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 ☺.
Paul is about to tell us what the intent is, and the purpose, for which reason, God has created all things. So how dare you just sit there, as if you’re hearing a mere sermon? How is it you’re not leaning forward in your seat, with your hand cupped at your ear, that you should not miss any syllable of this answer from the apostle who was given such grace to preach these riches?
— Art Katz, ‘Recognize the Influence’
On a Thursday night in January of 2001, an elderly Jewish man got up to speak a message out of the book of Ephesians to a small school of ministry and fellowship in Pensacola, Florida. As the night unfolded, the speaker (who some consider to be a modern-day prophet) delivered a message on the purpose for creating all things, and how that purpose (which, you’ll hear in the audio, has little to do with any direct benefit to man) affects every minute detail in our lives, not only with regard to what we do, but why we do it. The message would end up being disrupted multiple times by people that had to be escorted out of the building (one person claimed Art was ‘preaching his message’), and unfold in a manner that kept even those that had heard him speak hundreds of times before on the edge of their seat, sensing the weightiness of what was coming forth.
The message was entitled ‘Recognize the Influence’, and was brought forth by Art Katz ten years ago at FIRE School of Ministry & Fellowship. The message is below in audio form, but before you listen to it, I’d like to set the stage with the following accounts from those that were either there that night, or were impacted by it later upon hearing it.
I recall being quite focused and almost pent-up with expectation; I remember having my eye on one guy, feeling that he might be disruptive, and sure enough, during a time of worship when I told everyone that we were going to wait before the Lord and be quiet, this guy tried to prophesy, ignoring my exhortation to be quiet twice before, the third time, I had the ushers deal with him.
Then, during Art’s message, which was one of his life messages, of profound spiritual import, yet one which he stumbled to deliver that night — another guy, whom Bob Gladstone had his eye on — just stood up while Art was preaching and asked if he could share his testimony, and I jumped off the platform and ran over to him telling him this was not the time to do so.
The first guy yelled out at one point, “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm!” because his buddy the second guy was told to be quiet. This of course was after the worship period during which Michael Brown’s story of the first guy occurred.
During Art’s speech, the second guy stood up and said, “You’re preaching my message!” Art did not hear him at first and stopped to try to hear what he said, trying to repeat what he said to understand him. I’m sure that’s on the audio. Other dialog occurred I don’t recall. When the ushers escorted guy #2 out, he was praying in a fervent, persecuted sort of way. Art made some comments about the powers getting stirred up (I think) which of course would be on the recording also.
Art’s message was a trademark, definitive prophetic piece from a foundational man to the church. Simultaneously constructive and devastating. A gift for us from the Lord from a key voice of his generation just 5 1/2 years before he died.
It was at least a year after this message was preached that Mike Brown labeled it as ‘the most important message ever given at FIRE.’ I remember sitting at the edge of my seat through this entire message as I felt it penetrating me to my core. I’ve heard Art speak hundreds of messages live and this one had, by far, the most impact on me. There was enough going on in the room that evening to totally distract folks, however, the message was delivered fully and still affects me today! … I will never forget that night as long as I live!
I was in a mainline denominational church as a youth pastor at the time and, before this message, had been to conferences for the kids as well as the pastors. I had been feeling chafed inwardly by these meetings and couldn’t piece together what was causing me to ache so badly. When I heard this word…BOOM, it all just exploded in me. “OH GOD, that’s what wrong with me!!” I felt as if I had been behind a curtain and suddenly saw it lift and saw the puppet masters behind the machines and dolls. I understood so much of what was operating and motivating the strivings of this organization. I saw words on my eyelids like, “status, prestige, power, honor” with the smug smiles and fake back pats that go with it.
This message ruined me. … To this day, this message remains as a stain on my mind, heart and soul. It has colored the way I view everything. I can’t look on the mere appearance of a thing anymore, I’m always painfully aware in certain places and circumstances of what lies beneath so many words and deeds and ministries. I’m always checking my own soul as a result.
I can see why Satan would try so hard to derail this word.
I will say that it had a profound impact on my life, and to this day it is one of the top ten most memorable messages I’ve heard. Years ago I played the whole message for a close friend of mine, and his response was something like this:
“Before this message I felt like my faith and my view of God were a factory where all the equipment was dormant, and all the gears were rusty or out of alignment. When I heard Art’s statement about the Church’s call to demonstrate God’s wisdom to the powers of the air, the gears were forced into alignment, and the power came on. It all made sense in a new and fresh way.”
He still refers back to the hearing of that cassette as constituting a major turning point in his life of faith.
I still go back once every year or two and listen to the message again, and each time I feel commissioned afresh to come into the simple, ultimate, whole-hearted reality that was expressed in the early apostolic church. “To God be glory in the Church…..”
The message is below. For those that may not be familiar with Art, who died in 2007, make sure to check out www.artkatzministries.org. You can also check out this article in the Washington Times, which ended with a great line: “He made many such statements that no doubt cost him dearly. As I stood in that grassy field, I realized why some men, like the Rev. Billy Graham, are lionized by the Christian world and others, like Art Katz, have a silent grave in the middle of the north woods.”
Below is the audio of ‘Recognize the Influence.’ As you listen, remember that you’re hearing a man of significant depth deliver his life message, unpacking, quite literally, the purpose of everything that exists, and the ultimate destiny of the church.
Matthew 11:19 “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
A friend is hard to come by,
Proverbs 20:6 Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?
2 Timothy 4:10a for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica
who shares desire,
Luke 15:6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’
2 Samuel 23:15-17 David had a craving and said, “Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate!” 16 So the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, and drew water from the well of Bethlehem which was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the LORD; 17 and he said, “Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did.
2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; 2 and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith.
knows the heart
Deuteronomy 13:6b … your friend who is as your own soul …
1 Samuel 18:1 Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself.
Who wants his friend to triumph
1 Chronicles 12:18 Then the Spirit came upon Amasai, who was the chief of the thirty, and he said, “We are yours, O David, And with you, O son of Jesse! Peace, peace to you, And peace to him who helps you; Indeed, your God helps you!” Then David received them and made them captains of the band.
Psalm 122:8 For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, “May peace be within you.”
Luke 12:4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.
John 3:29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.
Luke 14:10b ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you.
A friend who stands beside you,
Psalm 55:13 But it is you, a man my equal, My companion and my familiar friend;
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
who understands, will empathize and comfort in the sorrow –
Job 19:21“Pity me, pity me, O you my friends, For the hand of God has struck me.
John 11:33-35 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept.
and Lord, You are…
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus [the Messiah] is the same yesterday and today and forever.
You are a Friend of Sinners,
Matthew 9:10 Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples.
Revelation 3:20 ’Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
You are a friend to me
1 Samuel 20:17 Jonathan made David vow again because of his love for him, because he loved him as he loved his own life.
You are the Friend of Sinners,
Luke 15:2 Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
John 3:17-18 ”For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
You are my Friend
Matthew 11:19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, [the Messiah] died for us.
I guess I’ll always qualify as long as I’m alive
1 Timothy 1:15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that [the Messiah] Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by [the Messiah] Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in [the Messiah] Jesus.
As long as I am in this life I’ll know, I’ll know that You are….
Romans 8:31-32 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
A friend dares to be honest.
Proverbs 27:9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
1 John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
He tells the truth despite the pain
Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
Zechariah 13:6 And if one asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your back?’ he will say, ‘The wounds I received in the house of my friends.’
John 8:40 ”But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do.
He presses through rejection
Proverbs 18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Isaiah 53:3-4 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.
Acts 9:4c ”Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
A friend loves to be open, reveals his heart, explains his mind
Psalm 25:14 The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant.
Exodus 33:11 Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.
John 15:15 “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
He’s there when help is needed –
John 11:11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.”
1 Peter 4:9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
1 John 3:17-18 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
James 2:15-16 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
and Lord, You are…
Chorus … Bridge 2…
How much more, since I’m justified will You still be my Friend?
Romans 5:9-10 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
John 16:27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.
And though I know I let You down I’ll still, rely, for You are…
Luke 18:13 ”But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’
Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in [the Messiah] Jesus.
Alive and blazing glory
Revelation 1:14-16 14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. 15 His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. 16 In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.
Acts 9:3-5,17 As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; 4 and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, …So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
who can express Your holiness?
Isaiah 6:5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
It beggars all description
2 Corinthians 12:3-4 And I know how such a man– whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows– 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.
And when I fall before You,
Revelation 1:17a When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man.
“Get up”, You say, “don’t be afraid,
Revelation 1:17b-18 17b … And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.
“Remember what I am. Oh yes, I am”
Galatians 2:20c…the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
I am the Friend of sinners, I’ll always be your Friend
Matthew 28:19-20 ”Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Hebrews 13:5b-6 … for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” 6 so that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?”
I am the Friend of sinners, I’m still Your friend
3 John 1:15 Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.
How much more, since You’re glorified will You still be my Friend?
Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
And though my motives I decry
Matthew 6:24 ”No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
James 3:14-16 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
Philippians 1:15-17 Some, to be sure, are preaching [the Messiah] even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; 16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim [the Messiah] out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.
I still rely, for You are
John 6:67-69 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 “We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus [the Messiah] is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Romans 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,
You are the King of Glory
Psalm 24:7-10 Lift up your heads, O gates, And be lifted up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in! 8 Who is the King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O gates, And lift them up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in! 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah.
Transcendent and almighty
Psalm 99:1-3 The LORD reigns, let the peoples tremble; He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake! 2 The LORD is great in Zion, And He is exalted above all the peoples. 3 Let them praise Your great and awesome name; Holy is He.
Enthroned above the angels
Isaiah 37:16 ”O LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.
Revelation 4:4-8 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads. 5 Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; 6 and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. 7 The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. 8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.”
They trembling bow before You
Job 26:11 ”The pillars of heaven tremble And are amazed at His rebuke.
Isaiah 13:13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, And the earth will be shaken from its place At the fury of the LORD of hosts In the day of His burning anger.
Joel 3:16 The LORD roars from Zion And utters His voice from Jerusalem, And the heavens and the earth tremble. But the LORD is a refuge for His people And a stronghold to the sons of Israel.
Philippians 2:9-11 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus [the Messiah] is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(You’re holy, holy, holy)
Revelation 4:8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.”
Isaiah 6:1b-4 … I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.
Matthew 11:19 “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
David Harwood is a prophetic teacher and worship leader, and author of the book God’s True Love.
“…. make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you….” -1 Thess. 4.11
Isn’t it remarkable that the same man who gave us the most transcendent statements about the resurrected and ascended Lord could be found making such earthy statements as this one? The same man who declared that we are “seated with Christ” in heavenly places also instructed the churches in the most menial of matters which pertain to the daily grind of life, and I am convinced that it has everything to do with establishing true foundations in the Church.
There is something crucial about the day-to-day reality of life, and how we function within it, that determines the degree to which we will rule and reign with Christ in the age to come. There is a subtle form of Gnosticism in the Church, which sees all matters unearthly as positive, and all matters earthly as negative. It seems right in the beginning, but it actually negates the ultimate intentions of God, who longs to unite heaven and earth rather than to exchange one for the other. In fact, at the end of the age restoration, both heaven and earth will be reconfigured and made new, and God will manifest Himself fully and permanently, abiding forever in the great reality of that union.
When we think of earthly matters as inherently unspiritual, we confine the faith to religious categories and functions, and before long we have chopped up our hearts into compartments that fail to pulsate with the life of God. We begin comparing ourselves with other men, striving for higher spirituality, more esteemed religious positions, and a type of asceticism creeps in.
The apostle Paul, who likely had more spiritual revelation than any man in his day, was also a very nuts and bolts type of man. He could raise a boy from the dead one day, and get blisters from making a leather tent the next day. He could receive prophetic revelation and powerful gifts in a church gathering, and maintain the spirit of prayer and faith while engaging in tasks that we would consider a drudgery.
Paul knew that this unhealthy idea of spirituality could move into the churches, and from time to time he was required to address it.
One of the last hiding places of our carnal ambition is found in our desire to be considered spiritual by other men. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were guilty of this, and ultimately it comes down to the fact that we have not adequately sought the glory which comes from God. We are looking for recognition in an earthbound way, though it is disguised with a spiritual facade.
I have met many men, usually young like myself, who are filled with anxiety and even depressions over the fact that they desire to be in “full-time ministry,” but no door has opened yet. Very often, they are recently married, or fathers of young children, and very often also, they lack a value for their calling as husbands and fathers, and their devotional lives are inconsistent as well. While the Lord may call and send young men to remarkable works, I am convinced that for most, the Lord would have them to focus firstly on learning to walk with Him in the kinds of tasks that we consider menial.
It doesn’t seem like a heroic ambition to “lead a quiet life,” but perhaps one of the greatest hindrances to the Church’s witness in the earth, is that we are too quick to speak and too slow to listen. We want our ministries to be known, our distinctives to be recognized, our names to be exalted. Paul told the saints to be content to lay low, and to allow the Lord to form Christ in us in the hidden places of life so that our public proclamation would bear the weight of heavenly reality.
It doesn’t seem incredible to “attend to your own business,” but this is a necessity for the life which would be built on a true foundation. If our finances are out of order, our children are not rightly loved and disciplined, our spouses are neglected relationally, our devotional lives are sparse, and our work ethic is dishonoring to the Lord, why should we look for the greener grass on the other side? Do we assume that “full-time” ministry will fix all of these issues? We need to “attend” to our own business, and allow the Lord to bring His government into our lives in the nit and grit of daily decisions and activities, or else we have rejected Paul’s apostolic instruction.
Lastly, he calls us to “work with our hands,” which is something both Jesus and Paul did. Can it be said that the hands of Jesus would not have had such healing effect in His ministry had He failed to abide in the Father during His carpentry days? If Jesus was totally submitted to the Father for His entire earthly life, then His carpentry days were just as ordained as the cross and resurrection themselves, but do we ever see it in this way? We are more likely to highlight the raising of Lazarus or some other dramatic event in Jesus’ life, and that is understandable. But the daily grind of sweat and labor in the carpentry shop was just as much a revelation of God as anything else in Jesus’ life, and He means to bring us into an experience and view of the same kind. When we view our “menial” tasks as unspiritual, we open our souls to a numbness towards sonship, and we are more apt to fall into a spirit of complaining or a depressive attitude. But if we make it our ambition to love the Lord and honor Him in the midst of the monotony and grit of daily events, we will see the glory of it in the same way that Jesus did.
However the Lord calls you to work with your hands, the point is that Paul is calling us to a faithfulness in the practical affairs of life, and if we have been unwilling for that, we are not likely to function as leaders in the Body, nor to rule and reign at higher levels in the age to come. The great majority of believers will not be pastors or prophets, teachers or missionaries by occupation, but will function on grounds that seem unofficial spiritually. But if it is in the intention of the Father it is holy, holy, holy, and He calls us to an intimate union with Himself no matter where we are or how we are positioned.
The purposes of God are served in the formation of His servants when they give themselves to labor that is monotonous and predictable, that lacks any kind of flamboyance or charismatic excitement, but requires a steadfast patience and faithful performance, day after day.
…. we need to serve our apprenticeship in the things that are ordinary, unseen and undistinguished. We need to show ourselves faithful in those places so that we can be faithful in the true works of God. This is the sublime wisdom and requirement of God.
(Art Katz, Apostolic Foundations, Burning Bush Press: Bemidji, MN; 2009, p. 16)
Are you surrendered inwardly to the Lord in the unseen and menial tasks? Do you trust Him in hiddenness? Are you willing simply to honor Him by being responsible and faithful with the work He has before you today, even if no man thinks you are spiritual or worthy of esteem? The way that we maintain communion with the Lord in the daily grind, the way that we steward our money and our work, and the way that we treat people when no immediate reward is in view- all of this determines whether or not we are moving into a true experience and expression of the Kingdom of God.
A man may be neck-deep in the work of modern ministry, engaged in all types of seemingly spiritual labors, yet totally out of touch with God who has called him. This is not what the Lord has intended for you. But if we know Him vitally in the midst of the menial and mundane affairs of life, we have come to know Him indeed.
Bryan Purtle is a firefighter and 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.
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.
“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.
Editor’s Note: The text below was written by Adolph Saphir in his work Christ Crucified; Lectures on 1 Corinthians
“…To know “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” is not the minimum of knowledge but the maximum of knowledge; it is not to know little, but to know all; that here is not a descent from a loftier region, but an elevation into the highest sanctuary; that “in Jesus Christ and Him crucified” all doctrines, all God’s teachings, and man’s experiences culminate; and from “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” all duties, all works all ministries are to emanate and to be evolved. Here is the hidden, the perfect wisdom of God. No doctrine is seen clearly and truly unless it leads to the cross; no work is God-pleasing, no experience or attainment genuine and vital, unless it has its source, root and strength in the cross; no waiting for the second Advent is healthy and purifying unless it is called forth by the contemplation of the great God and Savior, who gave Himself for us, and redeemed us from all iniquity. He who longs after wisdom, deep and broad, profound and comprehensive, lofty and real, heavenly and entering into the earthly life, let him learn from the Apostle Paul, that to know Jesus Christ and Him crucified is Alpha and Omega, that here are hid all treasures of wisdom, and knowledge, and spiritual understanding. No other fervor or activity is pleasing to God, and useful on earth, but that which proceeds from beholding the Lamb that was slain. That which appears to the world as an obstacle is a channel, for the weakness of God is stronger than man.
Idolatry substitutes ideas and things for the Divine Person. The world speaks of the true, the good, the beautiful; an element, an abstraction. This is not the language of revelation. The Pagan asks, “What?” The God-taught ask, “Who?” Ideas however sublime, laws, however pure, cannot bring peace to the heart and life to the soul. Salvation can only come through a Savior; life can only be given from the source of life, the living God. And this is the greatest mystery of Godliness, that God Himself has come down to earth; that God Himself has visited His people; that the Son of God became man. “God manifest in the flesh.” Higher than this we cannot rise. Greater gift that this God could not bestow on us. The Eternal has allied Himself with our finite existence.” (Adolph Saphir, “Christ Crucified” Lectures on 1 Corinthians chapter 2, page 13)
I was teaching two classes in Manhattan, one on Philippians (as a window into Pauline theology) and the other on God’s love. What I taught on God’s love was apparently irrelevant to one student until we happened upon this verse in the Philippians class:
For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of [Messiah] Jesus. (Philippians 1:8)
Suddenly, the eyes of her heart opened to the nature of God’s love. Ever since, this has been one of my favorite verses.
The most important words from this verse for this exhortation are “long” and “affection.”
Quickly, epipotheo, translated “long for,” means “to pursue with love, to long after.” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)
The word translated “affection” is one of those messy words having to do with internal organs, in this case, the intestines. At the risk of a bad pun, let’s mention that applying this to the transcendent and glorified Son of God is “gutsy.” It is not the well thought out concept of a theologian. Instead, it is a word (splangchna) which indicates feeling. This word describes a “visceral” emotion. It is often translated, “compassion.” Louw-Nida (a lexicon used in translation work) puts it like this: the deep, inner seat of tender emotions in the whole personality. That works for me.
Longing for You with Jesus’ Affection
Now, it seems that there are a few possible explanations for this radical expression. If I’ve left something out, please write me and let me know. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at some of our options…
Maybe Paul’s reference to the Messiah’s affection is about his experience of something alien to his own soul. A temple is not the same thing as the God who indwells it. Was he perhaps like a temple and Jesus’ affections like the manifest presence shining from a human holy of holies? Was he, perhaps, like a riverbed and the affections of Jesus, the river?
“Philippians, I am experiencing something that is way more than I could ever have in and of myself. I am experiencing Jesus’ own longing and affection towards you.”
Was Paul overwhelmed by Jesus’ affection, similar to a revival phenomenon of spiritual inebriation? Was this like experiencing a flame of fire, burning over him, which had no relationship to the apostle at all? (Acts 2:3) Sort of like a burning candle? The candle is not the flame.
“Brothers and sisters, I am experiencing the Messiah’s affections for you, not my own.”
Is it possible that this was a spiritual enhancement of Paul’s human affection? Is this a description of Paul and the Messiah’s spirits being united? After all, “he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17) Is this what the apostle meant?
“My affection for you is like a glove and the fullness of this longing and affection I have for you is like the hand in the glove.”
Orthodox Churches have a doctrine of sanctification called “theosis.” They explain that a sword in a fire ends up with similar qualities, yet remains a sword. So the human soul which abides in the Lord “may become partakers of the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:4b) I think of it more like a carton of milk being put in a refrigerator – it eventually shares the same temperature.
“My soul has been in communion with the Son of God so intensely that I have come to share His affection for you. My affection is like His because of His presence in my life.”
Or perhaps it has to do with the quality of Paul’s sanctified and empowered emotional attachment. (Romans 5:3; Galatians 5:22-24) Paul might be saying,
“My longing and affection for you is just like the longing and affection of Jesus. When you experience my longing and affection, you are experiencing that which is analogous (just like) to the Son of God’s heart for you.”
At the risk of wearing you out, we’ll stop exploring these possibilities. One way or the other, Paul is saying something he expected believers to believe: Jesus longs for them; Jesus is affectionate towards them.
Whole, Full, Powerful Longing
It is important to know that the Lord’s emotional life is whole, full, and powerful. This includes “longing” as well as “affection.”
In this instance, Paul is connecting to, and conveying, an emotion which we call “missing.” The reason someone longs for something, or someone, is a sense of incompleteness. When you miss something, or someone, you have a longing – which can become a pining. Paul wasn’t pining away for the Philippians, he was oriented towards knowing Jesus, but in the depths of his heart he longed to see them. Isn’t it amazing that this emotion is paralleled by Jesus’ heart towards us?
“Longing with affection” feels similar to homesickness. Doug Collins, a chaplain in Iraq, wrote (in the Gainesville Gazette, 11/14/08), “…homesickness. It is probably the No. 1 (sic) issue that I deal with here. Homesickness also is the hardest thing to deal with … I have nothing that can take away the longing in the heart to be at home with family and friends…”
In Light of This
There is warmth radiating from this verse that can provide comfort and reassurance. To think that the Lord’s heart is affectionate towards these believers provides emotional and spiritual security. These Philippians weren’t perfect. They had problems with pride and schism which provoked apostolic adjustment. Yet, they warranted affection from the Lord – as do you. Jesus thinks of you with affection; you stir His emotions in the direction of loving affection. He enjoys your company and longs to be with you. In his emotional motivations towards the Philippians, Paul was like Jesus.
In the light of this, let’s close this meditation with Paul’s prayer found in the next verse:
it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of [the Messiah], filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus [the Messiah], to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)
David Harwood is a prophetic teacher and worship leader, and author of the book God’s True Love.
“…. 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.