The Price

… but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. Rom. 16:19

Do you know the price you need to pay to fulfill this scripture? You will have to give up many, many things. God will see to that, if you allow Him.

Evil, as spoken of here, is synonymous with the flesh. In other words, we need to be simple when it comes to the flesh. That is what this scripture is saying. Scripture is warning us here that if you decide to answer this high spiritual calling, you will, without a shadow of doubt, arrive at a place where you will not only live without many of the trappings of this world, but where also people will view you – and probably call you to your face – as stupid, a simpleton, poor, classless, a fool. Today, many of my brethren from Africa are losing limb and life (and marriages and children) in the desperate bid to get to the West to escape the so-called hard life. But, with the gospel, the hard life is exactly what we have been called to. A true child of God will not fear to live the hard life, nor to be viewed as, or called, any of those negative things, for the sake of the gospel.

Today I want to narrate to you the story of Mzee (Old man) Mgoloka. Mzee Mgoloka was a beauty in the Spirit, and he died leaving behind a legacy that shook all our churches at Zion Gospel Assembly.

Mzee Mgoloka was an elder in our church in Shinyanga. But he lived an interesting spiritual life; simple, frugal and extremely down-to-earth. The man did not even own a bicycle.

But Mzee Mgoloka had a working son and one day this young man decided to buy his father a truck so his father could relaxedly earn some income. The truck came complete with a driver.

Early the next morning after the hand-over, the truck was driven out to begin ‘rolling in the money’. But it hadn’t been gone ten minutes, though, when Mzee Mgoloka received a phone call from the driver.

“Hello, Mzee, please rush to such and such a place, I’ve just encountered a problem.”

“What problem?” Mzee Mgoloka enquired with surprise.

“Oh, just a small problem with the traffic police, sir”, the driver answered.

Within minutes, Mzee Mgoloka arrived on the scene. He went straight to the driver and asked him, “What’s the problem?”

“Oh, nothing, sir, except I didn’t come with any money.”

“What money? Money for what?” enquired the old man.

“Er, well, you know the way it is with the roads, Mzee.”

Immediately, it struck Mzee Mgoloka that in owning this truck, he had just stepped onto a very narrow road; but it was not the strait and narrow road that he had read in the Bible. This was a narrow road of a different kind. And he knew exactly where it led to.

BUT Mzee Mgoloka also knew what he needed to do.

He walked up to the traffic officer and addressed him.

“Sorry, sir”, he said, “I understand there is a problem with my truck. Please, sir, kindly, please, I beg you… if you can forgive an old man like me only this once, I promise to not bother you again.”

The traffic officer was fascinated by the old man’s show of humility and, after thinking it through, he granted him his request and waved the truck through.

Mzee Mgoloka got into the truck with the driver. He instructed the driver to turn around and head for his son’s house. When they arrived, Mzee Mgoloka asked the driver for the truck’s keys. He then got out of the vehicle and purposefully walked into the house. Once inside, he called out to his son.

When the young man arrived, Mzee Mgoloka handed him the truck’s keys.

“Son”, he said, “I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the good thoughts you have had towards me in buying me this truck. But I have perceived that this truck will take me straight to hell. This truck will prevent me from entering heaven, and I cannot allow that. So, here are the truck’s keys. And I thank you very much.”

The old man turned around and walked out of his son’s compound and that was the end of the matter. Not too long afterwards, Mzee Mgoloka died and went to heaven. He died on a Sunday afternoon, right after he had delivered a sermon in church. It was one of the rare Sundays that he had gotten the opportunity to preach in church. No doubt, God wanted this spiritual major-general to bid a proper farewell to the church.

Such is the price that we will need to pay to get to heaven. Mzee Mgoloka’s example might appear extreme, but in reality it is not. Not at all. On the contrary, that’s the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s how the simple, ordinary life of a spiritual person ought to be lived. The notion that such a lifestyle is ‘extreme’ is what has spawned the prosperity gospel and all the other gospels that cater to the flesh.

To this day, Mzee Mgoloka’s legacy stands, and it stands tall.

It is the flesh that fears to lose. Fear of this life is driving many of God’s children to do many spiritually regrettable things. The flesh wants to be coddled, and to receive the things of this world. But the spiritual person does not fear to lose. Remember Jesus’ words:

“Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” (Lk. 17:33)

If we decide to cater to the Spirit, we must be prepared to lose. And, for some of us, we probably will need to lose more than what Mzee Mgoloka lost.

[Beginning today, for a while, I shall be posting here the old Hillsong gospel songs. They are timeless. I hope they will be a blessing to you]

 

Reflection

Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Rom. 12:16

One of the greatest lessons I have learned in life is how insignificant I really am.

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The Church Today…

1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. 2 Tim. 4:1-8

This entire portion of scripture ties in together.  When Paul tells Timothy:

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day”

he is telling him to do exactly what he did in order to receive what he will receive from God at his death. In other words, there is no other way for a preacher to fight the good fight than to do what Paul tells Timothy to do here, i.e., to

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (v.2); and to

“watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (v.5)

There is no short-cut to heaven.

More precisely, however, for our purposes today, let us zero in on verses 3 and 4; and, especially the phrase:

“For the time will come”.

In other words, the Apostle Paul is telling Timothy that it is not all times that people – God’s people – will turn their backs on sound doctrine in this manner. Even at the time when Paul was writing this there were false apostles, false prophets and all kinds of counterfeit preachers of the gospel. These people have been there throughout the entire history of the church, ever since Adam.

What Paul is talking of here is not a cranky preacher here and there; rather he is referring to something vastly monumental. He is referring to a time where the church as a whole (or at least most of it) will be overcome by the lusts of their flesh but, in order to keep a semblance of ‘church’, they will bring in preachers who will read from the Bible but who will preach/interpret scripture according to the lusts of the flesh. These preachers themselves will be men (and women) who have no heavenly agenda in them; their lives are centered on filling their bellies.

The Apostle here, by the power of the Holy Spirit, predicts a time in the future when God’s people will, wholesale and actively,

“not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (vs. 3-4)

The “they” Paul is talking of here is the church. The Bible explicitly says that God’s people will not endure sound doctrine! That’s incredible, to say the least.

Now, about the “time” that Paul is alluding to here. I very much doubt whether that “time” is not now. When you turn on Christian TV today, what do you see? Can you sincerely claim to find amongst all the teachings there any amount of preaching that has a bearing on the true gospel of Jesus Christ? Can you find there anything remotely related to Paul’s declaration in 1 Corinthians 2:2:

“And I, brethren, when I came to you… determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified”?

Sound doctrine is there, no doubt, but it is infinitesimal. Without a doubt, more than 90% of what you find on Christian TV are material, worldly teachings, much of it conveyed through so-called motivational teaching.

Even in third world countries like mine, all you hear on radio and television concerning the gospel is how to get rich or die trying; how to exorcise demons; tales of how people have been to hell (and heaven) and back; encounters with witches, etc. These are fables!

That means over 90% of the church is turning away from the truth and turning to fables.

I heard a preacher in the West say on TV, “Next is now!” She was preaching the false ‘new dimension/next level’ gospel.

I will take her phrase and use it here. The time Paul was talking of is now. At no other time have God’s people have had a sort of ‘herd mentality’ in running after materialistic teachings – “the good life”, etc.

That is why today – now – is the time to

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” and to

“watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

That is the way it has to be with us today.

The word “watch” here is filled with meaning. It means not just to watch in prayer, but it also refers to carefully living a Godly lifestyle.

These are the two things that will bring Christ back into a dying church, and a dying world.

[Below: The church today is not much different from these wrecked vehicles. But there is comfort in Jesus’ words: “I am the resurrection and the life”. Jesus can resurrect the church if we turn to Him and receive the revelation of the cross in our hearts]

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Paul – A Model of God’s Character

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. Phil. 4:9

How can this be? How can God allow such words by a man to be inscribed into His holy scriptures? The man is talking about himself here! Indeed, it would appear he is boasting.

But the Apostle Paul, who it is that is speaking here, was no mere man. And his boasting was no ordinary bragging. Everything that he wrote in the Bible was approved by the Holy Spirit before it was even written down.

At any rate, a person would have to be either grossly egoistic or painfully ignorant to even hint at downplaying the significance of a man whose writings God allowed to make up for more than half the entire New Testament. Not only so, but Paul was he who was chosen and commissioned by God to bring about the revelation of the gospel of God’s grace in its absolute entirety and clarity to the church. Were it not for Paul’s writings, we would not understand the gospel as we do today.

And yet, amazingly, neither of these two things comprises the most important fact about Paul. The most remarkable thing about the Apostle Paul is that he lived the words he wrote. In other words, he lived the very life he preached and, in so doing, Paul became a model of God’s character and God’s grace. This is the single most important thing that sets Paul apart.

Make no mistake: preaching the gospel is extremely important. But whatever we do for the gospel’s sake we do it to the end that men and women may change and live the gospel. Living the gospel is the single most important thing that God is looking for in our lives.

Now, living the gospel might sound easy – until God pries the scales from off your eyes and you discover there are not too many people who can quote Philippians 4:9 for themselves with any sense of conviction. I am sure you would need to search far and wide indeed to find a single person who can perfectly fit the words that Paul writes about himself here. This is not a judgment on anyone. But the Bible makes it abundantly clear that not many people are willing to accept the crucified life. If, on the other hand you can find a man or woman who lives such a life, you’ve hit gold. You will have found someone you can follow, for such a person will lead you to Christ. And Paul was such a man.

Actually, when it comes to talking about his life, Paul does so extensively in his epistles. But his is no ordinary talk. Every word that Paul wrote he wrote under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Today, we will consider just one scripture among many, where Paul talks about himself. This scripture is a goldmine.

“16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. 17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church. (1 Cor. 4:16-17)

Notice Paul talks of his “ways which be in Christ”.

“Ways”. What a strange word! I believe this speaks of his entire manner of life. His ways, he says were conducted “in Christ”!

I cannot comprehend the boldness that Paul had. For here he is telling the Corinthians that he will be sending Timothy to remind them of how he lived and walked among them according to the gospel of Jesus Christ that he preached to them. I wonder what Paul wanted them to remember about him?

Personally, there are many things that I as a preacher would wish people not to remember about me. Many times my ways were not “in Christ”, despite my belief to the contrary. May the Lord be merciful to me. But Paul’s ways were all in Christ and he had nothing to fear. What a price he must have paid to arrive at such boldness!

And it was not just to the Corinthians that Paul took his ways which were in Christ. It is recorded in the Bible that he took these same ways to all the churches that he set his foot in – “every where in every church”.

What an incredible feat this was in the Spirit! It is through such insights that we can begin to appreciate the greatness of this man, Paul, in the Spirit.

Unfortunately, people ‘export’ all kinds of things to God’s churches. A couple of decades ago, someone brought the ‘Toronto Blessing’ to Africa, and people were laughing in churches like crazy. Today, I do not hear of the ‘Toronto Blessing’ any more. Where did the ‘life’ of the ‘Toronto Blessing’ go? Why did the laughter, and the barking, and the drunkenness not endure? It is because these things were not “in Christ”; they were not of Christ. Whatever is not of Christ cannot endure the test of time.

But Paul’s life, which was in Christ, and which he lived thousands of years earlier, is still with us. And it gets sweeter and more powerful the more we get to know it.

Paul did not go ‘slaying people in the Spirit’ in the churches. Rather, he took to them his ways which were in Christ, and these endured. And they will endure to the end.

Unfortunately, false doctrines like the ‘Toronto Blessing’ and other deviant doctrines are all that most preachers can bring to God’s people. The result is that, at the very least, believers are not taught the cross, they have no example to look up to, and they end up living a grace-less life. At the end of all the hype, they find themselves fighting a losing battle against depression, anger, pride, envy, lust, division and every work of the flesh because in essence these believers are products of preachers who have no “ways” of Christ in them.

Even worse, however, is that these doctrines damage people spiritually in other, more sinister ways.

Much too many preachers today have nothing of Christ in their lives to show to God’s people.

Today, God is looking for preachers who will bring their “ways which be in Christ” to the churches.

To be fair, the ‘Toronto Blessing’ caught God’s people when there was no spiritual father in the church. But that has been the problem of the church throughout history: the lack of a spiritual father within the church. In such an atmosphere, anything goes.

The church’s spiritual father is the apostle, and the apostle reveals the crucified Christ to the church. He does this through showing them his ways which are in Christ!

The challenge to us, the church, is that exactly what Paul says here – a life lived “in Christ” – should be what every preacher and every believer have to say of themselves. This is the core of our salvation: the life we live, the words we speak, the spiritual deposit we impart to others; and the way we relate to people, especially believers. This can only be a life founded upon the revelation of the cross in a person’s life. When we are crucified with Christ, Christ lives and proves His works in us, as He did in Paul’s life. Paul makes this clear 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.”

Notice, “the life which I now live in the flesh…”

We ought, first and foremost, to ask ourselves the question: What kind of life do I live?

We can only live a life of grace and true holiness when we have crucified our flesh on the cross. Any other way is mere religion and it will not produce spiritual fruit in our lives.

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]

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Suffering – Gateway To Life

29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me. Phil. 1:29-30

I am a vain man. I tend, for example, to believe that my wife is the greatest woman in the entire universe. For once though, despite my overblown vanity, I could be right on this one. From reading the Word of God and from experience I am absolutely certain that my wife is one of the most excellent women in the world. To me she is Ruth, she is Esther, she is Abigail – all wrapped in one. I couldn’t provide a better description of her than Proverbs 31. She fits it like a glove. Her price is, undoubtedly, far above rubies.

I feel extremely blessed and somehow even over-favored by God to have Flo as my wife. She has enriched my life in many different ways. Above all, she has enabled us to have a stable and fulfilling marriage. I realize that having her for a wife is one way of God telling me, “I love you”. He is so caring, loving and faithful!

There are many men, though, even fellow brethren, who are not as blessed as I am in their marriages. They have suffered in many different ways through their marriages. One of my brothers, a fellow minister, has had the most difficult marriage imaginable for close to 30 years! The bad news is that the problem has only grown worse with time. The man is no angel, of course, but I know his heart. His wife, on the other hand, is an intractable, unyielding and unforgiving woman.

Another one of my friends hadn’t yet tasted what marriage was about before his wife began wearing a complete “full suite” to bed. She would even wear hard-core shorts, complete with a lockable Rambo-style belt – to bed!!

I used to feel sorry these and other people who were suffering in their marriages. I would think in my heart: ‘Poor folks! I am so blessed to have such a wonderful wife.’

And then, one day, the Lord showed me something that changed my whole outlook of the situation. He showed me that it is not having a spiritual wife that constitutes a blessing. The true blessing, He revealed to me, is when I am taking my cross and following Jesus.

God showed me that even though He may have blessed me with the sweetest wife on the planet, it did not mean that He was going to let me off the hook when it came to suffering for Christ. My faith may be working well in my marriage, but there were other areas where it would be tested. God would use other areas in my life to try out whether I was fully obedient to him. It is so easy to exercise our faith only in the small, painless areas of our lives. But we cannot serve God half-heartedly. God wants our entire lives to be submitted to His will. And in this regard, God is not short of areas to work in in our lives!

Whatever the case is, God will make sure that I arrive at a place where I will be confronted by the cross of Christ. Christianity is not there just for me to enjoy myself. Sure, God will allow me to enjoy myself in many areas. But in my relationship with God, my becoming a spiritual person is of far greater importance than my earthly enjoyment of His favors. Above everything else, God wants me to be spiritual and to live a spiritual lifestyle. But this spiritual lifestyle can only be attained when I am constantly crucifying my flesh and its desires. For this reason, God will make sure to bring obstacles in my life to club spiritual sense into my life. In other words, God will confront my carnal nature.

God may not use my wife, but He could use my children, or my neighbor, or a situation at my workplace. God could also use a financial situation. He could make me rich or He could make me poor, to test me. God could even use my pastor! Or He could use persecution. God can use anything. Many times we do not know what He intends to use. The one thing that is sure is that if I am called of God, He will put a stumbling block in my life just to block out all the carnality in my life.

That is why, much as I have no complaints in my marriage, still I must carry the mind of Christ and be ready to suffer in many other areas of my life. This suffering, as we just noted, comes in the form of confrontation. God uses situations or people to confront us in our different carnal ways. How we react is the most important thing with God. Do we humble ourselves or do we hold onto our rights? The one reaction holds life, and the other means death. We must choose wisely.

I can tell you from experience that it is not easy to choose to humble ourselves. It is not easy to choose life! But I am learning – sometimes step by step, like a baby – to walk the strait and narrow road.

God calls me to arm myself with the mind of Christ. For this reason I must watch my attitude, not just towards my wife but towards other situations also. That is why I must have the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ is a mind of humility. With a mind of humility, I can give God the glory by humbling myself in every situation and allowing Him to break the things that come from my human folly and pride.

That was the struggle that Paul had. Paul had no wife, good or bad, to deal with. Yet Paul suffered in many other areas of his life. Flesh is flesh. God had many areas to deal with in Paul’s life.

The joy of having a loving wife is that, after I have come from a day out working the “conflict” that Christ has set out before me, I can go back home to warm, welcoming arms, a beautiful smile, and a deeply loving and caring heart. That’s Flo.

[Below: Vain me with my Flo]

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“… Up Where We Belong”

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Eph. 1:3

Notice in the above portion of scripture how God’s Word looks only upwards! That’s so powerful. The writer of this epistle could have chosen to look downwards. He could have chosen to talk about all the earthly blessings that we have in Christ. But he chose to look up. He chose to consider the spiritual blessings that we have in Christ. In his discourse he chose to ignore the physical and material blessings of this world.

God, our father, desires to take us up. That is where we belong as His children. He wants us to partake of His spiritual blessings and His spiritual Kingdom. That is our inheritance as His children. And yet, too many believers today have their sights set on the physical and material blessings of this world. Even when the Lord has begun “a good work” in us (Phil. 1:6) it is the most difficult thing for believers to appreciate the spiritual nature of our calling.

But our calling is spiritual. That is why the Bible says:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”

It does not say, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual and material blessings in Christ”. That would be true, of course, since God is the God of all blessings, both physical and spiritual. But the Bible in every place makes a distinction between the physical and the spiritual; between the temporal and the eternal. Whatever is temporal will one day pass away. You could not, for example, take your car with you to heaven, even if it was a blessing that was hand-delivered to you by God Himself. When you go to heaven, your beautiful car will be left to rust here on earth. But in heaven you will find love, a spiritual blessing. That is the stark contrast.

The church should therefore focus on God’s “spiritual blessings”. If the Bible can take the time and the effort and the space in its hallowed pages to include the word “spiritual”, I believe we should pay heed to what it is trying to tell us. It could even be a warning. Today you rarely hear the term “spiritual blessings” used in church. You just hear of “blessings”. Everything, the physical and the spiritual, is lumped together.

But if you read the entire Book of Ephesians and, indeed, every other book of the New Testament, you will not find much talk about physical or material blessings. The Bible, especially the New Testament, talks of many things, and nearly all of them have to do with the inner man of the spirit and the work of the cross that is needed to bring about a transformation in his character.

We must once again learn to hear from the Holy Spirit. For the world, riches comprise of material wealth. For the spiritual person, the Bible tells us what comprises true riches:

“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).

For the church the true riches are “Christ in you”!

Jesus comes to live in us when we accept Him by faith; and when through that same faith we become partakers of the death of Christ through an understanding of the cross, we become partakers of His resurrection life. The life of Christ in us means we can exhibit, right here on earth, the character of Christ. And this is the whole purpose of the gospel.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23).

These characteristics form the true spiritual blessings that the Bible talks about. Their formation in us is the top priority with God. It is the character that Christ had when He was here on earth, and it is the same character that we will find Him with in heaven. In other words, these are the things that last, for God never changes.

Many believers will be deceived by worldly-minded preachers and worldly-minded gospels. They will be led to prioritize the blessings of this world over the things that would mature their spirits and make them partakers of true “spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”.

But God wants us to move on to perfection in the Spirit (1 Col. 1:28).