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Msindisi Newsletter #70

July 8, 2010

SALVADOR & DIANNE’S MSINDISI MONTHLY

NUMBER:      70.       JUL 2010

PO BOX 1481
VRYHEID 3100
KWAZULU NATAL
SOUTH AFRICA
+27 (0) 728311008
Email:  msindisi@gmail.com ,
salv.di@gmail.com

Moriel KwaZulu Mission Website: https://morielkzn.wordpress.com

Personal Website: http://msindisi.googlepages.com

Dear Friends and family,

This month has been a huge blessing for us. It started with the arrival of our friends, Tony and Shaun from truth ministries. The Lord used them to speak to a few friends of ours and Tony was able to share at the Louwsburg bible study about the day of the Lord being near. What has been a bigger blessing is that the Lord has been ministering this to us in very different ways and different places; we are to be walking in readiness for Jesus’ return. The guys also brought clothes and toy diggers to be given out to various families. They helped with practical things around the kraal and came out with us evangelizing. We visited the Kraal that Salvi witnesses to every week. They had been wearing the ancestral bands and the week before, Salvi had dealt with it. With Tony and Shaun there we found a couple of ladies asked more questions about these things. But it is such a bondage over their hearts and minds and the Lord needs to break it. Last week we also had the visit of our friends Allen and his son, Clayton Wells. Allen, with his wife, run Bezaleel which is a foster and adoptive family for 11 AIDS affected children. Clayton has gone to the UK to work and has made a spiritual home for himself with Bridge Lane Christian fellowship. He came over for the world cup and they travelled all the way down to see us for a night. We had such a lovely time of fellowship with them as Allen shared his testimony and all shared from the word. Allen assembled and put up a metal awning for our front door.

The Louwsburg Bible Fellowship is going well. The LORD has knitted our hearts together and we continue to press on by His grace. It is wonderful to see the LORD working practically in people’s lives and relationships. When one brother or sister is down, others are up and so we encourage one another. The members are being ministered to through various ways about being ready for the coming of the LORD and we have been able to give them discernment material about the wrong teaching of things like word of faith. So we have a pro-active stream of teaching and a re-active stream and we trust that makes us well rounded in the LORD. There is something about open testifying that builds each other up. So when we are all sharing in the open time our faith is being built up. As for the actual teaching, we are going through 1 Corinthians and it is amazing how it is speaking into different situations the brethren are facing. God really does guide our study and preparation of these studies.

In the Zulu church, Ibandla Lendlela Eyodwa, Phumulani has just finished going through Ephesians. It has also been a blessing to see more people share in the open time there. With it being the holiday period we have also seen more visitors. One person who regularly attends, Mesuli, has come out with Di, Salvi, and Khetiwe in ministering the gospel in Ngenitsheni. Although he didn’t want to preach out loud, as his voice is weak, he was able to read to the children. Salvi is very happy as Mesuli used to attend the children’s club when Salvi taught it a few years back. And now, after being challenged a few months back about baptism, he has approached us about doing it. So on Sunday we will, God willing, be going to the river to dunk him. During his holiday time (South African schools have been given 5 weeks because of the world cup) Salvi has been going through some end times teaching with Mesuli and Mesuli has really enjoyed it. Phumulani has continued to preach with Salvi in Esihlengeni on Sunday afternoons. They both take turns to preach in different areas and it can be discouraging if no one turns up to hear. It is really good that sometimes people gather to hear when Salvi speaks and others they gather to hear Phumulani. God uses all His people.

This month we were able to finish the building of the outside toilet for Phumulani’s kraal. The floor still needs to be laid and the toilet and basin installed but the structure is up and looks really good. We thank the LORD for this provision that we did not ask anyone for. We thank the LORD for all our provision and meetings needs. Salvi got to lay some of the blocks but the following week Phumulani took over laying the blocks before the building became dangerous.

Salvi has continued to go out 4 times a week preaching. In Alpha one guy was prayed for, with TB and AIDS and the next few days saw a marked improvement in his health though not healing. Salvi has shared with him about the ancestral spirits and he claimed the Lord showed him in a dream that those churches who do those things are teaching lies. One day there, Salvi was going to preach and felt the Lord tell him that he wasn’t to preach. Upon speaking to a guy in the kraal he felt led to go with him to his home. The gentlemen asked what Salvi was going to do over there. Salvi said, he didn’t know, he only knew he had to go with him. On the way they picked up a guy who turned out to be a Roman Catholic, a little disappointed with the Catholic Church because they didn’t teach the bible there. Salvi was able to share that his family on his mother’s side used to be Roman Catholic and explained some of the differences between Catholicism and biblical Christianity. He found out that this Catholic friend was not Zulu but Sotho and had moved here to work and was staying just next door to a biblical Zulu church meeting in that area. Salvi encouraged this man to attend the church and said that the Lord was calling him, bringing him all the way here to get the Gospel. Wonderful!

Salvi is continuing in his studies in Greek at the moment and is about to do an assignment looking at the greek text of Romans 1. He got his mark from Hebrew and it was 80%. Thank the Lord. We have been able to give out all the jumpers that were sent from Australia. Over a few weeks we went to our local areas with them while evangelizing. We also gave a box of new born jumpers to a lady who works at the local hospital, one box to a children’s home and another to our friend who knows an AIDS, TB hospital. One day we also went on a run with our friend Jonny, a local farmer who is part of the bible study, to a place called Skhwebezi. All along the journey Jonny sells milk, maize and chickens to people who are waiting for him. It was wonderful to see mothers’ smiles as their babies received the jumpers. Our condition was that we only gave to mothers who had their babies with them, as to guard against people who would abuse the gifts. One women claimed that she had her twins with her but we couldn’t see them. The reason she gave was that she was still expecting their arrival. Thus we put two jumpers on her belly and took a photo for the knitters. So, knitters, if you see that photo you will know why.

Very sadly, this month saw a very bad accident in Alpha. 13 people were killed as a lorry lost control and sliced through a taxi carrying 15 people (which is the legal capacity for those taxis). The taxi driver had tried to avoid the lorry by going to the side of the road. 2 people had jumped out of the taxi and just saved their lives. Last week saw a memorial service attended by many people. It was a very loud, African affair. But we were sat next to a pastor of a sound biblical church who was also sat next to a pastor from a church that believes in a prophet called Shembe. They believe Shembe is the black Messiah and there are many cars with bumber stickers saying ‘Shembe is the way.’ Salvi and the sound pastor were both able to witness to this guy and we hope the Shembe pastor will be challenged by what he heard. But what happened in this accident should sober us all up to make sure we are right with the LORD and to serve Him with whatever time we have.

We are glad to say that Walter, Phumulani’s brother, has responded to his medication and he is looking much better. We continue to buy him Aqueous cream and his skin looks much better. Please pray for his salvation. Celani has mentioned that he is more open to the gospel and both Phumulani and Salvi have had different opportunities to witness to him. One week Jonny in the bible study said he sold milk to a guy from that area and he had the impulse to pray for the guy… we found out this guy was none other than Walter.

Di has started to prepare her own vegetable garden, just outside the house. It will need to have chicken wire to keep chickens and cows out from eating whatever she plants there. At the moment the ground is only dug. More updates to follow. Please pray for her as she continues slowly with her Zulu classes.

Please remember that the ministry website has changed to the following address, https://morielkzn.wordpress.com.

We would also like to promote a petition for British citizens or British residents to read and sign if they wish.

“Romans 13 Declaration”
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/test12/

I really think this is an important cause for evangelical believers to support which will go to petition parliament, and I’d like to encourage you to add your signature, too. It’s free and takes just a few seconds of your time. Please click on the above link to find out more information.
We would just like to say thank you to all those who faithfully pray for us and share in this ministry. Our hope is that this newsletter should always be an encouragement to you in your lives and Christian walk. May the Lord richly bless you. We have had encouraging feedback from other newsletters and we want to open the invitation that if anyone would like to write with questions or comments to feel free to contact us. It is an encouragement to us to hear from you. Below we enclose a written version of the message Salvi preached when he was in the UK. May it encourage us to treasure true biblical fellowship with believers.

Salvi and Di

FOR ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE HAS CONSUMED ME

AND THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU HAVE FALLEN ON ME.

This message is really about the importance of fellowship. I was doing some research and I came across a survey on church attendance and what they discovered was this; about 50 years ago about 50% of English people went to church every week and now about 12% go at least once a month. So that is a huge drop! And if you think about it, that would include the Church of England, your institutional churches, your free churches etc. So you have got a wide range of churches within Christianity of which only a portion of that would be born again, bible believing Christians having true fellowship. And they estimated that for every one person that is a church goer you have got two people who claim to be Christians, and possibly are who say “I believe in Jesus and I follow Jesus but I will have nothing to do with the church”. And maybe you know some people like that because they have been hurt and abused. I do not know all the reasons for this phenomenon but what I do know is this; fellowship is fragmenting. And the scripture shows us that in the last days, fellowship becomes even more important. And this message is not really anything profound. It is pretty basic but it is something that cuts to the core of each of us.

Psalm 69 will be our base text. It is notoriously difficult to position the psalms, to actually know when they were written unless there is some kind of title to tell us what happened. But I believe it speaks of what happened between 2 Sam 15-19; the time when David’s son Absalom rose up against him. Absalom conducted a form of smear campaign against his father. He would wait at the gates for people who where bringing their cases to the king and he would say “No one is seeing to your claim and your claim is good. If I were king I would have this sorted”. So he turned the people’s hearts away from David. After Absalom stole their hearts, he said to David, “Hey father I need to go back and fulfil a vow to the Lord, please excuse me.” What he did not tell his father was that he had organised a private party and invited 100 people from Jerusalem to attend his coronation as king.  So David hears of this and runs away for the hearts of the people were with his son. Absalom is very good looking, very talented and very strong. David knows what he is capable of because Absalom had killed his half brother after a long time of successfully hiding his ill feelings towards him. So David escapes and the people who are faithful to him go with him. And they all weep. David weeps. They cross the brook of Kidron and the sons of Zadok bring the Ark of the Covenant to him as at this point the tabernacle must have been located in Jerusalem. And David says, “No, return the Ark to Jerusalem.”

2 Samuel 15: 25 – 26. “The king said to Zadok, “Return the ark of God to the city. If I find favour in the sight of the LORD, then He will bring me back again and show me both it and His habitation. But if He should say thus, ‘I have no delight in you,’ behold, here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him.””

These verses reveal David’s heart. I find that David was an amazing man. We can be very quick to point out the faults of the men and women of God in the bible sometimes to show that they were people just like us. But David was a man who loved the LORD with all his heart. David was not quick to justify himself. He was wronged and he was mistreated. From a human perspective he did not deserve his own son to stand against him. But he was open for the LORD to correct him. In fact, soon after they get to the Mount of Olives and then they went onto Bahurim. It was then that Shimei, a relative from the house of Saul, comes and starts throwing stones at David and all his servants.

2 Samuel 16: 7 – 8. “Thus Shimei said when he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, and worthless fellow! The LORD has returned upon you all the bloodshed of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. And behold, you are taken in your own evil, for you are a man of bloodshed!””

So Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, turns to David as says in v9, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over now and cut off his head.” There are preachers today who would say stuff like that, especially on TV. “I am calling down a curse of God on you, how dare you speak like that against me! I am the Lord’s anointed.” Shimei had no right to speak to David like that but David’s response is then recorded in vv 10 – 11. “What have I to do with you, O sons of Zeruiah? If he curses, and if the LORD has told him, ‘Curse David,’ then who shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ Behold my son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him.” All the way to Mahanaim Shimei follows and throw stones at him. Now what was David saying? David knew that the LORD had prophesied this event as punishment of his sins of adultery with Bathsheba and killing her husband Uriah. (2 Samuel 12: 11 – 12). But the Lord had already taken the life of David’s illegitimate son and David had repented. In his shoes would we not be inclined to think, “But I have paid for my sin and I have repented already!”?

With that in mind read Psalm 69: 1 – 9.

“Save me, O God, / For the waters have threatened my life. / I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold; / I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me. / I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched; / My eyes fail while I wait for my God. / Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; / Those who would destroy me are powerful, being wrongfully my enemies; / What I did not steal, I then Have to restore.

O God, it is You who knows my folly, / And my wrongs are not hidden from You. / May those who wait for You not be ashamed through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; / May those who seek You not be dishonoured through me, O God of Israel, / Because for Your sake I have borne reproach; / Dishonour has covered my face. / I have become estranged from my brothers / And an alien to my mother’s sons. / For zeal for Your house has consumed me, / And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.

Notice David’s character. He does not say, “How dare they treat me like this!” He says, “Lord, let it be that I do not cause someone to stumble.” But why did David allow someone to defame him? Why did David stop Abishai from killing the one who was wrongfully accusing him? Why did David think, ‘Well, maybe the LORD is cursing me? Maybe this is for Uriah’s blood’? Why did David do that? Because he had already said, “If I find favour with the LORD, He will return me to His house.” For zeal for God’s house had consumed David, it had eaten him up. Being in God’s presence was more important than his acclaim with the people. Being in God’s house was more important than him being wrongfully treated. You see, we live in an age of ‘rights’. “It’s my right!” Kids know their rights. God’s house was more important. But today the house of God is not a tabernacle, or a temple, or a building anymore. The tabernacle of God is His people, the Church. We are the temple of the living God. Individually we are temples of the Holy Spirit and collectively we are the temple of God. Have we got a zeal for God’s house? I think it is severely lacking!

Ephesians 4: 7 – 10. “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.

What Paul is saying is this: Jesus went down to go up. God’s way to go up is to go down. Man’s way is to pull yourself up and pull everyone else down on your way up. Man’s way says, “Blessed are the strong. Meek is weak. If you don’t stand up for yourself, no one else will. Take it while you can. Get that promotion and don’t worry about trampling on other people… everyone is doing it.” God’s way is, “Humble yourself and God raises you up in His time.” David didn’t take his own vindication. That is God’s way… humility and reliance on Him.

Ephesians 4: 11 – 12. “And He gave sine as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;”

Apostles today are not the same as the 12 apostles or as those like Paul, James and Jude who were eyewitnesses to the resurrection. They are merely sent out by the church to plant other churches and to lay a doctrinal foundation. There should be no sense in any church today that an “apostle” or group of “apostles” should sit in oversight watching over the other ministries and churches. An apostle today is simply a missionary and church planter. A prophet today is not supplying the church with new revelation. A prophet today is someone who gives God’s specific message to a specific people at a certain time but the message will always have theological significance. It is not Nostradamus full of predictions that are totally unconnected and difficult to interpret. And then there are evangelists and pastors/teachers all as ministries given to the church at large. Now here is a question. Who is to do the works of service? Because in some church cultures there is a belief that the pastor or elders should do it all. “Who is doing communion this Sunday?” “Pastor John.” “Who is doing Sunday school?” “Elder Sam.” “You can not baptise someone if you are not ordained!” And thus we have a clergy in this bracket all by themselves. And in terms of preserving the doctrinal and moral purity of the church the leaders have a responsibility and must give an account to the LORD. Paul would assert his authority when there was a danger in the church. But ALL believers in the church are to be involved in ministry in some way. It is not down to the leaders.

The early Jewish believers in Jerusalem went to the Apostles and complained that the widows who were being neglected in the handing out of food. The Apostles said, “Our ministry is with the word. You appoint the men, we will give the criteria.” We are to do the works of service. It does not mean the leadership do not do the works of service, they lead by example. But the point is this: we ALL have a part to play and this is what Paul is saying as we see in Ephesians 4:15 – 16.

I love Ephesians. It is the first epistle to a church that we read that did not have to deal with problems in that church. In Romans there were Jewish believers and Gentile believers having barriers to their fellowship together, especially in regards to the love feast. In Corinth they were a moral mess and the Galatians were worse for they were entertaining a different gospel. But the Ephesians had it all together. They had truth, they tested those who claimed to be apostles and found them to be false. Initially, and probably at this point, they had their first love. When the Ephesian’ elders met Paul in Miletus, they wept. When Paul initially taught in Ephesus, the Christians were meeting every single day when Paul was preaching in the school of Tyrannus for three years. They were zealous and they had everything together. And Paul writes to them and he does not write, “You have got it all together. Keep it up!” He starts the epistle by saying in Ephesians 1: 18 – 19a:

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.”

He is basically saying, ‘Yes you have it all together. You have got truth. You are walking in holiness. Yes you have got all that BUT there is much more to the faith than that.’ Salvation is not merely redemption. It is not only “getting saved.” That is just the base line. Think of it in this way. The prodigal son ending up feeding and eating with pigs. And when he came to his senses he said, “My father’s servants fare better than I. I will go to my father and say, “Father, I’m not worthy to be called your son, make me as one of your hired men.” But when we went to his father, before he could request to be made a servant his father said, “Kill the fatted calf, bring out the robe. My son was dead and is now alive.” Can you see what happened? He came to his father for salvation and his father elevated him to sonship! And we have this cloudy, hazy kind of distinction between salvation and sonship because really it is all part of the same package in one sense. But in another sense, if we were saved to be only God’s servants that would be salvation enough. But our inheritance is far above that. We cannot even imagine what God has prepared for those who love Him. Scripture says that we will judge angels. God’s idea of ruling is David, the shepherd king. The judges were to be servant hearted  saviours of the people who brought the judgment of God’s word into people’s situations and disagreements. They were to be servants to the people. Compare 1 Corinthians 6:3 and Hebrews 2: 5 – 9 to Hebrews 1: 14. Now the angels are sent to serve or minister to us. One day we will return the favour, we will serve them! I cannot imagine what that will be like, or what it will be like to rule and reign with Christ when He returns. You see, we have to attain to this inheritance and our inheritance is tied to our becoming Christ-like. I think that is why the scripture says that we do not see it yet but one day we will see Him because we will be like Him; we will see Him as He is. It would be dangerous for God to give us that authority now.

So then, until we reach that place and time when we will be like Christ, God has given ministries to the Church and called us all to work together to become MORE like Jesus, even now. It is not, “Well, I’m a Christian now, one day I will be like Christ but in the meantime I will simply wait!” No!! God has purposed that we walk in the path of holiness and sanctification to reach that picture as much as possible until we all attain Christ-likeness. We must go the journey.

Ephesians 4: 13. “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”

The word ‘until’ links that verse to the last verse. The saints are to build up one another ‘until’ we achieve maturity. The journey is to be travelled now! Some people have this idea, “I will be perfect one day.” That is true. But Christ means for us to start reaching that place now and attain to it as much as we can by the working of His grace. We must go the journey.

Ephesians 4: 15. “but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up into all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,”

You need both truth and love. Truth and love. Sometimes we can be very harsh with the common person. “Oh, of course I love him. I tell him the truth. If I did not love him, I would not tell him the truth.” And that is truth, there is a truth to that. But if I was automatically telling him the truth in love simply by telling his the truth, there would be no need for Paul to insert the words ‘in love’ there. To state that we must speak the truth in love clearly implies that it is possible to speak the truth without love. Yes, Jesus was hard with the Pharisees. He was hard with the religious leaders. Jesus was hard with the people leading other people astray. But with the common person who acknowledged the truth but was working through the issues there was grace. Be gentle in your speech with them because maybe you will win them. That is not to say that we should not be firm, or that at times love cannot be hard. Of course love has a hard side but love acts out of concern and not self interest. So we are to speak the truth in love and by doing so we are to grow up into all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ.

Ephesians 4: 16. “from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

We are being built up into Christ-likeness. And it says the way that God has ordained for this to happen is by every person playing their part. This tells me that fellowship is God’s ordained way for us to become like Jesus. And as we see that we are nearer to the last days, a time when it is even more important to fellowship, fellowship is rather fragmenting more and more!! People are staying out of fellowship. You might hang out with Christians but unless there is sharing and participation that is rooted in the word it cannot be classed as fellowship! It is worldly fellowship but it is not biblical fellowship. If we do not walk the path of true fellowship (which is not going to church but rather believers participating and sharing freely with one another, everyone playing their part, feeding into one another in truth, sharing a message, sharing in each others needs) yes God can make us like Christ and He does help us become like Christ apart from fellowship. But the point is this: fellowship is God’s ordained way of fellowship, from scripture, of how God makes us like Christ. That is the means. And if you reject fellowship why should you expect God to use another way. You rejected God’s ordained way in order to turn to your own! But it is hard, because this person says this behind my back, that person has a funny attitude towards me and some one else does this and that. What we find is that, as we are in the flesh, fellowship fragments over non essential issues. The biggest barrier to fellowship is ‘me’. ‘I’ am the problem that fragments fellowship. And the answer to ‘me’ is the cross.

2 Corinthians 4: 3 – 6. “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Remember that Ephesians spoke of attaining to the knowledge of the Son of God, the mature man. The gospel of Christ is the message of the cross. Now, one light precedes another greater light. And the first light in this passage is the light of the gospel, the message of the cross. In other words, if you accept the message of the cross God will give you more light. And what greater light will He give you? He will give you the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Christ. The message of the cross is our train ride or bus journey to lead us to Christ-likeness. If we reject the cross, we will not reach Christ-likeness. And in verse 6 Paul spoke about this gospel.

“For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Both Paul and the apostle John had an understanding that Genesis and the first creation is actually a picture of the new creation. Jewish rabbis had this concept of ‘the rules of history’. They believed that Genesis not only spoke of the past history of their nation but also their future history. In fact it shows God’s workings in the everyday lives of His people. And the reason is that it is the same God who worked then, who works now and who will work in the days to come. So God works according to His nature and character. Therefore, the way that God worked in the first creation says something of how He works in the new creation. So it says,

John 1: 4. “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.”

2 Corinthians 4: 6. “For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Genesis 1: 3 – 4. “Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.

God then separated light from darkness. And here is what this means for the Christian experience. God put light in your life, the message of the cross by which you have a new nature which is light. And that light is good. When you were born again you received peace, joy, your sins were forgiven and you thought “Great, I am a new person.” Then sooner or later you sinned. Then maybe doubts crept in and you asked, “Am I really saved? Was my conversion real? Was it all an illusion?” It wasn’t an illusion. You have a new nature and the new nature is good but… the light needs to be separated from the darkness. We have a new nature but the old nature clings to us and wants to make us believe it is still alive. That is why Paul tells us to reckon ourselves dead to sin and to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is our spiritual worship. This is what God wants us to do in order to overcome our flesh; to take up our cross. You see, the Corinthians had not figured that out yet.

1 Corinthians 2: 2 – 8. “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;”

The Corinthian church was a church that was full of flesh. It was full of enmities, rivalries, jealousies, immorality, idol worship and most probably with some members using prostitutes. It was a mess! And the reason was this: they had not accepted the message of the cross in its entirety. There are two crosses in Christianity. Firstly there is the cross of justification. That is the cross that saves us. Jesus took this cross and Him alone because He was sinless. You cannot add to this cross or take away from it. You can only believe in it and thereby enter into salvation. Secondly there is the cross of identification. Jesus said that if anyone would come after Him they must take up their cross daily. This is an experiential cross. It does not save us but rather it is part of the package deal of salvation that we agreed to when we entered into salvation. And the problem with carrying a cross is that it hurts. It is not nice. Roman crosses were not metallic ornaments but were rough and ugly things. Corinthian society detested the idea. A cross was reserved for the lowest of the low and those criminals were nailed to the wood they carried. And that is what God has metaphorically told us to take up. The Corinthian Church had accepted the message of the cross theologically, that is the cross of justification but they had not embraced the experiential aspect.

Corinthian society, especially the upper echelons, loved rhetoric, the rules of argumentation, clever speech. The Romans also loved rhetoric but there was a difference between the two societies. The Romans actually cared about the truthfulness of an argument presented. The Corinthians did not. All that mattered in Corinth was the competition of seeing who the better speaker was. But the members of the Church in Corinth, for the most part, did not come from that section of society. They came from the poor, the foolish and the weak section of society. (1 Corinthians 1: 26). Yet because of God’s grace given to them they were filled with all knowledge and wisdom and spiritual gifts. (1 Corinthians 1: 4 – 7). So now they felt quite pleased with themselves. “I am as good as the rhetoricians. I am as prophetic, more so, than the pagan prophets. I can speak in tongues better than the Delphic Oracle.” Corinth was a competitive place. Corinth hosted their own version of the Olympic games and the city was highly successful. Thus the Corinthian Christians were thinking in the same way as they did when they were Pagans. They just wrapped it up in Christian wrapping paper but it was the same thing. So Paul writes to them saying, “I do not bring you anything except a message of a crucified Christ, because you are immature, men of flesh!” He said, “It is not that we cannot be clever, or we do not speak wisdom. We do but wisdom is reserved for a different kind of person.”

1 Corinthians 4: 6. “Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away;”

Who are the mature? The mature are those who have the knowledge of the Son of God. The light of the message of the cross precedes the greater light of the knowledge of God in the face of Christ which is a mature man.

1 Corinthians 4: 7 – 8. “but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;”

Suddenly Paul mentions glory twice. Now the cross not only speaks of suffering but it also speaks of glory. It is pointing forward to an inheritance. And here is the issue: He is saying “I cannot tell you about the wisdom that speaks of glory because you have not experientially embraced the cross.” That is the problem with the word of faith teaching. They are jumping to the glory and bypassing the cross. So they say, “You are a King’s kid, you are a child of the King. It is your right to be healed, it is your right to be wealthy, all things on earth belong to you!” And they make the people chant; “I am a child of the king, I am a son of God. I am a god” and all these kinds of statements. There is a lot of ‘I’ in there. So when hard times come, and when they are buffeted, and when they are tested they do not stand because they never really accepted the message of the cross. You cannot bypass the cross. The cross is the way of glory. Kenneth Copeland dismissed the cross. He said that the victory of Christ was not won on the cross but in hell. He said that if the victory was to be won on the cross even he could have died on the cross for our sins if he had the knowledge of scripture that Jesus had. The cross to Kenneth Copeland does not make sense; it is foolishness to him. So Copeland tried to bypass it to get to the glory. But you cannot have the glory without the cross. You cannot have resurrection without death. You cannot have glory without suffering. And the cross is marvellous because it deals with ‘me’. And ‘me’ is the biggest barrier to fellowship. And fellowship is God’s ordained way for us to reach maturity and Christ-likeness. And the light of the message of the cross leads to the greater light of the knowledge of God in the face of Christ, which is maturity. It is all interlinked in fellowship.

We think fellowship is something solid, something strong. We go to a church and we think, “It does not matter if I just sit at the back and do not get involved. It will still be there. I have no influence.” On the contrary, fellowship is so fragile. In 1 Corinthians 5: 8 Paul talks about malice and wickedness and he equates it with leaven. And the thing with leaven is, if you put it in the mixture it infects the whole of the mixture. You come with your selfish ambition, you come with your pride, you come with your malicious remarks or attitudes and you will infect the body of Christ with it unless God intervenes. Fellowship has to have us speaking, not prideful, selfish and malicious words to one another but speaking the truth in love. These are the two elements to having a zeal for God’s house. Truth can often be perceived to be the negative aspect and love is often perceived to be the positive. Francis Schaeffer wrote, “The Christian is to exhibit that God exists as the infinite-personal God; and then he is to exhibit simultaneously God’s character of holiness and love. Not his holiness without his love: that is only harshness. Not his love without his holiness: that is only compromise. Anything that an individual Christian or Christian group does that fails to show the simultaneous balance of the holiness of God and the love of God presents to a watching world not a demonstration of the God who exists but a caricature of the God who exists.”  Both these aspects are to be found in the New Testament. The seemingly negative part can be found in John 2: 13 – 17.

John 2: 13 – 17. “The Passover of the Jews was near; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making my Father’s house a place of business. His disciples remembered that it was written, “ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.”

Now a little bit of background information to John 2. Jews were to sacrifice in the temple but they could not bring their own animals into the temple. Instead they had to buy the livestock from the temple. But they could not pay for the livestock with roman coinage so the high priestly kingdom worked a racket where the people could come to them to exchange roman currency to temple shekels, at a highly extortionate rate and the high priest’s family grew rich off this. So Jesus’ actions were not over the top. When Jesus made a whip of cords He was not whipping the people, He was using it for effect. Once you start turning God’s house into a business it turns into robbery. Look at verse 7. This is taken from Psalm 69:9, the base verse. By intersecting these verses from John into the base verse we see that if you have a zeal for God’s house, truth and holiness will not be compromised. This is the aspect of having a zeal for God’s house that your discernment ministries and truth loving churches get a handle on but your liberal, ‘all you need is love’ type groups struggle with to say the least. But the doctrinal and moral purity of the Church MUST be preserved and they will only be preserved if God’s people stand up and contend for it. That is having a zeal for God’s house. It is not taking a back seat and saying, “Well, it will work itself out. I am too busy with my personal luxuries, my playstation, TV programmes, my music” etc. No!! The word consume means to eat up. Zeal for God’s house will eat me up. I cannot rest unless something is done about this because this is more important than my personal luxuries. But then we must marry truth with love, sacrificial and selfless love. And this is something that even people in discernment and truth loving groups can struggle with. Having a zeal for God’s house is not simply about purity but is also about laying down any rights for the sake of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Romans 14: 15. “For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.”

Paul is dealing with the tensions in the Roman fellowship between Jewish and Gentile believers. They would have had love feasts together. This was a practice of the early church and the Jews would have had a problem with certain meats or certain things being incorporated, or with the failure of the Gentiles to keep Sabbath. Paul is saying, in these issues, tolerate one another’s differences. It is not important. It is not black or white, it is grey.

Romans 15: 1 – 3. “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbour for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL ON ME.”

We are not to jump to every whim of our neighbour in order to please him. Paul says we are to please our neighbour for his good to his edification. In other words, we must do whatever is necessary to maintain the cause of our neighbour’s spiritual and eternal good, even if it costs us. Jesus did not stand up for His rights. He did not look for His own good. He looked for the good of God’s people and He laid down His life for them. And this is the thing about having a zeal for God’s house. If ‘me’ is not dealt with by carrying the cross, having a zeal for God’s house is impossible. You cannot have a zeal for God’s house in the flesh. It is impossible. Your flesh will not allow you to put others before yourself. You cannot do it. And in these last days we desperately need a zeal for God’s house. And the only remedy or answer I can give for the poverty of that zeal, if we can see that poverty in ourselves, is to get on our faces before God and to beg His mercy. Because there is no method, formula or 40 day plan to bring it about. It has to be a miracle. But we cannot make God do anything. The only way we can do it is to beg Him and implore Him. If a fellowship falls apart do not say, “It is his fault” or, “It is her fault.” Pray and ask, “Lord, is it me, is it my fault?” And if each of us did that, and got more rooted in the truth and the love of God, you are going to end up with a strong church, because the church will be made up of individuals who are rooted and grounded in God’s word and love.

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