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 Great Fellowship – the Church (Part 1)

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

I will divide this post into four parts, and I hope my readers can travel with me to the end. It is but one message outlining the great fellowship that the church is in the Spirit.

Part 1

I once had a saved friend who worked on the 14th floor of a prestigious building in the city. That was not a big deal because I also worked on the seventh floor of another building in the city. But this man controlled the accounts of a very big corporation. In fact, the whole 14th floor of that building was his personal office.

Needless to say, my friend was extremely wealthy. Moreover, he worshipped in an upscale church, and he was always trying to get me to go to his church.

“Come”, he would say. “I want to introduce you to my pastor, so he can teach you how to become wealthy”.

But I feared to meet his pastor. This was because the favorite scripture that this friend of mine used to berate me with for not being as rich as he was, was Mark 10:29-30:

“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.”

He made it very clear to me that Jesus was talking about God’s children possessing “houses” and “lands” in this present time. Although what this brother said did not ‘click’ with me in the spirit, yet it made sense to the natural mind and I therefore had no way of countering his argument. I equally had no revelation of this scripture beyond what he had.

But as I grew in my salvation, it always troubled me that the people who talked on this scripture never touched on the “brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children”. Didn’t Jesus say we were to have a hundredfold of these, too, in this world?

Something appeared wanting, whichever way one looked at it.

But today I wouldn’t fear to go visit my friend’s pastor. In fact, I would rush to meet him. This is because I know exactly what Mark 10:29-30 means. This remarkable scripture simply talks of, or refers to the great fellowship of the church. The church being the body of believers worldwide and in every generation.

It has no connection, whatsoever, with owning material wealth outside the church setting. Many people have used this scripture to bring about their own personal spiritual downfall. They have used it to live a comfortable but selfish lifestyle, which is against God’s will.

Jesus envisioned a united church, a Body. In His scenario, all believers would have all things in common, having first surrendered their lives to Christ. They would live in great fellowship.

Fellowship. What a wonderful word! Actually, Jesus was telling the disciples, “You ain’t seen anything yet. Wait till you see the church! The church is the place to be!”

This was accomplished fully in the Book of Acts with the early church.

“32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. 34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for 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: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. 36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” Acts 4:32-37

My friend’s interpretation of Mark 10:29-30 was a selfish, carnal and materially-motivated interpretation. That is why it could not fill up the sum. Nor, unfortunately, did his life.

As an aside here, let me propose that no one in their right minds would want a hundredfold mothers, sisters, brothers and children in the natural. Realistically, it would be impossible to live with them all. You wouldn’t want to handle the problems of a hundred clans (all your own) in the natural. You cannot try to do that and expect to live long in this world. Even with the best of families everyone there would be dying before their 20th birthday and they would die from a multitude of ailments, all related: high blood pressure, high-speed aging, fatigue, a burst neck vein, running amok, and an endless list of such-like diseases.

And the word “hundredfold” here does not mean “times one hundred”, no. It means “multitudes of”. That talks of infinitely more. You don’t want to come up against that in the natural.

But in the church we have an innumerable number of mothers, brothers, sisters whom we can relate to and live with and be at peace with all the time, and in any situation. I am not saying that the church is accomplished yet at this, but where the grace of the Lord is there is repentance and repentance brings growth. More and more, lives are meshed together.

The company of believers are incredibly precious people. These are people with whom we can share our hearts with, and who can provide an answer in the spirit to every tiny problem we might be facing.

On my part, I cannot think of any brother or sister in the Lord whom I know of personally who is not extremely precious to me.