TD Jakes — Fit For The Fight
Grace and peace to all the saints of God. Brothers and sisters, ladies and gentlemen, it is time to go into the Word of God. I am Bishop T.D. Jakes, the senior pastor of The Potter's House. I greet you with Jesus' joy. I know you're in a fight right now. So am I.
As Christians we're not in a physical fight, but we're fighting for the faith that we might earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered unto the saints. It's a mandate of the Scriptures. The question is, are you fit for the fight? The message today will challenge your fitness, your routine, your ability to withstand the opposition around you. Fit for the Fight, let's take a look.
The early church was in a fight. I didn't really realize it when I was young and preachin'. I didn't really realize the climate of the early church. I didn't really realize the circumstances of the early church. The early church is like a bunch of associate pastors having to come together and take over in the absence of the senior pastor. They were attracted to the senior pastor. These boys had been support to the senior pastor, Pastor Jesus.
Pastor Jesus is now gone. It's one thing to support somebody, and it's another thing to replace. And so there's all of these issues goin' on that happen in people when they are under pressure, pressure to perform, pressure to maintain, pressure to survive, pressure to continue the ministry of Jesus Christ. It was tough, real tough, tough because people didn't perceive them the way they perceived Jesus, tough because there was internal bickering amongst them as to what is right and wrong, tough because other apostles begin to appear who were not mentored by Jesus.
There was Saul, the Christian killer, had become converted and now was considered an apostle, and though, you know when somebody comes in outside of the clique. And, see, every institution becomes a culture, develops a culture, and when outside people come in, they are an immigrant coming into a preexisting society. And all immigrants are not received correctly, not even in church.
You can move from one church to another and think you're gonna resume the same position and power. It's not true because you have to be scrutinized for a while because they don't know you like that. They didn't know whether to receive him or reject him. They didn't know whether to accept him or to walk away from him, and all of a sudden he rises with such power, and everybody's talkin'.
More is written about the Apostle Paul than all of the 12 disciples combined, and you know how people are when they start writin' about somebody and it's not you. And then there was the variance of ideologies about faith, and they had all of these different ideas. And Paul is now converted, and he's now come to Christ, and he's now ministering.
He's now preaching, and he's now teaching. And he's focusing largely on the Gentiles, and he is preaching a type of grace that was shocking, shocking to preach such grace. Paul preached radical grace, ridiculous grace, flamboyant grace. Paul belittled works and sacraments and ceremonies and memorials of all types and kind respect to meats and days.
He said, I don't care where you eat. I don't care where you go. I don't care what you wear. I don't care what you been through. I don't care what you did. God's grace is sufficient. Good God Almighty, God's grace is sufficient. God's grace is sufficient. His grace is enough to set you free and deliver you. It is not of works, Paul said, lest any man should boast.
He said, Nothing glories here but the cross. Everything else is totally immaterial. And James is on the other side arguin', Wait a minute, brother. Faith without works--you wasn't there in no way. You wasn't there when Jesus turned water into wine. You wasn't there when he healed the lepers, and you weren't there when he took two fish and five loaves of bread, and here you come in with this liberal stuff.
This is ridiculous! because the early disciples thought Christianity would be Judaism junior, an extension of their Hebrew, Judaistic background and culture, the next step. So they thought, We're gonna believe in Jesus, but we're gonna keep the sacraments and the ceremonies and the rituals and the routines. And Paul was preachin' against it, and it was trouble.
So Paul has hooked up with a guy named Barnabas, and they're goin' at it, and they're doin' good. And they're ministering all throughout Jerusalem and all of the peripheral areas and the Palestine area, and they're doin' real good. And Barnabas has a cousin named John Mark, and he brings John Mark along with him, too.
John Mark is the son of a wealthy Christian woman. He is the cousin of Barnabas, and he has--he is there as a secular factotum. He's there as an adjutant. He's there as a support to do whatever needs to be done, and he's with these men walking around in Jerusalem where he was home anyway, where people could see him with Paul and Barnabas.
People loved to be seen with somebody who's bein' seen. People will pay money to be seen with somebody who's bein' seen, and John Mark is down for it, and it's good. And the church is growing up under Paul. It is growing more in Gentile circles than in Jewish circles because the Jewish circles are falling away.
They're falling away back into blindness, back into apostasy. And so, the real thrust of revival is goin' on amongst the Gentiles, and this cluster of Jewish Christians are lookin' at these Gentiles with their nose kinda up in the air 'cause these Gentiles, they were kinda, like, nasty people, and before Christ Jews didn't even eat with no nasty Gentiles.
If a Gentile ate they'd break the plate, and now they're sittin' around just singin' and clappin' together and rejoicin' and eatin' together, and James is having a fit. Paul thinks it's cool. Peter didn't like it at first. You remember the dream he had? And Peter wouldn't eat with the Gentiles, and the Lord corrected him and said, How dare you call what I have cleansed uncommon or unclean, and told him to eat the meats and to fellowship with the--and so Peter kinda in the middle, but James is way to the right.
Paul is way to the left, and it was comin' to a head. It was comin' to a head. There was rumblings in the camp. Paul is on his way to Antioch, but somewhere along the way, Barnabas' cousin has decided, I was with ya in Jerusalem when it was glamorous and all my friends could see me, but now that you're leavin' outside of the Palestinian area and going into other regimes of influence and thought, he disappeared. He didn't backslide. He disappeared. He didn't resign. He just disappeared. He didn't give any reason.
We have to guess at what the reason was. He just didn't show up for the fight. He was fit for the fun. Ah, he was fit for the fun! But he wasn't fit for the fight. So Paul takes Barnabas, John Mark has disappeared, and he goes into Antioch, and he goes into Antioch like you do when you're goin' into controversy. You know how you feel when you're goin' into controversy, and you're kinda cocked 'cause you don't know what's gonna happen. And he gets there, and there is one of the nastiest blowouts you have ever seen, and them preachers almost got to fightin', physically fightin'.
They should've called it The Preachers of Antioch. And he's come to Antioch, and things are goin' crazy, and trouble is everywhere. And Paul has that feeling that he later describes about a trial, When my hour came to trial, no man stood with me. Notwithstanding, the Lord stood with me. And in the midst of this--now I want you to follow this.
Barnabas is with him, but he's kinda shaky, okay? He's gotten into a fight with Peter, had been up in his face, and all of a sudden, John Mark, who was with him, has blown the coop. he has put his hand to the plow and looked back and walked back and went back, and we don't even know where he is. How many people started out with you that are not with you today?
That's why you cannot build your life around what people say because today they say, Hosanna, and tomorrow they say, Crucify him! You can't count on people! When it all boils down, you got Jesus! I feel something in this place. Oh, it makes me wanna stop and thank God for bein' with me in the mountain and in the valley, over the ridges and down the hill, through the good times and the bad times.
When everybody forsook me, thank you, Lord, for stickin' with me! Even when I looked like a loser you were still there! To God be the glory! Oh, yeah. You ain't gotta tell nobody your business, but tell somebody, tell 'em, I wouldn't have made it. I wouldn't have made it. I wouldn't have made it.