Archive for the ‘The Gospel’ Category

Praying for Flood Victims and For “the Light of the Glorious Gospel” to Shine Unto Them

As we remember  and pray for the flood victims in Texas, let us pray that many who do not know Him will turn their eyes and hearts toward the Lord, finding lasting comfort and His salvation through Jesus Christ. While great numbers of people throughout the world are spiritually blind, it is our prayer that many who are suffering during the earth’s present “birth pangs” humbly come before Him, acknowledge their sinfulness and need of salvation and receive Him as Lord and Savior. And we know that if they do, He will bring them comfort and peace, even in the midst of hardship and tragedy.

“. . . in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

As Harry Ironside said below in his essay about salvation, “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).

rp_BKT-IR-WHO-2.jpg“For God So Loved the World . . . That Whosoever!”

By Harry A. Ironside

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).

Why do so many people think this is the greatest text in the Bible? There are other wonderful texts that dwell on the love of God, that show how men are delivered from judgment, that tell us how we may obtain everlasting life; but no other one verse, as far as I can see, gives us all these precious truths so clearly and so distinctly. So true is this that when the Gospel is carried into heathen lands, and missionaries want to give a synopsis of the Gospel to a pagan people, all they find it necessary to do, if they are going to a people that have a written language, is to translate and print this verse, and it tells out the story that they are so anxious for the people to hear. If they do not have a written language, invariably one of the first Scriptures they are taught to memorize is John 3:16.

I have a slip of paper sent to me by a friend in China. In those odd characters, this same message is written, and that message put into the hands of the Chinese has often been used to lead a soul to Christ. Not immediately, of course, for he does not understand it all at once, but it has led him to ask upon what authority is this statement based, and so eventually he is led to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many Truths in One Verse

How many truths are wrapped up in that one verse! In the first place, there is the personality of God—”God so loved.” A God who can love is personal. We had a woman in the United States who invented a religion a few years ago, and she said it was all love, and yet she said that God is impersonal. But that is not possible. Just imagine loving a cloud or thinking that a cloud is loving you! It is something utterly impossible; you cannot do it. Behind love, there must be a person with a warm, loving heart. “God so loved.”

This Chinese translation, which my friend sent me, says, “God so passionately loved the world, that he gave.” It was a divine passion, a heart in heaven throbbing in loving sympathy with men in all their trials and difficulties here on earth. What a wonderful revelation that is, and it is all wrapped up in this one verse.

Then there is the truth of the divine Fatherhood. This God so loved men “that he gave his only begotten Son.” There cannot be a son without a father. If God gave His Son, God Himself is a Father, and that is a revelation of which the pagan world never dreamed.

Then again, there is the lost condition of mankind. God gave His well-beloved Son, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” An unsaved man is in grave danger. You, dear unsaved one, are in grave danger of being so utterly lost that you may be banished from the presence of this God of love forever, and yet He has provided a means whereby His banished ones may return to Him. God gave His Son up to a sacrificial death on Calvary’s Cross for all men, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The universality of the offer of mercy is also here. It is a “whosoever” message, and what does “whosoever” mean? A gentleman came one time to my former home city and took an entire week for a series of lectures on John 3:16. During that time, he labored every night to prove that the world that God loved was the world of the elect and that “whosoever” was simply the “whosoever” that God had chosen from the foundation of the world. No wonder it took him a week to try to make out that kind of a thing. Any child can see the difference between a doctrine like that and that which is revealed in this text. Any one of school age knows the meaning of “whosoever.”

You may have heard the story of the old Scotchman who had been brought up with the idea that God had predetermined just so many people to be saved, and all the rest were created to be damned. He felt that he ought to be willing to say, “O God, if it is Thy will to damn me, I do not want to be saved”; but he did want to be saved and was in the deepest agony of soul about it. But still they all said, “If you are not one of the elect, you cannot be saved.”

One day he was out in the field plowing, when he found a piece of paper with a large text on it. He tried to spell it out, but he was not very good at reading, and so he read slowly: “For—God—so—loved—the—world—that—he—gave—his—only—be-got-ten—Son—that—who-so-ever.” He wondered what that meant, but as he did not know, he passed on to the next part. “That—who-so-ever—be-liev-eth—in—him—should—not—perish—but—have—ever-last-ing—life.”

“Man !” he said, “here’s good news for somebody. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that who-so-ever! I wonder who is meant by that word. Here is somebody who can have everlasting life, elect or not elect.” And while he was pondering the question, he saw a lad going by with a bunch of books under his arm. He called to him, “Here, laddie, can ye read ?”

“Aye, that I can,” he replied.

“Well, will you read this ?”

Wanting to impress the old man with his great ability, the boy read like a race horse; “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.”

“O laddie, laddie, don’t read it so fast; read it again, and read it slowly so I can get every word, and be careful with that long word,” said the old man. And so the boy read it again.

“Does it really say there that somebody can be saved by just believing?” the old man asked. “What does that long word mean?”

“Oh,” said the boy, “whosoever means you, or me, or any other body; but there goes the bell, I have to run,” and away he went.

The old man stood there, and read it again, “For God loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that you, or me, or any other body believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

“Man !” he said, “that’s good news for a sinner like me; I don’t need to find out whether I am elect or not,” and he dropped down between the plow handles, and there confessed himself a sinner for whom Jesus died. He took God at His word, and his soul was saved.

One Text for a Whole Week

One of the earliest stories I ever heard about D. L. Moody was one with which some of you are familiar. When he was in Great Britain, he met a young Englishman by the name of Henry Moorhouse. One day Moorhouse said to Moody “I am thinking of going to America.”

“Well,” said Moody, “if you should ever be in Chicago come down to my place, and I will give you a chance to preach.”

Now although Mr. Moody was not two-faced, he was merely trying to be polite, for mentally he was saying, “I hope he won’t come.” There are so many people, you know, who want to preach, although God never meant them to, and Mr. Moody was not quite sure of Mr. Moorhouse. He was rather taken back one day when, just before leaving for a series of meetings, he received a telegram, “Have just arrived in New York. Will be in Chicago on Sunday.”

“And now,” thought Moody, “I am going away, and I told him he could preach here.” So he said to his wife and to his committee, “Here’s this young Englishman coming; let him preach once, and then if the people enjoy him, put him on again.”

When Moody returned, he said to his wife, “Well, what about that young preacher?”

“Oh,” she said, “he is a better preacher than you are. Why, he is telling sinners that God loves them.”

“He is wrong !” said Moody, “God doesn’t love sinners.”

“Well,” she said, “you go and hear him.”

“Why, is he still preaching?’ asked Mr. Moody.

“Yes, he has been preaching all week and has taken only one text, John 3:16,” was her reply.

When Mr. Moody went to the meeting, Moorhouse got up, and said, “I have been hunting and hunting all through the Bible, looking for a text, and I think we will just talk about John 3:16 once more.” Mr. Moody always testified that it was on that night that he got his first clear understanding of the Gospel and the love of God. Think what it meant in Moody’s life, and in the lives of tens of thousands who were reached through his ministry, to know that God loves sinners. Are you one of those who has been saying, “If I were only a little better, I could believe that God loves me?” O dear friend, hear it again:

“Sinners Jesus will receive; Sound this word of grace to all Who the heavenly pathway leave, All who linger, all who fall.”

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of Whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Just Like African Boys

I remember when I was a boy, going to a missionary meeting. A missionary was there from Africa and was showing us a whole lot of curious things, and then he said, “Now boys, I want to tell you the kind of Gospel we preach to the people in Africa. How many good boys have we here? A lot of us thought we were good, but our mothers were there, and so not one of us dared hold up his hand. “Well,” said he, “not one good boy here; then I have the same message for you that we have for the heathen in Africa; God loves naughty boys!”

“My,” I thought, “he is getting all mixed up,” for you see, I had heard people say, “If you are good, God will love you.” But, dear friends, that is not true. God is not waiting for you to be good so He can love you; God loves sinners and has proven His love for them by the gift of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Instead of waiting for people to be good, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Do you believe it, dear friend?

The difficulty is that men have this wrong idea about God and are always trying to make out that they are better than they are. “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6). You will find people down in the depths of sin, but they are always ready to compare themselves with other folk, saying, “I am as good as they are.” But God has no message and no blessing for men who are trying to justify themselves.

As long as you try to make a good name for yourself, God can only condemn you; but when you come into His presence and confess yourself a lost, guilty sinner, God has a message and a blessing for you. “God so loved the world”—a wicked, corrupt, and ungodly world, and you and I belong to it. “As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man” (Proverbs 27:19). God’s Word declares that, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:9, 10). Yet, knowing all the wickedness of which my heart and your heart is capable, God loves us and gave His Son to die for us.

My! What a Gospel this is; what a message to bring to poor, needy sinners! We do not come to men and say, “Turn over a new leaf; quit your meanness; give up this, and give up that.” We do not ask any one to give up anything; we ask you to receive the gift of God, and when you receive that gift, “the things of the world will grow strangely dim in the light of Christ’s glory and grace.”

A lad tried to preach on John 3:16 one day. He was asked to give his testimony but thought he had better get up a sermon. He divided his text into four heads:

God loved. God gave. I believe. I have.

Could you make a better division than that?

A Girl’s Horror of God

A little girl who lived in Luther’s day had been brought up with a perfect horror of God. She thought of Him as always watching her, taking note of every wrong thing she did, and just waiting to visit judgment upon her. Her parents could not get that fear out of her mind. Her father was a printer and was working on Luther’s first German Bible. One day she was in his shop, when just a comer of one of the sheets of the Bible caught her eye. She looked at it, and as she read it, her whole attitude toward God changed, and she said, “Mother, I am, not afraid of God any more.”

“Well, my dear,” said the mother, “I am glad of that, but why are you not afraid of God?”

“Oh,” she replied, “look what I found, a piece of the Bible, and it says, ‘God so loved, that he gave.'” It was just a part of two lines.

“Well,” her mother said, “how does that take away your fear of God ? It doesn’t say what He gave.”

“Oh, but if He loved us enough to give anything, I am not afraid,” said the child. And then her mother sat down and opened up the whole truth to her.

People are stumbling over the simplest things. Take, for instance, that word believeth.  What is it to believe in Him? It means to put your soul’s confidence in Him, to trust in Him, God’s blessed Son. When in Toronto, I picked up a copy of a broad Scotch translation of the New Testament, and the first thing I noticed was that this word believeth is not found there at all. Instead of beIieveth, there is the Scotch word, lippen, and it means to throw your whole weight upon. This is the way it reads, “Whosoever lippens to Jesus should not perish, but have the life of the ages”—the life that runs on through all the ages.

Just Lippen to Jesus

One day Dr. Chalmers spent hours with a poor, anxious soul, trying to lead her into peace, but she could not understand what it was to believe, and finally he had to leave her. On the way home, he had to cross a creek with a shaky old bridge over it, and as he was feeling his way across in a very careful manner, one of his parishioners who saw him, called out, “Can you nae lippen the bridge?” Immediately he said, “That’s the word for the old lady I have just left,” and he went back to her, and said, “I have got the word for you, can you nae lippen to Jesus ?”

Lippen?” she said. “Is it just to lippen? Aye, I can lippen to Him. He will never let me down, will He?”

“Yes, that is it,” he replied, “He will never let you down.” Have you been struggling, trying, working; have you been promising and trying to give up this and to do this, that, and the other thing? O dear friend, hear it, “Whosoever lippens to Jesus shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Another “Whosoever”

But now notice the alternative. They who trust in Jesus will not perish, but what about those who do not trust in Him? There is another whosoever. In Revelation 20, where we have that solemn picture of the last judgment, we read, “I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up, the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15).

Listen to it, sinner, whosoever in the day of judgment “was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Who are found written in the book of life? “Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” There they are, those who believed, and those who did not believe; those who received the gift of God, and those who spurned the Gospel, trampling under foot the grace of God. They stand in the judgment as poor, lost, trembling souls to hear their dreadful sentence. You may be saved now without money and without price.

“There is life for a look at the Crucified One,

There is life at this moment for thee;Then look, sinner, look unto Him and be saved,

Unto Him who was nailed to the tree.”

Look, sinner, look to Jesus just now and be saved.

This sermon by Harry Ironside can be printed from this blog, or you may  order copies of “For God So Loved the World . . . That Whosoever!,”here.

Sorceries or Salvation—Which Will It Be?

Ray Yungen

By Ray Yungen

God’s Desire

Just what exactly is God’s desire for mankind? Does He want to send people to Hell? Does He want anyone to live eternally without Him? Scripture is very clear about this when it says:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

God makes a strong plea to all people, giving them every opportunity to receive Him. It is God’s desire that none should perish eternally. That’s why He offered His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ—the only perfect sacrifice for mankind’s sin:

Therefore as by the offence of one [Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [Jesus] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. (Romans 5:18)

What it comes down to is the preaching of the higher self (as taught in contemplative spirituality) versus the preaching of the Cross. The New Age says that God is the higher self in man—that God is just a meditation away.

Many people are turned off when they think Christian teaching says we are bad and worthless. But this is not an accurate depiction of Christianity. It may teach that man is bad  (i.e., sinful) (which is evident) but certainly not worthless. The fact that Christ died for the “ungodly” to “reconcile” them to God shows God’s love toward man. In contrast to karma, the Gospel of grace is better in that if you accept its provision, you are complete (perfect) in Christ Jesus.

This is why Christianity is so steadfast on these issues. If a belief system is not preaching the Cross, then it is not “the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). If other ways are correct, then Christ died in vain, His blood shed unnecessarily.

A Warning and a Plea

It is very true that God loves mankind, so much so He sent His Son to save all who receive Him by faith. The Lord is very patient with man, and as “the day of the Lord” draws nearer and nearer, He continues beckoning humanity to Himself.

However, while God’s love, mercy, and patience are very enduring, His warnings about a great judgment coming upon the earth are to be taken very seriously. Those who refuse to bow their knee to Jesus Christ will suffer severe and eternal consequences—make no mistake, that day will come:

But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:7)

Jesus said, in referring to His return “of that day and hour knoweth no man” (Matthew 24:36). But He also said that while we will not know the exact hour and day of His return, we should be watching for the signs of the coming tribulation period. Throughout the centuries, Christians generally thought they were living in a time when Christ’s return was imminent based on natural disasters, wars, upheaval, and prominent military leaders (e.g., Napoleon). But never in the history of humanity has occultism and mysticism been unleashed as it has now.

Many think that the New Age movement is only a fairly recent manifestation of the last few decades. But I believe that the words of the prophet Isaiah reveal that New Age spirituality was even around back then, although not called that. And he links this Ancient Wisdom in with the end of the age period. Isaiah issues a stern and fearsome warning:

Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth, if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail. Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. (Isaiah 47:12-13)

The next verse describes the judgment that these will be subjected to:

Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame. (Isaiah 47:14)

And in Revelation 9:20-21, it discloses:

And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries.

The Book of Revelation explains that there are those who in the latter times “blasphemed the name of God” and “repented not to give him [God] glory” (Revelation 16:9) and again, “repented not of their deeds” (vs. 11).

These verses that speak of sorceries portray the “mystery of iniquity” (2 Thessalonians 2:7) that is being judged during the tribulation period because its adherents are claiming to be God, and they refuse to give Him the glory but rather take it upon themselves. This will be the ultimate test revealing who the real God is.

This word “sorceries” used in Revelation comes from the greek word pharmakaia. The word is translated into four meanings.:

1) the use or the administering of drugs
2) poisoning
3) sorcery, magical arts, often found in connection with idolatry and fostered by it
4) metaphorically the deceptions and seductions of idolatry

I want you to realize the significance of this. The Bible is clear that sorcery will be a pervasive practice, to the point of being epidemic during “the day of the Lord.” And this is what is now called the Ancient Wisdom by its proponents! The occultist Alice Bailey said that the Ancient Wisdom would be at the very root of her new vital world religion, which she proudly proclaimed would be universal.

Scripture is very clear that sorceries are practices that will be judged by God. Traditionally throughout the centuries, sorcery has been practiced by a very small number of persons (i.e., occult or kept secret). But now we have a virtual explosion of sorcery through various practices and pronouncements (Yoga, contemplative, meditation, Reiki, Oneness Blessing, etc). What I am talking about is a whole world like the psychic slave girl in the Book of Acts.

From Genesis to Revelation, the pages are filled with God’s warning to mankind when he refuses to acknowledge that the Lord is God and man is not. And throughout these pages are stories of those who mocked and scorned the warnings brought by God’s messengers. The apostle Peter referred to this scenario:

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. (2 Peter 3: 3-4)

Many people today believe that it is wrong to talk about and warn of an endtime, apocolyptic time period. Rather, they say, we should spend time meditating and employing our higher powers to reach happiness and enlightenment in life. We each have a choice to make. Do we seek after this consciousness, or do we humbly call upon the living God and accept His free gift of salvation and eternal life?

If you don’t already, I pray you will come to know the true Christ (Jesus Christ) before it is too late. I cannot emphasize enough the vital importance of understanding and believing the following verse:

I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)

By saying this, Jesus made clear that it was by Him and not a mystical consciousness that we are saved. Let me leave you with this. Compare these four views below. I pray you will see the difference as I did so many years ago!

I AM GOD! This is THE most basic tenant of metaphysical spiritual understanding.1—A metaphysical teacher

You are God in a physical body.. . .You are all power. . . . You are all intelligence. . . . You are the creator.2—The Secret

[T]here is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:21-22)

He that hath the Son [not higher consciousness] hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (1 John 5:12)

Many people have not grasped what “the gospel of your salvation” (Ephesians 1:13)  is all about—which can be summed up by the following verses:

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy 1:15)

But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one [Adam] many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. (Romans 5:15)

Salvation is having personal faith and trust in the person and finished work (sacrifice) of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have “peace with God” (Romans 5:1), are “forgiven” (Ephesians 5:4), and are “reconciled” to God (2 Corinthians 5:18) only by Him. That’s where our faith or trust is to be directed.

The notion of achieving Christ consciousness (as offered in the New Age) is just not compatible with being redeemed by Christ’s precious blood. The two just don’t mix. Romans 5:6 says:

For when we were yet without strength [spiritually impotent], in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

A consciousness can’t die for anyone—only a person can. If you “receive not the love of the truth,” as Scripture says, your eternal destination will be determined:

Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11)

Endnotes:

1. “I AM,” Communicated through Kathy Wilson (The Light of Olympia Newspaper Vol. 1, Number 8, August 1988), p. 7.
2. Rhonda Byrne, The Secret, p. 164.

Discernment Ministries Not Needed? Would the Apostle Paul Agree?

By the Editors at Lighthouse Trails

This week, someone sent us an online article, written by a pastor who said that the church does not need discernment ministries  anymore. While the pastor’s comments that such ministries are making great money by doing this kind of work were erroneous, it was the pastor’s rationale and conclusions about discernment ministries as a whole that were most troubling. His rationale was that discernment ministries should not be criticizing and challenging leaders and teachers within the church (but rather outside the church; e.g cults, Mormonism); his conclusion was the church does not need discernment ministries and people should stop listening to them. He lumped all discernment ministries together, suggesting that they are all jealous of each other and spend a lot of time fighting amongst themselves. (By this reasoning—that discernment ministries are invalidated because of fighting and jealousy—then there also should be no marriages, families, churches, organizations, or virtually any human institution because institutions are made up of sinful humans who do at times fight and struggle between each other.) He suggested that many of these discernment people will end up dying early anyway because of the high level of stress involved. Needless to say, we found such an article very sad because we knew there would be people who would read it and would be persuaded by the pastor’s words.

There is one thing true in what this pastor stated, and that is that there can be quite a bit of stress involved with discernment. But, again, his rationale is faulty. It would suggest that since being discerning (or having a discernment ministry) is stressful, it must be wrong. But if we look at the lives of the apostles, the Old Testament prophets, and many martyrs who have lost their lives over the last 2000 years for standing for truth, no doubt, their lives were stressed and difficult. To speak the truth is not easy, and to speak the truth within the church is downright tough. Few knew this more than the apostle Paul:

Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. (2 Corinthians 11: 25-27)

Even though Paul determined to put his trust in the Lord and serve Him only, what he went through sounds pretty stressful. Why was he willing to go through those sufferings and persecutions? Because he had full

The Martyrdom of Paul (Illustration by Joseph Martin Kronheim, public domain)

confidence that he was called to warn and to preach for the edifying and exhorting of the body of Christ:

[I]f ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;  who now rejoice in my sufferings for you . . . warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. (Colossians 1: 23-24, 28-29; emphasis added)

At Lighthouse Trails, we by no means claim to be of the caliber of the apostle Paul. Nor do we want to be looked upon as such. We are just one part of the body of Christ, working diligently in a work we believe God has called us to do. We do not claim to be anything special, but we do claim that God in His wisdom has a place in the body for such a ministry as ours (Paul addressed this in 1 Corinthians 12; vs 21:  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you”).

We know there are some who name themselves among “discernment ministries” who are guilty of not exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit when writing and reporting. They are at times vitriolic, unkind, practice mean name calling, and go after a figure’s personal effect rather than staying focused on the teachings, doctrines, beliefs, and promotions. It has been a criteria of Lighthouse Trails from our beginning that any author or writer we publish is allowing the fruits of the Spirit (e.g., love, gentleness, goodness, meekness, etc., Galatians 5:22-23) to be prevalent in his or her work.

Scripture says that as the days on this Earth grow darker and darker, spiritually speaking, more and more proclaiming Christians will turn away from the truth of God’s Word and the Gospel of Jesus Christ (e.g., “some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils,” 1 Timothy 4:1). Lighthouse Trails and the authors we represent are determined to continue in the work in which we have been called in spite of the fact that we are often falsely accused, unjustly discredited, and misjudged. Whether the Lord takes us home early or allows us to live long lives, it is our prayer that we will endure faithfully until the end. Perhaps, in time, people will stop listening to discernment ministries all together. If and when that day comes, we pray there will be enough pastors and churches who are speaking the truth and warning “night and day.” In the following passage by Paul, we can see that his heart was for the building up of the body of Christ, no matter the cost to him. May we all, as believers in Jesus Christ, whether “discernment ministry,” pastor, or neither, strive to have this same attitude:

 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: so being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.  Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: as ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:7-12, emphasis added)

CONCLUSION

The following is a list of discernment ministries that Lighthouse Trails has come to know and look to over the past fifteen years; they are ones that meet the biblical criteria described above. Though these particular ministries may not agree with each other on every aspect, we have seen no greed, worldly ambition, jealousy, mean spiritedness, or dishonesty in these ministries. While they, like Lighthouse Trails, do not claim to be perfect or infallible, they always point readers back to the Word of God and uphold the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Is there a need for discernment ministries in today’s church? We believe the answer to that question is a resounding “yes.” And we believe the apostle Paul would agree.

Trusted Discernment Research Ministries

The Berean Call

Deception in the Church
Sandy Simpson

Forcing Change
Carl Teichrib

Guarding the Flock Ministries

Herescope Blog

Kjos Ministries
Berit Kjos

Learn to Discern Granny

Let Us Reason Ministries
Mike Oppenheimer

Lighthouse Trails Research Project

ReachOut Trust

Spiritual Research Network

Understand the Times,
Roger Oakland

Ironside: What Does it Mean to Repent and Be Saved?

LTRP Note: Lighthouse Trails believe that one of the reasons so many proclaiming Christians are turning to contemplative mysticism is because they have been following a non-biblical “Gospel” that has kept them from a true born of the Spirit (born-again) relationship with Jesus Christ. Thus, mystically-induced experiences take the place of that relationship. The following article by Dr. Harry Ironside explains what repentance (a requirement for salvation and being born-again – “except ye repent” – Luke 13:3-5) entails. It may surprise a number of people when they discover what repentance really is.

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By Dr. Harry Ironside
(From his book, Except Ye Repent)

More and more it becomes evident that ours is, as once expressed, an “age of sham.” Unreality and specious pretense abound in all departments of life. In the domestic, commercial, social, and ecclesiastical spheres hypocrisy is not only openly condoned, but recognized as almost a necessity for advancement and success in attaining recognition among one’s fellows.

Nor is this true only where heterodox religious views are held. Orthodoxy has its shallow dogmatists who are ready to battle savagely for sound doctrine, but who manage to ignore sound living with little or no apparent compunction of conscience.

God desires truth in the inward parts. The blessed man is still the one “in whose spirit there is no guile.” It is forever true that “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” It can never be out of place to proclaim salvation by free, unmerited favor to all who put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. But it needs ever to be insisted on that the faith that justifies is not a mere intellectual process — not simply crediting certain historical facts or doctrinal statements; but it is a faith that springs from a divinely wrought conviction of sin which produces a repentance that is sincere and genuine. Our Lord’s solemn words, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” are as important today as when first uttered.

No sacrificial observances, nor ritual service, nor works of law ever had any part in justifying the ungodly. Nor were any sinners ever saved by grace until they repented. Repentance is not opposed to grace; it is the recognition of the need of grace. “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” “I came not,” said our blessed Lord, “to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

One great trouble in this shallow age is that we have lost the meaning of words. We bandy them about until one can seldom be certain just how terms are being used. Two ministers were passing an open grocery and dairy store where, in three large baskets, eggs were displayed. On one basket was a sign reading, “Fresh eggs, 24 cents a dozen.” The second sign read, “Strictly fresh eggs, 29 cents a dozen.” While a third read, “Guaranteed strictly fresh eggs, 34 cents a dozen.” One of the pastors exclaimed in amazement, “What does that grocer understand ‘fresh’ to mean?” It is thus with many Scriptural terms that
to our forefathers had an unvarying meaning, but like debased coins have today lost their values.

Grace is God’s unmerited favor to those who have merited the very opposite. Repentance is the sinner’s recognition of and acknowledgment of his lost estate and, thus, of his need of grace. Yet there are not wanting professed preachers of grace who, like the antinomians of old, decry the necessity of repentance lest it seem to invalidate the freedom of grace. As well might one object to a man’s acknowledgment of illness when seeking help and healing from a physician, on the ground that all he needed was a doctor’s prescription.

Shallow preaching that does not grapple with the terrible fact of man’s sinfulness and guilt, calling on “all men everywhere to repent,” results in shallow conversions; and so we have a myriad of glib-tongued professors today who give no evidence of regeneration whatever. Prating of salvation by grace, they manifest no grace in their lives. Loudly declaring they are justified by faith alone, they fail to remember that “faith without works is dead”; and that justification by works before men is not to be ignored as though it were in contradiction to justification by faith before God. We need to reread James 3 and let its serious message sink deep into our hearts, that it may control our lives. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” No man can truly believe in Christ, who does not first repent. Nor will his repentance end when he has saving faith, but the more he knows God as he goes on through the years, the deeper will that repentance become. A servant of Christ said: “I repented before I knew the meaning of the word. I have repented far more since than I did then.”

Undoubtedly one great reason why some earnest Gospel preachers are almost afraid of, and generally ignore, the terms “repent” and “repentance” in their evangelizing is that they fear lest their hearers misunderstand these terms and think of them as implying something meritorious on the part of the sinner.

But nothing could be wider of the mark. There is no saving merit in owning my true condition. There is no healing in acknowledging the nature of my illness. And repentance, as we have seen, is just this very thing. But in order to clarify the subject, it may be well to observe carefully what repentance is not and then to notice briefly what it is.

First, then, repentance is not to be confounded with penitence, though penitence will invariably enter into it. But penitence is simply sorrow for sin. No amount of penitence can fit a man for salvation. On the other hand, the impenitent will never come to God seeking His grace. But godly sorrow, we are told, worketh repentance not to be repented of. There is a sorrow for sin that has no element of piety in it— “the sorrow of the world worketh death.” In Peter’s penitence, we see the former; in the remorse of Judas, the latter. Nowhere is man exhorted to feel a certain amount of sorrow for his sins in order to come to Christ. When the Spirit of God applies the truth, penitence is the immediate result and this leads on to repentance, but should not be confounded with it. This is a divine work in the soul.

Second, penance is not repentance. Penance is the effort in some way to atone for wrong done. This, man can never do. Nor does God in His Word lay it down as a condition of salvation that one first seek to make up to either God or his fellows for evil committed. Here the Roman Catholic translation of the Bible perpetrates a glaring deception upon those who accept it as almost an inspired version because bearing the imprimatur of the great Catholic dignitaries. Wherever the [King James version] has “repent,” the Douay-Rheims translation reads, “Do penance.” There is no excuse for such a paraphrase. It is not a translation. It is the substituting of a Romish dogma for the plain command of God. John the Baptist did not cry, “Do penance, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Our Lord Jesus did not say, “Do penance and believe the gospel,” and, “Except ye do penance ye shall all likewise perish.” The apostle Peter did not tell the anxious multitude at Pentecost to “Do penance and be converted.” Paul did not announce to the men at Athens that “God commandeth all men everywhere to do penance” in view of a coming judgment day. No respectable Greek scholar would ever think of so translating the original in these and many other instances.

On the contrary, the call was to repent; and between repenting and doing penance, there is a vast difference. But even so, we would not forget that he who truly repents will surely seek to make right any wrong he has done to his fellows, though he knows he never can make up for the wrong done to God. But this is where Christ’s expiatory work comes in. As the great Trespass Offering, He could say, “Then I restored that which I took not away” (Psalm 69). Think not to add penance to this—as though His work were incomplete and something else were needed to satisfy God’s infinite justice.

In the third place, let us remember that reformation is not repentance, however closely allied to, or springing out of it. To turn over a new leaf, to attempt to supplant bad habits with good ones, to try to live well instead of evilly, may not be the outcome of repentance at all and should never be confounded with it. Reformation is merely an outward change. Repentance is a work of God in the soul.

Recently, it was the writer’s privilege to broadcast a Gospel message from a large Cleveland station. While he was waiting in the studio for the time appointed, an advertiser’s voice was heard through the loud speaker announcing: “If you need anything in watch repairing go to” such a firm. One of the employees looked up and exclaimed, “I need no watch repairing; what I need is a watch.” It furnished me with an excellent text. What the unsaved man needs is not a repairing of his life. He needs a new life altogether, which comes only through a second birth. Reformation is like watch repairing. Repentance is like the recognition of the lack of a watch.

Need I add that repentance then is not to be considered synonymous with joining a church or taking up one’s religious duties, as people say. It is not doing anything.

What then is repentance? So far as possible I desire to avoid the use of all abstruse or pedantic terms, for I am writing not simply for scholars, but for those Lincoln had in mind when he said, “God must have thought a lot of the common people, for He made so many of them.” Therefore, I wish, so far as possible, to avoid citing Greek or Hebrew words. But here it seems almost necessary to say that it is the Greek word metanoia, which is translated “repentance” in our English Bibles, and literally means a change of mind. This is not simply the acceptance of new ideas in place of old notions. But it actually implies a complete reversal of one’s inward attitude.

How luminously clear this makes the whole question before us! To repent is to change one’s attitude toward self, toward sin, toward God, toward Christ. And this is what God commands. John came preaching to publicans and sinners, hopelessly vile and depraved, “Change your attitude, for the kingdom is at hand.” To haughty scribes and legalistic Pharisees came the same command, “Change your attitude,” and thus they would be ready to receive Him who came in grace to save. To sinners everywhere the Savior cried, “Except ye change your attitude, ye shall all likewise perish.”

And everywhere the apostles went they called upon men thus to face their sins—to face the question of their helplessness, yet their responsibility to God—to face Christ as the one, all-sufficient Savior, and thus by trusting Him to obtain remission of sins and justification from all things.

So to face these tremendous facts is to change one’s mind completely, so that the pleasure lover sees and confesses the folly of his empty life; the self-indulgent learns to hate the passions that express the corruption of his nature; the self-righteous sees himself a condemned sinner in the eyes of a holy God; the man who has been hiding from God seeks to find a hiding place in Him; the Christ-rejector realizes and owns his need of a Redeemer, and so believes unto life and salvation.

Which comes first, repentance or faith? In Scripture, we read, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Yet, we find true believers exhorted to “repent, and do the first works.” So intimately are the two related that you cannot have one without the other. The man who believes God repents; the repentant soul puts his trust in the Lord when the Gospel is revealed to him. Theologians may wrangle over this, but the fact is, no man repents until the Holy Spirit produces repentance in his soul through the truth. No man believes the Gospel and rests in it for his own salvation until he has judged himself as a needy sinner before
God. And this is repentance.

Perhaps it will help us if we see that it is one thing to believe God as to my sinfulness and need of a Savior, and it is another thing to trust that Savior implicitly for my own salvation.

Apart from the first aspect of faith, there can be no true repentance. “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” And apart from such repentance there can be no saving faith. Yet the deeper my realization of the grace of God manifested toward me in Christ, the more intense will my repentance become.

It was when Mephibosheth realized the kindness of God as shown by David that he cried out, “What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?” (2 Samuel 9:8). And it is the soul’s apprehension of grace which leads to ever lower thoughts of self and higher thoughts of Christ; and so the work of repentance is deepened daily in the believer’s heart.

“Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream,
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
This He gives you,
‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.”

The very first evidence of awakening grace is dissatisfaction with one’s self and self-effort and a longing for deliverance from chains of sin that have bound the soul. To own frankly that I am lost and guilty is the prelude to life and peace. It is not a question of a certain depth of grief and sorrow, but simply the recognition and acknowledgment of need that leads one to turn to Christ for refuge. None can perish who put their trust in Him. His grace superabounds above all our sin, and His expiatory work on the cross is so infinitely precious to God that it fully meets all our uncleanness and guilt.”

(Dr. Harry Ironside’s writings are in the public domain. You may read more articles by him at: www.harryironside.com).

RESURRECTION! By Harry Ironside

emptytombBy Harry A. Ironside

He preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection . . . And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:18, 30-31)

Apart from the great fact of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, we would have no Gospel to preach. By “resurrection,” we do not mean that our Lord’s spirit continued to live after His body died but that He was actually raised from the dead by the glory of the Father and came forth from the tomb in the very same body that had been impaled on Calvary’s cross. In that body, now glorified, He sits at God’s right hand, and in that same body, He is coming again as the Judge of both living and dead—the saved and lost. This is what is emphasized for us in the seventeenth chapter of the Acts of the apostles.

The entire passage, beginning with verse 16, is of tremendous interest, but I have no thought of attempting to explain it all, though I hope you will read it carefully at your leisure, if you are not thoroughly familiar with it, for it is undoubtedly one of the finest examples of a preacher’s eloquence that we have anywhere in the Bible.

Paul appears here at his best, from the human standpoint, but he also speaks as a divinely inspired servant of Christ. Of Apollos, we read elsewhere that he was an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, and it is very evident from this sample sermon that Paul was a man of the same stamp; although on the other hand, he did not particularly cultivate what was simply rhetorical, lest the Cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

But it was quite in keeping with his principle of being” made all things to all men,” that when he stood on Mars’ Hill, the very center of culture of the Greek world, he should meet those philosophers on their own ground.

PROUD, ATTIC PHILOSOPHERS
So far as culture was concerned, he was every whit their equal, combining a thorough acquaintance with their literature, history, and customs, with a deep knowledge of the Word of God to which they were strangers. Thus he gave them that day a new and arresting message such as they had never heard before, and possibly many were destined never to hear again.

Notice some of the circumstances. Paul was waiting in Athens for several of his fellow servants, who had returned to Thessalonica to find out how the newborn Christians there were getting along. As he wandered about the city, his spirit was deeply stirred, for he saw everywhere the evidences of idolatry. They worshipped everything in Athens; in fact an ancient philosopher once said, “In Athens it is easier to find a god than a man.” There were images on every street corner, over every doorway, in every courtyard, found in every store, and every dwelling house. Turn where you would, you were confronted by them.

SIGNS OF PAGAN DARKNESS
Paul, as he walked those streets, knew that the things the Gentiles sacrificed were sacrificed to demons and not to God; he knew he was probably the only man in that city who had a knowledge of the true and living God and of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ; and yet for the time being he saw no opportunity to give his message in a public way.

A Jewish synagogue, however, attracted his attention, and entering it, he claimed his right as a recognized teacher to speak, and there he presented the Gospel, disputing with the adherents of Judaism, and with proselytes who were doubtless weary of the unsatisfactory character of idolatrous rites and ceremonies, and had sought out this place of instruction in the law of Moses.

In the market place also he addressed himself to individuals, and sometimes little groups would gather about him to whom he proclaimed the wondrous story of God’s grace in Christ Jesus to a lost world. Little by little he drew the attention of the people, who were always interested in that which seemed new and strange. So we need not be surprised that at last certain philosophers of the Epicureans and the Stoics became interested in him and his teaching.

THE EPICUREANS AND THE STOICS
These believed that man’s supreme good is found in trying to please himself, that there is no use denying one’s self; make the best of life by getting all the pleasure out of it you can, for you are going to be dead for a long time. We can hear the echo of this in the philosophy of so-called self-expression of our day.

The Stoics took the opposite view of life. They said: we are in the hands of a remorseless fate; we had nothing to say about coming into the world, and there is no telling what will happen when we leave it. Just grit your teeth, don’t show the white feather, make up your mind that “what cannot be cured must be endured.” Stoicism has come down through the ages as the synonym for patient endurance.

Some of these philosophers asked, “What will this babbler say?” To them he seemed to be setting forth new gods. New gods in Athens! They had searched the world to find all of them. They had shrines for the gods of Babylon, Phoenicia, Greece, Egypt, and Rome. They worshipped them all, and yet this man seemed to know something about some new ones, because Paul preached “Jesus and the resurrection.” They thought that Anastasis (resurrection) was yet another god! They had the god of peace, the god of victory, the god of justice, the god of love — all these different deified human attributes; and now they thought, “This man seems to have two new gods, one called Jesus and the other, Resurrection. We would like to hear more about them.” And they took him up to Mars’ Hill, or the Areopagus. This overlooked Athens, and was where the philosophers met for discussion. So they invited Paul to come up there and expound his new doctrines. Led by them, he wended his way to the meeting -place above, and at once began to proclaim the message that he had been yearning to give them for so long.

He took his text from an inscription he had seen on one of their altars, and said, as it were, “I see you are a very religious people. You seem to worship every god known to the Greeks and all other nations, and as I walked about I noticed an altar with an unusual inscription.”

“TO THE UNKNOWN GOD!”
It was evident that these Athenians feared lest they might be neglecting some god whose name had not been communicated to them, and so they set up the altar that had attracted Paul’s attention.

What a splendid text it made! And so Paul said, “Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” In other words, “I am here to tell you who the unknown God is.” How can anyone make known the unknown? God has made Himself known in the person of His blessed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul was there, indeed, to present Jesus and the resurrection, and let me say that no man preaches the Gospel unless he does preach Jesus and the resurrection.

There is no Gospel for guilty sinners apart from Christ, for the Gospel is God’s message about His blessed Son. The Gospel is not good advice to be obeyed; it is good news to be believed. And that good news concerns the Lord Jesus Christ, Who came from the glory that He had with the Father from all eternity down to the sorrow and anguish of the cross of Calvary where He bared His breast that the sword of divine justice might be sheathed in His heart. He took our place and endured what we deserved. But that alone would not be the Gospel; there is something more needed.

Paul preached: JESUS, AND—And what? “And the resurrection.” Wherever the disciples went, they preached that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. The essence of their message was that He “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25).

So Paul preached Jesus and the resurrection, and we today proclaim the same, and we tell you in His Name, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

THE CREATOR AND THE CREATED
Notice how Paul prepared the ground for his message. First of all, they were reminded that the Creator must be greater than that which is created, and Paul directed their attention to the visible universe. It was very evident that the God Who made all things could not be confined in one of their temples. He says, “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing he is Lord of Heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” He is not the God of one nation, but of all nations, and we are really one people, for He “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and bounds of their habitation.” He has put upon men the responsibility to know Him, for He is not far from any one of us.

There is no man anywhere who will dare say in the day of judgment, “I wanted to find God and could not,” for
“Closer is He than breathing, Nearer than hands and feet.” He is so close that if men will feel after Him, will stretch up empty hands towards Him, they will find His great strong hands reaching down to lay hold of them. God will never permit it to be said that any man honestly sought the way of life and failed to find it, that any man really wanted to be saved, and cried to God unheard.

This answers a question that troubles a good many people. I am often asked: WHAT ABOUT THE HEATHEN?
They have never heard the Gospel. What of them? Are they going to be damned because they have never heard? No matter where a heathen man may be today, if he wants to know God and honestly reaches out after Him, God will make Himself responsible to give that man light enough to be saved, for He is not far from any one of us. God has commanded men “that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him.”

This is the only place in the New Testament where we get the word “feel.” I have often urged people to trust the Lord Jesus and have told them how He died for them, bore their sins on the cross, and that if they will believe on Him, He has given His own Word that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And then they say, “Well, I do believe, but I don’t feel any different.” That has nothing to do with it. The word feel is not a Christian word at all. The only place it occurs in the New Testament is here where Paul is speaking of the heathen. But you have an open Bible; you do not need to feel after God. What you need to do is to believe the testimony that He has given, and then you will be saved. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31). This is the word of the living GOD given through His servants of old.

“FEEL” AND “FEELING”
I said that the word feel is found only once in the New Testament, but the word feeling is found twice: once in Ephesians 4:19, where it speaks of certain Gentiles, and says, “Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness”; and again in Hebrews 4:15, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” Apart from these three instances we do not find the words feeling or feel used in the New Testament. The moment you believe in the Lord Jesus, the moment you trust in Him you pass out of death into life, out of condemnation into justification before the throne of God.

In John 5:24, Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

THE FIVE DIVISIONS OF JOHN 5:24
1.”HE THAT HEARETH MY WORD.” Face this: be honest with your own heart. Have you heard the Word of the Son of GOD? Have you heard Him speaking to you through this blessed Book?

2.”AND BELIEVETH HIM THAT SENT ME.” Do you in your heart believe that GOD sent the Lord Jesus Christ to be the sinner’s Savior, to die for you on the cross, to rise from the dead for your justification?

3.”HATH EVERLASTING LIFE.” When do you get it? When you die? No, you get it now, from the moment you believe, from the moment you hear the Word of the Son of God, and receive and confess Him as the One whom the Father sent into the world to be the sinner’s Saviour. The trouble today is that people are stumbling over its very simplicity.

I heard of a man who wanted to be saved, and he was told to do penance for sin by putting hard dried peas in his shoes and walking on them so many hours a day. This poor man did this and limped around the streets, trying to make atonement. It would have done him just as much good if he had boiled the peas first.

But people are willing to do all kinds of hard things. They are like Naaman who, when the prophet commanded, “Go and wash in Jordan seven times,” said, “That is too easy a way.” But he had a wise old servant who suggest, “If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it?” Why, of course he would. “How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” If you had to give a great deal of money, say a great many prayers, make long pilgrimages, do vast numbers of charitable deeds in order to get life eternal, how many of you would be willing to do these things? How much more when He saith to thee, “Believe and live!”

4. “SHALL NOT COME INTO CONDEMNATION.” Think of it! Is that not good news? Not a word about purgatory, not a word about confession to a priest, not a word about sacramental observances, not a word about penance; but here and now, the moment you put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, your sins are gone and you will never come into judgment, but you have everlasting life. It is all for you. That is the Gospel which Paul preached. And notice the next point:

5. “IS PASSED FROM DEATH UNTO LIFE.” It is a settled, complete salvation, giving a new standing before God to the believing sinner. Observe the threefold link with resurrection:

a. Resurrection and Repentance
But what if men do not accept it? Then there is the judgment. He says that God has been very gracious with the heathen: “The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” Repent means to change your mind completely, to have a new attitude. You had an idea that you could save yourself by your good works, but you change your mind and now admit that you cannot do a thing to save yourself, but that Christ must do it all. That is repentance— a change of attitude toward God. Instead of trying to do anything to save yourself, let the Lord Jesus do it all.

God “commandeth all men everywhere to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained.” God is going to judge the world in righteousness, but your case can be settled out of court, and settled today, so that you need never think of coming into judgment. But if you reject Christ, some day you must give account before His judgment throne.

b. Resurrection and Assurance
“Whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” The resurrection of the body of our Lord Jesus Christ is the ground of our assurance that we shall live again in our resurrected bodies. He says, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” We are told that “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” This does not mean that all men will be saved, but that the bodies of all men will be raised from the dead. Thus God has given assurance to all men of a life after death in that He raised the body of Christ from the grave. In the second place, He has given assurance unto all men that the sin question is settled in the death of Christ, by raising His body from the dead.

Here is an innocent man who has gone to prison for the crime of another. He knew the other man was guilty, but he knew, too, that in order to prove his own innocence he would have to expose his friend; and so he hears the sentence of the judge, sending him to prison for one year. What must be the feeling of the other man outside? He says, “I have sent that man there; I deserved to go, but he is there in my place.” Perhaps he goes to see him and the man says, “I took your place voluntarily, and I am quite content; you let me endure it.” The other roams the streets and says, “I wonder how long he will be content to remain there; I wonder how long before he tells the whole story.” But by and by a year has passed, and walking down the street one day, he sees the one who went to prison for him. He rushes up and says, “What does this mean?”

“It means,” is the reply, “that you have nothing to fear now. The sentence has been endured.”

So our blessed Lord bore on the Tree the sentence for us, and now we who were once guilty sinners are free. ” Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more.” The resurrection is the proof that the sin question has been settled, that God is satisfied. “He hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”

c. Resurrection and Reckoning
In the third place, we have assurance in the resurrection of Jesus Christ that some day all men are going to give account to Him. This will be when He sits upon the great white throne. Think of giving account of your sins to Him after all He has done to save you from them!

Notice the threefold response from Paul’s message had that day. “When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter . . . . Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed.” I wonder if there are not people manifesting these three different attitudes toward the message today!

THREE RESPONSES TO THE GOSPEL
Some mock, some ridicule, some say, “Oh, we cannot believe this message about Jesus and the resurrection; we cannot accept it. We do not see how He could die for sinners and rise again, and how men can be saved through believing on Him.” God pity you if you are turning this message down. Some day He will turn you down, for He says in His Word, “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh” (Proverbs 1:24- 26). God grant that you may not at last be exposed to such a doom. Do not turn it down, do not go away with a cold, careless sneer and say, “It is nothing to me.”

The second class said, “We will hear thee again of this matter.” They are the procrastinators. You may not be mocking; possibly you would not sneer at the Gospel message; you fully intend to be saved some day, but you are saying, “I will hear you again; I am not ready to close with Christ today. There is so much to occupy my heart and mind these days; some other time. Let me alone for the present. Sometime I will give attention to these things.”

Remember the old saying, “Procrastination is the thief of time.” There is a Spanish proverb which says, “The road of by and by leads to the town of never.” How many have taken that road, have said, “By and by, some other day,” and have gone on and on, until at last they have reached the other world, hopelessly lost, and that forever!

The third class, ” Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed.” What a blessed testimony! God has recorded the names of two of them, one man and one woman, Dionysius and Damaris, who accepted the message proclaimed that day.

Men have an idea that what sinners need is more culture, more refinement; but if polite culture could have saved the world, Greece would have been saved long ago. But Greece went all to pieces in spite of its culture. It was the Gospel of the grace of God that saved the ancient world from ruin. And it is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ that saves men today. I bring before you these two examples, Dionysius and Damaris, and I beg you to follow them as they followed Christ; believe the message, and go on rejoicing in Him, who was raised from the dead, never to die again. Hear what He says in Revelation 1:18—”I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.”

Psalm 22: The Tola Worm

bigstockphoto.com

By Mike Oppenheimer
Let Us Reason Ministries

Psalm 22 is known as the Psalm of the crucifixion, written nearly 1,000 years before Jesus cries, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?.” David prophesies of the Crucified One’s words in vs. 6: “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” The word worm is not just describing any worm. Here it is tola,1 an insect that was crushed to get the die color of red/scarlet and used to color the robes of royalty.

Strong’s Concordance says: OT:8144 shaniy (shaw-nee’); of uncertain derivation; crimson, properly, the insect or its color, also stuff dyed with it.” Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Definition of tola: (1) worm, scarlet stuff, crimson = (a) worm – the female ‘coccus ilicis’ (b) scarlet stuff, crimson, scarlet, the dye made from the dried body of the female of the worm “coccus ilicis.”

There are two Hebrew words for scarlet or crimson that speak of a color and a creature from which the color is made. The two words can be translated two ways: “scarlet” or “worm.” In Old Testament times when people wanted to dye something scarlet, they would dip the material in the crushed dye of this insect, and the material would take on a scarlet color. These two Hebrew words occur juxtaposed in many of the passages in Exodus (26 times it is referred to). The dye was highly valued (Lamentations 4:5) as it was used to color the cloth in the tabernacle. Scarlet was woven into the fine linen of the screen for the doorway (Exodus 26:36); there was one way into the Tabernacle. This picture was fulfilled by Jesus’ words, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

Creationist Henry Morris gives further insight:

When the female of the scarlet worm species was ready to give birth to her young, she would attach her body to the trunk of a tree, fixing herself so firmly and permanently that she would never leave again. The eggs deposited beneath her body were thus protected until the larvae were hatched and able to enter their own life cycle. As the mother died, the crimson fluid stained her body and the surrounding wood. From the dead bodies of such female scarlet worms, the commercial scarlet dyes of antiquity were extracted.  (Biblical Basis for Modern Science, p.73 1985, Morris)

The blood-red scarlet material seen throughout the Old Testament in various pictures and illustrations foreshadowed the Messiah’s work of redemption on the Cross. Scarlet was used in the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies (Exodus 26:31); and when our Lord was crucified (His flesh rent), the veil was torn in two from top to bottom. Jesus became our “merciful and faithful high priest” (Hebrews 2:17). He cried with a loud voice, yielding up His Spirit, and the veil of the temple tore from top to bottom, opening “a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” (Matthew 27:50-51, Hebrews 10:19-20).  The use of animal sacrifices would no longer be used as the means to approach God.

This insect attaches itself to the tree (as Christ did for us). Peter’s favorite saying was Christ was crucified on the tree. Jesus, at His crucifixion, invoking the image of a worm, is not meant to convey his human status, but rather the color of blood.  He is describing the red-stained tree of His Crucifixion. The same word is sometimes translated as “scarlet” or “crimson.”

In order to produce the dye for these robes the worm had to be crushed. After the worm was crushed, it was no longer recognizable. Christ was crushed for our sin.

He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities. (Isaiah 53:5)

What a picture this gives of Christ, the King of the Jews, the king all Kings dying on the tree, shedding His precious blood for those who reject God (Isaiah53:3). Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the forbidden tree. Two thousand years ago, a bloody man hung on a tree (a Roman cross). It may not have looked beautiful to men, but it was acceptable to God (Isaiah 53:10).

It is here the scarlet thread of redemption is completed (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12; 10:10).

It was there under the wrath of God that He shed His blood for the sins of mankind. It is that crimson flow of His blood that makes it possible for us to be clothed in the robes of His righteousness.

(source: Let Us Reason)

Certain Men Crept In

LTRP Note: Please pray for Roger this week. This week he entered India where he will be speaking to pastors and also deciding if the Bryce Home project will open up in India. Pray for his safety and health and also that the pastors he is speaking to will receive the messages he brings to them. You can listen to his first India report here, which was recorded a few hours before he entered India. It is interesting that just shortly after his long-time friend and co-laborer Caryl Matrisciana passes away, Roger is in the land where she was raised.

“Certain Men Crept In”

By Roger Oakland
(From his latest release, The Good Shepherd Calls: An Urgent Message to the Last-Days Church)

Jude was called by God to send a message to the church. It is clear he was warning the church because the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ was being compromised. Apparently “certain men had crept in” and were the cause of great concern. He began by making an emphatic statement:

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 1:3; emphasis added)

Why earnestly? He explains:

For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1: 4)

The word earnest means “Ardent in the pursuit of an object; eager to obtain; having a longing desire; warmly engaged or incited.”1 We must ask ourselves, are we eager to obtain, and do we have a longing desire to contend for the faith?

Now, imagine if you were a member of a church that had received a letter from Jude. He was the half-brother of Jesus Christ. His message certainly must have carried some weight. His letter opened by stating that although he had intended to write and share about the wonderful salvation accomplished through the finished work of the Cross, his mind was somehow changed. Instead, he felt it imperative to deal with a major problem that had developed.

Apparently “certain men” had “crept in unawares” and had become enemies of the simple Gospel. Rather than being messengers of the Gospel, these impostors had become stealth deceivers who needed to be exposed before more innocent followers of Jesus were led astray. What had happened was the very thing Paul had previously warned the church at Corinth about when he had written to them and stated his concern for them in receiving “another Jesus,” “another spirit,” and “another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).

Paul had already warned the church at Corinth about one of Satan’s most effective plans to deceive the brethren. Further, in the Book of Acts, Paul prophetically warned what would occur after his departure from the scene. He wrote:

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:29-30)

Paul saw Satan’s plan clearly and warned what was coming. Jude saw it happening in his day. Further, these warnings which are included in the inspired Word of God are timeless and are for the church right now.

What would Paul and Jude write to the church if they were here today? Would their message have changed in any way? Based on current trends that dilute the Gospel of Jesus and make it into a social-humanistic-psychological-what’s-in-it-for-me gospel, definitely not!

Let these same warnings be a wake-up call for us today!


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