Lest we ever forget, the power of any ministry is the glorious touch of Jesus Christ! His amazing message animates all true gospel work wrought by His grace. If we try to build our ministries on any other foundation but that which has already been laid by Christ and His apostolic leaders, then our work will not meet with true success and our preaching and our discipling of His sheep will not be touched by His power, to see real positive change in the shipwrecked lives that surround all of us.
I have found just in the recent time that when the Lord brings people into my life that He has sent directly to me has one major purpose - to share the message of Jesus and His suffering Cross. I am being taught that when I clearly set Him forth as He has been set forth in history and in the sacred scriptures, I am seeing in a new and fresh way, that Jesus Christ set forth as propitiation for our sins, is exactly what sinners like you and me need to hear at this time.
This message of a “crucified Christ” is the power of God to the Jew first and then the Greek. That the foolishness of His Cross preached has always been the method the Lord intended to use to save sinners from their sins today and for the last 2000 years. Paul affirmed in I Cor.1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
To preach Jesus boldly to our decadent culture, is the answer for all that ails us, that simply by the virtue of our faith in a once horribly crucified and dead Prophet, and by a firm and steadfast and confident grasp in this Prophet's very real and bodily resurrection from a real grave in Palestine, is OUR message to our very broken world. A message of a personal King who, right now and forever, sits on an eternal throne at the right hand of our heavenly Father. That His blood shed in death perfected a righteousness that is applied to all those who trust that His bloodshed to wash them from all their sins and secures, with Christ, salvation from death and an eternal inheritance in heavenly places. That all the celestial and terrestrial forces of the universe will be placed at the feet of Jesus, who sits presently, in abject authority over all of creation until all His enemies are destroyed. Soon HE will destroy the last great enemy – death -- itself. I Cor.15:20-28; Ps. 8:6; Ps. 110
Paul came to an even more decadent city then those cities that populate our country and preached the life-changing message of Christ's cross and realized amazing results in the city of Corinth. In this city all passersby were enticed by temple prostitutes and also by homosexual and bisexual men who enticed visitors to their city to gather with them in their pleasure-filled bath parlors to enjoy the passing follies of sin. These sex-crazed people did not hear a weak message that was a hyper-sensitive and sin-friendly, no, Paul did not reduce the claims of God's law and Christ's cross. No, Paul called these sinners to “repent” and “believe” on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved from their real sins.
In I Cor. 2:1-2, Paul clearly reveals that he did not alter his message for this very outwardly sinful audience, “And I brethren, when I came to you, I did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
In Rome, Paul preached the same message to the emperor's city. In Rom.3:23-26, Paul clearly and with much passion declares, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God passed over the sins that previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Paul shared with all his hearers that he was a “fool” for the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. In Phil. 3:7 Paul says to all, “for what things were gain to me I have counted loss (rubbish) for Christ.” Paul was not naturally a fool, no, he was a man who was very learned in the holy traditions of the Jews, Paul sat at the feet Gamaliel as a young Jewish scholar. Paul also studied the Epicurean and Stoic philosophies of the Romans and the Greeks. But Paul became a “real fool” when he began to preach the power of a risen and once very dead Jewish teacher and prophet named Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
For a well taught rabbinical scholar like Paul to go against the Sanhedrin was a very big deal, his decision to leave his peers cost him everything. Paul gives us a look at his real life struggle in Phil. 3:8, “Yet indeed I count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I might gain Christ.”
We must glean from the pale of history that those big time Jewish leaders in the Sanhedrin were very much Paul's former political and spiritual comrades, to leave this group of religious elite and preach against their laws was career suicide. There would be no turning back! This is the same Sanhedrin that rendered the verdict of “no” to the Lord's messianic claims. I believe that Paul was included in the number of these men who agreed together to turn Jesus over to the Roman government as a common criminal. The Sanhedrin also agreed at the same time they had given up hope in Jesus as their revolutionary messianic leader. They were unaware that in the first place the Messiah would have to suffer before He became the King of Israel and be officially installed on David's throne.
But many years later this same Jesus that Paul had sentenced to death by crucifixion, Paul preached this same Jesus and the message of His cross. For Paul this was the entire substance of Paul's teaching to both the Jewish and Gentile audiences that he was sent by Jesus to preach the Kingdom of heaven. Jesus launched Paul's ministry with these words, “For He is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My Name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” Acts 9:15
Something very dramatic must have happened to Paul on the road to Damascus. How could such a person like the christian-killing and Jesus-hating hit-man named Saul of Tarsus change so radically?
There is no rational reason why a hater of Jesus would turn and give his entire life to promoting Jesus' message other then “power” and a “message” came from Jesus to change the hard heart of Saul. After his encounter with Jesus, Paul would not teach about the value of jewish law-keeping, morality, or any other philosophies of men. Paul did not succumb to the use of fancy rhetoric to impress the Greeks minds of his day, or did he use emotional and hardline political speeches to inspire political action or governmental change to his Jewish brethren. No, Paul stuck to the plan set forth by Jesus Christ, the same Jesus who had blinded his eyes on the road to Damascus.
How about you today my fellow ministry friend? Have you had an encounter with the risen Christ? Have you beheld His glory? Maybe that's why you are still so attached to this world and can't seem to break free? Maybe this is why you shrink back from a complete emptying of yourself? Maybe this is why you preach a weak message? We all must see the amazing beauty of our Christ or we will not preach a true and accurate message in the spirit of our apostolic forefathers. And we must suffer for Him to get His word deep down inside of us!
I have at times been led into a trap by my own emotions that makes me feel afraid to stick with the “simplicity” that is found in Christ! I try to be cool or hip to connect with our culture but we can not shrink back, no, in our very challenging times, we must determine with great resolve to stick to His message as we actively engage our world with His Truth. The message and the messenger are intended to be similar in their appearance; we may look weak in the eyes of men but when we preach His message, His explosive power will touch us from His glorious throne. By virtue of His Power in us, His life-changing power will overhaul the souls that so desperately need His power to lift them out of the horrible pits they are stuck.
For most of my life I have only wanted one thing and that was, “to be real”, and to be “true” to the message that I have heard since the earliest days of my life. It has been hard for me to find my way in Christ, like Paul, I had to fully walk in this way of “foolishness” and keep dying to all that I thought I knew about life, church, and our American “brand” of christianity. I had to become a “fool” in ways that I did not comprehend to identify more completely with His cross and suffering so I could better relate to His word and the power of His life in me! And I will never go back to a “normal” life, in fact, I don't know how to go back, that “normal” way is lost to me.
Paul's words still ring true today, ”For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in much weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” I Cor. 2:2-5
When we preach the message of a crucified King who still rules this world and her empires, we too speak as “true fools” especially in this time of advanced learning and high technology. The one-worldism being sold by our high-priced actors will persuade many to follow the religion of “do good” and “togetherness” and for a “true one-world community”.
In our time we will be tempted to become relevant. Just listen to the modern words of wisdom: let's work together, just be a good person, walk in peace, love your neighbor, love yourself, be kind, and serve your community, your country, and your fellow man. These words sound good but they do not mention a cross. They have value for this life, but they do nothing to prepare the world to meet Christ in all His Kingly Authority when He comes in Power & Glory.
Let's resolve today to keep to the livingness of the message of Christ's incredible love shown so clearly at the foot of His gruesome cross. Let's live and speak in the way of His suffering. Let's not reduce the claim of His cross upon our life and those who listen to us. We are called to simply “present” to our world the message that Jesus presented for all to see and hear. Let us work as He worked, let us show forth a life of faith in the Father's love and care.
Do you lack anything today? He is willing and ready to send us His Spirit to teach you and me how to change our world by His powerful and beautiful Name. May we see His kingdom come and His will done on earth as it is in heaven.
I leave you with these words from 2 Cor.11:3, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
Take heed to your message and your method! Preach a pure Jesus message and let go of any remnant of the alloy of man-laced words, do not mingle the corrosiveness of our sinful pride and cowardice with the luster of His perfect and glorious Person and the purity of His truth-laden message. The Lord is calling many of us back to the old paths and the ancient landmarks in the establishment of His Truth in our world. Press on, preacher of the cross of Jesus Christ!
In : Christ Jesus
Tags: christ amazing preacher jesus simplicity king kingly authority relevant israel cross