The Church’s One Foundation

10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation… 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 3:10-11

Let me begin by trying to get your attention. Let me begin by stating that the foundation of the church is weakness and foolishness.

I am so glad I was able to state that.

Every structure has to have a foundation. Actually, every thing has a foundation. But it cannot just be any foundation. The firmer the foundation, the easier and more securely the structure which is built on that foundation will rest. The structures or things that we see in the natural that have been built by God are unspeakably secure. We see them: the planets and galaxies in the cosmos; the sun and the stars. They are immovable. Even the mighty ocean cannot overcome the boundaries that God has set for it, even though all the world’s rivers, both mighty and small, have been flowing into it for thousands of years.

One can add so many things to this list. All these things have a foundation, and it is this foundation that makes them secure and immovable.

This is incomparably more so in the Spirit. If God can secure His creation in the natural to the extent that we see with our natural eyes, how much more would He do for the things of the Spirit, which are of far much more value to Him? You can therefore imagine just how strong the foundations of the things of the Spirit are. Chief amongst these things – the thing He values above all – is the gospel. This is the singular thing which God was willing to give His Son to die for.

(Don’t you think that for this reason we ought to take a moment to reflect and thank God that it was for us that He did this incredible act of selflessness.)

The gospel  of Jesus Christ has a foundation, thank God!! And what, pray, is this foundation?

It is Jesus Christ Himself, Christ crucified. The minute you remove the word “crucified” you have removed the foundation from under the gospel, and that gospel will crumble like a card of sticks.

Thankfully, “Christ crucified” was the foundation that the Apostle Paul lay in the Corinthian church when he first preached the Good News to them. When Paul uses the words “wise masterbuilder” to describe himself, he is not seeking after our accolades. Rather, he is stating a spiritual fact which is so important for the church. He is stating the wisdom of God.

Paul directed the Corinthians to the cross. He told them to accept sufferings for the gospel’s sake, and to crucify self, to the end that the life of Christ might be found in them.

“1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:1-2)

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

Paul told the Corinthians to accept to become weak, and foolish. What a challenge! But the Corinthians rose up to it, and Paul left behind a strong, holy and united church in Corinth. Everyone had surrendered their lives to Christ.

What a strong foundation the Apostle Paul had laid! For as long as the Corinthians stood on this foundation, they were safe and secure. Since they had denied themselves and taken up their cross, it was the easiest thing for them, in everything, to find themselves standing together “in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10).

Wow! What a testimony!

It is not easy for any number of people to stand together “in the same mind and in the same judgment”. Human nature simply cannot allow that. But with God all things are possible. With “Christ crucified” firmly enthroned in our hearts, it is so much possible!

But not long after Paul left them, the Corinthians began listening to other doctrines and teachings. Probably they heard the gospel of prosperity, who knows? Or a gospel of law and prescriptions. They could have heard any number of strange gospels. But it is clear they were no longer adhering to the gospel that Paul left them with, “Christ crucified”. For this reason, they came off the foundation of the cross.

And now they were no longer secure! Now there was war, fraction, and every kind of evil work amongst them.  They had come off the only secure place God had given them; the revelation of the cross in their hearts had been darkened. And now they were on another, different foundation, which was fast crumbling.

The church today cannot expect to become spiritual without this revelation in our hearts. There is no other way, and there is no shortcut. The words of the Apostle Paul, backed by the authority of God:

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

It is a foundation of weakness and foolishness… weakness and foolishness with Christ.

[True unity in church can only come about through a revelation of the cross in our hearts]

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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]

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The Attributes Of God

23 Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord. Jer. 9:23-24

This is a big one…

But, before we start… We have to realize that every word written in the Bible is written to believers, not to unbelievers. The Bible is the believer’s handbook. The words above, therefore, written by the Prophet Jeremiah, were written to the church, not to unbelievers. And the way these words are written suggest that here, right in the church, in the Body of Jesus Christ, there are believers who are boasting in all kinds of things which God never thought that a child of His would boast in.

There are believers boasting in their wisdom. Have you ever heard of people called motivational speakers? In church, I mean. They talk all kinds of lofty things and they have all these grand ideas of how you can achieve practically anything you want to achieve and how you can basically become anything and anyone you want to become. You would think they work for The American Dream, Inc. But motivational speakers are just a small part of this large group of wise men and women.

There are believers boasting in their might. I heard one owner of a Christian denomination in a neighboring country tell his bishops, “Any bishop who does not respect my wife I will throw out of my church. This time I will show you my power.” These are powerful men. They have lawyers and all kinds of musclemen who will do their bidding at any cost.

In my country, there are preachers who have all kinds of titles on them, ranging from “Transformer” to “Caterpillar” (equated to the famed heavy earth-moving machinery), to “Chief”. A little further down south we have the Major, of course.

All these self-given titles talk of earthly (not spiritual) might.

There are believers boasting in their riches. Have you ever heard the gospel called the gospel of prosperity? God’s Word hits the nail on the head with this one. The people who subscribe to this gospel are many and they flaunt their wealth about “in the Name of Jesus”.

There are a million and one ways that God’s people use to show off their “godliness”, or how much they “know” God. In addition to the few we have mentioned above, there are all kinds of circuses (real ones) going on in church today. People vibrate, pole vault, and do all kinds of gymnastics in church, all geared towards making a statement about their “knowledge” of God. Some preachers are capable of roaring like lions, with devastating effect upon their blind, terror-filled followers.

As I said, man is capable of doing a million and one things to try and convince people – and God, hopefully – that God is on his side.

But God is not in any of these groups. God does none of those things. In fact, notice how humble – and simple – God is. He states simply that He exercises

“lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth”.

Just in case you are tempted to think that those are lofty, unattainable ideals, the answer is no. They are simple, everyday principles which every believer in Jesus Christ can practicably attain to.

In the Swahili Bible, the word “lovingkindness” is translated “goodness”. How so clean and simple! Goodness is the opposite of evil, or maliciousness. It means not doing evil to your fellow man, only good.

God is simply good. His goodness has no strings attached to it.

“Judgment” speaks of a lack of favoritism.

“Righteousness” talks of not sinning against God.

All these are the simplest things that a child of God can do. And the Bible says that these are the things that please God. Not those other things which we saw so forcefully put forward in church.

But we must realize that we can attain to doing the things that please God only when our flesh is crucified; when we are crucified with Christ, as the Apostle Paul says of himself in Galatians 2:20:

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

[Goodness is doing no ill to your fellow man, only good]

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Fear Not!!

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want… Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Ps. 23:1,4

One of the greatest blessings that is afforded to us as children of God is the blessing to NOT FEAR. In a world driven and controlled by fear, we can look danger in the eye and not experience the slightest fear. Why?

David says,

“… for thou art with me.”

I love that. God is with us!

Many times in midst of life’s challenges we fail to believe that God is with us. We think that we are alone and for this reason fear fills our hearts. But here we see David passing through the toughest challenge possible – walking through the valley of the shadow of death – and he says he will fear no evil.

Notice that David does not say, “I will face no evil.” Rather, he says, “I will fear no evil.”

Modern-day preachers try to teach people to not face evil. They teach that evil will not touch you if you are a child of God. They tell their followers, for example, “Take this holy water and sprinkle it around your house, and no evil will befall you”; or, “Put this sticker photo of the man of God on your car and you will not get an accident.”

Churches that teach an evil-less world are packed to capacity. People will always love these kinds of gospels because they go easy on the flesh. But David did not preach that. Rather, he expected evil to come; but he knew God was with him, and that He would protect him under His shadow.

Is it not wonderful that we can live without fear in a world full of storms? The storms of life will come. Better still, is it not just so wonderful to know that God is with us and especially so in times of our deepest challenges? God will preserve us.

We should all thank and praise God for this grace.

[“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.” – Ps. 4:8)

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Doing Only Good Sets Us Free!

God can afford to be free because He is love. What does that mean?

It means God does only good. When someone does only good, they are completely free. But when we are unable to do only good, we are not free.

God is love and love does only good. That is why the Bible says,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Jn. 3:16)

Imagine that goodness!!

When Jesus was here on earth, the Pharisees and other religious leaders tried to prevent Him from doing good. They tried to prevent Him by using scriptures which they did not understand.

But Jesus was love and for this reason He was free to do whatever He wanted to because whatever He did He did only out of love.

So Jesus healed people on the Sabbath despite prostestations by the priests not to ‘work’ on the Sabbath. He sat with lepers, tax collectors and was ministered to by former harlots. Nothing could deter Jesus from doing good. He was free in His spirit, for He was love.

That is why we need the revelation of the cross in our hearts, so that we can deny ourselves and live lives that conform perfectly to the will of God. Conforming to the will of God means doing only good, something which our fleshly nature is simply incapable of. The fact is that the cross is the only power that can crucify the flesh and bring about God’s perfect will in our lives. The Bible says of the flesh:

“7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8:7-8)

For this reason, therefore, the Apostle Paul had only one message:

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

Moreover, he tells the Corinthians,

“1 And I, brethren, when I came to you… 2 I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:1-2)

The cross sets us free from the power of the flesh. When we are free of the flesh, we can be as loving, and hence free, as Christ was.

[The cutest niece in the world!]

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God’s Hidden Purpose – Part 1

8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Christ Jesus: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Eph. 3:8-11

So much to contemplate here, so I will make this post a series.

Notice, first, how Paul perceived himself.

“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given…”

This was no false humility. This was Paul! Paul dared not consider himself anything above what he states here. “The least of all the saints…” he said of himself. Such humility simply takes your breathe away.

And yet, unbeknown to us, God through Paul was stating exactly who He gives His grace to. The Apostle James put it out in black and white.

“God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (Jam. 4:6)

Let a man not just mouth the words, but let him live that life, and God has material to work with. And, y’know, people think that where the big crowds are, that’s where God is at. Oh, please! No one could possibly pull in bigger crowds than the devil. The Bible tells us that “many” there be that follow the way that leadeth to destruction (Mat. 7:13). If we are talking about a mega-church, the devil has the largest.

On the other hand, “few” find the way to eternal life.

The Church, Christ’s Bride, His Body, is like a diamond. Rare. And the men whom God puts in charge of His Church are even rarer. God cannot give anything but His best for His Church. The men whom God has put on earth to birth and nurture the Church are therefore the best of the best. They are called apostles.

The Bible firmly declares,

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

The apostles are the best of the best.

That is why the Apostle Paul could make such a claim:

“Unto me… is this grace given”.

Why?

Ha! Simply because he was the best. And Christ gives His Body, the Church, the best.

[“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” – Eph. 5:25]

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