God Is Looking for Men

Few verses of Scripture have more powerfully influenced my personal life than Ezekiel 22:30. After having given my life to Christ in an act of repentance, and receiving His free gift of salvation, a few short years later I accepted the call to preach the word.

However as a young adult I let selfish personal desires and worldly decisions turn me away from the promise I had made to God. Though God kept that promise which I had made to Him ever before me, in rebellion I lived only for myself and like a tornado left a path of destruction which affected the lives of everyone with whom I came in contact. But, even in my immorality and wickedness God still loved me, and desired to draw me back to Himself, and to obedience to His Will.

After many years in disobedience, I had reached a point at which God in His mercy had allowed me to be completely broken. I was broken materially, emotionally, and most of all spiritually. I was jobless, homeless, and had lost all respectability and integrity. Like the prodigal son I had wasted everything God had ever given me and destroyed every relationship with those who mattered to me. However, even at the depths of my depravity, and despite my unrepentant attitude, there were those who never ceased to pray for me. In doing so, they kept the illuminating and purifying light of Christ shining into my life and exposing my sin.

At that low point in my life, as a result of those prayers and through the efforts of my mother and oldest daughter, I began to be exposed to Godly men who, in the love of Christ, began to council and then disciple me. After a few months I cried out to God for forgiveness and gave Him complete control of my life. Believing completely in His power and ability to change my life, I again turned to His Word to show me His Will. I began that process of sanctification, daily endeavoring to be more like Christ, which yet continues even to this day. Late one night while reading, I came to this passage in Ezekiel and God began to show me, to teach me, just what He would require of me.

Ezekiel was a prophet of God to the nation of Israel during the Babylonian captivity. Because of Israel’s wickedness and disobedience God had allowed Nebuchadnezzar to conquer the nation. In the process of the conquest, the destruction of Israel took place over a period of years and included three separate periods of destruction during which the people of Israel were either scattered into other nations or were carried into captivity to Babylon. Ezekiel had been a part of the second captivity and his prophecies were both for those in captivity, and those who yet remained in Jerusalem, to turn from their wickedness and ask for restoration before God. Ezekiel chapter 22 details the depths of wickedness to which the nation of Israel had fallen, and what His judgment on them would involve. Having reached this point, God told Ezekiel;

“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 22:30-31 KJV)

God had looked for one man, just one. It would have only taken one man to step into the breach in obedience, one man completely committed to God to make a stand for God before the nation of Israel. One man who was steadfast and loyal to God, to stay God’s judgment on the nation. But, the Scripture says, He found none.

As I read and studied that passage I was struck by two thoughts; first, how tragic it was that God could not find even one man willing to stand for Him in all the nation of Israel; and second, I was overwhelmed and captivated with the realization that God is still looking for a man. That, in fact, throughout history, in every generation, God has looked for a man, Today, God is still looking for men willing to be His steadfast and loyal watchmen, warrior servants, and leader servants, willing to stand for God, for Christ, before this wicked world, calling for repentance and declaring His righteousness.

As the meaning of this passage and its significance became clear to me, especially as it pertained to my own life and to my walk with Christ, I realized that incredibly, God still wanted to use me. I realized that He wanted to use me not because of who I was becoming in Christ, but because of who I was before I turned to Him.

This realization compelled me to begin a study of the men God chose to use, both in the Old Testament and New, to accomplish His goals. And while this study revealed the character and characteristics of the type of man God is looking for, most importantly I began to understand not only why He still wanted to use me, but also what He was going to require of me.

Many years have passed since Christ in His mercy restored me to Himself and allowed His Holy Spirit to indwell me, protect me, teach me, and empower me to be His obedient servant. The process of sanctification continues in my life, and each morning as I rise I hear the call of the Holy Spirit in my heart saying “I sought for a man among them” and I pray to my heavenly Father; “cause me, make me, enable me to be that man.”

God is still looking for men! But God is not looking for perfect men, He is not looking for the wealthiest, or the best looking, or even the most intelligent men.

What kind of man is God looking for?

  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap and love Him more than they love the things of the world.
  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap because their hearts desire is to serve Him in obedience.
  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap because as men they are dependent on Him, humble men who trust him completely to lead them.
  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap and not compromise the Word of God to the popular culture or the ideas of man, who will not tolerate unrepentant sin, yet who will love sinners just as Jesus did.
  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap and love, lead, comfort, and protect their wives just as Christ does the church.
  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap because they are more concerned about their children’s souls than their athletic abilities or popularity.
  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap and lead by the way they live rather than by what they say.
  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap and pray, who current in their prayer life, are intercessors praying for the lives of others.
  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap as watchmen, warning His church of apostasy and infidelity, who will be defenders of the faith.
  • God is looking for men who will stand in the gap having put on the whole armor of God, and having done all to stand, will stand therefore!

The most important thing that we must understand is that God is looking for men not only willing to die for the cause of Christ, but more importantly, He is looking for men whose lives are yielded to the power of the Holy Spirit and who are willing to live for Jesus Christ!

Is He looking for You?

 

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?

No-Go Zones

Shortly after the Muslim terrorist attack that killed 17 people in Paris, France there were a flurry of TV programs and articles about No-Go Zones (also called Sensitive Urban Zones, mini-caliphates or little caliphates).

These are Muslim towns, communities and villages that non-Muslim city officials, police, firemen and others often avoid in France, England and other parts of the EU. But these No-Go Zones quickly became a subject that some politicians and media personalities didn’t want people to discuss.

Saying “No-Go Zones” is about like saying “Islamic terrorists” or “Muslim terrorists.”  Some won’t admit that there is such a thing. Some prefer to be politically correct, cater to the Muslims and hope that the public will ignore the fact that these places actually exist. It is like the Fort Hood incident that was called “work place violence” instead of a Muslim terrorist attack.

Others know that “No-Go Zones” exist because the subject can be Googled, anti-Islamic movements have sprung up as a result of their existence, governments have published lists and maps of these areas, there have been articles and police reports about these areas for years, etc.

But some people don’t want No-Go Zones tied to Muslims or the Islamic religion in any way. They don’t object to calling these areas poverty zones; areas of low education, areas of high unemployment, areas of despair and things like that, but they strongly object to using the words “Muslim” or “Islamic” in connection with these dangerous places.

Part of the problem is Globalists and their satanic desire for a one-world government and a one-world religion. They categorize people as “citizens of the world” instead of citizens of a nation or citizens of a religion. They want to pull people out of their religion and into a politically correct religion. They want to integrate the cultures and religions of the world; and they are trying to do this by opening borders and encouraging immigration.

Another part of the problem is that many Muslims are taught to place their religion above their citizenship. Being a Muslim is more important to them than being in a nation, a world religion or a world government (unless it is an Islamic world religion or world government). So when Muslims cross those open borders to re-locate they don’t assimilate.

They flock to Muslim neighborhoods where they are taught to cling to the habits, values and religion they grew up in. They are taught to convert the nation they are in and not to let that nation convert them. They are taught that every true Muslim has a responsibility to convert the people in their area in one of   two ways: through violence or through population growth, persuasion  and domination.

There are many more parts to the problem but I will just mention one more and move on. Islam is not a religion of peace in the sense that the world thinks of peace. Islam teaches that Muslims are at war with non-Muslims. It teaches that there won’t be peace on earth until the whole world is converted to Islam.

So when Muslims say they are a religion of peace they mean they are a religion that wants to bring peace to the earth by converting everyone on earth to Islam. Violence (threatening or killing non-Muslims) is an acceptable method for establishing peace (an Islamic one-world religion and government).

I have not read the Koran, but I have read an untold number of articles about the Koran and what it teaches. The Koran was written over a period of years, and it is my understanding that some of the earliest passages clearly teach peace. And some of the later passages clearly teach violence.

So there are contradictions in the Koran and I have read that when there is a contradiction in the Koran it instructs those who read it to go by the last passage on the issue. Since the later passages teach violence against non-Muslims, this means the violent passages supersede the peaceful passages.

I have already said that Muslims can use violence or they can use population growth, persuasion and domination to convert the world. Most Muslims choose to use population growth, persuasion and domination, but some choose violence. Some establish terrorist cells. Some recruit people to join terrorist cells.

Some attend mosques with radical clerics that preach jihad. Some want to keep non-Muslims away from where these activities are going on so they deliberately turn their neighborhoods into No-Go Zones. The violent and the non-violent are intermingled and that makes for a very dangerous situation.

The U.S. president is pro-Muslim at best and a committed Muslim at worst. He has Muslim advisors, Muslims in Homeland Security, a Muslim in charge of the CIA, allowed a Muslim in the country that is establishing a Muslim political party and who knows what else?

According to a recent report, the FBI knows of at least 22 Muslim areas (communes or compounds) in the U.S. that are recruiting trainees. The FBI knows that these trainees are being taught guerilla tactics, Islamic doctrine, anti-Americanism, how to use weapons and more.

In times past, some of these groups have been infiltrated and investigated. The FBI has issued reports that say they are dangerous. But, as far as I know, the infiltration and investigation has stopped because the U.S. government refuses to call these people terrorists.

All of the Muslims in these compounds may not be terrorists, but some of them are. So, in my mind, there is no difference between the 22 No-Go Muslim compounds in the U.S. and the No-Go Zones in France and other countries.

Prophecy Plus Ministries

Daymond & Rachel Duck

daymond.duck@yahoo.com

 

Editors Note:  We at Rafter Cross Ministries and EvenSoCome are equally concerned about the growth of Islam and the proliferation of radical Islamic terrorist organizations. We are concerned about the involvement of some of these groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and CAIR in the present administration of the US government.

However, first and foremost we recognize that those of the Muslim faith are deceived by Satan and are in desperate need to have someone share with them the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They need to hear how the one true God desires a relationship with them based on love rather than fear and punishment.

With this in mind, we call on all true disciples of Christ to be certain that we (like Christ) love the sinner even while we deplore his sin. Pray for those who are caught up in and dominated by Islam, Pray that they find the redemption provided by Jesus Christ at the Cross.

Dr. Tuck Whitaker

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?

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 the 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, the 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.

The 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!”

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

EvenSoCome

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!