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?

Apostasy and Responsibility

Our excerpt today is from David Wilkerson’s Sermon “The Great Apostasy” from May 7th, 1986.

Our churches no longer have the power of God to attract the people. They go down to Egypt, borrow its music, its dancing, its entertainment, hoping for a crowd! No passion for souls – just crowds! Church growth at any cost! Look at the average church bulletin; it looks like a theater calendar. The church wants to ride the swift horses of Egypt! It is a stench in God’s nostrils.

Even the para-church ministries are falling away, apostatizing! Workers are parked in front of the TV idol. Many are reading psychology books. While some still have a passion for souls, even that often becomes worldly hype and human energy”!

“Who say to the seers, You must not see visions! And to the prophets, You must not prophesy to us what is right. Speak to us pleasant words, prophesying illusions” (Isaiah 30:10).

An apostate church wants nothing to do with the visions or prophecies of men of righteousness. They want no message that disturbs, no upsetting of their successful world. They refuse any kind of correction.

Everything is excused under the banner of love. They clamor for entertainment! They flock by the thousands to concerts, plays, social gatherings, they ridicule prophets. They mock what they call the Doomsday Preachers! They live with Illusions. They don’t want a Preacher or Evangelist to tell them the hard truth – to bring forth the Sword of the Lord. They say, “Preach to us smooth things! Bless us! Make us happy! Make us feel good!”

They especially reject the message of holiness and separation. They say, “Get out of the way, turn aside from the paths …. Let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 30:11).

I never thought I’d live to see the day that Assembly of God pastors would write me reproachful letters, telling me I am bringing confusion and gloom to the body of Christ. For what? Preaching holiness, judgment and repentance?

Jeremiah was sent to prophesy against the apostate Jews, the Lord’s own people. God warned him, “They will fight you… the dread of the Lord is no longer in them… they prefer to drink from cisterns now, rather than living water” (Jeremiah 1,2,3).

Why do people embrace the prosperity message and reject correction and calls to repentance and holiness? It is because of their lifestyles. Prosperity preaching fits beautifully into their successful lifestyles. They flock to those teachers, because they want to feel comfortable in their world of materialism. They are in no mood to give up anything, or to sacrifice, or to hear of crosses and losses. They are into buying, acquiring, enjoying, climbing. They refuse to heed the prophetic warnings that the party will soon be over.

Words of Grace for Strength

The New Testament book of Jude gives a clear warning of the dangers of Apostasy in the Church… both in the life of the early Church and just as importantly, it is relevant for the Church today.

Jude encourages the believer to earnestly “contend for the faith” because of the danger of Apostasy. “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3) Jude’s warning to the Body of Christ is that there will be a constant barrage of false teaching and false teachers who will attempt to corrupt the message and mission of the Church, and his exhortation is clear that it is the responsibility of every believer to be proactive in the fight against the false teaching. Every believer should be endeavoring to be a “Berean” like disciple who is so grounded in the Word that they are able to discern the difference between Truth and the threat of growing Apostasy as a result of the teaching of false prophets.

These false prophets have sought to corrupt the message of the Gospel from the very beginning of the church age. “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4) Look at what Jude is saying about these false prophets and their Apostasy.

• They have “crept in unnoticed.” In other words, they have used deceit, craftiness and elusive means to gain access into the Church. Paul says of them in 2 Corinthians 11:13-14; “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” These false prophets and teachers never appear to be divisive or distrustful, their mantra is inclusiveness, tolerance, love and prosperity. In fact, they may sound good, look good, and even have great charismatic personalities, but they use their position to subvert and corrupt the Truth.

• Jude also describes them as “ungodly” and immoral because they turn Grace into an excuse to commit unrighteousness. Verses 4-19 give a list of their ungodly attributes.

• Also in verse 4 Jude says they “deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul tells us how they do this in Titus 1:15-16; “To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.” Through their corrupt and unrighteous lives they expose their true nature. Peter says they also show their true nature through their false teaching. 2 Peter 2:1; “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.”

Eventually the false prophet or teacher will be exposed by his own works and he is revealed to have never had any true relationship with God, His Son Jesus Christ or His Holy Spirit and never understood the truth of God’s Word and His righteousness. John wrote of this in 1 John 2:19; “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”

Jude also describes three groups of people who have been influenced by or are a part of these Apostates. In verses 22-23 he writes; “And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.”

These verses speak of three separate groups of people.

• To some he says we are to “have compassion.” These are they who have been influenced by the false teachers and moral reprobates but have not yet completely bought in to their ungodliness. They are redeemable and we need to reach out to them in Love and kindness in order to draw them back to the Truth.

• The second group have become enamored with the teachings of the false prophets, they are in real and present danger of losing their souls because of ungodliness. Drastic action is called for as we are told to react and “save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.” This is not a moderate or tender approach, this is confrontational and demonstrative action needed to expose to them the danger they face which has eternal consequences.

• The third group is those described as ones we should fear, “hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” They are the false prophets and teachers, the Apostates themselves. They have given themselves over to their sinful ungodliness and immorality. Are they beyond redemption? Only God knows. However, we are warned as believers not to associate with these workers of iniquity lest we become contaminated by their false teaching and sin. We as members of the Body of Christ, the True Church, are never to lower our guard or our standards in order to do the work of evangelism. We are to be in the world but not of the world.

Friends and fellow servants, we are living in the most exciting days in the history of the earth as we listen for the sound of the trump of God and the imminent return of Christ for His Bride, the Church. In these Last Days we have the opportunity to speak out and share the good news of the True Gospel of Jesus Christ.

There are more people on the earth today who need to know Christ than ever before, and it is not time for us to grow complacent, but rather it is past time for us to be proactive in the work we have been called to by our Lord and Savior.

We must stand against the growing Apostasy in the church, we must reveal the workers of iniquity who corrupt and distort the Word of God, and we must be willing to lay our very lives at the feet of Jesus.

People need to know the Truth, and the only source of Truth is the Word of God, and we know and must share that Jesus IS the Word!

We as Soldiers of the Cross need to put on the Whole Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) and prepare to do spiritual battle daily for our Lord. No fear, No weakness, let no one be discouraged, having done all we need to do to stand for Christ let us Stand Therefor! We must contend for the faith, speak those things which become sound doctrine, speak the truth in love, and pray without ceasing!

The little, yet powerful, book of Jude ends with this benediction in verses 24-25; “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.”

Incredible, what a fantastic picture! He will keep us, He will present us with exceeding joy, He does this for us! Our God and Savior! Let us know, let us speak, let us share with the world our Savior, and His glory, His majesty, His Dominion and power now and forever!

Therefore Stand!

Faith; Some Truths We Should Know, On Which We Can Stand!

Recently I have received questions from more than a few folks about faith and about standing for Christ in these Last Days. Considering this, it is apparent to me that there are some truths that we should know as believers and followers of Jesus Christ, which then become the basis for our ability to make a stand in faith. If we grasp these truths, understand these truths, which are taught in the Word of God, they can help us increase our faith. Everyone who has ever trusted in Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, has at some point in time in his spiritual life, experienced weakness in his faith. But, God has the power to strengthen our faith and has given us promises to cling to and instruction to follow to do so.

Hebrews 11:1 says; “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” So faith is based on substance and evidence; these are tangible things. Faith is not based on emotion because it is intangible. Romans 10:17 tells us; “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” We have the tangible Word of God, which is truth, on which to base our faith.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we believe in the truth of His substitutionary death (wherein He paid our sin debt), His burial, and resurrection proving His victory over sin and death. This of course is the very foundation of our faith. Herein we find both substance and evidence. But there is more, much more which Christ has promised us, with which we may build upon our faith. Knowing this, let’s look at some more truths that we should know.

1. We have a God who cares.

Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us that we have a High Priest in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who experienced everything that we experience in this life and yet He did so without sin. It continues saying that we can come boldly to His throne to obtain mercy and grace in our time of need.
1 Peter 5:6-7 tells us that if we will humble ourselves before God, in other words submit our will to His will, and give all of our worries, cares, fears, and concerns to Him; that He will exalt, preserve, and praise us at just the right time (in His time) because He cares for us.

2. Our God will supply all our need.

• In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus Christ Himself told His disciples that they didn’t need to worry about what they would eat, drink, or wear; or about their physical well-being or their very lives because His Father in heaven knew their every need. If they would seek first His kingdom (once again be concerned with and obedient to His will) everything they need would be provided. If obedient, they would not need to worry about tomorrow, tomorrow would take care of itself.

• After the church at Philippi had been so generous to the Apostle Paul, he wrote to them; “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) Again, the promise of God’s provision.

3. We have a God who is always with us.

• The Psalmist wrote; “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)

• And in Solomon’s Proverbs we find; “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24) Of course the friend he is speaking of here is God, and more pointedly to you and I today, the person of the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of God and Christ Jesus.

• The Holy Spirit was promised to us by Jesus Christ Himself as recorded in John 14:15-18. The Holy Spirit is the helper or comforter Jesus promised to the believer only, because the world cannot receive Him or know Him. Further, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit dwells in us and because of that He (Jesus) is in us.

• And in the book of Hebrews, we find this promise of Jesus; “I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU.” And the passage continues with us being able to boldly say; “THE LORD IS MY HELPER; I WILL NOT FEAR. WHAT CAN MAN DO TO ME?” (Hebrews 13:5-6) Do you see that? Because we have the promise of Jesus, that He is our helper, we have nothing to fear! Friends we may face persecution, and in fact as believers we have been promised that it has been granted to us to suffer for Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:29) but; no matter what man does to us, he cannot take away from us, the presence of Jesus Christ in our life, or the promise of eternal life!

This is not an all-inclusive list of truths which we should know as Christians, with which we may build our faith and be able to make a stand for Jesus Christ. These are just some more of the basics. There is one more that I’d like to share with you. To my mind it is the crescendo of the Symphony of truths promised to the follower of Christ!

4. Jesus is coming again!

• In the Gospel of John, Jesus told His disciples; “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would’ve told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

• After His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples teaching and ministering to them for 40 days. In Acts 1:10-11, Luke describes Christ’s ascension into heaven from the Mount of Olives at the end of that 40 days, and the declaration of the Angels to the disciples who had been assembled there to hear the teaching of the risen Christ. He wrote; “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’”

• In his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul shared the promise of Christ’s return for His Church. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” This is the blessed hope of all believers, all followers of Jesus Christ, the promise of eternal life in the presence of God. But, there is more to know about His return. In this passage we’re told that the Church, the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, will meet Him in the air. Yet, in Acts 1 the Angels promised Jesus Christ would return just as He left.

Zechariah 14:1-4 Describes that day when Christ’s feet will once again touch down on the Mount of Olives on the “Day of the Lord.” “Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, And your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken, The houses rifled, And the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go forth And fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south.”

• And Revelation 19:11-16 describes His return to the earth on that day in this way; “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, wherever you may be in the world today, these are the substance and evidence of truths that you can know which will strengthen your faith and your ability to stand for Jesus Christ in the perilous days ahead. I encourage you to daily put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) so that you can withstand those who may attack and persecute you in these evil days, and having done all of this in faith, to stand. Therefore Stand!

 

EvenSoCome

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

What Really Is the Question?

A few weeks ago the seed of this article was rolling around in my head as I considered the question: Why is it so many people consider the study of Biblical prophecy to be foolishness? Knowing that approximately one-third of the Scripture is prophetic in nature I personally have dedicated my life in service to Christ, to the study and teaching of Biblical eschatology. Anyone who follows what I write is aware that I am continually calling out cultural, institutional, and mainstream “Christianity” and their so-called “churches” for abandoning sound theological doctrine and embracing a liberal theology of compromise, tolerance, and inclusiveness which is no more than dead religiosity.

Now then, since I began ruminating on the question above, the United States and the World have continued their ever accelerating descent into the Last Days, careening from crisis to crisis. From Russia and the Ukraine; to the IS in Syria, Iraq, and now Lebanon and Turkey; to Libya dissolving into anarchy; to Israel’s war against the Hamas terrorists in Gaza, and the resulting rise of anti-Semitism around the world including the US; to the many domestic crisis within the US resulting from the actions of a lawless President and his administration, not the least of which is our open southern border with Mexico. Every time you look at the news (it really doesn’t matter which venue you choose) it seems we’re faced with a new crisis, and almost predictably you will also hear some babbling leftist liberal or deliberately ignorant Islamist supporter, misquoting or taking Scripture out of context in support of the position of the narrative put forth by the “oppressed” terrorists and their liberal supporters, or for the interests of their “progressive” liberal leftist political party. And, follow me here, what boggles the mind is that one part of this group hates Christians (and Jews) and the other part of them call themselves “Christian” while denying the inerrancy of the very Scriptures they are misquoting, and the deity of Jesus Christ.

So, I believe the answer to the question above as well as the larger question as to why Scripture is so often misquoted or taken out of context, can be found within a passage that the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. ‘“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”‘ 1 Corinthians 2:2-16

In this passage Paul tells the Corinthians that he has come to teach them about Jesus Christ, and not doing so in his own power, but in the power of the Holy Spirit. He tells them that the wisdom of God is available to them, can be revealed to them, if they love God, and this is done through His Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself promised His disciples; “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16 & 17. As He had promised them His Holy Spirit to help them He also told them; “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you” John 16:12-15. Jesus knew that they could not understand these things with a natural mind, but after He sent the Holy Spirit, their minds would be opened to the very things of God and He would bring them understanding in a spiritual way.

The Holy Spirit’s job is to teach us all things, the deep and intimate things of God. So as Paul taught the Corinthians “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” 1 Corinthians 2:14, he was telling them that in their natural state (wherein they did not have a belief in Jesus Christ as Messiah and Savior) and without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit they would not “receive (believe) the things of the Spirit of God.” In their state of unbelief they would simply see them as foolishness even though they could understand the written words. He goes on to say that they could not “know them because they are spiritually discerned” which is to say that it requires the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to have a complete grasp of the Word of God. Anyone can read the Word of God, and anyone can have a rudimentary understanding of what it says, but without a believing faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit cannot teach them spiritual truth.

In his gospel the Apostle John tells us; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” John 1:1-5. He is speaking here of Jesus Christ, Jesus is the Word! The implication is that every jot and tittle of the written Word is from God. The Apostle Paul writes to Timothy; “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” 2 Timothy 3:16-17. If we truly believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God breathed into the writers by the Holy Spirit, then we must understand that we need Him to help us comprehend it just as much today as when it was first written. An unbeliever cannot know those things which are spiritually discerned. The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:4

The truth of the matter is the Bible is simply not open to interpretation or even analysis by the unbeliever. Without knowing Jesus you cannot know the Word. Even the rulers of Israel, during Jesus’ life, did not know Him, even though they had studied the Word of God every day of their lives. The Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t recognize their long-awaited Messiah even when He stood before them. Jesus told them; “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” John 5:39-40. They did not see the “Word” which “became flesh” because they did not want to see Jesus as the Christ. No one can see and embrace the truth of the Word of God unless they first come face-to-face with the Word of God, who is Jesus Christ. They must believe in Him for who He is and His finished work of grace for them when He paid their sin debt at Calvary. Without faith in Jesus Christ no one can accept or like truth. When you cannot accept truth you end up embracing worldly values which may satisfy your base desires, but will ultimately leave you devoid of an eternal future.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that unbelievers are intellectually incapable of grasping biblical truth. In fact they do have that capability, but because they reject the truth of the Word of God and who Jesus Christ is, they will be judged for their willful unbelief. The unbeliever or “natural man” may have an intellectual grasp of the entire gospel, but without a embracing it and accepting it as truth in his own life, he rejects God, His Son Jesus Christ, and His indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples; “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe” John 6:63 & 64. So, herein lies the answer to the question, the things of God are spiritually discerned, but unfortunately it’s not just “some” who do not believe today, it is actually a vast majority. And, because they have not the Holy Spirit, they willfully choose to not only ignore biblical prophecy, but the very Word Himself, Jesus Christ.

In 1921 Dr. C. I. Scofield wrote his “Addresses on Prophecy” and within the pages of this book I found this quote. “There is a great deal of the study of prophetic truth, and a great deal of the hearing of the exposition of prophetic truth which has no effect upon conduct or character, simply because it is heard or studied without faith. We bring to it a sort of vulgar curiosity. We desire to know what all these images, and beasts, and horns signify, believing in a way, that there is in them some unfolding of that which is to come to pass, if one can but hit upon the correct interpretation: We may come to the study of prophetic truth with that in mind and derive no profit whatever. It is therefore a believing understanding of prophetic truth which has an influence on either character or conduct.”

As we continue to study biblical eschatology it is my hope and prayer that all of those who blatantly abuse the Word of God will have a face-to-face encounter with Jesus Christ, which transforms them from their liberal ignorance into an active faith. It is also my prayer that in faith they will begin to study and understand God’s prophetic Word. When anyone receives Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior their life begins to change. The natural man that he was, begins to be replaced through the process of sanctification, by the new man who is in Christ Jesus. As he grows in this relationship, the Holy Spirit becomes more and more a reality in his life as he studies the Word of God. The presence of the Holy Spirit in his life enables his mind to know and believe the truth of the Word.

Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? Does His Holy Spirit indwell you? Those of us who study the prophetic Word will tell you that the time to make a decision for Jesus Christ is growing very short. We are living in the Last Days, Jesus Christ will Rapture His Church, and a time of Great Tribulation will then enveloped the earth, followed by the physical return of Jesus Christ to the earth to set up His Kingdom.

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