What Makes This Ministry Unique and Distinct from Others
In addition to the unwavering and complete devotion to the preaching of the Cross; Christ and Him crucified--this ministry is very unique in its approach to studying scripture.
Scripture commands us to "bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). What is "the obedience of Christ"? Philippians 2:8 tells us it is His becoming "obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross". Thus, we are to likewise bring all thoughts about scripture--reading, studying, interpreting, discussing and, most importantly, teaching-- captive to; that is, rooted and fixed upon, the Cross.
If one pictures a target; the "bull's-eye" is the preaching of the Cross and the complete Work God did there. The concentric rings which move out away from the bull's-eye are all other contexts, reasonings, perspectives, and opinions mere human beings can derive on scripture. Not surprisingly, the bull's-eye is the one central precept which defines True Christianity, and which all "Christians" agree upon. It is when we allow our minds to wander away from the bull's-eye in the wilderness of human reasoning that we begin to encounter confusion, divisions, and strife. It is out there, in the rings, where Satan operates, and where he is able to pervert the scriptures and muddle one's thinking. Wisdom and discernment reside at the bull's-eye.
"...But we preach Christ crucified...the power of God, and the wisdom of God" 1 Corinthians 1:23,24
Why do believers leave that "holy" place? (See Psalm 24:3 and Matthew 24:15: "...whoso readeth, let him understand")
This ministry brings every thought and utterance captive to the obedience of Christ and, as He did also, to the Work of the Cross. Here are some of the foundational precepts which arise from the Cross, and which we stand upon:
THE CROSS--THE POWER TO SAVE, THE POWER TO MATURE US AND GUIDE US
"The preaching of the Cross is to them that perish (regressing) foolishness, but to us which are saved (Gr. "sozo"--eternal context; past, present, future/eternity) it is the Power of God" 1 Corinthians 1:18
Think about it, the message of the Cross--Christ's suffering, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection--has the POWER to accomplish the most amazing miracle of all creation: translating someone out of the kingdom of death and darkness and an eternity of separation from God, and into an eternity WITH Him in the Kingdom of Life and Light! The only "WORK" required on our part is choosing to put our FAITH in GOD'S WORKING at the Cross. He does it all; which is why the scripture says he "sat down" and rested from all His works, and why He alone gets all the glory and the honor. We cannot add to it; rather only accept it by faith.
Yet the Church today is NOT "resting" in that work, and it is not exercising FAITH in the cross (after the initial confession of faith) and is, in fact, trying to add to God's work at the cross in terms of the inner sanctification or spiritual maturation process. Gone is even the ability to apply common sense to understand that if God is able to perform the greatest and most difficult miracle--the eternal saving of one's soul in the instant of one's SINCERE confession of faith in the Cross--then surely He must be able to control and direct the on-going sanctification process. Certainly we TRUST that He will perform the miracle of ushering us into His presence at the moment of our physical death, right? Question:
Anyone know what work they are going to "do" in the instant of their death to help God bring about His promise of eternal life at that clearly helpless moment? Didn't think so...
Consider further that we certainly did not "do" anything in the past to be born physically, right? ...didn't "do" anything in the past to be born spiritually, right? (meaning the actual translation process) ...and certainly won't "do" anything in the future to be glorified after death, right? Then WHY do we think we have some ability to "do" anything in the present to take pro-active control of the sanctification process? Why do we let our natural mind rise up--right now as you are reading this--and scream "No way!; that's preposterous, we have to "do" something!"
Of course, I'm not referring to the outward activities of reading the Bible, praying, fellowshipping, witnessing, and worship, which we can "do" and are called to do. I'm referring to what the Bible refers to as the INNER work; the renewing of the mind, and in becoming truly transformed in one's inward nature. That is GOD's work, and He has a "way" (John 14:6) that it is accomplished, with HIM FULLY IN CONTROL. It is the same "way" that He started with, and will finish with: the Cross. That is why the eternal tense word "sozo" is so important to bear in mind when reading 1 Corinthians 1;18. That is why Paul chastized the Galatians Christians in saying "O, foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you (literally allowed demons to control one's thinking), having begun in the Spirit (faith in the Cross), will ye now be made perfect (complete spiritually) in the flesh (human reasoning and works)?
God has indeed finished the ENTIRE work. It is our fallen human nature which is disinclined to believe it, and believe instead that we must somehow add to it and help Him. God has indeed rested, and calls us to enter into that rest.
The focus of this ministry is instructing people in HOW to "labor", in faith, to enter into God's Rest, and allow God to perform and complete the "work" in them.
TEMPORAL vs. ETERNAL, NATURAL vs. SPIRITUAL
"Human eyes have not seen, nor ears heard, neither have entered into the mind of man the things God has prepared and reserved solely for those that love Him. But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit... No one knows the things of an individual to the degree which that individuals knows within and of himself. Likewise, no man knows the things of God, except the Spirit of God...We have received not the things of the world, but from the Spirit which is of God...and not in or through the words or teachings from the reasoning and worldly wisdom of men; rather we compare Spiritual things with Spiritual...but the natural mind of man receives not the things of the Spirit of God...neither can he know them..." 1 Corinthians 2:9-14
Any approach to the study of the scripture is going to fall into one of two categories: temporal or Eternal. As expressed in the above verses, humans can only reason out or deduce the things of God, but cannot truly know them. Deduce means to infer or draw a conclusion based on the knowledge which is readily available and that one possesses. The Bible says Spiritual Truth is not "readily available" to humans, and that we do not innately possess such knowledge; rather, that it must be granted directly from the Spirit of God. God provides such understanding by divine inspiration or "revelation". Revelation is the phenomenon in which God EDUCES an understanding within the heart of a person, meaning establishing an understanding which does NOT draw upon the knowledge and constructs one naturally possesses (the "wisdom of this world").
Unfortunately, driven by a fallen, prideful nature, the majority of humans persist on deducing the things of God. This, of course, is the reason there are so many contradictory spiritual "truths" about "god" and spiritual things; which, in turn, give rise to so many thousands of "dead" religions in the world. Most tellingly, these religions always reflect the limited, humanistic traits of the adherents rather than anything truly transcendent, eternal or divine, which is why God's Word tells us their folly shall be manifest to all (with spiritual discernment) 2 Timothy 3:9
Furthermore, just because the Spirit grants a Christian believer the gift of understanding in one thing, that revealed information does not give the person the ability, nor the authority, to now reason out "the rest" of scripture. It is a step by step, gift by gift process. Unfortunately, most Christians obtain a few "kernels" of revelation from the Spirit, then rush ahead and attempt to reason out the rest. That reasoning, or "worldly wisdom" will always be temporal and therefore limited in its essence and spiritual efficacy, and creates what the bible refers to as "leaven". The Bible warns that even a little leaven in one's doctrine taints or corrupts all of it (Galatians 5:9). The end result are ministries and churches which reflect the flawed, shortsighted, and self-centered interests of finite human beings, rather than the infinite and Eternal interests of God. And merely proclaiming they are "doing the work of God" and referencing selected scriptures does not make that work divinely inspired or empowered.
On the other hand, the Spirit of God will only and always reveal the meaning of the scriptures in an Eternal, infinite context that is aligned with the Eternal Purposes of the One, True, Living God. The capitalized,superlative word "Eternal" here is used to distinguish it from merely an infinite continuum of time, and refers to the spiritual and infinite nature of God Himself. That is, God inspired every Word of the Bible, and thus every precept of the Word has an Eternal basis and significance. That basis is what each "believer" must set as their heart's desire and goal in spiritual growth.
TWO FOES: PRIDE AND THE REASONING MIND
Man, by nature, is neither eternal, nor spiritual. And we are certainly not infinite in our knowledge of the things of God and His Truth. However, man has two foes of Truth: a reasoning mind and an ingrained, "natural" inclination to pride. Pride is basically the innate drive to exalt, justify, and rely upon oneself. While the reasoning mind CAN be useful in spiritual enlightenment, pride controls and corrupts it, which is why the Bible places so much emphasis on exposing and fighting the pride of man.
"There is a way which seems right to a man [his natural reasoning], but the end thereof are the ways of death [opposite God]" Proverbs 14:12, 16:25
The reasoning mind can of course read the "plain text" of scripture, study it, analyze it, deduce and draw all sorts of plausible inferences from it. The mind can also pro-actively discuss and debate scripture, and even convincingly teach the words which are printed on the physical pages of a Bible. However, because man is not God, man cannot understand anything of the Eternal and Spiritual meaning of the scriptures (again, in and of ourselves). This is God's "filter" mechanism to separate the sincere from the posers and the deliberate deceivers. (read more; see "Further Study")
THE CROSS IS MORE THAN TWO PERPENDICULAR PIECES OF WOOD
We believe that ALL scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, is about Jesus Christ AND the COMPLETE Work God the Father did in and through Him at the Cross. Accordingly, we believe that all scripture must be viewed, studied, and interpreted through the "lens" of the Cross. The failure to do so is how those trapped in human reasoning can exploit scripture to both create and justify religious works based on humanism, worldly philosophy, psychology, and ultimately reflect the outward, temporal changing culture rather than the eternal, non-changing God.
We use the term "Cross" in the same context as it is conveyed in the Bible (Thayer's; 1 Cor. 1:18); that is, in its all-encompassing, ETERNAL context as the miraculous and mystical Work God did in the Spiritual realm in and through Jesus Christ in the physical realm, and God's ETERNAL PLAN AND PURPOSE behind that Work; the redemptive creation of mankind.
"CHRIST" IS NOT JESUS' LAST NAME
We believe God's eternal Plan and Purpose, which was laid from the foundations of the world, and which therefore forms the basis of all human existence and reality (including future), is embodied in the Cross. The Cross (as a complete Work) is the reason God came into the world, becoming a Man in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Cross is the means by which He not only died, but also by which He conquered death and hell. The Cross is also the means by which Jesus was resurrected and seated at the right hand of God. The Cross is the means by which He is coming again. Lastly, the Cross is the means by which mankind can be redeemed and have the gift of eternal life, and live forever in Heaven with God.
Thus, we believe the Cross is an integral, eternal, and inseparable part of the essence of the identity and totality of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the resurrected Lord and Savior.
Accordingly, the Name and title "Christ" must also be viewed in an ETERNAL context, referring to the totality of the Plan and Purpose of God. The Name "Jesus", which literally means "salvation" signifies what He provides to mankind. "Christ", which literally means "Anointed One", refers again to the Eternal Plan and Purpose of God, and signifies the God/Man who would fulfill the Eternal why and how of that Plan and Purpose, and who was and is the "Anointed One" to accomplish this. Since that Work, the Plan, and the Purpose are Eternal, and the term "Christ" embodies that Work, then "Christ" has an Eternal context, which cannot be separated from the Name, nor diminished by any human attempts to make the Work or the Name temporal in any way.
PREACH THE CROSS, NOT "THE WORD"
While this statement may alarm some at first, we believe, as previously stated, that the WORD OF GOD is all about the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Cross is displayed and operative typologically in the Old Testament (past) and Jesus' earthly life, in actuality during Jesus' crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, ascension and seating, is the concealed framework that sustains the present world (present), and lastly will form the revealed framework and essence of all believers throughout eternity (future).
The simple truth is that the "word"; that is, the printed, "plain-text" of the scriptures, can be corrupted, and all too often is. So it is not accurate enough to simply say, "preach the word". There are many false religions who use and quote the Bible and therefore "preach the word". Although that phrase occurs specifically as a command in 2 Timothy 4:2, it must be interpreted within the entire context of the Bible, and more specifically within the meaning of Paul's revelation and the "pattern" which God showed in him first; which is the preaching of the Cross, and the mystery within it (1 Timothy 1:16). It is THAT "Word" which must be preached. All others are simply the "enticing words of men's wisdom" (1 Corinthians 2:4).
If you have not subjected yourself to the instruction of God through Paul as to how to obtain the revelation of the mystery of the Cross, the Wisdom of God, and the Power of God, (available to all), then you are merely preaching the temporal "word", and relying on human reasoning and worldly wisdom to attempt to represent the Spiritual and Eternal. While sincere, or perhaps even possessing many degrees and letters after your name, you are not being a good representative of the Lord that bought you, and who suffered and died in order to make the mystery of the Cross available to you.
A TEMPORAL JESUS CHRIST IS A DIFFERENT JESUS
"For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ, and shall deceive many". Matthew 24:5
This warning by Jesus refers to the last days, just prior to his return. Here and in many other places the Bible warns of the significant deception that will come upon the earth, and into the Christian church, calling it a great "falling away" from the Truth and the True Faith in the One, True Jesus Christ.
We believe that falling away is now occurring, and manifesting itself in two main forms:
1) an absence of the preaching of the Cross, and even a hostile resistance to it, and
2) the proliferation of temporal, worldly pursuits and works, all based on a focus upon only the temporal, incarnate aspects of Jesus and his activities as the justification for the activities.
These two traits apply to the majority of religions, churches, and "spirituality" today. Popular Christianity and the world's religions are coalescing through a perversion and redirection of Christian theology to be based solely on serving humanity and pursuing social works. This is caused by the degeneration of Christian teaching to portray Jesus Christ only in the temporal context; that is, his incarnate life and ministry while here on earth. By separating this fleshly aspect of Jesus from His Eternal nature, and the entirety of His Work and Purpose, they are creating a different Jesus; a false Jesus.
Accordingly, popular church teachings compel people to "be like Jesus", or "be authentic followers of Jesus" which is a seductive and powerful draw. However, as stated above, human beings are neither Eternal, nor Spiritual, and therefore we can NEVER "be like Jesus" in and of ourselves. We can no more "be like Jesus" than someone can be a Christian without being saved (although many are in this category). What "work" does one do to be "saved"? Who does the "saving"? How is it accomplished? These insightful questions are what prompted the Apostle Paul to admonish the Galatian Christians, who had gone back into legal and temporal methods to attempt to mature and grow "spiritually":
"Oh foolish Galatians; who has bewitched you (literally meaning that demons were influencing and deceiving them) that you should not obey the Truth? Having begun in the Spirit (salvation from God through the Cross) are you now made perfect (spiritually mature) by the flesh?" (carnal reasoning, legalism, rituals, and works). Galatians 3:1
Like salvation, and like revealed spiritual understanding, all Christ-like traits in a person MUST come from God, who creates and sustains those traits in us (or withdraws them). He performs this "transformation" process (Romans 12:2) supernaturally by the EXACT SAME MEANS BY WHICH HE DELIVERS SALVATION: THE CROSS!
Why do Christians--especially the exalted "leaders"--give in to the temptation to believe that "perfecting" or spiritually maturity is going to come about ANY OTHER WAY? The answer is the same as it was for the Galatians: Pride. We want CONTROL of our lives and who we "are". We want to understand what is happening, how it is happening, and feel that we are consciously engaged in managing it. And, if we are honest, we also want control of the temporal pursuits of large buildings, large numbers of people, large dollars, and large notoriety and the praise of men. I see no mention of such "fruits" anywhere in the Bible; rather, only condemnation of such things.
Unfortunately, that need for control is the broad, open gate through which Satan enters the Church, and labors aggressively to keep Christians away from the Power of the Cross, where the mechanism of transformation is a mystery God retains exclusively to Himself. As a mystery, Satan cannot see it, understand it, nor interfere with it. Most importantly, he cannot prevent it! We are the ones who do that to ourselves by relegating the Cross to a small space in the church toolbox labeled "salvation", which Satan has convinced us is confined only to be used to present to NON-BELIEVERS. He blinds our minds (through our pride) to the Truth that the scriptures plainly exhort: it is for believers, and is to be at the center of all dialogue, study, doctrine, discussions, teaching, and preaching. The preaching of the Cross IS the "oracles of God":
" If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God " 1 Peter 4:11
Paul no doubt had this command in mind, and took it very seriously when he said "I determined not to know anything among you, except Christ and Him Crucified" 1 Corinthians 2:2, and calling his words the "Testimony of God", which I think all would agree qualifies as "the oracles of God".
Imagine how much less confusion and division there would be in the Christian Church, and I believe in the world, if Christians leaders dared not speak ANYTHING until they were certain there words qualified to be "the oracles of God".
A PATTERN IS USED TO REPLICATE OTHERS
We believe God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ gave to the Apostle Paul the supernatural revelation of the spiritual phenomenon which God accomplished at the Cross. We believe this is why Paul was able to make very unique and bold statements such as "the Gospel of..God..was committed to my trust", and that "in me first Jesus Christ might shew..for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe" (1 Timothy 1:11 & 16), and also why Paul was uniquely able to state the same command to believers that Jesus stated: to "be followers of me" (Philippians 4:17, 1 Corinthians 11:1).
Such a statement, in the absence of Divine Authority, would be considered blasphemy, as we are called, of course, to be followers of Jesus Christ. Obviously, Paul follows Jesus Christ so perfectly in the Spirit, that he--or God through him--could legitimately make such a claim. The means by which Paul so precisely follows Jesus Christ is the revelation from God of the mystery of the Cross of Christ.
It is that revelation that was given to Paul that we, too, have received, and are called of God to also "preach in every city and every church". It is the means by which Paul received that revelation that Paul preached so that EVERY believer may receive that revelation.
NOTE: THE REVELATION OF THE MYSTERY IS MY NO MEANS EXCLUSIVE, AS IS A COMMON AND UNINFORMED CRITICISM OF THIS MINISTRY. IT IS TO THE "WHOSOEVERS".
Again, in the words of Jesus Christ: "...according unto your faith, be it unto you" , and "whatsoever ye ask in my Name, it shall be given you" (John 14:13, 15:16, 16:23)
We invite and encourage any and all to come and be a part of this ministry; those who are willing to BELIEVE that God has far more hidden within the Work of the Cross; and that, in fact, there are unsearchable depths and riches in the Preaching of the Cross.