“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” -Gal. 2.20
The real fruit of the Gospel in a man’s life has nothing to do with what title he bears religiously, what reputation he has maintained among colleagues, or how successful he has been ministerially speaking. A man may receive accolades from saint and sinner, he may have a great following, and he may be recognized as a great spiritual leader, but this is not the sure evidence of grace on his life.
The only proof of the validity of a man’s faith is that great foundational declaration of Paul:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me….”
Have I really been crucified with Christ? Can I say with Paul that I no longer live? Can I walk through the slopes and valleys and storms of this life with a burning consciousness that Christ lives in me?
There is an awful lot of boasting in the Church, but it is all too rare for us to find fellowship with those who “no longer live,” and in whom the Life of Christ Himself is being demonstrated. There is too much preaching that is devoid of the resonance of Christ’s life, too much ministry being carried out with mere machinery and sweat, too much religious performance by saints who know how to smile in a meeting, but who lack the kindness and purity and humility of God in the realm of day-to-day life.
Could it be that we are seeing the ill-formed fruit of too many years of un-apostolic preaching? Philip the evangelist preached Christ Himself. Paul preached Christ, and him crucified. There is no higher form of preaching than preaching Jesus Himself. True preaching calls us to lay down our own lives, and to receive the Life of the Lamb Who was slain. If we are not hearing of the glory of this Man from our preachers, our foundations are themselves faulty and dubious. Years ago, in a letter to a friend, Leonard Ravenhill wrote:
I find many evangelists are getting concerned about the lack of permanence in the so-called conversions of people they minister to in their meetings. The fact is that most preachers preach only a half gospel. All they preach is forgiveness, but a man needs more than forgiveness. He needs regeneration and his conscience purged by the blood of Christ from dead works to serve the living God. A man is not a Christian until God takes up residence in him.
A miracle must take place. We should quit asking people if they are saved. Everyone thinks somehow they are saved. Why not look them in the eye and say, “Does Christ live in you?” If Christ is not in a person, they are not born again.
(In Light of Eternity: The Life of Leonard Ravenhill, Free Grace Press; 2010, p. 356)
May the Lord raise up a host of men with the fire of God in their souls, and a revelation of Christ in their hearts, to set forth the glory of Jesus Christ, to call men back to the cross, and to preach again the everlasting Gospel as a piercing Light in the darkest places. That the Lamb Who was slain would receive the reward of His suffering ….
You know one thing about a man carrying a cross outside the city…. He’s not coming back. -A.W. Tozer
Bryan Purtle is an author that carries a jealousy for historical revival, the salvation of Israel, and the recovery of apostolic proclamation and living through the revelation of Jesus Christ. Visit his website at thoughtsuponrising.com.
Posted in Featured Articles, The Kingdom of God Tagged with: A.W. Tozer, apostolic preaching, Bryan Purtle, conversion, evangelist, Jesus Christ, Leonard Ravenhill, religious performance, the Gospel
It is a great tragedy that so much of the modern Church in the West has neglected the essential role of the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament, we read about a Church that was completely dependant upon and full of the Holy Spirit. His power and guidance was evident everywhere. The Church was born in Pentecostal fire and the concept of a church without the all-pervading presence of the Holy Spirit would have been totally unimaginable and foreign to them.
In Acts 6:1-5 we read that the early Christians noticed that there was a weakness in their administrative system (some of the widows were being overlooked in the daily ministration). Sensing the obvious, that it would not be right for the apostles to wait on tables, they looked for lay-workers who could attend to the day-to-day business of the congregation.
I want you to notice what the leadership was looking for in these table-waiters; in addition to having integrity and wisdom, they were required to be full of the HOLY GHOST! This does not mean that they could say “Shouldaboughtahonda” a few times. Look at what it says about one of these waiters that, “Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.” Now THAT is being full of the Holy Ghost! “But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you…” (Acts 1:8)
Often the gifts and miracles have been thought of as being intended only for a small group of elite Christians with big ministries and full-time preaching careers. But in the early Church, even the ushers were walking in this power! Why? Because they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. Power was part in parcel of the Christian experience. It was for the layman, for the businessman, for the blue-collar and white-collar workers. It was for everyone! The power of the Holy Spirit was not considered something extraordinary, but something normal and expected. Today the unfortunate reality is that many people think it is a rare gift if their pastor has integrity and wisdom…forget being full of faith and demonstrating miracles.
How is it possible that so many have taken the model given in Scripture and devolved into something so foreign? The power and fullness of the Holy Spirit is so basic to Christianity. It is the foundation, the DNA and the premise of all that follows. Stephen was not an apostle. He was only a waiter. But even Stephen was full of faith and power. Even Stephen demonstrated great wonders and miracles among the people. Even Stephen needed this power…to serve tables. May this thought convict every pastor, every evangelist, every full-time minister as well as every “lay” church member. If even Stephen needed the power of the Holy Spirit…so do we!
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: apostle, evangelist, Holy Spirit, miracles, New Testament, Scripture, stephen, the church
Jacob had a get-rich-quick strategy. He made a deal with Laban, his father-in-law that rather than being paid in cash for his shepherding services he would receive as payment all of the imperfect members of the flock; all the striped, speckled and spotted cattle, sheep and goats. Laban preferred the beautiful ones anyways. He was glad to be rid of the imperfect members of the flock and agreed to Jacob’s pathetic idea of remuneration. But soon Jacob’s motley flock had exceeded Laban’s and the lowly farmhand had grown more rich and powerful than his master.
I visited a church not long ago where the pastor was very proud of the fact that his congregation was made up of some of the wealthiest, most successful and most famous people in town. Everything from the building itself to the demeanor of the staff to the kind of people that were positioned on the platform, shouted that this was a church for the good-looking, the rich and the powerful. Anyone who did not fit into that category might not feel very comfortable there, but for those that were members it was more than a church, it was a sort of elite club for classy Christians. It reminded me of Laban’s perfect flock.
Rich people need Jesus too and I’m glad that they found a place of worship where they could feel comfortable, but somehow I think that if Jesus were pastoring in that city, his church would probably look a lot different. Jesus was known as a “friend of publicans and sinners. He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor” (Luke 4:18). And again, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” (Matt 9:12). And again, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). “The Son of man” He said of Himself, “is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
If Jesus pastored a church I think that it would be “on the wrong side of the tracks”. It would be filled with hookers, drug addicts and bums. It would be a church where the unlovely would feel welcomed and accepted. It would be a church for the striped the speckled and spotted members of society.
In fact, Jesus identifies with the needy to such an extent that he takes our actions towards them personally saying, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (Mat 25) One of the two elements of “pure religion” according to James is to, “…visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need.” (James 1:27 AMP) The ones that, “…turn many to righteousness [shall give forth light] like the stars forever and ever.”
If any evangelist, pastor or church will follow the example of Jesus and Jacob they will soon make an amazing discovery. A church that is after the lost, the unlovely, the poor, the outcasts and the sinners will soon surpass in every way, the wealth of its country-club counterparts. An evangelist that is willing to leave the well-traveled circuit of itinerate preachers and venture into the dark, dangerous and remote areas of the world will discover rich and abundant harvests where no one would have ever expected to find them.
I am convinced that at the end of the day, the greatest reward will be for the ones who have gotten down in the dirt with Jesus and served “the least of these”. The greatest honor will belong to those who have preached the Gospel to the poor and the first prize will go to the ones who have invested in the striped, the speckled and the spotted.
Posted in Scripture Tagged with: evangelist, Jacob, Jesus, Laban, Pastor, people, repentance, righteousness, society, the Gospel
Fifty thousand participants were expected for the Islam on Capitol Hill event in Washington D.C. on September 25th. Roughly three thousand showed up. As we reported prior to the event, a small group of Jesus followers from North Carolina were also there to give away DVDs documenting the conversion to Christianity of different Muslims thanks in part to dreams and visions of Jesus they had experienced. The leader of this outreach, evangelist Fabian Grech, recounted their experience at the event:
We split up in small teams and were strategically located in different places. The main place where they were all praying (in front of the Capitol) only had 2 exits at the back. So we had a couple teams at both exits. We followed the strategies that God gave us: to go to them with love, look them in the eyes, show them value and put the the DVD “More Than Dreams (www.morethandreams.org
– testimonies of Muslims get saved by Jesus visiting them in dreams) in their hands to take it home with them. When they asked me what it was about, I told them it was a DVD of dreams Muslims are having in different countries. Quite a few were excited to take it and some even asked me for more to give to their friends. I am still counting how many DVDs we have left, but I think we gave out about 1200 DVDs – which means about 1 out of every 3 took that powerful DVD home.
Posted in News, The Kingdom of God Tagged with: capitol hill, christianity, D.C., DVD, DVDs, evangelist, Fabian Grech, God, Islam, Jesus, love, Muslims, outreach