“The Way Of Holiness”

8 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.

9 No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:

10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Is. 35:8-10

The way of holiness”. What a way! Nothing unclean shall pass over it; it shall be for the holy only. The Bible goes on to give a description of the holy.

“No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon…”

The lion here does not refer to the Lion of Judah, who is Jesus Himself. Both the lion and the ravenous  beast the Bible speaks of here talk of the carnal lusts in us. These shall not be found on that road. The carnal nature shall not be there.

The Bible says that “the redeemed shall walk there”. Redeemed from what? It is men and women who have been redeemed from the corrupt nature of the flesh.

Everything here unmistakably speaks of the need to crucify our flesh. Everything with the gospel revolves around the cross – the cross working in us. If that detail is lacking in our understanding of the gospel, then we simply are not living the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are living “another gospel” (2 Cor. 11:4).

Lion. Ravenous beast. How so apt a description of the lusts that destroy both us and those who surround us! Here, on this highway, they shall not be there! Praise the Lord!!

As with all of the gospel of Jesus Christ, this scripture is therefore a call to crucify our flesh. It is a call from God to separate ourselves from this world through dying to self. The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul put out this call so well:

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Gal. 5:24)

[““No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon…”]

Image17346

Advertisements

Grateful Beyond Measure

Without a doubt, the greatest scourge that ravaged the African continent during the 19th century – although it is reputed to date back to as far back as the 6th century – was the infamous trade in slaves. The slave trade was an evil that was as indescribable as it was unprecedented and it brought untold misery to the African peoples.

There are many stories, all true, of how the great Scottish missionary, David Livingstone fought the war against the slave trade both in small and in big ways. The story is told of how David Livingstone once met a slave caravan and, although he could do nothing to halt it – the slave traders were armed and dangerous – David stopped the caravan and managed to bargain for the release of one of the slaves upon whom he felt extreme pity.

The negotiations ended successfully after money had exchanged hands, and the slave was untied from the caravan. And there he stood in front of David, thinking he had merely exchanged hands from one slaver to another.

At which Livingstone told him, “Friend, you are free. You are free to go home.”

Upon hearing these words, the slave fell down at Livingstone’s feet and declared, “I will freely serve you all my life!”

He was overcome with the love and compassion that Livingstone had shown him.

Apart from writing this blog, one of the tasks that I do on my laptop is to translate gospel material from English to Swahili. The material that I translate comes mostly from brethren in the West.

When local people find me working on my laptop, they often ask me about the nature of my work, and I tell them. I tell them, “I am translating gospel material written by brethren from European countries.”

When they hear that, more often than not they say, “You must be receiving a lot of money from the white people for all this work!”

To which I reply, “No. I do not get paid to do these translations. Actually, I do not need any money to do this work. It gives me the greatest joy to do it for free. If they paid me to do this work, I would not have as much joy as I have doing it for free.”

Serving my Lord Jesus Christ is my joy. The opportunity to serve God the way I do is an indescribable reward from Christ to me. Many times I wonder at the incredible favor that I have to serve my Master in this way.

This joy is something that only my spirit comprehends, for my spirit knows well the redemption that Christ wrought for me.

But translating gospel teachings is not the only way that I am called to serve Christ. There are many other ways that the Bible calls us to serve Him. In his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, chapters 11 and 12, the Apostle Paul lists three levels, or areas, of service to Christ, culminating with the famous thorn in the flesh. Paul’s bottom line in all his service to Christ is:

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10)

Paul took pleasure, not only in serving God in peaceful terms, but even in conditions where the service involved suffering. This was a man who truly understood how much the Lord had paid to redeem him.

This is the place that the Lord calls us to arrive at.

[Below: In one area, at least, I serve my Lord with great joy!]

20160818_083122

Do Pastors Understand The Word “Freedom”?

Before I got saved I did many, many really bad things. It would serve no purpose to mention any of them here. The remarkable thing is that from the moment I got saved I never again felt the guilt for the things I had done. It was like someone had simply wiped the memory slate clean. I was set completely free from even the remembrance of them.

Early on in my salvation, I did not exactly know what had happened in order for me to be set so completely free. But later on I came to know that since the Bible says that the wages of sin is death, someone must have died for me; and I came to know that that Someone was none other than Jesus Christ Himself, whose sacrifice alone could atone for my sins.

That’s how realistic my relationship with Jesus is – and so it is with you. We stand saved today because Jesus died on the Cross for our sins. Probably because we keep hearing them so often, those words sound so mundane; yet, how powerful and exciting the reality of it is in our lives!

Now, we need to understand that when God forgives He forgives completely. He does not take you back to the crime scene so you can see the amount of damage you have done and hint at you to weigh how sorry you ought to be. In fact, I never at any one time felt that I needed to be sorry about anything. The feeling I had was that all that I had done before I got saved was now none of my affair; and that if it still was an affair at all, then it was all Someone else’s affair! It was as the Good Samaritan who told the innkeeper concerning the man he had rescued on the road to Jericho: “Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee” (Luke 10:35). In other words, ‘Don’t let him pay a cent!’ Wow! How so liberating!

When you look at your redemption in such terms it might seem unfair: how about the people you hurt, how about the money you stole, how about this and that? And the sins that you can really point to one by one are the really big sins. The small ones run into the millions and are simply uncountable, although the Bible makes it thoroughly clear that with God there is no difference between a big and a small sin.

The fact I am pushing at here, however, is that I never did hear God question me concerning any of those things. If I were to describe it in the simplest terms possible, it is that I never received a reminder of them. If anyone ever asked me about them I was free to say, in all honesty, “I never did that!” Probably the other Mwita did them, but not me. That is how powerful the redemption Jesus purchased for me on the Cross is: total freedom!

This thought came to my mind recently after I heard a preacher say on a Christian radio station that even after you have been become a born-again believer, there are some sins which you cannot be forgiven until you confess them specifically to your pastor. He talked about sins like murder, adultery, etc. He said that if you did these sins before you got saved, you need to go to your pastor and “talk these things over”, after which the pastor should do “deliverance” over you. (For those of you still in the dark, ‘deliverance’ is amongst the new doctrines that have emerged within the Church in recent times).

I was reminded of a church which I attended many years ago where we were taught that in order for God to forgive you your sins you had to mention them one by one, aloud – and preferably with someone listening in, just to make it all the more painful for you. I admit I was too cowardly for that kind of exposure!

There are so many such ‘extra-judicial’ teachings in the Church today. It is obvious that with many preachers today, the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross was not enough and before a sinner gets completely saved they need to undergo some extra forms of penance. People are held in shackles, in irons – and anything else that can be used to hold them down – until they pay to the full according to the pastor’s particular doctrine. It is incredulous – and a pity – that Christianity can be so suffocating!

If in Jesus’ time He could see the people uncared for as sheep without a shepherd, how can that not be possible in our day? Today, this state of affairs is an undeniable fact regarding the Church. At that time there were Pharisees, scribes and teachers of the Law. Today, we have pastors and other modern church leaders.

There is no doubt in my mind at all that all this confusion within the Church of Christ is a result of a lack of a revelation of the true gospel, which is Christ, and Him crucified. This revelation was what the Early Church was built on, and you can read throughout the Book of Acts of the Apostles and the Apostolic Epistles and you will not find a whiff of the kind of gospels that you find making the rounds today. That Church was powerful, solid and united. They rested on the true grace that Jesus had come to reveal by His life and death on the Cross.

May the Lord help the Church today to realize that the Lord Jesus has fully bought eternal redemption for His people, and that we are called to walk in the fullness of that freedom!