Tag: Recent

Is Jesus ‘God’ or ‘Son of God’?

On one side of the argument are those who proclaim Jesus to be the very Almighty God who pre-existed as Yahweh. Scriptures like John 20:28 are used to support this view – “And Thomas answered and said unto [Jesus], My Lord and my God”, or John 14:8-9 which says, “Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.

On the other side of the argument are those who believe that Jesus must only be referred to as “Son of God”, not “God”. Again there are verses used to support this view such as Ephesians 3:14 which makes a distinction between the Father and Jesus – “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”, and Colossians 1:2 which distinctly identifies the Father to be God – “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

One time at a convention of believers I was sitting with different ministers around a table when someone asked a question: “Brother Andrew, is Jesus ‘God’ or ‘Son of God’?” I knew that the question did not rise out of a desire to learn but to raise an argument. As though thirsty and in need of a drink I asked for some water to be poured in a glass which was on the table. Someone filled it quickly. I lifted the glass in my hands and asked, “What am I holding in my hands?” The person answered, “Water”. To that I responded, “Will I be in order to correct you by saying, ‘Wrong! It’s a glass I am holding and not water.’ Is it not true that for the convenience of language you have called the glass by the new identity of the substance which has possessed it”?

Is this ‘water‘ or ‘a glass of water‘? 

To understand the Godhead one needs more than letters, words or semantics. Theologians look into Scripture and theorize three persons into the Godhead. They call the persons God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But this is a stark contradiction of the command given to the Hebrews, “Hear,O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD” (Deu.6:4). And contrary to the idea that God the Father is with the Son and the Holy Spirit besides him, Yahweh declares “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me” (Isa.45:5). But so confident are Trinitarians that they refer to Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, or the Father as a member, a portion,or a third of the Godhead. This again contradicts the Word which says, “In Him [Jesus] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col.2:9).  

Those with eyes to see should perceive that there is and has always been ONE Almighty Spirit who is everywhere and has neither beginning nor end. However, note that before anything was created He could not be called God. God is something that is worshipped but there were no angels or man to worship Him. But even if angels or human beings were created, how would they ever relate with, or comprehend, such an eternal being which was not confined to Space and Time?

The almighty invisible Spirit had to manifest in form in order to relate in Space and Time. That was the first thing to proceed from the Almighty Spirit and thus was the beginning of Time, the Alpha (Isa.44:6). The Alpha was not ‘another God’ but a visible ‘mask’ of the invisible Spirit through which He would create and relate with everything. In the future, Time will wind up and end in Him as the Omega. Thus, whenever God in Scripture is referred to as the Alpha and Omega, it is a description of His being in Time, not in Eternity.

The visible mask became “the angel of His [invisible] presence” (Isa.63:9). It was that mask, the first thing to be created by God, which began to speak, “LET THERE BE…!”and things began to come into existence (Joh.1:1-3, Rev.3:14, Pro.8:22-24). It was through that mask that angels and human beings could look at God. So, although “no man has seen God at any time” (Joh.1:18), it was that mask – which sometimes appeared like an angel, like a  human being, like a fire, like a cloud, like alight –  that the prophets of old looked at, and for the limitation or convenience of language and communication, declared that they had seen God: “Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel and they saw the God of Israel, and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone” (Exo.24:9-10).

When God manifested in a light or cloud, the light or cloud was not God, but for the convenience of language and communication, a person could say, “I have seen God”! Even when God took on the form of dust and appeared like a human being to Abraham, that visible form of dust was not God. It was only a form through which the invisible God had manifested. But in language we will still say, God “appeared” to Abraham (Gen.18:1). Likewise, when we come into the New Testament the same thing happened. However, God no longer appeared in temporal manifestations of light, cloud, or angelic form. In the New Testament Yahweh “prepared” a human body through which He would manifest (Heb.10:5). When that body was 30 years old it was ready to be filled by God’s Spirit and be used as the image of the invisible God. Yes, that was Jesus “the image of the invisible God” (Col.1:15, Heb.1:1-3).

So, it should be clear now that when we refer to Jesus as God, the way Thomas did in John 20:28, we are referring to Him as the manifestation of God in flesh. Like in the words of Paul to Timothy, “great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Tim.3:16). And we are “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit.2:13, Isa.43:11).

Thinking about “Matter” and “Anti-matter” in the Bible

I am thinking about how man has always been curious to understand things around him and how they were created. Aristotle the great philosopher believed that if you took a piece of matter and began to slice it to smaller pieces, it was not possible for one to reach that tiny substance which could not be split further! He believed matter was continuous and so had no fundamental unit which couldnt be brocken down further. But other thinkers, like Democritus, argued that there were indivisible units of matter that we could arrive at – atoms (the word ‘atom’ means indivisible)!
What fascinates me about this whole thing is that science has successfully gone further to demonstrate that atoms can be further brocken down to Protons, Neutrons, and Electrons. Later on an experiment was performed in which protons were collided with protons at very high speeds and it was proved that protons can actually break down further into much smaller units we call “Quarks”!
Now, here is where things get mind boggling: Every particle has an anti-particle; when these two collide they annhilate each other and so disappear. Stephen Hawking had an interesting and rather humorous speculation about this, saying “There could be whole antiworlds and antipeople made out of particles.However,if you meet your antiself, dont shake hands! You would both vanish in a great flash of light” (in “A Brief History of Time“).
Well, when I look into the Scripture Hawking’s speculation turns out to be prophecy. I have read somewhere that Sons of God have bodies sitting somewhere in the Presence of God. The day that ‘anti-body’ will come flying to meet yours, is the day you will disappear in a moment and the twinkling of an eye – “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this [body] we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven”. (2 Cor.5:1-2). “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump..we shall be changed…So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor.15:51-54).

“Is having a pastor or leader in church being denominational?”

One day I found the following words quoted in a Facebook post:

I dont believe a fellowship can be healthy without headship. An animal with two or more heads will soon or later create a ‘beast’ of confusion. A church ought to have one person who can lead, teach, or guide, either as a pastor or an elder. When the pulpit is left open to different ministers, be assured that the flock won’t be grounded on the rock. That will also open room for ambitious people who will bring up all sorts of ideas…

It was a quote of my words. As always happens on Social Media, different people began to express their views over the statement. One comment caught my attention:

No one should lead the Church except the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). That definition above is only fitting for [an] organisation and denomination. Believers who wanted to be led by people instead of the Lord have a spirit of denominationalism. The reason why Nicolaitism exists today is because of this thinking that a pastor should be the leader…you cannot find that in the word of God.

It is strange how simple things can easily be misunderstood and blown out of context. I had to give a little more explanation to show how scriptures can easily be misapplied. The following was my response:

With all due respect to everyone on this thread, kindly allow me to submit this (especially that this is about words quoted from me). Its a lengthy text, but kindly take time to read.

Whenever a discussion or question veers from context and winds up into a play on semantics, confusion begins where there should be none. And whenever a response to a question is out of context, it may present something TRUE but yet not the TRUTH!

Consider the matter at hand here, that to say “ a church ought to have one person who can lead, teach or guide, either as a pastor or an elder” is an error, and that “no one should lead the church except the Holy Spirit (Joh.16:13).” Really? What is to lead? When a church has a leader is that really Nicolaitanism? That is not only blowing things out of context but out of proportion.

To “lead” is to guide, rule, or to be followed by people. Another term often used in place of “lead” in the English language is “head.” Now, much as we live in a time of carnal men leading churches through pride or selfish reasons, we must not lose sight of the fact that leadership is rooted in the Scripture. I know of a church in my country which has no pastor; they don’t have one person to guide the assembly on doctrine or conduct. Everyone is free to minister. As expected, the church always suffers from breakaways and strange doctrines.

Consider what Hebrews 13:7 says:  “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” Another translation puts it this way: “Remember your leaders who have spoken to you the word of God; and considering the issue of their conversation, imitate their faith” (DBV). Compare this verse with 1 Timothy 3:4-5.

Firstly, was the writer of Hebrews encouraging Nicolaitanism by stating that preachers were rulers in the house of God? Ofcourse a carnal person can blow the verse out of proportion and make himself a pope in a congregation. Well, “spiritual things are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor.2:14) and I want to believe I am speaking to spiritual people who will understand my words in their context. Note that the Greek term for the phrase “rule over you” in Hebrews 13:7 is “hegeomai” and it means to “lead” or “command with authority.” If one has ever experienced sitting under a true anointed ministry – I have – they will know that truly God-called men rule the house of God with the authority of God’s Word! (1 Tim.4:11-16). And ofcourse spiritual people are able to discern when such a man veers off into pride and ceases to rule by God’s authority.

Secondly, what does the writer of Hebrews mean when he says “whose faith follow”? What is the term used to describe a person followed by other people? Leader, right? Did not Paul say “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor.11:1). So, will a carnal mind be in order to say, “Paul was wrong, we need to follow Christ, not him!” Such is always the result of failing to grasp words within their context.

Consider this: the Lord Jesus taught that we should call no man on earth “father” (Mat.23:9).  Was Paul in error to write believers at Corinth, saying: “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Cor.4:14-15)? Here Paul was admonishing a church that although there were many preachers who may have visited the assembly to exhort or instruct in faith, it was him specifically who begat them in the gospel! A person who would only dwell on semantics and miss the context of words can accuse Paul of error – “We are sons of God, not your sons!” or “We get born again by the Holy Spirit; its not you who begat us!” On the other extreme end again, a proud person can misapply this scripture to justify their egoistic ambitions. But to those with ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches, they have the discernment to know when a man’s rulership in the house of God has ceased to be one of the Word, but of his carnal ambitions. Shalom.

“Die and we will burry you!” (Remembering Brother John Mark Louse)

The man was in the field and got bitten by a poisonous snake. He rushed to brother John Mark to be prayed for. Brother John Mark called on the Lord to heal the man. But with time the fever was worsening and he could feel death approaching. His strength was leaving him and he had to crawl to the room where Brother John Mark was, to be prayed for again. “I am dying, pray for me again” he pleaded. “I already prayed” Brother John Mark angrily answered: “You can die and we will bury you!” Upon hearing this strange response the man stood up from his knees and walked away. He got healed and did not die.

This testimony was both strange and funny; when he shared the testimony the church was filled with both amazement and laughter. But  the testimony reminded us of a profound lesson: It is clear that healing was already granted and could only manifest when it was received by faith. Many times we cannot see the manifestation of God’s promises because we live by what we see, feel or smell. But a believer ought to live by what God’s Word declares, not by what he sees or feels (2 Cor.5:7). The Lord Jesus said, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mar.11:24). Amen.

“If you don’t have a message get out of the pulpit!” (Remembering brother John Mark Louse)

From Zambia brother John Mark Louse travelled to Kenya. Brother Kimani Njogukim of Kenya shared the following testimony with me.

By brother Kimani Njogukim (Kenya)

Brother John Mark was a real man of faith who never guessed on his relationship with God. From visiting Zambia he came to Kenya. He told me about how one day he was invited to attend a convention in Kampala. A white brother from America was among the ministers. The American brother stood up to preach and said,  “I don’t have a message of my own, I am here to tell you what our prophet said.”  This statement irritated brother John Mark so much that he stood up and directly faced the American preacher telling him, “If you don’t have a message get out of the pulpit!” You can imagine the reactions of other ministers. 

There are many ministers who think they are humble when they say, “I have no message of my own but only what the prophet proclaimed”. Well, that is not humility but foolishness. Such preachers may have faith in the prophet, or even in the Lord Jesus but yet dont realise that they lack the most important thing – having the faith of the Lord Jesus! “I am crucified with Christ” Paul wrote, “nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal.2:20).

Remembering brother John Mark: A ‘faith-full’ life and the healing of my wife

Brother John Mark’s everyday lifestyle was characterised by faith. Faith was not a religious sentiment but his everyday reality. One day I took a long walk with him, going to trading places and moving around the various avenues of the place where I stay. On our way back, walking to home, we reached a point where two roads merged forming a “V” shape, and I jokingly asked brother John Mark: “If you were dropped here at night and you were all alone, show me if you can remember where our house is!” Surprisingly brother John Mark did not answer me jokingly. He said: “I can’t be lost. If that were to happen, the Lord will send me an angel to lead me to your house.”

During this time when brother John Mark visited us, my wife, Norah, was expecting Terry. It was a troublesome pregnancy. She was getting dehydrated as she always vomited about every hour or so. This problem went on into the third month of the pregnancy. Before brother John Mark came she had been admitted for medical attention. Her condition had worried and stressed me up.

One evening brother John Mark explained saying, Even if others would take such problems to be a normal pregnancy problem, you ought to have the faith to ask the Lord to take it away. He then testified to us of how his wife also use to vomit and would go in problems with earlier pregnancies but when he sought the Lord and prayed for her, it ceased. Brother John Mark then prayed for Sister Norah, asking the Lord to stop the vomiting problem. It was a simple prayer but a miracle happened. As he prayed, sister Norah felt a strange movement in her womb and she never vomited again from that moment!

Read the Call and Ministry of John Mark Louse here.

Jesus healed Toothache! (Remembering brother John Mark Louse)

When I invited brother John Mark Louse to Zambia, we arranged a series of meetings which involved travels to and from various places in the country. Each time he waited for other trips he lodged at my home. The total number of days he spent with my family was somewhere between four to five weeks.

The moments we spent with that humble apostle of faith will forever be remembered. Every evening my family would gather in the living room for some time of fellowship and testimonies before going to sleep. One day my wife was curious to know more about how the Lord Jesus looked when He first appeared to brother John Mark Louse (read the testimony on Prophetic Revelation website). Brother John Mark then narrated an incident when he had a terrible toothache.

One day the toothache so much troubled him that he could not rest or sleep from the pain. It was at night but he had to go out to look for medical help. If my memory serves me right, the clinic was either closed or they didnt find a dentist. After returning home, as he lay in bed, the Lord Jesus appeared on the side of the bed where he lay his head. The Lord touched him on the side of the cheek where the pain was. It was at that moment that the pain stopped, and he talked about how wonderful the touch the felt. “I didnt want the Lord to go. I wanted his hand to be on me forever!”

Brother John Mark later slept and upon waking up found himself alone. The Lord wasnt there but that was the end of the toothache. If I have the time, I hope in the next few days, to share other testimonies brother John Mark shared when he stayed with us at home.

In Christ, Andrew Phiri.

Read about the Call and Ministry of John Mark Louse here.

Garnishing Tombs

They mastered the words of Moses. They recited the Law and the Prophets. They dressed religiously and sat in prominent places of the synagogues. They were consulted on matters of doctrine. These were the Pharisees, Teachers of the Law, and Scribes. They fasted regularly and gave tithes of their increase. Surely, they were righteous but only that righteous!

The righteousness of the Pharisees and scribes only went as far as observing letters of Scripture and norms; they could not go beyond to recognise and partake of the fulfilment (spirit or life) of the Scripture! And, like the Lord Jesus Christ warned us, “except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mat.5:20).

We should ask ourselves: Have we been able to perceive and partake of the fulfilment (or revelation) of Scripture in our day? See, God’s Word is like a seed; after being planted, there was time for the little shoot to sprout off the ground, and later the manifestation of the stem with its branches and leaves. Now, although the present look of the plant could be branches or leaves, those features were actually always there but could not be seen by the eye because they were hidden in the seed. Only when the seed was put in the right place (soil) and there were right conditions of air, light, and moisture, did growth begin, and features previously hidden from sight became revealed! Now, likewise, “The seed is the Word of God” (Luk.8:11) and we ought to be able to discern the present truth (manifestation) of its life in our day!

Through time the Seed of the Word has been ‘growing’ and those with eyes have been able to perceive and get established in its revelation, the “present truth” (1 Pet.1:12). On the other hand are people who only hold to the physical appearance of the seed, failing to reconcile the seemingly strange forms of the stem, branches, and leaves that proceeded from the seed! In looking at the seed (letters), they fail to see (reconcile its appearance with) the manifestation of its life (the stem, branches, and leaves)! Thus, “they seeing see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand” (Mat.13:13). That is exactly what happened when one day the Lord rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.

A strange Prophecy

One day a Hebrew prophet, Zechariah, gave a very strange prophecy: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy king cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zec.9:9). How would a person coming with the “salvation” of Israel, a nation which had been subdued by mighty kingdoms, be lowly and riding on a donkey? At the time of the prophecy of Zechariah the nation was under that mighty empire of Medo-Persia. To think of Israel getting delivered by a lowly man riding on a donkey was unthinkable! Well, a year passed and the prophecy did not fulfil. Two years passed and nothing had happened. Fifty years, and then a hundred years, still nothing! The prophecy had been given at the time of the Persian Empire, but new empires had risen and fallen – Greece then Rome – and the prophecy had not yet fulfilled! It was at the time of that cruel Roman Empire, about 500 years since the prophecy had been given, that the prophecy got fulfilled, albeit in a way that people didn’t notice. Yes, God had not forgotten about the Salvation King and He had also not forgotten to prepare the donkey that was to carry the king. The seed of prophecy was only waiting for its right place, time, and conditions to manifest the life of the Word!

That Donkey!

It may have been just one of the animals the family owned in that small village near the Mount of Olives. It was a good and healthy donkey. That day it was tied. The owner may have tied it for what seemed to be the usual thing done to animals when we want to restrict their movements. However, unknown to the owner, it was now time for the five hundred year old prophecy to get fulfilled and that donkey had been prepared for the same purpose! No man had rode on it because it had been kept for a day and hour the Lord would use it to enter Jerusalem in fulfilling Zechariah 9:9 but Daniel 9:25.

Now, who knew anything important about that donkey? To begin with, it wasn’t a horse but a mere donkey! It wasn’t from a city but a village! It may have been angry for being tied, and hence not being able to explore life as it desired. But all that was for a purpose, for soon it would be loosed and experience an honour it had never had before – men and women lying clothes where it would tread for carrying the Lord! Oh, if a child of God can only know that present bondages or troubles are not unto destruction but for glory! Even when our loved one (a believer in the faith) has died, let’s not despair;  in Isaiah we read that, “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness” (Isa.57:1-2).

False Expectations

People waited for the Messiah with their own carnal expectations. When they read Daniel’s prophecies they expected a great person to arise and crush the mighty Roman Empire. They knew the written prophecies but did not have a heart and eyes to discern the ways of God. They had man-made religious systems from where teachers of the Law were orained. They thought the messiah would arise from their established systems. Could they not look back into history and see how Moses and other prophets were called?

At no time in history has God ever raised a prophet who conformed to established religious systems. Such systems are often filled with people who are too dead to recognise the living Word of God. When the Lord Jesus came, the religious leaders of the day rejected him by quoting past prophets. One day they rebuked a man who was testifying to them about a miracle, telling him: “Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples” (Joh.9:28). But who was this Moses they claimed to believe? What did he experience in his ministry? What kind of people followed and believed in him? Was it people of the sort of Pharisees?

Revering Prophets of Old

The teachers of the Law revered Moses and recited his words. They rejected Jesus with Moses’ quotes! But if only they could look closer they would have realised that Jesus was the living manifestation of what Moses pointed to. And if they could look back they would have realised that the same spirit that rejected Moses was actually operating in them. In Numbers chapter 14 we read that “all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night”. That was an entire congregation crying out. If truth is in numbers then surely these people were right! But what were the people crying about? Verse two and four continues: “And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!… And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.” How would a people murmur against Moses, that great prophet? Well, a prophet may look great because he is no more and we can read him on pages of paper. It is important to know that whenever the Word manifests, it does so in simplicity. Is it not strange that when Joshua and Caleb saw the rebellion of the people and spoke out against their disobedience to God, the people threatened to stone them – “But all the congregation bade stone them with stones” (Num.14:10). Here we notice the people’s violence against faithful disciples of Moses, Joshua and Caleb! Surely, Joshua stood for what Moses truly believed. And so, if they could not accept Moses, they wouldn’t definitely accept Joshua! Isn’t that what has happened to today’s Joshuaic ministry – people have fought and rejected what it stands for because they actually reject what Moses’ ministry truly stood for! They can try to quote words of Branham but their actions are contrary to what he actually taught – Back to the Word!

That day when the Lord rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, Luke 19:37 records that “the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen. Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” The Spirit of God was working among these people, making them proclaim Jesus King and hence fulfil Zechariah 9:9. This was much to the annoyance of religious leaders who heard the praise as “noise” and not fulfilment of prophecy (v.39-40). These are the people who decorated and revered tombs of prophets of old but yet denied the Spirit that now worked in their present day!

As the Lord Jesus moved closer to Jerusalem and saw the city he wept: “he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation” (v.41-44).

How did the Jews become ignorant of the time of their visitation? Why did they spend time garnishing the tombs of old prophets but yet failing to recognise the present prophetic ministry? Simply because, although they had faith in the prophets, they did not have the faith of the prophets! By not having the faith of the prophets they were not truly children of the prophets but actually children of those that killed the prophets – “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. ” (Mat.23:29-39)

70 AD – Jerusalem Destroyed

In 70 AD the words of the Lord got fulfilled when Jerusalem, because of the rebellion of Jews against the Roman Empire, was surrounded by armies of Rome under Prince Titus. The city was razed to the ground and lay desolate, dispersing the Jews. However, after many years later on (about 300 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus) Rome embraced Christianity and erected a temple on the site of the tomb where the Lord was laid to rest before His resurrection. It’s a huge and beautiful structure that attracts tourists from all over the world. It is called the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Do the people who garnish this structure, to maintain it for the many tourists who visit it, have the faith of Jesus Christ? Are the many people who visit it truly disciples of Christ? Will the world, which so much cherishes the tomb of Christ, recognise the sign of the Messiah sent to this generation? Did people have eyes to recognise the Star-Messenger who was sent to the Laodicean Church Age, the forerunner of the Second Coming of Christ? Did they hear and understand his Message?

Download PDF copy of this Message: Garnishing Tombs

Beware of Backsliding

Each revival in history ends up with three kinds of people: (1) truly converted believers who persist on, (2) the backslidden – those who after a while lose their first zeal and remain cold and formal, and (3) those who reject (or betray) the Truth they had first believed.

The most dangerous situation of these three is the backslidden condition. The backslider treads on middle ground. He is neither hot nor cold. He or she partly identifies with things of God and also things of the world. The backslider wants to serve both God and Mammon! But, like the Lord Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Mat.6:24). So, the backslider’s heart actually leans towards evil but only wants to use God for safety or a public appearance.

A backslider prays together with believers. He also raises his voice in prayer and in singing praises but his mind is actually on business. His mind is on watching soccer. His mind asks, What time will the church service end? His mind is comforted by the presence of backsliders in church so that he is able to say, “it’s a problem other believers also face.” See, like the Scripture says, “the backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways” (Pro.14:14). Dearly beloved, the hour is late and we ought to be wise, “understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph.5:17).

Now, to those who think they are the strong and not the backsliders, take heed for Satan also seeks after you – “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor.10:12). Indeed, there are many believers who think they are still standing when they actually fell from the first love and zeal they had.  Like the Spirit admonished the church at Ephesus, these words apply to many believers: “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” (Rev.2:4-5).

But, how shall one know that they are in danger of backsliding? How shall one know that they have already fallen from the First Love? Well, the condition of a backslidden believer develops gradually.

Symptoms of Backsliding

We can guard against the condition of backsliding when we know the symptoms:

Loss of the “Joy of the Lord”

Believers have joy in their heart that comes from being in prayer and fellowship. They look forward to another prayer meeting, another Bible Study, another time to meet and encourage one another with a person of like-faith. When a believer is in prayer, there is this joy in their heart that gives them strength (Neh.8:10). However, when one backslides they lose that Joy, and with the loss of the Joy, one has no strength to resist evil. It is for this reason that David when repenting of his sin cried saying, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit” (Psa.51:12). Oh, how we need that Joy to keep us going in this troubled world

Comfort in the Congregation of the Dead

When a person backslides, fellowship with spiritual people is replaced with company with carnal people. The person is continuously found with people who have no revelation of Truth; His new friends are people who see nothing wrong with listening to worldly music, with taking a beer, with chilling out at a party, and all such vanities of the world. In his or her early days of hanging out with such people, the ‘believer’ tries to hide his true beliefs for fear of looking odd. But with time he slowly blends in and begins to do things that were once nowhere close to his lifestyle. That’s the way of a backslider, he finds himself in the congregation of the dead because he himself has died spiritually! Like the Scripture admonished, “The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead” (Pro.21:16).

Indifferent attitude towards spiritual things

A backslidden person is not committed towards spiritual activities. When there is a prayer and fasting programme, he or she is never bothered to attend. The backslider is always busy with a certain appointment, event, business, or work. A backslider is ‘another face’ in church – he or she is not a pillar that can be relied on. Backsliders don’t share burdens of the church or the ministry. They are simply not involved in visiting that brother or sister who was announced to be sick at home or admitted at a hospital. In their mind, that ‘work’ is for certain committed people in church. A backslider is not bothered by the Scripture which says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal.6:2).

No longer bothered by doing things scripturally right

A true believer is like the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31:27 who “looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” It is important here to note that a church environment can influence people to backslide. A true church should look carefully into the ways of her household – are things done scripturally correct? Are people dressing modestly, in a manner that is pleasing to God? Is there casualness towards worldly behaviour? Is there alertness to remove any leaven that is found among believers? (1 Cor.5:6-7). Just like a church can become indifferent towards sinfulness, a backslidden believer gradually gets unbothered by habits which he or she once resented. The backslider is no longer much bothered by what the Scripture says on certain of his conducts or behaviour.

It is my prayer that you walk faithfully before the Lord.  “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luk.21:36).

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“Brother Phiri I heard an Adventist preacher explaining that Matthew 24:39-40 is not about the Rapture. The people who ‘shall be taken’ actually go into destruction (as it was in the days of Noah)…”


“Brother Phiri I heard an Adventist preacher explaining that Matthew 24:39-40 is not about the Rapture. This passage of Scripture  says, ‘For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking…and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.’ This verse shows that just like the flood of Noah took away the sinful people, so shall one be taken (into destruction) and the other left (for the salvation of God). This is further established by 1 Thessalonians 4:17 which states, ‘we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air’ “

This is a case of gross misinterpretation of terms and phrases used in Scripture. I also once saw an Adventist preacher use the above reasoning to rubbish the doctrine of the Rapture. The audience seemed so stimulated by the preacher’s eloquence and ability to connect the wordings of different passages of Scripture. Hearing him speak I came to learn that not all stimulation is of the Holy Spirit; some stimulation can result from a concoction of poorly mixed Scriptures.  Let us approach this question beginning with 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

  • Understanding the word “remain” in 1 Thessalonians 4

When a person only reads verse 17, which says “we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air”, and then tries to make a connection with the English wording in Matthew 24:39-40, it seems to suggest that the ones who remain actually meet the Saviour, and those who are “taken” actually go into destruction.

To have a correct understanding of what Paul was saying in the passage we should read the passage beginning with verse 13. When we do that what will immediately become clear is that Paul was encouraging believers not to lose hope when someone dies. In verse 15 he explained that at the time of the coming of Christ there will be two groups of people – those who died and those who will be alive at the time of Christ’s coming. Those who died will be raised with a changed body, and “we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord” will also be changed! So he says that there will be a group which will be alive, and will remain in this state of being alive (without tasting death) until the day of the coming of the Lord.

As well explained in the Cambridge English dictionary, the word “remain” has two meanings:

1) Remain means “to stay in the same place or in the same condition”. For example, his parents ordered him to remain at the house for a few weeks.

2) Remain also means “to continue to exist when other parts or other things no longer exist.

It should be very clear that the phrase “remain unto the coming of the Lord uses the word remain in the context of the second definition above. The word is not about a place but a state of being alive or dead!  We can therefore paraphrase the verse to read, “We which are alive and will continue to exist (or be alive) up to the time of the coming of the Lord…”

Before we analyse Matthew 24:39-40 let us read the same message of Christ as was recorded by Luke.

  • Looking at the record of Luke

In Luke 17 the Lord first mentions about Lot being taken out of Sodom before the destruction fell – “But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.” (Luk.17:29, cf. Gen.19:16). The Lord went further to say that it shall be so in that day when the Son of Man shall be revealed. And then he admonished: “Remember Lot’s wife” (v.32). Well, after telling them about Lot moving out of Sodom, what did he want the disciples to remember about Lot? Simply that at the time of the family being taken out of Sodom she remained because of her unbelief! It is from there that the Lord continued saying, “I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left” (v.35). In the context of the story of Lot and his wife, it is clear that the ones being taken out go into safety, and those remaining are left to destruction. Now, let’s move on and analyse the account in Matthew 24:39-40.

  • Understanding the word “taken” and “left” in Matthew 24.

Apart from reading a passage of Scripture in its context, to gain a correct understanding of words used in the Bible, looking up words in Hebrew or Greek (languages that were used to write Scripture) can be of great help. Matthew 24:39-40 reads “And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

In verse 39 the words  “took them all away” were translated from two Greek words – airo and hapas. Airo means to remove,  lift up or to keep in suspense as with what flood waters can do to a person. Hapas means everyone. So this speaks of a people being lifted up or blown away in suspense by flood waters. However, the phrase “shall be taken”, used in verse 40, has a different meaning:  The Greek word used is paralambano and means “to receive near” as in an intimate act or relation, or to “take with.” It does not suggest anything destructive.

The word “left” (in verse 40) in Greek is aphiemi and means to be in a state of being forsaken, omitted, put (or sent) away, or suffering. So, to suggest that those who are left in the wording of Jesus are the good people who will experience the goodness of God is grossly misleading!

  • “Wheresoever the body is…”

Finally let us look at what the Lord answered when he was asked by the disciples about where the people “taken”  will go –  “Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together” (Luk.17:36-37).

The question the disciples asked reveals that this wasn’t about being “taken” as in a flood! Consider this: if someone told you, “There will be a flood which will sweep across this place and may blow us away”, won’t it be preposterous to ask: “Where exactly will the flood take us?”

Now to suggest that those who are taken are unbelievers and are therefore likened to carcass to be eaten up by vultures (as was explained by the preacher I heard) would be incongruent with the thought portrayed by the words of the verse. The answer given by the Lord to the question of where the taken ones will go was – “wheresoever the body is [i.e. the place] thither will the eagles be gathered”. It should be clear here that the people being taken are represented by eagles (not the carcass!). So, contrary to the idea that they are taken into destruction, they are actually taken into a place where they will be feasting!