Of Apostles And Prophets – Part 2

1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 
2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 
3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 
4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 
5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit (Eph. 3:1-5)

Let us begin with the Old Testament. In proverbs 17:11 we read:

“An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.”

Notice how these words align with what the Apostle Paul went through as he describes in 2 Corinthians 12:7.

“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”

A messenger of Satan was given to Paul, to buffet him in the flesh.

Was Paul an evil man?

It is clear from these scriptures that the “evil man” that the writer of Proverbs 17:11 is referring to is not our human idea of an evil man; on the contrary, the “evil man” here refers to the flesh. In essence, therefore, this scripture addresses all of us, for we are all carnal. If you thought you were good or holy, the Bible says no, you are “evil”. You haven’t become good until you meet with that cruel messenger. If you haven’t met him yet, get prepared; it is God’s will that he be sent… to buffet you!

With regard to his candidacy for meeting the cruel messenger, Paul states in Romans 7:14:

“… I am carnal, sold under sin.”

And again, in Romans 7:21-23:

“21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

Do we not all experience this? We are at war! And the cruel messenger has been sent our way. Strangely enough, he has been sent to help us win this war.

Who is the cruel messenger then?

The cruel messenger is the cross. The cross was set up against Paul’s carnal nature, for Paul’s carnal nature was evil.

We read in Romans 8:7-8:

“7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”

In his case, therefore, scripture had to be fulfilled:

“An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.”

In order for Paul to do the will of God and please Him fully, God put him under this cruel messenger. Unscribed in the ways of God, Paul prayed to God thrice to have this messenger taken away from him, but God told him:

“My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

In other words, God was telling Paul, “Paul, you cannot serve me as you are. But that thorn will constantly keep your flesh under, for your flesh only wants to rebel. That cross will produce the grace needed to bear fruit for Me.” (Rom. 7:4)

In 2 Corinthians 4:12, the Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians just as much concerning what the cross accomplished in his life :

“So then death worketh in us, but life in you.”

When the cross worked death in the apostles’ lives, life came to the church!

It is the same today. The problem with the church today is that there is a huge number of people calling themselves apostles and prophets. But death is not working in these people! Their condition is exactly as it was with the false ministers of Paul’s day. Paul spoke of the ministers of his day thus:

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:13)


Paul tells of what they were doing to the church.

“For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.” (v.20)

This is exactly what is happening in church today. These so-called apostles and prophets are doing these same things to God’s people!

“Smite you on the face” means to degrade, to demean, to humiliate. Just as in Paul’s day, today’s false apostles and prophets are doing extremely inhumane things to God’s people. Every kind of evil is being done against God’s people by ungodly men who are in actual fact ravenous wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing. The Swahili Bible uses the word “cruel”. It calls them “cruel wolves”.

Indeed, there is probably more cruelty going on in the church than in the world. But, just as in Paul’s day, people are thronging to these crude ‘ministries’. Wonders.

Because the church today is largely under the influence of these false apostles and prophets, there is no life left in much of today’s church. Everywhere, God’s people are suffering terribly, and they are in deep mourning.

Is there no balm in Gilead?

Thank God, there is. Let’s recap again to our key scripture in Ephesians chapter 3 and verse 5.

“…Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit”.


“holy apostles and prophets”.

The key lies in the word “holy”. God’s Holy Spirit will minister the true gospel only through holy apostles and prophets. These are they who will preach and live the singular gospel that the Apostle Paul preached:

“Jesus Christ and him crucified” (2 Cor. 2:2).

Unfortunately, the church has always had unholy ministers, and these nearly always outnumber the holy ones. But we are to be on the look-out. Jesus said,

“15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”

Jesus was talking about entering into God’s Kingdom through the narrow gate; and here He declares that false ministers will not live a life that reflects this lifestyle. They will live the high and sinful life.

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that these false ministers have not the vaguest idea of the gospel of the cross, which was the singular gospel that the apostles preached. They preach

“another Jesus”; “another spirit”; “another gospel” (2 Cor. 11:4).

They preach the prosperity gospel. I heard one of them say, “I am a billionaire.” A billionaire preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Another has jets (“Jets, with an ‘s’!”, effused the reporter). Etc, etc. Incredible.

Others skirt the prosperity gospel but carry equally demonic doctrines. But any other gospel, apart from the revelation of the cross, is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And Jesus told us to beware of all these fellows.

“Beware of false prophets”.

This is a responsibility the church must bear. You cannot just say of your pastor, “Oh, I did not know his life.” How can you not know your pastor’s life? If you have no access to your pastor, stop going to that church. You should have access right into his bedroom (it could be that’s where he beats his wife).

Jesus gave us the responsibility to know what those who minister to us are carrying in their hearts.

“Ye shall know them by their fruits.”

False apostles and prophets have not been granted the revelation of the cross. They will preach and live other things altogether.

God’s people today need to desire and to heed the gospel of the cross which has been revealed to God’s holy apostles and prophets . Otherwise, there is no end to the spiritual grief they will endure and, in the end, most likely miss heaven altogether because they have been led along the wide and broad way.

[Another of my favorite dishes in the villages: freshly boiled pumpkins]


Are We A Deaf Church?

15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Mat. 7:15-23
Notice Jesus warned us to “Beware of false prophets”. This means, simply, that we have been forewarned. When you have been warned of something, that means that you have a responsibility to heed that warning – unless, of course, you are deaf, and you did not therefore hear the warning in the first place.
But you would be shocked to learn today that a large proportion of the church is dead deaf. That is the only conclusion one can come up with when we see how God’s people are rushing headlong into the arms of “false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves”.
Jesus said we would know His servants by their fruits, not by the supernatural works they would be performing. But today, few heed this warning.
Today, in Africa, there is something called “power”. Across churches on every Sunday, you hear, “Power!!” People are mesmerized by the powerful works that are being performed in these churches. And many of the men who perform these works are bigger than Jesus Himself. But I believe it is more important to heed Jesus’ warning to “beware” than to go after these things, however important they are.
In any case, there are many of these marvellous works that are not from God, but from the devil. The Bible says the devil is capable of transforming himself into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).
I recently heard of a powerful Jewish rabbi in New York who was facing criminal charges in court for secretly videotaping women who underwent a certain Jewish ritual which requires them to strip naked and submerge themselves into a pool of water, while being observed by an all-male group of rabbis. (What a sad lot, the people who are under these laws and men!)
This man also engaged in extra-marital sex with many of the women that were under his control.
This was a man who had absolute sway over thousands, probably millions of people. And it is on record that he was a religious bully who possessed a cold heart. But people simply were not able to read that. And yet… Jesus had long forewarned them.
I wonder why it is so difficult for believers to understand that true power resides in a humble, broken spirit.
Today, many, many men of God who perform powerful supernatural works in the Spirit are engaging in all kinds of sins, and against the very people they are supposed to be leading to heaven. They are proud, arrogant and contemptuous of God’s people; they fleece people’s bank accounts, they are committing adultery… and all this is happening in church. That is why Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits”, because they would be doing these things in church.
What many believers fail to realize is that God uses such men simply because everything is God’s servant. God can use anything to bring about His purpose. There are no limits to what God can use. He uses both the good and the bad. He even uses the devil to do His will.
But that does not mean that every one of the things that God uses are going to heaven. The donkey that God used to warn Balaam is not going to have a front seat in heaven just because God used him; he will not even be there. The “messenger of Satan” that God used to buffet Paul (2 Cor. 12:7), you will not find in heaven. Nor, alas! many of the people who have led others to Christ. And “many”, Jesus said, of the ministers of God who have performed mighty works in the Spirit, will be turned away. Not every minister will go to heaven.
But everything is God’s servant, and God uses anyone and anything to fulfill His purposes.
But worldly-minded men are using God’s supernatural gifts to draw God’s people after themselves. And considering the fact that God’s people are hard of hearing, they are rushing into these men’s churches like the Niagara.
But then, again, you can fool the whole world, but you cannot fool God. Jesus said that when that day of reckoning comes, He Himself will tell many of the people who did His powerful works, “I never knew you: depart from me…”
How can it be that men who have:
1. “… prophesied in thy name?” (How many are prophesying in the Name of Jesus today?)
2. “… and in thy name have cast out devils?”
3. “… and in thy name done many wonderful works…”
how can it be that Jesus will tell such people, “I never knew you: depart from me”?
It is because these men and women failed to take up their cross and follow Christ. Sadly, these people never got the revelation of the cross in their lives, and they therefore failed to identify their lives with Christ’s in His suffering and death. They never allowed God to go deep down into their hearts and do a circumcision there. On the contrary, they allowed sin and the flesh to rule their lives.
The cross is the only place where sin can be defeated. Sin is not scared of miracles. You can perform all the miracles in the world; or, alternatively, you can have all the miracles performed on you; but that won’t change you in the least. It will not remove sin in your life. What will change you is a work of the cross in your life.
That is why I love the cross. The cross cuts across the entire spectrum of humankind. The cross does not care who you are. It does not tremble in the presence of “mighty men of God”, or any man. The cross seeks out the flesh in a man and crucifies it.
If Jesus underwent the cross, if Paul and the other apostles took up their cross and followed Christ, how much more we?
In any case, the church should wake up and stop being so gullible. The treasure is not the miracles, or the prophecies, or the healings … these may be important, but the true treasure is the life of Christ in us. And only the crucifixion of the flesh can bring that about.
Moreover, we have been forewarned, by Jesus Himself, to know what is important in our lives, and to not be drawn by the flattery of men.

[Below: Travelers wait to board the newly-inaugurated ferry at the new Musoma pier]