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How do I know if someone is a Christian or not?
Christians are not strange people. They are not radical fundamentalist, as some would have you believe. Christians are not someone who needs a crutch to stand on. Nor are they mentally insecure. Christians are just like any other people trying to navigate the pitfalls of this world. They are like anyone else, trying to love their families and do right by their friends and neighbors.
The government and their manipulation by “radical lobbyist” have tried to place any Bible believing Christian in the closet of society. To do so, they must show the evils of being a Christian and get the public to agree with them. It doesn’t matter if it is true or not, as long as people believe it.
They do this so they can make themselves look good in the eyes of others. To elevate yourself in the eyes of the world, you can either ascribe to greatness yourself or you can put down all others around you. That way, when you are the last man standing, you can be the king of the mountain.
Adolph Hitler understood this when he victimized the Jews, Gypsies, Communist, Homosexuals and unfit. In putting them down in society, he gave the perception that the individual common German was greater than the others. He effectively changed their class by changing their perceived position in regards to the classes and races he victimized. This is how the world is making themselves great in their own eyes today. They victimize the common Christian, putting him in an imaginary lower class of people so that others wake up one day and imagine that they have risen a few rungs on the ladder of success.
Despite their best efforts to change the class system, people are still people. We all have the same desires, goals and characteristics because we were all made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Yet, there are some very big differences between a Christian and a person of the world. These differences are “big” because they are matters of life and death (Deut. 30:15). Yes, I know that everyone dies, but just keep reading for once. You can learn something.
Christians are saved. I know that this phrase has been tossed around in so many ways, with so many negative connotations that you think you know all about it; But do you really? From the Bible’s point of view, being “saved” means that true Christians are saved from going to hell. Not because they have earned it, but because it is a gift given to them that they don’t deserve. Someone stood in and paid for them so they don’t have to go to hell. That person is Jesus Christ. He paid for everyone so they don’t have to go to hell, but not everyone will be saved from that destiny. Everyone who does not accept what Jesus did for them will go to hell and remain there forever. This is what true Christians mean when they say they are saved.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Christians are sinners. They do not claim to be sinless. They know that everyone has sinned and comes short of God’s glory.[/pullquote]
Christians are sinners. Somehow the world has conditioned its lemming like followers that Christians claim to be sinless. Even Christians are mixed up on this very point. From time to time they will refer to the unsaved person of the world as “sinners”, while at the same time implying that they claim to be sinless. Real Bible believing Christians know that everyone has sinned and come short of God’s glory, including themselves. Christians are sinners.
Christians are the children of God. Yes! Everyone was created in the image of God, but when sin entered the human race, God’s image in man was removed. People get all hung up on this point. They say, “Do you mean that people like Charles Manson was created in the image of God?” Or they go to the other extreme and say, “I can’t believe that God would send that young angel to hell. What kind of God would do that?” I have spent most of my ministry explaining this over and over again to people. It truly must be a pressure point that the Devil can use to get people all tripped up. Here we go again: Man was originally created in the image of God: Body, Spirit and Soul. When man sinned, his spirit lost Gods image. Man retained his body and soul, but his spirit no longer reflected God’s spirit. When you get saved, God returns His spirit to you. You then become complete. You do this by getting born again. Your body and soul doesn’t get born again. You get spiritually born. Anyone who gets born again becomes saved. Anyone! Why? Because of God’s forgiveness. He doesn’t care what you think about it. He is only interested what He thinks about it. Because it is a spiritual thing, you can not determine a person’s sincerity. Only God can do that. Therefore, the greatest and most beautiful do gooder can go straight to hell if they are not spiritually born again. Likewise, the most wicked vile person you have ever seen can go to heaven if they get spiritually born again. God can do this because He is the creator and He has determined that salvation will be contingent upon being born again or not. He can freely forgive anyone who gets born again. Likewise, He can condemn anyone who does not. Regarding how He makes this decision, He only cares about one thing, “Did you get born again or not?”
Anyone who gets born again, He calls them his children. They refer to Him as Father. He rejects all others and He is completely fair in doing so.
Christians go to church. Although many people go to church for many reasons, Christians do so because they desire fellowship with God and His children. Even though God walks with them everywhere they go because of His omnipresence, they like to go to church because He likes to go to church. To a Christian, church is a small taste of what heaven will be like; even with all of it’s flaws, it is the closest thing they have to heaven down here on the earth. Other people go to church to see what they can get out of it. Christians go to church to see what they can put into it. It gives them an opportunity to love others in a loving and safe environment. Christians don’t have to go to church, they get to go to church.
Christians tell people about Jesus. Face it. If it were not for Christians, nobody in the world today would know about Jesus at all. If it weren’t for Christians there would be nothing for Atheist to worry about. Oh, God would still be here, but nobody would know about Him at all. But, is that the reason Christians tell people about Jesus; to make Him famous? No! Christians tell people about Jesus because they are excited about Him. They appreciate what He has done for them; and the love that they have experienced through Him. They want to share that wonderfully liberating experience with their friends, family and others. They so appreciate Him that they can hardly contain themselves from telling others. Look at it like this: If you were to win the lottery, wouldn’t you want to share that news with those closest and dearest to you? Be true to yourself now. Of course you would. Well, Christians have something far better than the lottery. They have eternal life based upon the promise of God.
Christians read the Bible. The rest of the world doesn’t read the Bible, but Christians do. Real Christians want to get their nose into that book and learn what it says. They are curious about God and what He has done. They want to know more about this love that they now have, and the person with whom it originates.
Christians are just common people with all of the same problems and struggles as everyone else. They are not perfect, nor are they sinless. But they do have hope. It is a hope that allows them to take the journey of life with a much different attitude from the rest of the world. The next time you encounter a Christian, don’t be so quick to judge them and label them as hate mongers, for in so doing, you become guilty of that which you accuse them as being.
Learn about Jesus. You just might realize you were missing something you didn’t even know existed.
God gave the Law so that mankind would realize they are sinners. The Law is foundational in what we know as the Ten Commandments. No man can keep the Law unless they are perfect, but that is not their purpose. Their purpose is to convince stubborn man that he cannot attain to God’s standard.
Why would there be a great move to remove the Ten Commandments from public facilities? Because man doesn’t want to confront God’s standard. Man doesn’t want to know he is a sinner, but hiding one’s head in the sand does not change the truth.
Let’s do everything we can to keep God’s law before people. It really needs to be written on the hearts of the individual. It’s not weather it’s on a building or in a school. This important thing is that it makes its way to the heart of a person.
Church Fellowship helps meet man’s need for companionship. God uses fellowship and the church to strengthen the Christian and to accomplish His work in the world. From the time of Adam’s creation, God saw, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen.2:18). God’s initial solution was to establish the institution of marriage. However, man’s need for fellowship goes beyond marriage. He needs others with whom to grow in Christ and to serve. Every Christian needs church and fellowship.
Our fellowship in the church is much more valuable than fellowship for other purposes because God’s presence makes it different. Christ established the principle that where two or three are gathered together in His name, there He would be in the midst of them. This makes our time with God’s people very special. Fellowshipping with the saints around the things of God is actually a way for us to fellowship with God Himself because He also meets with us when we come together.
When Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch to report all that God had done with them, the Bible says that they gathered the church together. This means that the church was not a building or an organization but the people themselves. The people are the church. God established the church so that we could meet together, worship Him together, grow together, fellowship together, work together and pray together. God could have just let us do these things on our own or in our separate families, but He didn’t. He knew that we would need the fellowship of other saints to live healthy spiritual lives.
God’s Word is exalted
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”—2 Tim. 3:16-17
A healthy church is one that has at its very center: the Word of God. There is no other substitute. The statute of the church is the exaltation of God’s Word, and nothing else. There is no “program” or “social function” that is to eclipse this all important decree. The Bible is the only thing that is “profitable” for the church. Everything else is secondary. A Church that does not “major” on the Bible is one that “minors” on God. Yon cannot have God without His Word, and you cannot have His Word without having God as well—the two are synonyms.
“…Be filled with the Spirit;” —Eph. 5:18-21
“Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.” —Eph. 6:10
Experiencing God and following Him are indications of the health of the ministry. Being “Spiritually minded” will transform you into seeing things God’s way, and this is the goal. The power and closeness of the Holy Spirit allows us to live genuine Christian lives because the Spirit always teaches us to depend on God and not self. The more we yield to the Spirit the less we yield to self. This can be measured in the prayer life of the church as well as the members. Prayer is a reflection of a deep dependence upon God. Any church that has a weak prayer life is not healthy because they are not spiritually passionate.
Envelopment in Evangelism
“The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” —Luke 19:10
The church that is healthy is driven to reach it’s community, nation, and the entire world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The budget of such a church would most likely reflect a high commitment to outreach, both locally and worldwide. Winning souls for Christ produces committed disciples of the Lord. A church waning in it’s evangelism program becomes stagnant and self-centered. True! Not everybody can go out to win souls, but each saint “rubs elbows” with someone. Everybody can give a tract with a stranger or leave it at a strategic place in the community. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Someone told each of us about Christ. We are indebted to them and out debt can be repaid by telling others about Jesus. Not only that, A church that seeks to win souls for Christ is a church that is obedient to the Lord’s command to go into all the world to preach the gospel. Evangelism is essential for the health of a Christian and this is true for the church as well. Nothing sparks revival in the church more than people getting saved.
“Make a joyful noise…come before his presence with singing…Enter into his gates with thanksgiving…” —Psalm 100
Inspiring worship that glorifies God and connects the hearts, minds, and emotions of people with God must be a trait of our group worship. Healthy churches are characterized by a spirit of joy expressed in worship. The downhearted are picked up, the weary are revived, the discouraged are encouraged, the batteries are charged. There is something that happens during a healthy, “Spirit-filled” worship service. It is easy to identify an unhealthy trait of the church when the worship service is not a “worship” service at all, but a laborious endurance of time. Heaven is not filled with the “stuffed” shirt, lemon faced Christian, nor should the church be.
Great Commission Emphasized
“Go ye Therefore…” —Matt. 28:19-20
Our churches must have a clear sense of God’s mission and a compelling vision for the future clearly communicated. It should be with such clarity that it becomes “owned” by the members who should eventually display a commitment to it. It should be so emphasized as to guide all the ministries and decisions of the church. It should be embedded in the church structure and purpose.
“…commit thou to faithful men…” —2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; 1 Pet. 5:1-11; Eph. 4:11-16
Healthy churches should be committed to leadership development of not only women, but most importantly—men. The desire should be to train, godly men who are spiritually mature to lead our congregations. A healthy church desires to see mature leaders positioned in ministry as workers for the harvest. Healthy leaders not only promote the spiritual growth of the members, but also develop others in ministry and in the family unit. Too many men are sitting at home letting their wives do all of the spiritual leading of their family. Men need to take the leadership responsibility for the spiritual development of their family as well as the church.
“…in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost partof the earth” —Acts 1:8
Healthy churches are committed to, and involved in, reproducing themselves. They have a vision for planting or facilitating the planting of churches in nearby communities, as well as the world. There would be no church if some other church was not given to this task because churches are only produced by churches. The cry that churches are slowly dwindling in number is a conviction that churches are not doing what they should be doing—planting other churches.
Rich in Good Works
“Nor trust in undertain riches…do good, that they be rich in good works…Laying up…a good foundation…” —1 Tim. 6:17-19
Healthy churches demonstrate faithful stewardship and investment of all the resources God has entrusted to them. This begins by a church meeting its own needs and overflows to advance God’s work and meet the needs of others. Education of Stewardship is emphasized, and pastors must address the issue of time, money, skills, and possessions in a biblical, relevant, and practical way. There should be no “empire building” for the church. Resources should be “first class” but used in the proper manner for the calling that God places on the church. Involvement in caring for those who are hungry, hopeless, and hurting instills a vivrant aire about the church because it is more blessed to give than to receive, but this ministry should never exceed that of the primary mission of the church: Worship God, win souls to Christ, Disciple saints.
Intentional Disciple making
“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” —Matt. 28:19-20
Disciple making builds mature Christians who can promote spiritual growth of all members. Such disciple making ministries help believers move from a new life in Christ to an alignment of all personal priorities with the Lordship of Christ, whatever the cost. In short, it moves the Saints from being raw Christian recruits to Christian veterans. A healthy church is committed to disciplining the Saints to Spiritual maturity.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one another.” —John 13:35
Recognizing that all people are made in God’s image and are loved by Him, the church must reach across cultural, social, economic, and racial lines with practical acts of love within the church and the community. Ministries should always address people’s spiritual needs. When churches are characterized by believers who are committed to the reconciliation of relationships among people, it is a sign of good health. Within the local church, loving relationships produce unity, accountability, including loving discipline, and a powerful demonstration of God’s presence within our communities. Beyond the local church, they are manifested in cooperation and interdependent relationships with other Christians locally, nationally, and internationally.
What is a friend? The world has its idea of what a friend is. They usually count a friend as being a resource; someone who can help you or give you things when you have needs. This kind of approach usually goes like this: “Oh good, they have a tractor. That will be good for me when I need one.” Some people, like the Chinese, take this one step farther with their principle called Guang Xi. This means that you keep trying to expand your “friend” base so you have access to as much resources as possible. Even though you may not like the person at all, if they have something you might need in the future, you call them friend so you can get access to it. In the world of politics, we call this corruption.
Even though Christians are in the world but not of the world, they still make friends; it is just that their basis for friendship has changed. For the Christian, a friend is a trusted confidant to whom you are drawn, or who is drawn to you. They are a companion and an ally, whose love for you is not dependent on your performance or what you can provide for them. Finally, and most importantly, a friend to the Christian is someone whose influence draws you closer to God.
Philippians 3:18-19 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
Paul experienced people who called him a friend but they were not. His sorrow over this was they were the enemies of Jesus Christ. This left no or little basis upon which to build a friendship. These “friends” were those who served fleshly appetites. They found humor in their shame and they had no concern for eternity. They were interested in the three greatest foes to the Christian: the World, the Flesh and the Devil.
Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
If you develop friendships where you don’t have the fundamental basic foundation in common, you are doing a disservice to that person and to yourself. That friendship is doomed to failure. If you find yourself in this situation, you should ask yourself, “Why am I even interest in this friendship? Is my motive so that it will benefit me? Or, is God putting us together?”
Developing the right kind of friendships can be difficult. It takes understanding of how friendships are established. The Child of God should approach making friends with the determination of “if you reject Christ then you must also reject me, for He is my greatest friend.” When asked to compromise or violate the Scriptures: smile and say, “No thank you. I’ve committed my life to Jesus and I don’t want to displease Him by doing that.” It is important to let God choose your friends, based on their needs and desire for God’s help and not worldly ambitions or desires.
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
Everyone has a limited capacity for friendship; you can’t be friends with everyone. Still, some people have more friends than others. This does not mean that some people don’t have any friends at all; each person has a different capacity for numbers of friendships and everyone has the capacity to develop intimate friends.
There are four levels of friendships:
- Acquaintances: With acquaintances, there is occasional contact and general conversation. Information is shared, but it is that which would be public anyway. For acquaintances, you are determining the spiritual basis for a friendship. People might have from 100-1500 acquaintances in their life. They are not friends—they are acquaintances.
- Casual Friends: Unsaved friends can only be casual friends. Some specific information is shared usually regarding goals, plans, etc., For casual friends you are usually trying to identify any positive qualities for the basis of a closer friendship (i.e. Is there a basis for fellowship?). People might have from 25-100 casual friends in their life.
- Close Friends: Close friends are those whom there is a basis for fellowship. This means they share with you common beliefs, standards and goals. Close friends can become mentors or mentored. They are those whom you become involved with projects together. People might have from 7-25 close friends in their life.
- Intimate Friends: These are those who are commonly called: “Best friends.” They are always available. Not only do they provide encouragement, but they are close enough to be able to tell you of blind spots in your life. It is the sharing of Godly standards and common goals that allows this deep level of friendship. People might have from 4-6 intimate friends in their life.
There is the Biblical basis for making friends. Now that there is a little more understanding of how friendships are established, lets make friends the right way: God’s way.
I was once a slave.
I was once a slave. Not in the sense that I was owned by any human master, but in the sense that I was a slave to vices that submitted to. The common masters of the human soul today are sex, drugs and booze. These things all draw you back to them. When we cling to them, they gain control bit by bit. Little by little they own us until we are completely taken in by their powerful draw. Then, the chains of addiction bind us until we cease to have any choice in how we live. We are hooked. We are owned.
In the USA where slavery was once an issue that divided the nation, it is no wonder we are sensitive to the word. Yet, we do not think it slavery to be enslaved by terrible, and deceitful vices? People have sold themselves into bondage for a little good feeling today. In doing so, they disregard any thoughts for the future. They would rather feel good for the moment at the expense of others future. Listen to the story of the present day slave and his liberation…
When I was on the auction block, naked and in chains, my thoughts ran wildly from anger to fear to humility and back again. Angered because selling one human being to another was wrong. But it was really no different than selling myself to a life enslaved to wicked vices. Fear because I was totally exposed to everyone. Being naked, there was nothing to hide behind. Humbled because there was nothing I could do to change anything. I was the lowest of all human beings; being bid on by the various slave owners looking for “new stock” to work their fields and breed their females.
I was poked, prodded and examined. Fingers picked through my hair and my mouth was pried open to expose my teeth for inspection. Finally it came time for the bidding to begin. I dreaded this, but my fears soared when no one bid on me. The auctioneer kept trying to persuade people to bid on me, but no one did. Amidst all of my shame, the worst, and most humiliating thing I had ever experienced was when I came to realize that I was unwanted by anyone. Didn’t I have any worth to anyone? Surely I was valuable for something. If no one bought me, what would be my end? Would I be put out to pasture?
The thoughts were interrupted when, when to the surprise of all present, I heard a voice say, “I’ll take him.” It was crowded, but when I looked in the direction of the sound of the voice, I saw a common man making the only bid for me. Encouraged by the bid for me, the auctioneer was renewed with enthusiasm to increase the bid and get more people involved. It was to no avail. No one else wanted me. The auctioneer had worked himself up into a sweat, but no one would make a bid for me.
“He’s yours,” the auctioneer told the man.
“Take off his chains. You can have them. I won’t need them.”
“He might be wild and attack you. You never can tell with these kind of people.”
I had never remembered a time in my life when I didn’t wear chains. It was strange and liberating. The weight of the chains literally lifted from me. I wondered why I had been treated this way. What was the catch? Surely nothing good was going to come from this. “Come with me,” my new master told me. I got down off the block and followed the customary 3 steps behind him. I didn’t mind being totally naked because it meant the chains I wore all of my life were gratefully gone.
We arrived at the bath house where my master told them he wanted me cleaned proper. That meant he wanted my beard trimmed, hair cut, nails and feet cleaned and scrubbed. I had never been cleaned this way before. As I wondered at the four people working on me, I realized that, in fact, I had never even been clean before. It was fresh and new. I knew then that I wanted to stay clean forever. “Please follow me,” my master asked more than demanded.
Out into the street once again this time brought a tingling of envy on my part. I knew I was naked, but I was clean. The chains were gone and I was clean. Into the clothing store he led me where he told the clerk, “Put on him the best suit of clothes you have in the house. Money is no object. I want him to have the best.”
I was being measured and prodded. Pins and needles and markers were all about me. Finally they brought out the clothes they had made for me. I had never had clothes like this before. The silk ran softly across my clean cool skin. There were no restrictions in movement anywhere. The best thing was—the color was blue.
I appreciated the coincidence of making my first new suit of clothing out of my favorite color–blue. This very thought was overwhelming as I had began the day as a slave, the lowest of low, being sold on an auction block where, nobody wanted me. I was totally worthless. Now I was standing on the street, unshackled, clean with a new suit of clothes made in my very favorite color.
All of this was new to me. I still could not comprehend it. There was a tint of joy mixed with cautious apprehension as my appreciation for my owner grew.
“Have you eaten today?” he asked. I had not, but I hesitated to tell him so. He had already done so much for me and I didn’t deserve any of it. How could I take him for granted? “Come on, you can tell me if you’ve eaten or not.” he coaxed.
As was the custom of slaves, I dare not look him in the eyes. I safely stared at the ground when he addressed me. I stammered, not knowing how to answer him. His rugged hands touched me under the chin and raised my head up. “You can look me in the eyes.”
Looking in his eyes, I could see something that I had not seen since I was a child. I first saw it from my mother. It was the look of deep compassion coupled with sincere concern. It was the look of someone who cared about me as a person and not an object. It enveloped a kind of friendship, but I could not accept that my master could ever be my friend. Those eyes looked deep into my soul in such a way that I knew everything about me was revealed. It was as if my whole life was laid out before Him there on that street.
My life did not have much true joy in it. It was filled with pain and suffering; things that I did not want to share with anyone because I did not want to confront them again. There were things that I put in a hidden compartment of my mind because the only thing I could do to overcome them was to bury them deep into the compartment of distant memory. His gaze seemed to open up all of those hidden compartments of my life and not only see the pain, but experience it himself. I was not really sure, but I think I saw a tear well up in the corners of his eyes as he said, “come on, lets get you a meal.”
Off we went down the street. Because he wanted to walk with me, it was impossible to walk three steps behind him. The slower he went, the slower I went until he beckoned me to walk with him. I was very uncomfortable with this because I knew people were looking at Him with disgust because of the way he treated me. their comments were not nice. They threw at him words that contained a terrible, hateful message. These were the kind of words I was accustomed to hearing, but he did not deserve anything like this. He was being punished for compassion and it made me feel defensive of him. I did not know this new master very well, but at least I knew I was His, and I didn’t like what they were doing to him.
We arrived at the boarding house with a following. The owners were not going to let me eat in the main dining hall because I was a slave. After some deliberation, we went into the back room where slaves could eat. He beckoned me to sit down, which I did. Then the biggest surprise of all was that he sat down at the table with me. The owners were trying to get him to go out into the main dining hall, but he would have none of it. “I eat with my friend”, he said with a tone of finality. “Master, you don’t have to do this,” I said. “You’ve already done too much. There is no need to embarrass yourself so.”
“It’s okay. I want to be here with you.”
“Master, I promise I will wait for you. I won’t run off.”
“I know you won’t. But I want to eat with you. I want to know you better. What’ll you have?”
“Whatever you want for me to eat Master. It’s not proper for me to choose for myself.”
“Waiter! We’ll take two of the finest steaks you have.”
When the steaks came, I looked at it without knowing what to do. He showed me how to use the knife and fork and cut it. I had never been allowed to hold a knife before. It was the first time I had ever held the cool steel in my hand. No one had ever trusted me with a knife, especially one sharp enough to cut a steak. With a little difficulty I cut the meat and put it in my mouth. The sensations were so active I could only think they were going to collapse in a type of fatigue.
Today was a day of firsts. I had never tasted meat like this before. It was the best meal I had ever had. I enjoyed it so much that I almost forgot who I was. When it was time to leave, I quickly remembered my place. As we went outside in the streets, there were people waiting to persecute my master. They didn’t like it that he ate with the slaves. They thought it showed a wrong message. They didn’t want to be held to His standards. They wanted him to digress to their standards, but my master was courageous. He stood up to them all and did the right thing.
Following him to the end of the street, the crowd thinned. this is where it happened. At the end of the street, he turned to me and told me something I will never forget. He said, “I bought you so you will never have to be in bondage again. You are free to do as you please. Here are your papers. I love you and I am sorry that you ever had to be in bondage in the first place.” I was stunned. Was I hearing correctly? Was I being set free? Did he really buy me, clean me, clothe me and feed me to set me free? I had long since lost hope of ever being free. It was so far out of reach that I had even refused to think about it. Now I was being set free by a master who loved me. I didn’t really know him, and now he was setting me free.
I hardly realized he was shaking my hand in a gesture of departure. I was trying to come to grips with my thoughts. By the time I came to myself, he had already turned and was walking away. Again I didn’t know what to do. I had no where to go. If I went back to the world, I would certainly be put in bondage again. I knew I didn’t want that, but what could I do? I had never been faced with making so many choices. I knew I couldn’t stand there forever. “Whatcha gonna do boy?”, a burly man watching with amusement asked. I was being pushed. People were beginning to surround me. It didn’t take long for the world to catch up to me and press in. They were mocking, pushing and demeaning. There was nothing I could do about it. Hands were tearing at my new set of clothing. They wanted it for themselves. They wanted me to return to my hopeless, naked, enslaved position.
It came to mind suddenly. When I had no thought of what to do, I wanted to cry out for my master, but he had gone on. If I really wanted him to be my master, why had I not followed him? I was so infatuated with my freedom, that I forgot Him. Pushing through the crowd, I went after Him. After a short time, I caught up with him. I had never wanted someone to be my master before. I had always despised those who were proud of the title. But this time was different. I knew I wanted him to be my master. “Master,” I cried. He turned to wait for me. “Can I come with you?”, I asked.
“You don’t need to. You’re free now.”
“I know. You gave me my papers.”
“You can go anywhere you want to go.”
“I know, but can I follow you? If it’s okay with you, can I be your slave?”
“I didn’t buy you because I wanted a slave. I bought you because I care.”
“I know that now. But I want to be your slave. I want to follow you. I want you to be my master.”
This is the attitude that a sinner who has been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ should have. There should be a deep desire for devotion to their master. Under grace, He has put no requirements on the sinner. The Lord bought us, cleaned us, fed us and clothed us; then He set us free. We are free to do as we wish. We can run off back to the world; we can follow selfish ambitions; or we can follow the master, not because He demands us to do so, but because we appreciate what He did for us.
Many Christians today have it all wrong. They approach a relationship with Jesus because they are looking for what He can do for them. Like those who demanded food from Jesus were disappointed when He would not give it to them (John 6:34-66), Christians today fall away when God doesn’t do exactly what they want. They are the master of the relationship instead of allowing Jesus to be the master. Yes, they may speak like He is the master, but their actions show a much different thing. They go to certain churches because they are looking for a certain: children’s program, support group, bible study, activities for the family, marriage counseling, etc. They are what is commonly know as “church shoppers.” They are looking for the perfect place where God can give them what they demand of Him. God may not ever give them what they want because it goes contrary to what He wants. He wants them to freely follow HIM!
Confused Christians have their masters. If they are not the vices of the day, they are the programs a church can offer. It is not the Creator. If He was their master, they would be willing to forego the programs and sit under good Godly preaching that would help them. Preaching that would show them where they are right as well as show them where they are wrong. They would not let personalities in the church dictate their attendance. They would not care if someone said something bad about them or not. They would only care about following the Saviour who rightfully bought them, cleaned them up, clothed them, fed them and set them free. They would give up their freedom for a devoted life of following Him no matter how difficult it would be.
I would that every Christian reading this article would be able to say, “I am glad to be His happy slave.” Why? Because He doesn’t demand it.~
Why do people go to church? There are many reasons and in this article I would like to explore a few. For some people church has always been a part of their life; for others it is a new experience. Either way, it doesn’t matter. At some point in their life, people begin making their own decision about going to church.
Recently I saw a character on TV who wanted his grandson to be baptized so he would go to heaven. Obviously, he didn’t understand the Bible and that baptism doesn’t save a person. But, he still had a respect for the church. He called it God’s house. Even the most adamant atheist still recognizes that church is related to God, and when they come to a point in their life that they seek spiritual help (and everyone does), they will seek it by coming to a church.
People go to church to feel good about themselves. At some point in their life, people begin to feel the effects of sin. They begin to feel dirty and seek redemption of some kind. So, they go to church seeking forgiveness for their sins. The sad thing is that when they feel comfortable in knowing that forgiveness has been provided, they have no need for church anymore. They fall away like the vapor of wind, never to come back unless they have the same need.
People go to church because they have always gone to church. It is habitual. They have always gone to church and cannot really give an answer for why they go. Oh, they can give the pat answer; the answer that they know is expected of them, but they cannot honestly tell why they go from deep down inside their soul.
People go to church for social connection. They seek relationships with people who are like minded to them and they don’t get that in the world with all of it’s worldliness. Sadly, they have little use for the church other than the pleasure of fellowship with their friends who attend. During the preaching or teaching they are bored to death, but during the singing or performing, they are enthusiast. They are “put out” by the time that the preaching or teaching takes out of their time to fellowship, and you often never see them attend Sunday School or other such learning events.
People go to church because they want to learn something about God. Altogether this is not a bad reason for going to church. One of the reasons that God provided the church to us is to equip the saints. This involves learning about the Bible and learning about God. There is no other designed method of God to learn about Him and His book except the church. God did not provide colleges, TV or radio programs, para-church organizations to teach about Him. He gave us the church!
People go to church because God commanded us to not forsake going to it. They honor God and try their best to do what He said they should do. They do this because they are driven by a love for Him. They trust in the fact that: He knows what is best for them, and since He told them to do it, then they are going to do it. They often reason that God must have His reasons for saying it in the Bible so, understand it or not, they go. Soon their often attendance begins to take root in their life and they begin to grow as a child of God.
I have often wondered why people don’t go to church. I think, “If they could just go long enough, then they would get what God is trying to do in their life.” God wants to develop Christians. That is difficult for the Him to do when His children are bombarded constantly by the world’s message and they are only getting one hour a week of input from Him. The many hours indoctrination of the world overshadows and chokes out almost everything that a person can get in just one hour a week of going to church. For this very reason, I put serious articles in the church bulletin so God’s people have something they can take with them to receive some spiritual refreshment and learning. I hope that you have found them useful. More than that, I trust that you will, no matter what, trust what God says to you about not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, and come to church. It would be good for you and your family. You see, God wants to establish a relationship with you and that is difficult to do when you only spend one hour a week with Him.
THE LAODICEA CHURCH WE LIVE WITH
Revelation 3:14-20 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Today we find ourselves living in the Laodicean Church age. It is the last period of time before the Lord Jesus Christ comes to rapture out His church. Compared to the other periods of church history, the Laodicean is the worst of all and that is because of the apathy of believers in Christ. The word “Laodicean” means the “rights or justices of the people.” Literally the civil rights of the people. It is a time when the church is more interested in their individual rights and have totally forgotten the rights of God—their Creator. Unfortunately, this is the mess that the church is in when God returns to get us. AND, do not fret my friends; there will be no exercising of personal rights at the rapture for God’s rights will overshadow all. When He says, “come up hither,” will it not be with anger in His voice rather than that of the compassionate Jesus Christ Superstar that many envision Him to be? Will He not be angry at the church for lack of interest in winning the lost to Him?
The last church claims a belief in God while at the same time living a dead, skin-deep Christianity. People in this church, profess belief in the “fundamentals of the faith” while embracing ecumenical works. It is a church where you cannot really tell what it stands for or what it stands against. It is a church which conveniently balances itself on both sides of the fence; it is neither hot for God or cold against Him (vs. 15). It is the worst kind of church there can be: LUKEWARM (vs. 16)—close enough to God to be warmed by the Bible, and far enough away to be chilled by the world. It is the epitome of rotten apostate modernism.
God is an extremist. He does not believe in getting along with the world in a kind of “fake Christianity”. He “would thou wert cold or hot.”
The Laodicean church makes God sick (vs. 16)—sick enough for Him to “spue thee out of my mouth.” Why is this? Could it be because of the tremendous material assets this church has that others in history did not? Could it be because it is more interested in bragging about its busses, holdings, how much the property is worth, how much the offerings are or how many missionaries it supports? After all, this church says it is “…increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” But God sees the truth. He gets to the heart of the matter. His response to all of our vast access to resources that we are “… wretched, you’re miserable, you’re poor, you’re blind, and you’re naked.” This is the opposite of how we see our self. People today have too many churches to go to. The pastor does something that they don’t like, or another church member does something that they disagree with, they just “hop on over” to another church that more fits their need. People in this age are more interested in themselves instead of God, and God’s preacher better tell them what they want to hear or else.
The great problem with the church today is that Christians are afraid to stand up for Jesus. Oh, we sing the song, “Stand up, Stand up for Jesus…”, but that is just lip service. Christians have worked out a way to be a Christian on Sundays and just a regular guy the rest of the time. That way they can AVOID CONFRONTATION. This is a joke of a Christian who claims that he has to put on the “armour of God”, when he knows in his heart that he is not really going to use it.
This Laodicean church lives by feelings, just like the rest of the world. Like the Israelites of old, temples to Baal have been erected amongst our ranks and the only thing that can “shake the church” loose from them is some tragedy; else God will never get our attention. If there was one thing that I could make the church see, it would be the reality and magnificence of GOD. Hence, people would see how much they owe to Him. But God does not demand our deaths; He demands our death to self, so that we might be able to live the true life that He intended. It is sad that it takes hard times in our life to bring us to our senses.
God counsels that we buy of Him “…gold tried in the fire…” (vs. 18). That is to say, He counsels that we see things as they truly are; that faith in Him is worth much more than gold or riches or prestige or honor (1 Pet. 1:7). This entire world is going to be burned up and all that is contained therein. There is absolutely nothing that will survive His hot wrath. Any investment in this world is futile. I know that right about here the concept of “stewardship” is usually slipped in, but there is a vast difference in caring for things that perish verses things that do not. The only thing that will not perish will be the souls of men who are right with God. This is “stewardship” in its most correct form: to win souls, develop them and teach them how to win more souls. But this cannot be done without “CARING”.
You say, “I don’t see it that way.” I know. I know there is a problem with how you look at things. That is why God urges to “anoint thine eyes with eyesalve…” (vs. 18). This is why the Devil has so many things to look at in the world today. This is why things like TV, pornography, movies, sports, internet, etc. work so good for him. Man is curious, and his curiosity will never be satisfied. This is a good thing if it is channeled to learning about the personality and character of God. But this is not so. Man is more interested in tickling his sin nature. The “forbidden fruit” only becomes the draw to man when he looks at it (Gen. 3:5-6). We have a problem with our eyes. Therefore, we need the eyesalve of God’s Word that we can see correctly. Can you imagine the fruit of the tree looking rotten, moldy, corrupt and covered in maggots? In other words, can you imagine being able to see sin for what it is? The only way that can be done is to:
- Stay in your Bible. You need the Bible. It is your strength and your sword. Without it, you will only see what the world is showing you. Or, you will only know what the world tells you about the Bible. The cults (Mormons, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, etc.) are experts at offering a candy coated glob of slop.
- Stay in Church. Don’t just “attend” church, come expecting something from God. Expect that God is speaking to you from the Bible via His messenger. Presuppose that God is real and He can do anything even in spite of the preacher or teacher. Expect God to be a blessing to you and discard the thought that you will be a blessing to God.
- Pray faithfully. Tell God how special He is to you. Talk to Him. Tell Him how much of a blessing He is to you. Tell Him what you think of His Book, His church and His preacher. Tell Him what you would request of Him, but resist the urge to give Him your grocery list of problems to solve for you.
- Witness! This cannot be stressed strong enough. You must witness for God. There are many ways in which you can do this. Use your mind and think of a way you CAN do it instead of inventing ways you cannot do it. The fact of the matter is this: if you love something strong enough, you can do things you never thought you would be able to do. Or, if you want to do something bad enough, you will figure out a way to do so.
It is time now to repent of being a lukewarm Christian. Can you truly say you are giving your all to Him? Are you tithing? Are you attending church? Are your words just more empty promises to God? God’s way for dealing with those whom He loves in this Laodicean church age is to rebuke and chasten. REPENT! Change your ways. Be zealous about Him (vs. 19). Be given over to the draw of the Holy Spirit. Be zealous for Him and the things that He loves and forget about the world. Stop comparing yourself to others who are not living for the Lord.
Do you realize that at the end of the Laodicean church age Jesus is outside the door of the church? The door has been slammed shut in His face. He is knocking to come in and who is listening? Are you? Do you hear His humble rap upon the door? Why is He on the outside in the first place? Who came to church and left the Lord outside? I do not want to be a Laodicean even though I happen to live in this age. You don’t have to leave Him outside. You can bring Him in with you. Or, you can answer the door. The problem why many do not is that they don’t even hear His voice anymore (vs. 20). They are too worried about money, satisfaction of self, offending others or becoming accountable to God’s word (they don’t want to hear what He has to say about their sin). But if YOU open the door to Him, He will come in to you and have fellowship with you, even in spite of anyone else. But until you do, until you open the door of your heart, you can not have sweet fellowship with Him. You will be a Laodicean.
Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son.
Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles, California won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn’t notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbor’s hubcaps.
Terrence Dickson, of Bristol, Pennsylvania, was leaving a house he had just burglarized by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get the garage door to open. Worse, he couldn’t re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut. Forced to sit for eight days and survive on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the home owner’s insurance company claiming undue mental anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his anguish.
Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the butt by his next door neighbor’s beagle – even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner’s fenced yard. Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun.
A jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay $113,500 to Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania because after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. The reason the soft drink was on the floor: Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.
Kara Walton, of Claymont, Delaware sued the owner of a night club in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the night club had to pay her $12,000 plus dental expenses.
Mrs. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, purchased new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver’s seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owners manual that she couldn’t actually leave the driver’s seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home.
Let me just say it up-front and here: The world is going crazy! There never seems to be a lack of knowledge, but there sure is a lack of common sense right now. There is a great difference between the two. Knowledge is just that—knowledge. Common sense is—knowing how to use that knowledge. For several decades now the people have been bombarded with knowledge. We have knowledge coming out of our ears. This is the problem—we have too much knowledge, but we seriously lack wisdom to know how to use it properly.
The reason that we have this lack in ability to use the knowledge that we have is because there has been a wholesale retreat from the word of God and from God Himself. God is the one who gives common sense. In Nehemiah when the people stood in their place and the words of God were read to them, they obtained knowledge. But, as the words were being read, “God distinctly… gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Neh. 8:8). Because there has been a disdain of God, there has been a lack of common sense.
In the garden of Eden, Adam was told not to eat of the fruit of the tree of KNOWLEGE of good and evil. Why? Because in the very day that he would eat of that fruit, his EYES WOULD BE OPEN. That is what happened—man’s eyes were open but his mind is shut off. Knowledge keeps pouring in, but to no avail, there is no sensible way to use the knowledge unless you turn to God and get a little common sense.
Those who know me, know that I always tell a person before getting saved, they will get “new eyes.” I am telling them, (and you if you are unsaved today while reading this), they will begin seeing the same old things they have seen all of their life, but from a different perspective. That is the perspective of common sense. God will cause them to understand the things that they have KNOWN as they read their Bibles.
This is how an intelligent person, a person with an ability to store huge amounts of knowledge, can come up with such “far out” theories as: evolution, big bangs, black holes, expanding universes and space within space. The have a lot of knowledge, but cannot disseminate it, that is to say, use it in a common sense way. It is not enough for them to know gravity exists, but they must understand it. This is a good example of taking something that they know exists (gravity) and apply common sense to it (how it works).
I know that someone will focus on what they desire and miss the whole purpose of this little article. They will think that I am saying that knowledge is not good, and that like most preachers, will think that we have to have blind faith to be a Christian. That is not so. Knowledge is profitable, but only if it is coupled with common sense, so it can be used wisely.
The world today seems to be getting more stupid as we go along; yet there is more knowledge out there than has ever been before. How is that? There is a lack of common sense; there is a disdain for God.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
God gives certain responsibilities of the marriage to each other. For the husband, God commands that we love our wives. Love is the principle thing that holds a marriage together. Love is the greatest motivator of all. Unfortunately, the world teaches a false definition of the word love. People today think that love is a feeling, especially related to sexual contact, but it is not. Love is the supreme denial of self and exaltation of someone else. In short, it is giving. This is the love that God is talking about when he commands husbands to love their wives.
As a human being it is natural for our love to be directed to others. As a father our love can be directed to our children. But, as a husband there is a special kind of love that is to be directed only to our wife. The world would like to say that there are degrees of love, but there are just different aspects of love. There is a special kind of love that only our wife should enjoy and no others. It is our obligation to make this exclusive to her. This love, we share with none other. We don’t share it with our children, our family and certainly some other woman. It is a special love and it should be proclaimed so that everyone else knows that we love our wives differently than anyone else in the world. If you have waited for God to show you His perfect will, then she is your special gift from Him that completes you as one whole being (Eph. 5:31 …and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.). That makes her special beyond the reaches of all others in the world.
Husbands should follow the example of Christ when loving our wives. Our Lord loves the church and He shows it by the way He provides for it, protects it and leads it. Likewise, it is our jobs to take the leadership roles in our marriages so that our wives have the protection, provision and prowess needed to feel loved.
Protection of our wives does not end with simply not letting someone hurt her physically. There is emotional and spiritual protection that must be provided for as well. Husbands should be vigilant to not allow our wives to be emotionally hurt. Emotions run deep and are difficult to heal. If we do something that we shouldn’t and end up hurting our wives emotionally, the Bible has the only prescription for the healing process in being quick to reconcile (Eph. 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:). Protection of our wives can best be done by keeping the Devil away from our marriages. It is not that Eve wandered away from Adam when she was tempted, but the question must be asked, “Why was Adam not there in the first place? Why was he not protecting her spiritually?”
Providing for our wives, does not end with bringing in the paycheck. Although we like to make jokes about it, wives have many more needs than money. They have other physical needs as well as emotional and spiritual needs. Our wives need to be encouraged. They need to be praised and made to feel good about themselves so they have confidence to make it through yet another evil day. It is our job as husbands to provide this praise and not just be running them down all the time. We need to provide spiritually for our wives by providing the right environment, both at home and outside of the home. This is not just “letting” them go to church; it is BRINGING them to church. Let them know you lead in the spiritual protection of your marriage. Read the Bible with them. Initiate spiritual conversation with them.
The prowess that our wives deserve does nothing other than to help us and the entire family. She should be able to “be all she can be.” In fact she should be encouraged to do so. Let’s be our wives best cheer leader. Help her; let her take the classes she has been wanting. Encourage her. Provide leadership and instruction for her when dealing with emotional issues specific to women. Don’t try to isolate her. Encourage her to develop spiritually on her own as well as with you.
Give of yourself for your wife. This is the action of love. The Lord Jesus Christ gave of Himself to the Church. We don’t learn all of the ramifications of this immediately. It takes some time. Likewise, let your wife have the adventure of exploring how much you love her by examining how much you give of yourself to her. As Christians, when we see the love of Christ, and how it is demonstrated to us, it does not take long for him to become our hero. We can be our wives’ hero as well. It won’t happen overnight. And it won’t happen because we demand it. We become her hero by consistently showing how much we give of ourselves to her.
Husbands, lets take care of our responsibilities of loving our wives. Let’s build them up, for they are our same body. Lets make our marriages better by taking the leadership role and not expecting anything in return.
It is God’s character to be a forgiver of sin. Most of the time, when we hear this statement, we think about the forgiveness that WE GET and not about God’s character–THE FORGIVER. God’s character is to think about others. Man’s character is to think about Himself (Eph. 5:29). We know all about ourselves, but how much do we really know about God? It is difficult to find Bible teaching that teaches with this very premise as it’s core. You don’t very often find teachers who try to teach about God’s character and how He feels about things. Most teaching falls into the trap of human need for satisfaction. Man likes to know that he gets what he needs to make himself feel better about being a Christian. However, teaching about the Bible, from God’s point of view, is out there; although it is difficult to find. Most teaching is motivated by the need for money or popularity. The teachers know this and that is why most extremely popular, media induced, Bible teaching is popular–because people hear what they want to hear to nourish and cherish his own self. There is nothing wrong with feeling good. After all, it is an emotion that God put in us. But He didn’t put it inside of us to be abused. He put it in us so we can understand how He can feel, just as He put: hate, fear, remorse and sadness. We are made in all of the image of God, not just the ones that we want to claim. Man has abused the emotions that make us feel good by popularizing “feel good” churches. So, he says, “if I feel good, and everything is positive, then I am identifying with God, but if it is negative and I feel conviction for my sin, then I am not identifying with God.” This kind of thinking comes about from not grasping the truth that man is just a created being and God is the Creator. Man is nothing without God. There is not even a thought that man can have without the awesome guiding, and direction of God. Man is totally subject to God in everything. There is not a breath our body takes without God moving the lungs. There is not a beat of our heart that does not receive it’s power from God. We are unabatedly subject to God. Why then did God give us the Bible? We thought it was because He was giving us instruction on how to live. True, but it is much more than that. The Bible reveals God’s character. New Tribes Missions author Trevor Mcllwain described it best when he said, “it is God’s love letter to us, telling us about Himself.” Yes, He is instructing us about Himself, but all we see is how much we are not like Him. He is showing us how He originally intended the relationship of Creator–creation to be. It was supposed to be a wonderful relationship of God with man (the image of God) who could completely understand and identify with Him. But man does not see it that way. Man sees God as some kind of magic Genie who comes out to grant his wishes when he calls for him, then goes back into his bottle until he is needed again. God’s forgiveness of sin, especially this sin, speaks loudly about His character. If we just consider ourselves as nothing, and God as everything, we can see God’s character. If we can put ourselves out of the way long enough to learn something about God’s character, we will be much better off. Then, we can begin living the Christian life. Not the “Christian life” as the world supposes it to be. The Christian life as God indented it to be.
It is a dangerous thing to not go to church, especially if you are a parent. First and foremost its obvious it affects your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. When you are not going to church, the less you want to go. The more you go to church the more you want to go. Now we all know that it is certainly not God that is influencing us to keep us away from church attendance. That leaves only two causes; it is either at the direction and influence of Satan that we are not going to church or by the pull and draw of self.
Jesus Christ died for the church, he loves the church. He told us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. A good healthy love for the Lord Jesus Christ should be enough for any individual to continue in and be dedicated to church attendance. If you are not feeding the relationship you have with someone, then it begins to diminish. When you have a relationship with people then you certainly spend time with them. You spend time with them privately and you spend time with them publicly. The private devotion of a Christian is not sufficient for a proper and healthy relationship with God Almighty. You must join together with God’s people because Jesus said where two or three are gathered together in his name that he would be there in the midst of them. So you can either have a private relationship with God or you can have a public relationship with God, or you can have both.
Before becoming a preacher, part of my job as an electrician was to take working trips for the government. This meant that I would have to leave my family behind. I would go off sometimes for thirty days, some times for six weeks and some times for just two weeks. To me it did not matter if it was just the weekend or not, I was apart from my family, my friends and those whom I loved. If you ask my wife you will find out that the largest phone bills we ever had was when I was on trips because I was constantly on the phone with her. Why is that? I desired that relationship. I needed it to be fed. I loved her and you could tell because of the amount to time I wanted to relate with her.
We need time to be with God Almighty. Having a long distance relationship with him is not sufficient just as the phone calls from across the country to my wife were not sufficient. It filled a need but I sure couldn’t wait to get on that airplane and come home. I needed those kisses and those hugs. I needed that surrounding to be whole and complete in my life. Christians unless you have the surroundings of God and God’s people you will not ever be whole or complete in your life. It is dangerous when you are not going to church.
Another danger is how God will react. You see, relationships work both ways. Its is not all dependent upon you, although some people deceive themselves and think that it is. Relationships also depend upon the other person as well. Have you ever tried to talk with someone that didn’t want to talk with you? Have you ever tried to make friends with someone that didn’t want to be friends with you? It is near impossible. Have you ever had a friend that suddenly, for no reason at all just started keeping away from you? Maybe your relationship gradually became a long distance one? What would you do? I venture to say that you would be concerned. At the very least and there would come a point when you would decide that you wanted to figure out what the problem was. You would probably want to know if it was a problem with you or a problem with them. God is the same way. When His people move away from him, and slowly begins not going to church, It is just like the long-distance relationship. He wants to figure out what the problem is. He wants to confront you about it. Then He wants to inspire you to do what is right because he knows the relationship is healthy for you and for Him. When you are not going to church, the danger is that God may act and you are not always exactly sure how He will do that.
The third danger is, people are looking at you and your testimony. Every Christian has what is called a living testimony. It is how you act as compared with what you say. You can say to people all you want that you need to be committed to the Lord, but it will mean absolutely nothing if you are not as committed as you expect them to be. Many Christians subconsciously know this and that is why they stay away from various subjects–Subjects where the Christian might be found a hypocrite. But, my friends, people watch your life and if you are doing one thing but saying another it doesn’t help the cause of Christ. It is not neutral and it hurts the cause of Christ. You are either for Christ or you are against Christ.
When we first get saved we begin learning how to live for Christ. Slowly and gradually as the Holy Spirit begins working on us, from that day forward. All the way until the end of our life we are in the process of learning how to live for Christ and die to self. So the danger is, people are looking to see how they are supposed to live as a Christian. When they see that you are not going to church, then they begin to pick up on your example and do the same.
My friends what do people say about you? When they look at you, do they say that your interests are Jesus, the Bible or the Church? Or do they say your greatest interests are: health or birth or job or family? Anything other than Jesus means they see Jesus is not first in your life. Now let’s take this information, file it in our memories and use it for his glory. God bless you all. Amen.
“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42).
There are many places where Jesus warned against the danger of false motives. In giving, He reminded us that we must not give our tithes in order to receive glory of people (Matt. 6:1–4). He also warned us against praying to receive applause of people; prayer is for conversing with God rather than a speech to be heard and admired by people (Matt. 6:5 – 6). He warned us against displaying our personal godliness by revealing our private spiritual disciplines so as to win the approval of people (Matt. 6:16–18). Regarding these two things, Jesus was talking to his disciples about proper motivation. He declared that all worship and service should be motivated by the single desire to please God.
A motive is something which “moves.” What the mainspring is to the clock, motives are to the Christian, what the motor is to the automobile. Motives certainly do affect our lives in many ways. Some examples of these are:
- Selfishness — everyone likes to feel important;
- Self-gratification — we like that which pleases us personally, and we like to have our own way;
- Self-interest — it is human nature for each of us to look out for the best interest of self. We find it easy, even if unconsciously, to ask, “What’s in it for me?”
One does not have to be an expert in motivational research to know that the above motives are inadequate for those who would invest their lives in the Service of God and others most effectively.
When examining the early church in the book of Acts, we discover what it was that made the church so effective. Just as well, we see that they did not serve purely out of love. They were human beings like us, and they served out of mingled motives rather than the pure motive of love for God and love for others.
The early church achieved one success after another in what appeared to be an impossible assignment with tremendous handicaps. The book of Acts is a thrilling success story. What were the motives of the early Christians? Can we have the same motives today? Why did the early Christians witness so faithfully?
They discovered the joy of being a bearer of good news (Acts 2:41 – 47; 5:42; 8:8). In obedience to the command of the Lord, by word of mouth, they spread the good news of his resurrection. They proclaimed God’s love for sinners and his desire to forgive sin. They could not conceal the good news that death had been defeated and that the grave had been robbed of its victory. This was such wonderful news that it brought joy to their hearts just to bear it. For them, witnessing about the saving acts of Jesus Christ was natural. Not to have done so would have been unnatural, inhuman, and unchristian for them. They received great inward joy through witnessing.
The early church recognized and responded to the authority of the crucified but risen and living Lord (Matt. 28:18b; Acts 2:36; 5:29). They believed that God had resurrected Jesus Christ from the dead and had bestowed upon him the authority of lordship. They believed that this gave Jesus the right to issue orders and to command their time, talents, testimony, and treasure.
These early Christians believed that it was right for them to obey Christ even if this obedience brought them into disfavor with both religious and civil authorities. At the risk of being imprisoned and beaten, they chose to obey the Lord.
Many of today’s Christians consider obedience as being optional. There seems to be little recognition of the present lordship of Jesus Christ. Consequently, disobedience characterizes the modern Christian more so than does obedience. Perhaps this is why the church is not effective today. Perhaps this is even why the world seems to be changing so drastically towards evil. It certainly has some effect, not only on the Christian, but on the world surrounding him as well. The motives of the Christians of the early church were a strong sense of duty, the desire to be obedient. This is the critical element that helped motivate the early church to be a faithful witness to their generation. They paid dearly for their motives, and their sacrifice made it easier on the church which was to follow. But today, there has been a moving away from what they gained in the world, and it is none more evident as it is in the USA, where everything seems to be “fundamentally changing.”
Yes, the early church suffered the shock of persecution (Acts 8:3–4). It was this persecution that scattered the early Christians, even though they were very nationalistic and felt that Christianity was a Jewish movement. They were prejudiced against Gentiles to the extent that God put forth special efforts to reveal that the Gentiles were also included in his love and purpose of redemption (Acts 10). Had it not been for the persecution that stirred up the church in Jerusalem, it is highly possible that Christianity never would have gained worldwide significance. The early Christians went everywhere preaching the Word, not because of the compulsion of compassion, but because they were scattered by persecution.
They could have given up on Christianity. They could have just quit. But, they were surrendered to the leadership of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:29; 10:19; 11:12; 13:2; 16:6). The Holy Spirit came into the church on the day of Pentecost to equip each believer to be a spokesperson for God (Acts 2:17–18). He came to lead, guide, and teach the disciples as the Lord had taught his apostles (John 14:26). The book of Acts is the dramatic account of divine initiative on the part of the Holy Spirit and human cooperation on the part of our Lord’s disciples. They lived and labored in fellowship with and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is still in the heart of each believer and in the church to carry on the work of the Lord today. We need faith to believe and accept that He is present; we need to surrender and cooperate with Him. We need to pray for His power as one of God’s best gifts (Luke 11:13).
The early church believed that all people separated from Christ were lost from God and did not know the way home (Acts 4:12). Have you ever been lost in a wilderness or desert? Were you ever lost as a child in the park or in a large department store? Can you remember the fright that filled your heart when you realized you were separated from loved ones and that you were in a position of danger? The unbelieving world knows that something is wrong, but many do not know what it is. People have a deep, unsatisfied longing in their hearts that the world, with its treasures and pleasures cannot satisfy. The Bible teaches, and experience verifies, that Jesus Christ provides the answers to the mystery and meaning of life.
The early church believed that people were lost from God and living under the condemnation of sin. They believed that humankind’s only hope of forgiveness was through faith in Jesus Christ. They believed that they had been entrusted with the good news that would make it possible for people to be saved from hell and to heaven where the deepest longings of the heart would find full satisfaction in continuing fellowship with God. Because they wanted all people to be saved, they continued to bear their witness.
It was the natural, normal, and proper thing for a Christian to talk about the joy and satisfaction of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior both in time and for eternity. Consequently, day by day and week by week in the temple, in the synagogues, on the highways and streets — anywhere and everywhere — these early disciples bore their witness. With mingled motives, they loved, they labored, and they lifted men and women toward God. May the same motives command our intellect, our emotions, and our energies in the Service of God and of a needy world.
One of the reason that we have so many pansy Christians is because people neglect the terror of the Lord. Pansy Christians are those who are too afraid to witness for Him. They are the cowards who give up at the first sign of difficulty and run for cover. In a practical sense, they can always be identified as “church shoppers.” They look for what they want instead of what God wants. God wants us to remember sin. He wants us to always have it on our mind because it is the thought of sin that brings us to God in humility; ready to accept His way, and give up the reigns of our life to Him.
2 Corinthians 5:11 says, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” It is interesting that Paul said, “knowing.” What is it that Paul knew. Well, many things I am sure, but here he is focusing on the TERROR OF THE LORD! The knowledge of that is what drove Paul to witness for God. It is that unabated terrifying side of God that caused Paul to get out of his “comfort shell” and be made “manifest” to the world as a real Christian (one who would die for the Lord Jesus Christ). He was afraid of what God could do, (and would do), when He was addressing man’s sin. Where are the Christians like that today? Are they waving their hands back and forth in a “gathering” of tee-totaling” academics? Are they standing firm? NO! They are too busy “feeling” God instead of “knowing” God. They have conveniently forgot that they will one day have to give account of their Christian life to God (Rom. 14:12). They are too busy having a “great life” while all the time they are surrounded by people who are dying and going to hell. That is no laughing matter my friend. Not at all!
Acts of compassion should be motivated by the terror of the Lord. Knowing what He can and will do if we are not obedient to Him.
I believe there is great Biblical justification for Thursday being the day of the crucifixion. It is the fifth day of the week (a number often associated with death in the Bible). It would satisfy Sunday being called “the third day since these things were done” (as in Luke 24:21). It would also allow for three days and three nights, although not necessarily 72 hours (something not necessarily is required by the statement in Matthew 12:40). The nights would be a partial day on Thursday, then all day Friday and Saturday. The nights would be Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday night. I think Thursday would satisfy the statements of all the scriptures involved.
There are those who argue that Jesus was crucified on Friday by citing that the Jews were determined that Jesus be buried before the Sabbath that followed the day of preparation (Luke 23:53-54; Matthew 27:62; Mark 15:42; John 19:31). Since the Sabbath is on Saturday, then He must have been crucified on Friday. However, two things need to be carefully noted. First, this Sabbath was after the day of preparation. This linked it to the annual feast of the Passover. The fourteenth day of the first month at even was the Lord’s Passover (Leviticus 23:5) and was a day of preparation. The next day, the fifteenth day, was the first day of the feast of unleavened bread. It was an annual Sabbath. It was called an high day–“for that Sabbath day was an high day” (John 19:31). It was not a normal Sabbath; it was one of the annual Sabbaths.
Most Bible teachers make this annual Sabbath also the weekly Sabbath, but this is not necessary. A weekly Sabbath was always on Saturday. However, an annual Sabbath could be on any day of the week. This was because an annual Sabbath was connected to a date of the year. And, just as anyone’s birthday is not always on the same day of the week, so these annual Sabbaths occurred on different days.
Where do we get the concept of annual Sabbaths? We get it from Leviticus 23, the chapter that gives the original feast days for Israel, we see some special days being called Sabbaths. “In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath” (Leviticus 23:24). Leviticus 23:39 says of the first and last days of the feast of tabernacles: “Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a Sabbath.” Therefore, the feast of trumpets and the first and last days of the eight-day feast of tabernacles are all called Sabbaths. However, these days are connected to calendar days of the year. Therefore, they will vary as to what day of the week they occur. So, they are annual and not necessarily weekly Sabbaths.
The requirement for an annual Sabbath seems to be that it is called an holy convocation and no work (“servile work”) is to be done on this days (just like the weekly Sabbath). This brings us back to the day of Passover (the 14th) and the first day of firstfruits (the 15th). The fourteenth day of the first month is not called a holy convocation. Therefore, work can be done on that day (we suppose work like crucifixion). However, though the fifteenth day of the first month is not specifically called a Sabbath, it meets the qualifications and therefore is an annual Sabbath. Of this first day of the feast of unleavened bread, the law says, “In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein” (Leviticus 23:7). No doubt, this is the Sabbath that so troubled the Jews concerning the burial of Jesus. This leaves the door open for the weekly Sabbath and the annual Sabbath to be on different days. And, since there is no possible way to get Jesus in the grave for three days and three nights between Friday and Sunday, that is clearly the correct answer.
Many people know very little about the Bible. What they do know about the Bible, they did not learn from the Bible itself. They have learned from teachers, books, radio, or other people. But, they never actually opened the Bible and learned from it. They have made their opinion about the Bible from the opinions of other men and not from the Bible itself. Many people have an opinion about the Bible, but they have not even seen a Bible. The Bible is a big book. A person can spend all of his life enjoying it. I want to help you to make an opinion about the Bible from the Bible itself and to understand it. But, mostly, I want to help you to see that it is God’s personal message to each of us.
God gave us the Bible because He wants us to know who He is. In fact, the main subject of the Bible is God. It’s not just a book of teachings about God. It is a story about history as seen from God’s point of view, from the beginning to the end. Because man is a part of history, the Bible also teaches us many things about mankind and man’s relationship with God.
When studying the Bible, you must start in the beginning and work our way it. You should start in the book of Genesis. Genesis is the first book of the Bible; thus, it is a very important book. You cannot completely understand the truths about the Bible unless you understand some things about Genesis first. If your understanding of Genesis is good, much of the rest of the Bible will easily “come into focus.”
2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”
All of the Word of God was given to us by God’s inspiration. God had the inspiration to write down a message and He used men called “prophets.” He gave them the exact message that He wanted written down. Sometimes God spoke to them out loud, sometimes in visions, and sometimes He put the message directly into their heads. Then, God caused them to write down exactly what He had said. This is where critics might just say, “Then the Bible was really written by men. So, it’s man’s ideas and not God’s.” We can know that the Bible is not man’s idea because it tells us so in 2 Peter 1:20-21 which says, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” It is God’s idea and God’s Words. It is not the private idea of any man. It is the only book in the world that is written by God Himself.
God took 1,600 years to write the Bible, and He used 40 different people to write it. But, even though God used so much time and so many people to write it, the Bible has perfect unity from beginning to end. Why? It has this unity because God is the one and true author of the Bible. If many people went to a meeting, they would all see the same meeting, but would they all have the same opinion? If we asked a person what was the most important thing that they saw in the meeting, not everyone would say the same thing. They would each have a different story to tell about the same meeting. Many different people wrote the Bible. They were not all together in one place like the people in a meeting. No! The people that God used came from very different cultures. They even came from different times. Many of them never even knew each other. But, when we read the Bible, it appears to be one story, one book. It has perfect unity. How can one book have perfect unity when so many people wrote it over a 1,600-year period of time? There is only one answer – the Bible has only one author: God!
Isaiah 43:1, 10 says, “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. 10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.”
The author of the Bible is God, that God caused men called “prophets” to write down His Word. But, how did it come to be the book that we see today? God gave us His message through the Jewish people first. In fact, all of the people that God used to write the Bible were Jewish except one. His name was Luke, and he was a Gentile. (A Gentile is anyone who is not Jewish.) God wanted the whole world to receive His message through the Jewish people. At first, God used the prophets to write down His message. These original documents wore out from use and old age. So, new copies were made. These copies were made by hand and were done very carefully. Copies were made and given to other people. They also would copy it and then give the copy to still another. Even though this was all done by hand, there are more ancient manuscripts of the Bible than any other document. These manuscripts have been found through archeology. In fact, there are many that have been found. All of these ancient manuscripts are almost exactly the same. They only differ in very small details.
The original texts of the Bible were written in one of three different languages: Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. In the time that Christ was on the earth, the scrolls (Bible) were kept in the temple. Only a few people were able to have copies of these texts. Most of the time, if the people wanted to hear them, they needed to go to the temple and listen to them being read. As time passed, God caused men to begin translating the manuscripts into other languages. Copies of these were sent from place to place for the people to read. Today, the Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book in the world.
Psalm 119:89 says, “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.”
One study of history is called archaeology. It is when people dig into the earth to find ancient information about ancient cultures. Many discoveries have proved the accuracy of the Bible. The archaeologists have found things that agree with what the Bible says, even to the smallest detail. In fact, there are thousands of discoveries that have been found that ALL support the accuracy of the Bible. There are still new things being discovered today, and each new discovery adds to the support of the Bible. This can only prove that the Bible is not man’s book; it is God’s book. Books that man has written will often change. Even history books are rewritten. But, the Bible has never changed because God, who knows everything, wrote it.
The Bible is not just another “religious” book. Many people have written books trying to tell others about God. God wrote the Bible. In it, He tells us what He is like and who He is. He tells us about Himself and about ourselves, about our relationship with Him. It is a special book that answers the questions:
- Where did I come from?
- Why am I here on this earth?
- Where am I going from here?
It is a book that answers the question about “Absolute Authority,” and who has it. It teaches us what authority is and what our relationship is to it.
Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
It is important for us to read and study the Bible because it is God’s personal message to each one of us. It is like God’s voice speaking to us, teaching us about ourselves. It is the only book in which God Himself teaches us how to live in the world today. It is the only book in which God Himself tells us what He thinks, feels, and wants us to know. God wrote it to give to each one of us: young, old, boy, girl, man, and woman.
Zechariah 8:17 “And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.”
John Lennon wrote a song saying that it was easy to imagine that there was no heaven. It is easy to imagine things that are not true because we focus on those things. Also, today’s media is very effective in encouraging us to imagine falsehood.
There is enough evil in the world to go around for everyone. There really is no need for us to imagine any more. When we do, we keep spiraling down out of control with little hope of coming to our senses unless we purpose to stop imagining evil against our neighbor.
God hates it. He hates when we imagine evil because He knows that it is our nature to follow after things that we imagine. Why not imagine good? Why not think righteous and pure thoughts?
Heaven ought to be a very wonderful place. In fact, so wonderful, that we cannot even imagine how wonderful it will be. It should be a place that not only overwhelms our senses, but out intellect as well. When I read the Book of the Revelation of John, I try to imagine all of the things that John must have been seeing that moved him to write so. When I read it, I cannot even imagine, even a little bit, what it will be like. I’m not talking about the Tribulation parts, but the description of heaven. How could anyone imagine streets made of gold (Rev. 21:21)? Where did all of that gold come from and why make streets out of it? Is it to remind us of its “stumbling block” qualities to the world (Eze. 7:19)? How can I imagine gold that is so pure it is like clear glass (Rev. 21:18)? It’s all just too wonderful for my finite mind to comprehend.
Yes, heaven ought to be a wonderful place. The smells should be too wonderful to describe. I have tried to imagine smells so wonderful and pure that my senses are so captivated that I actually want to study them; catalogue them; meditate upon them. How can they be so intense as to remove from my soul the lust for more (Rev. 18:13)? Do the smells, remind me of the prayers of the Saints, and become to me a sweet smelling savor as well (Rev. 5:8)? And, how can prayers smell good to me like they do to God? I am soon to find out what heaven smells like. I am sure that it will use the sense of smell that I am given in such a way that I have never imagined.
God has given me a wonderful sense of hearing. I love to be able to hear. I cannot imagine being deaf and I have tried, but it is just something I could never do. Similarly, I cannot imagine the sounds of heaven. I know that the sounds will be different. It won’t be like any church service I have even attended. The sounds of praise for the Lord will be the greatest that have even been uttered (Rev. 19:6), and I will be there to hear it. Perhaps it is not the sound at all, but the message that will overwhelm my senses. When that “great voice” makes it’s soothing proclamation about God being with us (Rev. 21:3), I am sure I will be overcome with joy. Such will be the joy, that I will not be able to forsake the production of tears of emotional joy (Rev. 21:4).
Yes! I can see. I have the wonderful gift of sight that God has so freely given me. Some have it not, and I have tried to imagine what life would be like to live in the absence of sight, but I cannot. Even though I have this wonderful gift, and there are many beautiful and magnificent things to behold in this life, I have never used this gift to it’s fullest. There is coming that day though. Like John, I will see the things that the Lord has for me in the future. Until that day, I like many others, wonder what it will be like to behold all things new (Rev. 21:5). I have seen “new things” before, but I have never seen “all things new.” What will it be like to see “the bride, the Lamb’s wife” (Rev. 21:9)? I cannot grasp this thought even, let alone envision it. I am sure it will be the greatest wedding ever. And, how can the great city, the holy Jerusalem be in heaven, descending? I cannot imagine it. But that is okay because, after all, who can imagine a city descending out of heaven? I am sure that my eyes will be overworked on that day.
The senses feed information to the brain for thoughts to be processed. With all of the new sights, sounds and smells, I wonder if I will have a headache trying to process it all. But, that leads me to a silly thought, what will a holy headache feel like? Or, will I have a greater capacity to process information than I even did before? I suspect that my brain will be more active, but with no greater effort; my thoughts will be clearer, more focused, more precise. How could the brain that I have now begin to embrace the information that will flood it?
Yes! Heaven must be a wonderful place. In fact, too wonderful, for a sinful saint like myself to even imagine it. I don’t think that anyone can. Not because I don’t have that ability, but because God wrote of it in His word. Because He did so, clearly tells me that He is describing what is waiting for us. When He describes it to us, there are no uses of similes to help us to identify it. So, the most wonderful part about heaven is the use of parts of the mind and the senses that we never knew existed. He we learn just how fearful and wonderfully made we actually are.
See you there.
I was pleased and overjoyed when God’s people go out on the streets preaching His Word. I know that this really makes the Devil mad. He would like nothing better than to discourage the entire church from doing anything for the Lord, AND he knows that the best time to do that is now.
It is so easy to just go to church and receive all of the blessings of God, and not really do anything to get people saved. It takes a real love for the Lord to transcend from being a “taker” being a “giver” of the blessings of God. Jesus said, “if ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). It takes a love for Jesus to do what He says and the final thing He told us to do before ascending into heaven was, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:” If we are not actively engaged in trying to get people saved, then we are not following His commandment, and our love for Him should come under evaluation to see if it is appropriate.
I know that it encourages me to see others love the Lord so much so that they are really out there on the front lines doing something for Him. Likewise, I know that it discourages me to see people doing nothing for the Lord. I know one may say, “Well, I teach a Sunday school class. Isn’t that doing something for the Lord?” True, it is doing something for the Lord, but is it doing what He has commanded all Christians to do? Is it what He wrote down in His Word? Another might say, “Well, I have a family so I know that I already have a ministry; my first ministry is to my family and If I don’t take care of them, I am worse than an infidel. Isn’t that doing something for the Lord?” True, it is doing something for the Lord and He has made that clear in His Word that we are to take care of our family, but is that doing what he commanded regarding getting people saved?
I know that it is easy to get distracted with the cares and burdens of life. There is always something to do; some sickness to deal with; some appointment to keep. All of these things are necessary, but we must be careful to not get out of balance and one day find out we have replaced them for the endeavor of getting people saved. Why? Because people are watching.
Everyone is watching our lives to see how a Christian is supposed to act; what they are supposed to be doing. Our children are scrutinizing our life and learning by our actions how they are to approach living for the Lord. For example: are they learning that going to church is something you show up “just on time” for, or even show up late? Do they see you show up late for work? For appointments with the world? This is not to say that such things are not important, but what message are they getting when they compare those things of the world you are involved in with your relationship to God’s things? Do they see you staying up all night to prepare for work, but “throwing together” something to teach in the House of the Living God? What message do we think they might get? Perhaps you are more vocal and straightforward with your attack upon God’s work by gossiping; running down the church or badmouthing the preacher or other Christians with your mouth (James 1:26; 3:5, 6, 8). You are not doing anything to help God’s cause. You are intentionally hurting God’s cause and discouraging your brothers and sisters as well. Jesus said, “He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth” (Luke 11:23). I would certainly not want to find myself in that situation. If I did, I would repent of that quickly.
It has been said that we cannot see the forest for the trees, likewise we cannot really see what message we are portraying by our actions because we are too close to the situation. But, others are seeing the situation of our “life message” from a much greater vantage point. They can “see the forest.”
Doing wrong things certainly preaches a message about how we really feel about something, but there is something more damaging: that is when we don’t do something right. Usually people think that: “if I just don’t do anything to hurt the cause, then I will be okay.” But, this is not true.
Doing something you choose to do can be even more destructive than doing nothing at all, for it may border on the line of hypocritical. That is to say, people may think that you are doing just fine, when all the time you are still not doing what the Lord commanded. You certainly don’t look like you are against the Lord, you look like you are doing what God said when all the time you are doing nothing. The message this preaches is: “How to look like you are doing what you should be doing, but not do it.” The Christian who is not doing anything to witness or get people saved, is undermining the Lord’s work because of his/her inconsistency. If they were actively witnessing (passing out tracts, holding signs, coming to visitation, etc), they would be inspiring and teaching others how a New Testament Saint is supposed to be acting. This is very important, especially in this Laodicean age in which the entire world is void of true gospel witnesses.
Maybe it has been so long since you passed out a tract that you have become frightened. Most people reason this down to one of the most popular lies of the Devil: “I don’t want to offend anyone.” How offended do you think they would feel at the Great White Throne Judgment being dragged away by the angels to be thrown into the Lake of fire as you watch on, knowing that you could have at least done something to give them a chance. I know I would wish you did something for me. In fact, I am glad that someone did do something for me.
Sometimes the Devil convinces us that we just need to wait for the right moment; the right opportunity. This is such a damaging lie that it is not even worth contemplating for the Child of God who loves His father. God said, “…now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2). Today is the day to tell someone about Jesus. Now is the time to say something to your friend.
Instead of offending somebody, we should be thinking about offending the Lord. He certainly would think highly of us if we were at least trying to get someone saved. Inversely, how do you think He feels about us when we are doing nothing? How will we really be able to stand before Him one day and give accounting for why we didn’t do what we were supposed to do? Will it not be a question of love?
I know that most people feel inside that they would like to do something for the Lord. In fact, they know that they should be witnessing, but they just don’t do it. It becomes like so many “ruts” we experience in our lives when we get to that stage. I would like to say I sympathize, but I really cannot, because I don’t want to endorse not doing what we should be doing. Like giving advice to a smoker who is trying to quit; I don’t really want to tell them “its okay” because I don’t want them to give up trying.
So, while the Devil gets mad and tries to keep us in our “rut,” the only way out is to “JUST DO IT!” The only way to change this situation is to just begin witnessing. You can write a letter to a stranger, send them a tract, give a word of testimony outside the church, or hold up a Scripture sign. There are many ways to “get onboard.” Best of all is to come to the visitation time on Saturday mornings, even if it is just for a little bit. You know there is strength in numbers, and if kids can do it, then we can too. I’ll be there, and for your own spiritual health, I pray you will be there too!
“(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” (2 Corinthians 10:4)
Someone said, “Christianity is all in your mind.” There is much truth in that statement. The mind is primarily responsible for growth in the Christian life. Let us notice what the Scriptures say about your mind:
GOD KNOWS ALL YOUR THOUGHTS
Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
God is keenly interested not only in our actions but also in our thoughts. It is estimated that you have 10,000 thoughts a day. To God, your mind is a window without curtains.
YOUR CHRISTIAN BATTLEFIELD IS YOUR MIND
The world, the flesh and the devil fight for your mind.
- Romans 8:7, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
- Colossians 1:21, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled”
- Hebrews 12:3, “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”
Man is a very complex creation. Have you ever seen a suicidal puppy or a depressed canary? You say, “What makes thoughts so difficult to control?” Secrecy and the absence of restraint. A parent can control a child’s actions but not his thoughts. God is very interested in our thoughts because thoughts produce actions. God destroyed the world by flood because man had unrestrained thoughts.
Genesis 6:5, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
In Romans 1:28 God speaks of the reprobate (rejected) mind in the downward progression of a civilization.
In Romans 7:25 Paul says: “…with the mind I myself serve the law of God;…”
The mind is the control room or computer of the Christian life. The control room must be guarded. Lot never guarded his mind.
2 Peter 2:8, “(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)”
SEEING AND HEARING
When the mind is right, the actions are right. YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU THINK YOU ARE, BUT WHAT YOU THINK–YOU ARE! (Read that over until it sinks in.)
Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”
In order for a Christian to alter his behavior, the thinking must be changed! You must plan and guide what enters your mind. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. That is one of the things wrong with hypnosis, drugs, and liquor. They put the mind in neutral so the devil can jump into the driver’s seat. Keep a busy mind! Do you know one reason God destroyed Sodom?
Ezekiel 16:49, “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”
Idleness was a cause.
Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to say: “Behind every human tragedy there is a slow process of evil, wicked thinking.” No one ever falls into sin. They have been falling a long time. We only saw them when they landed. Sin began in their thoughts.
Sir Francis Bacon was asked what he thought the outlook was for the next generation. He declared, “Tell me what the young people are thinking and I’ll tell you.”
THOUGHTS produce ACTIONS
ACTIONS produce HABITS
HABITS produce LIFE-STYLES
What you put into the computer comes out. Put in 48 hours of television a week and you’ll have someone who acts, talks, and thinks like television personalities. Put in 30 hours of rebellious radio music per week and you’ll have someone who has philosophies and rebellion like the groups he hears. What have you been programming into your computer?
True, you can’t help but have some evil thoughts cross your mind from time to time, but do you entertain them? Someone said if you nurse sin on the knees of thought it will grow into a giant. You will never regulate your passions until you regulate your thought life.
TRANSFORMING YOUR THOUGHTS
Romans 12:1-2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 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.”
A transformation is an inward change that produces an outward change. A biologist cannot change a caterpillar into a butterfly-it has to come from the inside. So it is in the Christian life. Worry and depression are not solved by psychiatrists, but by thinking what God wants us to.
Isaiah 26:3, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”
In Philippians 4:8, God gives us a list of things to occupy our thoughts: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Sad to say, the average mind is like a toilet. To keep it clean, it needs constant flushing with godly thoughts, much prayer, much Scripture, and much grace.
THE THREE MINDS
There are three types of minds mentioned in Scripture. You have one of them. There is the natural mind, the carnal mind, and the spiritual mind.
NATURAL MIND — UNSAVED
1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
This is a non-Christian. He has no spiritual appetite for the things of God. He cannot comprehend spiritual truth. He is dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1). He may be outwardly religious and morally clean but cannot comprehend the Christian life. His thoughts will be what is right in his own eyes, situation ethics, humanism. The natural mind thinks whatever comes natural to a lost person.
CARNAL MIND — WORLDLY CHRISTIAN
Romans 8:7, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
Carnal means “of the flesh.” The carnal mind is a saved person who lives for the flesh. The church at Corinth was full of carnal Christians. Paul called them babies. He said they could only swallow the milk of the Word. They had to be taught when they should have been teaching. They were cliquish, immature, divisive, and easily offended.
The Christian with a carnal mind is not satisfied in Christ alone. He chases after things, amusements, and delights rather than in the things of God. He is quarrelsome, touchy, and often is the source of chruch problems. He has feeble digestion and cannot get his own food spiritually. Deep Scriptures do not interest him. There is very little difference, if any, between the natural man and the carnal minded man.
The lost see no difference and have no conviction when around a carnally minded Christian. The carnal mind needs to get right with God, be serious, and fill itself with scriptures! (See also 1 Corinthians 3:1-4; Romans 7:14-15; James 4:4.)
SPIRITUAL MIND-SPIRITUAL CHRISTIAN
1 Corinthians 2:15, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.”
This is the Christian who is filled with the Holy Spirit and has a mind full of Scriptures. He is mature, has understanding of spiritual things, has the ability to teach other Bible truths, and is fruitful. He has the mind of Christ.
Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:”
If you think the thoughts Jesus did, you will live the way Jesus did. To do that we must think Scriptures—meditate upon them. Because of that, our minds will be going forward, will not be in neutral and will not have a chance to go backward (backslide). The spiritual minded man needs to make sure he does not get satisfied. (See also Hebrews 5:12, 14; 1 Corinthians 3:3; Galatians 5:22-23.)
LET US NOT BECOME SATISFIED!
SOURCES: Things I’ve Learned by Bob Jones, Sr.; The Battle for the Mind, Catlay
Does your young person feel like they don’t need God? I didn’t say church. I said, “GOD!” If you need God, then you know that you need church and you attend every chance you get.
Recently I have been asked why young people don’t go to church. Because churches seem to be filled with older people, the question is, “why are there not more younger people in church, and how do we reach this demographic?”
I have contemplated this question for a long time. Because I have been posed this question, I have begun thinking of it all over again. However, I don’t think that this question should be posed to this one group. It seems to me that all groups are affected, and there has been a broad moving away from church attendance.
I know that the mind, being quick to solve problems, will run the gamut of possible answers. We could site: The last days, The influence of the Devil and the world, the media, Exaltation of fantasy, The impact of socialistic programs, removal of the Bible from schools, etc. etc. All of these certainly contribute to the problem. But if you take a closer look back through history, most of these influences have been present for a very long time. The first century Christians lived in a time when similar things like these were present and they even had to deal with persecution unto death as well. Can you imagine where American Christianity would be today if present day Christians were killed for their faith? I dare say that the church would shrink to just a remnant. Very few American Christians today would be willing to actually die for their faith. Oh, I know that they might SAY they were willing to die for Jesus, but if it came right down to it, I don’t believe that many would actually do so. Why? Because the church today has been diluted with weak anemic Christians who are mostly apathetic regarding church because they don’t need God. They want to be entertained for their “buck;” or even worse, they want to be entertained for free. Any pastor that cannot meet this criteria can just be discarded because they can just move on to another church that can entertain. Christians today are looking for a program instead of God.
I think that the root reason that people in the USA today do not need the church is because they don’t need GOD. They see no need for God in their life. They cannot see any benefit for them by coming to God. If they ever get to the place where they finally do see what God can do for them, only then are they willing to approach Him. Otherwise, they keep Him at arms distance. I say this because time and time again, when people are in trouble; when things are not going well in their life, they suddenly need God. Then they come to church. Then they want the preacher to give them the magic pill that will make all of their problems go away. If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you know what I am talking about. Even those whom we would call “faithful saints” act the same way: They do not see any value to them by coming to, or supporting their church. They don’t need God, so they don’t need church. But when they need God, Oh, they are so drawn to church. Think about it.
So, I believe that the better question to be answered is: “How do we show people the value of having God in their life?” If people saw that it was valuable to them to have God in their life, then they would be in church, because God values church. Today, people value other things. It is not difficult to find something to value because the world has a never ending list of entertainment for people to value. All of it fun and valuable. Not many of the young culture value hard work, because they see no importance for it and have too many other distractions, each competing for a little piece of their minds. But when they suddenly need money to live, then they see the value of hard work and sweat. So the answer to the question should be associated with what people value and how to show the importance of it (easier said than done).
I believe the answer to this undaunting question lies in the area of relationship. Everybody recognizes the value of a relationship in some form or another. Once children see that they have to navigate this world on their own, the see the value of the relationship between the parents and themselves; they see how valuable it was for mom and dad to take care of everything for them. When there is a loss of a loved one, you immediately see the value of that relationship that you once had. So, if a person could be introduced to the value of a relationship with God (Gen. 2:18), then they would be interested in God, and therefore, church. But relationships too, have come under attack.
In the world today, there is a big attack upon relationships. Everybody can DIY (Do It Yourself). More and more, people are being deceived into thinking that they don’t need anybody. There are mom’s taking “momcations,” dads working long hours, and all of the overtime they can get, parents cut out of children’s lives and grandchildren growing up without really knowing their grandparents. Self-serve, Self-check out, Drive thru, ATM’s, mail order, Texting, cell phones, email, Home shopping network and Social Media (i.e. facebook), all contribute to the relationship problem. They are all attempts by the Devil to eradicate basic and necessary relationships from our life. Today we:
- Have, “friends” whom we have never even met face to face. These are our cyber friends who only tell us what they want us to know about them. We know this to be true because we only tell them the things we want them to know about ourselves. We’re not going to paint a bad picture about ourselves. We steer away from reality.
- Say things that we do not mean. People are much more bold from behind a computer or cell phone keyboard. We punch in, and send before we really think about it. We say things that we would not normally say to someone’s face.
- Do things that we would not normally do. We take photos of ourselves and only send off the good ones. At times, there are people who send inappropriate photos of themselves (or others) when they would never have done that in person.
All of these things would not be done if we valued the relationship with that person.
The fundamental relationship that exists on earth is that of the family. Everybody knows that the attack on the family has been going on for a long time. It is only successful because it has been relentless. The result is that not many young people of today see any value in their family relationships. I believe the way we fight back on this is to: “meet fire with fire.” Because the attack on the family is relentless, our tactic on preserving the family should be equally relentless. We do not need to take the role of “closet dwellers” yet. We are still free to voice our opinions.
The way that this untoward situation has “crept” up on us is because “grass roots” Christians have kept their faith in God under the rug. When the world demeans Christianity, we too should speak up and say something. When they promote “homosexuality”, we too should promote family. The open forum does not belong to them. When Christians do not speak, and act upon their faith openly, they give the platform to the enemy for the destruction of relationships, and show the younger generation the value we place on it. They are watching and looking for something real. If “grass roots” Christians, throughout their daily lives, do not speak up and “live” their relationship with Christ, they ultimately show that they don’t value it very much. If all they do is speak of Christ in their house or at church or amongst other known believers, they show that they don’t need God very much.
Herein is the answer to the question. Christians must not be ashamed of Jesus outside of the secure walls of any known Christian environment. In other words–practice what you believe in; when you value it, others will learn how to value it as well. If you don’t need God, then the younger generation will not need God as well. If you show a life that is walking with a need for God, then they will need God too! ~Pastor Coale
The relationship with Christ is the most important relationship any person can enter into. It is more important than the one that you can have with your spouse or your children. It is more important than the one you can have with your parents or grand-parents (Luke 14:26). Lets face it, who can be more important than God?
There are scores upon scores of “Christians” who do not believe this. Most of these instances can be attributed to their ignorance of the person of God. Most people get saved because they want to escape hell. When confronted with the reality of their sin, and their destination, they quickly want to do something about it. When they learn that all they have to do is accept a “free gift”, they quickly scoop it up, being ignorant of everything else. As long as they get saved, that is enough. What they don’t realize, what they are not taught, is they have begun a wonderful journey in their relationship with God: they are now a “son of God” (John 1:12). But, you never see them studying their Bible, learning from some other grounded Christian or growing in the Lord. Not only does Satan like to get them side-lined, but Christians never follow up on them to wisely guide them around the many pitfalls of life that are awaiting them. And, there are many like this.
It is sad to think that there are many “sons of God” wandering around lost in their relationship with Him. If they could just get some direction, then God could do something in their life that would profit them. Some even think they are growing when they are not. The Devil might have them growing in the social activities of the community or even the church, but not in their relationship with the Lord. This is why it burdens my heart to see people so “off” and “on” about church attendance or Group Bible Study. I know that if they could just keep coming long enough, or often enough, then they will begin to see the secrets of the universe revealed within the pages of God’s Word. They will develop a curiosity for the things of God; a hunger and thirst for the WORD. This too, I have seen many times and it has not been without a perplexing of the mind.
In foreign countries (I have visited 16 of them) people seem to have more of a hunger for God’s Word. This seems to be more prevalent in communist countries. It is a pleasure to see them grow in the Lord. It doesn’t take long before the answers of life begin to reveal themself. Then they become most curious. They want to know more and more. Things begin to connect. They are able to answer their own questions from the Bible, because they have a foundation built into their life that cannot be broken up.
It doesn’t seem to be this way in the USA though. I don’t know why. Perhaps it is a familiarity with what people THINK Christianity is supposed to be all about. I am guessing that is where the answer lies. There is no way to change this except getting people into their Bibles and hoping they stay in it long enough to get hooked. If they do, they will learn what the Bible says instead of what man says.
The Bible teaches that we have a relationship with God. He is our Father and we are His children. We belong to a family of believers, and it is difficult for any family when there are prodigals in it. It tears at the heart of a family when one member turns away from God.
What can we do to prevent this? We must emphasis we are all a part of a family, even before someone gets saved, else I fear that we have just put another name in our Bibles; chalked another one up for our self; another notch in our cane. Winning souls is not a competition. It is just as important to disciple someone than it is to lead them to the Lord. God does not hand out winning lottery tickets to the one who leads the most people to Christ. We are showing people the right way of life. What good may a salvation be that does not change a persons life? We are commanded to “teach them ALL THINGS whatsoever I command you.” (Matt. 28:29). One may argue, “Well, at least they are saved.” This may not be good enough to really help a person develop for Christ.
How many families have a baby and put the baby in the crib and never check on them again? I don’t know of even one family that has done such a thing like that. It would certainly be cruel or abusive. What chance does that baby have of growing up to be a strong man or woman? How would they even survive a few days in such a predicament? NO! We take care of babies. We feed them and teach them for many years until they are able to stand on their own, and this they do gradually.
New born “sons of God” are in this same situation. They need nourishment. They need instruction. They need to develop their muscles and learn to walk on their own. I feel that we often don’t see it this way because they look like a mature human being, and this is true, but they are a new born babe in Christ.
How do we teach them? How do we nurture them if we are not confident in ourselves to teach them the things of the Lord? The answer is to bring them to church. This way they can be in an environment centered on learning about God. Encourage them to be at church; taking advantage of every opportunity to learn. It is vital to their growth.
You can’t give a baby a book and say, “Here you are. Grow up.” They need to be in an environment where they can see how to apply the things they learn out of the Book. They need to have fellowship with others in the church to stretch them and strengthen them. Just like you want your growing child to have supervised association with others for their growth’s sake, new born babes in Christ need the same thing. This is why they need to “rub elbows with” others in the church.
Another very important item is for them to be faithful in learning about the Lord, you must be as well. They will take the things they learn, then look at your life to see how to apply them to their life. SO, you must be a good example.
Yes! Souls need to be saved. But they need to be made aware of their family ties. They need to be introduced to the family so the family can take care of its own. The Lord has placed them into a wonderful part of the body of Christ. Their great adventure awaits them. We must hold them and hug them.
Attitude makes the difference. You CAN memorize. You have memorized names, dates, addresses and phone numbers. In learning verses you have the help of the Holy Spirit to “guide you into all truth.” You “can do all things through Christ, which strengthens you” (Phil 4:13). He will empower you to learn as you ask Him
Now begin in this manner. After a verse is selected, read it in the Bible in context. Reading the chapter around the verse is best. It helps you understand the verse meaning. Read the verse thoughtfully several times aloud. Then begin learning the verse in this order: say the topic, then the verse reference, then the first phrase of the verse. Stop at the first punctuation mark if you like; repeat the verse reference again. Then start over; topic, reference, phrase, reference. ALWAYS beginning at the first, then adding a few more words, ending with the reference; “bit by bit” until you have the whole verse learned.
REVIEW it during the day; use spare moments. Say it at meals, when traveling, before you sleep; ask someone to check you. Visualize yourself in the verse. Repeat it daily with reference for 60 days. Use it in the ministry, or review weekly thereafter.
Pray the verse back to God. Then meditate on each verse you learn. Ask God for an experience with the verse in your life. Each verse contains something for you to know, stop doing, begin doing or share with others. The ultimate purpose through the verse is to identify with Christ in His will, know Him better and multiply His glory.
Ephesians 6:11-17 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For 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. 13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
God has a specific manner in which He would have the Christian dress to successfully navigate his earthly pilgrimage. It is not a set of lounging pajamas, nor is it a “dress for success” in the world outfit. It is not a set of rugged work clothes or rain gear. It is called the whole armour of God, and many Christians forget that it is available to them.
Every Christian is to grow up to be a warrior for Christ. As warrior, we must be prepared to defend against the many assaults of the world. Likewise, we should be prepared to attack the influences of evil wherever it reveals itself. When God tells us to “STAND”, He means that we are to “defend the faith once delivered to the saints.” From the very beginning, Christianity has been attacked. False teachers have “crept in unawares” for the purpose of “modernizing” (changing) the way Christ wanted the church to be. There has been a constant bombardment to make the church something appealing to man, taking it farther and farther from the truth. This we must not allow. WE MUST STAND FAST!
Not only are we to stand, but wherever we see one of our enemies: the world, the flesh or the devil, we are to go on the offensive. We must not let them destroy our lives, families, churches, communities or the Bible. We are to do what we can to fight the enemy away. Our Captain, as well as other Christians are in the fight. We too must get prepared and get into it as well. David fought Goliath, Samson with the Philistines, Gideon with the Midianites, and Nehemiah with Sanballat and Tobiah. They didn’t just defend their ground, they took up the offensive against the enemy.
We must be on the watch constantly; watching and praying that we enter not into temptation (Matt. 26:41). Our nature is that we are very willing in mind to do something for the Lord, but our old flesh is not. Self agrees to allow the tongue to say, “I’ll do it” when the brain sends that thought on. But when it comes time, Self always betrays us, turning us into a hypocrite. Then we feel defeated and hesitate to “show our face” again. This is one tactic for getting us out of the battle. To deal with this we must ask the Lord to “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” We can ask Him to guide our steps to avoid the pitfalls of temptations that we would have come into contact with unless He does. And if we do not follow His guidance, and come in contact with a temptation anyway, we can ask Him to warn us and give wisdom so we can run from it as quick as we can (note: When you run from something, you are running to something as well–Run to the Bible).
Now there are special times when many Christians are destroyed by temptations because they let down their guard. Some of these times are: summer vacation, holidays, times of sickness and times of success. During these times Christians are most vulnerable to attack. When we are out of schedule or not feeling well, we tend to let our guard down. I have many times seen Christians in church and at the altar during times of trial or tribulation in their life. But, when the Lord allows them a successful outcome, they start to slip in attendance, tithing and involvement. They become prideful and comfortable and it seems like the don’t need God anymore because they can now handle things on their own. I often wonder if the Lord allows for trouble in our lives because He knows that is what we need to drive us to church to hear His word.
The Lord Jesus Christ was our example. His life was not a life of ease and comfort. He had spiritual battles, too. In fact, He was tempted in all points such as we are and even some that we are not. He was tempted by the Devil in ways that we will never be tempted. When He was on the cross, some of His own people tempted Him to come down and prove Himself, but He continued His fight to pay for the sin of the world. We too need to recognize there is a battle which rages around us and we must fight; defend our ground as well as attack where needed.
Spiritual warfare often surprises many Christians because they are not looking for it. Like the American fleet at Pearl Harbor that fateful day, they know they are in a war, but are relaxed because they don’t think the battle can come to them. We need to be armed, trained and ready for the imminent attack of the enemy. He is a hardened veteran with many years of battle experience. He never relaxes, never takes a day off, never regroups. He is deadly and dangerous to the life of a Christian. So, we must always be prepared to fight him on any ground. We must always be vigilant and the first step is to recognize there is a war, and that we are in it.
Some people try to equip themselves with “enlightenment,” or the “power of positive thinking” or “love.” Whether it is meditation, yoga, or even putting your head in the sand, none of these are God’s appointed formula for equipping yourself for the battle. There is no other armour sufficient to take the place of God’s armour. His armour provides the protection that is needed and we must use every piece of it. No part of our life can be exposed else the armour would not have its designed effect. We must put on the “whole armour of God.” If one part is missing, then we are exposed. If we use all of God’s armour, but decide to exchange one piece of it for something else, then we are exposed and the whole suit is useless. His armour is properly designed to work together as an entire suit for dealing with the battle the Christian is in.
This girdle or belt ties all the other armour together. It keeps the robe from tangling. The meaning of “truth” in this passage is sincerity, transparency, or realness. The Scripture mentions the “unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Realness, sincerity, or transparency sets us free from being a fake. It frees us from the “fear of man” or peer pressure. God hates hypocrisy. The word hypocrite means “actor” or “one who wears a mask.” The first piece of armour is sincerity, realness or transparency. Being real keeps us from many of the attacks of the enemy.
The root word of righteousness is “right,” as in being right with someone. The breastplate guards the most vital organ–the heart. Right living guards our heart from wrong emotions and temptations. The habit of right living is a defense against wrong. We are to be militant—“zealous of good works.” Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
A wise general looks after his soldiers’ shoes. If they wear out, the troops cannot travel. The roads are rough! Footprints of peace are to be left by Christian soldiers everywhere they go. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9). Romans 10:15, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” We are to leave peace wherever we go and bring peace between God and man as we witness. Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Prayer keeps our mind at peace. Prayer keeps our footing firm. God gave us feet so we could spread the gospel. Let’s use them for Him!
The Roman shield was about as big as a door. It protected the entire body. They could even be hooked to other shields to form a wall. Some even poured water on their shields to quench fiery darts. In the Old Testament, God told Abraham that He would be his shield and strength. Our shield of faith comes from Bible reading. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Faith makes us grow. Faith protects us from heresy. Faith entices us to claim God’s promises. Faith is believing God’s word to the point of putting it to the test.
The helmet is the most elaborately designed piece of armour, and it is beautiful. It is a picture of ASSURANCE OF SALVATION. A Christian who has doubts about whether he is saved or not will not win many battles for God. The helmet also guards the mind. We are to guard what thoughts we allow to enter our mind. Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
The word of God is the Holy Spirit weapon in our hand. It is the same weapon Jesus used against the devil in Matthew 4:1-8 where he constantly said, “It is written…” Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” The sword is for close confrontation after arrows had been shot and spears thrown. The sword was double edged. Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Carry it wherever you go! Don’t be caught without your weapon!
Just as a soldier dresses before battle, so should a Christian put on his armour each morning. As you put your belt on in the morning, ask God to make you sincere. Determine in your heart to be truthful with yourself and with others. As you put on your shirt or blouse for the day, determine to live right. Ask God to help you in areas of weakness. Guard your heart for the day. Watch your emotions. Love the Lord with all your heart. Tell Him so! As you put your shoes on, ask God to make you a peacemaker. Ask Him to give you power as you look for opportunities to witness for Christ. Put your Bible in your clothing or purse to have it with you all day. Find Scripture to meditate on all day! As you comb your hair, reminisce about the day you were saved. Praise God for it. Guard your thoughts. Begin your day with a song to keep depression away.
Before you leave the house for the day, remember you are a soldier. There is a warfare to face. Do not be surprised or discouraged over problems during the day! Put on the whole armour of God and be prepared.