An Invitation From God

Revelation 4:1-2

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”  Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.

  • We were all born in sin.  Because we are the offspring of Adam and Eve, we have sinned.

Romans 3:23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

  • We are all, unless we have received Christ, potential residents of hell.  There are those who say there is no hell.  There are those who say the only hell is here on earth.  There are those who say that hell is the grave.  When you are dead, you cease to exist.  When you are dead, you are dead.  There are those who say there is no proof of a hell.  They say it is just the religious fanatics that have concocted the idea of hell to somehow control people with their own brand of right and wrong.

But wait!  There is proof of hell.  There is one who died, went to hell and preached, and then returned to earth and testified about it.  I am willing to take His word for it.  How about you?

1 Peter 3:18-19 – For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,  by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison.

  • Hell and heaven are not entrees, like in a cafeteria.  You cannot just go, take a look and decide whether you want to stay or go to the other place.  Hell is a place – a real place.

It is logical, even you and I can figure it out for ourselves.  God is a God of fairness.  It just makes sense.  Would he not prepare a place for those who do not wish to be with Him in heaven.  Hell is there for those who willfully and knowingly wish not to live with God.  God, has prepared this alternative for all those who reject Him.

Most of us live in homes with many different rooms.  Two to three bedrooms, a kitchen, maybe even a family room or den.  If you need all the conveniences of your nice home, you will not like it in hell.  There will be no comforts and room like that.

Consider the heat.  The Bible says it is a place of heat and torment.  That torment will never let up, never diminish.  If you do not tolerate heat too well, do not plan on going to hell.

Even if you could deal with the heat and torment, think of being in a place where God has removed His love?  God’s love is the explanation for our existence.  God’s love is the explanation for our welfare.  It is the love and grace of God that sustains us.  To be shut off for one hour, one day from the love and grace of God – the very thought is intolerable.

  • There are souls in hell. 

Luke 16:19-31 – There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.  But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.  So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.  And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.  And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’  “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house,  for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’  Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’  And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’  But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”

The rich man could remember when he was here on earth.  He could feel the flames.  He was so alive that he was praying in hell.  Prayers prayed in hell are prayers prayed too late.  Prayers prayed in hell are just like the prayers that are prayed here on earth when we know we have sin in our life, but do not care to change.

You may be in comfort and convenience here on earth.  Your job or your retirement may be secure.  Your financial situation may be good.  But if death should strike you down, would you lift your eyes in hell?

You may say, “I’m ok.  I’m a pretty good person.”  Your own goodness is not what keeps you out of hell.  There is only one thing that keeps you out of hell and that is accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and lord.

Mark 16:16 – He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

When you pray, it is not ceremony, not just repeating pious words.  It is praying heartfelt, sincere words to a loving God who is standing with open arms and ready to forgive.  It is meaning what you say, not just today, but tomorrow, next week, next month, next year.  It is remaining faithful to the words of your prayer.

John 3:16-18 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  He who believe in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

If you go to hell, you are in the home of the fallen angels.  Your neighbors will be demons.  Sinners will be your companions.  Think of Hitler, Stalin and all the evil men in the past.  No such thing as comfort there.  Nothing but malice, envy, strife, violence, weeping and grinding of teeth.  We sing songs bout heaven, but there will be no singing in hell.  There will be nothing to rejoice about.  No getting right with God in hell.  It will be too late. 

  • Jesus will judge the nations.

Matthew 25:31-46 – When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’  “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’  “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’  “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

  • Jesus invites you

John 6:37 – All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

  • Have you made your reservation?
  • Have you sent your RSVP note in?
  • Have you told Him, “Yes, I want to be with You – in heaven?

The Whole Armor of God – Helmet of Salvation

Ephesians 6:10-20

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

The helmet covered the head and the mind of the soldier.  The head is the soldier’s power to wage war.  His thinking ability is the most important factor in determining his victory of defeat.  How is your thinking ability when trouble comes?  The solider needs a helmet to protect his mind.  The sign of the Christian soldier is the helmet of salvation (deliverance).  He must protect his mind and its thoughts, keeping all thoughts focused upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and His objective of reaching the world with the glorious news that men can live forever.  With salvation comes deliverance from sin habits.

The helmet that protects the mind of the Christian soldier is salvation.  Unless a man has been saved, his mind cannot be protected from the fiery darts of temptation.   The mind of an unsaved man (the carnal man) is focused upon this earth; it is normal and natural for him…

  • To seek more and more
  • To possess more and more
  • To look at the opposite sex with desire
  • To taste and indulge the good things of the earth
  • To feel and experience, satisfying his desires and passions
  • To have and hoard even when others have little or nothing

We must use the helmet of salvation to protect our mind, to keep our thoughts intact and on track spiritually.

The unsaved man sees nothing wrong with being his own person and doing his own thing just so he is reasonably considerate of others.  His mind and thoughts are upon the earth; and the fiery darts of extravagance, indulgence, pleasure, self-centeredness, worldliness, license, hoarding, and immorality.

But this is not so with the saved man.  The mind of the saved man is focused upon Christ and His mission of sharing the good news of life, both life abundant and life eternal.  Because of this, Satan launches his fiery darts of temptation against the mind of the believer, trying to get his thoughts and attention off Christ and the conquest and ministry to souls.  The Christian soldier desperately needs the helmet of salvation.  The helmet of salvation means the knowledge and hope of salvation – knowing that we are saved and hoping for the glorious day of redemption.  The power of the Holy Spirit in us stirs us to keep our minds and thoughts upon Christ and off sin and this world, arouses us to focus upon Christ and His mission to carry the gospel to a needy and dying world.

Romans 8:6 – “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

Romans 12:2 – “And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”

2 Corinthians 10:5 – “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

Isaiah 26:3 – “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because He trusts in You.”

The mind must be filled with good things.  The Word of God must be your daily diet if you are to succeed in warding off the temptations and schemes of the devil.  Dieters do not eat chocolate pie, cake, food with high fat content. 

Questions:

  • How much difficulty do you have with temptation? 
  • How much difficulty do you have with doing things you know are wrong?
  • How much difficulty do you have with fantasizing about things that are inappropriate for a child of God?

Your difficulty with living an overcoming Christian life is in direct proportion to your spiritual walk, your spiritual diet.

Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Hebrews 4:13 – “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

Psalm 90:8 – “You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.”

Psalm 51 seems an appropriate prayer to pray, especially verses 1-4, 7-12

“Have mercy upon me, O God,
    According to Your lovingkindness;
    According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
    Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    And cleanse me from my sin.
         
For I acknowledge my transgressions,
    And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
    And done this evil in Your sight]
   And blameless when You judge.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
    Make me hear joy and gladness,
   That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
   Hide Your face from my sins,
   And blot out all my iniquities.
         
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
     And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

   Do not cast me away from Your presence,
   And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
         
 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
     And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

Romans 12:1-2 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Romans 12:9-18 – “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.  Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;  rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.  Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.  If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”

You must have your mind renewed, changed.  Without the mind of Christ, you cannot following His teachings.

Behold I Stand at the Door

Revelation 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

  • Behold – consider, discover, perceive, contemplate, view attentively
  • Who?  Not a magazine salesman, but THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE.
  • What kind of door?  Is our door a locked door, a closed door, a revolving door, an open door?
  • What will happen if we open the door?
  • Jesus Christ, the creator of the universe, the one who died on Calvary the one who rose from the dead, the only one that I can call on and confess my wrong doing and be forgiven, is only responsible for one part of the process.  The Holy Spirit does the convicting and the convincing, but he is only responsible for one part of the process. 
  • We are the one who must respond to the knock.  We are responsible for our own decision.  We can choose to ignore Him.  We can refuse to open the door and allow Him to come in and dine with us and we with him.  (Note:  dine with Him/me and me/Him – not a one sided fellowship or relationship).  The Savior of the world desires to have fellowship with us.  WOW!
  • Absolute truth

Do you believe if you were to jump out of an airplane at 10,000 feet you would eventually hit the ground?  That is an absolute truth.  The law of gravity cannot be changed.  Neither can the truths of Scripture.  He is at the door…He is at your heart’s door…If your door has been locked, closed or revolving, just open it.  If you are already a Christian, perhaps there is one thing that separates you from having the complete, open fellowship with Him that you desire to have.  Open the door!

  • There is the standing Christ – He stands at the door.  This symbolizes His readiness to enter the life of a person.  He is the One who takes the initiative to save man.  He has come to man; man has not approached Him.  Jesus Christ stands before the heart of man as the Savior of the world, as loving man so much that He has come into the world to save man.  He is the One who has travelled such a great distance from the majesty of heave down to man’s heart.

Psalm 34:18 – The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Psalm 145:18 – The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.

John 6:50-51 – This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.  I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.

  • There is the knocking Christ – He stands at the door and knocks.  This symbolizes the seeking Christ.  Christ has not only come to earth and walked over to man’s heart, He actively seeks to enter man’s heart.  He knocks and knocks at the man’s heart and He refuses to give up.  Christ knocks so much that a person has to either open up or deaden his ears to the knock.

Matthew 18:12 – What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?

Luke 19:10 – for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

  • There is the pleading Christ – He pleads for entrance.  This symbolizes the compassion of Christ.  He not only knocks, He pleads and begs for man to open His heart.  He is merciful and full of compassion.  He knows what life should be for He created life.  He knows that life must be lived in wholehearted commitment to righteousness or else it is wasted and doomed.  He longs for man to have real life, abundant and eternal life.  Therefore, He knocks and keeps on knocking at the door of a man’s heart.  While He is knocking, He pleads and begs for the man to hear Him.

Matthew 11:28 – Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 23:37 – O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

Revelation 22:17 – And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

  • There is the penetrating Christ – This is the most glorious promise imaginable!  Imagine the Spirit of Jesus Christ living within the heart and life and body of a person.  When a person hears His voice and opens his heart, Christ enter; He penetrates the life of a person.  This symbolizes the life changing presence and power of the living Christ.  When he enters and penetrates a person’s life, He causes the most radical changes imaginable. 
  • He causes the person to be born again.

John 3:3-5 – Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

  • He causes a new creature out of the person.

2 Corinthians 5:7 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Colossians 3:10 – and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.

  • There is the companion Christ – This symbolizes fellowship.  When Jesus Christ enters and penetrates a person’s heart, He lives forever within the life of the person.  He is always present with the person.  When Jesus Christ enters a life, he has the richest fellowship possible, fellowship and communion with the Son of God Himself.  And the person has it forever and forever.

John 17:23 – I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

1 Corinthians 3:16 – Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Ephesians 3:17-19 – that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—  to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Redemption

Ephesians1:1-14

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:   Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.  In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

GOD’S CALL

  • To Paul
  • “Apostle” means “one called and sent forth on a very special mission.  A messenger.
  • To the church
  • “Saints” means “to be set apart, consecrated”
  • “Faithful” means “to have placed our faith in Jesus Christ”

Ephesians 4:24 – “and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

Colossians 3:10 – “and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

GOD’S BLESSINGS ARE SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS

  • Of the Spirit
  • Permanent and perfect
  • Found only in Christ

GOD HAS CHOSEN US TO BE HOLY (SET APART) AND BLAMELESS (FREE FROM SIN, WITHOUT BLEMISH)

1 Peter 1:15-16 – “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

2 Peter 3:11 – “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?”

Colossians 1:21-22 – “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.”

1 Thessalonians 3:13 – “so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”

GOD HAS ADOPTED US AS SONS AND DAUGHTERS

  • “Predestination” means “to predetermine, to appoint before”
  • “Adoption means” “to place as a son”

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Romans 10:13 – “For ‘whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’”

2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

GOD HAS REDEEMED US

  • “Redemption” means “to set a man free by paying a ransom”
  • Man is in bondage
  • Man cannot free himself
  • God has paid the ransom – His son’s death on the cross

Romans 3:24 – “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

1 Corinthians 6:20 – “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Colossians 1:14 – “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

GOD HAS GIVEN US WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING

  • “Wisdom” means “seeing and knowing the truth”

1 Corinthians 2:9-16 – “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’  But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.  For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?  Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.  For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.”

James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

GOD HAS REVEALED THE MYSTERY OF HIS WILL TO US

  • This is the main theme of Ephesians.  A “mystery” in the Bible is not something mysterious and hard to understand.  It is a truth that has been opened up to man.  A truth revealed by God to man that man had not understood before.  The “mystery” of God’s will is the Church, with Christ as its head.

Galatians 4:4 – “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.”

Ephesians 3:9-11 – “and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

2 Corinthians 5:19-21 – “that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Ephesians 4:11-12 – “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

GOD HAS GIVEN US AN INHERITANCE

Malachi 3:17 – “They shall be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, ‘On the day that I make them My jewels.
and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.’”

Ephesians 2:19-21 – “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”

1 Peter 2:9 – “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

GOD HAS SEALED US WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT

Romans 8:16 – “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

2 Corinthians 1:22 – “who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”

Galatians 4:6 – “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

Back From the Dead

Romans 6:8-11 (New Living Translation)

And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:8-11 (Amplified Bible)

Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.

This testimony is not my testimony of how a life is changed.  It is rather a statement of fact of what God will do in a life, when that person surrenders to Him.  I want to focus on the goodness and the love of Jesus Christ my Lord and Master and for Him to receive all the glory. 

Looking back on my life from the post salvation view, I believe that I was called by God to the ministry at about the age of thirteen.  I was the sixth of seven children born in 1940 to poor parents who were still struggling from the affects of the Depression.  They had purchased a three room house in Bethalto Illinois in 1936 and attended the church just three or four blocks away.  We all lived in that three room house, minus two children that had died in infancy, along with a grandmother.  Togetherness…yes. 

I attended that church every time the doors were opened but even though I had experienced a closeness or call of God at thirteen I never was baptized, nor did I ever take communion.  No one ever questioned this fact.  Today I ask myself, why did they not question.  The deacons that passed out the Communion, the Pastor, the Sunday School teachers I had had, even my own parents never questioned this.

When I was eighteen, having finished high school, and having no job, I went into the Air Force and eventually spent twenty years, retiring in 1979.  Of course, as is often the case, I drifted away from Church and what relationship I had with God. 

I went deep into sin.  Drinking, carousing, smoking, cursing, dirty stories, porn, drugs, and all the things that sin does over time.  I was calloused to the things of God, even though my position in the service was working in the Chaplain’s office.   Again, no chaplain or supervisor ever questioned my behavior.  I was foul in my language and what I lacked in size I did very well at trying to make up for with my mouth.  My biggest problem was the alcohol.  One drink was never enough.  I believe now the reason I had this insatiable addiction to booze was due to lack of self control and insecurity.     At eighteen I weighed just 110 pounds and because of my insecurity, I was scared to death to say anything to anyone.  I was a different person when I was drinking.  I couldn’t remember my insecurity when I was drunk – so I drank.

On more than one occasion after a night out on the town drinking, I would come home in a taxi or someone would drive me home.  Several times I had to go looking for my car the next day.  Many times I just drove drunk not remembering a thing the next day.  God was merciful for He spared my life on many occasions when I was in that condition.  I remember one occasion as I was driving home in the middle of the night, drunk as usual, I heard an inward voice say to me, “Your mother’s praying for you.”

While I was stationed in Taiwan in 1973-74 my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I went back to see her on emergency leave because family did not believe she was going to live.

Up to this point I was without question, a sinner, lost, undone, chained, condemned, bound for hell and its torment, and without hope, bound for eternal separation from God’s love.  I was doomed, eternally lost.

Romans 5:8 (New King James Version)

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

On my way back to Illinois on emergency leave, I had a layover in Seattle-Tacoma Washington International Airport.  All I could think about was my mom and losing her.  I was thirty four at the time.  It was past the hour of the bars being open, so I was alone with my thoughts, or so I thought.

At some point there in the middle of the terminal, while I was alone with my thoughts, there appeared what I would describe as a street sign. One part of the sign where the name of the street would normally appear said heaven and was pointed upwards.  The other part of the sign was pointed downward and it said hell.  As if this wasn’t enough of a shocker, I heard a voice inwardly that said, “And which way are you headed?”

Of course I knew enough about the bible and church that I knew where I was headed.  In my heart I answered and then I surrendered my life to the Lord Jesus Christ.   Hallelujah.

I got to St Louis International Airport and my brother picked me up.  I went to my sister’s house where my mother was staying.  She was taking chemo and radiation treatments and could not stay by herself.  I said nothing about the airport encounter to anyone. 

Several days later my mother was feeling a little better and she wanted to go home to her house and her own bed.  She told my sister that Paul could go with her and if she had any problem she was only about six blocks away.  That night as she slept in her own bed and I lay on the sofa I could not sleep.  In the wee hours of the morning I could sense an awesome presence of the Lord.   I believe His presence was in the whole house.  My mother was one of those great prayer warriors we often hear about.  That was probably the main reason she wanted to go to her own house, to have His presence.  I slipped off the sofa and sat on the floor near the door of her bedroom.  After a few minutes, she said, “Paul, is that you?”  She wanted to know if anything was wrong.  That is when I told her about what happened at the airport.  Her statement when I finished telling her of my encounter was “I knew something was different about you.”   My mother went into remission and lived for another five years when the cancer returned.

I went back to Taiwan where I was stationed.  The first thing I did when I got back was look up a fellow serviceman I  knew attended church.  He told me where we went and that Sunday I headed to the church.  

Of course, this foul mouthed, drinking serviceman was no longer foul mouthed and drinking every night of the week.  It did not go unnoticed and I began telling what God had done in my life.  The little church suddenly began to have other individuals and families that did not attend church show up.  A revival was truly in progress. 

The four or five busses going to the base some thirty miles away suddenly became filled with new Christians.  No more cursing, no more dirty stories were heard.  Instead, bibles were being read, questions about scriptures were being discussed.   One weekday we took a bunch of musical instruments up to the base from the church and did a gospel music concert during the lunch hour at the dining hall. 

Fast forward…now out of service…now a graduate of Bible School…now a definite call to the ministry.   In 1984 God gave me a Christian wife to work with me in my ministry.   Victory Tabernacle, Alpha Chapel, Bible Fellowship Church,  House of Prayer, Gospel Lighthouse, New Life Tabernacle, all churches where we served and Missionary to Iloilo Philippines along with Jessica our youngest daughter.  She is also a minister today.

Today I am retired – but you can never completely retire from God’s call.  My wife and remain active in our local church and try to share God’s love whenever and wherever we meet someone in need.

I am so thankful for a mother who never gave up but kept praying for me.  I am so thankful for the mercy and love of God that kept me and brought me back to Him.

Never give up praying for your family.  

  • Matthew 19:26

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Light Bearers

Philippians 2:12-16

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.  Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

Paul has reminded the Philippians of the example of Jesus Christ, how he was obedient and willingly sacrificed Himself for the entire world.  Paul is not teaching salvation by works, but he is showing the church at Philippi that if they really understand and believe what Jesus Christ did for them, their salvation will express itself in progressive Christian living and upright character.  This spiritual growth and character will happen on an individual basis.  However, true obedience will lead the individual to participate in God’s corporate call to a local body of believers.

WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION

  • Work out in the Greek means to bring to completion, to accomplish.  In other words, do not walk half-way with God.  Do not be satisfied with a little of God.   No one else can do it for you.  It is your salvation.  We are to do it with “fear and trembling.”  We need to take this effort seriously.  We will stand before God some day and give an account of our lives.  We need to not be complacent or half-hearted in our walk with God. 

Matthew 10:28 – “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” 

Titus 2:11-12 – “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly (in a responsible manner, sensibly, being in self-control and in full possession of intellectual and emotional faculties), righteously, and godly in the present age.” 

WORK AT OBEYING GOD

  • Works here means to energize.  It speaks of the active operation or working of power and its effectual results.  God is working in us, stirring our hearts, trying to obtain our attention.  We are to recognize these “workings” of God in our hearts, and respond so that we can be obedient to Him.

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

John 6:63 – “It is the Spirit that gives life . . . the words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” 

WORK AT NOT COMPLAINING OR ARGUING

  • Murmurings or complaining means to grumble, complain, be critical, find fault and gossipDisputing means to question, express doubt.  We are to work together in the church without divisions, complaining, being critical of our leaders or of one another. 

1 Corinthians 10:10 – “Nor complain, as some of them also complained and were destroyed by the destroyer.”

Numbers 20:2-3 – Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and Aaron. And the people contended with Moses and spoke, saying: “If only we had died when our brethren died before the Lord!

21:4-5 – Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.”

WORK AT BEING A LIGHT BEARER

  • We are to shine in the moral darkness around us – show forth the light of Christ.  We are to do this by being blameless (free from fault and censure) and harmless (innocent, unadulterated). 

Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glory your Father in heaven.” 

WORK AT BEING WITNESSES

  • We are to share the good news of Jesus everywhere we can, whenever we can. 

Mark 16:15 – “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

1 Peter 3:15 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in your, with meekness and fear.”

WORK AT LIVING A SACRIFICIAL LIFE FOR GOD

  • We have the example of Jesus, we have the example of Paul, and we have the example of many in the Bible and in our own lives. 

Luke 9;23 – “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” 

Romans 12:1 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice….”

Jesus is Our Only Solution

1 John 5:12

He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

  • He came to give us life

1 John 1:1-2 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—

  • He came to fill us with joy

1 John 1:4 – And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.

  • He was there “from the beginning

John 1:1-2, 14 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

  • Disciples saw His miracles!  They were witnesses!  They knew!

2 Peter 1:16 – For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

  • He is real

Luke 24:39 – Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.

  • He came
    • To do away with our sin
    • To forgive us
    • To set us free
    • To bring us joy
    • To free us from bondage
    • To heal our bodies
    • Much-much more
    • But the main point was to forgive our sins

1 John 3:5 – And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.

  • We are responsible for our sins – Not like Flip Wilson who said, “The devil made me do it.”

1 John 3:8 – He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

  • Tares or weeds
  • Tares are burned up
  • The sinner goes to hell
  • He/she suffers eternal punishment (separation from God)
  • There is weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth
  • Are there tares in the church today?

Matthew 13:38-40 – The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

  • He came to this earth for one purpose – to die on Calvary
    • By His death we know love because He gave His life for us
    • We should give our lives for one another following His example
    • It’s not all about ME, ME, ME – looking out for #1

1 John 3:16 – By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

  • He died for the ungodly – that’s you – that’s me

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

1 John 3:16 – By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

  • He was the propitiation (mercy seat), the one and only, the total and final ultimate sacrifice

1 John 4:9-10 – In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

  • Disciples saw, and testified to what He has done for us

1 John 4:14 – And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.

  • Jesus is our only source!

1 John 5:12 – He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Sin – Transgression – Missing the Mark

1 John 2:1-2

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

  • Sin
    • Transgression
    • Disobedience
    • Missing the mark
    • Overstepping the law
    • Rebellion
    • Not meeting God’s standard
    • Self-will – not God’s will
    • Ungodliness
    • Unbelief

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hebrews 9:22 – And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission for sins.

  • Repentance
    • Confession of sin
    • Forsaking of sin
    • Turning to God

Psalm 38:18 – For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin.

Luke 18:13 – And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’

Luke 15:21 – And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

  • Faith
    • Know that faith works
    • Agree that faith works
    • Agree that “It’s for me”

Job 19:25 – I know that my Redeemer lives.

  • Propitiation – God’s demand that punishment for sin be satisfied
  • Adoption – made a part of the family of God
  • Redemption – price paid as a ransom
  • Justification – declared righteous with God because of shed blood of Jesus
  • Reconciliation – restored to fellowship with God
  • Substitution – we deserved death, but Christ died for us
  • Sacrifice (mediator) – one who gives what is necessary to bring God and man together.

A Son of God

1 John 3:1

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

  • Your position in Christ covers your sin, your failure, your weakness, your frailty.

John 1:6-13 – There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.  He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

  • There is no better position in life than to be His child.
  • He does not have grandchildren or step children.
  • What are some of your rights as a child of God?
  • Translated from one family to another – not a child of wrath any longer.

Ephesians 2:1-3 – And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

  • Grafted into the family of God

Ephesians 2:11-13 – Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.

  • Called out of darkness into His marvelous light

1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

  • You are free from all previous family obligations. 
  • You are no longer the servant of sin

Romans 3:23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

  • You are no longer the servant of poverty

Philippians 4:19 – And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

  • You are no longer the servant of sickness

1 Peter 2:24 – Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

  • You are no longer the servant of helplessness

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

  • You have the rights and privileges of the new family.
  • The blood of Jesus

Hebrews 9:22 – And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

  • The name of Jesus

Philippians 2:10 – That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.

James 4:7 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

  • The Word of God

Luke 11:28 – But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 – For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when you received the word of God which you heard of us, you received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually works also in you that believe.

Romans 10:17 – For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when you received the word of God which you heard of us, you received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually works also in you that believe.

  • The Holy Spirit

Acts 1:8 – But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.

  • In the Covenant made with God and you when you accepted Christ, you have every provision you need.
  • God is able to do so much with so little.
  • A boy’s lunch fed 5000 hungry people
  • Short prayer of 63 words by Elijah caused fire to fall from heaven and devour the sacrifice, the wood, the altar, the water and the dirt around the altar
  • A cloud the size of a man’s hand produced a great rain
  • A small child in a stable looked so helpless and defenseless until He stretched out His arms on the cross and cried out, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
  • Your life totally yielded to God Almighty
  •  

Smith Wigglesworth could not even speak publicly as a minister of the Gospel.  His wife preached for him in the mission church they had founded.  He was tongue-tied, but he was loosed when he received the power of the Holy Spirit in his life.  Fourteen people were brought back from the dead through the prayers of this tongue-tied, uneducated preacher.

What can God do through you?

What will you let God do though you?

That Big Word “If”

1 John 1:6

IF we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

1 John 1:7 – But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:8 – If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:10 – If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

  • “If” is a little word with a big meaning.  “If” requires actions on our part.  God has already done His part by sending His son as the redeemer for all mankind “if” we believe. 

1 John 2:3 – Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.

1 John 2:15 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

1 John 2:19 – They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

1 John 2:29 – If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.

1 John 3:13 – Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.

  • Our relationship with God does not depend on what other do or do not do.  “If” our heart is true, He receives us. 

1 John 3:20 – For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.

1 John 3:21 – Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.

  • Our hearts must be in tune with Him and His will.

1 John 4:9 – God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.

1 John 4:11-12 – Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.

1 John 4:20 – If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

  • We must love for He has loved us.  No debate, no waffling – we must.

1 John 5:9 – If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son.

  • Confidence in Him who brought us into new life will be the witness within that in all things His plans/design will be made known.

1 John 5:14-16 – Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.  If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.