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?

Discipleship: Fully Committed to Christ

In Luke 14:25-33 we find a passage that describes what is required to truly be a disciple of Christ.

“Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, ‘”If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”’

Many would consider this passage as some of the “hard sayings” of Jesus. At the point in His ministry at which He made these statements, He had been attracting great crowds which followed Him everywhere to hear His teaching. Yet many of them were following Him expecting temporal reward or at the very least, reflected glory for themselves. And so, Jesus delivers to them this message in order for them to understand what truly would be required of anyone who desired to be His disciple. Additionally, He shared with them examples of counting the cost of being His disciple.

When Jesus spoke to them in verse 26; “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” the implication was not that they would truly hate their own family or themselves, but in fact, that as much as they loved their families, they must love Jesus infinitely more. And in verse 27; “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple,” He is saying, in order to be His disciple, not only should one be willing to face unspeakable persecution and suffering, but one willingly commits to following Christ even if it means his death. In verse 33 Jesus said; “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Again, the inference is that if we are to be disciples of Jesus Christ, we must be willing to put our love and service to Him above all of our material possessions. My friends this is a total commitment that He is requiring. You must follow Him completely or not at all. It is all or nothing. Jesus Christ is either Lord over everything in your life, including your life itself, or He is not Lord at all.

To be a true disciple of Jesus Christ one must count the cost. One must realize that sacrifice is required, suffering and persecution is to be expected, and we very well may be required to forfeit our very lives. In teaching on discipleship I often say it is not for the weak at heart. Again, remember Jesus told us in John 15:20; “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you,” and they crucified Him.

So, we have looked at what Christ says is required to be a disciple, but how does that relate to being a Christian? Let’s look at Acts 11:28; “And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” In this passage, which is telling about Barnabas taking Paul to Antioch, disciple is synonymous with Christian. I’m wondering if that puts a whole new light on your understanding of your relationship to Christ. Let’s look again at the words of Christ, this time in Mark 8:34; ‘“When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”’ There are three imperatives here:

  • First, is self-denial. This again is putting Christ before anything, anyone, and everything in your life;
  • Second, is self-sacrifice. Again, being willing to suffer and lay down your very life for Jesus Christ if so required;
  • Third, Jesus said “follow me” and there have been volumes written about the meaning of those two words, but the short version is this, having embraced self-denial and self-sacrifice,
    • commit to the life of a disciple by studying the Word of God,
    • grow more Christ-like by living by the Word of God,
    • share the Word of God with others,
    • and defend the Word of God without fail.

Here then is the bottom line. Jesus, the very Son of God, was born into this world to become the Christ. At Calvary He took on the sin debt owed by all humanity, paid it with His own life, was buried, and resurrected Himself into life. By His victory over sin and death, He has offered to all mankind the free gift of salvation and eternal life for all who will believe in His finished work at the cross and recognize Him as their Savior, and Lord of their life. In understanding this, we comprehend that discipleship as a Christian is voluntary. In accepting Christ’s gift we willingly are giving over our will to His Will. In that respect, becoming a Christian and a disciple is intentional.

Unfortunately, there are many who call themselves Christian, yet have not counted the cost. They never really surrendered their will to His Will. If you take an honest look at your life, can you truly say that you have surrendered your will to Christ? If not, you must seriously question your commitment. Are you truly following Christ? Are you His disciple? Again, if not, there is no better time than now, no better day than today to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and surrender your life and your will to Him.

True discipleship begins at the cross of Christ. It requires sacrificial devotion to Christ without compromise, it requires putting the needs of others ahead of one’s self for the sake of the gospel, it is an absolute commitment to God’s Will in the disciple’s life.

Are you a disciple of Jesus?

Following Hard… or finding it Hard to Follow?

So you say you are a Christian, and in fact you can point to a day in your life in which you acknowledged your sinfulness, repented of your sinful nature, and asked Jesus to be your Savior and the Lord of your life. Undoubtedly, every day since has been filled with ease and pleasure, right? What? No?

Is it possible that your faith has brought suffering rather than the happiness you expected? Have you been rejected by family members or friends? Has your relationship with Jesus Christ caused you to have to sacrifice something or someone important to you? Have you been reviled or persecuted because of your faith in Jesus Christ?

Did you know that Jesus Himself told us this would happen? In John 15:18-21 we read;

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.”

Remember, Jesus was mocked, lied about, beaten, spat upon, scourged, stripped naked, and in fact, Jesus Himself was abandoned by all of His disciples except John when He was nailed to the cross.

So, there is something here that we all need to understand as followers of Christ; we need to be prepared to face the fact that in all likelihood, sometime during our life, we can expect to suffer for our faith in Christ. Many of our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ in various parts of the world today are in fact doing that very thing; suffering rejection, persecution, vile depredation, and even death. We may not all be required to face death for Christ, but the Apostle Paul warned Timothy;

“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12)

After Christ’s resurrection and ascension, when the Holy Spirit was given to indwell the disciples, they began to recall all that they had been taught by Jesus when they walked with Him, and so began to speak boldly all the things that they had learned and witnessed. In Acts 5 we have recorded the story of John and Peter’s persecution for having refused to obey the edict of the Sanhedrin not to speak about Jesus. And Acts 5:40 records the fact that they were beaten and once again instructed not to speak about Jesus. However, in Acts 5:41 we read;

“So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

How does one possibly develop an attitude of thanksgiving for having suffered persecution? Quite simply, it happens when one goes beyond merely accepting Jesus Christ as Savior, and commits to doing the work that is required to become a disciple. In his letter to the church at Colossae, the Apostle Paul instructed the believers there;

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

This is the act of Spiritual growth! Walking in Christ involves daily living by His Word; being rooted in Him requires the study of the Word; being built up in Him involves constructive growth in understanding doctrine as defined in the root of the Word; all this will establish you in your faith in Christ, enabling you to rejoice in every circumstance with thanksgiving.

Wow! You say. That sounds an awful lot like work. Well, yes it is. Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ requires hard work, and because of the ever-present possibility of suffering and persecution, it isn’t for the faint of heart. But, the work is rewarding and the results are eternal.

So, as a believer in Jesus Christ, where do you begin to become a follower of Jesus Christ, one of His disciples? Actually it begins with your faith in Jesus Christ. The realization that you could not redeem yourself, and that by accepting God’s free gift of salvation through Christ’s finished work on the cross, you have acknowledged Christ as your Savior, and as the Lord of your life. This means you have yielded your will to His Will. When you have yielded your will to His Will you have actively begun the process of becoming a disciple. The Apostle Paul described this transformation as the “renewing of your mind.” In writing to the church at Rome the Apostle Paul encouraged the believers there;

“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)

So, Paul says after we give ourselves to God, the first work we must do is to renew our mind and by doing so, we may prove or know God’s Will. We do that by not being conformed to the world, but rather by being conformed to the Word of God. In other words everything that you learned or thought you knew before you became a Christian, must now be examined and filtered through the Word of God. This may involve unlearning some things and getting rid of old thoughts, replacing them with thoughts that are centered on Christ.

Renewing your mind, and becoming a disciple is a process not an event. When you accepted Christ as your personal Savior, your Salvation resulted in Justification in the sight of God. Discipleship is the process of Sanctification, which is daily endeavoring to grow more Christ like. Discipleship is a lifelong process, one never completes the process this side of heaven.

Discipleship is doing the work of learning to follow Christ. What does that work involve?

  • Jesus Christ discipled the 12, and hundreds more, in fact at Pentecost there were no less than 120 of His disciples present. Paul discipled Timothy, Titus, Tychicus, Luke, Phoebe, and countless others; Peter discipled John Mark among others; John discipled Ignatius, Polycarp, and others, Priscilla and Aquila discipled Apollos as did Paul, Polycarp discipled Justin Martyr and Onesimus (who was also discipled by Paul). And so down through the centuries this process has continued. I have been discipled by Dr. Jimmy Moody, Dr. Charlie Dodd, Dr. Mal Couch, Dr. Eliseo Solorio, Doug Pabody and others. What is the point here? If you truly desire to become a disciple of Jesus Christ find a more mature disciple of Christ’s and be discipled by them.
  • Discipleship is disciplining yourself to learn the Word of God and making yourself accountable to a discipler who loves you and Jesus enough to encourage you to do the hard work.
  • Daily read and study the Word of God and in so doing ask the Holy Spirit to guide and teach you. As you learn the Word of God be obedient to what you learn. Obedience is part of the hard work.
  • Memorize passages of Scripture. Committing them to your mind will not only allow you to share them with others, but more importantly they will become the foundation on which you stand and the compass by which you navigate through life.
  • Pray. Pray for understanding, knowledge, wisdom, and others. The Scripture tells us to pray without ceasing. In other words we should always be in an attitude of prayer, ready to talk to God about anything and everything. Remember in your prayers to give thanks for all that Christ has done for you and is doing in you.
  • Develop a Scriptural understanding of stewardship, realizing that all you have and all you are belongs to God. This will allow you to properly allocate your time, talent, and resources as God leads.
  • Involve yourself in a local Bible believing, gospel preaching church (here’s a hint, the more intimate and family like the congregation and staff are, the more likely it is that you will find true disciples and disciplers there). Get involved in every Bible study available to you in the church, and look for ways to serve the body of Christ in and through your church.
  • Oh, and one more thing! As you grow as a disciple, become a discipler. Make yourself available to a believer who is less mature in his or her walk with Christ than you are and begin to teach them the things you have learned from the Word of God as a disciple.

Discipleship is more than just learning how to follow Christ, it actually involves following Christ no matter what the cost. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said; “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Bonhoeffer was martyred for Christ. I think I mentioned before that discipleship is not for the faint of heart. In fact, are you aware that all of Christ’s disciples who became His Apostles were martyred with the exception of John? I have often wondered if John was spared martyrdom because of his appearance at the cross during Christ’s crucifixion. Among the other disciples I named above in this article; Timothy, Titus, Tychicus, Luke, John Mark, Ignatius, Polycarp, Apollos, Onesimus, Justin Martyr, and Dr. Eliseo Solorio were all martyred for the cause of Christ.

Remember, Christ promised we would suffer, but He also said;

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

I like that promise, “I am with you always.”

Let us be busy as Disciples following hard after Jesus Christ, let us not fear those things which may befall us because we, like Paul, can say;

“For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

Even when the following gets hard… Especially when the following gets hard… Follow Hard after Jesus!

American Religion

In the book of Acts chapter 17 we find the apostle Paul in the city of Athens, in Roman occupied Greece near the middle of the first century. In verse 16 we read that Paul’s spirit was stirred in him when he saw that the city was “wholly given to idolatry.”

In a close examination of that statement we find that literally, the city was inundated with idols and the practice of idolatry. Petronius, a Greek satirist and a contemporary of the apostle Paul remarked that in Athens one could find a god easier than a man.

And Pausanias, another contemporary of the apostle, said that Athens had more idols and altars than the rest of Greece combined. Here Paul encountered two groups of philosophers:

The Epicureans who had given up the search for truth and instead focused their lives on seeking pleasure. And the Stoics who maintained that self-sufficiency and self-reliance could fulfill all of man’s desires, and that he had need of nothing outside of self.

Luke, in his description of the Athenians said they spent their time either telling or hearing some “new thing.” In other words their lives were completely occupied with an insatiable obsession for the latest gossip, discoveries, philosophies, technologies, entertainment, and other forms of pleasure.

On the whole then, the Athenians were a self-absorbed people whose gods existed to bring them pleasure, and in fact, they even had an altar to the “unknown” god, just in case they had left a god out. They certainly didn’t want to offend him.

Having been invited to speak by the philosophers so that they might examine his teaching, Paul spoke to the crowd from Mars Hill. The apostle Paul’s remarks to the Athenians were such that he perceived them to be very religious.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word religious as:

  1. A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
  2. A specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Buddhist religion; the Christian religion; the Muslim religion, the Jewish religion; etc…
  3. The body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
  4. The practice of religious beliefs; ritual observances.

Understand, although they believed he was being complementary—Paul was not giving them a compliment. You see, the apostle at one point in time had been part of a religious sect of the Jews called the Pharisees. But after his conversion on the road to Damascus he no longer followed a religion, for he had a relationship with Jesus Christ, the very Son of God.

In fact, Paul was condemning them for their ritual observances which, devoid of faith, were no more than exercises in self-satisfaction. However, Paul used their religiosity to declare to them the identity of the “unknown” God to whom they had built an altar.

In Athens of the first century, I see a picture of the United States of America as it is today. This is a land filled with idols and altars to innumerable gods. America is a land filled with religiousness, yet devoid of faith. Like the Epicureans and Stoics, Americans are seekers of pleasure and are self-indulgent in their pursuit of materialism, success and self-glorification.

I believe the apostle Paul describes the condition of Americans today in Philippians 3:18-19:

“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.”

Many people worship in stadiums, arenas, ballparks, and every other type of sports venue with little gods in uniforms to whom they pay homage. Many others worship in concert halls, theaters, and nightclubs paying homage to musicians and vocalists—whose self-absorbed lives are idolized and aggrandized.

Still many others worship in theaters or in their own homes before altars which are screens showing digital images and stories, which for the most part are filled with fantasy or debauchery and filth—portrayed by actors devoid of morals and any sense of personal accountability.

In America, there are those who worship at the altar of money, some who worship at the altar of fame, some who worship at the altar of politics, some who worship at the altar of education, some who worship at the altar of environmentalism, some who worship at the altar of sex and pornography.

And some who worship at the altars of alcohol and drugs, some who worship at the altar of compromise and tolerance and inclusiveness, and there are some who worship at the altar of atheism and secular humanism. And, in many ways these are all worshiping at the altar of self.

In America today there are many forms of religion from every corner of the earth. There are deists, pantheists, monotheists, polytheists, panentheists, animists, agnostics and atheists. Some of which hope to pacify; others who hope to proselytize. Others who hope to marginalize, and still others who simply desire to enslave or eliminate anyone who does not adhere to their form of religion.

In America today, most churches are institutionalized memorials to religiosity, populated by people who either are seeking approval for their own actions and ideologies, blindly following the unscriptural tenants and teachings of false teachers and false prophets, or are simply going through the motions of ritualistic religion.

For all of the altars at which people worship in America today, unfortunately I have yet to find an altar to the “unknown” god such as the apostle Paul found in Athens. In fact, in America today people seem to be completely satisfied worshiping at the altars of their self-made idols and hedonistic gods.

However the infinite, eternal, God whom Paul declared to the Athenians, is still the immutable, incomparable, inscrutable, unfathomable, unsearchable, transcendent, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, righteous, just, gracious, holy, and sovereign God today. He is the Creator God of the universe who made Man; rather than an idol or object made by Man, who is dependent on Man.

He is the righteous God, who in His sovereignty, yet, requires payment for Man’s sinful rebellion which began with Adam in the garden. He is the gracious God, who provided that payment when His own Son, Jesus Christ, paid the sin debt of all who will believe on Him, by His death on the cross, burial and resurrection.

He is a Holy God, who has provided the Holy Spirit of Christ to indwell everyone who has believed on Jesus, as their Comforter and Teacher. He is a just God, who has appointed a day when everyone in the world will stand in judgment by His Son, if they have not repented of their sinfulness and accepted His free gift of grace.

Today in America (and the world) there needs to be a spiritual revival which causes people to turn away from their self-centered idolatry and worldliness, and turn to the infinite, eternal, creator God of the Bible.

Time is growing short, God could at any time tell Jesus to call out His children, His church; and that my friends will set in motion a chain of events which will culminate with Christ’s return in power and great glory to judge the earth and all of its inhabitants.

Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? Have you, like the apostle Paul, turned away from religion and embraced a relationship with Jesus Christ? If not, I invite you to read the following verses from the book of Romans in God’s Holy Bible.

Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 3:10: “As it is written: ‘THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE.’”

Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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

Romans 10:9-10:  “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Romans 10:13: “For ‘WHOEVER CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.’”

Romans 8:1-2: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

These verses are commonly known as the Romans Road to salvation. It is a starting point for developing a true relationship with Jesus Christ. He really does desire a relationship with you, which through the study of and obedience to His word, will cause you to grow closer to Him and prepare you to really live.

If you understand these verses in Romans and believe them to be true, and if you desire to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, establishing that relationship with Him, it would be good for you to communicate this with Him through prayer. Understand, that your faith in Christ establishes your salvation, while your prayer begins your relationship in Christ.

The prophet Jeremiah also left an important message for you:

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you” (Jeremiah 29:10-12).

Remember, reciting a prayer cannot save you! If your desire is to receive the salvation that is available through Jesus, you must simply place your faith in Him. Totally trust His death as the sufficient sacrifice for your sins. Absolutely rely on Him alone as your Savior. That is the true biblical way of salvation.

If you have received Jesus as your Savior, please, say a prayer to God. Pray in your own words acknowledging the verses in Romans above. Tell God how thankful you are for Jesus. Offer praise to God for His love and sacrifice. Thank Jesus for dying for your sins and providing salvation for you. That is the biblical connection between salvation and prayer.

If you have made a decision today to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, we would love to hear from you. Send me an email with a way to contact you and we will send you information on how to grow in your relationship in Christ. Like the gift of salvation, the information is free.

“Because the night is far spent, and the day is at hand!” (Romans 13:12a).

EvenSoCome

Dr. Tucker Whitaker

drwhitaker@ymail.com

Only Change Will Revive Hope

If Jesus were with us today, He would undoubtedly weep over America’s spiritual life. We have congregations that count their real estate and resources in millions, some of them in tens of millions! Yet that alone means nothing to Christ. The United States likewise is crowded with churches which forget the divine command, “Thou shall love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy strength and with all thy mind” and which, instead of this inner, heart-centered, soul-deep worship of God, permit head and lip worship to creep in, formalism and ceremonies to receive far too much attention. The plain preaching of the Gospel, without which no man can be redeemed, is pushed into the background.

Ask the average American: “How do you expect to be saved? What is your hope of heaven?” and you will find first that many of our countrymen do not want to be saved, since they think they do not need to be; and you will also learn that of those who believe in the hereafter, the majority actually like to think themselves so good, so much better than others, that God will welcome them with open arms when they ought to understand that without the Lord Jesus they are lost forever; that their hearts are filled with greed, lust, hatred, their lives marked with secret and disguised sin.

Because millions in this nation, founded by Christian pioneers, blessed above all other people on earth through religious freedom, have forgotten their God, neglected their privileges, spurned their blessings, rejected their Savior, we can find Him on Olivet, grief-gripped not only for Jerusalem’s Temple, but for churches in the United States that are more concerned about money raising than soul-winning, more intent on gaining popular applause than divine approval. As we hear Christ repeat His warning, “This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth and honoreth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me” may God give us the spiritual insight required to understand that, if America is to come closer to the Almighty, this rededication must start in the churches; that the groups called Christian must receive a transfusion of firm, unquestioning, self-denying trust. To stop the tears of Christ, we must go back to the Bible, back to the blessed Savior, back to the blood of His atonement, back to justification by faith, and faith alone.

Excerpted from “Tears Over America” by Walter A. Maier 1945

Thank God for my preacher friends! I dare not touch God’s anointed, but I do not hesitate to say that the dirtiest gang of thieves this side of Hell are the Gospel-denying, compromising liberals and modernists who deny the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures and preach to please people instead of preaching the Word as it is laid down in the Bible. Hell will be hotter for these preachers than for ordinary sinners who sat in the pews and listened to their social gospel. Oh yes, there will be preachers in Hell (2 Corinthians 11:13–15). Just as surely as God has God-called preachers, the Devil has Devil-called preachers.

There is no need to blame Hollywood and the liquor crowd for the mess in which we find the world today. The blame lies at the doorsteps of sissy, compromising, back-scratching, ear-tickling, “denomination-pecked” preachers who know the truth yet refuse to preach it for fear that they might hurt someone’s feelings.

It is not inviting to be unpopular. No one likes to be shunned. It is not a good feeling to know that you are not appreciated. But our Lord went through all that—and more. He set the example. He said, “He that takes not his cross, and follows after me, IS NOT WORTHY OF ME.” Also, ‘Beware of the man of whom all men speak well.’ Too many preachers stand in too well with the world in this modern era.

Excerpted from the Message “Unpopular Preachers” by Oliver B. Greene 1915-1976

Words of Grace for Strength

Let us hear what the Bible says about these days in which we live:

2 Timothy 3:1-7 “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Preachers and People alike have turned from Biblical Truth to ungodly living, there are so very few who are living for Christ, so very few who are willing to make a stand for Christ, most are living for self, living for the “lusts of the flesh and the pride of life.” Only change through repentance, will result in restoration and/or revival. Read these quotes:

“When a nation becomes as morally depraved, as spiritually blinded, and as steeped in humanism, hedonism, and materialism as America is, there is only one power in the entire universe that can meet and overcome such evil, and that is the power of the living God Himself, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a visitation of the manifest presence of God.”

“Revival, no matter how great or small in its ultimate scope, always begins with individual believers whose hearts are desperate for God, and who are willing to pay the price to meet Him.”

“God wants to avert judgment, and He’s simply looking for one person who will pay the price in prayer and in faith and in commitment, whatever it takes, to get a hold of God and not let loose.”

– Del Fehsenfeld, Jr.  1947-1989

Do not look for honor from the world, expect hatred instead. And, when it comes, receive it with the humility of Christ, for you should be humbled when you realize you have been treated no better than He was. Do not expect blessings on your church or your country if neither has the boldness to stand by Christ’s teachings, and furthermore, to proclaim them aloud to the surrounding world. If the reality of the Bible has become a rarity in your daily life, do not expect miracles from the Lord. His silence will shout judgment into your ears, although you will not hear it not over the clamor of the world’s parade passing by.

If and when man turns from his personal wickedness and/or apostasy to a right relationship with and in Christ, he will then begin to find security in Christ. But, it will take repentance, and true repentance brings change, and when this change occurs, we can stand on His Promises:

Luke 6:22-23 “Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.”

John 15:18-21 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.”

Philippians 1:27-29 “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”

Philippians 3:7-11 “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

1 Peter 4:12-16 “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.”

Revelation 2:10 “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Revelation 3:8-12 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.”

In these promises we find real Hope, an Eternity with our Savior! This is change which delivers hope! It is time for repentance! It is time to stand! It is time to become a overcomer! Will You?

EvenSoCome

Life, In Christ!

Humanly speaking we are all born with an innate fear of death, no one really wants to die, yet the Scriptures tell us; “it is appointed for men to die once” (Hebrews 9:27). Why is this? I am fairly well certain that everyone is familiar with the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis, and their disobedience to God by eating the forbidden fruit. Adam’s disobedience to God brought sin into the world and caused sins curse to fall on all men for all time. Romans 5:12; “Therefore, just as through one man (Adam) sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” So then, inherent within all of us is a sin nature, we are all predisposed to sin. Romans 3:23; “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And because of that sin nature we are condemned to die. Romans 6:23; “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” So even though we are condemned by our sin, through the shed blood of our Savior Jesus Christ at Calvary, we have the opportunity to experience eternal life.

The Word of God teaches us in Hebrews 9:22; “without shedding of blood there is no remission,” and in 1 John 1:7 we are told that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. So Jesus paid our penalty, our sin debt; He died our death. Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for every sinner who was ever born or will be born into this world. So then the only way to experience eternal life is by accepting the free gift offered to us by Jesus Christ. The gift cannot be bought, we can only come into possession of it by accepting it freely from the giver, and it is Christ’s gift of grace to us.

In Ephesians 1:7 the apostle Paul tells us; “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” And again in Colossians 1:14; “in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” The very reason Jesus Christ was born into this world, was to become the perfect sacrifice before His Father so that we might be redeemed from the sin debt of death we owed and given the opportunity to accept His free gift, which is eternal life. Ephesians 2:8-9; “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”

The Scriptures tell us;

John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

John 1:12-13 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

1 John 5:11 “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.”

There is only one way to be saved from eternal death, and given eternal life, and that is through Jesus Christ. In John 14:6 Jesus himself said; “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus also said in John 5:24; “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”

This brings us back to the beginning of our teaching in this article, fear of death. In understanding the truth of Scripture, it is obvious why men fear death. Without a relationship in Jesus Christ, having accepted His free gift of salvation, man condemns himself to eternal death. But in Christ Jesus we are given the promise of eternal life, through His gift. We read in 1 John 5:12; “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” So, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, we have life and therefore have no need to fear eternal death.

In fact even temporal death should hold no mystery or fear for those who are in Jesus Christ. Because as Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8; “So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” Did you catch that? We should be “confident,” and in fact “well pleased” if we no longer inhabit this earthly body, because we get to be with Jesus.

Now then, because we have been given life by Christ, and have no reason to fear death, we ought to live our lives In Christ. Living our lives In Christ means that rather than fearing death we embrace it in that we are dead to the world. In other words the things of the world are not important to us and should have no influence in our lives.

What things are these?

Read to the words of Jesus to the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-22; ‘“Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’” And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”’

Luke 9:57-62 records the words of Jesus to others in regard to what is required of us In Christ. ‘“Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”’

Also in Luke 9:23-25 this is written; ‘“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?”’

So in the words of Christ Himself we discover what is required of us In Christ. The list of things which we are to be willing to give up not only includes material possessions, reputation, and even family, ultimately it includes our very lives. Daily taking up your cross is literally daily putting self to death so that the life which you live, is life In Christ. The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20; “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” In his letter to the Romans he also wrote; “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)

If we are dead to self, and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, then we are given life by God through the Holy Spirit. Read Romans 8:1-11; “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

Life, In Christ, is evidenced by the willful subjugation of our will and our very lives, to the will of God and the call that He places on our lives. Obedience to Jesus Christ through the instruction of His written Word gives us the boldness to live life In Christ. It is only through living our lives boldly In Christ will we be able to Stand for Him in these Last Days (Ephesians 6:10-13).

Life, In Christ, is living without fear of death, temporal or eternal, because we have been given the gift of life through Christ. In fact, like the Apostle Paul we should be willing to say; “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

Life, In Christ, may involve ridicule, derision, persecution and suffering (2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:15-16; 1 Peter 5:10) but if we endure it we are promised the “Crown of Life.” Revelation 2:10; “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Do you know Jesus? 1 John 5:20; “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”

Do you live; Life, In Christ? Settle the matter with Him today!

The Rapture is imminent, Tribulation and the Day of the Lord are near, and;

Jesus is Coming Soon!

EvenSoCome

Grace in the Church Age

In Acts 2 we find the birth of the Church at Pentecost, and in 1 Thessalonians 4 we find the description of the Rapture of the Church. The entire period of time between these two events is the Church Age, and the Church Age is encompassed in its entirety by the Age of Grace. Extending from the Cross of Christ, to His Glorious Appearing at the Second Coming to establish His Millennial Reign, the Age of Grace is typified by God’s offer of Eternal Salvation through the shed Blood of Jesus Christ, to all who would trust in Him as their Lord and Savior.

The Church Age within the Age of Grace is the Age of the “ecclesia,” those who are “called out” as the Body of Christ. These “called out” ones, identified as Christ’s Church, exist for the purpose of revealing Christ to the world by carrying out His will as a revelation and example of His Grace. The command to the disciples by Christ in Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” is for them to be witnesses, to share with all mankind the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, within the Scriptures there is not one single passage which states that the whole world will be converted during this Age. In fact, Christ Himself shared this fact within the parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13. In Acts 15:7 -17, in the account of the Jerusalem Council, we find that God’s purpose for this Age is the calling out of a people for His Name which includes both Jew and Gentile. As the Church we are then told in 2 Corinthians 6:17, that because we are called out of the world, that we are to be separate from the world.

The first mission given to us as the “called out” followers of Christ, the Church, is the evangelization of the world, and not the conversion of the world. It then follows that the purpose of God for His Church in this Age is not the reformation of society, or the enrichment of the faithful, and it is certainly not the establishment of His Kingdom.

The Church is the Body of Christ (Ephesians 1:17-23), which is joined together to serve one another as we serve God; the Church is the Bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-30), whose purpose is to glorify God; the Church on earth is the habitation of God (Ephesians 2:19-22); the Church is an example and illustration of the grace of God (Ephesians 2:5-7), which in fact is what gives unique character to this Age; and the Church is a royal priesthood (2 Peter 2:4-10), to serve God among men in this Age.

The second mission given to us as the “called out” followers of Jesus Christ, the Church, is to understand the promise that, for the cause of Christ, we will suffer and endure persecution (Matthew 5:12, John 15:20, Romans 12:14, Philippians 1:29, 2 Timothy 3:12, 1 Peter 3:14, 1 Peter 4:16, Revelation 2:10) because of the ever-increasing wickedness of the world in which we live. Yet the blessing in this promise is another promise, the promise of a great inheritance and reward (Matthew 5:12, Colossians 3:24, 1 Peter 1:3-5, Hebrews 11:6, Revelation 3:7-12) for having remained faithful to the calling.

I believe today that the “church” we see in the world has moved very far away from its calling, from the divine purpose for which it was intended. What most people today see as the “church,” has no real resemblance to the Church of Jesus Christ. Today’s “church” has failed to be separate from the world, a “called out” body for the purposes of God. In the “church” today we find that many have embraced socialism, humanism, environmentalism, hedonism, and the worship of Mammon. While in still other “churches” they endeavor to appropriate from Israel, the promises which God intended for Israel alone, which I believe has done more to turn the “church” from its appointed course than any other. This error alone causes the “church” to turn away from a literal interpretation of Scripture, which in turn creates a denial of prophetic truth. By embracing this false theology the “church” relegates itself to a place in the world and defines its mission as a responsibility to improve the world.

So the “church” today defines itself by building magnificent structures, acquiring earthly things, courting political power, embracing social and societal conventions, embracing tolerance, compromise and inclusiveness, in an effort to coexist with all religions. All of this is in direct opposition to the Word of God, and an appointed call to separation and holiness in anticipation of the return of Jesus Christ. The “church” which is most evident in the world today is certainly not the Church of Jesus Christ.

Yet there is still a remnant of believers, who are truly following the mission given by Jesus Christ, who comprise the True Church today, what we see as His Remnant Church of the Last Days. I believe it is the ministry and mission of the Church to be witnesses for Jesus Christ until He returns for His Church (1 Thessalonians 4), and that He alone can effect change in this world, and will do so when He sets up His Millennial Kingdom at His Second Coming (Revelation 19).

I believe the Rapture of the Church is imminent, we are living in a time when prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes. It is my prayer that in this last remnant of time before the “called out” Church is called up to meet our Savior, that a Holy Spirit inspired awakening will take place among mankind, and within the apostate church. It is my prayer that we will see souls saved, and the church restored to its original mission and calling. The end of days is at hand and;

Jesus is Coming Soon!

EvenSoCome