4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;

5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:

7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Cor. 4-9

 In Romans 1:28-29 we read:

28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. 29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

Verse 28 is talking about the Israelites. Verse 29 is talking about the Israelites and us. Both these scriptures are talking about God’s stand with regard to these two groups of people.

These scriptures reveal the paramouncy that the gospel has over even the gifts and calling of God.

I was surprised to read somewhere that the nation of Isarel has one of the highest levels of gays worldwide. Yes, you heard it right: homosexuals. That kind of statistic was something I had never contemplated in my life and this knowledge kind of toned down my cheering for Israel; but I am sure it hasn’t fazed God in the least. The Bible says that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. God will never back down one inch from the promises He made to the nation of Israel.

Any nation which tries to attack Israel in the natural will find itself coming up against the armies of God (angels) – literally. The world has witnessed this countless times. The Six-Day War of 1967 has remained one of the most historic mystery (read miracles) of our modern times.

That is because Israel is the elected nation of God. God, in His wisdom, has put these few people in this world to declare how His election works.

Indeed, wherever the Jew sets foot becomes blessed. America is (or was once) a prime example.


“As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes”.

Hmmm. Yes, the Israelites have become enemies of the gospel in order that we, too, might be included in the mercies of God. And the Bible declares that they, too, have been hardened in their hearts to the end that they, too, just like us, might obtain mercy from God (v. 32).

Notice, they are elected, but ultimately they will need to receive mercy. In the end, both we Gentiles and the Israelites will be products of God’s mercy.

It is clear, therefore that, if it is of mercy, it is not of us. The gifts and calling of God come, not from us, but from God Himself. And if it is so, then, no one has anything to boast of there. Indeed, the wisest person in this regard is the person who recognizes this and daily humbles themselves under the mighty hand of God.

This – the non-repentance of God – explains why preachers and Christian believers in general can continue to witness the grace of God in certain areas of their lives even when it becomes clear they are living in sin. This was true of the Corinthian church as we read in 1 Corinthians 1:4-7:

“4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

But notice verse 8.

“Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In spite of all the gifts of the Spirit that the Corinthians had, yet it was their confirmation unto the end that was pivotal. Why? Because it was this that would present them blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This confirmation is what we ought to seek for above anything else.

But let us backtrack and ask, What is the meaning of the word “confirm” here?

It means to approve, or to validate. We will not go to heaven on the basis of the gifts and calling of God, but on the basis of our approval by Christ Jesus. Christ will first have to prove us, whether or not we passed through the narrow road that He also passed. If we do not get the stamp of approval from Jesus, we will not make it to heaven.

Jesus’s stamp of approval reads:


We become approved when we share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. The Apostle Paul makes that very clear in Philippians 3:10:

“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death”.

Are you carrying Jesus’s stamp of approval? Are you denying yourself daily, taking up your cross and following Jesus?

The most important thing for us are not the gifts and calling; rather, it is to be confirmed.

[God’s beloved nation, Israel.]

Living The Resurrection Life – Part 1

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Phil. 1:21

This is by far one of the most profound scriptures in the Bible. Indeed, I am assured that I am not worthy to address this scripture. For in it is a spiritual man, talking inscrutable spiritual language.

Howbeit, having put my hand to the plough, I shall attempt, by God’s Spirit in me, to look into the mystery of Christ and Paul.

I shall divide this post into two parts. Part one reads:

Part 1

“For to me to live is Christ…”

How much would one need to know Christ to say such words? How much would one need to have understood “Jesus Christ and him crucified” to speak thus? How much would one need to have crucified himself to this worldly life, and the lusts thereof?

In this first part we shall look briefly at two things:

  1. What it means to live “Christ”; and
  2. The Christ-like life is born out of love, not law.

The Apostle John 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. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 Jn. 2:15-17).

“The world” is not cars and houses. “The world” is far beyond these things. “The world” is our deep-seated carnal nature, the things that Jesus talked of in Mk. 7:21-22:

“21 … evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness”.

I am glad to see that pride is included here. These things are “the world” that scripture is talking about. The gospel is all about uprooting this system from our hearts.

When therefore Paul says “For me to live is Christ…” he was not talking about his preaching ministry. On the contrary, he was talking about something far beyond that. He was talking about character, the Christ-like character. He was saying he lived the Christ-like life or character.

And what, pray, is the Christ-like character?

Galatians 5:22-23 puts it forth clearly:

“22 … love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 meekness, temperance”.

Whenever you hear of “Christ”, this is first and foremost what it means. The church cannot talk of any other Christ apart from the Christ who first died and was then resurrected from the dead. In the same manner, we too need to die to self and to be resurrected with Christ. To be called “Christians”, we must live the resurrection life.

Elsewhere, the Apostle Paul states:

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

Here again the Apostle Paul reveals an even more incredible aspect of his adherence to Christ: that it was born of love! In other words, Paul understood Christ’s love for him! In return, he surrendered his life to Christ as a reciprocation of Christ’s love for him. He did not do anything for Christ out of law, or because he had to. He did it out of love, and in total freedom.

It is a sad statement on today’s church condition that many people serve God out of law. These people do not know Christ as Paul knew him. What a challenge for us today to know Christ’s love for us!

The Cost of Serving God

And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. Acts 23:1

A “good conscience”. This is the heart of today’s post. A good conscience talks of integrity before the Lord. That talks of a clean heart, a pure heart, for there is no other way to serve God. The Apostle Paul had lived with a heart of integrity before the Lord. When we say “integrity” it does not mean that Paul was faithful in paying his tithes. Serving God “in all good conscience” means more than that. It involves giving up the deep things of our hearts, literally, a death to the carnal nature in us. There are many lusts in us, chief of which is human pride. Have you ever thought about anger? Where does it come from? The cross of Jesus deals with these things at their roots. It deals with the heart. You can tithe without allowing Christ to touch your heart. But it needs the touch of God to uproot anger from your heart.

I believe living “in all good conscience before God” is the biggest challenge that we as believers have in the Spirit. This is because it requires us to surrender the deep things of our hearts.

God looks deep into our hearts. But Paul served God with his heart. That is why for him to declare that he had served God with a good conscience all his days was no mere talk. The Apostle Paul paid the ultimate price – death to the flesh – to be able to arrive at this state of affairs.

Immediately Paul declared his uprightness before the Lord before men, it was put to the test.

“And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth” (Acts 23:2)

It was a tough test. To have someone strike you on the mouth is one of the greatest attacks on anyone’s personality.

But Paul had died to his persomality. The Bible says that death is the last enemy to be vanquished, so the flesh is still very much alive. The flesh tried to rear its ugly head in Paul’s life. But Paul would not allow it to. He swallowed his pride and humbled himself before the High Priest, and before God.

“3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? 4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest? 5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people” (Acts 23:3-5)

In humbling himself, Paul proved that his was not mere talk. He proved to all present that he was a man who lived what he talked.

It is not easy to serve God with a good conscience every day of our lives. There are many things that will come and try to remove this state of affairs from our hearts. But notice Paul says,

“Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.”

“…until this day.” That talks of every day of his life.

Elsewhere, Paul tells the Corinthians:

“I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily” (1 Cor. 15:31).

Paul died to self daily. It was a daily battle.

Brethren, contrary to common belief, it is not easy to please God. Indeed, if we have any intention of pleasing God, let us realize there is a price to pay. We have to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ. Daily.

Many people are not aware that Jesus talked about paying the price. But He did. There is a price to following Christ. You can read about that in Luke 14:25-35. The word “cost” is stated there, in verse 28.

The Bible also says:

“23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. 24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. 25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. 26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. 27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil” (Prov. 4:23-27).

That’s talking about the cost. It talks about crucifying the flesh.

Men love talking about visions and revelations. But the single most important revelation that the church can have is “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Paul had many visions and dreams, but this was the singular most important revelation that the Apostle Paul received from Jesus Christ. But Paul did not receive it in order to boast. He received it to show men – including himself – the way to being set free from the power of the flesh, and to eternal life.

[In a remote village in Singida, I found an incredible drawing by a 10-year-old girl]


True Spiritual Victory

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,  And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Php 3:7-14) 

In every race, each athlete’s eyes are fixed on the finishing line. Once he or she touches that line they consider they have finished the race. But over and above that they make every effort to finish in a winning position so that they can receive the prize. After all, the really important person is the one who wins because he or she is the one who receives the prize.

The Apostle Paul desired to not only finish the heavenly race but to be that winning person. Paul got the revelation that the way to this was to conform to Christ by partaking in His sufferings and death. That meant forgoing, or denying all his earthly and fleshly rights. Only through this means could he attain to the prize of God’s high calling, which was the resurrection of the dead. And what is this resurrection of the dead? True, it includes the hope of eternal life that we have. But it also involves carrying the life of Christ in the here and now – victory over the flesh, the world and the devil.

The gospel that the Apostle Paul carried needed to be a revelation so that it would not get mixed with the craftiness of human wisdom. The latter appears like it has Godliness in it, but it never changes someone. It simply has not the power to do so. A revelation was what Paul got and he testifies that it changed him completely. He became, not a religious person, but a changed man.

How we need that revelation in our hearts today! That revelation will break us, and make us vessels worthy to carry the life of Christ. Through the manifold riches of God, the winning spot is one that is available to all of us.

We who are saved need to ask ourselves many questions today: whether that change is taking place in our lives daily; whether we are continually carrying a heart of true humility? Whether we are guarding and maintaining a pure heart at every cost? Whether we are paying the price of walking in true love and a tender, forgiving heart. These are things that require a high price indeed. And these are the things that the spiritual athlete is made of.

Christians today are busy boasting of their victories over the devil; but how often do we see the Apostles talking of the devil? They talked more about another more subtle and infinitely deadlier enemy: an enemy who does not and who cannot submit to the will of God. That enemy is the flesh. Unfortunately, today there is ‘another’ gospel being preached, which gratifies the flesh. It caters to and pampers the flesh. God’s people are not taught to crucify the flesh. On the contrary, in this ‘new’ gospel the flesh is very important . Live well, eat well, drive well, dress well, etc. Success is measured in financial and material terms. The ‘good life’ is emphasized. God’s people become, in effect, enemies of the Cross of Christ!

Well, I am sure God has no problem us living that good life. But He expressly instructs us to crucify the flesh. How we can reconcile the two is a gymnastic tightrope that much of the time we are unable to walk carefully enough. We easily play into the hands of the spirit of the world. Note the freedom of the man who, in Apostle James’ words, can live contented with the simple life: Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.” James 1:9-10

Amazing Grace…Amazing Responsibility!

When I was a little boy, from the age of about seven to fourteen years we used to go to a forest near our village to collect firewood. Throughout our early years, that was our life: every other evening after school, and each Saturday, boys of our age would leave the village with our dogs for the forest to collect firewood. The forest was very big, and we experienced many adventures there, for we also hunted deer and rabbits as well as fighting with boys from neighboring villages.

Danger also lurked in this forest; many unsolved murders occurred there, and more than once we ourselves had to run for our very lives. One day our group, desiring greater adventure, decided to go really deep into the forest, further than our parents would have allowed us to venture. At the very heart of the forest, we suddenly burst into a small, tight clearing; and there we found a fire with a pot cooking on it – and no one in sight!

It just took us an instant to figure out that we had just entered very dangerous territory and, without a word uttered, we scattered like flies. Many hours later we met at the village, exhausted, with no firewood – and extremely terrified.

But over and above all these adventures there was one very remarkable experience that happened to me personally during this period which was to have a far-reaching effect on my later life. It happened this way. At school, during morning parade, we used to sing songs from the ‘Golden Bells’ and ‘Redemption Songs’ songbooks. These were Christian hymnbooks, for in those days there was a strong foundation of the fear of God in men’s hearts.

Now, it came about that whenever we would go to the forest to collect wood, a particular song would always pop up in my heart. The song was “It Is Well With My Soul”, the song composed by Philip Bliss.

Each time I entered those woods, that song would come, like a silent visitor, and it would quietly engulf my heart, the lyrics and tune as clear as when we sang the song at school. I would sing it quietly under my breath, and a brilliant light would shine in my heart. My soul was transported to a strange, distant world, a world which my little imagination would not work out clearly. Yet it was more real than my immediate surroundings.

In those early years I did not know much about God nor could I have understood that He was involved in what was going on in my life. As a small boy, I could not think beyond my immediate experiences. Nevertheless, this song grasped my heart in a vague but powerful way, and it shook me. Sometimes, as my little soul answered to that far-away call, the tears would come to my eyes; but I would hide it from my friends. It was a very personal affair.

This experience impacted my young life more than anything that I can remember.

As I grew older and moved on into adult life, the whirlwind of worldly life whipped the memory of that experience into obscurity. I no longer went to collect firewood in the forest, and the song stopped singing in my heart.

Many years later, though, the Lord miraculously saved me. And gradually He brought back to me the memory of that childhood experience. It was then that it dawned on me that long before I was born, God had known me, and that since my birth He had always tried to get my attention. Not only that, but His hand had been upon me all those years, protecting me through the rough and sinful life that I had lived until, when I was 25 years of age, He finally managed to rein me in.

This childhood experience proved to be tangible evidence to me that the Lord began dealing with my life long before I even got saved. When I think of it today, this realization overwhelms me. It shows, more than anything, how much I mean to God. I am not on some backburner somewhere; but I am as central to Him as anything is. In fact, if I can believe it, I am the single most important object of His love and purpose.

I am reminded of the songwriter who once wrote: “Alas, and did my Savior bleed… for sinners such as I?” I wonder, too: could it be true that God would condescend to look upon such one as I, whom am less than nothing? And not only that, but that He has also found it in Him to involve me in His grand plan for the salvation of mankind. That prospect leaves me utterly astounded.

You, reader, have no idea, for you do not know me well enough. Me?! But I must believe, for it is true.

Then again, I am only now beginning to appreciate the depth and implications of the responsibility God attaches to His call in my life. His purpose for my life is gradually becoming clear. I am beginning to understand why He has been hovering over me all these years. He wants me to manifest the life of Jesus to the world.

What a responsibility! I ask, ‘How can I do it, Lord?’ He answers, ‘By losing your life!’ But can I possibly do that? Am I willing to lose my life for anything?

The answer is a bleak no. I am too weak for that. I am too frivolous. I am too selfish, too human!

But He does not need any of my efforts. I thank God because He has made a way for me to manifest the life of Christ in my life. The Apostle Paul says in Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

He says in chapter 1 verses 11-12 that he did not receive this revelation from man, but it was a revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ. The answer, therefore, lies in the revelation of what Jesus came to accomplish on the Cross!

The power of that revelation will cause me to give my life, to lose it, in order that the resurrection life of Jesus may be found in me. This is the calling of God in my life, a calling that was there before the foundations of the world were laid. The mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages is Christ Jesus, the revelation of the crucified Christ, who is the power of God.

“When I survey the wondrous Cross,

On which the Prince of glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.


“Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.” – Isaac Watts