True Grace for True Disciples

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

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

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

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

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

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

Words of Grace for Strength

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

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

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

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

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

Do you know Him? Are you His disciple?

The Prayer of the Contrite Heart ~ Psalm 51

This psalm is a ladder which climbs from the horrible pit, with its miry clay, into the heights of sunny joy, where the song breaks from the forgiven penitent. Here is the cry of the lost sheep which has been torn by briers, harried by wild dogs, drenched in the morass, but which the shepherd has found and brought home rejoicing. This path has been worn by myriads of penitents. Psalm 51:17 was written on the wall of St. Augustine’s cell.

There is no doubt as to the occasion or the authorship of this psalm. It abounds in references to 2 Samuel 11:1-27; 2 Samuel 12:1-31. It is remarkable that such a confession should have been handed to the chief musician; but the publicity thus given has made it a means of grace to myriads. Note the epithets for sin: transgression, “the violation of law;” iniquity, “crookedness from the straight line of rectitude;” sin, “missing the mark.” However much God longs to forgive, He cannot, until confession is made. We must acknowledge our lapse from virtue! Blot out, as from a record; wash, as foul stains from linen; cleanse, as a leper by the touch of Christ. Our only plea is the multitude of God’s tender mercies.

It is not enough to be forgiven; the true penitent longs to be kept from breaking out into the old sins. He desires a clean heart that abhors the least taint of sin; a right or steadfast spirit, influenced by God’s Holy Spirit, and therefore a willing spirit as well. Then shall follow the joy of salvation, success in soul-winning, humility of soul, the blessing of Zion, and the up building of the Church. What glorious results are these-like the fair colors extracted from coal-tar!

There are no sacrifices so dear to God as broken hearts; no offerings so precious as contrite spirits. It would be impossible to compute all the walls that have been built; all the Jerusalem’s, that have been blessed, all the congregations that have been moved, all the revivals that have resulted because sinful men and women have been loved back from the pit of corruption and reinstated into the clear shining of God’s forgiveness and favor. Do not be content with forgiveness; seek restoration to the old place and then strive for a better.

Excerpted from “Through the Bible Day by Day” by F.B. Meyer 1914

Often, Andy and I collaborate on this Post we call “Words of Grace for Strength.” Today, I hope you will allow me to use it for a bit of personal reflection. The excerpt above is of course Meyer’s commentary on Psalm 51 in which King David made full confession of his sin with Bathsheba, and having done so pleaded with God for forgiveness, restoration and renewed usefulness. I am in complete agreement with Meyer as to his “title” of the Psalm, “The Prayer of the Contrite Heart” for it truly speaks of one who has recognized a need to place oneself in the complete control of his Lord because of his own failures.

Many years ago I was encouraged by Dr. Jerry Chaney to learn to “Pray the Psalms of David in the attitude of their author.” Psalm 51 has become a prayer of brokenness for me. There was a time in my life when, like David, I believed because of God’s favor in my life that I could act with impunity as I saw fit. Unfortunately, while David’s rebellion against God’s authority lasted only one year, mine lasted close to twenty. But, when at last I had been completely broken by my own sin, I cried out to Him who had paid my sin debt, once again acknowledging Him as my Savior, my Lord, and my God; He forgave me. Now the period of time since my restoration exceeds the time of my rebellion and I truly desire to be used by God every day. There are times though, that I have been discouraged, times of weariness, times of impatience, times when I felt I was somehow unappreciated or ignored… but then I am lead back to Psalm 51, and here I find that all I need is to be right with Jesus… restoration is life lived for Christ!
Read this wonderful Psalm with me (the bold emphasis I have added as my petition to my Savior).

Psalm 51:1-19
1 Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me.
4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
9 Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

Is this your prayer today? Are you closer to Jesus Christ today than you were one year ago? Twenty years ago? Do you feel the presence of His Holy Spirit in your life? Do you still feel the Joy of your salvation? I must confess, I needed to read and pray this Psalm again today. Did you, Do you? Let us finish the Psalm.

13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.
18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, With burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.

Friends, I need Jesus to forgive me daily for my failures, for my weakness, for my selfish pride, for sin which enters my thoughts and is displayed in my actions. And, I ask you to forgive me too…

I want to be used by my Savior in whatever way He chooses. As the old Hymn says, I have decided to follow Jesus, No turning back! How about You?

Tuck

Two Kinds of Christianity?

1 Corinthians 15:1-3 “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures”

There are two kinds of Christianity. There is a Christianity of social improvement, of economic amelioration, of civic betterment. If Christ is preached at all, He is presented as a great humanitarian, a noble reformer, a magnificent martyr. If its disciples use the word “salvation,” they mean a reconstruction of the social order. Confucius was a great teacher, contributing to the welfare of society. Socrates was a great teacher, contributing to the welfare of society. Aurelius and Justinian were great teachers, contributing to the welfare of society. And Jesus was a great teacher, contributing to the welfare of society. He was nothing more, except possibly the best among many peers.

There is, also another kind of Christianity. It is a Christianity of redemption. In this message God in heaven was moved by the tragic plight of a lost human race, a race condemned to die by judgment upon their sins. In mercy and in love God came down in human flesh and took upon Himself our sins and died in our stead. Through faith in this atoning Christ we are forgiven our iniquities, we are restored to God’s favor, we are saved from eternal penalty of our transgressions. Simon Peter spoke of that marvelous salvation like this: “Christ also suffered for us,… who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree,… by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Peter 2:21-24) And again he wrote: “…ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold… but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:18-20).

In the Christianity of social improvement, the death of Christ is but an incident, though a moving devotion. In the Christianity of redemption, the death of Christ is the cardinal truth around which all other truths revolve. Take away the death of Christ from the first type of preaching and the preacher is not particularly troubled. In fact, he would like to rid the volumes of theology and the hymn books of any reference to such blood and suffering. To him the preaching of the cross is an offense, a part of a religion of the shambles and the butcher shop. Take away the death of Christ from the second message and there is nothing left. The preacher no longer possesses the “good news,” the evangel of the forgiveness of our sins. There no longer remains any hope of heaven nor any promise of the world to come.

Which of these two kinds of Christianity is the Christianity of the New Testament? Undoubtedly, it is the Christianity of the cross.

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Galatians 6:14).

At the heart of the Christian faith is the cross; the cross in all its naked hideousness, as the Roman would have it; the cross in all its philosophical irrationality, as the Greek would have it; the cross in all its shame and offense, as Paul describes it. “I declare unto you the gospel… by which ye also are saved… how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-3). “And, I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2). If it is the Christianity of the book, it is the Christianity of the cross.

Excerpted from “In Defense of the Faith” W.A. Criswell 1967

Words of Grace for Strength

“He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”  (John 19:30b)

Dr. Criswell’s thesis is that without the Cross there is no Christianity, that the Cross is central to our faith because it is where our redemption was assured. As certain today as it was when Dr. Criswell penned the words in his book, there seems to be two kinds of Christianity being preached from pulpits around the world. This apostasy is more grievous than all of the other false religions and cults combined, because there are countless numbers of souls being led away from God the Father, because false teachers and false prophets have abandoned the cross. It should bring deep pain to any Christian to see anyone throw away the only thing worth keeping, the only thing that cannot be earned, the only thing that is freely offered, the only thing that once accepted cannot be lost.

As our Lord Jesus was crucified, hanging there suspended between heaven and earth He cried out “it is finished” and with that statement, the work His Father had sent Him to do (the work which none in the history of the world before or since could do, only Jesus), was done. It was the work of atonement and redemption, He poured out His life as an offering for our sin and then bowed His head before His Father. The Scripture here says “He gave up His Spirit”, no one took it from Him, He willingly dismissed His spirit and died, His death was voluntary, He was completely in control and again, did what no other man could do. These three words “it is finished” were His announcement that victory over sin and death were assured, that Satan’s fate was forever settled, for he willingly died and placed Himself into His Father’s hands. The certainty of His burial, resurrection and ascension would soon be accomplished, but with these three words the way of atonement for all men had been provided, redemption was assured for all who would believe, for all who would accept the gift provided, and make Him Lord of their life. This is Christianity!

Today I plead with you to examine the preaching and teaching in the place where you worship. If the message is on social justice, if the message is on prosperity, if the message is on civility and tolerance… ask… Where Is the Cross?

The message should be about what Christ Did for you, not what He can provide for you… Atonement, Forgiveness, Redemption, are all at the Cross of Christ! For if you understand that message of what He did, you know with certainty that you do not need Him to provide anything else.

Run to the Cross, Cling to the Cross, for at the Cross is where you find True Christianity!

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

Turn to the Cross because the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for His Church, True Christianity, is imminent.

Jesus is Coming Soon!

EvenSoCome