The Eminence Of The Cross – Part 1

38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. 39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Mat. 12:38-40

Our lives are bound up with God to the extent that we live the crucified life. That was what Jesus was telling these Jews here. They – just like many believers today – believed the Kingdom of God consisted of signs and wonders. But Jesus here set the record straight: when it comes to the Kingdom of God, the only true sign that would be given this generation was the suffering, death and resurrection of our souls.

Actually, Jesus reprimanded the Jews for seeking after a sign. He said that seeking after a sign is the mark of “an evil and adulterous generation”.

That’s quite telling. That’s talking of people who are not interested in seeking after the holiness of God. Rather, they are using God (religion) to seek after their own gain. Material, financial and physical gain, to be exact. But Jesus said,

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God”.

Even seeking after bodily healing of itself is a form of selfishness. Seeking after your own healing first (you will know you are doing this in your heart of hearts) is a form of idol worship. Today, there are so many believers who worship their bodies. But we are to seek for God’s Kingdom first to be established in our hearts.

I believe it grieves God’s heart the way many believers today throng to these miracle-working churches. All they are seeking after is a sign, a miracle, a healing, or an awe-inspiring wonder. According to scripture, these are “an evil and adulterous generation”.

In fact, let’s up the ante. Or, rather, let us see how the Bible judges today’s generation of miracle-seekers. Yes, God judges all miracle-seekers, as we shall see. Firstly, the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 1:22-24 declares something which is very contrary to popular charismatic belief:

“22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified… 24 Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”

In his day, Paul’s generation was demanding a sign. Today’s generation loves preaching Christ; but not “Christ crucified”. Today, the gospel is all about being blessed – materially, financially and physically. They preach another Jesus. The cross is out. And so is God’s wisdom and power.

But the real killer is 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12. Here scripture says:

“9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

What, pray, is the “truth” the Bible is talking of here?

The truth is Jesus. He Himself declared,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (Jn. 14:6)

And, who, pray is the Bible talking of here? Is the Bible addressing pagan sinners? By no means. The world is already deceived. Satan’s work is to deceive those who have been called to the truth. Here, therefore, the Bible is talking of God’s people who refused to love the truth (Jesus), but had pleasure in a lie.

There is no shortage of believers today who are so deceived even the drunkard in the bar can see what is going on, for it is happening in broad daylight. In Africa, congregations of the deceived are so vast that some ‘churches’ use football fields to hold their services. So many people running to receive a lie! There is so much damnable folly and unrighteousness going on in these charismatic churches today. Just to mention a few: People are persuaded to eat grass and snakes in church. Apparently, this is done under a form of hypnotism for no one in their right minds would do such a thing. Many other things are done to God’s people in these churches under this particular form of hypnotism.

Merchandise, purportedly from the holy land, is sold in churches: flags, oil, sand, water, etc. Women are raped in church under the guise of being healed and receiving other ‘blessings’. And preachers live the high life at the expense of fooled believers. The list is inexhaustible. There is a church whose members worship naked. They read the Bible and they discovered that Adam was naked (although Adam was not naked; he was covered with the glory of God). Then there are the mainstream established churches, who have taken centuries to establish each their own particular form of lie.

The common factor amongst all these groupings is that they have refused to affirm the singular Truth that was preached by the Apostles: Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. They have cast aside the cross of Jesus Christ. They have cast aside the singular thing that connects them with the living God.

So what is that scripture we just read in 2 Thessalonians saying? It is warning us. It is stating that you cannot fool God. God can see when His people have no love for the truth, and he is not happy about it at all. God saw through the mask of people’s worldly desires and He realized people did not really love His Son, Jesus (the Truth). All they wanted were the miracles. The Bible here says that, for this reason, God let loose a spirit of “strong delusion”. A spirit of signs and wonders. They had refused to believe in the singular gospel of the cross, so God let loose Satan (in a spirit of “deceivableness”) upon them. This spirit is at work in the church today and, as we just saw, it is not working in parables. It is plainly see-able.

But it is the cross and what it does in our lives that will usher us into the presence of God. We saw in our last post that Jesus has received the ultimate reward from God the Father: He is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. And the Bible makes clear that Jesus did not receive this honor on account of the miracles that He performed when He was here on earth. Rather, it was on account of the cross that He allowed to work in His life.

Many believers, as we just saw, make a big fuss out of miracles and signs and wonders. But when we get to heaven, these (whether we worked or whether we received them) will be of very little consequence to our final accounting with God. What will determine how God receives us in heaven will be how we denied ourselves by partaking of the sufferings and death of Christ when we were here on earth.

This was what Jesus was trying to tell the scribes and Pharisees here.

[Our reward is to live forever with Jesus after we have taken up our cross]

Grasping The Eternal – Part 1

5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.

6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.

8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?

9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. Mat. 16:5-12

The disciples of Jesus (if they had any wits about them) must have thought that Jesus was about to start a cult – THE CULT OF UNLEAVENED BREAD, it would have been called. Yes, it appeared that was the direction Jesus was headed. Now, if it had turned out to be so – which, bless the Lord, it turned out not to be the case – that would have been an Old Testament cult. Unfortunately, today, in Christianity, there are so many such cults, cults that are embedded in the Old Testament. There are people today who will defend the old covenant to their death at the expense of the new covenant. Well-meaning men, but who have no idea of the work of grace that the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished at the cross. Such men, such churches, are steeped in law.

I heard one ‘apostle’ from Philadelphia, in the U.S., claim he bars men in his church from sitting together with women in the pews for the sake of discipline. Yep, those were his very words. He doesn’t want the men in his church, he said, looking down strange women’s exposed cleavages, or have them dropping their pens every now and then in a desperate attempt to look at their female counterparts’ beautifully-formed ankles and leg calves!

The Old Testament law, under which many churches today are entrenched, is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. With the gospel of Jesus Christ, law works; but it works the exact opposite of Godliness. The Bible says in Hebrews 10:3:

“But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.”

All law does is to remind one of sin. Or, to put it more clearly, it makes you aware of sin. That is what it says also, very clearly, in Romans 7:7-11:

“7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. 9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.”

It couldn’t be stated clearer than that.

I love this preacher from Philly, he is a well-meaning man, but he has got it all wrong. He does not have the revelation of the gospel of grace. By doing what he is doing, he is putting law on God’s people. And you cannot lead people into God’s righteousness by harnessing them under Old Testament law. By his own admission, all the men seated in his church are unrepentant sinners who need the law to keep them from committing sin! His ‘church’ therefore ceases to be the church, but a cult.

On the other hand, the gospel of “Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23) – which the Apostle Paul preached, glory to God! – is solid gold. It is the power of God. God’s grace, that comes through the working of the cross, breaks the power of sin in our lives. If, say, a short-skirted woman were to sit next to me, a man, who is being ministered to under the new covenant (the true gospel of Jesus Christ, whereby I am crucifying my flesh daily) that short-skirted lady would not make the slightest difference to me in the natural. If she had the most visible cleavage, still it wouldn’t make any difference. The likely scenario is that I would yearn for her in a Godly manner. On the other hand, when you are under the ministry of law, in such a situation you would not be free. You would be under pressure. Your un-crucified flesh would give you problems. The very thought of looking at that woman would have you beginning to fret. That is the difference between law and grace. Grace sets people free; law binds them. Preachers are stunting and ultimately killing God’s people spiritually by preaching law instead of grace to them. The law cannot set anyone free from sin.

Anyways, back to Jesus and His disciples…

[To know Christ is to understand grace]

God Requires A Living Sacrifice

37 And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat.
38 And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.
39 And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.
40 Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?
41 But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. Lk. 11:37-41
Verse 41 is an interesting and extremely important scripture for us as believers, and it is what I want us to consider today. Early on, however, let us realize that this is a passage of scripture which one might easily fail to get the gist of. The first part says, “But rather give alms of such things as ye have…” and on reading this one might think Jesus was urging us to give away our money and our material things.
But that was not what Jesus was saying here. Rather, He was talking about the profoundest work that needs to happen in a man’s life – the work of the cross deep in his heart.
In a nutshell, Jesus was saying that the transformational work that needs to be done in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit is greater than anything we might do on the outside in pleasing God.
Indeed, He was saying something of even greater significance. The implication of what Jesus was saying in this scripture was that this inner work of transformation is the only obligation that is required of us in pleasing God.
Notice the word “give” in this verse. This is the pivotal word. When Jesus says, “Give alms…” it points to the fact that we need to surrender something in our lives. And Jesus declared that when we surrender that thing, lo and behold, “… all things are clean unto you”!
The minute we surrender that thing, our obligation to God is over! God’s mathematics with us is incredibly simple.
In other words, there is a singular area in our lives in which alone God is pleased. Anything else that we do is pleasing to God also; but God accepts it only in as far as it is founded or based on that singular thing that God desires us to surrender to Him.
I believe the thing that God wants us to surrender is our will. Everything that we have on the inside of us is bound up in our will. When Jesus urges us to “rather give alms of such things as ye have”, it implies to surrender our inner will and desires.
But, pray, surrender to what? We are to surrender our will to the work of the cross.
Why would God want us to surrender our will to Him? Let us first see what God has to say about the human will.
“… your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.”
Well, there. There is our will. That is who we are on the inside. No matter how good we look on the outside, that is who we are on the inside, if God is not doing a work in us. It is a sickening sight that God beholds when He looks upon the human heart. And that is the thing that bothers God – the “ravening and wickedness” in us.
We all know what wickedness is, but what about “ravening”?
‘Ravening’ speaks of voraciousness, and it refers to the many insatiable desires that have such a stranglehold on our lives. Left on its own, the flesh would eat up everything in its path, including the very ground it was standing on!
If it were us, we would deal with this ‘human’ problem in the most efficient manner possible: we would dispose of it. Chuck it out of sight. But because of the great love that He has for us, God does not do that. On the contrary, He wants to deal with that “inward part” of our lives. He desires to set us free.
But man does not really love God, nor the things of God. He loves self more than he loves God. But man also knows that God requires something of him, so he creates a smokescreen, to try and deceive God. He creates a beautiful religion. He creates a rigorous array of principles, laws and by-laws, habits, etc to try and deceive God.
We cannot please God by carrying a wooden, silver or even a golden cross on a part of our body. We cannot even please Him by preaching or singing to Him. This is simply because Jesus said we are to “rather give alms of such things as ye have”, which talks of the things that are bound up in our will, which are the only things that we have in us.
‘Giving alms of such things as ye have’ is a far greater and incredible responsibility than anything one might do in the natural. If, for example, I have anger, nothing I do would please God in the Spirit more than if I allowed Him to deal and remove that anger in me.
I am sure that the man who can die to self is a far greater testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit than the most powerful preacher who has not allowed such a work to take place in his heart.
We have people who do all kinds of activities for God, but who are unaware that what pleases God is the sacrifice of a humble spirit upon which He can do a transforming work. We are to allow the cross to do a deep work in us, to change us, in the Spirit.
In their day, the the Pharisees had set in place many procedures and rules of conduct which made one to appear holy on the outside. Washing one’s hands before eating was one of these rules.
On this particular occasion, Jesus decided to eat without washing His hands. The Pharisee who had invited Jesus for dinner was aghast on seeing Jesus begin to eat with unwashed hands because his idea of holiness consisted in washing one’s hands. But Jesus had not come to fulfill what people thought made one holy. Jesus had come to do God’s will. He was therefore more bothered with what constituted holiness in God’s sight.
Jesus probably did not even say “Grace”. There are people who are very concerned about such things. Giving thanks for food is good and biblical, but it is not God’s yardstick for holiness.
Being holy means being clean on the inside, in our hearts. That is not an assignment that we can take lightly. It is a responsibility that requires us to press hard to the cross and to submit and re-submit our lives on the altar. That is why the Apostle Paul said, “… I die daily” (1 Cor. 15:31). Paul carried his cross daily.
Only then can our lives be identified with Christ’s in His suffering and death, and only then can we carry His image and character in us.

[Below: The new Musoma-Mwanza super highway that runs along Lake Victoria]


A Lowly Mind

When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:12-14

You simply have to admire the gall that Jesus had. Instead of thanking His host – a top religious bureaucrat – and telling him what a wonderful and generous man he was, Jesus took the opportunity to lecture the fellow about what constitutes true Godliness! In fact, Jesus had some not too pleasing things to say to the people who attended this particular dinner. Apparently, it was a party for the social elite, and the host had made the mistake of thinking that Jesus – probably because He had all those crowds following Him – was also an elitist!

But Jesus was simply simple. He could interact with the lowest of the low. He was quick to lend an ear and a helping hand to the wretched folk of this world, men like Bartimaeus.

Jesus went on and taught people to shun high-mindedness.

I correspond with a lot of people, and I have come to notice that the people who are quick to reply to my correspondences are mainly the simple folk. And every time I read their letters I can feel the warmth flowing from their hearts. They are eager to interact. They are eager to give their all. That is not a judgment on those who do not write back. We all need God’s grace!

The human being is wired in such a way that the minute he crosses a certain level of “success” he metamorphoses completely. He becomes vain, pompous and, worst of all, he becomes contemptuous of those he considers lower than himself. Few humans can resist this force of nature.

But, in the Spirit, this is an incredibly weak characteristic and Jesus died to set us free from such weak attitudes (Romans 8:2-4).

It is unfortunate that even in church one sometimes finds categorizations and groupings. People coalesce according to social status, and it becomes a case of birds of a feather flocking together! And there is no denying the fact that the perpetrators of this unscriptural state of affairs in church are the rich, the privileged, and the educated – the so-called elite.

But God literally cares about the poor and downtrodden of this world. Did you ever read James 2:5? It says, “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” In other words God is saying, “All right, guys, do not think I have forgotten you in not giving you the riches of this world. In fact, I have something infinitely far much better that I have reserved for you!”

The scripture here says that God has chosen the poor of this world to be “rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him.” In recent years, a certain false gospel which teaches that God is on the side of the rich has slowly but inexorably crept into the church. But I don’t see such a teaching in the scriptures. Such a teaching only brings pride and arrogance into people’s hearts, and I believe that pride is God’s worst enemy. And God will do everything in His power to crush this most hated of His enemies.

Elsewhere, the Apostle Paul admonishes us: “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.” Romans 12:16

I know this is tough, but if we really want to become true sons and daughters of God, to be like God Himself, then we have a lot of dust to bite.


The False Doctrine of ‘Deliverance’ – Pt. 2

… And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. John 8:2-11

They caught her in the very act, they said. Ha! I wonder where the he was! Mosaic Law stated that both adulterer and adulteress should be stoned to death. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn the man was a relative of one of the accusers, or a fellow Pharisee! He could even have bribed his way out of the scandalous mess. Religion has the capability of going to such extremes of hypocrisy.

That, however, is beside the point that I want to make in this post.

What I want to point out is that after this woman was brought to Him, Jesus did not perform ‘deliverance’ on her. There was no demon involved here. This was purely a case of a work of the flesh and there was only one solution to it, which only Jesus had. What wonderful news! Jesus did not say, ‘Aw, c’mon, guys, please forgive her. Let her go. C’mon, have a heart for the poor woman!’ What an abject defeat it would have been for the power of God’s grace. Jesus wanted to demonstrate that His gospel had the power to look sin in the face and defeat it.

Let me tell you what happened in this incidence. Jesus simply preached the true gospel, the power of God was manifested, and it set the woman free. It would take the damnedest, hell-bound unbeliever to doubt the fact that this adulterous woman was set completely free from the power of her sin after Jesus told her, “Go, and sin no more”! Her accusers, too, would have been set free from their sin had they swallowed their pride and embraced the grace that was there with Jesus. But they chose to walk away. It is clear that the law of Moses, on which these Pharisees depended, did not have the power to deal with sin. This is authenticated by the fact that when Jesus faced them with the Truth, we see all the accusers were condemned in their hearts by the sin that was eating at them, and they demonstrated it by walking away.

Jesus did not do ‘deliverance’ on the woman. There is something that has more power than the ‘deliverance’ ministry. It is the preaching of the right gospel. When we preach the right gospel, the Holy Spirit is involved and He sets men free. Anything besides the preaching of the gospel is pure manipulation and it does not take long for the condition that one was ‘delivered’ from to settle comfortably back. You cannot do ‘deliverance’ ministry on a work of the flesh. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:21: “…it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” We must preach the gospel!

And what is the right gospel that we should be preaching, the gospel that will bring men and women into the knowledge of the truth that will set them completely free? It is the gospel of the revelation of the Cross of Christ, the same gospel that the Apostle Paul preached and lived.

Today we want to substitute the preaching ministry with the dark scientology of conversing with demonic powers over live TV! We see this all the time on TV. Sometimes this takes hours and you are left wondering of what spiritual benefit this exercise is to anyone. Preachers are doing this and many other things all over on TV and elsewhere; but the people of God remain bound. Before the apostolic ministry arrived we had in our church a certain lady whom on every Sunday we would need to cast a demon out of. I do remember that clearly. When the apostolic ministry came and began dealing with the flesh through the preaching of the Truth we never had to cast a demon out of her again. The simple preaching of the gospel set her free! Is it not wonderful news today that since we have Jesus living in us we can walk in victory over sin and every demonic power? Why ever should we seek the black magic of ‘deliverance’ ministries to set us free from the power of sin? Neither the flesh; nor the world; nor sin; nor the powers of darkness; none of these things can overcome us – unless we have another Jesus in us, or we are being ministered to by another gospel, under another spirit, as the Apostle Paul clearly warns us in 1 Cor. 4:11!

True freedom comes in knowing Jesus. I wonder why we would not want to know the kind of gospel that the Apostle Paul preached. Or do we not believe that this man understood the concept of the death of Christ on the Cross in a manner slightly more revelatory and radical than our conventional understanding of the crucifixion? I have seen men and women weeping on watching “The Passion”. Paul probably met with a bigger experience than the movie version and would have felt absolutely nothing on watching the movie.

There is power in the gospel of Christ. We should not seek quick fixes; but rather let us desire to lay down our lives in order that we might discover real liberty in the spirit.

Love… Is The Greatest of Them All

During an evening concert held last Friday at CTMI’s Trianon conference hall by Sister Audrey to launch her new album, “I Worship You”, a group of young people performed a piece about the woman who was brought to Jesus on adultery charges. The presentation was incredibly powerful and the lady in particular was riveting. I felt the tears streaming down my face as the realization of the power of grace hit me.

There is something about having grace where you don’t just talk, but where people can feel that power in you. The Pharisees made a grave mistake by bringing the woman to Jesus. The law confronted grace. Men who had no thought of ever sacrificing themselves in any way confronted a Man who was willing to lay down His life. Big mistake.

Jesus could have spoken so many words, trying to reason out with the Pharisees to let the woman go. But He spoke only two sentences – and the authority and power in those words did the rest. There is something about someone who is walking the road of the Cross that sets other people free.

Recently, I was dealing with a girl who felt she was being tempted to backslide. In my zeal, I commented that she should ‘avoid’ sin at all costs because of the negative impact it would have on her life. I was scared she would sin, and I wanted to prevent that.

But it is not my job to prevent people from sinning. That is the Holy Spirit’s work!

That night I could not sleep. I realized what a big burden I had put on the suffering girl. The very next day, I sought her out and told her: “What I told you was not the truth. Let us trust God for your situation.” In my heart, I felt the need to set her free, and to allow the grace of God to help her in her time of need. I prayed with her and let her go.

The Lord set her free and today she is walking in victory.

Let us give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to do what only He can do – to set the people of God free from the power of sin. We can only do that by taking our Cross and following Jesus. Then, death will work in us and life will come to those we come into contact with: “So then death worketh in us, but life in you” 2 Cor. 4:12.