The following sermon was preached by D.L. Moody in the late 1800's. I found it helpful reading and wanted to share it for your reading. Hope it helps you in finding or being reminded of the security of the believer.
Assurance of Salvation
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. —1 John 5:13
There are two classes who ought not to have assurance. First: Those who are in the church but who are not converted, having never been born of the Spirit. Second: Those not willing to do God’s will; who are not ready to take the place that God has mapped out for them, but want to fill some other place.
Have All God’s People Assurance?
Someone will ask: “Have all God’s people assurance?” No; I think a good many of God’s dear people have no assurance; but it is the privilege of every child of God to have beyond a doubt a knowledge of his own salvation. No man is fit for God’s service who is filled with doubts. If a man is not sure of his own salvation, how can he help anyone else into the kingdom of God? If I seem in danger of drowning and do not know whether I shall ever reach the shore, I cannot assist another. I must first get on the solid rock myself; and then I can lend my brother a helping hand. If being myself blind I were to tell another blind man how to get sight, he might reply: “First get healed yourself, and then you can tell me.” I recently met with a young man who was a Christian, but he had not attained to victory over sin. He was in terrible darkness. Such an one is not fit to work for God, because he has besetting sins; and he has not the victory over his doubts, because he has not the victory over his sins.
None will have time or heart to work for God, who are not assured as to their own salvation. They have as much as they can attend to; and being themselves burdened with doubts, they cannot help others to carry their burdens. There is no rest, joy, or peace—no liberty, nor power—where doubts and uncertainty exist.
Now it seems as if there are three wiles of Satan against which we ought to be on our guard. In the first place, he moves all his kingdom to keep us away from Christ; then he devotes himself to get us into “Doubting Castle”; but if we have, in spite of him, a clear ringing witness for the Son of God, he will do all he can to blacken our characters and belie our testimony.
Some seem to think that it is presumption not to have doubts; but doubt is very dishonoring to God.
If any one were to say that they had known a person for thirty years and yet doubted him, it would not be very creditable; and when we have known God for ten, twenty or thirty years, does it not reflect on His veracity to doubt Him?
Could Paul and the early Christians and martyrs have gone through what they did if they had been filled with doubts, and had not known whether they were going to heaven or to perdition after they had been burned at the stake? They must have had assurance.
What John Tells Us
Now let us come to the Word. John tells us in his Gospel what Christ did for us on Earth. In his epistle, He tells us what He is doing for us in heaven as our Advocate. In his [John’s] Gospel, there are only two chapters in which the word “believe” does not occur. With these two exceptions, every chapter in John is “Believe! Believe!! BELIEVE!!!” He tells us in 20:31: “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.” That is the purpose for which he wrote the Gospel—“that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing we might have life through His name” (John 20:31).
Turn to 1 John 5:13. There he tells us why he wrote this epistle. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God.” Notice to whom he writes it: “You that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” There are only five short chapters in this first epistle, and the word “know” occurs over forty times. It is “Know! Know!! KNOW!!!” The key to it is Know! And all through the epistle there rings out the refrain “That we might know that we have eternal life.”
Five Things Worth Knowing
In the third chapter of John’s first epistle there are five things worth knowing.
In the fifth verse we read the first: “And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin.” Not what I have done, but what He has done. Has He failed in His mission? Is He not able to do what He came for? Did ever any heaven-sent man fail yet? And could God’s own Son fail? He was MANIFESTED TO TAKE AWAY OUR SINS.
Again, in the nineteenth verse, the second thing worth knowing: “And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.” WE KNOW that we are of THE TRUTH. And if the truth make us free, we shall be free indeed. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
The third thing worth knowing is in the fourteenth verse: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” The natural man does not like godly people, nor does he care to be in their company. “He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” He has no spiritual life.
The fourth thing worth knowing we find in verse twenty-four: “And he that keepth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us.” We can tell what kind of Spirit we have if we possess the Spirit of Christ—a Christ-like spirit—not the same in degree, but the same in kind. If I am meek, gentle, and forgiving; if I have a spirit filled with peace and joy; if I am long-suffering and gentle, like the Son of God—that is a test; and in that way we are to tell whether we have eternal life or not.
The fifth thing worth knowing, and the best of all, is: “Beloved, now.” Notice the word “now.” It does not say when you come to die. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (v. 2).
Will The Christian Sin?
But some will say: “Well, I believe all that; but then I have sinned since I became a Christian.” Is there a man or a woman on the face of the Earth who has not sinned since becoming a Christian? Not one! There never has been, and never will be, a soul on this Earth who has not sinned, or who will not sin, at some time of their Christian experience. But God has made provision for believers’ sins. We are not to make provision for them; but God has. Bear that in mind.
The Past Sins Of Christians Are All Forgiven
As soon as they are confessed, they are never to be mentioned. That is a question which is not to be opened up again. If our sins have been put away, that is the end of them. They are not to be remembered, and God will not mention them any more. This is very plain. Suppose I have a son who, while I am from home, does wrong. When I go home he throws his arms around my neck, and says: “Papa, I did what you told me not to do. I am very sorry. Do forgive me.” I say: “Yes, my son,” and kiss him. He wipes away his tears, and goes off rejoicing.
But the next day he says: “Papa, I wish you would forgive me for the wrong I did yesterday.” I should say: “Why, my son, that thing is settled; and I don’t want it mentioned again.” “But I wish you would forgive me; it would help me to hear you say, ‘I forgive you.’” Would that be honoring me? Would it not grieve me to have my boy doubt me? But to gratify him I say again, “I forgive you, my son.”
And if, the next day, he were again to bring up that old sin, and ask forgiveness, would not that grieve me to the heart? And so, my dear reader, if God has forgiven us, never let us mention the past. Let us forget those things which are behind, and reach forth unto those which are before, and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let the sins of the past go; for “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
How To Tell If You Are A Child Of God
Again in 2 Corinthians 13:5: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” Now examine yourselves. Try your religion. Put it to the test. Can you forgive an enemy? That is a good way to know if you are a child of God. Can you forgive an injury, or take an affront, as Christ did? Can you be censured for doing well, and not murmur? Can you be misjudged and misrepresented, and yet keep a Christ-like spirit?
Another good test is to read Galatians 5, and notice the fruits of the Spirit, and see if you have them. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.” If I have the fruits of the Spirit I must have the Spirit. I could not have the fruits without the Spirit any more than there could be an orange without the tree. And Christ says: “Ye shall know them by their fruits;” “For the tree is known by his fruits.” Make the tree good, and the fruit will be good. The only way to get the fruit is to have the Spirit. That is the way to examine ourselves whether we are the children of God.
Then there is another very striking passage. In Romans 8:9, Paul says: “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” That ought to settle the question, even though one may have gone through all the external forms that are considered necessary by some to constitute a member of a church. Read Paul’s life, and put yours alongside of it. If your life resembles his, it is a proof that you are born again—that you are a new creature in Christ Jesus.
Growing In Grace
But although you may be born again it will require time to become a full-grown Christian. Justification is instantaneous; but sanctification is a lifework. We are to grow in wisdom. Peter says: “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18); and in the first chapter of his second epistle “Add to your faith virtue; add to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So that we are to add grace to grace. A tree may be perfect in its first year of growth; but it does not attain its maturity. So with the Christian; he may be a true child of God, but not a matured Christian. The eighth of Romans is very important, and we should be very familiar with it. In the fourteenth verse the apostle says: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Just as the soldier is led by his captain, the pupil by his teacher, or the traveler by his guide; so the Holy Spirit will be the guide of every true child of God.
Paul’s Teaching On Assurance
Then let me call your attention to another fact. All Paul’s teaching in nearly every epistle rings out the doctrine of assurance. He says in 2 Corinthians 5:1: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” He had a title to the mansions above, and he says--I know it. He was not living in uncertainty. He said: “I have a desire to depart and be with Christ” (Philippians 1:23); and if he had been uncertain he would not have said that. Then in Colossians 3:4, he says: “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” I am told that Dr. Watts’ tombstone bears this same passage of Scripture. There is no doubt there.
Then turn to Colossians 1:12: “Giving thanks unto the Father, which HATH made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.”
Three haths:“HATH made us meet”; “HATH delivered us”; and “HATH translated us.” It does not say that He is going to make us meet; that He is going to deliver; that He is going to translate.
Then again in verse 14: “In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” We are either forgiven or we are not, we should not give ourselves any rest until we get into the kingdom of God; nor until we can each look up and say, “I know that if my earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, I have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).
Assurance May Be A Certainty
There is assurance for you. “I KNOW.” Do you think that the God who has justified me will condemn me? That is quite an absurdity. God is going to save us, so that neither men, angels, nor devils can bring any charge against us or Him. He will have the work complete.
Job lived in a darker day than we do; but we read in Job 19:25: “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand in the latter day upon the earth.”
The same confidence breathes through Paul’s last words to Timothy: “For the which cause I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” It is not a matter of doubt, but of knowledge. “I know.” “I am persuaded.” The word “hope” is not used in the Scripture to express doubt. It is used in regard to the second coming of Christ, or to the resurrection of the body. We do not say that we “hope” we are Christians. I do not say that I “hope” I am an American, or that I “hope” I am a married man. These are settled things. I may say that I “hope” to go back to my home, or I hope to attend such a meeting. I do not say that I “hope” to come to this country, for I am here. And so, if we are born of God we know it; and He will not leave us in darkness if we search the Scriptures.
Christ taught this doctrine to His seventy disciples when they returned elated with their success, saying: “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name.” The Lord seemed to check them, and said that He would give them something to rejoice in. “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
It is the privilege of every one of us to know, beyond a doubt, that our salvation is sure.
Then we can work for others. But if we are doubtful of our own salvation, we are not fit for the service of God.
Another passage is John 5:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment” (the Revised Version has it so); “but is passed from death unto life.”
Some people say that you never can tell till you are before the great white throne of judgment whether you are saved or not. Why, my dear friend, if your life is hid with Christ in God, you are not coming into judgment for your sins. We may come into judgment for reward. This is clearly taught where the lord reckoned with the servant to whom five talents had been given, and who brought other five talents, saying, “Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents; behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.” His lord said unto him, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:20, 21). We shall be judged for our stewardship. That is one thing, but salvation—eternal life—is another.
Will God demand payment twice of the debt which Christ has paid for us? If Christ bore my sins in His own body on the tree, am I to answer for them as well?
Isaiah tells us that, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” In Romans 4:25, we read: He “was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.” Let us believe, and get the benefit of His finished work.
Looking for a Life
Now, a great many people want some token outside of God’s Word. That habit always brings doubt. If I made a promise to meet a man at a certain hour and place tomorrow, and he were to ask me for my watch as a token of my sincerity, it would be a slur on my truthfulness. We must not question what God has said: He has made statement after statement, and multiplied figure upon figure. Christ says: “I am the door; by Me if any man enter in he shall be saved.” “I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine.” “I am the light of the world; he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” “I am the truth”; receive Me, and you will have the truth; for I am the embodiment of truth. Do you want to know the way? “I am the way”; follow Me, and I will lead you into the kingdom. Are you hungering after righteousness? “I am the Bread of life”; if you eat of Me you shall never hunger. “I am the Water of life”; if you drink of this water it shall be within you “a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” “I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die” (John 11:25, 26).
Let me remind you where our doubts come from. A good many of God’s dear people never get beyond knowing themselves servants. He calls us “friends.” If you go into a house you will soon see the difference between the servant and the son. The son walks at perfect liberty all over the house; he is at home. But the servant takes a subordinate place. What we want is to get beyond servants. We ought to realize our standing with God as sons and daughters. He will not “un-child” His children. God has not only adopted us, but we are His by birth; we have been born into His kingdom. My little boy was as much mine when he was a day old as now that he is fourteen. He was my son; although it did not appear what he would be when he attained manhood. He is mine; although he may have to undergo probation under tutors and governors. The children of God are not perfect; but we are perfectly His children.
Another origin of doubts is looking at ourselves. If you want to be wretched and miserable, filled with doubts from morning till night, look at yourself. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee” (Isaiah 26:3). Many of God’s dear children are robbed of joy because they keep looking at themselves.
Three Ways to Look
Someone has said: “There are three ways to look. If you want to be wretched, look within; if you wish to be distracted, look around; but if you would have peace, look up.” Peter looked away from Christ, and he immediately began to sink. The Master said to him: “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:31). He had God’s eternal word, which was sure footing, and better than either marble, granite or iron; but the moment he took his eyes off Christ down he went. Those who look around cannot see how unstable and dishonoring is their walk. We want to look straight at the “Author and Finisher of our faith.”
“What Is Faith?”
Bishop Ryle has strikingly said: “Faith is the root, and assurance the flower. Doubtless you can never have the flower without the root; but it is no less certain you may have the root, and not the flower.
“Faith is that poor, trembling woman who came behind Jesus in the press, and touched the hem of His garment (Mark 5:27). Assurance is Stephen standing calmly in the midst of his murderers, and saying, ‘I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God’ (Acts 7:56).
“Faith is the penitent thief, crying, ‘Lord, remember me’ (Luke 23:42). Assurance is Job sitting in the dust, covered with sores, and saying, ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth’; ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him’ (Job 19:25; 13:15).
“Faith is Peter’s drowning cry, as he began to sink, ‘Lord, save me!’ (Matthew 24:30). Assurance is that same Peter declaring before the council, in after-times, ‘This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved’ (Acts 4:11, 12).
“Faith is the anxious, trembling voice, ‘Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief!’ (Mark 9:24). Assurance is the confident challenge, ‘Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? Who is he that condemneth?’ (Romans 8:33, 34).
“Faith is Saul praying in the house of Judas at Damascus, sorrowful, blind and alone (Acts 9:11). Assurance is Paul, the aged prisoner, looking calmly into the grave, and saying, ‘I know whom I have believed.’ ‘There is a crown laid up for me’ (2 Timothy 1:12; 4:8).
“Faith is LIFE. How great the blessing! Who can tell the gulf between life and death? And yet life may be weak, sickly, unhealthy, painful, trying, anxious, worn, burdensome, joyless, smileless, to the very end.
“Assurance is more than life.It is health, strength, power, vigor, activity, energy, manliness, beauty.”
Another writer says: “I have seen shrubs and trees grow out of the rocks, and overhang fearful precipices, roaring cataracts, and deep running waters; but they maintained their position, and threw out their foliage and branches as much as if they had been in the midst of a dense forest.” It was their hold on the rock that made them secure; and the influences of nature that sustained their life. So believers are oftentimes exposed to the most horrible dangers in their journey to heaven; but, so long as they are “rooted and grounded” in the Rock of Ages, they are perfectly secure. Their hold of Him is their guarantee; and the blessings of His grace give them life and sustain them in life. And as the tree must die, or the rock fall, before a dissolution can be effected between them, so either the believer must lose his spiritual life, or the Rock must crumble, ere their union can be dissolved.
What Our Children Ought To Know!
Presently at Liberty we are emphasizing the christian family. " The Family Series" is off to a great start as we are hearing from the Lord through His Word how we must resist today's cultural principles. Especially concerning the family unit. In preparation for preaching i have read many books and listened to many sermons by many Biblical Pastors and Authors. Several of these books that have inspired me for today's blog are, "Successful Christian Parenting", and "Being a Dad Who Leads". by John MacArthur. I want to share this blog particularly as to several things our children need to know.
Hope this inspires you to TEACH YOUR CHILDREN instead of allowing the culture to lead them away from God and His principles of life and eternity.
THINGS OUR CHILDREN OUGHT TO KNOW!
There is a lot of stuff that kids today are not being taught! It’s shocking what our children know and don’t know. And after forty-five years of being in the ministry, it is still shocking to me, how many kids don’t know very much Bible truth.
We need the Bible. They need the Bible! And we as church leaders need to be teaching Bible doctrine in our churches today. We need to get back to this primary command of the Lord to His church. It seems it is not the priority as it should be in todays churches. There are a lot of things that kids need to know, but spiritual things are what kids need mostly in order to live prosperous lives now and for eternal reward later.
Every child needs to start off knowing the basics of the Christian faith – that they are sinners, and Jesus is the Savior. They need to know that they need regeneration. This is the foundational knowledge of what kids need to know first because this is the beginning of wisdom.
The most important things kids ought to know are found in the Bible and some of the most basic truths they need to understand are found in the wonderful book of Proverbs. Proverbs is a book the Lord used a father to write to his son concerning foundational lesson of life. I would challenge every parent and teacher to send much time teaching children from this amazing book.
Hundreds of practical lessons are found in Proverbs, let me suggest a few LIFE LESSONS that are needed so much in our modern homes and churches.
I. Every kid ought to know how to respect the Lord. [Proverbs 1:7, 9:10]
Do the children in your ministry know who God is? Are you teaching the attributes of God? There
is only one God, and He is almighty, all-knowing, perfect, Holy, Kind…Are you teaching the
doctrine of who God is?
II. Every kid ought to know how to protect their hearts and minds. [Proverbs 3:3-4]
We need to guard their hearts and minds when they are small. By guarding their hearts and minds when they are small, they will learn how to do it themselves when they are older. Teach children the Word of God. Keep plugging the Word of God into their lives, hiding His Word in their hearts, so they might not sin against Him. Are you teaching children the Word of God? Are you being careful with what you are brining into your church and into their hearts and minds?
III. Every kid ought to know how to obey and honor all authority. [Proverbs 4:10-11]
There is an epidemic in America of disrespect of authority. Are you teaching your children to obey an honor their parents? To obey church authority? Teach them to honor authority, so they will honor the ultimate authority, Christ.
IV. Every kid ought to know how to select proper companions. [Proverbs 1:10]
We need to guard our kids and teach them how to choose their friendships carefully! The Bible teaches that who you choose to hang out with is who you will become. Are you teaching children to love people, but not to hang out with someone who is not following the Lord?
V. Every kid ought to know how to control their own bodies. [Proverbs 2:16-17]
There is a lack of discipline in God’s church. We need to be teaching children how to follow the Lord by controlling their bodies. Are you teaching children to say no to their bodies? To guard their eyes [from things like pornography]? To dress right and be modest? To turn away? The Bible is full of teaching’s about how to control our bodies, are we teaching it?
VI. Every kid ought to know how to treat their future spouse. [Proverbs 5:16-19]
Do you teach what marriage is and its purpose? Are you teaching what God designed the purpose of marriage to be? How is your marriage? We are shepherds. We don’t just teach with our mouths, but with our lives. Teach children the way they should treat their (eventual) spouse, by the way we live.
VII. Every kid ought to know how to communicate lovingly and honestly. [Proverbs 4:24, 10:13,19]
We need to be careful what we say with our words. Kids need to know that their words will make or break them. Are we teaching children to use words sparingly and carefully? Are you partnering with parents to teach children how to talk to adults, how to shake hands? Are you teaching children to tell the truth, to speak kindly, to know when not to speak, and how to honor God with their words?
VIII. Every kid ought to know the value of working hard and the danger of laziness. [Proverbs 6:6-8]
Remember how the ants work? Are you teaching your children the value of work, of doing their best for the Lord? We are told not to be sluggards, but in the world today, this must be taught. Are you partnering with parents to teach the Biblical value of hard work to kids?
IX. Every kid ought to know the importance of stewardship. [Proverbs 3:9-10]
They need to know how to manage their resources, and not to let their resources manage them. Do you teach children what the Bible says about money? Giving? Generosity? About using their talents and resources for the Lord? Do you give them a chance to practice it?
X. Every kid should know it is better to love others than ourselves. [Proverbs 3:27]
The Bible tells us over and over again to love others. Are you teaching that in your church? Are you teaching it with mere words, or are you teaching children through action and example how to really love others, like Jesus did?
Teach doctrine to your children in your homes! There are lots of little hearts that God wants us to be teaching in Sunday School, VBS and other places! We need the whole council of God, not just pieces and parts. I am all for stories and fun (they are kids after all), but we need to commit ourselves to teaching the Bible to children, teens and adults!
Are you working on teaching the spiritual things that kids really need to know? Why not take a few months and teach these and many other lessons found in the book of PROVERBS to the children and teens that the Lord has entrusted to you?
In light of the events of today as we see Virginia considering to follow New York States lead to abort babies up to full term. I would like to share the following article from Dr. John MacArthur.
Is Scripture Clear About Abortion?
by John MacArthur Friday, June 6, 2014
Over the last few days, I’ve noticed several articles concerning a letter circulated by the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. The letter, written by members of Planned Parenthood’s Clergy Advocacy Board—representatives of various incongruent streams of faith—claims that abortion isn’t mentioned in Scripture, and therefore shouldn’t be subject to any faith-based prohibitions.
I’d like to add my voice to the growing chorus of believers speaking out against those satanic lies and say that Scripture is indeed clear about the issue of abortion. While the word itself may not appear in Bible, God’s Word is not silent when it comes to the vile sin of murdering children in the womb. In fact, there are several biblical principles we can look to that shape how we are to think about this horrific sin.
Every Person Is Created by God
To begin with, God’s Word is clear that conception is never an accident. God personally creates every life. Psalm 127:3 says, “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.” Over and over through Scripture, God exerted sovereign control over man’s ability to have children (cf. Genesis 16:2, 17:16, 20:18, 25:21; 1 Samuel 1:19-20; Ruth 4:13).
In the midst of Paul’s powerful sermon in Athens to the philosophers at the Areopagus, the apostle proclaims God’s creative power and control. In Acts 17:24, Paul calls Him “the God who made the world and all things in it.” God created everything and continues to be the Creator to this day. Nothing—including man—has come into the world apart from His creative power (John 1:3).
Paul went on to make that very point, saying that God is not
served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, “For we also are His children.” (Acts 17:25-28)
In simple terms, we live because God gave us life.
And it’s not some distant work on the Lord’s part. He’s actively involved in the formation of every person. Both David (Psalm 139: 13-16) and Job (Job 10:8-12) credit the formative work of life in the womb to God. They use picturesque language to describe just how fearfully and wonderfully each person has been handmade by the Lord.
There are no biological accidents—that includes deformities and disabilities. In Exodus 4:11, the Lord said to Moses, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” Every aspect of our being—even those we might consider flaws or defects—has been ordained by the Lord according to His purpose (John 9:3). Every creation is an act of God.
Every Person Is Created in the Image of God
The creation account is very clear that God created man in His image (Genesis 1:26). This sets humanity apart from the rest of creation. In the process, God imbued man with several of His own attributes. The so-called communicable attributes include things like personhood and the ability to have relationships. Like God, we have the capacity to love and hate, to understand, to think, act, choose and feel.
The point is that after God initiates conception, we’re not just the product of a biological sequence or a collection of cells. We’re not simply a lump of expanding human tissue. Our skin, bones, and muscles do not make up the sum of our existence—they are merely a vessel that contains the image of God. Everything we need for thinking, acting, feeling, knowing, trusting and hoping—everything fundamental to being a person—is there, present in the womb.
And the end result of being image-bearers is that each person has an innate value in creation. That’s why God’s Word condemns murderers and advocates the strictest possible punishment for their crime. Capital punishment is a key facet of God’s law, going all the way back to His covenant with Noah. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6). Human life is sacred because it was created by God in His own image.
Every Person Is the Object of God’s Loving Care
Throughout Scripture we see that God has made special provision for the poor, weak, and helpless. Over and over, His people are called to look after those who cannot look after themselves. Psalm 82:3-4 gives clear instructions to believers, exhorting us to “vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.” Is there anyone more weak, more helpless, or more defenseless than an unborn child?
There is not adequate space here to go over all the incredible medical phenomena that illustrate how the Lord designed the womb to be the perfect protector for those little unborn lives. It’s staggering how God insulates children inside their mothers, nourishing and preserving them in warmth, health, and safety. And it makes it all the more tragic that so many mothers choose to invade the protection of the womb and terminate the life God has created within.
In His covenant with Israel, the Lord built in a provision for any harm that might come to a child while it was still in its mother’s womb. Exodus 21 presents a graphic scenario:
If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. (Exodus 21:22-25)
According to God’s law, killing an infant is murder. Scripture doesn’t have to use the word abortion to make the point any more clear.
The Good News
There is some good news—the best news, actually—and it wouldn’t be right to end here without mentioning it. God’s redeeming grace is available, and able to overrule the sin of abortion. The Lord can use even the most heinous acts of sin to display and dispense His grace. Taking the most heinous sin of all—Jesus’ crucifixion—as the supreme example, Judas, Pilate, and all the Romans and Jews who conspired against Jesus were guilty of murdering the only truly innocent person in history. But the Lord worked through those sins to accomplish His will and manifest His grace.
The same is true with abortion. It’s a horrific tragedy, but God’s redeeming grace is still available to all its participants without exception.
I’m convinced that God redeems murdered infants, that His grace reaches out and takes those little ones to be with Him. Two important passages make that point clear. The first is Psalm 22:9-10, where David writes, “Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother’s breasts. Upon You I was cast from birth; You have been my God from my mother’s womb.” David was convinced that he belonged to God, even when he was still inside His mother’s womb.
That confidence is the reason he could react to the death of his own child with the words he spoke in 2 Samuel 12:23, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” God’s overruling grace protects infants who die and takes them to glory. (For a more thorough discussion of this topic, I’ve written a book called Safe in the Arms of God.)
In addition, there is forgiveness for mothers who have had an abortion. While they may face daily reminders of their sin, they can be washed of its guilt and spared its just punishment through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. Likewise, the abortion doctors who are responsible for taking these precious lives can be rescued from the punishment of their sins and forgiven through repentance and faith.
It doesn’t stop there. God is exceedingly gracious, and His forgiveness is able to extend to everyone who has even a minor role in this horrible genocide—to abortion clinic nurses and counselors who facilitate infant murder on a daily basis; to pro-choice activists, lobbyists and politicians who fight to keep it legal; to the journalists, talking heads, and entertainers who promote and encourage abortion; and to all the husbands and boyfriends who don’t fight to protect the lives of their children. As horrible and unthinkable as abortion is, in His mercy God is willing to forgive the penitent sinner. That’s the joyous confession of every believer—God’s grace is far greater than our sin.
So does the Scripture have anything to say about abortion? It speaks directly and with clarity to the issue. More than that, it offers the only solution to the guilt and shame suffered by many who participate in it—the redeeming grace of Christ who died and rose again so that repentant liars and thieves and drunkards and adulterers and homosexuals and yes, even murderers, could receive forgiveness and peace with God.
I have been reading a lot lately concerning the Christmas Story. In my reading I found this wonderful article written by Dr. John MacArthur and wanted to share it with all my BishirBlog followers. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
The Truth of the Nativity
The story of the first Christmas is so beloved that singers and storytellers across the centuries have embellished and elaborated and mythologized the story in celebration. However, most people now don't know which details are biblical and which are fabricated. People usually imagine the manger scene with snow, singing angels, many worshipers, and a little drummer boy. None of that is found in the biblical account.
Christmas has become the product of an odd mixture of pagan ideas, superstition, fanciful legends, and plain ignorance. Add to that the commercialization of Christmas by marketers and the politicization of Christmas in the culture wars, and you're left with one big mess. Let's try to sort it out. The place to begin is in God's Word, the Bible. Here we find not only the source of the original account of Christmas, but also God's commentary on it.
We can't know Jesus if we don't understand He is real. The story of His birth is no allegory. We dare not romanticize it or settle for a fanciful legend that renders the whole story meaningless. Mary and Joseph were real people. Their dilemma on finding no room at the inn surely was as frightening for them as it would be for you or me. The manger in which Mary laid Jesus must have reeked of animal smells. So did the shepherds, in all probability. That first Christmas was anything but picturesque.
But that makes it all the more wondrous. That baby in the manger is God! Immanuel!
That's the heart and soul of the Christmas message. There weren't many worshipers around the original manger—only a handful of shepherds. But one day every knee will bow before Him, and every tongue will confess He is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11). Those who doubt Him, those who are His enemies, those who merely ignore Him—all will one day bow, too, even if it be in judgment.
How much better to honor Him now with the worship He deserves! That's what Christmas ought to inspire.
Unvarnished Truth Luke 2:7 sets the scene: "[Mary] gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
That verse is explicitly concerned with a lonely birth. There were no midwives, no assistance to Mary at all. The Bible doesn't even mention that Joseph was present. Perhaps he was, but if he was typical of first-time fathers, he would have been of little help to Mary. She was basically on her own.
Mary brought forth the child; she wrapped Him in swaddling cloths; and she laid Him in a manger. Where usually a midwife would clean the baby and wrap Him, there was no one. Mary did it herself. And where usually there would have been a cradle or basket for the baby, there was none. Mary had to put Him in an animal's feeding trough.
When Christ entered the world, He came to a place that had some of the smelliest, filthiest, and most uncomfortable conditions. But that is part of the wonder of divine grace, isn't it? When the Son of God came down from heaven, He came all the way down. He did not hang on to His equality with God; rather, He set it aside for a time and completely humbled Himself (Philippians 2:5-8).
Unlikely Testimony Luke 2:8-20 describes the experience of the shepherds when Jesus was born. Think about that for a moment. Out of the whole of Jerusalem society, God picked a band of shepherds to hear the news of Jesus' birth. That's intriguing because shepherds were among the lowest and most despised social groups.
The very nature of shepherds' work kept them from entering into the mainstream of Israel's society. They couldn't maintain the ceremonial washings and observe all the religious festivals and feasts, yet these shepherds, just a few miles from Jerusalem, were undoubtedly caring for sheep that someday would be used as sacrifices in the temple. How fitting it is that they were the first to know of the Lamb of God!
More significant, they came to see Him the night he was born. No one else did. Though the shepherds went back and told everyone what they had seen and heard, and though "all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds" (Luke 2:18), not one other person came to see firsthand.
Scripture doesn't describe how the shepherds' search for the baby Jesus actually unfolded, but it's not unreasonable to assume that they entered Bethlehem and asked questions: "Does anybody know about a baby being born here in town tonight?"
The shepherds might have knocked on several doors and seen other newborn babies before they found the special Child lying in the feeding trough. At that moment, those humble men knew for certain that the angels' announcement was a word from God. After their encounter with Joseph and Mary and Jesus, the shepherds couldn't help but tell others about what the angels had told them. They became, in effect, the first New Testament evangelists.
The shepherd's story is a good illustration of the Christian life. You first hear the revelation of the gospel and believe it (Romans 10:9-10). Then you pursue and embrace Christ. And having become a witness to your glorious conversion, you begin to tell others about it (Luke 2:17).
May God grant you the life-changing spiritual experiences and the ongoing attitude of enthusiasm and responsiveness that causes you to tell others that you, too, have seen Christ the Lord.
(Adapted from God's Gift of Christmas.)
The Thanksgiving Season is a wonderful time to heighten our sensitivity to the blessings bestowed on us by God. Thanksgiving grabs our attention, shakes the cobwebs loose, reminds us of God’s most precious gifts and convicts us of our lack of contentment.
Thanksgiving has always had a special place in my heart. It rekindles the kind of God Centered Gratitude that our Lord both demands and deserves.
Allow me to share SIX BLESSINGS that have deeply touched me through the years and prompts me to give thanks to God. As I reverse them they always rekindle my gratitude and I hope they help you to do the same.
I Am Grateful For The Lords Salvation. (Colossians 1:12- 14)
I am grateful for earthly life which I am keenly aware that the Lord gave me. But far more I am thankful for the forgiveness of sin. No work of God is beyond my comprehension yet closer to my heart. Before coming to Christ each of us lived lives in self imposed prisons, guilty, lonely, spiritually blind, fearful of death and life and no means to pay our sin debt. Our destiny was eternal separation from God lost in the eternal destruction of hell. But how Christ pardoned us from the penalty and power of sin. How he has delivered us from the dominion of Satan and translated us into the kingdom of the beloved Son, ( Colossians 1:12-14). He has taken away the threat of hell and now we live in the hope of heaven. He has dismissed His divine wrath and brought us in to divine benediction. He has given us abundant life, His daily presence and provisions. We daily sing of His salvation. We walk with Him, talk with Him, His Holy Spirit lives in us. Thanking God for saving our soul should be our year round unceasing occupation ! Luke 17:12-13 teaches us that we should fall to our knees and worship him for healing our souls. Thankfulness is a mark of the genuine christian and unthankfulness is a mark or the unforgiven and wicked, (Romans 1:19-20).
II. I Am Grateful For The Lord’s Word. (John 17:17)
I am thankful for the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth- The Holy Bible! The world is gripped by lies, half truths, false teachers and false teaching. Conflicts about philosophies, political systems, world cultures deceive the masses and yet we have the TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH. The world has questions and no answers, the born again believer has questions and answers found in God’s Holy Word. Answers for every area of life most importantly answers how to find forgiveness of sin and eternal life. Thanks to the Lord we have a copy of GOD’S WORD. We have an eternal, objective, incontestable, irrevocable, unchangeable standard we can depend on for all matters of life. God’s Word is the words of life that offer us answers in every issue of life.
III. I Am Grateful For The Privilege And Power Of Prayer. (Matthew 7:7-11)
That we can come boldly to the Throne of God and make our requests unto our loving and listening Sovereign. That we can make petitions for ourselves, intercessions for others. That we can “ ask it shall be forgiven, seek and it shall be found, knock and it shall be opened” , (Matthew 6-7). I am thankful that we can pray privately, corporately, unceasingly and we can pray from anywhere and at any time. Prayers that shake our world and send the gospel in power. I am thankful that prayer changes me personally and moves the mighty hand of God.
IV. I am grateful for the Lord's storms. ( Mark 4:39 )
Perhaps the most difficult time to give thanks is when we are in the midst of a storm of life. Setbacks, challenges, trials can hinder our sense of contentment and gratitude. When the storms come giving thanks rarely are my first reaction. Being thankful for adversity is never easy but always right. But from my experience I know the difficult times are ones in which God seems to be most at work in my life. He is closely working on me as He prunes, strengthens, teaches, developed my faith and in general makes me more like Himself.
The more mature we become in Christ the more grateful we become for the SOVEREIGN STORMS our Lord allows to enter our lives.
V. I am grateful for the Lord's church. ( Matthew 16:18 )
I am thankful for the Lord building His true and genuine church. I have loved the church since the moment the Holy Spirit moved into my life at my new birth. I am a stronger believer in the church than without. It is the place as a believer that I find my place I belong. I am thankful for the family of God that gathers in it to strengthen and scatters from it to lengthen. I an thankful for the churches that have stayed the course of spreading the true gospel and living pure and holy lives. For those that are standing for the full course of Bible truth. Resisting fads, remaining faithful to the biblical purposes that the Lord instituted the church for in the first place. It fills my heart with gratitude to be a part of the Lord’s church. To partner in life and ministry.
VI. I am grateful for the Lord's people.
The Lord has placed people in our life! No mistakes! All ordained! Our parents, mates, children, grandchildren, friends, other Christians now and those who are now in heaven, pastors, deacons, teachers and the list goes on. Our earthly families are so precious and our sisters and brothers in the family of God. How Blessed we are for each one. Living life with others is far better than living alone. Giving thanks for the partnerships, guidance, help that others have brought to our lives fitting for each of us 365 days a year.
I am thankful at this time of year and my desire is that I will rekindle such thanksgiving every day of the year for the rest of my life. Hope you do the same!
How Much Do You Own in That Direction?
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Dr. George W. Truett was a great preacher who pastored First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas for 47 years. He pastor 47 years at this church and afterward Dr. W. A. Criswell pastored another 50 years or so. Only two senior pastors for a century. WOW!
Dr. Truett was once entertained in the home of one of the wealthiest oilmen in Texas. After dinner, the man took Truett up yo the rooftop patio of his home. Pointing to the field of oil derricks, he said, “Dr. Truett, that is all mine. I came into this country twenty-five years ago penniless, and now I own everything as far as you can see in that direction.”
He then turned in the opposite direction, and pointing toward waving fields of grain, he said, “It’s all mine. i own everything as far as you can see in that direction.”
He next tourney toward the east, pointing to a large herd of cattle… and then to the west, pointing to a great virgin forest that extended to the horizon… and each time he waved his hands and said, “It’s all mine.For twenty - five years i have worked hard and seed, and today I own everything you can see in any direction from my house.” The man paused at that moment, expecting words of admiration and praise from this preacher. Instead Dr. Truett laid his hand lovingly on his shoulder, pointed upward, and asked, “ And my friend, how much do you own in that direction?”
Good question for both the rich and the poor.
Jesus spoke in parable form concerning our falling into trap of seeking of things.
13 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.
14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?
15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.
30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Notice verse 20, “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” The Lord calls the person who seeks after earthly things more than eternal things- A FOOL!
There are at least 6 reasons why Jesus considered this man a fool.
I. HE WAS CONCERNED ONLY WITH EARTHLY THINGS!
A. Earthly Things Can Lead Us Into A TRAP.
One can get to the place where no longer does a person possess things but things possess us! They begin to control our time, thoughts, emotions our entire lives.
B. Earthly Things Can Lead Us To In Them TRUST.
The fact is that earthly things can be lost at any moment, and the will never bring complete satisfaction in this life.
C. Earthly Things Are TEMPORAL.
2nd Corinthians 4:18 teaches us that things seen are temporal but things unseen are eternal. Everything we see with our earthly eyes will one day be finished, over, gone. We must live for the things we do not see. Today in America someone won a lottery worth 1.6 BILLION dollars. Truth is after that person dies that 1.6 billion dollars won’ be worth ONE DIME unless they choose to somehow connect it to eternal things.
II. HE CONSIDERED HIS EARTHLY GOODS HIS OWN.
Notice he he speaks with himself, he considers all his possessions as his own. We are not mature Christians when we consider all we have as ours. Everything we have belongs to the Lord- lock, stock and barrel. This man was a fool when he considered his earthly goods his own. He did not see his rightful place a stewart of God.
III. HE THOUGHT THINGS WOULD SATISFY HIS SOUL.
Verse 19 says, “ I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry. He thought things would satisfy his soul. If you have lived very long you have found that is not true! If we get more money, a new car, more time off, more trips, more friends, bigger this better that, they will not completely satisfy. This world will never satisfy the heart of man, only CHRIST can !
IV. HE PLANNED FOR TIME NOT FOR ETERNITY!
Another reason Jesus calls this man a fool is he made many plans for this life and no plans for the life to come. The old adage, Eat, Drink and be Merry for tomorrow you die is one of the Devil’s lies. Because everyone will die in this world but as soon astray die here they will be alive elsewhere. No one ceases to exist, everyone will live somewhere for eternity. Bob Jones Sr. the great preacher of the last century said, “ The greatest thought that ever occurred to him was he was going to live somewhere forever.”
V. HE THOUGHT HIS SOUL WAS HIS OWN.
He addresses his soul as his own. Tis is the act of a FOOL! The biblical truth is we all belong to God by the right of creation. That does not me you are his or that you are going to heaven. Once you trust him you belong to Him by right of redemption and regeneration. It is never our soul and particularly after we have been purchased and cleansed by his blood. 1st Corinthians 6:19-20 teaches we are not our own.
VI. HE WAS NOT PREPARED TO DIE!
This is the most foolish thing a person can ever do. Prepare for our education, careers, marriages, health, vacations, homes, retirements, and so many other things but not “ PREPARED TO MEET OUR GOD”. And the only way to be prepared is to repent of our sinfulness and to receive Christ’s gracious payment for our sins on the cross! So many think they have plenty of time to make that decision yet the Bible teaches us that every time we put that decision off we harden our hearts more and more against the gospel. There will be people alive as I type this blog that in a minute or so that will leave this world in death. Someone will be tragically murdered, others will suddenly have a car accident, others will have massive stroke, many will suddenly have their lives end thinking they have plenty time to make to come to Christ! It is a most FOOLISH thing to not be prepared to die. Hell is full of people who thought they would have another opportunity to sense the Holy Spirit drawing them yet today their eternity has begun and their eternal destiny of separation from God will never end.
SEEK GOD FIRST AND THE THINGS YOU NEED (EARTHLY AND ETERNAL) WILL SEEK YOU!
Lets Pray : "Dear God, please give me the wisdom to keep my heart turned toward heaven and lay up treasures there rather than here on earth. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer Lord help me each day to live in such a way!
Why Do We Have A Missions Conference ?
Today at Liberty Baptist Church we begin our 2018 Missions Conference. It is an annual event of our church and has been for nearly 30 years. This is not the only time of the year that worldwide missions is emphasized, in fact evangelistic outreach is focused on daily in all our ministries and missionaries visit our church continually through out the year. So why do we and why should others have a Missions Conference in the local church? Conferences like we have here at LBC used to be a part of most all biblically minded churches, they were vital and brought about many positive impacts both to the local church and the cause of missions worldwide. But over the past few decades they are beginning to be the exception and not the rule. In many churches they have become a thing of the past. I have heard several reasons for this which include: 1 ( People are to busy with many other things to participate in and they will not attend). 2. (Missionaries do not want to spend that many days at one church). 3. (Conferences are expensive and the church will not get anything in return). 4. ( People are more concerned about home missions rather then world missions). 5. ( People get worn out with several services back to back). Once we really begin thinking about these reasons we come to an understanding that they really just reveal the condition of the heart. They simply don’t stand the test of biblical nor rational thinking. People are busy and they allow themselves to be busier than ever. Night after night, day after day, weekend after weekend they are attending a lot of events and seem not to wear themselves out. I have found tat missions starts immediately once I rise from bed. It starts in my home, as soon as I leave my home and everywhere I go through out life. Home Missions and World Missions is all the same in my understanding of the Lord’s mandate of taking the gospel.
So with that in mind let me share a few reasons why we should have a Missions Conference!
1. To Inspire: To enliven and to motivate the church and the missionary to the gospel mandate. To spur on; to remember this is the life of the church. The purpose of the church is to share the gospel with the world we are a part of and to the uttermost parts of the world.
2. To Enlighten: To give knowledge, to instruct, to give spiritual insight as to how to get better
in this Great Commission of our Lord! To listen to the reports and messages with an
intense desire to be a missionary wherever we may be.
3. To Encourage: To encourage the missionary and the church together. Those who go and those who send are participating in one of the most exciting endeavors known to man. At the same time their mission is one of greatest difficulty and challenge anyone will partake in. The lonely missionary needs the exhorting of the church and the church body needs to see the commitment and the surrender of the sent one. The church needs a visible reminder that we also are sent to our world. It is amazing what happens in several days of assembling together as we are exhorting one another. Commitments of the past are renewed, hope for hopelessness has been gained, the spirit of depression replaced with the vision and an attitude of thankfulness for this great call our Lord has given each of us.
4. To Enlist:
*The church inspired to pray for missionaries around the world.
*Individual Christian’s inspired to share the gospel where they are now.
*Divine inspiration for those called to GO as missionaries.
*Inspired to give financially to the great gospel cause of missions.
According to the scripture, the Church SENDS the missionary (Acts 13:1-3) and the Missionary REPORTS to the Church ( Acts 14:21-28). The purpose of a Missions Conference is to CHALLENGE true believers to be MISSION - CENTERED. By INFORMING believers in what God is DOING and in what still needs to be DONE in the fields of harvest. By STIMULATING believers to be INVOLVED with missions through praying, giving, and going. By PRESENTING a challenge to all to RESPOND to God’s personal call to missions. By ENCOURAGING believers to REJOICE in what God is doing through missions around the world. By OBEYING a scriptural PRACTICE as, according to scripture, after each missionary journey in Acts, a mission conference was conducted. ( Acts 14:24-18, 18:22, 21:17-19 ).
The longer I live in this world the greater I long for the next world- HEAVEN! I can't take the credit for such, it is a work of God in me that is setting me apart (sanctification) for His glory. I feel more uncomfortable in this world. More unwanted, more as a stranger, more uneasy with all the sin that surrounds me and is in me which is a daily part of being here. Often, I feel dirty and guilty as I seek to live holy in an unholy place. Now I want to say that there is much beauty and blessing as we travel this sod and the Lord has taught us to "rejoice this is the day the Lord hath made." I realize that earthly life is a gift to enjoy and invest in, and earthly life can be abundant as we live with Christ ruling in our hearts. BUT still the longer I live I desire more and more for the day I will depart and be with the Lord. I praise God for that great work of his in my inner man which is getting me ready to transition from one place to another. I suspect it will be a process and Lord willing there is still lots to do for the Lord on this earth BUT there is growing in me a deeper desire for my complete redemption to be fulfilled.
You may ask why or what is the main motive of your desire. I hope it is the same desire as the Apostle Paul when he was ready to pour out his last drink offering of life to the Lord and to be with the Lord as we read in II Timothy 4:6-8. You see for nearly 35 years the Apostle Paul had walked with Christ and served Him in sharing the gospel, planting churches, being used to write much of the New Testament. He said, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept (defended) the faith." Paul had labored, sacrificed and battled. Yet his greatest battle was not against false teachers, demons or Satan. His greatest battle was against his own personal sin. The weariness of life is bound up in the reality that while we are trying to be successful in the battle against the outside forces we are constantly having to fight to overcome the fight which is on the inside. The longer the believer lives the more they long for ETERNAL RIGHTEOUSNESS!
As e study the scripture we find there are two basic things a genuine believer longs for. First, they long for the presence of Christ. Secondly, they long for the absence of sin. The Lord spoke about this in his Sermon on the Mount. He said inn Matthew 5, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled." The genuine believer has been given a HUNGER for RIGHTEOUSNESS. Thank the Lord that for the believer they have received IMPUTED righteousness (Romans 5). And that they are receiving IMPARTED righteousness (Romans 6) as they are being sanctified. But we will not receive FULL and COMPLETE righteousness until we leave this world and are with Christ in heaven.
You see the longer we live the greater the desire to become FULLY righteous. It is part of our salvation. It is a work of God in us. And we begin to understand more and more that FULL righteousness will not be until the Lord takes us in death or rapture of the church. I can testify today that what has become one of my deepest longings is to be in the presence of Christ and to be absent of sin. To be absent of sin is to be fully righteous. The greatest CROWNS of REWARD are the general crowns given graciously by God to all His redeemed followers. They are:
THINK ABOUT IT!
Never ever knowing another temptation of sin.
Never having another evil thought.
Never saying another evil word.
Never experiencing another fear.
Never committing another evil deed.
Never again feeling or being guilty.
Never desiring a substitute for our Lord.
Never being unfaithful.
Never being deceived or deceiving.
Never being jealous.
Never depressed or discouraged.
NEVER EVER STRUGGLING WITH YOUR PERSONAL SIN OR THE SIN OF SOMEONE ELSE EVER AGAIN!
Sounds pretty sweet to me. May we live now with that great hope and until that day of hope arrives may we FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT knowing that one day the fight will be over once and for all.
"Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” II Timothy 4:8
Philippians 2:6–8 reveals the way Jesus thought at his incarnation when he took a human body. SO it helps us to understand how he wants his redeemed followers to live our human lives.
“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
We are not naturally inclined to think of ourselves in a lesser way nor are we taught such in today's secularized culture. In fact we are inclined and taught the exact opposite. Yet the Lord Jesus when he was born in a manger began his human life of humility which ultimately brought him to the cross! So we see our view of living is much different than the Lords, in reality totally opposite.
We are inclined and taught to think much higher of ourselves. We desire more recognition. More achievement. More attention. More exaltation. Yet our Lord in human flesh shows us we should think lower of ourselves. We should have more humility, more service, more sacrifice.
We are inclined and taught to promote ourselves yet Christ modeled emptying ourselves, ( Luke 2:7). We are inclined and taught to think self gratification yet Christ taught by lip and life to serve others, (Mark 10:45).
We are inclined to disobedience yet Christ lived in obedience to the Father and teaches us to live our lives seeking to please the father not our flesh, ( John 8:29 ).
Christ chose death for mankind bringing salvation to all who would repent and receive by faith his atoning work on the cross. Yet human nature is inclined to choose temporal life and short term success in this world at the expense of long term loss in eternity.
For those who have received Christ and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit it is possible to think and live like Christ. In his power we can choose a different way of life. As we do it will change our life and transform our daily thoughts and actions. Bringing results that are abundant and eternal.
Which direction will you think about yourself?
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus"—Philippians 2:5
Paul the Apostle in his epistles often used athletic metaphors to help explain spiritual truths to the readers. He spoke of boxing in I Corinthians 9:26, wrestling in Ephesians 6:12, fighting in II Timothy 4:7. Paul's favorite much-repeated metaphor was FOOTRACE, which he used in Acts 20:24, Romans 9:16, I Corinthians 9:24-26, Galatians 2:2 & 5:7. In Philippians 3:12-21, he reveals one of the greatest characteristics of his life, he understood he was in a Race of Life! He knew he had been given a christian race to run, his race was to win a prize and at the finish line his prize would be Christ, Himself! Paul lived with one primary goal of life and that goal was an upward and high call from God. He lived each step of life with that goal in mind. Every step of life must be toward Christ. For Paul every decision, purchase, relationship, thought, needed to fit into his primary goal and if it didn’t he understood it would affect how he ran this race which was set before him and there would be a possibility that he would not finish this race in the fashion that the Lord would be pleased with.
Paul was not only a participant in his own race but he became a coach to all believers running their particular races. The Holy Spirit gave Paul some RULES for SPIRITUAL ATHLETES which he shares in Philippians 3:12:-16. I would like remind myself of these rules today and encourage each reader as well to run by the rules in order for each of us to finish our races and not end up on the sidelines.
RULES FOR SPIRITUAL ATHLETES
I. NEVER CEASE TO IMPROVE ! ( 3:12 )
Paul understood that the Christian life is a lifetime process of growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord. Paul knew he was not perfect and his pursuit in the flesh for perfection was in vain and his pursuit in the Spirit would be a process. It was clear to him that what he was seeking was perfection (Christlikeness), and every step he took should help him become more like Jesus but that would never be complete till he left this world and was then made completely perfect in glorification. The Apostle Paul was undoubtedly the most committed, dedicated, spiritually mature christian who ever lived yet he confesses that he has not attained perfection 30 years after his salvation experience! God uses Paul to teach us “ perfection in this life will always be a goal (for the believer ) never an achievement in this life”. The Christian must never stop running the race toward the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus as long as they have breath. So every day lets get up and join the race again to become more and more like Jesus. Follow after this ONE thing! Give this your MAXIMUM EFFORT 24/7!
II. ALWAYS STAY FOCUSED! (3:13)
Every runner in a race knows they must fix their eyes ahead of them. Those who watch the crowd, look at their feet, glance backwards are likely to fall. Maximum effort must also have focused concentration on a point ahead. Pauls says, “ this one thing I do”. Many dabble in a lot of things and accomplish very little and succeed in nothing. Verse 13 teaches us that we must “ forget things behind and reach forth to things ahead”. To STRETCH every spiritual muscle! Distractions are the enemy of success in life. It is like texting while driving or looking in the rear view mirror constantly. These bad habits will take you out of the race pretty fast and often permanently. The spiritual athlete must say focused on Christlikeness.
III. HAVE A PROPER MOTIVATION! (3:14)
The motivation is to win the race, cross the finish line, finish the race. The race is often not fun, it will be painful at times and is exhausting. But the finish line is what it is all about. PRESS ON is the heart of this passage. I PRESS is in the present tense and suggests we are to continuously, constantly run. We are running to the prize and not lose the prize. We will have opponents and obstacles in this race. What is our ONE consuming passion of life? Why do we get up every day? For Paul it was a passion to know more of Christ so he could become more like Christ! It wasn’t food, job, career, friend, family, pleasure, recreation a vacation. Everything the spiritual athlete does must come under the authority of the HIGH CALLING of God in CHRIST JESUS upon our lives. EVERYTHING must fit into the goal of becoming like Jesus! The proper motivation is a HEAVENLY MOTIVATION not an earthly one.
IV. RUN YOUR OWN RACE! (3:15)
Paul addressed the issue of others in the Philippian church who were teaching that you could become totally Christlike in this life. They taught that perfection was possible in this life and the result of such fales teaching was people ceased attempting to become like Christ. They were SPIRITUALLY SIDELINED! Paul encourages them to continue running their own races, and he actually uses sarcasm with those who teach the possibility of complete perfection this side of heaven. Paul exhorts the believers to have THIS MIND- to continually think you are not perfect, you need to keep running at maximum effort, your OWN RACE because you know by experience you have not attained perfection yet. Be a BIBLICAL THINKER as you run your personal race we each run the race according to God’s gifting us, assigning us a particular race, giving us allowed times and abilities.
V. KEEP RUNNING YOUR RACE! (3:16)
Paul gives one more rule - let us walk. The word walk in this verse is in the (continuous tense) and is used for living one step at a time. LET US KEEP WALKING, LIVING, PARTICIPATING in the RACE of LIFE. Keep attempting to become like Jesus until you see Jesus! Don’t retire from this at age 48, 62, 70 ! RUN TO THE FINISH! NEVER QUIT! PRESS ON ! We so often give up to soon. We don’t finish because we give up. We are to endure in this race and persevere. Don’t give in to pain, laziness, pleasure, opposition, obstacles, age, fatigue, sickness, nothing! Keep your passion no matter your age. Keep your fire for God. DIE CLIMBING! You may have to pace your race! You may need to adjust your race but never stop running your race till Christ comes for you in death or rapture. Then you will receive your TOTAL PERFECTION, your CHRISTLIKENESS and you will have FOUGHT YOUR FIGHT, FINISHED YOUR COURSE , KEPT YOUR FAITH! YOU WILL HAVE BEEN A SUCCESSFUL SPIRITUAL ATHLETE, one who hears the words WELL DONE!
Terry has been the Senior Pastor of Liberty for 30 years. He and his wife, Karen, have 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 1 spoiled dog named Cooper.