June 3rd, 2011 by Guest Writer

Editor’s Note: Guest article from David Popovici of FIRE School of Ministry: Chicago

1Corinthians 1:18-25

Brethren, can I briefly share some things very dear to my heart?

As always, this short essay is in no way meant to be an apologetic defense or debate; time does not permit, nor do I is this the venue for such an endeavor. If by the Lord’s grace, it becomes a trumpet call to even one saint, that is enough. In one of the most climactic events in our Lords earthly mission, after surveying what His hearers said of Him, He asks His disciples the chief question, “who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:15). It is safe to say if were to ask 100 people who God is, you might get 90 or even 100 different answers. Nonetheless, Peter responds rightly. In fact, Jesus makes it clear in this gospel passage that there is no way he (Peter) could of come up with it on his own. It came by revelation from the Father.

Revelation, throughout history, has been progressive in regards to the one true God. Faith can only be based on God’s revelation of Himself. From revealing Himself as Creator, the God of “Covenant and Promise” (to Abraham), to the “Great I Am” (to Moses) the scripture builds revelation upon revelation. This is something hidden about God and His plan that comes to light through God’s own initiative in His perfect time. The revelation or appearing of Jesus Christ became the paramount revelation of all. Jesus is the face of God. John Lake, apostle to South Africa said this concerning the three major dispensations of God revealing Himself…

1. Patriarchal-God revealed to man
2. Mosaic-God revealed with man
3. Christ, (and later) Spirit-God revealed in man.

As I heard one man of God once say, “God wants to be known for who He is and not who we have made Him to be”. Jesus said, “if your eye is clear, then your whole body will be full of light.” The truth is that the god of this world, our adversary, deceitfully blinds the minds of unbelievers and seeks to lift up, through our thinking, strongholds that would keep us blind to the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus. One of the main ministries of the Holy Spirit is to reveal Jesus to men. Paul, as well as all the other Biblical writers, was able to pen truth as a result of revelation from the Holy Spirit. The point being is that God seeks to, and loves to reveal Himself. If God were seeking to hide from His creation He would have never have sent His Son, nor followed it up with the sending Holy Spirit, the Divine agent behind revealing truth.

Jesus was and always will be the supreme revelation of God the Father. Remember in Matthew 16, Jesus commends Peter’s revelation and then begins to build upon it by attaching to His Identity as Messiah; the cross. Peter however, aligning himself with the influence of Satan, saw it fitting to correct the Lords Theology. The Lord rebukes him, for setting his mind on things from below-mans interests as opposed to Gods. To think according to the lower order of things was equivalent to Jesus as demonically inspired. All revelation must by definition be attached to Gods ultimate revelation, Christ on the cross. Jews seek for a sign and Greeks for wisdom yet only the cross of Christ can properly reveal Him, as He is. If Christ is the ultimate revelation and the cross was His ultimate mission, it would do us good to make it a life-long point of meditation, pursuit and prayer. As Julian of Norwich said, “give us a burning attraction to thy passion.” These realities cannot be grasped by simply reading the text, or the latest commentary. At best, we only see in part, this must be revealed by the Holy Spirit.

Paul makes it plain in 1Corinthians 1, the cross makes no sense to the logical mind, only to the renewed mind. Jesus came neither as political military leader or religious philosopher. He came as the conqueror of sin and death. The atonement for mans sins as the perfect sacrifice to God. The Chief representative of a Kingdom not of earthly origin; which only the cross could illuminate. The content of the cross is the filter through which everything is revealed from heaven. Heavens highest wisdom and greatest power demonstration is the cross. To quote biblical scholar Gregory Boyd “God flexes His muscle by dying on a Cross”.

God is in no way indebted to men, He does not feel insecure, nor does He need to defend Himself. The cross offends the twin idolatries of the human-race; the desire for power and knowledge/wisdom. He makes it so that only the humble can see. The cross is both the power and wisdom of God to us. It is not foolish or weak per se, only in regards to being understood according to the spirit of this age. This revelation is the ultimate one that all others bow to and get filtered by. Whether a teaching by Paul, Peter, Apollos, or Pentecostals, Baptists, Lutherans, no matter the stream, so to speak, the cross trumps all.

Now for the reality of this stamp of God we must contend. It is not enough to give mental assent. We do not have to choose, the cross is both wisdom and power towards us who believe and anyone else who will place their trust in Jesus. A cross that holds claim to save a man’s soul but cannot set him free from bondage and sin is either has not been truly preached or believed and applied. And the same goes for giving man an eternal hope in the face of persecution and suffering, or healing a man in the pangs of disease and infirmity, or for that matter changing the composition of a man’s life, purpose and meaning. Where instead of wasting his life, he instead gives it to the joys of loving and knowing God and saving souls. Brothers, we must have revelation, and it must lead us to the cross!

Take a listen to this audio compilation by Art Katz on “The Cross.”

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David Popovici is an evangelist and teacher at FIRE School of Ministry: Chicago.

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May 24th, 2011 by Guest Writer

Editor’s Note: Guest article from David Popovici of FIRE School of Ministry: Chicago

“The Radical Center” or “Middle” is a statement used by many leaders in the body of Christ to denote the pursuit of both the Word and Spirit. Over the last several years God has, by His grace, steered me more towards that center in regards to understanding Him, His Word, Life and ministry.

There is a clear tension in Scripture that cannot be overlooked; on the one hand, you have the revelation of the God-who works out all things according to the counsel of His will. On the other you have the urgent command to the believer and unbeliever alike to act on what He has revealed. The concept of “mystery” is a very common theme in the New Testament, especially in the writings of Paul. Something protected in ages past and now revealed to the apostles and prophets and recorded in the ancient writings for our instruction.

We are called to “work out our salvation” as it is “He who is working in us.” We are called to be “diligent” to enter into “rest.” These are the two sides of the same coin of faith: fighting and resting. Paul desires to know both the “power of His resurrection” and the “fellowship of His sufferings.” Paul states that “he has worked” harder than any of his contemporaries, yet not him but “the grace of God.” We are both seated above with Him, yet still in the body. We are still imperfect yet called “saints.” We are “not of this world” yet called to be “in this world” and the Kingdom is “here now” yet coming one day.

This remains a wineskin that must be grasped by the Church, so that it will be able to carry the new wine in these last days. In essence it is a “renewed mind,” Paul tells believers to put on the “New Man” by being renewed in the “spirit of their minds.” The “renewed mind” is a state of mind anchored in the Truth of the Word and immersed in the fullness of the Spirit. To reject one over the other is foolish. Jesus was both the Living Word yet needed the Spirit to accomplish His mission and Father’s will. Depending on which side of the Christian tracks you grew up on, you probably already have a predisposed paradigm in regards to these things. However, let’s not forget that God will often offend the mind to reveal the heart. Our more textual brothers are wary of becoming a flake whose biblical understanding is “did you feel that?” and our more Spirit-oriented brothers of becoming powerless philosophers who are in lot with Thomas when he said “I won’t believe unless I see”.

Scripture, however, paints another picture. In Acts 13 in Antioch we find both prophets and teachers, representative of both Spirit and Word. When working in unity while in a disposition of worship, prayer, and fasting, the Lord supernaturally gave birth to one of the most powerful apostolic missions movements the world has ever seen. We need both the power to move the ship and the compass to navigate and steer. The historical event of the cross was validated by supernatural resurrection.

The five-fold ministry is radically important in regards to the Church’s ability to grow into Christ and fulfill its purpose, especially the role of apostle and prophet. We need to understand the implications of the “new creation,” the fact that Jesus inaugurated a new race – A people of whom He is the Head: the tabernacle of God on earth.

Brothers, God is real! His Word reveals His nature, character and will. It leaves us with no confusion over who He is and what He desires of His Church. The pursuit is a simple one because it is all contingent on knowing and following after Jesus! We must follow hard after Him. I for one, refuse to choose one over the other. You can’t know the Gospels without studying them, but we must be living epistles.

Let us not forget that dead people were brought back to life by touching the anointed man Elisha’s dead bones, sick bodies were healed by touching Jesus garments and articles of cloth that merely touched Paul’s – body were driving out devils that one thousand theological training books could never budge! That is, unless Paul touched those too. Paul himself was a great expression of Word and Spirit, scholar and mystic. The radical center is the “narrow road” of the Church in regards to both knowing and understanding God and His will and walking in the power necessary to accomplish it. If, in fact, that is something that we are still interested in.

 

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David Popovici is an evangelist and teacher at FIRE School of Ministry: Chicago.

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May 5th, 2011 by Guest Writer

Editor’s Note: Guest article from David Popovici of FIRE School of Ministry: Chicago.

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ”.

2Corinthians 11:3

After a recent ministry trip to the Middle East, I came back both encouraged and stirred with an urgent sobriety. I was encouraged by what God is doing in the region; there is a lot more happening on the ground than what your local news channel is broadcasting, you can be assured of that.  As a matter of fact, God has His own “news” channel, namely the born-again, Spirit-filled believers that are both living out and propagating His gospel in the midst of an unfriendly world. I am excited by the fact that, in spite of the coming persecution and the tribulation, the world has not yet seen, nor can it even conceive what God has in store in these last days. To quote Mike Bickle “In the last days God is going to pour upon His Church both the miracles of the Exodus and the book of Acts.” Not just healings and miracles backing the message but even nature-defying acts that will distinguish us from all others, just as He did for the nation of Israel during their liberation. This definitely gives us a lot to anticipate with excitement, and at the same time a lot for which to prepare.

Yet while so many are losing their lives for their testimony of Christ, often we find in our Western circles so many deviant pursuits. Not necessarily malicious or sinful ones, but secondaryI often wonder how much of our “gospel,” the things we stress as “the epicenter” of the Kingdom, are actually relevant to our brothers and sisters all over the world. Many of these persecuted, wonder-working, Christ-like ones of which I speak, who are leading Churches, are not good readers, properly educated or even sufficiently financed. Nonetheless they are childlike and meek, filled with faith and courage and declaring the message of Christ with love and power as they invest their lives into saving the lost and building Christ’s Church. I submit that to our own detriment, it seems we in America have graduated from simplicity. I am not saying anything against theological schools; I graduated from one, nor against credentials or ordinations; I myself am ordained. Yet at the foundation of the faith, namely the one that is built upon Christ the Chief Cornerstone, lie the building blocks that God hand picked to build His church; fishermen and tax-collectors. I am in no way proposing that to be in a lower class in life, that you are more spiritual. Like Dr. Brown used to tell us in school, “you’re not more spiritual for driving an old Pinto or less for driving a new Toyota.” However, it seems as if simplicity is something that often eludes us in the more “mature” circles. The reason I put “mature” in quotations is because it is often our own estimation of maturity. Proverbs 11:30 states that those truly wise “win souls.” Paul said to the Corinthians that the highest wisdom is in fact the Cross of Christ; a message of weakness and foolishness.

We need a fresh encounter with God, and the only kind I know of are the ones marked by the Cross and that flame from Pentecost. This God who entered our world and the Holy Spirit, who infuses the life of God within like nothing else. I submit that it is time for many of our more learned brethren to come down from their ivory towers of “maturity” and become practitioners of that which they critique and interpret. I would not go to the Sahara desert to learn about gardening or vegetation, so why would I turn to a critical and dried out brother to tell me anything of Christ, His Kingdom or the Holy Ghost? And with all humility dear brothers, if that last statement offended you, you might be one.

Paul tells the Ephesians to “not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.”

That says a couple of things to me; this is a negative command and a positive command. Something to avoid and something to do. I believe we can and should stay continually filled with Him who is Divine Life. This, my dear brothers, is MORE than just a positional truth. You can say “I AM FILLED” all you want and not be, just like a man can say “I AM DRUNK” and not be until he actually drinks in excess.

The Cross-gives us the right and privilege of partaking, it doesn’t force it down our throats.

A grape needs a wine press to produce wine and a Christian needs the Cross-to show forth the Spirit Life. I believe in drinking of the presence of God in order to stay filled with His life, joy, peace, power, love, righteousness, etc. However, some of our brethren,  claim to drink continually of Christ, yet by no means seem affected by the potency of what they claim to ingest. As a man who was saved from a wickedly sinful life, I know what it’s like to be physically drunk. Alcohol changes your perception, affects judgment, emotions and even gives you a reckless courage to do what you otherwise would not have done. After a life devoted to substance abuse, you are rewarded with a wrecked liver at the least. I wonder how one might drink of the Spirit and not adopt Christ’s eternal perspective, the Cross’ value system and partake of the emotions of God. Or perhaps a boldness to preach the Gospel to a world on its way to hell or to take hold of a paralytic and command him to walk in Jesus name. Or how about our insides being ruined by God, for the Kingdoms sake. If not, I question what you’re drinking or what you’re mixing it with.

Brothers, though a physician’s goal is the same for all patients, the medicine he prescribes is not always the same. To quote Dr. Brown again, “It’s never wise to major on the minors or minor on the majors.” How much of what we major on and pursue, build and fight for, will actually last in eternity? How much of it reflects the Gospel and the life of the early Church? I don’t think it’s a complex question, rather a simple one. Simple enough for even a child to understand.

 

David Popovici is an evangelist and teacher at FIRE School of Ministry: Chicago.

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April 1st, 2011 by Guest Writer

Editor’s Note: Guest article from David Popovici of FIRE School of Ministry: Chicago.

“Christ in you the hope of glory.”

~Colosians 2.27

We are deeply entrenched in sin, within the chaos of this present evil age, to the extent that our minds and hearts are dominated by the pleasures of life and desires for other things. All the while, the devil sees no distinction between the sinful-wasteful son, who despises his inheritance (while on his knees in the midst of the pig trough) and the religious-biblical scholar whose head is vastly larger than his heart.

What has been the desire of God from ages past?

What is the triumph of this Gospel that has kept joyous smiles on the faces of men while facing their death?

I believe the answer to both of these questions the same, namely, Christ in you the hope of glory.

Both sin and religion keep us from knowing God. From garments made of fig leaves to towers built to the heavens, mankind’s attempts to reach and please God have fallen miserably short.

The reason we are in famine on this side of the cross and the New Covenant, is simply because we have not looked upon Him deeply enough. God’s plan for man far exceeds the bettering of our lives now. God is not interested in making you a better person, seeing that you are predisposed to self-centered humanistic living, but rather, He is pleased in filling you with Himself.

Whether the arrogant and pompous or the depressed and suicidal, the issue is this: man can’t get past himself. He is born with his back to God, and is merely breathing to death.

Jesus said to Peter, “flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven (Matt 16).”

It was only after Peter had eyes to see Jesus, that he could see himself as God had called him to be, “I will give you the keys of the Kingdom….”

In order to truly understand anything, we have to have a revelation of God. God has fully revealed Himself for all to see in the Man Christ-Jesus. He is the exact representation and express image of God and His nature.

“Jesus Christ is perfect theology (Bill Johnson, Bethel Church in Redding, CA.).”

All arguments and debates on God are met at the roadblock of the Gospels. Throughout time God had revealed Himself by His mighty acts, through His holy prophets and even the revelation of His names, yet never before has He fully revealed Himself as He has today in His Son Jesus. All other faiths deviate from Full Gospel preaching at the same point, “Who do you say that I Am?”

I am convinced that God dwelling in man was and is the greatest miracle of all time. The Word of God calls Jesus the last Adam. The man who came to reverse the curse placed on us because of the first Adam, by becoming a curse for us to bring us back to God.

He is not just the Savior from sins; he has forever become the perfect mediator and prototype man.

Jesus Christ is the prototype man!

The Incarnation was never meant to be a one-time event, but to be perpetuated in the lives of all who would repent and receive His Holy Spirit by faith.

We need a radical change of our definition and perception of God and ourselves! Jesus said, “unless a man is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven.” Paul, when praying for the Ephesian believers, prays that God would give to them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation and open the eyes of their heart, in order to know Him better and consequently, to know what they have been called to be (Ephesians 1.18); a revelation of God and in turn a revelation of what God has made us. “Jesus doesn’t call us for what we are. But because of what He makes from us (Reinhard Bonnke).”

God will not just hold us accountable for what we were, but for what we could have been in light of the Cross and Pentecost.

“…There exists a draft by the hand of God of what our lives could have been…find and live near to that divine original (D.M.Panton).”

It is these two events that divide the New Testament from the Old.

The Cross forever separates you from your own will and this world. Paul said, “I am crucified to the world and the world to me…”

Pentecost imparts Him into you like nothing else can. Madame Guyon said, “the more we posses Him the more we posses His traits.”

Jesus said when speaking on the parable of the Sower, “Do you not understand this parable, how will you understand any of the parables.”

The parable of the Sower, sowing the word of God, is the most radically fundamental parable of all parables. Its end goal is seen in the parable of the mustard seed, which is small until it uproots all other plants/trees that challenge its pre-eminence.

What does that mean?

The Word of God when applied by radical obedience and single-mindedness will put to death in our hearts all that challenges His Lordship. All this is in view of God’s predetermined plan to produce in us the image of His Son (Romans 8.29). Paul travailed in prayer for it.

“My children with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you (Galatians).”

Martha was distracted and bothered by so many things and all the while, the Creator was in the room. But Mary sat listening to the Resurrection and the Life. We stop the process of growth when we disconnect from the vine, and we disconnect from the vine when we no longer come to Him and allow His Words to abide within us and ultimately rule us.

We become what we behold. It is as we behold (as in a mirror) the glory of the Lord that we are transformed into that same image, and from glory to glory (1 Cor. 3.18)!

God did not sow His Son to reap servants. He sowed His Son to reap sons.

Christ is the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8.29). God is bringing many sons to glory (Hebrews 2.10).

And the tragedy in the church today is that His bride is either disqualifying herself by her wasteful and selfish living, or by the fact that she has educated herself into unbelief. Both are blind, wretched, poor and naked in the eyes of Him with whom we have to give an account.

We must return to the Cross and Pentecost, everything else is humanism!

When a man is confronted by the cross, he is exposed and naked, because in front of Him lies The Perfect One. It is because of sin He remains unrecognizable, but when that man repents and receives The Savior, he receives the right to become a son of God (John 1:12). In turn, it is when this man looks deep upon the Resurrected and Victorious Lord that he meets Him, in His occupation, as the one who “will baptize in the Holy Spirit and Fire”.

And then that same man now receives the ability to act like a son (by the Holy Spirit).

Adam came and produced a race of sinners; Jesus came and produces a race of sons (Romans 8.11).

The separation between the first Adam and the last Adam is the dripping cross and a flame of fire.

The Question I ask you is this…where do you currently stand?

The answer to your question is exactly what your heart is staring at.

The Spirit of God in a human body is what makes you a Christian; and in your pilgrimage on earth you are to become like the Son, and to whatever degree that you become like Jesus, to that degree you are glorified and remain forever.

The eyes of the heart see best in prayer, fasting and the meditation of His Word, and still these things cannot become a substitute for obedience.

Jesus calls all His disciples to be fishers of men. He never called unto Himself a monastic movement but men who find their purpose in Luke 4:18-22.

Today we have perfect programs but pathetic people. God never asked for our towers of Babel, they impress only man. He said, “I am the light of the world” and then told His disciple that they were to be also.

“God did not call us to merely reflect the light, but to be light.” (Bill Johnson, Bethel Church, Redding CA)

The world is not in need of better or more educated preachers who have relevant messages, but men who have become the message.

God called Ezekiel to be a prophet, which by definition means “a borrowed mouth.” In Ezekiel 3:1-4, God feeds Ezekiel the scroll that was to define his life and calling, and after he eats it, it fills his inner man and then, he is commissioned to “go, stand and speak!”

Jesus, in the same way, tells the crowds that unless they eat His flesh and drink His blood they cannot be His disciples. A more offensive picture might not be possible to a religious Jew, especially since the Law clearly states that the life lies in the blood. But it is clear, that offending people was the least concern of Jesus, since He knew what mans greatest need was; the Life of God. He said I came to give you Life and Life in abundance, not mere human existence as they knew it, but (Zoë: Greek) the God-Life.

The Angel in Revelation gives John a scroll to eat which in turn becomes his calling and message to the church. Jeremiah could not hold in the word, which burned in him like a fire. So we know that Jesus calls all of His disciples to follow Him and it is He that makes them fishers of men. He makes us, fishers of men.

The command remains to GO, and to give Jesus to the world. But a man can never “go” until he has first “come” unto Jesus in fullness.

The Great Commission remains the stewardship of the Church of God. Christ likeness is utmost devotion to the Father and the laying of your life down for men.

The last thing this world needs is more professional preachers. The world needs living epistles written by the Spirit of God and read and known by all men. This is the divine outcry of our generation.

Christian extremism that is marked by radical and holy obedience to God, supernatural love and demonstrations of power, signs and wonders is the only product that God will stamp as “SPIRIT FILLED.”

Anything else is a joke and only provokes the world to more mockery. Let everything else burn, I want to know JESUS and become like JESUS!

It is easy to ask the question…

“Where is the God of Elijah?”

It is harder to answer…

“Where are the Elijah’s of God?”

Where are they? I am not talking about echoes that merely parrot doctrinal truths, but men who have been absorbed into Him and now are His message in the earth.

What separates us from every other faith in the world?

It is the living, tangible presence of God. If we lose that, we lose everything!

Men with no fish are not fishermen; you can call them something else, but don’t call them fishermen. Whatever office you might be called to or gifted in, it is to set the captives free. Freely you have received; freely give.

“Beloved for the sake of a lost and dying world, pay any price get God’s power and set the prisoners free.” ~John G. Lake

Man must swallow the message. It is not until it goes through your insides, that it can take effect on you. Only then will you start to look and sound like that which you ate. Ministry is no longer a burden; but the outflow of the inflow of God into your life.

God’s will remains the same; His union with you is His goal. When He comes and increases in you, then you decrease and die. And it is only then that He can be lifted up in you so that He might draw all men unto Himself.

“One of these days we will get sick and tired of the spiritual bankruptcy that we live in and the joke that our lives often are and we will get serious with God.” ~John G. Lake

 

David Popovici is an evangelist and teacher at FIRE School of Ministry: Chicago.

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