DEMONSTRATING THE GOSPEL
The world out there is not waiting for a new definition of Christianity but a new demonstration.
“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. “ (1 Cor. 2.4,5)
Demonstration: “the action of showing the existence or truth of something by giving proof or evidence.”
The Gospel is not a verbal argument for the existence of God. It is above all things a demonstration of God Himself. It is the evidence of who He is in His love and power.
I believe “LOVE AND POWER” evangelism is the only evangelism that there is. The reason is simple; we don’t want the faith of individuals to rest on the cleverness or wisdom of our arguments but on the demonstration of God’s love and power. We seek to embody these things to the world, first of all in our lives, and then in our outreaches.
Love is the greatest demonstration of power that there is; in Christ’s love He went to the cross, and through His death He destroyed the power of the enemy.
Power is the undeniable demonstration of God’s love. We have seen men who have little to no belief in God encounter Jesus when their torn ACL was completely and supernaturally mended before their eyes. In that moment, there is nothing that a man can say other than, “God is love.” For they had done nothing to earn the privilege of being supernaturally healed, but His care for them was extended to them even in their rebellion and ignorance.
Love still holds the key to His power, and His power showcases His love; love and power embody the gospel of Jesus Christ.
BE IN LOVE
“Do everything in love” (1 Cor. 16.14).
We ought to have no agenda but to love. God’s agenda has always been to love, His reaching out to humanity reaching its climax in His Son, Jesus Christ. 1 Corinth 13:1-8 states, “Without love we are nothing, love never fails.” So let us drop all other agendas and expectations we may have, in order to be free to simply love people.
We are bound by our agendas and drained by our expectations, but love is freedom, for it is not something to do, but be. Let us focus on the love of God and let love melt the hearts of men. Even if they don’t receive the gospel that day, they will never be able to shake off the fact that we loved them and told them of His irresistible love.
Jesus did not come to shame sinners but to save them. Evangelism is spreading the good news of Jesus’ salvation of our souls from sin, which is the greatest expression of love. So how empty is the testimony of God’s love if it be void of love itself? Love’s presence during evangelism shows that we not only believe, but also care that men are literally walking toward an eternal fire. God’s word says, “the fruit of the Spirit is love,” (Galatians 5) and “for the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5.5);” therefore, the result of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives will be love. We should never forget that God makes men like Jesus, and Jesus laid His life down for others.
Love is best defined as “selflessness,” since “greater love has no man than this, that He would lay down His life for His friends” (John 15.13). This is why “Perfect love casts out all fear ” (1 John). Fear is based out of self-consciousness, and love is being conscious of others before ourselves. We are slaves to fear to the degree that we love our lives, and to the degree that we love our lives, we will fail to be witnesses; we will simply be restrained by fear and self-interest from the love that makes us true witnesses. Our Christianity is silent to the degree that we love ourselves. But if we will allow the Holy Spirit to be a constant presence in our lives, His love will expand in our hearts and self-consciousness will burn away. God will be free to extend His hand to the world through us. Love is the goal. Love is the incentive. Love is the inspiration. Love is the power. Love is the gospel. Love never fails.
WALK IN POWER
When God made it possible for the Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead to live in you, He made powerlessness inexcusable.
Jesus did not leave us powerless. He never desired us to go without power. To do God’s work we need God’s power. There is no witness without power. A good news without power is not good.
The power of the Holy Spirit is for the preaching of the gospel (Isa. 61.1). It is for the delivering of the captives (Acts 10.38). The gospel is the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1.16. Paul shows us that he was not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God. Many people are ashamed of the gospel because they have never seen it as the power of God. To see the gospel as the power of God will destroy this shame.
A demonstration of power forces a decision by those who witness it, because it shows God to the individual in an undeniable way. We see the sick healed on the streets, and it is such an arresting moment in the individual’s life. Even in their shock, they are stuck with the evidence that God has just touched them. Even if they are not sick, we seek to pray for them in an attempt to usher the presence of God into their hearts. As they sense He who is the desire of the nations, they break internally. Power is irreplaceable.
Without power we can end up as phony as the door to door salesmen whose products do not work when he is asked for a demonstration. Power is God coming into the lives of men. What love! Power is love. Power is the gospel. Power is the demonstrated presence of God.
Eric Gilmour is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Revival & Evangelism.
Posted in Evangelism & Missions, Featured Articles Tagged with: bill johnson, gospel, Leonard Ravenhill, love, Paul, power, talk, words
“The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him…” -Dan. 9.9
The mercifulness of God is so contrary to the revenge-driven nature of humanity, that if we see Him rightly in light of the Gospel message we are overcome by His kindness and shocked to the core with how delightful He is.
We ought to be suspicious of a brand of Christianity that is so solemn that it removes us from the joy of His salvation, puts us under the weight of religious performance, and causes our souls to be continually downcast. There is a valid place for the burden of the Lord, and for weeping after His great intentions, but the mainstay of sonship, the foundation of our union with Him must always be found in a vital and active union with the God who is merciful.
Eugene Peterson has written:
“If we get our information from the biblical material there is no doubt that the Christian life is a dancing, leaping, daring life.”
There is something dubious about a version of the faith which lacks the spontaneous joy that results from the reality of salvational experience. If we are gripped with a burden in prayer, it is meant to be unburdened right there, in the place of intercession. The burdens are not always to be carried in a public way or placed on the shoulders of other saints. There may be times when the Lord calls you to communicate that burden as the prophets of old, but if you carry it in such a way that the Lord has not intended, you will convey something in the name of God that is not marked with the Spirit of God. If the Lord gave it to you in the place of prayer, enjoin your soul immediately with His until the burden lifts and you have done your part as His co-laborer. If you parade the burden before men, and fail to pray it through to the satisfaction of God’s heart, you will defeat the purpose of the burden itself.
The Church is in a radically anemic place, and while much of the lack can be traced back to a casual, irreverent corporate disposition toward the Lord, one great source of our malnourishment is that we are not rightly receiving His good mercy and holy affection. We are in great need of the Spirit of the fear of the Lord, and we need ever to live in a consciousness of the judgment to come, but there is great need also for new and fresh immersions in the mercies of God.
We chase after material possessions, the preservation of our reputations, or religious and ministerial status improvements only because we are still functioning on carnal grounds, and we have not adequately received and delighted in the God who is merciful.
Consider these words from the great Puritan writer, Richard Sibbes (1577-1635):
Among the things that are to be taken heed of, there is among ordinary Christians a bold usurpation of censure towards others, not considering their temptations.
… we should not smite one another by hasty censures…
… Christ, for the good aims He sees in us, overlooks any ill in them, so far as not to lay it to our charge. Men must not be too curious in prying into the weaknesses of others. We should labour rather to see what they have that is for eternity, to incline our heart to love them, than into that weakness which the Spirit of God will in time consume, to estrange us. Some think it strength of grace to endure nothing in the weaker, whereas the strongest are readiest to bear with the infirmities of the weak.
… The Holy Ghost is content to dwell in smoky, offensive souls. Oh, that that Spirit would breathe into our spirits the same merciful disposition!
(The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes; Banner of Truth Trust: Carlisle, PA; pp. 32-33)
When we lose touch with the merciful nature of God and His distinct kindness, immediately we become that brand of Christian that receives power (albeit a false power) by searching out the shortcomings of others. The evidence that our smiting of “one another by hasty censures” is not prompted by the Lord is shown in the fact that rather than giving ourselves to secret intercession on the behalf of the weak ones, we harbor thoughts of superiority against them. If we are more apt to speak negatively about men, or to think ourselves superior to them, rather than giving ourselves to merciful prayer on their behalf, we can be sure that we are operating under the influence of darkness.
Yet if the “Holy Ghost is content to dwell in smoky, offensive souls,” and if “the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him,” far be it from us to reject a brother in his struggle and inconsistency! This is not to make light of sin, for we are called to purity, and to “speak the truth to one another in love.” Rather, we are to make much of His mercy, and we need to remember that His kindness is itself an expression of His holiness. His righteousness and His gentleness are not in opposition to one another, but are intrinsically linked attributes of the only true God. If He were not a merciful God, neither would He be a holy God.
Has your experience of “faith” driven you into a continually solemn place, where there is no longer any “dancing, leaping, or daring” in your spirit? Is the garden of your life overgrown with the weeds of criticism, superiority, and the continual examination of others? Dear saint, He did not save you to induct you into a life of lackluster seriousness, suspicion and censure, or depressive discipleship. His desire at the time of your salvation, and His desire today, is that “your joy may be full.” (Jn. 15.11b)
Delight in His goodness then, weary soul! Lay down your chapped and calloused frame of mind regarding yourself and those around you. Let it die and go into the ground, that new life and a God-centered perception might be your portion. Bask in the His mercies, for they have been extended to you. They are intensely available to all who would call on the name of the Lord.
Learn much of the Lord Jesus. For every look at yourself take ten looks at Christ. He is altogether lovely . . . . Live much in the smiles of God. Bask in his beams. Feel his all-seeing eye settled on you in love. And repose in his almighty arms. -Robert Murray McCheyne
Posted in Featured Articles, The Kingdom of God Tagged with: Christian, daniel, Eugene Peterson, God, gospel, grace, love, mercy, Richard Sibbes
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God…”
As it is commonly known, the word gospel means “good news.” What “good news” was given to you? Was it the power of God? The Scriptures tell us that the gospel isn’t a matter of clever speech but of “demonstration of the Spirit and power” (1 Cor. 2.4).
There is a reason for this. “So that, your faith would not rest upon the wisdom of men but on the power of God (1 Cor. 2.5).”
This shows us, that some people’s faith can rest and does rest upon the wisdom of men. What does this mean? Some people believe because it was cleverly explained to them. And after they weighed out the religious options and benefits, they chose Christianity. People search for a religion and when they find whatever one seems right in their eyes, they “sign up” and change their lives accordingly. They live somewhat happy having satisfied their religious itch. But they fail to realize that Christianity is not a change of life, but an exchange of life.
This does not and will not lead to a life that actually possesses power. It is the mere following of religious teachings, systems of forgiveness and rules, while professing hope in an afterlife. All of which, most religions emphasize.
When you have received the gospel as the power of God in your life, then you really have life in Him. “He who has the Son has life (1 John 5.12).” It is undeniable. Your devotion is not to a change of life catering to Christian teachings. Your devotion is that a higher quality of existence has entered into you and you now have a hatred for sin and a real love for Jesus inside of you. Colossians 2.6 tells us that, “as we have received Him, so walk in Him.” Our relationship with God is based upon our receiving of Him through the power of the Gospel. We walk in the same continuous power.
The gospel is the “power of God”. It is not “like” the power of God. It is not “the way to” the power of God. “It is the power of God.”
How can a message be the “power of God”? The message is power simply because the message is a Man. Jesus Christ is the gospel of God. The gospel is not merely about Christ, it is Christ (Hebrews 1.1). He is the Word of God. He is the message of God to the world. The good news of Jesus Christ is that deliverance and power, forgiveness and peace, hope and love are found in a Man, not a thinking pattern. Jesus said, “I am the truth.”
Notice that the Apostles didn’t preach about Christ. They preached Christ Himself (Acts 5.42;17.3;2Cor. 4.5). As T. Austin Sparks noted, “God speaks Himself.” This is how men are born again. They couldn’t possibly be born from above by a nominal belief system or by adherence to correct thinking patterns. Doctrine has never saved a person. Salvation only comes by the power of God, who is Christ, God’s speaking, coming into you by faith or your surrender to Him. Paul told Titus that God, “manifested His Word (Jesus) through preaching…” (Titus 1.3). The gospel is the manifestation of Christ. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, made His light shine in our hearts to give us the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 4.6).”
Christ is the light (John 8.12), giving us a relationship with God by divine enlightenment.
Christ is the life (John 14.6), giving us an eternal quality of existence.
Christ is the way (John 14.6), revealing not only the route to the Father, but also the way of life for those born of the Spirit.
Christ is the truth (John 14.6), the perfect wholeness of life and existence.
To preach Christ is to bring men into contact with Him who is power! It is the reconciliation of God and man. It is impossible to meet Him without fatal damage to your old life. He is power! Freedom is in a man, not a belief system, religion or an attempt to make a life change. The gospel is the power of God, for it is the meeting of man and God, in Jesus Christ, to all who will cast themselves upon Him in absolute (which is to say genuine) faith.
Eric Gilmour is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Revival & Evangelism.
Posted in Featured Articles, Revival & Prayer Tagged with: Christ, gospel, Holy Spirit, Jesus, life, Paul, power, religion, truth, way
I heard a minister recently talking about the rapture and trying to make the point that every prophecy necessary to the return of Christ has already been fulfilled. One of his points was that the Gospel has already been preached in all the world according to the promise of Jesus in Matt 24:14 (And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.), “Now” he said, “We’re just waiting for Jesus to come back.”
If you are one of those standing in line waiting for the rapture like a ride at Disney World, consider these statistics on world evangelism that I have collected from a variety of sources. As you read these keep in mind that in the United States there is 1 ordained minister for every 200 people. Yet…
– For every million unreached Muslims there are less than 3 missionaries.
– In Afghanistan there are 17 million people, 48,000 mosques…but not a single church.
– In Turkey there are 44 million people, but less then 200 Christians
– In India alone 500 million people have yet to hear the Gospel
– 30% of the world’s population (more than 2 billion people) have had virtually no exposure to the Gospel.
– The New Testament has been translated into the mother tongue of over 80% of the world’s population. However the remaining approximately 20% will require over 5,500 new translations.
Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19). The word, “Nations” is “Ethne” in the Greek meaning ethnic people groups. Yet…
– There are an estimated 6,700 unreached or nearly unreached people groups.
– The countries with the most unreached people groups in descending order; India, China, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh.
– 98% of all unreached people groups are located in the “10/40 Window”.
THE GREAT COMMISSION IS STILL UNFULFILLED! Oswald Smith said, “We talk of the Second Coming; but half the world has never heard of the first.” Regardless if you are “pre-trib”, “post-trib”, “mid-trib” or some other “trib”, we must all confess that there is something desperately wrong with this type of doctrinal philosophy that makes us happy to escape with our own hides while the world burns and billions of people are lost. Where is the heart of Jesus in that? “…that none would perish, but that all would come to repentance.”
Here’s some food for thought; Jesus died more then 2,000 years ago. If it was God’s ultimate goal to rapture us all out of this “old god-forsaken world”, then why are we still here? What are we still waiting for? One person told me, “Jesus is building my mansion in heaven.” Really? It took him 6 days to create the entire cosmos, yet he’s been hung up with your “mansion” for 2,000 years? Not likely.
Heb. 10:12, 13 says, “but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.” Since we are his hands and feet, then He must be waiting for…us. If He is waiting for us, and we are waiting for him, it would seem we are at an impasse. This is why Jesus told his disciples, “GO” into all the world and preach the Gospel. No more waiting and debating…just Go and PREACH.
“In the vast plain to the north I have sometimes seen, in the morning sun, the smoke of a thousand villages where no missionary has ever been” — Robert Moffat
Daniel Kolenda is an evangelist with Christ For All Nations working alongside Reinhard Bonnke, learn more at his website www.danielkolenda.com.
Posted in Evangelism & Missions, Featured Articles Tagged with: Daniel Kolenda, evangelism, gospel, missions, Muslims, New Testament, sacrifice, statistics, unreached people groups
“…. according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” -Rom. 2.16b
Is it remarkable to us that Paul conveys the reality of God’s judgment as a crucial component of his “gospel”? Do we see it as “good news” that “God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus”?
Paul is addressing the issues of Law and conscience in Romans 2, and he swings his subject back around to the inward reality, as apostles always do. He declares that even if all seems to be intact externally with the saint, the real issue of judgment has to do with “the secrets of men,” for the Lord is ever and always concerned with reality, and not with the mere appearance of things.
Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. -Jn. 7.24
Have I been refined a thousand times over in the inner-man, or have I upheld an image of spirituality in public that conflicts with the secret thoughts and motives of my heart? Have I been willing for the work of the cross in my soul, or have I sought to circumvent the word of truth, and clung to a foundation-less reputation that has been applauded by men, but will be found wanting on the day when “God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus”?
If there is duplicity and hypocrisy in my life, if I am still laboring for approval from men, if I am gripped inwardly with greed, pride, lust, envy and fear, the apostle has a word for me, and it is part and parcel with his Gospel. A Day of judgment is coming, when the light of God’s countenance will shine so penetratingly upon my life that every despicable thought, motive, and deed will be exposed. If I have held forth an impressive religious image before men, but have harbored ungodly “secrets” until that Day, they will be revealed in shocking transparency and with exacting clarity.
We may squirm to hear such a thing, but it is Paul’s Gospel. If we have an inadequate consciousness of the Day of judgment, we have not been apprehended by the Gospel of Paul. The gospel of some other man or angel has intruded, and we have been hooked into a lie.
The fact of this coming Day of exposure is Gospel (good news), for we are hearing it now, before that Day dawns. We have the privilege- painful as it may be- of bringing our duplicity and mixtures to Him today, while it is yet day. We have opportunity to repent and believe the Gospel afresh, and when at once we are sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb, everything is made new. When He purges our secret lives, which have harbored all kinds of dark ambitions and shameful musings, and makes us carriers of His own thoughts and desires, only glory remains. We have the remarkable privilege of moving away from a life of bondage and into the joy of becoming stewards of heavenly mysteries.
That is why there is no condemnation for those who are in the Man, Christ Jesus. He cleanses, refines, and heals us from all the corruption and disease that our souls have carried, and grafts us into His own purpose and way. It is no wonder that the Day of judgment was for Paul a necessary element of the Gospel. That Day will once and for all expose and destroy the sins of the world and the hypocrisies of men, and the mysteries of God will become the Government of the entire cosmos. Why should the Church live in hypocrisy and hidden sin when the Gospel has come to deliver us from darkness, both now and in the age to come?
Are you living a double-life, dear saint? Have you some underlying bitterness, anger, lust, rage, or fear still dominating your thoughts? In Light of the Day to come, allow the Father to bring judgment against your duplicity today, and when He burns out your soul-illnesses and makes you true, the exposure of your “secrets” will be Gospel to you, indeed. You will walk in the liberty of the Gospel, which is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him. -Ps. 25.14
The Gospel is not an alterable message that can be shifted and redefined by men in their particular customs, preferences, and societies. The Gospel of Paul, which is the Gospel of God, raises a question mark against all that man has been, all that man is, and all that man ever will be within himself. It calls to task the kings of the earth, all who boast against God, and even all those who purport to be spiritual. Only His very mercy can cleanse, only His truth is true, and only His Light illumines our souls to the degree that our secrets are judged, and that judgment is itself a mercy. The Gospel judges not only our external acts of sin, but the secrets of our hearts, and it is a great mercy that He is touching our secret lives now, instead of being exposed when it is too late.
Oh, how jealous He is for His glory, and how jealous He is over our lives. The jealousy of the Lamb is the expression of His great love, in that He will not let us go until we have come into an unhindered union with God Himself.
Posted in Featured Articles, The Kingdom of God Tagged with: appearance, Good News, gospel, greed, hearing, Holy Spirit, hypocrisy, jealousy, Jesus, judgment, Paul, Reality, romans, spirituality
Author’s note: This is the second article of a mini-series reviewing Princeton professor Kenda Creasy Dean’s book, Almost Christian. Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from the first few chapters of this book. To read the first article in the series, click here.
Kenda Creasy Dean’s book Almost Christian covers five major findings of the National Study of Youth and Religion that may perhaps bring about a major change in the way many mainstream churches and/or parents approach youth ministry or parenting:
1. Most American teenagers have a positive view of religion but otherwise don’t give it much thought.
2. Most U.S. teenagers mirror their parents’ religious faith.
3. Teenagers lack a theological language with which to express their faith or interpret their experience of the world.
4. A minority of American teenagers–but a significant minority–say religious faith is important, and that it makes a difference in their lives. These teenagers are doing better in life on a number of scales, compared to their less religious peers.
5. Many teenagers enact/espouse a religious outlook that is distinct from traditional teachings of most world religions–an outlook called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.
Some of my conclusions from reading these first few chapters in conjunction with my own personal experience are as follows: The problems that exist now are direct results of a culture of self-indulgence; a culture that equates physical, emotional, and spiritual discomfort as something to be avoided at all costs. Christian vocabulary has been perverted: the word “Love” does not mean anything more than an exalted version of “Warm fuzzies all around,” “salvation” means that “all generally nice people go to heaven,” and the biggest “sin” is to hurt anyone’s feelings or cause discomfort any way, for any reason. A version of the larger American culture, which holds all of these views, has been adopted by many parents and churches (consciously or not).
Dean clearly highlights the source of the problem as a breakdown of the parents’ and congregations intentionally modeling radical faith in God and demonstration of the gospel to their children, and the failure to recognize that the goal of the gospel is beyond the individual.
We ‘teach’ young people baseball, but we ‘expose’ them to faith…we blithely assume that religious identity will happen by osmosis, emerging ‘when youth are ready’ (a confidence we generally lack when it comes to, say, algebra). We simply have not given teenagers the soul-strength to recognize, wrestle, and resist the symbiotes in our midst, probably because we lack [it] ourselves… Exposing adolescents to faith, as it turns out, is no substitute for teaching it to them…
By and large, Smith and Denton concluded, parents ‘get what they are’ religiously…Parents matter most when it comes to the religious formation of their children.
Although the child is still responsible for his/her own response to the gospel, and even in the cases where the parents are truly living radical lives and teaching their children to do the same may choose to diverge to the path of least resistance, families and communities that adopt an intentional way of living and teaching spiritual precepts will raise children who are much more able to talk articulately about what their faith means to them in their daily lives. It may be that many parents in their own lives, as well as the lives of their children, have bought into one of the central precepts of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, which is that the main goal in life is to avoid interpersonal friction. And, as Dean writes,
Spiritually sensitive youth often cause trouble in their communities (religious or secular) because of their alertness to the sacred. It is hard to imagine researchers, interviewing Jesus after he turned over the tables in the temple, ascribing the act to religious maturity–but in Christian theology it is a story of righteousness and divine purgation.”
Which of the prophets, including Jesus as the Son of God, was not hated and persecuted, even killed for following the Spirit of God, laying down their lives as their sacrifice of love and obedience to God, and out of desperate concern and passionate desire for the restoration of those who were opposing the will of God? How often did God send His prophets not to the ‘pagan’ nations, but to His own people, who were following Him with their lips, and not with their hearts? How is that different than today, where so many in our churches say, “I am a Christian,” and yet they do not have the transforming love of God gripping their hearts to lay down their lives in obedience to Christ? As Dean says,
It is in following Jesus that we learn to love Him; it is in participating in the mission of God that God decisively changes us into disciples.”
Let us awaken our hearts to experience the living God, as in Dr. Michael Brown’s Rhyme of the Modern Parishioner:
Pour your life out for broken lives –
Let God your heart break too.
Take up the cross, deny yourself;
Just live His will to do!
Wake up, be brave, be honest;
Today — oh hear His voice!
Be ruthless with your schedule;
Seek GOD. Make that your choice.
Posted in Culture, News Tagged with: Almost Christian, Christian living, christianity, Church, Dr. Michael Brown, fake Christianity, gospel, Kenda Creasy Dean, missions, moralistic therapeutic deism, National Study of Youth and Religion, Parenting, religious beliefs, Rhyme of the Modern Parishioner, sacrifice, tolerance
Editor’s Note: A guest article from David Ravenhill
HELPING TO SHAPE A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
‘You put to the test those who call themselves apostle and they are not, and you found them to be false.’ Revelation 2:2
23 ‘Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as if insane) I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death.
24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty- nine lashes.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.
26 I have been in frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren.
27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure
28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches.
29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?
30 If I have to boast I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.’
2 Corinthians 11:23-30 NASB.
|The New Apostles
23 ‘Are they Apostles of Christ? (I speak the truth) I more so; in far more luxuries, in far more resorts, never beaten in golf, often in danger from overeating.
24 Fifty times I received massages at the Country Club where I play.
25 Three times I suffered heartburn, once I suffered sunstroke, three times I had to fly coach, a night and a day I have spent without my bodyguards.
26 I have been on frequent cruises, in dangers from jetlag, dangers from the Stock Market, dangers in my private jet, dangers from the IRS, dangers in my limo, dangers on my Harley, dangers on my yacht, dangers from rival televangelists.
27 I have been in spas and hot-tubs, through many six star nights, in buffets and steakhouses, often without my Perrier, or without ice in my Coke.
28 Apart from all these carnal pleasures, there is the daily pressure of counting my seed faith contributions.
29 Who is rich without me being rich? Who is led to give to my ministry without my intense joy?
30 If I have to boast I’ll gladly boast about myself and my mailing list.
New Apostolic Version
Posted in Scripture Tagged with: apostles, Apostolic Church, biblical christianity, carnal pleasure, compassion, david ravenhill, godliness, gospel, Guest Writer: David Ravenhill, New apostles, prosperity gospel, suffering, televangelists
“Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.” -Ps. 51.4
The degree to which we have come into a true knowledge of God is directly related to the measure of our own awareness of sin. There is no true repentance, and thus no true salvational experience in the delivering sense, until the hideousness of our own sin has flashed before our souls, and the radical requirement of Jesus’ crucifixion comes into view.
A great number of Church-going people in our nation have never come to this place, for the most popular message of modern preaching has been totally devoid of this reality. It’s no wonder, since a man cannot rightly call others to this place unless he himself has passed through the press and crisis of conviction and come into the personal event of receiving mercy.
We have heard more about the Gospel than any other generation, and yet scarce few have come into the inward-transaction of the Gospel in the way that David the Psalmist did. It had everything to do with his own knowledge of God as He is, and the corresponding awareness that his sin was not merely a mishap or an accident to be swept under the rug, but a heinous crime committed straightforwardly against the Lord of glory. This acute knowledge of the sinfulness of sin revealed that even though he was the great psalmist of the Holy City, his heart still had the propensity to despise the One to whom he sang.
“Against You, and You only,” was David’s true lament. Our problem is that we do not know the “You.” We have an inward image of a lesser God who is not as requiring. David’s sin was all the more grievous because his knowledge of God was so much deeper.
(Art Katz, The Cross; Forthcoming, Chapter 1; Art Katz Ministries/Burning Bush Press)
If we are inwardly winking at sin, and have grown numb to its hideous nature, it is only because we have had an inadequate revelation of God. If we are self-righteous, and thinking too highly of ourselves without being continually aware of our own propensity for sin, we have fallen just as short of the glory of God.
David could have swept things under the rug, or fallen back on his heritage and anointing as the King of Judah. There were more than enough “yes men” surrounding him to appease his conscience and lull him into a sleepy indifference towards the gravity of his sin. But when the word of the Lord came through Nathan, “you are the man,” the hideousness of his sin flashed before him, and he cried out from the marrow of his being, “Against You, You only, have I sinned….”
Even the anointed King and Psalmist could not play the game of reputation once his sin was disclosed. He did not shift blame or water down the hideousness of his crime. He saw himself as facing the high courts of heaven, and his transgression was not merely against men, angels, saints of old, or the heavenly creatures surrounding the Throne of God. His offense was acutely and directly against the Lord Himself, and he knew that this kind of ultimate confession and repentance was the only gateway to cleansing and redemption.
We need, like David, to come into an awareness of the depth of our own sin. We need to be convinced that regardless of our spiritual history, our religious heritage, and our pious consistency, we still have the propensity to sin, and our blackness of heart is no less black than David’s was. When we are made aware of our depravity, by the grace of God’s speaking, we are then standing upon the proper foundation of truth, by which we are enabled to cry out for purification and restoration. If we have yet to be brought to that place, we have not repented, nor have we been saved from the stranglehold of our sin.
We do not hear sufficient prophetic preaching these days, not the kind that addresses the issue of sin, and we need desperately for that kind of proclamation to be restored. Our ministries have discouraged an adequate consideration of sin, and we have striven to extend comfort to those who have yet to come into a revelation of their own offense against God. We cannot live lives of mercy until we are actively receiving mercy, and if we have failed to cry out to the Lord over our own fallenness, we have not come to that place.
But when we have been convinced of the hideousness of our sin, we will cry with the psalmist:
Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins
And blot out all my iniquities. (vv. 7-9)
We will not only cry out about a particular and embarrassing sin, but about our very tendency to stray from His ways, and when we have cried out from that sacred ground of revelation, God Himself will cleanse, restore, and deliver us to the uttermost, and we will be like Jacob- unable to walk again as we had theretofore walked- awed and jolted by the fact that we have “seen God and lived.” His mercy will be altogether merciful to our souls, and His goodness altogether good. The intimate knowledge of His mercy in light of the hideousness of our own sin is the essence of the Gospel of God. What about you, dear saint? Have you cried out from that place?
Posted in Featured Articles, The Kingdom of God Tagged with: conviction, forgiveness, God, gospel, judgment, mercy, prophecy, repentance, restoration, sin
Unless there’s more to the story than meets the eye, two Jesus-followers were shot for preaching the gospel on the streets in Florida. According to BosNewsLife:
Tite Sufra, 24, … and Stephen Ocean, 23, were shot and killed in Boynton Beach in the U.S. State of Florida where they evangelized last Saturday, January 30, after meeting Jeriah Woody, 18, local police said.
“They witnessed to Woody for fifteen minutes when he got a phone call and told the preachers he ‘had to go’, added the Commission, which closely monitored the case.
“As they walked away, Woody suddenly started walking back toward them. Sufra walked up to greet him and was killed with a shot gun blast at point blank range. When Ocean ran, he was shot in the back. After he fell, Woody shot him in the head execution style.”
As of February 6th, the mainstream media has not run with the story.
Posted in News, Revolution & Justice Tagged with: death, gospel, murder, open-air preaching, preaching, street preachers