Charles Spurgeon Sermon – Special Thanksgiving to the Father (audio video and transcript)

spurgeonCharles Haddon (C.H.) Spurgeon (June 19, 1834 January 31, 1892) was a British Reformed Baptist preacher who remains highly influential among Christians of different denominations, among whom he is still known as the „Prince of Preachers.” In his lifetime, Spurgeon preached to around 10,000,000 people, often up to 10 times a week at different places. His sermons have been translated into many languages. Spurgeon was the pastor of the New Park Street Chapel in London for 38 years. In 1857, he started a charity organization called Spurgeon’s which now works globally. He also founded Spurgeon’s College, which was named after him after his death.

Spurgeon was a prolific author of many types of works including sermons, an autobiography, a commentary, books on prayer, a devotional, a magazine, and more. Many sermons were transcribed as he spoke and were translated into many languages during his lifetime. Arguably, no other author, Christian or otherwise, has more material in print than C.H. Spurgeon.

Special Thanksgiving to the Father

This message was preached on February 15, 1860. The sermon is prefaced by a letter, which Mr. Spurgeon wrote in June of that same year, as he was on the continent. This is the letter:

MY DEAR BRETHREN,
    I have journeyed happily to the borders of Switzerland, and already feel that the removing of the yoke from the shoulder is one of the readiest means of restoring the metal powers. Much of Popish superstition and idolatry has passed under my observation, and if nothing else could make me a Protestant, what I have seen would do so. One thing I have learned anew, which I would have all my brethren learn, the power of a personal Christ. We Protestants are too apt to make doctrine everything, and the person of Christ is not held in sufficient remembrance; with the Roman Catholic doctrine is nothing, but the person is ever kept in view. The evil is, that the image of Christ before the eye of the Papist is carnal and not spiritual; but could we always keep o’er Lord before our eyes, his spiritual sense, we should be better men than any set of doctrines can ever make us. The Lord give to us to abide in him and so to bring forth much fruit.

Baden-Baden, June 15th, 1860                     C. H. Spurgeon

You can read the sermon, from Spurgeon.org below this video, or you can listen to the sermon being read here, on this VIDEO by Christian Praise and Worship in Songs, Sermons, and Audio Books

There is also a video playlist of Spurgeon sermons available here –
Charles Spurgeon Sermons Playlist 2: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=…

A Sermon(No. 319)
Delivered on Sabbath Evening, January 15th, 1860, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.

„Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.”—Colossians 1:12, 13.

THIS PASSAGE IS A MINE of riches. I can anticipate the difficulty in preaching and the regret in concluding we shall experience this evening because we are not able to dig out all the gold which lies in this precious vein. We lack the power to grasp and the time to expatiate upon that volume of truths which is here condensed into a few short sentences.
    We are exhorted to „give thanks unto the Father.” This counsel is at once needful and salutary. I think, my brethren, we scarcely need to be told to give thanks unto the Son. The remembrance of that bleeding body hanging upon the cross is ever present to our faith. The nails and the spear, his griefs, the anguish of his soul, and his sweat of agony, make ouch tender touching appeals to our gratitude—these will prevent us always from ceasing our songs, and sometimes fire our hearts with rekindling rapture in praise of the man Christ Jesus. Yes we will bless thee, dearest Lord; our souls are all on fire. As we survey the, wondrous cross, we cannot but shout—

„O for this love let rocks and hills
Their lasting silence break,
And all harmonious human tongues
The Savior’s praises speak.”

It is in a degree very much the same with the Holy Spirit. I think we are compelled to feel every day our dependence upon his constant influence. He abides with us as a present and personal Comforter and Counsellor. We, therefore, do praise the Spirit of Grace, who hath made our heart his temple, and who works in us all that is gracious, virtuous, and well-pleasing in the sight of God. If there be any one Person in the Trinity whom we are more apt to forget than another in our praises, it is God the Father. In fact there are some who even get a wrong idea of Him, a slanderous idea of that God whose name is LOVE. They imagine that love dwelt in Christ, rather than in the Father, and that our salvation is rather due to the Son and the Holy Spirit, than to our Father God. Let us not be of the number of the ignorant, but let us receive this truth. We are as much indebted to the Father as to any other Person of the Sacred Three. He as much and as truly loves us as any of the adorable Three Persons. He is as truly worthy of our highest praise as either the Son or the Holy Spirit.
    A remarkable fact, which we should always bear in mind, is this:—in the Holy Scriptures most of the operations which are set down as being the works of the Spirit, are in other Scriptures ascribed to God the Father. Do we say it is God the Spirit that quickens the sinner who is dead in sin? it is true; but you will find in another passage it is said „The Father quickeneth whom he will.” Do we say that the Spirit is the sanctifier, and that the sanctification of the soul is wrought by the Holy Ghost? You will find a passage in the opening of the Epistle of St. Jude, in which it is said, „Sanctified by God the Father.” Now, how are we to account for this? I think it may be explained thus. God the Spirit cometh from God the Father, and therefore whatever acts are performed by the Spirit are truly done by the Father, because he sendeth forth the Spirit. And again, the Spirit is often the instrument—though I say not this in any way to derogate from his glory—he is often the instrument with which the Father works. It is the Father who says to the dry bones, live; it is the Spirit who, going forth with the divine word, makes them live. The quickening is due as much to the word as to the influence that went with the word; and as the word came with all the bounty of free grace and goodwill from the Father, the quickening is due to him. It is true that the seal on our hearts is the Holy Spirit, he is the seal, hut it is the Eternal Father’s hand that stamps the seal; the Father communicates the Spirit to seal our adoption. The works of the Spirit are, many of them, I repeat it again, attributed to the Father, because he worketh in, through, and by the Spirit.
    The works of the Son of God, I ought to observe are every one of them in intimate connection with the Father. If the Son comes into the world, it is because the Father sends him; if the Son calls his people, it is because his Father gave this people into his hands. If the Son redeems the chosen race, is not the Son himself the Father’s gift, and doth not God send his Son into the world that we may live through him? So that the Father, the great Ancient of Days, is ever to be extolled; and we must never omit the full homage of our hearts to him when we sing that sacred doxology,

„Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

    In order to excite your gratitude to God the Father to-night, I propose to dilate a little upon this passage, as God the Holy Spirit shall enable me. If you will look at the text, you will see two blessings in it. The first has regard to the future; it is a meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. The second blessing, which must go with the first, for indeed it is the cause of the first, the effective cause, has relation to the past. Here we read of our deliverance from the power of darkness. Let us meditate a little upon each of these blessings, and then, in the third place, I will endeavor to show the relation which exists between the two.
    I. The first blessing introduced to our notice is this—”God the Father has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” It is a PRESENT BLESSING. Not a mercy laid up for us in the covenant, which we have not yet received, but it is a blessing which every true believer already has in his hand. Those mercies in the covenant of which we have the earnest now while we wait for the full possession, are just as rich, and just as certain as those which have been already with abundant lovingkindness bestowed on us, but still they are not so precious in our enjoyment. The mercy we have in store, and in hand is after all, the main source of our present comfort. And oh what a blessing this! „Made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.” The true believer is fit for heaven; he is meet to be a partaker of the inheritance—and that now, at this very moment. What does this mean? Does it mean that the believer is perfect; that he is free from sin? No, my brethren, where shall you ever find such perfection in this world? If no man can be a believer but the perfect man, then what has the perfect man to believe? Could he not walk by sight? When he is perfect, he may cease to be a believer. No, brethren, it is not such perfection that is meant although perfection is implied, and assuredly will be given as the result. Far less does this mean that we have a right to eternal life from any doings of our own. We have a fitness for eternal life, a meetness for it, but we have no desert of it. We deserve nothing of God even now, in ourselves. but his eternal wrath and his infinite displeasure. What, then, does It mean? Why, it means just this: we are so far meet that we are accepted in the Beloved, adopted into the family, and fitted by divine approbation to dwell with the saints in light There is a woman chosen to be a bride; she is fitted to be married, fitted to enter into the honorable state and condition of matrimony; but at present she has not on the bridal garment, she is not like the bride adorned for her husband. You do not see her yet robed in her elegant attire, with her ornaments upon her, but you know she is fitted to be a bride, she is received and welcomed as such in the family of her destination. So Christ has chosen his Church to be married to him; she has not yet put on her bridal garment, beautiful array in which she shall stand before the father’s throne, but notwithstanding, there is such a fitness in her to be the bride of Christ, when she shall have bathed herself for a little while, and lain for a little while in the bed of spices—there is such a fitness in her character, such a grace given adaptation in her to become the royal bride of her glorious Lord, and to become a partaker of the enjoyments of bliss—that it may be said of the church as a whole, and of every member of it, that they are „meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.”
    The Greek word, moreover, bears some such meaning as this though I cannot give the exact idiom, it is always difficult when a word is not used often. This word is only used twice that I am aware of, in the New Testament. The word may be employed for „suitable,” or, I think, „sufficient” „He hath made us meet”—sufficient—”to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” But I cannot give my idea without borrowing another figure. When a child is born, it is at once endowed with all the faculties of humanity. If those powers are awanting at first, they will not come afterwards. It has eyes, it has hands, it has feet, and all its physical organs. These of course are as it were in embryo. The senses though perfect at first, must be gradually developed, and the understanding gradually matured. It can see but little, it cannot discern distances. it can hear, but it cannot hear distinctly enough at first to know from what direction the sound comes; but you never find a new leg, a new arm, a new eye, or a new ear growing on that child. Each of these powers will expand and enlarge, but still there is the whole man there at first, and the child is sufficient for a man. Let but God in his infinite providence cause it to feed, and give it strength and increase, it has sufficient for manhood. It does not want either arm or leg, nose or ear. you cannot make it grow a new member; nor does it require a near member either; all are there. In like manner, the moment a man is regenerated, there is every faculty in his new creation that there shall be, even when he gets to heaven. It only needs to be developed and brought out: he will not have a new power, he will not have a new grace, he will have those which he had before, developed and brought out. Just as we are told by the careful observer, that in the acorn there is in embryo every root and every bough and every leaf of the future tree, which only requires to be developed and brought out in their fullness. So, in the true believer, there is a sufficiency or meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. All that he requires is, not that a new thing should be implanted, but that that which God has put there in the moment of regeneration, shall be cherished and nurtured, and made to grow and increase, till it comes unto perfection and he enters into „the inheritance of the saints in light.” This is, as near as I can give it to you, the exact meaning and literal interpretation of the text, as I understand it.
    But you may say to me, „In what sense is this meetness or fitness for eternal life the work of God the Father? Are we already made meet for heaven? How is this the rather’s work?” Look at the text a moment, and I will answer you in three ways.
    What is heaven? We read it is an inheritance. Who are fit for an inheritance? Sons. Who makes us sons? „Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” A son is fitted for an inheritance. The moment the son is born he is fitted to be an heir. All that is wanted is that he shall grow up and be capable of possession. But he is fit for an inheritance at first. If he were not a son he could not inherit as an heir. Now as soon as ever we become sons we are meet to inherit. There is in us an adaptation, a power and possibility for us to have an inheritance. This is the prerogative of the Father, to adopt us into his family, and to „beget us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” And do you not see, that as adoption is really the meetness for inheritance, it is the Father who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light?”
    Again, heaven is an inheritance; but whose inheritance is it? It is an inheritance of the saints. It is not an inheritance of sinners, but of saints—that is, of the holy ones—of those who have been made saints by being sanctified. Turn then, to the Epistle of Jude, and you will see at once who it is that sanctified. You will observe the moment you fix your eye upon the passage that it is God the Father. In the first verse you read, „Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father.” It is an inheritance for saints: and who are saints? The moment a man believes in Christ, he may know himself to have bean truly set apart in the covenant decree; and he finds consecration, if I may so speak, verified in his own experience, for he has now become „a new creature in Christ Jesus,” separated from the rest of the world, and then it is manifest and made known that God has taken him to be his son for ever. The meetness which I must have, in order to enjoy the inheritance of the saints in light, is my becoming a son. God hath made me and all believers sons, therefore we are meet for the inheritance; so then that meetness has come from the Father. How meetly therefore doth the Father claim our gratitude, our adoration and our love!
    You will however observe, it is not merely said that heaven is the inheritance of the saints, but that it is „the inheritance of the saints in light.” So the saints dwell in light—the light of knowledge, the light of purity, the light of joy, the light of love, pure ineffable love, the light of everything that is glorious and ennobling. There they dwell, and if I am to appear meet for that inheritance, what evidence must I have? I must have light shining into my own soul. But where can I get it? Do I not read that „every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and Cometh down”—yea verily, but from whom? From the Spirit? No—”from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” The preparation to enter into the inheritance in light is light. and light comes from the Father of lights; therefore, my meetness, if I have light in myself, is the work of the Father, and I must give him praise. Do you see then, that as there are three words used here—”the inheritance of the saints in light,” so we have a threefold meetness? We are adopted and made sons. God hath sanctified us and set us apart. And then, again, he hath put light into our hearts. All this, I say, is the work of the Father, and in this sense, we are „meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”
    A few general observations here. Brethren, I am persuaded that if an angel from heaven were to come to-night and single out any one believer from the crowd here assembled, there is not one believer that is unfit to be taken to heaven. You may not be ready to be taken to heaven now; that is to say, if I foresaw that you were going to live, I would tell you you were unfit to die, in a certain sense. But were you to die now in your pew, if you believe in Christ, you are fit for heaven. You have a meetness even now which would take you there at once, without being committed to purgatory for a season. You are even now fit to be „partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” You have but to gasp out your last breath and you shall be in heaven, and there shall not be one spirit in heaven more fit for heaven than you, nor one soul more adapted for the place than you are. You shall be just as fitted for its element as those who are nearest to the eternal throne.
    Ah! this makes the heirs of glory think much of God the Father. When we reflect, my brethren, upon our state by nature, and how fit we are to be fire-brands in the flames of hell—yet to think that we are this night, at this very moment if Jehovah willed it, fit to sweep the golden harps with joyful fingers, that this head is fit this very night to wear the everlasting crown, that these loins are fit to be girded with that fair white robe throughout eternity, I say, this makes us think gratefully of God the Father; this makes us clap our hands with joy, and say, „thanks be unto God the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” Do ye not remember the penitent thief? It was but a few minutes before that he had been cursing Christ. I doubt not that he had joined with the other, for it is said, „They that were crucified with him reviled him.” Not one, but both; they did it. And then a gleam of supernatural glory lit up the face of Christ, and the thief saw and believed. And Jesus said unto him, „Verily I say unto thee, this day,” though the sun is setting, „this day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” No long preparation required, no sweltering in purifying fires. And so shall it be with us. We may have been in Christ Jesus to our own knowledge but three weeks, or we may have been in him for ten years, or threescore years and ten—the date of our conversion makes no difference in our meetness for heaven, in a certain sense. True indeed the older we grow the more grace we have tasted, the riper we are becoming, and the fitter to be housed in heaven; but that is in another sense of the word,—the Spirit’s meetness which he gives. But with regard to that meetness which the Father gives, I repeat, the blade of corn, the blade of gracious wheat that has just appeared above the surface of conviction, is as fit to be carried up to heaven as the full-grown corn in the ear. The sanctification wherewith we are sanctified by God the Father is not progressive, it Is complete at once, we are now adapted for heaven, now fitted for it, and we shall enter into the joy of our Lord.
    Into this subject I might have entered more fully; but I have not time. I am sure I have left some knots untied, and you must untie them if you can yourselves; and let me recommend you to untie them on your knees—the mysteries of the kingdom of God are studied much the best when you are in prayer.
    II. The second mercy is A MERCY THAT LOOKS BACK. We sometimes prefer the mercies that look forward, because they unfold such a bright prospect.

„Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood.”

But here is a mercy that looks backward; turns its back, as it were, on the heaven of our anticipation, and looks back on the gloomy past, and the dangers from which we have escaped. Let us read the account of it—”Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” This verse is an explanation of the preceding, as we shall have to show in a few minutes. But just now let us survey this mercy by itself. Ah! my brethren, what a description have we here of what matter of men we used to be. We were under „the power of darkness.” Since I have been musing on this text, I have turned these words over and over in my mind—”the power of darkness!” It seems to me one of the most awful expressions that man ever attempted to expound. I think I could deliver a discourse from it, if God the Spirit helped me, which might make every bone in your body shake. „The power of darkness!” We all know that there is a moral darkness which exercises its awful spell over the mind of the sinner. Where God is unacknowledged the mind is void of judgment. Where God is unworshipped the heart of man becomes a ruin. The chambers of that dilapidated heart are haunted by ghostly fears and degraded superstitions. The dark places of that reprobate mind are tenanted by vile lusts and noxious passions, like vermin and reptiles, from which in open daylight we turn with disgust. And even natural darkness is tremendous. In the solitary confinement which is practiced in some of our penitentiaries the very worst results would be produced if the treatment were prolonged. If one of you were to be taken to-night and led into some dark cavern, and left there, I can imagine that for a moment, not knowing your fate, you might feel a child-like kind of interest about it;—there might be, perhaps, a laugh as you found yourselves in the dark; there might for the moment, from the novelty of the position, be some kind of curiosity excited. There might, perhaps, be a flush of silly joy. In a little time you might endeavor to compose yourself to sleep; possibly you night sleep; but if you should awake, and still find yourself down deep in the bowels of earth, where never a ray of sun or candle light could reach you; do you know the next feeling that would come over you? It would be a kind of idiotic thoughtlessness. You would find it impossible to control your desperate imagination. You heart would say, „O God I am alone, alone, alone, in this dark place.” How would you cast your eyeballs all around, and never catching a gleam of light, your mind would begin to fail. Your next stage would be one of increasing terror. You would fancy that you saw something, and then you would cry, „Ah! I would I could see something, were it foe or fiend!” You would feel the dark sides of your dungeon. You would begin to „scribble on the walls,” like David before king Achish. Agitation would cease hold upon you, and it you were kept there much longer, delirium and death would be the consequence. We have heard of many who have been taken from the penitentiary to the lunatic asylum; and the lunacy is produced partly by the solitary confinement, and partly by the darkness in which they are placed. In a report lately written by the Chaplain of Newgate, there are some striking reflections upon the influence of darkness in a way of discipline. Its first effect is to shut the culprit up to his own reflections, and make him realize his true position in the iron grasp of the outraged law. Methinks the man that has defied his keepers, and come in there cursing and swearing, when he has found himself alone in darkness, where he cannot even hear the rattling of carriages along the streets, and can see no light whatever, is presently cowed; he gives in, he grows tame. „The power of darkness” literally is something awful. If I had time, I would enlarge upon this subject. We cannot properly describe what „the power of darkness” is, even in this world. The sinner is plunged into the darkness of his sins, and he sees nothing, he knows nothing. Let him remain there a little longer, and that joy of curiosity, that hectic joy which he now has in the path of sin, will die away, and there will come over him a spirit of slumber. Sin will make him drowsy, so that he will not hear the voice of the ministry, crying to him to escape for his life. Let him continue in it, and it will by-and-bye make him spiritually an idiot. He will become so in sin, that common reason will be lost on him. All the arguments that a sensible man will receive, will be only wasted on him. Let him go on, and he will proceed from bad to worse, till he acquires the raving mania of a desperado in sin; and let death step in, and the darkness will have produced its full effect; he will come into the delirious madness of hell. Ah! it needs but the power of sin to make a man more truly hideous than human thought can realize, or language paint. Oh „the power of darkness!”
    Now, my brethren, all of us were under this power once. It is but a few months—a few weeks with some of you—since you were under the power of darkness and of sin. Some of you had only got as far as the curiosity of it; others had got as far as the sleepiness of it; a good many of you had got as far as the apathy of it; and I do not know but some of you had got almost to the terror of it. You had so cursed and swore; so yelled ye out your blasphemies, that you seemed to be ripening for hell; but, praised and blessed be the name of the Father, he has „translated you from the power of darkness, into the kingdom of his dear Son.”
    Having thus explained this term, „the power of darkness,” to show you what you were, let us take the next word, „and hath translated us.” Whet a angular word this—”translated”—is. I dare say you think it means the process by which a word is interpreted, when the sense is retained, while the expression is rendered in another language. That is one meaning of the word „translation,” but it is not the meaning here. The word is used by Josephus in this sense—the taking away of a people who have been dwelling in a certain country, and planting them in another place. This is called a translation. We sometimes hear of a bishop being translated or removed from one see to another. Now, if you want to have the idea explained, give me your attention while I bring out an amazing instance of a great translation. The children of Israel were in Egypt under taskmasters that oppressed them very sorely, and brought them into iron bondage. What did God do for these people? There were two millions of them. He did not temper the tyranny of the tyrant; he did not influence his mind, to give them a little more liberty; but he translated his people; he took the whole two millions bodily, with a high hand and outstretched arm, and led them through the wilderness, and translated them into the kingdom of Canaan; and there they were settled. What an achievement was that, when, with their flocks and their herds, and their little ones, the whole host of Israel went out of Egypt, crossed the Jordan, and came into Canaan! My dear brethren, the whole of it was not equal to the achievement of God’s powerful grace, when he! brings one poor sinner out of the region of sin into the kingdom of holiness and peace. It was easier for God to bring Israel out of Egypt, to split the Red Sea, to make a highway through the pathless wilderness, to drop manna from heaven, to send the whirlwind to drive out the kings; it was easier for Omnipotence to do all this, than to translate a man from the power of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son. This is the grandest achievement of Omnipotence. The sustenance of the whole universe, I do believe, is even less than this—the changing of a bad heart, the subduing of an iron will. But thanks be unto the Father, he has done all that for you and for me. He has brought us out of darkness, he has translated us, taken up the old tree that has struck its roots never so deep—taken it up, blessed be God, roots and all, and planted it in a goodly soil. He had to cut the top off, it is true—the high branches of our pride; but the tree has grown better in the near soil than it ever did before. Who ever heard of moving so huge a plant as a man who has grown fifty years old in sin? Oh! what wonders hath our Father done for us I He has taken the wild leopard of the wood, tamed it into a lamb, and purged away its spots. He has regenerated the poor Ethiopian—oh, how black are were by nature—our blackness was more than skin deep; it went to the center of our hearts; but, blessed be his name, he hath washed us white, and is still carrying on the divine operation, and he will yet completely deliver us from every taint of sin, and will finally bring us into the kingdom of his dear son. Here, then, in the second mercy, we discern from what we were delivered, and how we were delivered—God the Father hath „translated” us.
    But where are we now? Into what place is the believer brought, when he is brought out of the power of darkness? He is brought into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. Into what other kingdom would the Christian desire to be brought? Brethren. a republic may sound very well in theory, but in spiritual matters, the last thing we want is a republic. We want a kingdom. I love to have Christ an absolute monarch in the heart. I do not want to have a doubt about it. I want to give up all my liberty to him. for I feel that I never shall be free till my self-control is all gone; that I shall never have my will truly free till it is bound in the golden fetters of his sweet love. We are brought into a kingdom—he is Lord and Sovereign, and he has made us „kings and priests unto our God,” and we shall reign with him. The proof that we are in this kingdom must consist in our obedience to our King. Here, perhaps, we may raise many causes and questions, but surely we can say after all, though we have offended our King many times, yet our heart is loyal to him. „Oh, thou precious Jesus! we would obey thee, and yield submission to every one of thy laws, our sins are not wilful and beloved sins, but though we fall we can truly say, that we would be holy as thou art holy, our heart is true towards thy statutes; Lord, help us to run in the way of thy commandments.”
    So, you see, this mercy which God the Father hath given to us, this second of these present mercies, is, that he hath „translated us out of the power of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son.” This is the Father’s work. Shall we not love God the Father from this day forth? Will we not give him thanks, and sing our hymns to him, and exalt and triumph in his great name?
    III. Upon the third point, I shall be as brief as possible; it is to SHOW THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE TWO VERSES.
    When I get a passage of Scripture to meditate upon, I like, if I can, to see its drift, then I like to examine its various parts, and see if I can understand each separate clause; and then I want to go back again, and see what one clause has to do with another. I looked and looked again at this text, and wondered what connection there could be between the two verses. „Giving thanks unto God the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” Well, that is right enough; we can see how this is the work of God the Father, to make us meet to go to heaven. But has the next verse, the 13th, anything to do with our meetness?—”Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” Well, I looked it over and I said I will read it in this way. I see the 12th verse tells me that the inheritance of heaven is the inheritance of light. Is heaven light? Then I can see my meetness for it as described in the 13th verse.—He hath delivered me from the power of darkness. Is not that the same thing? If I am delivered from the power of darkness, is not that being made meet to dwell in light? If I am now brought out of darkness into light, and am walking in the light, is not that the very meetness which is spoken of in the verse before? Then I read again. It says they are saints. Well, the saints are a people that obey the Son. Here is my meetness then in the 13th verse, where it says „He hath translated me from the power of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son.” So that I not only have the light, but the sonship too, for I am in „the kingdom of his dear Son.” But how about the inheritance? Is there anything about that in the 13th verse? It is an inheritance; shall I find anything about a meetness for it there? Yes, I find that I am in the kingdom of his dear Son. How came Christ to have a kingdom? Why, by inheritance. Then it seems I am in his inheritance; and if I am in his inheritance here, then I am meet to be in it above, for I am in it already. I am even now part of it and partner of it, since I am in the kingdom which he inherits from his Father, and therefore there is the meetness.
    I do not know whether I have put this plainly enough before you. If you will be kind enough to look at your Bible, I will just recapitulate. You see, heaven is a place of light; when we are brought out of darkness, that, of course, is the meetness for light. It is a place for sons; when we are brought into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, we are of course made sons, so that there is the meetness for it. It is an inheritance; and when we are brought into the inherited kingdom of God’s dear Son, we enjoy the inheritance now, and consequently are fitted to enjoy it for ever.
    Having thus shown the connection between these verses, I propose now to close with a few general observations. I like so to expound the Scripture, that we can draw some practical inferences from it. Of course the first inference is this: let us from this night forward never omit God the Father in our praises. I think I have said this already six times over in the sermon. Why I am repeating it so often, is that we may never forget it. Martin Luther said he preached upon justification by faith every day in the week and then the people would not understand. There are some truths, I believe, that need to be said over and over again, either because our silly hearse will not receive, or our treacherous memories will not hold them. Sing, I beseech you, habitually, the praises of the Father in heaven, as you do the praises of the Son hanging upon the cross. Love as truly God, the ever-living God, as you love Jesus the God-man, the Savior who once died for you. That is the great inference.
    Yet another inference arises. Brothers and sisters, are you conscious to-night that you are not now what you once were? Are you sure that the power of darkness does not now rest upon you, that you love divine knowledge, that you are panting after heavenly joys? Are you sure that you have been „translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son?” Then never be troubled about thoughts of death, because, come death whenever it may, you are meet to be a „partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.” Let no thought distress you about death’s coming to you at an unseasonable hour. Should it come to-morrow should it come now, if your faith is fixed on nothing less than Jesu’s blood and righteousness, you shall see the face of God with acceptance. I have that consciousness in my soul, by the witness of the Holy Spirit, of my adoption into the family of God, that I feel that though I should never preach again, but should lay down my body and my charge together, ere I should reach my home, and rest in my bed, „I know that my Redeemer liveth,” and more, that I should be a „partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.” It is not always that one feels that but I would have you never rest satisfied till you do, till you know your meetness, till you are conscious of it; until, moreover, you are panting to be gone, because you feel that you have powers which never can be satisfied short-of heaven—powers which heaven only can employ.
    One more reflection lingers behind. There are some of you here that cannot be thought by the utmost charity of judgment, to be „meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.” Ah! if a wicked man should go to heaven without being converted, heaven would be no heaven to him. Heaven is not adapted for sinners; it is not a place for them. If you were to take a Hottentot who has long dwelt at the equator up to where the Esquimaux are dwelling, and tell him that you would show him the aurora, and all the glories of the North Pole, the poor wretch could not appreciate them; he would say, „It is not the element for me; it is not the place where I could rest happy! And if you were to take, on the other hand, some dwarfish dweller in the north, down to the region where trees grow to a stupendous height, and where the spices give their balmy odours to the gale, and bid him live there under the torrid zone, he could enjoy nothing; he would say, „This is not the place for me, because it is not adapted to my nature.” Or if you were to take the vulture, that has never fed on anything but carrion, and put it into the noblest dwelling you could make for it, and feed it with the daintiest meals, it would not be happy because it is not food that is adapted for it. And you, sinner, you are nothing but a carrion vulture; nothing makes you happy but sin, you do not want too much psalm singing, do you? Sunday is a dull day to you; you like to get it over, you do not care about your Bible; you would as soon there should be no Bible at all, You find that going to a meeting-house or a church is very dull work indeed. Oh then you will not be troubled with that in eternity; do not agitate yourself. If you love not God, and die as you are, you shall go to your own company, you shall go to your jolly mates, you shall go to your good fellows; those who have been your mates on earth shall be your mates for ever; but you shall go to the Prince of those good fellows, unless you repent and be converted. Where God is you cannot come. It is not an element suited to you. As well place a bird at the bottom of the sea, or a fish in the air, as place an ungodly sinner in heaven. What is to be done then? You must have a new nature. I pray God to give it to you. Remember if now you feel your need of a Savior, that is the beginning of the new nature. „Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ;” cast yourselves simply on him, trust in nothing but his blood, and then the new nature shall be expanded, and you shall be made meet by the Holy Spirit’s operations to be a „partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.” There is many a man who has come into this house of prayer, many a man is now present, who has come in here a rollicking fellow, fearing neither God nor devil. Many a man has come from the ale house up to this place. If he had died then, where would his soul have been? But the Lord that very night met him, There are trophies of that grace present here to-night. You can say, „Thanks be to the Father, who hath brought us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” And if God has done that for some, why cannot he do it for others? Why need you despair, O poor sinner? If thou art here to-night, the worst sinner out of hell, remember, the gate of mercy stands wide open, and Jesus bids thee come, Conscious of thy guilt, flee, flee to him. Look to his cross, and thou shalt find pardon in his veins, and life in his death.

Wednesday Events – Passion Week – and Judas Iscariot,the suicide of Satan and the Salvation of the World

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

(via) Justin Taylor from the Gospel Coalition

Holy Week: What Happened on Wednesday?

Jesus continues his daily teaching in the Temple

Luke 21:37-38

With Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread approaching, the chief priests, elders, and scribes plot to kill Jesus

Matthew 26:3-5 Mark 14:1-2 Luke 22:1-2

Satan enters Judas, who seeks out the Jewish authorities in order to betray Jesus for a price

Matthew 26:14-16 Mark 14:10-11 Luke 22:3-6

Luke 22:1-6

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. 2 And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people. 3 Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. 4 He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. 5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6 So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.

This is the final message in the series called Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ. The aim has been to show that over and over in the history of the world, the epoch-making sins that changed the course of history never nullified but only fulfilled the global purposes of God to glorify his Son and save his people.

My prayer is that, as these great historical vistas of God’s sovereignty over sin take their place in your renewed mind, they would have a profoundly practical effect in making you strong in the face of breath-stopping sorrows and making you bold for Christ in the face of dangerous opposition. Christ-exalting strength in calamity and Christ-exalting courage in conflict. I pray that the Lord will weave cords of steel and silk into the fabric of your soul.

History’s Most Spectacular Sin: The Murder of Jesus

The most spectacular sin that has ever been committed in the history of the world is the brutal murder of Jesus Christ, the morally perfect, infinitely worthy, divine Son of God. And probably the most despicable act in the process of this murder was the betrayal of Jesus by one of his closest friends, Judas Iscariot.

Judas was one of the twelve apostles that Jesus had personally chosen and who had been with Jesus during his entire public ministry. He had been entrusted with the moneybag for the whole group (John 13:29). He was close enough to Jesus at the Last Supper to be dipping bread with him in the same cup (Mark 14:20).

“Satan Entered into Judas”

On the night of the Last Supper, Luke tells us in Luke 22:3-6 that “Satan entered into Judas. . . . He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray [Jesus] to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.” Later he led the authorities to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Luke 22:47-48). With that, Jesus’ death was sealed.

When Luke tells us in verse 3 that “Satan entered into Judas,” several questions come to our minds. 1) One is whether Satan simply mastered a good Judas or whether Judas was already walking in line with Satan and Satan simply decided that now is the time. 2) Another question is why Satan would do this since the death and resurrection of Jesus would result in Satan’s final defeat, and there is good reason to think Satan knew that. 3) And the third and most important question is: Where was God when this happened? What was his role or non-role in the most spectacular sin that ever was? So let’s take these questions one at a time.

1) Satan’s Power in Judas’ Sinful Passions

When it says in Luke 22:3 that “Satan entered into Judas,” how are we to think about the will of Judas and the power of Satan? Judas was not an innocent bystander when Satan entered into him. The apostle John tells us in John 12:6 that he was a thief. When Judas complained that Mary had wasted money in anointing Jesus, John comments, “He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.”

If that sounds incredible, just think of the scandalous behavior of so-called Christian leaders today who use ministry gifts to buy $39,000 worth of clothes at one store in a year, and send their kids on a $29,000 trip to the Bahamas, and drive a white Lexus and a red Mercedes. As Judas sat beside Jesus with his pious, religious face and went out and cast out demons in Jesus’ name, he was not a righteous lover of Jesus. He loved money. He loved the power and pleasures that money could by.

Paul tells us how that works together with Satan’s power. Listen to Ephesians 2:1-3: “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air [notice the connection: dead in sins, following Satan], the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Dead in our sins, walking in the passions of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of body and mind, and therefore following the prince of the power of the air.

Satan does not take innocent people captive. There are no innocent people. Satan has power where sinful passions hold sway. Judas was a lover of money, and he covered it with a phony, external relationship with Jesus. And then he sold him for thirty pieces of silver. How many of his tribe are there still today! Don’t be one. And don’t be duped by one.

2) Satan’s Role in His Own Destruction

The second question is why Satan would lead Judas to betray Jesus. Doesn’t he know that the death and resurrection of Jesus would result in Satan’s final defeat (Colossians 2:13-15; Revelation 12:11)? There’s good reason to think Satan knew that.

When Jesus began his ministry on the way to the cross, Satan tried to turn him away from the path of suffering and sacrifice. In the wilderness, he tempted him to turn stones into bread and jump off the temple and get the rulership of the world by worshipping him (Matthew 4:1-11). The point of all these temptations is: Don’t walk the path of suffering and sacrifice and death. Use your power to escape suffering. If you’re the Son of God, show your right to reign. And I can help you do it. Whatever you do, don’t go to the cross.

Then do you remember the time when Jesus predicted he would suffer many things from the elders and the chief priests and be killed and Peter rebuked him and said, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22). In other words, I will never let you be killed like that. Jesus did not commend him. He said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matthew 16:23). Hindering Jesus from going to the cross was the work of Satan. Satan did not want Jesus crucified. It would be his undoing.

But here he is in Luke 22:3 entering into Judas and leading him to betray the Lord and bring him to the cross. Why the about face? Why try to divert him from the cross and then take the initiative to bring him to the cross? We are not told. Here is my effort at an answer: Satan saw his efforts to divert Jesus from the cross failing. Time after time, Jesus kept the course. His face was set like flint to die, and Satan concludes that there is no stopping him. Therefore he resolves that if he can’t stop it, he will at least make it as ugly and painful and as heartbreaking as possible. Not just death, but death by betrayal. Death by abandonment. Death by denial (see Luke 22:31-32). If he could not stop it, he would drag others into it and do as much damage as he could. It was a spectacular sequence of sins that brought Jesus to the cross.

3) God’s Role in the Murder of His Son

Which brings us now to the third and final question—the most important one: Where was God when this happened? Or more precisely: What was God’s role or non-role in the most spectacular sin that ever happened—the murder of Jesus Christ?

To answer a question like that we should put our hands on our mouths and silence our philosophical speculations. Our opinions don’t count here. All that counts is what God himself as shown us in his word. And the first thing he shows us is that the details surrounding the death of Jesus are prophesied in God’s word hundreds of years before they happen.

The Scriptures prophesy that evil men will reject Jesus when he comes.

Matthew 21:42: “Jesus said to them (quoting Psalm 118:22), ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes”?’”

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus must be hated.

In John 15:25, Jesus quoted Psalm 35:19 and said, “The word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’”

The Scriptures prophesy that the disciples would abandon Jesus.

In Matthew 26:31, he quotes Zechariah 13:7: “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus will be pierced but none of his bones will be broken.

John quotes Psalm 34:20 and Zechariah 12:10 and says, “One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear. . . . For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken.’ And again another Scripture says, ‘They will look on him whom they have pierced’” (John 19:34-37).

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus would be betrayed by a close friend for thirty pieces of silver.

In John 13:18, Jesus cites Psalm 41:9 and says, “I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’”

And in Matthew 26:24, Jesus says, “The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!”

And in Matthew 27:9-10, it says, “Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me’” (Jeremiah 19:1-13; Zechariah 11:12-13).

And not only the Scriptures, but Jesus himself prophesies, down to the details, how he will be killed.

In Mark 10:33-34, he says, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”

And on that last night, Jesus looked at Peter and said, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times” (Matthew 26:34).

According to His Sovereign Will

From all these prophesies, we know that God foresaw, and did not prevent, and therefore included in his plan that his Son would be rejected, hated, abandoned, betrayed, denied, condemned, spit upon, flogged, mocked, pierced, and killed. All these are explicitly in God’s mind before they happen as things that he plans will happen to Jesus. These things did not just happen. They were foretold in God’s word. God knew they would happen and could have planned to stop them, but didn’t. So they happened according to his sovereign will.

And all of them were evil. They were sin. It is sin to reject, hate, abandon, betray, deny, condemn, spit upon, flog, mock, pierce, and kill the morally perfect, infinitely worthy, divine Son of God. And yet the Bible is explicit and clear that God himself planned these things. It is explicit not only in all the prophetic texts we have seen, but also in passages that say even more plainly that God brought these things to pass.

God Brought It to Pass

For example, in Isaiah 53:6 and 10, it says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. . . . It was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief.” So behind the spitting and flogging and mocking and piercing is the invisible hand and plan of God.

And I say that carefully and with trembling. This truth is too big and too weighty and too shocking to be glib about or to be cocky about. I choose to say that the invisible hand and plan of God are behind these most spectacular sins in all the universe—more grievous and more spectacular than the fall of Satan or any others. The reason I use these very words is because the Bible says it in those very words.

The Hand and Plan of God

In Acts 4:27-28, we have the clearest, most explicit statement about God’s hand and plan behind the horrific crucifixion of his Son. “Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand (cheir) and your plan (boule) had predestined to take place.” Those are the two words I am using: the hand of God and the plan of God.

It is a strange way of speaking—to say that God’s hand and plan have predestined something to happen. One does not ordinarily think of God’s “hand” predestining. How does a hand predestine? Here’s what I think it means: The hand of God ordinarily stands for God’s exerted power—not power in the abstract, but earthly, effective exertions of power. The point of combining it with “plan” is to say that it is not just a theoretical plan; it is plan that will be executed by God’s own hand.

This explains Isaiah 53:10: “It was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief.” Or more literally, with the King James Version, “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.” The Lord bruised him. Behind Herod and Pilate and the Gentiles and the people of Israel was Jesus’ own Father who loved him with an infinite love.

The Gospel: God At Work in Death

Why should this matter to you? It should matter because if God were not the main Actor in the death of Christ, then the death of Christ could not save us from our sins and we would perish in hell forever. The reason the death of Christ is the heart of gospel—the heart of the good news—is God was doing it. Romans 5:8: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If you break God’s activity from the death of Jesus, you lose the gospel. This was God’s doing. It is the highest and deepest point of his love for sinners. His love for you.

Romans 8:3: “Sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.” God condemned sin in Jesus’ flesh with our condemnation. So we are free.

Galatians 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” God cursed Jesus with the curse that belonged on us. So we are free.

2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” God imputed our sin to him, and now we go free in God’s righteousness.

Isaiah 53:5: “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities.” God wounded him. God crushed him. For you and me. And we go free.

The Cross of Christ: The Work and Love of God

The reason why this series of messages matters is this. If you embrace the biblical truth (and I pray you will) that God ordains spectacular sins for the global glory of his Son, without in anyway becoming unholy or unrighteous or sinful in that act, then you will not shrink back from the cross of Christ as a work of God. You will not be among the number of those who call the most loving act that ever was “divine child abuse.” You will come to the cross and fall on your face. And you will say: This is no mere human conspiracy. This is the work of God and the love of God. You will it receive as his highest gift. And you will be saved. And Christ will be glorified. And I will not have preached in vain.

© Desiring God

Persoana si Lucrarea Duhului Sfant – „The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit”

Photo credit www.disciples.org.au

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

Faith Matters Episode 12 –  „The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit” featuring a discussion between Dr. Mark Williams, General Overseer of the Church of God and Dr. Steven J. Land, President of the Pentecostal Theological Seminary.

Notes from the video:

Dr. Mark Williams – It’s undeniable that the Holy Spirit is at work in the world today. He is convicting people of sin. He is drawing them to Christ. We see Him at work, as the Lord is pouring out His Spirit in the last days, which are a sign, of course, of the last days. He is so important. And He is also very important in worship. Is He not?

Dr. Steven J. Land: Absolutely! How could we know God, unless God wanted to be known? You know, you can come together and simply remember facts and rehearse Scriptures, and if God doesn’t show up, to know God and encounter God, is it really worship? We remember we are taught things, but, by saying that this is an encounter with the living God, we participate in His life and He is in our midst, He speaks to us and moves and manifests gifts and informs us and speaks to His character, that’s what helps the whole world to see that we are a community that has God at the center. We’re not just a religion making group. But, we’re gathered around God at the very center. The closer we get to God, the closer we get to each other.

Dr. Mark Williams: 1 Corinthians 12:13-14 are really very important passages  for me as a disciple and as a pastor, as a shepherd, as I begin to learn  about the manifestations of the Spirit, the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:7 -the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every person to profit. And we see, as Paul, in a corrective way at the church of Corinth, begins to lay out the person, the work of the Holy Spirit, how he works, what the purpose of the Holy Spirit at work among us, corporately, really is- to glorify Jesus. Also, to edify. We see in those passages, the gifts of the Spirit. Perhaps in my view, not necessarily an exhaustive list. It’s certainly a representative list of the gifts of the Spirit. We see in there, gifts for the mind, gifts for might, gifts for the mouth- for utterance. We see, sandwiched in there, also, the ultimate test of the Spirit’s work, which is love.

Dr. Steven J. Land: And why is that? Because God is love. Again, it goes back to this participation in the life and mission of God. What would we be if we didn’t have love? If you didn’t have love, it means you wouldn’t have God. The whole point of God was not just to reveal information, but to reveal Himself. Let us know Him. And that He that hath the Son, hath life. And he that hath not the Son, hath not life. So, the very life at the center is the life of God given us in Jesus Christ, by the Spirit of life, the Holy Spirit. So, 1 Corinthians 13 can talk about the more excellent way . The most excellent way is not love. It’s love motivating all the other things: the tongues, the knowledge and the faith, and the giving and the sacrifice. That’s the most excellent way of life. It’s not a multiple choice test. It’s to make sure love is the central motive, the central reality. So that God remains central and we’re not competing with each other.

Dr. Mark Williams: How many times have I seen the Holy Spirit work corporately in pointing us to Christ? Pointing us to the love of God? And releasing supernatural enablements to help give guidance to the church. We read in Scripture about the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom and discerning the spirits. I would say, in your experience, you have also seen times when we didn’t know what to do, and the Holy Spirit would give to us divine direction that we could have never known before.

Dr. Steven J. Land: Or, the Holy Spirit speaking and revealing people’s hearts. Just astounding. People falling on their faces in reverence for God because He’d reveal things that no one would know, but God.

Dr. Mark Williams: I’ve got to tell you this. My dad was not raised in a Christian home at all, He came to faith out of dating my mom. He found Christ as His Savior. They were married. He was in the Air Force and he goes to church, a Church of God in Wichita Falls, Texas. And they invite a friend of my dad’s and his girlfriend, to go over with them to church. They were at a revival. Now, my dad was very skeptical about the person and the work of the Holy Spirit. He saw people living in such a way, you claimed to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and he thought, „Well, I live just as good as they do, and I even pay my tithes.” So, he really had doubts.

At this service, a preacher who is now in heaven, he was up preaching. And he had a prayer line and my dad’s buddy went up for prayer. And when my dad’s friend went up for prayer, brother Krutcher (?) a visiting evangelist who had never seen this guy before and this man had never been to this church before, brother Krutcher laid his hand on this man and looked at him in the eye and he said, „You’re living a lie. The woman you have brought with you does not know that you have a wife  back in Ohio. You have a family. You need to call on God.” The man fell to his knees, repented of his sins. I’ll tell you something else that happened. It made a believer out of my dad. And fear came upon the congregation. And my dad never doubted the person and the work of the Holy Spirit again.

Dr. Steven J. Land: It was either right or wrong, very specific.

Dr. Mark Williams: Yeah, this was no general… „There might be someone here…” He looked at him right in the eye. The gift of the word of knowledge was right there prophetically speaking.

Dr. Steven J. Land: Yeah, those are the things that made this revival, this renewal, this missionary movement  spread around the world. It’s also the thing touching people in other places. For example, we’re going to witness in the world where other religions are entrenched. Manifestations where there is Buddhism, or Islam or radical secularism. When you get the Gospel coming with words of Scripture and signs and demonstrations in the Spirit, that combination, not just separating them, just Scripture and just manifestations, but coming together. That’s a powerful combination.

Dr. Mark Williams: I long for this generation to see authentic supernatural at work. How important is that?

Dr. Steven J. Land: It is so essential because what we so often have is to believe that the individual is the key. Just finding the individual and just lifting up that individual. My mother said so often to me, she’s now with the Lord, but she would say, „Steve, when you teach or preach, you’ve got to find a way to always move behind the cross.” I think people need to carry away Christ, not you.” Move behind the cross, always. And isn’t that what the Holy Spirit does. The Holy Spirit continually lifts up Christ, even though the Holy Spirit is God, but lifts up Jesus Christ because He’s the Savior and in Him we know the life of the Father. We discover the will of the Father and we worship God. So, that’s very critical for us who are filled with the Spirit. To lift up Christ, to point away from ourselves and lift up Christ. And when we do that, the signs will follow.

Dr. Mark Williams: Okay, so you’re sitting in a service and you’re not skeptical. There’s a difference from the discernment of spirits and pure old skepticism. We’ve seen both before. How do you know whether a manifestation truly is of the Holy Spirit or whether it is of the flesh? Or, God forbid, another Spirit? Don’t we have some instructions on discernment there?

Dr. Steven J. Land: Discernment;s huge. True and false prophecy is the roots and fruits. If it comes from a guy who doesn’t bear Godly fruit- you don’t get sweet water out of a bitter well. And so it’s roots and fruits. And sometimes you don’t know til later, you wait and kind of see til it bears out, what fruit does it produce? Does it divide the church? Does it build up the church? Does it edify? Does it comfort? Does it  exhort to righteousness? You know, they are put in those tests in Scripture, whether in 1 Corinthians 14 or the prophetic passages of the Old Testament and you put all that together in discernment to determine true and false prophets and true and false prophecies, and you see what finally happens. Some people will clearly lift themselves up, they’ll say wild and exotic things. Some of it just won’t bear with Scripture. They’ve gone beyond Scripture. You know, [they’ll say], „We’ve got further revelation.” But, how much sense will it make if the Holy Spirit will reveal things which contradict what He inspired people to write in Scripture? So we have to set it.

Dr. Mark Williams: The old timers used to say, „The Holy Ghost WILL NEVER contradict Himself!” What we have to be careful of not allowing the excesses to rob us of the genuine.

Dr. Steven J. Land: When I was growing up, there was a lady who came through and my aunt called my dad, and said, „You’ve got to come to church tonight. There’s a  woman here, God has filled her mouth with jewels.” Some people just go crazy over that. She would open her mouth and they’d see things glittering and they’d get excited. I had no confidence in that at all. It doesn’t lift up Christ and it’s just sensationalism. It’s not of the Lord, I’m not moved. And that proved to be the case. It turned out that she had taken this colored foil and put it in her mouth and got exposed. Well, it was just a show. It was not something lifting up Christ, and it wasn’t in the context of the word. It was just, „Look what God can do.”

It’s like gold dust falling from the ceiling. I got a call from a newspaper reporter. He said, „What do you think about this gold dust?” „Well, did you get a bag of it?” „No.” „Well, did anybody?” We need to question that, don’t we? „It fell, but nobody’s got any.” And if it’s just to lift up people, it’s just sensationalism.

And I go back to that quote from the Azusa Street revival and what it said: „People look for the spectacular and they miss the wonderful.” Signs and wonders, these are wonder works. They lead to wonder before God, in reverence before God, or does it lift up individuals? You know, if a manifestation of a gift leads to hate and not to love, not joy in the Lord, but despair in the Lord, not to peace, but to discord and strife; it’s pretty clear that there’s contradiction there between gifts and fruit. The fruit, as for the gifts, to manifest for the character. It’s like, our deeds should manifest our character and our motivation. The gifts of the Spirit, they should form us in that and not contradict us. Those should go together, the way that personality goes together with character. And the external and the internal. We should see that. In church, it should be like a garden. A place that cultivates the fruit of the Spirit, so we produce people that have Christian character. I think that’s what upsets me more than anything, that Christians  who make a claim of their character, it doesn’t bear it out.

Dr. Mark Williams: You know, by their fruit you shall know them. You know, my grandpa always had a statement. He would see people slain in the Spirit, and he would basically say, „You know, It’s fine to be slain in the Spirit. I believe in that, wonderful, but, when you get up, how you walk is what is really important.” There’s no doubt about it, God is a Spirit. Those that worship Him, must worship Him in Spirit, and in truth. God is seeking such. And I just pray that God would continue to favor us with the manifestations of the Spirit. Not for spectacle, not for show. But, that the name of Jesus might be lifted up and that the manifestation would become a platform upon which to to the good news of Jesus Christ.

Faith Matters Episode 12 –  „The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit”

featuring a discussion between

Dr. Mark Williams, General Overseer of the Church of God

and Dr. Steven J. Land,

President of the Pentecostal Theological Seminary

The Last Instructions of Jesus (Tenth Resurrection Appearance) and His Ascension

Ultimile Instructiuni ale Domnului Isus

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

After Jesus’ resurrection, he was on earth for 40 days (Acts 1:3), then He led His followers out to Bethany, just outside Jerusalem, and „lifting up His hands, He blessed them. While He blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51).
John 21:1-23 relates the story of the last appearance of Jesus after His     resurrection.  Then Matthew’s center of these instructions is the future mission to spread the good news through baptism and teaching (Matthew 28:18-20). In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus teaches them to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins  (Matthew 24:47). In the fourth Gospel, Jesus breathes on the disciples the Holy Spirit, thereby empowering them to continue his mission, including the forgiveness of sins (John 20:22-23).

TENTH  RESURRECTION  APPEARANCE

From the upper room to the Mount of Olives. Mark 16:19, 20  Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:4-11.

A. Jesus blesses them and promises the baptism of the Spirit.

B. He orders them to witness for Him:

  1. In Jerusalem
  2. In Judea
  3. In Samaria
  4. unto the uppermost parts of the earth.

C. He is received up into glory to the right hand of the Father.

D. This is the Old Testament Prophecy fulfillment number 38, that He would ascend. (Compare Psalm 24:7-10 with Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51). Did the resurrected Christ appear before any unsaved individuals? On the strength of Matthew 23:37-39 it would seem He did not.

„O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

These words conclude  the Bible’s account of the greatest  life that was ever lived. It should, however be said that His glory story is not limited to the four Gospel accounts. In fact, each of the sixty-six Biblical books presents a glimpse of this marvelous and mighty Messiah. Note the following „scriptural summary of the Savior”:

Christ in every book (of the Bible)

Christ is the theme of the entire revelation of God. He is promised in Genesis, revealed in the Law, prefigured in its history, praised in poetry, proclaimed in its prophecy, provided in its Gospels, proved in its Acts, preeminent in its Epistles and prevailing in Revelation.

(thanks to Gabi Bogdan for above video, illustrating Christ in every book, through song)

He is seen in every book of the Bible. Take a journey through the Halls of Holy Writ and and in every one of them you will see Christ. Starting with Genesis He is the seed of the woman; in Exodus the Lamb for sinners slain; in Leviticus, our High Priest; in Numbers, the Star of Jacob and the Brazen Serpent; in Deuteronomy,  the Prophet like unto Moses and the Great Rock; in Joshua, the Captain of the Lord’s Hosts; in Judges the Messenger of Jehovah; in Ruth our Kinsman-Redeemer and the Faithful Bridegroom; in 1 Samuel He is seen as the Great Judge; in 2 Samuel as the Princely King; in 1st Kings as David’s Choice; in  2 Kings as the Holiest of All; in 1 Chronicles as King by Birth; in 2 Chronicles as King by Judgement.

In Ezra He is seen as Lord of heaven and earth; in Nehemiah as builder; in Esther our Mordecai; in Job our Daysman and our Risen,  returning Redeemer; in Psalms the Son of God and the Good Shepherd; in Proverbs our Wisdom; in Ecclesiastes as the One above the sun; in Song of Solomon the great Church lover; the one Altogether Lovely and the Chiefest among ten thousand. (VIA)

The ascent into heaven

Only Mark (longer version) and Luke include an account of the ascension. For the other evangelists, Jesus’ return to the Father is taken for granted (implied). Luke wants both to round up (finish) his Gospel and to provide a link with his second volume, The Acts of the Apostles. Favorite themes, first appearing in his infancy narratives, are all fitted into these final two verses–journey, Jerusalem, rejoicing, prayers of praise(Luke 24:52-53). Jesus is portrayed as lifting His hands in blessing over the small group of disciples; in Acts 1:6-11, He will commission them to extend this blessing to the entire world and thus throughout the ages. (VIA)

The Resurrection Appearances of Jesus

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

Study By: Bob Deffinbaugh at http://www.bible.org. Our text deals with the first three of our Lord’s four post-resurrection appearances in the Gospel of John. The first appearance is to Mary Magdalene, and the next three are to the disciples. Jesus will appear to Mary Magdalene (20:10-18), then to the disciples, minus Thomas (20:19-23), then to the disciples, with Thomas (20:26-29), and finally to the seven disciples, including Thomas, who were fishing on the Sea of Tiberias (21:1ff.). There are some very important lessons to be learned here, so let us listen and learn, looking to the Spirit of God to interpret, apply, and implement these truths in our lives.

General Observations

It would serve us well to begin with several observations concerning our text and its relationship to the other Gospels.

We do not really know a great deal about the time between our Lord’s resurrection and His ascension. When you stop to think about it, a significant portion of each of the Gospels is taken up with the events of the last week of our Lord in Jerusalem. And yet, the 40 days following our Lord’s resurrection gets very little attention in comparison. The material we do have about this period is not meant to satisfy our curiosity about all that happened during this time, but is recorded to prove one important fact: Jesus Christ rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father!

Of the details we do find regarding our Lord’s ministry after His resurrection, a number of them are recorded only in Acts and 1 Corinthians. Until now I did not realize how much of my understanding of our Lord’s ministry after His resurrection is based upon New Testament books other than the Gospels. Some of the most important details come from Acts 1 and 1 Corinthians 15:

1 I wrote the former account, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after he had given orders by the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering he had also presented himself alive to these apostles by many convincing proofs. He was seen by them over a forty-day period and spoke about matters concerning the kingdom of God. 4 While he was with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for “what my Father promised, which you heard about from me. 5 For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 So when they had gathered together, they began to ask him, “Lord, is this the time when you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He told them, “You are not permitted to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.” 9 After he had said this, while they were watching, he was lifted up and a cloud took him away from their sight. 10 As they were staring into the sky while he was going, suddenly two men in white clothing stood near them 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:1-11).

3 For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received—that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still living, though some have died. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as though to one born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

I am not sure why I had concluded that my understanding of the post-resurrection period was dependent solely upon the Gospels. It was probably due, in part, to my assumption that if one Gospel didn’t mention something I knew about this time period, it was because it was recorded in one of the other three Gospels. But this is not necessarily true. If it were not for Acts 1 and 1 Corinthians 15, we would not know nearly as much about the Lord’s ministry during the 40 days following His resurrection. From Acts 1:3 we learn that during this time, Jesus taught His disciples about the kingdom of God which was yet to come. While our Lord’s instruction to His disciples to wait for the coming of the Spirit can be found in Luke’s Gospel (24:49), we probably remember this command from Acts 1:4-5. Apart from 1 Corinthians 15:5, we would not know that Jesus appeared to over 500 people at one time after His resurrection. It is from Paul (1 Corinthians 15:5), as well as from Luke (24:34), that we know Jesus made a private appearance to Peter. We would certainly not expect the replacement for Judas to be Saul, to whom our Lord made another (albeit, a later) post-resurrection appearance (1 Corinthians 15:8). A good part of what little we know of this period in our Lord’s life and ministry comes from outside the Gospels.

Some of the details about events which occurred in this time period may appear to be contradictory. For example, in Mark we read that after the women saw and heard the angel at the tomb, “they went out and ran away from the tomb. They were in a state of trembling and amazement, and said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid” (Mark 16:8, emphasis mine). In Luke’s Gospel we read, “Then they remembered his words, and when they returned from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest ” (Luke 24:8-9, emphasis mine). I believe the solution to this apparent contradiction is found in Matthew’s account: “So they left the tomb quickly, with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. But Jesus met them, saying, ‘Greetings!’ They came to him, held on to his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee. They will see me there’” (Matthew 28:8-10, emphasis mine).

By putting all these details in sequence, we get a pretty good idea of what happened from the time the women left the tomb till they spoke with all the disciples and others. The women saw and heard the angel, who instructed them to go tell the disciples that Jesus was alive and would meet them in Galilee. The women rush off toward the city, but they are in a virtual state of shock. They tell no one they encounter on their way what they have just seen and heard (this conforms with what Mark tells us). Then, as they are still on their way to the city, Jesus Himself appears to them. This is the first time they have actually seen Him. He tells the women to go and tell the others, and indeed they do. Thus, all statements (those of Mark, of Luke, and of Matthew) harmonize when viewed in terms of the entire event. I believe we must assume this to be the case in every instance where an apparent contradiction appears. The details that differ are not an occasion for wringing our hands, they are the opportunity for a fuller grasp of what happened. Let us keep that in mind as we approach our text.

We find that some of the Gospel accounts are particularly brief at this point. This is especially true of Matthew and Mark’s accounts. Matthew writes of one appearance of Jesus to the women (28:9-10) and of one appearance of Jesus to His disciples (28:16-20). Mark’s account is terse as well, depending to some degree upon where you think his account really ends. Mark does briefly mention the appearance of Jesus to the two men on the road to Emmaus (16:12-13; compare Luke 24:13-35). He also tells of the appearance of our Lord to the eleven disciples (Mark 16:13-18). Mark does not include an account of Jesus appearing to any of the women, but only of the angel speaking to them (16:1-8). Luke and John have the most lengthy accounts of the post-resurrection ministry of our Lord. Luke does not describe an appearance of Jesus to the women; he chooses instead to emphasize the appearance to the two men on the road to Emmaus (24:13-35). He then writes of our Lord’s subsequent appearance to the disciples (24:36-39) and then of His ascension (24:50-53). John focuses on four of the Lord’s post-resurrection appearances: first to Mary Magdalene (20:11-18), then to the disciples minus Thomas (20:19-25), then the disciples with Thomas (20:26-29), and finally to the seven disciples as they are fishing on the Sea of Tiberias (21:1-25).

Finally, each Gospel has something unique to add to the story. Matthew informs us that the tomb was secured by a Roman seal and guards, provided at the request of the Jewish religious leaders who recalled Jesus’ promise that He would rise from the dead in three days, and who were afraid His disciples would steal His body. Matthew then follows up with an account of how the guards and the religious leaders fabricated a cover story to explain the missing body of our Lord. Mark’s account is indeed unique, causing much discussion as to where his Gospel should end. Luke provides us with a detailed account of the appearance of our Lord to the two men on the road to Emmaus. John’s account is almost entirely unique. He alone describes the investigation of the tomb by both Peter and John (Luke 24:12 tells us only that Peter went to see the tomb), of the appearance of Jesus to Mary, of three appearances of Jesus to His disciples—more than any other Gospel. His focus on Thomas’ reluctance to believe in our Lord’s resurrection is unique. The appearance of Jesus to the seven disciples at the Sea of Tiberias is also unique, including our Lord’s three-fold question and exhortation to Peter. With this background information in mind, let us take a closer look at the first three post-resurrection appearances of our Lord, as described in John 20.

Jesus’ First Appearance: Mary Magdalene (John 20:10-18)

10 So the disciples went back to their homes. 11 But Mary stood outside the tomb and wept. While she was weeping, she bent over and looked into the tomb. 12 She saw two angels in white sitting where Jesus’ body had been lying, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Mary replied, “They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have put him!” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” Because she thought he was the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will take him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus replied, “Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene came and informed the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them what Jesus had said to her.

It was Mary Magdalene who first arrived at the empty tomb in the early hours of the first day of the week. When she saw the stone had been removed, she seems to have jumped to a hasty conclusion—someone had taken the body. We do not know to whom the “they” (“They have taken the Lord from the tomb …”—verse 2) refers, and I doubt that Mary did either. I believe it is safe to say that it never occurred to her that any of the disciples took the body. She seems to have assumed it was either the Jews, or the Roman soldiers, or someone like “the gardener” (see 20:15). It never occurred to Mary that Jesus had been raised from the dead. She did not hope to see her risen Lord; she simply wished to locate His body and give it a proper burial.

A year or so ago a young woman’s body was stolen from its grave at Restland Cemetery, just a mile or so down the road from our church. It was a terrible thing to do, and the family was most eager to get the body back and see to it that it was buried properly, once for all. Someone had added insult to injury. Not only had this family lost a loved one, they suffered the agony of not knowing what had become of her body. Mary must have felt the same way this young woman’s family felt. She had devoted herself and her livelihood to following Jesus and supporting Him, along with some other women. She had watched helplessly as Jesus was tried, convicted, and crucified. She looked on as His body was laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Now, she believed that the body of her Lord had been taken. It was almost too much to bear.

When Peter and John left the tomb, Mary remained behind. At first she stood outside the tomb, weeping. She stooped sufficiently to be able to see inside the tomb, apparently for the first time. Two angels were inside, clothed in white. An angel was sitting at each end of the place where Jesus’ body had been laid. From Mary’s response to these angels, one can hardly avoid the conclusion that Mary did not recognize these angels as angels. But then why should she? It is true that in Matthew’s account the one angel who sat on the stone had an appearance that was like lightening (28:3), and this fellow was so awesome the guards were terrified (28:4). But John does not tell us that these two angels were as awesome in appearance as the first angel was. And this should come as no surprise. Often in the Bible, angels simply look like men, so that their appearance alone would not reveal their true identity (see Genesis 18 and 19; Acts 1:10-11; Hebrews 13:2). It would seem that the two angels made no effort to identify themselves as angels, nor even to inform Mary that Jesus was not there. Perhaps it was because our Lord was going to do this personally.

The angels asked Mary, “Woman, why are you weeping?” The inference is that her tears were not really called for. They were tears of love, and of sorrow, but they were also ill-founded. In Mary’s mind, this was the darkest moment of her life, and yet her tears were based upon false assumptions: that Jesus was dead; that His body had been stolen; that she would not be able to find His body. If Mary had known the real reason why the tomb was empty, she would not have been crying.

Some have suggested that the angels gave a look of recognition when they saw Jesus behind Mary, outside the tomb. We do not know why, but for some reason Mary turned around to gaze at the risen Lord. She saw Him, but she did not recognize Him, in much the same way that I had seen Sally Rackets in the parking lot this past week, but did not recognize her. Mary’s vision may have been obscured by her tears, and Jesus may not have looked exactly the same as He did before His resurrection. He most certainly looked different from the way she saw Him last, from the horrible sight she could not erase from her mind—a badly beaten, bloody figure, who could hardly be recognized for all the abuse His body had taken: “Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness” (Isaiah 52:15, NIV).

Jesus asks Mary the same question the angels had asked her moments earlier: “Woman, why are you weeping?”, but He adds a further question, “Who are you looking for?”. Jesus knew why she was weeping. He knew that the empty tomb caused her great grief. He knew that she was seeking His body. His words indicate to Mary that He knows something about her dilemma. Mary’s grief still blinds her to the truth, but she nevertheless seems to discern that this “gardener” holds the key to her quest for the Lord’s body. She pleads with Him to convey any information He may have to her: “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will take him” (verse 15).193

Jesus answered with but one word—“Mary.” For Mary, seeing was not believing, but hearing was. Would you not love to have heard this one word just the way Mary did? That one word was spoken in the voice she knew so well. It was also spoken in the manner she knew so well. What love, what compassion, what healing was conveyed by this one word—“Mary.” I cannot help but recall the words of our Lord, spoken earlier:

1 “I tell you the solemn truth, the one who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The doorkeeper opens the door for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought all his own sheep out, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow himbecause they recognize his voice. 5 They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him, because they do not recognize the stranger’s voice” (John 10:1-5, emphasis mine).

Immediately Mary recognized that it was her Lord, and called Him “Rabboni” (or teacher). We know from our Lord’s words that Mary has already locked Him in her grasp. It is as though she intended to keep holding on to Him, so that He would never leave her again. And it is because of this that Jesus responds, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God’” (John 20:17, NAB). I must differ with the NET Bible translation here (“Do not touch me, …”) for two reasons. First, it is not that Jesus could not be touched. In but a few verses we will read, “Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and examine my hands. Extend your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe’” (John 20:27). Why would Jesus tell Mary not to touch Him, and instruct Thomas to do so? In Matthew 28:9, Jesus allowed the women to take hold of His feet and worship Him. Second, the tense of the imperative is present, and this grammatical construction often conveys the thought of ceasing to do something.194 Jesus is not trying to prevent Mary from touching Him; He is trying to make it clear to her that He is going to leave this world to return to His Father. She should not suppose that by clinging to Him she can prevent His departure.

John does not include the command which Jesus gave to Mary, though it is clear that He instructed her as to what she was to tell the disciples (20:18). She who was the first to go out to the tomb was the first to see the risen Lord, and apparently the first to be privileged to share the good news of His resurrection with others.

Before we go on to the next appearance of our Lord, I would like to make a comment or two. I would like you to note that our Lord’s first appearance is not to one of the eleven disciples, but to Mary Magdalene. She will never be one of the apostles. She will never write a Gospel. She will never become a great preacher or leader. Nevertheless, our Lord chose to manifest Himself to her first. Why do you think this was? I would call your attention to three important factors. First, she had a great love for her Master, as He did for her. Second, she seemed to be the one with the greatest measure of grief. I am reminded of the words of our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who mourn, because they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). In the context of this sermon, Jesus did not promise blessings to those who were the greatest, or the most powerful, but to those in the greatest need, with the greatest desire for spiritual things. There is a third reason: Mary was there first. Jesus revealed Himself first to the one who was there first. Mary came to the tomb early, because of her great love, and her great grief, and Jesus revealed Himself to her, first.

I would also like to point out an important lesson which this text teaches us: When we come to see things as they really are, we will find that many of our tears were unnecessary. To put it in different words, Many of our tears are ill-founded. Both the angels and our Lord questioned Mary as to why she was weeping. The reason she gave was that her Lord’s body had been taken, and she did not know where to find it. The truth of the matter was that Jesus was not dead; He had been resurrected. And beyond this, His body was not missing at all, and no one had taken it. Jesus did not need to be found by Mary; Jesus found Mary.

We know that in heaven there will be no more tears: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more—or mourning, or crying, or pain; the former things have ceased to exist” (Revelation 21:4). Why will there be no more tears in heaven? The first answer is because there will no longer be those things which cause us to cry—no more suffering, no more sin, no more injustice, no more death. But the second reason is that we shall then see all of our sorrows in an entirely different light. We shall see them in the context of the perfect work God was achieving through the things which caused us to weep.

When you and I get to heaven, we will see things in a very different light, and when we do, we will discover that many of our tears of sorrow were as groundless as Mary’s tears were. I am not saying that Christians should not cry. What I am saying is that a good deal of our sorrow is the result of our inadequate knowledge of what God is doing in and through our adversities. When Christians get to heaven, they will see the entire picture, and thus they will find that everything that has ever happened to them is for their good and His glory. No wonder there will be no tears in heaven! Our comfort and joy may not come as quickly as Mary’s did, but it will be just as great, just as real, and it is just as certain.

Jesus’ Second Appearance: The Disciples, Minus Thomas (John 20:19-23)

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the disciples had gathered together and locked the doors of the place for fear of the Jewish authorities. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you!” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you! Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.” 22 And after he said this, he breathed195 on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.”

John very kindly does not tell us what Mark and Luke record in their accounts—that when the disciples were told that Jesus was alive, they refused to believe it without seeing Him:

9 Early on the first day of the week, after he arose, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had driven out seven demons. 10 She went out and told those who were with him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11 And when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe (Mark 16:9-11; see also verses 12-13).

10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles. 11 But these words seemed like pure nonsense to them, and they did not believe them (Luke 24:10-11).

It was on the first day of the week—the same day that Mary saw Jesus—and the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors. They were afraid of the Jews, and rightly so. They were disciples of Jesus, and He had just been crucified for sedition. And now, the story was circulating that they had stolen the body of Jesus (Matthew 28:11-15). Remember that the tomb was sealed by Rome, and guarded by Roman soldiers. The disciples may have felt in greater danger here than on any previous occasion. They must have been deeply troubled by the reports they had heard that Jesus was alive. What were they to think of all this? What were they to do? They did not know.

And so the disciples met together behind locked doors. We are told that one disciple was missing—Thomas. We are not told why he was absent. There is no particular blame cast on him for his absence. In some miraculous way, Jesus enters the room, even though the door is locked. We do not know what the disciples saw, but John certainly leaves us with the impression that our Lord’s entrance was unusual—one more proof of His resurrection. Our Lord twice repeated the words, “Peace be with you” (20:19, 21). This certainly reminds us of what Jesus had said earlier to these men:

25 “I have spoken these things while staying with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you. 27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I am. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe” (John 14:24-29, emphasis mine).

It would appear that this was our Lord’s first appearance to the disciples after His resurrection. If this is so, it may be the same appearance that Luke describes, providing us with additional details:

30 When he had taken his place at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 At this point their eyes were opened and they recognized him. Then he vanished out of their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us while he was speaking with us on the road, while he was explaining the scriptures to us?” 33 So they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem. They found the eleven and those with them gathered together 34 and saying, “The Lord has really risen, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how they recognized him when he broke the bread. 36 While they were saying these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 But they were startled and terrified, thinking they saw a spirit. 38 Then he said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself! Touch me and see; because a spirit does not have flesh and bones like you see that I have.” 40 Then when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still could not believe it for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 So they gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in front of them (Luke 24:30-43, emphasis mine).

Jesus would have appeared to Mary and the other women by now, and they have already announced to the disciples that Jesus was alive. But the disciples refused to believe. Then, the two men who talked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus arrived to tell the disciples of their encounter with the risen Lord. Once again, the disciples refused to believe:

12 After this he appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 They went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. 14 Then he appeared to the eleven themselves, while they were eating, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen him resurrected (Mark 16:12-14, emphasis mine).

John spares us from yet another account of the unbelief of the disciples, and of Jesus rebuking them for their unbelief. While their unbelief deserved rebuke, John moves on to tell us how Jesus convinced His disciples of His resurrection. He shows them His nail-scarred hands and His spear-pierced side. There was no mistaking the fact that His wounds, now healed, were incurred at His crucifixion. It was Jesus, and there was no denying it, incredible as that may be.

The disciples had a job to do, and they were being left behind so that they could accomplish it. This task is summed up in the “Great Commission”:

18 Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

To accomplish this task, the disciples are in need of divine enablement. This was promised by our Lord in the Upper Room Discourse (John 13–16):

15 “If you love me, you will obey my commandments. 16 Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you. … 25 I have spoken these things while staying with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you” (John 14:15-17, 25-26).

26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me; 27 and you also will testify, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27).

7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I am going away. For if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgment— 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. 12 I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but will speak whatever he hears, and will tell you what is to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you. 15 Everything that the Father has is mine; that is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you. 16 In a little while you will see me no longer; again after a little while, you will see me” (John 16:7-16).

I had never noticed before that in His high priestly prayer in John 17, Jesus does not ask the Father to send the Spirit, which He has promised in chapters 14-16. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is not even mentioned in this prayer! How can this be? I believe that while our Lord prepared His disciples for the coming of the Spirit in the Upper Room Discourse, He did not intend to send the Spirit until after His ascension. In other words, the Holy Spirit would not come until Pentecost. Some suggest that in our text Jesus is temporarily bestowing the Spirit upon His disciples, until Pentecost comes. I don’t agree.

In the first place, John does not report anything out of the ordinary happening as a result of our Lord’s actions. The disciples are not transformed, as they will be at Pentecost. The gospel is not preached. In fact, the next thing to happen in John’s Gospel is that some of the disciples go fishing. I do not believe that the Holy Spirit was immediately bestowed upon the disciples at this moment, as a result of what Jesus says and does. I believe Jesus is symbolically bestowing the Spirit upon His disciples, although it will not actually take place until Pentecost. Jesus will have ascended to the Father then, and so this gesture indicates to the disciples that when the Spirit comes at Pentecost, it will be as a result of what Jesus had promised earlier, and symbolically indicates here.

I wish to be very clear here, both as to what I am saying, and as to what I am not saying. I am saying that our Lord is here symbolically bestowing His Holy Spirit on the church. This symbolic act will literally be fulfilled at Pentecost. Jesus wants it to be clear that it is He who is sending His Spirit to indwell and to empower His church. I am not saying that the Spirit is given at the moment Jesus breathes upon His disciples. I am not saying that this is a temporary bestowal of the Spirit, until the permanent coming of the Spirit at Pentecost.

Specifically, I believe that what Jesus is symbolically bestowing is the coming of the Holy Spirit upon His disciples as those who will act as His apostles. Earlier, Jesus outlined some of the ministries of the Holy Spirit. For example, the Spirit would call Jesus’ teaching to their minds. He would convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment. But here, none of these ministries seems to be in view. Here, the Holy Spirit is given to the apostles so that they can either proclaim the forgiveness of sins, or the retention of sins. I do not think this text justifies some priestly hierarchy, who hears confessions and grants absolution from one’s sins. Instead, I believe Jesus is giving the apostles the authority to declare men and women to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. I believe we see an example of this in the Book of Acts:

1 Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers took issue with him, 3 saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and shared a meal with them.” 4 But Peter began and explained it to them point by point, saying, 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, an object something like a large sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came to me. 6 As I stared I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, and birds of the air. 7 I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; slaughter and eat!’ 8 But I said, ‘Certainly not, Lord, for nothing defiled or ritually unclean has ever entered my mouth!’ 9 But the voice replied a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not consider ritually unclean.’ 10 This happened three times, and then everything was pulled up to heaven again. 11 At that very moment, three men sent to me from Caesarea approached the house where we were staying. 12 The Spirit told me to accompany them without hesitation. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He informed us how he had seen an angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter, 14 who will speak a message to you by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ 15 Then as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them just as he did on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, as he used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 Therefore if God gave them the same gift as he also gave us after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to hinder God?” 18 When they heard this, they ceased their objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted the repentance that leads to life even to the Gentiles” (Acts 11:1-18, emphasis mine).

It takes a monumental work of God to convince the Jews that God has purposed from eternity past to save Gentiles (see Acts 22:21-23). Our Lord had promised to send the Spirit, which He did at Pentecost. After Pentecost, the Holy Spirit directed Peter to go to the house of a Gentile and to proclaim the gospel to those gathered in his house. The Spirit then came upon all those who had come to faith, thus indicating that the gospel (the forgiveness of sins) was not just for Jews alone, but for all who believe, Jew or Gentile. It is difficult for Gentile believers today to grasp how hard it was for Jews to accept the salvation of the Gentiles. Even the apostles found this difficult. As the Spirit came upon the apostles, this truth was embraced, proclaimed, and defended by them. By means of the Spirit’s guidance and illumination, the truth that the gospel was for Jews and Gentiles was declared by the apostles, and particularly by Paul:

11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh—who are called “uncircumcision” by the so-called “circumcision” that is performed in the body by hands—12 that you were at that time without the Messiah, alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, the one who turned both groups into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition, the hostility, in his flesh, 15 when he nullified the law of commandments in decrees. The purpose of this was to create in himself the two into one new man, thus making peace, 16 and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by which the hostility has been killed. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer foreigners and non-citizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household, 20 because you have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:11-22).

1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2 If indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that by revelation the divine secret was made known to me, as I wrote before briefly. 4 When reading this, you will be able to understand my insight into this secret of Christ. 5 Now this secret was not disclosed to mankind in former generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, 6 namely, that through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow-heirs, fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus. 7 I became a servant of this gospel according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the exercise of his power. 8 To me—less than the least of all the saints—this grace was given, to proclaim to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ 9 and to enlighten everyone about the divine secret’s plan—a secret that has been hidden for ages in the God who has created all things (Ephesians 3:1-9).

Jesus’ Third Appearance: The Disciples, Including Thomas (John 20:24-31)

24 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “Unless I see the wounds from the nails in his hands, and put my finger into the wounds from the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe it!” 26 Eight days later the disciples were again together in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and examine my hands. Extend your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe.” 28 Thomas replied to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are the people who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The disciples seem to have been convinced of our Lord’s resurrection, except for Thomas who was not there. He did not see the resurrected Lord, nor did he behold the Savior’s wounded hands and side. And so it was that when Thomas was told that Jesus had appeared to them, he refused to believe. He insisted that in order for him to believe, he would have to see Jesus with his own eyes. He would have to personally inspect the Lord’s nail-pierced hands and His pierced side. Only then would he believe. Before we become too harsh with Thomas, let me remind you that the other disciples did not believe until they saw, either. Thomas is really demanding to see the same things that convinced the others. He is not asking for anything more than what the others saw.

Eight days passed. Apparently Jesus did not appear to any of His disciples during this period of time. The disciples were all together once again, including Thomas. The doors were locked, but in spite of this Jesus arrived and stood in their midst.196 Jesus repeats the greeting He gave at His earlier appearance, “Peace be with you” (verse 26; see also verses 19, 21). Immediately, Jesus turns His attention to Thomas. He summons Thomas to come and to put his finger where the nails had pierced His hands, and to feel His side where the spear had pierced it. He challenged Thomas to forsake his unbelief and to believe.

We do not know whether Thomas actually pressed his fingers into our Lord’s nail-pierced hands or not. Since John does not tell us that Thomas actually felt the wounds of our Lord, it may well be that after seeing Jesus alive he no longer required this proof. It may have taken this sight to convince Thomas, but once convinced, Thomas got it right. He does not merely profess a belief that Jesus has risen from the dead. Thomas professes to believe in what the resurrection proved—that Jesus was God, and that He was Lord (verse 28). Thomas now has it right.

Bible translations handle our Lord’s response differently. Some render the first words of verse 29 as a question, “Have you believed because you have seen Me?” (as does the NET Bible). Others render it as a statement: “Because you have seen me, you have believed” (NIV, KJV, NKJV). The difference is not important. The contrast Jesus seeks to emphasize is between those who must see in order to believe, and those who will believe without seeing. Peter seems to take up this same thought in his first epistle:

8 You have not seen him, but you love him. You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9 because you are attaining the goal of your faith—the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8-9).

It is not too hard to see what John is leading up to. John is writing this Gospel for those who have never seen the risen Lord. He has selected just a few of the many miraculous signs Jesus performed to demonstrate that Jesus is who He claimed to be, who John proclaims Him to be.

The Bottom Line: Believing Jesus Is the Christ, the Son of God (John 20:30-31)

30 Now Jesus performed many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples that are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

If there is one thing I despise, it is deceptive advertising. I hate those phone calls that come from unidentified (“out of the area”) sources, which begin with the assurance that the caller is not “selling” anything. John could not be more open and direct about the purpose of this book. I believe John has two conclusions. The first is found in chapter 20. It is aimed at those who have not yet come to faith in Jesus Christ. The second is aimed at those who have believed, and it is found in chapter 21.

In our text, John informs his unbelieving readers about the “bottom line” of all that he has written. John has one goal for the unbeliever: He wants to demonstrate as clearly and as forcefully as he can that Jesus not only claimed to be the Christ (the Messiah), the Son of God, but that by many miraculous signs He proved it! The last and greatest of these signs was His resurrection from the dead:

38 Then some of the experts in the law along with some Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. 41 The people of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; yet something greater than Jonah is here! 42 The Queen of the South will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; yet something greater than Solomon is here! (Matthew 12:38-42).

While the resurrection of Jesus from the dead was prophesied in the Old Testament, and by our Lord Himself, John makes it very clear that the disciples were not predisposed to believe it. Only after the most forceful and compelling evidence would the disciples believe Jesus really was alive. And having become convinced of this great truth, the disciples never ceased to proclaim it. The resurrection of Jesus is the final and compelling proof that He is the Son of God and the Savior of the world:

1 From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God 2 that he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3 concerning his Son who was a descendant of David with respect to the flesh, 4 who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 1:1-4).

Believing in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, is the only way God has provided for the forgiveness of your sins and for the gift of eternal life. By believing in Him, you will be saved:

9 Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and thus has a right standing and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation. 11 For the scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all, who richly blesses all who call on him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:9-13).

11 He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children 13 —children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God (John 1:11-13).

In many ways, the Gospel of John is not a simple book. But its message to the unsaved is incredibly simple, and John sums it up in these last verses of chapter 20. If you have never come to believe in Jesus as the Christ, the promised Messiah, the Son of God, then John has written this book to you, and for you, to give you all the evidence you need to believe in Him. Have you believed? This is the most important decision you will ever make. It determines your eternal destiny.


193 Some have criticized Mary for being so nave as to assume she will be able to carry away the body of our Lord. They are missing the point. She is not thinking in terms of logistics here. She is simply saying that if this “gardener” will tell her where to find the body, she will see to it that it is returned to its proper place. Of course she will get help to accomplish this. For now, she just wants to know where His body has been placed.

194 A. T. Robertson comments, “Present middle imperative in prohibition with genitive case, meaning “cease clinging to me” rather than “Do not touch me.” Jesus allowed the women to take hold of his feet … and worship … as we read in Mt 28:9. The prohibition here reminds Mary that the previous personal fellowship by sight, sound, and touch no longer exists and that the final state of glory was not yet begun. Jesus checks Mary’s impulsive eagerness.” Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1931), 6 vols. Vol. V, p. 312.

195 I am reminded that the breath of God is the source of life (Genesis 2:7; Job 33:4; Psalm 33:6; Ezekiel 37:9), even as it is also the means of divine judgment (2 Samuel 22:16; Job 4:9; Psalm 18:15). The breath of God is sometimes a symbol for His Spirit (Job 33:4). In a symbolic way, our Lord is breathing life into His church.

Both the NET Bible and the NIV smooth out the translation here. The NIV reads: “A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’” (John 14:26). Both the old and the new King James Versions and the NAS leave the translation a bit rough, in order to convey the unusual word order: “After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you’” (NAS). “And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’” (NKJ). The original text seems to be emphasizing the fact that Jesus entered the room, in spite of the fact that the doors were shut and locked. (On seeing and believing, http://www.bible.org)

What Is Present When Kneeling to Pray in Jesus’ Name by John Piper

Here’s what is present when we kneel to pray in Jesus’ name:
1. God the Father on his throne sovereign over the universe, with a welcoming,   countenance focused on us.

2. God the Son in his high priestly role, standing as advocate before the throne as a Lamb that was slain with perfect righteousness and with all God’s promises purchased fully in his hand interceding for us.

3. God the Spirit within us, having already inclined us to pray, poised to guide our prayers, put to death our sins, awaken our faith, illumine God’s word, and produce his fruit.

4. The word of God open before us, inspired by God, alive with penetrating power for conviction of sin and indomitable hope, revealing the Father, the Son, and the Spirit to our souls, shaping and guiding our prayers after God’s will.

5. Our sin forgiven, but humbling us to need and love our merciful saving God.

6. God’s grace like a great rainbow of hope arcing from the throne to our soul.

7. Our will captured by these realities, moving words (or only groans) up out of our mind (or only heart) to God with praise and thanks and confession and requests.

(via) Desiring God

Dr. Wayne Grudem – The Interpersonal Relationship among the Members of the Trinity

This lecture is from an Academic Conference at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Grudem’s presentation is the 5th lecture of this series and it is titled:

Troubling Doctrinal Deviations in Evangelical Feminist arguments about the Trinity.

Several recent evangelical feminist authors have denied that the Son is eternally subject to the authority of the Father within the Trinity. These authors include Gilbert Bilezikian, Rebecca M. Groothuis, Kevin Giles, Millard Erickson, Phillip Carey, Linda Belleville, and Dennis W. Jowers.

In reading these arguments, I noticed that they contained important doctrinal deviation either in what is said, or what is implied in the form of the argument. The argument deviated from the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, in some cases and they rejected the authority of Scriptures, it seems to me, in other cases. So, those are going to be 2 parts of my paper:

  1. Evangelical feminist arguments that deviate from the orthodox  doctrine of the Trinity,
  2. And, Evangelical feminist arguments that reject the authority of Scripture.

Arguments that deviate from the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity

1. Denying the Trinity by denying any eternal distinctions
between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Essential to the doctrine of the Trinity, as affirmed by all four previous speakers, and is taught in the Bible is the idea that the distinctions between the persons of the Trinity- the Father is not the Son. Father is not the Holy Spirit, and the Son is not the Holy Spirit. They are 3 distinct persons. They’re equal in deity, and there’s only one God. But, within the being of God Himself, there are three distinct persons. Several recent evangelical authors are unwilling to specify any distinction between the persons. For example, rather than agreeing that the names Father, and Son indicate a distinction between the persons , a number of evangelical feminist authors argue that the names only show that the Son is like the Father, not that He is distinct from the Father in any way.

And sadly, the most prominent writer in this regard is Millard Erickson, whom I respect in many ways for much of what he has written. Erickson says, „There is considerable biblical evidence that the primary meaning of the biblical term Son as applied to Jesus is likeness, rather than subordinate authority. So, for example, he says the jews saw Jesus’s self designation as the Son of God as a claim to deity or equality with God. I should say in parenthesis- I agree that Sonship does imply equality of Being, because, just as a human son is human and the father is human; so, in the Trinity, the Father is divine, therefore, the Son of God is divine. That’s true. But, the question is whether that is all that is affirmed.

Similarly, Kevin Giles objects: ‘The name Father and Son are not used in the New Testament to suggest the divine Father always has authority over the Son. He said, these names speak, rather, of an eternal correlated relationship, by intimacy, unity, equality, and identical authority.

My response: If intimacy and identical authority were all that Jesus wanted to indicate by calling Himself a Son, calling God His Father, He could have spoken of ‘My friend in heaven‘, or ‘my brother in heaven‘, or even ‘my twin in heaven‘. These images were ready at hand. But, He did not. He spoke of ‘My Father in heaven‘. Emphasizing likeness in deity only, while failing to specify the distinctions between the persons of the Trinity is a failure to affirm the distinctions between the 3 persons, which is one important aspect of the doctrine of the Trinity. It seems to me that is a significant doctrinal deviation.(6:00)

2. Denying the Trinity by claiming an act of any one person
is actually an act of all three persons

Even more troubling is the tendency of evangelical feminists to claim that any action, taken by any person in the Trinity is an action of all three persons of the Trinity, when faced with many biblical texts that show that the Son is always subject to the Father (I have over 30 texts that I will allude to, later), and that the Father is not subject to the Son. When faced with many of these texts, Millard Erickson produces a different solution to suggest that the act of any one person in the Trinity is actually an act of all three persons. Here is what Erickson says is an overall principle. I’m quoting from his book ‘Who’s Tampering With The Trinity‘, pp 137-138. Erickson says this, „Although one person of the Trinity may occupy a more prominent part in a given divine action, the action is actually that of the entire Godhead‘- I would agree with him, up to that point. Then he says, ‘and the one person is acting on behalf of the three,” I would agree with him to that point. But then, listen, „This means that those passages that speak of the Father predestining, sending, commanding, and so on, should not be taken as applying to the Father only, but to all members of the Trinity. Thus, they do not count as evidence in support of eternal supremacy of the Father and eternal subordination of the Son.’

How does Erickson argue for this? The way he argues for it is to point out that some of the actions of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are done by more than one person. For instance, the Father and Son are involved in sending the Spirit into the world. The Father and Son are both involved in judging the world. Both the Son and the Holy Spirit intercede before the Father. The Father  and the Son both love the world. Both the Father and the Son receive prayer. Erickson concludes, „The various works attributed to the various persons of the Trinity are in fact works of the Triune God. One member of the Godhead may in fact do this on behalf of the three, and be mentioned as the one who does that work; but, all participate in what is done.’

But, these verses that he quotes, hardly prove Erickson’s point. Yes, it is true that both the Father and the Son sent the Spirit into the world. But, the Holy Spirit does not send the Holy Spirit into the world. And yes, both the Son and the Holy Spirit intercede before the Father. But, the Father does not intercede before the Father. As for actions that are directed toward people in the world, such as loving, judging, indwelling people, it is true that all three persons are involved in a way in these activities, but, that does not prove Erickson’s point because the real issue is the relationship between the Father and the Son in the Trinity. In that issue, the testimony of the Scripture is clear: The Son continuously, throughout eternity, submits to the will of the Father. This is clear, even in some of the passages that Erickson appeals to. At one point, he says, „It is not only the Father who predestined some to be saved, but Jesus also elects some to salvation. As Jesus said in John 5:21 ‘Even so, the Son gives life to whom He is pleased to give it and  no one knows the Father except the Son. And those to whom the Son chooses, reveal Him (John 5:21 and Matthew 11:27). Erickson concludes, „It appears that Jesus chooses those whom He reveals to the Father.” What he is saying, is, „The Father predestines. Yes, but the Son also predestines. They both do this action.”

It is remarkable that  Erickson mentions John 5:21 and Matthew 11:27, because the very context of both of them, Jesus attributes supreme authority to the Father. In John 5:21, he says, „Yes, He gives life to whom He is pleased to give it, but 2 verses earlier, Jesus says, „The Son can do nothing of His own accord. But only what He sees the Father doing. For, whatever the Father does, so the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and show Him all that He is doing.” Nine verses after this, Jesus says, „I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge. Judgment is just cause I seek not my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.” Erickson did not mention these verses, although they occur in the very same context. Therefore, the Son only chooses, in conjunction with what has been shown of the will of the Father.

As for Erickson’s other verse, Matthew 11:27, the beginning of the verse, which Erickson does not quote, says, „All things have been handed over to Me by My Father.” And then Jesus goes on to say, „No one knows the Father, except through the Son, and those whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” The testimony of Scripture on this matter is consistent. When the Son chooses people for salvation, He is simply following  the directives of the Father. He’s not acting independently of the authority of the Father, yet, both the Father and the Son participate in their choosing, yet their actions are not identical, but distinct. The Father chooses, the Father shows the Son who has been chosen, the Son chooses those who have been given Him by the Father.

What is even more troubling about Erickson’s argument is he seems to be denying that there is any difference between the persons of the Trinity. He’s arguing against the idea that we can say that the Son has eternally been subject to the authority of the Father. Erickson is trying to nullify that idea, by denying that we can say anything that is done by the Son is not also done by the Father and the Spirit. Erickson wants to make that kind of discussion impossible. But, in order to make his point, he is apparently saying that the actions of any one person of the Trinity are the actions of not just the whole being of God, but of every person in the Trinity. And to say that is to deny what is taught by really hundreds of passages of Scriptures that speak of different actions, carried out by different members of the Trinity.

For example: At the baptism of Jesus, God the Father was speaking from heaven, „This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” God the Son was not speaking from heaven in those words, nor was the Holy Spirit speaking from heaven and saying those words. God the Son was being baptized, the Holy Spirit was descending like a dove coming to rest upon Him. God the Father was not being baptized, nor was the Holy Spirit being baptized. The Father was not descending like a dove, nor was the Son descending like a dove. It simply confuses the teaching of Scripture to say or imply that all three persons of the Trinity are doing any one action. But that is what Erickson seems to be saying.  (12:35 min mark – with 44 minutes remaining)

Jesus Is Worthy – David Platt

Photo credit kingdomnewtestament.wordpress.com

„You see Jesus saying to four fishermen, ‘Follow me.’ We need to feel the weight and the wonder of the One who’s speaking here—this is Jesus. The Savior and Messiah. The One promised to come in the kingly line of David and Abraham Father of God’s people in Israel. Fully human and fully divine. The One who wise men of the nations bow. The One who’s birth ushers in the consummation of generations and generations of prophecy and expectation. He is the Savior King, the Righteous Judge of the World perfectly filled with God the Spirit, completely loved by God the Father. The only man who’s conquered sin. The True Son that Israel could never be. The Light of the World and the Hope for all Nations. Do we realize who this is? For when we do we come to one conclusion…

This Jesus is clearly absolutely worthy of more than nominal adherence and church association. Church leaders, we must not reduce this Jesus to a poor, puny savior who is just begging for people to accept him into their hearts as if Jesus needed to be accepted by us. He doesn’t need your acceptance. He doesn’t need my acceptance. He doesn’t need any of our acceptance. He’s infinitely worthy of all glory in all the universe and He doesn’t need us at all. We need Him! We desperately need Him…Jesus is worthy of total abandonment and supreme adoration.” This is no game here. We’re talking about the Savior King of the universe and the Righteous Judge of the nations. God in the flesh, saying, „Follow Me”. (2nd Photo credit www.day4ministries.com)

VIDEO by VergeNetwork

Leonard Ravenhill – Why, O why, do we settle for minimum spirituality?

What Do I Still Lack?
By Leonard Ravenhill

leonard ravenhillWhat percentage of responsibility for my spiritual maturity is the Lord’s, and how much of it is mine? To say that I alone am responsible for my soul’s development is conceit. To say that all the responsibility is the Lord’s is impudence.

I find it humbling, inspiring, and challenging to recognize that the greatest saints who ever lived did not have a bigger Bible than I have. They just knew it better. Indeed, they had far less of the divine Revelation. Today we have the complete message of God to man. He has nothing more to say to us. As the old hymn says, „What more can He say than to you He hath said?” God has no „P.S.” to add to the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

For years the Holy Scriptures were wrapped up in tongues that only the scholars could read. „There was no open vision in those days” (I Sam. 3.1). Then, blessed day, the whole counsel of God was released in our mother tongue. With this unveiling came the glad news of the priesthood of believers – Hallelujah!

Do you wonder that Bishop Walsham How bursts into song about the Holy Word:

„It is a golden casket,
where gems of Truth are stored.
It is the Heaven-drawn picture
of Christ, the Living Word.”

      Trees are fascinating to most of us. I like to see the burdened fruit trees showing off their labor. The English like their mighty oaks and the Americans their redwood trees. At the moment, in the area where I write, the peach trees are richly endowed with fruit; but, it does not grow already canned. No! God gave us the fruit; we do the canning. Trees do not grow furniture, even in this scientific age. We have the trees. From them we make the chairs, etc. So it is with the spiritual life. Here is a stunning truth from Second Peter, Chapter one, verse three: „His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain TO LIFE AND GODLINESS.” Paul backs up Peter in this area when he says, „How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom.8:32). And to top these precious words, here comes Paul again with a staggering statement: „The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; HEIRS OF GOD, AND JOINT-HEIRS WITH CHRIST.” Stop there? NO, add the remainder:„…if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Rom. 8:16-17) (Photo credit www.sciencedaily.com)

With all this limitless resource to inherit in this life, why then, O why, do we settle for minimum spirituality? These scriptures just quoted shatter all our excuses for carnal Christianity and explode all our feeble bumper-sticker excuses on bumper-sticker evangelism: „Christians are not perfect, just forgiven.” (Some backslider must have written that one.)

Sinning is not permitted to believers. „Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” (I John 3:9) Not that it is impossible to sin; but it is, by the blood of Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit, possible not to sin. John again shouts the triumphant note, „Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

God, then, has made it possible for you and me to have victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil!

Here are the Master’s commandments to His own. These are not options but imperatives. With His enabling and our striving, we can explore what Lowrey called „the possibilities of Grace.” We can leave the playpen in the Spiritual Nursery and „go on unto perfection.” (Heb. 6:1) Here are His commands:

– „Little Children, keep yourselves from idols (I John 5:21)
– „Building up yourselves on your most holy faith…” (Jude 20; Rom. 10:17)
– „Keep yourselves in the love of God ..” (by obedience to His Word) (Jude 21)
– „Put on the whole armor of God…” (equipment for beating Satan) (Eph. 6-11)
– The Scnpture is very clear here: „Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4 :7)

      Christian maturity is not a weekend operation. On the other hand, remember there is no finality to the Christian life this side of eternity. While we are in the flesh, we „press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14)

      We hear continually about „Weight Watchers.” O that we watched our spiritual growth as carefully!

      I believe in instant purity: „The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” (I John 1:7) I do not believe in instant maturity. Faith in the finished work of Christ is one thing. To add to your faith, as Peter says in 2 Peter 1:5-7, is something else. As a tree must be pruned regularly to bring it to maturity, so we need pruning. It is easy to sing, „And pour contempt on all my pride.” If I do that at all, I will do it conveniently protecting myself from any „bleeding.” It is when the Lord does it – or worse still when He uses some other human being (less spiritual than I am) to do the pruning – then can I kiss the rod? This is a process in spiritual growth. Can I take it cheerfully when I am slighted, when my name is cast out as an evil thing (though I am totally innocent)? Can I joyfully help to promote another to a position that I would like and which I am more capable of handling?

      I heard a preacher asking another if folks came to the altar at his last meeting. He replied, „Yes, but most of them are altar tramps.” It’s easier to go to the altar than to get on the cross. There is no magic in a trip to the altar. You will not grow an inch by walking a few yards to the altar, unless there is a total repentance and a holy vow to God that you will not fall into the same hole again.

Heroes of the Faith Hebrews 11That holy band of „Heroes of Faith” in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews staggers me. They had no Bibles, no millions of cassettes as we have, no Bible seminars, no daily radio Bible teaching, and (fortunate souls) no Gospel T.V. preachers whining about lack of funds. (When did the Lord run out of supplies?) Yet what things these folks in Hebrews 11 accomplished: subdued whole kingdoms – (O that some person rich in faith could subdue the worldwide kingdom of the drug trade)– wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. What miracles, what men, what faith! (Photo credit bereabaptistchurchbookstore.com)

      These „pattern” folks of our faith did not get to the heights in one leap:

„They climbed the steep ascent to Heaven
Through peril, toil, and pain.
O God, may grace to us be given,
to follow in their train.”

      Asked why he was used of the Lord so greatly in China, Hudson Taylor replied, „God had looked long for a man weak enough, and He found me.” He takes the weak things of the world to confound the mighty. Spiritual wisdom does not come with years; neither does maturity. The key to both is obedience. Whatsoever He saith unto YOU, do it.

An insatiable thirst for God will produce an unquenchable love for holiness (as He is Holy), resulting in a passion for the lost.

Remember, friend, you are just as spiritual as you want to be.

Copyright (C)1994 by Leonard Ravenhill, Lindale, Texas – http://www.ravenhill.org/

Leonard RavenhillIn Romanian – De ce intirzie trezirea de Leonard Ravenhill (Top carte – essential reading)

The Privilege of Persecution: Preparing the Body of Christ for Persecution by Edgar Reich

Edgar Reich held senior management positions at a Fortune 500 Company inCanada, Germany and Switzerland. He has led a $400 Million Company in Germany and was jointly responsible for a $900 Million European Company. Rev. Edgar Reich has been called by God and his Church to preach in Revival.

Rev. Edgar Reich is a Christian who has accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior in April 2004. You can read more about his ministry here- http://www.revivalusacanada.org

Photo credit www.raymondibrahim.com by Raymond Ibrahim

A young woman was washing her clothes in a North Korea river. As she gathered her clothes, a little book fell from her clothes. It fell to the ground, and another person saw it, looked at the book and reported her. It was either a christian book, or it was a Bible. After being reported to the authorities, she was incarcerated. She was investigated, and her 60 year old father was also arrested. Several months later, and we believe there was also torture involved, there was a public show trial and 7 police officers were assembled with guns. The surrounding people were invited to come and see what would happen. Near by there were a public school and a high school. The children from those schools were asked to come and watch. And, as this young woman and her father stood before them, they were accused of the capital offense of treason. And the 7 police officers raised their rifles and shot both of them 3 times. Blood and brain matter scattered all over. (Photo credit m.facebook.com)

Please turn with me to the text for „Preparing Ourselves for Persecution”: Matthew 24:9-13

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away[a] and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Beloved, will your love grow cold when there’s opposition? Will your love grow cold when not everyone agrees with you? Will your love grow cold for the Lord when someone hurts you? Will your love grow cold, and will you then disbelieve the promises of God? God forbid!!! The disciples had asked the Lord Jesus Christ, in this passage, „What will be the sign of Your coming?” Such signs included persecution and the great tribulation. There are over 60 countries now, today, where the cross of Jesus Christ is no longer welcome. The United States of America is in the process of joining such countries.

I would like to cover 7 points about persecution.

  1. Persecution is certain
  2. The purposes of persecution. Why does God allow it?
  3. The privilege of persecution
  4. The promises of God during persecution
  5. The presence of Christ during persecution. Praise God you’re not alone. You’re never alone!
  6. Perseverance of the saints to the end, with patience, forgiveness, and love.
  7. Preparation for persecution

Photo credit www.routleylaw.com by Vanessa Routley

1. Persecution is certain, also in America and Canada

The message we read in Matthew foretells of a world wide persecution, where true christians are persecuted, perhaps tortured, and killed. And hated for the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus did not tell the disciples, His followers, in this passage: You will be exempted from such persecution. He does not even say you will be raptured so that you don’t have to face this, in this passage. He said, „You will even face the abomination of desolation, in Matthew 24:15. It refers to a coming world leader, it refers to antichrist. In America, we have these feelings that this can never happen here. „What are you talking about? God is love.” Of course God is love. He is such a loving God, and we will find out why it is even love to be persecuted.

In 2 Timothy 3:12 it says Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. You might say, „Well, I have not been persecuted yet. Praise God”. May I ask you, „May I ask you: Why not? Are you, perhaps, not living the Godly life that Scripture is speaking about?” After I got saved, I put my Bible on the side of my desk and the vice chairman walked in and said, „What is this? Are you out of your mind? You believe this kind of….” and I won’t tell you all of the words that were spoken. And the Holy Spirit said, „Be quiet. Say nothing”. And he went into a tirade against God, and the word of God, and myself. But, you know, the wonderful thing is that later on, when we asked to have a Bible study inside that corporation, he was the man that would approve or disapprove of us having christian fellowship inside that company. Do you know, the wonderful thing that happened is that God moved his heart, and we were able to have that fellowship.

I got a call from a friend that said, „Come and street preach with us in New York”. I said I would pray about it. I am called for revival, I don’t really think I’m into street ministry. And as I prayed, the Holy Spirit said, „Yes, go”. I prayed a second time, „Lord, I heard You wrong. What am I supposed to do?” „Go!” For serious decisions I always pray 3 times, „What am I supposed to do Lord?” „Go!” I went with some brothers. They had fasted for 40 days. I had fasted 1 day. We went out onto the streets of New York. We went to Ground Zero. I was standing there and passing out tracts. You know, the New Yorkers are pretty hard, and as people were walking by me, they were cussing at me, quietly. And, for the rest of the day, there were many who cursed. I asked my fellow Christians, they said no, it didn’t happen to them. Satan knew there was pride in me. At the end of the day I said, „God, they don’t want you and they don’t want me. They think I-m out of my mind. They think I’m a terrorist. I’m moved around, I’m shouted at. The police moved me around. Lord, Lord, they don’t want me.” And then, on the weekend, the Holy Spirit convicted me and the Holy Spirit came and asked me, „Do you really love people?” And I said, „Well, yes of course, God, I love people”. „Well, what about the people that oppose you a little?” And so, God convicted me mightily on that weekend. And so, I prayed, and I said, „Now, Lord, break my heart, show me your love for people, that I might know, I might understand. And, on Tuesday of the following week, I was standing at Ground Zero at 4:30, with 20,000 people rushing towards me, and all of a sudden, the sound disappeared. I couldn’t hear the people. I couldn’t hear the noise from Ground Zero, and the people were starting to walk towards me in slow motion. I was looking, and I didn’t understand. And then, I saw on their faces, I saw their need for money. I saw their need for pleasure, I saw their need to get home. I saw them wanting to be in their pools, wanting to have their drinks. I saw them wanting to have their cars, their family, their friends. But, there was no need for God in their faces. Yet, God says, „I love them”.  And, as I looked at them, I realized, I was looking at the walking dead, beloved. And my heart started to break and to weep. And then, all sound came back. The people were walking normally. And God, the Holy Spirit said in my heart, ” Their blood will I require from your hand. I love them. Why don’t you love them? You call yourself a christian?”.  Jesus said, „Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and raise holy hands, but, why don’t you do as I say?”

Another time, I went out to the Staten Island Ferry, and the night before, I had a dream that I would be stabbed by a muslim, and I would be thrown over. I said, Lord, if the dream is from you, it’s alright. I’m gonna go. I’m gonna share the Good News on the Staten Island ferry.” Nothing happened that day. Satan tried to prevent me from going. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but, it’s all right.

Photo credit & for more sermons click www.sermonindex.net

The Number 1 cause of persecution is witnessing with your mouth.

You say, „Well, I live my life.” Good. That’s great. That’s wonderful. Live it good. In John 17, Jesus prayed for them to be one, as He and the Father are one, and for those to be one, that will hear through their words. So, you’ve got to add some words, beloved. Let them know the truth. In one of the worst Iranian prisons, a leader of a Christian group was told, „If you stop witnessing, we will let you all go”. The Christian thought about it and answered, „How can we deny such great, great, great salvation? Did you know your salvation is great and incredible? We live in a country where salvation means virtually nothing. We push it aside. We don’t want to save people on the streets. Even we, as Christians, have been affected by humanism and secularism. We do not understand the greatness of God and what He has done. That divinity came to rescue humanity.

Beloved, a great, incredible God, the Son of God gave His life so that we might live. What a wonderful, wonderful truth that is. And so, much has gone wrong in our respective countries, in North America because we do not witness. Persecution has now started in the United States and Canada. Certain parts of the Bible are considered flammable. Laws have been changed to permit gross sin. Please listen to this: Committed Christians are now classified with terrorists in the United States of America. The official policy of Homeland Security and the FBI is that committed Christians are classified as a danger to this country. You are classified with terrorists in the United States. Now, we must pray for our leadership. But, I also must tell you president Obama appears to admit that he is a muslim. But, God has placed this man in charge of this country. So you pray for him. You don’t oppose him. You pray for him, that God might intercede. For in all of the prayers in the Book of Acts, in the Gospels, in the letter, all of the New Testament, there is not a single prayer against their leadership. So, as Christians, we will love unconditionally. We will do what the government says we must do. But, we will not do it if it’s against God’s word (the Bible). (18:50)

2. The purposes of persecution. Why does God allow it?

Beloved, God loves mankind so very, very much. And, guess whom He has left as witnesses. Are you a witness? You’re supposed to be. Now, if God wants to convict those that do not yet believe, even persecutors, even those that are against Christians, whom might He use as a witness? Us. You and me. It is a testimony of our faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ. The purpose of it is new growth of others receiving salvation. Here is another story from North Korea:

A soldier was watching as a construction crew, also composed of soldiers, they demolished a building and they found a Bible in it. With the Bible, there  was also a list of 25 names. As they followed up with this list of 25 names, they rounded up a pastor, 2 assistant pastors, 2 elders,  and 20 Christians. They assembled them at the construction site, they brought in steam rollers. They told the leaders, „If you do not worship Kim Ilsung and Kim Jong-il, you will die.  And beloved, that is also a picture of the antichrist in the future. That is what he will say, „If you don’t worship me, you will die”. But beloved, this „you will die”, is only in a temporal sense. It’s not for eternity. We do not put our faith in our circumstances. But, we put our faith in a loving, incredible God. And so, God permitted, as a testimony that some of these Christians should be killed. And 5 of them , the leaders, had to lie on the pavement, and then the steamrollers came and rolled over them. As their heads popped, and made a popping sound, many of the Christians fainted and fell to the ground. But, you know, there was new growth. There was new growth, because that soldier who watched, he became a Christian. The blood of the martyrs drenched the ground, but there was new growth. (SEE the actual NEWS ARTICLE on this story below the video)

Christian Bishop Polycarp (lived 69 – 155 A.D.), was a second century Christian of Smyrna. If you remember, Christ had talked to the church of Smyrna and had told them, „Do not fear any of those things that you are about to suffer”. This is Christ, speaking through the apostle John. ANd He’s saying, „Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested. And you will have tribulation 10 days. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. Life, forevermore, and a great reward. It is not the temporal, but the eternal. It is not the ‘now’, but, the ‘forever’. And so, we need not worry because Christ is with us, Christ is for us, Christ is in us. He says, „I’ll never leave you, or forsake you, whatever you have to go through. And so, this Christian bishop, Polycarp, he died as a martyr. He was bound and burned at the stake, but the fire would not touch him, the fire wouldn’t burn him. So, finally, the went over and they stabbed him to death. In Smyrna, the execution of Christians became so great, that hundreds of them are martyred at the same time. Yet, when the people saw the martyrdom of the Christians, and how they behaved in their faith, others became saved. Praise God! And those who had not believed (and were saved) outnumbered those that were being martyred. You give your life, for someone else to have life. You can start that now. You can put the old flesh to death.

The second reason God allows persecution: It refines us and tests us. You see, when we are in prison, we no longer have time to sin. And, when you’re all alone, you look to ‘from where cometh my help’. My help comes from the world. And, you have time alone with Him, with nobody to disturb you. It also tests your faith: Are you true in the faith? When you ask yourself, „Am I true in the faith?” Two Russian soldiers came to a little church in the middle of winter in Russia. And inside the church were about 12 people worshipping God. The door burst open and they saw 2 soldiers standing there with submachine guns. They walked in and said, „Now you Christians, we’re going to kill you if you don’t leave.” They stood in the middle with their submachine guns. Slowly, 6 people got up and walked out of the church. One of the soldiers went and closed the door behind them. He returned into the auditorium and both soldiers lay down their weapons. They said to the remaining 6, „Beloved brothers and sisters, we both are Christians too. We wanted to worship with true Christians”. Are you a true Christian? Would you give your life for someone else, that he might live?

Thirdly, persecution helps us to witness. Acts 8:1-4, in verse 1 ‘they were all scattered’, In verse 4 it says, „Those who were scattered went everywhere, preaching the word.A very surprising outcome. They were scattered. Do you know what scattered means? You lose all of your stuff. You lose all of your possessions, your job, your familyall of your surrounding friends. You can no longer stay there. You must leave. Be gone. You don’t know what you’re gonna eat the next day. And here they start to witness about the greatness of God. Does God have to scatter us first, before we share the truth of this great salvation? Perhaps, because we’re so stubborn, and we’re so selfish. And we say, „Why should I do what others don’t do?” There is only 1% that have read the Bible, and there is 1% only who witness faithfully and regularly. Perhaps it’s more here, but I believe a large majority of you are not witnessing regularly. (29:50)

3. The privilege of persecution

It is a cause of rejoicing when we are persecutedGod gives us eternal blessings. He gives us great rewards in heaven. He gives us a crown for eternity and He makes us shine like the stars forever. The Christians in North Korea pray, „Our persecution and suffering are our joy and honor. We want to accept ridicule, scorn and disadvantages with joy in Jesus’ name. We want to wipe others’ tears away and comfort the suffering. We want to be ready to risk our lives because of our love for our neighbor, so that they also become Christians. We want to live our lives according to the standards set in God’s Word”.

4. The promises of God during persecution

  1. Matthew 5:10-12  Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
  2. Revelation 2:10  Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful,even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
  3. Daniel 12:3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
  4. Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for theLord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
  5. Matthew 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
  6. Matthew 6:25-26 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
  7. Luke 12:7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. I love you so much that I even count the hairs on your head. But, I also love the unbelieving and I might ask you to give your life, that others might live. (34:00)

5. The presence of Christ during persecution. 

Pastor Wurmbrand spent 14 years in prison, and had 18 pieces of flesh cut out of him. He relates that during torture he forgot all. He could not remember Scripture, he could not remember sermons, he couldn’t remember anything. But, he said what he remembered was the presence of the indwelling Christ who comforted him. He said. „It was Christ, the Son of God, who got me through this time. He sustained me. He helped me through.” And in 2 Corinthians 12:9 „But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Matthew 28:20 „and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” And, nothing can separate you from His love, even if you’re experiencing great, great persecution.

6. Perseverance of the saints to the end

1 Peter 4:12-13 „Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” Romans 8:18 „I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” It is not the temporal, it is the eternal. It is not the ‘now’, it is your future, beloved Christians. The glory of the future cannot be compared with what we might have to go through now.

7. Preparation for persecution

  • (a) We must repent of all sin and fear. Some of you here are still afraid. And the reason you’re afraid is because you believe Satan, not God. He puts this fear into you. It is not God, and so, you must repent. You must cry out to God and say to Him, Lord, Lord, this fear is overcoming me, I reject it in Christ’s name. I will believe you, that you will sustain me in my hour of need. I believe that you will not tempt me beyond that which I’m able to bear. Praise God.
  • (b) We must examine ourselves and see that we are in the faith. Beloved, if you’re not in the faith, you’re not able to withstand what is coming. So, if you are a nominal Christian, you should give your life to Christ. Repent of those ways, and do what the word of God says. So, examine yourself.
  • (c) There should be evidenced a personal relationship with Jesus. Do you walk with Him, do you talk with Him? Does He tell you you’re His own? There ought to be a personal relationship between you and your Savior.
  • (d) Practice forgiveness for those that hurt you. And you know there’s more hurt coming in the future, forgive everyone who has hurt you now. Forgive those in church that you cannot stand- someone who has a funny laugh, people in your family that get on your nerves, people at your job, at your office, at your school, at your university. Before you can love them, you need to forgive them.
  • (e) Practice love through the Holy Spirit. Apply Matthew 5:44 „But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Love them after forgiving them. Bless them. Do good for them. You know what the evidence is, when you have forgiven? When you do something good for them, the person that hurt you. That’s the evidence.
  • (f) Practice joy and humbleness. I wanna send all Christians to smile school. You’re so miserable. you’re so judgmental. You’re so sour. Why would I want to be a Christian like you? I don’t wanna be like you. But, give me a heavenly smile. Go to smile school with God. Ask for gladness, ask for joy to come back into your heart because you lost it. You see, when you fill up your life with the joys of this world,- football games, TV, internet, people out there, Broadway shows-. I know, when I fill up with the joys of this world, there’s no space left for the joys of the Lord. So talk in psalms and hymns. Fill up with the word of God.
  • (g) Practice witnessing. You need the Holy Spirit, you need love from the Holy Spirit. Be ready. Write a short testimony, with a verse, a Scripture in it, because, even if your testimony fails, the verse built into your testimony can never fail. Praise God because the Word of God shall not return void.
  • (h) Practice denying the flesh. Get along with less. Can you eat less? Can you get along without TV, without the internet? Can you do with less possessions? Would you lay down your life?
  • (i) Practice living the cross. The top of the cross is prayer. The bottom of the cross is the Bible. One arm is for witnessing, the other arm is for fellowship. And to learn to love your fellow Christian in church, love people at the office, at school. If you don’t love them, if you judge them even before you love them, they will never listen to you. So, use that part of the cross to have fellowship. And then, in the center of it is my relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And, it is also my place of sacrifice and surrender, where I lay down before God. The flesh profits nothing, the Spirit is life. So, let God the Holy Spirit work through you and things will change.

VIDEO by sermonindex

This was published in the New York Sun Newspaper in 2005

Korean Reds Targeting Christians

WASHINGTON – A woman in her 20s executed by a firing squad after being caught with a Bible. Five Christian church leaders punished by being run over by a steamroller before a crowd of spectators who „cried, screamed out, or fainted when the skulls made a popping sound as they were crushed.”

These and other „horrifying” violations of human rights and religious freedom in North Korea are reported in a new study by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, titled „‘Thank You, Father Kim Il Sung’: Eyewitness Accounts of Severe Violations of Freedom of Thought, Conscience, and Religion in North Korea.”

The report, released yesterday, comes as President Bush is touring Asia, calling for increased political freedom. In remarks prepared for delivery early this morning in Japan, the president called on Red China to extend more freedom to its population of 1.3 billion. In an advance text of the speech, President Bush also extolled Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province, as „a free and democratic Chinese society.” And the president noted North Korean human rights abuses while reassuring the Hermit Kingdom’s people.

„Satellite maps of North Korea show prison camps the size of whole cities,” Mr. Bush said. „We will not forget the people of North Korea.”

Yesterday on Capitol Hill the chairman of the Commission on International Religious Freedom, Michael Cromartie, and two members of Congress who helped establish the commission, Reps. Frank Wolf of Virginia and Chris Smith of New Jersey, called on Mr. Bush to include the specific findings of the North Korean report in his diplomatic discussions with Chinese and South Korean officials this week, and to urge leaders of both Asian nations to take a firmer stand against their communist neighbor.

Mr. Cromartie told The New York Sun after the event that senior administration officials at the National Security Council had been provided with an advance copy of the report so that Mr. Bush could raise particular human rights abuses with his Chinese and South Korean interlocutors.

Mr. Cromartie said yesterday during the study’s unveiling on Capitol Hill that the report was unique in its depth and breadth, and in the quantity of first-hand accounts, since it is notoriously difficult to obtain reliable information from inside North Korea, owing to the country’s complete isolation under the Kim dictatorship.

Among the first-hand reports are eyewitness accounts of Christians’ being executed for the underground practice of their faith.

Photo credit creative.sulekha.com

The study recounts, for example, how in November 1996 in North Korea’s South Pyongan province, a unit of the North Korean army was tasked with widening a highway connecting Pyongyang to a nearby port city. While demolishing a vacant house, soldiers found in the basement, hidden between two bricks, a Bible and a list of 25 names. Among the list were individuals identified as a Christian pastor, two assistant pastors, two elders, and 20 parishioners who were identified by their occupations.

Hunted down at their workplaces by military police, the 25 Christians were rounded up and detained without any formal judicial procedure. Later that month, the parishioners and their clergy were brought to the road construction site, where spectators had been arranged in neat rows to observe the public execution of the pastor, assistant pastors, and elders. According to a report based on an eyewitness account, the five church leaders „were bound hand and foot and made to lie down in front of a steamroller,” accused of subversion and of being Kiddokyo, or Protestant Christian, spies.

The 20 parishioners were detained near their clergy, and watched, along with the assembled audience, as the five Christian leaders were told they could escape death if they denied their faith and pledged to serve only Kim Jong Il and his father, the first dictator of communist Korea, Kim Il Sung. According to the eyewitness, the clergy remained silent.

For their steadfast belief, the Christians were executed. According to the report, „Some of the fellow parishioners assembled to watch the execution cried, screamed out, or fainted when the skulls made a popping sound as they were crushed beneath the steamroller.”

Another account contained in the report says that on a summer day in North Korea in 1997, a young woman was washing clothes in a tributary of the Tumen River when she dropped a small Bible she had hidden amid the laundry. Spotted by a fellow washerwoman, the girl was reported to North Korean authorities on the suspicion that she was engaging in an exercise of thought or religion condemned by the state. The girl, believed to be in her 20s, and her father, estimated to be around 60, were arrested by local national security police and imprisoned for three months.

One morning, they were taken to a public market area, where, after a brief show trial, the father and daughter were condemned as traitors to the North Korean nation and its communist dictator, Kim Jong Il. The father and daughter were then tied to stakes a few meters from where they had been „tried,” and, before an assembly of schoolchildren, were riddled with bullets by seven policemen who fired three shots each into the pair. According to a report drawn from eyewitness accounts, „The force of the rifle shots, fired from fifteen meters away, caused blood and brain matter to be blown out of their heads.”

The study was compiled by the author of „Hidden Gulag: Exposing North Korea’s Prison Camps,” David Hawk, who was assisted by two South Korean researchers, Jae Chunwon and Philo Kim. Together they interviewed 40 re cent North Korean defectors to gain insight into the religious lives of average North Koreans.

From the interviews, according to Mr. Cromartie, the Commission had obtained a „horrifying picture” of the abuses suffered by Christians and other believers in North Korea.

All of the interviewees had fled to South Korea through China, which has become something of a „safety valve” for North Koreans fleeing religious persecution, Mr. Smith told the Sun yesterday. According to the study, China has received a flood of refugees fleeing the Kim dictatorship, and between 50,000 and 100,000 North Korean exiles remain in China, the commission reported.

China, however, considers dissident North Koreans „economic migrants” subject to repatriation, and the study presents a dismal account of those forced to return to North Korea. According to one defector who was grilled by North Korean border guards, the Kim regime fears that „Juche will be toppled by Christianity,” referring to the state ideology, and exercises brutal control over North Koreans who have been exposed to Chinese or South Korean Christian churches.

According to the study, in order to preserve the complete control Kim Jong Il exercises over his subjects’ minds, repatriated North Koreans are harshly interrogated to determine whether they will infect their countrymen with ideas and information obtained abroad, and Christian believers are often slapped with long prison sentences and hard labor, punishments sometimes passed on to their families and descendants.

The documented fear of Christianity is accompanied by an extensive account of the pervasiveness of the Kims’ cult of personality, and the title of the study, „Thank you, Father Kim Il-Sung,” refers to the phrase North Korean parents are required to first teach their children.

SOURCE – The New York Sun

Viata lui Sadhu Sundar Singh – Capitolul 10 – Viata Contemplativa – Viata Activa

Citeste

Photo credit www.townfieldchurch.org.uk

,,Caci dragostea lui Hristos ne strange; fiindca socotim ca, daca Unul singur a murit pentru toti, toti deci au murit. Si El a murit pentru toti, pentruca cei ce traiesc, sa nu mai traiasca pentru ei insisi, ci pentru Cel ce a murit si inviat pentru ei.

-Apostolul Pavel- 2 Corinteni 5:14,15

Comuniunea cu Dumnezeu in izolare era dorinta profunda a lui Sundar, insa el se simtea din ce in ce mai constrans sa iasa din singuratate si sa intre in serviciul fratilor sai din mijlocul lumei zgomotoase. El vede marea sarcina pe care crestinii trebuie sa o implineasca pe durata scurtei lor vieti pamantesti. Atunci cand era izgonit si buna vestire aruncata, socotea de datoria sa, fie ce o fi, sa vorbeasca urechilor inchise si inimilor impietrite si era gata daca trebuia, sa pecetluiasca marturia cu suferinta, inchisoarea, torturile si chiar moartea sa.

– ,,Ce dar deosebit este sa fi un martor al lui Hristos, avantaj pe care ingerii nu-l au pentru ca nepacatuind vreodata, ei nu cunosc mantuirea si nu pot astfel marturisi despre puterea rascumparatoare a lui Hristos. Numai pacatosii mantuiti prin har pot sa anunte vestea cea buna! O, cata dragoste  ne-a aratat Dumnezeu refuzand aceasta onoare si acordand-o noua.”

Pentru Sadhu, atunci cand traia cu Domnul, viata din ceruri a inceput deja de pe pamant.

-,,Cerul nu consta numai intr-o promisiune de suprema fericire viitoare, ci si intr-una prezenta. Cel care crede in Mine, a spus Isus, are o viata vesnica. Pentru a fi intr-o zi cu Hristos in vesnicie, trebuie sa fii trait cu El pe pamant.”

,,Cerul pe pamant” – aceasta realitate scumpa lui Sadhu nu este o atitudine egoista, ci trebuie inteleasa ca o iubire arzatoare pentru altii si ca o lucrare fara de odihna pentru a-i aduce la Hristos. Sadhu petrecea zilele si noptile in comuniune cu Dumnezeu, capatand de aici forta ca sa depuna marturie in lumea intreaga. Inaintea zorilor el statea in rugaciune la picioarele Mantuitorului, apoi de-a lungul zilei predica Evanghelia multimilor, luand seama la sufletele care veneau la el cu greutatile sau nedumeririle lor. Barbatul de rugaciune care mereu spunea celor ce-l asculta, rugati-va neancetat, nu de mai putine ori ii chema sa se daruiasca fara rezerve in ajutorul semenilor lor.

El unea intr-o perfecta armonie viata contemplativa si viata activa. Una nu merge fara cealalta.

– ,,Noi avem doi plamani, spunea Sadhu, care deopotriva trebuie sa functioneze. Rugaciunea si lucrul pentru Domnul nu trebuie sa se desparta in viata noastra zilnica.”

– ,,Daca Hristos ar fi ramas in gloria cerurilor, noi am fi fost pierduti. Daca suntem egoisti si traim comod, fara sa ne ocupam de altii, n-am inteles exemplul Lui. Cei mai multi ocaresc  pe cei care isi dau sanatatea, puterea, averea pentru semeni si-i numesc nebuni. Totusi acestia sunt cei care contribuie la salvarea sufletelor. Nimenea sa nu gandeasca ca ceea ce a dat este putin lucru, oricat de infim ar parea acesta. Ceea ce Hristos pretinde, este credinciosia noastra in cele mai mici detalii si in cele mai mici servicii.”

Ca sa fi un martor al lui Hristos, nu este necesar sa fi un predicator elocvent. Unul ca acesta nu este totdeauna un martor. Nimenea insa, fie el barbat sau femeie, tanar sau batran, bogat sau sarac, lucrator sau patron, dascal sau elev, om de afaceri sau preot, nu poate sa se numeasca crestin adevarat, daca el nu depune marturie pentru Isus. Nu este nevoie sa se predice de la inaltimea unui amvon sau la raspantii, de a avea o clasa biblica, o scoala de duminica sau o adunare crestina, acestea nu sunt decat niste forme. Ci, la birou, ca si la magazin, in viata de familie ca si in societate, prin viata curata, caracterul integru, sinceritatea cuvantului, entuziasmul credintei, bogatia dragostei, toti crestinii sa fie martori ai Mantuitorului.”

,,Dati si va va fi dat. Impartasirea intima cu Dumnezeu nu cere nici o calitate exceptionala si nu pretinde sa renuntam la datoriile noastre. Ea se dezvolta in slujba dragostei pentru altii si se stinge, ramanand numai la ea insusi.

Un misticism care se limiteaza la o pura contemplare, omoara adevarata comuniune cu Dumnezeu. In ceruri ne vom bucura fara capat, dar aici pe pamant nu dispunem decat de putin timp ca sa servim pe semenii nostri. Iata pentru ce noi trebuie sa sesizam aceasta unica ocazie.”

Sadhu ilustra aceasta daruire de sine printr-o serie de pilde:

– ,,Pestii cufundati in adancimile oceanului pierd unele din facultatile lor. In Tibet, am vazut un calugar budist stand de cinci sau sase ani intr-o groapa. Mai inainte el avea vederea normala, dar din ce in ce ochii ii slabira si sihastrul deveni orb. Strutul n-are putere sa zboare pentru ca nu si-a intrebuintat aripile. La fel se intampla cu noi. Daca nu intrebuintam darurile pe care le-am primit de la Dumnezeu pentru gloria Lui, riscam sa le pierdem pentru totdeauna.”

– ,,Pentru foarte multi credinciosi pare usor din dragoste pentru Hristos sa mori ca martir, dar Hristos are trebuinta de martori (martir in sensul de martor), care sa se ofere zilnic ca un sacrificiu pentru mantuirea semenilor lor.”

– ,,Suferinta este drumul care duce la comuniunea cu Dumnezeu. Crucea este intocmai ca nuca: coaja are gust amar, insa miezul excelent. Se poate intampla ca intr-un cutremur de pamant, izvoare de apa proaspata sa tasneasca din solul uscat si steril, fertilizand locurile acelea. Tot asa si suferinta poate sa faca sa apara un izvor de viata intr-o inima omeneasca departata inca de Dumnezeu.”

– ,,Intr-o zi un om zari un vierme de matase luptandu-se sa iasa din gogoasa sa. El voi sa-l ajute, sa se elibereze. Insecta facu dupa aceia cateva miscari, dar dupa cateva clipe muri. Omul n-o ajutase ci-i impiedicase doar cresterea.”

– ,,Un altul se gasea in aceiasi imprejurare, insa nu a facut nimic sa ajute viermele de matase, stiind ca din aceasta lupta, insecta va iesi mai puternica pentru viata cea noua. La fel si cu noi, suferintele si nenorocirile ne pregatesc pentru gloria cea vesnica.”

Din momentul cand a vazut pe Domnul, Sundar a avut dorinta pasionanta sa urmeze pe Hristos si sa poarte crucea Lui, pana acolo incat sa moara pentru El.

– ,,Pentru ca ma simt fericit sa impartasesc suferintele lui Hristos, atat timp cat sunt in viata, nu mie sete sa vad intoarcerea Lui. As dori mai degraba sa vad drumul pe care El l-a urmat, cu scopul sa inteleg ceva din ceea ce a insemnat pentru Isus moartea Sa pentru noi.”

– ,,Nimic nu este comparabil cu crucea, in cer si pe pamant. Dumnrezeu si-a aratat dragostea prin ea, umanitatii. Noi am fi ramas mereu nestiutori fara ea. Din aceasta cauza, Dumnezeu doreste ca toti copiii Sai, la randul lor sa poarta aceasta grea povara si dulce. Este singurul mijloc prin care dragostea noastra poate sa se manifeste pentru Dumnezeu si pentru oameni. Ganditi-va la cuvintele lui Isus: ,,Daca cineva vrea sa vina dupa Mine, sa renunte la el insusi si-apoi sa-si ia crucea si sa Ma urmeze.”

Puterea divina ce s-a manifestat in viata lui Sadhu, fie in convertirea sa, in extazele sale, in suferintele sale, ca martor al lui Hristos, sau in salvarile sale in ceasul celor mai mari pericole, isi are izvorul in viata de rugaciune. ,,Dumnezeu poate sa faca mari lucrari printr-un om al rugaciunii”- ii placea sa spuna. Secretul vietii, ca si acela al tuturor credinciosilor lui Dumnezeu, consta in comuniunea lor cu Hristos. De acolo, acceptarile oricaror sacrificii, pacea si bucuria in suferinte.

Cum am spus, in fiecare dimineata foarte devreme, Sundar statea sa studieze Biblia mai multe ore de rugaciune. Adesea i se intampla sa-si consacre o noapte intreaga intr-un loc singuratic, pentru a se intretine cu Dumnezeu. De acolo revenea cu fata plina de seninatate vizibila la toti.

– ,,Dumnezeu nu poate sa dea binecuvantarile Sale cele mai mari decat in rugaciune.”

– ,,In natura exista lucruri frumoase, de exemplu pasari si flori, insa ca sa gasesti perle trebuie sa cobori in adancul marii. Tot asa daca dorim sa avem perle spirituale, trebuie sa ne cufundam in profunzimile secrete ale contemplarii si ale rugaciunii.”

,,Cele mai mari taine ale vietii crestine, precum intruparea lui Isus Hristos, divinitatea Lui, moartea Lui pe cruce, invierea, inaltarea glorioasa la cer, prezenta Lui necurmata in inimile credinciosilor, nu pot sa fie dezvaluite printr-o opera intelectuala sau studiul teologic al Scripturii si sunt revelate prin spirit aceluia care in meditatiune asteapta lumina de la Dumnezeu.”

,,Noi descoperim foarte multe lucruri  despre Isus in Biblie, insa pentru a invata sa-L cunoastem, trebuie sa consacram timp rugaciunei. Daca va retrageti in singuratate cu Dumnezeu, acolo veti auzi vocea Aceluia care singurul poate sa va ajute. Daca cititi din Cuvantul lui Dumnezeu si va rugati fie numai o jumatate de ora pe zi, El vi se va descoperi: voi i-L veti intalni personal si El va va da putere, pace, bucurie. Oamenii de rugaciune vorbesc lui Dumnezeu cum un om vorbeste amicului sau.”

Pentru a sublinia aceasta necesitate, Sadhu a comparat-o cu respiratia. ,,In rugaciune sufletul se deschide pentru Duhul Sfant; Dumnezeu trimite atunci in suflet ca un suflu si el devine un suflet viu. Acela care inceteaza sa respire in rugaciune este mort spiritual.”

,,Un prieten imi zicea: pentru ce sa ne rugam? Este inutil si fara speranta, nu primim nimic! Itrucat ma priveste foarte adesea m-am rugat in tacere, pana ce m-am simtit slabit, fizic sau spiritual si deodata o putere patrundea in toata fiinta mea. Nici o schimbare exterioara nu se produsese, ci in cateva secunde o viata clocotitoare imi umplea sufletul.”

Dar pentru Sadhu, adevarata rugaciune n-a fost cererea a tot ce putem noi sa dorim. Si n-a fost nici acel penibil efort ca sa capatam un ajutor in diversele noastre nevoi. Rugaciunea lui consta inainte de toate in cautarea proprie a lui Dumnezeu. Intr-aceasta este suprema binecuvantare.

Daca Sadhu privea comuniunea cu Dumnezeu ca scop principal, totusi el acorda o valoare reala si rugaciunilor naive si copilaresti, care cer binecuvantari pamantesti. El considera acest stadiu ca o pregatire. Sufletul vine cu toate dorintele sale la Dumnezeu. In prezenta Lui, el se schimba gradual si se incredinteaza vointei divine. Dumnezeu refuza uneori sa raspunda cererilor limitate ale copiilor Sai, cu scopul ca ei sa invete a cauta lucruri mai bune.

– ,,Timp de doi sau trei ani dupa ce am venit la credinta, aveam obiceiul sa solicit gratii particulare. Acum cer cu staruinta chiar pe Dumnezeu insusi.”

– ,,Presupuneti ca exista un pom incarcat cu fructe. Daca poftiti dintr-acesta, sunteti obligat sa le cumparati de la proprietar, sau sa-l rugati, sa va daruiasca. Mergand la el in fiecare zi, cereti unul sau doua fructe. Dar daca va este posibil sa dobanditi pomul, toate fructele va vor apartine. Tot astfel, daca aveti pe Dumnezeu, bunurile cerului si ale pamantului, vor fi ale voastre. Iata pentru ce nu trebuie sa cautati bunurile, ci pe insusi Impartitorul lor. Daca posedati izvorul vietii, veti poseda toate lucrurile.”

Sadhu respingea insa cu energie ideia ca prin rugaciune putem sa schimbam planurile lui Dumnezeu. Ea nu este un mijloc sa castigam pe Dumnezeu pentru cauza noastra, ci ea ne invata sa cunoastem vointa lui Dumnezeu. Este posibil ca vointa divinatatii sa fie contrara cu a noastra si sa ne aduca suferinte, nevoi materiale sau boale. Consolarea noastra este sa spunem, faca-se voia Ta! Pentru crestini, aceasta este prima rugaciune. Acela care si-a potrivit viata dupa vointa lui Dumnezeu, a gasit plenitudinea pacii si a bucuriei. Orisicare ar fi vederile lui Dumnezeu, El lucreaza spre binele nostru cel mare. Toate lucrurile se intampla spre binele celor care iubesc pe Dumnezeu. Cand am realizat aceasta, murmurul si teama dispar de la noi.

Sadhu a insistat asupra necesitatii de a sta linistiti in asteptarea lui Dumnezeu.

– ,,Pentru a gasi pe Dumnezeu trebuie sa se faca tacere. In agitatia si febra vietii cotidiene El tace. Pentru a primi marile binecuvantari ale Duhului Sfant, este necesara o pregatire. Apostolii au asteptat zece zile botezul de la Rusalii.”

Dojenirea pe care Sadhu o face crestinilor, ca sunt prea absorbiti de munca lor, si ca neglijeaza rugaciunea, revine constant.

Un oarecare l-a intrebat; ,,Ce spuneti de omul de afaceri atat de grabit, care dupa ce ia micul dejun in goana, alearga in graba la biroul lui?” – ,,Gandesc ca rugaciunea este pentru el  tot atat de importanta ca si micul dejun raspunse Sadhu, dar lipsa de vreme ce va intra in obiceiul lui sa nu se roage, el nu se va simti intr-atat de bucuros, ca va gasi timpul necesar pentru rugaciune.”

,,Trebuie sa stii sa suprimi multe din ocupatiile secundare ca sa gasesti timp de rugaciune. Se apropie vremea cand toti va trebui sa murim. Moartea nu va astepta pana ce voi veti termina munca. Nu pretuieste oare mai mult, rugaciunea care ne ajuta ca de astazi sa intram in intimitatea Aceluia care singurul va putea sa ne ajute in momentul mortii si ne poate trece in viata vesnica?”

– ,,Un cersetor mergea regulat la un milos ca sa capete hrana ceruta, dupa care pleca bucuros. Intr-una din zile, hrana nefiind inca gata, omul lui Dumnezeu ruga pe cersetor sa astepte cateva momente. Ei incepura sa vorbeasca cate ceva si despre mantuire si cersetorul intelese. Intr-o jumatate de ora, viata sa a fost transformata. El intreaba pe creditorul sau de ce nu-i spusese mai devreme despre mantuire. Altadata veneai sa ceri numai de pomana si plecai numaidecat, dar astazi ai stat aici langa mine si eu te-am putut invata.”

Comentand textul ,,N-ati putut sa vegheati, o ora cu Mine; vegheati si rugati-va ca sa nu cadeti in ispita”, a spus: ,,Pentru ce Domnul a adresat acest avertisment lui Petru? Pentru ca daca Petru ar fi fost in rugaciune in acel moment, el nu s-ar fi lepadat de Invatatorul sau, cateva ore mai tarziu!”

Sadhu a staruit de asemenea asupra miracolelor, care pot sa fie savarsite prin rugaciune, ca si cum Dumnezeu ar voi sa ne asocieze la realizarea planurilor Sale de dragoste si sa aiba novoie de mijlocire pentru a le executa. Ceea ce este socotit imposibil de oameni, devine posibil prin rugaciune. Servii lui Dumnezeu vad producandu-se minuni, pe care inteleptii acestei lumi le declara contrarii legilor naturale. Cea mai mare dintre minuni, si Sadhu a amintit-o de multe ori, este pacea profunda pe care Dumnezeu o da sufletului chiar intr-o cumplita nenorocire.

In ce priveste rugaciunea de mijlocire, Sadhu ii acorda o mare importanta. ,,Eu am doua sau trei sute de fini. N-am uitat numele lor si cand sunt in singuratatea Himalayei, mijlocesc pentru fiecare din ei. Pentru o persoana m-am rugat opt ani in sir, mai inainte ca sa se fi predat Domnului.”

Sadhu la randul sau dorea pentru sine rugaciunile amicilor sai. Astfel la Londra, se ingriji sa-i informeze despre o importanta adunare ce trebuia sa o tina, cu scopul ca ei sa mijloceasca in favoarea sa.

– ,,Adeseori putem sa facem mult mai mult bine prin rugaciune, decat prin cuvant. O influenta ascunsa se degaja din mijlocire si strabate atmosfera spirituala, intocmai ca un mesaj de telegrafie fara fir, care transmis prin unde invizibile atinge prin comunicari misterioase, constiinta acelora pentru care noi ne rugam.”

Rugaciunea celui drept are un mare efect.

– ,,Eu va rog gasiti-va timp pentru rugaciune. Hristos va putea face atunci mari lucrari pentru dumneavoastra si prin dumneavoastra si nu veti fi rusinati si indepartati in ziua venirii Sale.”

Un crestin dintre amicii sai, a spus: ,,Sadhu ne-a invatat sa ne rugam. Rugile noastre sunt astazi diferite de ceea ce erau mai inainte.”

In istoria rugaciunii, Sundar Singh ocupa un loc cu totul special nu numai prin energia cu care afirma importanta ei in practica crestina, dar si in luciditatea si profunzimea conceptiilor sale, in ce priveste acest subiect central.

– Va urma –

How do you know you will remain a believer tomorrow?

Photo credit www.bethefew.com

From John Piper of http://DesiringGod.org:

Christian, how do you know you will still be a believer when you wake up in the morning? And every morning till you meet Jesus?

The biblical answer is: God will see to it.

Are you okay with that? Does this make you uneasy, admitting it depends decisively on God? I hope it is your joy and song. It really does have huge implications to believe this. Let God’s word shape your mind on it.

We must endure in faith to enter heaven.

By itself “must” is not a gospel word. By itself it feels threatening and burdensome. But it is not by itself in the Bible. “We must” occurs along with “he will” and “we will.” “We must” becomes “we will” because “God will.”

  • “The one who endures to the end, will be saved” (Mark 13:13). We must endure.
  • “If we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us” (2 Timothy 2:12).
  • “I make known to you, brothers, the gospel . . . by which you are saved, if you hold fast the word . . . unless you believed in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:1–2).

God will see to it.

Enduring in faith is not owing to our first profession of faith the way health is owing to a one-time vaccination. Enduring faith happens because the great physician does his sustaining work every day. We keep believing in Christ not because of antibodies left over from conversion, but because God does his life-giving, faith-preserving work every day.

  • “He is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory” (Jude 1:24).
  • “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
  • “I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me” (Jeremiah 32:40).
  • “[Christ] will sustain you to the end. . . . God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with his Son” (1 Corinthians 1:8–9).
  • “The Lord will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18).

We will endure in faith.

Because God will see to it, we will — not just must — endure to the end. If we have been justified by faith, we will be glorified. It is as good as done.

  • “Those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30).

Four “R’s” follow from this security.

Relinquish

We relinquish the burden of self-preservation. We stop thrashing and let the firefighter carry us out of the burning house. We can’t make it. He can. He will. “It is not in man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).

Rejoice

Does your heart not echo the joy of Charles Spurgeon when he said, “O dear friends, one’s heart rejoices to think of those potent shalls and wills — those immoveable pillars which death and hell cannot shake — the shalls and wills of a God who, ‘speaks and it is done’” (The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. IX (364). “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Rest

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The yoke is easy and the burden is light because God says: I will carry you and you will rest on me. “Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Isaiah 46:4).

Risk

If you know your future is secured by your omnipotent, ever-keeping God, the threats of earth and hell cannot stop you from spreading his fame. The inference Paul drew from, “Those whom he justified he also glorified,” was, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Therefore, we will risk “tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and sword” (Romans 8:35). Because nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:39).

God deserves ultimate glory because he is the Creator – Bruce Ware (Essential Reading)

glory of GodPhoto credit unknown

God is exclusively God and incomparably God who deserves ultimate glory because he is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. God, as Creator, is independent of all that he has made, whereas we, his creatures, are dependent upon him for everything, and therefore we cannot take credit for anything we have.

Bruce Ware at Mars Hill Church Seattle last week:

Isaiah 46:5 To whom would you liken Me, and make Me equal and compare Me that we would be alike?

Isaiah 46:9-10 „Remember the former things long past, for I am God and there is no other; I am God and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, „My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.”

My, isn’t it clear that the God of the Bible wants us to know He alone is God and there is no one that is like Him. He alone is deserving of ultimate praise and honor and glory. Now, why is that the case? Why should we be a people who want with all of our hearts, to give to God the glory that alone belongs to Him? And there are many answers in the Bible, but, I picked 3 that I think are very central reasons for understanding the greatness of the glory of God, the exclusivity of His glory, that far surpasses any glory that we would give to anything else or anyone else. Three reasons in particular the Bible upholds.

lake-tekapo-new-zealand

God is exclusively God and incomparably God who deserves ultimate glory because:

1. He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth

Isaiah 40:21-26

21Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
23 who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.
24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
25 To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.

My, what an amazing passage that highlights the supremacy of God, and puts an emphasis here on God as Creator. There are 2 things I’d like us to see in relation to God as Creator, that helps us understand why He alone deserves ultimate praise and honor and glory.

  1. God, as Creator, is then independent  of everything that He has made, while we, the creatures are dependent upon Him for everything. God’s independent of everything He has made: It’s so very clear, because God is eternal and existed prior to the universe, that the universe is not necessary for God to be God. He was God, just fine- thank you- before the universe. So when He creates the universe, that does not indicate that somehow God receives something He needs , because He didn’t need the universe to be God prior. In fact, God is self existent, nothing brings him into existence. He is His own basis for existing eternally, and He is self sufficient. That doctrine affirms of God that God possesses within Himself, intrinsically  and eternally everything that is qualitatively good and He does so in infinite measure. Anything that you thing that is qualitatively good, any perfection, any attribute we might think of, that is a good thing, things like righteousness and holiness, wisdom and knowledge, power and goodness, these are possessed within God intrinsically. Nobody gives anything to God that He doesn’t already possess, because He is the possessor of everything that is good. And He possesses it eternally. So, then, when He creates the world, this is not then a world that He needs. He doesn’t need the world He made. But, rather is creating a world that displays  in physical, visible form certain aspects of His own character. It is His wisdom, His knowledge, His power, His beauty put on display in creation in a physical, visible form. This is why the heavens declare the glory, not of the heavens, cause they don’t account for why they are there, rather the heavens declare the glory of God. Why? Because it’s God’s wisdom, God’s beauty, God’s power manifest in the created order. So, God does not depend on the creation He has made. He existed as God, fully, prior to creation, is independent of that created order…
  2. It is also then true, the other side of the coin is this: That the creature, we included in that,  are dependent upon Him for everything. The way Paul puts it in Acts 17:25 „God is not served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He himself gives to all people life, and breath, and all things.” Well, my goodness, if He gives all things to us, how much are we dependent upon Him for? All things! For life and breath, I mean, every breath you have taken just while sitting here, everyone, no exception, is a gift of God to you. He grants us breath by which we live. He grants us everything that we have. THEREFORE, WE CANNOT TAKE CREDIT FOR ANYTHING WE HAVE!

I oftentimes think that we have really missed the mark here in our evangelical subculture, in helping us understand the basis for our humility before God when we point only to the cross of Christ. And of course, it is right to point to the cross of Christ, as a basis for our humility, I mean what can we do to get rid of our own sin? And the answer is nothing. Christ must do that for us and therefore we are humbled before Him, accepting the gift that we could not make happen on our own. And that’s altogether true, but more fundamental than God as a Redeemer is God as Creator, where our very life and every quality that we have is given to us by our Creator. So Paul will ask the question, for example, in 1 Corinthians 4:7 „What do you have that you’ve not received?” It’s a rhetorical question, but what would the answer be- ‘What do you have that you have not received? Nothing’. In other words, anything and everything we have is giftWe’ve received it, we haven’t earned it, we don’t have any right to it. It’s been given to us. And so, Paul goes on to say, „So if you’ve received it, why do you boast as if you’ve not received it?” Exactly! Right?

So, humility before God is very important, dependence upon Him, understanding  He is the one that is the source of every good thing that there is. Everything that is qualitatively good is in God and in nowhere else. No place else. No one else. So, God alone deserves ultimate glory.

God deserves ultimate glory because he is the Creator

This clip is excerpted from the sermon „The Incomparable Glory of God,” the second part of our sermon series Best Sermon Ever. It was preached by Dr. Bruce Ware out of Isaiah 40–45 at Mars Hill Downtown Bellevue and released on August 18. VIDEO by Mars Hill Church Watch the full sermon here: http://jesus.to/1cTmYRw Check out the full Best Sermon Ever series here: http://marshill.com/bestsermonever

Sinclair Ferguson – Creation: An Arena for Praising God

perfect-lake-norwayNORWAY – Photo credit benisawesome.net

Psalm 19:1-2 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.

In this excerpt from his teaching series Who Is the Holy Spirit?, Sinclair Ferguson considers Psalm 19:1-2 and all of creation as a place of worship.

SInclair Ferguson:

What the Spirit is actually doing in Creation, and this becomes typical of everything He does in the pages of Scripture is that He is creating a temple, a meeting place for God to meet with, and to fellowship with His creation and especially with man, and then, in which man can then happily meet with God, have communion with Him, fellowship with Him. Remember how Adam walks with God. And in this temple that God is creating through His Holy Spirit man might be brought to know God, to love God, to trutst God, to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.

So, here are two ways, right at the beginning that we can think about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and especially about His ministry in our lives. He comes to bring form to our formlessness, to bring fullness to our emptiness. And He comes because He wants to restore us to that kind of fellowship with God in which we worship God in His holy temple.

The Spirit does this, first of all, in creation. I don’t think we often think about that, but, the whole creation is actually a temple created for the worship of God, by His image, man. Turn to the Book of Psalms. A very famous statement at the beginning of Psalm 19, verses 1-2. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. If you think about it, what does it remind you of? A church service. In a church service, in worship, there is the declaration of the glory of God, there is the proclamation of His handiwork, there is an outpouring of speech, and there is a revelation of knowledge. And you see, this is why God, through the Spirit has brought order and fulness into the Creation, in order that through that creation we might come to worship Him. And so, the fullness of Creation becomes a pointer for us to the glory of God, and an arena in which we come to praise Him and adore Him. VIDEO by Ligonier Ministries

Full Transcript: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/creation…
Teaching Series: http://www.ligonier.org/store/who-is-…

Scripture not „fun” programs bring young people to Christ

School students kids

Jared Moore via http://theaquilareport.com

The church largely today expects to be entertained, and instead of pastors and Sunday school teachers standing up and trusting the word of God, imploring hearers to listen because of the authority of the book itself, we have watered it down, and have chosen instead to add entertainment to the text in order to feel good about ourselves. Our mentality seems to be that if our children want to come to church on Sunday Morning or Wednesday evening, the reason they want to come is really irrelevant to us; as long as they want to be there.

Throughout Christian and Secular education, there is a mentality that as long as our children and youth learn, the methods we use to teach them are irrelevant. “The end justifies the means,” seems to be the song of the day. The problem is that the end we are arriving at is not where we want to be. A few weeks ago a young man knocked on my door; he was selling children’s books door-to-door as part of a summer internship. These children’s books were outstanding in that they were the coolest children’s books I had ever seen. His pitch was, ”If children enjoy learning at an early age, then they will enjoy learning and continue learning when they get older.”

Does this sound familiar? Does this not describe nearly every Evangelical church’s and, dare I say, Southern Baptist church’s mentalities? If we can simply get children and youth to enjoy learning the word of God, then they will continue in the word of God when they get older. How we get them to learn is really irrelevant. We seek to make learning as enjoyable as possible, not because learning is enjoyable in and of itself, but because fun is enjoyable. Thus, we do what we need to make learning the Scriptures and learning about God “fun.”

We cannot lose what we never had to begin with. We think that if we get children to come to service or to come to Wednesday night, or to memorize Bible verses, etc. then we have succeeded. My question is if we really believe this, then why not carry this out to the extreme? Let’s start paying children, youth, and adults to attend church, memorize Scripture, etc. if the goal is simply to get these truths in their heads. The goal however is to get them to love the Lord, and live for His glory alone, and this cannot be accomplished by bribing children, youth, and adults to enjoy Him. God the Holy Spirit is the only One who can accomplish this, and He determined before the foundation of the world to accomplish this “through the foolishness of the message preached” (1 Cor. 1:21).

May God have mercy on us…

Until our children and adults understand that they are responsible before God to study, live, and apply His Word, then they will never grow in Christ. Some may be thinking at this point in the article, “You cannot get children to study the Scriptures if you do not make it fun,” or, “they will not listen if you do not make it fun.” My reaction is simply this: if only the early church had our expertise, then maybe they would have baptized thousands more? If children and adults have God the Holy Spirit, not only will they listen, but they will want to listen. Once God the Holy Spirit makes them realize their responsibility to listen, they will make themselves listen, because of Who they are learning about, not because of how they are learning.

In conclusion, children will enjoy and have fun doing what they love to do. If they love God, and know that the Bible is His word, then they will enjoy studying it to “show themselves approved before God” (2 Tim. 2:15). If they understand their responsibility to learn because they live in God’s world, and are stewards of the intellect He has given them, then they will learn for His glory, regardless whether the subject is His Word or His world. If we seek to make them enjoy learning the Word of God or learning about His world for the same reason they enjoy cartoons, then they will grow very little, if at all, in their Christian lives. The only answer to the problem of voluntary Biblical ignorance by Christ’s church, regardless of age, is not in trying to pragmatically get them to like and enjoy what they profess to hate by their actions.

READ THE ARTICLE in its ENTIRETY here – http://theaquilareport.com

Is a boyfriend’s porn use a reason to call off a marriage? (How porn destroys)

Some advice and an explanation as to how porn impacts a young man and his future wife when they get married. You can listen to the entire podcast here- https://soundcloud.com/askpastorjohn

Is My Boyfriend’s Porn a Marriage Deal-Breaker? (Episode 122):

computer manPorn is destructive to a man’s capacities to love a woman purely for herself. He is training his body to need increasingly different, strange, erotic situations and bodies, and he is making it harder to be content with the real body of the woman that is going to be offered to him as his wife. And her body, as it is, at its best, is not going to be the airbrushed body of pornographic sites. And when she is 50 it isn’t going to be that either. And if he hasn’t cultivated a kind of pure love for his wife, for herself, as she is, then his eyes are going to be cruising continually beyond what she has to offer him at age 40 and 50 and 60. A woman needs to be able to trust a man. A woman feels profoundly compromised when a man says to her, “No, I really need more than you can offer me.” That is tragic for a man to say that to a woman. So porn is destructive to his capacity to love her for who she is.

And here is the fourth and the last thing I will say about why it is so wrong for a man to do this. Porn is destructive to a man’s soul. His capacity to see God in the purity and the greatness of his glory is shriveled. It is compromised. The soul shrinks to the size and the quality of its pleasures.

Full Transcript

QUESTION: Lindsay writes in to ask: As I considered men who had a desire to marry me, pornography and lust continue to lay strongholds in the lives of my suitors. I am seeking to view men with eyes of grace , but to use wisdom at the same time. I understand that every sin, including lust is the turning away from delight in Jesus to a broken cistern. In light of this, do you believe it is possible for a man to be strong in faith, finding genuine joy in Jesus, and enjoying an overall satisfying relationship with Him, while simultaneously indulging frequently in lust? I believe that every sin could be defeated through the power of the Holy Spirit, but I do not wanna be naive either, since I know this issue is wide and pervasive. I suppose another way to pose my question would be this: Pastor John, should the present presence of pornography  in a man’s life be a marriage deal breaker for a single woman like me?

John Piper:

Wow, I hear at least 2 questions there, and I can’t answer the last one ‘Is it a deal breaker’ until I answer a couple of others. When I hear about this, here are the 4 questions I’m going to have to tackle.

  1. The very question she asked: Can a man get victory over this? Shouldn’t a man be able to live a life of more or less regular triumph, instead of recovering over and over again from pornography?
  2. If he can’t, is it  a deal breaker for her marrying him?
  3. What is pornography? That she didn’t ask. I’ve got to ask it.
  4. And, even more important: Why is it wrong?

So, let me tackle those real quick. Here’s my definition. I’m going to omit homosexual issues. I’m going to omit sex in movies, those are huge issues, but more or less, what men are usually dealing with today is: Involvement with pornography is looking at sexually, or fantasizing about nude women, other than your wife. That’s what I’m talking about. Looking at or fantasizing about nude women. They might be doing all kinds of stuff, or just standing there- (but they are) other than your wife. That’s my definition.

Now, here’s why I think it’s wrong. And, I have to say this: Until the guy feels these things that I’m gonna say right now, about why it’s wrong, it won’t make any sense to him why she would say, „I can’t marry you.” These are so big, I’m gonna wind up saying, „Woman, you are so right! Don’t lower your standards!”
So, here’s why I think it’s wrong:

1. Porn is unloving

It’s unloving to the women involved because it endorses their behaviors and their desires, which are going to destroy them if they don’t repent. It’s unloving to their future husbands. And, when they are confirming in these women a lifestyle of nudity, that is gonna be destructive to those future relationships those women are going to try and have some day. It’s unloving to the parents of those women. I would just ask men: Put yourself in the position of the dad, or the mom. That’s your daughter, how do you feel about that? And here’s this Christian guy, who is endorsing, approving, helping that happen, and confirming that as if he doesn’t give a rip about those parents and their broken heart. Their hearts are broken because of this girl’s behavior, and this guy doesn’t give a rip about whether their hearts are broken. He’s enjoying her breaking their hearts.

2. Porn is adulterous

In other words, it cultivates and pursues mental and physical pleasures that are made by God to flourish in marriage. But they are pursued through women other than our wives. So Jesus has had very strong words to say about that.

3. Porn is destructive to man’s capacity to love a woman purely for herself

He’s training himself. When he does pornography, he’s training his body to need increasingly different, strange erotic situations and bodies. And he’s making it, therefore, harder to be content with the real body  of this woman who is going to be offered to him as his wife. And her body, at its best is not going to be the airbrushed body of these pornographic sites. And when she’s 50, it isn’t going to be that either. And if he hasn’t cultivated a kind of pure love for his wife, for herself as she is, then his eyes are going to be cruising continuously beyond what she has to offer him at 40 and 50 and 60. And a woman needs to be able to trust a man that ‘I am what you have, I have what you need. Don’t have eyes for another woman.’ A woman feels profoundly compromised when a man says to her, „No, I really need more than you can offer me.That’s tragic, for a man to say that to a woman. Porn is destructive to his capacities to love her for who she is. 

4. Porn is destructive to a man’s soul

His capacity to see God in the purity and the greatness of His glory is shriveled, is compromised. The soul tends to shrink to the size and the quality of its pleasures.   If a man constantly says to his soul, „Adapt yourself now to this low, brief, unclean, selfish pleasure. Adapt yourself to this, soul. Get yourself around this, soul. Form yourself around this, soul. It will become that small, and a soul that shrinks like that won’t be able to make much of God, won’t be able to see God, won’t be able to delight in God anywhere near how God should be delighted in, in the glorious pleasures that He offers us in His world and in His word.

So, those are my reasons, I would say, to this woman, and to all the men who may be listening, why it is so wrong for him to pursue pornography. Now, back to her question. She wanted to know: Isn’t it possible for a man to be strong enough in faith, and to have enough joy in Jesus, and have an overall satisfying relationship  to Him, that he could conquer this? Isn’t his indulging frequently in lust an undermining?

My answer is: She’s right. An overall satisfying relationship with Jesus means that Jesus is precious enough, so that we value Him above those 4 reasons. Those 4 reasons that I gave, that porn is wrong become compelling because Jesus is our treasure, not just a doctrine, but is Lord and friend, and Savior and Supreme treasure of our lives, the way He should be

Then, we won’t be continually hating women with our choices to demean them and confirm their destruction. We won’t be continually committing adultery in our heart with those women. We won’t be continually defiling our capacity to love our present and future wives. We won’t be continually shrinking our souls, our ability to save for the glories of God. We won’t, because Jesus is utterly different than that.

A man who continually says, „I embrace all that destruction, I embrace all that evil, I embrace all that uncleanness, I embrace all that idolatry, and that hatred for women is saying something that a woman who is about to marry him better hear loud and clear. So, my answer to her last question ‘Should it be a deal breaker?’ If this man can’t get victory over this, if he is regularly tuning in , I would say, „Yeah, that’s a deal breaker.” Now, I am not a woman, I can’t make this call for myself. I would just say, if I were her I would say, „You strike me as a woman of remarkable grace , not legalism, you strike me as a woman who is striving for a biblical standard, that is not artificial, nor realistic or perfectionistic  standards. I hear grace in your question, I don’t hear brittleness and I would say, „Don’t lower the bar.” I think we’ve lowered the bar too much. We’ve treated men like dogs in heat , rather than men who are created in the image of God, who have the Holy Spirit, whose fruit is love, joy, and self control. And that last one, self control, is usually used in relationship to sexuality. Men are not victims. And these women have a right to expect more from us. And, I would say to her and to the other women: Don’t lower your standards. God is in the process, I believe right now,  in purifying a man’s soul and a man’s body for you.

Also read/view

But God… What man cannot do is altogether within God’s power

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(via) Banner of Truth Trust (09/10) by Kenneth McLeod

It is easy to see that the world is in a terrible state – with war, civil disobedience and crime affecting, in varying degrees, people across the globe. But, more fundamentally, we must recognise the terrible spiritual state of every individual human being, for frictions between nations and problems within individual countries and communities only exist because each human being is by nature a fallen creature with a sinful heart. Paul describes the fallen human condition in stark terms: ‘dead in trespasses and sins’, living ‘according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience’, having ‘our conversation . . . in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind’ (Eph. 2:1-3). If sinners ignorant of the gospel focus on this list of terms which so emphasise the seriousness of their spiritual condition, they would be left entirely without hope – provided they really believed the accuracy of the testimony God has given in the Scriptures.

This makes the opening words of the next verse tremendously significant: ‘But God’. What man cannot do is altogether within God’s power. And while there can be no hope on the merely-human level, there is every reason for hope if we receive this further testimony from the Bible.

That God would rescue anyone who is ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ depends on what Paul next refers to: ‘God . . . is rich in mercy’. He is willing to do good to those who, spiritually, are in a desperate condition, who have rebelled against himself, whose enmity against him is such that they will resist his offers of mercy, who are under the power of Satan. It is mercy beyond what we could reasonably imagine that leads God to rescue sinners whose mind ‘is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be’ (Rom. 8:7).

This speaks of human inability; no individual can, by his own power, bring himself to submit to the authority of God’s law. This is one of the consequences of spiritual death; just as a man or a woman who has died can no longer walk or talk, or even breathe, so a spiritually-dead sinner is completely unable to engage in any spiritual activity – to trust in Christ, for example, or to love God or to desire to live a holy, God-glorifying life. It is utterly impossible for sinners to do anything that will please God; they are spiritually dead. But God, in infinite mercy, can so subdue them that they submit to his law. Those who are now God’s children were unbelieving, resisting the gospel, but God the Holy Spirit has given them grace to trust in Christ. They had no love for God, for ‘the carnal mind is enmity against’ him, but the Holy Spirit, in regenerating the soul, implanted the grace of love. They lived in an environment of sin; they ‘were dead in trespasses and sins’; they did not want to be holy; but God has ‘quickened’ them (Eph. 2:5); he put new life in their souls and, from then on, their desire has been to live holy lives – to do what will glorify God.

Sinners are also ‘by nature the children of wrath’. They are guilty, not least because of original sin, and therefore subject to God’s anger – his righteous purpose to punish them because of their sin. It is because he is just that he cannot pass by their sin; he cannot treat their transgressions as if they had never happened; he must punish. Accordingly all unconverted sinners are under sentence of eternal destruction and nothing they can do can deliver them from that fearful situation. But God can deliver sinners, for he has given his Son to be their substitute – ‘for his great love wherewith he loved’ them. ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16).

The love of God was acting in harmony with the justice of God; only thus could sinners be saved. Apart from the revelation God has given, it must have appeared impossible for sinners justly to escape the punishment which they so much deserve. But God, in infinite wisdom, was able to exercise mercy in perfect harmony with his justice, for the salvation of sinners. So when the Father gave the Son to a lost world in love, the Son must suffer and die; he must endure the full punishment that would otherwise fall on those sinners whom he was representing.

There are some sinners whose wickedness is so great that it may seem totally impossible for them to be saved – men such as Manasseh, who committed unspeakable crimes on a vast scale. But God showed that he was able to save this brutal king of Judah, which directs our attention to the greatness of the redemption accomplished by Christ. Yet, in this context, we should focus less on the greatness of Manasseh’s sin, although clearly his sins were unusually heinous, and place more emphasis on the seriousness of every sin, for every sin is committed against an infinite and pure God. We must never underestimate the seriousness of any sin, but however great the guilt of a particular sin – and the guilt of every sin is infinitely great – the redeeming work of Christ, being the work of a divine, infinite Person, is totally effective to blot out sin of every kind, for ‘the blood of Jesus Christ . . . cleanseth us from all sin’ (1 John 1:7).

There are other sinners whose beliefs seem to stand in the way of their salvation. They follow some false religion such as Islam or Buddhism, or they adhere to some perversion of Christianity such as Roman Catholicism or Mormonism, or they claim to believe that there is no God, professing to be atheists and underpinning their unbelief by placing supreme confidence in the philosophy of evolution. But God is able to save them. However tenaciously they may hold on to their beliefs, God can make them willing to receive the truth about himself and about themselves. The Holy Spirit can bring them to submit to the whole of the revelation he has given to mankind in Scripture and lead them on to believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as the One who came into the world to save sinners. This is what took place in pagan Ephesus and Corinth during the time of the Apostles, and even in the case of a few people in Athens, where everyone seemed to show such disdain for Paul and his teachings.

We may notice a third group of people: those who accept that God exists and that the Bible is true, who listen to preaching and say their prayers, but who are still outside the kingdom of God. It might seem relatively easy for them to be converted, but the fundamental difficulty for them is the same as for every other sinner: they are ‘dead in trespasses and sins’. They do not believe, and they cannot believe. Their heart is in the world, and they are totally unwilling to come to Christ in order that they may be saved. It is completely impossible even for such people to be saved by their own efforts, although most others would describe them as good people – like Saul of Tarsus, for instance, who could look back on his past life and declare that, as ‘touching the righteousness which is in the law’ he was ‘blameless’. But God can save them. Christ’s redemption must become their only hope, and they must see that the work of the Holy Spirit is the only power that can change their hearts and set them on the way to heaven.

The world is indeed in a terrible state. Governments and commentators of every conceivable viewpoint may put forward endless suggestions as to how the situation in various parts of the globe may be improved, or even solved. There may indeed be a degree of merit in many of these ideas. Yet we must never lose sight of the fundamental human problem: man has gone away from God and, apart from divine grace, he will go on living out his life in a fallen condition, ‘dead in trespasses and sins’. But God is able to save individuals and communities and nations, because of what Christ has done. For that blessing we must pray earnestly and constantly. It must be our only hope, ‘for there is none other name . . . whereby we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12).



Kenneth D. Macleod is pastor of the Free Presbyterian Church in Leverburgh on the Isle of Harris. He is the editor of The Free Presbyterian Magazine, from the September 2010 issue of which the above editorial has been taken.

www.fpchurch.org.uk

What Role does the Holy Spirit play in Apologetics?

street evangelismVIDEO by drcraigvideos For more resources visit: http://www.reasonablefaith.org

Dr William Lane Craig answers a question in this clip about the role of the Holy Spirit in his ministry and apologetics. He says there is a difference between knowing Christianity to be true and showing Christianity to be true. On March 21, 2013, Dr Craig spoke at Texas A&M in College Station, Texas on the topic of faith, science and philosophy. This event was put on by the Veritas Forum which hosts university events that engage students and faculty in discussions about life’s hardest questions and the relevance of Jesus Christ to all of life. The style of this talk was more like a conversation than a lecture as Dr Craig shares much of his own personal story about how he came to faith in Jesus Christ.

Dr. William Lane Craig, FROM VIDEO: I have found it very helpful to differentiate between what I call ‘knowing Christianity to be true’, and showing Christianity to be true. I think that the fundamental way in which we know that Christianity is true, is through the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. I do not think that arguments and evidence are necessary, in order for faith to be rational, or for you to know that God exists or has revealed Himself in Christ. 

So, I would say, that the fundamental way we know that Christianity is true is through the witness of the Holy Spirit, and reason and argument, then, can confirm the Spirit’s witness. The person who has good apologetics arguments, has in a sense a double warrant for his faith. He has the warrant provided by the Holy Spirit. And then, he has a double warrant, provided by argument and evidence. But, should he lack the argumented evidence, he can still be warranted, just on the basis of the Holy Spirit. That’s knowing Christianity to be true.

When it comes to showing Christianity to be true, we’re dealing with somebody else, and therefore, we’ll need to give them arguments and evidence to show them that what I know to be true, is true. And then, the role of the Holy Spirit will be to use those arguments and evidence, as I lovingly present them, to draw that person to Himself.  

So, in knowing Christianity to be true, the Holy Spirit is primary and argument and evidence is secondary. But, in showing Christianity to be true, argument and evidence is primary, and here the Holy Spirit is secondary, in using those as means by which He draws a person to Himself. Faith is trusting in what you have reason to believe is true. That reason doesn’t just mean arguments and evidence, that reason could be the deliverance of the Holy Spirit.

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