Category Archives: Repentance and Salvation

God’s Heart Toward The Living Dead

Right now God is in a state of holding back, or rather as Romans 2:5 says “storing up” His wrath while His enemies roam the earth. His wrath is kindled; it may now be pressing in on them, but is not yet being fully poured out on living people. As long as a person has breath they are experiencing God’s amazing mercy every single day.

We have discussed that God feels anger towards unregenerate men while they live. But what other feelings might He have towards them? What is His heart for the people of this earth? Continue reading

He Has Mercy On Whom He Wills

The doctrine of election is an important truth that greatly helps us to properly understand, humbly accept, and greatly appreciate the love of God displayed in Christ’s death.  The emphasis in scripture has always been that God freely sets His special love and affection on particular people.  I know that I’m stepping on toes.  I’m aware that I’m dwindling down my audience, but scripturally it is impossible to avoid this topic if I’m going to discuss the love of God in depth.  Consider God’s chosen people Israel:

“The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.  It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath the he swore to your fathers… (Deuteronomy 7:6-8)” Continue reading

And Such Were Some Of You

1Corinthians 6:9 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Sometimes I feel quite done with this world.  I hear about the atrocities that men commit and must admit I’d rather stop my ears.  People’s hearts in this world are so cold, hard and impartial to others that it is shocking.  More and more often I hear news reports that verify what the Bible has taught us from the beginning: that mankind is radically evil.  We needn’t be nearly as afraid of bears and lions, tsunamis and earthquakes, as of the evil that is in people’s hearts.

Sometimes, if you’re like me you feel a sense of despair and you just want Jesus to come back now.  How can He be so patient?  As wrong as I know it is, there are times I feel like Jonah.  “Lord, they continue to do evil and why do you let it go on?  Come at last in your fury and let all vengeance belong to you.  Wipe the wicked from the face of the earth.”

It is not necessarily sinful to anticipate, long for, and even pray for the Lord to hasten His judgement.  David, after worshipping God in awe that God would so love and care for Him, suddenly turns from intimate and heartfelt praise to say “Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!  O men of blood depart from me (Psalm 139:19)!”  I confess I find it unfortunate that so few people talk about verses 19-24 of Psalm 139.

However, I think that whenever we come face to face with a foul mouthed God hating sinner, a news report about the latest child pornography ring, or the headline about the latest thief who bludgeoned an elderly person- we need stop and think through these words: “And such were some of you.  But…”

I used to have this resolution of Jonathan Edward’s taped up beside my bed.  I find it mightily convicting, humbling, and effective:

“Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.”

Does my own heart contribute any pure goodness that would prevent me from committing the same crimes as others if I were given the same opportunity and circumstances?  No.  As Christians I think it is possible (but wrong!) to slip into an attitude of moral superiority, with disgust and disdain towards the people of the world, instead of recognizing that it is only because of God’s grace we have been kept from certain sins.  I see nothing wrong with feeling disgusted by sin and in fact we are probably not disturbed enough by it.  However, there is something wrong when we stop identifying ourselves as a part of the same fallen race, capable of the same level of depravity apart from the grace of God.  We should never look down our noses at other sinful people as if we had something on them.

I have heard people complain, also very much like Jonah, that God should not forgive certain kinds of people.  If we think this way, we have too high a view of self, and too low a view of the mercy of God poured through the cross of Christ.  Is there a point at which God will give people up to their debased mind with no further chance of hope?  Yes there is (Romans 1:21-32, Hebrews 6:1-6).  But can finite humans know when or whether God should do that?  No.

The potential for a person to come to Christ has nothing to do with how many good things they think they have done, nor how many unspeakable sins they might have committed.  Jesus simply said “No one comes to me unless the Father who sent me draws him (John 6:44),” and that “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail (John 6:63).”  God says “’I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’  So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy…He has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever He wills (Romans 9:15-16,18).”

Without getting too deep into theology and to put it plainly, He can have mercy on whomever He wants to, whether it is little-goody-two-shoes or a mass murderer.  If we are Christians this should provoke gratitude towards God in our hearts for the gift of salvation, as well as a strong desire for all people everywhere to be given the gift of repentance and faith.  God is a great saviour; His arm is never too short to save!  Jesus Christ has paid the debt in full for whoever would cry out to Him.  If Jesus Christ was willing to bare the wrath of God that was headed for rapists and thieves, then why would I not desire that all people be saved?  Why should I lose hope for anyone?  And if I needed that same saviour to shed the same blood for my crimes, why should I sneer at other sinners who need the very same thing?

“There is a fountain filled with blood

That flows from Emmanuel’s veins

And sinners plunged beneath that flood

Lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoice to see

That fountain in his day

And there may I though

Vile as he

Wash all my sins away!”

I want to get personal for a moment as I close.  There is no certain “type of person” that Jesus saves, other than that He came for sinners who would confess that they were sinners.  I think sometimes our view of His love and ability to save people wherever they are at is too low.  I was a foul person with a crude mouth, a thief with a strong taste for rebellion, acting in pride and ignorance every day of my life.  Sometimes that’s all we see of a person on the outside.

I have no interest in excusing sin or making people the victim of their own sin.  No, we are willing participants in sin with no excuse.  But people would have never thought that I laid awake guilty at night, that I feared there was a God who would send me to Hell if I died, and that I hated myself more and more for my sin each day.  You might know people, or simply see them on the street making a scene, but you have no idea what God might be doing in their heart.  It’s not our place to judge unbelievers, but to tell them the gospel that can save their soul and change their life.  God can redeem anyone, and He is all the hope we need in this dark world.  He will either save the wretched sinner, or in the end He will rid the earth of all who remain in their wickedness- but either way, justice will have been dealt and He will receive all glory due to His name.  And we, the redeemed, will cover our mouths, bow the knee, and thank the God who loved and spared us.

So may our attitude be this:  Lord come and bring both your Justice and your Peace to this world.  But until you come, have mercy on sinners Lord, to whatever extent may glorify you as Most High, Gracious, Forgiving, and Merciful God.  Thank you Lord for forgiving me of many shameful acts, and sparing me from those I could have easily committed.  All credit goes to You.  May we be merciful, who have been shown so much mercy.  Put the gospel on our lips and let the light of Christ shine from our hearts.  Amen.

How He Loves Us

1John 3:14 “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us…”

1John 4:18 “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

The love of God is not primarily manifested in how big your pay cheque is. It is not proven by the blessing of a healthy body, a loving family, or by statements that make you feel good about yourself.  The love of God is on display in the bloody crucifixion of Jesus Christ, more than it has ever been or will ever be in any other action or blessing of God.  If you try to sanitize and make more palpable for sinners the cross of Jesus Christ and its purpose, you will tone down the love of God. His love is beyond human capability or imagination.  Just as the wrath of God could melt this world like wax in ways that we could never contrive, the love of God is so vast and unfathomable that these lyrics are a very accurate estimation of it:

“Could we with ink the ocean fill

And were the skies of parchment made

Were every stalk on earth a quill

And every man a scribe by trade

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry

Nor could the scroll contain the whole

Though stretched from sky to sky.”

I have mentioned before that I believe the love of God has been trivialized, sentimentalized, presumed upon and a whole slew of other things it was never meant to be.  “God loves you” has become a statement almost entirely void of power to the sinners ears, instead of the heart breaking, earth shattering, knee driving, repentance causing statement that it should be.

And why is this?  Why does the love of God no longer make people fear and stand in utter amazement?

The reason is this:  Christ crucified underneath the wrath of God on the behalf of wretched sinners has been downplayed, if not entirely removed from evangelism and congregations, and therefore the love of God has been stripped of its power.  It is the greatest tragedy coming out of churches today.  We think that people will view God as more loving if He just loves and accepts everyone the way they are, and we ignore that God has chosen to reveal His love by His Son satisfying divine justice while dying in pain and agonizing separation from the Father in the sinners’ place.

As much as I have laboured to explain that God is angry with sinners, I now want to express how much He loves them. And I pray, in the light of understanding our trespasses against God, His love would make us stand in awe in a way that it never has before.  Words fall absurdly short, but here is my attempt to share truths about the nature of God’s love for sinners.

He Came Loving Sinners

One might think that God would come to save those who were keeping His rules as closely as possible.  Or maybe He would have a special interest in those who said the longest and most frequent prayers.  Seeing as He is God, and that He is perfectly holy and hates sin, you would not expect Him come and break bread with well known and well despised sinners would you?

The King of Heaven come to earth, should come expecting to be served, shouldn’t He?  If He is God, why hasn’t He set up His throne to rule and reign?  And seeing as He has so much power, shouldn’t He make Himself known to the public, as all powerful, great and mighty, miracle- working God?

Yet this Jesus sat himself at a table with tax collectors and sinners, and answered his sceptics: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”  He repeatedly exposed the hypocrisy of the self righteous religious leaders, even going so far as to say “the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you (Matthew 21:31).”  The same God who is so deeply offended by our sins can be found in the pages of scripture offering forgiveness to a woman five times divorced, a prostitute weeping at his feet, a criminal crucified beside him, and a close friend who betrayed and denied Him on the day of his death.

He is a God beyond our comprehension.  How can He be so rightfully angry with us, and yet look at us with compassion?  How does He endure such hostility from our hands and yet bid us come to Him?

Matthew 9:36 “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

John 7:37 “Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink!’”

Philippians 2:6-8 “Though he was in the form of God, (he) did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

They expected Messiah to come set up His Kingdom.  They expected Him to rule their enemies with a rod of iron.  But the humble, meek, servant-King Jesus, is absolutely not what they were looking for!  This “self-proclaimed” Son of God, who would dine with the wicked, was to them an abomination.

He Endured with Patience: Hostility, Abuse and Indifference From Men

Does God demand worship, obedience, honour, homage, and holiness from all people everywhere?  Is He always angered by sin and just to punish?  The answer is a definite yes. As mentioned before, people have tried to draw a line between the “God of the Old Testament” and Jesus Christ, but if you do that you destroy Christianity. With God there is “no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17).”

The truth is, throughout the entire Bible God can be seen as incredibly angry and ready to punish, but also as extremely patient with sinners.  Just look at these verses:

Psalm 145:8-9 “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.”

Psalm 103:9, 13-14 “He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever…As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.  For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”

The book of Romans explains that God patiently endured the sins of people in the Old Testament, at times not bringing immediate punishment upon them, because He was being merciful to them and waiting until the day when He would pour out that wrath on His own Son Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:23-25 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.  This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”

God has not changed. Jesus Christ perfectly displayed the divine forbearance of God, by physically coming here and enduring such hatred from us.  To this day He is still “patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2Peter 3:9).”

Time and time again He watched people walk away preferring money over him, religious status over him, or even just wanting His miracles and benefits, but not caring about Him.  He is the one who “endure(d)…from sinners such hostility against himself (Hebrew 12:3).”   He kept Himself in the hands of wicked men who dragged Him “like a lamb that is led to the slaughter” and yet He “opened not His mouth (Isaiah 53:8).”  We may think, “Oh Lord!    What could you be doing?  Call down fire and destroy your enemies!”  Or like Peter when Jesus told Him of the death that was to come, take the Lord “aside and be(gin) to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord!  This shall never happen to you (Matthew 16:22)!’”

And there should rightly be within us some kind of shock that the Messiah would come to live and die this way.  It is difficult for us to reconcile infinite power and burning wrath, with the silence of Jesus Christ in the face of His mockers and executioners.  In the event of the crucifixion His love and patience towards mankind is on display most painstakingly bright.  They pressed a crown of thorns onto His head, stripped Him and gave Him a purple robe, mocking His Kingship.  Ridiculing Him they “blindfolded him and kept asking him, ‘Prophesy!  Who is it that struck you?’”  They drove nails through His hands and feet, spat in His face and set up a sign “King of the Jews” at His cross, as if to say “What kind of pathetic King is this? Look at Him now.”  “He saved others; He cannot save Himself (Matthew 27:42).”

Should not the ground have caved in on them all and swallowed them into the earth?  But listen to these astonishing words, spoken by Jesus at His arrest:  “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so (Matthew 26:55-56)?”

What is going on here?  You see, the love of God and the crucifixion have become far too common to us!  How can we not be amazed by His coming and by His death, when we rightly understand how Mighty and Holy He is, and how far His creation has fallen from glory?  His willingness to live among sinners and die by their hands should leave us stunned.  “Amazing love, how can it be? That thou my God should die for me!”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWgeUrD4MHI

Of My Own Free Will?

One day the Bright and Morning Star arose in my heart.  I was sitting in the shadows of death, a prisoner bound and condemned to die.  My hands hung limp at my side and I had run out of the strength to try and free myself from my chains.  Glimpses of light here and there offered hope, but always they eluded me.  The darkness, with its strange appeal, crowded closer in each day.  My eyes we sore and weary of seeking a way out.  The darkness, though I knew it bound me, seemed to me the only way.  I tried to resist its approach, but how could I?  It didn’t only come from outside, it sprung up from within, overflowing from my own heart.

What were these words upon my tongue?  Lies.  Blasphemy.  Hatred.  I walked among a people of unclean lips.  My tongue had been a rudder to steer hell’s own ship.  Wickedness sprang forth from wellsprings of deceit.  The overflow of my hard heart had caused my Father’s grief.

Yes lonely, lost, and helpless I sat but not so that any should pity me.  Willingly, wickedly, and guilty I sat.  The cost of following Christ?  Too high.  His standards?  Unattainable, so why even try?

I was deceived by Satan and knew it.  I recognized his voice and followed in his ways.  Can you hear the depth of deception in the words I wrote at this point in my life?  Read this and try to tell me that I chose Christ of my own good sense, that I deserved salvation, that I was not a willing and passionate participant in sinning against a Holy God.

“But tonight,
Tonight we have surpassed the screaming corridor
And we’ve lost sight of both the darkness and the light.
Tonight I’ll take your hand and we’ll walk backwards,
For if we forget our sins we can forge this fight.

The serpent sings a lullaby,
And we shall dance the night away
For never have we been more blessed
Then right now throwing our lives away.”

The strange thing is that in those days I would call myself a Christian, yet at the same time knew that I was a fake.  I even wrote about being a fraud.

“The falling words slit upwards
Streaking shards of guilt across
The sun rise,
A shadowing display is peaking through
The blinds,
And I am terrified the world will know
That I am a disguise.”

And in song lyrics that I wrote:

“Which part of me is dead?

The part I fake,

The part that struggles to say no.

It’s easy to tell them who I want to be

It’s easy to criticize everyone but me

Every night I pray

But what happens to God during the day?”

The truth is by my own free will I remained in that prison cell, refusing to take the only way out.  I knew that God hated my sin, that if I died I would find myself in Hell, and even that living for Jesus was a noble and better way.  I even admired those who did.  But sin captivated my heart; it was my identity and was to me the thing that both kept me breathing and strangled my breath at the same time.  Christ required me to forsake my sin, and though a worthy act, I could not make myself want to do such a thing.

Isaiah 42:6-7 “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.”

Matthew 4:16 “The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”

One day the Bright and Morning Star arose in my heart.

The light broke forth into my prison cell, my shackles were shattered, and my blind eyes were opened to see the Glory of Jesus Christ standing before me.  Knowing intellectually that Jesus Christ saves sinners, and having that truth explode within your heart are two very different things.  Suddenly the words made sense: “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!  I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see!”  I felt my wretchedness tear me up within, and suddenly understood that Jesus had a profound interest in saving wretches.  It wasn’t empty words; it was truth and He was truth.  There He stood, the way, the truth and the life and He stretched out His hand to me.

I would have never invited Him.  I could never have found the way or the will to get my chained body off of the cold prison floor, to venture over to His Kingdom’s door and invite myself in.  I was a seething enemy with no true appetite for Christ.

“And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Saviour’s blood?  Died He for me, who caused His pain, for me who Him to death pursued…‘Tis mercy all immense and free, for Oh my God it found out me.” –Charles Wesley. 

He took my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh.  Once cold towards God and unfeeling towards man, He burst the bonds that restricted me from loving anything more than myself.  Slowly my heart began to beat and I felt the presence of God dwell within.

When imprisoned the cross left me guilty, but when He opened my eyes the cross made me free.  When the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.

Life once empty and dry was now full to overflowing.  Mountains, trees, flowers, and sunsets that had lost to me their grandeur now seemed to break forth with great clapping and praise.

His statutes – once so burdensome, became life and delight for me.

Christ picked me up out of the miry clay

He carried me from darkness into brightest day

He set me on an eternal rock

Upheld forever, He has wrought

Himself in me and it would be

Impossible that I could walk away.

 

Salvation is a gift.  It is free and undeserved.  It is Christ’s soul purchasing work.

Did I choose Him?  Can a dead man tell Himself to “Live?”  But rather God says “When I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’  I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ (Ez 16:8).”

 John 5:21 “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.”

John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail.”

John 15:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain.”

All Glory be to God alone for His salvation to men, and His redeeming love for sinful people.

“Long my imprisoned spirit lay,

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray;

I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;

My chains fell off, my heart was free,

I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

No condemnation now I dread;

Jesus and all in Him is mine;

Alive in Him, my living Head

And clothed in righteousness divine,

Bold I approach the eternal throne

And claim the crown through Christ my own.”

Charles Wesley

Lord Help Us

Lord, help the mothers

Late at night

While buried in distress and fright

Who’ve just learned they now carry life

Lord, not to be deceived.

 

Lord, help the counsellors

In their schools,

Or in Planned Parenthood counselling rooms

While they play God and offer schemes

Lord, help them for they are deceived.

 

Lord, help the doctors

Who with their hands

Bring death, help them to understand

This is no money making game

Lord, help them to feel their shame.

 

Lord, help the child in the womb

Now as he blossoms and he blooms

Into one created by your hand

Who helpless rests and waits for day

Lord, let his life not end this way.

 

Lord, help the children in the world

While learning lies in their classrooms

And on TV, that it must be

We are only part of a natural plan

Of selection, so the weaker die

Lord, open up the children’s eyes.

 

Lord, help young teens

Who believe the advice

Of adults passing condoms out

Without thinking twice

Who tell them it’s normal

To explore, and leave all risks at the door

Birth control will keep you safe

But where are these people

When the kid’s hearts break?

 

Oh Lord, help the teens

Like only you can

By giving grace in Jesus Christ

I pray before they wreck their life.

 

Lord, finally help this nation

Of sinners, taken and foolish

Like I was, for we’ll surely perish

Lest you have mercy on our souls

How far will this madness go?

 

One day we’ll stand before your throne

To give an account

We’ll stand alone

All human wisdom will fall to the ground

Only those trusting in Jesus will be found

Accepted and forgiven

No matter their crimes

Lord, help them before they run out of time.

Your Standard: The World or Jesus?

I have observed that in our Western Christian culture holiness is not a hot topic.   Then again, neither is sin.  Well some of us might shed our opinion on “big” issues like homosexual marriage, abortion or current scandals in the media, when it comes to matters of personal holiness we have a lot less to say.

In fact the world has made some cliché statements to brand conservative Christians, and unfortunately much of the Christian culture has chosen to adopt the terms also.  When someone upholds a high moral standard, abstaining from sins some consider common, and especially if they exhort others to do the same, they will quickly be labelled as “holier-than-thou,” “self-righteous” or “legalistic.”  It tends not to matter how humbly they express themselves, or how biblical their claims are, if they stand against status-quo Christianity they risk their reputation and in many people’s eyes their credibility.

The implication is that if a Christian chooses to rise above the average standard for holiness in our nation, they must consider themselves somehow better than other Christians.  A Christian who won’t listen to the same music, watch the same movies, or engage in immoral or gossipy conversations, must consider themselves superior and have a condescending view of others.

That being said, is a true pursuit of holiness really worth it?  Well that depends.  Are we trying to please God or are we trying to please man?  You decide.

What is holiness?  Vines dictionary describes holiness as a “separation to God, and the conduct befitting to those so separated.”  Holiness is fitting to a person who claims they are a Christian, while continuing worldliness in a professing Christian displays that they are not truly born of God.

With so many “Christians” getting divorced, becoming alcoholics, attending rated R movies, and acting in sensuality, I have to wonder what was their motive for coming to Christ?  A person needs to come to Christ for something that they do not have: Holiness.  Jerry Bridges said that “No one can trust in Jesus Christ for true salvation unless he trusts in Him for holiness.”  In other words, if you came to Him for something OTHER than holiness as your primary motive, you did not come to Him at all.

Ephesians 1:4 says that the reason he chose us of the world was so that “we should be holy and blameless before Him.”  With so much modern preaching urging men to come to Jesus for a happier life, fewer problems, physical healing, and the mending of a hole in your heart, over and above coming to Jesus to be cleansed of sin, made Holy, and reconciled to God, it is no wonder that much modern day Christianity looks little different from the rest of the world.

Paul Washer accurately said: “I want you to know that, when you take a look at American Christianity, it is based more upon a godless culture than it is upon the Word of God… when they (professing Christians) look around at others who profess to know Christ and see those people also just as worldly as the world, and they compare themselves by themselves, nothing troubles their heart.  They think, ‘Well, I’m the same as most in my youth group.  I watch things I shouldn’t watch on television and laugh about the very things that God hates.  I wear clothing that is sensual.  I talk like the world.  I walk like the world.  I love the music of the world.  I love so much that’s in the world, but bless God, I am a Christian.  Why am I a Christian?  I don’t look any different than most of the other people in my church. Why am I a Christian? Because there was a time in my life when I prayed and asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart.’”

Dear friends, I know it might sound harsh but this is exactly what is going on right here in Chilliwack BC.  We need a revival.  We need God to have mercy on us and open our blind eyes.  Jerry Bridges makes a similar claim in his book “The Pursuit of Holiness.”

“Many Christians have what we might call a “cultural holiness.”  They adapt to the character and behaviour pattern of Christians around them.  As the Christian culture around them is more or less holy, so these Christians are more or less holy.  But God has not called us to be like those around us.  He has called us to be like Himself.  Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God.”

We are not meant to measure ourselves by our friends, or even our pastor, but by the character of God Himself revealed to us in the Bible.  Our lack of Holiness is as much a result of poor gospel preaching and a lack of emphasis on sin, as it is a result of our negligence to read and obey the Word of God.  I have seen people more fanatical about worldly philosophies and principals that they have imagined to be exclusively “Christian,” than I have about what the Bible actually says.  People get more excited about miracles, healings, signs and wonders, than they do about Martyrs oversees dying for the Glory of God.  Set apart living?  Prayer meetings?  Worse yet, that divisive and dreaded word doctrine?  Boring.  But a good worship service with bright lights, smoke, and an awesome band- that people have an easier time getting excited about.

But God says: “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word (Isaiah 66:2).”  He doesn’t esteem you by your health, your job, your car, your social status, or your role at church.  The one He esteems is the one who trembles at His word.  This verse paints a picture of a person who has realized that God is infinitely wiser and greater than himself, that He is a God to be feared, and a God to be obeyed.  This person believes that living by God’s word truly does matter, so much in fact that as he analyzes his life in light of scripture he begins to tremble.

God doesn’t care what you look like, or how many friends you have on facebook, or how relevant you are to your culture- He wants you to love Him, obey Him, and be Holy as He is Holy.

He doesn’t marvel at a church that overflows to the streets.  He is pleased if the people in it are coming for HIM and not for benefits, and that they are hearing truth and being soundly saved.

He’s after your heart.  This obsession with looks, possessions, media, and worldly things in God’s house needs to end if we want to be pleasing and useful to Him.  2Timothy 2:21 “If anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonourable, he will be a vessel for honourable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”

If you really don’t care about growing in Holiness, about making it your aim to please the Lord with your life, then there is ample evidence to suggest that you are not truly saved.  “Strive for…holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).”  2Timothy 2:19 “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

I do not mean that a Christian must be perfect, nor can he ever become perfect in this life.  But are you concerned about pleasing the Lord?  Do you care about growing in holiness, and becoming more like Jesus Christ?  Do you prefer your worldly entertainment more than time with Him?  Is the world your friend and your home, and do you set your eyes on it as if the glories of Heaven, Christ and His word are a lesser joy?  Have you found yourself mocking and scorning Christians who hold to a higher moral standard than yourself?

2Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?- unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

If your actions, thoughts, and desires contradict your Christian profession, then come to Christ.  You need to be born again.  Randy Alcorn writes “A false faith…deserves to be lost… Losing your faith may be God’s gift to you.  Only when you jettison ungrounded and untrue faith can you replace it with valid faith in the true God- faith that can pass, and even find strength in, the most formidable of life’s tests.”

If we truly know Christ than let’s not use those around as our standard for living.  Let’s base our lives on the Word of God, and live it out whether people want to call us self-righteous-fanatic-Bible-thumpers or not.  I’ll end with this incredible poem by CT Studd.

            [headline h=”1″]Only One Life, ‘Twill Soon Be Passed[/headline]

“Two little lines I heard one day, Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart, And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice, Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave, And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years, Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill, living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore, When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way, Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep, In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife, Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervour burn, And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone, Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Now let me say, ”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call, I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”

Part 8: How Can You Refuse Him Now?

I hope you have come to see that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father, and is infinitely worthy of our love, our praise, and our lives.  Reflecting on His love and worth one day I wrote:

“Who has loved me more than Jesus, when He bore my sin away?  As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed my transgressions from me.  Oh what a Saviour!  Mighty Redeemer is He!  He took my shame and bore God’s wrath to set this captive free.

And now what friend do I have like Jesus, who at sun down watches over my sleep?  He keeps account of my tossings; He puts my tears in His bottle, are they not all written down?  Who knows my frame like the Lord does?  He remembers that I am but dust.  He does not keep His anger forever, or treat me as my sins deserve.  What rest I have in Jesus!  He who keeps me in the palm of His hand will never leave me or forsake me.  If I am faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

I love You so my Jesus, who hears my every prayer, who treats me with compassion, who covers me with care.  Even in the darkness His word is a lamp unto my feet and I know that He is working out His perfect will for me.

Who gives hope for the future like Jesus?  The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.  The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.  Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, but blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.

Jesus Christ, my friend and Lord, I know that He is coming swiftly.  Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay.  He who has overcome death is coming; He who destroys the power of sin is coming, and He who has loved me from the foundations of the world- He is coming.” 

Psalm 73:4 “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.”

Have you seen how wonderful He is?  Has His mercy towards you astounded your heart?  Have you yet forsaken your sin and your life so that you could find new life in Him?  If not, you must come to Him while you still have today.  If you put off Jesus Christ you risk being lost entirely.  Hearts that leave Him behind again and again, although warned and enlightened grow increasingly hard.  Jesus Christ must be sought out as a treasure, and once found be most precious to you!

The following warning in Hebrews is for people who have come to understand the gospel message, and have even taken outward steps towards following Christ, but in the end have chosen to turn away from Him.  Don’t let this be you.

Hebrews 6:4-6 “For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”

When Christ comes back there will only be two types of people, those who are saved and those who are not.  Those who are children of God and those who are enemies.  Those who go away into everlasting punishment and those who enter into the rest of their Maker.  There is a terrible day coming for many.  Jesus said “Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels (Mark 8:38).”  I cannot think of anything more devastating than standing before Jesus Christ, no longer veiled but in His full Glory, and upon His face as He looks at you is open shame.  Oh Lord, spare men from such a fate.

But there is a glorious day and eternity for whoever would confess Jesus as Lord no matter the cost in this life.

1Thessalonians 4:17 “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

Revelations 21:3-4 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

What an awesome God, that He would reach down into the miry clay to scoop up us sinful creatures and bring us near to Him.  He takes a broken vessel and transforms it into a temple for His spirit and at last He will transform our lowly bodies into Heavenly bodies.  What an extravagant King, who would make His Kingdom an eternal home for little people like you and me.  He will not cast us away the one who trusts in Him, but one day will draw so near that He Himself will wipe away each tear and walk alongside us.

I end with these words from “How Can You Refuse Him Now?” by Hillsong.  I pray that no one who has taken the time to read this article would refuse to bow down to Jesus Christ.  Come to Christ today.

There’s a story old that has often be told

Of how our Saviour died

As they nailed His hands, He cried

“They don’t understand”

As the blood flowed from His side.

As He hung there on the tree

He prayed for you, He prayed for me

There was no one His pain to ease

Before He died He faintly cried

“Father forgive them please.”

How can you refuse Him now?

How can you refuse Him now?

How can you turn away from His side?

With tears in His eyes, on the cross where He died

How can you refuse Jesus now?

He Saved Me- Isn’t it Enough?

One of my favorite videos on youtube.  No matter how many times I watch this it blesses my heart.  We don’t need to wait around for “special” revelation to be motivated to live for Jesus Christ.  If He would save sinners like me, He is worth living for and dying for, whether I receive any further earthly blessings or not.  Praise God! 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J471VobaZks

Part 7: Give Your Life To Follow Him

Repentance is not only a part of our conversion to Christianity, but a daily part of our Christian lives.  I mentioned that I would come back to the idea that we are not only to repent of obvious sins but also of self-centered living, which we are all guilty of and naturally accustomed to.  Can I say that I am writing this to myself as much as to any new Christian or others?  Jesus Christ’s call to a radical, self sacrificial, willing to die for Him kind-of- living is practically unheard of in our culture.  A Christian who does the bare basics is applauded.  The believer who lives a moral lifestyle, attends a bible study, and isn’t embarrassed to confess they attend church on Sundays is considered a good example of the faith.  I’m not trying to demean anyone.  I understand that everyone is in a growing process, and for some this may be the point in their Christian walk they are meant to be at.  But how many of us are actually growing in radical self sacrifice for the sake of reaching lost souls with the gospel of God?  I am truly speaking to myself.  So many of us are stagnant, complacent, and lacking in passion.  It ought not to be this way!

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