The Eminence Of The Cross – Part 2

Firstly, in 1 Cor. 1:17-18, Paul states,

“17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

Notice what verse 18 is telling us. It is making a difference between being saved and taking up your cross and following Christ. These are two completely different things. In other words, you could be saved but not be under “the preaching of the cross”. You could be a believer who panders to his or her carnal lusts. One who is not fulfilling the righteousness of God in their lives. But the Bible declares that to those who have accepted salvation, the cross is “the power of God”!

In other words, when we are allowing the cross to work in us, the power of God is revealed in us! The power to do what? To defeat sin and to work the righteousness of God in our lives.

The Apostle Paul feared lest the cross of Christ should be made of “none effect” in the lives of believers.

Wow! What a mighty revelation!! But Paul goes even further and writes similar words 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”.

The believer has two mandates. Actually, one – salvation – is not our mandate. The work of salvation has been wrought by God Himself; we were dead in sin, and God resurrected us in Christ Jesus. A dead person cannot resurrect himself, so we were not involved in any way in our salvation. Salvation is all of God’s grace (Eph. 2:5).

The singular mandate that we have been given is to crucify our flesh. God calls us, by the Holy Spirit that He has given to us, to crucify our fleshly lusts and desires. Galatians 5:24 puts it thus:

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”

Again, this is of grace. According to His great mercies and love, God has decided to make us co-workers with Him. He makes us co-workers with Him in His fight against His enemies. And, pray, how do we fight God’s enemies?

It is not by screaming at the devil, as most believers have been taught. Nor is the believer’s victory in the thousand and one “steps” that fill most charismatic teachings.

On the contrary, there is only one way to defeat the enemy. It is by crucifying the flesh! God gives us His Holy Spirit for the express purpose of crucifying the flesh. Once we have crucified the flesh, we are done. Done, I said. That is what it says in Ephesians 6:10-20. Here, it is well documented how our spiritual warfare is waged solely on the battleground of the flesh. Just look at our armor (vss 14-18).

Truth. Righteousness. Peace. Faith. Salvation. The Word of God. Prayer. All these things require a denial of self.

It is all about crucifying the flesh! Once we crucify the flesh, the devil has nothing in us (Jn. 14:30). The devil fears a dead Christian! But when he meets a ‘live’ believer (i.e., one who is living for himself), the devil has a powerful weapon. We do the devil’s work when we fulfill the desires of the flesh.

Hence the cross. This mandate that we have from God – to crucify our flesh – was the reason the Apostle Paul held the cross in such esteem. You can see in his epistles that the singular thing that the Apostle Paul defended was the cross. Unlike many preachers in his time (but more so today), Paul did not boast in the great works that were done through him; nor in visions and heavenly visitations, all of which he had in abundance. On the contrary, Paul boasted

“in mine infirmities” (2 Cor. 12:5)

What does Paul mean by “infirmities”?

We shall see that in the next chapter of this series.

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Circumcision vs The Cross – Part 2

There is no other way of becoming spiritual other than crucifying the mind of the flesh together with its lusts (Gal. 5:24). That is the singular most importance understanding that a believer can have in his or her life

We can therefore see the significance of Paul’s words in verse 11:

“Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.”

We can understand why he would want to put everything else aside and emphasise the importance of this revelation to the Galatians. The revelation of “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2) was the singular most important thing that they could grasp in their lives.

When we lack that revelation in our hearts, we look to form, tradition and anything that can be grasped with our human understanding. The Galatians looked to circumcision.

There are so many things that believers today think are important in their lives; but which are not.

The Apostle Paul puts it out so clearly the single most valuable thing in a believer’s life:

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

Not tradition or form; but a work of the Spirit in someone’s heart.

[The work of the Holy Spirit in us transforms us]

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Circumcision vs The Cross – Part 1

11 Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.

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

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

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

15  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. Gal. 6:11-18

This post is a progression of my last post. I am sorry it has taken me so long to write it. But I pray it will bless whoever reads it.

Seeing that the Bible is God’s Word written by His own hand through men who were sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, we must be careful how we interpret scripture.

Let us take verse 11 above, for example. Let us try and examine what the Apostle Paul means by a “large” letter; and, secondly, “with mine own hand”. The answer to this question is important to our understanding the rest of this portion of scripture.

Does Paul, in verse 11, mean he wrote this epistle in unfamiliarly large script? Or that he wrote the letter using capital letters? And why add “with mine own hand”?

The keyword here is “emphasis”. Paul here was talking of the emphasis that he placed on whatever he was telling the Galatians in. And, considering they had waded knee-deep into circumcision (made with hands), he was emphasizing, not only the futility, but also the danger of this exercise in their lives, for he says in Galatians 5:4:

“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”

This danger is as real in our modern times as it was in Paul’s time. It is just as we saw in our last post about the futility of the modern idea that making a pilgrimage to Israel had anything to do with our spiritual journey. It is a spiritually dangerous idea.

Am I saying Christians should not visit the land of Israel? Hardly. But religion as we know it today is, to a large extent, man’s way of evading the cross of Jesus Christ, for our sole calling is to suffer with Christ. And this is the very purpose of the revelation of the cross in our hearts: to enable us to partake of the sufferings of Christ. And what, pray, are these sufferings?

The Christians sufferings incorporates dying to the worldly lusts in us. The cross crucifies the world to the believer, and the believer to the world. And that, in a nutshell, is what it means to be spiritual; and the aim of our salvation is to be spiritual.

[Beating out the sunflower harvest in Singida]

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Interlude: The Last Days… (Part 1)

11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:
12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it. Amos 8:11-12

22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
23 But we preach Christ crucified… 1 Cor. 1:22-23

“SURELY, THESE ARE THE DAYS OF HIS DREADFUL SERVANT”.

Really?! Unless you are talking of the dreadlocks.

The truth is that these are the days of the fulfillment of Amos’s prophecy in Amos 8:11-12 This prophecy is being fulfilled right before our eyes. Imagine all these millions of people waiting… for nothing. Even if the fire had come (no sign of it in the video) still it wouldn’t change them, for God is no longer in the signs and wonders, but in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the revelation of the cross, working mightily in us.

The church in these last days would do well to stay put and pray for the revelation that the Apostle Paul had.

These are the days when an astonishing number of false prophets shall rise up to deceive the elect. But these are also the days of the truth of God’s Word.

The Testimony Of Philemon – Part 2

Brother Philemon’s testimony.

Back in 1993, I was a regular guy who loved drinking beer in the local pub. One day, I remember I was drinking in the inner room of the pub with two of my friends. I happened to know that both these men were once saved, but they had backslidden. And so on that day, I asked them why they had backslidden.

One of them told me, “Pal, salvation is a very difficult thing.”

“But”, I countered, “I have heard them teach that there is a hell?”

“Yes”, he answered, “there is a hell.”

“Don’t you fear going to hell?” I pressed further. But they did not answer me and we continued drinking.

But something had grabbed at my heart. Hell. I cannot say it was fear; rather, it was like the word “hell” made a big impression upon me and it just would not let go.

I had a neighbor who was saved and when I woke up the next morning, I knocked on his door. I asked whether he had a Bible and whether he could lend it to me.

“Most gladly”, he said, and he went inside and came back with a Swahili language copy of the New Testament.

I took the book back home and began reading it. But all I was searching for was the word “hell”. I wanted proof from the Bible that hell exists and that every sinner would end up there.

In the course of reading that small Bible over many days, I found plenty of that proof. There was a lot written there concerning hell! Whatever had grabbed my heart concerning hell continued to tighten its grip. Gradually, a conviction formed in me that I ought to get saved. As the days went by, that conviction grew and grew.

One day I came back home and called to my wife. I said to her, “I am thinking of leaving you.”

“Why?” she asked, surprised.

“Because I am thinking of getting saved.”

“You?” she scoffed. “How can you get saved while you are drinking in the pub all day long?”

But, unknown to her, I had already made up my mind. One Sunday morning, I went to my neighbor’s house, the one who had lent me his Bible. I told him, “Here, I brought you back your Bible. See you later,  I am going up to the shops.”

“Wait”, he said. “I am going that way, too, to church.”

We walked on together, and when we reached his church, I made to pass on. But the man reached out and said, “Welcome in. Come on in and let’s worship together.”

“Oh, okay”, I said, and without much ado, I turned and walked into his church.

The service went on and, at the very end, the pastor called to anyone who would want to get saved. I stood up and walked to the front. I could feel everyone staring at me. But this was a decision I had made for quite a while, and I was simply delivering on it. And so, on that day, I got saved and became a born-again believer.

Soon after, my wife followed suit and gave her life to Jesus.

In those days, unlike today, the fear of God was in church, and the pure gospel of Jesus Christ was preached. We knew what it was to live a holy life.

But, as the years progressed, things began to change. Gradually, the pure gospel we had been hearing was replaced by something else. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there was a definite change. There was an emphasis on the outside man rather than the spirit. There was, for example, an emphasis on how one dressed; and on being financially stable. In church! Now, today, as I speak, the church that I got saved in is a circus. There is little of the Spirit there. The services are a circus, geared towards entertaining the flesh. And, in preaching, there is a lot of emphasis on money. Today, when the bishop comes to visit, women lay down clothing for him to walk on, all the way from his car to the inside of the church! That was not so in the early days of our salvation. Moreover, back in the diocese in town, the churches are ranked according to how well they treat the bishop when he comes and the leaders make a huge thing out of it.

But the worst part are the broken lives of believers. The lives of believers are a joke; and so are those of the leaders themselves. There is more discord and enmity amongst church members than there is in the world.  Leaders are jostling – actually fighting – for positions in church. Me and my wife were leaders in that church, but we arrived at a point where we decided it was far much better – and safer – to just stay at home rather than go to church even if we were members of the church leadership.

That was when I met Dude here. He told me he had met some brethren who preached a different gospel, the gospel of the cross. He told me that the gospel of the cross revealed the problem of the church today, which is the flesh.

What he said made sense to me and I desired to hear more about this gospel. That was when you came to Minyughe.

In my life, I have seen much in the church, and I am convinced in my heart that the gospel of the cross is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Nothing would budge me and my wife from this belief. We have witnessed the grace of God through the revelation of the cross in our lives. Today, our lives are filled with joy and purpose in the Spirit. We have changed! We look at our brethren in all these Pentecostal churches, fighting and living defeated lives, and we simply thank God for the revelation of the cross.

What do I believe? I believe with all my heart that this revelation will cover the entire earth, and then Jesus will come. When I read scripture, that is what it tells me. Jesus will not come back until the truth – the gospel of the cross – has been preached everywhere, to prepare God’s people.

I will forever be grateful for the revelation of this revelation in my life.

[Brother Philemon]

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Paul’s Spiritual Ministry

17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.

18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. Phil. 4:17-18

I am still intrigued – and greatly challenged – by the Apostle Paul’s attitude towards material wealth and towards the offerings that he received from God’s people. When Paul received a gift, he did not say, “Gotcha!” Nor did he exhale an, “Oooooh, yeah!!”

No. Paul’s outlook was never about himself. As a recipient, he never thought about himself when it came to the ministry of giving and receiving. On the contrary, he thought about the giver. He thought about how this other person would gain through their gift in God’s heavenly Kingdom.

But probably the truly earth-shaking revelation is of how Paul could convert something that was basically material into spiritual. It is like in science, where you can turn something from physical form into chemical form. Paul turned a physical action into a spiritual one. How did he do it? He did it by not directing the gift to himself, but to God. He says,

“… the things which were sent from you, (are) an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.”

The Philippians sent Paul a gift and Paul did not write, “Oh, your gift really blessed me. It took me out of a rut.”

Instead, Paul says, “The gift that you sent me was received, not by me, but by God, and it has pleased His heart. Your gift has blessed God.”

But words are just words. You can say all those wonderful-sounding words and still be a man or woman who is looking after himself. What makes the difference is the lifestyle that you live. A life of self-denial is the proof that such words are indeed true in a man’s life. It is therefore through Paul’s lifestyle that we can judge and commend him for being a spiritual servant of God. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:8:

“I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.”

Whatever Paul received from other churches, he used it, not on himself, but to minister to other churches. This is what the revelation of the gospel in a man’s heart does. His whole outlook on life becomes, not about himself, but about others.

And, pray, what “service” do you suppose Paul did the Corinthians?

It was spiritual service. He preached to them the gospel of Jesus Christ. He taught them to give of their lives also even as Christ had given His. This was Paul’s “service” to the Corinthians.

I heard a bling (you have to look up “bling” in a contemporary dictionary) preacher tell his congregation, “You see my bling, you see my Bentley, you see my glory, but you do not know my story!”

The man also owns a Mercedes Benz and he went on to justify his extravagant lifestyle. “I have been pastoring for 26 years and… I have accumulated my wealth over the years.”

Another felt she had to justify on TV why she had to fly only on business class: “I really could not fly commercial at this stage of my life and do what I am doing. I could not endure it physically… You know how hard it is to fly commercial.”

“Physically”. All these preachers are thinking of is their physical and worldly comfort. They think only of themselves. And they have the material and financial wherewithal to live the kind of lifestyle they want.

But the Apostle never thought of himself. A true man of God thinks only of losing – losing, that others might gain. But it goes far beyond that; in fact, the spiritual man loses in the natural that others might gain in the Spirit. If it was a matter of owning churches, Paul owned all the churches in Europe, Asia and Africa. He also owned all the churches in the Middle East, except the tiny enclave of Jerusalem. He could have gone on and become the richest preacher who ever walked this earth. But Paul’s lifestyle hardly reflected any such thing. In 1 Corinthians 4:11-13, he writes:

“11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; 12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: 13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.”

Those were the apostles of old; they were the Godly ministers of old. Today, largely, it is a far much different story. But, again, it is all about seeing into the never-ending war between the flesh and the Spirit. If one does not have this revelation, he cannot live the kind of lifestyle that Paul and the other apostles lived. He cannot deny himself. Nor can he see into God’s spiritual Kingdom.

Paul was fully filled with the Holy Spirit and in all aspects of his life, he was fully directed by the Holy Spirit. Paul therefore thought in spiritual terms in every aspect of life. We can sum up Paul’s life and ministry as a true ministry of the Spirit. Viz:

  1. Paul never thought of his own profit, but of the profit of others;
  2. Even when Paul thought of others, he was not thinking of the material gain they would receive on this earth, but of their spiritual gain in God’s heavenly Kingdom.

And this is what Godly ministry is all about.

[Paul chose to lose in order that he might minister to God’s people in the Spirit]

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A Ministry Of The Spirit! – Part 2

2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:

3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 2 Cor. 3:2-3

As I stated in the first part of this post, there are many things that I stopped doing as a result of coming into contact with the Pauline revelation of the cross. The important thing that I want to emphasize is that nobody told me to stop these things in my Christian life. It was never even taught or mentioned in any of the sermons that I heard. It was something that was born in me by the Holy Spirit; it was one of the fruits of the ministry of the Spirit. It happened exactly as the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 1:11-12:

“11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

This is what happens when you are ministered to by the Holy Spirit, and not by men. You don’t do or stop doing things because someone tells you to; you do it because the Spirit tells you and enables you to. Yes, it is men who will teach and preach to you, but because you are on a good foundation and the revelation of Christ is in those teachings, then it is no longer about men ministering to you, but the Spirit.

Finally, I couldn’t stress enough that the Holy Spirit will always reveal only one thing: “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). This is exactly what the Apostle Paul said of the ministry of the Holy Spirit:

“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

In Paul’s words here we find one thing and one thing only. Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. That is what the ministry of the Holy Spirit is all about.

In our final deposition, we will look at one other aspect of this whole issue: the revelation that comes from the flesh.

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