In considering the term “Faithful Fools”, from my last writing, we look to I Corinthians 1:26-30. This passages ends with God’s reason for choosing the “foolish”, the “weak”, the “ignoble”, the “base”, and the “despised things” of the world: “that no flesh should glory in His sight” (vs. 29), and that “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD”.
God chooses to do supernatural and extraordinary stuff through humans, that by all accounts are not counted on to do very much. In II Corinthians 4:7 the word of God further illuminates how our God accomplishes His task in us.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power would be of God and not of us”
When referring to the phrase “the excellence of the power” we understand this to be the unmistakable superabundant and beyond measure miracle power of Almighty God, by the Holy Spirit— who works Gods glory through those, willing to lay down their lives for Jesus Christ. Further magnifying “the excellence of the power” in “Faithful Fools” is the press of trial that squeezes out more revelation glory for our great God and Savior as II Corinthians 4:7-12…
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you.”
God does not work this ministry through us because He is a shameless glory hound, but because of His great love. In this love He reveals His marvelous mercy, through the message of the cross, that others may come into union with Him; for the only place of true satisfaction is in knowing Jesus Christ and receiving the love of God the Father. In order for the perishing to have this revelation, they must see God’s inestimable power, riches and love, through the redeemed—who are called to be “Faithful Fools”.
Since our Lord Jesus ascended into heaven, God has done very little in the way of revealing His glory, without “Faithful Fools”. In fact, as it says he has chosen them for this specific purpose. Remember this is not because he needs us, but because He has chosen this way to humble the noble, proud and arrogant of this world. In light of this it is important we examine how “the excellence of His power” works in us. Let is consider Ephesians 3:20.
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above what we ask or think, according to the power that works in us”.
God’s working in our lives to reveal His glory comes from “the power that works in us”. This not necessarily in reference to the Spirit of God dwelling with us, being regenerated and sealed by the Holy Spirit when redeemed. Some would conjecture this point, but we must consider the context of the verse, which is at the end of a larger passage, with a specific message. In that passage, Paul is praying for the Ephesians to be “filled with all the fullness of God” (3:19). Later in the letter Paul instructs the Ephesians to be (be being) filled with the Holy Spirit (5:18). Why one may ask? Because they were redeemed, but not being continually filled with the Holy Spirit, which was a problem they encountered from the beginnings of their faith (Acts 19:2-7).
The problem with their not encountering the fullness of the Holy Spirit came down to the issue of love. From Ephesians 3:16-17 we see why they lacked.
“16that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,”
- They lacked the fullness of the Holy Spirit
“17that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;”
- They were struggling to submit to Christ’s inward power and authority
“17that you, being rooted and grounded in love,”
- They were therefore missing the blessing of Christ’s love for them.
“18may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge;”
- Instead of seeking sole devotion to Christ, being overwhelmed by His immeasurable love, they were giving devotion elsewhere.
When looking further down the line in the N.T., Revelation 2 reveals their lack very clearly, as Jesus commended their ministry, but rebuked them for leaving their first love. For all that church had in the way of good ministry; it was largely useless, not being amplified by “the excellence of the power”, because in leaving “their first love” (sole devotion to Jesus), they became separated the Source of the power.
As we have discovered that ministry is largely ineffective when we are not operating in the “excellence of the power”, let’s consider some of the areas affected when we leave our first love and are disconnected from the Source of that power.
(CONVICTION, MIRACULOUS SIGNS, SANCTIFICATION, DISCIPLESHIP)
Most of those who would follow the Lord Jesus know that the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, judgment and righteousness (John 16:8-11). Few of us question how He does the convicting. We must not lazily allow for the idea that Holy Spirit floats around disembodied smacking the lost around, until they get the truth. Biblically we understand it take a preacher or preachers or simply people whom the Lord works in, to give the word. Consider for a moment that when John the Baptist came (a man filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb), all of Jerusalem and Judea went out to get wet and repent of their sins. Nothing had happened like that in over four hundred years. Why? No man filled with the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus was baptized, he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Note he did not preaching or do miracles beforehand. Why? Even though fully God, He did only what He was commanded to, by the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let us look at the apostles. Did Jesus not breathe on them and say “received the Holy Spirit” in John 20:22? So why did they not go out and begin ministry as soon as He ascended? Because although they were sealed by the Holy Spirit and able to understand the word of God by the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:45), Jesus told them they needed to be “endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49) and “baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4, 8).
When looking at the results in Acts of the Apostles, in just chapters 2 and 3, we can see the results of the Holy Spirit CONVICTING of SIN, through eye opening MIRACLES of power (tongues, healing and the transformed humanity of “Faithful Fools”).
It is important to remember a key essential in conviction: the transformed life of the messenger or what the bible calls SANCTIFICATION. In light of this consider that God called us to preach the Gospel in power; not just to cleanse our account of sin, but to cleanse our real times lives of the power of sin as well. It is for this reason, when God calls us to “be holy, as I am holy” we ought not to panic. Sanctification simply is realizing who we are in Christ, and living this identity empowered by the Holy Spirit, as we obey the word of God. As we choose to obey the word of God, the Holy Spirit leads us into new life and practice. Without this new life and practice, “by the excellence of the power”, our preaching would be hypocritical; a cruel call to something we would be incapable of accomplishing. Therefore, the testimony of the changed life of “Faithful Fools” is essential in the conviction of sinners. Is this why we see so little conviction in our efforts to proclaim the Gospel?
Yet this same area of sanctification is essential in real and lasting DICIPLESHIP. The results of which are far reaching…
(1 Thessalonians 1:5-7) For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of us and of the Lord…
In the above passage we see that need for the “excellence of the power” of God, in the making of disciples. In Thessalonica, not only did they experience conviction of sin, judgment and righteousness, but they also saw men living in the power of the Holy Spirit. We see it was the word of God, the spirit of God and the life of servants of God. Discipleship needs Christ-like lives, empowered by the Holy Spirit. Without this essential element, the most first rate bible instruction will produce little. Is this a reason why so many Christians in our land, live so such a low quality Christian witness? We must choose whether we will be “Faithful Fools”. We must decide whether we are Hi-Fi or Low-Fi believers. Let me explain.
Are you Hi-FI or LO-FI?
In the realm of sound quality there are two simple designations, which are HI-FI and LOW-FI. The “FI” in HI-FI, stands for “fidelity”. Yes this is a word used to speak of faithfulness in marriages, and we could in this case declare that “Faithful Fools” need to be “HI(ly)” faithful. But this designation goes much deeper, in being analogous to stereo sound.
HI-FI sound is high quality sound, because of the authentic and consistent sound reproduction, concerning its signal. A HI-FI recording is one, which captures the music in a highly consistent and highly authentic way in relation to its original production. The music received is clear and crisp and sounds much like if the artist were playing it live. LO-FI, by contrast is fuzzy, and static laden at times. It is not a faithful reproduction of the original production of the music.
How this concerns “Faithful Fools” is that we are called to be HI-FI reproductions of the life of Christ. This means we are to authentically and consistently manifest the life of Jesus in our mortal flesh. This is possible as the N.T attests to in several places and we already know where the power comes from (the excellence of the power). Yet we live in a Christian culture where we justify a LO-FI Christian life. This manifestation reproduces little if any of the Christ life to be seen and encountered; therefore our witness has largely become irrelevant to this nation and culture.
The question is what does the Lord Jesus expect? He expects… “The servant is not above his Master”… If anyone will come after Me let Him deny himself, take up His cross and follow Me”. Yet I John 4:17 says it clearly.
“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.”
If we would be HI-FI believers we must plug in “to the excellence of the power”. In order to do that, we must examine if Jesus truly is the center and circumference of our lives. If we find we are lacking desire to walk as we were redeemed to be, we must get to the point, deny ourselves, take up our cross, follow Him. The only other option is a LO-FI life of frustration and little glory and praise for our Great god and Savior. Where will you plug in?