Stay spiritually sharp

English/Zulu

 

Deutsche (DE)
Française (FR)
русский (RU)

Michael Ngubane

It is our prayer that God will bless you wherever you are. There is a person who should be standing here: Reverend Stegen whom we love and miss. Rev Stegen, we pray that God will grant you everything you need. We hope that you will one day stand in this pulpit again if it is God’s will and that we will hear God’s word from your lips.

We are in the grave danger of becoming accustomed to God’s word and His speaking and we no longer take note of it. May God deliver us from that danger. Put everything else aside and listen attentively to God’s word and His speaking because I believe with all my heart that there is something God has in store for you today. May God be merciful that we will not fall asleep. God is in His place and we ought to always revere and fear Him and ensure that we do His will.

Let us examine ourselves to see how we walk before God while doing His will. It is so easy to get used to the word of God, saying we know it and when God speaks, we do not pay attention. Why? We are proud and haughty. We say that we do not need anything and that we know everything. We should not be spiritually blunt now. We cannot. We cannot afford to be unmindful of God’s speaking. We cannot just drift along and be unaware of what God’s will is for us. If you are in this state, you walk ignorantly and then you fall into unexpected danger. We cannot afford to be spiritually lukewarm for one moment. There should not be one moment when we are not on fire for God.

 

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[b] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[c] shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed[d] in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord![e] This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance[f] to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 16:13 – 24

This interaction between Jesus and one of His disciples is amazing. What was revealed to Peter when he was Simon Bar Jonah was not revealed by flesh and blood, it was a godly revelation. It is true that flesh will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Being carnal will not assist us concerning the things of God. Spiritual bluntness will cause us to lose out on so much that God has in store for us.

Peter was one of the many disciples of the Lord. Jesus was concerned about His disciples and He probed their hearts to see where they stood. He tested them to see whether they would stay true to Him or forsake Him? Forsaking Christ is not something that started today. Backsliding, going back into the world and back to your things, unfaithfulness and turning away from your calling, did not start today. Christ even met up with difficult things.

In this text Jesus speaks to the remnant of His disciples and asks them, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” At that time people had the belief that the spirit of the dead would return in another person’s body. Many believe this, even in Africa where many are bound in the occult. Even believers believe this - when someone dies their spirit returns in another person’s body. When people heard Christ speaking, they were reminded of the men of God. That is why they compared Him to those people, saying He was probably one of those men of God who had returned to the world. Jesus was aiming at something through this question. He wanted to reach the heart of the remnant, the 12 remaining disciples.

When Jesus was on earth, He fulfilled many roles: pastor, shepherd, saviour, redeemer, but sometimes he fulfilled the role of a lawyer. Lawyers ask many questions and place people under cross examination. They push you into a corner. If asked a question, they answer with another question. The power of Christ which gave Him all that wisdom, is still on Him today and it is through this which He saves and liberates us.

14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” You and I should also answer this question: Who do you say Jesus is? After their response, Jesus gets to the crux of the matter, and asks, “But who do you say that I am?” He was not really concerned about the others but about His disciples. What did they think? How did they see it? He is concerned about you and me - how do we see it? What does this remnant say, the few who are still with Him? He wanted to make sure that the few who were still with Him, were they truly with Him. In Capernaum Jesus performed many mighty miracles and people witnessed what He did. On one occasion He fed thousands from 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. But that which Jesus did was not enough – they forsook Him besides the remnant. Jesus wants to know from us, the few that have remained, who say we are His disciples – do we remain in truth or are we hypocrites? When so many left the Lord Jesus, He asked those who were still with Him, “What about you? Do you also want to leave?” He wanted to make sure that those who said they were still with Him, were they with Him in truth and were going to go with Him all the way?

At this time, Peter spoke these amazing words, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…” John 6:68. Lord, if we would leave You where would we go? What would we do? Where else can we go because You have the words of life. Peter got to the place where he was convinced that the One with the words of life was in front of him and that is where he, Peter had to be. Jesus gave them the liberty and said that they could leave as many others already had. Peter’s response was, “Never, how can we? You have the words of life. If we leave you, we will die. If we part from you, we shall never live. Where else can we go for the words of life are in You.”

This very same Peter faced another question. This Peter who had given such wonderful responses in the past that indicated he truly loved God: 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus responded to Peter: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. Faith comes by hearing but then by repenting, by accepting the word of God. Salvation comes by receiving the word of God when we hear it and the obeying the word of God, repenting and confessing our sin and turning to Christ.

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus responded, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. This is a divine revelation from the Heavenly Father. He said, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! No-one is as blessed as the one who has this revelation. You have received this revelation that I am not just an ordinary person from this world, but that I come from heaven, I am the Christ.” Jesus continued and said, 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Peter’s answer gave Jesus hope and encouragement that the work He came to do on earth and for which He had been sent, would not end but come to fruition although others had forsaken Him. We need those who have received the heavenly revelation. When Jesus saw this in Peter it gave Him hope.

Friends, we can never receive heavenly, divine revelations while we live carnal lives. We cannot expect God to reveal Himself to us while we live in our sin. We cannot receive that heavenly inheritance while we are still heirs of worldly things. Although we are in this world, that which is of heaven should be our daily bread. Although we are in this world, it ought to be obvious that we are not of the world but belong to heaven. It should be clear from your life and conduct that you are a child of God who has given his/her life to Christ.

Jesus rejoiced when He heard Peter’s answer and He spoke these amazing words: 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Peter, because you answered in this way, I am giving you a new name. You are no longer Simon son of Jonah but Peter and on this rock I will build my church. Jesus did not mean that He was going to build His church on the name of Peter. Jesus is the foundation of the church and it is on Him that the church is built. Peter’s answer caused Jesus to ‘promote’ him to a special position, where He had him a new name. In addition to that, Jesus gives Peter heavenly authority 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Imagine what must have happened inside of Peter when he heard these words. Imagine what Peter felt when he heard this answer? Such amazing words and truths from the Christ, the One revealed to him as the Christ, the Son of God.

Where are you? To what extent are you in contact with heaven, with the Christ, the Son of God? How is your communion with the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ? In what way can the Lord Jesus reveal Himself and entrust Himself to you and me? The Bible tells us that He did not entrust Himself to some who came to Him for He knew what was in their hearts. There are those who say, “I will cover it up and make sure that nobody knows about it.” But Jesus says, “No, never. The day will come when it will explode and be exposed to everyone.” There were those who acted as if they were close to the Lord Jesus. They followed Him but the Bible tells us that Jesus did not entrust Himself to them for He knew what was in their hearts.

When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts?” Luke 5:22 This text explains how Jesus knows what is in the heart of man. Jesus knew man’s thoughts even though some praised and spoke well of Him, He knew better because He could see their hearts. Do not tell yourself that there is something only you know about and nobody else. Jesus said that it will be revealed. The only way out for you is that you expose it yourself, before that day comes when you are exposed.

21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.  This was at the top of His mind – the reality of going to Jerusalem, suffering, dying and rising on the third day. It was something urgent. This consumed His mind, energy, everything, that He had to go to Jerusalem to fulfil that for which His heavenly Father had sent Him.

Peter heard what the Lord Jesus said but Peter’s response was “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” He even rebuked the Lord and said, “Lord, we cannot look on and see how you are killed, this shall never happen to you!” Jesus answered this man who had just been given the keys of the kingdom of heaven with the words, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” In such a short space of time, life was extinguished in Peter. The amazing revelation he had just had was dimmed. He does not understand what Jesus was saying. Jesus responded by saying, “I do not care what position or authority you have just been given, but right now, because of what you are saying, you are Satan to Me. I cannot call you anything else. I cannot compare you anything else. You are Satan to me right now! Get behind Me!”

This stirs and shakes one. The one who has just been given such amazing promises and authority in a short time becomes Satan. That is why I said that following Jesus costs every moment of the day. We must ensure that we are with Him and following Him. There should not be one moment that we leave Him. Jesus did not respond by saying, “You have followed Me for so long and given so many good answers so we will ignore what you have just said.” Why does Jesus call him Satan now? Because Peter did not see the very purpose for which Jesus came into the world. “Peter, I must go to Jerusalem because without that there is no salvation for you. Even if there would be, it would not be complete. I must go to Jerusalem. Peter, don’t be so short-sighted – look into eternity. Unless I go to Jerusalem, there is no salvation for mankind. Unless I go to Jerusalem, how will people ever be saved and set free? How will they ever get to know God? For that reason, I must go.”

Brethren, we need to be sharp, alert and fervent. There should be no moment where we are spiritually blunt, where we are slumbering and do not realise what God’s will is. Do you think that if you are wallowing in your sin you will receive any heavenly revelation? You are bound to the world. You are a slave to the things of the world. You only see things in a carnal way. You will be unable to grasp the things of God. When Jesus says something your response will be, “How can we allow it? How can we allow Jesus to be killed while we just look on?” You see things as man sees them. Jesus’ name should be sanctified and hallowed by our lives at any time of the day, through thick or thin, in good or bad times. Peter had to accept what Jesus said because Jesus was His master. What did Peter know?

Do you grasp what God says or do you see as man sees? Do we hear when our Lord speaks to us, or does it just pass you by – you do not understand it, it sounds like the speech of man. “Peter, you see things the way man sees them. You do not see things as God sees them.” It is so easy to see things through human eyes, through carnal eyes. It is easy to forsake the way of God because you see things carnally. It was evil for Peter to do it which is why Jesus called him a hindrance and a Satan. There could be many of us who are a hindrance, an obstacle to the working of Christ which is why His work is not continuing as it should. We are standing in His way. It is evil to live a lukewarm, Christian life because it is an obstacle and a hindrance in God’s way. It is evil to be spiritually blunt because that will hinder God from revealing His will to you. Peter, you are not only Satan to Me, you are a hindrance, an obstacle because the will of God cannot be fulfilled through these words of yours. It does not matter that just yesterday you received a revelation from God. It does not matter that just yesterday you were on fire for God. But through your present attitude you stand in God’s way.

Friend, tell me, at this very moment, where do you stand? Are you on fire for God? Are you red-hot and alert? Are you blunt and sleeping spiritually? Are the rivers of living water gushing from your life and overflowing in abundance, or is your spiritual life also in lockdown? When last did you hear the Lord Jesus speaking to you, reprimanding and rebuking you, saying, “Not like that. Don’t answer like that. Listen now, don’t answer.” You should obey when you hear. So many people answer when they should not. Many rush forward and do something when Jesus says that they should wait. Because of this they become an obstacle and a hindrance, a curse in God’s work through a moment of negligence and disobedience.

 

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. If we want to follow the Lord Jesus, there are things we must lose, things we must deny ourselves for the sake of Christ. We need to change our way of life. We need to change our conduct and what we are known for. The way to the Kingdom of Heaven does not go where we like it to. It goes according to God’s will. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. You must carry that cross day after day. You cannot take a holiday from carrying that cross. You must carry it every day. Every day you must be obedient to Christ. If you need to be rebuked and receive the rod of Christ, submit and receive it because it will help you. We need to deny ourselves for the sake of Christ, the Son of Man. Do you see how much it costs? It costs everything. It costs your life. The only thing that should be important is to do the will of your Father in heaven. Some think the Kingdom of Heaven is cheap and easily received. They think they can pay their way. If you think in this manner you will perish with your money.

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 16:25 If you want to walk the way of God then it is the cross. You need to humble and deny yourself. You cannot do it your own way. You cannot do it according to your own will by defending and excusing your sin. Do not always blame it on others and say that you fell into sin for that reason and because of that person. Admit your sin and repent. Stop defending and excusing yourself. Stop trying to paint it in a way that it does not look as bad or as serious as it really is. Submit to God. Confess and admit your evil. God is holy and for that reason we cannot just walk and live in any fashion. We need to sanctify and keep holy the name of God.

How are you living before God? Are you trying to please man or God? Do not stand in the way of Jesus on His way to Jerusalem. Do not hinder Him from preparing and accomplishing our full salvation. For if Jesus had never gone to Jerusalem there would be no salvation, no forgiveness of sin. This consumed Him – I must go to Jerusalem. I must accomplish the salvation of mankind there. Get out of His way and submit to His will.

 

Conclusion Albu van Eeden

Peter’s revelation was an exceptionally deep revelation from God. Those who said that Jesus was Elijah, Jeremiah or John the Baptist, were people of faith who believed the promises of the Old Testament.

There are those who are born into the world and their lives are directed by it. They belong to the devil. They are on the broad way. Their role models are from the world. Their clothes are fashionably worldly. If such a person would be faced with an obvious temptation such as a half-naked girl, he would be enticed by it. Peter, however, went a level deeper with the Lord and had a deeper revelation from God - that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

We are living in a time when people receive deeper revelations from Satan - how to serve him and sin. A person might be in a situation such as the workplace, where sex would not cross anyone’s mind. The devil gives that person revelations of the most sick and perverse things that can be done in the workplace – things that nobody would ever dream of. For example, a father at home with his family will receive revelations from Satan to do the sickest things with his children that you can imagine. What does this reveal? That the person is walking on a deeper level with Satan than the average man. Satan gives special revelations in the most impossible places – where a person will have revelations of sex in public toilets or weird places. It is sickening.

If you receive a revelation to suddenly steal a large amount of money at work - it’s like a revelation, “Why didn’t I think of it? I can take thousands if I do this and this and I won’t be caught!” The devil is revealing himself to you in a special way just as God was revealing Himself to Peter in a special way.

The world around us is populated with people who receive the sickest revelations from Satan imaginable. Sex with another man’s wife in places one would never dream of. You have a special place in Satan’s kingdom because he is giving you special revelations. May God be merciful to you that you will flee from that to God because you are in grave, grave danger in the hands of Satan.

Virtual Parents’ Conference 6 – 10 August.