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.

 

 

 

 

 

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).

Heaven

HEAVEN                                                                                 1

“ However do not rejoice that the spirit’s submit to you but rejoice that your names are written in heaven”.

Our Lord had sent His disciples out on a preaching tour. He gave them power over demons and to heal the sick. They returned rejoicing and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name. Jesus replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:17-20).

Christians should think about heaven far more than they do. Col. 3:1-4 tells us: “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”.

In the original Greek it has the thought of an ongoing process. “Keep on setting your mind of things above, so that you can anticipate and look forward to and prepare for them. It is an intense and fervent seeking of the things above. We are to diligently pursue an understanding of heaven. Our thoughts should lovingly and longingly dwell on Jesus.

We should rejoice because our names are written there as citizens of that heavenly realm. This short struggling life is incidental compared with eternity. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (II Cor. 4:17-18).

This world is not the home of the children of God. We are only sojourners here, temporary dwellers in a land not ours. “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20).

“For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves” (Col. 1:13).

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household” (Eph. 2:19).

Heaven is our real home and our treasures should be there as well. Our thoughts should dwell on that sweet home of God, the holy angels and the departed saints: “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Heb. 12: 22-24).

It is tragic that so many of God’s people live in fear of death. How this dishonors our heavenly Father. It is His will that we face death with assurance and confidence.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psa. 116:15). If we know Him who conquered death, there need be no fear or dread, for death will only hasten us on to glory. The prophet Hosea recorded God’s promise: “I will redeem them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death” (Hosea 13:14).

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).

The resurrection of Christ transformed forever the nature of death for those who place their faith in Him. At last we will be with the One we were created for in the place we were created to be. We were not meant for this present world, we were meant for heaven. God has put within mankind the sense that this life is not all there is. The Bible gives the reason for this, “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

The reason there is this inner conviction that death is not the end and that heaven exists is because God put this conviction in our hearts when He created us in His image.

One of the reasons there are so many Christians who do not reach others for Christ is because they do not feel secure themselves. If a person is unsure of their own footing they are in poor condition to rescue others who are drowning. They must first be sure of their own footing.

Paul said, “I know whom I have believed and, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day” (II Tim. 1:12). He had assurance.   “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

Many Christians cannot understand why they are so lacking in spiritual power. It is because they have their treasures down here. It is not necessary for a person to have many possessions to have their treasure down here. It is not what a person has, but what his heart is set upon.

“It is to our great loss that we fail to live under the influence of eternal things. So many of us are digging in the dirt for worthless things of this world when the crown of gold is above our heads. We are earth-bound. Our minds are set on things below and not on the glorious and enduring treasures above; living as though we are going to be here forever. We seem to forget that our days are numbered and will vanish like a vapor, and that our eternal home lies beyond. We do not rejoice in the old hymn, “Our heart is in heaven, our home is not here”.

A clearer vision of heaven will expose the emptiness of the things of this world, and set our hearts on the heavenly and eternal things above. We will function better here if our hearts are there. We will have a truer perspective and greater sense of values. We will not mistake the artificial treasures that perish for the priceless treasures that will endure forever. Our Lord taught us to “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:20).

We are not reaching the world for Christ because believers themselves have been conformed to the world and have become worldly minded. We must be constantly exhorted to live for heaven because so much of our treasures are down here.

Where is your treasure? In Heb. 11:13-14 we are told that the saints of old saw these promises of a heavenly country “from a distance”. It reads: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised: they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own”.

The saints of old refused to settle down in this world, but lived with the heavenly country always in view.

“In Heb. 11:10, speaking of Abraham it says: “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God”.

From the moment that Abraham, by faith, saw that city, he declared himself a pilgrim and a stranger on this earth. As Abraham journeyed to the Land of Canaan, he knew that it was not the ultimate goal. And when he arrived there he still continued to live in tents, because he knew that the real goal was that heavenly land of promise.

The rich, fertile plains of Sodom had no temptation for him. He declared that he saw another country. He had turned his heart from the fleeting world and all its temptations. He has something better. He had his eyes fixed upon a city that would endure when the things of this world were swept away. He set his heart upon that city and laid his treasures there. How poor a man is, no matter how much he has laid up in this world, if he has no treasures in heaven.

Many of God’s people make the mistake of looking for their rewards down here and become discouraged when there are none. A missionary who had buried his wife and two children in Africa, greatly discouraged was returning home to America with broken health to recover. On the same ship was then president Teddy Roosevelt returning from a hunting trip.

Hundreds were waiting to welcome him home. As the missionary looked upon that scene he whispered, “Lord, I have sacrificed everything and no one is here to welcome me, while this man returns from a mere hunting trip and hundreds are here to welcome him home. When he stepped off the boat he heard the gentle voice of God say, “Ah, but son you are not home yet, you are not home yet”. Let us remember that the reward lies beyond. It is enough to know that we are serving the One who gave His all for us. We are to serve here and the rewards come after.

To Christians who are suffering with great pains and loses in this world, Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”. Your day is coming when He will transform your suffering into glory. Press on a little longer, doing what you can for His cause, while anticipating being with Him when glory will burst through the dark clouds in a glorious day that will never end.

Our heavenly Father has assured us that, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psa. 116:15). And that the believer can say “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” and that to “Depart, and be with Christ . . .is far better” (Phil. 1:21, 23). He tells us that “All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present or things to come” (I Cor. 3:21). Here we are told, that among other things, death belongs to His saints. It is our servant, conquered by Christ. Death is the terrible enemy of the unbeliever for it ushers him into the realm of eternal woe. But the believer is ushered into the presence of Jesus Christ.

Safe in Christ the believer can cry out: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”(I Cor.15: 55). The assurance to the believer is that “To be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (II Cor. 5:8). Heaven is the Father’s house. It is the glorious place toward which the dying saint lifts his eyes with joy. The Lord Himself is with the believer in the hour of death in a special way. He said: “I am with you always” (Matt. 28: 20). And “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb.13: 5). Although we know that He is with us always, there is a special sense in which the Lord is very close to the believer when he or she faces death. It is not really death at all, it is life.

As john Newton lay dying someone said to him, “Well, you are still in the land of the living”. “No”, he said, “I am in the land of the dying yet, but I will soon be in the land of the living”. This is the land of sin and death and tears, but there they never die. It is perpetual life. It is never ending joy.

The English scientist Sir Michael Faraday, the discoverer of electro-magnetism, was asked on his death bed, “What speculations do you have on life after death?” He replied, “Speculations? I have no speculations, I am resting on certainties”.

Mary Slessor, the missionary, on her death bed said, “do not talk of the cold hand of death, it is the hand of Christ”.

The missionary, Joseph Neesima’s last words were, “Peace . . . Joy . . . Heaven”.

When Adoniram Judson, the great missionary to Burma, came to his dying hour, he said, “I fell like a schoolboy bounding for home”.

When death was imminent for Richard Baxter, someone asked him how he felt, he whispered “I am almost well”.

When Thomas Fuller came to his last moments he said to his nephew, James Cuthbert, “Good night James . . . but it will soon be morning”.

Catherine Booth’s last words were, “the waters are rising, but I am rising higher”.

Samuel Rutherford said, “Oh, how sweet and glorious our case will be when that fairest among the sons of men will lay His fair hand to our sinful eyes and wipe away all tears. O time, run swiftly, and hasten that day”.

As his life ebbed away, the great evangelist D. L. Moody said, “If this is death, it is sweet, it is beautiful. This is my coronation day, earth recedes, heaven opens, God is calling and I must go”.

As a man and his son went over a long, narrow bridge over a broad river in the dark, the boy cried out “Daddy, I am afraid. His father took him in his arms. The boy fell asleep, to wake up the next morning in his own bed. That is what death is like for the believer. He falls asleep and wakes up at home.

We do not need to know any more about heaven than that God is waiting there to welcome us. It is His express desire that we share heaven with Him. The Lord Jesus said, “That where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).

The Scriptures give us added information about heaven. First of all, Heaven is a real literal place prepared by God. Concerning Abraham, we read: “For he was looking forward to the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10).

“Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He hath prepared for them a city” (Heb.11: 16). Who can conceive of a city built by God? It is beyond all human comprehension! Nor can we grasp the concept of a continuing city. Every- thing on earth decays and fades away.

I Pet, 1:4 refers to Heaven as “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade- kept in heaven for you. In the Scriptures earth is described as a place that is unstable and fleeting, Heaven is a place that is stable and eternal, “Here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Heb. 13:14).

Heaven is spoken of as the believer’s home, “At home with the Lord” (II Cor. 5:8). “In My Father’s house are many rooms”(John 14:2). Here the Lord does not tell us that we will each have a mansion in Heaven. No, what He says is far better than that.

There is only one mansion—the Father’s house. Believers will have rooms in the Father’s house. As His children our permanent dwelling place will be in our heavenly Father’s house! Home is the dearest place on earth to the human heart, a place of acceptance, love and security.

Multiply all the best things of home to the last degree and you will have a faint idea of what it will be like when we are forever “at home with the Lord”. “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psa. 23:6). At last we will be dwelling with God—a communion that will never be interrupted for all eternity! In the Book of Revelation, describing heaven, John says: “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev. 21:22).

There will be no need for a temple to have access to God, for we will be forever in the direct presence of God. In Romans 8:18 we read: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us”. All the suffering of a lifetime cannot be compared to one minute in heaven. On the other hand it can also be said that a lifetime filled with happiness cannot be compared to one minute in hell. No truer statement was ever made than “Only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last”.

There will be the absence of all bad things and the possession of everything good. “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be there God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev.21: 3-4).

There will be no taint of sin there. No death, no growing old and infirm. All these things will be banished forever.

It is a place of peace and beauty, of joy and glory. We will be free from any hindrances to perfectly love Him in return. We will then honor Him and worship Him without any flaws; no hindrances from the old, fallen Adamic nature.

We shall serve Him. Heaven will not be a place of “plenty of time but nothing to do”. There will be much activity in Heaven. “His servants will serve Him” (Rev. 22: 3). Many get a false idea of lying around on clouds. It is true that “They will rest from their labor” (Rev. 22: 13).

But the word for “labor” here means “a painful strain” something that is never experienced in heaven where eternal, untiring youth and strength will be ours in carrying out service for God. We will enjoy our work. We will accomplish more in one hour than we did in our lifetime here. Weariness and boredom will never be experienced.

The sum of heavens glory is to be with Jesus. “So we will be with the Lord forever” (I Thess. 4:17). Jesus and heaven are bound up together. To love Him and serve Him here is the beginning of heaven in the soul; to see Him face to face will be heaven complete and everlasting.

What a day that will be when we gather in the Father’s house and the holy angels sit spellbound as we give our testimonies of the love and grace of God.

It is no wonder that God has not revealed more about the glories and joys of heaven. It would spoil us for this world and we would not want to stay here another moment. Even with what we do know of this place, we sometimes grow homesick for heaven, but we have a purpose to fulfill here on earth.

The Christian view of death is totally different from the conception of those who do not know Him who is “The Resurrection and the life”. They speak of “the great beyond”, “the unknown”, “the unexplored land”, “a leap in the dark”. A Bob Ingersol, the noted atheist, stood at the grave of his brother and said: “Life is narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud, and the only answer is the echo of our wailing”. He was simply expressing the hopelessness of his unbelieving heart. But our hope is in Christ.

For the believer death is no tragedy but a glorious homecoming. It is not the sad end, but the glorious beginning. It is but the passing out of one life into a higher and better one, an exodus from this wilderness of sin and pain and sorrow, into a land of beauty, fellowship, joy and peace. Death is the swift passage into the life with Christ forevermore. It is the passageway into the Holy City, a quick journey home, at home with God.

Believers are to look up and fix their gazes heavenward. Christ has conquered death for us, and has made it the corridor of life and immortality. Fear not what lies beyond the grave in the mystery of eternity, Christ is there! In the 23rd psalm, that well-known passage of Scripture, David, speaking for the believer refers to walking through the “valley of the shadow of death”. Shadows cannot harm us. Death has lost its reality and terror, it is a mere shadow, it has lost its sting.

“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” (I Cor. 15: 55-57).

One day a little boy came running to his mother screaming that a bee was after him. She covered him with her apron, until finally she said, “You can come out now”. He peeked out from her apron, “You see, the bee has stung mommy and has lost its stinger in mommy’s arm and cannot hurt you now”. He watched as the bee crawled harmlessly down her arm.

This is what Jesus has done for us. He has removed the sting of death by taking the stinger in His own heart and made it harmless for us. We can rest content in the words of our Lord’s high priestly prayer in John 17:24: “Father, I want those you have given Me to be where I am”. That prayer will be answered.

Those who belong to Christ have the assurance that when that day comes for them they will be more than ready to enter the Father’s house.

The assurance of heaven should make us better servants down here. It should free us from the pursuit of earthly pleasure and comforts. Christians are soldiers on the battlefield in a foreign land. Soldiers do not build mansions on the battlefield. They do not sit under palm trees fanning themselves. They are to fight battles. Their weapons are to be prepared and ready. Our battle is “against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).

We will have peace there. Here we are to work. We are exhorted “Let us not become weary in doing good, for AT THE PROPER TIME we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).

Heaven is ours, but there is work to be done and rewards to be won if we “do not become weary in doing good”. We must use whatever time and opportunities we have while we still can. Our Lord 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). Some of us are farther along into the night of this life than others. We must use what time we have left to serve Him.

Heaven is the place of celebrating victories won, here is where we must win those victories. There we wear the crown, here is where we wield the sword. We are not to be as ease here. Lets us be faithful in testifying for our Lord and in separating from the worldly lusts that bog us down, and identifying ourselves with Him who is rejected by the world. May we realize that our lives are hid with Christ in God, and be found living out our days here below with an upward gaze.

To the unsaved: When the eternal God created Adam and Eve, He wove into their nature the hope of immortality which the succeeding centuries of sin and darkness were not able to erase completely from mankind’s inner being. God has put into man’s heart not only the consciousness of his limitations, but desires that take him far beyond his limitations. To perpetuate one’s name on earth is like writing in the sand by the seashore; to be lasting it must be written on eternal monuments.

If there is something in your heart that longs for something greater than this world offers, it was put there by God; it is a longing for Him. The only thing that stands between you and God is a Savior who was provided for us by God. The Lord Jesus Christ bore your sins on the cross. He paid the wages of sin for you. He rose from the dead and carries out the benefits of His death in behalf of those who trust Him. Whatever your preconceived ideas of God may be, He loves you and does not want you to perish. No matter how bad your past is He still loves you and wants to save you if you will turn from your sins and turn to Him.

You may say no to Him and die in your sins, but only because you choose to, and in the realm of darkness, the tender words of Jesus will forever haunt you: “You would not come to me that you might have life” (John 5:40).

No matter how miserable a person’s existence, they seldom want to die. Death carries with it a certain dread. From the day that the first couple laid their second born child in the grave, men have dreaded death. This mysterious enemy makes all quake with fear. It is no idle saying that “death makes cowards of us all”. But this fear has been removed for the children of God. The question of job: “If a man die, shall he live again”. Was answered by the empty tomb of Jesus who said, “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19).

Death has been the great leveler of all men. Your worldly greatness and wealth mean nothing. Death has conquered all; all but One. Death was powerless against Him. He allowed death to claim Him for three short days for our sins. Death could not hold the Lord of Life, and neither can it hold those who belong to Him.

Jesus is the only way to heaven, and anyone who tries to come any other way will be bitterly disappointed. Here is eternal life for the asking. Eternal life is not some thing, but some One: “For he that hath the Son hath life, but he that does not have the Son of God hath not life” (I John 5:12).

 

 

 

Doctrine of GOD

The knowledge of God is the most important thing about us. Not our doctrinal statements merely, but a practical understanding of the most important Person in of all. Mankind’s greatest problem is his problem with God. What is He like and how can we expect Him to act toward us? In fact, because we are God’s creation, this is our only problem. For if our relationship to God is wrong then ultimately nothing can be truly right. But if our relationship to Him is right then all else must ultimately turn out right. This is the deciding factor concerning our happiness and wellbeing.

Since God is too great to be comprehended by man’s finite understanding, any understanding that we do have must be revealed to us by God Himself or they could never be known. This revelation of God is found in the Bible. Without this revelation mankind is left to its own imagination concerning God.

Furthermore, any understanding of God brought about by man’s understanding must be in the image of man: as the Lord rebuked the wicked man in Psalm 50:21: “You thought that I was altogether like you”. This is the basis of all pagan religions, whether from the darkest unknown regions of the world to the modern humanist learning institutions that has set up human reasoning above the Word of God—that God is like man and flawed man at that.

God has revealed Himself and He holds us accountable for how we receive that revelation. All idolatry begins in the mind, as we are told in Romans 1:21-22: “ . . Their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools”.

Then followed the worship of idols made after the likeness of men and animals: “And exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles” (Romans 1:23).

This is seen in the worship of pagan God’s of the backward societies or in the so-called more scientific and sophisticated worship of man in the religion of humanism. It is all the product of man’s darkened, fallen mind.

Since God is infinite he must possess attributes about which we can know nothing in our present state, which will be revealed more and more throughout eternity, as His redeemed creation marvels at the unfolding of His glorious Being. God has been pleased to reveal His attributes that affect us now.

God’s self-existence. God had no beginning. Our minds struggle with this because we are creatures of time and we cannot escape the concept of origin. Everything we know had a beginning and we cannot help but extend this concept toward God. The concept of origin can only apply to created things and separates God from all else.

There is no past or future with God, for He is independent of time. Everything is in the present for Him. Space, time and matter are creations of God and cannot affect Him. God’s self-existence is stated in exodus 3:14 in His words to Moses: “I am who I am”. God alone owes His existence to no one. Man is a sinner because he refused to acknowledge his dependence upon God and violated the relationship that existed between him and God. Instead of exalting God as the center of his universe, mankind took that position to himself and made everything revolve around himself.

In this man followed the downward path of Lucifer, who, filled with his own selfhood, said in his proud heart: “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly’ on the utmost height of the sacred mountain, I will ascend above the top of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High”. This is sin in its undiluted essence, yet because man is born a sinner, he is unaware that he is one. He thinks that making himself center stage in his life is normal and natural. He declares that the source of his selfhood lies in himself as he ascends the throne of his own life and declares, “I am God”.

God is eternal. “From everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:2). He is eternal but He is not old. Age has to do with time not eternity. Jesus Christ stepped out of eternity into time in order to redeem our fallen race. This is the message of the incarnation of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross: “ . . . Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (II Timothy 1:10). There are only two options open to us: Eternal happiness with Christ, or eternal tragedy without Christ. For those outside of Christ time is a ravaging monster, but for the children of God time is the hand that brings them into the presence of God.

God is infinite and omnipresent. These are closely related. Infinite means that God is not limited by time or space. Omnipresent means that God is present in all His fullness eveywhere in time and space. The teaching of Scripture is that God created all things by the Logos, the Word, who is identified as the second Person of the trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ. He was present in the creation before He became incarnate in human nature. He made all things and remained in His creation to sustain it. But more than that He was the moral light that enables every man to know Good from evil (John 1:1-10). The universe is not sustained by a set of impersonal laws but by the infinite and universal presence of the Logos, the Word of God.

All created things are limited, only God is infinite. Mankind is limited and his sin is limited. The amazing and glorious message of the gospel is that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20). This means that man’s limited sin was overwhelmed by God’s unlimited grace through Jesus Christ. His love and grace are measureless. His love for us went to the farthest extreme of giving His own Son to die for our sins.

The fact of God’s omnipresence personalizes man’s place in the universe, and gives meaning and value to his life, all his thoughts and actions. And even more than this: God dwells in every believer in Christ. He can dwell in each believer and hear all their prayers and give His full undivided attention to each one.

God is Omnipotent—Almighty. God has unlimited power. There is no power anywhere that is not His. Since He has all power, no one else can possess power that He did not give to them. The power He gives to others, He still possesses. It all flows out from Him and returns to Him. While He has delegated power to His creatures, He has not relinquished it. He gives but does not give away. What He gives still remains His. Since His power is unlimited He can do anything as easily as anything else. All He does is without effort.

In Isaiah 40:28-31 God Himself declares: “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 shall 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”.

Here we are told that the Lord will impart strength to His weary and worn out children who will wait upon Him. When we feel that we cannot go on, we can go to Him and be renewed. And when we are old we can still go on when the youths all around us fail for lack of strength, if we will but wait upon Him for strength. In the meantime we can look forward to the day that we will receive new bodies that will be infused with eternal power, that will be sinless and never grow weary, be sick, grow old or die.

God is omniscient—All-knowing. He has always known everything. He knows everything that will happen or can happen. Psalm 147:5 declares: “His understanding has no limit”. His understanding is perfect. Since He is the source of all things He has perfect understanding of all things.

His creation can only know what He has given them to know. Only He is wise in Himself. Because God is all-knowing, He sees everything perfectly, The end from the beginning. He sees every detail in relation to all other details, and is able to bring about His predestined goals. He never has to guess, is never surprised or caught off guard, never makes a mistake.

God is holy. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty” (Isaiah 6:3). We can have no real concept of God’s holiness. It is truly unique. It is incomprehensible and unapproachable. When the best of men are approached by God in the Scriptures, they melt within themselves in His presence. They are filled with a non-rational fear of the created in the presence of the uncreated.

Holy is not merely how God acts but what He is. To be holy He does not conform to a standard, He is the standard. Because God is holy, holiness is the necessary moral condition for the well-being of the universe. Whatever is holy is healthy, whatever is evil is diseased. Sin is a disease that can only end in death.

God’s first concern for His fallen, sinful creation is its moral well-being. He shares His holiness with fallen men through imputation and impartation through the Lord Jesus Christ. The first step in His redemption of the human race was to provide righteousness and holiness through Christ. He first must deal with the CAUSE of sin, then He will deal with the CONSEQUENCES of sin. Both of these are remedied in Christ. Today God’s people can rejoice in the fact that they have been saved from sins penalty, while they look forward to the time when God will remove all the effects of sin.