformed. When we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us He teaches us to deny self and to take up our cross and follow Christ.

When we are living this kind of life, we can show forth the love and life of Christ.At the end of the day, the test of our faith is our readiness to deny ourself, take up our cross and follow Christ.

[Below: The grace that is needed within the church can only come about as a result of the crucifixion of the flesh]


It Is The Fruit!

Hello, beloved readers and brethren. I have been away for some time, but I am glad to be back with you once again. Today we will study Jesus’ reaction to the leafy but fruitless fig tree. Welcome.

12 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:

13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.

14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it. Mk. 11:12-14

All trees bear leaves. But there is no tree of which men eat the leaves. Of every tree men eat the fruit! The leaves are good but it is only in that they create the photosynthesis needed to enable the tree to bear fruit.

Of every tree, it is the fruit that men seek.

This particular tree was so leafy it almost fooled Jesus! But you cannot fool God.

I believe this scripture is an analogy for the church. The church should not try to fool God by being leafy. But it must bear fruit, the fruit of the Spirit.

The church has so many things going on. Much of it is man-made, of course, and much more comes from the devil himself. This aside, however, there is the genuine ministry of the Holy Spirit in some sections of the church. But even with genuine ministry, it is the fruit that the Lord is after! The ministry gifts are there in the church to help the church to bear spiritual fruit to the Lord. It is expected that if the church has all these gifts, then it should be bearing fruit to the Lord. The true power of God is revealed in the inner working of the Holy Spirit in men’s hearts, a work that brings the life of Christ to transform our lives.

Without this fruit in our lives we cannot but sin. The power of God’s grace comes to separate us from sin – and to make us bear fruit for the Lord.

When Jesus walked up to the fig tree, He was hungry. He needed something to eat from the fig tree. But the tree had nothing – except leaves. Jesus therefore cursed the tree and it dried up forthwith.

But didn’t Jesus have options? Yes, He did. He could have left the tree alone. But He did not. Instead, He cursed it.

This shows that if we do not bear fruit in the Spirit, we shall be cut off from Christ. On the day of judgment, He shall tell us, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Mat. 7:23).

We therefore need to make sure we are bearing the fruit of the Spirit in us. That is the singular requirement that God has of us. Anything beyond that is just leaves; but leaves are acceptable to God only if there is fruit in our lives.

The only way that I find in the Bible to bear fruit is to walk the strait and narrow road. It is to take the way of the cross, of self-denial in the Spirit. We can see that in the Book of Galatians, and elsewhere. When we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ, we bear much fruit in the Spirit.

That is why Paul refused to preach any other gospel except the revelation of the cross of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 2:2). He would not waste time preaching the gospels of prosperity and the blessings of God, for they could not bring a man to bear fruit in the Spirit. But Paul preached the singular gospel that would bring the church to maturity, the gospel of the cross.

[The power of God’s grace]

A Contrast – the Corinthian Church

This post stems from Paul’s words to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9.

Do you know what “contrast” means? For our purposes, let us use the word which my computer’s Thesaurus provides me with here, “dissimilarity”. In this post I want us to see how dissimilar the Corinthian church was to the Macedonian churches.

Talking of prosperity, let me point out at the very outset that at the time of Paul’s writing, the Macedonian churches were the richest entity on the face of the earth. At their time these were the richest people in the world. No earthly conglomerate existing today could boast even a whiff of the wealth that these churches had.

But, of course, it was wealth of a different kind altogether that these people had. It was the true heavenly riches, the riches of a gracious heart. It could well be that there were other equally spiritually rich churches, but we have no need to speculate.

But at the same time that these Macedonians were exhibiting such riches of the grace of God in their lives through their liberality, the Corinthian churches were exhibiting the exact opposite through their stinginess! I am sure that had the Corinthians been half as generous as the Macedonias were, 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 might never have been written!!

The Bible clearly says that the Macedonians were poor in worldly riches. But it does not say the Corinthians were poor. Nowhere does it indicate that these guys were anywhere near poor materially. On the contrary, history is replete with accounts of how rich the Corinthians were!

Moreover, after granting them salvation, God graciously blessed the Corinthian churches with every kind of spiritual gift. Paul affirms this in 1 Corinthians 1:4-7: 4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift…”

This church was bristling with the gifts of the Spirit, so much so that Paul even had to write and put order in that church with regard to the usage of these gifts! (1 Corinthians 14)

But alas! this church lacked the most important gift – the grace of God. It is incredible, but true. You can have all the gifts of the Holy Spirit and still lack in the most important gift of all, the gift of the grace of God upon your life. It is a contradiction of terms, but it certainly did occur with the Corinthians.

This fact manifested it self in their lives in the following manner: these guys had been promising – indeed, they had bound themselves – to give a financial gift, a certain amount of money, for the poor saints in Jerusalem. And yet, for a whole year, they had not parted with a single cent!

The Bible says that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. We can have every kind of spiritual gift working through us but still lack in the most important gift, the gift of the grace of God upon our lives. In today’s spiritual context, we highly regard men who work the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We are so enamored with the manifestations of these gifts! And yet, while it is true that these gifts are needful in church, it is clear from Paul’s words to the Corinthians that the greatest “gift” that we can have as believers is the Holy Spirit working in our lives to produce the character or grace of Christ in us. Paul tells the Corinthians: “Hey guys… just as you have been enriched in every kind of gift in the Spirit, including your love for us, may you also be enriched in the grace of giving” (2 Cor. 8:7, paraphrased).

Apparently, they needed to be “pushed” in some areas. That is not grace.

Actually, when it comes to ministry, 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 provide the clearest example of the practical application of grace in a preacher’s life. In these two chapters, the Apostle Paul finds himself confronted with a situation where apparently only law could work. But Paul was a man of grace! He therefore used every means possible, embedded here in these two long chapters, to cajole these hard Corinthians into living a life of grace.

Paul was a true spiritual father!

This goes to show that we cannot bring back the spirit of law into the church, however big the sin or infraction. We must go out of our way to make sure that whatever needs to be dealt with in church  is dealt with in a spirit of grace.

The way Paul dealt with these Corinthians gives his ministry great esteem in light of the gospel.

As for the rest of us, may we never forget that walking in grace is fulfilling the royal law, to love our neighbor as ourselves. The Bible says that the person who does this has fulfilled the whole law of God.

Loving our neighbor as ourselves, of course, demands that one deny their own self. That means we die. And, pray, what can you do with a dead person?

Need we say it again? Yes, we certainly do – that it is only at the cross where this grace can be found. When our lives are identified with Christ’s in His sufferings and death, when we are constantly (daily) denying our own self and taking up our cross and following Him, there will this grace be found in its fullness.

[Below: The spontaneity in the lives of children provides us with the clearest example of the grace of God]


The Humility of Jesus

49 And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.

50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us. Lk. 9:49-50

The disciples were highly displeased that someone – one outside their immediate grouping – could have the nerve to do what they were doing. They were so vexed they commanded him to desist from doing miracles in Jesus’ Name! Wonders!!

And when they came to Jesus they told Him, “We stopped that man from casting out demons in your name because he is not one of us”. Apparently, stopping that man was one of the highlights of their ‘ministry’!

But Jesus replied, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.”

Jesus said, “If that man is casting out demons in My name, then he is one of us. He is part of our team.”

The apostles were stunned. They must have always assumed that they had a monopoly over anything to do with Jesus, and here Jesus was telling them that it was okay for someone outside their circle to go and do what only they should have been doing!

Much of the time we are like these disciples of Jesus. When the flesh is alive in us we ascribe so much to ourselves, and we ascribe so little to others. And in any setting we are always careful to reserve the topmost rung of the ladder for ourselves!

But notice that this man was actually casting out demons in the name of Jesus. He was doing something completely spiritual. Unlike the sons of Sceva (Acts 19:14), there was no doubt that what this man had was from God. I am of the opinion that he was even doing more than the apostles were!

Jesus recognized  what this man was doing, and Jesus knew that He had a teammate in this man. Jesus was not about any groupings in the natural. Jesus’ group was in the Spirit.

Jesus demonstrated humility in His response here. Jesus was both God and man, and He came to earth as a man. As a man, therefore, He could have been tempted to question why this man was casting out demons without His authority. This was exactly what His disciples did.

But Jesus humbly accepted the ministry that He saw in this man. Jesus did not ask, “What denomination does this man come from?” Nor did he ask, “Has he been to Bible school?”. Or, “Does he have a licence?” (It was clear this man had never been ordained by anyone)

In fact, Jesus did not ask anything about this man.

When we recognize something of God in the Spirit, we dispense with all the outside baggage. It doesn’t matter what that person’s name is, nor where they come from. I am sure Jesus must have been thinking of His disciples, ‘Poor guys. How can you stop someone from doing something that has been granted him by God?’

This man (whose name is not even mentioned in the account) may not have been physically in Jesus’ team, but in the Spirit he was, and Jesus endorsed him.

Ministry is all about serving God in one spirit, and in unity of heart. If a brother is serving God in Spirit and in truth, don’t miss the opportunity to link up with him by emphasizing on outer trivialities.

The Corinthian church was very much taken up with outside appearances, and they were the worse for it. In fact, unbelievable as it may seem, these guys had a problem with Paul’s outer appearance. Apparently, Paul lacked some outer qualities that other “mighty men of God” had.

That reminds me of a visiting preacher who held a massive crusade in our town many years ago. This man was tall and handsome and extremely entertaining. When he strutted on stage, all the women in town, saved and unsaved, fell at his feet. (At the end of the meeting, he went off with one of them for, unbeknown to us, he was an adulterer of the worst kind).

Anyway, on his last meeting, which fell on a Sunday, our entire church walked out on our pastor, such was our thirst to be ministered to by this new charismatic preacher. I am not lying: the pastor was left alone in church together with my newly-wed wife, just the two of them. My wife had had a taste of the gospel of the cross before we married, and she would not be easily fooled.

I led the calvary charge in our quest to go and be “blessed”. We had no idea the fellow was a crook and that we were being conned in the Spirit. I thank God I went back to church and today I am still with my long-suffering pastor.

Paul asked the Corinthians, Do ye look on things after the outward appearance?” 2 Cor 10:7

If we look on things on the outside and are not humble enough to recognize and acknowledge the ministries in the Spirit, we will never build teams in the Spirit. Instead we will be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, and by the cunning of men, as the scriptures say.

[Below: A team of city cleaners sweep up a street in Dar es Salaam]