The Day Of Small Beginnings
The New Covenant Message
When we first started gathering together as a church, we did not know victory either in our personal lives or in our home lives. When we looked at other believers, we found that they too were in the same condition. So we could not turn to any of them for help. So we fasted and prayed frequently as a church and sought God for an answer. We spent most of the public holidays in fasting and prayer. Gradually God began to reveal truths to us about the new covenant from His Word that we had never known before. As we began to understand these truths, we became more and more liberated and our lives and our homes were gradually transformed.
I felt a responsibility then to proclaim these truths to others. It became clear to me that God was calling me to emphasize those truths in the Bible that other Christians were not preaching. So I listened carefully to what others around me were teaching. Thus I discovered what I was called to emphasize in my teaching ministry.
The Full Gospel: I heard some preachers using the expression the full gospel. But when I compared what they taught with Scripture, I found that they were not preaching the full gospel at all. In Hebrews 4 the Holy Spirit describes the gospel (verse 2), as entering into Canaan and not just coming out of Egypt. I also read there that Gods people were to enter into a Sabbath rest of victory (verse 9). So I saw that the message of forgiveness of sins was only half the gospel. The full gospel included overcoming sin as well (slaying the giants in our flesh). As such a life gradually became a reality to me, I began to preach the full gospel.
Repentance. Most evangelists were preaching faith in Christ as the only requirement for forgiveness of sins. Repentance from sin was hardly being preached at all. And even where repentance was mentioned, the root of sin was not being clearly defined as selfishness, self-centredness and wanting ones own way. So people did not know what exactly they had to hate and what they had to turn away from. I saw that my calling was to explain the root of sin clearly so that everyone would know what they had to repent of.
Discipleship: Most converts were not being taught that they had also to become disciples of Christ. The three conditions of discipleship (that Jesus laid down) were not being explained: (1) Loving Jesus supremely (above all family members); (2) taking up the cross (dying to Self) daily; and (3) forsaking all that we possessed (not being attached to material possessions) (Lk.14:26-33).This therefore became a major emphasis in my preaching.
The Baptism In The Holy Spirit. Almost every group that preached the baptism in the Holy Spirit taught that its initial evidence was speaking in tongues. But I saw that most of those who taught this were worldly-minded and lovers of money. At the other extreme, I saw some believers who were convinced that all speaking in tongues was from the devil!! But Jesus taught that the evidence of the baptism in the Spirit would be power power to BE His witnesses (referring to the way we lived) and not merely to bear witness (by what we spoke) (Acts 1:8). And so, I proclaimed that. Speaking in tongues was only one of the gifts of the Spirit that He gave to some. Because of my stand on this issue, the Pentecostal folk labeled me as Brethren. And the Brethren folk labeled me as Pentecostal!! I was quite happy to be equidistant from both these extremes.
Mercy And Grace. For many years as a believer, I had considered mercy and grace to be the same thing. But I discovered one day that mercy referred primarily to the forgiveness of sins, whereas grace referred to the power that God gave us to overcome sin and the trials of life (Heb.4:16; Rom.6:14; 2 Cor.12:9). And this grace came through Christ (Jn.1:17) and became available only after the Holy Spirit came to indwell man on the day of Pentecost. This also became a major part of my message.
The Humanity of Christ. While all Christians worshipped Christ as God very few emphasized that He was also a Man whose example we could follow. Some who did emphasize His humanity denied that He was God when He was on earth. It was rare to find Christians who proclaimed the balanced Scriptural view that Christ was fully God and fully Man. But I saw that the secret of living a godly life lay in seeing Christ having overcome sin as a Man (1 Tim.3:16; Heb.4:15,16). This too became a major emphasis in my preaching.
Money: When we started our work in 1975, the prosperity gospel (that we hear so much of today) was not in vogue. But Christians still loved money just as they do today. Jesus taught that those who loved money hated God (Lk.16:13). But I never heard a single preacher preach this message. Most churches only taught their members to pay their tithes. But tithing was part of the old-covenant law that had been abolished in Christ. I preached the liberating new covenant message of giving joyfully, secretly and voluntarily to the Lord. Another thing I saw was that hardly any church in India (that I knew of) preached strongly against the evil practice of asking for a dowry in marriages a practice that degraded women all over India. I preached strongly against this evil practice; and when conducting weddings, took signed certificates from both the bride and the bridegroom that stated that no money had been exchanged between them or between their parents.
Soul And Spirit. This was another subject that was not being preached. In Old Testament times, there was no clear revelation on the difference between mans soul and his spirit. But the New Testament makes a clear distinction between the two (Heb.4:12). Since most Christians did not know this distinction clearly, they were being deceived by the psychological gimmicks of clever preachers and by emotional counterfeits of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. So I taught people the difference between what is truly spiritual; and what is merely soulish.
The Local Body of Christ. I saw clearly that the final goal of God was to make all His children into one Body in Christ. The New Testament church was to be a Body and not a congregation. In a Body (as in the human body), every member would be connected to the other members and each would have a unique function. Christ alone would be the Head and all the others would be equal members. I saw that this was the type of church that God wanted to see in every locality on earth. And so I decided to spend my life building such expressions of Christs Body wherever possible on earth.
The New Covenant. All these truths were related to the new covenant that God had made with man through the death and resurrection of Christ. I saw that the greatest need among believers was for their eyes to be opened to see the greater glory of the new covenant compared to the old covenant. This therefore became the major thrust of all my preaching and it continues to be so.