Wednesday, June 16, 2010

By God's Grace

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." John 3: 16-21 NIV

Dear Brothers,

I am writing today, a brother in Christ’s love, and it is for His glory that I hope I am able to freely and effectively communicate some very important matters regarding God’s Word.

"Then he said to them all: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God." Luke 9: 23-27 NIV

Words not to be taken lightly; they are the words as you know, God-breathed words, of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. They belong to the roadmap of salvation for all of us, not just some of us; they belong to The Holy Bible. Jesus told us that He is the way the truth and the life, and that no one will come to the Father but through Him. So His Words are the intravenous to LIFE; not an enhancement of our lives, but the supply channel to LIFE itself.

Can any of us afford to risk the implications of what a soft interpretation of God’s word could mean to our eternal destinies? His words are very clear and quite simple to understand, aren’t they? Western Culture, Post-Modernism, Universalism, whatever... there will be no excuses when we stand before Him; just the truth. We were either willing to repent, believe and serve until death for Him... or not. By grace, we followed His commands for our lives, or by stubbornness and flesh we didn’t. Matthew 12: 30

Hell is a reality and so are false converts. We should all pray that our salvation is authentic; that when we examine ourselves we find the Holy Spirit resides in us and leads us to the proper discovery of God’s truth in His word. But then we need to live as though our dedication to Christ doesn’t depend on our salvation, don’t we? After all if a man is a witness to a truth, should he only testify if he earns a reward? In the same way, since we cannot earn our salvation, shouldn’t we be bound by the truth to testify to Christ’s existence, if we truly believe, regardless of whether or not we’ll receive a reward for our testimonies?

“ In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4: 1-5 NIV

In Luke 13: 22-30, Jesus told those that followed Him to make every effort to enter through the narrow door, and He warned of punishment for His believers as many of us will claim to have known Him, but He will deny knowing those of us that were evildoers. Again, His, God-breathed words, not mine. We have a responsibility to go and tell all of mankind the truth regarding their fate if they live this life without His saving grace.
Matthew 28: 16-20

We must warn people of what they are being saved from or they won’t care about their salvation, will they? And that responsibility to the truth begins with the flock doesn’t it? If any man considered what Hell would actually mean to his eternity and, most importantly, how offensive his sin is to God, would he risk his eternity to Hell as he loves what God hates? Maybe some of us have diligently sought God’s word, but for those of us that have not, and are confused and mislead by heretics, what will be their fate? Can we risk that we may be amongst the lost, and worse, that we are helping to aid in the confusion? Galatians 5: 9

What is our primary responsibility as Christians? Isn’t it to disciple new believers, with urgency? How many of us are literally willing to take action in our everyday lives? Simply “living our faith” as an example to others, while we go on seeking the things of this world and disregard eternity, isn’t how Jesus and His disciples did it, is it? No, the Holy Bible tells us that Christ and His disciples preached the gospel with urgency! We too should share the gospel with every man like today might be his last.

It was our sin, but Jesus’ obedience to His Father to have the courage to speak the truth about our sinful nature to the Pharisees and the Scribes of His age, that sent Him to the cross. We must never reduce our Holy, Righteous God, to a god without wrath and justice! He is a God of justice! Praise Him for that we can trust in Him! We cannot afford to assume that the lost will be alright if we don’t share the whole gospel with them. Where did Jesus say that’s how we should follow Him; to avoid confronting the truth of sin and Hell but by “loving” people; then He would bring them out from death? John Lennon said, “All You Need is Love”, not Jesus! Jesus spoke these very difficult and convicting words, in love:

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'

"Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

"Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Luke 14: 25-35 NIV

Believers and non-believers alike must be taught these truths. Then it’s up to each individual to hear the voice of their conscience as it convicts their heart. Then after hearing our conscience it’s not enough to know we’re wrong, we need to lay it at the foot of the cross, repent and believe in Jesus Christ. But before any of that process can take place, the truth of the word must be spoken!

In Luke 14: 25-35, who was Jesus talking to? The Bible says crowds that were following Him. In order to be a true follower of Jesus, He commands more than lip service from us; doesn’t His Word say so? Jesus commands that we lose our hopes, dreams, and lusts in this world, and allow Him to lead us into eternity. As Christians, if we continue to live with this world as the main focus of our lives, then how are we living in faithful service to Christ in eternity?

Should we make sure we have all of our bases covered first? Education... Check, Career... Check, Wife... Check, Kids... Check, House... Check, Bigger House... Check, Investments... Check, God... Check, Volunteer at Church... Check, Tithe... Check. Isn’t that living by works and not by faith?

If we totally surrender to the King, will we know what our tomorrow on this earth will look like? Won’t we appear to be oddballs to the lost of this world? Won’t we be willing to look stupid in this world and suffer for Him if we are truly chained to His glory? Shouldn’t His word be taught without compromise or omission of truth? It is meant to offend! Unless our consciences have been seared, our flesh ought to be offended by the Holy Word of God, because we are all sinners. The Word applies to every single one of us, regardless of where we find ourselves in our own personal circumstance.

Like children, our flesh needs constant correction or soon sin can and will take over. And one of the best ways to keep our spirit healthy is with good, perfect, food; His Word. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8: 3 when answering the Devil’s temptation as the word tells us; “Jesus answered, ‘It is written; Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4: 4 NIV

The gospel is full of urgency! Do we believe the lost have an infinite amount of time seeking sinfulness, never repenting, without God bringing judgement down upon them? If so, no one is in danger of going to Hell, is he? Do we believe in repentance? Do we believe in Hell?

"Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, 'This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." Luke 24: 45-49 NIV

Are we dedicated to sound doctrine and God’s Truth in North American Christianity today? If God is misunderstood the way William P. Young portrayed Him in The Shack, how can people be in fear and awe of Him? Do we properly fear God? Do we humbly revere Him? Do we need more humility before our Holy and perfect God? Is the word front and centre, above all else? Relevance; or the Word? Is God’s Word the only food in our diet that we depend upon for our health? Or are we just dining on the parts of His word that taste good while we discard the hard to chew portions, only to cram a bunch of poisonous supplements into our bellies in its place?

God doesn’t need us to make Him relevant. God doesn’t need anything, including us or our help; our lives are a gift to be used to glorify His Name. We breathe because He says so. We think, because He made a way. His Word is infallible and it is to be held above all else! There is no way to compromise the truth without choosing to live in sin. It is His word and His Hand, not our stories or opinions, that make people believe. His word is the seed; the sower is simply a tool to plant that seed. All men should fear sharing His word that we might not seek to glorify Him, but instead ourselves.

Jesus promised us that we would suffer for His name sake, if we believe.

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn " 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her motherinlaw— a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'

"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

"He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." Matthew 10: 34-42 NIV

Those are tough words. If we address those teachings as the truth that they so clearly are, then how much different will our lives inevitably look when we apply them to our everyday activities? Those words won’t rise up too many spiritual weaklings, will they? But they have to be spoken in order that we absorb them and face the conviction of our need to press deeper for The Lord.

One could intellectualize to try to justify teachings that lean away from those words of truth that belong to our Saviour, but then one would be embracing another doctrine other than God’s word, wouldn’t one? God’s word is for His elect and He is is the author of that list, and therefore we must take His word as it is presented to us within the pages of The Holy Bible. Then we can share the truth without manipulation of that truth, as we trust in Him to bring salvation to the lost.

We need to take courage in the word and preach what we believe. Who would turn their back on a blind man if he was unknowingly running toward a cliff? Who would sit idle and watch a naive child carelessly step onto a busy highway? We are disciples in Christ and we need to be encouraging and actively raising the brethren up to go save the lost, right here... right now. There is no time. We don’t know how many appointments we’ve missed as a result of our disobedience to God’s call.

It’s His testimony in this life that we’ve been given. I pray that we will never lose sight of the fact that our lives are a gift and that our Father is worthy of all praise! Therefore, it should be our honour to be able to be bold and speak His name to even one lost soul. Imagine, by grace we are permitted to tell people about the Creator of all things, and He entrusts us with His word to share as the method by which He reveals Himself to this hateful and lost people; people like you and me. That’s an awesome privilege and a huge responsibility that all the Saints need to understand.

Go today, and give God the glory that He will receive whether you choose to obey or not! And if you choose not to obey, the question is; why?

In Christ’s Name,

Tim Rector

Looking at his disciples, he said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

"Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets. "But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.
Luke 6: 20-26 NIV

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