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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The Call Of God – Part 1

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called… Rom. 8:30

The lady seated in front of me picked up her ringing phone and spoke into it.

“Asalaam aleykum!” she said.

At the other end of the line I heard another female voice faintly echoing the same greeting.

The lady seated with me was one of our church members and I was intrigued to know whom she was addressing in the standard Islamic greeting.

After a few minutes of conversing, I was surprised to see her handing the phone to me.

“It’s Mama Zulfa, she wants to greet you”, she said.

“Oh”, I said in astonishment. Mama Zulfa was a secret disciple in one of our churches. She was married to an Arab Muslim. We rarely talked, even on phone. But it was I, rather than her, who feared the most. She was an intrepid soul, and she came from a family of equally fearless people. Her sister had also converted, even though she was also married to a Muslim. And both her two children were also believers, albeit secret ones.

But the journey leading to this state of affairs had began a long time ago. It had began with the call of God upon a little girl’s heart. A long time ago, when she was just a little girl, Mama Zulfa’s family lived across the street from a pastor’s house. It so happened that this pastor, his wife and two daughters would always come out onto the verandah of their house at a particular time of the day and loudly sing Christian hymns.

The girl was entranced by this spectacle. But it was the songs that captivated her most. A deep longing grabbed at her heart whenever she heard the pastor and his wife singing the Christian songs. It reached a point where, whenever they came out to sing, she would be there, waiting. She recalls that her worst nightmare was when any member of her family would call out to her at such a moment! At those times she was lost in a different world altogether.

Because her family was Muslim and the pastor’s Christian, the two families did not interact in any way. But one day, she was all alone at home when the pastor’s family came out to sing. As they were winding up and preparing to go back inside, she could bear it no more. Without thinking, she burst out from the house, dashed across the street and hurled herself into the pastor’s wife’s arms.

“Please don’t leave me!” The cry came from the depths of her heart. “I am one of you!”

Shocked and unable to comprehend what was happening, the pastor’s wife quickly opened the door and let the distraught girl in. And there, inside the pastor’s house, the young girl heard the gospel and hurriedly gave her life to Christ.

But that was as far as the honeymoon would go. She was never to step inside that house again for, soon afterwards, the pastor and his family left the neighborhood and moved elsewhere.

Time moved on and it came time for the girl to get married, and she got married in the traditional Muslim fashion. But the call of God never left her heart. A Hand stronger than any force held her firm in her faith. But she would not dishonor her husband by joining any church. But one day she crossed paths with one of our pastors and that was how I would find myself talking on the phone to this incredible woman of faith.

By the time Mama Zulfa joined us, she had secretly preached the gospel to nearly half her family members! After she joined with us, she preached the gospel to her sister-in-law (the one seated in front of me), who also gave her life to Christ.

Now we have a thriving underground church who would never have known the wonder of salvation were it not for the call of God upon a little girl’s life.

But this story just has no ending. In a strange twist of events, Mama Zulfa would meet again with the pastor who led her to salvation…

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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!

A Tremendous Heart, A Tremendous Price

1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.

2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.

5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.

6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Lk. 19:1-10

This Zacchaeus guy had to be joking… pay his (probably hundreds of) debtors four times the amount he owed them, and that after he had given half of his goods to the poor?! But, again, we know that the Lord Jesus Christ does not hang about with jokers (Psalms 1), so we are bound to pay careful attention to the words that Zacchaeus spoke here.

Secondly, scripture here says that Zacchaeus received Jesus “joyfully”. I haven’t read that he sang the “Joyfully! joyfully!” song. In fact it does not say that he sang any song at all. But there was a profound meaning to Zacchaeus’ joy; it was the joy of the man “… who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” (Mat. 13:46).

Zacchaeus had found the one thing that mattered to him, and he had no more need of the riches of this world.

Let us consider the deliberate progression of Zacchaeus’ words here. Notice he did not say, “Lord, I will settle accounts with all my debtors first, after which I will  give half my remaining goods to the poor.” No. Instead, he put himself in the most hazardous position possible, by dividing his gross earnings with the poor before he would settle accounts with those whom he had robbed along the way.

Zacchaeus put himself in a position where he would lose everything – and probably more. There was no easy way here. It was a difficult road he had chosen, one less well-travelled. Jesus called it the narrow way (Mat. 7:13). What a great price Zacchaeus would have to pay! But also, what a tremendous heart he had!

The road that Zacchaeus took has nothing to do with material goods. On the contrary, it has everything to do with our hearts. It could well be that you all you are required to do is humble yourself and ask for forgiveness from someone you have wronged; but your hard heart prevents you from doing so. You find yourself unable to pay the price.

What is so difficult for most of us to do, Zacchaeus did with incredible ease. It was the result of a humble, thirsty heart. A heart thirsty for righteousness.

Finally, let us consider something else in this scripture that is of equal significance, and which of necessity is tied in with Zacchaeus’ declaration. It is the words that Jesus spoke.

Notice that Jesus said, “This day is salvation come to this house” only after Zacchaeus had made his remarkable declaration. Many people think  that salvation is attained at the initial confession when they accept Jesus into their hearts. That might be so; but in this scripture, Jesus shows us that true salvation is experiential. Just as the Apostle Paul was taken up into the third heaven, there are varying degrees of salvation.

So it was that when Zacchaeus spoke the words that he did, only then did the Lord say, “This day is salvation come to this house”.

Jesus was not saying, the way we do, “This man just got saved”, after we have prayed for someone to receive Christ. On the contrary, Jesus was talking about a higher level of salvation (if we may put it that way), a perfection  in the Spirit.

Many believers think they can accept Jesus into their lives and continue living any old lives that they want. But true salvation, the Lord shows us, involves a transformation. That is why the Apostle Paul insists in Romans 12:1-2 that we must be transformed in order to be fully pleasing to God. The initial acceptance of Christ into our lives is commendable indeed, for in it we accept the redeeming work of Christ. But there is the perfecting part, for which God gives us the opportunity to lay down our lives, take up our cross and follow Christ.

And so it was that Zacchaeus, upon believing on the Lord, made this incredible declaration. On the road towards perfection, Zacchaeus paid a price, a tremendous price.

The Bible says,

“And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.”

And the Lord, who knows men’s hearts and who knew Zacchaeus meant what he said, replied,

“This day is salvation come to this house”

In concluding, we could well ask each one of us who reads this post, “Has salvation come to your house?”

[Below: A woman arranges fruits to sell at Marangu-Mtoni, on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro]

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Condolences

I deeply emphatize with our Kenyan neighbors for the ghastly murderous rampage that was unleashed upon them by the terrorist organisation, Al Shabaab, on Thursday morning. This act of incomprehensible hatred has touched the hearts of anyone who has any bit of reasoning capability.

My heart goes out to the grieving families. Nothing we say or do can really temper the pain, it is too much. But because God has put His love in our hearts, He uses us to reach out to other people. We have prayed and we will continue to pray for all the victims’ families. May God grant them grace and succour in the spirit during this extremely trying time.

In attempting to explain this murderous madness and similar acts of insanity that are going on all over the world today, we must start with the premise that we are in the world, and the Bible says that the world is full of violence: “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…” (Gen. 6:5-12).

But more importantly, we know that the world is against anything that is even remotely associated with our Lord Jesus Christ. The anti-Christ spirit of the world is alive and well, always has been: “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.”  (1 Jn. 2:18).

This spirit, being a violent spirit, has much in its arsenal, and it readily uses any of its ‘weapons’ to angrily lash out at anything that has even a semblance of Christianity. All this is in the Bible.

During Herod’s time, he killed all the children who were below two years of age, even though he knew that they were not all Jesus.

In the days we are living in, anyone who has the label of ‘Christian’ will be hunted down and  exterminated, ostensibly for any number of reasons; but the real reason being that that person is in one way or another associated with the Lord of eternal Life, Jesus Christ. That is why we cannot be just nominal ‘Christians’. On the contrary, we must be committed men and women, committed to Christ in truth and in the Spirit through accepting Jesus Christ into our hearts by faith. Actually, the real tragedy in the Garissa massacre are the number of souls, including the terrorists, who died without a personal faith in Jesus Christ.

I believe that is why God is reviving the Pauline revelation of the cross for the church. Without this revelation, believers will, by and large, be nominal Christians. Many, even born-again, will walk in sin. And, in the face of the ongoing persecution many will be tempted to feel bitter and even vengeful. They will claim an eye for an eye, and a life for a life.

But with the revelation of the cross, believers will flourish in the midst of persecution, for in Christ they will learn to joyfully embrace the spirit of suffering. The revelation of the cross will have accomplished a victorious work in their lives. With all the bad blood running in the world today, it is these people alone – those who carry the cross – who will be able to show forth the overcoming love of Christ to a world which has a mindset (or heartset) that has absolutely no understanding of the meaning of love.

We need to pray to God for peace in our neighborhoods and for our nations. Our God is well able to protect His own. But we also need to be prepared in our hearts to suffer, and to suffer with grace.

[Below: No words can suffice to soothe the pain; but God’s grace is sufficient …]

The Price of Following Jesus/‘Worldly Correctness’/“Who is my mother, or my brethren?”

57 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.

62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. (Lk. 9:57-62)

I was first drawn to this scripture by the phrase, “Let the dead bury their dead…” I wondered so much why Jesus would call a grieving family “the dead”.

But before we discuss that, let us see what Jesus said to the first man, the man who told Him, “I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest”.

Jesus told this man, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”

That is incredible, to say the least. The Son of the Most High God had nowhere to lay His head? while even foxes and birds have somewhere to lay down and sleep?! The Kingdom of God is a worldly paradox. That is why Jesus’ words cannot marry with the “Money, come to me now!” gospel or lifestyle that worldly preachers try to propagate today (see the clip in my post “Prosperity Gospel vs Suffering for Christ”). Suffering is the price for following Christ.

Jesus was here telling the man the price to pay for following Him. He was to expect to gain nothing of this world.

“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”

The Apostle Paul knew the price. In his writings, he puts it this way, “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” (1 Cor. 12:10).

At least, now, we know the price. It is to lose all.

Let us get back to Jesus and the man who wanted to first go bury his father then come follow Jesus. Jesus told the man, “Let the dead bury their dead…”

In African society we highly revere a family that has undergone a death, and we would hardly use such words as Jesus used here in a situation where a family is grieving, even in our imagination. But here Jesus tells a man who wants to go bury his father, “Let the dead bury their dead…”

I will tell you one thing: a man who has nowhere to lay down his head can talk a little differently than a man who owns a private jet. He has that luxury because he has nothing to lose. Jesus certainly made full use of that advantage.

But why, pray, would Jesus call this grieving family “the dead”? Was He irreverent?

No, Jesus was neither being irreverent, nor was He callous. I am sure that He loved this family very much, and it is inconceivable that their grief would not have touched His tender heart. But Jesus always stayed in the context of the heavenly Kingdom, and here He was stating a very important fact concerning what He came to do in the world. Jesus came to bring eternal life into the world. The Word of God teaches that anyone who has not received Jesus into their lives is spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1-3).

In the natural, there is only one thing that we can do with a dead person: bury them. Once someone is well and truly dead, all we can do is bury them, to rise no more.

But – thank God! – in the Kingdom of God, we have another option. We can choose to bring resurrection life to people through preaching the gospel. Jesus opted to work with this option: preach the Kingdom of God and bring resurrection life to the people of God.

You can’t be callous with a dead person. In fact, you can rattle them until their teeth fall off if it will bring them back to life again. The people that Jesus was referring to (this man’s family) were spiritually dead. If He truly loved them, there was only one thing He could do for them: give them eternal life! That is why He told this man, “Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.”

What a glorious combination!

Today the modern world has coined a phrase: ‘political correctness’. Many in the world today believe that ‘political correctness’ among worldly leaders is killing civilization as we know it. In the spiritual world, we have an equivalent, though probably unspoken term: ‘worldly correctness’. ‘Worldly correctness’ means we do not want to step on people’s toes with the gospel because we feel we will offend them. I am sure that this attitude on our part will send a lot of people to hell.

A Muslim friend of mine told me that as long as I did not mention Jesus in my discussions with him concerning religion, he would listen to me. I told him, “Whatever I have to tell you begins and ends with Jesus”.

Jesus was not ‘worldly correct’. Jesus had only one aim: to be ‘heavenly correct’. He talked and lived the only life that really matters: the eternal heavenly life. When Jesus therefore told the man “Let the dead bury their dead”, He was stating a spiritual reality of the life that He came to live.

We expend an inordinately large amount of energy and time trying to please and to fit in with the world. But that is not love. Smiling is good, but we cannot smile and expect to save the world. The same goes for intellectual arguments and counter-arguments. If we truly love the world, the only thing of worth that we can give them is to solidly preach to them the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus tells this man, “Go thou and preach the kingdom of God”.

Only the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ can bring true life to people.

Let us have one last glance at this scripture.

If there are “the dead” in this world, then there are also the living. This refers to the church. In this context, I believe  also that Jesus was telling this man to appreciate the church, more than his worldly flesh and blood kith and kin. He was laying upon him the importance of the church vis-à-vis his flesh and blood relations.

This aspect is a challenge to many people in church. Many do not know where to draw the line between their worldly relations and the church.

But Jesus did not have any uncertainties, hesitations or misgivings in this regard. He knew exactly where to draw the line. When His mother and brethren came to fetch Him, the Bible says, “33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? 34 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother” Mk. 3:33-35.

That’s pretty tough to swallow. We are called upon to love and care for our own flesh and blood, and even the world in general. But we ought to know where our true inheritance lies. It lies in the church, which is the true Body of Christ. True spiritual brethren are our spiritual inheritance. The church is our “portion”. That is why our true value with God is connected to how much we value His church, the brethren.

Our worldly relationships with our worldly kin should be whittled down to the bare minimum. (In the Spirit, of course, we will be working overtime to get them saved!)

But on the contrary, we should love and devote ourselves to the church with all our heart, with all our mind, and with all our strength. Jesus set the example for us.

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[Photo credit: Carol Lanthier]

Christmas!

It could well be that our Lord Jesus Christ was born on the 25th of December, some 2,000 years ago. That, after all, is the basis of our celebrating Christmas. But, important as it is that Jesus was born on whatever day it was that He was born (and for sanity’s sake let’s just presume it was the 25th of December), I believe the fact of His crucifixion far supersedes that of His birth. If we are to celebrate days, we therefore ought to be celebrating the day of Christ’s crucifixion more than the day of His birth.

I do not wish to dampen anyone’s spirits here, but I believe the church must begin to move away from the frivolousness into which churchdom has been cast. Celebrating Christmas is all right, and indeed I believe that for the believer every infinitesimal second in their lives should be a moment of celebration. We have so much to celebrate! And celebrating our salvation even physically is no sin at all.

But we should be celebrating with a sense of maturity in our hearts.

When we look at the scriptures we realize that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son Jesus – for what? It was so Jesus could become the sacrificial Lamb. It was so He could die for our sins. Jesus did not come to earth to open bottles of champagne, no. He came specifically to die, to die for our sins.

The death of Jesus, therefore, is of far greater importance than His birth. Had Jesus been born and not died on that cross, nothing would have changed in our relationship with God. To date we would still be sinners in God’s sight. Had Jesus not come to the right decision at Gethsemane, believe me, things would be a whole lot different for us today.

But thank God that Jesus – worthy is He! – made the decision to accept the Father’s will. It was God’s will that Jesus be tortured and killed for our sins (Isaiah 53), and that was exactly what happened because Jesus accepted that responsibility, although He knew it would cost Him dearly. That is why He is worthy of all praise and glory.

Today, through believing in the sacrifice of Christ on that cross we stand righteous in God’s sight. Praise and glory be to our Lord Jesus Christ! So much worthy is He!

And now God in His incredible love for us calls upon us to not only believe in the sacrifice of Jesus, but to identify our lives with Christ’s in His sufferings and death so that we may experience and share in His glory and power. He wants us to be victorious over the flesh and sin, just as Christ was victorious. If we are to have a taste of Christ’s glory in our lives, then we need to realize that we have to lose in this life, just as Jesus lost. But this loss is temporal.

If we are not willing to walk in this identification with Christ, we stand to experience the real loss. The real loss for the believer is when we are only content with evading the fire of hell. Here we will lose in eternity. When we live a lifestyle that simply wants to stay saved but holding onto our lives, we will lose heavily in the Kingdom to come. Better we lose our lives now.

“13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” 1 Cor. 3:13-15

The “work” that Paul is talking of here is the work of identifying our lives with Christ’s by denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him. Here Paul was addressing a carnal church, the Corinthian church. When the Corinthians first heard the gospel of Jesus Christ they cast off the flesh and all its works. But lately they had begun to cuddle the flesh once again!

That is why God calls on us to not only receive Jesus into our lives, but to also have a revelation of Christ’s sufferings, death and resurrection in our hearts. Only then can we gladly identify our lives fully with Christ’s death on the cross – and with His resurrection life.

Then and only then can we celebrate any aspect of our salvation in truth and in the spirit. And we are called upon to celebrate every second of our lives!!

[Below: Late evening, cross-country buses begin arriving in Dar es Salaam. Some will arrive as late as 10 p.m. depending on the distance they have had to travel]

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