From the book: “Truth Forged in the Fire” By Michael D. Daniel
In what continues to be a perpetual cause of concern for the body of Christ today, is the glaring absence of New Testament truth emanating from our pulpits. Uncompromising men of God that once flourished in the church just a generation ago are now only a fading memory. Saintly men that graced the pulpits like A.W. Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill, Paris Reidhead and Watchman Nee, once set the bar of Biblical truth at a benchmark determined by God Himself. These stanch men of God knew nothing of concession, and would have gladly laid down their lives in defense of their sheep; their God; and their love of the truth. But where are their kind today?
The measure by which God tells us to judge anyone is by their fruit, and the fruit of a preacher must be evident almost immediately within his selfless humility. His life of surrendered obedience to God will only be exceeded by his complete hatred for anything that brings recognition to himself or his ministry. Like his Master, he will not shy away from the unpopularity that truth brings; but will embrace any hardship that counts him worthy to suffer as his Lord did. He will have a dedicated love for his sheep and will suffer with them through every affliction. In everything that he does, his life will be completely transparent, giving no place to the enemy or man to accuse him of questionable conduct. And most importantly, he will never neglect his time with God; his time in the prayer closet will be his most precious time of the day and will always exceed his time spent in the company of men.
Men of this caliber are not made by other men in the seminary, but are hewn out of a divine building material reserved exclusively for those saints that were chosen long before the foundation of the world; men that God knew would one day be willing to lay down their life in humble obedience to do His will. The great weight of their cross will never be relinquished for a minute, but will remain a constant source of self-renunciation as they surrender every hint of friendship with the world and the love of comfort that so easily ensnares those of a less noble character.
In contrast, what we find today is the product of a generation of politically correct crowd pleasers. The benevolent humility of the preacher’s heart has long been sacrificed on the altar of ambition, as he yields to the pressures to build bigger and better sanctuaries. The cross has become little more than a small piece of a vast curriculum learned by rote in the seminary classroom, and has never gained entrance into the preacher’s heart. The price for this costly sacrifice will be felt as soon as he opens his mouth to preach.
The greatest loss however to the body of Christ is not to be found in their loss of time sitting through hours of lifeless sermons, but in the loss of something much more costly; namely their relationship with Jesus Christ and the experiential knowledge that comes from an intimate revelation of New Testament Christianity.
The primary objective of every true shepherd should be to impart a vivid understanding of the sufferings of our Lord; the death of the flesh associated with His cross; and the spiritual maturity that is to be acquired on the other side of that suffering. But this kind of lesson can only be taught by someone that has carried his own cross and born his own stripes. Anything short of this experience will make the shepherd a product of his own design, and the sheep he feeds no closer to God than himself.
Those holding on to the teachings of Christianity without suffering, are those that have not examined the teachings of the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the Hebrews were promised material blessings in exchange for their obedience (Deut 28:1-14). In the New Testament, Christians are told to be content with their basic needs being met (1Tim 6:8). In the Old Testament, believers were provided treasures here on earth (Deut 8:13). In the New Testament, believers are told to store up for themselves treasures in Heaven (Matt 6:20). You cannot claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ and expect material prosperity in this lifetime. What you can expect is to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29), who was meek, lowly, humble, and homeless! (1Co 4:11)
That’s not to say that a Christian can never be financially blessed; but before God would trust one of His children with something as spiritually lethal as wealth, he would first have to destroy every desire that the Christian might have in attaining that wealth!
This is the message of New Testament Christianity; deny yourself and take up your cross! Jesus set the example for those that wanted to follow in His footsteps; does anyone have the right to teach anything other than this (Gal 1:8-9)? If your church makes no effort to teach the meekness, humility, and hardships that identified the followers of Jesus Christ, then this is not a New Testament church. It is one thing not to know the truth and be mislead, it is quite another to follow the crowds that choose to believe the lie!
Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Choose to be one of the few; surrender all affections for the world, and fully submit to the chastening hand of your Heavenly Father. The hearts of the saints are being tested my brethren; the Lord is separating the sheep from the goats, and sealing His remnant for the final harvest. Stay close to God, stay long in your prayer closet, and only pursue those treasures that will be laid up for you in the Kingdom of God!
About the Author – Michael Daniel was born in the early fifties in North Texas and raised in Southern California. My career went the way of professional salesman and motivational speaker. God has since broken that man, replacing unquenchable pride with abject humility. Homeless now for 18 months. http://www.whollysanctified.com (personal ministry website) email@example.com (email)