In Christ There Is No Wrath

Our Excerpt today is from a paper authored by Dr. Mal Couch which was presented to the Pre-Trib Research Study Group at its annual conference a few years ago. The paper is titled: “Major Rapture Terms and Passages” and is focused on the major New Testament terms and passages that support the Pre-Tribulational Rapture of the Church. For our purposes today we wish to focus on one passage from this work which emphasizes the fact that the Church, which is the Bride of Christ, will not experience the Wrath of the Tribulation because of the Rapture.

Our excerpt begins:

The rapture has to do with the dispensation of the church or those “in Christ.” The church age is a unique period with special promises. Those with Him now by faith will not face the coming wrath (1 Thess. 5:9). There was nothing like the rapture for Old Testament saints, and there will be nothing similar for Tribulation believers.

Most of the rapture passages mention the believer’s relationship to Jesus. Paul speaks of “our Lord Jesus at His coming” (1 Thess. 2:19) and of the dead as those “who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (4:14), who are now called “the dead in Christ” and who will rise first (4:17). The reason for the rapture, Paul says, is so we might escape the coming wrath and obtain salvation “through our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:9). Awake or asleep we will live together “with Him” (5:10). The apostle continues to punctuate this relationship with our Redeemer when he reminds the confused Thessalonians of this “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him” (2 Thess. 2:1).

In Paul’s great resurrection and rapture section, 1 Corinthians 15:12-28, both events are tightly tied to our spiritual position in Christ. “In Christ all shall be made alive,” he says (15:21). Jesus is the first fruits of the resurrection and then those who are Christ’s “at His coming” (15:23). And following the apostle’s great description of our “change” at the rapture and the resurrection of the dead, he concludes with this triumphant statement, “thanks be to God, who gives us the victory because of our Lord Jesus Christ” (15:57). In Titus, Paul calls the Lord “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (2:13). He “gave Himself for us,” and thus redeems and purifies “a people for His own possession” (2:14).

These statements are important because they reveal the unique position the church now has with its Savior that spares it from the coming wrath.

Words of Grace for Strength

Today the subject of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture of the church has come under fire from many directions. There are now those who deny the Rapture altogether, those who support a Post-Trib Rapture, a Mid-Trib Rapture, and the latest variation is a teaching suggesting a Pre-Wrath Rapture in which the church will endure Satan’s wrath but not the Wrath of God.

We agree that the purpose for the Rapture is to keep the Church from the Wrath of God. Paul tells us this very thing in 1 Thessalonians 5:9; “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” however a distinction between the wrath of Satan and the Wrath of God during the Tribulation is tenuous at best. A true understanding of the Tribulation period places every event of that time in the context of God’s purposes and God’s Wrath. Satan has no power except that granted by God. Therefore, any wrath meted out by Satan is in fact God’s as He accomplishes His purposes during the Tribulation.

What is God’s purpose for the time of Tribulation as He inflicts His Wrath upon the world? We believe there are four things He intends to accomplish.

First, Satan will be given every opportunity, during the Tribulation, to make his rebellion succeed only to fail. Revelation 19 describes the defeat of Satan’s army and the destruction of the Beast (Antichrist) and his false prophet, and chapter 20 describes Satan being bound and cast into the pit. Thus, God will use Satan to accomplish His own purposes. The depravity  and sin nature of man will be seen through these last rebellious events, leaving no doubt that without the redemptive blessings through Christ, all would be lost for no man resists sin without salvation through Jesus.

The second purpose of God during the Tribulation is to bring Israel into a position of obedience and redemption. The scriptures teach us that God will use this time to bring His chosen people to Faith in Jesus as their Messiah. God will use Satan, the Beast (Antichrist) and the wicked gentile nations to persecute and punish Israel for her unfaithfulness to God. Zechariah prophesied that during this time two-thirds of Israel will be destroyed; ‘“And it shall come to pass in all the land,” Says the LORD, “That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die,”’ (Zechariah 13:8) but one-third will declare; “The Lord is my God” (Zechariah 13:9). With this having been accomplished the prophecy will be fulfilled; ‘“And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “THE DELIVERER WILL COME OUT OF ZION, AND HE WILL TURN AWAY UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB; FOR THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS.” (Romans 11:26&27) Notice when Paul says “all Israel will be saved” he is speaking of the believing remnant of one-third because the Scripture in Zechariah 3:8 has already acknowledged the two-thirds which are cut off and die. Israel, coming to terms with Jesus as Messiah, and as a result, coming to Messiah, brings the covenantal promises of God to the nation of Israel to their ultimate fulfillment.

The third purpose we see God accomplishing during the Tribulation is to punish the world and the gentile nations for their sins against God and His chosen people Israel. (Deuteronomy 30:7; Isaiah 13:9; Isaiah 24:19&20) This purpose is retribution for the unrepentant during this time, and has nothing to do with the Church. And we of the Church need to see our blessed position in Christ and give praise that we are kept from enduring this purpose of God in these end times events.

The fourth purpose of God during this time is to evangelize the world. This is prophesied by Jesus Himself in Matthew 24:14; “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” We see the fulfillment of this in Revelation 7:1-17 through the preaching of the 144,000 Jews, the Two Witnesses and Angels. We see occurring during these most terrible of times the very thing we ourselves are now commanded to do, during our daily times in our daily lives.

So, in conclusion, we do not find evidence of the Church in any of these events during the Tribulation. Let us give one last common sense example. Since the Church is the bride of Christ, does it not make sense that Christ would protect His Bride from God’s Wrath? Realistically, what groom would beat his prospective bride before their wedding? It is our hope that this common sense evidence borne out by the Scripture should be enough to put this subject to rest. The Rapture is Pre-Tribulational… and imminent. Jesus is coming soon!

EvenSoCome

True Grace for True Disciples

David Wilkerson was truly a modern-day prophet, calling people to repentance, and especially calling out the “church” for its apostasy. He was unapologetic in his criticism of the false teachers and preachers of the “Prosperity Gospel” and “Word of Faith” movement and of those who expect favor from God without submitting to His will. Our excerpt today is from his message “True Grace” from 1993.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14

According to Paul, we are not walking in grace until we have broken from worldly corruptions. Unless we are endeavoring through the power of the Holy Spirit to lead godly and righteous lives, looking for the Lord’s coming in our every waking moment, we do not know God’s grace.

Many Christians want forgiveness, but that is all. They do not want to be delivered from this present world, because they love it. They are attached to their sins, not wanting to give up the pleasures of this earth. So they cling to a doctrine that says, “I can live as I please — as long as I say that I believe.”

They do not want to hear about obedience, repentance, self-denial, picking up their cross, taking on the yoke or burden of Christ. They simply want to be excused on Judgment Day — to have all their iniquities overlooked. They expect Jesus to open up the pearly gates, put His arms around them, and lead them down a golden street to their reserved mansion, even though they have never broken from the spirit of this world!

Paul writes, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). We are to break from this world completely and be conformed to Christ alone!

Words of Grace for Strength

Unfortunately, the “church” today is filled with “Christians” who reflect the very attitudes that David Wilkerson spoke of 20 plus years ago. More than ever before the church has adopted the ideas and appearance of the world. Rather than being separated to Christ, the church has embraced materialism, and humanism in a culture of tolerance and compromise. In today’s culture, man’s will rules supreme.

Those who call themselves “Christian” in many cases are no different from those who claim to be atheist, or agnostic. Not only have they not broken from worldly corruption and desires, they have no intention to. They speak of a god of love who will not condemn anyone to a literal Hell because of his love for man. Unfortunately, they are half right. God is a loving God, but it is they who condemn themselves to Hell because of their unrepentant disobedience to His will.

So, the problem with many who identify themselves as “Christian” today, is that they believe Jesus is the Son of God (but even the Demons believe this), and that He loves them (which He does), and that He died on a cross and rose from the grave (which He did), but they have never truly repented and turned from their sinfulness, they are still living worldly lives. Because this is the state of their belief, they believe Jesus is God, just not their God. Their gods are all of the worldly pleasures and things they will not turn away from. Ultimately then, they are their own god, which means they have completely bought into Satan’s lie. They have not placed their faith and trust in Jesus  as their Savior, faith and trust in Him alone as the means of their salvation. Their faith and trust resides elsewhere, as a result it resides nowhere of significance and eternal import.

True Christianity requires one to have experienced God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness is conditional on man accepting the gift of Grace which Jesus Christ provided and paid for by His finished work at Calvary. By accepting the free gift of Grace, man acknowledges his sinful state, the debt he owes, the need for repentance, the price which was paid, and the need to surrender his life and his will to the sovereign will of God. When one accepts the gift of Grace, he is acknowledging Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of his life, he is forgiven and becomes a follower or disciple of Christ. It is at this point that obedience, repentance, self-denial, picking up his cross, and taking on the yoke or burden of Christ becomes important in his life. This is what it means to experience True Grace, he has become a disciple of Jesus Christ. One can only do so because he has faith and trust in Christ to carry him through.

Disciples of Jesus Christ expose and reject ungodliness, they have broken away from worldliness and worthless pursuits, they do not tolerate or compromise with unrighteousness, they Study the Word of God so that they may live in obedience to God while pursuing God’s will for their lives. Disciples of Jesus Christ are indwelt by His Holy Spirit who opens the Word to them as their teacher and comforter. The Disciple of Jesus Christ desires a closer relationship with Him as he longs for and looks for His return. True Disciples of Jesus Christ have experienced forgiveness and deliverance because of True Grace. And, that is the reason for the transformation which takes place in their lives. True Disciples do not just believe in Jesus, they know Him as their Lord and Savior. True Disciples have counted the cost of walking away from the ways and values of the world, and have counted it as nothing when compared to the incomparable riches of a life with Christ, a life in Christ.

Do you know Him? Are you His disciple?

The Result of Abiding in Christ, An Examination of John 15:1-8

John 15:1-8

1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Our Excerpt today is from F.B. Hole’s “Commentary on John” published in 1947.

The surest proof that we are in Christ is that we abide in Christ; and the surest proof that we abide in Christ is that we produce fruit in life and service, the very character and ways of Christ coming out in us. Without Him we can do nothing. Abiding in Him there is much fruit; we are brought into communion with His mind so that we ask with liberty and have our desires granted, the Father is glorified, and our discipleship is proved genuine beyond all question.

It is a great privilege, as well as a great responsibility, to be left on earth to bear fruit; it is even a greater privilege to know ourselves to be the objects of Divine Love. The love of Jesus rested upon these disciples—and upon us also—just as the Father’s love rested upon Himself. In the knowledge, the consciousness, the enjoyment of His love we are to abide. This abiding is maintained by obedience to His commandments.

Words of Grace for Strength

The idea of “abiding in Christ” that we find in this passage is explained by the understanding that it is the Word of God (Jesus is the Word, See John 1:1-5), that is being spoken of. Abiding in the Word means living by the truths and doctrines of the Word. This takes place when the Word has taken deep root in the life of the disciple of Jesus Christ. He has a true affection for the Word, the Word is truly food for his soul. When the disciple of Jesus abides in the Word, he is able to know it, understand it, teach it, and stand fast in it.

This passage establishes this truth, abiding in Christ ensures fruitfulness. There is a general truth stated here when Christ says; “I am the vine.” But, it becomes personal to the disciple when Christ says; “you are the branches” because it brings each individual disciple into a connection with Christ. So now, the truth is made definite and becomes a personal application when we continue to examine His statement in verse 5; “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit.”

Jesus is not merely setting forth a law here, but instead is giving a promise that will be completed in the disciple by the action of Jesus Christ Himself. Notice when Christ is speaking of bearing fruit here, He says “much fruit.” The inference here is that as disciples we are not to be satisfied with a little fruit or immature fruit or shriveled up fruit. Instead, by abiding in Christ, the fruit we bear is plentiful, lush, sweet, and mature. In other words, abiding in Christ will produce in the disciple, a character rich in the manifold graces of God which bears fruit. Indeed, those branches that are fruitless are taken away by the Father as the vinedresser in order to preserve the health of the fruitful vine, those that bear fruit are pruned, tended with loving care, so as to allow even more fruit bearing as one grows more fruitful in Christ in one’s walking in faith with Him as a growing disciple.

So this union of the disciple with Christ as he abides in Christ produces fruitfulness which in the end glorifies God and increases growth in the disciple. Christ’s life is all about glorifying God, our lives also should be all about glorifying God. For our lives are not our own if we have truly given them to God when we accepted His gift of Salvation. A mature, fruitful branch within the vine is now part of the vine, no distinction can be made of it as separate and apart from the vine itself, they grow as one.

Abiding in Christ means we are “In Christ” becoming every day more like Christ as His disciples. This discipleship will only be completed at the point in time we are ushered into the physical presence of Jesus Christ. As we live here in our earthly bodies we are in the continual process of becoming, His true disciples and servants.

If we bear much fruit because we are abiding in Him, the bearing of fruit will cause us to grow closer to him and be more of a disciple, which in turn will cause us to bear more fruit. Discipleship in Christ produces character, and character produces conduct which rests not on the character of the disciple, but in the character of Jesus Christ. When Christ’s Word abides in us it is more than intellectual understanding or acceptance of His Word, it means the whole consciousness of our very being is saturated with His desires, His affections, His understanding, in other words we have surrendered our will to His Will.

This brings us then to verse 7. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” This must be understood not of temporal things, such as riches or honors, profit, pleasure, or anything that the natural man might desire, but of things spiritual which are limited by the restriction that what is promised, is as according to the Will of God. Christ in His earthly ministry cared little for physical comforts as long as physical needs were met. The true focus was on the spiritual needs and growth of those who had chosen to follow Him, for God is spirit, and will be with us in spirit and in love.

When we look back to verse 3, we find the phrase “because of the word” which tells us how the working of the word is what has made us clean. Verse 4 then says “abide in Me, and I in you” and warns that we cannot bear fruit unless the disciple will “abide in Me.” Now in verse 7, again we read; “if you abide in Me, My words abide in you” which is significant in that it illustrates a position of obedience in the life of the disciple. “I in you” demonstrates that we are possessed of Christ, while “my words abide in you” demonstrates action on the part of the disciple to be a disciple.

In other words, the disciple has completely given his will to the Will of God. In doing so, the disciple’s will is no longer his own, but instead is God’s Will, what the disciple desires, or asks for is what God desires for the disciple to receive. In Verse 8 we are given the key to understanding this whole passage; “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” It is all about the fruit! Our prayers should always reflect God’s Will for us. What we should desire, what we should ask for, is to bear “much fruit” and in doings so we are accomplishing the Will of God in our lives, and are becoming His disciples. A fruitful branch grows deeper into the vine (the Son), is tended carefully by the vinedresser (the Father) and lives to produce fruit by the indwelling of God within us (the Spirit).

Become His disciple and bear fruit!

Transformed and Sanctified by the Word, Jesus Christ

The following excerpt is from “The Hour Has Come” by G. Ray Jordan. Published in 1948, this work of Jordan’s is an examination and commentary on Jesus Christ’s high priestly prayer in John 17. Again, it is as relevant for the believer today as when it was first written. As followers of Christ in these Last Days, we are living in a time of ever-expanding immorality, compromise, tolerance, and wickedness. It is increasingly more perilous for the Christian to live a separated life, however it is the Word of God which transformed us that will sanctify us.

“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” – John 17:6-19

Christ is thinking of a much nobler purpose and a far greater challenge when he insists those who are his devoted disciples cannot follow “the way of the world.” Here is something so spiritually superior it has to do with the divine difference. Jesus makes it quite plain when he declares that “the glory which thou gavest me I have given them.” These friends are to be one with him in spirit and purpose. They are not to be controlled by the social, moral, or ethical standards of society or of any merely human group. The spirit of heaven has touched them. These men are not perfect. But they have seen the stars, and never again can they be satisfied with things of the earth.

When the intimate friends of Jesus began to understand him, to love him and eagerly give themselves to him, something magnificent happened to them. Their faces were turned in a different direction; their hearts thrilled to a higher devotion. Their wills were given to a new objective; their desires were set toward a divine purpose. The customs of society never crushed them after that. They refuse to be slaves to the codes of any earthly kingdom. Their lives were literally transformed. Spiritually they were born again. Any description less vivid fails to tell the full story of what happened to them.

Saul of Tarsus was captivated by the strange Man who went to a cross rather than abandon his hopes and surrender his ideals for life. Saul could do nothing less than give him his heart. His mind, his will, and his emotions were all affected by the spirit of this man who had been crucified because he would not compromise. He saw the devotion Christ manifested as the hope of humanity. A new power came to him. He urged his comrades not to conform to the standards of those about them. They should never succumb to the sordid moral conditions of the cities in which they lived, nor conform to the low ethical ideas of the Mediterranean world.

But mere lack of conformity to popular customs is not sufficient. Christians are to be transformed. There to be changed by the spirit and power of God. This is a radical experience. Only God can bring it to pass. As we yield ourselves to him, we find a power greater than our own which works in and through us. Obviously this is a far cry from simply refusing to abide by certain social customs. Those who decide to become divinely different by offering their wills to the heavenly Father on the highway to real greatness, even to God-likeness.

Here’s a sweeping experience which affects all of life because it has to do with every possible personal and social adjustment. A Christian treats himself differently because he is transformed. He thinks of Christ’s way rather than the world’s for dealing with any situation which arises.

Words of Grace for Strength:

Transformation is change, an event, which for the Christian was accomplished by Christ’s finished work at Calvary. Transforming his life from one of sin and death, to one which has been redeemed and justified into holiness and life. A part of Transformation is the process of Sanctification. Sanctification is also change, initiated by Christ at Calvary, which is then followed through by the faith and actions of the believer in his desire for a growing, continual, obedient relationship with God. This is accomplished through the study and application of His Word to the believer’s life. Transformation is being placed in Christ, while Sanctification is the ongoing process of being separated or set apart in holiness to God so that the believer might become more Christ-like.

True disciples of Jesus Christ today can be identified by their desire for Transformation and Sanctification in much the same way as those who walked and talked with Jesus during His earthly ministry. It is all a function of will. Those who are true disciples of Jesus Christ have heeded the instruction of the Holy Spirit through the Word given to the Apostle Paul, as written in the book of Romans:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:1&2

The true disciple of Jesus Christ no longer operates under his own will, but has placed his will subservient to the Will of God. Because of this the disciple is no longer operating under his own power, but is dependent upon, and operating through, the power of God (Philippians 3:10, Ephesians 6:10 & 11). The power is there for any disciple to tap into by turning to God in wholehearted faith and obedience. If we do not choose to seek out and use that power, it is our fault alone if our lives are more difficult than need be.

We are living in troublesome times, terrible times. This world is full of corruption, deceit, hate, avarice, and lawlessness. Because of compromise, tolerance, and inclusiveness, society in every country is breaking down due to a lack of principles, morals, and rule of law. Wickedness prevails in most of the world as it spirals out of control under the influence of the prince of the power of this world, Satan himself.

The true disciple of Jesus Christ recognizes this, and in obedience to the Will of God, takes up the “whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:13) to be able to make a stand for Jesus Christ in these Last Days. The promise of victory for the true disciple of Jesus Christ is found in the passage above (John 17:6-19), and that our Savior not only has given us into the hand of His Father, but has asked His Father to protect us from the evil one (Satan) and to sanctify us through His Truth. Jesus identifies the Word as Truth. John 1:1-3 identifies Jesus as the Word. It follows then, that as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are sanctified by God through Jesus Christ. Make sure to note that in the prayer of John 17 Jesus asks that we be kept from the evil one, not necessarily taken out of the world when faced with evil. We are meant to fight for the cause of Christ, and our Lord made sure we are equipped to do battle, if we just take up the armor and tap into the power. As always the provision of the Lord is abundant beyond comprehension.

We are living in the Last Days, and as it is the Lord who appoints the times and seasons,we as disciples should be acutely aware of both the time and season. So, as we live in these Last Days, we must do so in the Will of God, by the power of God, and we should do so remembering the words of the Apostle Paul to Titus.

Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”

EvenSoCome

Sanctification, It Is Work!

In our series of articles entitled “Words of Grace for Strength” it is our practice to take an excerpt from an article, book, or sermon written sometime in the past, which in its message or teaching, is as relevant today as when it was first written or given. While undoubtedly the excerpt stands on its own, our goal is to confirm its relevance for today, and perhaps to embellish its importance and understanding to the reader so that he might be better able to apply the teaching to his life and personal growth in Christ Jesus.

Our excerpt today is from “Things Which Become Sound Doctrine” written by J. Dwight Pentecost in 1965. The excerpt is from his teaching in the section on Sanctification.

God’s purpose for His child is that he should live in Jesus Christ. God desires to reproduce Himself in His children so that He might be glorified through His children. And when we present ourselves, or sanctify ourselves, or yield ourselves to the Spirit’s control, the Spirit will reproduce in us His own fruit, that we might live to the glory of God.

This practical holiness will manifest itself, as Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:18, in our growth in grace and knowledge. Peter says: “… grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” We often refer to this as progressive sanctification – where Christ, who formed in us by the Holy Spirit when we were born into God’s family, is being reproduced in us, more and more, by the Spirit’s control. In 2 Corinthians 3:18 Paul says, “… we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed (or, literally, are being changed) into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Paul emphasizes in that passage that there is a work of the Holy Spirit by which we are progressively being conformed in our daily experience to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are being changed into the same image, going from glory to glory. Our position before God is that we are sanctified, set apart unto God; our experience is that we are being sanctified in daily life, by the Spirit’s power, as we grow in grace and in the knowledge, and as we are controlled by the Spirit of God.

The child of God recognizes that no day is lived in practical righteousness and holiness. We stumble and fall, in thought, word, and deed. There is sin of omission, and sin of commission, and we stand convicted before a holy and righteous God. The Apostle John has given us a solution to this problem in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Jesus Christ can be reproduced in the life of the child of God because the spirit of God can convict the child of God of his unholiness and can bring him to the place of confession so that sin might be forgiven and the believer might be restored, and that the Spirit might continue his work of reproducing Jesus Christ in the life of the child of God.

But is there no termination to the struggle? Must we always be subject to Satan’s snare? We recognize that as long as we’re in the flesh, we are living in an unredeemed body. We are living with an unredeemed sin-nature within us which may manifest its fruit unless we live by the Spirit’s power. But the word of God reveals a third precious truth concerning sanctification, and that is our ultimate sanctification. The apostle John so clearly presents this truth in 1 John 3:2: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” Observe carefully what John wrote. We will be like Christ in that we will be sinless, we will be deathless, and we will be brought to maturity in spiritual things. We will be like him. But when? When we’re old, and gray-haired? No! When He shall appear. It is the coming of Jesus Christ to gather His own to Himself that will bring us, God’s saints, to a realization of the position which is ours. At the coming of Christ – when the body of Christ is been completed, when the last redeemed one has been brought into God’s family – we will be translated out of this sphere of sin and into His glory, and we shall be like Him then our experience will confirm to our position throughout the unending ages of eternity.

Words of Grace for Strength:

When an individual makes the conscious decision, that they  are standing condemned before God because of their sin nature, needing to accept and acknowledge Jesus Christ as redeemer and Lord, they become justified in God’s sight. This is the first position of the redeemed in the eyes of God. Justification. In other words, because Jesus Christ’s finished work at the cross (His death, burial, and resurrection) offers to everyone who accepts the payment of sin debt; the redeemed individual no longer stands in judgment before God. And so, everyone who accepts the free gift of Salvation, offered through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, experiences Redemption, and Justification.

However, even though we are justified through Jesus Christ, we still possess our old sin nature. We may not necessarily want to sin, but it is still our nature to do so. This is the reason we need Sanctification. What is Sanctification? It is Holiness, the act and process of being set apart unto God by obtaining the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Positionally we were Justified and Sanctified in Jesus Christ when we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior. But because of our sin nature we find ourselves continually falling short of the Holiness we were first placed in. However, by continually communicating with God through prayer, confessing our sin, and diligently studying His Word, we can continue the process of Sanctification.

Sanctification is not an event, it is an act bestowed upon the believer by Jesus Christ, and is a process in which the believer should be constantly involved in order to become more like Jesus Christ. What this means for us is that throughout our lifetime as Christians we continually need to be growing in Jesus Christ, growing both more Christ-like and more Holy. If we are not persistently pursuing Sanctification our Christianity does not simply go dormant, rather we begin to fall farther and farther away from God because we are not in an active relationship with Him. Sanctification is a hard and continuing work, but it is certainly work which we can do in Jesus Christ for our benefit and His good pleasure. When we are properly following Jesus Christ, not only will we be becoming more like Jesus Christ, we will have the proper attitude and desire to serve Him among men.

The last paragraph of Dr. Pentecost’s teaching above tells us that our Sanctification process will come to an end when we see Jesus. 1 John 3:2: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” It is never a function of our life, the span of our lives or the amount of effort or obedience to the Lord that decides when we see Him. It has nothing to do with our times nor our timing. It is all about Him, and the timing established in our Lord’s will as to when each of us is called home individually, or the Father tells the Son to step out onto the clouds and call to His Church, to His Bride, “Come Up!”

We don’t know about y’all but we’re ready for that day. So let’s work our sanctification till Jesus comes and work it fervently…because Jesus is coming soon!

EvenSoCome

Our Prayer For His Will

When we pray, how do we pray according to the will of God? We must pray having the attitude of Jesus: “Not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39) When we pray according to His will, we can expect to receive with full confidence that what He has declared in Scripture, He will do. We pray with complete assurance that we will obtain that which is promised: 1 John 5:14-15 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

However, as we live daily in this fallen world, we seldom know or understand God’s will as it relates to our lives. So we pray for Him to reveal His will to us, without the knowledge of what we ask. Because of our limited knowledge we pray in simple faith for Him to reveal His will as He promised: “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26 & 27).

Our prayers must have their root in the spiritual wisdom we can only gain from a life that has trusted in Christ alone as Lord and Savior, from a life centered in Christ. Think about one of the prayers the Apostle Paul prayed for one of the churches he wrote a letter to: “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power  which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,  far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. (Ephesians 1:15-21)

The place where our prayers must start is in how we live our lives for the Lord. Prayer without a life of godly reflection and a Christ-centered lifestyle would be somewhat empty. Yes, we would be speaking to God, but of what? If we are not living each day seeking His will, seeking His face, showing the mind of Christ and the love of Christ to those around us, what would our prayers consist of? Either we are going deep into the Word of God through our reading and study of the Bible, either we are getting deep into modelling Christ in our lives by ministering to others, or our prayers are likely to skim along the surface of a relationship with God or go glancing off into nothing.

The prayers of our Lord resonated deep within Him and His Father because of Christ’s obedience to His Father’s will, because He and the Father were One. The more obedient we are in our relationship, the easier it becomes to pray and to know what to pray for. It often feels as if prayer cannot be taught but must be learned. Yes, you can study and read on prayer, both in the Bible and in many excellent books written in an explanatory or devotional manner. In that sense, you can be taught. But the best way to learn to pray is to…Pray. Time alone with God, searching your heart and speaking to Him, and Him alone, is probably the best teacher of prayer. We would not say practice makes perfect, for as in all things relating to God, we are only perfected in Christ Jesus and only when we are glorified in Him at His Second Coming. But the practice of prayer, regularly and in a faithful and obedient manner, helps draw us closer to Christ, which in turn causes us to grow in Christ, and thus time before the Lord helps sanctify us to His Name and His will.

Over time, the Spirit will continue to intercede for us, the groanings which cannot be uttered will be offered up on our behalf. But we will begin to pray ceaselessly ourselves (1 Thessalonians 5:16). By praying always, it is not meant that we neglect the duties and commitments of our everyday life. But a soul that has come into intimate and repeated contact with God should never again be out of conscious touch with God, our heart going out to Him. And when the mind is no longer engaged, it should return to God, as in the words of E.M. Bounds, as naturally as a bird to its’ nest.

Seek out the Lord and let Him lead you to prayer. Experience the joy of seeking out and learning His will for your life, by learning through your prayer life in Him.  As you read the Word, pray for understanding. Pray for His Holy Spirit to teach you His will in the Word. Pray for His presence and leading continually in your life. Learn to be like a bird returning to the nest. Remember that in Matthew 6:26, Jesus spoke of how the Father feeds them.

What god? Revive Us Again!

YOU don’t have to go to heathen lands today to find false gods. America is full of them. Whatever you make most of is your god. Whatever you love more than God is your idol. Many a man’s heart is like some Kafirs’ huts, so full of idols that there is hardly room to turn around. Rich and poor, learned and unlearned, all classes of men and women are guilty of this sin. “Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not.” (Isaiah 2:8&9).

A man may make a god of himself, of a child, of a mother, of some precious gift that God has bestowed upon him. He may forget the Giver and let his heart go out in adoration toward the gift.

Many make a god of pleasure; that is what their hearts are set on. If some old Greek or Roman came to life again and saw man in a drunken debauch, would he believe that the worship of Bacchus had died out? If he saw the streets of our large cities filled with harlots, would he believe that the worship of Venus had ceased?

Others take fashion as their god. They give their time and thought to dress. They fear what others will think of them. Do not let us flatter ourselves that all idolaters are in heathen countries.

With many it is the god of money. We haven’t got through worshiping the golden calf yet. If a man will sell his principles for gold, isn’t he making it a god? If he trusts in his wealth to keep him from want and to supply his needs, are not riches his god? Many a man says, “Give me money, and I will give you heaven. What care I for all the glories and treasures of heaven? Give me treasures here! I don’t care for heaven! I want to be a successful businessman.”

How true are the words of Job: “If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence; if I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because mine hand had begotten much; if I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness; and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand: this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above” (Job 31: 24-28).

Excerpt from “The Ten Commandments” by Dwight L. Moody

Words of Grace for Strength

D. L. Moody’s message is more relevant today than even in the day it was written. How far has America turned from the God of creation! 85% of Americans claim to believe in god, but what god? Is it a god of their own making? Is it a god that allows them to feel good about themselves, or a god which brings them pleasure, or a god who makes them wealthy?

Is America’s god a god of politics, a god of wealth, a god of health, a god of sport, a god of race, a god of fashion, a god of feelings, a god of individuality, a god of entertainment, a god of good intentions? Is America’s god the god of Buddhism, the god of Hinduism, the god of Islam, the god of Pantheism, the god of Deism, the god of Atheism, the god of Satanism? Is America filled with all of these gods and perhaps even more?

We believe so, because when really questioned about what they believe, just 9% of the 85% affirm a belief in the Truth of Biblical Christianity. Believing that there is one God, Jehovah, who created man as a part of all creation, who sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the sin debt of all humanity at Calvary through His death, burial and resurrection. This same Jesus who ascended into heaven and even today sits at the right hand of His Father as our intercessor, who sent His Holy Spirit to indwell everyone who has accepted His free gift of Grace by acknowledging Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. This same Jesus, who someday (and we believe very soon) will return to earth in Power and Glory to establish His kingdom.

Once upon a time in America, the True God of the universe, very God of the Bible, was recognized and worshiped by a great majority of the people. But today He has been ignored and those who follow him are marginalized. America seems to have gotten so full of gods that it no longer has room for God. Yet He is still God! And, He still desires all men to turn to Him in worship and obedience.

Today in America, we who do follow Him should be continually on our knees in prayer for people to turn back to Him, the one True God, and we should be praying for a great revival of Biblical Christianity to sweep this nation. We should be on our knees repenting of our own lack of faithfulness and crying out to Jesus Christ to begin this revival in our own hearts and lives. We should be on our knees asking the Holy Spirit to create in our own hearts and minds a spirit of true love for others, so that we might be witnesses of God’s grace to everyone we meet. We should be fervent about this prayer, with a keen sense of urgency, because we know not if the Lord is ready to harden the hearts of those around us, to give them over, once and for all, to their lusts, passions and desires to chase after their false gods.

Today in America, and in the World, there has never been a greater need for man to turn from his own sinfulness to the Only Holy, Just, and One True God. The time is short, and getting shorter. Because at any moment, He could tell His Son to call His Church out of this world and begin to pour out His wrath in tribulation on all who have rejected Him, and soon, Jesus Christ will return in Power, Glory, and Judgment.

America needs Revival!