Believers Whose Blood is Heavy

Mark Renfroe

I once attended a seminar where one speaker was a pastor who had lived through horrific trials while serving the church. Looking around the room at the faces of the ministers and leaders listening to him, you could see his story was impacting them. Everyone was listening closely because how could you not? This man had known some tremendous suffering. We learned an Arabic expression for someone like this during our time of missionary service in the Middle East; it’s “Dammu ti’iil” or “His blood is heavy.” People say it about someone who has walked through great hardship and, as a result, whose opinions matter.

When we say ‘orthodoxy,’ we simply mean right beliefs. The word ‘doxa’ in the original Greek, however, originally meant a simple opinion. It was suffering that made the opinion matter. Because the apostles suffered greatly for what they knew to be true, their orthodoxy had great weight.

However, I don’t want people to assume that any kind of hardship gives our opinions greater significance. The suffering of Jonah in the Old Testament and Paul in the New Testament is different. Jonah was suffering for his sin when he deliberately ran in the opposite direction from God’s command. Paul’s suffering was for obeying God’s command to spread the gospel to the Gentile world.

Here's a quick way to tell the difference between those two different types of suffering. God’s grace received should produce grace in us for others. If it doesn’t, we probably  haven’t processed our sin appropriately with God. When we understand what God has done for us in Christ, we should be profoundly grateful and humbled, and that should overflow into the lives of those around us.

For example, God commanded Jonah to preach his message to the Ninevites. Jonah disobeyed, suffered in the belly of a fish, and then experienced grace when he was vomited up on the shore. None of this seemed to give him more compassion for the Ninevites. He was still bitter when God didn’t destroy them, despite the fact that God had graciously spared Jonah too.

On the other hand, Jesus spoke to Paul, and he immediately submitted himself to God’s will. He suffered beatings, persecution and ultimately death at the hands of the very people he was taking the gospel to, but this never dimmed his grace for them and determination to reach them with news about Christ. His letters to the church carry great weight because his suffering was a testament to the gospel’s importance. His sufferings also communicated clearly to those early disciples just how much he loved them.

May each one of us suffer for the right reasons. May our beliefs have heft to them because our dedication has cost us, and more importantly, him dearly. 

Mark Renfroe and his wife, Amy, have been involved in field missions work for 30 years. Mark served as the area director for Assemblies of God World Missions and currently serves as the chief missions officer for World Challenge.

Knowing the Lord’s Mind and Will

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

“Lord, you have heard the desire of the humble; you will prepare their heart; you will cause your ear to hear” (Psalm 10:17, NKJV).

In this verse, David outlines a simple three-step plan for knowing the Lord’s mind and will for your life.
1.     Petition him (pray)
2.     Prepare your heart to hear his voice
3.     He will cause you to know (the Holy Spirit will speak to you)

Very soon, God is going to pour out the greatest measure of his Spirit the world has ever seen. Holy Spirit conviction will come upon your neighbors, coworkers and unsaved family members. People everywhere are going to be hurting. They’ll turn from their dead churches and desperately look for someone who knows God.

God will use ordinary servants for his end-time work of people-to-people ministry. Are you preparing your heart right now for his work to be done, both in you and through you?

I urge you to pray earnestly and dive into God’s Word every day. There is revolutionary power in the preparation of your heart. It is through this preparation that you will find meaning and fulfillment in your life. Your feelings and temperament will change, and power will be released in you. When God sees you are ready, he will bring you many opportunities to do his work. You won’t even have to leave your house; God will bring the needs right to your door!

The mighty God we serve is preparing his people for his greatest work. “The Lord shall go forth like a mighty man; he shall stir up his zeal like a man of war. He shall cry out, yes, shout aloud; he shall prevail against his enemies” (Isaiah 42:13). Prepare your heart to meet him! Become a ready servant, equipped and prepared for his final outpouring, and his glory will come alive in you.

More than Preaching and Teaching

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

I believe the gospel should be accompanied by the power and demonstration of the Holy Ghost, working wonders and proving the gospel is true.

Paul boldly stated, “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4, NKJV). The Greek here means “with proof.” Paul was saying, “I preach the gospel with proof. God and the Holy Spirit are backing me up with signs and wonders.” Hebrews says that God did confirm Paul’s message. “God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will” (Hebrews 2:4). 

The New Testament believers had one prayer: “That signs and wonders may be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus” (Acts 4:30). These apostles went everywhere fully preaching the gospel. “Many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (Acts 2:43). “And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. …And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women” (Acts 5: 12,14).

Here is one of the most conclusive of all verses proving that a fully preached gospel must include the evidence: “They stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands” (Acts 14:3). The apostles first ministered for a long time, preaching grace and repentance. God then allowed signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

God’s last-day believers will go “out and [preach] everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Mark 16:20). That is what God envisions for us.

The miracles will be genuine, indisputable, undeniable, and yet they won’t be well known. Instead, they’ll come from the hands of ordinary, holy, separated people who know God and are intimate with Jesus.

This small, prepared army of faith will emerge from the secret closet of prayer with no other desire than to do the will of God and glorify him. They will be fearless and powerful in prayer. They will open entire nations for the gospel, and God will confirm his word through their actions.

The “Fully Preached” Gospel

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

The apostle Paul said to his generation, “I have fully preached the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:19, NKJV), and he described the “fully preached” gospel as one of words and deeds. “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed. In mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel” (Romans 15:18-19).

If Paul had preached and taught without signs and wonders following, his message would not have had its full impact. He said to the Corinthians, “Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds” (2 Corinthians 12:12).

Note Paul’s words in this verse: signs, wonders, mighty deeds. Most Christians today cringe when they hear these words. Why? Because the words have been given a watered-down spin by unscrupulous preachers and teachers. The great tragedy is that this has caused many God-fearing pastors, evangelists and laypeople to turn away from the truth of a fully preached gospel.

Beloved, God is still God, and he still works miracles. He is still our healer, and he wants to show himself strong on behalf of those who trust in him. Supernatural events took place in the New Testament church without any perversions, without advertising, showmanship or any person claiming all the credit. 

The ministry of Paul is an example. At Troas, while Paul was preaching a long message, a young man fell asleep while sitting on a windowsill and fell three stories to the ground. The Bible says the young man was “taken up dead” (see Acts 20:9-12). When Paul got to where the boy was, he quieted everyone. Then he lifted up the body, and suddenly life came back into the young man. The boy had been raised from the dead. What a mighty miracle!

After this happened, Paul didn’t send everyone out to spread the news that a miracle had taken place. No, everyone simply went back to the third floor, took communion, and Paul continued preaching. Scripture doesn’t mention the young man again. Why? Because the church expected supernatural works to happen! They preached a full gospel with signs and wonders following.

The Last-day Church

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

I believe God’s vision for his last-day church is based on his revealed Word. The Bible clearly outlines what the church of Jesus Christ will be like just before he returns.

The church in America is far from what God envisioned it to be. For the most part, entire denominations today operate without the Holy Spirit. They are devoid of the presence of Jesus and bankrupt of spiritual gifts. They practice a form of religion without any power, conviction or saving message. They are cozy with the world and are more political than spiritual. They appease sin and ridicule the supernatural without teaching about heaven, hell, repentance and judgment.

The New Testament believers made devils tremble. They prayed prison doors open and made rulers cringe in fear. They believed in the supernatural; they opened blind eyes, unstopped deaf ears and healed all manner of diseases. They even raised the dead!

I believe that God’s last-day church will be even greater than the first-century church. It will be stronger with a greater understanding of Jesus. God always saves his best wine for last. The prophet Daniel confirms this. He said that certain prophetic truths were locked up, only to be revealed in the last days. “For the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. …And none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand” (Daniel 12:9-10, NKJV).

Today the Holy Spirit is revealing these things to spiritual, discerning believers. “It is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love him.’ But God has revealed them to us through his Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

The Lord is preparing a humble yet powerful army of shepherds after his own heart and a church of hungry sheep who have turned away from the deadness and sin of the modern church. The scene is being set for that church which will be hot, not lukewarm; and it will rock the very foundations of hell. No power on earth will be able to ignore or despise it.