Preacher in a Basket

download

Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.” (Acts 9:25). 

Paul was turned persecutor into persecuted. He who was once a terrorist was now a preacher.  Now he was on the other side and very quickly Paul got a taste what it was to be on the run from hostile anti-Christ crowds. At first they must have thought this was just another way to capture the Christians but then after a while they must have realized he was not pretending, especially when the people he was preaching to were getting baptized and converting to the way of the wonderful Nazarene. He was preaching the gospel so powerfully he was confounding the Jews and proving that Jesus was the Messiah. So the Jews at that time decided that he would have to be killed. A governor who was appointed by Aretas an opportunistic ruthless king of that area (so powerful he defeated Herod Antipas’ armies) assigned a garrison, to arrest and kill Paul (2 Cor 11:32-33).

But the followers of Christ in that city decided to lower him out of a window in a basket so he could escape. Much like Moses who escaped by a basket (Ex. 2:3-5) so Paul would escape with his life. It was not easy, it would have to be a big enough basket to lower a man who could have weighed from 150 to 180 pounds without dropping, injuring or killing him. But his life was like that, always in the balance. It would seem he was a preacher in a basket teetering on the brink of life and death every day.

Paul’s resume looked more like an intelligence report from the NSA in 2 Corinthians 11:16-33. People thought Paul was insane. He had to bear the weight of responsibility in taking care of churches which most likely gave him many sleepless nights. He lacked clothing, many times he did not have enough food to eat. He was in danger wherever he went.  He was in and out of prison and he was publicly beaten within an inch of his life by lashes and with wooden rods. Who know how many times he almost died. One time he was stoned and they thought he was dead and they dragged his body out of the city (Acts 14:19). He was shipwrecked and floated at sea for a day. He was robbed and almost drowned. He was persecuted by Jews and Gentiles and those who claimed to be Christians and were not. Eventually, according to tradition he would be decapitated for his faith in Rome. Yet he says, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24).

What is my point? Here we have Paul writer of fourteen books of the New Testament who lived life on a razors edge. He was seen as a basket case (2 Cor. 5:13) because he saw his ministry as a fearful responsibility and knew the terror of the Lord (2 Cor. 5:11). Who are we to think we are any better than him? Paul’s problems were not random, he caused them! Paul had an energetic passion for Christ fueled by the Holy Spirit and this got him in trouble with the law and religious people more than once. Although he lived in purity, showed understanding, patience and kindness (2 Cor. 6:6-7) he was treated like garbage by the people of his day and he even saw himself as the scum of the earth (1 Cor, 4:13). He was treated like a nobody and some thought he was an impostor. This was the great Paul the Apostle.

Let me ask you a question? Are you gospel scum? Yes, I am serious. Are you greater than your Lord who was defamed and harassed? (Mt 10:23-25). While no one sees being irrational or mentally deranged due to delusion as glorifying to God-does the world system and backslidden church people see you as a basket case for the gospel? Is your desire to minister the gospel so motivating you are treated like garbage and even the enemy of the state? Has Pentecost “cost” you anything except sitting tired, yawning in a church or making a roast for pot luck suppers or having to teach VBS once a year?  You drink booze, dance, watch godless movies and then wonder at your ineffective witness-that is if you care. You commit adultery, divorce and remarry and then parade against the GLBT crowd. Ah we know how to crank out certain issues to get our jack in the box “amens” from the pew forgetting such were some of us! Self-righteous snakes and religious reptiles beware-only those forgiven much love much.

Maybe you are just a “nice” Christian? You are just so agreeable with everything and everyone. You hope people will accept your precious little faith and develop a taste for your lukewarm religion.  You don’t want to offend anyone and although you say you do not compromise the truth (which today means a firmly held opinion not fact) your words and actions reveal that you are a part time salesman and convert to the new discipleship that makes you a pleasant agreeable marketer attempting to populate your CEO’s church (what we used to call a pastor) with more clientele.

The gospel was a threat to all society especially the idols of established religion and false patriotism. The evil world system run so long by the prince of the power of the air Satan, greatest fears were realized with what Paul was preaching: CHRIST THE PROPHET, PRIEST AND KING was and is real and he was and is taking back what belongs to him. While it is noble to get people food, shelter and clothing-is it right that we infect them with a diseased form of Christianity?

The gospel Paul preached is diametrically opposed to the present evil age and the worldly religion of moralism, psychology and the philosophy of lawlessness. Real gospel preaching opposes all sin and anything that attempts to eclipse God’s glory and his way of salvation through the Cross of Jesus Christ. Preaching law offends the lawless. Preaching grace offends the moralist. Gospel preaching is not palatable to the world and what I mean by the world is not the lost and dying in this context but the world system intermixed among so called Christianity and a social, behavioral moral code gospel that is powerless to save.  Can you hear the satanic laughter at the futile efforts of today’s form of Christianity and evil runs amuck in our land, yes our world? Look, boy and girls- cowards never can serve God and are left outside heaven.

Before I close, you say that Paul was a special man? Not everyone is like him. True. Yet I wonder if he was so special why don’t you preach and emulate his teachings in context then? The book of Romans and the book of Acts should be side by side. One is elaborate Christ centered doctrine. One shows you the practical side of faith and what happens when you preach pure doctrine. Christianity is not a cultural experiment-it has already been tried and proven. Abandon, yes, repent with torn hearts of your religious tourism, marketing and souvenirs and just preach Christ (that is if you know him)!

If not, as always, in the foreknowledge and predetermination of God there is no lapse or mistake. Christ our master architect and builder will stand up! He does not give sleep to his eyes as he builds the church and will God will have a people for himself! He has heard the prisoners of sin groan and seen those on spiritual death row heading to hell and if these lukewarm people do not respond to the clear call of the truth-they will end up being castaways! He will raise up a people yet to be created that they may praise the LORD! These will be a people willing in the day of his power, full of the vitality and dew of heavenly youth.

May the Lord fill his basket with many who have the unleavened bread of sincerity in their hearts and feed the world with the bread of life-JESUS!

©2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney, give credit where credit is due

 

DONT REFUSE THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT

gift_of_the_holy_spiritThis is for people who believe in the operations of the gifts of the Spirit today.

The Holy Spirit wants to move in church meetings. Instead of Paul stopping everything in Corinth he instructed them on how to operate in the gifts of the Spirit.

There is no reason for us with proper instruction and biblical parameters to not see the Holy Spirit in the gifts in the midst of the church meeting.

Just because there are abuses doesn’t mean that the gifts are not in operation anymore. Just because there is divorce doesn’t mean that marriage is a bad institution. what is mind-boggling is that we really would not know a lot of the specifics about the gifts of the spirit if the Corinthian people were not making mistakes with them! God is not intimidated by our problems and that is why he’s given us good teachers to keep people in check with the Scripture. we wouldn’t know what a word of wisdom is from a word of knowledge-if Paul would not have said, “Concerning spiritual gifts brethren I would not have you ignorant.” (1 Cor 12: 1).  In fact, in summarizing the spiritual gifts he points out the fact that all true spiritual gifts point to one thing – Jesus is Lord. Then his body, the church is edified by the proper and biblical operation of the gifts of the spirit.

But I can hardly see the Holy Spirit and the gifts moving in the church meeting when the worship team and the Pastors jump from song to song and they never stop to take time to worship and to wait on God.  It betrays a feeling of anxiety and fear – I would say that it is clearly unbelief to not allow the Holy Spirit to move-to quench the Spirit and grieve the Spirit in such a manner.

It is true there are many false prophets and prophecy – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t real genuine people speaking in confirmation of the Scriptures.. Don’t despise genuine prophecy that forth tells the Scripture in an elevated discourse.

Why? The Holy Spirit can do more in a few minutes, I say in a few seconds then anything we can do.

Do not quench the Spirit Paul says. Don’t put the Spirit’s fire out! Where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. What freedom? – a face-to-face encounter with Christ through his word, the ordinances and real fellowship. How can we offer in benediction the words the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit – what we don’t believe or allow for communion of the Holy Spirit. where is that communion is not limited to just the church service – but what a great place, in church as we worship together to learn about the communion of the Holy Spirit.

Do we want people to encounter God or not? Or do we want them to learn some better behavior modification and be completely unaware of God’s presence and reality. That is what were going to end up with-that is what we have right now.

Many people tell me what we have the prayer meeting. Then people can operate in the gifts. Who do you think you are? It is sad to think that you may be resisting God and you are limiting the holy One.  do you think that the God who is taken back by people’s rejection of his grace would not feel the same way about rejecting his gifts? Can you really take that chance?

Are you telling the Lord that he can do this here but not there?

Oh well, we do not want to scare visitors away. It would seem that you have lost your fire. Could it be that you are not preaching the whole counsel of God as you claim to? The Holy Spirit loves to move where the Bible is preached. It could be the problem is not people operating in the gifts of the Spirit but your refusal to preach all that God says in his Word!

Have you lost your way? Are you not afraid of  dishonoring God? Did not Jesus say that my house shall be called a house of prayer? Does this not even tell you that our main goal in the church is to address God and not man.

Does this not also indicate that God will speak to people through his Word and the operations of the gifts of the Spirit? This also may indicate that we are under a biblical mandate to allow the gifts of the Spirit to move in our church because that’s the way a church is supposed to be. Wow what a novel idea:  modeling our churches after what Scripture teaches.

© 2014 Soul Health Care Ministries. Give credit where credit is due.