THE RAPTURE AND RESURRECTION OF BELIEVERS

THE RAPTURE AND RESURRECTION OF BELIEVERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The steps of an oriental wedding were:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s Care for his People

God’s care for His people

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Witnessing for Christ

WITNESSING FOR CHRIST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE PARABLE OF THE GREAT BANQUET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WE ARE TO SOW MUCH SEED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE REWARDS FOR WITNESSING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

PRACTICAL HELP FOR WITNESSING.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

Testimony by Allen Linn

At age 17, Allen Linn planned to rob a church with 3 other gang members. The church was having an evangelistic service on Sunday night. They played poker in a room next to the sanctuary. After the offering was collected it was locked in a room off the sanctuary.

As the sermon was ending and the altar call was soon to be given the 3 other members went out the back door and went around to the room where the offering was kept, while Allen went into the sanctuary and sat in the back row. The plan was for the others to go and break into the offering room, Allen would sit with the congregation, and when the altar call was given he would get up and go forward with the others who were accepting the altar call, but would turn and leave to meet the others and take the money and be gone before the service ended.

But something unexpected happened. Allen only remembers hearing the words of the Pastor: “Christ died for you sins”. Though he had heard these words before, this time it was like the voice of God. He could hear God say to him, “If you do not receive My Son, you will forever be saying to Him that you don’t care that He suffered and died for you”.

While totally confused by what was happening, he knew that he could not do that. He went forward and gave his life to Christ. Then remembering the other guys he quickly went there and found them stuffing money in their pockets.

It was all he could do to get those angry guys to stop. After that when he met with any of his gang it was to tell them how Christ died for their sins.

The Bible is GOD’s Revelation

The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to mankind. In the Bible God has revealed to mankind what could not be known apart from Divine revelation. . In I Corinthians 1:21, we are told “The world through its wisdom did not know Him” (NIV). In 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 we read: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit”. Thus we could know nothing about God other than what He has been pleased to reveal to us.

While there were human writers it is inaccurate to refer to them as authors of the Scriptures because the true Author is God Himself, they were the penmen. We are told in II Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. The Scriptures themselves were breathed out by the Holy Spirit. They are the result of the creative breath of God.

In Scripture the breath of God refers to His Almighty creative power. Psalm 33:6 for example says: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth”. God’s breath is the creative outflow of His power. The penmen were like the musical instrument but God breathed into the instrument to   make the music.

God created mankind from the dust of the ground and breathed into man the breath of life and he became a living being. God’s breath is life-giving. As God breathed life into the first man He has breathed out life-giving power into His word. This is why we are told in Hebrews 4:12: “For the Word of God is LIVING and ACTIVE. Luther said “The Word of God has feet, it runs after me; The Word of God has hands, it lays hold of me”.

“For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:21). Like the sails of a boat they were carried along by the breath or wind of God. The writers were completely under divine control, and while their intelligence, vocabulary, writing style, etc., were involved, they were entirely controlled by the Holy Spirit. They were like the pen in God’s hand, so that the result was absolute perfection in all that was written. When writing something other than Scripture, the writers were as fallible as any other men.

Jesus and the apostles settled all disputes by appealing to Scripture with the words “It is written”. Jesus public ministry began with His being tempted by Satan and His victory over him with the words “It is written” (Matthew 4:4). John the Baptist’s ministry is legitimatized by the words “It is written” (Mark 1:2). The resurrected Jesus enlightened the disciples with these words: “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.

Then He opened their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24: 44-47).

The Apostles proved that Jesus was the Messiah by appealing to Scripture: “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” (I Corinthians 15”3-4). Paul’s hearers were commended for testing Paul’s preaching by the Scriptures. “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17: 11).

In every area of life the Scriptures were the sole, and final authority that could not be challenged. God prepared the human writers from before birth. Examples of this are seen in Jeremiah the prophet: “The word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘before I formed thee in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:4-5). And the apostle Paul: “ . . .God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles . . .” (Gal. 1:15-16).

The greatest proof that the Scriptures are the word of God is that the Lord Jesus Himself believed and taught the Divine authority of Scripture. He repeatedly said such things as “Have you never read?” and “It is written”, and “Search the Scriptures”.

He repeatedly alludes to the writings of Moses and the Prophets concerning events that take in the whole range Scriptural revelation. He rebukes His countrymen for their ignorance of the Scriptures and for making the Word of God void through their traditions. He said, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”(John 5: 46-47).

The Scriptures were always on His mind. Throughout His last days leading to the cross, the words “The Scriptures must be fulfilled” are repeated over and over. After the last supper when He and His disciples went out to the Mount of Olives, He warned them, “You will all fall away, for it is written. Then He quotes Zechariah 13:7: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (Mark 14:27).

Jesus said that He could avoid the cross by calling upon twelve legions of angels. But He could not do so because “How then would the scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way” (Matt. 26:54).

After He rose from the dead He met the two disciples on the road to Emmaus who were dejected because of His crucifixion, He rebukes their lack of faith by saying: “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-26).