Editor’s Note: Guest article from David Popovici of FIRE School of Ministry: Chicago
Weakness and power are not only representative of the Gospel but also of those changed and commissioned by it. This Gospel is the main vehicle through which God chose to and continues to make Himself known to the world. The Gospel is more that just proclaiming historical facts pointing to the one time event of the Cross. It certainly and by necessity includes this content, yet so much more! It is the reality of everything that took place in that moment and continues to as a result. It is everything that it points to and everything that it re-appraises in its light. It is an encounter with the risen Lord (1Corinthians 15:1-8). The “appearing” or witness of the Gospel is what is attributed to the majority (by a landslide) of all conversions taking place outside of the western world. A world in which it is not common to find the cheap substitutes that believers often hide behind here in the west. Whether that be creature comforts, obsession with the “who’s who” of entertainment, or a cheaply held belief in the catalogue of denominational doctrines that have changed very little of your life, and even less of the lives of your neighbors.
Devils are not accused in the James’ epistle of not believing what is true about God, but for not coming into alignment with it through loving obedience. That would probably explain why the temptation remains to either steer clear of truth, (who by the way is the person of Christ) or adopt a version of it that can be attained by our own clever ideas. This Gospel, weak by worldly standards, will not cater to any man’s self-centered ideas. In fact, it is not an issue that is up for debate. It is a proclamation! God is not going “door to door” apologizing that His demand to respond to mercy can seem harsh and offensive at times.
Let me briefly comment on a few thoughts from this passage. May your hearts be encouraged by both coming into revelation knowledge of what is already true about you in Christ challenging you to walk it out by His grace and power.
“And when I came to you,” a gospel that does not presently come to others in fact falls short of its title.
“I did not come to you with superiority of speech or of wisdom proclaiming to you the testimony of God” though the gospel certainly entails intelligible content, it most certainly should not be emphasized through persuasive arguments or human reasoning.
“For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” a man of weakness bearing a message of weakness should be characterized by the fact that he does not find his heart’s fascination in things below, but is himself characterized by the person and message of the Cross.
“I was with you in weakness” weakness denotes dependency. The messenger himself is evidence of his message. He may appear foolish or non-powerful in accordance with the spirit of this age, yet bears a mark that is in fact wisdom, power and life to those transformed by Christ. God’s power is most clearly manifested in our dependency, often as a result of pressure and trial.
“And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” demonstration, not explanation. And I am not saying that the Gospel does not include explanation. The Gospel transforms both within and as a result, without.
“So that your faith would not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” here is where he brings it home. Paul a wise master builders methodically discharges his ministry in the proclamation of a “weak” Gospel with this in view; that men’s convictions about life and God would not be built upon the sand of human ingenuity or self-serving appeals, but in the very reality of God.
If I can convince someone into Christ, somebody can come along and just as well convince him into something else with a better pitch than I had. But if God confronts a man through and by the Gospel, to both reveal God’s hatred for sin and love for the sinner and His victory of death. If a man can be brought face to face with LIFE by first seeing Christ’s death and his own sin, and receive a new nature, an altogether different existence. If he can see God’s life transforming, sin-destroying, disease-healing, deliverance at work in himself. Then he can properly give glory to God. For the only thing that glorifies God is what only He Himself can produce, and the Gospel is the crème de le crème from He who is Divine. “Weakness”, you gotta love it ☺.
Posted in Evangelism & Missions, Featured Articles Tagged with: denominational doctrines, dependency, evangelism, Paul, power, Revelation
“Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.”
The word “preserve” here has to do with “keeping something in its original state.” The fact that David is reaching out for another to preserve him implies that he recognizes that he cannot preserve himself. Our original state in God is purity, holy and undefiled from this world. God has taken us out of the mud and washed us as squeaky clean as His very own Son by the blood of His very own Son. David is acknowledging his inability and helplessness to stay clean, remain undefiled or be preserved in purity. The Psalmist often cried, “save me” (Psalm 3.7;6.4;7.1;22.21;31.2). But this cry is different. It is not a cry to be rescued; it is a cry to remain in the rescued state. Not to be made pure, but to remain pure.
I extend to you the God revealed route to a sustained purity and preserving in God, “…for in thee do I put my trust.” All victory begins with this heart, “I can’t do it!” When man reaches the end of himself, there and nowhere else, does he find the beginning of God. Our hearts must cry, “I cannot preserve myself, so I look to you.” A.W. Tozer in the famous book, “The Pursuit of God” said, “faith is the inward gaze of the soul unto God.” Jesus, talking of the salvation that is impossible with men and only possible with God (Matt.19.26), made a parallel with the serpent lifted up in Old Testament (John 3.14). The only path of salvation from the snake poison in the body of the Israelites was to lift their eyes to the golden serpent to be healed. So, when a man simply looks in surrender to Jesus, not only once to be saved, but consistently to be preserved, he finds his glorious rescue and union with God (John 15.5).
None of us did anything to attain our salvation (Eph. 2.8,9). We simply recognized that we could not save ourselves and we cried from a dark pit, the helpless cry of a condemned sinner, “God save me!” God in His mercy reached down and saved us from such a state and doom (John 3.16-17; Romans 8.1; Ephesians 2.1-2). God is not waiting for you to reach a certain point of desperation before He rushes in to preserve or save, He is waiting for you to empty your inward poison by looking away from yourself and unto Him. It is not that He refuses to come to man until, but that man will not respond to His having come to us. Jesus simply summed up all of Christianity in one phrase, “Come to me…(Matt. 11.28).” That isn’t when He saves you, that coming to Him IS your saving.
I submit to you today, that the same utter dependency, total reliance and absolute surrender to God that your soul reached to God with to be born again, is the same cry that must be lived in for the sustained victorious spiritual life. David Ravenhill said, “we never graduate from dependency.” That is the secret. That is the most mature perspective in God that there is. I CANNOT DO IT! I need you, oh, I need you, every hour, I need you.
Jesus said, “the son can do nothing of Himself; I do nothing on my own initiative (John 5.19;8.28).” Oh struggling brother, tired Christian and weak-willed complacent distant follower of Christ, you cannot maintain yourself. As long as you try to maintain yourself, you are already in failure. For no amount of Adamic resolve could ever enter a man into the Spiritual power released only by dependency. Resolve will always dissolve. But by surrender we will never cease to enter. Why is it this way? It is because God Himself is our Salvation (Psalm 38.22). He saved us from a life that doesn’t look to Him. Have you a sensitivity to see that our own life is something so evil, no matter how “good” it seems, that we must be saved from it? A life without the Lordship of Christ requires saving! Leonard Ravenhill said, “the greatest sin in the world…is ‘I can manage my life without God.'” A life still in our own hands is dead. Paul talked about people being, “dead even while they live.”
Jesus told us that only the children enter the Kingdom (Mark 10.14), the poor posses the Kingdom (Matt. 5.3) and the infants have revelation of the Kingdom (Matt. 11.25). Everything in God must hinge upon God. This is why Paul said so boldly, that to lean on any addition to dependency severs you from Christ (Galatians 5.4). There is no other way to have the rule of God truly ruling our lives than for us to declare “my soul says, ‘You are my Lord.'” If He is to be Lord, He can only ascend to the throne in your life by the bankrupt recognition and surrender of total reliance… utter dependency and absolute surrender is required.
Eric Gilmour is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Revival & Evangelism.
Posted in Featured Articles, Revival & Prayer Tagged with: A.W. Tozer, children, david ravenhill, dependency, Kingdom, Leonard Ravenhill, lord, poison, prayer, Psalmist, purity, pursuit of god, reliance, Revival, self, snake, spiritual