Joseph Herrin (03-19-09)
The last two portions of this series spoke of the power of God being manifested in two distinctly different ways. In part 4 the power of God manifested externally in signs and wonders was examined. In part 5 the power of God manifested internally in a life surrendered to the cross was in view. The apostle Paul declared that the church of the last days would lack power.
II Timothy 3:1-5
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.
It is apparent from the context of Paul’s words that the power that is denied by men in the last perilous days of this church age is primarily an internal power that is able to subdue the flesh in order to allow a spiritual creation to arise. The list of characteristics named by Paul are things that issue from the heart of a man. If a man will deny the power of God to be transformed inwardly, he will also find that the power of God revealed externally will be lacking in his life.
My brother Brad and I are not disagreeing about the merit and reality of an external power that is available to the saints of God. Such a power is found throughout the pages of the New Testament, being manifested by apostles such as Peter and Paul; by deacons such as Philip and Stephen, and by the church at large.
I agree wholeheartedly with Brad as he declares that there is a power found in the cross that surpasses all other power. A man who will subdue all the sinful passions and desires of the flesh, who will crucify the lusts therein, and embrace difficulty, suffering and even death in order to please God, has truly triumphed in the most profound way possible.
In the presentation titled Possessing the Land, I have shown that the entire account of Israel’s efforts to take possession of the land of Canaan is a parable of man taking possession of the land of their flesh. Our bodies were formed of the dust of the earth, and in a very real sense, these bodies are a small patch of real estate. These bodies are full of every form of evil and wickedness, much like the land of Canaan at the height of its sin. In these bodies there are walled cities, giants and fortresses. Christians are called to subdue this wicked land and establish the kingdom of God by transforming their lives into examples of peace and righteousness.
This internal struggle to rule over the flesh forms a perfect parallel to the struggle of the children of Israel to conquer the land of Canaan. Even as God raised up a man named Joshua (Hebrew Yahshua) to lead the Israelites to victory, so too has He raised up a champion for the children of God today who bears the same name. If you want to read more about this grand parable, you can find it here:
It is truly a greater manifestation of the power of God to establish the rule of God over the evil within us, than it is to do battle or perform great signs that are external to man. Solomon understood this, and wrote the following words.
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.
Many Christians today desire to have the power available to them to cast out demons, to heal diseases, and to perform miracles, yet they care little about transforming their inner life into a land of peace and righteousness. God will not entrust great power to perform signs and wonders to sons who are not waging war over the enemies within. Yahweh is perfect in wisdom and He knows that external power cannot be entrusted to the spiritually immature anymore than one would place a gun or a high voltage electric line into the hands of a baby. Such an act would result in injury to the baby, or to others.
This present age is primarily focused upon training up sons in the image of God that they might be entrusted with glory and power in the ages to come. Yet there is an opportunity even in this age to walk in a foretaste of the powers of the coming ages.
For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance…
Those sons who have submitted to the work of the cross in their lives will be qualified to bear authority and power. In the Old Testament we observe no greater manifestation of the external power of god residing with man than in the life of Moses. It is not to be overlooked that this great power was bestowed upon a man that was testified by God to be the meekest man upon the face of the earth.
(Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)
It required forty years in the wilderness, enduring circumstances that humbled the pride of Moses, in order to produce this meek man. So too must the sons of God submit to trials and experiences that are very grievous to the flesh in order to be made ready to receive power and authority. Where there is not cross, there is no power.
Men today, even Christian men, are seeking power apart from the cross. I believe this is directly responsible for the rise in the interest in martial arts and guns and other carnal forms of power among Christians. It was recently reported that the church in Maryville, Illinois where a pastor was shot and killed was offering a Kenpo Karate course to its members.
Not long ago Sylvester Stallone made another Rambo movie where the plot portrayed him being hired by a Christian agency to rescue some of their workers who had been kidnaped by guerilla fighters. Rambo serves as a symbol of the power of the flesh. He is a master of weaponry and fighting, and overcomes evil by the power of the flesh.
Last year we also observed Chuck Norris appearing on-stage with Mike Huckaby during the Republican presidential race. Chuck Norris is another actor who portrays a martial arts expert who overcomes evil in this world by the power of the flesh. Through violence bad guys are subdued in droves. Churck Norris is a professing Christian, but the power he exhibits has nothing to do with Christ. Why then was he chosen to lend support to the campaign of Mike Huckaby, a former Baptist minister?
Christians desire to have an appearance of power. The apostle Paul declared that in these last days Christians would have a form of godliness while denying the true power of God. Such Christians who despise the cross and suffering are seeking for a manifestation of power where they may find it. In martial arts, guns and violence, they have found a source of power that allows their flesh to continue in its pursuit of pleasure, but it has no ability to produce godliness.
This turning to the arm of the flesh for power is being observed in many alarming ways in the church today. Churches are hiring armed security guards to patrol their property during services. Last year a female security guard at a church in Colorado shot and killed an attacker who was intent upon harming the members of the church. She was hailed as a hero, and the actions of the ministers who hired security were applauded.
People of God, there is NO Biblical support for such a reliance upon the arm of the flesh. Neither Christ, nor the apostle, or the early church martyrs of whom Stephen was the first, sought to fight against evil. The victory of the Christian comes through submission to suffering, not waging war against evil men with guns and bullets. The saints of God must look to God to defend them even as the three men who were cast into the fiery furnace. They confessed the following to a wicked king.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.
The victory of the Christian is found in placing their life in God’s hands and letting Him choose whether we live or die. It is the will of God that many of His children die a martyr’s death and receive a far surpassing reward for their obedience to His will. Christ is the believer’s example and pattern for an overcoming life.
“He was led as a sheep to slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He does not open His mouth.”
I Peter 2:20-24
But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously…
Suffering and the disciples cross are despised in this hour. A church that is addicted to endless pleasure and amusements will always gravitate to carnal forms of power, and they will employ it in ways that are contrary to the will of God. The overcomers have the following trait, they love not their lives even when faced with death (Revelation 12:11).
In coming days of calamity and distress when persecution arises against the church, a great divide will be observed. There will be a large group of Christians who respond with guns and bullets. They will form militias and seek to defend themselves through carnal means. There will also be found another group of saints. These will look to God to protect them, and should it be the Father’s will that they suffer, and even die for their faith, they will accept the cost, entrusting themselves into the hands of the One who judges righteously.
I was amazed last year as I was doing some Internet research when I found that the civilian military group named Blackwater that has been much in the news due to their indiscriminate killing in Iraq, was founded by a self-professed evangelical Christian whose Father was a major contributor to many Christian ministries, including Focus on the Family. This family gave millions of dollars to support Christian ministries, and James Dobson even spoke at the funeral of the father of the man who founded Blackwater.
I do not share this to criticize James Dobson, but to point out how far this military mindset has infiltrated Christian circles. Do a search on YouTube on the words Blackwater and Christianity and you will be amazed at what you find. Following is a link to one video I watched.
I can say with all confidence that those who turn to the arm of the flesh to find power in this age will not be entrusted with the power of God. Following is a portion of a writing I received from Brad Daugherty some time back. Brad wrote:
There is nothing more diametrically opposed to one another than the cross and the sword. The sword comes to change a man without. The cross comes to change a man within. The victory that Christ came to give was not procured through the heroism of the sword, but through the humility of the cross. “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” These were the words of Christ as they took Him to the cross. In other words, “This evil before Me today could be settled in a matter of moments if the answer were the sword, but the victory I come to give must go through the cross.”
The cross then became a stumbling block for the Jews in the times of Christ, and I am afraid a stumbling block for Christianity and the world in the 21st century. The Jews looked for a Messiah wielding a sword, to deal with the oppressive evil of Rome and restore Israel back to its days of glory and prominence in the land. They did not look for a suffering servant, the meek and lowly Lamb of God, who did not come with a sword, but came with a cross. They sought a deliverance without. Christ came to deliver them from within.
The eyes of our nation and Christianity itself do not seem to be on the mystery and wisdom of the cross… II Corinthians 10:3 “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does…”
The world in its wisdom did not see the Messiah and recognize Him for who He was because He came clothed not in power, but in humility. John 1:10 “He was in the world and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” Jesus was a king, yet emptied Himself in nothingness, in poverty, unto death. Christ emptied Himself, bearing the shame of the cross, and was nailed between two thieves. This was the victory the world could not accept. This was the victory the world rejected. Luke 9:23-24 “If anyone desires to come after Me, Let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”
The cross presents a wisdom that contradicts all of our understanding of the meaning of victory. Yet it is in this apparent nothingness that we gain. It is in this poverty that we become rich. It is in losing our life that the love and Spirit of God fills us, and it is in all these things that the true transforming miracle of change really begins. In this way we bring the love and resurrection life of Christ into this world and are able to speak into the hearts of men.
The Scriptures declare that “He who seeks to save his life shall lose it.” Christians are focused today upon saving their lives. They do not understand that the power of God is given that we might surrender our lives freely to be lived, and ended, in any way in which our Father might choose. God has an appointed cross for all of His children. This present age includes suffering. This suffering cannot be avoided by any who would receive the authority and power of the ages to come. Sorrow and tears and pain are the “first things” that all must pass through, and Christ came to show us the way.
He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.
Two days ago a sister in Christ wrote to me and shared a word of prophecy the Father had given her for me. She said the fulfillment of this word was at hand. God was calling me to perform a ministry described in the following words of Scripture.
Strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
I declare to you here, there is no other way to enter the kingdom of God. All must enter through tribulations. Those who seek to save their lives will abhor all tribulation. They will use every carnal means to avoid suffering. But the overcomers will love not their lives, even unto death.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
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