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SALVATION THROUGH CHRIST

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SALVATION THROUGH CHRIST

Mankind was created by God and is accountable to Him. God created men and women for fellowship and blessing. They were His highest creation. He created a perfect earth on which they were to rule and serve Him. There was no pain, sickness, or death and a perfect environment. But mankind rebelled against his Creator and fell from his high position and became a sinner and alienated Himself from his God and pain, sickness and death came into the world.

This is why Scripture says “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). And

“For there is no difference: for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom.3: 22-23).

The problem is not only the outward sins that we commit, but the inward source of these sins: mankind’s heart is sinful and by nature are alienated from God.

God is holy and righteous and cannot excuse sin. Mankind takes a light view of sin and refers to it as mere human weakness, but God declares that it is an abomination. We excuse our sins but God condemns them to an eternal hell. All the sorrow, tragedy, heartache and shame of human history are summed up in that one little word—- “SIN!”.

Some tell us that God is too good to judge sinners, but the truth is God is too good NOT to judge sin. It is His very goodness that condemns mankind. While God loves us He cannot deny His own holiness.

There was a judge during the civil war whose son was brought before him for treason. The judge came down from the bench and hugged and kissed his son, he wept and told him he loved him, and then returned to his judges bench and sentenced him to death.

A judge who allows criminals to go free is not a good man. His actions would not be commendable but an outrage. It is not corrupt judges that criminals fear but honest judges. It is justice that they fear, getting what they deserve and all mankind are declared criminals by a holy and just God.

While God’s holiness demands judgment for sin, His love longs for the sinner to return to Him, and without this judgment cannot be averted.

Like that judge during the civil war, God says He loves us, and then goes back to the judges bench and pronounces judgment upon all mankind. He has no choice as a Holy God but to condemn sin.

But unlike that civil war judge, after passing sentence God stepped down from His Judges Bench and He Himself took this punishment upon Himself in the sinner’s place. He did this in the person of His Son Jesus Christ.

In order to do this God had to take upon Himself humanity. This is the message of the Gospel. In John 1:1-3 we read:

“In the beginning was the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made”.

The “Word” here refers to Jesus Christ. Here the veil is pulled back to show His true identity. Then in John 1:14 we are told how He took upon Himself humanity in order to represent mankind:

“The Word was made flesh and lived for a while among us”.

Then Hebrews 2:14-17 goes on to tell us:

“Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who were all their lives held in slavery by their fear of death.

For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason He had to be made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people”.

I Peter 2:24 tells how He made atonement for sin: “He Himself bore our sins in His body”.

Romans 4:25 says: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification”.

Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.

I John 3:16: “This is how we know what love is, Jesus Christ laid down His own life for us”.

And I John 4:9-10: “this is how god showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins”.

And Jesus last words from the cross were: “It is finished” (John 19:30). His mission to redeem mankind was finished. The price for mankind’s sin was paid in full, and now God could receive sinners freely and give them eternal life through Jesus Christ.

 

Salvation can never be earned but is simply accepted freely by the sinner who turns from His sins and trusts in Jesus and what He did for us on the cross. The way to heaven is through Christ alone: He said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

We receive Christ through faith by trusting Him for salvation.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph.2:8-9).

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Jesus did everything for us and all we have to do is receive Him. Salvation is a free gift and is ours for the taking by simply trusting in Jesus. It is now up to you. Jesus said: “You refuse come to Me to have life” (John 5:40).

Do you feel your need for Christ but are not sure how to receive Him? WANTING to receive Him is the main thing. Receiving Him is turning from you sins and simply choosing Him. How can you know that He will receive you? Because He says so:

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away”.

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GOD’S TRIUNE NATURE

The Bible emphasizes that there is One God.

“The Lord our God, the Lord is One “(Deut. 6:4).

“The Lord Himself is God; besides Him there is no other” (Deut. 4:3).

“I am the first, and I am the last, apart from me there is no God” (Isa. 44:6).

“I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God” (Isa. 45:5).

“However it is also taught that this One God consists of a plurality of Persons. God is a Plurality of One. This sounds strange but it is what the Bible repeatedly teaches.      This is taught in the very Scriptures that emphasize that there is One God. For instance, Deut. 6:4 uses two Hebrew words to emphasize this: “The Lord (Jehovah—singular), our God, (Elohim—plural), is one Lord (Jehovah—singular).

Deut. 4:35 reads: “The Lord (Jehovah—singular), Himself is God (Elohim—plural); there is none other besides Him”.

Isa. 45:5 reads: “I am the Lord (Jehovah—singular), there is no other God (Elohim—plural) besides me”.

If the Bible wanted to teach a single entity within the Godhead the Word “Eloah” would have been used instead of the plural “Elohim”.

Note in Gen. 1:26: “God said; let US make man in OUR image, in OUR likeness”. In the next verse we read: “So God created man in HIS OWN image. The US and OUR in verse 26 become HIS in verse 27. This singular God consists of a plurality of Persons. This singular God in a plurality of Persons in the Godhead also runs all through the New Testament. Note in John 1:1 we have: “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus Christ), and the Word was WITH God (a plurality), and the Word WAS God (singular).

This plurality is consistently revealed as 3 Persons. Gen 1:1 says: “In the beginning God (Elohim—plural) created the heavens and the earth”. Here the plural is used, a plurality of Persons. This is why we are told that the Father created all things: “The Father from whom all things came” (I Cir. 8:6).

The Son created all things: “All things were made trough Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3).

And the Holy Spirit is the Creator: “The Spirit of God has made me” (Job 33:4).

Likewise Jesus resurrection is attributed to the Father: “This Jesus God has raised up” (Acts 2:32).

To the Son: “Therefore my Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again” (John 10:17).

And to the Holy Spirit: “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom.8: 11).

In John 1:18 we read “No one has ever seen God. But God the One and Only who is at the Father’s side has made Him known”. Here we see that no one has ever seen God in His divine essence, but the Second Person of the trinity has made Him known. He is God’s revealer. Jesus Christ in His earthly life unveiled the Father and made Him known to humanity. This is why He could say in John 14:9: “He that has seen Me has seen the Father”.

In I John 5:20 Jesus is called “The true God and eternal life. In Isa. 9:6 Jesus is called “The Mighty God. And in Acts 5:3 Ananias is said to have lied to the Holy Spirit, in the next verse this is explained as “lying to God.

In I Cor. 3:16 believers are called the “temple of God”. Why? because the Holy Spirit dwells in them.

These three Persons are coeternal and coequal. They are distinct individuals. Each One partakes of the full Divine essence. The One God is also three Persons, and they are always together and always cooperating. They are One in the fullness of deity in which each one lives in and through the others in an inner union eternally rooted in infinite love. At the center of reality is a relationship within the nature of God, relating eternally, perfectly and beautifully.

The inner life of the Triune God is characterized by a self-giving love which revolves around the others. Scripture declares that “God is love” (I John 4:8). This means that it is His very nature to Love. The Persons of the Trinity continuously pour out love to each other and receive love in return.

Baptism is the testimony of our faith and worship and total consecration to the One in whose name we are baptized.

The universe was created by a fellowship of persons who have loved each other from eternity. We were created for a mutually self-giving, other-centered love; Self-centeredness came from the fall and destroys our purpose.

The Scriptures do not explain the Trinity Just as it does not explain God. The existence of God is taken for granted as is His Triune nature. It is simply ingrained in Scripture.

Excerpt from a coming book.

 

THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is referred to directly more than a hundred times in the New Testament. Paul refers to it in I Cor.15:1-8 as one of the essential and foundational truths of the gospel: “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By which gospel you are saved. If you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born”.

It is very significant that Paul does not merely refer to witnesses who have already died, but to many who were still alive and could be questioned.

When the apostles chose a replacement for Judas his replacement had to be, “A witness with us of His resurrection” (Acts 1: 21-22).

The accounts of the resurrection show clear evidence for eyewitness accounts. There are too many agreements for them not to be referring to the same event; while at the same time apparent contradictions give clear evidence that these accounts could not be agreed upon fabrications.

I say “apparent” contradictions because upon closer investigation these “contradictions vanish. In a court of law the strongest evidence is from witnesses who agree on the main points while having apparent contradictions that upon further probing disappear. The writers would have been aware of these apparent discrepancies but did not change them.

The first point of the gospel message is that Christ died for our sins. One thing we know for certain is that the Roman military knew how to kill by execution. If there was any doubt about crucifixion doing its job of bringing about the death sentence a lance was thrust under the ribs into the victims heart. Crucifixion was a cruel and horrible form of execution. Square spikes were driven into the wrists and heel bones of the feet. Then it became a sadistic game of survival.

If the nails were only through the wrists the body would sag and cut off breathing and quickly cause death by asphyxiation. In order to prolong the agony, the feet were nailed through the second metatarsal, giving a cruel “support” for the body enabling the victim to breath with great struggle, by pulling the body up by the nailed hands and pushing up by the nailed feet; thereby tearing his lacerated back against the rough wood of the cross. As the hours wore on under the hot sun, the body became dehydrated from perspiring and loss of blood then fatigue would set in. Then, sometimes after days of struggling, the victim would be unable to pull and push himself up to breath and suffocate.

If they wanted death to take place quickly they would simply break their legs just below the knees making it impossible to push up with the feet and they would quickly suffocate. Then the executioner had to certify the death of the victim. If the executioner got it wrong it could cost him his life. But they did not get it wrong. The victim was clearly dead before they took him down from the cross. The fact of his death would have been obvious; the victim was simply not pulling himself up to breath! There was no reviving in the tomb.

The fact that the tomb was empty that first Easter morning is indisputable. That left only two options: The tomb was empty because the body was stolen or because Jesus rose from the dead. Who would have taken it? There were only two options: either His enemies or His friends.

His enemies? Why? They had nothing to gain. As a prank or some other perverse reason? If so, then they would have been in the enviable position to refute the claim that He rose from the dead and make a laughingstock of His disciples? Why didn’t they? Because they couldn’t: it’s that simple.

But— what about His friends? For one thing there was a Roman Guard posted outside the tomb (Matt. 27: 65). The guard consisted of four well-trained soldiers who would be relieved every six hours.

Imagine stepping over these guards and rolling away the huge stone without alerting them, even if there WERE asleep, for which they would have forfeited their lives. The watch was for too short of time to worry about trained soldiers falling asleep. Especially ALL of them! And if anyone were caught trying to steal the body it would mean a torturous death.

Rome was an occupying army and they ruled with an iron fist. The disciples did not want to be anywhere near a Roman soldier. They were not interested in taking Jesus’ body they were interested in their own safety. If Rome had executed their leader, how far away could their arrests be?

If the disciples had stolen His body, would they have gone all over the Mediterranean world preaching His resurrection, facing torture and death? Would they have been willing to die for what they would have known was a lie? People may die for what they THINK is true, but not for what they KNOW is a lie!

The disciples were totally transformed from fear and despair and hiding behind closed doors, to fearlessly facing death by boldly facing their enemies with the claim that Jesus rose from the dead. This is perhaps the most significant fact of all. At the time of Jesus crucifixion the disciples were filled with hopeless despair and fear. Peter, the leader of the apostles denied that he knew Jesus with oaths and curses, but a few days later we see this same man and all the others facing the wrath of Rome with unshakeable courage.

Nothing can account for the change in Paul who was transformed from a persecutor of Christians to an apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul first comes upon the scene as a blasphemer of Christ who is suddenly converted by the resurrected Savior Himself. He disappears to Arabia to prepare for his ministry where he was taught by the risen Lord and then reappears to proclaim the message of a risen Savior with the same intensity that he once fought against it.

From the very beginning the resurrection of Jesus was vital to apostolic teaching. It was the motivating force of Paul’s life and ministry.

His conversion was not only the turning point in his own life, but also in the history of the church and thus, the history of mankind. Alongside the achievements of this former persecutor of Christians, blasphemer and murderer, all the achievements of those whom the world holds to be great fade into insignificance. The only explanation for the life of this man is that he had met the risen Savior and was forever changed.

Writing from prison at the end of his life Paul wrote: “So do not be ashamed to testify about the Lord, or ashamed of me His prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel. By the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who has destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day” (II Tim. 1: 8-12).

Paul traded his high position of wealth and respect as a Pharisee for poverty, prison and persecution. Paul had met the resurrected Savior and served Him for 25 years and was used of God to write a third of the New Testament. This is irrefutable evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The other apostles who were commissioned by the resurrected Christ to preach the gospel faced severe persecution and torture until they were executed and sealed their testimonies with their blood.

Shortly after Jesus had been executed as a criminal and His disciples were on the run, something happened that changed the Christian movement from one facing extinction to a movement exploding like wildfire. It has spread to every country on earth with the message of God’s love and power to save. What had happened? They had seen the risen Lord.

From Israel’s beginning the Jews had kept the Sabbath to honor God’s finished work as creator. No work was allowed as it was set aside as a memorial day, set apart by God when He ceased creating.

Those first Christians were devout Jews. They were so convinced of the resurrection of Jesus that they changed the day of worship from the Sabbath to the first day of the week honoring God’s work of redemption. They could not ignore Jesus resurrection from the dead. They called it the Lord’s day. It became a celebration of the “rest” we have in Christ from sin and death. God gave the early church a new pattern of worship through Christ’s resurrection on the first day of the week and His resurrection appearances and the Holy Spirit’s descent on the first day of the week.

Jesus had fulfilled all the types and shadows of the law. His sacrifice as the “Lamb of God” superseded and therefore fulfilled all the Old Testament types and symbols.

Other theories have been advanced to explain the empty tomb. One theory that liberal scholars came up with is “the wrong tomb theory”. Which theorized that because of the chaos caused by Jesus hurried burial because of the dawning of the Sabbath, and the fact that the women came back very early Sunday, in the din morning light. They became confused where Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb was located and entered the wrong tomb and found it empty, whereupon hearing the grave-keeper, whom they mistook for an angel, say, “He is not here”, they became hysterical and ran away announcing an empty tomb and the rest is history! Or is it?

Surely it would not have taken long, once the story got out, for the people to see their error, or for Joseph to point out his tomb for them. Certainly the Roman guard would have been happy to tell them their mistake. Even the Sanhedrin would have been happy to straighten them out. And most certainly Peter and John would not have run to the wrong tomb!

Another theory that is advanced is what is called the “Swoon Theory”. According to this theory Jesus never really died. Somebody slipped Him a very powerful drug putting Him in a coma-state; giving the appearance of death. Then after His burial He revived in the cool, damp tomb and changing into grave clothes left there by the gardener and removing the large stone shaped like a wheel weighing as must as two tons.

Then He crawled out of the tomb and happened to run into Mary Magdalene, who ran and told His disciples, who nursed Him back to health as best they could and then they declared Him to be the risen Lord, but forty days later He succumbed to His wounds. Before He died He called His disciples to meet Him on a mountain and then disappeared into a cloud that they believed was His ascension into heaven! The soldiers had seen hundreds of victims of crucifixion. It was routine for them to know when a man was dead. He simply was not rising up and down to breathe!

Then there is the psychological theory, which says that the disciples missed Jesus so much that they subconsciously invented His resurrection in order to feel His presence psychologically. Then they began to imagine seeing Him, including more than 500 at one time!

Some say that the disciples were referring to a spiritual resurrection. But this was unknown to Jews and Christians. Resurrection can only apply to the body because only the body dies. Only in second century gnostic text do historians find the concept of a spiritual resurrection.

Those who claim a spiritual resurrection base on a misunderstanding of Scripture. I Cor. 15:44 referring to the resurrection body says: “It is sown (buried) a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body”. But the contrast here is not between a physical or material body and a spiritual or immaterial body but between a carnal or sinful body subject to death and a body that is sinless and not subject to death—one that is immortal. The same contrast is found in Romans 7:14: “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin”. This is a difference between sinful and sinless, not material and immaterial.

Then there is the twin brother theory with the predictable outcome. Jesus’ twin brother pops up after Jesus death and claims to be the risen Lord. Or His twin brother is crucified thinking it was Jesus and then the real Jesus appears. The remaining theories are just as flimsy as these and not worthy of consideration. The resurrection of Jesus is the only explanation for the empty tomb that first Easter morning.

Many today assume that the ancients were quick to believe what we now know to be unscientific claims of people rising from the dead; but this is not true, especially with the Jews. They did believe in a resurrection but this was a general resurrection at the end of history, as Martha said to Jesus after he told her that her dead brother, Lazarus would rise again: “Martha answered, I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (John 11:24).

There were others in the first century who claimed to be the Messiah and were executed. But with none of them was there a mention of a resurrection. They knew better. It was not even considered. Nor was it with Jesus own followers—at first, until they saw Him in His resurrected body. There never could have been a belief in His resurrection among the Jews without His appearing to them.

They walked with Him and talked with Him and saw and touched His wounds. The Christian movement sprang up immediately after His death because they saw Him in His resurrected body.

A very significant change came about in Israel’s social institutions for those first century Jewish Christians. The sacrificial system, the Sabbath, Circumcision, were all abandoned. A mere 5 weeks after His crucifixion, more than ten thousand Jews were following Him as the Son of God.

These were not minor adjustments but monumental changes in social structures of thousands of years. The apostle Paul tells us that everything in the Christian life depended on the resurrection of Christ: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (I Cor. 15:17).

Peter writes: “Praise be to the God and Father Of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (I Pet. 1:3).

When the Apostle John was imprisoned on the island of Patmos he again saw the glorified Christ. He writes: “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet though dead. Then He placed His right hand on me and said: ‘do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!’” (Rev. 1:18).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer

“O you who hear prayer . . . “ (Psalm 65:2). This is one of the names of God. Hearing prayer is one of the characteristics of a God of love.

“I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; Give ear to me and hear my prayer” (Psalm 17:6).

How often in the Scriptures we are invited to call upon the Lord and are assured that He hears and will answer prayer. Throughout the Bible we see that His people have called upon Him in every conceivable circumstance and have rejoiced in the fact that He hears and answers prayer. He is not distant from His people. He is His people’s “Refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

None of God’s people should be troubled or fretful and weighed down with the cares of this world. We are not left on our own, to our own resources. We are not orphans, but have a Father in heaven who loves us and is concerned about us and who has unlimited resources and who loves to give good things to His people.

He assures us that He is a God who delights to hear and answer our prayers. It is His very nature to answer prayer. All the teaching of Scripture is designed to encourage us to pray. He created us to be dependent on Him and He is glorified when we acknowledge this dependence.

He loved us enough to send Jesus to die for our sins and brought us into His family, and is already predisposed to answer us when we come to him with our needs. He encourages us to “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me” (Psalm 50:15). He is glorified by answering the prayers of His people.

He tells us to come without fear or hesitation: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).

In Heb. 4:16 we are told: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”.

God forbids us to worry because it betrays our lack of trust in Him. Prayer is God’s cure for worry. When we dwell on our problems and our minds become seriously affected. This becomes Satan’s point of attack. When we place everything into the hands of God by prayer and praise He will keep watch over our hearts and minds so that nothing can upset our peace. As we are told in Phil. 4:6-7: The words “Do not be anxious” is literally “Stop perpetually worrying about even one thing”. When we worry we open the door for Satan to torment us.

It refers to anxious distressing worry, not simply concern for our problems and needs, which should always lead us to pray, but the anxiety that turns our stomachs into knots and paralyzes us with fear. God recognizes that there are problems of legitimate concern but we are to bring them to Him in trusting childlike faith.

He has promised to care for us and He does this in answer to believing prayer, not whining and complaining but prayer. God not only forbids us to worry but give us the reason not to worry. Here we are given the reason: God loves us and has provided a way—prayer with thanksgiving.

“Do not be anxious about ANYTHING, but in EVERYTHING, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving”. The emphasis here is on “anything” and “everything”. It is not merely the big problems that God wants but the small ones as well. Most of our lives are made up of many small problems that if we allow them to can overwhelm us. If we are going to be all that God wants us to be we must be men and women of prayer.

God has made many promises to us. God wants us to pray and enter into these promises. He gave us these promises because He wants us to be free from anxieties and fears that are unbecoming of the children of God.

Many miss the point of Matt. 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet YOUR heavenly Father feeds them. ARE YOU NOT MUCH MORE VALUABLE THAN THEY?”

God is not the Father of birds, but OUR Father. The point is that if God cares for birds, that are His creatures but not His children, how much more will He care for us His children? The Lord Jesus plainly tells us that we will encounter trials and troubles and Job 5:7 says: “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward”. We sin when we fret and brood over them for these are devises of the devil to cause us to doubt God’s love.

Anxieties come when we see our problems as too big to overcome and threaten to overcome us. But God wants us to see Him as greater than all our problems. Our problems are like Goliath. When we look at our problems they seem like giants and when we look at ourselves we become overwhelmed like Saul’s men who ran at the sight of Goliath. But when we see God, as David did, the giants in our lives become very small. True faith is simply a matter of perspective.

The solution to worry is trusting prayer. Faith takes God at His word that He will take these burdens. We are not trying to get God to assume an obligation that is not rightfully His but ours, rather we are letting Him handle an obligation that He claims as His own. Doubt says that God will not assume these and that He does not really care about us or His promises to us.

Unbelief makes us feel as though we are imposing upon God. But God commands us to come to Him with all our problems and needs. What decent earthy father or mother would consider their child crying to them in need as imposing upon them! Prayer is not trying to get God to do what He would rather not do. But allowing Him to do what He absolutely insists upon doing.

Some good men say that we should advance beyond mere physical requests, but they seem to overlook the fact that God commands us to bring ALL our cares to Him. The Lord’s Prayer is a series of requests. Jesus lays great stress on trusting God for material needs as well as spiritual needs.

He is the God of the physical universe as well as the spiritual; of our bodies as well as our spirits. Someone has said that there are 365 “fear not’s” in the Bible giving us one for each day of the year. But this is wrong. If there are 365 “fear not’s” in the Bible then we have 365 for each day. All God’s promises are ours every day. The result of such prayer is peace.

When God led Israel out of Egypt and the supplies they brought with them were exhausted God provided water from a rock and manna from the sky. For 40 years God faithfully supplied the needs of over two and a half million people. There was no human source of supply. They were shut up to God’s faithfulness. The Bible tells us that these events were recorded for our benefit. Their God is also our God.

We read in Psa. 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble”. This verse literally reads: “God is for us a refuge and strength; a help in distress He has proved—exceedingly!” We are here told that God can be counted on because He has proven Himself in the past and had it recorded in the Scriptures for our benefit.

“Casting all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you” (I Pet.5: 7). The word here for “cast” signifies a definite act of the will in committing to Him our worries, giving them up to Him. This means that we are through worrying about the matter. We will let God assume the responsibility for our welfare. This is exactly what He wants us to do.

We are to commit to Him all our worries, big and little, or the things that would worry us if we assumed the responsibility. Now we are trusting God to do what we cannot do. This trust brings peace to us while we wait for Him to answer us. “Because He cares for you”, literally reads: “It is a care to Him concerning you”. We are to bring to Him our concerns because we are His concern. When God saved us and brought us into His family He assumed the responsibility for our welfare.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psa. 22:22). We were not designed to carry around heavy burdens we were designed to depend on God. The bible never anticipates that we will not have trials and troubles we are clearly told that we cannot avoid them.

Psa. 55:22 is a picture of a man bearing a great weight on his shoulders. His back is bent, his knees are wobbly, the weight is crushing him. He has reached the end of his strength when the Lord tells him to roll his burden on Him and He will handle it. He longs to have us do this, in fact, He commands us to do this!

God insisted that Abraham ask for a son when he was a hundred years old and his wife Sarah was ninety. When Abraham seemed to waver in his faith, God asked him, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14). And Jeremiah prayed to the Lord “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you” (Jer. 32: 17).

Then we are told, “Then the Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jer. 32:26-27).

There will be joy and power in our lives when we learn to bring all our needs and concerns to God in prayer. We are not promised financial riches but God does promise that we will have enough and joy and peace along with it if we learn to trust. Prayer puts God’s promises to every day use.

We are dependent upon God for everything and blessed is the believer who is conscious of this dependency. Christians who do not pray consistently do not have a healthy spiritual life. They are weak and powerless. They have little joy and little enthusiasm to serve God. There lives are marked by worries and fears and doubts. They have not yet learned the secret of “Casting all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you” (I Pet. 5:7).

Peace, joy and power should characterize every child of God. And the way to have this is to carry everything to God in prayer. We should live in constant communion with God, looking to Him in total dependence on His goodness and concern for us. The self-sufficient Christian will always be a defeated Christian.

But many do not find time to pray as they should. Strangely we do everything else first and then we give God whatever time is left over. We get so busy with this and that, so absorbed with the affairs of life, in a rush to get lesser important things done, that we haven’t time to pray.

We should be in a constant state of prayer. Luther wrote: “It is the business of tailors to make clothes and cobblers to mend shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray”. It is through prayer that we have victory over sin. Jesus told His disciples: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the body is weak” (Matt. 26:40).

Many Christians have struggled against certain sins that have been sapping their spiritual strength. They make many resolutions and try to work up enough strength by their own self-determination. But God has provided a way for them to have victory through daily prayer.

It is through prayer that we receive power to serve God: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isa. 40: 28-31).

With many of us it is the same old story of failure to win others to Christ because we lack power. Power belongs to God and He gives His power to those who will acknowledge that they have no power of their own, and who will wait upon Him in prayer. The reason many of us do not win the lost is not because we are not smart enough or because we lack talent, but because we lack power. Every Christian should have this power, and can have it, if they will wait on God and let God search their hearts and deal with them. “How much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?”(Luke 11:13)

As believers we are to pray for our pastors, missionaries, evangelists, Sunday school teachers, etc, that they may be effective workers in the gospel. When Jesus looked upon the multitudes as ripened fields of grain perishing for lack of laborers, He said to His disciples: “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field”.

We are also to bring our unsaved loved ones and others to the Lord in prayer. This is the harvest field the Lord has entrusted to us. We are to pray for the lost around us and seek to win them. Then we are to pray for our fellow Christians that they may be enabled to win those around them, and we are to pray for and support financially the various soul winning ministries that God has laid upon our hearts. We are responsible for reaching the lost by our prayers, witnessing and giving.

Thus, because of our frailties and proneness to sin, our responsibility to reach the lost and our need of power, and because of our daily needs and our proneness to worry, we are to “pray without ceasing”.

Not only do we need special periods set aside during the day for prayer, but we need to be in an attitude of trusting dependence throughout the day for God’s power and provisions. Without this constant, daily, systematic prayer our lives will not be what God intended them to be. Prayer was not ordained by God to be a mere ritual, but as a means of getting the things we need for our Christian life and work.

Even a casual reading of the gospels reveals how Jesus, in His humanity, was much in prayer. All of the great men and women of the Bible were men and women of prayer. These were men and women just like us who knew their weakness and cried to God whose strength was made perfect in their weakness.. Under every conceivable situation God has met the needs of His praying people. From the splitting of the Red Sea (Exod. 14:15-25), to men being fed by ravens (I Kings 17:2-7), God has showed Himself to be “a very present help in trouble” (Psa. 46:1).

The history of the church outside of the Bible reveals the same thing: That the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but to those who learn to wait on God. For the most part they were very average people, but through prayer they were changed from ordinary men and women into men and women of great achievement.

Those who have had the greatest impact upon this world are ordinary men and women who prayed while carrying out their mundane duties. These are not recorded in history books written by men but they are in the history book of heaven. For instance we all thrill to read of the great revivals under john and Charles Wesley, but God knows that without a humble woman, their mother, Susanna Wesley, who daily prayed over her children and took time from her many duties to “Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4), we would never have heard of her famous sons.

Prayer brings power into our lives and it is not only pastors, missionaries and evangelists and other full time Christian workers who need this power. All believers need this power to raise their families and win their loved one’s to Christ. We are just as responsible for our sphere of influence as they are in theirs. Because of the power of prayer there is no telling the influence of a humble house wife, or one who is bed-ridden. The simple bible believing, praying, Christian is a mighty instrument in the hand of God just as the jawbone of a donkey was used by Samson to slay a thousand men.

It was not the mighty, seasoned warrior Saul that God used to bring down the giant goliath, but the seemingly insignificant young shepherd boy, David, who learned to meditate on God’s word and pray while tending his flocks. This is how God wants His people to be: Armed and dangerous. Not parleying with the enemy, but in a death struggle, no negotiations and no retreating, until the enemy is defeated!

But so often we are like the Israelites as they entered the land of Canaan. God told them to go in and drive out the enemy and subdue the land. They were to go in His power and drive out all the enemy. But after driving the enemy out in certain areas and settling down in these areas, they became comfortable and lazy. Instead of finishing the enemy they were content to co-exist with the enemy, allowing them to keep their strongholds because the battle would be too difficult. As a result they   were plagued by these enemies throughout their history.

We become content with being saved and settle down and try to keep from making waves that might stir up the enemy and cause us to have to give up our comfort. The picture God gives us in Eph. 6:13 is one of constant warfare. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand”.

After driving off the enemy, we are not to sit down and rest, but remain standing, ready for the next attack to come.

 

 

 

 

 

THE RAPTURE AND RESURRECTION OF BELIEVERS

THE RAPTURE AND RESURRECTION OF BELIEVERS

This is when believers who have died and are in heaven will receive resurrected and glorified bodies while those believers who are living at the time of the rapture will experience this change without first dying:

“I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in victory.

Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain”(I Cor. 15: 50-58).

Here we are told that our physical bodies must be changed before we enter God’s kingdom. Paul is about to unveil a “mystery” to us. A mystery here does not mean something hard to figure out, but rather a truth not fully revealed until now. Here   we are told not all believers are going to die before this change takes place and that it can happen at any time, “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye”, instantaneously.

The rapture will bring about the completion of the believer’s salvation. The Bible presents two aspects of salvation. The believer in Christ is saved now: “It is by grace you HAVE been saved” (Eph. 2:5). The believer in Christ is saved NOW. He is no longer under condemnation and has become a child of God.

The Bible also presents a future aspect of salvation. This refers to the completion of salvation when our bodies are glorified. The believer has now been saved from the PENALTY of sin. This is referred to as the “firstfruits” of salvation. This is the present aspect of salvation. But there is a future aspect of salvation when we will be saved from the PRESENCE or EFFECTS of sin. This is presented in Rom. 8:22-23: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, THE REDEMPTION OF OUR BODIES”.

While believers are saved spiritually we still live in fallen bodies. While our redeemed spirits are connected to Christ, our present bodies are still connected to Adam and the fall. The word “firstfruits” means that we have received some of the benefits of salvation but more is to follow.

As the new birth is the impartation of eternal life to our spirits, the rapture and resurrection is the transformation of our bodies. We are told in Rom. 8:19: “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be REVEALED. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God”.

Here we are told that all creation waits in eager anticipation for the sons of God to be revealed, or made known or obvious. All believers are now the sons of God but it is not known or obvious now. All creation waits for the glorification of the sons of God because this is the first step to the lifting of the curse from the whole creation.

While the believer is saved spiritually he groans within his fallen body for the completing of his salvation—his glorified, sinless, ageless, deathless body; a body that is designed for his redeemed spirit and renewed creation, and that can stand in the presence of God. The believer’s glorification is put on hold until we have finished our calling in this present life of bringing others into the kingdom.

The time of the rapture is unknown except for the fact that it is imminent. It can happen at any time. When Christ rose from the dead He began the order of the first resurrection (I Cor. 15:20). The “First resurrection” refers to believers, while the resurrection of the unsaved will occur a thousand years later at the Great White Throne Judgment seen in revelation 20: 11-15.

1 Cor. 15: 20-24 tells us: “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to Him. Then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father”.

Christ’s resurrection from the dead is the “firstfruits” because those who believe in Him will follow Him in their own resurrected bodies that will be patterned after His resurrection. All believers will take part in this, the First Resurrection. All the unsaved will take part in the Second Resurrection, which will take place after the Millennium, when the unsaved are cast into the Lake of Fire. These two resurrections will encompass all mankind. Everyone will appear in one of these two resurrections.

Those who are IN Christ are destined to be LIKE Christ in His resurrection body. This is referred to in I John 3:2: “Dear friends, now are we the children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is”. When Christ comes in the rapture, He will bring with Him the souls of those in heaven who have died “in Christ”. He will stop in the air and these souls will continue down and enter into their bodies that are in the graves, the Lord will then give the command to rise and their bodies will rise from the graves, then they, and the believers who have not died, will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air. Their first sight of Christ will change their bodies to be like His glorious resurrected body:

“The Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so will we ever be with the Lord. Therefore encourage each other with these words” (I Thess. 4: 16-18).

Here in 4:16 we are told that the Lord will descend from heaven and He will bring with Him the souls those believers who have died with Him. The Lord will stop His descent in the air, while those saved souls with Him will continue to descend and will enter their bodies that are in the graves.

Then the Lord Jesus will give a “shout” of command which corresponds to the “loud voice” of Jesus in John 11:43 when the Lord raised Lazarus from the dead: “Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!” This is a foreshadowing of the great day when Jesus will call each believer by name to meet Him in the air. The “voice of the Archangel” is that of Michael, who will give the cry of triumph over the host of fallen angels who have sought to hinder the children of God. The trumpet call of God refers to a military command that awakens soldiers to arise and move on. We       are to move on to eternal realms with Him.

Continuing in verse 16, “The dead in Christ will rise first”. Their bodies shall rise up from the graves and stand on the earth with the living saints. In verse 17, both groups, those who have risen from their graves, and those living will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air, where we will be with Him forever.

Everyone who shares in this great event will have heard the voice of the Son of God twice. Jesus said in John 5:25: “I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live”. Here the Lord is referring to a spiritual resurrection when the spiritually dead will be given eternal life. Then in John 5:28-29, the Lord goes on to refer to the physical resurrection: “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out . . .”.

All those who have heard the voice of the Lord calling them from darkness to light will one day hear His command to receive their glorified body. Today they have eternal life in their spirits. But their spirits still dwell in fallen bodies, but in due time God will remedy this.

Paul refers to this in II Cor. 4: 6-7. In verse 6 he writes , “For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ”. Here Paul refers to eternal life that every believer possesses. He goes on in verse 7: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us”.

Here we are told that believers have the treasure of eternal life in frail, fallen bodies (jars of clay) so He gets the glory. But the day is appointed when God will change these bodies to be fitting vessels for the treasure of eternal life.

The Holy Spirit’s indwelling is the assurance of the believer’s future glorification: “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you” (Rom. 8:11).

In I Cor. 15:42-49 a description of the resurrection body is given in great detail.

“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven”.

Here our dead bodies are likened to seed sown in the ground. It is sown or buried perishable, rotting, but it will be raised imperishable, not subject to decay, but eternal. It is sown in dishonor, food for worms, but it will be raised in glory, free from the defects of the curse and the fall and glorious like Christ’s resurrection body. It is sown in weakness, nothing is weaker than a dead body, it will be raised in power, not subject to death, disease, weakness, or weariness. It is sown a natural body, part of this fallen world, it will be raised a spiritual body, sinless and not part of this fallen world, and not subject to physical or natural laws.

Verses 45-50 contrast Adam with Christ, and those who are “in Adam” and those who are “In Christ”. Here Christ is called the “last Adam” because as the first Adam is the head of the old, fallen creation, Christ is the head of God’s new creation. Adam became a living soul, but through sin his life principle, which was passed on to his descendants, became corrupted and earthly and part of the fallen earthly system. But Christ is a life-giving spirit. Those who belong to Him receive His life through the new birth and are a new heavenly creation.

The first Adam is the head of the fallen race of the earth, “earthy” and all his descendants are also earthy, belonging to the present world system under condemnation. But Christ is the head of the new redeemed “heavenly” creation, and all who belong to Him are also heavenly, belonging to the new creation. But while believers are born again spiritually because of their living connection to Christ; they still possess fallen bodies that are still connected to Adam. So verse 49 tells us that as we have born the image of the fallen race in our physical bodies, we shall bear the image of Christ physically when our bodies are transformed at the rapture.

Verse 50 explains that this physical body must be changed in order to have part in the kingdom of God. Believers have been changed spiritually and at death their spirits go immediately to heaven but their bodies must await a change to make them fit for heaven.

Verse 51 tells us that not all believers will sleep or die (believers bodies are said to be asleep rather than dead because they will be awakened at the rapture). The generation of believers living at the time of the rapture will not die, but will be changed along with those who have died.

Verse 52 tells us that this change will take place instantaneously. The “twinkling of an eye” is the time it takes between seeing Jesus and recognizing Him. When a relative or close friend comes to your house and you open the door and see him you recognize him immediately, although it really took time between seeing him and recognizing him, but the time is so small as to be instantaneous. When we first see   Him and recognize Him we will be transformed into His image.

Verse 53 tells us that those believers whose bodies are perishable while in the             grave will be clothed with imperishable bodies; while the living believers who are mortal and subject to decay will receive immortal bodies. Then we are told in verses 54-55 that then death will forever be swallowed up in victory.

Then in verse 56-57 we are told how and why this will happen. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

The cause of death is sin: “Therefore just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin”(Rom. 5: 12).

The power of sin is the law: “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for anyone who believes” (Rom. 10: 4).

 

Another passage of Scripture dealing with the rapture is I Thess. 5: 1-10.

In I Thess. 4:13-18 Paul deals with the rapture itself and what would happen to those believers who have died. Now Paul would deal with the tribulation and its relation to the coming of the Rapture: “Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety’, destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

But you, brothers are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness, so then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (I Thess. 5: 1-10).

Here in verse 1 Paul tells them that there is no need to write to them when the Day of the Lord, or the tribulation, will take place. For they know perfectly well that no one knows the time for it will come as a thief in the night (verse 2). It will be a time when sudden destruction will come upon “them”, the unsaved (verse 3).

But believers are not in darkness that that day should overtake them. Believers are children of light and of the day, in contrast to “them” in verse 3, who are of the night and of darkness (verses 4-5). Eph. 5:8 reminds believers, “for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, live as children of light”. Believers were at one time in darkness, but by faith in Christ they are now light in the Lord”.

The world, in Adam, is in darkness and in the night. It is the time when people get drunk and sleep. It is fitting that unbelievers do these things because they are of the night and the tribulation will overtake them. It is a day of darkness for the children of the night. “Blow the trumpet in Zion, sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand—a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness” (Joel. 2:1-2).

However, believers are children of the day. People do not normally get drunk and sleep in the day, and believers should not imitate the unsaved (verse 7). They are stupefied by either sleep or drunkenness and unaware of their danger.                    6.

God did not appoint believers to suffer wrath. The context here is referring to the wrath of the tribulation. But God has appointed believers to salvation at the rapture (verses 9-10), before the tribulation and darkness overtakes the children of darkness. Christ died for us so that whether we are “awake” (living) or “sleep” (dead), refers to the living and the dead who will be raptured together.

We are told that on the night before Jesus was crucified, Judas went out from them into the night to betray the Lord and Jesus tells the rest of His disciples that they would all abandon Him, and Peter would deny Him three times that very night. But instead of thinking about Himself, the Lord’s concern was for His disciples.

In John 14:1-3 He says to them: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am”

Here in verses 2-3 Jesus uses the words of an oriental wedding to describe His relationship with His Bride, the Church.

The steps of an oriental wedding were:

1.Engagement. The Bridegroom was engaged to the bride by paying a Dowry.

I Cor. 6:20 says concerning believers, “you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

  1. Preparation for the marriage. The bridegroom would give a ring to his bride as a guarantee of marriage. It was a sign that she belonged to him alone. Eph. 4:30 says concerning believers, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you are SEALED for the day of redemption”. The seal is God’s sign of ownership. The bride would continue to live with her parents and the bridegroom would go to his father’s house to add on rooms for his bride’s coming.

In II Cor. 11: 2 Paul says of those he won to Christ, “I am jealous for you with a Godly jealousy. I promised you to one Husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to Him”.

  1. The marriage. When a place in the father’s house was prepared, the father of the bridegroom would say to his son: “Son, go get your bride!” Then the bridegroom would come for his bride and take her home to the father’s house.

First Jesus loved us. Then He paid the dowry on the cross. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed . . . . . but with the precious blood of Christ” (I Pet. 1:18). The sign of this engagement is the Holy Spirit given to the believer as a “deposit” or “guarantee” of marriage. “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory” (Eph.1: 13-14).

After His resurrection the Lord returned to His Father’s house to prepare a place for us. Believers do not each have their own mansion in heaven. The truth is far more precious, there is only one mansion—the Father’s house, in which Jesus is preparing rooms for His children.

When these rooms in the Father’s house are prepared, the Lord will return to receive His loved ones in the rapture and take them to the Father’s house. After the rapture of believers the tribulation will take place on earth while believers will be appear before the Judgment of Christ to receive rewards for service. Salvation is through faith in Christ alone, but rewards are for service done for Christ after being saved. Paul sums up the teaching on the rapture in light of our appearing before the Judgment Seat of Christ for rewards:

“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (I Cor. 15: 58).

Prophecy in the Bible is not given to satisfy curiosity but to motivate us to live holy lives of service and devotion for God. Note how the following exhortations are connected with the Lord’s coming for believers:

Col. 3:1-4: “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory”.

Titus 2:11-14: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and purify for Himself those that are His very own, eager to do what is good”.

I Thess. 3:12-13: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone one else, just as ours does for you. May He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of God the Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all His holy ones”

These passages teach that the truth of the Lord’s coming for His own should motivate us to be heavenly minded and separate ourselves from the things of this world. We are to be unyielding in our faithfulness to God, and encourage other believers to do the same. We are to be zealous of good works and be prepared at all times to witness to others and win them to Christ.

Believers are not of this world but part of the new creation, but we are left here among the old creation to represent the new. Believers are IN this world, but not OF

This world. In John 17:14-18, we are allowed to eavesdrop on the prayer of Jesus to the Father on behalf of those who belong to Him: “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

So we see that believers are not OF this world, even as Jesus is not of this world. Jesus is the Head of the new creation and believers are “in Christ” and therefore members of the new creation. But we are left in this world as ambassadors for Christ to represent the kingdom of God. When God calls His ambassadors home at the rapture, He will declare war on this world.

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body” (Phil. 3:20-21).

God’s Care for his People

God’s care for His people

Job 14:1 tells us: “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble”, and Job 5:7 says: “Yet man is born to trouble as surely as the sparks fly upward”. One of the reasons Jesus came was to give rest to burdened humanity: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11: 28-30).

Jesus offers to exchange burdens with us: He will take our cares and burdens and give us rest while giving us His yoke which is easy and His burden which is light because He is carrying it with us.

We are wandering sheep and we need Him as our good and faithful Shepherd. We are sinners and need His righteousness. We are naked and need His holiness as a covering. We are ignorant and need His teaching. We are foolish and need His guidance. We are frightened and need His presence. We are doubtful and need His assurance. We are poor and He is rich. When we are accused by Satan, He is our defense attorney. When we are in trouble He is our help. When we are forsaken He is our supporter. When we are persecuted He is our reward. When we die He is our Life. When we are worn out and cannot go on, He is our strength. When we are discouraged He is our Encouragement.

“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).

As believer’s we are “In Christ”. Before we were saved we were “in Adam” sharing in everything with the fallen creation and under condemnation with the rest of the world. When we believed in Christ, God removed us from our position “in Adam” and placed us into a new position “in Christ” sharing in everything with Jesus Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (II Cor. 5: 17).

The believer is identified with Christ: “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4). His Father is our Father. We share the same life. He dwells in us through the Holy Spirit and we are one with Him in life, related to Him as the branch is to the vine (John 15: 5). From the moment of the new birth we have new life, spiritual life, the life of Christ. God the Father looks upon the believer as one with His Son.

“Near, so very near to God, nearer I cannot be,

For in the person of His Son, I’m just as near as He.

Dear, so very dear to God, dearer I cannot be,

For in the Person of His Son, I’m just as dear as He”.

Our identification with Christ leads to great privileges, but also to great responsibilities. Christ, God’s only begotten Son is heir to all the father’s possessions, and we, being one with Christ, are joint heirs with Him. We shall also inherit His future glory: “Dear friends now are we the children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (I John 3:2).

Our identification with Christ also brings great responsibilities. In II Cor. 5:17-21 we read: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’.

Here we are told that all those who are “in Christ” are new creations with a new relationship to God. Things concerning the believer’s old life before he was saved are passed away. All his old relationships to Adam and the world are gone as all things are made new. All his new relationships are now from God who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ. Part of these new things is a new purpose in life, it is the “ministry of reconciliation”, the message of which is that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, and that God is not counting men’s sins against them who will trust in Christ.

So all believers are born again and are new creations and have been given the ministry of reconciliation. Those who have been reconciled to God have been given the ministry of reconciling others to God. We are Christ’s Ambassadors and God is using us to make His appeal to the unsaved to be reconciled to God.

As believers in Christ we are to begin immediately some form of ministry to our unsaved family members, friends and neighbors. It may be to invite them to church or Bible study, or perhaps to watch a Christian video. We should have a prayer list of family members and friends we want to reach for Christ. We should pray for our churches and pastors and other ministries as well as missionaries. We should all have those we pray for regularly. Then we must witness to those in our sphere of influence. This is our calling as Christians. Even as shut-ins and bedridden believers we can have an important ministry for Christ. It is not our inabilities that God looks at, but what abilities we do have. We must never think that our sphere of influence is not important to God. There are those in our sphere of influence that no one else can reach but us.

By praying for ministers, missionaries and evangelists, we can have a far- reaching impact for Christ. We are exhorted in Scripture to: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things we be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33).

As God’s children we also have the privilege of bringing all our needs to God. In Phil.4: 4-7 we are exhorted: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NIV).

Here the Greek word for “Gentleness” Means “self-control”—not falling apart from worrying about our circumstances. The reason for this peace is that: “the Lord is near”, and is waiting for us to call on Him in prayer. The Children of God are not to be anxious about anything. This does not mean that we are not to care about anything, for the believer is to care about the things that God cares about. It does not forbid our being concerned, for we are to be concerned about many things in the Christian life. What is forbidden is the fearful anxiety that robs us of our peace in the Lord.

No sleepless, fearful fretting, as though the Lord were not nearby and promised to answer prayer. This is the secret of having the peace of God that is beyond all understanding. God is always at hand in time of need. Before He left to return to the Father, Jesus left us His peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14: 27). Notice that the peace He gives is not like the peace the world gives. It is His own peace that He gives us” “My peace I give you”. Therefore we are not to be troubled or afraid.

This is what Jesus promised His anxious disciples as He was about to leave them and go back to the Father: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). HE promised “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you”. The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid, what can man do to me?” (Heb.13: 5-6).

It is sad how many Christians are constantly burdened with care and anxiety. They worry about tomorrow as though they have no heavenly Father who loves them and promised to care for them. We should not have any trouble trusting God about anything else after He has already given us salvation: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8: 31-32).

Here, God assures us, by giving us the greater thing that He will not neglect the lesser things! He has given His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the greatest gift that even God can, so how can we doubt that He will also give us all things.

Many Christians are like the man who was trudging down the road carrying a heavy load on his back. Someone in a pick up truck stops and offers him a ride. So he climbs in the back still carrying his heavy load on his back. He foolishly carries his load on his back, when the driver was graciously willing to carry, not only the man but his burden as well.

God has freely given us eternal life through the death and resurrection of His Son. Saving us from hell and carrying us on to heaven, riding freely by His grace. He wants not only to carry us but also our burdens! We are urged in I Peter 5:7 to: “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you”.

Notice two words in PHIL.4:6: “Do not be anxious about ANYTHING, but in EVERYTHING, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God”. There are no circumstances where God cannot meet every need. Everything that can cause fear and anxiety can be conquered by God’s promise to answer prayer, the little things as well as the big things that bother us. If they are big enough to worry about they are big enough to pray about.

Christ is the answer to every need of the Christian. He is greater than all the troubles of this world. He said “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16: 33).

The one thing in the world the child of God should grieve about is sin. Sin grieves the heart of God and hinders the Holy Spirit in our lives and blocks the believer’s fruit-bearing for God. Sin in the believer’s life is the worst form of trouble. But the child of God need not be weighed down from grieving the Holy Spirit and bitter defeat.

Christ is the remedy for the anxiety and sorrow caused by sin. The Holy Spirit will not allow the believer to forget that he belongs to God and will cause you bitter grief over your sin. But God has not forgotten you and says to you “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Rom. 5:20). And God’s overflowing grace will cover confessed and forsaken sin. He will forgive it and blot it out.

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ the Righteous One” (I John 2:1).

Our all-wise, loving heavenly Father longs for us to simply trust Him. He wants us to bring all our burdens and fears and concerns to Him, and commit our lives to His care.

In Isaiah 40:28-31 says: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They shall soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”.

There is a way for weak Christians to be strong; the tired, discouraged and defeated Christian to be victorious every day. God has placed infinite resources at the disposal of every child of God. God’s people can, if they will trust in the Lord, and bring all their needs to Him in trusting prayer, renew their strength. They can soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint”.

Without this source of supernatural strength we could only have defeat and failure, “for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).

We were not created to succeed on our own. God wanted a relationship of love and dependence on Him with His creation. We do not have to fret and worry. We have a Father in heaven who loves us and wants to show Himself strong in our behalf. He knows each one of His blood-bought people and their needs. He watches over us so closely that “Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matt. 10:30).

We are told in Prov. 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight”.

The believer is to follow God’s leading in His word, and if it contradicts our way of thinking we are to trust in His word rather than our own understanding. In every area of our lives we are to give heed to what He says in His Word.

It can be compared to a pilot following the instruments in his plane, which is vital. Sometimes a pilot will get disoriented and become confused because his instruments seem to contradict all his experience as a pilot. Some pilots have followed their own instincts and disregarded the planes instruments which can lead to disaster. This is also true of believers who think they can disregard the instructions of the Bible and lean on their own understanding.

We can entrust our lives to Him. Storms will come and Satan will oppose us, circumstances may seem impossible, but God will bring us through. God does not promise us an easy life. He said: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Witnessing for Christ

WITNESSING FOR CHRIST

Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. This was His mission.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners . . .” (I Tim. 1:15).

It was for lost sinners that the Lord Jesus left heaven and come to earth to suffer the agonies of the cross on a mission to provide salvation for sinners.

“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).

Lost sinners were always on His heart. He told the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son (Luke chapter 15), to show how the Father longs for sinners to come to Him. He told of the sower sowing seed, and of catching fish to show the Father’s concern that the gospel be given to sinners and His desire to catch the lost for Himself.

This is still God’s greatest concern as John 3:16 emphatically declares: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

As Lord and Master He command all believers to witness. “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20).

Here Jesus tells His disciples that as risen Lord with all power in heaven and earth, He is commanding them to be witnesses for Him. This command was not only for the disciples but for every Christian. This is seen in the fact that when a great persecution broke out in Jerusalem, we are told “all EXCEPT the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria” (Acts 8: 1). Then we are told, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (Acts 8: 4).

“In Jesus High priestly prayer He says to the Father “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17: 18). Then in verse 20 He says, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message”.

Here we are told that Jesus sent not only His disciples but all believers on the same mission. We read in II Cor. 5:17-18 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation”.

ALL those who have been reconciled to God are automatically given the ministry of reconciliation. So along with salvation comes the duty to witness to others. All those who are in Christ are new creatures with a new relationship to God. Things concerning the believer’s old life before he was saved are passed away. All his old relationships to Adam and the world are gone as all things are made new. All his new relationships are now of God who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ. Part of these new things is a new purpose in life. It is the ministry of reconciliation.

In Luke 6:46 Jesus asks “Why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say”. So in the final analysis the motivation to win the lost is not simply love for the lost, but love for the Lord Jesus. Our attitude toward the thing that is closest to His heart is a gage for the warmth of love we have for Him. It is the Lord’s express desire that every believer be an effective witness for Him.

In John 8:12 Jesus said: “I am the light of the world”. In John 9:5 he said: “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world”. But the day would come when He would leave the world then believers will be the light of the world. In Matt. 5:14 He said: “You are the light of the world”.

Christ is the light of the world, but we are the bearers of that light to the world. Christ is the Door, but we are the doorkeepers. Winning the lost was the all–absorbing concern of Christ and the early church and should be ours as well. Eph.6: 15 says that part of the armor of God is “your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”. This is quoted from Isa.52:7.

So believers are to always be prepared to bring the gospel to the lost: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, your God reigns” (Isa.52: 7). This Isaiah 52:7 passage is quoted again in Rom. 10: 5.

As believers we are to bear fruit for God: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:16).

So believers are to be fruit bearers or fruit trees for God. Prov. 11:30 clarifies what the fruit of the believer is: “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise”. So we see that the fruit Jesus referred to is winning the unsaved to Him. Believers are to be fruit trees and they are to produce other fruit trees. They are to be trees of life holding forth the gospel of eternal life and they are to win the lost and make them trees of life.

 

THE FIELDS OF SOULS IS ALWAYS READY FOR HARVESTING BUT THE PROBLEM IS LACK OF REAPERS.

“Do you not say, four months more and than the harvest? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35).

The context of this verse is John 4:1-42. As the Lord was about to leave Judea and go to back to Galilee, We are told: “He had to go through Samaria” (verse 3-4). Now the Jews and Samaritans were not on good terms because the Samaritans were Jews of mixed blood with Gentiles, and they avoided each other. But the Lord is no respecter of persons. And He knew that there would be a ready-hearted Samaritan woman who came to the well at a certain time of the day, and He was going to meet her there.

When they arrived there, His disciples went into the city to buy food after their long journey. Jesus was weary and sat down at Jacob’s well, When the woman came to draw water He entered into conversation with her and led her to trust Him as the promised Messiah. In the meantime His disciples returned and the woman left her water jar and went into the city to tell the people that she found the Messiah.

The disciples knowing that Jesus must be hungry after their long journey pleaded with Him to eat something. But He was not hungry for physical food. He had something better. He said to them “I have food to eat that you know nothing about . . . . . .My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work” (Verses 32, 34).

Then the Samaritan woman, who had stirred up the men of the city, returned bringing many with her to see the One of whom she spoke. As Jesus and His disciples saw the multitudes coming to meet Him, He said to His disciples: “Do you not say, Four months more and then the harvest? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest”.

Jesus says winning the lost cannot be put off. We are not to wait and say that it is not harvest time. Jesus says it is always harvest time when it comes to winning souls. It is a matter of great urgency and we are not to delay, or be slothful, or make excuses. In Matt, 9:37-38 Jesus told His disciples “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field”.

Jesus says the problem is not sinners being ready to be saved but with the lack of laborers. The problem is that God’s people are so unconcerned about those around them going to Hell.

 

THE PARABLE OF THE GREAT BANQUET

Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited; ‘Come for everything is now ready’.

But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me’.

Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me’.

Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come’.

The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame’.

‘Sir’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room’.

Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. ‘I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet” (Luke 14:16-24).

Note how the servant in this parable is constantly told to “Go”. Every time he came back and reported to his master, he was again commanded to go. Most of us would have stopped after the first time and said, “Well, I went out and no one came. I did my duty”. But the master says, “No you did not do your duty, you go back out and go into the streets and alleys and bring in all you find. If you are turned down in one place, then go to another!”

So the servant goes out a second time, and this time has some success, and reports to his master, ‘I did what you said, but there is still room”. Most of us would have said, “Surely now I have done my duty!” “No” says the master, “Go out into the roads and lanes and make them come in that my house may be full”.

It is very clear to see that the master in this parable had his servant constantly going. We do not read of the master telling his servant he needs to rest between goings. No, this is a matter of great urgency with the master. “Go! Go! GO! That my house will be full! The Lord is anxious that there will be no empty seats. That no lost sinner will be without an invitation.

Note how the servant is constantly going and his comfort and physical needs are always secondary to the urgency of winning the lost. In II Cor. 4:3 Paul warns: “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost”. God keeps before us the urgency of the task. In Mark 16:15, “He said to them, “go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation”. Here the stakes are so high and the message so important that God has commanded all His people to bring the gospel to everyone.

This is not merely a challenge given by the resurrected Savior but a command. If we fail to witness it is because we do not take the Lordship of Christ seriously. Those who have been saved from eternal doom should have the utmost concern that others hear the saving message of the gospel. The vision of lost souls in eternal torment should always be before us.

We have too little of the mind of Christ, Too little of His love and compassion for lost souls. His seeking the lost is too little imitated by us. His days of tireless effort and nights of prayer, so that He might glorify the Father and finish the work given to Him to do, are not realized as models for us to copy as principles by which we are to live. Yet we are commanded to follow in His steps; the servant is to walk where His Master has led the way.

The shadow of the great Day of Judgment for the lost must fall over our spirits and cause us sleepless nights of prayer and days of seeking the lost. If we could hear the cries of those in Hell we would hear them pleading, as the rich man in Hell pleaded with Abraham concerning Lazarus: “I beg you father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment” (Luke 16:27-28).

Winning the lost was the all-absorbing concern of New Testament Christianity. Paul declared, “I have become all things to all men that I might by all possible means save some” (I Cor. 9:22).

 

WE ARE TO SOW MUCH SEED

“The seed we are to sow is the Word of God” (Luke 8:11). We are to sow at all times, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season” (II Tim. 4:2). Unlike earthly seed that is to be planted in its season, we are to sow the Word of God all year round, in season and out of season. This means when it is popular and convenient and when it is unpopular and inconvenient.

We must sow seed everywhere: “How blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream, and letting your cattle and donkey’s range free” (Isa. 32:20). Cattle and donkeys were used for plowing and sowing seed.

We are to sow regardless of circumstances: “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap” (Eccl. 11:4). Those who are looking for the perfect time to witness, will likely never find it.

We are to sow with tears of concern: Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. “He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him” (Psa. 126: 6). Here we are told that the key to winning the lost is to go before God with a broken heart and plead for them in prayer, and then sow the word of God to them.

Our greatest hindrance to witnessing for Christ is given in Rev, 2:4: “You have forsaken your first love”. In Matt. 6:24 Jesus warns us, “No one can serve two masters”. Here is the reason for Christians losing their first love for Christ. Jesus warns us that serving Him will demand dedication. He must come first in our lives.

And in Luke 9:62 He warns us: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God”. Anyone who sets out to serve God must be single-minded, looking straight ahead, giving his full attention to the work of God. We are not to look back and be distracted by other interests. If we have more than one master, there is going to be conflict.

This is why Jesus said in Luke 9:23-24: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it”.

Bearing a cross means far more than putting up with some irritations in life. The cross speaks of death. His disciples knew what it meant to take up a cross from seeing Roman executions where the victim would carry his cross to his own execution. To follow Christ will cost self-denial and death to self. This is why Paul declared: “I am crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20) and “I die daily” (I Cor. 15:31).

Many use the excuse that they do not have the “Gift of witnessing”. But witnessing for Christ is not a gift but a command. It is like saying that we do not have the gift of not stealing or the gift of not committing adultery. We are all commanded to witness for Christ. Our failures do not come from a lack of ability or talent, but a lack of obedience. We have too little influence over the world, because the world has too much influence over us.

Jesus says that if we want to save our lives we must lose them by giving up our wants and pursuits by taking up His wants and pursuits. Then we will save our lives by finding true meaning and purpose. It is the exchange of Christ’s life for our life.

One of the greatest hindrances for witnessing for Christ is just plain timidity or the fear of making a mistake. The only way to learn to witness is by doing it. It is better to make mistakes in our first efforts and correct those mistakes afterward, than not to make any effort. The greatest mistake we can make is not to witness. Nothing would ever be done if we waited to do it so well that no one could find fault with it. We will always find obstacles, and Satan will be quick to point them out, but we must not let them hinder us from making an honest attempt.

We must refuse discouragement, timidity, or any other obstacle that would hinder us. We must not let the lost go unwarned. We must not make excuses. We must give up this business of self-occupation. As long as we are occupied with self, we are not occupied with Christ. If we are to be wise in the Biblical sense we must overcome these obstacles and step out in faith.

We are not called to do this work alone. In Rev.22: 17, we are told: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life”. Here the bride refers to believers. Thus the Holy Spirit and believers work together in bringing the gospel to the lost. This fact should give us all great confidence.

THE REWARDS FOR WITNESSING

Prov.11: 30 says: “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life: and he that wins souls is wise”.

Dan.12: 2-3: “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake; some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like stars forever and ever”.

Here we see that soul winners receive special rewards. The wise Christian will take the long look. He will not live for the things that will pass away with this life.

In Matt. 6:19-20 we are exhorted “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.

The wise Christian will not be concerned with the passing pleasures of this world. He will not lay up treasures on this earth that he will someday have to leave behind. But he will lay up treasures in eternity where he will enjoy them forever. We must make up our minds that if we serve Christ the world will call us fools, but God says we are wise. If we live for ourselves, and worldly things, the world will call us wise, but God says we are fools. We must decide whose commendation we want because we cannot have them both.

The soul winner is wise because he invests in the most important thing in the world. Nothing can compare to it. He invests in eternal souls that will never perish.

Our Lord set the example for us when He said: “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9: 4).

Many of us work harder at business than we do for the Lord. While the unsaved are wearing themselves out in sin and pleasure, we should be wearing ourselves out for the Lord. Winning the lost is our main duty. It is our major not our minor. Keeping house and filling a job is our minor, winning the lost for Christ is our major.

Someday we must leave this world so we must work while it is yet day for “night is coming, when no one can work”. This world, like a wrecked ship, is going down. We cannot save the ship, but we can rescue some of the passengers. Let us all work so that we may hear the Lord’s, “Well done, good and faithful servant . . . . . enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matt. 25: 21). This joy of our Lord is the joy that was set before Him, that caused Him to endure the cross (Heb. 12:2), the joy “In bringing many sons to glory”.

It is the same joy referred to when He said: “I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). It is such an important Job that all of heaven watches and rejoices. We must determine that nothing is going to turn us aside from our goal to win souls.

We are to begin with our families and friends. The first Christians were to preach the gospel to the Jews first. They were to begin at Jerusalem because that is where they were. The disciples were Jews themselves and had a point of contact among the Jews. Our first responsibility is to our own sphere of influence, our relatives and friends. We all have our own sphere of influence where we live every day.

God expects us to use our family ties to influence our families for Christ. This closeness of family ties does not change, even after death. The rich man in hell pleaded for someone to warn his five brothers. As individual believers we are not responsible for the whole world, but we are responsible to God for our own little world. Each of us lives in a world of our own. God wants that world. We all have our sphere of influence, our place of contact, the place that God has put us, where we live every day. Each of us is the center of an ever-widening circle of people. There are those in that circle who no one else can reach but us.

 

PRACTICAL HELP FOR WITNESSING.

Be in a constant attitude of prayer and dependence on the Holy Spirit’

Be courteous and do not argue. Be firm but polite. Remember that your concern is not to win an argument but a soul.

Stay on the main track. Do not get off the subject of their personal need of Christ.

Present the gospel to them. All of the Bible is important. But there is one part that is essential to salvation and that is the gospel. It is the message of Christ’s death as our substitute, to pay the penalty for our sins, and His resurrection from the dead, and that now as the risen and living Savior, He is waiting to be received as Savior and Lord according to Rev. 3: 20: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me”. This refers to intimate fellowship with Him. They are saved by believing, but you must present to them what it is they must believe. They must know in very clear and simple terms 4 things to be saved.

  1. You must show them that they are sinners. Use Romans 3:10-12.
  2. You must show them the penalty for their sin. Use Romans 6:23.
  3. Show them that Jesus paid this penalty for them. Use Rom. 5:8.
  4. They must be willing to turn from their sins and trust in Jesus as personal Savior.

If they say they believe these things then lead them in prayer asking them to repeat only the things that they truly believe. Lead them to confess that they are sinners and that they are trusting in Jesus for cleansing from their sins and new life from Him. Give them assurance of salvation from the Word of God. Use John 3:16, John 3: 36; and John 5:24. Show them that if they believe in Jesus with their heart and confess to God that they trust Jesus to save them they are saved: Use Romans 10:10.

Then tell them to read a good simple translation of the Bible and spend time in prayer daily, and witness to their new faith. Help them find a good Bible believing church.

ETERNAL PUNISHMENT

HELL

“What will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel?” (I Pet. 4: 17).                         “What will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (I Pet. 4: 18).

Many become angry with the subject of hell. They become indignant and say it is not good to frighten people. But is it true that it is not good to frighten people? That depends: If you frighten a child about the boogie-man and cause him to have nightmares and be afraid of the dark, that’s not good. But if you find your child playing with matches and you frighten him by telling him that this could kill him or scar him for life, that is a different story, for then you are causing him to fear a very real danger.

If a doctor tells you that you have a terrible illness when you do not, that is not good. But if the doctor tells you that you have this illness when you really do, it may frighten you but it can also save your life.

The world is offended by serious talk about sin and eternal suffering and many pulpits are unwilling to offend people. These are like the doctor who says you have a clean bill of health while cancer is eating away your insides. The contemplation of what it means for a soul to be eternally lost should bring grief to every Christian as it did the Lord Jesus.

But it is a stern fact that must be dealt with and cannot be evaded, however painful, if we consider seriously the teachings of Jesus Christ. I did not invent Hell and I cannot destroy it by not mentioning it. For his own conscience sake the Christian cannot be silent on this subject any more than he could silently slip out of a burning building without warning the rest of the occupants because he did not want to frighten them!

As long as men and women refuse to see God’s holy outrage against sin they will refuse to accept the fact that sin brings such severe consequences to the one whose sins have never been blotted out. Eternal damnation is the result of sin. You may laugh at sin now but someday you will weep bitter tears. You may think of sin as a small thing, but someday you will see how completely it has ruined your eternal soul. Because we are born sinners we are unaware that we are sinners. Even Angels

Could not escape the consequences of sin when they rebelled against a holy God, and neither can we.

In the 6th chapter of Galatians we are told, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life”.

We cannot deceive God, we can only deceive ourselves: what a man sows he will reap. Mankind thinks they can get by with sin, but God warns us that if we play with fire we are going to get burned. We sow today but tomorrow we must reap. “Woe to the wicked! Disaster is upon them! They will be paid back for what their hands have done” (Isa. 3:11). How can disaster not be upon them since they have declared themselves the enemies of Almighty God. How terrible it will be to stand before an infinitely holy God whose holiness you have turned into unquenchable fire!

It will do you no good to plead that you are as good as others. God is not going to judge you by man’s standard. He is going to judge you by the standard of His own holiness! How do you measure up? It will do you no good to plead that God is too good to punish sinners. It is BECAUSE He is good that He will judge sinners. His very goodness DEMANDS that evil be punished. It is not because God is mean and ugly but because WE are.

While it is true that He is a loving, gracious God, that He “so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16); And it is also true that He is “Patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (II Pet. 3:9).

It is also true that His love does not overlook sin. It does not excuse your sin. His love has provided a way for your sins to be removed from you and paid for by another—the Lord Jesus Christ, but if He is rejected then there is no hope for you.

Heb. 12:29 says: “Our God is a consuming fire”. He is Holy and will not overlook sin.

Mal. 3:2 says: “But who can endure the day of His coming? Who shall stand when He appears?”

II Thess. 1:8: “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus”.

I once heard a liberal minister say that he did not teach about Hell but only what Jesus taught. He said that Jesus did not teach about Hell but only love, and that Hell was the subject of Moses and Paul. The truth is that this man’s Jesus exists only in his own imagination. He chooses to believe a pleasant lie rather than unpleasant truth.

Lets look at what the real Jesus said on this subject:

Matt. 8:12: “They shall be cast into outer darkness”.

Matt. 10:28: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Hell”.

Matt. 13: 41-42: “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they shall weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping a gnashing of teeth”.

Matt. 25: 41: “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels”.

Matt. 25:46: “Then they will go away to eternal punishment . . .”.

Matt. 22:13: “Then the king told the attendant, ‘tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”.

Luke 16:23: “In hell, where he was in torment . . .”.

John 3:18: “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already for he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son”.

These are the words of our loving Lord Jesus. May God grant that no one reading this will ever know the meaning of these words by awful experience.

We are told in Heb.9: 27: “ . . . man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment”. You are going to die and you are going to be judged.

Death is certain. In James 4:14 we read: “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes”.

Job 14:1-2 reads: “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure”.

Psa.103: 15-16: “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more”.

The poet has written: “I have an appointment with death, and I shall not fail to keep that appointment”.

There is a legend of a merchant in Bagdad, who one day sent his servant to the market. Before long the servant came back, white and trembling and in great fear said to his master: “Down in the market place I was jostled by a woman in the crowd. When I turned around I saw that it was death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture. Master, please lend me your horse for I must quickly ride away to Samara and avoid her!” So the merchant lent him his horse and the servant rode away in great haste to Samara.

Later the merchant went down to the market place and saw death standing in the crowd. He went over to her and asked: “Why did you frighten my servant this morning? Why did you make a threatening gesture?”

Death answered: “That was not a threatening gesture, it was a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him here in Bagdad, for you see I have an appointment with him tonight in Samara”.

Each of us has an appointment with death!

Judgment is also certain. In II Pet. 3:7 we are told “the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of ungodly men”.

We are told in Rom. 2: 4-5: “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed”.

We are told in Ecclesiastes 11:9: “Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment”. In other words God has given you freedom of choice. You can live as you please. But God calls you to remember that there is an accounting day in which you will be judged.

Acts 17:31 tells us: “For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead”. People spend thousands on fortunetellers and quake prophets trying to know their future. But the 2 most important things about man’s future has already been revealed: “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment”.

We have come to a time when we talk glibly of the Fatherhood of God. Many think of God as smiling down on everyone as His children. But God does not see all men as His children. He separates mankind into two classes. The first class is seen in John 1:12: “To all who received him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God”.

The second class to in John 8:44, where Jesus referred to those who rejected Him with these words, “You belong to your father, the devil”. In verse 41 these same people had claimed to be the people of God. But Jesus said they were wrong, they were children of the devil. He rejected their claim. He is the creator of all men but He is not the Father of all men.

After preaching on Hell a minister was confronted by a woman who asked him if he had any children. He replied that he did. “Do you love them?” she asked. He replied that of course he did. “Well” she said, “What would you think of a father who could save his children from suffering and refused to do it?” He answered that that man would be a very poor father. “Just what I thought” she said, “That’s just what you are making God out to be. He would be a monster if God sent His children to Hell”.

The minister replied, “But you have made one mistake. God does not send His children to Hell. God has a home for His children, and another place for the devil and his children”.

Ministers who say that God will not condemn the unsaved to eternal suffering are blind leaders the Bible warns about. II Tim. 4:3-4 warns of these men: “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to hear what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths”.

In other words, these false teachers, rather then telling the truth and offending you, will tell you what you want to hear to keep your favor and support.

It was the same in the days of the prophets of old. God had warned Israel through the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel that Israel would be destroyed and its people carried away into captivity because of their sins. But the people hated these prophets and mocked and persecuted them.

They did not want to hear the truth, so they gathered to themselves false prophets to tell them what they wanted to hear. In the 13th chapter of Ezekiel God condemns these false prophets and says He had never sent them. They claimed to come from God and speak God’s words. But God says He did not send them, and because they spoke lies, He was against them.

These false prophets told Israel that God would not judge them for their sins. God condemns them for declaring “Peace, when there is no peace”. He compares them to men who come to a wall whose foundation is crumbling and ready to give way, and instead of condemning the unsafe wall and warning the people of the danger, they covered the wall with whitewash. God warns them that He will send a storm of judgment that would break down the wall and expose the rotten spiritual foundation.

Men who warn people of their faulty spiritual foundation are never popular, but they flock to those who will whitewash their spiritual condition. The Bible warns in of them in II Pet. 2:3: “In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up”. The slogan of the business world is “Give the people what they want”. This may be alright in some cases but in the spiritual realm it can be fatal. There are laws protecting consumers from certain products. These laws are necessary because there are those who will sell anything, no matter how dangerous or harmful in order to get your business. This is also true of many preachers. The Bible warns that many of Satan’s greatest servants include ordained ministers and seminary professors. Men who do not know God, but profess to speak for Him.

Another lie that is propagated is that no on can know until they die where they will spend eternity. John 3:18 assures us that “whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son”. Already “condemned” or “not condemned”. Already, right now you are either saved or condemned.

In John 3:36 we read: “Whoever believes in the son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him”.

Note the present tense of these words: The one who believes in the Son HAS, not will have or may have but HAS eternal life the moment they believe. And note that the wrath of God REMAINS on the one who rejects Christ. The unbeliever is Now under condemnation and exposed every moment to an eternal Hell. He need do nothing to be condemned but to continue as he has until now. God’s wrath REMAINS on him.

This is the settled and intense anger of an eternal, Almighty God who created you and can do with you as He pleases. God loves the sinner and longs for him or her to be saved. The Lord Jesus paid a terrible price to redeem you. The Tender, loving Holy Spirit seeks to draw you to the Savior. He grieves over your rejection of Christ. But once your rejection is final He honors your free will. C. S. Lewis said that those who receive Christ will say to Him “Your will be done”. But to those who rejects Christ He will say to them “Your will be done.” Make no mistake about it Hell is a reality, a very grim reality. It is a place of unimaginable suffering, hopelessness and despair.

If God sends you to Hell if will not be to purge you of your sins and fit you for heaven, but to condemn you forever. It is not to rehabilitate you. You will have rejected the only remedy. This is what is meant in Prov. 29:1” “A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy”. You

Will go to Hell because you have hardened your heart to the pleadings of the Holy Spirit until you became set in your rejection of Christ.

To be destroyed is not to cease to exist. It means that you are no longer fit for the purpose for which you were created. When you destroy a ship you do not make it cease to exist, but you make it unfit to fulfill its intended purpose. The word “Destroyed” means “Ruined”. When a person dies without Jesus Christ he is forever ruined from fulfilling his intended purpose. Mankind was created to glorify God in eternal, blessed fellowship. When mankind fell he was ruined for this purpose. But through Christ God reclaimed and restored those who would trust in Him to their original purpose for them. But those who refuse Him remain ruined by sin forever.

Those who reject Jesus Christ will remain ruined forever, “Without remedy” the Scripture says. You will go to Hell because you will be an unsaved sinner and you will remain there forever, because you will remain an unsaved sinner forever. You will have forever rejected the only cure!

No one declared the love of God more than Jesus, but at the same time no one declared the wrath of God more than Jesus. He came into the darkness of this world as Savior. But a savior is not a savior if there is nothing to save us from! Hell is the most horrible thing imaginable.

Rom. 6:23 says “For the WAGES of sin is death (an eternal death, where you will die forever). But the GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our lord”. When a man works for wages it is proper for him to want what is coming to Him, what he has earned. God tells us that someday He is going to pay us the wages that we have earned. Death, spiritual death of unending misery is what we have EARNED. This is what God OWES us. Eternal life is not wages, something we earn; it is a GIFT. A gift is not earned but must be accepted. When God gives us the GIFT of eternal life He forever blots out what we have earned.

If you never come to God as a helpless sinner and trust Him for His gift of eternal life, then you will get your wages, just what you have earned, your just due; nothing less. And as the cries of your torment are mingled with the rest of the inhabitants of Hell, they will sound out the words: “Wages, wages, wages”

Eph. 1:7 tells us: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”. Here the word “grace” means the opposite of what we deserve. On the cross Christ received the judgment we deserve, the opposite of what he deserved and now God deals with us the opposite of what we deserve, the offer of eternal life as a gift. We have EARNED judgment   but through Christ God offers us the GIFT of eternal life.

God reveals to us our desperate condition and the terrors of Hell to open our eyes to our need of a Savior and drive us to the cross of Christ for pardon and eternal life. It is more than being saved from Hell. It is a new life of fellowship with God that will span the ages of eternity.

Back in the days of the pioneers prairie fires were common. If the wind drove the fire toward you it moved so fast that it was impossible to outrun it. If they could not get to a body of water in time they were trapped and doomed. There was only one thing they could do. They had to stand with their backs to the fire and set fire to the high grass in front of them. Now they were standing between two raging fires. The one moving toward them, and the other, in front of them, moving away from them. When a large enough area in front of them had been burned, they would simply step onto the area that had already been burned and they were safe from the fire coming toward them. The fire could not reach them because they were standing where the fire had already been.

This is a picture of the person who is safe in Christ. The fires of God’s judgment that we have earned, burned themselves out on Christ, and all who are in Christ are safe because they are standing where the fire of God’s judgment had already fallen.

The Lord Jesus pleads with you today to consider the lost condition of your soul.

“What good would it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul”(Matt. 16:26). He wants you to consider the value of your soul. He declares that it is worth more than the whole world. God wants you to consider His offer of eternal life through Christ: “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Matt. 16:26).