Dead Or Half- Dead? – Part 1

17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. Mk. 10:17-21

The reason for the title of this post you will find in Part 2. But first…

My heart goes out to this rich young man. Such a wonderful man, and so zealous for God!

Did you ever notice that this man is one of the very few people of whom scripture states that the Lord loved? Not that Jesus does not love everyone else; but it is notable that scripture could take the trouble to write that the Lord loved this person. I believe the reason Jesus loved this man was because of his zeal for God. This rich young man, who had kept all of God’s commandments since his youth, not breaking any one of them and who had come running to Jesus and who, upon reaching Him he had knelt at His feet… What a heart! I haven’t read in the gospels of many people who did that.

But I also believe there is another more important reason for scripture to write that Jesus loved this man. The reason is, I believe, that God wants us to know how He loves us, or what His love is all about. If someone told me they loved me and then took off their very expensive watch and gave it to me, I would understand that. That is love to me. But, as is so clearly made out here, when God loves us, He does not love us in that way. On the contrary, He calls us to deny ourselves; actually, to deny ourselves, to take up the cross and follow Christ.

That is why the greatest gift that God can give us is a revelation, or a spiritual understanding of, the cross of Jesus Christ. In the cross we find true love, the love that never questions why.

I heard – actually, there is a video of this on Youtube – one of the major preachers of the prosperity gospel say: “I define prosperity as every arena of life… prospering in your spirit, prospering in your soul, prospering in your physical body – that’s healthy; prospering in your relationships, prospering on your job and prospering in your finances.”

It just might be coincidence, but it so happens that this preacher is one of the wealthiest men on the planet. If this preacher were to meet Jesus, Jesus would tell him, “Go sell your private jet, your multi-million dollar houses and your expensive cars and suits and give that money to the poor. After you’ve done that, come, take up the cross, and follow me!”

But, on top of all that he owns, this preacher is currently making plans to purchase a 65-million dollar private jet. Which translates into the fact that he has never met Jesus in his life. A tough conclusion, but true.

When Jesus loved this young man that we read of in the above scripture, he did not tell him, “Friend, I love you so much, which is why I have given you all that wealth. Hoard it well and enjoy it to the full, for that is my blessing to you.”

No, Jesus did not say that. On the contrary, Jesus told him to go sell all that he had and to give the proceeds to the poor and to come follow Him. And nowhere in its entirety does scripture deviate from this stance. For that is how Christ loves us and that is how He calls each one of us. He loves us to the end that we might deny the flesh and its worldly lusts and become like Him. The time for the worldly spirit of wantonly living life as “King’s Kids” is no more. Now is a time to give up our comfort zones and to go share the real life of God with Jesus. As the Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 1:29:

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

[Below: “Sell all you have and give to the poor then come, take up your cross and follow Me!” Love doesn’t ask why]

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Photo credit: Carol Lanthier

The Cross For Our Worship

8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Mat. 4:8-10

Let me begin, at the very outset, by stating the most important thing that I set out to say in this post.

What I want every reader to understand is that as far as the believer is concerned, the devil has only one goal – only one: to blind the believer to God’s plan and purpose in the Spirit. The devil’s singular goal in your life is to blind you to God’s spiritual purpose and instead have you focus on the material life of this world – and thus worship him.

Seeing this is the singular point that I wanted to make in this post, I probably need to write that in bold capitals:

THE DEVIL HAS ONLY ONE GOAL IN OUR LIVES: TO BLIND US TO GOD’S WILL AND PURPOSE IN THE SPIRIT, AND THEREBY WORSHIP HIM.

THAT IS NOT HIS NO. 1 OR NO. 2 OR NO. 3 GOAL: RATHER, IT IS HIS SINGULAR GOAL IN OUR LIVES.

Very few men would not stop to consider it, even if it were momentarily, if they were tempted with a substantial amount of worldly wealth. And no amount that the devil would give any man would hardly compare with what he was offering Jesus here: “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”.

Jesus was under severe, intense temptation here. The master of this world was offering Him “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”! Just stop and think about that. The devil’s “if” indicates that our Lord Jesus was about to lose and lose it big.

But in Jesus, Satan met more than his match. At every step of the way, Jesus did not miss a single beat. He met the devil’s challenge word for word – and the devil knew Jesus meant every word He said. Try as he might, the devil could not crack a chink in Jesus’ spiritual armor and finally he had to leave.

Notice in the scripture above that it is about whom we worship. If you told a believer today that they were worshipping Satan, they would have you arrested by the state police. Literally. But this scripture proves to us that, without a doubt, many believers are actually worshipping Satan.

Colossians 3:5 states:

“… covetousness… is idolatry” (Col. 3:5).

Idolatry is the worship of false gods, and the Bible teaches here that coveting the things of this world is equal to worshipping a false god – in this case, Satan himself.

Satan was trying to get Jesus to commit the sin of idolatry. He was showing Jesus the glory of this world and trying to get Him to lust and covet after it. Mind you, Jesus here was not God; He was as much man as you and I.

But Jesus was dead to covetousness. Long before He would be crucified physically, Jesus had crucified his flesh in the Spirit. He had not an iota of desire for the things of this world. As far as this world was concerned, for Him, the words of the Apostle Paul applied:

“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Tim. 6:8).

Walking fully in the Spirit, Jesus made short work of the devil’s strenuous attempts to have him worship him by coveting the world.

Today, Satan has no such problems with the church as he had with Jesus. As a matter of fact, today, there is a gospel that is fully dedicated to worshipping the devil – and this gospel is alive and well in a born-again, Spirit-filled, tongues-speaking church. It is called the gospel of prosperity. A vast majority of the church of Jesus Christ are under the influence of this gospel.

The gospel of prosperity is vast in its scope. This gospel begins by saying that Jesus promised us that “… all these things shall be added unto you” (Mat. 6:33). From there on, it reverts into free-for-all mode, where any teaching is acceptable as long as it brings material and physical gain to the recipient.

The healing ministry, today largely an inherent part of the prosperity gospel, has itself become a big money-spinning industry. There are healing ministries, healing churches, and even healing schools! One of the most diabolical offshoots of the healing ministry is the wildly acclaimed ‘deliverance’ ministry, where the devil is clearly running things in person. At present, under this ministry, the hottest-selling commodity is something called anointing water. Whatever this water is, it has taken on a life of its own and it has become the life-support for many believers.

Incidentally, in many places of worship and even on the streets, this water is being sold at exorbitant prices.

Under the guise of ‘deliverance’ people are being made to eat grass, snakes, frogs… the list of horrors is endless.

Under the prosperity gospel, every other ministry – the worship ministry, the prophetic ministry, the apostolic ministry, and every all other ministries – have been hijacked to cater only for the physical and material well-being of God’s people. And, apart from the fact that these ministries no longer cater to the spiritual need of the church, today, all these ministries are million-dollar money- minting machines.

The devil loves to be worshipped and he will use everything in his power to achieve this goal. That is why he was willing to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if only He would worship him. If you know anything about how the world runs, you will acknowledge that what the devil was offering was a sure deal. Jesus would have become the most powerful man on earth!

Now, we all know that although the devil has power over all the material wealth in the world, yet he is the stingiest and most selfish soul alive. He is extremely rich in two these qualities. But here we see him willing to give Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”!

This shows the extent to which the devil will go to blind God’s people. If you have a problem with money in your heart, he will use money to ensnare you. He will bring money into your life. Of course, he will begin by giving you small amounts since it is not in his nature to give. But if he sees that the amount he is giving you is not enough to get you away from seeing into the Spirit, he will increase the bounty. But the devil goes even further than that. He will sacrifice everything if the catch justifies it!

That is why all the top preachers today are wildly moneyed. You cannot take someone who was powerfully called and anointed by God – as many of these men were initially – and try to con him with a ten-dollar bill! If you are serious about your mission to derail such a preacher, then you will have to think in terms of “releasing” private jets and million-dollar mansions. And, believe me, the devil knows all this and he is willing to pay the price.

He had no problem giving the Son of God “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”!

Today he is giving preachers dollars and material wealth.

Of course, with Jesus, the devil was patting in the dark. Jesus did not exhibit even one carnal trait upon which Satan could hinge his traps on. But he tried anyway.

But with us, he knows our weak spots. If you lust after anything, the devil knows it and he will give you tons of it, if need be.

But there is no way we can claim to be living for God if we love the world and the things in it. On the contrary, we need to die to the flesh and to the world. That is why we need to thank God exceedingly that He has brought us, once again, the revelation of the cross. Through this revelation, the Pauline doctrine of “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2) has become alive again! Praise Jesus for that!

And we should be extremely grateful that this gospel is being revealed in our day. How much God loves us! And how is it that God has brought about this revelation in our day?! We are not blind, and we can see the damage being done by the charismatic gospel. How much grateful should we be to God for bringing the cross into our hearts?

The cross “…by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14).

What glorious words! Being crucified to the world, and the world to me, beats “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”!

It is the only way I can worship God in truth and in the Spirit.

Prosperity Gospel – The Bane of The True Gospel

1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. 2 Pet. 2:1-3

Personally – and I ain’t too much of a person, but thank God for this blog, because here my voice can reach out from the wilderness – personally, the thing that riles me most in the church today are the prosperity preachers. Nothing vexes my spirit more than these people. In a word, they are charlatans. They are fraudsters and swindlers. And they have hoarded the gospel TV, where they are spilling out their shame for all the world to see and the world is having a field day slandering the Name of the LORD. (What do you think the world thinks when they see a larger-than-life preacher announcing on prime-time TV that he is divorcing his wife? C’mon!!)

These preachers are the curse of the gospel. People generally make fun of the devil, thinking he is a clownish old grandpa. But he is not. If these preachers originate from him – and they do – then the devil is not someone to fool with. He is deadly.

The Bible calls these jokers “false prophets”. Now, we all know that falsehood will not take you far. The prosperity gospel is not taking anybody anywhere. Just a few miles down the road, and they run into the quicksands. That is why there is so much sin stewing in these prosperity churches. There is so much divorce, and preachers themselves are divorcing and remarrying like the castanets.

Let a preacher teach and preach the gospel that the Apostle Paul preached, and I vouch that he will never go through this spiritual foolhardiness in his life, nor hear of it in his church. Sin will be dealt with! Paul told the sinning Corinthians, “What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?” (1 Cor. 14:21)

A rod? That was to deal with sin in the church. And Paul was speaking in the Spirit.

But, of course, I might as well be talking into the wind. This is because prosperity preachers are people who have come with a mission of their own and they are intent on carrying it out. Moreover, they have brought their agenda into the church stealthily, which proves that right from the beginning, they had never had any intention of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are, in fact, anti-Christ. The Bible said long aforetime that they “privily shall bring in damnable heresies”.

“Privily” means secretly. These people are in cahoots with the devil, and they know full well what they are doing.

What is their agenda, anyway? I heard one prosperity preacher say, “The notion that a preacher should be walking in sandals and riding on a bicycle is foolish!” In other words, they teach that a child of God should live the high life materially. That is their agenda. And they use the Bible to bring in these damnable heresies into the church.

“And many shall follow their pernicious ways…”

The word “many” here refers to the rise of the modern-day mega-church. God saw these things long before they would occur, and He described them exactly as we are seeing them today.

During the Early Church, the mega-church was the church of the cross, as we see from the Book of Acts and the apostolic epistles. But that was because the falsehoods had not yet been introduced into the church. Once the falsehoods came in, God’s people quickly embraced this easy gospel. Fewer and fewer were willing to pay the cost. And thus rose the new mega-church – the church of the un-cross.

Today, the mega-church is not a place where sin is dealt with. I am not saying they do not preach against sin. They do, but there is no power in these churches to deal with sin. Where the gospel of the cross is not being preached, there is no power to deal with sin. As a result, the gospel of Jesus Christ is maligned in the world because of sin within the church of Jesus Christ.

In the meantime, prosperity preachers spend their time teaching about the tithe!

Lastly, let us look at verse 3:

“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”

Why is it that God has reserved severe judgment against these preachers, a judgment which will unquestionably befall them, and swiftly? (With God, “swiftly” could be an entire lifetime!)

In the Old Testament God said,

“If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die; and thou shalt put evil away from among you.” Deut. 24:7

With all their voracious Bible-searching, preachers still cannot put two and two together! But it is difficult to have your head on straight with the dollar sign swinging in front of you.

But notice:

2 Peter: “…make merchandise of you”;

And here, in Deutoronomy: “…maketh merchandise of him”.

These two statements are alike. They are talking of the same thing.

In the Old Testament, the general punishment for a thief was to pay double the amount he had stolen (Ex. 22:7, etc). But God made exception to the thief who would “…be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him”.

The punishment for that particular thief, God said, was death!

The situation today is far worse in the Spirit than it appears. Prosperity preachers – under the New Covenant – are not simply stealing from God’s people; they are stealing God’s people. What does that mean? It means that apart from stealing their property, they are also stealing their souls. When you preach a man a false gospel you are stealing his soul. And when you steal someone’s soul you effectively just killed them.

And for what reason are these preachers doing this? It is so they can become rich! Prosperity preachers are extremely wealthy. If you didn’t know that, you must have just dropped in from the moon!

One of these preachers is so rich he went to Rome to donate money to preserve the works of Michelangelo. Yes, the man supports the works of Michelangelo with money that he has taken from God’s people!

Personally, I think that for a man to do such a thing, there is a certain amount of arrogance involved. Another owns  a $16,000 dog. And so on and so forth…

People, these are facts! and they probably are among the less shocking ones.

But thank God, He is not deaf, He is not blind – and He certainly is not dead. Soon he will deal with these prosperity fraudsters who have brought their damnable heresies of money into the church. He will judge them, and throw them into hell. That’s what the Bible says.

Prosperity preachers have only one option: to repent. No excuses, no “You don’t know what my ministry is doing around the world” (a smokescreen); just repent and leave off deceiving God’s people. If you want to continue preaching the gospel, lose your life, and teach God’s people to do the same, for this is the revelation of the gospel that has come to the church under the New Covenant.

Jesus looked upon the Jews – God’s own people – and He grieved deeply because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Equally so today, God’s people – the church – are like sheep without a shepherd.

But the Shepherd of our souls calls out to us… He calls out to us through the revelation of the cross. There is only one true gospel: the narrow road that Jesus and the apostles taught. If we come to Christ but are unwilling to lose all, we will fall into the hands of the devil and he will destroy us.

But the gospel of the cross liberates us to serve the true living God, and to do so in freedom.

The gospel of the cross is the true mystery of God, and it was for this very reason that Jesus said, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Mat. 11:15

Finally, I wish all my readers a lovely weekend.

[Below: The new Dar es Salaam – Bagamoyo Road]

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The True Gospel

32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

33 I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.

34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.

35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 10:32-35

There are many gospels that are preached today in the name of Jesus. Amongst the most well-known of these is the prosperity gospel. Today, nearly everyone in the Christian world has heard of the prosperity gospel. The minute you mention “Prosperity gospel” everyone knows what you are talking about. It is that popular.

The prosperity gospel is vast in its scope. It has given birth to many different branches and sub-branches of teachings and beliefs. Most of the great Pentecostal ministries today – whatever their leaning – have their roots in the gospel of prosperity.

But the prosperity gospel is an aberrant in light of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Why? Because it is built on the premise of receiving, rather than giving. One of the most prominent preachers of the prosperity gospel, on being asked to justify the opulent lifestyle that he lives, replied, “We gave, we believed, we received”.

The object, therefore, of the prosperity gospel is to receive. In light of the true gospel of Jesus Christ which demands our lives, this perspective is simplistic, and ultimately fatal, for it seeks to turn the gospel of Jesus Christ upside down.

I have watched interview after interview of many of the prominent preachers of the gospel of prosperity, and whenever they were asked about their lavish way of life, none was ever able to provide a clear answer to this question. They mumbled this and that, but they always made sure that whatever they said was pretty vague. One of them managed to say, “… We are open!” before walking off and leaving the reporter – and the viewer – more bewildered than ever. Incredible. And yet a man of God ought to be seen to be open.

But the gospel that Jesus came to preach is totally different from the gospel of prosperity. Here you hide nothing, simply because you have no reason to. Your life is not your own; it is given totally to Christ.

Unfortunately, this gospel is less well-known, and this is because it is not popular among preachers. Few preach it. This gospel is so lacking in our modern churches that when you mention it most people will think you are a cultist.

And yet… this gospel is actually the real message of the Bible. It is the message that our Lord Jesus brought to His people. It is the gospel over which the Apostle Paul wrote that he would not preach another, except it alone.

Moreover, this gospel has a name: it is called

“Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2); or, the gospel of the cross of Jesus Christ.

This is a gospel that desires nothing of this world, and is therefore the only gospel that can make us to fulfill the great commission which Christ gave to the church:

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

God wants to light up in our hearts the knowledge of His Son, Jesus Christ, who not only became poor that we might become rich, but who also gave His life to be a ransom for many.

That, as we see with the Apostle Paul here, was the heart that the early church carried.

Dare we, the present church, carry a different spirit? I believe not. Amongst the many gospels competing for our attention, we must choose, and we must choose the right one.

The right gospel can only be the gospel of “Christ, and him crucified”.

In conclusion, let me add a personal thought. I believe the reason that these rich prosperity preachers will never provide a clear answer as to why they own so much wealth is because, having arrived at their goal, they turn around and realize that what they have so joyously embraced is not the TRUTH!! In a way, therefore, they are embarrassed whenever someone asks them about the incomprehensible riches that they own.

[Below: Life in rural Tanzania: even owning a bicycle is a luxury to most people. But still many happily hear the right gospel]

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Grace, Grace For The Church – Part 1

Grace, Grace For The Church

 

28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.

29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,

30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first. Mk. 10:28-31

As usual, with the Bible no amount of writing can exhaust the riches to be found within even a tiny portion of scripture. All our blogs and all our posts just tap at the tip of these riches.

Having said that, let me begin by summarizing what I want to discuss with regard to the scripture above:

  1. Peter’s “carnal mind” (Rom. 8:7).
  2. The manner in which Jesus answered Peter’s question.
  3. The essence of the answer that Jesus gave to Peter. This one is guaranteed to blow away your mind.
  1. Peter’s carnal mind.

Someone showed me a clip of one of the world’s top prosperity preachers ranting: “If I want to believe God for a 65 million dollar plane you cannot stop me!”

Apparently, someone had told the man not to buy the plane, and he was not happy about it. As I watched the clip, I saw a man under siege; and I was reminded of how Peter also one time felt under siege; so much so that he began to hound Jesus after Jesus made it clear that the Kingdom that He had come to establish had nothing to do with worldly riches.

Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.”

That might appear to be a very innocent phrase, but it is not. When it says “Peter began to say”, it means there were other things he wanted to say. What the Bible is actually talking of here is a declaration of war: Peter was declaring war on Jesus!

In Matthew’s account it says: “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?” (Mat. 19:27)

It is important to notice that Peter brought up this issue immediately after Jesus had finished telling His disciples how difficult it would be for those who love worldly riches to enter heaven. He had told them:

“24… Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Mk. 10:24-25).

And the Bible says: And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?” (v. 26)

Clearly, they hadn’t been expecting this. It is clear that Peter and his fellow apostles had all along been tagging behind Jesus expecting to receiving these very riches that Jesus was now declaring were not a part of the Kingdom He had come to establish. The news did not settle well with Peter and, being the edgy man that he was, he couldn’t hold in his impatience any longer: he wanted to know right away if, as it appeared, riches were out of the equation, then what was he and his friends who had “forsaken all, and followed thee” to profit in?

“C’mon, man, answer me!!” That was what he must have wanted to shout out aloud and he probably wanted to get his hands on Jesus and shake Him up. The Lord had just executed the biggest upset in the history of his life!

In engaging Jesus thus, Peter unwittingly exposed the lust in his heart. Peter is therefore the first self-declared prosperity gospel disciple that we find amongst the followers of Jesus.

But Peter was representative of all the rest of Jesus’ disciples… and he is representative of many of us today. There is no denying the fact that many believers today love the world and the things in it more than they do God or His spiritual Kingdom.

But – praise God! – Peter eventually parted ways with that “mind” of the flesh. After the cross, Peter repented and mended his ways. For, when the Jerusalem church was born, Peter and the apostles probably set the Guinness World Record for becoming the richest men within the shortest period of time. The Bible states that on the very first day that the church was born, 3,000 souls were added to the church! Subsequently, “…the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47).

That was surely a large number of people in that church. We have no idea of the total number of believers the church at Jerusalem eventually arrived at before it was finally scattered abroad by persecution.

Now, the Bible records that within this church, “34 … as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:34-35).

Notice the word “prices”. That is talking of hard cash; and with all those numbers, that must have been a lot of money in that church. And all this money, the Bible says, found its way to the apostles’ feet. But, somehow, it did not find its way into their pockets!

The apostles did not use it to fulfill their own lusts in the name of “ministry”. They did not use even a dime of it for themselves. On the contrary, we see Peter and John walking to church without a cent in their pockets on the day they healed the lame man.

All the money that the apostles received they appointed Godly men to distribute to the needy. They did not even handle it themselves.

It is in this light that I believe God is waiting for all the prosperity preachers and their followers within the church today to face the cross and embrace the true gospel of Jesus Christ, of Christ and Him crucified.

[Below: Under the shadow of the Uluguru Mountains lies the main bus stand in Morogoro]

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“Absent From The Lord” – Part 1

6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 2 Cor. 5:6-8

I attended primary school in the 1970s and in those days we had what was called a “roll call”. Every morning the class teacher would call out each pupil’s name (she had a book in which all our names were written) and you would answer “Present!” If a pupil was not present the teacher would mark him or her as absent.

Today’s weak minds would stagger at the hell that was let loose upon the absent pupil the minute they reported to school the next day, if they did not have an excuse that made sense to the teacher. Being absent from school was not a situation that anyone would willingly walk into, so we always made sure to be present whenever the roll was called. That meant being present in class every day, year round, unless one were on an IV drip in some hospital.

In other words, whilst we tried our best to evade class, the teacher on the other hand used every means to make sure we did not miss school. She knew that if we missed a class, we would be missing out on an important topic; and this loss would reflect out in our final exams.

When we apply this analogy to our walk with the Lord, the first thing that comes to mind is that it is unimaginable that a born-again believer can be “absent from the Lord” but, unwittingly, much of the time we are exactly in that position. Our Lord may not be that hard school mistress, but in the long term, the consequences of being “absent from the Lord” are the same as those a pupil experiences when they deliberately miss school: pain and loss.

For a long time I thought that being “present with the Lord” meant being close to Him in prayer, praise and worship, fellowship, etc. But one day I came to understand exactly what it means to be “present with the Lord”. It is to lose our lives. It is to walk in a certain revelation of what the cross means in our lives. Being close to the Lord in prayer is all right; but there are real cases of men who have come down from a mountain after days of fasting only to begin fighting their wives.

What it means to be present with the Lord, which is just what the Apostle Paul is saying in this scripture, is to take up our cross and follow Christ. In other words, deny self, die to self. In every aspect of our lives we are called upon to deny ourselves and follow Christ. This was the central message that Christ brought to those who would believe on Him.

The difference between being close to the Lord in purely religious liturgy and following Him by taking up our cross can sometimes be as far apart as day and night. There are believers who are ‘rich’ in every known aspect of religiosity, but they carry the flesh about with them. No wonder then, that the Apostle Paul could write 1 Corinthians 13 where he tells us that it is possible for a believer to be capable of doing everything except dying to their own selves.

The church’s spiritual reality at present is that it is far from the Lord. For so long we heard a gospel which taught us that this worldly life is a part of our spiritual heritage. And, unfortunately, this message has been incorporated into our spiritual psyche as the gospel truth.

We have been hearing, for example, that we need to be prosperous in worldly material things including money since, supposedly, this is part of the reason that Christ died for us.

We have also been hearing for years and years about how much God loves us and how He will never allow the devil to touch us. (We conveniently forget that God allowed him to touch Job. And there is never any mention of the chastening that we are to receive from the Lord which, the Bible says, is painful – Heb. 12:11.)

The church rarely hears the message that, contrary to what it has been taught, it needs to deny this “rights” state of affairs in order to live in the Spirit.

[Below: When we are not built upon the right foundation we do not understand why things go wrong in our lives]

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Prosperity Gospel vs Suffering for Christ

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him… Is. 53:10

Moses never went through the sufferings that his brethren underwent under Pharaoh’s brutal oppression. But soon enough he would undergo sufferings of his own, probably more severe than the Israelites were going through. Soon he would fall from a position of unlimited power and luxury to become a poor shepherd “boy”. He would know rejection, and loneliness. He would know the simple life like he had never known it in his life. It would be a system shock for him.

When Moses killed the Egyptian in defense of his people, he thought he knew God; but God told him no. In the wilderness, after the liberation of the children of Israel, Moses would know more suffering. He would know opposition. He would know hunger and thirst (40 days he spent in the presence of the Lord without food or water). Moses would pass through much for him to claim to know God.

In other words, in order for Moses to fit in with God’s plan for his life, he had to suffer. This is so important for the church to grasp. If it pleased God to “bruise” Jesus, it can hardly be supposed that we will not be “bruised” in like manner. Yes, we will, and we must be willing and prepared to pass through the same sufferings in the flesh that Christ went through. If we truly desire to be conformed to the image of Christ, we will rejoice at this revelation.

But the charismatic gospel that teaches the good life simply has no idea of this singular fact which confronts every child of God who desires to please God. That is why the bulk of today’s gospel is at fault. It does not recognize that our lives are to be identified with the sufferings and death of Christ on the cross. Nearly everything else is taught in church today, except that. But the sufferings of Christ are the essence of the gospel.

I can comfortably say that the majority of the church today has not grasped the revelation that the Apostle Paul received concerning our identification with Christ in His sufferings and death. But suffering and dying with Christ is the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have never read of anyone in the Bible who pleased God who did not go through some form of suffering.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him…”

The Bible also says, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:18). Who are tempted? It is we. And how are we tempted? It is through the sufferings that we undergo in the flesh that our faith is tried.

In the clip below I want to show that the comfortable gospel that many of today’s major Pentecostal preachers are preaching something that clearly goes against the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The vein of their doctrine is the good worldly life. No hint of welcome for the sufferings of Christ.

Someone, in trying to defend these preachers, talked of context. But there is no issue of context here. You do not need  context to know where these men and women are headed.

The real tragedy here is that these are the kind of churches where the majority of Christians are concentrated. This is where many of God’s people are being comfortably robbed of their spiritual inheritance.

So what should we do? The Bible says “come out from among them” (2 Cor. 6:17). Yes. Come out from these kinds of churches. That’s painful and difficult, but it is the only way.

Way too many of God’s children are sitting comfortably by as worldly preachers whittle away their spiritual inheritance while promising them the temporal things of this world.

[Below: No suffering!]