The Prophetic Word of the Cross

Saint-Paul-Preaching-At-Ephesus“…. no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” -2 Pet. 1.21

In Brennan Manning’s book, The Signature of Jesus, he gives us these staggering thoughts:

The prophetic word unfailingly summons the Church back to the purity of the Gospel and to the scandal of the cross. In his numerous letters Paul confirms that to follow Jesus is to take the high road to Calvary. Littered along the Calvary road will lie the skeletons of our egos, the corpses of our fantasies of control, and the shards of self-righteousness, self-indulgent spirituality, and unfreedom.

The Church that is worthy of the Name is a band of people in which the love of God has broken the spell of demons and false gods and which is now making a dent in the world.

I long for passion, intelligence, and compassion in a church without ostentation, gently beckoning to the world to come and enjoy the peace and unity we possess because of the Spirit in our midst.
…. The signature of Jesus, the Cross, is the ultimate expression of God’s love for the world. The Church is the Church of the crucified, risen Christ only when it is stamped with His signature, only when it faces outward and moves with Him along the way of the Cross. Turned inward upon itself in bickering and theological hair-splitting, it loses its identity and its mission.

…. what separates the committed from the uncommitted is the depth and quality of our love for Jesus Christ. The superficial build bigger barns in the euphoria of the prosperity Gospel; the trendy follow the latest fad and try to hum their way to heaven; the defeated are haunted by ghosts from the past.

And the victorious minority, unintimidated by the cultural patterns of the lock-stepping majority, celebrate as though He were near, near in time, near in place, the Witness of our motives, our speech, our behavior. As indeed He is.

(Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus; Multonomah Publishing, 1988; pp. 7-8)

I have some questions that Manning’s statements have quickened:

Has the Church truly experienced the prophetic word of the Gospel if “egos,” “fantasies of control,” “self-righteousness, self-indulgent spirituality, and unfreedom” are still prevalent in our lives?

Are we “a band of people in which the love of God has broken the spell of demons and false gods and which is now making a dent in the world?”

Have we got a holy “passion?” A godly “intelligence?” Are we a Church “without ostentation” or presumption, “gently beckoning the world to come and enjoy the peace and unity we possess because of the Spirit in our midst?

Are we facing “outward” and moving “with Him along the way of the Cross?”

Are we tied up with “bickering and theological hair-splitting?”

Are we “superficial,” having given in to the “euphoria of the prosperity gospel?” Are we “trendy,” having followed the latest worldly or Christian fads? Are we “defeated,” being “haunted by ghosts from the past,” or are we receiving fresh grace through daily communion?

The “victorious minority,” as Manning calls them, are “unintimidated” by “cultural patterns.” They are not moved by what men assume, insist, or conclude. The radical disciples of Jesus Christ are not tied up with the superficial, moved by the trendy, or defeated by the lies of the enemy. They are living a life of celebration, “as though He were near, near in time, near in place, the Witness of our motives, our speech, our behavior.”

Those who have received the prophetic word of the cross have been crucified to the spirit of this age, and made alive to the Kingdom and Age which is to come, and which has already broken into history through the Man, Christ Jesus. The prophetic word of the cross simultaneously requires an utterness of surrender and death, while freely offering the fullness of life and joy. Have we received that word, or have we settled down into something far less glorious? Open up the Scriptures today, dear saint. Therein you will find the prophetic word of the cross, and when you find it, receive it into your innermost parts.

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