The man and his message

When God met with Moses at the burning bush and sent him to the people of Israel and to Pharaoh, He asked Moses to go with a message. However, Moses was concerned as to whether the Israelites would believe him. Why would they believe a man who said that God had met him and had sent him to bring them out of Egypt? Why would Pharaoh agree to release the Israelites?

God then gave Moses the ability to perform 3 supernatural signs that he could perform in order to convince Israel that Moses indeed had had an encounter with God and that God was the one who gave Moses the message.

God attested to Moses and the message that he carried. Simply said, God affirmed Moses and his message to be true.

Have you ever wondered whether the Israelites could have left Egypt in the absence of supernatural signs and wonders? It took supernatural signs for Israel and for Pharaoh to believe.

Lets move from here to Jesus.

Acts 2:22 – “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know”.

How did God attest to the fact that Jesus was sent by Him? By miracles, wonders and signs.

The miracles, wonders and signs were simply God affirming the fact that Jesus and His message were true.

Lets move from Jesus to the book of Acts. Why would anyone have believed the message of the disciples and early church? I am proposing three reasons.

Firstly, lets look at Peter’s message on the day of Pentecost. We see no mention of miracles, wonders or signs either prior to, during or immediately after the message. Yet, 3000 people believed the message. Why did they believe? Simply because of the Holy Spirit. The disciples had just been baptized with the Holy Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit that brought conviction to the truth of the gospel message that Peter preached. The Bible says this about the hearers – “they were cut to the heart”. There is no substitute for the fullness of the Holy Spirit in the life of the messenger. The fullness of the Spirit and communion with the Spirit are two imperatives for any minister of the gospel.

Secondly, Paul tells us in Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” The gospel has inherent supernatural power to convince the hearer as to its origin and truth. However, it must have worked in the messenger first before it can work in the hearer.

Thirdly, God confirmed the message.

Mark 16:20 “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.”

Hebrews 2:3,4 – “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?

Romans 15:18,19 – “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient— in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”

God attested to the message and to the messenger.

Fast forward to the times we live in. Why do you think anyone would believe your message? Why would they believe that you have had an encounter with God and that the message of the gospel you bring is truly from God? We go to them with nothing else but a message. And we talk and talk and talk expecting the hearer to take us at our word and believe us. Why should they? What distinguishes our message from theirs?

We have debates with people from other faiths and use logic to try and persuade others to believe the gospel. Hours are spent in preparation and in persuasion when all it would probably take for the hearer to be persuaded would have been God coming onto the scene with miracles, wonders and signs.

Where is the God of the early church? Why is’nt He attesting us and our message? Have we run without having being sent? Have we run without having received the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Of course we may claim to have received the Holy Spirit and to speak in other tongues but where is the supernatural power of God? Is “talk” all we can do? I have seen missionary calls being issued to Christians where some responded by leaving  everything and going into the mission field. I have seen them go without the baptism of the Holy Spirit, without the supernatural power that Jesus promised. They went despite knowing that Jesus commanded his disciples not to go unless they had been equipped through the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Of course, on the other hand what transpires for the baptism of the Holy Spirit nowadays is just the ability to speak in tongues, some of it a repetition of what is being spoken by others. Nothing more.

Oswald Chambers says that the purpose of Pentecost was to make the disciples the message. The Christian is the message. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses”. The Holy Spirit gives us the supernatural power to become the message.

We must have divine attestation – both us and our message. Lets seek it.

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Speaking against sin

If Jesus had refrained from speaking against the Pharisees and religious leaders of his day, he would have escaped the cross. Better still, if he had to bring his ministry under the control of the high priest and obtained his approval, he would have not faced any opposition.

If John had refrained from speaking against and rebuking Herod for his infidelity, he would probably have not been put to death.

If Stephen, during his defense at the Sanhedrin, had refrained from rebuking the religious leaders there, he would probably been spared from death.

The Holy Spirit moved each of them to speak against the hypocrisy and sin of their times.

Consider Peter’s dealing with Ananias and Sapphira and his dealings with Simon the sorcerer. There was no mincing of words, he addressed them and the situation in a straightforward manner.

Of course, understanding these things does not grant us a license to speak against the ills we see today – there are too many people who do that on a daily basis and see themselves as guardians of the truth. They pat themselves on the back when they attack men and women of God who do not fit within their understanding or worldview and are convinced that they have been appointed by God to do such work. They will do nothing for God and will criticize those who do. They end up becoming mean-spirited and critical and are of no use to God and man.

Confronting sin and hypocrisy should be under the leading of the Holy Spirit when filled with his presence. The prophet Micah said “I am full of power by the Spirit of God …… to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.”

He confronted sin and transgression when he was filled with power by the Spirit of God. When done in the flesh, it will not produce the fruit that God looks for; it will only produce death.