The Power of Approval

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.  ~Romans 1:28-32

I don’t know any other way to preach than straightforward- so let me get to the point: there is tremendous power in lifestyle and approval.  It’s not enough to espouse firm doctrines with our mouths, but what we practice and approve of puts in context what we preach!

When we preach that we are saved through faith, but approve of those who walk in sin and practice the sins of this world, we put into context what we mean by “we are saved through faith” and display it for all the world to see.  In other words, we discredit ourselves and openly rebuke Christ before all the world to see.  Indeed, to say “I am a Christian” and then approve of the things that Christ stands in mighty judgment against is the height of hubris- who am I to correct the judgments of God?

Christians, we need to resolve in our hearts that Christ is Holy and stands alone as King over our heart- that neither the praise or reviling of other people, nor even the pleasures of this world will exalt themselves in our heart over Christ to lead us against what He has commanded.  If you have not already come to terms with the judgments of God- if you have not been offended by the Rock of Offense and humbled yourself before the great King of kings that you might be instructed by the Promise of our Father, then I strongly admonish and exhort you to hear the judgments of God, open your heart to offense, and humble yourself before what He says- call on Him to save you from the depravity of foolish thinking and instruct you in the ways of righteousness.  I exhort you to stop listening to the preachers who preach in futility and who justify sin.
Every Christian needs to begin preaching the gospel of reconciliation and forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ to the ends of our society, no matter the cost. Resolve this day what you will practice, the works of the devil, or the works of God, and whose judgments you will give approval to, the judgments of God or the judgments of the devil.

I have been preaching for many years now that the day is coming when we will no longer find a neutral place to bury our heads and avoid publicly testifying of the Truth that Jesus Christ proclaimed- and I believe we are approaching that day quickly.

Where but under a basket can you hide that your light might not offend the godless?

Longing For Recognition & Justification: The LGBT Community

The immense human desire for “recognition” and “justification” has relentlessly driven the LGBT movement to unprecedented heights of political and social achievements; if you consider that estimates place figures between 2% and 11% of the population consider themselves to be in the LGBT community, their social and political advances are astonishing.

It is that human desire to be “recognized” and “justified” in our actions that is so clearly, beautifully and tragically articulated in an interview between news correspondent Kattie Couric and the Supreme Court’s chief plaintiff Jim Obergefell.  Now, I say “beautifully” because I thank God that every human being has such a tremendous drive in their heart to be “justified” and “recognized” because it is that drive that resonates with Christ’s call to repent and become the adopted children of God.  But it is also tragic because Jim Obergefell’s quest for justification and recognition has led him in the directly opposite direction from the only One that can give him true and satisfying justification and recognition- and that is the one man, Christ Jesus our God and Savior.

We are all acutely aware of our personal state of condemnation and separation from God; this awareness is what the gospel resonates with in our spirits to drive us back to Him- but when people lose this awareness, they “become past feeling” and “give themselves over to lewdness to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Ephesians 4:19).  And it is this sense that we need to be justified and recognized that we see at work driving the homosexual community against all odds to gain recognition and justification from the highest court of our land.

Here are a few brief excerpts from the interview:

Jim Obergefell: “I feel a lot of relief knowing that my marriage, my 20 year relationship with John, cannot be erased by the State of Ohio”.

Kattie Couric: “What was it like when the decision was issued?”

Jim Obergefell: “about two sentences in, I started to cry…  It was an incredible experience to hear a Supreme Court Justice talk about how my marriage, my relationship, how John and I mattered, and how we deserved respect and dignity, and I started to feel like a full, equal American at that moment.”

Jim is desperately seeking for a lasting and enduring recognition of his sin with his partner, John.  You can clearly see the powerful yearning from deep within Jim’s heart for dignity, respect, and justification.

The problem is that the promise of yesterday’s ruling cannot be delivered because it is not man, or his courts, who joins two people together in marriage, it is God.  And more importantly, no one can satisfy that deep longing for recognition and justification but God- sure we can sometimes silence that longing, or temporarily deceive it, but we can never satisfy it- that sense of our deep need to be recognized and justified can only be satisfied when the reality of our condemnation is lifted from our souls and we stand recognized before God by the Holy Spirit’s inward witness, “Abba, Father!”  That alone can satisfy these deep yearnings in our heart.

When the sense of euphoria over yesterday’s “victory” wears off from the LGBT community and that deep yearning for recognition and justification begins to gnaw at their hearts again, then I believe they will turn their attention away from the government and direct it towards the Christian community, whom they instinctually recognize as ministers of God’s moral justice and holy righteousness- and that will be when the Christian community will feel real pressure to give them the recognition and justification they are looking for.

But we have to understand that those virtues are not ours to offer; we can no more give the LGBT community recognition and justification in their sin than the Supreme Court could.  What we have to offer the LGBT community is Christ’s gospel of salvation. The Church is not armed with the power to placate sin, it is armed with the power of God for salvation to all who believe- the gospel- and apart from being faithful stewards of the unique ministry of reconciliation that has been entrusted to the Church, we have no more to offer anyone than the most meaningless rulings that the courts of men have to offer.

It is going to become increasingly more difficult for Christians to find a place to “remain neutral” on this issue because God has never been neutral about it, and the LGBT community’s craving for recognition and justification will drive them to seek out Christians in an attempt to force us to condone their sin- as if we could.

What Christians will experience is the apparent indignation of the LGBT community as their emptiness drives them to utilize their new-found civil powers- and make no mistake, that is exactly what yesterday’s ruling gives them- to afflict everyone who does not give them the recognition and justification they so desire with the full force of their indignation.

Here’s the twist in this narrative: Christians who have been seeking recognition and justification for their own personal sins are going to find themselves “in the valley of decision”, being forced to make a decision between whether or not you believe that “the cross” is God’s final answer to sin.

Anyone that continues to seek justification and sympathetic recognition from their fellow believers for their own personal sins will not be able to find enough solid footing to stand on, and will eventually be swept away by this flood of deception and iniquity that is sweeping across the land.

We have to come to terms with whether or not we are ashamed of the cross.  Are we willing to accept Christ on the cross as God’s wisdom for salvation to all who believe and join Him in the likeness of His death, as His gospel demands, or, are we going to drink the wine that is causing the inhabitants of this world to continue in their abominations and seek salvation elsewhere?

That is the wine that is making the inhabitants of this world drunk; the wine that causes us to revel and glory in our abominations without a thought or care for the judgment of God that is coming upon this world.

Many in the Church are drinking this wine; sins of divorce, adultery, fornication, lust, greed, covetousness- which is idolatry- and a many others, are recognized and justified as sins that we can tolerate.  Far too many Christians revel in their covetousness, indeed, entire Churches worship in covetousness, thinking that the judgments of God will not come upon them, and they rejoice exceedingly!  But they forget that whoever sows to abominations, will reap from those abominations wrath and judgment!  The Church has not been dealing with these sins in God’s way- by calling them out as sinful and making confession, by forgiving one another and bearing each other’s burdens, and ultimately by taking our own individual sins to the cross that our body of sin my be crucified with Christ on the cross and be done away with!

If this gospel is news to you, please read Romans 6, and consider 1 John 1:5- 2:2 and 3:1-10.

The question we as Christians must ask ourselves is whether or not the cross will be our answer to sin, or will we join the LGBT community in justifying and recognizing sins in a vain attempt to satisfy our deep longings that can only be satisfied by the truth of God?

The “I’m Not Called To That” Excuse

Ever notice how the chief description of Jesus’ life and conduct in the Bible was “I must be about My Father’s business”? That’s because it was written of Jesus, “Behold, I have come- in the volume of the book it is written of Me- to do Your will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7).  Jesus’ life was known by His acts of compassion that glorified God, His powerful sermons calling all men everywhere to repentance in His name, and His awesome demonstrations of the power of God.

Then, after Jesus ascends into Heaven and the Holy Spirit is sent upon His waiting Church, the collective Body of Christ takes on these chief attributes itself; the Church becomes known for her acts of world-renowned compassion, soul piercing calls to repentance, and awe-inspiring demonstrations of the power of God! No individual member of the body seemed totally disconnected from these works; while one member may not preach, he or she might work miracles or be engaged in great works of compassion.  Indeed, toward those individual members who are slack or impaired in doing the work of God, we’re exhorted to “strengthen the hands which hang down and the feeble knees” (Hebrews 12:12).

But we do not hear Jesus’ answer, “I must be about My Father’s business” in the Church today, instead, we hear “Oh, I’m not called to that ministry!”

Ask members in the Church today if they preach the gospel to their neighbors, and many of them will tell you “that’s not my calling”.  Then ask them about acts of compassion and they’ll say, “OH No! That’s not my calling!” Inquire about the divine demonstration of the power of God and you’ll hear the same retort, “Some people are into that, but that’s not really my calling”.

I have to wonder, what is your calling, Church?

Pew sitting, hint dropping, and facebook-page-liking doesn’t seem to be the call of God that I see in the Bible.

Understand that the primary offices of the Church were given “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry…” (Ephesians 4:12).  Therefore, it greatly concerns me where I see a glut of Sunday-school teaching but no works of God being accomplished!  It is alarming to me that the true works of God seen in Jesus have been replaced in the Church by women’s knitting clubs, Superbowl services, and the whole colorful host of our church programs.

I believe we are called to the works of ministry seen in and commissioned by Jesus Christ our Lord, and that all the other peripheral programs of our day are just easier and more appealing distractions from the work you and I are supposed to be doing in Jesus’ name!

Ask yourself why the Church today prays so little?  Because she has nothing to pray about!!!  She’s not busy doing the divine work of God that no flesh can do on its own- she’s distracted by a flood of worldly cares!

Ask yourself why Christians today study their Bible’s so little?  Because they have nothing to study the Bible for!!!  They’re not busy engaging the powers of darkness which no carnal weapons can withstand!

Prayer calls upon God for the divine accomplishment of His will, and the Word of God is not His divine Blockbuster hit, it’s the sword of the Spirit, mighty in God for pulling down strongholds and subduing the spiritual powers of the enemy!

Oh pray to God that the Church again sets her hand to the plow and gets busy about the work of God- and then go yourself to His work- for in that day the mighty works of God will be seen like they have never been seen before!

I believe God is preparing a people through whom He will demonstrate His power and righteousness to the whole world, but I do not believe it will be like the days of Pentecost when 5,000’s converted at a time, rather, I believe it will be like the days of Noah, and we shall see God work through that small faithful remnant to do His will and glorify His name.

My question to you tonight is twofold: what is your calling, Church, and are you doing your work?

The Mark of the Beast

The Mark of the Beast justifiably attracts a great deal of attention: scripture says,

“they shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:10-11).

Obviously there is good reason why we want to identify the mark of the Beast.  But, I think even more important than trying to identify the mark of the Beast before the Beast himself is even made known is knowing the characteristics and signs of the mark.

Let’s let scripture be our standard and the Holy Spirit be our guide:

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.  And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.  He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.  He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or* the name of the beast, or the number of his name. (Revelation 13:11-17) [* some versions render: “unless he has that mark, the name of the beast or the number of his name.”]

The mark of the beast is the work of the second beast, who causes the whole world to receive the mark and worship the first beast.  Through the power that the second beast demonstrates in the world he is able to deceive the earth and is made responsible for making the world set up an image to worship the beast.

Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” (Revelation 14:9-12)

John is then given a revelation of three angels, each tasked with proclaiming a certain message to the whole world; the first one proclaims the gospel, the second declares Babylon is fallen, and the third warns the whole world that anyone who worships the beast and his image and receives his mark will partake in the wrath of God forever.

Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. (Revelation 19:20)

This is the point of the Lord’s return to reign for 1,000 years.  The beast and his false prophet are captured and cast alive into the lake of fire.

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)

Here begins the 1,000 year reign of Christ with His saints who did not worship the beast or receive his image.

It is evident that the focus of the second beast, the false prophet, is in causing the world to worship the Beast- who John called anti-Christ and Paul called “Man of Sin”- there is less emphasis given to “buying and selling”, which is mentioned once as part of the false prophet’s work to make it so that no one can buy or sell without the mark.

Let’s look at this again:

He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.The false prophet has two things that he accomplishes: he causes the world to “receive a mark”, “and that no one may buy or sell except who has the mark”.

A lot of Christians assert that the mark of the Beast will be an implanted RFID-like chip through which all transactions will take place- a position I once took myself as well- but I no longer believe that it is profitable to make this speculation, rather, I believe it is more profitable for us to pay careful attention to several things that are clearly stated in the text:

  1. The mark of the Beast is identified in scripture as “the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:11).
  2. The mark is part of the false prophet’s work to deceive the world into worshiping the Beast (Revelation 13:12, 15).
  3. There will be angelic proclamation warning the whole world not to take the mark of the Beast (Revelation 14:9)
  4. But the false prophet will use mighty power to deceive the world (Revelation 13:13).
  5. Whoever possesses wisdom is admonished to calculate the number of the beast- which is the number of a man.

All of these passages, Revelation 13:12, 15; 14:11; 19:20; 20:4, speak of those who “worship the beast and take his mark”.  Causing the world to worship the Beast is the false prophet’s purpose, and he’ll be given power and authority by which he will exert unheard of pressure upon the earth to this end.

These are the words of God appointed for blessing in a day of great trial- I pray we study these things, which were written- not so that we could boast in our eschatological positions, but “so that we would not be made to stumble”- beyond the narrowly defined eschatological positions that so often “content us” and dampen our zeal to understand these things.

How To Do Mission Work

I’m a missionary.  My wife is a missionary.  Our 8-month old baby girl is a missionary.

My wife and I went abroad to do mission work in China with the expectation that we’d never return to the U.S.  We lived as they lived, ate what they ate, breathed the same polluted air they breathed, took the same crowded buses and searched for the same kamikaze-like taxis that they searched for; but what made us missionaries is that we had completely surrendered our lives to the holy calling of God and were totally committed to doing nothing except what God told us to do.

I’ve already written on what it means to be a missionary; that a missionary is not a “church office”, but is a life totally surrendered to the will of God- it’s the absolute surrender of control over your life to God so that you neither move, nor stay, unless you’re convicted that it is the will of God.

When my wife and I were called back to the U.S.- much to our surprise- we were called back to the U.S. not as returning citizens, but as missionaries.  And although this is sometimes difficult for family and friends to understand since they may have been expecting you to return and “get on with your life”, being a missionary is not about “where” you live, but about “how” you live.

Thus, being a missionary is about one thing; calling.  The missionary life is entirely spent on seeking out and obeying God’s calling.  The theme of a missionary life is “here I am, Lord send me!”

WHAT’S IT MEAN TO DO MISSION WORK?

Doing mission work is also about one thing: faith.  Mission work is all about whether or not you have the living faith to answer God’s calling.  The theme of doing missionary work is “a hand set to the plow that doesn’t look back”.

While every mission field is unique in its physical demands, no mission field is exempt from this law of faith.

There is a tremendous cost to mission work; oftentimes you have to uproot yourself and your family from your family and friends, and you may have to leave the place you’ve called “home”.  Indeed, you may be called heartless for leaving your family, regardless of how much your heart suffers when leaving them, and your mission work may be demeaned as “just a phase” and “getting it out of your system”, your financial plans may be upset, your cultural imperatives will be challenged- or shattered- and everything will test your faith to say “here I am, Lord send me!”

MONEY?

Why does everything hinge on money?  Is God so destitute?

To many missionaries, the decision to stay or go hinges on whether or not they can have an all-expenses paid trip and raise enough support to fill their 401k.  I leave their judgment to God, but, I challenge my brethren to consider whether or not such profiteering is really the faith of Jesus Christ, who had no place to rest His head?

NOTHING BUT FAITH

What stops so many missionaries from doing mission work is that they don’t understand that doing mission work is about nothing more than faith.  Far too many Christians think that doing the mission work they were called to is about “faith and money” or “faith and networking” or “faith and notoriety” or “faith and recognition”- maybe even all of the above!

But when someone realizes that doing mission work is about nothing more than faith, then they rise up and go with the conviction that says “take my life, but I will share Christ!”  Then we will go as the great cloud of witnesses that came before us went into perilous lands with the gospel to save the souls of those who were eager to kill them!  This “program centric” view of mission work is why so few individuals “go”- the “faith-centric” view of mission work is why so many Christians went in times past.

U.S. cities lay in spiritual desolation because Christians are focused on building programs rather than going to preach Christ in the “I am here, Lord send me” faith that is all that is needed to do the Lord’s work.

Do you feel led to reach university students?  Pray and find a place where there is a university and go reach them!

Is your heart being stirred to preach?  Pray and preach!  Perhaps you just need to find the darkest spiritual town square or city street you can find and preach!

It was “faith”, not program, that drove men like David Brainerd to expend his life for the sake of the gospel and endure the derision of his peers for the sake of Christ’s calling.  And I guarantee you that it will be faith that drives you through the storm to reach the lost where God calls you!

BUT WHAT ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE?

I’m not denying that there are sometimes extensive processes involved in doing mission work, but, the person driven by faith will figure everything else out.

My wife and I had no idea what we were doing when we went abroad the first time- but we had faith.  We did what we knew to do, and we went!

Were there things we could have done better, or things that we should have done that we didn’t do?  Absolutely!  But we went, and souls were saved, weary hearts were healed in Christ, and close relationships were forged in the love of Christ- even our own faith was purified by fire!

WHAT ABOUT BIBLE KNOWLEDGE?

This question comes with baggage, but deserves an answer.

There will be all kinds of opposition and lying deceptions that arise to confront the gospel wherever you go to preach Christ.  “Going” does not require that you know every answer to every question before you go.  But you are charged with answering such questions.

However, if you do not know the gospel or the hope you have in Christ Jesus, how can you preach?  Indeed, how can you believe?  The fact is that many professing believers do not know the gospel, nor the hope that they have in Christ.  I do not believe this is an issue about “doing mission work”, but rather, about being a Christian.

Here’s why I say that: in China we baptized a sister who’s husband was a member of the communist party and a non-believer.  The sister used the scriptures approach of winning her husband over without even a word, and, the husband eventually became a believer after a gospel workshop we had that she hosted in her house.  Immediately after we baptized her husband he began going and knocking on his neighbors doors and teaching them about Christ from the Beatitudes, which was literally all he knew.

The prerequisite is that you be born again through the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23)- if you do not meet that prerequisite, then you have need that you be saved from your sin and born again of the true gospel of Jesus Christ!

However, the idea that an academic threshold of Bible knowledge be met before you are qualified to go out and do the work God calls you to do is outrageous!  Knowledge helps and is critical, and every Christian ought to be found faithful stewards of God’s calling by sharpening and refining themselves, and, even more so, to grow and increase in their knowledge of the One whom they love, but, the idea that you have to know everything before you go is alarmingly crippling!

FAITH UNHINDERED

So-called mission philosophy is overwhelmingly convoluted and complicated; the gospel did not spread by these modern methods- in fact, because of many of these methods, missionaries are not preaching the gospel at all because they’re being directed away from preaching the gospel towards humanitarian efforts that make Christ an after-thought and last mention, rather than the all-consuming and bright purpose and reason for all that we do!

The mission field may require you to do certain things to prepare yourself- the faith will carry you through that process on wings of eagles, but it will also keep you from getting bogged down in endlessly complicated processes that Pharisee’s want to put on you so that you can never go!

What is Jesus Christ calling you to do?  Every Christian has a call from Christ- no one is exempt.  Are you called to mission work in your neighborhood?  Are you called to preach Christ in homeless facilities, in hospitals, at work and to your friends, or abroad?

Know your calling and let your living faith take you to your destination.

Let’s Think About Our Worldview

I believe the idea of a subjective worldview and its demands for absolute tolerance are fallacious and inoperable.  You can’t build a subjective worldview on an objective principle that firmly asserts that there are no self-evident truths because you would fundamentally undermine your own position.  And it is inoperable because it lacks the conviction, certainty, and courage to effect change in the face of conflict, cost, and consensual community opposition.

The subjective worldview creates the illusion of unrestrained liberty for every individual to conduct themselves according to their own impulses, and asserts that there is no objective standard to confront them in their position.  Actionable community efforts require community consensus and will end in gridlock if a common community consensus cannot be reached.  The promise of “tolerance” and “acceptance” becomes a burden on society as it struggles to reconcile irreconcilable worldview’s.  The subjective worldview lacks a common and cohesive standard to provide clarity and direction to society and requires inconsistency and self-contradiction to function in real-world objective scenarios.

The objective worldview provides certain inalienable liberties to every individual according to an impartial common standard; it affords the conviction, certainty, and courage necessary to accomplish overwhelming feats of triumph in the face of opposition by the common consensus like those the early abolitionists accomplished because it affords a higher standard by which reality and life’s toughest questions can be measured. Tolerance and acceptance can flourish without becoming a burden on society where two worldview’s share enough common ground to exercise objective values of “respect” and “peaceful expression”, but without becoming the burden of “total tolerance” and “total acceptance” that strangle society as they do in a subjective worldview when two diametrically opposed worldviews meet

An objective worldview can make room for subjectivity within certain limits by supporting heuristic liberty and acknowledging the reality of mystery, whereas a subjective worldview can get lost in that same mystery and is plagued by its own virtue of unaccountability.

Both these worldview’s attempt to deal with how mankind responds to our need for moral standards. But at the heart of the subjective worldview is mankind’s desire NOT to be accountable to any higher authority for our actions- it is our desire to be our own sovereign standard and escape the higher judgments of God. Built into this worldview is a desire to circumvent the conflict and personal cost that comes with standing up for what is absolutely right so that we can live lives selfishly focused on our own pleasures.

But there is a terrible cost to a subjective worldview: it requires turning a blind eye to the “monsters” of our society and “making peace with Baal”. The result will be an overwhelming flood of depravity that no government could ever possibly restrain, no matter how oppressive, tyrannical, and invasive that government becomes.  Every solution becomes its own burden in a subjective worldview because there are no absolute standards to restrain anything- even self-contradiction, the most extensively relied upon solution to the problems of subjective worldviews, eats away at itself as self-contradictions eventually plague the ideals that subjective worldviews set out to uphold!

God Forsaken

What does it mean to be “God forsaken”?

Romans 1:24-29 (HCSB)     Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions.  For even their females exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.  The males in the same way also left natural relations with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another.  Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error.

And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong. They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. Although they know full well God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die—they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.

Being God-forsaken means that God will give you over to your own sin and the condemnation appointed for all unrighteousness and ungodliness.

We have tremendous challenges that we’re facing today.  We face a land that is in the process of being transformed into a God-forsaken land, and a Church that is struggling to find the boldness to stand up unashamedly for the judgments of God in the face of derision from those who practice sin and raucously applaud those who walk in the same flood of dissipation with them.

It’s not that God’s decree is difficult to understand- everything from God’s word to the testimony of nature plainly teaches us God’s expectation for mercy, justice, and love- but we have tolerated in the Church those who have said “hath God really said?”  We have accepted teachers trained in covetousness who have taught us to stumble before God!  We’ve allowed them to do great violence to the gospel and lead many lambs to the slaughter so that now it is more acceptable in the Church to sin and boast in false humility than to humble ourselves before God and turn away from sin!

Even the least in the Kingdom of God could have raised up and shut the door on iniquity in the sacred assembly and rebuked the madness of those who maligned the way of truth!

Daniel was an upright man, and, as far as we know he was largely innocent of the sins committed by Israel, yet he took upon himself the burden of their sins and put on sackcloth, wept, and repented for Israel’s rebellion!  He rent his heart before God and made humble supplication for their sins!

I believe this is the heart needed today that would weep and lament with sincerity over the sins committed today!

This land is becoming “God-forsaken” because our hearts are being “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin”, which leads to an “evil heart of unbelief that departs from the Living God” (Hebrews 3:13-14), and unless we all repent and close the door to iniquity in the sacred assembly, God will remove our lamp-stands and judge us- though His salvation will certainly spare those who humbled themselves and repented.  Therefore, “deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter” (Proverbs 24:11)- take our stand against the devil and expose the deeds of darkness in the Light of Christ!

 

Call to Evangelism

Is evangelism optional?

John 12:26 “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father wil honor.”

Everything boils down to this simple reality; whoever serves Jesus, must follow Him where He goes. God honors those who serve Him, not those who talk about serving Him.

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

Isaiah 45:22 “Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.

Why was Jesus found so often among the sinner and the sick?

Jesus said, “those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mark 2:17); it was foretold from the beginning that Jesus Christ was anointed by the Spirit of God to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and to open the prison door to those who are bound.

Jesus asked “why do you call me Lord, and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)  How can we call Him Lord, which means “master” or “ruler”, if we do not do what He tells us to do?

Isaiah 40:9 “O Zion, You who bring good tidings, Get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, You who bring good tidings, Lift up your voice with strength, Lift it up, be not afraid; Say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!’”

Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”

Romans 10:10-17 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Matthew 28:19-20 cf. Mark 16:15 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen

Acts 13:47  “For this is what the Lord commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.'”

Not only was it prophesied of Jesus that He would bring good tidings to the world, but of Zion- the Kingdom of God- that would bring such glad tidings to all the world!

In Isaiah’s prophesy he wrote of what a beautiful thing the going for of the gospel into the nations is; the proclamation of the peace, salvation, and reign of God is glorious and beautiful, and God has chosen lowly man to be the vessels of this beautiful gospel!

Therefore, Jesus backs this work by His authority, and commissioned the Church to “go” into all the world!

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Mark 13:10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.

Mark 8:35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

I am not ashamed of the gospel!  But I am ashamed of those Christians whose countenance are cast down, and who are overtaken by a spirit of defeatism!

We are not defeated!  “In all things we are made more than conquerors through Him who strengthens us!” (Romans 8:37)

Jesus has commissioned this gospel to be preached into all nations everywhere and appointed it to bring life to all who believe!  There is nothing anyone can do to stop that- it is the will of God and the word of Christ!

Tribulation and trial on earth certainly will oppose anyone who takes up the gospel, but even persecution and sword cannot stop the gospel, nor can it stop those who believe the promise of Christ that “whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it”!!!

Matthew 9:36-38 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

A great swelling of compassion moved upon Jesus when He looked at the multitudes of people!

We are talking about following Jesus were He goes here.  Jesus was moved to compassion!  Will we not follow Him into compassion for the crowds?  How can we sit idly by and watch as the crowds gather, some for dissipation, others for lewdness, and all for death?

Will we not be moved with compassion for the crowds that gather on bar streets, and those who gather for “Halloween-fests”; are we not moved with great compassion for the gay parades and those who march to advance the gates of hell, knowing that within us is the Kingdom of God over which the gates of Hell cannot triumph!?

We who serve the Lord ought also to be moved with the same compassion as Christ, just as Paul wrote, “for the love of Christ compels us”, therefore, “knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11, 14).

Isaiah 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

God certainly searches for a willing heart to send!

Where are the servants of the Lord, moved by His compassion, to “set their hand to the plow and not look back” (Luke 9:62)?

Will you be an ambassador of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20)?

Jesus wondered, “will I find faith on the earth when I return” (Luke 18:8); will He find any who trust in His promises of life and deliverance in the face of peril and death to go out to sow and labor in the harvest?

What will He find you doing, if He returns tomorrow, this week, next month, next year, or in this decade? Will you be “busy with your business”, or will you be “busy with your hand to the plow”?

Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise.

Proverbs 24:11 Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.

Daniel 12:3 Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.

2 Cor. 5:20 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.

2nd Exhortation as Ambassadors For Christ

I know that I’ve already posted once today on being ambassadors for Christ; and I know my article was clumsily written- but it’s not about writing “with persuasive words” that matters, but the exhortation of the truth in the foolishness of preaching that we need!

Yet I feel compelled to write again and exhort my brethren regarding your ambassadorship for Christ: do not feel restricted in the liberty in Christ that you have: not by lack of experience, not by prejudices of society, not by defeatist mindsets, not by lazy Christians, not by the wickedness of society, not by the threat of persecution by family or by strangers- let nothing restrict your liberty in Christ as His ambassadors from taking the message of reconciliation in the name of Jesus Christ to the whole world!

Paul exhorted Titus with this, saying “speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” (Titus 2:15)

My brethren, let the praises of God be always on your lips, and do not be afraid to proclaim the hope of Christ in every place- you are His ambassadors appointed for this very purpose!

The enemy is prowling about like a roaring lion- therefore, be sober minded and walk circumspectly (that means cautiously)- but you are they who overcome this world by faith! Greater in He who is in you that he who is in the world!

“Go”, therefore, in the full assurance of faith. GO!!!

Who Will You Represent?

2nd Corinthians 5:20-21     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.

You are increasingly being forced to make very real, very firm choices about who you are going to represent, whether Christ or the world.  Hopefully you are already awake to this fact and not still slumbering in a deep sleep of distractions and self-pleasing.
1st Peter 2:11 (WEB)    Beloved, I beg you as foreigners and sojourners, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.

Do you reside, as you ought to, as foreigners and sojourners in this world, abstaining from its fleshly lusts which wage war to take captive your soul?

I hope you are aware that there is a war going on for your soul, and that what many Christians call “culture” is the Devil’s clever disguise for “the world”.

If you are not, I exhort you to read this article as it is the most concise articulation of this development I’ve read on the subject; Are You Ready For Exile Stage Two?

Colossians 1:13-14; 3:1-3     He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins… If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth, for you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

The reality of your redemption and deliverance is that both your identity and obligations have radically changed.

1st Corinthians 6:19-20     Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

The holy price of your redemption was the blood of Jesus Christ.

Let that sink in; meditate on that thought alone.

What is your response?  “Therefore, glorify God in your body and your spirit”.  That is our response to the purchase of God!

So the question is evident: who will you represent?  Will you represent Christ with courage in an ever increasingly hostile world, or, will you represent the world in the temporary and fleeting pleasures of this world?

BUT I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO?

If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know that the primary thrust has been to exhort you to “come out” of the harlotry we see in this age; to cleanse yourself from the filthiness of the abominations and sober your mine from the drunkenness of the wine of this age.

As I continue to exhort in that, you are probably beginning to notice a new thrust and direction in this website: it is a call to courage and obedience- a call to go!  It is by far the hardest and most difficult, flesh crucifying, costly call I have ever preached or rendered to my brethren.

Those who are abroad, who are hearing this call and obeying it, are putting their lives at risk to do so.

You may be saying “I don’t know what to do”- if you have been born of Christ and have purified your mind by the washing of the water of the word, and you have come out of the wickedness of this age, then what you need to do is “Go- make disciples, teaching them to obey Christ!”  That is it!  That is everything!  Go!  GO!!!

Walk the streets of your neighborhood and pray.  Knock on doors.  Talk to friends openly and without concealing the gospel or Christ.  Preach on Bar streets!  Go!  GO!!!

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