Crisis in the Nations

Excerpted from “The Nations in Prophecy” by John F. Walvoord (1967):

The world today faces an international crisis unparalleled in all the history of man. A tremendous revolution is under way in the international scene, in economics, in morals, in theology, and in the religious structure of the church. The world is aflame with the raw passions of men ambitious for power and desperate to be freed from poverty and frustration. An ominous cloud hangs over the hearts of men and nations. The nations are indeed at the crossroads, and impending events cast their shadow on every aspect of human life. The world is moving faster and faster like a colossal machine out of control whose very power and momentum inevitably will plunge it into ultimate disaster.

Apart from the Bible, the world does not have a ray of hope. Our most brilliant leaders have not found an answer. World leaders, whether in Moscow or Washington, are troubled by the great issues which face the worlds today. President John F. Kennedy before his untimely assassination expressed the viewpoint of western civilization when he said, “I speak today of an hour of national peril, and of national opportunity. Before my term has ended, we shall have to test anew whether a nation organized and governed such as ours can endure. The outcome is by no means certain. The tide of events has been running out, and time has not been our friend.”

The present world crisis is not a result of any one factor, but a concurrence of causes and effects which combine to set the world stage for a conflict which may quickly bring an end to hundreds of years of progress in western civilization and establish new centers of international power. Whatever the future holds, it is going to be dramatically different than the past. In this dark picture only the Scriptures chart a sure course and give us an intelligent explanation of world-wide confusion as it exists today. Three present world crisis in the light of the Scriptures reveals the existence of remarkable components in almost every area which may lead to a dramatic climax of world history. The present crises in every area of human life all point to the same conclusion, that disaster awaits the nations of the world.

Words of Grace for Strength

If Dr. Walvoord was with us today it is possible he could easily say one of two things: Either “See, I told you so” or “Even so, come Lord Jesus”. The plain fact is that nearly 50 years after he wrote the above excerpt, the world seems to be spiraling even more out of control. Such a fact speaks to both the bottomless depravity and hopelessness of humanity and the inexhaustible patience and mercy of a loving God. Jesus has not yet returned, although many, including John Walvoord, might reasonably have expected Him to do so in the intervening years between when the above was written and the present day. Why hasn’t He returned? It is a question we cannot answer. But we know the Lord’s timing is His own, and we know He is long suffering in wanting all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Many might have been eternally lost if the Lord had returned ten, twenty, thirty or more years ago. The Lord will have none of those who will come to a saving faith perish, and so He patiently and lovingly endures a defiant and disobedient world as He awaits all those who will come to Him in His timing.

The world is hopelessly lost as it seeks to find solutions to its problems, but we who have Christ know the answer, have the truth and need share it with others. There is a crisis among the nations of the world, but we can help solve a small piece of it by sharing Christ with those around us who do not know Him as we do. Yes, the Lord is patiently waiting for those who would come to Him, and is also wanting to bless us for our obedience in sharing the good news of Jesus and the riches of being in Christ with others. The crises in the world can only be solved by Christ. The crisis within the body of Christ, where it seems fewer are following Him obediently as we watch the very foundations of the church continue to crumble, can only be solved by turning back to Christ.

We can study the Word of God, searching the Scriptures like Bereans (Acts 17:11) to seek out and understand the Truth. And so we should. But we can never know the timing that is the Lord’s alone to measure and pour out as He will to fulfill His purposes in the perfection of His plans. We cannot fall into the prideful trap of thinking that we so understand the Lord that we know not only the message He has for us but also the timing of when He would have His prophetical Scripture fulfilled. The more I study His Word, the less certain I am that I fully comprehend all that is in it, let alone knowing when all things He deems will come to pass. I am better off seeking Him and sharing Him with others in the hope that they come to have a relationship with the Lord. I am better off looking to encourage and edify others as I look to be encouraged and edified, and leave the timing of the Lord to the Lord.

We do not know what tomorrow holds for any of us, but those of us in Christ have the surety of God’s Word in knowing where and with Whom we will spend eternity. Those of the world needs to know what we do as well, otherwise they will all stay in crisis after crisis until the Lord returns.

The Word of God Tenderizes and Toughens

Scriptures, the very Word of God contained within the Bible, are an amazing thing, inspired by God; written by men under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As such, the Holy Scriptures are like no other written word, even commentaries and other writings of godly men and women over the ages. For only the Scriptures were God-breathed. No matter what you think of other writings, no matter what impact they may have had on your life, or the lives of people you know, nothing has the impact of the words contained in the Bible. I would argue that those other books may be excellent, but are as effective and life changing due to the counsel, guidance, wisdom and inspiration those writers pulled out of study of the Word of God. But that is not I would have us focus on today. What I find as one of the truly amazing things about the Bible is how the Word of God can change us. I find it can tenderize us while at the same time it can toughen us.

The tenderizing effects of the Word of God:

Deep and thoughtful study and reading of the Bible, and meditation on the Word of God can tenderize your heart for the things of the Lord:

Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh – Ezekiel 11:19

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. – Psalm 51:10

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart – 1 Peter 1:22

The Word of God can tenderize our hearts by turning them to the things that the Lord loves, turning them to consider doing things that are within the Lord’s will for our lives. The Word of God can make us see the world as Christ sees it, and make us want to be more Christ-like in our approach to the world. His Word can make our hearts break for those who do not know the Lord, those who are living in defiance to the Lord, either willfully or oblivious to His purposes and desires. A heart which is broken for the lost is a heart tender in the Lord and in His Word. Someone who is in the Word regularly, studying it, wrestling to understand it and apply it in their life will have a heart tenderized to the deep things of God, with a desire that mirrors His, concerned for the world and for His children within it.

The toughening effects of the Word of God:

While the Word is tenderizing the heart of those who immersed in it, a toughening of that heart is occurring at the same time:

Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24

Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. – Hebrews 13:9

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.  And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. – 1 John 3:16-23

The heart strengthened and toughened by the Word of God. Not toughened in the sense of being inured to the sufferings and needs of those around us, but toughened and strengthened to be bold in sharing the Word, in proclaiming the Gospel; bold in showing Christ to the world and living in the world as He did. Being bold as the apostle Peter was in Acts 2:14-39, Acts 3:11-25 and Acts 5:29-32 (this time with other apostles); bold as the apostle Paul was proclaiming in Romans 1:16-17 and preaching in Acts 17:22-34. These were instances of preaching and proclaiming Christ with toughened hearts, with hearts that were bold enough to speak the Truth, hearts that toughened enough not to quail at the possible consequences of doing the Lord’s will and speaking the truth in love.

Let the Word of God tenderize and toughen you:

While none of us should think of ourselves as a Peter or a Paul, we have the very Word of God, some penned by these two apostles inspired by the Spirit. It is available to us to draw upon and tap into, to give us a love for the things of God and the boldness to go about our daily lives unafraid to speak of our love of God, our love of the things of God and our desire to know nothing among others but Christ, and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Tenderized and toughened, in Christ and working through the power of the Spirit, by study and living out the Word of God.

 

True Grace for True Disciples

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

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

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

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

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

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

Words of Grace for Strength

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

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

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

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

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

Do you know Him? Are you His disciple?

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

John 15:1-8

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

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

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

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

Words of Grace for Strength

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Become His disciple and bear fruit!

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!

Just Living!

Some of my fondest memories, are of driving from one cow pasture to another, or from one farm or ranch to another with my grandfather and a car full of boys, my cousins. Wherever we were going, it seems we were always singing. God had blessed all of us boys with good voices and a natural aptitude for harmony. However that was not the case for our grandfather. My grandfather, R. H. Marlin, could not carry a tune in an oil tanker, but he loved to sing and did so at the top of his lungs. Some of his favorite hymns were; “Heaven Came down,” “When the Roll Is Called up Yonder,” and “Living by Faith.” As I consider his life, and the lessons I learned from it, I believe these three hymns sum it up pretty well. Having accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, heaven had come down to fill his soul; and he knew because of this, that when the roll is called, his name will be found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. But, of real significance to me, is the fact that he truly lived his life by faith. If I close my eyes and let my mind drift back, even now I can see the index finger of his right hand keeping time as his craggy voice sang;

I care not today what the morrow may bring,
If shadow or sunshine or rain,
The Lord I know rules o’er everything,
And all of my worries are vain.

I’m Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arms,
I’m living by faith and I feel no alarm.                 Wells and Winsett 1918

Living by faith is; “Just Living.”

Now over the next few paragraphs I’d like to expand on that statement. But first let me say, I love words, or more to the point semantics, and so as we expand on the statement; “just living,” I hope we will find in it, two meanings as it relates to faith in the daily life of a Christian.

What is faith?

In Hebrews 11:1 we find this statement written; “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” So faith is based on substance and evidence and not on emotion. Faith is acting on what you believe to be true, not what you feel to be true. In 2 Corinthians 5:7 we find written; “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” So then, walking or living by faith is the opposite of trusting what we see, hear, or feel (physically or emotionally). True faith, is to express belief in God who gives us faith (Romans 12:3), in Jesus Christ as the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), and His Holy Spirit who keeps us in faith (2 Timothy 1: 13-14).

Faith is the pathway God has set before us, to bring us salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. Because of His great mercy and love for us, we receive faith from Him in the form of a gift. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:4-9)

The fact that we are justified in the sight of God by the faith which He gives us, is explained by the apostle Paul in Romans 5:1-2; “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” And in his letter to the Galatians; “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26)

Because we have been gifted with faith by God, it should be clear that we can do nothing to earn either grace or faith, that we have received them because of Christ’s finished work on the cross. Only by faith in Christ can we be made righteous (Romans 5:19; Galatians 2:16) and John wrote in his gospel; “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). True faith in Jesus Christ involves more than just believing in His existence, it is believing that His atoning work on the cross is sufficient payment for our sin debt.

Positionally, the risen Christ Jesus is our Savior, and therefore is the object of our faith as we develop a personal relationship with Him. We are brought to faith through the work of the Holy Spirit who acts on behalf of Christ. He originates the process of faith in us by convicting us of our sins (John 16:7-10), and draws us to the Savior regenerating our unbelieving hearts. If you are truly a believer in Jesus Christ, then positionally you are in Christ, and if you are in Christ, then you have been given the gift of faith by God. You have been saved by faith.

The Bible, God’s Word, has been given to us as the instrument of our faith. It is the tool which God uses to establish, build, and strengthen our faith and within its pages we find everything which “pertains to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1-3). Paul wrote to the church at Rome; “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) The Holy Spirit uses the word of God to convict man of sin and bring them to faith in Christ (1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18). In the parable of the Sower (Luke 8:5-15) Jesus compares the Word of God to a seed which germinates into faith. And the psalmist writes that the Word is a lamp and light to keep him on the path of righteousness (Psalm 119:115).

Living by faith

Three times in the New Testament (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; and Hebrews 10:38) we find this phrase from Habakkuk 2:4 quoted; “the just shall live by faith.” Habakkuk is making the point that only man who is just in the sight of God, can and will live by faith. The three New Testament passages are repeating the same thought. So who are the just? They are those who have been made righteous by the faith which God has given them in Christ Jesus, they have been justified by God through faith (Romans 1:12; Romans 3:28; Romans 5:1, 19; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:11, 24).

Living by faith is what Christian life is really all about, placing our complete trust in God to supply and meet our every need. Truly living by faith will take our lives out of the realm of the ordinary world into the realm of the extraordinary, supernatural world.

At one point the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith, but Jesus told His disciples that if they had faith the size of a grain of mustard seed, they could tell a sycamore tree to replant itself into the sea and it would obey, or they could tell a mountain to move from one place to another and it would (Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:5-6). The lesson wasn’t that they needed more faith, but that they needed to exercise the faith which they already had. If they would do so their faith would grow.

Living by faith moves beyond merely believing in God, to having complete trust in Him to accomplish everything He has promised in our lives. This faith is essential for the Christian life, for without it we cannot please Him and certainly won’t receive His promised rewards (Hebrews 11:6). He promised if we ask we will receive (Matthew 7:7; John 14:14), and He tells us to ask in faith believing without fear (James 1:6).

Living by faith is standing on God’s honor and integrity, and acting on His promises to us, learning to trust Him in every part of our life. Living by faith involves believing that absolutely every bit of God’s Word is truth, and that in it we find everything we need for life, knowing that God has given it to us for that reason.

Living by faith is a lifelong process of spiritual growth and sanctification, which draws us ever closer to God the Father through our relationship with Jesus Christ, empowered by His Holy Spirit. God desires each of us to be living a life of faith, to be in that process, and that can happen when we quit doubting Him and trusting in ourselves. Imagine how much might be accomplished for the cause of Christ in these last days if we would simply trust God, live by faith, and let Him live through us.

How do we accomplish this?

Read the Word! Study it! Memorize it! Pray over it! Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you understanding and teach you the precepts found within it!

Pray for wisdom! Pray for boldness to share the Word! Pray for God to show you His Will for your life! Pray for Him to give you strength to accomplish it!

Be a disciple, find someone who is living by faith and ask them to disciple you! Learn to disciple others yourself! Get involved in a local church which is teaching the Word of God and the Word of God only! Surround yourself with friends who also desire to live by faith!

Living by faith is not for the faint hearted or those weak in character, but it is for those who realize that strength and character come from God, and that living by faith, is living in complete dependence upon God. Living by faith is something that only can be accomplished with the strength and power of God in your life, surrendering your will to His Will. Living by faith is truly life in Christ, and for the Christian, it really is; “just living.”

Just living = having been justified by grace through faith in Christ Jesus!

Just living = what the normal life of a Christian is, when he is Living by Faith!

I’m Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arms,
I’m living by faith and I feel no alarm.

Yes grandpa, I was paying attention.

Spiritual Warfare

There has been a rash of stories in the news lately that are related to religion. Many of them show moral failure and spiritual depravity in the world. They also show that multitudes are being misled.

The Pink Cross Publishing Company announced plans to start placing their Queen James Bibles next to Gideon Bibles in hotels and motels. The Queen James Bible is a Bible for gays, and the publishing company changed eight verses to hide the fact that homosexuality is a sin.

Some of the problems with this is that the Scriptures were given by God (2 Tim. 3:16). He cannot lie (Heb. 6:18), the Bible as originally given is true (Jn. 17:17). Changing verses that some don’t like introduces errors that lead people astray and God will hold people accountable for changing His truth into a lie (Rom. 1:25).

China announced plans to create a Chinese Christian theology to guide Christian activities in the nation— to ensure that all Christian activities conform to China’s national condition and culture. A big problem with this is the fact that China is officially an atheist nation.

Those who create this Chinese Christian theology will probably be atheists and the theology they come up with will probably be politically correct. Any theology that conforms to political correctness instead of the Bible is not Christian theology. If China gets away with this, other nations will soon follow.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis held meetings with Shimon Peres, Mahmoud Abbas, Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, James Robinson and others to pray for peace in the Middle East, and to discuss the unification of the world’s religions. Some reports said the Pope read from the Koran and prayed to Allah.

One report said the Pope rejected fundamentalist Christians (those who believe in a strict literal interpretation of the Bible). The problem here is that those who voluntarily pray to Allah are religious, but they are not infallible and their hearts are not right with God.

Shimon Peres had another meeting with Pope Francis and asked him to call for a United Nations of Religions to represent the major religions in the world. Mr. Peres wants this United Nations of Religions to serve as a global moral force with authority that cannot be questioned. He wants it to be able to tell the world what God wants and what God doesn’t want.

One problem with this is that God gave the Bible to the world to tell us what He wants and doesn’t want. And what Mr. Peres wants to do would set aside the Bible and pave the way for the False Prophet to head up a one-world secular religion during the Tribulation period (Rev. 13:11-18).

Vice Pres Biden recently spoke out about the beheading of two journalists and said, “As a nation, we’re united. And when people harm Americans, we don’t retreat, we don’t forget.” He added, “We take care of those who are grieving (the reporter’s families) and when that’s finished, they (ISIS) should know we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice because hell is where they’ll reside.”

I agree, but if those in Washington don’t stop trying to divide Israel, spread homosexuality, spread humanism, support abortion, rewrite the Bible, etc., and if the church continues to be lukewarm (Rev. 3:16; 2 Chron. 7:14), America could very well wind up at the gates of hell without having to follow ISIS.

John Kerry said the book of Genesis gives America the command to save Muslim majority countries from Global Warming. But the book of Genesis does not mention America, Muslims or Global Warming. Just because someone says the Bible says something that does not mean the Bible says it.

In this case, John Kerry added to the Word of God even though God warned us not to do that (Rev. 22:18-19). Mr. Kerry is an embarrassment because he showed a lack of knowledge and disrespect for the Word of God. Man’s fall came when Adam and Eve distorted and misquoted Scripture (Gen. 3:1-5).

What people say reveals what is in their heart. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh (Matt. 12:34). Those whose hearts are right with God will respect the Scriptures and try to speak the truth. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things (Matt. 12:35).

Anyway, as I think about these things, I don’t think the real enemy is Pink Cross Publishing, China, Pope Francis, Shimon Peres, Vice Pres. Biden or even John Kerry. The apostle Paul said, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:11). Satan is real, he is a liar and the father of lies (Jn. 8:44).

These stories are examples of Satan’s efforts to replace true Christianity with a false religion (Rev. 13:7-8). This battle over the truth and sticking to it is here and it will get much worse. The world will eventually wind up with a global false religion (Rev. 17). When that false religion’s cup of iniquity is full God will put it into the hearts of the Ten Kings to destroy it (Rev. 17:16-17).

Prophecy Plus Ministries
Daymond & Rachel Duck
daymond.duck@yahoo.com