Editor’s Note: Guest article from David Popovici of FIRE School of Ministry: Chicago
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.”
Posted in Featured Articles, Revival & Prayer Tagged with: Abraham, art katz, cross, fire school of ministry: chicago, Guest Writer: David Popovici, power, prayer, the Holy Spirit, trumpet call
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”.
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 secondary. I 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.
Posted in Featured Articles, Revival & Prayer Tagged with: Dr. Michael Brown, evangelism, fire school of ministry, fire school of ministry: chicago, Guest Writer: David Popovici, mike bickle, the Gospel, the Holy Spirit