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An Effective Ministry, A Guest-post by Randal Amos

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

Paul’s ministry in 1 Thessalonians 2

2:1 – Paul taught his entrance among the Thessalonians was a positive thing.

What qualified the ministry to be counted as positive?

13-16“Ye received it [the word preached] not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God”.  Therefore the Word effectually changed their hearts.  They became followers, not of Jewish religion and its legal practices, but of the other churches of God in Christ Jesus.  And they suffered for this culturally and religiously but kept going on.

Why were the results effective?  Following are 8 things that characterized his ministry. 

#1.   2:2The Right Mentality  (mental toughness)

Paul was jailed and shamed in Philippi.  Yet he and the others did not quit.  They then went on to Thessalonica and “were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention”.  They had the heart of a lamb but the hide of a rhinoceros.

Negative happenings did not change their faithfulness.   

#2.   2:3-4The Right Message

Their message was not religious law, political reform, financial prosperity, a better health-diet or a self-help program but “the gospel of God”.  Their “exhortation was not of deceit” with twisted error or trickery.  It was a message that did not try to please men but only God.  He opened God’s Scriptures and proved the gospel – that Christ suffered fully for our sins to save from our due judgment.  And that this Jesus rose from the dead showing He is that Christ (God’s anointed Lord and Savior), Acts 17:1-3.

Many speakers dynamically motivate but with the wrong message.

#3.   2:5-6The Right Motive

Paul did not wear a “cloke of covetousness”, i.e. pretending on the outside to care and represent God which would mask from them his real reason – being after their money through guilt, greed and gimmicks.  He did not make “merchandise of you” (2Pet. 2:3).

Neither did he flatter their egos to make them feel ok and special the way they were so they would like him.  “Nor of men sought we glory” that would make him a spiritual hero to them thus making it easy for him to take advantage of them.  They, as saved souls, in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ were his only glory and joy, 2:19, 20.

He was not in it for self but for God – Who tries the heart, and is a witness of it.  

#4.   2:7, 11The Right Match  (balance)

When Paul was among them he was neither a tyrant nor a wimp.  He had both father and mother qualities to him.  He was “gentle among you” (not harsh) as a nursing mother is with her dear children.  But he also “exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father” does his to children.   He was kind but firm in the things of God.

He had grace and truth like his Lord. 

#5.   2:8, 17-20The Right Moving  (what moved his heart was love, not self)

He had heart affection for the people themselves.  He just didn’t give them the gospel and ‘hit and run’. “Ye were dear unto us”. With desire he tried to return – then wrote them.

He loved the Lord and His people also.  He knew a head has a body – both are cherished.

#6.   2:9The Right Method

It was more than just bringing the saving gospel word to them but he used methods that were strategically meant to reveal God’s character and ways – thus aiding their knowledge of God.  Because they needed the example to work for a living, he, rather than depend on them for financial help (which was his due, 1 Cor. 9), “labouring night and day” with his own hands in hardship to help meet his needs. (Acts 18:3, 20:34).  Thus they would learn not to covet.  Later he could compellingly and un-hypocritically charge from God to the idle busy bodies; “if any would not work, neither should he eat”, (2 Thess. 3:10).

The method in telling the message of God should compliment the God of the message, (1 Cor. 2:1-5).

#7.   2:10The Right Manner of Life

Paul not only told them what was right, he lived what was right.  “How holily, and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe.”  Holy is piety toward God.  Justly is righteous fairness toward man.  Blameless is public reputation.  Paul was a living example of his message – written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God.

Paul not only talked the walk but he also walked the talk. 

#8.   2:12The Right Mark  (aim of ministry to hit – goal)

Paul was not after money or fame.  He was not after stunning numbers but after their walk“That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory”.  As he would further write in 4:1; “ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more”.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth”, 3John: 4.

May we seek these 8 qualities by His grace in our ministries for the Lord Jesus.

Book review: The Miracles of Jesus: How the Savior’s Mighty Acts Serve as Signs of Redemption

Monday, March 28th, 2016

[Note: I received a complimentary review copy of the book in kindle format from the publisher.]

Vern Poythress, The Miracles of Jesus: How the Savior’s Mighty Acts Serve as Signs of Redemption. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016.

  Given brother Poythress’ occupation and credentials – he teaches at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA and possesses doctorates in mathematics and theology respectively – I expected this book to be somewhat highbrow. I could not have been more wrong! He writes in a lucid, everyday style that avoids technical jargon and sticks to analogies that any reader can understand. I also anticipated a philosophical discussion of miracles, somewhat on the order of a more modern version of C.S. Lewis’ classic Miracles. Once again I was mistaken. Brother Poythress focuses on direct exegesis of the text of the Bible, paying particular attention to the Lord’s miracles in the Gospels of John and Matthew. Along the way he gives a practical tutorial in using Edmund Clowney’s chart of interpreting miracles in their context, as well as looking at greater things pertaining to the gospel that are typologically shadowed in the different types of signs that Christ performed.

  Of course, I don’t subscribe to every bit of interpretation that brother Poythress puts forth. As one would expect from a brother of Presbyterian affiliation, his soteriology and eschatology are thoroughly Reformed (I’m premillennial, dispensational, so some of our future chronology differs, as well as our approach to Israel and the Church!) Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading this book and recommend it as a good primer for studying the gospel miracles in their context. As always, be good Bereans (Acts 17:11) and prayerfully compare everything with the Scriptures themselves!

Guest-post by R.P. Amos: Inclusive Diversity Or Exclusive Singularity – Which is of God?

Saturday, May 9th, 2015

The Bible answer would be both. But it depends on the setting. For example, most are inclusive of a diversity of food from potatoes to potluck but they are exclusive of eating garbage. Most include a variety of friends for their children but would exclude criminals.

There are three major areas in which God operates: the world of nations, the church of Christians and the kingdom of heaven (to come). Let’s consider the strategy of all three.

1 The World “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”

God’s agenda to the world is salvation and His tool is the gospel of Christ. The gospel (good news) of forgiveness, pardon from judgment and acceptance with God through the Lord Jesus Christ is open to all nations. Salvation is inclusive of all continents, classes, cultures, conduct and color. One’s religious upbringing, politics, gender, morality, finances, or sin does not exclude them from repenting and trusting the Lord Jesus. When saved they are equally forgiven, given the Spirit of God, and have His everlasting life.

The Corinthian church was taught about fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners, and told, “such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Yes, the gospel invitation is the most inclusive, pluralistic and diverse offer in the world.

 2 The Church “the church of God at Corinth … for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are”

God’s agenda with the church is edification in holiness. His tool is the Holy Spirit. The Lord’s goal in salvation is to have a separated people for Him. The saved church, unlike the condemned world, is to be an exclusive place from sin and error so God alone is glorified. While believers can befriend the world and aren’t to punish it (God will), yet in the church there is to be discipline of those practicing sin to maintain holiness unto God.

All believers are given the Holy Spirit. A transforming work begins to conform them alone into the image (likeness) of His only Son, Jesus Christ. The church has a single head – the Lord Jesus. It has a single power – the Holy Spirit. It has a single body of truth – one faith. It has a single authority on morals and truth – the Holy Scriptures. It is to have unanimity of mind, message and judgment under one Lord – Jesus Christ. It has one God and Father. And it has one hope for the future – the coming kingdom of heaven. Rather than staying a pluralistic diversity the church is to become a singular similarity.

3 The Kingdom the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD

God’s agenda with the kingdom is peace on earth with justice for all. His tool is the return of Jesus as King. Only the righteous inherit the kingdom (God’s church is to be a microcosm of this coming kingdom). It’s where Christ alone will be the world king. It’s where all nations shall come to the Lord Jesus alone for teaching and worship. The unrepentant, the unbeliever and the unrighteous are excluded from it. And it is because of this exclusion that there will be peace at last and glory unto God as the whole earth will be at rest. Like having peace in a marriage, all other wooers must be excluded.

{Some Scriptures: #1. The World. Mark 16:15 / Gal. 3:28 / Col. 3:11 / Rev. 5:9 / 1Cor. 6:9-11.

#2. The Church. 1Cor. 1:2, 3:17 / Acts 15:14 / Eph. 3:21 / 1Cor. 5:9-13 / Gal. 4:6 / Rom. 8:29 / Eph. 1:22, 23, 4:3-6,13 / 1Cor. 1:10.   #3. The Kingdom. Zech. 14:9 / Rev. 19:11-21 / Isa. 2:1-4, 11:1-9 / Gal. 5:19-21 / Eph. 5:5-6.}

 Practical Application From Above: Same Sex Marriage

 This is the teaching of Scripture concerning the sins of the Gentiles (nations).  Their depraved sins are a result of God in wrath giving them up to a depraved mind. This is because they intentionally pushed God from their minds. Their impaired mind will cause them to self-destruct morally, physically, and spiritually without knowing it. (Romans 1)

Therefore, God has a day that He will judge the world. (Rom. 2:5 / Acts 17:31).  But until that day the church is to take them the merciful gospel of salvation.  We are not to punish the world or disassociate from them – yet we are not to be partakers of their sin. For if they repent and believe on the Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, they too are called out of this world for His Name, Acts 15:14. They will be forgiven, saved from wrath and given a new mind. We must not be sidetracked in fighting for political issues of social change. A straight married couple without Christ will go to the same hell as a same sex married couple. The answer is the gospel conveyed by our good works and word, Philp. 2:15, 16. The solution is not a better world now but the coming kingdom tomorrow, Rev. 11:15.

However, in the church we are called to judge within.  We must obey God rather than man, Acts 5:29.  If the church is commanded to perform sinful marriages, or allow such in fellowship, or if we must personally marry the same sex, or change the truth of His Word – then we must be prepared to suffer persecution by His grace.  The church is the pillar and ground of the truth as God’s holy house, 1Tim. 3:15.  The 7 churches were exhorted by our Lord not to judge the corrupt world they were in but to judge themselves and repent of certain things so that they might please Him as His house and lamp stand.

1Cor. 5:9-13 puts it concisely:

:9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:

:10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.

:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

:12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?

:13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

In the world we are to be a pacifist but in God’s holy church we are to be an activist. In the church, Titus was told to exhort and rebuke with all authority. But in the world he was told not to fight or speak evil of men but be gentle unto all – for we used to live in sin too, and are only what we are because the Lord’s kindness came to us, Titus 2:15, 3:1-8.

The Heartbeat of Christian Assembling (A Guest-post by R.P. Amos)

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

The Heartbeat of Christian Assembling

What a brain is to a body or a CPU processor to a computer so is the revolutionary truth of Hebrews 10:19-23 to the Christian church.  All worship and service flows from this.

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) … Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together … .  Hebrews 10:19-23, 25

How does one come into God’s presence?  Is there legal protocol?  (Could one just show up in the president’s oval office without any authority, clearance or protocol)?  The living God is in the throne-room of heaven with all His holy angels. There are mighty thunderings and lightnings sounding out, burning lamps, winged creatures covered with eyes proclaiming His holiness 24 hours a day, and elders clothed in clean white falling down low before Him.  Let’s consider 7 truths of the gospel way of coming to this God.

1. CONTEMPORARY (progressive)            “By a new and living way”

Remember the old way.  Only the consecrated holy priesthood could represent God’s people in the service of God at His house.  So no Gentile man or any woman (even if she were a Levite Jew) could ever eat from the table of bread in the holy sanctuary.  And further, after Moses died, only one man on one day in one way was ever permitted to enter the holiest where God’s glory and presence was.  That man was the high priest, the day was Yom Kippur, and the way was with perfect sacrificial blood.  A solid veil curtain with guardian cherubim woven on it acted as a closed door to keep even priests out of the holiest.  Where the awesome, mighty and holy Lord lived over the ark between the guardian golden cherubim was a forbidden city: the most exclusive area on planet earth.

Now as we will see things have changed; it’s new, progressive and now contemporary!

2. DIVERSITY                                   “Having therefore brethren

Not the professional or the ordained hierarchy or the trained or even the elders are told to enter but “brethren”: the “common” believer.  Now regardless of diversity in nationality, religious upbringing, social class, culture or gender, the door is open for all believers to equally draw near to God Himself – without man’s representation or mediation.

3. LIBERTY (for accessibility)          “boldness to enter into”

In the Bible, liberty is not my right to choose what I want, but being free of restraints so I can do what God desires.  Now the restraint of not being permitted to be in God’s presence and house has been eliminated. So now we have personal access to God Himself to hear His voice from His Word like Moses did.  We all also have access to be actively involved His way in His spiritual holy temple today, the church, in worship and service.

4. HEAVENLY                                   “the holiest”

The holiest in this context is not some holy city or cathedral on earth. The true sanctuary where the Lord Jesus is now serving as High Priest is God-built in heaven, not man-made on earth.  The old temple was just a model of the heavenly reality we operate in now.  We come to the heavenly Jerusalem and we are the church of the firstborn with our names written in the membership of heaven.  Whether a church of believers meets in a home or a cave, they are connected to this golden heavenly glory where Jesus is enthroned.

5. AUTHORITY                    “by the blood of Jesus – and having an high priest”

By what authority do we as God’s holy priesthood dare directly approach Him in communion?  By what authority do all believers now fellowship in partaking of the bread and cup at the Lord’s supper and being actively involved in offering Him praise in congregational singing in the church?  By what authority do we offer Him the worship of our heart (the women offering silently in the church and all the men having the calling to do so orally, as well as teaching according to their gifts)?

The authority has nothing to do with education or ordination but consecration (dedicated).  The Lord Jesus has “by a new and living way, … consecrated for us”.  Our authority in Christ that equally qualifies every believer is the blood of Christ (it has completely cleansed us).  We come through the veil now.  It is open and it opened in two the second the Lord Jesus died for our sins.  If a shut door says ‘stay out’ an open door says ‘come in’.  And we have a high priest in heaven (the risen Lord) now representing every believer before God Himself.  Our authority is nothing less than the gospel!  Don’t let any manmade rule sew the veil back up and steal your liberty in Christ’s gospel.

6. UNITY                                           “Let us draw near”

Notice the words “us” and “our” in our text.  While we are made from diversity, we function as a unity.  The Lord desires not some special group of Christians enjoying this but all together.  Consider the Old Testament tabernacle tent curtain where God first lived on earth.  It was a plurality of pieces (10) and diversity of colors (4).  But each piece was to be cut in an equal measure so they would be exactly the same. Then the 10 equal pieces were first joined together into 2 separate equal sections.  Then the 2 large sections were joined together by 50 golden clasps through 50 blue loops to form 1,“and it shall be one tabernacle”.  God lived and lives in a unity from a plurality and diversity.

Now the church, His spiritual temple, is from a diversity of four: “every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation”.  Also a plurality of 10 groupings of people: Greek, Jew, circumcision, uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, male and female – all comprising the two great sections of Jew and Gentiles (nations) now made equally one in Christ by His Spirit which was sent from heaven on the Jewish feast of weeks (50 days – Pentecost).

7. STABILITY                                   “hold fast … without wavering.

This gospel is built on the promises of God in Jesus Christ, for “He is faithful that promised”.  While governments change and people fall out of favor with power, our High Priest lives forever for us and is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever”.  So we have access and nearness to God forever through the living Lord Jesus Christ: stability!

This is what Christian assembling is about and should freely express with reverence and joy.  May we progress with God and not be old fashioned going backwards to legalism.

{Some Scriptures for the seven truths.  CONTEMPORARY – (old way) Heb. 9:1-9 / Exo. 25:21, 22, Lev. 6:18, 24:9 / Num. 18: 1-10.  DIVERSITY – 1Cor. 12:13 / Col. 3:11, Matt. 23:8 / 1Tim. 2:5.  LIBERTY – Exo. 8:1 / Rom. 6:18 / Heb. 4:16, 9:8 / Eph. 2:17 / Rom. 5:2 / 1Cor. 11:26, chapter 14.   HEAVENLY – Acts 7:48 / Heb. 8:1-5, 9:11, 24, 12:22, 23 / Rev. 4, 15:5.  AUTHORITY – 1Pet. 2:5, 9 / Rev. 1:5, 6, 5:9 / Eph. 5:18,19 / 1Cor 11:23-26, 14:23-37 / Matt. 27:50, 51.  UNITY – Eph. 4:13 / Exo. 26: 1-6 / Rev. 5:9 / Col. 3:11, Gal. 3:28 / Eph. 2:13-16 / Lev. 23: 15-17 /Acts 2:1, 33.  STABILITY – Heb. 4:14, 7:25, 13:8}

Finding The Love Of Your Life

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

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Image found: http://visaodemenina.blogspot.com (via google images)

In much of the western hemisphere, today, 14th of February, is Valentine’s Day – a commercially-driven, overly-sentimental excuse to give flowers, candy, greeting cards, and special dinners to one’s spouse/boy-friend/girl-friend, etc. Many people will experience disappointment today as they have no one to lavish these dainties upon them. Others will be disillusioned by lackluster “dates” with sub-par would-be wooers. Like so many things in this world, this pseudo-holiday will fail to live up to many people’s expectations. Therefore, I offer an encouraging portrait of the perfect lover: one who exhibits sacrificial care by meeting his beloved’s deepest needs, resolute faithfulness amidst all of life’s seasons, and unparalleled generosity in lavishing gifts on them.

 1. His Sacrificial Care

This “glorious bridegroom of our hearts”[1] went to a garbage heap to win His bride. In a true tale far beyond Cinderella’s mythical rise from rags to riches, He left a place of security and beauty to traverse a slum. To prepare His beloved for her new life, He paid her crushing load of debt, and then ushered her into a new life with new values, desires, and blessings. As Romans 5:8-10 describes His self-sacrificing care: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

2. His Resolute Faithfulness

This lover will never leave or forsake those who are in a relationship with Him (Heb. 13:5.) In adversity He is there to comfort and strengthen (2 Cor. 1:3-4.) In times of blessing, He gives joy and rejoices with His loved ones (Zeph. 3:17; Eph. 1:3.) When we are tired, He is unwearied, and watches over us (Psa. 120.) He provides, protects, guides, loves, and assures us that we are completely fulfilled in Him (Col. 2:20.) As the Bible speaks of Him: “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Dt. 7:9.) He promises: “…I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt. 28:20.)

3. His Unparalleled Generosity

As a gift of love the Taj Mahal[2] pales in comparison to this one’s generosity: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16.) “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:31-32.) “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9.) There is no gift comparable to the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, which was poured out as a sacrifice for our sin. Three days later He put the finishing touches on the gift by rising from the dead; now He offers us eternal life and love in Himself. As Bonar rightly called it “the gift of gifts all other gifts in one!”[3]

Have you received the Lord Jesus Christ through faith? Eternal life is a relationship; like other relationships it is personal (Jn. 17:3.) It is no use saying: “I know about Jesus. I know who He was, what He did, and what He taught.” Do you know Him personally? Have you repented of your sins, telling Him that you want salvation from the judgment that you justly deserve? (Rom. 10:9.) Have you left off trying to earn His love and salvation – something that He says we can never do (Eph. 2:8-9)? Tell the Lord that you do not want to live for this world anymore; rather you want Him, and you want Him to change you and take you to glory with Himself (1 Jn. 3:1-3; 2 Cor. 5:17.) If you do so sincerely, you will find the perfect Lover, who will save you and love you for this life and the one to come.

 


[1] C.H. Spurgeon, “Amidst Us Our Beloved Stands,” accessed here: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/a/m/i/amidstus.htm on 2/14/13.

[2] The seventeenth century Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built this famous monument as a testament to his love for his wife, Empress Mumtaz Mahal see these links: http://tajmahal.gov.in/shah_jahan.html & http://tajmahal.gov.in/mumtaz.html

[3] Horatius Bonar, “Blessed be God Our God,” accessed here: http://www.stempublishing.com/hymns/ss/89 on 2/14/13.

New Year, Same Story

Monday, December 31st, 2012

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From my father I inherited a fascination with cemeteries and obituaries – a morbid, but interesting hobby that leads one to the biographies and of “the dead, small and great” (Rev. 20:12.) Accordingly, I was delighted when some friends took my family on a tour of historic Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia on the final day of 2012. We visited the graves of presidents (for the U.S., James Monroe and John Tyler; and for the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis), soldiers (George Pickett, J.E.B. Stuart, along with twenty other Confederate generals plus thousands of other servicemen from every major conflict of American history), governors (six from Virginia), Senators and Congressmen (too numerous to name), a U.S. Supreme Court Justice (Lewis Powell, Jr.), novelists (like Ellen Glasgow and James Branch Cabell) and scholars (historian Douglas Southall Freeman being one of my favorites.) The recurring thought that struck me throughout the day was that despite all of their varied accomplishments, these men and women all experienced the same inevitable reality: they all died. The first genealogy in the Bible is notable for this repeated refrain “and he died” about all the names recorded in the list – with one notable exception – Enoch, a man noted for his fellowship with the Living God (Gen. 5:21-24.) His experience of supernatural translation from earth to heaven prefigures a greater resurrection to come, which gives hope to all those who know and trust in the Creator God through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Life Lessons Learned At Gravesides

On the threshold of a new year it is helpful to remember what Christ said when He came to a cemetery. His magnificent promise was articulated to a beloved friend, who was grieving over her recently deceased brother; He told Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (Jn. 11:25-26.) This is the best news for 2013 – or any other year!

The Son of God came to make graveyards obsolete. He has transformed their status from long-term storage of mortal remains to temporary holding places of bodies that will one day be reconstituted. For those who received Christ as their Lord and Savior by faith, they experienced spiritual regeneration – a complete transformation of the inner man, also known as being “born again” (see Jn. 3 & Titus 3.) Therefore, their bodies will be raised and transformed into glorious bodies like the resurrected and glorified Christ (1 Thes. 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15:20-58; 1 Jn. 3:1-3.) But for those who did not believe on the Lord Jesus for salvation, they will be raised for judgment – a horrifying scenario which could have been avoided  (Jn. 5:22-29.) The Lord does not delight in people perishing spiritually; rather “He desires all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9.)

Jesus I Am Resting In The Joy Of Who Thou Art

Complete and sole trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died as a sacrifice for sin, rose again in vindication, and ascended to glory in triumph is what distinguishes a saved person who possesses eternal life with the Lord in heaven from a lost person who is eternally separated from their Maker and banished in the outer darkness of the Lake of Fire (Mk. 9:42-48; Rev. 20:11-15.) One must confess that he is a bankrupt sinner with no ability to earn deliverance or merit a rescue. They must turn to God for the gift of salvation offered through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, forsaking their old life as one that is justly condemned (Jn. 5:24; Eph. 2:8-10; 1 Thes. 1:9-10.) They are receiving Christ as if they died on the cross with Him, were subsequently interred with Him, and then rose in power with Him (see Rom. 6-8.)

When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder

When the dead small and great stand before the Lord, who is the righteous judge of the universe, the only credential that will matter is that their name is inscribed in the Lamb’s book of life. One’s name is only found there because they rely on Christ their spotless, sacrificial Lamb “who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29.) Human works, reputation, and worldly attainment will avail for nothing in that day. Only life as found in the Lord Jesus will matter. So I close by asking the question that He posed to Martha on the way to raise her brother, Lazarus, from the dead: “Do you believe this?” If you do, cry out to Christ for salvation. If you already have, then praise God that He who is the resurrection and the life holds your life in His hands. He will keep you safe for eternity.

 

Blessed are the centenarians

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

If she were alive, my paternal grandmother, who went to be with Christ in 2003, would turn one hundred years old today.  Being of a historical cast of mind, this set me to thinking about all of the changes she saw in her comparatively long lifespan: society moving from horse-drawn conveyance to the dominance of the automobile; widespread air travel to far-flung places; telephones,  radios, televisions, and the personal computer proliferating; men on the moon rather than the fanciful “man in the moon” – just to name a few of the epoch-making shifts in technology that occurred between 1911-2003.

For all of this, I cannot help thinking that one hundred years is much briefer than what ought to be for someone to really accomplish something. How our lives are shortened and depleted by the effects of sin: change, decay, pain – the ubiquitous fruits of the Fall (Gen. 3; Rom. 5:12; Rom. 8:18-19.) Science and pseudo-science alike vainly pursue ways to cheat death, while science fiction posits future utopias where humans live for ages (or just beat the system through time travel.) Yet at the end of the day, people still succumb to illness, accident, and violence – many of them far short of the century mark. Moses could relate to this grueling mortality, which he experienced in Israel’s wilderness wanderings:

For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; We finish our years like a sigh. The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Psalm 90:9-10

Thankfully, the Word of God points ahead to the inauguration of Christ’s kingdom on earth, where the effects of the fall will first be drastically rolled back, and then after the thousand year reign on earth, they will give way to an eternal reign of deathless bliss. To convey the blessedness of those who live during the initial Millennium (so indicated by Rev. 20:4), Isaiah 65 invokes the image of the prevalence of centenarians in this future kingdom. Verses 19-20 declare:

I will rejoice in Jerusalem, And joy in My people; The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, Nor the voice of crying. “No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.

What a scene! If one dies at on hundred they are merely a child! Such people succumbing at one hundred will only do so because of punishment for sin – a swiftly carried out death sentence for grave disobedience to the Son of God who will be reigning on earth from His headquarters in Jerusalem. Revelation 19:15 describes the Lord Jesus ruling “with a rod of iron“; His administration will tolerate no rebellion or warfare. The last Adam will demonstrate what God the Father always desired for earth by perfectly governing  the earth for one thousand years, there will be a brief war with those who refuse to submit to His authority (Rev. 20:7-10.) This insurgency will promptly be vanquished, and the earth will be renovated by God’s purifying fire. This age will be superseded by the age to come, where there are “new heavens and a new earth wherein dwell righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13.)

So blessed are the centenarians! If one reaches that milestone, it is due to the grace of God in giving natural life. But only if you are born again can you be assured to live with the Son of God in that age beyond the century mark to a deathless future eternity through the new life that He gives (Jn. 3:3.)

True Love

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

To download in pdf., click here: True Love

Love is a fundamental need of all people.  Regardless of race, religion, or nationality, all human beings need this four letter word.  Many people today drift from one meaningless relationship to another in search of this basic need.  However, to experience true love, we must know what it is.  Most people would agree that sacrificial giving is at the heart of true love.  Others would add that provision for a loved one’s needs is an important part of love.  Most would agree that commitment is also an essential part of love.  Sadly, in a d world which speaks a great deal about love, we find relatively few who exhibit true love.  Nevertheless, there is one person who does exhibit true love.  His name is Jesus Christ, and He truly loves you.

God’s Word, the Bible, asserts that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16).  Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh (John 1:14), and He came to earth and assumed human form through the virgin birth in order to demonstrate His love to the world.  Let’s briefly consider whether Christ’s love meets the criteria of true love.  Is Christ sacrificial in His giving?  Does He provide for His loved ones’ needs?  Is He faithfully committed to those He loves?  Let us examine the Biblical evidence, point by point.

First, is Jesus Christ sacrificial in His giving?  The Bible tells us Christ gave Himself sacrificially when He died on the Cross for our sins.  Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)  However, Jesus went further than this and laid down His life for His enemies.  As the Bible says, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.  But God demonstrates his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)  The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus Christ loved us sacrificially.

Secondly, does the love of the Lord Jesus provide for the needs of His loved ones?  Perhaps it would be helpful if we first discussed the most important need of all mankind – salvation from God’s righteous punishment for our sins.  Sin is rebellion against God.  It is disobedience to His perfect commands and falling short of God’s perfect standard.  The Bible plainly states, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  The only thing that sin can bring about is death – that is to say, eternal separation from a loving God. (Romans 6:23)

Since we are all sinners in danger of the righteous judgment of God, we all need salvation.  The Lord Jesus provided for our need of salvation by dying on the Cross in our place.  He bore the punishment that our sins deserved.  In order to receive this salvation, however, we must acknowledge our sin before God, and believe on Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  AS the Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:31)

Lastly, is Jesus committed to those He loves?  The Bible records that Christ rose again from the dead three days after His crucifixion, and is alive forever more.  The person who accepts the Lord Jesus as his personal Savior has the assurance that a living Lord Jesus will never leave them, nor forsake them. (Hebrews 13:5f)  He will never stop loving the believer, and promises him a place in Heaven with Him for all eternity. (John 14:1-3)  The person who believes in the Lord Jesus for salvation will never be judged for his sins, for the Lord Jesus paid for them through the shedding of His blood. (John 5:24)

Perhaps no better statement sums up the true love of God than those well known verses, John 3:16-17.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

You can enjoy this love forever if you confess your sin to God and receive Jesus Christ as your personal loving Savior.

Ditch Digging Evangelism

Friday, June 10th, 2011

TO DOWNLOAD IN PDF., CLICK HERE: Ditch Digging Evangelism

Despite the title, I am no authority on excavation projects, large or small. Being afflicted by cerebral palsy, I am no authority on manual labor, or any blue-collar type of work for that matter. Given my physical limitations, my parents urged me early in life to attend to my studies and plan on some career where I would make a living with my mind. I relate the following two anecdotes therefore, as a means of stirring the imagination of Christians on gaining practical opportunities for sharing the gospel with the lost through practical service. It doesn’t have to be physical labor, it may be some other sort of service that will open the door for the gospel.

He Who Wins Souls Is Wise

An older brother in the Lord in his late nineties recently related to me the story of a great number of conversions that took place in his town about seventy years ago. He was one of around fifty at that time who were converted through faith in Christ. When I questioned him as how this state of affairs came to pass, he affirmed that his father was one of the chief people in bringing lost folks to hear the gospel. There was a traveling preacher holding gospel meetings nearby and my friends’ father determined to win his neighbors to Christ. He used a variety of clever means in inviting them to these meetings. Two of his methods in particular captured my imagination.

 

When he invited one local man to go to the meeting, the latter demurred on the grounds that he had to work in his garden that evening. This persistent Christian counter-offered that if the man would go to the meeting, then he would work in his garden the next day for him. Accordingly, the neighbor went to the meeting, was confronted with the claims of Christ, and was converted through receiving the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

As my friends’ father worked in the garden, another neighbor who was a general contractor, observed him and asked him if he knew anyone who would dig a ditch for him. The neighbor complained that people wanted too much money for their services and he had been unable to find someone to do it at a reasonable rate. Once again, the clever soul-winner offered to dig the ditch, saying: “For every hour that you go to the gospel meetings, I will spend an hour digging ditches for you.” The man found that arrangement to be quite lucrative, for not only did he obtain a ditch, he also met the Savior under the sound of the preaching of the Word of God!

Wise As Serpents, Harmless As Doves

To see people come to the Lord for salvation, one must be wise and diligently provide a hearing for the gospel by doing things to gain our neighbors’ attention. The Lord Jesus sat on a well to gain a woman with a checkered past (John 4), he attended to sick people (Mk. 1:32-34), and was even welcoming and kind towards children (Mt. 19:14.) Gardening, giving someone a ride, helping someone with their computer, hospitality, and taking baked goods to a neighbor all may be used to open the door for discussion of the claims of Christ. Any number of other good works can be done to adorn the gospel of God. One is only limited by our imagination and willingness to take the time for such preparatory gospel work. May the Lord grip our hearts with the opportunities that we have in our neighborhoods for His greater glory, and may we prayerfully seek to witness to those who are perishing.

Podcast: The Sacred Trust

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

A Meditation on 1 Thes. 2:4 & our attitude towards the Gospel. Click here: KRK.6.1.11.Podcast.SacredTrust