From Basic Principles to the Cross

1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

3 And this will we do, if God permit.

4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:

8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.

10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:

12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Heb. 6:1-12

The meaning of this scripture is clear: the church must move on, on to maturity. It must not remain forever teaching the Christian basic principles of “baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.”

The Bible says we must leave these. Moreover, the Bible relates our dwelling on these principles as a recipe for sinning against God. How is that so? Because these are basic principles in Christianity, and if we are not taught anything else beyond these, we will remain spiritual babes all our lives; and spiritual babes cannot stop sinning against God. If we do not progress beyond these principles, we shall be prone to constantly sin against God. And if we keep sinning, we risk dying spiritually.

7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: 8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

However, if we move on to maturity by being taught and holding onto the doctrine of maturity: “Jesus Christ and him crucified”, we shall arrive at the place where we are not sinning any more, and this is God’s perfect will for our lives. This was the doctrine that the early apostles taught in every church. This was the doctrine of which the Apostle Paul bound himself to know, and nothing else.

“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2).

This was the doctrine that he taught the Corinthians and it made them to stop walking after the flesh and to begin walking in the Spirit (1 Corinthians chapters 2 and 3).

In the absence of this doctrine, the church quickly reverts to the flesh, for the power of God is no longer operating in their midst. The Bible declares that the doctrine of the cross is the power and wisdom of God.

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18)

“23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. 1:23, 24)

That is why a believer should move on from the church he started in if it continues preaching the same doctrine into his 20th year. Some churches never change their teachings. There are some churches and ministries which are actually dedicated to teaching principles like faith in God, and they have been teaching faith and nothing else for decades.

In mainstream Pentecostalism, the basic teaching is – and should be – that God is love. That we are God’s children, and that all God wants to do is to bless us. That is the doctrine of faith, and we should believe it. But we ought to move on.

The Pauline epistles clearly indicate that, after we have been taught the basic principles of Christianity, we should move on and be taught to deny self, to take up our cross and follow Christ. That is the only way we are going to grow into spiritual maturity and:

  1. Stop forever acting like babies and become responsible heavenly subjects; and
  2. Walk in the perfection of God by not sinning against Him.

After the initial act of salvation, God has another work to do in us. We cannot be forever singing, “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good”. That can only be acceptable with God if we are doing God’s will in our lives. But we all know that doing God’s will cannot be accomplished by singing “God is good” all our lives. The Bible says:

“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…” (1 The. 4:3)

We must move on from learning these principles and begin doing God’s will by dealing with our flesh.

This is the purpose of this blog. This blog is dedicated to teaching the church the doctrine of the cross of Jesus Christ. Not that I, the writer, consider myself to be anything. I am nothing. But God has an agenda which He desires to communicate to us, His children. The Apostle Paul wrote:

“Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.” (1 Cor. 15:11)

It does not matter the person through whom we receive this message: it is the Holy Spirit, after all, who delivers it. The important thing on our part is that we believe it.

[God’s Word directs us to move on to maturity through the revelation of the cross in our hearts]

image141241

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]

The Cross For Our Maturity

12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.

14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. Gal. 6:12-15

When people hear the world “persecution” they immediately conjure up images of beheadings and other forms of cruel mistreatment for the Christian believer by the world. Indeed, it is a stirring statement on the phenomenal times that we are living in, that we are witnessing these things happening right before our eyes and, moreover, that we, too, could become subjected to such suffering.

However, that fact notwithstanding, the word “persecution” as used by scripture here talks of something more: it denotes the entire process of the uprooting of the “world” from the believer’s life. The “world” is the carnal, sinful nature that resides in man.

Uprooting this system in us is what the gospel is all about, at least in our earthly context. If we are to be effective for God, then we must get serious with God. Otherwise, we will end up entertaining people, thinking we are serving God. We will unwittingly end up as one big entertainment industry.

Notice, in verse 12 above: “… lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.”

The cross of Christ is revealed in our lives for only one purpose: in order that we might suffer for the gospel’s sake. In other words, the cross brings suffering. There was a time the cross was taught as a final restingplace for all our earthly troubles, but that’s not true. Here the Bible says “…suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.” “Suffering” should be a word that is central to a believer’s life.

The Bible states categorically in 2 Tim. 3:12: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

In Philippians 1:29 also we read: “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake…”

And Jesus did say: “I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?” (Lk. 12:49)

According to the liberal gospels making the rounds today, it is like Jesus brought a fire engine to put out the fires that Satan had started upon the earth: the fire of disease, the fire of poverty, the fire of this and that. But the Bible has news for us. Jesus came to light the actual fire, and we better be prepared to burn!!

Disease, poverty and all the things that these other gospels talk about are all things that have to do with the outer man. But the true gospel of Jesus Christ deals with the deep things of our hearts.

The true believer, who walks on the narrow road of the cross, will tell you how much of a conflict they find themselves facing for the gospel’s sake, and that much of it comes from deep within themselves. The cross does not come to coddle us. And neither, for anyone’s sake, will the cross ever be ‘politically correct’ with the world. The world is Christ’s sworn enemy, and if the world is alive in us, Christ is ready to march in and engage it if we will only allow Him to.

The Bible says,

“15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 Jn. 2:15-16)

This scripture is central in our fight for the gospel’s sake. Think about “the pride of life”, for example. How much does the cross need to work in our hearts to uproot “the pride of life” in us?

I am sure a lot of “persecution” is needed for this to happen.

And how about “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes”? Have you, through experience, not found that these things demand that our lives be immediately ordered into the “strait and narrow” way that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7:13-14?

We cannot deceive God, nor should we deceive ourselves. We need to change! Indeed, we ought to be grateful for the cross of Christ. Where would we be without it?… and I am not just referring to the initial act of salvation but, even more importantly, for this that Paul is talking of here – the transforming and maturing of our characters – that we might be worthy to be called sons and daughters of God.

Now, notice in Galatians 6, that many in Paul’s day who claimed to be followers of Christ were actually people who would not allow the cross into their lives. They made loud proclamations and did many outward acts (like circumcision) to prove their adherence to the gospel, but in their hearts they had put a “STOP” sign to the work of the cross in their lives.

Loving the world comes in hundreds of different ways.

When one is walking on the wide and broad way of the flesh, they will never allow the cross to touch them. But when a believer decides to follow Christ on the strait and narrow road, the cross will confront them. This confrontation brings a transformatiton in their lives.

What I love about the Apostle Paul was that he welcomed the cross into his life. Indeed, this is the real difference between a spiritual Christian and a carnal one: one can allow the cross to work in him, and the other will not, no matter they are saved.

But the Apostle Paul would only glory in the cross. For what purpose?

“… by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

We could paraphrase Paul’s words here thus: “… by whom sin is crucified to me, and I to sin”.

Wow! I love that with all my heart. I root for that. Don’t tell me about a “great man of God”; instead, show me a man or woman who has crucified their lives for the gospel’s sake! That I will consider. That is the singular man who can keep God’s law. The gospel came that we might keep God’s law.

Christ said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Mat. 5:17)

This is what the gospel is all about – fulfilling God’s law. The only way any man can keep God’s law is to have the “world” uprooted from him. And it was revealed to the Apostle Paul and the other apostles that the only thing that could do that uprooting was the cross of Christ. (Eph. 3:1-5).

We cannot claim to be serious with God if we are not keeping His law. By extension, this means  that we cannot claim to be serious with God if we are not walking fully in the revelation of the cross of Christ. The two go together; there is not one without the other.

Should we fail to submit ourselves under the pruning work of the cross of Christ, we shall turn the church into a circus. Today, the church has become a laughingstock for the world in many ways, because of its lack of seriousness in portraying the life of Christ to the world. Indeed, it cannot do so, for it has rejected the cross of Christ. It is slowly turning into the greatest circus the world has ever seen.

But that need not be so. We can turn things around, for there is balm in Gilead! By crucifying our flesh, our lives shall impact the world in a big way, as Jesus affected the world through His death on the cross. We see Paul and the other apostles doing the same by crucifying their lives with Christ’s. Their lives are legendary.

But, even more importantly, when we thus crucify our lives on the cross, we shall be ready to meet our Lord when we finally face Him in heaven!

The Price for Spiritual Maturity

21 And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.

22 And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.

23 And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.

24 But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side.

25 And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall: and he smote her again.

26 And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.

27 And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.

28 And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?

29 And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.

30 And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay.

31 Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.

32 And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me:

33 And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive. Num. 22:21-33

Now, what in Hades was this donkey thinking, trying the patience of this great, anointed man of God? Apparently – and luckily for her – the prophet’s bodyguards were not armed, otherwise this particular donkey would have been shot immediately.

But Balaam was a blind prophet. Now, mind, he was a prophet all right, and he could prophesy all that the Lord told him to. But on another even more important level, he was blind. There are many great servants of God who will forfeit their due heavenly reward simply because they were blind to what God wanted to do in their lives.

Spiritual blindness made Balaam not to realize what his ass was doing. For, far from intending evil upon his master, we find out later that the donkey was instead focused on saving him!

I heard the true story of an airplane passenger who kept grumbling about this and that on the plane. When the plane hit a violent turbulence at a high attitude the stewardess approached the man, handed him his seatbelt and asked him to fasten it. The man threw off the belt in anger, let off some steam on the stewardess and stayed put, belt-less. Suddenly, a side door near him blew open with a loud explosion, and this man was instantly sucked out from his seat by the air pressure, never to be seen again.

When we are not seeing in the Spirit, we lash out at the circumstances that seem to come against us. That was what Balaam – and this airplane passenger – did. They did not know that the very circumstances that seemed to chafe them the wrong way were actually set by God to save them. The angel told Balaam:

“… the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive” (vs. 32-33)

That is us. Much of the time we impatiently rush at situations, and there die. We rage and huff and attack the very situation that has come to deal with our carnal nature. But the very situations that were contrary to us in the eyes of our flesh are more likely than not the situations that are working for our spiritual good. Had Balaam known this, he would not have struck his donkey. But because his ways were “perverse” before the Lord, he was spiritually blind, and he could not see in the Spirit.

God is in control of everything. He it is who allows every situation into our lives. Even if a sword were to be raised against us, still God would be in perfect control of that situation.

Whenever I find myself displeased at any situation, I have come to know that it is not the situation that is not right, but it is my heart that is. At that particular moment, I always know that something is not right in my heart. God was in that difficult situation, trying to save me spiritually; but my hard and rebellious heart “kicked against the pricks”, as it were (Acts 9:5).

That is why the gospel is all about obedience. Now, you cannot obey if you have a rebellious heart, can you? That is why we need humble hearts, that we might allow God to craft His handiwork in us and make us true sons and daughters in the Spirit through the cross.

[Below: God wants to form us into mature sons and daughters in the Spirit]

Image10166

The Price for Spiritual Relationships – Part 1

26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
Jn. 19:26-27

I will divide this post into two parts, and in each part I will discuss a particular aspect of the above scripture.

I would not think that Jesus was an emotional person. Jesus would not do things just because it gave Him goose bumps. I am sure He did everything perfectly, maturely in the Spirit.

And so, as Jesus was about to depart from this world, He committed His mother to the disciple He loved. From that time forth, that disciple was to be Jesus’ mother’s son. And she was to be his mother.

In other words, Jesus set the who is who in this relationship, in the Spirit. He defined, clearly, His mother and that disciple’s relationship in the Spirit. It was to be a son/mother relationship, in the Spirit.

In 1 Timothy 5:1-2 Paul writes, “1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; 2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.”

This is the relationship that Jesus was setting between his mother and this disciple. Jesus’ mother now had a spiritual pastor! Oh, for the church to arrive there!

Do you think that Jesus loved His mother? I believe He did – incredibly so. And He gave her the only gift He knew was worthy of such love: He sought for her a spiritual relationship.

Jesus did not call over the richest man in church and tell him, “Make sure my mom moves around in the best-chauffeured Rolls-Royce!”

Jesus also had other brothers and sisters in the flesh and He could have committed His mother to any one of them. But He did not. On the contrary, He committed His mother to the disciple whom He loved. And you can be sure that when the Bible says “whom he loved” it is talking in the Spirit, not in a carnal, emotional sense.

I am sure that Jesus did not have an emotional relationship with the disciple He loved. If the Bible says Jesus loved this man, it is because He knew him in the Spirit and He knew what he carried in his heart.

The disciple “whom (Jesus) loved” was a man that Jesus could identify with and acknowledge in the Spirit.

I love the fact that Jesus committed His mother to the disciple “whom he loved”. There is no place for emotional, carnal relationships in the gospel of Jesus Christ. There can only be spiritual relationships. The church needs to grow and become mature in the Spirit. That way, we will build spiritual instead of emotional relationships. We will know who is who in the Spirit.

Spiritual relationships are not ‘feel-good’ relationships. They are relationships whereby we consciously know the road we and those we are united with are walking on.

Knowing God… Food for Thought

1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…

It is a fact that the men of old who knew God did not recognize him in the miracles He performed, important as these were in announcing His presence and power. The clearest example of this is Elijah who, as we saw in 2 of my earlier posts (“Take Up Your Cross And Follow Christ” and “We Are Dead Men!”), the wind, the earthquake and the fire came but he did not move from his position. No manifestation of God’s power would budge Elijah from seeking to know God for who He truly was. Praise God for that! That is the mark of a truly spiritual person.

When finally Elijah heard God’s “still small voice”, then it was that he went out to meet Him.

Remember many of these prophets were men through whom God worked many mighty miracles. But, apparently, in their spirits they saw something much, much bigger than the miracles they were performing!

What was it that these men saw that was a far greater wonder than the mighty miracles that God did in their day? They saw Jesus. But they did not see any Jesus. (Right here let me say that it is sad how today’s Christians seem not to know the Bible: the Apostle Paul warns us of “another Jesus”, “another spirit” and “another gospel” (2 Cor.11:4); and yet God’s children swallow anything as long as it has the name ‘Jesus’ attached to it. The church needs to be able to discern! There are ‘Jesus’s’ galore in the world today, and spirits and gospels, and they are deceiving God’s people).

But these men of old saw a suffering Jesus, and from this suffering Jesus they saw an indescribable glory that awed them in their visions and dreams. 1 Peter 1:10-11 says: “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”

And for them, if the indescribable glory they had seen was in a suffering Christ, then that was where God was, too! In a hazy understanding of the glory that would be there in the New Covenant, they came to an understanding that God was not anywhere else except in His Son Jesus, whom He would give to suffer and die as a propitiation for the sins of the world.

We too – indeed, more so – cannot, and should not attempt know God except through a relationship with Christ “and him crucified”. The Apostle Paul makes that clear in 1 Corinthians 2:2. That “him crucified” means identifying our lives with His suffering and death. Anything else is “another Jesus”.

In light of Hebrews 1:2, the voice that Elijah heard was the voice of Jesus. In other words, Elijah received a revelation of Jesus just as we too have received. And in waiting until he had heard God’s “still small voice” before he went out to meet Him, Elijah was not only displaying his maturity in his understanding of God, but he was also foreshadowing what would happen under the New Covenant: “God… hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son”.

Both what Elijah saw and what the writer of Hebrews is speaking of there are one and the same thing: it was a revelation of the crucified Christ.

Do you know that Jesus came to earth and spoke? Yes, He did, and He spoke many things. You can find His words, verbatim, in the gospels of Matthew through John. God made it is so much easier for us to know exactly what Jesus had spoken to the Old Testament prophets by writing Jesus’ words down right there in the Bible.

It wasn’t so easy for the Old Testament prophets. What a grace we have today, and are we aware of it?

God spoke through the apostles in the early church, men who had come to know Christ through identifying their lives with His sufferings and death; and He is still speaking today through the apostleship ministry of such men. These are the men whom God has given the responsibility to reveal Christ to the church. These are men who talk of the cross of Christ, because Jesus talked of the cross above everything else.

When we lack the revelation of what Jesus said, we run after the miracles and everything else!

Talking of miracles, you see, God is the God of the entire universe. He is Lord over all and He is capable of doing anything. We cannot therefore confine Him to miracles and signs and wonders. He can perform these all right, but He is beyond these. He is more than these – infinitely so.

And God is concerned that we should know Him as He IS, in His fullness. Shouldn’t we be grateful for that? I believe we should.

Just as the men (and women) of old saw God in the cross of Christ, so should we. The greatest miracle that can happen in any man’s life is for the cross to work in their lives, to change them and perfect them. All heaven eagerly anticipates the glory that will be found in such a life!

Knowing God is a work – a daily working of the cross in our lives. A daily crucifixion of our character, our carnal desires and our lives.

Knowing God is not a one-touch thing.

Some years back, someone excitedly came back from a meeting he had attended in a neighboring country and told me: “Something happened to me! When the preacher placed his hands on me I fell down!”

That’s all right, and I did not want to doubt that something had happened to him. God’s power could have been involved in whatever happened to him. But God is more than that. After the excitement is over we need to move on. Even after Lazarus was raised from the dead, he still needed to take up his cross and follow Christ.

Do you want to know who God is? Don’t look for Him in the miracles, in the healings, nor in the provision. All these are of God all right, and they are for His children. But remember Jesus gave these to the Jews but when He began to show them where the real glory lay, “they forsook him”!

If you are serious about wanting to know God, look for Him where the men of old – the Old Testament prophets, and the New Testament apostles – looked for Him. They sought and found God in identifying their lives with the sufferings of Christ.

Desire to catch the revelation of the cross in your life.

[Below: Birds on the shores of Lake Victoria, Mwanza]

IMG_0840 IMG_0841

Suffering – The “Strong Meat” Of The Gospel – Part 2

But God is so gracious! When someone gets saved, they are not shown these things immediately. Paul made it clear that when he went to preach the gospel to any people for the first time, he would start off “with milk, and not with meat”! (1 Cor. 3:2)

But as we grow in the Kingdom, God begins giving us the “strong meat” of the gospel (Heb. 5:12). He knows that this is what will make us to become mature sons and daughters in the Kingdom.

Let us see what Hebrews 5:13-14 has to say about this. “For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

That is putting things as clear as can be. You notice that there are two categories of Christians mentioned there: “babes”, and those that are “of full age”. There are those who cannot suffer the slightest pain for the Kingdom’s sake. But not until one learns to suffer pain can they ‘graduate’ from baby class to adult class.

Unfortunately, there are Christians who have been taught so many wrong things about God’s Kingdom that all they are doing here on earth is practising how they will be singing in heaven!

We will sing all right, but we need to know the Kingdom for what it is.

When we were growing up I always looked up to my eldest brother, John. He was solid as a rock and absolutely dependable. As I grew older, I came to understand why he was so dependable. I saw how he suffered for the rest of us and how he never shunned his responsibility. I remember one incident in particular…

My dad used to drink a lot in those days. One day he came home drunk and as usual we all rushed to greet him at the gate. The old man was so drunk he thought he was inside the toilet. He began to unzip his trousers and we were standing there, our childish faces turned up, waiting in earnest anticipation for the free “factual film” that was about to be shown to us.

Suddenly, John jumped in front of dad and screamed, “Dad, no!”

Dad was still in a stupor and John stood firmly in front of him, did up the old man’s trousers and led him to the toilet.

I never forgot that. It left an indelible mark on my mind. To this day I respect my brother for that single incident.

Spiritually, that is the very reason God wants us to grow up, so we may become mature sons and daughters of God, ready to take our responsibility in the spirit. This can only happen by putting off the body of flesh, which is what all this ‘suffering’ exercise is geared to accomplish in our lives.

“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Only a grown-up person can discern both good and evil.

That is why we need to welcome suffering. That is not easy, of course, but it is good. It is beneficial to the soul. I, too, am learning through the experiences that God allows into my life, to appreciate what suffering can do to my spiritual life.

The Revelation Of The Cross

There is something that we all as believers can safely agree on: that God wants us to grow spiritually; that He does not want us to remain babies forever. And in order for us to grow spiritually, we will need to feed on a proper diet. That means we will need to hear the right doctrine or teaching.

There are some congregations which are based on praise and worship, which is not a bad idea, except that the prescription for spiritual growth is in a teaching – a teaching of the right doctrine. Jesus spent much of His time in ministry teaching proper doctrine; so did the early apostles. The Apostle Paul says that “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Cor. 1:21). When you read verse 25, you realize that the ‘foolishness’ he is talking of here is actually God’s wisdom. Foolishness to the carnal man, but wisdom and power to the spiritual.

And what, pray, is this right teaching that the Church needs to hear? When you look carefully at the teachings of Jesus, you notice that they are not so soft, after all. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus provides the Church with a blueprint for the kind of lifestyle it ought to live. It is a tough calling. When you realize what is expected of the Church, you also acknowledge that it can only be achieved through the power of the Holy Spirit.

And in Matthew 10:34-39 He says, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”

Jesus called Peter “Satan”. He called another lady a dog! You try that kind of ‘teaching’ with any of today’s rights-conscious Christians and you will end up in jail. Literally.

It is obvious that the charismatic gospel that the Church has been fed on for the last 2 decades or so cannot provide us with spiritual growth. It simply does not have the ingredients for bringing the Church to spiritual maturity. On the contrary, today God’s people are being taught to look out for No.1 (self); others are taught to live in self-pity.

The gospel that Jesus and the apostles preached is not a gospel you are likely to hear in our age, and for that reason the Church remains immature: it is fighting, envious and engaged in every kind of stuff that does not please God.

We need to hear the right gospel that will make us to rise and fight the good fight with joy and assurance of victory in our hearts.

In two instances in the Bible (1 Corinthians chapter 3 and Hebrews 5) we see Paul rebuking the churches for failing to grow spiritually. On both occasions, he says the reason for this lack of growth in their spiritual lives is because they have not been able to eat ‘strong meat’, instead loving to partake of only milk.

Mother’s milk is wholesome; but it will never bring baby to mature. Baby needs to reach a place where he can eat tough food!

The ‘strong meat’ that Paul is speaking of here is the gospel of the Cross. That is the revelation that he received from Jesus Christ; and that is why in all his teachings Paul echoes the words that Jesus spoke in the Gospels. Inherent in all of Paul’s teachings is a thread that never breaks: the importance of the Cross in a believer’s life in crucifying their flesh.

But it is equally true that the Church needs a revelation in the spirit to understand Paul’s doctrine concerning the Cross.

This is the gospel that Jesus had kept hidden throughout the ages, the gospel that He purposed would be preached to every creature to “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col.1:28). The preaching of this ‘tough’ gospel does not make us to question whether God loves us or not. A child who questions their parents’ love for them must have psychological problems on the side! We have no doubt that God loves us. But here, it is about growing up, becoming mature in our spirits. Which means we should not doubt God’s ways.

I am well aware that when you begin mentioning names in such a forum as this people are likely to think you are advancing cultic teachings. However, personally I am grateful for Brother Miki Hardy and the many elders of CTMI for the revelation that God has placed in their hearts for the restoration of the Church.

I would encourage anyone who reads this blog to check out CTMI’s website (www.ctmiworld.com) to see for themselves whether there is not something new and challenging for the Church.

I wish you all a lovely weekend.