The Christians Greatest Need

THE SECRET PLACE
Abiding under the shadow of the almighty
PART 45
THE CHRISTIANS GREATEST NEED

“Well brother that is a very broad statement! I would think there would not be anything higher than love.” I see where you are coming from and in no way would I disagree. However, there are such things as foundations and principals that are developed through what is called, “divine order”. There are many spiritual fruits and specific attributes that make up the identity of Christ but as in all things there must be the plowing of the ground, the sowing of the seed, the care of the young growth, the development of the plant, watering, weeding, pruning and of course time to allow the plant to M-A-T-U-R-E. Many times, I believe Christians are convinced within their own mind they already have the complete “structure” of love, and believe that Agape love is just an automatic part of the salvation package. It may be true that being born-again creates a new spirit and the potential to “develop” this new seat of the soul, however, to presume that spiritual maturity is manifested without determined labor and sacrifice, is to be deceived. The fruits that we are so familiar with and are so desperate to see manifested do not appear with immaturity but rather are noticed when the plant becomes strong and stable enough to produce its purpose. And so it is with the Christian life. We begin to reflect the image of Christ when we have devoted our life completely to Him. Maturity is not necessarily going to church, reading religious books, giving money, doing good deeds, being baptized, graduating seminary or demonstrating spiritual gifts. I know people who do these things and they still live carnal and are babies in God. Spiritual maturity begins as we willingly lay down our will before His throne and sincerely crown Him the Lord of our life. It continues to develop maturity when we embrace the revelation of the reverential holiness and fear of God.
“So brother, I have been a member of the First Church of God for 40 years, does that not prove that I have spiritual maturity?” Well, I hope that we would all become more mature as we grow older, but as I was saying – even age or years of service has really nothing to do with being transformed into a new person. Being aware of the Father, being filled with The Holy Spirit and allowing Jesus Christ to be our Lord is not really about bumper stickers, t-shirts, necklaces with crosses or cute little trinkets. It is all about understanding the knowledge we have about God – and obtaining the revelation so that we might know Him personally. Amen! The Pharisees had lots of religion but were void of spiritual maturity because they did not have an intimate, personal relationship with God. They knew all “about” Him but did not know Him, similar to how we may learn all about a famous person in history but never worked with them, lived with them or spent any time with them.
The person who loves to argue about doctrine but never takes the time to pray has no spiritual maturity. These are the usually the most involved and the most popular in the congregations. They are ready to fight at the least little thing that presents a possible change from their comfortable traditions but they never consult the Lord to see if maybe it is HE who is initiating the change. We realize there are people that have been involved with religion for most of their lives but have never “grown” into the responsible representative of God’s Kingdom. The exterior has become older but that does not mean they have advanced in wisdom or faith. Mature Christians are not always identified from their much speaking or hyper participation, but rather from a quieter and more stable approach to every situation. This is the result of spending time in prayer and fellowship with the Father. On the other hand, a person that is controlled by a religious spirit can be found constantly judging and criticizing the music or the preaching yet has never attempted to do it themselves. What about the bragging Christians who will blow their money on every silly, wasteful thing they come in contact with, yet never think about helping someone in need? What about those who are always trying to pull splinters out of other people’s eyes and never realize they have a log on their own eye? What about those who think they know everything about the Bible but have hardly ever read it let alone have ever studied it? What about those who scream, shout, jump, and dance at a ballgame, but never move an eyelash when they are in a praise and worship service? What about those who claim to be at the head of God’s table and on the cutting edge of wisdom and maturity yet become easily depressed, discouraged, angry, unforgiving, mean, aggressive, lustful, jealous, envious, hateful, a gossip and controlled by their carnality? There is not enough space to describe the consequences from spiritual immaturity and it is easy to comprehend that maturity is no doubt the Christians greatest need. Selah.
So, what else can be noticed about a mature Christian? Well, I believe a good place to further our understanding of the word would be the dictionary. Allow me to list several of the attributes of the word mature; “fully developed, duly careful and adequate, complete, ripe, full-grown, seasoned, perfected, refined, polished, readiness, consummation and bring to fruition.” I believe that volumes can be written about the importance of allowing Christ to re-mold us and re-create our conscience so that we can be transformed into His image. One thing that comes to my thoughts is how maturity establishes the foundation of our identity as a Christian. The stronger and more seasoned we become in knowing who God is and who we are in Him, the more confident we will be to trust His promises. Those who read and absorb His Word are less likely to be persuaded to follow the views of the world. I realize that in today’s environment of social issues, there is a growing acceptance of freedom to live however one pleases without the rules of truth that establishes the limits of human behavior. Through the last several generations, the convictions of our society have deteriorated and unfortunately the respect for God’s Word has been discarded. What was once regarded in “general” as a message from heaven is now being laughed at and seen as a fable. Our grandparents and even our parents held the Bible in high esteem, honor and admiration as a compass to lead one’s life and teach them how to live. However, The New World Order of today has scarred the conscience of the masses and has intentionally taught the erroneous errors of dark knowledge. Satan’s evil demons have influenced the attitude of our religious and political landscape with a false truth and are now leading the blind and arrogant into the depths of a hopeless hell. So, what does all this have to do with spiritual maturity? Let us continue.
I recently received a comment about this year’s series of weekly articles and they pointed out how often I have mentioned the gay lifestyle. Even though this advice was coming from another Christian, I was literally being warned to stop making negative comments about this issue or face the consequences of everyone blocking me from their mailbox. It was being explained to me that the old thinking about sin was not being embraced by the people anymore and that society was going to not only win this battle but force all Christians to accept them as perfectly normal. In other words, the conservative diehards were going find themselves preaching to the walls because the masses were tired of hearing someone beat a dead horse about issues that cannot be changed. Of course the end of the conversation was that all Christians should just love and tolerate people no matter what they believe or do. Now, did that message come from a mature saint whose intent was to pass along God’s way of thinking and obeying? Or was that a fear based opinion that has decided to compromise instead of standing for God’s truth? I believe this is a question that needs to be answered because we are all standing at this door. Many of you have already been faced with trying to discern God’s will concerning difficult social issues and definitely becomes more personal when a loved one becomes entangled in its power. What would Jesus do? Well, I have noticed that He did not hesitate to mingle with the sinner but is that not because He knew they did not know God’s truth? Is it not different when someone knows the truth yet intentionally disregards it in order to willfully sin? Yes, Jesus forgave people – but He commanded them to go and sin no more. In other words, God is compassionate toward the ignorance of truth, but He is also demanding in His promise to judge according to the disobedience of what we know. In this particular article I will throw this ball into your court and ask that you consider these questions carefully.
This leads me into asking even more questions about how we are seeing our personal mission and destiny. Is there not supposed to be a noticeable difference between a Christian and a non-Christian? I will never believe that God’s original plan for His people were to live as undercover agents. How will people who desire to know more about God – know who to turn to if we are hiding in the shadows? How can God be pleased if our desire is to blend in and not stand for what is right? You would think the more spiritually mature we become, the more confident we would be to stand strong in the face of error. The church is losing its reverential fear of God and is replacing it with the love of the world. The church world may appear healthy on the outside but are becoming skeletons on the inside. Allow me to quote A.W.Tozer, “The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us. A whole new philosophy of the Christian life has resulted from this one basic error in our religious thinking.” Let us consider in closing that if we compromise in any area of God’s will, we will end up being considered a supporter of sin and an enemy of God. Where will our compromising end? Selah. The world loves a “non-resistant” path to the pleasures of sin. This is why the world HATES Jesus and the outspoken Christian who refuses to play patty-cake with the lies of Satan. I thought the calling of mature Christians was to blow the trumpet in Zion and sound a holy alarm. Hmmmm.

Character of the Messenger

THE SECRET PLACE
Abiding under the shadow of the Almighty
PART 35
CHARACTER OF THE MESSENGER

All Christians have a message, which automatically makes EVERY Christian a messenger. At some point in the believer’s life, they will end up being involved with some type of ministry involving the spreading of the gospel. There are some, (and I know them personally) that have never participated in any type of ministry directly except maybe bringing a dish to a potluck dinner, but nonetheless it was a worthy contribution. Have you ever witnessed about Jesus to another person? Have you ever thought about the personal responsibility to be a messenger of the gospel? Whatever the case, my point is that each person of God has within them the testimony of salvation whether they ever speak it or not. I believe that everyone who is a member of God’s household should have the burden and zeal to at least be aware of their witness and have a constant sensitivity for lost souls. I believe that evangelism is the heart of the great commission and God’s people are referred to as vessels of honor, instruments and messengers, with the idea of a being used as a mouthpiece to communicate the message of God’s will. When Jesus gave His life to ransom the world, he left a will. His last “will” and testament was to be read by each of His disciples and then broadcast to as many people that would listen. The reading of a will is all about disclosing what each heir will receive from the inheritance that was decided by the one who wrote it before they died. Jesus has included all of His children in His will and now it us up to us to tell the world about the wonderful story of His gift of salvation and all that it contains.
Within the realm of service and obedience to God is a hidden secret. I call it hidden because it seems that many, who are in the arena of laboring for Him, do not realize that personal character is just as important as what we say or for that matter even our gifts and talents. In this light, we can make the humble observation that it is not so much “what” the message is – but maybe more importantly, from what “type” of heart is it being poured from? Do not misunderstand my direction, I believe that many good things come from people that are not living a sanctified life, because God can touch talent with His anointing and many can receive the spiritual connection for whatever edification they need. However, we must not neglect the fact that the way we live is one of most powerful testimonies that reveals what who we are and what we really believe thus having a direct impact on those who are observing. I do not believe it is strange to question a message from a messenger who is NOT living what they are saying. Selah.
I personally believe that many churches have failed to teach the reverential fear of God. This is a foundational view of God and is crucial if we are to understand what it means to be His child. When God’s presence is not respected, it is easy to not respect anything associated with the ministry. If God’s Word is not revered and His ministers have a worldly attitude, the congregation will become too casual and relaxed and slowly fall away from the fear of His holiness. I am not referring to empty religious legalism, but rather the divine reality of a spiritual awareness about who God is and what He demands. I personally do not appreciate the atmosphere of the modern church as many have opened their doors to the world with the idea that a comfortable atmosphere will cause the average lost person to be more relaxed. Why in the world would anyone want that except Satan? There are accounts in the Bible of people encountering angels and they fell on their face in fear. If this is the human response to angels, imagine what we would really do if Jesus Christ Himself stood before us! I am sure we would not slap him on the back and invite him to watch television with us. Why? Because His presence is so holy the mountains would melt and the sky would roll away and millions of angels would cry holy is the Lamb to receive all glory, honor and praise forever. I thought that being filled with the Holy Spirit was being saturated in God’s presence. And I thought that walking in His Spirit was the highest priority of every Christian. (?)
Christians must be set apart from mundane matters, lifted above worldly aims and ambitions, and devoted singularly to God’s service. In first Timothy 6:11-14, Paul lists four very important characteristics of God’s people. They are marked by what they flee from – follow after – fight for – and faithful to. Let us observe some divine realities into the desirable character of God’s messenger.
Flees from: FLEE means to “run away from” like from a wild animal, a poisonous snake, a plague or a similar danger. Our English word fugitive is derived from the Greek word “flee” and in a spiritual sense the person of God is a lifelong fugitive fleeing those things that desires to destroy him or her and their ministry. In other places Paul listed some threats such as immorality, idolatry, false teaching, and youthful lusts. At the top of the list, the representative of God must flee the evils associated with the love of the world and especially the love of money: associated with temptations, snares and harmful desires which lead to destruction, apostasy, and sorrow. Greed is the enemy. It can destroy the Christian, so they must run from it. The Christian is not a spiritual con artist. Those who have a specific calling must proclaim God’s pure message, not what they think will sell. Ministers of the gospel are in the business of doing God’s will which is piercing men’s hearts with God’s truth, not tickling their ears. Personal gain is not the priority! If anyone is in the ministry for the money, they are not a servant of God as they are prostituting their call for personal gain. Anyone who puts a price on their ministry devalues it and is a shame to God’s Kingdom. “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some have coveted after (become greedy), they have turned away from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (I Timothy 6:9-10)
Follows after: Just as important as fleeing from sin – the person of God is also known by what they run toward. The Christian’s life and ministry is one of flight from what is wrong and the pursuit of what is right. There are six virtues listed by Paul in I Timothy six, righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Since the practice of holiness is a mark of God’s people, obviously it must be modeled by the person of God who gives an impression to all who observe them. How tragic it is when a Christian’s life does not live up to their message. If a person is going to say they are a Christian, yet act like a heathen at work, it would be better to NOT claim to be a Christian at all. It is no secret or divine revelation to know the representative of God’s Kingdom must practice what they preach or no one will listen or respect anything they say or do. “For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no Case enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” (Mathew 5:20)
Fighting for: The man or woman of God is a fighter and a soldier. They must have the revelation that God’s ministry is war and they are fighting on the side of truth against error – to perceive the ministry as anything else is to fail. Christians are in a battle with the Devil and his worldly system. Christians battle sin, carnality, lust, heresy, apathy and lethargy in their own flesh. Those who have never been on the front lines of warfare do not understand what it means to be sober and sensitive to the spirits that surround us. Disciples that have dealt with violent persecution and the demon-possessed have realized what being a soldier of war is all about. Paul told Timothy to, “Suffer hardship with me as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs (distractions) of everyday life, so that he can please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” (II Timothy 2:3-4) The modern church has reduced the reality of spiritual warfare to a cut and dried lifestyle of fluff and cotton candy. Martyrs do not compromise! Most Christians have never realized that to accept Christ means to follow Him into battle. Most would even admit they did not sign up for getting dirty or confronting the dark kingdom. Many churches would be terrified if a demon manifested itself or if it became a “crime” to be a Christian. How easy it is to go listen to a sermon in a beautiful building. How many “fluffy” Christians realize that God is waiting for them to put on their combat boots? How many know it – but refuse to do it? “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto you are also called, and have professed a good profession before many witnesses.” (I Timothy 6:12)
Faithful to: Being nourished in God’s Word, the messenger of God is first and foremost a guardian of the treasure of the truth he is to proclaim. He must preserve it from any error or misinterpretation. He carries the responsibility to handle it accurately. The lack of the older Christians being faithful to God’s commands has contributed to this anemic generation of young people that have become entangled with philosophy while drifting away from truth. Many churches and the masses of religious people have allowed the lies of psychiatry and scientific theories to teach them and lead them into deception. Departing from literal interpretation has caused the sharpness of right and wrong to become dull and vague and as it continues it will be completely eliminated from society. Our great shepherd realizes that sheep are generally dumb which is why He relays His commands into a simple message that even a child can understand. He has written His Word and sent His Holy Spirit to lead us in the way we should go. When we obey we are blessed and when we disobey we are punished. There – now wasn’t that easy? Well…not exactly. It would be easy if it were not for this small problem; we want to do whatever we want! Being faithful takes awareness and concentration. It seems we cannot stay focused on the mission at hand. Jesus courageously remained faithful to His Word and told Pilate the truth – even though it cost him his life. We must do no less.

THE WALK OF INTERCESSION

THE WALK
PART 50

THE WALK OF INTERCESSION

The memory of Charles Haddon Spurgeon has been cherished
among evangelical Christians for over the past 100 years. Many
Christian leaders consider him one of the greatest preacher’s England ever produced. He is commonly hailed as the “Prince of Preachers”. Over 63 volumes of published sermons still bear witness to the richness and success of C. H. Spurgeon’s ministry. Though known as a great preacher, it was not preaching that made Spurgeon such an inspiration. Mr. Spurgeon repeatedly acknowledged his success as
the direct result of his congregation’s faithful prayers. It has often been remarked that the whole church helped produce Spurgeon. It was not his ability or talent that brought conviction to the heart of the listener – it was through his humility that God’s anointing could be generated. When visitors would come to Spurgeon’s church, he would take them to the basement prayer-room where people were always on their knees interceding. Then Spurgeon would declare, “Prayer is the refining fire of the spirit and the powerhouse of this church.”

Spurgeon in his autobiography described his gratefulness for being blessed with such a praying church. “I always give all the glory to God, and I do not forget that He gave me the privilege of ministering from the beginning to a praying people. We had prayer meetings that moved our very souls, each one appeared determined to storm the Celestial City by the might of intercession.” Spurgeon regarded the prayer meeting as the spiritual thermometer of an individual and a body of believers. His church’s Monday night prayer meetings had a worldwide testimony for many years. Every week a large portion of Spurgeon’s sanctuary was filled with earnest and fervent intercessors. In Spurgeon’s eyes, the prayer-meeting was the most important gathering of the week. However, it is here many of us find ourselves in conflict with Mr. Spurgeon. We love our meetings for preaching and praising and yet sadly neglect those set aside for praying. One of Spurgeon’s greatest concerns was that Christians everywhere would desire and learn to truly pray. He taught his people to pray, doing so far more by his example than by any preaching. Visitors heard him pray with such reality that they became ashamed of their own mere repetition of words. Throughout his entire ministry, many hearers remarked how his preaching moved them, yet still his praying inspired them even more. D. L. Moody after his first visit to England, being asked upon his return to America, “Did you hear Spurgeon preach?” He replied, “Yes, but better still I heard him pray.” A close friend of Spurgeon’s, commented on his prayer life, “His public prayers were an inspiration, but his prayers with the family were to me even more anointed. Mr. Spurgeon, when bowed before God in family prayer, appeared a grander man even than when holding thousands spellbound by his oratory.”

Spurgeon fully recognized that the Church’s greatest need was not to have another, “Prince of Preachers”, but to have more princes of prayer. One of his many published sermons expressed his feelings on this. He wrote, “Shall I give you yet another reason why you should pray? I have preached my very heart out. I could not say any more than I have said. Will not your prayers accomplish that which my preaching fails to do? Is it not likely that the Church has been putting forth its preaching hand but not its praying hand? The new trends of modern church religion do not teach about “agonizing” in prayer. There has been much talk lately about pockets of revival springing up in our nation. Many are saying they desire such revivals in our own local churches, and cities. Yet, is it not the prayer meetings that are still the most neglected? If Christ Jesus were to visit us today with His glorious, anointed power, how could such a blessing be sustained where there is no ground work laid in prayer? To merely exercise our words about miracles and not our knees is hypocrisy! It is time to make the prayer-meeting as exciting as our favorite preaching and praise meetings.”

“It is amazing when you think that one sermon on the day of Pentecost produced 3000 people? However, we had some places where 3000 sermons were preached and nobody was saved. And it doesn’t even faze us.” -Leonard Ravenhill

“We cannot be certain that a thing is right because it is old, for
Satan is old, and sin is old, and death is old, and hell is old; yet
none of these things are right and desirable on that account alone.” -C.H. Spurgeon

“If Jesus had preached the same soft and compromising message that many ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” – Leonard Ravenhill

“In the New Testament church it says they were all amazed – And now in our churches everybody wants to be amused.”
-Leonard Ravenhill

“The men that have been the most heroic for God, have had the
greatest devotional lives.” -Leonard Ravenhill

“An unholy church! it is useless to the world, and of no esteem among men. It is an abomination, hell’s laughter, heaven’s abhorrence. The worst evils which have ever come upon the world have been brought upon her by an unholy church.”
-C.H. Spurgeon

E. M. Bounds in his classic little book “Power through Prayer”
wrote, “What the Church needs today is not more or better
machinery, not new organizations or more and novel methods,
but men whom the Holy Ghost can use – men of faith, men
mighty in prayer.” Edward Payson was just such a man, a man mighty in prayer. He prayed without ceasing and felt safe nowhere but at the throne of grace. He may be said to have studied theology on his knees, as much of his time he spent literally prostrated with his Bible open before him pleading the promise; “I will send the comforter and when He, The Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth.” Payson’s advice to his fellow Christians was, “prayer is the first thing, the second thing and the third thing necessary to be a follower of Christ. Pray then my dear people, pray, pray.” It has been well said that the secret of Edward Payson’s ministry was that he prayed much in secret. The scars on his bedroom floor testify to this fact. Next to Payson’s bed were deep grooves in the hardwood floor where his knees had pressed repeatedly in times of travail. To read “Praying Payson’s” diary is to be touched by his tender love for Jesus and burden for the lost.

On January 4, 1807, he wrote, “I was favored with a spirit of prayer beyond all my former experience. I was in great agony and wrestled for both others and myself with great power. God seemed to bow the heavens and come down and open all His treasures, bidding me, to take what I would.”

January 29th, “I never felt such longings after God or such a desire to depart to be with Christ. My soul thirsted for a more filled communion with my God and Savior. I do not now feel satisfied as I used to with the manifestations of the divine presence, but still feel hungry and craving.”

February 18, “I was enabled to lie at Jesus’ feet and to wash them with the tears of contrition. No pleasure I have ever found in the Christian life is superior to this.”

February 28, “I was favored with great enlargement in prayer. I seemed to be carried out of myself into the presence of God.”

Like all true men of prayer, Payson understood the need for true humility. It was the burden of his secret prayers that he might be delivered from pride, from self-seeking, from preaching himself instead of Christ Jesus the Lord. Through humility and fervent prayer, he was always in hopes of seeing a fresh wave of spiritual renewal. The revivals which took place under his labors were numerous and characterized by a depth and power seldom seen. Often Payson’s congregation was overwhelmed with a sense of Christ’s presence and power and irresistibly brought to tears. Mr. Payson’s diary testifies that without prayer there can be no passion of the soul for God’s presence.

September 27th, “It seemed as if God would deny me nothing, and I wrestled for multitudes of souls, and could not help weeping that God would set on fire the hearts of the people.”

September 28, “I was favored with the greatest degree of freedom and fervency in interceding for others. I seemed to travail in birth with lost sinners and could not help hoping that God is about to do something for His glory and the good of souls.” Within days, “Praying Payson” saw his prayers answered through a miracle of many souls being saved.

On April 23, 1808, Edward Payson wrote, “My heart seemed
ready to break with its longings after holiness.” Such desires for heart purity, holy passion and the person of Jesus are the marks of a healthy and normal Christian life. The lack of these precious things in the modern Church reveals a nominal, cold religious life. Too much of what is called the Church today is not fit to live or die. The lukewarm Christian is unprepared to deal with our demon possessed age or the coming judgment seat of Christ. Truly, the greatest need for the body of Christ today is to see the need to be mighty in prayer. That is the problem; many only pray fervently when they are desperate. When they are content, they do not feel the need to intercede. When we see life as God sees it, the eyes of our heart will be opened to the convicting burden to intercede for others. Selah.

THE WALK OF THE CROSS III

THE WALK
PART 22

THE WALK OF THE CROSS III

God is calling for his true followers to step up to a higher level. It is time to graduate from “middle” school and go on to high school and college. To be an overcomer in any period of the past or future it has – and will, require a spiritual maturity that goes far beyond religion and the occasional thought of being raptured. We like the idea of reaching out to touch the hem of His garment not because we want to obey – but because He has blessings for us. This is not the WALK of the cross. Through uninspired teaching, much of the church has watered down the cross into a pleasant but deceptive idea. We have focused on good works and everything else religious under the sun to please Him except the very thing that He has always wanted. His highest desire is that we might build our life on the SOLID ROCK of His cross because it is the only way to truly KNOW HIM. “Not all who sound religious are really Godly people. They may refer to Me as “Lord”, but still will not make it into heaven. For the decisive question is whether they obey My Father in heaven. At the judgment many will tell Me, Lord, Lord, we told others about you and used your name to cast out demons and do many other great miracles. But, I will reply, You have never been mine. Go away, for your deeds are evil.” (Mathew 7: 21-23 TLB) To live independently WITHOUT the awareness of the cross of Christ cannot be substituted with a church service or giving offerings. The crucified life is breathing, thinking, talking and acting within the eternal truth of His cross. When this becomes our determination, His cross becomes our cross – our entire purpose and destiny. We have an open invitation to the crucified life and it will “only” cost us the will of our flesh! “One thing you lack: go your way, sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” (Mark 10:21)

The cross is an offence to many because it reveals the agony and blood that seems barbaric and cruel to our socially acceptable culture. The same concept of being offended with our feelings being hurt is the same Greek word “skandelon” that actually causes people to avoid, hide and run from the gospel of the cross. The message of the cross is too closely associated with pain, torture, humiliation, loss, violence and the deep fear that whoever embraces it will also have to suffer. Most of the religious world would be content to be “rocked to sleep” with going to church and living a moral life without even getting their hands dirty. If you notice the beautiful and expensive clothes and jewelry that is worn to church it is obvious that no one is planning on kneeling, lying prostrate, laying on hands, foot washing, casting out devils, dancing in worship, weeping, cleaning, cooking or working in any shape, form or fashion. The true reality of the cross is spiritual warfare that is found in the trenches of deliverance, anointing the sick, fasting, the prayer closet of intercession, bible study, loving people, having the character of Christ, confessing God’s Word, meditating and sacrificial giving. Many will follow the fishes but who will take up their accountability of the cross? We love to sing the music and listen to a pleasant sermon but then leave and forget about it until the next “show”. If church is no more than entertainment, then how is it any different from any other venue of paying to see a production? The church is filled with spectators but the cross is for participators. Selah. Everybody wants to go to heaven – but nobody wants to carry his or her cross! Each disciple may have a unique cross to bear but ALL will be transformed by its power. If we are not being CHANGED by His cross then we are not carrying our cross! “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but to us who are saved it is the power of God.” (I Corinthians 1:18)

It is like putting the cart before the horse if we pray for the fullness of the Spirit but have not first placed ourselves under the divine power of the cross! Selah. This why the majority of the church is not filled with God! If the mind has not been renewed and the old nature is still in control, how can we also be overflowing with the character of Christ? We can obtain as much of Him as we desire but it is that very desire which is in question. Selah. Just think of the one hundred and twenty disciples. The crucifixion of Christ had touched, broken, and taken possession of their entire hearts. They could speak or think of nothing else, and when the crucified one had shown them his hands and his feet, he said unto them, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20.22). And so, with their hearts full of the crucified Christ, now received up into heaven, they were prepared to be filled with the Spirit. They proclaimed to the people to repent and believe in the crucified one and they also received the Holy Spirit. Christ gave Himself up entirely to the cross. The disciples also did the same. The cross demands this also from us – it would have our ENTIRE life. To comply with this demand requires nothing less than a powerful act of our will for which we cannot boast, and a powerful act of God of which the disciple may be assured who casts himself helpless but confidently on God. All glory to the King of Kings!

Let us read an Excerpt from A. W. Tozer. “The cross of Christ is the most revolutionary thing ever to appear among men. The cross of the Roman times knew no compromise; it never made concessions. It won all its arguments by killing its opponent and silencing him for good. It spared not Christ but slew Him the same as the rest. He was alive when they hung Him on that cross and completely dead when they took him down six hours later. That was the cross as the first time it appeared in Christian history. After Christ was raised from the dead the apostles went out to preach His message, and what they preached was the cross. Wherever they went into the wide world they carried the cross, and the same revolutionary power went with them. The radical message of the cross transformed Saul of Tarsus and changed him from a persecutor of Christians to a tender believer and an apostle of the faith. Its power changed bad men into good ones. It shook off the long bondage of paganism and altered completely the entire moral and mental outlook of the Western world. All this it did and continued to do as long as it was permitted to remain what it had been originally, a cross. Its power departed when it was changed from a thing of death to a thing of beauty. When men made of it a symbol, hung it around their necks as an ornament or made its outline before their faces as a magic sign to ward off evil, then it became at best a weak emblem, at worst a positive fetish. As such, it is revered today by millions who know absolutely nothing about its power.
The cross affects its ends by destroying one established pattern, the victim’s, and creating another pattern, its own. Thus, it always has its way. It wins by defeating its opponent and imposing its will upon him. It always dominates. It never compromises, never dickers nor confers, never surrenders a point for the sake of peace. It cares not for peace; it cares only to end its opposition as fast as possible. With perfect knowledge of all this Christ said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NIV) So the cross not only brings Christ’s life to an end, it ends also the first life, the old life, of every one of His true followers. It destroys the old pattern, the Adam pattern, in the believer’s life, and brings it to an end. Then the God who raised Christ from the dead raises the believer and a new life begins. This, and nothing less, is true Christianity, though we cannot but recognize the sharp divergence of this conception from that held by the rank and file of evangelicals today. However, we dare not qualify our position. The cross stands high above the opinions of men and to that cross all opinions must come at last for judgment. A shallow and worldly leadership would modify the cross to please the entertainment-mad saintlings who will have their fun even within the very sanctuary; but to do so is to court spiritual disaster and risk the anger of the Lamb turned Lion.
We must do something about the cross and one of two things only we can do–flee it or die upon it. And, if we should be so foolhardy as to flee, we shall by that act put away the faith of our fathers and make of Christianity something other than it is. Then we shall have left only the empty language of salvation; the power will depart with our departure from the true cross. If we are wise, we will do what Jesus did: endure the cross and despise its shame for the joy that is set before us. To do this is to submit the whole pattern of our lives to be destroyed and built again in the power of an endless life. And we shall find that it is more than poetry, more than sweet hymnody and elevated feeling. The cross will cut into where it hurts worst, sparing neither us nor our carefully cultivated reputations. It will defeat us and bring our selfish lives to an end. Only then can we rise in fullness of life to establish a pattern of living wholly new and free and full of good works. The changed attitude toward the cross that we see in modern orthodoxy proves not that God has changed, nor that Christ has eased up on His demand that we carry the cross; it means rather that current Christianity has moved away from the standards of the New Testament. So far have we moved indeed that it may take nothing short of a new reformation to restore the cross to its right place in the theology and life of the Church.”
“Those who let themselves be controlled by their lower nature live only to please themselves, but those who follow after the Holy Spirit find themselves doing those things that please God. Following after the Holy Spirit leads to life and peace, but following after the old nature leads to death, because the old sinful nature within us is against God. It never did obey God’s laws and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their old sinful selves, bent on following their old evil desires, can never please God.” (Romans 8:5-8 TLB)