Not Offended by the Cross

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Matthew tells us Christ wanted to give his disciples a profound illustrated sermon. He called a little child to him and took the youngster in his arms. He then told them, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in my name receives me” (Matthew 18:3-5, NKJV).

In these verses, Jesus lays out the kind of relationship he desires with his people. Christ was telling these men, “Look at this child. Here is my future church. This young one represents every new believer who’s going to come to me in childlike faith. You must quickly turn away from your thoughts about how to become special in my kingdom through your own works.”

Next, Jesus called for his disciples to humble themselves. He was telling them, “I’m building my church on you. If you want any part of it, you must become as humble as this little child I’m holding in my arms.” I believe he’s asking us for two things: repudiation of all self-dependency and an uncomplicated devotion. These traits will characterize us as true kingdom servants.

Christ also told his disciples very directly, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” (Matthew 18:6-7).

Jesus was expressing his wrath toward those who teach that the cross is not sufficient to save. He was warning his own disciples not to be offended by the cross.

Likewise, Jesus is telling the church today, “Woe to any teacher or witness who puts a stumbling block before any of these baby converts. They come to me in simple faith and repentance. You will incur my wrath if you offend them by saying, ‘Jesus is not enough. If you really want to be saved, you must do more. Here are the specific doctrines and guidelines of our church...’” We must all accept the fact that Christ alone is full payment for our sins.

Words That Taste Like Honey

Gary Wilkerson

What is the most important gift that we can really give to anyone else? I’d say time. Time and attention. This is especially true in a culture where a cell phone is always out in front of us or on the table while we’re eating.

What would happen if we all made a commitment to never put our phones on the table while we’re having lunch or dinner with somebody? What if we kept it in our pocket or purse? What if we weren’t on our phones when we’re with a group of people?  Let’s pay attention to other people and be intentional about giving our time and consideration to others.

You’re giving them your time, and then you are giving them your trust. You’re giving them the three T’s: time, trust and talk. The Bible says, “The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips. Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Proverbs 16:23-24, ESV). We can be an incredible blessing to people with our words, but we often lose sight of that gift we can give others.

We live in a society today that’s really awful at asking questions. Usually when two people are sitting together over a meal, one person says, “I did this. I’m doing this. I’m going here.” The other person responds, “Oh yeah, I’m also doing that. I’m traveling there...” It’s like you could’ve looked in the mirror and talked to yourself because you were just reporting your own stuff. So often, people aren’t really listening; they’re just waiting to talk about themselves and their thoughts and plans.  We all want to be heard, but very few of us want to listen.

You can’t truly listen to someone else without being curious. You can’t give someone your time unless you’re curious. You can’t be curious about people’s lives unless you love them. What’s more, scripture says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).

A lot of people today are desperate for even one true relationship. The mark of God’s love in our lives is when we start developing real relationships with others. Let’s start loving people by giving them our time and full attention.

After God Says, “Go!”

Tim Dilena

I was between semesters at Baylor University, when Gary and David Wilkerson said to me, "Hey, you want to go to Detroit to be part of a church that Gary is starting?" It was the start of a two-month commitment to go to Detroit that literally changed my life.

Every week, a van would drop us off in the worst part of Detroit and leave us, so we would be there ministering. Then Gary came to me and said, "Every Thursday night, you're going to lead a Bible study in a prostitution hotel called Medtown Motel.”

Now you have to understand that I was born and raised in the church. My mother almost had me while singing soprano in the Christmas cantata at church. I was born a few days later on December 22nd, and I was raised in a Pentecostal church. I've been to every church camp. I've been in every youth group. I’ve never smoked in my life. I've never drank in my life. I've never been high in my life. I was a virgin until the day I got married. So I'm sitting there in this prostitution hotel, and I just felt, “I’ve got nothing.”

Well, what I thought was only going to be two months ended up being the next 30 years of my life. We bought a 900-seat XXX movie theater in another part of Detroit and started a church there. That first night sitting in the Medtown Motel, though, I had no idea how God was going to use me.

Maybe you’ve felt like God said, "Go," and now you're thinking to yourself, "What in the world is going on? God, did you come with me? Or are you still back at the burning bush?”

I love what Rick Warren said about moments like these: "The teacher is always silent when the test is given." When God is silent, there's a test that's happening. There are certain things we can only see about the nature and character of God when our situation is a mystery. There's something powerful that we begin to understand about God when he almost seems to be even absent. In the silence and the mystery, you can be at the very center of God's will.

After pastoring an inner-city congregation in Detroit for thirty years, Pastor Tim served at Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC for five years and pastored in Lafayette, Louisiana, for five years. He became Senior Pastor of Times Square Church in May of 2020.

Putting on Our New Selves

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

God has sworn by an oath to give us a new heart, one that is inclined to obey. God promises us not only to give us this new heart, but to write his commands on our hearts. In other words, he promises to cause us to know him.

God told his people about this incredible work he would do in the Old Testament. He said, “Then I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart” (Jeremiah 24:7, NKJV), and “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).

The Holy Spirit is the one who accomplishes this work in us. He teaches us about the Father’s nature and way; and in the process, he transforms us into Christ’s divine image. Our Lord promises, “No matter what I demand of you, I will supply you with all the power you need to accomplish it. I won’t ask anything of you for which I have not made provision.”

Today, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead now abides in us. God’s own Spirit is alive in us, providing power over the enemy. As Paul said, “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:9-10). When the devil comes flooding into your soul, enticing you toward an old lust, call upon the Holy Ghost. Listen to his every whisper, and obey his every command. If you are prepared to do whatever he empowers you to do, he won’t withhold his word from you.

You can move out of the old life and into the new in a single leap. It happens when you see how impossible it is for you to overcome sin by your own human efforts. Our faithful God has sworn to give the Holy Ghost to all believers who ask, and he will accomplish in you what the Lord has promised by oath. Finally, abandon yourself totally to God and his promises. He will renew and transform you into his image.

Receive the Lord’s Promises!

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

God has given us many wonderful promises that he will break every bond of sin, empower us to defeat all dominion of sin, give us a new heart, cleanse and sanctify us, and ultimately conform us to the very image of Christ. His Word assures us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18, NKJV).

God does all of these things for us only in his time, according to his divine schedule. He has no deadlines pushing him. He ignores all demands for an instant cure-all. In short, true faith on our part demands that we patiently wait on our Lord. Our response to him should be “Lord, I believe you’re true to your Word. By the power of your Spirit within me, I’m going to wait patiently until you bring these things to pass in my life. My part is to remain in faith, waiting on you.”

You may endure awful trials and temptations. You may hear horrendous lies whispered to you by Satan. At times, you may fail. In fact, you may wonder if you’ll ever reach the goal. As you’re enduring all these afflictions, you must simply hold onto faith with patience and trust that God is at work. If you believe that he is keeping his Word and being your Jehovah Tsidkenu, he will look on you as a faithful child. He has sworn by oath, “By faith, you will receive the promise.”

The Bible could not make this any clearer. “Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Simply put, unbelief is doubting God will do what he promises. We must believe the promises of God, being fully persuaded he’ll keep his word. “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever” (Jude 1:24-25).