Friday, July 16, 2010

"Their Synagogue"

Still in Matthew 12. Jesus left the Pharisees (it's the only logical thing to do) and went to "their synagogue." I think Matthew emphasized here that it was not Jesus' but it was their synagogue, so to say. As if Jesus were saying, "Okay, let's see what you have in your church!" ha! That's how God's Flesh on earth speaks.

You know what they had in their synagogue? A man with a shriveled hand. The man had been like that a long time and no one could help him, not even the famed and biblical Pharisees. There was even a time when Jesus went to their synagogue to find a demon possessed synagogue member. All those years of solid bible-believing synagoguery didn't do anything to remedy demon possession or even a simple shriveled hand. Such a useless bible-believing religion and church. I wonder if churches today remedy simple problems like this? Or do they look the other way and instead indulge in theological discussions?

So Jesus went in there and ordered the man to stretch out his withered hand. Now that was a Sabbath taboo. You were not supposed to do that. Why not do it tomorrow or another day? Why on the Sabbath? So the Pharisaic theologians argued and asked, "Is it lawful to heal on a Sabbath?" Here was a man in dire need of healing, suffering from a defective hand, and all they could do was ask whether it was lawful to do anything about it.

So, Jesus ordered the man, "Stretch!" Now that's odd. Jesus ordered the man. He did not help him gently stretch out his hand, as I or anyone would've probably done it, out of respect and politeness--and religiosity. Have you seen anybody deal with a patient that way? Seems rude. There was once a paralytic Jesus ordered to "Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!" He could've well said, "Get out of here!" Yet, I believe Jesus to be a very kind and compassionate fellow.

Now, why was he doing this?

It was to break men's traditions and foolish religiosity. It was to challenge or even demolish their synagogue. My Jesus is radical. He will demonstrate to one and all the futility of man-made ministries, even in rude ways, like kicking tables and pigeon cages in the temple court in broad daylight--just to drive home the point. Their synagogue principle, he explained, was giving more importance to animals than humans. They never realized this truth before this revelation. They had strictly forbidden helping people on a Sabbath, yet helped their fallen animals from pits and holes without thinking twice about it. 

Then, in their minds, they must have started saying, "Why, yeah! That seemed so stupid of us!" But the realization further drove them to jealousy and anger against Jesus. Many today do that: instead of just admitting error and repenting, they meet together to plan "how they might murder Jesus." Especially if the guy exposing their errors is an untitled and non-degreed nobody who isn't part of the higher echelon of their bible-based synagogue. Yet, for years, they never did anything to relieve the pains and hurts of their synagogue members, until Jesus came to set the captives free.

You see the funny thing here? They never dared break the Sabbath rule even one tiny bit and yet didn't have any qualms about murdering Jesus. Bwahahaha! Just like most churches today--they always major on the minors but never think twice about going against what God really wants in the bible.

I was once in a local church busily preparing for their anniversary celebration which costs a big sum. They were meeting at the church porch when a beggar appeared at the gate asking for some handout (it was almost Christmas). The pastor shooed the beggar off, saying they didn't have money (Boy, what a liar). Seeing that I was wondering about it all, the pastor explained to me: "We're not a charity agency." Uh, okay.

How about you? Are you part of their synagogue?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Interesting Details about the Jesus Ministry

God often makes me dwell on a single chapter for weeks or even months to see important details of Scriptures which are often overlooked in ordinary bible studies. Like the first part of Matthew 12. It’s quite revealing how Jesus operated his ministry. It’s rather different from the kind of ministry that the church today admires.

A Poor Ministry

First, Jesus and his disciples went through the grainfields. That says a lot about the finances of the ministry. In those times, poor people and foreigners alone went through the fields after harvest to collect leftovers intended for the poor (Lev.19.10 and 23.22). God made it into a law to support those who were marginalized. If you did that, it didn’t mean you were begging from the field owner. It was God’s provision. God provided the field and the harvest from it, so he owned them all. Thus, he had the right to command field owners to spare a small part of the harvest as some kind of God’s return investment designed for the indigent.

I can say that at that point the Jesus ministry had a zero balance treasury, because the Word further says the disciples were so hungry they ate right there in the middle of the field. They began to pick and eat heads of grain. Their hunger pangs made them unable to wait till they got home and cooked the grains. You only did this if you were out of supplies and hungering without food for quite some time. I can imagine them even slightly trembling in hunger. Can you imagine this—out of supplies? 

To many believers today, this means failure. The belief system you’re militating for is disintegrating, and you better abandon ship and just join the majority. Right? That’s what it means today when you’re lacking funds, lacking provisions: God is probably not on your side. So quit.

And this wasn’t just about getting short of funds for a church project or building. This was open financial disgrace and embarrassment everyone saw. The ministry was bankrupt. I wonder how the critics took this. And what stuns me is that, Jesus didn’t try to hide it. They went out there, seen by people and critics, going through the grainfields which only miserable people and failures did. It’s like you and your disciples are so hungry you start picking up leftovers in trash bins of fast food stores and eat them right there where people see you. Something like that. 

Everyone in the area saw this dismal situation that befell the Jesus ministry and his disciples. This was supposed to be a debacle. But you never sense this in Jesus. He was just relaxed about it all. He hid no detail about his ministry. If this were to happen today, pastors would surely worry to death and church people are sure to abandon the church ministry and transfer pronto to rich, mega, and “successful” churches.

Amazing. The disciples still clung to their Master despite the dire impoverishment, despite their famished condition. Why didn’t they just quit and go back to fishing where they had sure livelihood and were away from the humiliation of starvation? Why did they decide to stick with Jesus? It was a very trying situation. It revealed so much of their commitment. 

Well, at that point, they weren’t that committed yet—they’d still abandon Jesus later during the crucifixion—but this die-hard dedication we see in Matthew 12 is something we should not overlook. This is the kind I wanna see in a Jesus discipleship today—a do or die commitment—which you rarely see, if any.

To be sure, poverty is not God’s will. Jesus and his ministry never had any problem with money. They never begged. In fact, they were good tax payers. They fed many people instead of solicited money from them. But God allows times of dire lack to test our mettle and loyalty to him (some are just loyal to their denominations, and that’s not what we’re talking of here). Paul once said he knew what it was to be in lack, and he knew what it was to be in abundance. He’d learned the secret to being contented whatever the circumstances were.

Jesus’ Tolerance Level

I also see here the tolerance level of the Master. He knew it was against the Law to do anything on a Sabbath. Yet, when he saw that the disciples began to pick grains and eat them, he just let them. He once said he came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. But mercy was the priority over Law fulfillment. He declared to the Pharisees that he and the disciples were innocent in doing what they did in the grainfields.

It’s impressive to see efforts at strict compliance to rules of men. But that’s all it is—efforts to impress people. Only Pharisaic people are moved by it. Jesus was strict with rigid righteousness, but not the kind that religious men do—like how church people follow church programs and denominational policies and rules stringently. Jesus was stern when it came to doing what the Father wanted. But when it came to observance of human religious traditions—like, not doing any work on a Sabbath—Jesus was tolerant; okay if you did, okay if you didn’t. Such is the wisdom this generation of ours terribly lacks. Many people major on the minors.

God had been strict with reserving the temple’s showbread exclusively to the priesthood, but was tolerant with David and his men when they were hungry. They even went inside the temple (only priests were supposed to do that!) and ate the bread there. Churches today invite you to speak about a specific topic, and deviating from that makes them feel something went wrong and God’s not pleased. They even feel disappointed when things don’t go according to the program they made and prayed for. Righteous tolerance is something we have to learn and practice more.

I once suggested to a church: “You spend so much money for your church anniversary. Why not use that instead to help poor people? You can simply worship God and thank him for blessing your church.” They didn’t like it. They had to keep up with their annual tradition. They had to spend for gifts to recognize families and each member of the church and the individuals who did special ministries. They had to buy food to feed themselves and their special guests. They had to decorate the church and put up new banners and posters announcing “Jesus is God Emmanuel” and their “Discipleship, evangelism, fellowship, worship, and prayer” ministries. They had to present a glamorous concert, and the attire required alone costs so much.

Each year they release a huge sum of money to be able to do these things. They sacrifice a big slice of their church finances (and donate from their own pockets, too), and it makes them feel they’ve pleased God.

I took a step further. I suggested again: “Why don’t we skip church anniversary altogether this year and feed hungry people?” You can imagine what sort of reaction this prodded. They can’t get that mercy is better than sacrifice.
Jesus was strict with righteousness, even calling Pharisees hypocrites and vipers and condemning cities that didn’t live righteously. But he could be so tolerant with trivial matters like religious traditions which were very important to Pharisaic people.

Once he allowed a woman disturb a special dinner event prepared by a Pharisee where the woman even broke an alabaster jar and poured its content on Jesus. Of course, some of it spilled on the floor, but Jesus thought nothing of the mess.

It was against the Law to touch or be touched by women with issue of blood. Jesus knew that. But he was tolerant about such a woman touching his garment, and he also touched lepers for healing, which was also a Law taboo. Mercy begets compassion, and vice versa. Jesus said this was God’s priority. I hope we all come to learn that many things we’re thinking important are better trashed with tolerance.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Funny, but it's possible to be always around Jesus and yet fail to connect with him. You can be right there in the midst of what Jesus is doing--the fascinating Word revelation plus astounding signs and wonders--and yet miss the point altogether. "Anyone who is not with me is against me," he declared in Matt.12.30.

When he said, "Anyone who is not with me," he was referring to the Pharisees and Law teachers who were there but were unable to connect. They were there and yet not there. That's what the context says. Jesus freed a demon-possessed synagogue member right in their midst, and they failed to get the point. Oh, don't think, how could these Pharisees not see the obvious? Because many Christians and churches and pastors today likewise have the inability to connect. Even some of those in our HISgroup discipleship. And like their Pharisee and Law teacher counterparts, disconnected "believers" today are solidly bible-based, believe the one true God, and profess a personal relationship with God. Yet, they fail to connect.

It is possible to be where all the action is and yet not be with Jesus. And the sure sign that you're not with Jesus is, if you miss his point--like claiming to believe Jesus and yet still be denominational. Jesus urges complete unity of all believers. How complete? As the Father and Son are one. Being denominational shows you miss Jesus' point altogether. And missing the point also shows in your mindset, character and life, ministry, and powerlessness.

Pharisaical Demon

Read Matthew 12 and you'd see that everything Jesus did was missed by the Pharisees--picking and eating heads of grain in the grainfield on a Sabbath, healing on a Sabbath, driving demons out, and performing a sign from heaven. It was a Pharisaical spirit or demon that kept them from being with Jesus or connecting with him.

When you're unable to connect, you fail to see the Kingdom concept of mercy being supreme than sacrifice. Pharisaical demons will confine your insight to religious doctrines, policies, manuals, procedures, accepted norms, and programs and activities. These demons will blind you to things that really matter to God's eyes.

How urgent is having a shriveled hand, really? What's more life threatening, shriveled hand or high blood pressure? Or diabetes? Or heart failure? You can well live even without having your shriveled hand healed. So, it was not urgent. People might have thought, Jesus could've just let the Sabbath day pass by. He could've done the healing the next day. That way, no Sabbath rule was desecrated, no one was offended, and everybody would be happy.

But you see, Jesus cannot stand the sight of pain or discomfort. He will always go out of his way, demolish traditions and rules, break even the Law, just to ease suffering or even a small discomfort. Why? Because mercy is better than sacrifice. He will never sacrifice a man with shriveled hand even for a minute in favor of observing human religious policies or manuals or programs, no matter how biblical.

But the Pharisees and their minions didn't see this--as many today don't. Pastors, preachers, and churches today bury themselves in concern over their sermon outlines, sermon titles and key words, programs, if worship programs are well printed, if everything is done according to programs, if their attire is formal and presentable, if the choir singing is good, etc.---while in the congregation are souls suffering because of failing marriages, wife not submitting to husband in all things, husband not loving the wife, broken homes, rebellious kids insubmissive to parents, drinking, smoking, drugs, homosexuality, sexual immorality, and the like.

Sometimes, these things happen even to the pastor and his family! All because important things in God's eyes are sacrificed in favor of strict compliance with human rules and traditions.

Moreover, people in the congregation suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure, etc.--and all the pastor does is give good sermons and programs. Remember, Jesus couldn't stand the sight of a man with a simple shriveled hand! We should have the same mercy. Mercy gets great applause in heaven over sacrifice. Let's not sacrifice people's lives over worthless human formalities, priorities and showmanship. Before you do anything, check if your personal and church witness glorify God. If not, focus on that and forget about church programs, activities, and performance.

You still wonder why that man with a shriveled hand in their synagogue never had healing until Jesus came? Because of the Pharisaical demon, which is concerned more about white washed tombs or the outside of a cup, but inside it is full of greed and wickedness (Lk.11).

Mercy and Justice

Mercy and justice are among paramount teachings in the Kingdom. You miss this, you miss Jesus. You will never connect with him even if you go to church each Sunday and be active there. Remember, Jesus did not just come here to proclaim salvation but to "proclaim justice to the nations," too (Matt.10.18). There can be no true salvation where there is scant or zero understanding and application of God's justice to life, and vice versa.

What is applied God's justice? It is living out Jesus' teachings in the bible, especially the Beatitudes. In fact, it's living as Jesus lived. Why are there many Christians who have bad character even after being born again. It's because they lack insight about God's justice. Justice is the right way of dealing with people. Justice is also the right way of connecting with God. Churches today just emphasize member recruitment and abuse evangelism, but seldom stress on character building. Character building done the Jesus way can make you lose lots of members in your church. The Beatitudes is not given due attention it deserves, so that many Christians are ignorant about mercy and justice.

If mercy and justice are not given value, the Pharisaical demons thrive and flourish in church. People are excited about the programs and activities but are unable to connect properly with Jesus. Church people are well aware of how their churches operate in the earthly realms, but they find the Spirit realms a very strange and frightening place.

The Pharisaical Demon

Yes, it is a demon. It's not just wrong upbringing or a weak culture, and neither is it just lack of civility or ethical standards or a matter of religious upbringing. It's a demon sent by Satan. You have a Pharisaical spirit, it means you have demonic influence destroying you. If you fail to connect with Jesus, it's a demon. If you're unable to gather with Jesus and you scatter instead--it's a demon. And the goal of this demon is to lead you to blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

You see the pattern. From being unable to connect to blaspheming the Spirit of God, which is unforgivable not in this age, neither in the coming age. In short, absolutely no forgiveness. I've seen how it works. I've seen Christians active in church falling victim to this and still being active there. They're unable to connect with Jesus according to proper Kingdom principles. They're just able to connect with their church programs and denominations. Soon, they think that God's move is demonic. And when you say that and you confess to be a believer, you commit blaspheme and there's no forgiveness.

You say something against the Son of Man, you will be forgiven if you repent. Now, understand that only non-believers, non-Christians, have the ignorance to say bad words about the Son of Man. When they repent, they will be forgiven. But when those who claim to be born again fail to update themselves in Jesus and fail to connect, and then they grow worse so that later, out of ignorance, they call God's radical and non-traditional work demonic, because it does not subscribe to their denominational doctrines, they commit blaspheme of the Holy Spirit. And they will never be pardoned.

Soon, like the Pharisees, you meet together with others who have the Pharisaical spirit, and you plan how to kill Jesus. You tell yourselves you have the duty to preserve the traditions and teachings of your denomination, and this present Move of God ought to be stopped in your church at any cost. That's how denominations kill Jesus.

"...Is Against Me"

He who is not with Jesus in spirit is really against him. And why not. Well, just continue with the whole chapter, Matthew 12. Jesus proceeded to explain what happens to a disconnected man. When he hears God's Word, he is 'blessed' and 'encouraged.' What happens then? The demon leaves him. Demons seek arid or dry places. So beware if you're spiritually dry. You'd a be a favorite Inn or Lodge of demons, or a favorite tourist resort where they can relax and 'rest.'

Finding no other resting place as suitable as the man formerly with a Pharisaical spirit, the demon goes back and finds the man 'swept clean' and 'in order'---but listen to this---yet EMPTY. Some versions say, 'unoccupied.' This is what most Revival Services of denominational churches do. There's just a lot of regretting and asking forgiveness of sins. But no real radical change to live like Jesus. No true connection with Jesus is established. Just re-established traditions and church routines.

So, the demon finds it available, calls 7 other more wicked demons, and they all live in the man, making him worse. Put in order to function correctly again in his denominational church, yet spiritually worse. Now, the man has 8 demons in him. These are the types who become active in church and later tell the pastor what he should do, and later kick out the pastor and set up his own empire in church. You see them everywhere. They are voted to church positions.

But it doesn't stop there, because denominations always plan Revival Services each year--at least two. They plan to die two times a year. So the man--let's give him a name now; let's call him Mr. Revived--hears God's Word again in a Revival Service and realizes his sins and asks forgiveness again. He goes to the altar again and cries--not because he saw the need to give up everything and really live like Jesus did--but because he wants to 'serve God' better in his denominational church. He vows to be more active in church--and kick more pastors out.

So, what really happened to Mr. Revived was, the 8 demons left him. But after a while, the 8 goes back and, finding Mr. Revived still empty, though washed clean, each of them takes 7 other demons more wicked than they are, and 8 times 7 is 56 much worse demons in all. Mr. Revived is better equipped now to kick out pastors, make things happen in church, and expand his own empire in church. Next Revival, the same thing happens, and that's 56 times 8, totaling 448 much, much worse demons riding on and controlling Mr. Revived.

You think it stops there. Wrong. In another 2 years, with 2 revival meetings a year, that's more than a million demons controlling Mr. Revived alone. What if there were 50 members in church like that. Multiply one million by 50, and you have 50 million demons in church---and worse ones at that. No wonder many pastors are sick or die with various ailments due to stress. Once, Jesus drove out a legion of demons in a single person in the bible.

The victim just grows worse, with ever-increasing wickedness. No wonder blaspheme of the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven. And all these started with the inability to connect with Jesus properly.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Rejected Authority at Work

How does a God-rejected authority still work today? Can it still work? Can it still be successful? You're in for a big surprise--churches or ministries can still work and be successful even if they are already rejected by God!

Success in people's eyes is not a measure of true success. Jesus' ministry looked doomed by every human standard--he was executed, was deserted by his disciples, scorned by the crowds, scorned by spiritual and bible-based leaders of his time, thought insane by his own family, and ended up dead. Later, all his disciples were executed, and the Acts church was wiped out, replaced by a Babylon church. Yet, in God's eyes, there was no man more successful than Jesus.

Saul had been rejected by God. Samuel said, "You acted your kingdom will not endure. If you had obeyed, God would've established your kingship forever!" (1 Sam.13). 

Did Saul's kingship collapse there and then? It didn't. In fact, they had lots of overwhelming victories against their enemies. First, Jonathan (Saul's son) and his armor bearer easily killed some 20 well-armed Philistines single-handedly. Second, panic struck the whole Philistine army so that they began slicing each other with their swords. And the Word says it was a panic "sent by God," (14.15). The ground even shook! Wow! What a sign and wonder from God! Saul must have thought, he was still favored! Just imagine such miracle! Samuel probably heard wrong from God. But the truth was, God had rejected Saul. And yet God helped them decisively! Third, the Israelites sent their enemies on the run that day, and all because "The Lord rescued Israel that day."

Moreover, Saul "fought the enemies on every side...wherever he turned he inflicted punishment on them," and among them the Amalekites, which he defeated (14.47-48). All these despite the fact that in those days only Saul and Jonathan had swords. The rest were ill armed. Can rejected authority still perform well and have successes and be anointed? It's obvious here, isn't it?

Yet the fact remained---Saul was rejected, and God had sought someone else to replace Saul. His kingship days were terribly numbered. And this ought to serve as a warning to churches and ministries today---success is not always a proof of God's favor. Sometimes, it's a sure sign of God's rejection. 

Remember how Jesus described it? There were those who performed signs and wonders in His Name and preached the Gospel in the streets. WOW! What a church activity! What accomplishments! But Jesus said, "I do not know you!" 

So, how does rejected authority still work?

Look at what happened to Saul's army. The star rebel here was his own son, Jonathan. Jonathan was the sort who just did what he saw fit with gross insubordination. He never submitted to his father, Saul. He attacked the Philistines without telling his father (14.1). Then, Jonathan opposed his father's ideas (14.29). He opined that his dad was nothing but problem for Israel, "trouble for the whole country." Imagine that?

When there's insubordination and people tell the pastor what he should do, that church may be on the way to rejection. When church people look down on their pastor--huh! God has rejected it and has withdrawn support. Can it still be successful? Oh yeah!

Another thing, Israel was without weapons except for Saul's and Jonathan's swords. And what makeshift weapons they had, they had them sharpened by the enemy (13.16-21). See that? They were sharpening with the enemy! That's a bad sign. These were telltale signs of an upcoming collapse. God was gradually preparing Saul and Israel to perdition! God did this style of punishment many times in the Old Testament. Some collapse were immediate, some were gradual. 

If your church lacks spiritual weapons, especially the Sword (which is the Word of God), it's a danger sign. If your church is so weak in the Word--cannot get deep revelations straight from the mouth of God when they study the bible--the church is dying, if not already dead. Your days are numbered, though you seem to have successes, even awesome ones at that!

Worse, if your church sharpens with the enemy--they look so excited and worshipful because they bring in new trends from the world--trends in music, stage performance, instrumentals, and styles--your church is a sitting duck, quite unfit for spiritual warfare.

And this is the most important: Rejected authority is always concerned about the membership. It is concerned about how many are attending the church, or if the members are happy and satisfied about the program or how the pastor performs, or what the members' needs are or what they are looking for. A church that is members oriented is a dying church, though it looks full-packed and growing and alive and rich. 

When Saul disobeyed God and God's anointed, Samuel, his reason was that "When I saw the men scattering...I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering," (13.11). His basis of ministry was the people's needs, not what God required. He was in a habit of counting his men (13.15). Pastors today are like that. Satan easily scares them with losing membership if they really obeyed God. So they just go along with what people want---playing church seriously.

Finally, a rejected authority is surrounded by people "quaking in fear" for the enemy (13.7). They hid in caves, thickets, rocks, pits, and cisterns. Hihi! Yet they acted brave and loved to occupy positions, like David's brothers were who were in Saul's army and who scorned David the shepherd boy. Yet, they were all scared  of Goliath like frightened dogs. 

I once pastored a denominational church where the people were mad about occupying positions and crazy about being seen performing on stage with special numbers and worship leading. It was a moneyed church, full-packed each Sunday, and we had lots of outreaches and bible studies and ministries. It was among the biggest Manila churches of that denomination. I received a high salary and lots of benefits. In short, it was a "successful" church, and many pastors envied me.

One day, I received a request to see a young woman possessed by a powerful demon. I arranged the meeting to be at night. I asked the elders and those with position to assist me, if they could. They were there in church for a while, but when the possessed woman arrived, they all went home and left me and my wife to deal with the devil. Praise God the woman was freed.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Genuine Born Again (Part 2)

A genuine born again church always points people to Jesus. You want to grow strong in your spiritual life? Be deep in Jesus and His Word—be God’s flesh on earth. Church activities and programs are zero, pffft! Any achievements you have with your church programs or denomination is garbage. It’s always the Word, Word, Word! The Holy Spirit does not show up without the Word, particularly the rhema Word. 

Church (especially going to a church building on Sundays) as it is done today, is never a LIFE source. Again, it is nothing but trash. You cannot say church fellowship, as done today, will make you stronger and better Christians. More entertained perhaps. Or more showbiz-like. What they say about not attending church regularly makes you weak spiritually is a big LIE! Among the weakest of weak and immature Christians I've seen are faithful church goers. And sometimes, even their pastors, too. Getting inside that building they call church won't make you strong spiritually.

True fellowship, says John in his first letter, is a fellowship of believers who have seen the Word of Life, Jesus. And the church altogether seeing this eternal life—seeing, touching, hearing it—is what makes for a genuine fellowship that produces complete joy and the LIFE. The Word of LIFE, not programs or activities or gimmicks or church attendance, is the only Source of LIFE. 

Seeing Jesus is what makes for a genuine born again Christian—genuinely God’s flesh. If you see Jesus, you’d be changed radically from glory to glory, non-stop. If not, you’d just be active in church and be happy there--just like showbiz fans gather together and have fun when their showbiz idol shows up.  If you see the invisible God, you grasp what His Kingdom is all about! If not, you form idols made by human hands which the physical eyes see—so that you’d see something and focus on that. You just form denominations and programs and activities.

Moses saw God who is invisible and that gave him the insight and strength to leave Egypt (Heb.11). Without seeing the invisible God, you can never leave Egypt, or worldliness. No wonder why many “born again” Christians remain in the world while in church. Genuine born again is seeing the Kingdom and entering it. “We fix our eyes on what is invisible, NOT on visible things—because visible things are temporary; invisible things are eternal” (2 Cor.4).

A genuine born-again has given up everything. It’s vital to let a person being evangelized know the narrow-road consequences of surrendering to Christ (and which is never just an option), not just mesmerize him with the rewards of heaven. Christ summed everything up when he said, “Deny yourself and pick up your cross daily.” We must equally stress to the person being evangelized the dire cost of discipleship as we stress the gift of eternal life and assurance of heaven. There’s a lot to sacrifice and give up to follow Christ—in fact we have to give up everything—and you can never separate this from salvation.

I know lots of churches with jam packed members and attenders and big-time tithers because it's so easy to join. There's nothing to give up or sacrifice because God accepts them as they are and God understands them--that they're just humans. They cry there and talk spiritual, thanking God for the grace that, they claim, overlooks their sins, making them sinners saved by grace. And they seriously do their ministries. They even say you don't fully understand God's grace if you insist on giving up everything and sacrificing all your comfort zones. 

The road to destruction is wide--many people travel through it, especially "born again" Christians, especially in these last days. The Master says, make every effort to take the narrow road. Many will not. We are not saved sinners. We are SAVED SAINTS. And God's genuine grace for us makes us say NO to wickedness (Titus 2.11-12)--it's not a license (Jude verse 4) to freely sin and still be saved. Being born again today has this infamous connotation--"Ah, born again! They're the guys who say it's okay to sin as long as you have a relationship with God through Christ. God understands you--and anyway, all you have to do is ask forgiveness later!"

I was a Filipino at birth, and this makes it free. But I also have to make sure I am a good Filipino citizen. If not, I become an outlaw Filipino, which is not good, because I won’t enjoy the benefits of being a citizen. I’ll be in prison. The same is true with not surrendering to the cost of discipleship—and many born again Christians are nothing but slaves in Satan’s prison—doing church activities there. Often, you see it in their character, and mostly when they’re outside the church.

Genuine born again Christians in bible times understood the consequences so well. They knew they needed “to persevere so that when you have done God’s will, you will get what has been promised,” (Heb.10. 36). They “stood (their) ground…in the face of suffering,” (32). They were “tortured and refused to be released (you see that?) so they may gain a better resurrection. They faced jeers and flogging. Some were chained and imprisoned, stoned, sawed in two, killed by sword, became so poor and persecuted and mistreated—oh yeah, the world was not worthy of them,” (Heb.11). We need to give people a clear picture of what it really means to be a genuine born again.

When I preach and am led to do an altar calling, I stress the cross. I tell them I’m not impressed by numbers going to the altar to weep and wail there and “accept” Jesus. Even if no one comes in front, I’d be okay. Then I tell them the mistreatments and persecutions they’d suffer for Jesus while remaining quiet and holy about it all, and the many things they have to give up on a progressive basis. The comfort zones they’d have to abandon. And this, I say, is what the joy of the Lord is all about. I mention how James said that various trials and persecutions are all joy! I talk about giving up sin for good. “Endure hardship,” (Heb.12).

Then I tell them being part of a serious and authentic Jesus discipleship is a must where your only business is to obey your discipler, period. Then "Anyone who perseveres to the end will be saved.” I also do this in my personal evangelism. Thus, no wonder, very few people surrender their lives to Jesus, receive eternal life, and willingly receive the cross when I evangelize. I’d rather have 2 or 3 fully surrendered souls, or those who are truly committed to live holy lives for Jesus no mater what, than have hundreds or thousands who’d later just have Egypt again in their hearts and defy their spiritual Moses and go back to their land of slavery—while serving in church. 

It is this kind of “service to God” that destroys the church and makes it useful only to Satan. It’s better to just stay home and sleep on Sundays with holiness than serve in this manner. If you’re a born again garbage active in church and ministry and even recognized and popular in church, souls you touch or share the Gospel with will be 7 times more wicked than you are. And people they touch and minister to will be 14 times more wicked, and so on.

Some Christians make people “accept” Christ first and mention only about all the beautiful, positive things. Then later, they give them the whole picture—when it’s too late for people to back out. They do evangelism like sales and marketing. The purpose is to get as many sales as possible to up the profits. They package the product to appeal to the flesh and carnal preferences. Jesus was never like that. He once warned, “Foxes have holes and birds have nests but the Son of Man cannot even brag of having a pillow for his head.” There was one who wanted to follow him but had to bury his father first. He, too, was given warning, and Jesus’ tone was more discouraging than encouraging. 

The first disciples were given the whole picture when Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” With that, they got the idea that it was going to be a weird life following Jesus—catch men? What on earth was that? Weird and crazy sounding ideas like that are sure not to end up in financial profits. Who'd invest in you if you tell them you're out to "catch men"? But the first disciples left everything anyway to join the weird Jesus LIFE. Jesus never hid the whole picture. He didn’t tell them to follow them now, and after they’d left everything, tell them later that, “Oh, by the way, have I told you it’s all about catching men?”

Most Christians need to stop, drop everything they’re doing for God in church, and re-think their real spiritual condition. Are they genuine born again Christians or are they among the lost whose only difference from the rest is that they’re more informed about their bible and denominations than most souls going to hell? Are they genuine Jesus disciples promoting Jesus alone, or are they nothing but sale and marketing executives or copywriters or propagandists for their denominations?

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