What does it mean to preach, I mean after all it sounds so “preachy” and kind of harsh. I started thinking of things like being called a “Bible Thumper”, or “Holier than Thou”… My flesh cries out against this idea because it’s just not politically correct or culturally relevant. How many of today’s buzz words can I employ that convince myself and you that this is just not the way to go about it? Shouldn’t we be “relational” and utilize “friendship evangelism”? Shouldn’t we “invite” them to church, or have them attend a less hostile atmosphere, make it cozy and comfortable? Isn’t this a better method in the modern age?
Preaching seems to be something only reserved for those that get paid to stand in front of a church congregation. In a stodgy old building, and he or in some cases she, but we can discuss that another day, wear a suit and a tie and yell at people for an hour. Wouldn’t it better if that guy would come down to our level and wore a cool t-shirt and skinny jeans? He could be more conversational, and make it a little more relaxing? It seems that would be more effective.
Should the Bible get in the way of what we think works? Don’t get me wrong, I think evangelizing to friends is a great thing, but it’s not the only way and it shouldn’t even be the primary way. If we believe the Bible, shouldn’t we do what it says? Shouldn’t we use the language it uses? After all it is the Word of God right? Should we do as Paul said “imitate me as I imitate Christ”?
From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Matthew 4:17
The word “preach” used here is Kēryssō –
- to be a herald, to officiate as a herald
- to proclaim after the manner of a herald
- always with the suggestion of formality, gravity and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed
- to publish, proclaim openly: something which has been done
- used of the public proclamation of the gospel and matters pertaining to it, made by John the Baptist, by Jesus, by the apostles and other Christian teachers
Did you catch the part about gravity and authority? Jesus preached with authority and gravity, He demanded a response from His listeners. Jesus never gave people a pass, He wasn’t that gentle little mouse that people make Him out to be, that gives everyone a hug and tells them it’ll be okay. When they encountered Him it was to be confronted with their sin and be forced to make a decision about their condition. He used different techniques depending on His audience, but He always preached with gravity.
Mark 1:4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sin.
Acts 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news; it is something to be proclaimed with authority and demand a response, so that some might be saved. If you are a believer it’s your job. It’s why you were saved. Not all are going to stand on a street corner and proclaim the news, but some will and some should. The meaning of the word calls for it, and the early church understood this. Paul knew it, and he lived it. And it didn’t take him very long to get to it.
Acts 9:20-21 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose…”
No time to think about it, not time to reconsider, or even hesitate, Paul just gets up and starts preaching…what a remarkable event.
But what do we preach?
But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” – Luke 4:43
This word is euaggelizō and it’s the “good news”, we must preach the good news, after all its news right? (Voddie Baucham – loosely quoted) Shouldn’t we be talking about news, especially good news? Christ must be preached, and the kingdom of God must be proclaimed as the only way of salvation. Are you willing?
Not all are called to preach from the pulpit, not all are called to preach in open air, or in the public arena, but we are all called to preach.
If you are a Believer in Jesus Christ!
This might mean friendship evangelism for some and maybe for most, at the very least, but it means what it says, and preaching is proclaiming with gravity and authority, and demanding a response. Doesn’t that seem weightier than “sharing” the gospel?
The only time the word share is used in the New Testament it has to do with sharing in other’s sins, or actual sharing of goods, so I’m going to do my best to drop this word from my vocabulary as it relates to the gospel.
I will preach the gospel, and I will proclaim the gospel, and maybe on occasion I’ll share the gospel, but I think preaching is just more manly and more Christ like, and more Paul like, so I’m going to try and be like them.
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. – 2 Timothy 4:2
Proverbs 26:11 As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.
What differentiates the wise from the foolish?
It seems an obvious answer as we read this Proverb, but yet how often do we return and continue to fall into the same sins again and again? In times past I had a dog and I can vividly remember the sound of the dog removing the contents of her stomach only to lap it up again. I don’t care how cleverly I try to write that it brings an image to our mind that is repulsive. And it should be repulsive, because it’s just disgusting.
Isn’t that the point?
There is a razor thin line between the true church of Christ and those that profess with their mouth Jesus is Lord. As Scripture repeatedly points out, it is the life we live that affirms or denies our confession. Many, and probably most of the professing church are apostate. How can I say that? That certainly is judgmental on my part. Who are you to say such a thing? Are you without sin? You are a legalist!
I’ve heard it all before and the only way I can make such a “judgmental” statement, if you must call it that, is those are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one that told us “many” and “few”. He said the path was narrow and difficult that leads to life, and the road is wide that leads to destruction. He asked us the hard question, “Do you also want to go away?” (John 6:66).
It’s really easy to get caught up in the doctrine of humanism. It’s really out there today, as it has always been. It’s really easy for it to be all about us. We can slap a little Christianity on it and even throw down a passage of the Bible and call it “religious”, but Jesus said it just wasn’t that easy. He drove home the point that He would separate families; that our enemies would be from our own households. (Matthew 10:35-37) That’s really hard stuff.
So how do we really know? Shouldn’t we have a way to examine our lives?
How often do you return to your own vomit?
Look at what Peter says about this, as he is speaking about the false prophets that were so prolific then just as they are today. These are words for us to heed today. These are words that must be taken seriously, and examine the legitimacy of those that preach the word. Does this sound familiar?
For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh… – 2 Peter 2:18
What are you being taught? Is the Scripture opened and explained properly to you? Does the Scripture and teaching point you to God’s greatness, and your littleness? Or does it tell you how you can live better, how you can like yourself more, or get ahead in the world financially. Even more, does it allow you to leave unconvinced of any sin in your life? Does it let you know the vomit is okay to return too?
2 Peter 2:18b-21 …through lewdness (lustful), the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.
22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog return to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
We have a very clear picture of apostasy in the church. It’s clear there are false teachers, and they abound. They build great buildings, and have lots of people in attendance. They build big audiences through social media because people like what they say. The words are sweet to our ears. Their condemnation is certain. They will not escape the wrath of God, but what about us?
Do we return to the vomit again and again? Does your sin continue to be justified in your mind and you convince yourself it’s only once more? Or it’s, “but you don’t know my…you fill in the blank.”
“If they wouldn’t do that, I wouldn’t do what I do…”
It’s a dangerous place to live, and it would be better that you had never known the way of righteousness. Please don’t count the blood of Christ a common thing. If you continue to wallow in your sin I urge you to repent today. I urge you to seek counsel from your pastor or your elders, if they are true shepherds of Christ’s church, and then heed that counsel.
Your very soul may be asked of you tonight. Do it now, while it is possible for salvation and then grow in grace, that you may bear fruit and bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.
At this time last week I would have never expected I’d be writing this post today. It just didn’t seem possible. There appeared to be too much sin and too much hardness of heart. It looked as though someone I dearly love would remain entrenched and would go the way of many others. It was sad, it was heavy, it was heart wrenching…there appeared to be very little, if any hope.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21
Amen! Let it be so!
God can sew in the hardest of ground and I saw a man stand before the assembly broken over his sin. He repented and he confessed his sin. He was afraid of the terror of the Lord, because he saw what sin does in the hearts of men.
We live on this earth for such a very short time and for the majority of the people they never consider their sin. There is no fear of the Lord! He’s a Sunday school story they heard and forgot long ago, He’s a by-product of some ignorant sheep herders, just something written by man thousands of years ago, certainly not relevant today.
Or worse yet, the practice of church discipline’s for the fanatics. It’s for the legalistic that only desire to go around pointing out others sin. “I’m okay, you’re okay”, is what they think. As long as we are here on Sunday, or Saturday night, everything is cool.
He’s rich in mercy and abundantly ready to forgive, yet that hard and stony ground must be plowed over and churned up, there’s difficult work that needs to be done. That hard and leathery heart must be pierced with the needle of the law so the gospel can enter in, and without the law breaking a mans heart there is no hope.  There must be conviction; there must be an adherence to God’s Word. It must be dealt with biblically, or it’s only man’s wisdom. Not the power of the Almighty Himself.
Bones must be broken…or there will be no healing.
For I acknowledge my
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I
sinned, and done this evil in Your
That You may be found just when
And blameless when You judge. – Psalm 51:3-4
Sin must be dealt with and the only way to deal with it properly is to first acknowledge the sin. Sin will blind us. Sin will harden us. Sin will deceive us and cause us to think all kinds of “good” things about ourselves. Only by God’s truth can we be set free, because sin also enslaves us.
We need God’s church and we need God’s Spirit to convict us, to call us to repentance and then to gently and lovingly restore us. I’m sure it didn’t feel very loving for quite a long time, because this battle has raged for what seems like a very long time. The enemy was well fortified, but God’s power is far greater and the victory has already been won at the cross.
But from our perspective we must remain engaged and fight. We don’t know if the soil is good or not. We must do our part and the Scriptures are clear, although mostly ignored by the “church” today.
Today the hard work really begins for this brother. He has a mess to clean up. Time will tell if the confession is real or not. It was really awesome to have him back, to see a completely different countenance than I’ve seen for almost a year. But when reality sinks in, and the pressures of life resume, outside the walls of the safety of the assembly, what will happen? Only God knows and time will tell.
The Lord Jesus Christ deserves His witness to proclaim His name. To seek forgiveness for the wrong that has been done, to acknowledge Him where He has been denied, to call sinners to repentance and preach the gospel of peace.
Outside of Him there is no peace and those that have been around this man need to know that. They need to hear a broken confession and humble acknowledgement of sin. It’s going to be a narrow and difficult path for sure if it’s a true testimony and I trust that it is. I trust he won’t fail the test, but the trials will be difficult most certainly.
Today I am hopeful, I’m joyful and I’m humbled. I feel a sense of peace that I’ve not felt in a while over this situation. I’ve seen it go the opposite way too many times. I’ve seen the hardheartedness of men too often turn away and go somewhere that isn’t quite as difficult. They might fool themselves, they might fool others but God will never be mocked and I hope it is well with their souls. The Christian life is full of trials, it’s full of difficulty and not every day is Friday. In fact most days are Mondays if we are truly in the faith.
Create in me a clean heart, O
And renew a steadfast spirit
Do not cast me away from Your
And do not take Your Holy Spirit
Restore to me the joy of Your
And uphold me by Your generous
Spirit. – Psalm 51:10-12
 This thought from Behold Your God Page 164 – “The needle of the law must puncture the hard leathery heart before the thread of the gospel can pass through.”
What a distasteful subject is the topic of church discipline, does anyone like correction?
Well that depends…
It depends upon the condition of your heart.
Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days. – Proverbs 19:20
Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than a hundred blows on a fool. – Proverbs 17:10
A scoffer does not love one who corrects him, nor will he go to the wise. – Proverbs 15:12
How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. – Proverbs 16:16
He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed. – Proverbs 13:20
What else must I do to convince you that God’s word is what we must use to gain wisdom? What else matters, and as the verse states above this is better than gold and should be chosen over silver.
God has not left us to stumble around in the dark without counsel. He has spoken on the matter of church discipline and has given the church direction. The scriptures are not silent on this subject, but the bigger questions are these…are we willing to listen, are we willing to heed the counsel?
Jesus clearly and perfectly lays out the formula. The church is to follow the example and sin must be dealt with in the church, or the church becomes polluted.
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” – Matthew 18:15-17
This is pretty clear isn’t it?
What is the purpose of this; can we see what Jesus desires in this instruction? He desires restoration. The goal is to bring the one in sin to a place of understanding their sin; a place of brokenness over their sin, so they can be restored to their brother.
This is being lived out in the life of the church that I attend. My wife, my eldest daughter and I are members and we dearly love the people in our church. It’s heart breaking to see sin in the lives of people. It’s even more heartbreaking to know that unless that sin is forsaken and turned from it will destroy. That’s what Satan does! He came to destroy people and he does it in the most sinister and deceitful ways possible.
Others in my church love this man and below is a letter that was written as the church is telling this man of his sin. It is our hope and our desire that this will restore the man to a right relationship with God.
It is our desire that if he is a brother, he will confess his sin and forsake his sin, if he is not a brother that he will repent and believe in Jesus Christ as his only hope for salvation. I post this that he will be ashamed of his sin and that others might read it, be ashamed of their sin, and come to repentance.
This problem is rampant in the “church world”. It’s not a victimless crime. It’s heinous and it’s ugly.
And if they are bound in
Held in the cords of affliction,
Then He tells them their work
and their transgressions—
That they have acted defiantly.
He also opens their ear to
And commands that they turn
If they obey and serve Him,
They shall spend their days in
And their years in pleasures.
But if they do not obey,
They shall perish by the sword,
And they shall die without
knowledge. – Job 36:8-12
I know a Man…
That he might be broken and ashamed:
On nights when he is angry with his wife, she goes to sleep in their bedroom. Meanwhile he sits in his living room, just a few feet from his bride-only a wall apart-browsing depictions of harlots, picking the ones that please him the most, displaying them on his screen and having sex with them using his self. It feels good to him, helps him to relax, so he does it again or another time. He knows it is sinful, but he isn’t broken by it so he doesn’t repent. It’s not really adultery he says. He won’t tell his wife. He knows it’s wrong but he doesn’t feel saddened over it, so he does it again. His only son sleeps soundly upstairs, unharmed so the man thinks. Yet he does not know God may require the life of the child for sin such as this. He took David’s child for this, yet the man fears God not.
He comes into the sanctuary of God’s people on Sunday’s. He will not open his mouth to sing praises to God. But repent- I think not- he just doesn’t feel like it. He won’t look at the preacher, for he despises that man, sure he led him to Christ, but he’s wronged him since then. I want to ask this man, would you pick up a knife and slit the throat of your son for this preacher who wronged you? Would you slay your son for that man who you think despises and rejects you? Have you forgotten o man that God sees your adultery? That this God sees your lack of praise, lack of love for the saints, sees your lack of time in the word, and yet still shows you His love?
God sends His people to plead with the man, turn, turn from your sin, lest the Lord reject you. This God sees your sin- takes His only son- and slays Him. He drains Jesus’ blood on the wastelands, opens His side and rejects Him; Pours out His wrath and His righteous indignation, upon the perfect lamb, the great I am, don’t you remember? Wasn’t it for your sin? Will you continue to reject Him? Christ died for sins, will you continue to live in them?
Some people confront him on his sin when his conscience overbears him to report it. Repent of it- no- but agree that it’s sinful- yes. I’m just being honest says the man, I can’t turn cause you told me, or I don’t want to deny feelings. Little does he know his flesh is destroying him. He sees his wife and child, and loves them he thinks, but show them Christ in Him-maybe he will get to that next week.
This man is hardened-stiff necked, his sin spreads and spreads. He lives it, breathes it, chews it, and loves it. Love the saints? No time for that. Preach the Gospel? Who needs it. Serve the body? They don’t deserve it. But I deserve my sin says the man, after all, who are they to tell me it’s sinful? The proverbs warn him. Destruction and calamity await him- will he turn yet from his sin? I think not. He just doesn’t feel it…
You are that man… Repent and turn to Christ and you will be forgiven.
It seems that shows with naked people on them is all the rage these days and I don’t find that a “good” thing. If you believe the Bible we see in the opening pages that being naked brought shame. Adam and Eve realized they had sinned against God, had been given knowledge God didn’t want them to have and they tried to cover themselves.
Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”
So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I command you that you should not eat?” – Genesis 3:9-11
Adam and Eve had no concept of their nakedness until they disobeyed God and He revealed it to them. In a society that is continuing to lose its fear of nakedness we see a searing of the conscience as it becomes more acceptable to disobey God. Once sin entered the world the decline happened quickly. It didn’t take long and God was grieved and destroyed mankind from the face of the earth with the exception of Noah and his family.
Most people in the world would not desire to go on a television reality show and be filmed naked, yet they will watch the shows and take pleasure in other’s sin and this is an approval of the action even though they don’t have the courage themselves to do so.
Romans 1:32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
There is coming a day when all will stand before the throne and give an account of our lives and everything we’ve ever done will be exposed. We will stand before the King as if naked, as He peers into our soul and sees everything we ever did and everything we ever thought.
Hebrews 4:13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
Nothing can be hidden from God’s sight, nothing! Every little word you ever muttered under your breath, every secret thought you harbored hatred toward someone, yelled at that driver that zipped in and out of traffic and called them a fool, all of the thoughts and intents of your heart will be exposed in all its ugliness.
There will be shame wrought as a Holy God judges each soul down to the smallest details. Imagine the shame that the Jews felt in Nazi Germany as they were stripped and had all their dignity and rights removed from them, how humiliating that must have been. Imagine having this happen to the ones you love, either a spouse or children.
Nothing will be hidden from the eyes of God and an account will be settled.
Where is the hope?
Will your shame come now or then? This is really the question we must grapple with today. Have you felt the overwhelming shame as your sin has been exposed? Have you dealt with your nastiness here on earth? Have you beat your chest and begged for mercy?
“And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” – Luke 18:13-14
Jesus will cover our shame and cloth us in His righteousness, but we must come to Him broken and in need. Without it you will not see the kingdom of God, you will be as the Pharisee and placing your trust in your own righteousness.
When was the last time you cried out to God to be merciful? When was the last time you understood your nakedness? When was the last time you understood you need Jesus?
Don’t let this moment pass you by.
I can remember one of our children asking me, “Dad, am I big or little?” Well of course it was adorable coming from a three-year old, but it’s a good question to ask of ourselves even as “big” people. The implication here from my daughter at the time, was that she wanted to grow up. It’s funny how when you are little you want to be “big”, but as you grow older you don’t want to be little, but you’d like to be younger.
This morning I’ve been thinking about moral littleness and the role this plays in the life of a Christian. In this scope our desire should be littleness, and not bigness, if that makes any sense. Let’s look at the words of the Apostle Paul and see if this sheds any light on the topic.
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:1-3
Paul speaking to the saints at Ephesus and speaking to the saints today is imploring us to walk worthy of our calling. The big question in this brief statement is “have you been called?” What does it mean to be called? The first three chapters of Ephesians tell us what it means, but let’s look quickly at Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus.
It’s really important to note that it’s by the will of God. Would anybody doubt that Paul was called to be an apostle by Jesus Christ Himself? It’s pretty obvious, that this is the case. Paul will go on to tell us that all saints have also been called out by the will of God, and here is where it’s more difficult for the sinful human heart to accept. We really don’t care much for the Sovereignty of God in Divine election. It just doesn’t feel good and therefore we would rather reject it.
This letter was written to the church in Ephesus, but we can see it was also written to the faithful in Christ Jesus. The faithful (pistos) those that believe in Christ, those that exhibit a life change by their belief, not just a mental ascent or a verbal affirmation.
If you are one of these, then you have been called and if you’ve been called you have a responsibility. You must now walk worthy of the calling and this all begins with an understanding of your moral littleness; a desire to be small.
David understood this.
…And cleanse me from my sin…
For I acknowledge my transgressions…
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity…
Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities…
Create in me a clean heart, O God…
Restore me to the joy of Your salvation…
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God…
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise. – Psalm 51
Our calling must begin with an understanding of our relationship to God before salvation; an understanding of our wretchedness, our inability to please God in ourselves and our need for Christ. This is the whole point of Jesus coming to this earth.
I need Jesus.
You need Jesus.
Why…because we are little. We have nothing to offer Him accept our wretched selves.
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the
humble.” – Proverbs 3:34
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. – 2 Peter 5:6-7
Evidence of your calling is a view of your moral littleness and a desire to resist sin. You will then walk worthy of this calling by living and desiring to live a holy life that is pleasing to God. This shows the world that you are a new creation, a new birth has occurred.
It will be a radical change that causes people to take notice. Most of them won’t like the change. If you begin to walk worthy it will mean exposing darkness and calling others to repentance. It will upset apple carts and destroy worldviews that were so dominant in our lives before. Yet there is no greater purpose than to serve the Lord Jesus Christ with a pure heart, to bring Him glory, to proclaim His name, to submit to His Lordship, this is a walk that is worthy and there is no greater joy.
One of the blessings in life is the ability to get into a hot shower. It’s something I take for granted quite often. Most of the country is just finishing summer, but the feel of fall is definitely in the air. As winter approaches, the part of the country I live, I was thinking about the simple joy of a cold morning and getting into a hot shower. How useful and beneficial hot water is for mankind.
What about cold water? If you’ve spent any time working outside on a hot day nothing is more satisfying than ice cold water. It refreshes and rejuvenates a thirsty body. Nothing tastes better when your mouth is dry and parched. I’ve often driven past the guys that are working on roads in the middle of the summer and have thought about how much water they must consume on a hot day. Yes, I’m sure they throw down some Gatorade as well, but water is really the best to quench the thirst. It never leaves an aftertaste.
God in His goodness has provided all we need, just how simple and how amazing water really is, yet there is one kind of water that the Lord declares “useless”.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’ “And to the angel of the church of the Laodicieans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold or hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. – Revelation 3:14-16
Jesus tells us that two kinds of water are useful. Cold or hot!
The third type causes one to reject it in their body. To vomit it back out.
The Apostle Paul acknowledges his zeal for what he thought was the truth, but yet he had it wrong, and so is unbridled passion for God without knowledge of the truth. To be effectively “hot” it must be according to the truth of God’s word. (Acts 22:3)
For I bear witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. – Romans 10:2-3
When God sets Himself in a heart that once hated truth and knowledge, changes that heart to seek Him and bring Him glory, a believer will be consumed by God according to truth and knowledge.
God also uses those cold and hardened to the gospel for His purposes. This is certainly not a popular today in this cultural “gospel”. The god who loves everyone, judges nobody, and loves you just as you are would certainly not be this god?
For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion,” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the Pharoah, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Therefore He has mercy on whom He will, and whom He wills He hardens. – Romans 9:15-18
God hardened Pharoah’s heart to show His power. That is straight-forward and very clear. God finds cold water very useful for his purposes and yet many rebel against the truth of this. If you find yourself rebelling against this truth you would do well to consider if you are not cold and hardened yourself?
We have clear promises that anyone who humbles himself will be lifted up (James 4:6-10), and that God will not turn away any who desires to come to Him (John 6:37). Those promises are trust-worthy, but only for the humble.
The question stands today, it’s clear, concise and cutting. Are you hot, cold or useless?
Those that sit in church buildings for an hour on a Sunday, or read some sort of Christian literature, maybe even read a Bible, but show no advancement or fruits of repentance have only the future of being vomited out of His mouth. This is a fearful warning to professing believers. This is a fearful warning to all.
Whom do you desire to serve today? This question should not be dismissed or diminished it really is the only valid question to ask.
And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him, but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word. – 1 Kings 18:21
“What is your name for the record?”
“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”
“Sir, today you are going to stand trial for your crimes against a Holy God, and this is going to determine your eternal fate, do you understand?”
“You’ve stated that you are a Christian and that My Son is your Lord, is this true?”
“What can you say that will convince Me of this?”
“I have nothing of myself that I can say, but that my only hope is in the righteousness of Your Son, I have nothing to offer You but my filthy works, and I am not worthy to enter Your kingdom. I fall upon the mercy of Your Holy court and place my hope in Christ.”
“I will open My Book and see if your name is here.”
Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. – Hebrews 4:11-13
The question has gripped me for the last twenty-four hours. Maybe it wasn’t even a question directed toward me, but it certainly had an effect on me. The discussion ensued and the statement was made, what evidence do you have that you are a Christian?
How many people identify that they are Christians, but don’t live like it? In the United States, it’s something close to 80% of the population identifies with some form of Christianity. Will they all be saved?
Then there’s a subset of that number that actually practice a form of Christianity by going to church and doing religious things. How about them?
If you were asked to prove yourself a believer where would you start? You will stand before God and give an account of your life and whether you believe that or not is irrelevant. Or it might even, for some people, be a true truth. In other words, you’ve heard, you even “believe” it, but you don’t live like it.
Please hear what I just said. If you don’t live like it, it’s a contradiction and there is no assurance of salvation.
I want to look at the greatest sermon ever preached as a starting point to what it means to be a Christian.
Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Step 1: Poor in spirit. What does this mean? To be poor in the days of Christ was a lot different than being poor today. People were ashamed of their poverty, and if we don’t recognize our sin and are broken, wretched and poor over our offenses against a Holy God, we cannot be saved.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Step 2: Mourn. Over what? When you come to grips with the reality of your sin, and that you are under God’s wrath, you will mourn. You will beg for mercy, and plead with God to save you.
“Blessed are the meek. For they shall inherit the earth.”
Step 3: Meekness. Meek is not weak. A broken horse is still a very powerful animal, but he is useful for his master’s purposes. So must believers be useful for their master’s purposes.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
Step 4: Mercy and forgiveness are signs of a new creation in Christ. Those that have been given mercy will be merciful.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Step 5: How can a man be pure in heart? Only by the redeeming work of Christ on the cross, if we think we have any purity in ourselves we are grossly deceived. When God changes a heart, sinful man sees his wretchedness for what it is and God imputes His purity and righteousness upon the believer.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Step 6: Make peace with men. The only peace possible is that men understand they are at enmity with God and the believer calls them to repentance by preaching the gospel of peace. Christ did not come to bring peace, but a sword, and preaching the gospel of peace will bring conflict.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:2-10
Step 7: Get ready! For those that are now saved and realize their purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, this will mean preaching the gospel of peace to those that hate God. This will bring persecution. If you are not being persecuted for righteousness sake, you would do well to examine your witness. Are you a witness? If you’ve been saved, this is now what you are being commanded to do. Those derelict of duty have no assurance of salvation.
He didn’t save you for your benefit. He saved you for His glory!
How will you respond on that day?
The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. – Revelation 20:13-15
Saved for His glory, by the grace of God
Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittal, saying, “Arise, go to Ninevah, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. – Jonah 1:1-2a
Jonah is not a book of the Bible that I spend a lot of time thinking about. We have a really cool puzzle that my daughter Lydia just loves putting together. It’s an oversized puzzle, so even I can do it, and it shows a cartoon character Jonah being spit out of the great fish’s mouth onto the sand. It’s a really great image. But I must confess I’ve not given a lot of thought to Jonah until recently.
This past Lord’s Day, during our prayer time, I was asked to pray corporately, praying from Jonah. As I read chapter 2 in preparation I was struck by how much like Jonah I am. How often I run from the presence of the Lord, or at least I think I run from His presence. Of course, where can we really go that He is not there right?
But it appears Jonah really thought he could just go the opposite way and that was going to be alright with God. Jonah thought that God’s arm wasn’t long enough to reach him. Doesn’t it appear that way? Was this the same God that did all those miracles? Is this the same God that by His spoken word created everything? What a foolish thing for Jonah to do…
Because I know I would never do that…I’m pretty sure you would never do that either…Say I sarcastically…
How many times have you blown opportunities to tell someone the good news?
Matthew 10:32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
Homologéō – to say the same thing as another; to agree with, assent. Many will say they “confess” Christ, but in their actions deny Him. It’s quite different to actually agree with Him than to open our mouths and say Jesus is Lord. The bottom line is do we live like it?
We must consider the words of our Lord, when He said “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not done all these things in Your name…” And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you: depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ – Matthew 7:21-23
This past weekend for the first time I went into the open air and preached the gospel. Like Jonah I was attempting to run from God and avoid the inevitable disagreement with Him that desired my own earthly comforts, pride, selfishness and personal desires. I mean, honestly, who wants to go out and take the abuse that you are sure is coming your way? Isn’t that why there are “professionals” that teach in churches, pastors that get paid for this? Shouldn’t they be the ones going out and doing this sort of thing, if this sort of thing should even be done today, which many will say?
Then I once again remember the words of Jesus and my pathetic heart melts…
Matthew 16:25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
I desire to save my life…
Last Saturday, by the grace of God I began a journey to lose my life and it was humbling and even humiliating beyond words. Yet it was exhilarating and thrilling to stand up in front of a God-hating crowd and proclaim His name. To tell them He IS Lord, and they must submit to Him, or perish in their sins.
Do I think, or expect that everyone reading this will go to a public arena and preach? No, I don’t think that is wise for everyone. You should go under the protection and blessing of your church, but we should all be proclaiming His name in whatever opportunities He presents to you. It might be the grocery store, or the coffee shop, maybe sitting next to someone on a plane. Whatever, wherever, whenever you are presented with an opportunity to proclaim His name, be obedient to the call and lose your life.
Who knows what will happen.
Jonah 3:10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.
Never forget that Salvation is of the LORD, but as for us, we must proclaim the good news and trust that God will grow His church. Amen!
Almost anyone that claims any sort of knowledge of the Bible or Christianity knows the Great Commission. Jesus commissioned His followers to spread the good news of salvation to the world. It is the greatest responsibility of anyone that claims His name. In short it is why this blog exists and it is why you have been redeemed, assuming that is the case.
I would image that most professing Christians can even recite this verse from memory…almost!
Here is the problem, in my opinion. They stop short. (side note: if you are a Seinfeld fan you will get the reference, if not, never mind…)
Let’s look at what I mean by that.
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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…”
They stop short right here. By simply stopping right here the seriousness of the message our Lord is giving us and giving them has been undermined. The message is REALLY good up to this point. Look at what Jesus has said.
“Go” – poreuomai (to go, to travel, to take a journey, to go one’s way) We shouldn’t be sitting in our houses hoping someone like a Jehovah’s Witness will knock on our door so we can share the gospel. We are “commissioned” by Jesus to be travelers for His name.
What are we to go do? Make disciples. This is not to be confused with the twelve Disciples, minus Judas. The word means a pupil, or a learner, one who desires to learn, such as a scholar. If someone desires to learn someone needs to be instructing them.
In this post we won’t discuss baptism, but simply there is an order to follow once someone believes and that includes a public profession of faith by being baptized, but where I think is most often a “wiff” in Christianity, and this is where we stop short, is failing to recite verse 20.
…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.
Do we see the stark contrast between going, then teaching but not commanding them to observe Christ’s commands? Many a misguided mission trip forgets that there is a call to obedience. This often omitted part of the Great Commission is really the lynchpin on which it all hangs. If obedience is not mentioned then Jesus is only a “savior” and not Lord. The whole truth of salvation has been lost. If Jesus is not your Lord, then He’s NOT your savior, and a Lord demands obedience.
A social or cultural gospel that does not require obedience doesn’t save…
It’s why there are so many running around shouting their little Antinomian battle calls, and crying foul and legalist the moment you bring up sin. It’s the biggest mistake in most of modern day evangelicalism. It’s a gospel without any teeth, a “jesus” that requires nothing of anybody, is completely unoffensive and sits around drinking latte’s and telling jokes with the sinners. How many times have you heard that?
“Well Jesus condemned you Pharisee’s and hung out with the sinners!” Yes, correct but He called them to repentance and told the harlot to go and sin no more… He didn’t hate her enough to say, “why don’t you go finish your tryst and stop by later for coffee and we can chat.”
Not THE Jesus, not the Triune Jesus… He demands our obedience and says He will cast those into hell that practice lawlessness (Matthew 7:23).
So if you have an opportunity to Preach the Word today, don’t forget to tell them they must observe all He commanded. Jesus did not take on the wrath of God and drink it down to the dregs so we could “dabble” in sin, He hates sin and those that practice sin will not inherit God’s kingdom.
Luke 13:2-3 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.
That’s the gospel Jesus preached, let’s see that we do likewise.