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

 

Advertisements

NO MORE PILGRIMAGES

Christian+Pilgrim+Groups+Travel+Holy+Island+LLRLn2FUUXMlPlease be careful. WAKE UP! I am a historic premillenialist like Charles Spurgeon but I am becoming aware of some troubling issues.

There are those of us who really care about the salvation of Israel who frown on recent ploys by some ministries to fund raise or make an end run play by Word of magic salesman to get people to go on tour in the Holy Land.

Ever get an offer for a free trip to Florida? Then when you go, they invite you to meetings to sell you time shares or condominiums?

All these religious networks and so called ministries are having pilgrimages to Israel and Jerusalem. The emphasis on the nation of Israel on television is replete in much preaching lately but their motives seem murky with all the spiritual vacation packages.

Recently, one major Christian satellite network has a new studio in Jerusalem and methinks this is their motive for Holy Land tours and there is a growing concern that they are knowingly or unknowingly exploiting those who are unlearned and ignorant.

It seems like they are selling spiritual time shares, religious condominiums or telling people they can get closer to God by going to Israel. One preacher is selling products and prayers at the wailing wall for $1000! 

Is this not what the Roman Catholic church did with the city of Rome and what Islam does with Mecca? Are we now so powerless, so ignorant of the gospel of Christ we need pilgrimages and products that get us closer to God? Does this not show error and backsliddeness of these preachers and ministries?

Is not the church one new man, of believing, born again Jew and Gentile? Not two churches. Not two nations (Eph. 2:15; 1 Pet. 2:9).

Did not Jesus insist that we DO NOT need cities to travel to, trinkets or toys with which to pray, mountains in which we have retreats, to worship in temples or perform in ecclesiastical theaters? “Take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.” (2 Peter 3:17).

Rather Jesus our Messiah taught that the worship of omnipresent God who is Spirit has arrived and that we worship the one true God in the power of his Holy Spirit and the Truth of the Gospel! For that is the worship our Heavenly Father wants!  (John 4:23-24). 

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

THE REAL VERSUS THE PHONY

counterfeits“But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.” (1 John 4:6).

Notice the supernatural aspects of truth and error. We cannot help but see that the phrase is not “the teaching of truth and the teaching of deception” and if it was worded that way it would seem correct. But it is not worded that way here.  It is, “the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deception.” It shows the source of truth and the source of error.  Satan and his demons have teachings (1 Tim. 4:1) and there is also the doctrine of Christ (2 John 1:9). As Pentecostals we should be more sensitive to this and that is why God has given us the all the charismata or gifts of the spirit especially the “discerning of spirits” (1 Cor 12:10) which is the gifting or ability to discern a true miracle (Acts 3:12-16) from lying signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:9). While I was still pastoring my previous church in the 90’s, the so called Toronto Blessing and Brownsville Revival movements were having a major influence on various Pentecostal and Charismatic churches. Falling down, writhing like snakes, barking like dogs, clucking like chickens with people sprawled all over the floor was the norm.

I mean seriously? This has NOTHING to do with the Holy Spirit. It is NOT true Pentecost.

As I remember on a July 4th weekend I was asked to come and minister in a church in Maine. When we came we found the church at that time was into this Counterfeit Revival movement. At one time, I knew the Pastor to be a level headed man but when the service began it was wild and out of control. The church was dominated by cacophonous laughter and people lying all over the floor. The “worship” service went two hours with all kinds of craziness. I was not happy at all-and was wondering why I was there and why he invited me to preach.

The pastor knew I did not agree (probably because of my sour expression and how I just sat there motionless) and as God would have it, he had me come up to to the pulpit to preach anyway. By the grace of God I am not a ecclesiastical politician nor a coward when it comes to confronting such extra-biblical practices. I just wonder why it always has to be me. I reprimanded them sharply-just like the Bible says to do (Titus 1:13). After I spoke, the pastor was miffed. I left the meeting and went back to the hotel room thinking I was done and I should start packing for my trip back home. I was disappointed and wondered what was wrong with them? What was ironic is that I felt to preach on the biblical view of the anointing of the Holy Spirit for that weekend. I intensely studied on this subject for months and now I was second guessing myself.

They had morning seminars and then we went to lunch. You could see the pastor was still brewing over my preaching the night before. So we talked about it and I actually asked him, “When the Holy Spirit is moving in a service could you preach from any portion of the Bible?”

He said, “I suppose so…yes.”

Then I asked, “What about  1 Corinthians 14 and its regulations and teachings concerning spiritual gifts?”

He said, “I suppose not.”

I said, “That is ridiculous. It makes no sense.”

His reasoning was so flawed- yet that night the pastor still had me preach and it was powerful. I focused on the teaching of scripture about the Holy Spirit and many told me they saw more answers to prayer than they did under what the pastor was promoting. I could teach about the biblical perspective of the Holy Spirit and God took over from there. It was like a high pressure system pushing a low pressure system out. It turned about to be a great series of meetings. I learned then that the truth is stronger than lies, that the inspiration of the scripture far outweighs  the false  practices and teachings of man. I could only hope God would deal with them after that time.

God during this time began to bring my attention to the New Jersey area.  It was a slow start when we came and one day I felt compelled to leave Pennsylvania and go to New Jersey. I found a job and lived with my Mom for a time. Sarah found a job almost immediately and things came together-we had a small Bible study. I received a call from with two families in Maine who wanted to come down and help me start a church. So those things were good.

When Sarah moved up finally we went to live with my father in law for a time and would visit churches on Staten Island. Once again a preacher who I thought was a balanced man was allowing the Brownsville influence in his church. In fact, he and others were making pilgrimages to that place. His church was jammed. He was my friend so we visited his church for a few services and he let me preach. I had fellowship again. This church was at first not as wild but after attending a few services the weirdness was growing to fever pitch.

People were yelling, making weird noises, tongue talking during the preaching. I do not mean to be crass but every freakacostal and charismaniac was in attendance. I remember the day I came I was happy for my friend.  The church had grown to two services and though I did not agree with those practices I was hopeful things would turn around. After all, this was the church where I was saved. Maybe it just being welcomed anywhere after my recent hurtful experience at the Warehouse of Praise so there was a sense of relief. I also believed that if he was a man of God he would correct these practices eventually.

But these happy thoughts would not last very long-not even one day longer. My pastor friend came in and he looked angry and sour. He had a bad spirit and you could tell. I was wondering what was wrong with him. I had pastored before so I know how things happen before church and when you preach so I cut him some slack and excused it in my mind. 

That same Sunday morning God gave me a word or prophecy. It was a hard word and I had never given one like this before. But I felt the power of God to say it.  I don’t remember all of it but it was a harsh rebuke for what was going on-God was exposing the wrong practices and spiritual adultery of these people. I said some other words and as I began to speak of God offering blessing for their repentance- the pastor stopped me midway from prophesying. This was a first. Before this time, I prophesied many times in that church and I was well received. I was known of the brethren and I am careful when I speak forth prophetically. His actions were unnecessary and he was wrong. My mother was next to me and she was indignant at what happened. All of us knew what this pastor was allowing in his church was wrong and God was telling him to repent. 

We went back to my mothers house and I was hurt and confused. My twin brother was there and at first he said, “I told you not to go there!” But then he comforted me. People talk about how wonderful it is to be an Elijah or Jeremiah or any such thing. It is not-it is a life of rejection but obedience does not seek applause. The sad part was that not but a year later the same church fell apart. If only they would have listened!

I do believe in ministering under the pastoral direction I always attempt to exercise protocol and find out how to operate within the church culture. But this does not mean compromising scripture or scriptural practices. I wonder sometimes why God always seems to put me in the place of being the bad guy as it were. I have began referring to it as being an antihero. Yet I realize that a man cannot love Christ and the evil world system at the same time. Why can’t some pastors just do their job instead of allowing these things to happen to the congregation which has been entrusted to their care? Why do I have to sit in a pew and listen to their watered down message or insane ideas? Why do they have to run their churches by books and ideas written by religious marketers instead of God’s Holy Word? Is not Jesus enough? I always thought he was. 

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