UCI Mountain Bike World Championships

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An evangelising opportunity has presented itself where more than 50 nations will be present in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This is a result of the UCI Mountain Bike Masters World Championships (21-25 August 2013) and the UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships (26 August – 1 September 2013) taking place at the Pietermaritzburg Cascades MTB Park. It is the first time that both events are held in one city in the same year – twelve days straight!

We hope to be out there preaching our Lord Jesus Christ and Him crucified, doing Gospel tracts / booklets distribution and one-on-one witnessing. Please keep this mission in prayer and pray for open hearts and open doors. May God be glorified through His Son Jesus Christ.

The event details can be viewed at this website MTB World Champs and the evangelism hopefully will be during the times 09H00 – 12H00 and 13H00 – 16H00 daily and as the Lord leads. If you wish to join us, Lord willing, kindly contact Gary on 072 221 1233.

SOLI DEO GLORIA

Practical Street Preaching

On Saturday August 17, 2013, Nhlanhla, Jono and Gary went down to Voortrekker High School where the finishing line of The Weekend Witness Capital Climb marathon would end, and we handed out much Gospel Scripture portions and engaged some people in the Law and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ speaking of God’s Holiness, Justice and Mercy. And some were offended again! Well, that is what The Word of God does, praise Jesus!

Later, Nhlanhla and Gary returned to the CBD outside the Pietermaritzburg City Hall where there is presently road construction going on that funnels people through a narrow walkway and alongside the Saturday Flea-market that is set up behind the preachers in the Carbineer’s Garden of Remembrance. This would be an ideal place to encourage Nhlanhla to take a step of faith to overcome fear of man and read Scripture for the first time in a public environment.

The day’s reading was taken from Mark 10:46-52 which reads as follows:

Mark 10:46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.

Mark 10:47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

Mark 10:48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

Mark 10:49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.

Mark 10:50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.

Mark 10:51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.

Mark 10:52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

Here is the video of Nhlanhla’s Scripture reading and Gary’s preaching and we do request that you take caution as there is some cussing at the preaching of The Word by a blaspheming idol worshipper.

The portion of Scripture that offended was reference to Psalm 115:1-8 (in context) that reads as follows:

Psa 115:1 Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.

Psa 115:2 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?

Psa 115:3 But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.

Psa 115:4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.

Psa 115:5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not:

Psa 115:6 They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:

Psa 115:7 They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.

Psa 115:8 They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.

SOLI DEO GLORIA

Riches Profit Not in the Day of Wrath

An open letter to all concerned – as brother Leonard Ravenhill would often say: “Entertainment is the devil’s substitute for joy!”

— ooo —

Dear ___________________

Although you have presented this SMT opportunity to me – and to “my church” [believers are the Church not a building] – and as I am aware that there is a “huge” possibility of me making a lot of money or being rewarded with gifts and prizes, my decision to decline this offer and not promote it to the world is my love for God! I also place before you why you should also re-consider your stance on how you view business and how you try get others to be “go-getters”, which include your very own family members, complete strangers and even those within the ‘churchianity system’, the reasons are for the sake of conscience and the Day of Judgment! I do realise that I will be addressing believers in God, believers in gods of their choosing, and unbelievers alike, but I do ask that all hear the full matter, as it is written:

Proverb 18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

Many people – including my very own family – will not agree with what I am about to write, but I would rather they be angry with me this side of eternity than for my loved ones, and that includes my neighbours who I do not know, to be angry with me before God Almighty on Judgment Day for not speaking up, warning and calling out all who have chosen the ways of this evil and wicked world than the ways of your Creator GOD!

I do hope that everyone will receive this treatise in love for that is my only intention is to warn boldly, but with much love. What has been written, as quoted hereunder, is deception and is not the truth! The full quote, as it appeared in an e-mail addressed to me and others dated Wednesday January 30, 2013, is recorded hereunder for ease of reference. My response will follow thereafter at the end.

Is Your Prospect Really Just A Quitter? Here’s A Simple Test To Find Out Fast… 

E-mail dated January 30, 2013

Firstly, I will not be using man’s books, manuals, advertising, traditions, customs, commands, conferences, thinking, mind-set, or psychology, BUT the Word of God! It is the only, sufficient and complete training manual one can ever use to find out “the whole duty of man” as we read, for it is written:

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

And secondly, I do hope that all who read this will examine themselves against what is written and know that there is one Lawgiver and Judge – and that is God Himself. However, the Lord Jesus Christ, the only True God, gives commandment that judgment can be made, but it is to be righteous judgment, as we can read, for it is written:

John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

The righteous judgment that will be made here deals with how all things line up against God’s Holy Word.

We are told in Scripture that there is a Judgment Day, where the small and great will stand before the Great White Throne of God and give an account where “the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” The full Scripture in context reads in Revelation:

Rev 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Rev 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

Rev 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

Rev 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Rev 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Throughout the Holy Bible, mankind is warned to Trust and Obey God in all He commands. For we are also warned by the Psalmist:

Psalm 118:8 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.

Psalm 118:9 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

However, throughout the aforementioned quote dealing with network marketing or sales industry (incorporating business and entrepreneurship), man and what he should do is exalted and this my dear friends is idolatry in the highest. Idolaters shall have their part in the lake of fire, for as it is written:

Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Scripture also warns about man gaining riches and losing his soul. In many parts of the Scriptures the Lord Jesus Christ spoke often about riches and how hardly rich men would enter into the Kingdom of God. To have the love of money is a sin. It also creates a covetous spirit like those who lust after more and more wealth, not satisfied with what they have in life. God is the provider, but man runs after the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. To be covetous is to crave more and more, not ever being satisfied. It is those who will wager everything to get more and more, never truly being satisfied, because they are driven by greed and an insatiable lust for something they do not have. These also include gamblers, those that play the lotto and frequent the casinos or bet on horseracing or dog racing.

Let the Word of God speak for itself on this issue:

Proverb 11:4 Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.

Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

Matthew 6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. [Mammon = riches]

Matthew 19:23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Matthew 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Mark 8:37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Luke 9:25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. [Mammon = riches]

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

There are many more Scriptures that confirm what God commands of men, and especially those that profess to know Him. That is why if any believer is duped into chasing after riches and bringing it into the churches, causing brethren to covet and lust for more wealth, be warned:

James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

James 4:5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

Stop pampering to the lust of the flesh trying to satisfy its desires. Scripture is very clear that what is in a man’s heart is what defiles the man. We read a parable which deals with the Pharisees and scribes questioning Jesus’ disciples about eating bread with unwashen hands, as we read how Jesus explains to His disciples the parable:

Mark 7:18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;

Mark 7:19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

Mark 7:20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.

Mark 7:21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

Mark 7:22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

Mark 7:23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

We also read in 1 Corinthians 6:9,10 when the apostle Paul was speaking to the believers in the Corinth church about who will NOT see the Kingdom of God. Look who is mentioned. Do you fall in this category?

1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

1 Corinthians 6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

We also read in another parable about a young rich ruler who came to the Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, seeking a way into eternal life. This is a good illustration of the Law and the Gospel – the Justness of God and His Good News.

Mark 10:17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

Mark 10:18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

Mark 10:19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

Mark 10:20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

Mark 10:21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

Mark 10:22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

Mark 10:23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

Mark 10:24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!

Mark 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Mark 10:26 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?

Mark 10:27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

Mark 10:28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.

Mark 10:29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,

Mark 10:30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

Mark 10:31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.

People, do not be deceived and do not mock God! Jesus tells us the way:

John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

John 14:22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

John 14:24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

John 14:25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.

John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

To day, stop and do business with GOD! Repent and believe upon His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, if God is speaking to you this day! Do not harden your heart in the day of His visitation. This is your only hope.

In Christ’s service,

Gary Stephen Crous

SOLI DEO GLORIA

Open-air Preaching

A SKETCH OF ITS HISTORY AND REMARKS THEREON

By Charles H. Spurgeon

GHSTHERE ARE some customs for which nothing can be pleaded, except that they are very old. In such cases antiquity is of no more value than the rust upon a counterfeit coin. It is, however, a happy circumstance when the usage of ages can be pleaded for a really good and Scriptural practice, for it invests it with a halo of reverence. Now, it can be argued, with small fear of refutation, that openair preaching is as old as preaching itself. We are at full liberty to believe that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, when he prophesied, asked for no better pulpit than the hillside, and that Noah, as a preacher of righteousness, was willing to reason with his contemporaries in the shipyard wherein his marvelous ark was builded.

Certainly, Moses and Joshua found their most convenient place for addressing vast assemblies beneath the unpillared arch of heaven. Samuel closed a sermon in the field of Gilgal amid thunder and rain, by which the Lord rebuked the people and drove them to their knees. Elijah stood on Carmel, and challenged the vacillating nation with “How long halt ye between two opinions?”

Jonah, whose spirit was somewhat similar, lifted up his cry of warning in the streets of Nineveh, and in all her places of concourse gave forth the warning utterance, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” To hear Ezra and Nehemiah “all the people gathered themselves to “ether as one man into the street that was before the water gate.” Indeed, we find examples of open-air preaching everywhere around us in the records of the Old Testament.

It may suffice us, however, to go back as far as the origin of our own holy faith, and there we hear the forerunner of the Saviour crying in the wilderness and lifting up his voice from the river’s bank. Our Lord Himself, who is yet more our pattern, delivered the larger portion of His sermons on the mountain’s side, or by the seashore, or in the streets. Our Lord was to all intents and purposes an openair preacher. He did not remain silent in the synagogue, but He was equally at home in the field. We have no discourse of His on record delivered in the chapel royal, but we have the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon in the Plain; so that the very earliest and most divine kind of preaching was practiced out-of-doors by Him who spake as never man spake.

There were gatherings of His disciples after His decease, within walls, especially that in the upper room; but the preaching was even then most frequently in the court of the Temple, or in such other open spaces as were available. The notion of holy places and consecrated meetinghouses had not occurred to them as Christians; they preached in the Temple, or in such other open spaces as were available. but with equal earnestness “in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”

It would be very easy to prove that revivals of religion have usually been accompanied, if not caused, by a considerable amount of preaching out-of-doors, or in unusual places. The first avowed preaching of Protestant doctrine was almost necessarily in the open air, or in buildings which were not dedicated to worship, for these were in the hands of the papacy. True, Wycliffe for a while preached the Gospel in the church at Lutterworth; Huss and Jerome and Savonarola for a time delivered semi-Gospel addresses in connection with the ecclesiastical arrangements around them; but when they began more fully to know and proclaim the Gospel, they were driven to find other platforms.

The Reformation when yet a babe was like the new-born Christ, and had not where to lay its head, but aOpen-air 1 company of men comparable to the heavenly host proclaimed it under the open heavens, where shepherds and common people heard them gladly. Throughout England we have several trees remaining called “gospel oaks.” There is one spot on the other side of the Thames known by the name of “Gospel Oak,” and I have myself preached at Addlestone, in Surrey, under the far-spreading boughs of an ancient oak, beneath which John Knox is said to have proclaimed the Gospel during his sojourn in England. Full many a wild moor and lone hillside and secret spot in the forest have been consecrated in the same fashion, and traditions still linger over caves and dells and hilltops where of old time the bands of the faithful met to hear the Word of the Lord.

It would be an interesting task to prepare a volume of notable facts connected with open-air preaching, or, better still, a consecutive history of it. I have no time for even a complete outline, but would simply ask you, where would the Reformation have been if its great preachers had confined themselves to churches and cathedrals ? How would the common people have become indoctrinated with the Gospel had it not been for those far-wandering evangelists, the colporteurs, and those daring innovators who found a pulpit on every heap of stones, and an audience chamber in every open space near the abodes of men?

All through the Puritan times there were gatherings in all sorts of out-of-the-way places, for fear of persecutors. “We took,” says Archbishop Laud, in a letter dated Fulham, June, 1632, “another conventicle of separatists in Newington Woods, in the very brake where the king’s stag was to be lodged, for his hunting next morning.” A hollow or gravelpit on Hounslow Heath sometimes served as a conventicle, and there is a dell near Hitchin where John Bunyan was wont to preach in perilous times. All over Scotland the straths and dells and vales and hillsides are full of covenanting memories to this day. You will not fail to meet with rock pulpits whence the stern fathers of the Presbyterian church thundered forth their denunciations of Erastianism, and pleaded the claims of the King of kings. Cargill and Cameron and their fellows found congenial scenes for their brave ministries amid the mountains’ lone rents and ravines.

What the world would have been if there had not been preaching outside of walls, and beneath a more glorious roof than these rafters of fir, I am sure I cannot guess. It was a brave day for England when Whitefield began field-preaching. When Wesley stood and preached a sermon on his father’s grave, at Epworth, because the parish priest would not allow him admission within the (so-called) sacred edifice, Mr. Wesley writes: “I am well assured that I did far more good to my Lincolnshire parishioners by preaching three days on my father’s tomb than I did by preaching three years in his pulpit.”

Wesley writes in his journal, “Saturday, 31 March, 1731. In the evening I reached Bristol, and met Mr. Whitefield there. I could scarce reconcile myself at first to this strange way of preaching in the fields, of which he set me an example on Sunday; having been all my life (till very lately) so tenacious of every point relating to decency and order, that I should have thought the saving of souls almost a sin, if it had not been done in a church.” Such were the feelings of a man who in after life became one of the greatest open-air preachers that ever lived!

Open-air 2Once recommenced, the fruitful agency of field-preaching was not allowed to cease. Amid jeering crowds and showers of rotten eggs and filth, the immediate followers of the two great Methodists continued to storm village after village and town after town. Very varied w ere their adventures, but their success was generally great. One smiles often when reading incidents in their labors. A string of pack horses is so driven as to break up a congregation, and a fire engine is brought out and played over the throng to achieve the same purpose. Hand-bells, old kettles, marrowbones and cleavers, trumpets, drums, and entire bands of music were engaged to drown the preachers’ voices.

In one case the parish bull was let loose, and in others dogs were set to fight. The preachers needed to have faces set like flints, and so indeed they had. John Furz says: “As soon as I began to preach, a man came straight forward, and presented a gun at my face; swearing that he would blow my brains out, if I spake another word. However, I continued speaking, and he continued swearing, sometimes putting the muzzle of the gun to my mouth, sometimes against my ear. While we were singing the last hymn, he got behind me, fired the gun, and burned off part of my hair.

After this, my brethren, we ought never to speak of petty interruptions or annoyances. The proximity of a blunderbuss in the hands of a son of Belial is not very conducive to collected thought and clear utterance, but the experience of Furz was probably no worse than that of John Nelson, who coolly says, “But when I was in the middle of my discourse, one at the ouside of the congregation threw a stone, which cut me on the head: however that made the people give greater attention, especially when they saw the blood run down my face; so that all was quiet till I had done, and was singing a hymn.”

I have no time further to illustrate my subject by descriptions of the work of Christmas Evans and others in Wales, or of the Haldanes in Scotland, or even of Rowland Hill and his brethren in England. If you wish to pursue the subject these names may serve as hints for discovering abundant material; and I may add to the list The Life of Dr. Guthrie, in which he records notable open-air assemblies at the time of the Disruption, when as yet the Free Church had no places of worship built with human hands.

I must linger a moment over Robert Flockhart of Edinburgh, who, though a lesser light, was a constant one, and a fit example to the bulk of Christ’s street witnesses. Every evening, in all weathers and amid many persecutions, did this brave man continue to speak in the street for forty-three years. Think of that, and never be discouraged. When he was tottering to the grave the old soldier was still at his post. “Compassion to the souls of men drove me,” said he, “to the streets and lanes of my native city, to plead with sinners and persuade them to come to Jesus. The love of Christ constrained me.”

Neither the hostility of the police, nor the insults of papists, Unitarians, and the like could move him; he rebuked error in the plainest terms, and preached salvation by grace with all his might. So lately has he passed away that Edinburgh remembers him still. There is room for such in all our cities and towns, and need for hundreds of his noble order in this huge nation of London—can I call it less?

No sort of defense is needed for preaching out-of-doors; but it would need very potent arguments to prove that a man had done his duty who has never preached beyond the walls of his meetinghouse. A defense is required rather for services within buildings than for worship outside of them. Apologies are certainly wanted for architects who pile up brick and stone into the skies when there is so much need for preaching rooms among poor sinners down below. Defense is greatly needed for forests of stone pillars, which prevent the preacher from being seen and his voice from being heard; for high-pitched Gothic roofs in which all sound is lost, and men are killed by being compelled to shout till they burst their blood-vessels; and also for the willful creation of echoes by exposing hard, sound-refracting surfaces to satisfy the demands of art, to the total overlooking of the comfort of both audience and speaker.

Surely also some decent excuse is badly wanted for those childish people who must needs waste moneyOpen-air 4 in placing hobgoblins and monsters on the outside of their preaching houses, and must have other ridiculous pieces of popery stuck up both inside and outside, to deface rather than to adorn their churches and chapels: but no defense whatever is wanted for using the Heavenly Father’s vast audience chamber, which is in every way so well fitted for the proclamation of a Gospel so free, so full, so expansive, so sublime.

The great benefit of open-air preaching is that we get so many newcomers to hear the Gospel who otherwise would never hear it. The Gospel command is, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” but it is so little obeyed that one would imagine that it ran thus, “Go into your own place of worship and preach the Gospel to the few creatures who will come inside.” “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in”— albeit it constitutes part of a parable, is worthy to be taken very literally, and in so doing its meaning will be best carried out.

We ought actually to go into the streets and lanes and highways, for there are lurkers in the hedges, tramps on the highways, street-walkers and lane-haunters, whom we shall never reach unless we pursue them into their own domains. Sportsmen must not stop at home and wait for the birds to come and be shot at, neither must fishermen throw their nets inside their boats and hope to take many fish. Traders go to the markets; they follow their customers and go out after business if it will not come to them; and so must we. Some of our brethren are prosing on and on to empty pews and musty hassocks, while they might be conferring lasting benefit upon hundreds by quitting the old walls for a while, and seeking living stones for Jesus.

I am quite sure, too, that if we could persuade our friends in the country to come out a good many times in the year and hold a service in a meadow, or in a shady grove, or on the hillside, or in a garden, or on a common, it would be all the ketter f or the usual hearers. The mere novelty of the place would freshen their interest, and wake them up. The slight change of scene would have a wonderful effect upon the more somnolent. See how mechanically they move into their usual place of worship, and how mechanically they go out again. They fall into their seats as if at last they had found a resting place; they rise to sing with an amazing effort, and they drop down before you have time for the doxology at the close of the hymn because they did not notice it was coming.

What logs some regular hearers are! Many of them are asleep with their eyes open. After sitting a certain number of years in the same old spot, where the pews, pulpit, galleries, and all things else are always the same, except that they get a little dirtier and dingier every week, where everybody occupies the same position forever and forevermore, and the minister’s face, voice, tone are much the same from January to December -you get to feel the holy quiet of the scene and listen to what is going on as though it were addressed to “the dull cold ear of Death.”

As a miller hears his wheels as though he did not hear them, or a stoker scarcely notices the clatter of his engine after enduring it for a little time, or as a dweller in London never notices the ceaseless grind of the traffic; so do many members of our congregations become insensible to the most earnest addresses, and accept them as a matter of course. The preaching and the rest of it get to be so usual that they might as well not be at all. Hence a change of place might be useful; it might prevent monotony, shake up indifference, suggest thought, and in a thousand ways promote attention and give new hope of doing good. A great fire which should burn some of our chapels to the ground might not be the greatest calamity which has ever occurred, if it only aroused some of those rivals of the seven sleepers of Ephesus who will never be moved so long as the old house and the old pews hold together.

Besides, the fresh air and plenty of it is a grand thing for every mortal man, woman and child. I preached in Scotland twice on a Sabbath day at Blairmore, on a little height by the side of the sea, and after discoursing with all my might to large congregations, to be counted by thousands, I did not feel onehalf so much exhausted as I often am when addressing a few hundreds in some horrible black hole of Calcutta, called a chapel. I trace my freshness and freedom from lassitude at Blairmore to the fact that the windows could not be shut down by persons afraid of drafts, and that the roof was as high as the heavens are above the earth. My conviction is that a man could preach three or four times on a Sabbath out-of-doors with less fatigue than would be occasioned by one discourse delivered in an impure atmosphere, heated and poisoned by human breath, and carefully preserved from every refreshing infusion of natural air.

I once preached a sermon in the open air in haying time during a violent storm of rain. The text was, “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth,” and surely we had the blessing as well as the inconvenience. I was sufficiently wet, and my congregation must have been drenched, but they stood it out, and I never heard that anybody was the worse in health, though, I thank God, I have heard of souls brought to Jesus under that discourse. Once in a while, and under strong excitement, such things do no one any harm, but we are not to expect miracles, nor wantonly venture upon a course of procedure which might kill the sickly and lay the foundations of disease in the strong.

Do not try to preach against the wind, for it is an idle attempt. You may hurl your voice a short distance by an amazing effort, but you cannot be well heard even by the few. I do not often advise you to consider which way the wind blows, but on this occasion I urge you to do it, or you will labor in vain. Preach so that the wind carries your voice toward the people, and does not blow it down your throat, or you will have to eat your own words.

There is no telling how far a man may be heard with the wind. In certain atmospheres and climates, as for instance in that of Palestine, persons might be heard for several miles; and single sentences of wellknown speech may in England be recognized a long way off, but I should gravely doubt a man if he asserted that he understood a new sentence beyond the distance of a mile. Whitefield is reported to have been heard a mile, and I have been myself assured that I was heard for that distance, but I am somewhat skeptical. Half a mile is surely enough, even with the wind, but you must make sure of that to be heard at all.

Heroes of the Cross -here is a field for you more glorious than the Cid ever beheld when with his brave right arm he smote the paynim hosts. “Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?” Who will enable us to win these slums and dens for Jesus ? Who can do it but the Lord? Soldiers of Christ who venture into these regions must expect a revival of the practices of the good old times, so far as brickbats are concerned, and I have known a flowerpot to fall accidentally from an upper window in a remarkably slanting direction. Still, if we are born to be drowned we shall not be killed by flowerpots.

imagesCAWFJZUYUnder such treatment it may be refreshing to read what Christopher Hopper wrote under similar conditions more than a hundred years ago. “I did not much regard a little dirt, a few rotten eggs, the sound of a cow’s horn, the noise of bells, or a few snowballs in their season; but sometimes I was saluted with blows, stones, brickbats, and bludgeons. These I did not well like: they were not pleasing to flesh and blood. I sometimes lost a little skin, and once a little blood, which was drawn from my forehead with a sharp stone. I wore a patch for a few days, and was not ashamed; I gloried in the cross. And when my small sufferings abounded for the sake of Christ, my comfort abounded much more. I never was more happy in my own soul, or blessed in my labors.”

I am somewhat pleased when I occasionally hear of a brother’s being locked up by the police, for it does him good, and it does the people good also. It is a fine sight to see the minister of the Gospel marched off by the servant of the law! It excites sympathy for him, and the next step is sympathy for his message. Many who felt no interest in him before are eager to hear him when he is ordered to 1eave off, and still more so when he is taken to the station. The vilest of mankind respect a man who gets into trouble in order to do them good, and if they see unfair opposition excited they grow quite zealous in the man’s defense.

As to style in preaching out-of-doors, it should certainly be very different from much of that which prevails within, and perhaps if a speaker were to acquire a style fully adapted to a street audience, he would be wise to bring it indoors with him. A great deal of sermonizing may be defined as saying nothing at extreme length; but out-of-doors verbosity is not admired; you must say something and have done with it and go on to say something more, or your hearers will let you know.

“Now then,” cries a street critic, “let us have it, old fellow.” Or else the observation is made, “Now then, pitch it out! You’d better go home and learn your lesson.” “Cut It short, old boy,” is a very common admonition, and I wish the presenters of this advice gratis could let it be heard inside Ebenezer and Zoar and some other places sacred to long-winded orations. Where these outspoken criticisms are not employed, the hearers rebuke prosiness by quietly walking away. Very unpleasant this, to find your congregation dispersing, but a very plain intimation that your ideas are also much dispersed.

In the street, a man must keep himself alive, and use many illustrations and anecdotes, and sprinkle a quaint remark here and there. To dwell long on a point will never do. Reasoning must be brief, clear, and soon done with. The discourse must not be labored or involved, neither must the second head depend upon the first, for the audience is a changing one, and each point must be complete in itself. The chain of thought must be taken to pieces’ and each link melted down and turned into bullets: you will need not so much Saladin’s saber to cut through a muslin handkerchief as Coeur de Lion’s battle-axe to break a bar of iron. Come to the point at once, and come there with all your might.

Short sentences of words and short passages of thought are needed for out-of-doors. Long paragraphs and long arguments had better be reserved for other occasions. In quiet country crowds there is much force in an eloquent silence, now and then interjected; it gives people time to breathe, and also to reflect. Do not, however, attempt this in a London street; you must go ahead, or someone else may run off with your congregation. In a regular field sermon pauses are very effective, and are useful in several ways, both to speaker and listeners, but to a passing company who are not inclined for anything like worship, quick, short, sharp address is most adapted.

In the streets a man must from beginning to end be intense, and for that very reason he must be condensed and concentrated in his thought and utterance. It would never do to begin by saying, “My text, dear friends, is a passage from the inspired Word, containing doctrines of the utmost importance, and bringing before us in the clearest manner the most valuable practical instruction. I invite your careful attention and the exercise of your most candid judgment while we consider it under various aspects and place it in different lights, in order that we may be able to perceive its position in the analogy of the faith. In its exegesis we shall find an arena for the cultured intellect, and the refined sensibilities. As the purling brook meanders among the meads and fertilizes the pastures, so a stream of sacred truth flows through the remarkable words which now lie before us. It will be well for us to divert the crystal current to the reservoir of our meditation, that we may quaff the cup of wisdom with the lips of satisfaction.”

There, gentlemen, is not that rather above the average of word-spinning, and is not the art very generally in vogue in these days? If you go out to the obelisk in Blackfriars Road, and talk in that fashion, you will be saluted with “Go on, old buffer,” or “Ain’t he fine? My eye!” A very vulgar youth will cry, “What a mouth for a tater!” and another will shout in a tone of mock solemnity, “Amen!” If you give them chaff they will cheerfully return it into your own bosom. Good measure, pressed down and running over will they mete out to you. Shams and shows will have no mercy from a street gathering.

But have something to say, look them in the face, say what you mean, put it plainly, boldly, earnestly, courteously, and they will hear you. Never speak against time or for the sake of hearing your own voice, or you will obtain some information about your personal appearance or manner of oratory which will probably be more true than pleasing. “Crikey,” says one, “wouldn’t he do for an undertaker! He’d make ’em weep.” This was a compliment paid to a melancholy brother whose tone is peculiarly funereal. “There, old fellow,” said a critic on another occasion, “you go and wet your whistle. You must feel awfully dry after jawing away at that rate about nothing at all.” This also was specially appropriate to a very heavy brother of whom we had aforetime remarked that he would make a good martyr, for there was no doubt of his burning well, he was so dry.

It will be very desirable to speak so as to be heard, but there is no use in incessant bawling. The best street preaching is not that which is done at the top of your voice, for it must be impossible to lay the proper emphasis upon telling passages when all along you are shouting with all your might. When there are no hearers near you, and yet people stand upon the other side of the road and listen, would it not be well to cross over and so save a little of the strength which is now wasted?

A quiet, penetrating, conversational style would seem to be the most telling. Men do not bawl and halloa when they are pleading in deepest earnestness; they have generally at such times less wind and a little more rain: less rant and a few more tears. On, on, on with one monotonous shout and you will weary everybody and wear out yourself. Be wise now, therefore, O ye who would succeed in declaring your Master’s message among the multitude, and use your voices as common sense would dictate.

In a tract published by that excellent society “The Open-Air Mission,” I notice the following:

QUALIFICATIONS FOR OPEN-AIR PREACHERS
  1. A good voice.
  2. Naturalness of manner.
  3. Self-possession.
  4. A good knowledge of Scripture and of common things.
  5. Ability to adapt himself to any congregation.
  6. Good illustrative powers.
  7. Zeal, prudence, and common sense.
  8. A large, loving heart.
  9. Sincere belief in all he says.
  10. Entire dependence on the Holy Spirit for success.
  11. A close walk with God by prayer.
  12. A consistent walk before men by a holy life.

If any man has all these qualifications, the Queen had better make a bishop of him at once, yet there is no one of these qualities which could well be dispensed with.

A Letter from Kabwata: Why is the Charismatic Movement Thriving in Africa?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Why is the Charismatic Movement Thriving in Africa?

Foundations for the FlockMany explanations have been given for the explosion of the Charismatic movement in Africa. Many have seen this as a powerful visitation of the Holy Spirit. Whereas there is probably more than one reason, I want to add my own observation to this for what it is worth. In this blog post, I do not refer to the old conservative form of Pentecostalism once represented by the Assemblies of God churches. I have in mind the current extreme form that is mushrooming literally under every shrub and tree in Africa. How can one explain this phenomenon?

I think that one reason why the Charismatic movement in Africa has been like a wild bushfire is because it has not challenged the African religious worldview but has instead adopted it. It has simply baptised it with Bible verses and Christian words that previously meant something totally different.

The African Spiritual Worldview

Let me explain what I mean. The African spiritual worldview consists of four tiers.

1. God

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2. Angels and demons

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3. Ancestral spirits

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4. Human beings

It is because of this reality that Africans do not question the existence of God, as is the case with many people in the Western world. To an African, God is there. He is the Creator and ultimate Governor and Benefactor of the whole universe.

Rather, in our spiritual worldview, although God is there he is very far away. Between him and us as human beings lie two layers in the spirit world. One is that of angels and demons (i.e. bad angels) and the other—which is even closer to us—is that of the spirits of the departed.

So, although God is a benevolent, loving, and caring Being, unless the beings that dwell in these two layers that lie between him and us are appeased, his blessings cannot reach us. It is, therefore, important to appease the ancestral spirits and defeat the demons. Only after that will God’s blessings come upon us.

This is where in African traditional religions witchdoctors come in. They are the people with the mysterious power to break through these two layers. They tell us what we must do in order to appease the spirits of our forefathers. They also engage the demons for us through their midnight trances, dances, and incense.

So, a person who is beset with perennial illnesses, failing to get a job, failing to find a spouse or to have children, whose business is failing to thrive, etc., simply goes to the witchdoctor who alone has the key to look into the spirit world. He is told that it is either a deceased person or an evil spirit who is frustrating him.

Sometimes the enemy is a person who is alive. However, the reason why this living individual seems to have a mysterious hold over your life is because he has plugged into those two layers (of either dead ancestors or evil spirits) and you have not. With the help of a powerful witchdoctor you can outsmart him in those two layers, and the blessings of God can once again begin to flow into your life.

Whichever way, the power of the witchdoctor is not in explaining truth but in mindless frenzy. His grip upon the popular mind is his eerie mysteriousness and his capacity to knock you out of your senses and then pronounce you delivered. Of course, this is never done by benevolence. You pay for his services.

The Charismatic Movement’s Rendition

I do not mean to be unkind, but what the modern Charismatic movement in Africa has done is to simply take this entire erroneous superstructure of African religious worldview and baptise it with wrongly applied Bible verses and Christian language. The only difference is that the layer of dead ancestors and evil spirits is now one hotchpotch of confusion. This is why the nonsense of demons becoming spirit husbands and wives, and wrecking havoc in marriages, is taken for granted! This is also why the heresy of generation curses has become so popular. In our minds, bad luck can be passed on from that layer of dead ancestors.

In the African Charismatic circles, the “man of God” has replaced the witchdoctor. He is the one who oozes with mysterious power that enables him to break through those two impregnable layers, which us lesser mortals cannot penetrate. So, when blessings are not flowing our way despite our prayers, we make a beeline to his quarters or his church for help. This explains the throngs in these circles. The crowds are not looking for someone to explain to them the way to find pardon with God. No! They want the“man of God” to pray for them.

This also explains the stranglehold that “men of God” have on the minds of their devotees in these circles. In the Evangelicalism of a former generation “men of God” were primarily preachers of the word of God, but in the new setup they are primarily priests who enter the inner sanctuaries to bring down blessings to us.

This also explains why the answer to almost any problem that you take to these “men of God” is “deliverance” and“breakthrough”. God wants to bless you, but you need to break through these impregnable layers before those blessings can reach you. The prayers of the “man of God” will bring deliverance because at the overnight prayer meeting or on the hill he will bring about a breakthrough. Who can doubt that these two phrases have become the key words of this movement?

This also explains why prayer in the modern Charismatic movement in Africa is literally a fight. In fact, the people praying are called “prayer warriors”. Although they begin by addressing God, within the first few seconds they divert from God and begin to fight the spirits in these impregnable layers with their bare knuckles. The language is almost always, “We bind every unclean spirit in Jesus’ name! We loose the Spirit that breaks the yoke in Jesus’ name!”

The “prayer warriors” scream at the top of their voices and chant the name of Jesus. They sweat as they put up a gallant fight with these spirits, straining every muscle of their beings until they prevail (so they think). That is when they reach through to God and his blessings begin to flow. This is nothing more than the African traditional religious worldview sprinkled with a thin layer of Christianity.

Notice also how teaching is not the strength of the modern Charismatic movement in Africa. Its chief proponents survive on a few, well-worn, tortured verses: “By his stripes we are healed,” “We are not the tail but the head,” etc. There is absolutely no effort to properly exegete Scripture. Rather, by chanting phrases and making people drop under some trance, in witchdoctor fashion, they are holding sway over the popular mind. The people love it and are paying for it! The “men of God” are becoming stinking rich as the crowds just keep on coming.

This is not Christianity

What worries me is that this is so obvious that I am wondering why we are not seeing this. Or if we are, why we are not warning Christians against this. For the love of crowds, we have allowed African traditional religion to enter the church through the back door. Like the Arabian camel, it has since kicked out the truth. This is why I am not excited by the multiplication of churches—or ministries—under this banner.

We need to sound the warning that this is not Christianity. I know that this approach is filling our church buildings and classrooms to overflowing, until we have to multiply church services in order to accommodate the crowds. But this is not Christianity. It does not lead to heaven. It is a thin coating over the religion that has been on African soil for time immemorial, which Christianity was meant to replace. We have lost the Christian faith while we are holding the Bible in our hands and using some of its words. This is really sad.

The religion of the Bible does not teach a God who is so far away from us that unless some powerful humans come in and give us a breakthrough he cannot bless us. No! The Bible teaches a God who is near us. The only barrier between God and us is our sin, and Jesus has dealt with that by his death on the cross.

When we pray, we are in the throne room of divine grace talking directly to God. We do not need to address demons and ancestral spirits before we break through to him. We do not need to chant and jump around like witchdoctors around their fire under the midnight moonlight. God is our heavenly Father. Only our sin can hinder our prayers.

Listen! Angels and demons exist, but they are not an impregnable spiritual strata that needs someone reeking with anointing to breakthrough their layer before we can access God’s blessing. They are simply beings that either carry out God’s commands or the devil’s commands. They are not between God and us!

Finally, we do not need “men of God” to lay hands on us every Sunday (or at Friday overnight prayer meetings, or on hills in the outskirts of our cities) in order for us to know God’s blessings. There is only one Mediator between God and us—it is the man, Christ Jesus. All others are imposters and must be rejected with the contempt they deserve.

[Included afterwards: Many individuals and organisations that run websites and blogs have asked me for permission to repost this article. Permission is granted, as long as due acknowledgement is made of the author and original blog post. Thank you for your interest in getting the word out!]

Posted by Conrad Mbewe at 6:11 PM

Original Link – http://www.conradmbewe.com/2013/07/why-is-charismatic-movement-thriving-in.html

Farmers’ Market and the PSL kicks off

On Saturday morning August 3, 2013 I was asked to attend at the Farmers’ Market next to the Harry Gwala Stadium to see brother Ed White and an opportunity was taken at about 08H30 to raise the name of our Lord Jesus Christ calling for people to examine their lives in light of eternity. The portion of Scripture was Mark 10:46-52, which reads as follows:

Mark 10:46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.

Mark 10:47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

Mark 10:48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

Mark 10:49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.

Mark 10:50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.

Mark 10:51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.

Mark 10:52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

The following was put to them that they “might be like Bartimaeus sitting on the road side begging, blind to the things of God and you need to have a relationship with this one true God that has come past your way today [heckling chuckling in the video]; it is in His Word that He comes to you today to call you to repentance and faith in Him …”. Here is the video – please excuse the shaking as I held the camera whilst preaching. It ends with a wonderful testimony by a man named Ted (mustard coloured jacket) who testifies to being healed of cancer. Praise God! 

Later the same day outside the Harry Gwala Stadium at around 19H30 in the evening I raised the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to the spectators attending the opening soccer match of the new PSL 2013/14 season between Maritzburg United and Polokwane City. Had the pleasure of some white-mockers blow their vuvuzelas [irritating plastic blow horns] at the mention of hell and the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and speak foolishly against the preaching of the Gospel. I also had an inebriated Indian breath his intoxicating brandy-breath into my face on a few occasions and tell me that ‘his jesus’ loves him as he is, and he was really offended when I corrected him that the true Lord Jesus Christ hates his drunkenness as revealed in the Holy Bible that no drunkards shall inherit the kingdom of God (see 1 Corinthians 6:10). Even in his angry drunken stupor he still wanted to hug me later – what foolishness!

DSCF2589     DSCF2597

Also warned about certain football (soccer) stadium tragedies where spectators lost their lives like, Heysel Stadium in 1985 (Liverpool vs. Juventus), the 1989 Hillsborough disaster (Liverpool vs. Nottingham Forest) and the Ellis Park stampede in 2001 between supporters of Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. People went out to enjoy themselves, but some lost their lives. What if it was you?

SOLI DEO GLORIA

Healings or Preaching for Salvation

On Wednesday April 10, 2013 I was contacted by Brother Ed White to come share about the Repent and Believe South Africa ministry with their Bible-study group meeting at his home with his family – wife Petra and their younger daughter Catherine (Rebecca was at work) – which also included his pastor David (jnr.), his wife Kate and David’s dad David (snr.). Brother Aziz was also present having arrived with me.

I ask that this teaching be received in love, as it is intended, and that this matter be heard first before answering the matter as we read:

Proverbs 18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

This account that follows is hopefully as I understood it correctly. During the discussions, we were advised by David (snr.) that he is involved in the ministry of healing and he gave testimonies of healings that took place. He spoke of a time when 76 (?) people were healed at once in a shed on a farm in Namibia. [Healed from what? This question needs to be answered. Were all the people at that one “meeting” sick? Crippled? Maimed? Blind? Deaf? We know not]. During the evening at one point David (snr.) also mentioned that Jesus’ healings were to save souls as he elaborated on the death of our Saviour upon the Cross being bruised and taking the punishment – which was a graphic description of the Roman torture of the “cat-with-nine-tails with nine barbs”, etc. – also for our healings! He indicated that we, as believers, should move in the anointing of the healing ministry and people will be saved when they see signs and wonders and miracles, because this will reveal that “Jesus is in the house.” However, I advised at the time that not every person is healed, but the greatest miracle of all is when dead-men walking are converted into new creations and being born-again of the Spirit of God! (see John 3:3, 5 and 6)

Being asked to come and share our street preaching ministry and sharing at the home group meeting from the Scriptures, being Ephesians 4:11-16 as read with 1 Corinthians 1:9-13 dealing expressively with the teaching aspect of the ministry and that believers are to be in unity, hearing what our brethren taught concerning their healing ministry it caused me to go away and ask questions of our Father and it was in the waking hours the next morning that certain revelation was unfolding by what was given to me in thoughts that caused me to start searching the Scriptures as a Berean (see Acts 17:11).

What follows is what I believe our Father has revealed to me and He wishes to share with the aforementioned Bible-study group again, which is what is done here.

Healings are not a draw card for Salvation or to Salvation. In Romans 1:16,17 we read what was revealed to the Apostle Paul which reads, as follows:

Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Rom 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

The power of God unto salvation is the Gospel of Christ to those that believeth. The preaching of God’s Word is what saves people, not signs and wonders and miracles. What saves people from God’s wrath is Salvation which is of God and “… not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (see Romans 2:4). We also read, for it is written:

1 Cor 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

The preaching of the cross is the Gospel. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is to be preached as the Apostle Paul said “… woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (see 1 Corinthians 9:16) We also know that God uses the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe:

1 Cor 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

John the Baptist, the Apostles and Jesus the Christ all said that people must repent or they would perish. We read in many accounts of their preaching “Repentance” in Matthew 3:2, 4:17; Mark 1:15, 6:12; Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38, 3:19, 8:22, 17:30, 20:21, 26:20, Revelation 2:5, 16, 21, 22, and 3:3. We are also told in Scripture that we have the ministry of reconciliation as given to us in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 ~

2 Cor 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

2 Cor 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

2 Cor 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

2 Cor 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

What we also see in Scripture is that the Law of God has to be a schoolmaster (teacher) to lead people to Christ as we read in Galatians:

Gal 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Gal 3:25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

We are also told that we are saved by grace through faith in Ephesians as it is written:

Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

We also know that healings is a gift of the Holy Spirit and so is faith (see 1 Corinthians 12:9), but the gifts are given to believers for the Kingdom of God. When we read about the gifts and that it is for the one body and every member has need of the other in the one body – referring to and in context to the believers in Christ – we also see that these gifts all work for each other and there is to be no division “schism”. We read that we believers are to use our gifts for the care of one another, as we read:

1 Cor 12:25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

1 Cor 12:26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

1 Cor 12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

1 Cor 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

1 Cor 12:29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

1 Cor 12:30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

1 Cor 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Eph 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Eph 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Eph 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Eph 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

These gifts are to be exercised in the Kingdom of God which is within you! (see Luke 17:21). The healings are for us believers first and foremost. If a sinner comes to repentance and faith and needs a healing, then those who have the gift of healing will heal that brother or sister. These are Kingdom principles, as we are exhorted by our Lord Jesus Christ: Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. (see Matthew 7:6). Initially, the healings done by our Lord Jesus Christ through His ministry on earth were attesting signs to confirm His deity as the Son of God and as God manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16) as well as the Gospel – the Good News! And the first Apostles did this too as we read in Act 2:43 and that there were “fear came upon every soul” “And all that believed were together, and had all things common;” (Acts 2:44). The reason we can know this is that when our Lord Jesus Christ healed ten lepers we read of the account that only one stranger – a Samaritan – came and gave God glory. Many people want the healing, but few accept the healer our Lord Jesus Christ, as Lord of their lives. We read:

Luke 17:11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

Luke 17:12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:

Luke 17:13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

Luke 17:14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

Luke 17:15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,

Luke 17:16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

Luke 17:17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?

Luke 17:18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.

Luke 17:19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Luke 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:

Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

The Gospel is about changed hearts! This is also confirmed when we see that many disciples stopped following our Lord Jesus Christ when we read John 6:66! These were the very disciples that witnessed the healings, miracles and feedings. That is why we need to understand the parable of the sower (see Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8) which deals with the soils (hearts). There are many that fall away from the faith because they never came repentant having the good seed planted in the good soil that brings forth a good harvest and they are a result of a man-centred gospel that lacks repentance and has no power, and men have changed the ways of God to suit their own doctrines, traditions and customs. The ways of men cause false converts which leads many to be inoculated to the True Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!

We also read on another occasion of the account when our Lord Jesus Christ spoke to His disciples returning from a mission, as it is written:

Luke 10:17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.

Luke 10:18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

Luke 10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

Luke 10:20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

Our rejoicing, in humility, should be because our names are written in heaven. We also can read from the work J.C. Ryle Expository Thoughts on the Gospel, the following in relation to the aforementioned Scripture portion:

Luke 10:17-20 WE learn, from this passage, how ready Christians are to be puffed up with success. It is written, that the seventy returned from their first mission with joy, “saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” There was much false fire in that joy. There was evidently self-satisfaction in that report of achievements. The whole tenor of the passage leads us to this conclusion. The remarkable expression which our Lord uses about Satan’s fall from heaven, was most probably meant to be a caution. He read the hearts of the young and inexperienced soldiers before Him. He saw how much they were lifted up by their first victory. He wisely checks them in their undue exultation. He warns them against pride.

The lesson is one which all who work for Christ should mark and remember. Success is what all faithful laborers in the Gospel field desire. The minister at home and the missionary abroad, the district visitor and the city missionary, the tract distributor and the Sunday-school teacher, all alike long for success. All long to see Satan’s kingdom pulled down, and souls converted to God. We cannot wonder. The desire is right and good.

Let it, however, never be forgotten, that the time of success is a time of danger to the Christian’s soul. The very hearts that are depressed when all things seem against them are often unduly exalted in the day of prosperity. Few men are like Samson, and can kill a lion without telling others of it. (Jdg 14:6.) No wonder that Paul says of a bishop, that he ought not to be “a novice, lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” (1Ti 3:6.) Most of Christ’s laborers probably have as much success as their souls can bear.

Let us pray much for humility, and especially for humility in our days of peace and success. When everything around us seems to prosper, and all our plans work well,—when family trials and sicknesses are kept from us, and the course of our worldly affairs runs smooth,—when our daily crosses are light, and all within and without like a morning without clouds,—then, then is the time when our souls are in danger! Then is the time when we have need to be doubly watchful over our own hearts. Then is the time when seeds of evil are sown within us by the devil, which may one day astound us by their growth and strength.

There are few Christians who can carry a full cup with a steady hand. There are few whose souls prosper in their days of uninterrupted success. We are all inclined to sacrifice to our net, and burn incense to our own drag. (Hab 1:16.) We are ready to think that our own might and our own wisdom have procured us the victory. The caution of the passage before us ought never to be forgotten. In the midst of our triumphs, let us cry earnestly, “Lord, clothe us with humility.”

We learn, for another thing, from these verses, that gifts, and power of working miracles, are very inferior to grace. It is written that our Lord said to the seventy disciples, “In this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” It was doubtless an honor and a privilege to be allowed to cast out devils. The disciples were right to be thankful. But it was a far higher privilege to be converted and pardoned men, and to have their names written in the register of saved souls.

The distinction here drawn between grace and gifts is one of deep importance, and often and sadly overlooked in the present day. Gifts, such as mental vigor, vast memory, striking eloquence, ability in argument, power in reasoning, are often unduly valued by those who possess them, and unduly admired by those who possess them not. These things ought not so to be. Men forget that gifts without grace save no one’s soul, and are the characteristic of Satan himself.

Grace, on the contrary, is an everlasting inheritance, and, lowly and despised as its possessor may be, will land him safe in glory. He that has gifts without grace is dead in sins, however splendid his gifts may be. But he that has grace without gifts is alive to God, however unlearned and ignorant he may appear to man. And “a living dog is better than a dead lion.” (Ecc 9:4.)

Let the religion which we aim to possess be a religion in which grace is the main thing. Let it not content us to be able to speak eloquently, or preach powerfully, or reason ably, or argue cleverly, or profess loudly, or talk fluently. Let it not satisfy us to know the whole system of Christian doctrines, and to have texts and words at our command. These things are all well in their way. They are not to be undervalued. They have their use. But these things are not the grace of God, and they will not deliver us from hell. Let us never rest until we have the witness of the Spirit within us that we are “washed, and sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God.” (1Co 6:11.) Let us seek to know that “our names are written in heaven,” and that we are really one with Christ and Christ in us. Let us strive to be “epistles of Christ known and read of all men,” and to show by our meekness, and charity, and faith, and spiritual-mindedness, that we are the children of God. This is true religion. These are the real marks of saving Christianity. Without such marks, a man may have abundance of gifts and turn out nothing better than a follower of Judas Iscariot, the false apostle, and go at last to hell. With such marks, a man may be like Lazarus, poor and despised upon earth, and have no gifts at all. But his name is written in heaven, and Christ shall own him as one of His people at the last day.” (End quote)

When we look at the many healings and miracles done by our Lord Jesus Christ, we see a recurring mention of faith and belief by those receiving the healing. As mentioned earlier faith is a gift from God by the Holy Spirit as we can read in 1 Corinthians 12:9 and also in Galatians 5:22 where faith is listed as a Fruit of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we can know from the Scriptures that these healings and miracles had to be attesting signs as no person can have that type of faith unless God has drawn the person and imparted the gift. We know that none seeks after God (see Romans 3:11) and No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: … (see John 6:44), so God had to have given the persons the faith, their belief and the ability for them to worship our Lord Jesus Christ. We are also here speaking about Jews from the House of Israel who must have received a revelation from God to know Jesus as Messiah. Why else would Jews call Yeshua Lord? Here are a few examples:

Blind Bartimaeus called Him Lord – Rabboni from Rabbi, Master = Great Teacher – and had faith.

Mark 10:46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.

Mark 10:47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

Mark 10:48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

Mark 10:49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.

Mark 10:50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.

Mark 10:51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.

Mark 10:52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

In Mark 7:24-30 the Syrophenician woman called Him Lord – she must have also heard of our Lord Jesus Christ and believed for in Matthew’s account in 15:21-28 her faith heals her daughter (v.28).

In Mark 5:35-43 Jarius’ daughter is healed – he is told to be not afraid only believe.

In Mark 5:1-20 the demons are cast out of the demoniac. In verse 6 the man came and worshipped Jesus. Cf verse 19 the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.

Then there is the woman with the issue of blood twelve years:

Mark 5:25 And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,

Mark 5:26 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,

Mark 5:27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.

Mark 5:28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.

Mark 5:29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.

Mark 5:30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?

Mark 5:31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?

Mark 5:32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.

Mark 5:33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.

Mark 5:34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

We also read the account of the paralytic being healed which is our Lord Jesus Christ demonstrating that He has power to forgive sins and the act of the miracle healing was the confirmation that the man’s sins were forgiven first:

Mark 2:1 And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.

Mark 2:2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.

Mark 2:3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.

Mark 2:4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.

Mark 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.

Mark 2:6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,

Mark 2:7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?

Mark 2:8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?

Mark 2:9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?

Mark 2:10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)

Mark 2:11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.

Mark 2:12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

Healings and miracles was not what our Lord Jesus Christ came to do as a means to draw men to Himself to save them. Our Lord Jesus Christ was specific:

Mark 1:38 And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.

Mark 1:39 And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.

We also know that our Lord Jesus Christ spoke in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man dealing with heaven and hell in Luke 16:19-31 that the five brothers of the rich man – who are the people also of this generation – that they have Moses and the prophets (the Bible), and if they do not hear them, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead. We are also told that unless a preacher – not a healer – is sent:

Rom 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

Rom 10:15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

In two portions of Scripture our Lord Jesus Christ reiterated the following:

Matt 12:39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

Matt 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Matt 12:41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

Matt 12:42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

Matt 16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

Today, this generation is still evil, wicked and adulterous and it is still seeking after a sign as a result of many false prophets, false teachers (2 Peter 2:1) and false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13) masquerading as “preachers” of Truth, but they are charlatans! The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is repentance and faith which are both a gift from Almighty God for Salvation.

We truly hope that this treatise settles the discrepancies that do exist in how brethren interpret Scripture. We are once again reminded that there should be no divisions between the brethren which are saints, the ekklesia of God. Let the living Word of God truly speak from the law and the prophets and the fulfilment of our Lord Jesus Christ as contained in the Holy Bible.

SOLI DEO GLORIA!

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