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Luke 14:25-33 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
The Christian life is pictured in the Bible as a race to run; a course to finish. The Apostle Paul was determined not only finish his course, but to do it with joy (Acts 20:24). This is exactly what he did. Shortly before his death, he gave this testimony: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2Timothy 4:7). He finished his course. Each of us needs to be aware that God has a course for us, and He wants us to carry it out to the end; He wants us to finish our course.
Gods plan for each of us is specific to us. No one else can carry it out for us. It is ours. However, He will help us find and complete that plan. Still, many Christians never even find their plan, let alone finish it. In fact, they hardly even try.
The passage above speaks of one who intends to build a tower. Building this tower is like running a race and finishing a course. Yet, because of many pitfalls, the tower may never get built. By looking at the necessary ingredients for building this tower, we can see how to succeed as well as learn why so many people fail.
God wants us to finish our course
The first requirement of those who would build a tower is that they must be “intending to build” (vs. 28). If they do not at least intend to build, then nothing else can be accomplished. To “intend” means to “have in mind as a purpose.” When we intend to finish our course our vision of the race goes well beyond the starting line. It also allows a view of the finish line, or in this case, the placing of the final brick. Granted, the way to the end may not be understood but a vision of accomplishment is formed. You cannot go someplace if you don’t know where it it.
This intention or vision is also spoken of as our “purpose.” In 2 Timothy 3:10, Paul told Timothy, “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience.” Probably the greatest number of Christians fail to finish their course because they have no purpose in their lives. Or, their purpose has been skewed by the Devil or self. So, we must have the right purpose.
It Must Be For God: We cannot finish our course by living our life for self. We must lose the life we want to live for the sake of Jesus Christ. Luke 9:24 says, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” Jeremiah told the scribe Baruch, “And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not…” (Jer. 45:5). We must seek great things for the Lord. Jesus told His disciples, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.” (Luke 22:25-26)
It Must Be From God: Many Christians try to serve God on their own terms. They choose what they want to do for the Lord and then expect Him to support them in their labors. But this will not work. It is not enough to be doing something for the Lord. The mission has to be the one He has given us. When Saul got saved, he began his Christian life by asking, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). As with Paul, we too must seriously asked the Lord what He would have us to do. Paul, when praying for the Colossians, asked the Lord that they “might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9). In other words, to know and understand the course He had planned for them. Caleb claimed the promise of God when he said, “Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day” (Joshua 14:12). But note that he claimed only what God had already promised him.
To finish our course we must find God’s purpose for us and follow after that purpose. God may not tell us everything at once. He will at least give us a starting direction and will always show we the next step to take. But we need more than a purpose.
We need a plan: Good intentions are cheap. In fact, without some action behind them, they are worthless. But before we can act, we must know where we are going. Our passage in Luke tells about the builder who sits down before he begins to build and “counteth the cost” (vs. 28). That is what we do when we establish a plan and determine if we are willing to give the necessary effort to accomplish our purpose.
Why Do we Need a Plan? We need a plan to discover God’s way of accomplishing the purpose. He must be the source of the purpose and the plan as well. We seek His face through prayer and meditation and wait for Him to give us a plan. Proverbs 3:5-6 teaches us to, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
We need a plan to discover God’s timing. God’s timing is beautiful (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and He will make all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). But our timing may destroy the entire purpose and will certainly cause unnecessary delays and detours. We need God’s timing in order to determine several things:
- When to begin action.
- What steps to take.
- What our priorities are.
- What can be left for later.
How Do We Get This Plan? We seek God’s direction through prayer. Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” If we seek God’s answer and wait for it, He will let us know what He wants us to do.
We develop the plan through meditation. The virtuous woman “considereth a field, and buyeth it” (Proverbs 31:16). God can and will work through our thought processes if we are submitted to Him. This is why Bible reading coupled with meditation upon His word is so important.
We gain wisdom through counsel. Others may counsel us personally or we may find help through published materials that can help us. God uses all of these ways. Proverbs 11:14 – “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”
Planning is crucial to finishing our course. But there are people who have spent their life making one plan after another and yet have accomplished very little. Planning must be coupled with action.
In Luke, the builder of the tower must get to the point where he has “laid the foundation” (14:29). For Christians to accomplish their purpose for the Lord, they must lay a solid foundation. Jesus told a story about two men who built houses (Matthew 7:24-27). He does not mention any difference in floor plan, or size, or exterior covering. He only mentions one difference: the foundation on which the houses were built. One was built on the sand and the other on the rock and when the storms came, only the house with the firm foundation stood. The type of foundations also told us something about the men who built the houses. The man who built on the rock was called a wise man. The one who built on sand was called a fool. What kind of builder are we?
The Baptist preacher and teacher, B. H. Carroll (1843-1914), said, “Only prepared men accomplish great things. And the greater the preparation, the less need for long time to do great things.”
Prepare For the Work: Proverbs 24:27 states, “Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.” Picture someone in early America who is homesteading in a new land. What is most important? Should they build a nice house first? Of course not! To make our work fit in the field would be to prepare for defense against any hostile Indians and to make sure that the crops get planted in time for harvest. A house is no good if we are killed or if we have no food to eat.
Many people want to put the cart before the horse in Christian service. Paul spoke of those who were, “desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm” (Titus 1:7). There are people who want to teach but do not want to do the study or get the training necessary to be a good teacher.
Any significant work for the Lord requires some form of preparation. More and more people want to skip this step. For us, it may mean BibleCollege or some special form of training. It may mean working under someone for several years and learning from them. It may mean getting our financial house in order. But, if we are ever to finish, our course, we must prepare.
Prepare for the Winter: Proverbs tells us that the ants are wise because “they prepare their meat in the summer” (Proverbs 30:25). They use summer as a window of opportunity to gather food so that when the winter comes and there is not food to gather, they can live off that which is in store. Preparation means that we use opportunities and do things at the best time to do them. If our purpose requires some form of learning that is easier to obtain before marriage, then we need to make a choice between the two. Attending school later may be necessary, but timing is important. We often want to skip the dull stuff but the dull stuff is often the key to success.
Okay, so we have discovered God’s purpose for our life. We have made plans and have laid the foundation through preparation. Now what? Now…it is time to push!
We Must Push with All our Might: The main thrust of our passage is that someone wants “to build a tower” (Luke 14:28). To build a tower we must do the work of a builder. We must put forth the effort. We must push. A worthy purpose requires a working servant. Many Christians fail to finish their course because they are lazy; they have no push. Solomon admonishes us, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Paul tells the Colossian servants, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (3:23). Doing a work for the Lord takes all we have…and then some. Are we working as if for the Lord?
We must be Persistant (vs. 29, 30): Yet, to finish the tower, one thing yet is needed. The builder must be “able to finish.” Some men start many things but finish none. Paul finished his course. Will we finish ours? Is so, we must refuse to faint (Proverbs 24:10; Galatians 6:9). We must finish by faith (Hebrews 12:1-3; 1Corinthians 15:58).
We have been looking at the Christian life as one in which we build a tower or finish a course. Another picture used in the Bible is that of sowing and reaping (Psalm 126:5-6). In order to reap, we must work the land, sow the seed, care for the plants and refuse to quit. God promises that those who refuse to faint will eventually, in due season, reap the harvest (Galatians 6:9). What would it take for us to fail? Why not just keep on going on for the sake of the Lord?
He who created sexual desires and who redeemed them from being only powerful lusts of the flesh is also gracious in providing us a way of escape from the guilt and tyranny of lust. There is hope for those who have already violated God’s pure gift of virginity. There is hope for those who desire to maintain the gift of purity which God gave them. There is hope for those who feel that the power of sex is out of control in their lives.
This comforting hope of Divine healing is not for all. It is only for those with heartfelt sorrow and for those with an earnest desire to do God’s will.
First, God’s healing is the power of His sovereign grace to remove the guilt of sin. Grace is the power which delivers from the filth of our sinful flesh. We may not be able to get our virginity back (even as we cannot remove a hole after pulling out the nail), but we receive God’s gracious forgiveness. Immorality is not a sin which cannot be forgiven. Sexual sins and temptations are to be treated as all other sins and temptations – they are to be confessed, repented of, and forsaken. The prayer for God’s forgiveness and for God’s grace to walk in holiness must be lifted up to Him. Then there may be the assurance of His gracious forgiveness. And He forgives completely. When He forgives, the sin is gone forever, never again to be brought against the sinner. As ugly as the sin is, forgiveness is more beautiful, and grace makes us beautiful before God.
We cannot retrieve our virginity, but we can retrieve our chastity and our purity before God. When God forgives, then He gives us a perfect righteousness. It is as if we had never sinned. It is as if we only did every thing right. Therefore we hide ourselves under the wings of the righteousness and holiness which Jesus earned for us and which God imputes and imparts to us. Then we may be sure that we stand before God in pure, white robes, and we are called “Holy unto the Lord.” Virginity is a precious gift, but an even more precious gift is forgiveness.
Secondly, the Spirit of Christ brings, with complete forgiveness and perfect righteousness, the healing power of deliverance from sin’s power along with the spiritual gift of self-control (called “temperance” in Galatians 5:23). Sexual energies and desires, no matter how strong, are controllable. As powerful as they may be, they can be controlled, for the power that is for us is greater than the power that is against us. The Bible teaches that we are not helpless before these lusts. It is Christ, to whom is given power over heaven and earth, who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13). It is the divine Spirit whose fruit is self-control. We can therefore break with sinful self-indulgence.
We are called not simply to maintain but also to develop Spirit-filled self-control. Jesus spoke of those who were eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake (Mt. 19:12). He spoke of self-control and self-denial for the sake of God’s glory. And He declared that any man who would follow Him must practice self-denial (Mt. 16:24), just like the Master, whose supreme Self-denial brought about the salvation of sinners.
There are sins against which believers are commanded to stand and fight. But the only way the Bible says we are to fight sexual sin and temptation is to “flee” it (1 Cor. 6:18). Consider how Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife (Gen. 39:7-12). This temptation is the kind that cannot be faced head-on. Will-power and resolutions do not stand a chance before this sin in particular. It is too strong. To think that we can be “brave” and stand up to this sin, is to be the fool. The only way to be faithful to God in regard to this sin is to flee it. The admonition to “flee fornication” has the clear implication that we must not over-estimate our self-control or our spirituality. That is why we are admonished to “make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:14). To control sexual desires, we must realize the importance of avoiding situations where we know we will be tempted by the wiles of the devil. To control sexual desires one needs more wisdom than Solomon, for Solomon fell often to this temptation.
One way not to make provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts while dating is to “be alone with others, never all alone.” Date along with others who are also walking close to the Lord. Also stay away from every form of pornography – it is not “harmless.”
Another way to fight the temptation of this sin is by making a commitment, before we date, to be pure. This means that you must draw the line as to how far you will go. You need to draw a line before you date, because of how powerful the Bible tells us physical attraction is. We cannot have developing romantic love without having increasing desire for consummation. We are fools to deny this. It is abnormal to become more and more intimate mentally and emotionally and not want to become more and more intimate physically and sexually. You are playing with fire if you keep getting closer and closer together when you are not ready to marry. We need to draw the line before we date, because wavering at the beginning often results in our falling in the end.
You can stop what you are doing. If what has been written in this pamphlet pricks your conscience, then realize that you can stop what you are doing by putting the relationship in submission to God. Do not think that God wants to deprive you of something that is good for you. Real love will say, “No! I will not go further!” Real love restrains and controls sexual desires until God says, “Yes.”
- Point People to Jesus. (The God of heaven, he will prosper us. Neh 2:20)
- Don’t Quit (We his servants will arise and build Neh 2:20)
- Realize Ridicule Never Stops (…they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? Neh 2:19)
- Pray (Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. Neh. 4:9)
- Don’t be Afraid (Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. Neh. 4:14)
- Remember the Importance of the Work. (I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down Neh. 6:3)
People get offended for the silliest reasons.
Psalm 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
A young lady could not visit her father anymore. Years had gone by and this unsightly situation prevailed. Finally, one day it came out why she was unwilling to visit. It seems as if she was offended that her father made her wear dresses when she was young.
People get offended at the silliest things. Of course, it doesn’t seem silly at the time, but that is because they are not looking at the situation clearly. They are looking at the situation from a tainted viewpoint. They are offended because they are thinking about themselves; how it affects them, or how they are embarrassed… There is no need to get offended. In fact, the only way you get offended is because you choose to be offended.
The Bible says that if you love God, His laws and are at peace with others, nothing will get you offended. You can endure much more when you are “right” with God. Very little will offend you if you are “right” with God. When you love the law of God’s teachings, you will put them first in your life. To put God’s law first is to put the giver of God’s law first–God. When you are “right” with God, there is very little that the world can do to you because you will be in control of what you allow to affect you and what you will not allow to affect you.
You can take it to the bank–the person that is easily offended is struggling with their love for God’s teachings, rules or laws. They have either broken them or are having trouble letting them into their life so they can control their actions. In a finer sense I can say, they are having trouble giving up their “rights” to God. These type of people think that they are the standard by which things should be done, or even become vocal about the way others live their life for Christ. Somewhere in Christianity, people have lost sight of God being in control. Oh, they say that He’s in control, believe that He is, proclaim that He is, yet they still live like He is not. They fret and fear and worry and try to arrange things to their own benefit, while all the time they have abandoned the peace they can have by living like God is truly their creator and they are the created.
Christians would do well for themselves if they could just visualize they are nothing more than an “object”; created by God; for God (Rev 4:11), and not get offended about that. Then all of the struggle, worry, fear and fretting will amount to nothing, neither here or in eternity. If you could just close your eyes for a minute and visualize yourself giving your entire life to God, indiscriminately, with nothing held back, and no conditions placed upon the situation, you would be better off. If you could allow that vision to slowly fade into a scenario of total obedience to God, even unto the death, you would live a much more peaceful life. Why? Because total obedience, total commitment, total dedication describes love; a love for God.
King David saw a beautiful woman that he wanted to take for his wife. He took her and she was eventually found to be with child. The trouble was that she was already married to Uriah the Hittite who was off to war. Trying to solve the problem himself, he thought if Uriah would come home, then he would surely sleep with his wife then his sin would be covered. So he wrote orders for the general (Joab) to send Uriah home. He told Uriah to “Go down to thy house…” (2 Sam. 11:8). But, Uriah slept on the floor at the door of the king’s palace and did not go home to his wife. When David discovered this he asked Uriah why he didn’t go home to his wife. Uriah answered, “The ark of the Lord, Israel and Judah all sleep in tents. My fellow soldiers all sleep in open fields. I cannot allow myself these indulgences as long as this situation exists.” To Uriah it was a matter of duty, honor and devotion to God. He loved God. But David gave secret orders for Joab to have Uriah lead the charge at hottest place of battle so Uriah would be killed in battle, and Uriah was killed.
Uriah loved not his life even unto death. His love for God gave him peace. Oh that Christians today could have that kind of dedication and love for God. If they did, they would lead much more peaceful lives because very little would offend them. When you think of God instead of yourself, little there is that you will allow to offend you.
How many Christians today would lead better, lives?
It doesn’t matter to us which Bible you use, but we teach King James Bible doctrine. There is a big difference between the King James Bible teachings and the teachings of other bibles. The Psalmist says: “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Ps. 119:160). In Jeremiah 23:36, the Bible says, “For ye have perverted the words of the living God.” So, God’s word will last forever, but there will be people who make perversions. This is the case that we have in the Christian world today. Someone is taking living words from the living God and perverting it.
This all has to deal with the subject of final authority. This the most crucial thing going on in the world today. Why? Because the issue of final authority determines—absolute truth.
Today, people are being taught that all truth is relative. Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity digests down to this destructive premise. It subtly teaches that everyone can have their own truth. Of course this lends to chaos as everyone becomes their own authority and god. A christian however, places himself in subjection to the Bible. However, Jeremiah said somebody took those words and perverted them. Therefore, it is crucial for the Christian to find the right words of God so he can live by them, and reject the perversions.
The King James Bible is the word of God for several reasons. These reasons should be looked at and analyzed very carefully. No true lover of God would want to follow a perversion, or become his own authority for that matter. The King James Bible is the word of God because:
- It’s the only bible that doesn’t have a copyright. If you have a King James Bible in your hand, you have a Book with no copyright on it. You may see a copyright on the notes, references, maps, index, etc., but not on the word of God itself. Anybody can get a plain King James Bible and there’s no copyright in it. When King James endorsed it, he placed the Crown Copyright on it, but you don’t have to ask the Crown today for the right to print it. The Crown copyright is different from present day copyright. King James didn’t copyright it to make money off of it. he wanted the world to have it freely. The Crown copyright showed that King James endorsed it, and in Ecclesiastes 8:4 it says, “Where the word of a king is, there is power.” It was copyrighted under a king, showing a king endorsed it. This is much different than the copyright of today, which involves making money.
- It is the only Bible which is “Authorized.” The term “Authorized” is applied to the King James Bible alone. It is the only Bible which the Holy Spirit has blessed.
- It was translated under a God-Ordained King (Ecc. 8:4). AND, the king under whom the Bible was translated has a Jewish name–James.
- God promised to preserve His word. He said, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever” (Psalm 12:6-7). No one can hide God’s true words from man. If man wants to find it, there is certainly someplace it can be found. Christ said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words” (John 14:23). How do you keep His words if you don’t have them? Christ said, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). How do you get a prayer promise if you don’t keep His words? Christ said, “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God” (John 8:47). How do you hear them, if you don’t have them? The Bible says to the preacher, “Preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2). How can a preacher preach something he doesn’t have? If God can preserve us unto the day of salvation, then He can certainly preserve what He wrote.
- It gives preeminence to the Lord Jesus Christ. All other Bibles attack the deity of Jesus Christ. Some bibles are quite obvious in their attack on the Lordship of Jesus Christ, while others are more subtle. For example: the New King James Bible attacks the deity of Christ in Acts 4:27. It says that Jesus Christ was not God’s “child;” He was just God’s “servant.” Other versions have come up with more blatant and dangerous changes to the scriptures. The frontal assault is launched against such doctrines as: The Virgin Birth (Isa. 7:14; Luke 1:34; 2:33), The Blood Atonement (Col. 1:14; Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:7; Rev. 1:5), The Resurrection (Acts 1:3; Luke 24), His Deity (Acts 10:28; John 9:35; 1 Tim. 3:16), the Second Coming (Rev. 11:15; Titus 2:13). These are just a few of examples of the many changes that show the devil’s handiwork in perverting the word of God. Other “bibles” consistently attack the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no way they can have any merit. The King James Bible, on the other hand, never attacks the Lord Jesus Christ (John 5:39). It does the exact opposite–it EXALTS the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Because the vast majority of all manuscripts validate the King James Bible. The Textus Receptus (received text) comes from Antioch, Syria, where the disciples were first called Christians. At times it is called The Majority Text. This is because there are a vast number of fragments collected from many locations that are all in agreement. There is a huge amount of these manuscripts (all in agreement) because the early church would copy the writings and distribute them to other believers, who would in turn, copy them and distribute them. Since the early church did not have the monetary resources of Rome, they were not copied onto sheets of vellum, but onto inferior paper, so they didn’t last the test of time. The other manuscripts (LXX) come from Alexandria, Egypt, where Rome had great influence. The LXX comes from only two corrupt manuscripts, known as “Vaticanus” and “Siniaticus.” These manuscripts are full of alterations to meet the demands Rome. They have been determined to be older, but again, they are only few. Rome having influence in Alexandria, Egypt at that time, these are the adopted manuscripts of the Catholic church. All new versions are direct translations from these corrupt Catholic manuscripts. The King James Bible is the only one translated from the Textus Receptus (The Majority Text) which came from Antioch where Christianity began.
- The honesty of the Translators. The translators use of italics in the Bible shows the honesty of the translators. They italicized words they put into the text that do not appear in the original language. Perverted Bible translations do not do this. The translators had the integrity to let us know what was added and what was original. God says in Revelation 22:18-19, “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Proverbs 30:5-6 says, “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” Because It Exalts the Lord Jesus Christ. The translators honored God.
- It is a perfect translation. The words “translate” and “translated” only occur three times in the Bible (2 Sam. 3:10; Col. 1:13; Heb. 11:5. Note: The number 3 is God’s number of perfection.). Each time, God is the Translator. Each time, something is going from one situation to a much better situation. Since God inspired “holy men of God” (II Pet. 1:21) to write down His words in the first place, He is certainly capable of guiding the translators to keep the words which Jesus told us to keep (John 14:23). It is also apparent by the character of God, that the translation became better than originally penned.
- It’s fruit is good. The Lord Jesus said that every good tree will bring forth good fruit, and we can know them BY their fruits (Mt. 7:17-20). God had the bible translated to bring forth good fruit. The perversions produce EVIL fruit. They produce infidels who profess to know God, but in fact they do not. They spit out spiritual babies one right after the other who completely blind to basic Bible doctrine. However, the King James Bible is validated by the Holy Spirit who bears witness of the truth.
- All perverted Bibles compare themselves to the King James Bible. They don’t compare themselves with each other. They all compare themselves to the King James Bible. This proves there is something special about the King James Bible. Why does everyone oppose the King James Bible and not the others? Satan has no desire to divide his own kingdom (Mt. 12:26). His desire is to discredit the word of GOD, not himself; so he attacks only one Book, God’s Book, the KJV. Those who join the Devil in opposition to the King James Bible have no Final Authority. They become their own authority. I know they look like Christians. They act, smell, talk, and dress like Christians, but they depend on their own judgment too much, thus becoming their own authority.
Let’s not accept the idea that the Authorized King James is outdated and needs to be replaced for a new translation. Satan knows that newborn babes in Christ will not have the real milk that they need in order to grow because they’ll have a watered down version of the truth. He figures that if he can’t kill the babes, he’ll do the next best thing-stunt their growth. At the same time the world will point to “Christianity” and say, “They don’t even have the same Bible.”
What creates church growth? Are members responsible for growth of the body of Christ? Jesus used an analogy from farming to explain the manner in which the kingdom of God grows (Mark 4:26-29). Once the farmer plants the seed, it grows by itself. Although fruit comes through the miracle created within the seed, the farmer has to work hard to prepare the ground for productivity.
So it is with church growth. The apostle Paul explained that he had planted churches, Apollos had watered, but it was God who gave the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). So how do Christians plant and water so God’s church can grow?
Empowering members to grow.
I more prefer to call this, “Allowing members to have ownership in their church.” Every member of a local church needs to feel that it is his/her church. This is a vital area in which a member can use their talents for the Lord; an area in which they can serve God, and thereby be an active part in the Body of Christ. Otherwise they become like a cancerous or foreign object. If they a member has no ownership in their church, then they will not consider it to be “their church.” These are those who fall away because they are not really connected to anything. Find something to do in your church and be a part of the body.
Using your God-given gifts to serve God and your neighbor.
God has given each member in the church certain talents that no one else has. When He leads you to a particular church it’s that He has a purpose for those talents to be used for that church’s growth. Most obviously, it would be impossible to have piano in the song service if there were no piano players willing to use the talent that God gave them. Other talents are more subtle; like fixing things, electrical work, greeting, or cleaning, just to name a few. Find out what you can do and do it in the church.
Use your passion, fire, and enthusiasm for the church.
Everyone is passionate about something. When Jesus gave sight to the young man who had never seen, He told him to tell no one. But the bible says he, “…went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter…” (Mark 1:45). He was passionate about telling others what happened to him. Some things which people are passionate about are such things as: sports, music, babies, family, health, cars, work, etc. You can tell what people are passionate about by listening to what they are continually talking about, especially after the service is ended.
Support the structure and function of the church.
When you support the structure of the church, you are building the church. Supporting the structure of the church shows respect, honor and love for it. Many churches die simply because they are filled with members who say they love the church but, do not support it. It is not supportive to tell people you love your church when you talk bad about its members behind their back. Taking an unsaved, potential member aside and warning them off about some member you don’t like is actually tearing down the church. It doesn’t matter how much you say you love the church, your actions are destructive. Paul faced this exact situation among some of the churches he planted (1 Cor. 1:10-13).
It is not necessary to agree with all of the structure of the church, but it is necessary to support it. And where you disagree, use prudence in not voicing it inappropriately.
Pray for and acknowledge inspiration in the worship services.
Prayer is necessary on all fronts. It improves the Believer’s relationship with God. However, it is vital to pray for God to inspire all aspects of the worship service. We did not come to church to hear a man give a speech or lesson. We came to hear what God has to tell us. It is vital to ask God to talk to us and give us exactly what we need in our life. Unfortunately, it hurts to get our “toes stepped on” by the message being preached. And we often blame the preacher for “preaching at me” and forget that God can use the preacher to deliver HIS message. We need preaching from God to shake us deep down in our souls so we can grow as believers. When the members of the church grow, so does the church. Pray that God will not only inspire the message, but the music, giving, specials, fellowship and our own hearts as well.
Form friendships with other members and do things together outside the church.
Everyone knows that a family cannot grow when each member of it only comes together for one or two hours a week. It is impossible! Likewise, the church cannot grow when its members only interact with each other one hour a week. It is crucial for church growth that the members develop friendships with each other and have fellowship outside the church. I know the main complaint about this is: “I don’t have anything in common with anyone else.” Unfortunately, you neglect to see the folly in such a statement—you have church in common. If you are a family with children, your kids may be friends. Why not get together and do something. How about invite someone over to eat? This is a basic and common thing for people to do so they can get to know each other.
When members have their friendships outside the church (with non church members), their hearts are slowly and subtly drawn away from the church. Therefore, the church not only doesn’t grow, it begins to shrink. It is important that Believers hold each other up. This principle is illustrated when the Israelites were battling Amalek. They prevailed over Amalek when Moses’ hands are raised up, and they lost when he gets tired and lowers his hands. So, Aaron and Hur helped him hold up his hands until the battle was over, and Israel won (Exo. 17:10-13). So must we support members when they are in time of need. This is easier when we become friends and we know what each other is going through.
Sharing your Christian life by example and story.
For the church to grow, it is essential that Believers share their faith with others. They must do everything they can to compel people to come in and hear the message of the Bible. Everyone knows the old saying: “talk is cheap.” This is very true and it indicates that talk is worthless. If then it is worthless, what then is of such value that it can make a life change in someone else? Of course, it is the life story of the Christian. The example of a believer living for God is the most powerful way to witness. When people see the life of a truly dedicated believer, and how it is lived, they are affected to their core. Your life story always supersedes what you say. Even children know this at a very young age. They will listen to mommy tell them to not get started in some bad habit, but if their mommy does it, they will eventually do it as well.
The best way to grow the church through witnessing is to tell the proper life story.
Possess sincere love for the other members.
Love accomplishes much good in growing the church. When members have loved one for another, they tend to be more tolerant and willing to accept anyone. Not only that, everyone wants to be loved; they want to experience true sincere love. The world is severely lacking in sincere love. It exists in many families, but in few other places. Since God is love and you cannot truly say you know God if you don’t have sincere love (1 John 4:8, 16), a church can never grow because you cannot grow a church without God. People know that you truly love God when you have love for each other.
It takes effort to love. You have to work at repressing your ugly thoughts about those whom you don’t like too much. But then you have to go the extra mile and set yourself aside and love the person in spite of what your feel. Love, among many other things, is the giving of self.
When a church is first formed, it is little more than a fledgling. It takes time and effort on the part of everyone for it to become established and for a root to go down into the fertile ground. Without the patient diligence of adhering to these outlined principles, it will never take hold and be able to support itself; it will always need a support to be tied to. It cannot be done by just the pastor alone. It cannot be done by just the faithful few. Everyone has to chip in and help. All hands must be involved. So, we must each ask ourselves, “which of the eight characteristics is my weakest?” Ask God for strength and allow Jesus to lead you to grow.
Which are your strengths? Use them to serve Jesus and his church.
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.
Psalm 91:1-6 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surley he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler and the noisome pestilence. He shall cover the with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
Each of us will at some point of out life experience those “dark hours.” These are the times when we feel that no one cares; no one is listening. It is at these times when we feel all alone against the raging storms of life and there is no hope for ever being happy again. We feel like giving up and allowing the destroyer to have his way with us. But, friend, these are also the times when the saints have God protecting and shielding us from the rages of the storms of life. We have a shelter in a time of storm.
God is always our protector, but He does not only do that by soaring in the lofty heavens, looking down like the ever watchful eagle, He also is very near to us. When the “noisome pestilence” of life finally drives us mad with desire to give up, He is there, covering us with the feathers of His wings. In this way He takes the brunt of the storm upon Himself; He is our shelter and warmth until the storm passes over. He holds us steady so we won’t fall to certain destruction. Why then do we not feel His ever presence? This happens all too often and we don’t “feel” Him there because we are too busy looking on the storm instead of snuggling into His loving embrace. Like the young, we too are disappointed that there is a storm so we cannot go out into the radiant sunshine an frolic for a little while. We are looking at our circumstances instead of our situation.
No one likes to go through a trial—a storm of life. They are not fun because we can’t go out and do what we want to do. Instead, we must stay inside under shelter. And here is the key—we cannot do what we want to do! The storms interrupt our plans. They always come at the most inconvenient times. They are never on our schedule of the day; our things-to-do-list. They are most troublesome by nature. But, it is only from the place of protection that we can be delivered from the storm; that we can be shielded from the trial. AND, whether we know it or not, it is in these times that we get closer to God.
Almost always, when a trial comes in our life, do we run to God for our help. Amazingly, the unsaved, unrepentant, atheist will do so as well. They are always willing to accept prayer for them in their time of trial or despair. They want to have the protection and hope that comes from a loving relationship with God, but don’t want to stay under His wing. Like a child on a playground who wants to climb the monkey bars on his own falls off and gets an owey, when the hurt comes, when there is pain, he immediately runs to mommy. Why is that? They want protection, warmth, shelter and security.
So friends, if you are going through a trial today, if you have been going through some despairing times, the very best thing for you to do is to run to God, get under His wing, snuggle up to Him, and wait out the storm.
“Nice words preacher, but can you be a little more practical?”
Yes! Go to the word of God. Open your Bibles and read some comforting words. Passages that will often meet the needs in times of trouble are mostly in the Psalms. There is much healing and relief in these passages. But that is not all. Pray! If you cannot find your way to God, ask Him to find you. If you seek Him, He will find you. And, when He does, He will protect you, love you, warm you and shelter you from all of the storms of life.
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.
The modern “tongues” movement is primarily embraced by the “Charismatic”. This is not an English word. It comes from the Greek word “charisma” which means gifted. Therefore a person who claims to be “charismatic” (by the definition of the Word), claims to be gifted. By insinuation, this indicates that there are some “Christians” who are not “gifted”. This is wrong as the gift of the Christian is the Holy Spirit Himself. Not only does the “Charismatic” claim (by the definition of the word) to be gifted, he (whether he admits it or not) claims to be more gifted than other Christians. The Bible tells us what to think of those who brag on these gifts. Proverbs 25:14 says, “Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain. It also tells us what to think of people who profess to have apostolic gifts who don’t have them. 2 Corinthians 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. Revelation 2:2 says, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:”
The signs of the apostles (Mark 16:14-20)
Cast out devils.
Speak with NEW tongues.
Take up serpents.
Not be hurt by poison.
Heal the sick
Since these are the “signs of an apostle”, only those who believed under the ministry of an apostle received these gifts (signs). Therefore, anyone who wanted to counterfeit the apostolic succession must counterfeit the apostolic signs. The Bible labels anyone who is counterfeiting an apostle as a FALSE APOSTLE (2 Cor. 11:10-14). NOTE: The anti-Christ is also Charismatic.
2 Thessalonians 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
One of the biggest lies that a Charismatic participates in is the perversion of Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14. Acts 2 deals with the baptism of the Holy Ghost and 1 Corinthians 14 deals with the use of unknown tongues. Anyone who can read can readily see that in Acts 2 there is no reference to speaking in an unknown tongue (Acts 2:6 says that “every man heard them speak in his own language”). Likewise, there is no baptism of the Holy Ghost in 1 Corinthians 14.
Baptism of the Holy Ghost
In regards to this, notice Acts 2:
No one is kneeling or praying for any “baptism”.
The “initial evidence” is NOT tongues. It is the sound of a mighty rushing wind.
1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (KJV)
What is it then (1 Cor. 14)?
In chapter 14 we read that the important gift is prophecy. This is because by prophecy, you can teach about something that has already been written in the Scriptures. This is how Jesus taught (Matt. 21:42; Mark 7:6; John 12:14).
Unknown Tongues: From the relationship of mankind in general, there is no such thing as an unknown tongue. Some man on this earth knows the tongue that a person speaks. Here in this passage, tongues is an existing language that was not previously learned. Don’t let some man deceive you into thinking that it is a special heavenly prayer language. This is NOT in the Bible.
Modern day teaching is that tongues is a sign that one is baptized in the Holy Ghost. This is not Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 12:13.
Spiritual gifts are not obtained. They are GIFTS from the Holy Spirit, given as HE sees fit (1 Cor. 12:11).
If speaking in tongues is evidence of being baptized (immersed into) in the Holy Spirit, and therefore being placed into the body of Christ, why then does 1 Corinthians 12:18 teach us that God places us into his body as He sees fit?
Not everybody IN THE BODY OF CHRIST will speak in tongues (1 Cor. 12:30).
There is a more excellent way (1 Cor. 12:31).
God’s emphasis is that we should desire to prophecy as it edifies the church (1 Cor. 14:1-3, 12).
Tongues are for a sign to them that believe not (1 Cor 14:22).
There is a difference between speaking with and in tongues (1 Cor. 14:39).
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?
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.
The preaching of the word of God certainly does have and effect on people. Sometimes it is a happy and joyous effect, while at other times it makes one sad. There are times when a person becomes severely angry by the preaching of the word of God. Still, there are times when a person cannot move under the awesome conviction of it.
As a preacher, over the last 18 years, I have seen all of these effects take place in the lives of the hearers of God’s word. As a Christian, I have experienced them myself. Still, I, and many others, keep coming back for more. Why is that? I can understand why people keep coming back to feel good about their relationship with Christ, but to hear that they are a sinner, failing on every front, baffles me. When feeling the sharp effects of God’s word, piercing and dividing my life all the way down to my bones, I am amazed as to how much it knows about me. I have come to the point where I am convinced that it knows more about me than I do about myself. It is not fun to be pierced, cut and divided, yet people keep coming back for more and I think it is because of the wonder and amazement that they have for that one book.
Yes, there are those who cannot bear it. They are only interested in feeling good, and if the word of God cuts, pierces or divides in the slightest, they get angry and leave. To me this is the equivalent of putting one’s head in the sand and not learning something about yourself that you need to know. You see, the Bible is not only the way to God, but it is the truth and life as well. It does no good to accept the way and the life without accepting the truth. But there are many people like this. They feel the Bible is true as long as it agrees with them and where it does not, it is not the truth. The devil has been instrumental in getting people to think this. This is why there are so many “truths” in the world today. But I don’t want to talk about that in this article. I want to focus on the way people receive the word of God.
It is funny how one sermon may upset some while at the same time charging up others spiritual batteries. The same sermon may cause some to be compelled to come to the altar, while others stand rigid biting their bottom lip. It has a strange way of having different effects on different people. Now I know that all people are different, but that is not the reason for this strange phenomena. I know that God is dealing differently with different people on His own terms. This is one reason that this book is so wonderful. It knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts. Since we don’t even know our own hearts, it is good for us to hear about ourselves from the word of God.
The Word of God will shape you or the world will shape you. It is your choice as to what will do it. The world is constantly being forced upon you, but God politely does not. While commercials, junk mail, facebook and many other things are intruding upon your life, God sits silently on the shelf awaiting His turn to relate with you. The world is ruthlessly pushing itself into your life, brainwashing you to cater to self and its “truth.” It never lets up. It is violent and hungry to completely consume every part of your life, giving you no choice over the matter, while all the same time deceiving you into thinking you have a choice or vote. God’s Word sits silently and patiently on the side waiting for you to come to your senses and when you finally do, in order to remove the worldliness from your life, the operation it must perform sometimes requires cutting, stabbing or dividing. The only reason that hurts is because you allowed the world to take up residence there in the first place.
Still we can praise God for His glorious mercy in that His holy operation is quick and powerful. It does not take long for it to begin to have its holy effect. So, if the preaching of God’s word seems to anger you; it seems to “step on your toes,” then remember it is because some cancer of the world is being cut out of your life. Joy comes in the morning.
The Purpose of the church-EXAMINED.
The purpose of the church is multi-faceted, but it revolves around one—only one—activity. That activity is the winning of souls. In short, it is telling others how to be saved, encouraging them to get saved, and leading them in the process of being saved. We are very plainly told in the Bible that, “…he that winneth souls is wise.” (Pro. 11:30). The activity of winning souls stands over every endeavor a Bible believing church is involved in. It is paramount, un-negotiable and vital. If you do not think so, then you are sadly mistaken.
Today, the church has evolved into some kind of conglomerate, some kind of multi-functional business venture (emphasis on “business venture). Like some Good Samaritan club, people come together to escape the harsh attacks of evil that they withstand throughout their week. It takes the place of some good, wholesome fun that can be found no place else in the world. And, it becomes an educational source where people can go and have their morals sharpened by the word of God. Of course, all of these are not wrong, but they have somehow upset the cart; the scales have become out of balance. Where at one time soul winning was the most important thing, now it has been replaced by all of the rest. Instead of being slightly off, the church has now become grossly out of balance in the area of winning souls.
In what areas do many churches weigh heaviest? In what areas do they invest the bulk of their resources? They are vast and range from small group encouragement sessions to being the vassals of the distributors of Christian books and programs. I have been to churches where they canceled meetings so they could show the super bowl. I have preached in churches that were divided right down the middle. On each side of the aisle sat the two prominent families of the church along with their supporting families. The poor pastor was stuck right in the middle of the feud. I preached at one church where I actually did no preaching at all. The auditorium was exactly like a movie theater auditorium and the “stage” was full of rock band equipment. All they did was play Christian rock music and there was no mention of Jesus, salvation or the Bible anywhere. My preaching was the privileged task of being the guest of honor in the very front row center. This is only a small sample of what some churches now call “preaching the gospel.” It is what they have replaced for winning souls. No one in any of those churches even thinks of winning someone to Christ, let alone actually trying to do it. Yet they are all “busy about the Lord’s work.” In fact, there have been some people who have left churches where I pastored who said, “I can’t grow. In everything you say, you always say something about winning souls. Could you please stop telling me that?”
Now, to have support groups, encouragement and structure for Christian growth is truly important. It is good to have classes to teach how to rear children the Biblical way. Classes of marriage and handling of finances are necessary and the Bible speaks of these subjects and many more like them. It is necessary for Christians to, “Bear one another’s burdens…” (Gal. 6:2). It is good to be glad in the house of the Lord (Acts 2:46) and to be encouraged by the singing and worship (Col. 3:16). Not every moment of the Christians life must be winning a soul. Every soldier needs time to regroup and rearm. He even needs time away from the battle to resort. The problem is, that most churches have remained stuck in the regroup, rearm and resort area and no one is actually in the battle. They have forgotten that you cannot win a war with only the rear echelon. You must have the fighters. And, in the army, every soldier is a soldier first and foremost.
One day Jesus approached Peter and Andrew while they were fishing, He did not ask them to join a fellowship. He did not offer to them a support group. He didn’t even offer them an answer to their personal problems. What He told them was, “…Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19). He wanted to make them into soul winners. He intended to teach them how to tell others about the gospel (good news) of salvation. He wanted them to be equipped to carry that gospel to others throughout their entire life. And, that is exactly what they did, and they did it at the hazard of their own lives. They never lost sight of the main goal. They never got their number one main order out of sight. They always had their “prime directive” before them. The Jews of old would carry God’s word in little boxes strapped to their foreheads called–frontlets (Deu. 11:18). This was in command to God’s directive to have no other Gods but Him (Exo. 20:3). It was their main mission to teach this to their children and this is how they would remember. Too bad the churches of today do not have spiritual “frontlets”. Too bad they keep forgetting their number one mission.
The apostle Paul said, “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22). Though he taught many of God’s principles of help to the church, he still never lost sight of this first command given by Jesus (Acts 1:8). He was committed to even going to the uttermost parts of the earth, and he was pretty successful about it. Even though he had all the cares and concerns of helping the different churches, making a living and dealing with the little concerns of life, he still found time to win souls.
We all know the gravity of the situation; the importance in winning a soul (James 5:20). It is a life and death matter for the one who is won. But in a certain sense, it too is a life and death matter for a church. Where the members of a church are not actively trying to win souls, the church, like a dried up piece of fruit, will die on the vine. It does so because the Christians within dry up and die on the vine. You can always tell those who are drying up because they present reasons why they cannot do it. Listen! People can do anything they want to do if they want to do it bad enough. Churches (dead churches) are filled with people who side-step the command to win souls by replacing it with a little program and then soothe their guilty souls by convincing themselves that they are really serving the Lord. It is really amazing how many churches spend more energy and resources in humanitarian aide rather than Godly aide.
So, let us end on a good note. Let us end on the assumption that you have determined you are going to do something about pleasing God in this area of winning souls. John 4:36 says, “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.” I hope that you will receive wages abundantly for your eternal work. I pray that you both reap and sow. I look forward to that for you personally and for the church as well. It would be fantastic to have a church full of those who can rejoice together—rejoicing that can only come from laboring in the field. The church does not ever need to be a dry, dead place. The only way to keep it alive and vibrant is to win souls. This is our purpose—to win souls. There is no other way around it. Nothing can replace this God given formula for joy.
2 Peter 3:16 “…as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
With the attack of the world (fueled by inspiration of the Devil) upon the church, Christians are showing wobbly backbone when the battle gets rough. With just a little goading by the devil, the yellow streak shows clear and bright. How can those who were once “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10) so easily lose their “steadfastness”? How can they change so suddenly?
In fact, the change in them (and perhaps in YOU) is not a sudden one at all. It has been happening over a long period of time. Instead of growing in GRACE, they wrest with the Scriptures and are led away by those who are unstable and unlearned in the ways of truth. Over time, they join the ranks of those who are of another Christ (1 John 2:18, 22; 2 Thess. 2:7-8; 2 John 1:7) because they were introduced to them by one of the “…many false prophets… gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Instead of growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, they grew in knowledge of the world and self. Then one day–“snap!” They were gone.
When you belong to one fellowship or church, it is either because the Lord put you there or you put yourself there. If you are following the Lord and are true servant of the Lord, no matter what, you will obey the Lord’s decision for the rest of your life. If you are listening to self, or are lusting after the worlds temporary enlightenment, then you will bounce around from place to place looking for fulfillment of self.
In the Lord, there is no variableness (James 1:13). In fact there is not even a shadow of changing in Him; He does not change His mind. Any change of mind indicates that He was wrong and is now changing to be right, or He was right and is now changing to be wrong; or He is wrong and is now changing to another wrong. But you can never be right and change to be right. Right is right. Since God never makes any mistakes, everything He calls for is right. The problem is when people attempt to interpret God’s calling for their life and bring with the interpretation their selfish desires and nuances. When they do, they try to work it out that God’s calling for their life lines up with what THEY WANT instead of accepting what they know GOD WANTS for them. This way, self can get what it wants and justify it because they reason (and claim) that God is calling them this way. They join the ranks of the many “anti-Christ’s” on the scene today. “Preacher! Isn’t calling them anti-Christ’s a little harsh?” Well, when we go against God’s will for our life, we are “anti” to His plan. Since His plan is Christ: To love Him and obey Him; then to listen to self is to be against Him.
Since God put you in a fellowship of believers, it is not up to you to “feel” like you are a “hand” when everyone else in the fellowship is a “foot.” This is reasoning your selfish desire to gain acceptance with God and it will not work. You may rejoice initially, but that is just self being happy that you are listening to and feeding it. It won’t take long for the Holy Spirit of God to begin working on you or those around you; doing whatever it takes to get your attention so He can, “Reason together” (Isa. 1:8) with you. God is not unreasonable. He doesn’t satisfy self–He reasons with truth.
“But this doesn’t adequately explain the sudden change in a person. I know you said it happens slowly, but how?”
When you are a member of one church, but go outside of your church to other churches or para-churches for fulfillment in so-called “Christian activities” of interest, you are opening yourself up to follow self instead of obey God. This is a difficult thing for people to do: OBEY! Especially for the generation of young Christians today; they don’t like being told to obey. The world has successfully indoctrinated them with the “free willed philosophy” of self.
Little by little, as they learn a little about this church here; a little there; a jot here; a tittle there; the doctrine from the church which God placed them becomes diluted until it becomes totally unimportant. Oh, they say it is important, but the fact that they leave because they “FEEL” that GOD is moving them, betrays this line of thinking. Leaving, especially by clandestine means, speaks loudly against supporting what they say God is doing in them, because even the smallest babe in Christ knows God would not do something so foolish. They are led away with the error of the wicked until they fall from their own steadfastness. They are not steady nor are they fastened. They become shaky and loose; so much so that they one day are gone.
“How do I keep this from happening to me?”
First, you don’t get involved in activities from other churches or the world. If your church does not have an activity that you are interested in, then start one. If you cannot get enough people involved to successfully start one, then perhaps God is saying I have something else for you to do right now; something else that I wish to teach you; something else I want to develop in you at this moment. In other words, accept what God has for you and pray and ask Him for the other.
Second, Find comfort in growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord (vs. 18). In everything, God wants you to grow in two things: grace and knowledge. If these two things don’t “turn you on” then perhaps you don’t understand what they are. If grace and knowledge sound boring to you, then perhaps you have never delved into the wonderful overwhelming power that is contained in them. If you try, but get nothing out of it, then perhaps you are not patient enough to let God work on you in His own time, perhaps you are neglecting Christ and growing in self instead.
Third, Start thinking right. Are you one of those people who live by the saying: “live life to it’s fullest?” Or do you misunderstand when someone says, “you only have one life to live” or “That’s the life” or “You only go around once in life.” For the Christian it is true that you only have one life to live, but what we go through on this earth is so miniscule that God is going to burn the whole thing up after He takes us off of it. You can NEVER, NEVER “live life to its fullest” on this earth. It is a lie from the Devil to get you to focus on self instead of God.
Finally my friends, I leave you with this thought. If God has put you someplace, He has done it for a reason. If you are unhappy there, it is not because God is not working on you. It is not because the people have changed. Its because YOU MADE A DECISION FOR YOURSELF INSTEAD OF WAITING ON GOD. ONLY YOU CAN FALL FROM YOUR OWN STEADFASTNESS!
Everyone knows that this great country of which we live won it’s war for independence from England. Independence is the nature of the USA. If a country had blood coursing through it’s veins, then ours would run hot with independence. In many of the countries of Asia or Europe, when asked of it’s people, “In one word, how would you describe Americans?”, they would say, “Independent! Americans are very independent.” We pride ourselves on our independence. We know nothing else than to think that independence is something that everyone should enjoy, so much so, that we send our youth to rally it’s cause on their behalf.
It is a wonderful thing to be independent because it speaks of freedom, but it is not good to be independent from everything. There are two things from which we can never be independent: God and people! As much as a person might want to think they are independent from these two, they can never be. We are all created beings of the true and only God, and we are all conceived from, birthed, and raised by people.
The is a fine line between being independent and being rebellious. To be independent is to be free from an unrighteous cause, whereas to be rebellious is to be free from something that is good. When you are in an overbearing situation from which you are not morally or legally bound; to through off that overbearing situation and seek another more righteous is when you are gaining independence. But, rebellion is when you are already in a righteous situation and you pridefully and arbitrarily decide you are going to be independent from that situation, then you are rebellious. Think of it this way: to be independent is to rebel; to rebel from something good, or to rebel from something bad. You are rebellious when you rebel from something good, but independent when rebelling from something bad. AND, it depends on if you are the rebel or the rebelled from on how you will look at it.
There is no one more righteous and just than God. He is so righteous that He is called–HOLY. Any move for independence from Him is not only a rebellious act, but originates from a rebellious spirit as well. Because of His holiness, and our being created in His image, it is pure rebellion to desire to live independent of Him. As far as God is concerned, the whole world is full of rebellious people (“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” Isa. 1:2). Any person living independent of God has become a god to himself, because he rejects God’s position of authority over him. This is the sad state of the world that we see around us today. Man submits himself to things, this is true, but he will not submit to God. This is rebellion.
The anointed Cherub–Lucifer–was lifted up in pride and eventually rebelled from God (Eze. 28:14-16). So, rebellion begins with pride–pride in thinking that you are better than others; pride in thinking you can do better if you could do it your own way. This is how Satan deceives people into rebelling from the righteous and holy God. He begins by whispering little hints of prideful things into the conscience of man. Soon, man begins to see himself as being smarter and better than God. From there, rebellion takes its course. Rebellion in turn leads to independence of God. God’s created being, made in His very own image, is independent from Him and refuses to submit to what is right. All because Satan has worked to make man think prideful things. Anytime we realize we are thinking prideful things, we should take note that we are on the path of rebellion from God.
Of course, total rebellion from God does not happen all at once. It happens in increments until we are overcome with a rebellious spirit. Satan’s legions work on one thing at a time. The most common are an independence from Bible reading, church attendance, prayer, tithing, etc. Each of these is a chink in the armor of submission to God. We may think that we don’t need these things, but we do. We may think that we can do without one of these things “just this once”, but once leads to another. Soon, we are overcome and then the Devil concentrates on the next. It is all influenced by pride, which leads to rebellion, which leads to independence. Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, tithing and witnessing are all pillars which hold up our Christian life. When one crumbles, the others are soon to follow. You can tell if you are subject to these if you ever find yourself saying, “I used to read my Bible, pray, tithe, etc.” Or, “I remember when I…” Or, “I need to get back to …”. These are all signs of living a life of independence from God; the process has taken place and snuck up on you: Pride–Rebellion–Independence!
On this Independence day, as we celebrate our independence from a wicked heavy handed rule, which led to the establishment of this great country, let us reflect on this one thought: “Am I living independent from God? Am I a rebel from righteousness?”
The Chinese Character Story is an amazing story of how God embedded the gospel and the story of Creation right inside the Chinese language. The Chinese communist do not believe in God, but the language that they use daily, holds the story of God. This booklet by Pastor Coale clearly shows how God could do such a thing as to turn Satan’s work around on himself.
Have you ever thought, “What other gospel addresses this same event?” The Parallel Gospels not only aligns the gospels in parallel with each other, It also organizes them in chronological order. Pastor Coale wrote this book to help him in his own study and he is sure It will be a great help to you as well. This book is a great help in studying the life of the Lord Jesus Christ and will be referred to over and over.
Gifts and Tongues: The Charismatic Catastrophe will help all seekers of truth to know the mind of God concerning speaking in “tongues” and spiritual misuse of “gifts.” It is for this purpose that Pastor Coale brings this work to us. All too often, Christians are approached by super-Charismatics who prey upon them. They seek converts among innocent Christians trying to learn about God. When new Christians are told they are not really saved until they speak in tongues, they become rightfully concerned. Since they want to please their new Lord, they naturally want to speak in tongues, but something holds them back; something tells them things are not right, but they can’t put their finger on it. This booklet is written for those Christian brothers and sisters. If they follow where this booklet leads them in God’s word, they will clearly understand God’s teaching on this subject.
In today’s world, when a person turns to God’s word, it is important that they find it. The Devil is a master deceiver. He can make you feel as though you are absolutely at peace being wrong. He can’t change dirt into ice cream, but he can make you think you are eating the most delicious ice cream when all the time you are eating dirt. Likewise, he can do the same with the Bible. He can make you think, beyond a shadow of doubt, that you have the right words of God when all the time you have a counterfeit. Martin Luther discovered this a long time ago and he was eventually killed for speaking out about it.
Psalm 12:6-7 says, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”
I trust as you look on the Bible Comparison charts included, that you will get some semblance of the deception that Satan has put in place as a policy to cause God’s people to become weak and anemic. I hope these will open your eyes.
It is too bad that there has to be so much emphasis today on MONEY! We all know that the Word of God tells us that “…the LOVE of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10). Of course, no real Christian relishes being immersed in evil, but we must all deal with this potential “time bomb” of spiritual destruction in the world in which we live today. It is almost as if it is one of those “necessary evils” to which we are bound, and can never shake loose from. WE NEED MONEY!
Families need money to live. We need “bucks” to pay for a place to live, put food on the table and clothes on our backs. These are the very basic’s of life. Everything else beyond this can be a luxury when considering the principle of “needs vs. wants.” Without the things that we need, we would be in a very bad way indeed. It is no wonder money becomes so valuable that we have a tendency to hoard it for the time when we may need it in the future. Of course, saving for specific needs is not bad, but we can get dangerously close to crossing over the line and LOVE our money. This is where we become contributor to the evil world system. Until that point, we are living under the evil effects of “love of money” that others may have; we are not actually contributors to that evil.
How does one know when they actually love their money vs. exercising good stewardship with the wealth that God has given them? It all lies in your reaction to money when you lose it. If you are devastated by the loss of it on a personal level, then most likely you are in love with it. However, if you are disappointed, but not smitten to the heart, (in other words: your joy for the Lord is affected), then you are not in love with it. You are just disappointed in your stewardship of it. But, this test is not always an indicator of love for money or not, but it is a good place to start.
God has put some very good and sure fire ways to keep from falling in love with this necessary evil, which we use every day. GIVE! Luke 6:38 tells us that we should “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.” If we have a heart to give, then we can step around ever falling in love with money. Man does not give away that which he is truly in love with. For example: I would never give to you my wife. I love her. She is very dear to my heart. I would never give to you my children, grand children, siblings or parents. I love them very much. However, I can give to you something that I hold highly valuable to me, but I am not in love with it. I value it, I do not love it. I can live without money, but I cannot live without my wife.
Money needs to be this way for us in our life. To keep from loving it, we need to give; not just once, but continually. In other words, we need to develop a giving heart. It is not coincidental that when we give, it is an expression of love towards others, but when we keep to ourselves, it is an expression of love of self.
God is not timid about providing an example in giving. He gave everything He had to redeem man from loving self. He showed the depths of His love in giving. Surely we too can give, and it doesn’t always have to be money. We can give of our time, talents, as well as our treasure. These are the three basic areas of our life which we have stewardship over where we can get tripped up. If we give of these areas of our life, then we are developing a giving and loving heart. Of course, as you examine them, the easiest and most likely to give from is our money. That simple little coin or ink covered piece of paper represents effort; effort that we exerted in which we were compensated for.
God wants us to keep from loving money because it will often times cause us to err “from the faith.” The primary effect of this evil for the Child of God is a falling away from God. When we cease from giving, and the love of money becomes rooted in us, we will certainly begin a downward spiral away from God. We know that God is the greatest giver of all, and if we are to be in fellowship with Him, we will be associated with the giving God. The sacrifices and offerings that we give to His cause is only a miniscule contribution to what He gives to them every day. And here is the reason why many people lose direction and faith in God: They have lost their desire to identify with Him in this area of their life. They may have lost it for a good reason or it may be a fabricated excuse, but they have lost it. It is logical and reasonable to conclude this since God told us this can happen and there are many Biblical examples from which we may take note. Some of the most famous are Ananias and Sapphira; Judas; and Demas, but there are many contemporary examples that each of us have certainly known. So, one sure fire way to keep from falling away from God is:
- Don’t fall in love with money.
- Develop and keep a giving heart.
Falling away from God is always subtle and slow. It doesn’t happen overnight, although one specific event could be the root cause to our beginning this downward trip. The Devil engineers it to be slow and subtle because he wants it to take hold in our life. If it was sudden, it would be too noticeable. We gradually plant, replant and transplant our produce so that it can grow steadily without a growth stunting shock. If we waited until it was too big, the roots would be all torn up when we transplanted it and it would either die or not recover in time enough to bear fruit for the season. Likewise is our giving in to the love of money. It happens slowly so we are not shocked by its effect on us. If we realized it was happening, we would discontinue following its sorrow piercing path.
No Christian wants to fall away from the Lord. No Christian wants to be pierced through with many sorrows. That is why I am writing this article: to give some insight to the process in which these are the results. If we can understand the mechanics of how this happens, then we can be aware of the signs our life projects; we can deal with it before it is too late. It could suffice to just say, “Give so you don’t fall in the condemnation of the Devil.” But there is really much to be said about that one bold statement. I strongly feel if people can understand the process, then they can be better equipped to deal with the product. So, I hope this message gives you a little insight to help you keep a strong and vibrant relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Many churches love their pastors and show it by taking good care of him. They stand by him and what he is trying to do for the Lord because they know what he is facing. They understand his situation because they think about him, know he is a man and value him as a gift provided to them by God. But if I am to believe some of the survey statistics published on pastors and their view towards the ministry, the vast majority of fellow pastors do not receive such care. Consider these figures compiled by the Schaeffer Institute:
Hours and Pay
- 90% of the pastors work between 55 to 75 hours per week, even though their congregations don’t see it.
- feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
- 70% of pastors are grossly underpaid and with what they do receive, they are usually the biggest giver to their church.
Training and Preparedness
- 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.
- 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered it.
Health and Well-Being
- 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
- 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a sufficient living.
Marriage and Family
- 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
- 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked.
- 80% spouses feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.
- 70% do not have someone they consider as a close friend.
- 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
- #1 reason pastors leave the ministry — Church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor. Pastors believe God wants them to go in one direction but the people are not willing to follow or change and become critical of him.
- 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
- 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
- 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.
- Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
- Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month, many without cause.
- Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year.
That’s a sad and alarming picture, isn’t it? Work long hours in a job with too many demands for too little pay. Many have the wrong skills and the wrong expectations. Families being pressured and battered. Pastors are discouraged and depressed. No friends, serious conflict once a month, and people who will not follow. Is it no wonder so many quit so soon?
According to one survey, only 23% of pastors report being happy and content in their identity in Christ, in their church, and in their home.
I suspect, however, that men in these situations might be crippled all the more were they to faithfully preach a text like 1 Tim. 5:17-20. They would be seen as self-serving and courting with more hostility and dissatisfaction from a people already running afoul of God’s call to churches to honor faithful servants.
So, I’m hopeful at least some of God’s people would consider these statistics, reflect upon their church’s treatment of their pastors, and perhaps lead a conspiracy to make sure faithful elders receive “double honor” from those they teach and lead. Let’s face it: we can’t get survey statistics like these unless it has become an unchecked commonplace among congregations to gossip and gripe rather than to breathe grace toward church leaders. These statistics indicate a pandemic culture of disregard and dishonor aimed at pastors. That’s to the church’s shame.
I’m praying that Hebrews 13:17–rather than rejected as giving too much authority to leaders–might be embraced by individual members and congregations as one means to growth in Christ and deeper joy as the family of God. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”
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.
Most people are blind to Christianity, but they think they know a great deal about it. They form their opinion about Jesus based on what other people have told them. They have never even opened the Bible and given God a chance to show them about Himself. They are blind.
The blind man had been healed. The Pharisees were skeptical as usual. They would not accept that he had been blind from birth, so they called in his parents to testify. “How did he get healed?” they demanded.
“We don’t know,” said his parents. “We do know that he was born blind though. He’s a full grown man. He is of age. Ask him yourself.”
Turning to the accused blind man the Pharisees said, “How did he do this thing? He is a sinner. If you are healed, give God the glory and not this man.”
“I don’t know if he is a sinner or not. But there is one thing I know for sure; I was blind, but now I see.”
“What did he do to you?”
“I already told you. Weren’t you listening? How many times do you want me to tell you? I was blind but now I see.”
This is what happens to the Bible believing, born again child of God. It is hard to explain what it is like to be saved to the unsaved. Where they once walked in the darkness of sin, they now walk in the glorious light of the Lord God.
The unsaved think when a person gets saved, it is because they are weak and need a crutch to get by in life. Or they think you just went crazy and began looking for anything that will help you with your problems. They are just like the Pharisees in this story. They keep demanding an answer of how you got saved or they ask others without talking to you at all. This is because they simply don’t understand. And, they never will unless they try it themselves.
Now I don’t like to emphasis this too much because the cults make much ado of getting a feeling that no one can understand: The Mormons have “a burning of the bosom.” Charismatic’s have “speaking in tongues” or “the baptism of the holy spirit. Berean’s have the “knowing in their heart.” These are all perversions of what this blind man said: “One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” For the cults, this can mean that they are superior because they have something that you don’t, and it is subjective so they can keep you from attaining their Pharisaical level of holiness.
Not this blind man however. His eyes were physically open. No one could deny that this wonderful thing had happened for him. This is where the so called “faith healers” fall short of the holiness of God. Every thing they “heal” is subjective and there is no way to prove it other than the person telling how he “feels.” But the physical is something much different. This is why true conversion, true salvation is accompanied by outward physical change.
When I got saved, I started reading my Bible. I wanted to read my Bible. I craved reading my Bible. When I read it, I began finding answers. As I began applying what I learned in the Bible to what I saw in the world around me, in a subjective sense, my eyes were opened. But, in the physical sense, I changed as well. I wanted to hear things about God. I began the wonderful transformation to a new life in Christ. I quit drinking; not because I thought I had a drinking problem, but because I had no craving for it anymore. I quit smoking. Not because I felt as though I needed to, but because I had no desire to smoke anymore. My whole personage changed: my attire, interests, music, appetites and demeanor. And, I was not the one who noticed it. It was my friends. They were the ones who sought me out and said, “What happened to you?”
“I got born again.”
“I don’t really know, but I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and accepted His free gift of eternal life. And you can accept it too. He has a gift just for you. All you have to do is take it.”
“Are you serious?” I was at a pot party and everyone was passing around the booze and drugs, intently listening to me. I had only been saved about one week.
“Sure. God has it and it is just for you. In fact, He has one for each one of you. All you have to do is just take it. That’s what I did. What’s stopping you?”
“My family goes to church.”
“I went to church when I was a kid.”
“I was confirmed.”
I didn’t know much about religion at all. I had not even been to church by that time. I replied to them, “I don’t know much about that. All I know is that I got saved and I am born again and I see things differently.”
“What church do you go to?”
“I don’t go to church, but I’d like to.”
It was confusing to them. But it wasn’t confusing to me. The Lord had changed my life. He had changed me so much so that even my secular friends had seen it. And, when He changes your life; when you are allowed to see where once you were blind, others will see the change in your life as well. It is not just that you see things differently; others who know you and observe you will know that something has happened. They too will be able to see the wonderful work of God in you.
Luke 22:31-34 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. 33And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. 34And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.
A shipwrecked man managed to reach an uninhabited island. There, to protect himself against the elements and to safeguard the few possessions he had salvaged, he painstakingly built a little hut from which he constantly and prayerfully scanned the horizon for the approach of a ship. Returning one evening after a search for food, he was terrified to find the hut completely enveloped in flames. Yet by divine mercy this hard affliction was changed into a mighty advantage. Early the following morning he awoke to find a ship anchored off the island. When the captain stepped ashore, he explained, “We saw your smoke signal and came.” Everything the marooned man owned had to be destroyed before he could be rescued.
The trials and adversities of life are never pleasant, but in them we learn the secrets of His presence. None of us wishes for trials or adversity, but it is through them that God refines the metal of our lives and molds us into His image. Just as metal is placed in a furnace and heated to a white hot state so the dross can be removed, God allows us to enter the furnace of affliction so that He might refine and purify our lives.
In our text, Simon Peter is made to understand the fact that he is about to be tested. He is encouraged in this revelation by the fact that the Lord Himself will take an active part in his trial. I know people who are going through adversity. I know they face battles and trials that cannot be imagined. However, I also know there is hope! This passage lets us know that we do not have to fail in the attacks of life. We do not have to crawl away in defeat, never to be heard from again. Anyone can endure the trials, tests and adversities of life. Even if you have failed, you can still rise from the ashes and salvage what Satan has attempted to destroy. There is Help For Sifted Saints.
“Satan Is Determined To Destroy Your Life with trials!”
Jesus tells Peter that Satan has made a request to have “all” the disciples to test the reality of their faith. The word “desired” means “to demand, to ask for oneself.” The word “you” is plural in nature. It is a request for all the disciples. His demand is that he might “sift” them. This is an agricultural term that refers to the savage process of separating the husk of the wheat from the grain. The wheat was crushed under foot, then it was agitated, or thrown into the air. The chaff, or husk, was blown away by the wind and all that was left behind was the good grain. Satan wanted to tear at the heart of God by proving that there was no reality to the faith of the disciples. Satan believed that he could crush them, sift them and that nothing would be left but a lost heart. He had already done this with Judas! He believed that he could do it to the rest.
We battle a determined enemy. He wants nothing more than to cut the heart of God by sifting our lives. He wants to prove that we are phonies. He wants to show God and the world that there is nothing to our professions of faith. He wants to destroy everything of value in your life. The Bible tells us in 1 Pet. 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” He wants to ruin your testimony. He wants to destroy your home. He wants to wreck your influence. He wants to take away everything of value in your life and leave you with nothing but a devastated shell of what you had!
If he can get you to believe a false profession, he will. If he can get your eyes off Jesus, he will. If he can drive a wedge between you and the members of your family, he will. If he can drive a wedge between you and the members of your church, he will. He will do everything he can to cut the heart of God and ruin your life! He will use whatever tactic he deems necessary to get you to fall, just like he did to Adam and Eve in Gen. 3:1-6. He will never stop until you fall, or you die!
If the devil gets his way in your life and you succumb to his attacks, remember this: Your sin doesn’t just affect you, it affects everyone around you! It is the absolute height of selfishness to live just to please yourself, while having no regard to what your sin is doing to your family, your church and to others in your sphere of influence! Surely you will agree with the Bible where it says in Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”! David’s sin with Bathsheba, (2 Sam. 11), affected him, Bathsheba, their baby, Bathsheba’s husband, and the house of David for years to come! You never walk away clean when you choose to walk away in sin!
“The Saints Have A Powerful Ally In Their Corner during trials!”
While all the disciples were in Satan’s sights, Peter received the promise of intercession. Jesus was praying for them all, but He spoke especially to Peter, because He knew that Peter was about to take the biggest fall, v. 34. Sin isn’t a maybe in our lives, it is a given! The Bible tells us, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10). All the disciples failed the Lord that night, Mark 14:50 “…they all forsook him, and fled.” But Peter went beyond simple failure into the realm of outright denial of any relationship to Jesus when he said in Luke 22:57, “…Woman, I know him not.”
The times of testing and failure will come in our lives, but in the midst of them, let us take courage in the fact that we have Someone pleading our case, taking our part, praying for us in Heaven:
- Hebrews 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
- Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
- 1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
Satan may have his devices and his schemes to tempt us and try us, but he doesn’t have the last word! In the midst of his scheming and planning, Jesus “butts” in to stand by our side until the trial has passed! He will never leave us, regardless of the task or trial. He says, “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”, (Heb. 13:5.)
Just because a temptation is offered to you, that does not mean that you have to fall into sin. Jesus has equipped us with all the resources we will ever need to be able to withstand anything the devil throws at us:
- 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
- Hebrews 2:18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
- James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
“No Failure from trials Should Ever Be Considered Final!”
Jesus makes it clear that Peter will fall, “when thou art converted”, means “when you have repented, or come back to me”, but that his fall will not be the final statement of his life. He was going to be restored and he was going to be used of the Lord in a great way. His preaching at Pentecost, and the great acts of faith of his life are some of those ways.
People may come under this kind of attack someday and fall into sin. Some have fallen and have already come back. Others have fallen and are still in that fallen state. It is comforting to know that your fall does not have to define your life!
God has made provision for the cleansing and the restoration of those who fall into sin. Those provisions include Confession, Repentance and Forgiveness. When we come clean about our sins and turn from them, the Lord will forgive and restore the fallen one to a place of service and blessing. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This truth is illustrated in the life of the Prodigal Son and what happened when he returned to his father, Luke 15:11-24.
When a person walks away from the things of the Lord and goes into sin and stays there, it means that one of two things is true:
They were never really saved. 1 John 2:19 says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would not doubt have continued with us: bur they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”
They are in open rebellion and are subject to the wrath and chastisement of the Lord. Rev. 3:19 says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
Genuine faith will falter, but it will never utterly fail! Peter came back because he was saved. When he was sifted, it was proven that his profession was genuine. There was some chaff, but there was a grain of real faith too!
When a believer falls into sin, those who genuinely love them will seek to restore them, Gal. 6:1-2. They will not condone or support their sinful actions, but they will not abandon them completely either!
“Never Say Never during trials!”
When Peter hears this prediction he, in typical Peter style, boasts of his love and devotion to the Lord. He vows to go to prison or even to death to prove his allegiance to Jesus. Peter forgot a very important principle of life, “Never Say Never!” No one is above falling into the snare of the enemy. Only when you are in his sifter can you know exactly what you will do! It is a dangerous thing to rely upon yourself and your ability to withstand temptation and testing. The Bible says, “…let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12). We’ve all seen someone act in certain ways and we have said, “I would never do that!” Be careful!
You are weakest in the area of your greatest strength! That may sound like a contradiction or a paradox, but it is true nonetheless! When you begin to think you have an area of your life absolutely conquered and that sin cannot possibly occur there, you will tend to let your guard down. When that happens you can be sure that the enemy will target you for sifting! Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 28:26 says, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” If you have the feeling that “It can’t happen to me!”, you are in danger of falling today!
The way an Eskimo kills a wolf is grizzly, yet it offers fresh insight into the consuming, self-destructive nature of sin. First the Eskimo coats his knife blade with animal blood and allows it to freeze. Then he adds another layer of blood, and another, until the blade is completely concealed by frozen blood. Next, the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scent and discovers the bait, he licks it, tasting the fresh frozen blood. He begins to lick faster, more and more vigorously, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare. Feverishly now, harder and harder, the wolf licks the blade in the Arctic night. So great becomes the craving for blood that the wolf does not notice the razor sharp sting of the naked blade on his own tongue nor does he recognize the instant at which his insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his own warm blood. His carnivorous appetite just craves more–until the dawn finds him dead in the snow!
Such is the power sin has to destroy our lives. Thankfully, it does not have to be that way. Jesus has done everything necessary to provide a plan of salvation that will work for all people. He has promised to pray for us and to see us through the times of temptation and sifting. He has promised to receive, forgive and restore us when we do fail. There is no need for anyone to allow sin to devastate their life. If you want help as you face the times of sifting in life, you will find it in Jesus, and in Him alone!
Before Dee and I were married, we took her nephew to the drive in movie with us one night. Willie was quite the young boy. He liked everything that young boys like. I said I was going to go get some popcorn at the concession stand and Willie wanted to go with me. We got to the concession stand where he was eyeballing this very large Hershey’s chocolate bar. It was the kind that my dad would buy when I was a kid and it would last him for a month. Willie asked me if he could have one of those chocolate bars. I said that he could, but he would have to let his Aunt Dee portion it out to him. I thought it best for her to give it to him in pieces and regulate how much chocolate he would eat. I didn’t know that when we got back to the car, he showed her the chocolate bar and said, “Look what Ron got for me. Can I have it?” She looked at him and said, “Okay. I guess its okay.”
We continued to enjoy the movie. It wasn’t until about 15 minutes later when Willie was acting like a buzz saw. He was one big giant ball of energy. He was jittering and shaking and playing the air drums and talking a mile a minute. We looked at each other and wondered why is he acting this way. Then I asked her, “Did you give him that chocolate bar?” She said, “Well he told me that you said it was okay.” I told her I said it was okay if you gave him a piece of it. Willie had eaten a whole giant chocolate bar in about 10 minutes, and we were suffering the consequences. For the rest of the evening he was wild with energy.
Willie and played the technicality game. The technicality game is where you’re technically telling the truth but you say it in a misleading manner. Christians are the same way with God. They ask God to give them something when they know that He doesn’t want them to have it. They just play the technicality game to make Him think they are doing something good for Him.
Friends, God cannot be fooled. He knows what we think before we even think it. That is a thought that needs to be meditated upon. I’ll say it again, “God knows what we think even before we think it.” How do you deal with a God who knows what you think even before you think it? It’s no wonder that God tells us that we need to speak the truth. When Jesus speaks of himself saying that he is the way the truth and the life (John 14:6), He could in fact be giving us a warning; A warning that we should always tell the truth because God knows the truth even before we think it! He knows what we’re going to do even before we formulate the idea in our heads. So we better come clean!
There is no way you can deceive God. There is no way that you can play the technicality game with him. He knows exactly what you’re going to do even before you consider doing it. That is a sobering thought! We’re dealing with the God who knows us even better than we know ourselves. There’s no way to manipulate the truth or play the technicality game with God (Matt. 6:8). There’s nothing we can do to deceive or trick God.
We are such feeble creatures. We are so finite because we live within the constraints of time. We don’t know what the next minute will bring in our lives. But God knows. I don’t mean to say this as a consoling statement. I mean to say it as a warning. It is a statement that should make you think about always speaking truth with God. It’s a statement that should make you well aware that there’s someone who knows what you’re going to do in the next 5 minutes, and you can not deceive Him (Luke 12:27-31). You cannot play a technicality game with Him. You cannot manipulate events to make them work toward your favor. You cannot give an excuse for anything. God knows!
How is it that He knows everything about your life? He does because He is already there. God does not live within the constraints of time. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Rev 22:13). He lives outside the constraints of time. This is how He can live in our past and our future all at once. You and I however are linear creatures. We exist from second to second, minute to minute, hour to an hour.
Not only can this be a sobering thought, but it can be a comforting thought as well. Because God knows what we’re going to do 5 minutes from now, He can arrange events in our lives that will shield, protect, guide and love us. In this way he has the power to make things happen and give us His mercy, grace and goodness.
Merry Christmas! Every year, people all over the world get ready for Christmas by putting up a Tree and decorating it. They buy presents and wrap them in pretty papers and put them under their Christmas Tree. But, do you know why Christmas is celebrated and what the Tree and the presents mean? Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s take a closer look at His story.
A long time ago, an angel appeared to a virgin named Mary in the land Israel. Luke 1:30-32 “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest…” At the birth of the Son of God, a star shone above where He lay for all to see. A star is put on the top of the Tree to represent this majestic star. Some wise men from the East followed this star to where the Son of God lay. Matthew 2:9-11 “…and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was…And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him…” God had a special plan for His Son, who left His royal throne in heaven to become man in order to bring salvation to all men.
The colors on the Tree have special meaning which tell His story:
- White represents Jesus’ purity and sinlessness because only the Son of God was born without a sinful nature.
- Black represents sin which brings death. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death…” Every man is a sinner by nature, so without intervention, everyone will die and go to Hell.
- Orange is the color that represents the torturing fires of Hell.
- Red represents the blood of the Lord Jesus. The shedding of blood is the only payment for sin, and only the pure blood of the Son of God could pay the sin debt for all mankind.
- The brown branches on the Tree represent the tree upon which Jesus was crucified. After His death, His body was placed in a tomb and sealed. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “…that Christ died for our sins …And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day…” On the third day, Jesus Christ rose victorious over sin and death. By rising from the dead, He conquered death that He might give life.
- The green branches of the Tree represent life. Because Jesus now lives, so can we. What is the gift that God offers to man? Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The gift which God offers us is life, which we can receive through Jesus Christ.
- The gifts under the Tree represent the precious GIFT which Jesus extends to all. If we accept the gift of eternal life, we will live with the Lord Jesus in heaven forever.
- Yellow is the color on the Tree that represents heaven.
What about YOU? You and I and every person in the world are sinners by nature. Sin causes death which means that without intervention, you will die and go to Hell. However, the good news is that the Lord Jesus paid the price for your sin and now offers YOU the gift of life, which is known as salvation! You can be saved from your sins! Will you accept the gift? What a great tragedy it would be for you to choose to spend eternity in Hell separated from the Lord Jesus who paid such a high price for you!
If you are serious about receiving God’s gift, then you can tell God directly by praying a prayer like this one to Him and He will save you:
Dear God, I see that Your Son the Lord Jesus Christ has paid a high price for me. I’m a sinner on my way to Hell. I don’t deserve Your gift, but I ask You to save me. Thank You, God, for saving me. Amen.
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.