En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Posts Tagged ‘forever’

“O Lord, God of Our Fathers!”

Posted by Scott on October 17, 2008

New Hymn I wrote the other day…based on the Scriptures found in 2 Chronicles 20…maybe it you will like it….this is amateur writing of course.

1. O Lord, God of our fathers,

You rule over all the kingdoms

Both in heaven and on earth

For power and might are in Your hand,

No one can withstand

Give thanks to the Lord, He endures forever!

2. O Lord, God of our fathers,

We cry out to you on earth,

for our salvation and deliverence

We know You will hear us,

and we know You will save us.

Give thanks to the Lord, He endures forever!

3. O Lord, God of our fathers,

We are powerless to win alone

and we know not what to do,

But our eyes are fixed on You, Father

Please, fight for us today, O Lord.

Give thanks to the Lord, He endures forever!

4. O Lord, God of our fathers,

We will not be afraid of the enemy

the battle is not ours to win

But the victory is sure,

You, O Lord, will deliver us today.

Give thanks to the Lord, He endures forever!”

(c) Scott Bailey 2008

 

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Altar Calls, Invitations are Dangerous!

Posted by Scott on October 3, 2008

The Dangers of the Invitation System!

Reposted on 10-3-2008 by Scott Bailey

by Jim Ehrhard


As a young minister, I once made the “mistake” of closing a Wednesday evening service without extending a public invitation.1 Early the next morning, an irate husband came to my office. For the first time in years, his unsaved wife had come with him to church. “If you had only given an invitation,” he angrily explained, “she would have gone down the aisle.”I explained that if the seed of God’s Word had been planted in her, then she would come to faith. Then she could “go down the aisle” on Sunday and share what God had done. My explanation fell on deaf ears. I had missed the opportune time, and if she never came to Christ, I would have to bear her damnation on my conscience for eternity, he retorted. 

In the ensuing months, God granted me many opportunities to speak personally with this lady about her spiritual condition. Not only was it obvious that she was not under conviction of sin; but she had little real understanding of the gospel. Through our conversations, she came to see her sin and real conviction made her life miserable. One morning she called and said, “I’ve finally come to Jesus. Now I understand what you’ve been talking about.”

This experience, and many similar that followed, led me to reexamine my views of the invitation system that I had always assumed were as much a part of the gospel as the death and resurrection of Jesus. My involvement with a Christian college ministry, attendance at a number of schools of evangelism, and my denominational traditions had led me to see the public invitation as vital to evangelism. Studying the Scriptures and the history of preaching and revivals began to lead me to a different conclusion. But the process of laying aside something that was so “normal” to me was a great emotional struggle. I needed to know that the dangers of such a system outweighed the benefits that everyone claimed.

2 I needed to know that I could still be evangelistic without extending a public altar call. I needed to see a better way.It is my hope that this article will help you in these areas. To do a thorough analysis of the system and its history is far beyond the scope of this undertaking. But perhaps as we examine this issue, we can see the dangers inherent in this system and chart a course for a better way.As we begin, one thing must be made thoroughly clear. I am not advocating that we not invite people to come to Christ. The invitation to come to Christ is one that we are called to make. Should we shrink back from such a call, we would be rightly accused of being “ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” Thus we should do everything possible to be more proficient in extending God’s great invitation to come to Christ.

However, God’s invitation that must be extended to all is not synonymous with man’s invitation system. Only since the 1800s has this system been employed to bring men to Christ.3 Since that time, this system has been refined and employed to such an extent that many today equate “coming to faith” with “coming down the aisle.” Such an equation is not only inaccurate; it is dangerous because it deceives many into resting their faith on a “profession” rather than on Christ, who alone is “able to save to the uttermost” (cf. Heb. 7:25).

 

The Dangers

 

Evangelists often seek biblical support for this practice in a number of passages. One evangelist says, “Christ always called people publicly, and this statement is confirmed by texts such as ‘Follow Me,’ or ‘Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him will I confess before My Father which is in heaven.’”4 But to conclude that Jesus gave altar calls on the basis of those passages is to fail to be honest with the text. No doubt Jesus called men to Himself. But do we see any example where He (or the apostles, for that matter) appealed for people to “come forward” as either a testimony to their decision or as an act of accepting Him?

1) The danger of promoting a method not promoted in Scripture

 

Furthermore, what is Jesus calling these to? Is it merely to make a “one time” decision about Him, or to follow Him all their lives? The invitation system gives the impression that the former is Jesus’ intent. And what about “confessing Him before men”? Is Jesus saying that by a single act of confession one becomes a believer? Or is He teaching that one mark of true faith is a life that continually confesses Him? Again, the invitation system leads many to trust their eternal destination to confidence in a “confession,” though they openly live in rebellion to Him throughout their lives.

In summary, many passages show that Jesus and the apostles called men to repentance and faith. But no passage indicates that either used any form of “invitation system” in bringing them to faith or in confirming their faith.5

2) The danger of eliciting an emotional response based upon the personality of the speaker or the persuasion of the appealIn Mark 4, Jesus portrays four types of hearers of God’s Word by using the parable of the soils. In the second soil, Jesus describes those who, “when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness.” But, Jesus cautions, “they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time.” Jesus knew the reality of being heard by crowds who had no desire to truly follow Him.

 

While this psychological element ought to be reason for concern and caution in using the invitation system, proponents actually argue that this element is all the more reason to extend an appeal for a public decision. Billy Graham teaches that the pressure brought upon the human soul is so great that an emotional outlet must be given. He argues:

Many psychologists would say it is psychologically sound. One of the reasons why our films and dramas usually have such a bad effect is that they stir the emotion to such a high pitch and do not offer any practical outlet for action.6

Evangelist George Sweazey agrees: “To stir people religiously without giving them anything they can do about it leaves them far worse off than they were before.”7In reality, most psychologists would agree with Graham’s assessment of the psychological pressure of the appeal, but would conclude that the response to his call is largely the result of this psychological pressure. One psychologist, George Target, gives such an assessment:

 

 

All present are told to pray, instructed to close their eyes and bow the head, and the form of the words is the auto-suggestive one that hundreds of others are already going forward, finding happiness, peace, love, God. … The counselors planted all over the audience make the first few moves, create the sense that the statement is true even when it very often is not. … It might all be true, there might be some nameless peace down there with all the others. The tension screws to the breaking point and beyond. The wonder is that so few actually obey.8In his book, Preaching and Preachers. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones cites an example in which the invitation appeal given by an evangelist was, by program necessity, separated from the message by a half-hour of hymn singing. In explanation of the disappointingly small response to his appeal, the evangelist stated that the effect of his appeal was diminished by the half-hour of hymn singing. Lloyd-Jones observes that the evangelist’s “admitting that half an hour of hymn singing can do away with the effect of a sermon… is a striking illustration of the fact that direct pressure on the will can produce ‘results.’”9

Lewis Sperry Chafer, a well-known evangelist and one of the founders of Dallas Theological Seminary, used the invitation system until he saw the inherent dangers:

 

 

Because of satanic blindness to the gospel of grace (2 Cor. 4:34), unregenerate man cannot comprehend the true basis of salvation, and is therefore ever prone to do the best he knows. This is to attempt to work out his own standing before God by his own efforts. It is this natural tendency to do something of merit that prompts many to respond to the evangelist’s appeal. … A leader with a commanding personality (and every successful evangelist must possess that characteristic in the extreme) may secure the public action of many, when the issue is made one of religious merit through some public act.10 

 

To make matters worse, many go away from the “altar,” told that they are now Christians, knowing that they are not changed one bit. As a result, their unbelief may harden into skepticism toward anything Christian. R. L. Dabney notes:

They feel that a cruel trick has been played upon their inexperience by the ministers and friends of Christianity in thus thrusting them, in the hour of their confusion, into false positions…. How natural to conclude that those [experiences of conversion] of all others are delusions also? They say: “The only difference between myself and these earnest Christians is that they have not yet detected the cheat as I have.”11 The extension of an appeal for public decision may result in a purely psychological response that provides a catharsis for the emotional pressure of the sermon. Such persons falsely assume that their action has made them right with God. In others, it may drive them further into skepticism and doubt about the reality of the conversion of anyone. Such dangers ought to alarm every person sincerely concerned about the salvation of lost souls.

3) The danger of confusing the “coming forward” with salvation 

 

 

There’s nothing about the mechanics of coming forward that saves anybody’s soul. Coming forward is an open acknowledgment and a testimony of an inward experience that you have had with Christ. But this inward experience with Christ, this encounter, is the most important thing.12 

 

But examination of the invitation used by Graham shows just how confusing the system is. Keep in mind that Graham has already noted that the coming forward is a “testimony of an inward experience that you have had with Christ.” When is the person converted? Why are they coming? 

 

I’m going to ask you to come forward. Up there – down there – I want you to come. You come right now – quickly. If you are here with friends or relatives, they will wait for you. Don’t let distance keep you from Christ. It’s a long way, but Christ went all the way to the cross because He loved you. Certainly you can come these few steps and give your life to Him. …13At the “altar,” the confusion continues as he addresses those who have come: “You have come tonight to Jesus Christ, you have come to receive Him into your heart. …” Which is it? Have they already come to Jesus, or are they coming now to receive Him? Graham continues: “He receives you; He died for you; He says, ‘Thy sins are forgiven.’ You accept that. The past is forgiven, God forgets…. He cannot even see your sins.”14 Then he leads them to repeat a prayer known as “the sinner’s prayer.” The question again is obvious: have they been forgiven, or will they be when they pray the prayer?

To make matters worse, many often add so many things to the invitation that one cannot be certain what he is being asked to do. This was especially true in the invitations of Billy Sunday who often exhorted people to “Come on down and take my hand against booze, for Jesus Christ, for your flag.”15

Even Spurgeon warned about the potential for confusing any system16 with salvation:

 

 

Sometimes shut up that enquiry-room. I have my fears about that institution if it be used in permanence, and as an inevitable part of the services…. If you should ever see that a notion is fashioning itself that there is something to be got in the private room which is not to be had at once in the assembly, or that God is more at that penitent form than elsewhere, aim a blow at that notion at once.17 

 

Who can observe the invitation system today and not see that many are in danger of confusing this practice with coming to faith in Christ?4) The danger of counting great numbers who only discredit their profession by their lives 

 

 

I am convinced that the giving of some kind of public invitation to come to Christ is not only theologically correct, but also emotionally sound. Men need this opportunity for expression. The inner decision for Christ is like driving a nail through a board. The open declaration of it is like clinching the nail on the other side, so that it cannot easily be pulled out.18 

 

In other words, the giving of an invitation ought to result in an even higher percentage of “converts” living out their profession. Yet the very opposite seems to be true. 

 

Even the statistics compiled using the invitation system show that only a very small percentage of “professors” show any signs of conversion even a few weeks after the decision. According to Sterling Huston, a survey after a crusade in the Pacific Northwest indicated that only 16 percent of the inquirers became new additions to the churches. While one should be appalled at the low rate of retention, Huston actually considers this a significant fact showing the value of the crusade!19While pastoring in New England, our church participated in two Graham crusades. We received the names of 10 converts from one crusade and six from the other. In our follow up, not one was interested in church, the Bible, or even talking about their “new-found faith in Christ.” Other pastors reported the same results.

Ernest Reisinger notes: “This unbiblical system has produced the greatest record of statistics ever compiled by church or business.”20 But such an observation is not new to our times. A century ago, Dabney observed, “The thing is so well-known that in many regions the public coolly expect about forty-five out of fifty, or even a higher ratio, to apostatize ultimately.”21

Such was not the common experience before the use of the invitation system. Those who were converted were so thoroughly changed that there was no need of a system to encourage decisions or record them before there was fruit. False conversions were the exception rather than the rule in the ministry of Finney’s contemporary, Asahel Nettleton. For example, of the 84 converts in an 1818 revival in Rocky Hill, Conn., all 84 had remained faithful according to their pastor’s report 26 years later! Similarly, only three spurious conversions out of 82 professions were noted in a similar pastor’s report on a revival in Ashford, Conn.22

Toward the end of his life, Charles Finney, after reflecting on the many who claimed conversion but had since fallen away, had mixed thoughts about the genuineness of his work. In fact, his development of a doctrine of perfectionism (”entire sanctification” was the term preferred by Finney) came out of his attempt to answer the question as to why so many of his “converts” lived such godless lives. The use of an invitation system eventually leads to a two-tiered approach to the Christian life to explain the difference between those few who have been changed by their “decision” and the multitudes who have not.23

5) The danger of giving assurance to those who are unconverted 

That is exactly what the invitation system does. It encourages people to make a response that “settles things” and, through subsequent counseling, to never doubt that decision. Anyone who is involved in personal evangelism can share countless examples of persons who, though presently living in gross sin, will nonetheless tell the evangelist that they are fine because they “made a decision for Christ” a certain number of years ago. They have never had any change in their life; they have no interest in church, the Bible, or even God. But they have made their “decision.” Can we not see how dangerous such a system is to the souls of men?

Two centuries ago, evangelist George Whitefield warned about this danger:

 

 

I am glad you know when persons are justified. It is a lesson I have not yet learnt. There are so many stony ground hearers, who receive the Word with joy, that I have determined to suspend my judgment till I know the tree by its fruits. That makes me so cautious now, which I was not thirty years ago, of dubbing converts so soon. I love now to wait a little, and see if people bring forth fruit; for there are so many blossoms which March winds you know blow away, that I cannot believe they are converts till I see fruit brought back; it will never do a sincere soul any harm.24 

 

Likewise Spurgeon warned: 

 

Sometimes we are inclined to think that a very great portion of modern revivalism has been more a curse than a blessing, because it has led thousands to a kind of peace before they have known their misery; restoring the prodigal to the Father’s house, and never making him say, Father, I have sinned.”25In The Soul Winner. Spurgeon cautions against using pressure to secure quick decisions:

It very often happens that the converts that are born in excitement die when the excitement is over…. Some of the most glaring sinners known to me were once members of a church; and were, as I believe, led to make a profession by undue pressure, well-meant but ill-judged.26

For years, we have heard about the values of the invitation system. It is even widely intimated

(often plainly stated) that one who failed to give public invitations could not be concerned for the souls of men. Yet could it be that the very opposite is true: that the very extension of such an appeal might be the means for deluding many into a false state of assurance ultimately resulting in their damnation?

 

 

A Better Way

 

But some will ask, “What other way is there to bring people to Christ?” I would respond: “The way that was used by Jesus and the apostles, the Reformers, the Puritans, and most others until the 1830s.” That way is simply to proclaim the truth, to call men to repent and believe, and to leave the results in the hands of the Spirit who alone can bring people to faith (cf. John 3; 6:44, 65; etc.).To explain a little more fully, let me give you two “musts” for those who would be evangelistic apart from using the invitation system.

 

 

1) We must learn to trust the power of God’s Word to convince, convert, and change lives 

Paul said: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). In I Corinthians 1:18, he contended: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Peter was likewise convinced that the Word of God has power to convert. He reminded believers that they had been “born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23).To be evangelistic, we must be convinced of the power that God’s Word has in converting men without the help of our man-made systems. Remember the evangelist whose appeal was separated from his message by a half-hour of hymn singing? It is obvious that he was not convinced of the power of God’s Word apart from the addition of his appeal. We must be, or we will be tempted to add things to the preaching of the Word to secure greater commitments.

Those who ministered before the development of the invitation system saw the awesome power of the Word to work in men’s hearts. David Brainerd testifies to the:

preaching God made use offer the awakening of sinners, and the propagation of this “work of grace among the Indians.” … There was then the greatest appearance of divine power, in awakening numbers of secure souls, promoting convictions begun, and comforting the distressed.” 27

Accounts from the ministry of Nettleton show the deep and penetrating work of the Word of God on hearers:

 

 

 

As he was speaking, a youth sitting near a window cried out like one shot with an arrow. The people were so engrossed in the evangelist’s message that it hardly caused a diversion. Several in one family were aroused at this meeting and went home weeping. The head of the house had gone to bed when they arrived. He listened as their carriage drove up and was startled by a wail of distress coming from without. He leaped from his bed, rushed outside and was met by his daughter-in-law who threw her arms around his neck and exclaimed, “My father, what shall I do? What shall I do?” It was a miserable night for this young woman, but before morning all was well. She received Christ as Saviour and peace came.28 

 

Such occurrences while ministering in the power of God’s Word were not uncommon. In letters to his friend. Philander Parmele, Nettleton described many similar conversions. After a meeting in New Haven, Nettleton wrote: 

 

One young man seized my hand exclaiming “I am a sinner. I am a sinner. What shall I do?” They [people at the meeting] left the house and went home sighing, & sobbing in every direction. I came home & found a number around the door of Mr. Williams’ house, in the most awful distress, Some were standing, some sitting on the ground, & some on the door steps exclaiming “What shall I do?” I shall die. I shall die. “I Can’t live.” This alarmed the neighbors who called to witness the awful scene. With much ado I got them into the house, about eight or ten in number. The fact was, the young man aforementioned, who left the meeting house in such distress, was walking in company with them, when all at once he found relief and exclaimed, “I have found the Saviour.” He was now very joyful. He sat clothed and in his right mind: and they were afraid. My first business now was to warn them against a false hope. Prayed with them and enjoined it particularly on them not to go home together, but to go alone, & be alone, for the business must be settled between God and their souls. Maria (a young woman living in this family) was one of the number. She retired to her chamber, sighing and sobbing, and crying for mercy, and exclaiming ‘I shall die, I shall die.” She came down and went out doors, and returned in the same awful distress to her chamber. And suddenly all was still and hushed to silence. I sat still below and said nothing. I soon heard the sound of her footsteps descending the chamber stairs. She opened the door and with a joyful countenance exclaimed O, Sir, I have found the Saviour. I continued to warn her of the danger of a false hope. She exclaimed “I love Christ. I do love him. O how sweet.” In the morning, early, she called to see one of her anxious mates, who was so distressed the night before; and Lo: Barsheba exclaimed “I have found the Saviour.” That was a happy meeting. The young man aforementioned resided in the same family (this was John Towner’s house). On Saturday evening about midnight another, equally distressed, found relief. Within a few days 8 or 10 are rejoicing in hope. What will be the end. I know not. Do pray for us, and your friend, A. Nettleton.” 29 

 

Such was often the nature of conversion in the days before the invitation system when the Word was boldly preached and left to do its work in souls. Many modern examples of conversions could also be given, such as that of C. S. Lewis, who, after being confronted with the truth, struggled with it until one day he was strangely converted riding in his sidecar.

The real question is: How powerful is the Word of God? Can it change men from sinners into saints without an extension of an altar call? Will it convict and convert (as God promises),or will we need to add something that helps men “settle it”? You will never be able to do without the invitation system until you are thoroughly convinced of the power of God’s Word.

2) We must urgently appeal to all men to come to Christ nowAfter reading this far, one may be tempted to avoid giving any appeal for people to come to Christ. Please do not misunderstand: we are under divine command to call “all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). Erroll Hulse reminds us: “The preacher is free to exhort and command, to plead and implore, to reason and invite. He is an ambassador who speaks on behalf of the great King and whose purpose is to bring about reconciliation.”30

 

Allow me to note a few particulars about this responsibility.

First, our invitation must be universal. It matters not (for the purposes of this article) whether you view the atonement as limited or unlimited or whether you accept the doctrine of election or not: the scope of our appeal must be universal. Charles Spurgeon, one of the greatest evangelistic preachers, was a thorough-going Calvinist. Yet he understood that our appeal must be universal.In one of his sermons, Spurgeon reminded his congregation about the doctrine of God’s electing some from the foundation of the world. But he noted that our task is to “preach the gospel to every creature,” not to find the elect. Spurgeon said that if God had painted a yellow stripe down the back of each of the elect, he would run up and down the streets of London, lifting up shirttails, and preaching the gospel to the elect. But, Spurgeon reminds us, God has not done so. Instead He has commanded us to “preach the gospel to every creature.” We must urgently appeal to everyone to come to Christ.

 

Second, our invitation must be urgent. When preaching or counseling about salvation, we must never give men the idea that repenting is something they can put off. Some who have dropped the invitation system because of its dangers have also dropped the urgent call to believe. We must say to men, “You must repent and believe the gospel.” Should they say, “But I cannot,” we must say, “But you must. God has commanded all men everywhere to repent. Your failure to do so only shows the wicked state of your heart. If you saw your sin as God sees it, you would flee to Him as the only salvation for your soul.”John Kennedy, a nineteenth-century British minister, provides some additional instruction concerning counseling inquirers. Notice that he puts the focus of counseling inquirers on the object of their faith:

 

Faith [by those using the invitation system] is represented as something to be done, in order to [gain] salvation; and pains are taken to show that it is an easy thing. Better far than this would it be to see it, that those with whom they deal are truly convinced of sin, and to labour to set forth Christ before them, in his glorious completeness as a Saviour. To explain faith to them, that they may do it, is to set them still to work, though setting an easier task before them. I know well the tendency there is, at a certain stage of anxious inquiry, to ask, “What is faith, that I may do it?” It is a legalist’s work to satisfy that craving; but this is what is done in the “inquiry-room.” “Who is He, that I may believe in Him?” was the question asked by one who approached the dawning of a day of salvation. Explanations of what faith is are but trifling with souls. How different is the Scripture way! The great aim there is to “set forth” the object, not to explain the act, of faith. Let there be conviction, illumination and renewal, and faith becomes the instinctive response of the quickened soul to the presentation by God of His Christ; and, without these, no explanation of faith can be helpful to any one. The labour to explain it is too often the legal spirit. It were wiser to take pains in removing ignorance and error regarding God, and sin, and Christ. Help them know these, if you would not build them up with “untempered mortar” in a false peace. If you would be wise, as well as kind, work in that direction, rather than hurrying them to belief.31

We must be patient to allow the Holy Spirit to work conviction in the heart. That may happen in a few moments, a few hours, days, or even years. But we must remain imperative in our appeal. Our message and our urgency must not change – people must repent and believe today. 

Finally, our invitation must call them to Christ. The focus of all the evangelistic appeals in Scripture is the same. Jesus said, “Come to Me … and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Our appeal must be to come to Christ, not to follow any prescribed method that might cause some to equate their “coming” as coming to Him. 

Conclusion

 

An examination of the invitation system is not an easy one. It is an emotional one. “To reduce sense of shock that some may feel, I would remind them that for well over 1800 years the Holy Spirit completed successfully all His work of saving sinners without this method. It was only with the advent of Charles Finney (1792-1875) that the ‘appeal’ as an organized method really got under way.”32 Even then, it met with much resistance until near the end of the nineteenth century. Today it is accepted as if it was used by Jesus and Paul. Be warned – many will consider you non-evangelistic if you even question the validity of this system, much less consider no longer using it as a method to bring people to Christ.33But we must be honest about the dangers that we have examined in this article. Is it not clear that the Scriptures “provide an invitation to sinners which is perfect and does not need addition?’”34 Are you concerned about asking people to do something for salvation that was never promoted in the Bible or in early church history?

Do you wish to eliminate possibilities that persons might respond to an emotional appeal or your persuasion rather than to the gospel? Do you wish to reduce the confusion that many have in equating “coming forward” with being saved?

Are you tired of seeing great numbers coming forward only to discredit the name of Christ by professing something that has no reality in their lives? Are you really concerned to see people converted – truly converted – instead of falsely assured? Then please examine this system carefully and honestly.

On the other hand, we must not confuse the invitation system with inviting people to Christ. This we must do with all urgency. “The Great Invitation of the gospel is an awesome and glorious subject. While we are in this world we should never cease making ourselves more proficient and winsome in the employment of invitations.”35

Still, the dangers of this system are serious. The souls of men are at stake. To be biblically evangelistic, we must be certain that what we do leads men to faith, not just to decisions.

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 1999
CHRISTIAN
COMMUNICATORS WORLDWIDE
Scripture quotations taken from
The New King James Bible, Copyright © 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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The distinctives of the Lord Jesus-Christ in the Koran!

Posted by Scott on June 18, 2008

What Does the Koran Say about Jesus?

 

 

1. Jesus was the only person to be born of a virgin, distinguished from all humans and prophets without any exception: “She said, How shall I have a son, whom no mortal has touched, neither have I been unchased. He said, Even so thy Lord has said: Easy is that for Me; and that We may appoint him a sign unto men and a mercy from Us. It is a thing determined.”(19) (Mary 16-24).

2. Jesus Christ alone was distinguished from all humans by being the Word of God, who is the very expression of the Self of God end His eternal Being: “The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, God’s Messenger, and His Word…” (4)The Women 171; (3)House of Imran 40).

3. Jesus Christ alone emanated from the spirit of God; for this reason He did not need a sexual, genetical birth. “The Messiah, Jesus Son of Mary, God’s Messenger, and His Word that He committed to Mary, and a Spirit from Him.” (4)The Women 169)

4. Jesus Christ alone, in exception to all humans, spoke while in the cradle (19)Mary 22-32). The Koran tells us that Christ needed no one to teach Him anything, not even how to speak. The Bible says: “Who hath directed the spirit of the Lord, or being His counselor hath taught Him knowledge and showed to Him the way of understanding.” (Isaiah 40:1,13-14). Naturally, no one can teach the One who emanated from God’s Spirit for He is the All-knowing.

5. Jesus Christ alone was distinguished from all prophets with His infallibility and was the only one to be singled out for His perfection; for all the prophets had sinned, and their sins were mentioned in the Koran. However, Christ was the only exception, for “High honored shall be in this world and the next.” (3)House of Imran 45). Also, the Arab prophet (El-Bukhari) testified for the perfection of Christ and His infallibility, saying: “Satan pokes with his finger the side of every human at birth, except Jesus, son of Mary; when he went to poke Him, he poked the curtain.”

6. Jesus Christ alone was distinguished from all others in the sense that He was the Creator: “I will create for you out of clay as the likeness of a bird; then I will breathe into it and it will be a bird.” (3)House of  Imran 42).

7. Jesus Christ alone was uniquely incomparable in knowing men’s secrets: “I will inform you too of what things you eat, and what you treasure up in your houses. Surely, in that is a sign for you if you are believers.” (3)House of Imran 48).

8. Jesus was matchless in making the miracles and the wonders which no other could make: “And I will also heal the blind and the leper…” (3)House of Imran 48).

9. Jesus Christ alone could raise the dead with the word of His blessed mouth: And I will bring life to the dead…”  (3)House of Imran 48; (5)The Table 110).

10. Jesus Christ alone exclusively enjoyed the prophetical title of “the Messiah”: “The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was God’s Messenger, and His Word committed to Mary…” (4)Women 169). The Old Testament made known the real identity of the Messiah, saying: “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgement and justice in the earth… and this is the name whereby He shall be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jeremiah 23:5-6)

11. Jesus Christ alone exchanged responsibility of authority with God: “And I was a witness over them, while I remained among them; but when thou didst take me to thy self, Thou wast Thyself the watcher over them.” (5)Table 117).

12. Jesus was the only one to become a Sign unto men and Mercy from God (19)Mary 20) unto men who fell under the burden and the shackles of sin; for which, God’s justice and holiness condemned them to eternal perdition. For this reason the only Savior, who can offer eternal salvation to men came to be a Mercy from God.

13. Only Jesus Christ could give His followers high honors and assurances concerning the day of Resurrection: “I will cause thee to die, and I will raise thee to Me, and I will purify thee of those who believe not. I will set thy followers above the unbelievers till the resurrection Day,”  (3)House of Imran 55)

14. Only Jesus will be the Judge who will come to this world to judge the living and the dead; the Arab prophet (El-Bukhari) confirmed this fact, saying: “The Last Hour will not come until the Son of Mary come down as the just Judge.”

 

Who is Christ Indeed?

If you meditated on any of the Koran verses that portray the Lord Jesus Christ, you find that they are inherent attributes that are exclusively distinctive of God; and that He did not share any of them with any human at all. Moreover, you find that the Lord Jesus Christ did not enjoy only one of these attributes, but He included all of them in His blessed person, so that He may leave no doubt concerning His deity and divinity.

The New Testament recorded that the All-mighty God became a perfect man (something that was easy for Him to do) and came from heaven to our earth to save men. The Bible says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God … and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1,14). Then the Bible continues the portrayal of Christ, saying:”And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; He who was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the spirit, Seen of angels, Preached among the nations, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16).

 

The Doctrine of the “SON OF GOD” in the Old Testament.

The Jews believe, as many of the Muslims do, that the idea of “The Son of God” was an innovation of Christianity, brought as a heresy against the faith in the One God. But if you study the Tenach, which is the Jewish Torah or Old Testament, you will find that the doctrine of God’s Son is braided, fused, and embedded in the very foundations of the Tenach. And in these few coming lines, we will present the strongest proofs that support this doctrine and prove that the Jews have rejected the very doctrine of their Holy Tenach concerning God’s Son. The second Psalm says: “Now therefore be wise, O ye kings: Be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve Jehovah with fear, And rejoice with trembling. Kiss the son, lest he be angry, and ye perish in the way, For his wrath will soon be kindled. Blessed are all they that take refuge in him.” (Psalms 2:10-12).

Who is this Son that God is admonishing the kings, the judges, and the people of the earth to give Him loyalty, honor, homage, and reverence? Which human son is worthy of having the whole world putting their trust in him? For certainty, there is no human who is worthy or capable to accept the responsibility of all humans putting their trust in him. For this reason, the wisest human that ever lived, king Solomon, made known that that Son is the Son of the Omni-potent Creator to whom nothing is impossible: “Who hath ascended up into heaven, and descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in his garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou knowest? ” (Proverbs 30:4)

Salomon excelled in proclaiming the truth when God revealed to him that that Son who became unto us wisdom from God (1 Corinthians 1:31), and who is the Word of God, was with God since the beginning, exactly as the Asharite group deducted in their argument concerning the Word or God and the eternality thereof; he said: ” The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, Before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, Before the earth was … While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, Nor the beginning of the dust of the world. When he established the heavens, I was there: When he set a circle upon the face of the deep, When he made firm the skies above, When the fountains of the deep became strong, When he gave to the sea its bound, That the waters should not transgress his commandment, When he marked out the foundations of the earth; Then I was by him, as a master workman; And I was dailhis delight… ” (Proverbs 8:22-30)

Then came Isaiah, the greatest of the Jewish prophets, to dissipate all the clouds of doubts concerning the identity of the Son of the All-mighty God, he said: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel; [which is, being interpreted, God with us.]”(Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6-7). Who is this Son who is worthy of homage, loyalty and honor as well as being entitled to be called The mighty God, the Everlasting Father? No one except the only and unique One, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was born of a virgin, in exception to all humans for genetical birth did not become to Him.

If you studied the Tenach in depth, you find that the central theme of its entirety is the Lord Jesus Christ. It also contains more than three hundred prophecies about the expected Messiah. The prophets were given the privilege of predicting the details of every aspect of His birth, life, death, and resurrection. All those prophecies were precisely fulfilled in Jesus’ birth, its time, its place, and the events that related to it; and in His forerunner, and in His life, ministry, miracles, preaching, disciples, the Jews treating Him, crucifixion, burial, the period of His staying in the grave, glorious resurrection from the dead, and ascension to heaven. All that was done so that He could prove to men that He was not an ordinary human, but the God who forged history and fashioned the events so that the prophecies could be fulfilled, to prepare men to meet the True God who loved them.

 

Why Did Christ Come?

Christ came to save us from our sins and from the eternal torment that our sins brought upon us. We are sinners by nature and by choice: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one … They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one … For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:10-23). Moreover, we cannot save ourselves neither by our money nor by our good works, for the Lord’s salvation is by the grace of God; and there fore, it is a free gift: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Whereas God is most holy and pure, and whereas His holiness does not accept sin, our sins brought upon us the wrath of God, and we have become worthy of eternal perdition: “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23). Furthermore, we cannot save ourselves with self efforts, nor can we buy our eternity with a fistful of money or good works no matter how good they are. If a man condemned to death for breaking human laws cannot satisfy human justice with a fistful of money nor can he settle his debt by performing good works, how then can we expect to satisfy the absolute justice of God with a handful of money and some good works? God’s justice requires the most severe punishments, which led man to the fire of hell.

But the love of God for us is far greater than what we can imagine. Consequently, He sent His only Holy and Pure Son, to satisfy the divine justice which cannot accept other than the most severe punishment. For without the shedding of blood, there is no remission for sin. For this reason, God demanded of man to offer the sacrifices for sins; but all those sacrifices would have meant nothing, nor would they have any effect, had they not been the symbol of the precious blood that was shed on the cross upon Mount Calvary: “… the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins … Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”(Hebrews 10:11; 9:12).

“The Great Sacrifice” that was mentioned by the Koran in (The Rangers 37:109), quoting the Torah, and telling the story of Abraham, when he was about to offer his son as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah, but God stopped him and gave him a lamb to redeem his son; was but a symbol of the redemptive work of Christ on Calvary. Here, we see the Koran calling it “the Great Sacrifice”, because that lamb was not an ordinary lamb, similar to the other lambs that were offered daily; but was a unique lamb, a gift from heaven to Abraham to redeem his son who was under the judgement of a sure death. Also, because God wanted to teach us, that: what happened on Mount Moriah (which is Mount Calvary), was but a symbol; first, of man’s situation and his sins that brought God’s judgement of eternal death in the fire of hell, upon him. Secondly, of the love of God who sent the Gift of Heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29). Then Christ died on the same spot where Abraham offered the lamb to redeem his son; symbolizing the death of Christ for man to forgive the sins of everyone that believes: “Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:18).

Therefore, Abraham’s “Great Sacrifice” which was offered by Christ with His own blood, to redeem man and to nullify all other sacrifices, seeing that we need them no more: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God … For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (1 Peter 3: 18; John 3:16). And whereas Jesus Christ is the Word of God and His Spirit; i.e., His Son, He could not be held back by death in the grave; but He arose the third day from the dead with great glory, to prove His clam, and to establish His message: “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:25).

 

Who is a Christian?

 

 

 

 

Not everyone that is labeled as a Christian is a Christian. A person might be pious, or religious, but not a real Christian; the Bible says: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 7 :21). Unfortunately, most of those who are labeled as Christian, are not even religious let alone real Christians. Moreover, in real Christianity, no nation can be considered a Christian nation, because Christianity is a personal relationship between God and the individual: “For many be called, but few chosen… Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 20:16; 7:13-14).

Therefore, a true Christian is a Christian neither by birth nor by heritage, nor by coercion, nor by force. But rather, he is the person who responds to God’s call and the working of the Holy Spirit in his heart, inviting him to eternal salvation. For this reason God excluded governments, states, and organizations from His salvation plan; because man always tends to abuse his powers, and then tries to justify his oppressive actions by claiming that he is acting on God’s behalf (And that is an excuse worse than the misdeed); as if God is unable to avenge. We should never forget what the almighty God said: “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:19). In contrast, Christ sent his followers as lambs in the midst of wolves. However, this does not mean that kings, governors and statesmen do not have the same chance like everyone else to be saved, for they are born sinners like the rest of us, and they surely need God’s salvation: (God) Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4). Moreover, the true Christian lives the godly life, in obedience to god, so he may be a light in the midst of this world of darkness. Also, the true Christian obeys the Lord’s commandment concerning baptism. A follower of Christ would find a fundamental group of believers with whom he would have fellowship, for mutual edification.

 

 

 

Necessity of Faith!

Even though God has completed the work of salvation and offered it to us as a free gift, we cannot enjoy God’s salvation unless we repent from our sins, and accept the lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior: “Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions… But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (Ezekiel 18:30; Acts 3:19; John 1:12).

Here we find that the calling of God unto repentance was built upon love, compassion and mercy, with no intimidation, scare, unnerving or coercion, whatsoever. For the love of God inspires a respect to man and gives him the opportunity to make an important decision for himself. Consequently, God says: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life…” (Deut. 30:19-20).

The Bible stresses upon the center of faith, saying: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31). Without this faith in Christ, there is no possibility to please God, nor receive eternal salvation or eternal bliss. Therefore, the answer to the most important question that faces man concerning the place where he will spend his eternity, is based in its entirety upon the individual’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His redemptive work on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. The Bible says: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9,13).

Therefore, as a sinner who desires and seeks to receive the forgiveness of your sins, eternal life, and the assurance of your eternity, [you can pray something like this]: “Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. [I know that I am a dreadful sinner condemned unclean a part from Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.  Now I am praying asking you to forgive my sins once and for all and to give me eternal life. Thank you because you have heard [my] prayer.  In [the name above every name-Jesus Christ] I pray.  Amen.”

 

An Imperative Word

How may a guilty man have any hope from the justice of the legal code if he is brought before a judge who happened to be his opponent? The Bible confirms the fact that Christ will come as the Judge, saying: “The Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.” (2 Tim.4:1). Islam has supported this fact as Mohammed said: “The Last Hour will not come until the son of Mary come down as the just Judge.” Then the Bible says that the Lord Jesus Christ “will judge the world in righteousness… For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” (Acts 17:31; John 5:22). Therefore, we see here a fact that does not allow questioning or argument; first, that “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27); secondly, that the Lord Jesus Christ will come back as the righteous Judge of the living and the dead.

Here, we have to ask what is the account that man would give before the Judge? As the Bible teaches, Christ died for our sins, to give us complete forgiveness. But what happens if we reject that forgiveness? The Bible says: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18). Therefore, the most serious charge that man will face before the Great Judge is the answer we will give in response to the redemptive work of Christ for you. What will your answer be to His question: “Did you accept the redemptive work that I accomplished on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins?” The Bible replies, saying: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God, which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5:7-12).

Therefore, the great case before the righteous Judge is based upon the fact whether you accepted or rejected God’s testimony concerning His son and His redemptive work on the cross. This means that if you rejected that testimony, you have discredited the testimony of God concerning His Son, and you will find yourself without excuse in the hands of an angry Judge, reaping the wrath that you have treasured for yourself against the Day of Wrath, whereon the righteous judgement of god will be given against every one that had decided not to believe the Word of God nor to accept His testimony. The prayer of my heart is that you have accepted the redemptive word of Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins, and have received Christ as your personal Savior, so that you will be found among the saved and the faithful. God Bless you. Amen.

Excerpt from: The gospel of Christ Jesus according to Saint John – As reviewed by the Koran and Muslim scholars, By: Dr. Ben Malik Jamil

Prepared for the Internet by:

www.TheGrace.com

 

 

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True Salvation Is Through Jesus Christ Alone!

Posted by Scott on June 5, 2008

Easy believism taught by many mainstream churches today is not the true salvation taught in scripture.  This “gospel” being taught that God loves you just as you are and he wants to bless your life now…that you can have “your best life now” is a false gospel.  Until a person comes to terms with the fact that they are a sinner condemned to hell apart from a work of God in their life and that repentance is required they will not be truly saved.  You cannot just believe in Christ and not deal with the sin.  This is why so many churches today are racking up great numbers of so called “converts to Christ”…just believe and you are saved, but without repentance.  Anyone will come that kind of Jesus…just believe in Him and you have a ticket to heaven and yet you do not really have to change your life at all….this is wrong and heretical.  Jesus says we must deny ourselves and follow Him.  Was His life on earth easy?  No!  To follow the Jesus Christ of the Bible, to follow the God of the Bible, will not make you the most popular person on the street.  As a matter of fact it will most likely divide your street with most people being on the opposite side from you.  To believe, have faith in and follow the Jesus of the Bible, the true Christ, will require you to turn from the way you are going right now and go the way of Christ.  Our best life is in the future with Christ in the New Heaven for all eternity…it is not right now!  I encourage you to watch John MacCarthur speak on this very subject.  It is a great video.  Enjoy and search your heart today!

 

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What Is Truly Valuable to You?

Posted by Scott on May 9, 2008

DadsDevoted!
Valuable!
“We live in a world that knows little about what’s truly valuable. People all around us are pursuing things that have no lasting value. That pursuit is ably treated by Anton Chekhov in his classic short story The Bet. This story gives us great insight into the value system of most people.
The plot involves a wager between two educated men regarding solitary confinement. A wealthy, middle-aged banker believed the death penalty was a more humane penalty than solitary confinement because “an executioner kills at once, solitary confinement kills gradually.” One of his guests at a party, a young lawyer of twenty-five, disagreed, saying, “To live under any conditions is better than not to live at all.”
Angered, the banker impulsively responded with a bet of two million rubles that the younger man could not last five years in solitary confinement. The lawyer was so convinced of his endurance that he announced he would stay fifteen years alone instead of only five.
The arrangements were made, and the young man moved into a separate building on the grounds of the banker’s large estate. He was allowed no visitors or newspapers. He could write letters but receive none. There were guards watching to make sure he never violated the agreement, but they were placed so that he could never see another human being from his windows. He received his food in silence through a small opening where he could not see those who served him. Everything else he wanted—books, certain foods, musical instruments, etc.—was granted by special written request.
During the first year the piano could be heard at almost any hour, and he asked for many books, mostly novels and other light reading. The next year the music ceased and the works of various classical authors were requested. In the sixth year of his isolation he began to study languages and soon had mastered six. After the tenth year of his confinement, the prisoner sat motionless at the table and read the New Testament. After more than a year’s saturation of the Bible, he began to study the history of religion and works on theology.
The second half of the story focuses on the night before the noon deadline when the lawyer would win the bet. The banker was now at the end of his career. His risky speculations and impetuosity had gradually undermined his business. The once self-confident millionaire was now a second-rate banker, and it would destroy him to pay off the wager. Angry at his foolishness and jealous of the soon-to-be-wealthy lawyer who was now only forty, the old banker determined to kill his opponent and frame the guard with the murder. Slipping into the man’s room, he found him asleep at the table and noticed a letter the lawyer had written to him. He picked it up and read the following:
‘Tomorrow at twelve o’clock I shall be free . . . but before leaving this room . . . I find it necessary to say a few words to you. With a clear conscience, and before God, who sees me, I declare to you that I despise freedom and life and health and all that your books call the joys of this world. . . . I know I am wiser than you all. . . . And I despise all your books, I despise all earthly blessings and wisdom. All is worthless and false, hollow and deceiving like the mirage. You may be proud, wise and beautiful, but death will wipe you away from the face of the earth, as it does the mice that live beneath your floor; and your heirs, your history, your immortal geniuses will freeze or burn with the destruction of the earth. You have gone mad and are not following the right path. You take falsehood for truth, and deformity for beauty. To prove to you how I despise all that you value I renounce the two million on which I looked, at one time, as the opening of paradise for me, and which I now scorn. To deprive myself of the right to receive them, I will leave my prison five hours before the appointed time, and by so doing break the terms of our compact.’
The banker read the lines, replaced the paper on the table, kissed the strange, sleeping man and with tears in his eyes, quietly left the house. Chekhov writes, “Never before, not even after sustaining serious losses on change, had he despised himself as he did at that moment.” His tears kept him awake the rest of the night. And at seven the next morning he was informed by the watchmen that they had seen the man crawl through a window, go to the gate, and then disappear.
Some people have to learn the hard way what is of value, and there are some who never learn.”

 

MacArthur, John: Alone With God. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1995
I have been studying and meditating and reading through Matthew 6:9-11.  This model prayer or the world calls it “The Lord’s Prayer” is a true model of how we as followers of Christ should pray.  Yet, how meaningless we have lifted up prayers on a daily basis.  Our prayer are full of all our wants from financial security, to health beyond any-ones dreams, to a large house, to a car, to more and more and more stuff.  Why is it that after years and years we have ever figured out that our prayer life is all about God and not about us.  This is the time to spend verbalizing what God wants us to declare from our hearts that is in one accord with His heart.  When Jesus said “ask and you shall receive” He was not saying to ask for all the worldly junk that has no place in the Kingdom of God.  If it is not from the heart and mind of Christ then do not ask for it.  Most of us can understand at least this minimal amount of our prayer life.
Who is our Father in heaven?  Is He an old white bearded man on dusty throne pointing His golden staff in the air sentencing some to death, some to prosperity, some to judgement, some to prison, some to starvation, etc.?  This is what has been pictured for centuries and is not even closely accurate.  Our Father in heaven, who is God Almighty, one part of the Trinity, is our glorious God, most loving Father, protecting Lord, and reigning King!  He is the parent that all of us wish we could be towards our children.  He is the most perfect parent of all. 
In Heaven is the abode of God.  This is an eternal place that exist in continuance and is where God the Father resides.  This is the most royal realms we could ever imagine and I doubt our imagination could even come close to understand what it is like where God lives.  However, we can only catch a small glimpse from scripture of where the future abode of God will be and we will be a part of it.
 Revelation 21:10-27 (NIV):
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadiaa in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 He measured its wall and it was 144 cubitsb thick,c by man’s measurement, which the angel was using. 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.d 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.
22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
 

 

a That is, about 1,400 miles (about 2,200 kilometers)
b That is, about 200 feet (about 65 meters)
c Or high
d The precise identification of some of these precious stones is uncertain.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Re 21:10-27
Just think this description does not even come close to the splendor of our future eternal home.  For now, we are living in a trash heap compared to the Holy City or New Jerusalem to come.  However, in our prayer life we can prepare ourselves for this future home in heaven.  Jesus left us with this model prayer in order to prepare us, not so that we can dump our laundry list on God everyday and then blame Him because nothing came true on our wish list.   This is juvenile praying. 
 
Some might ask, “What is hallowed be thy name”?  That sounds like a foreign term for movie flick, yet, it is profound.  “Hallowed” means holy and “thy name” is God Almighty.  It is the “Holiest Name of All”.  There is no other name in heaven or on earth that is more holy than Elohim and Adonai and Jehovah and any other name that is strictly reserved for our God.  When we enter into prayer we are speaking to the holiest person that will ever exist or has ever existed.  As a believer in Christ Jesus we have access to the most important being ever.  Do you understand the meaning of this?  You do not have to go through a priest on earth or any other person on this earth….Jesus Christ is our high priest and it is through Him that we go before our heavenly Father.  He wants to hear directly from His people, not from another fallible man on earth. 
As the prayer goes on to ask that God’s will be done.  This is the key to the entire prayer.  This is the key to our prayer life.  We must pray that God’s will be done and not our own.  One of the difficulties that most of us struggle with in our prayer life is getting to the point to where we desire God’s will over our own.  This is a huge nail in the coffin of our Free Will over God’s Free Will.  Our prayer life will go no where as we exercise our will, but rather once we understand that our prayers are to be reflecting the will of our heavenly Father, then our prayer life takes on new meaning that experiences results.  As men we are so result oriented anyway…we have a drive that compels us to get results.  This is a God-given drive.  However, Jesus is telling us how results are achieved here…the achievement is not in ourselves nor is it about ourselves.  The achievement is getting to the point that we prefer God’s will to reign above our own desires and will.  In short, God’s will becomes our will and God’s will becomes the desire of our heart.  It is at this moment we stop bleeding selfishly and start bleeding righteously for the glory of our heavenly Father.  To further the Kingdom of God, our prayers need to reach a higher place that is high above the earthly mindset.
 
We should set our minds on heavenly things in order to be of some earthly good.  The wrong saying is “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you become no earthly good”.  That is incorrect!  If this earth is to improve, believers must become more heavenly minded to be of some earthly good.
What is truly valuable to you?  In your prayer life, what is it that you pray for the most, yourself, your family, happiness, joy, money, job security, groceries, devine revelation, safe travel, an easy life, and so on?  I know that none of us pray for a car accident tomorrow, marrital troubles in June ’08, to loose our job in the Fall!  That would be crazy, but why do we pray in defense of these types events in our lives?  All we need to focus on is God in our lives at any given moment regardless of the circumstance.  Come to grips with the fact that the only thing secure for us on this earth as believers is our salvation in Christ Jesus….nothing else is secure.  We must live the remainder of our life outside of that committment in total faith that God will see us through to the other side into eternity.
 
-Scott Bailey 2008
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Sovereign-Strong!

Posted by Scott on May 7, 2008

Awesome, revered, great, joy, praise, inheritance, sounding of trumpets, reigns, throne, and exalted….these are all words that make a feeble attempt at describing our awesome Sovereign God!  Psalm 47 is rather a short chapter in this wonderful book of Psalm, yet it is packed full of descriptive words that attempt to show us who this God really is and what the future reign of Christ will look like.

In the previous chapter 46, God told us to “Be still and know”.  For us to know Him really, we need to stop what we are doing, be still, be quiet, meditate on Him, focus on Him, find a silent quiet place, and listen intently to His call.  Now, here in chapter 47 we find a more jubilant worship of clapping our hands and shouting to God with our cries of joy!  I do think this is in direct order of being still and understanding who our great God really is and now that we know somewhat of who our God is, we can shout for joy to Him in celebration of this great revelation found within the pages of the Bible.

The tragic story in all this rest in the millions of believers who never did “Be still” and thus missed out on who their God really was while they lived out their lives on this earth.  They never fully understood while on this earth who it was they gave their hearts and lives to.  For many this very day they do not know who God really is or how personal He is for them.  They still try to experience Him at a distance rather than as their Father whom is available at all times.  They do not realize God through the Holy Spirit still walks with them daily as a helper and protector and counselor.  If it was not for this fact that my God is here with me, I simply could not function positively each day…I would be utterly powerless to desire to even get out of bed each morning.  The promise of God’s fresh new mercy each day is enough to keep me going until His triumphant return.

“How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth!”

This awesomeness is to be revered by all of us on the earth.  There will come a time in the future when every knee will bend before Jesus Christ and confess Him as our Lord and King.  This will be done by every single person that has ever walked the face of the earth past and present including all of God’s human and angelic creation both in heaven and on earth.  So, a person can deny Him His deity while on earth, they can say He does not exist in this life, yet, someday in the future even this person will bend the knee before Jesus and confess the He is Lord!  Anyone’s denial of Jesus as God has no bearing to the truth that He is God.  We can deny Him away all we want to, but He will still reign supreme and we will still bend the knee before Him someday.  At this moment there will be no denials on our breath, only awe.  We will be hard pressed to find the breath to utter the words, but we will in unity with all.

God’s kingship through the reign of Christ is in clear view here.  We see a glimpse of the glory of our Lord in the millennial kingdom someday.  Only God can reign like this.  Only He can subdue or destroy our enemies under our feet.  Only He can choose our inheritance and call us the “pride of Jacob”.  Only He can ascend to the throne of the New Earth as the New Heaven joins it here in the millennial kingdom where God and His creation will no longer be separated in two places because of sin…sin will be no more.  Of course only He can show us this future reign that has not happened and yet it was foretold several thousand years ago.  What an awesome God we serve. 

This great inheritance is at God’s choosing.  He has chosen an untainted, unspoiled, protected, unstained by sin to be our place for all eternity.  His elect are the pride of Jacob, the praise of His glory.  What an honor to have our great and awesome Lord prepare our place of eternity.  No one could choose a better inheritance than our heavenly Father.  We can rest in the confidence of this inheritance for those who are in Christ Jesus.  What an awesome God we serve.

In the final scenes of this recorded glimpse into the glory of God as we shall see Him, we find Christ ruling as the King Supreme over all the nations.  Our God is dwelling as the Judge Supremely ruling on His throne.  In the millennial era there will be no doubt who rules and reigns over all.  You will not find an atheist among the ranks.  There will be no skeptics, no heretics, or non-believers.  The veil is removed and the Supremacy of our Lord Jesus Christ will be in crystal clear view of all as He dwells among His people forever!   What an awesome God we serve!

“…for the kings of the earth belong to God; He is greatly exalted.”

The kings mentioned here is also recorded as “shields” which means protector.  This “shield” “belongs” to God.  This is direct mention of an attribute of God that He is our protector or shield.  He is to be greatly exalted above everything on this earth as He protects His people.  He is to be exalted forever as He sheilds us from the attacks of the enemy.  What an awesome God we serve.

One of our greatest hopes is the future reign with Christ in the millennial kingdom.  We can believe that our Lord is King of king’s and Lord of lord’s because He told us so.  In Revelation 19:11-16 is the triumphant second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

From The Message:

“Then I saw Heaven open wide—and oh! a white horse and its Rider. The Rider, named Faithful and True, judges and makes war in pure righteousness. His eyes are a blaze of fire, on his head many crowns. He has a Name inscribed that’s known only to himself. He is dressed in a robe soaked with blood, and he is addressed as “Word of God.” The armies of Heaven, mounted on white horses and dressed in dazzling white linen, follow him. A sharp sword comes out of his mouth so he can subdue the nations, then rule them with a rod of iron. He treads the winepress of the raging wrath of God, the Sovereign-Strong. On his robe and thigh is written, King of kings, Lord of lords.”

With great confidence we can trust in these inspired words of God recorded so long ago, yet, that are so close and dear to our hearts today.  The Bible is forever relevant today as it was thousands of years ago.  Our current view of God cannot compare in word or thought to the reality of the future glory we will experience with our Lord in heaven…we will experience this glory in the brightly shining light of our Savior and Lord Jesus forever!  AMEN!

What an awesome God we serve!

-Scott Bailey 2008

 

 

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Hell…is it a real place?

Posted by Scott on March 7, 2008

I got up early this morning looking for a nice positive word from the Lord.  As has been my daily readings for weeks now I was reading this morning from Psalm 8…great passage, but nothing really jumped out at me.  For whatever reason, the Holy Spirit lead me over to read quoting Jesus in Matthew 8:11-12, 13:38,42,50, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30 and Luke 13:28.  This was not the topic I was necessarily looking for, but was drawn in by it as the reality of Hell is still so evident.  God’s word has never changed nor has the relevancy of what He is saying. 

As I read this it reinvigorated the call to teach the word of God with a heart for the lost.  Now, get one thing very clear…we do not draw people to Christ nor do we save anyone.  The call of each Christian is to teach, preach and live out the word of God daily…the regeneration of the soul and saving grace of God is the work of the Holy Spirit not ours nor is it the work of the lost themselves…we must deliver the message and step aside.  We must be ready in season and out of season to teach not only the positive upbeat messages of the scripture, but the messages that teach the realities of a sinful life apart from God and the consequence of rejecting His Son, Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  The reality of dying without Christ is eternity in Hell!  I cannot put it any simpler than this…Hell is a real place prepared for the wicked sinful unrepentant people of this world.  In the remainder of this post I will strive to describe from my studies what this place is like.  This is not to scare anyone into a decision…that is not my purpose.  It is to shake to life the Christian that is asleep in his or her relationship with Christ that is hiding their life in Christ and not sharing it with the world around them.  Wake up all you saints and share your faith and allow the Holy Spirit the opportunity to do His perfect work in those souls set apart before the foundations of the world were set in place.

“And the children of the kingdom shall be cast

into utter darkness:  there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth”.

-Matthew 8:12 (Geneva)

For the Jews, they must enter the narrow gates of heaven just like any Gentile does.  They cannot get into heaven based on what they are called…referencing Matthew 8:11 as the “sons of the kingdom”.  Unless they be born again they will not enter the kingdom of heaven but perish in the dark burning fire that is all consuming, but never consumes the soul away from the torment.  Folks, there is only one way into heaven to be with our heavenly Father and Lord Jesus Christ…it is directly through Christ.  Jesus stated that “no one comes to the Father except by Him…”  The fact that our parents or grandparents were Christians will not enroll us into the book of life.  We each must stand on our own to account for our acceptance or rejection of the Savior without any regard for those aroud us.  We will not be able to say to God that our mother or father was a Christian, so that makes us a Christian….it does not.  We will not be able to tell God that we were baptized with water as an infant and enter into heaven, that is not the way to heaven.  The only way is by accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.  Throughout the rest of your life the Lordship will become more and more real as you show the fruits of your salvation in the good deeds or works presented throughout the remainder of your life.  We will not be able to present good deeds as the reason for our entrance into heaven either…it is only by the surrendering of ones life to Christ.

“The Son of man shall send forth His angels and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity.  And shall cast them into a furnace of fire.  There shall be wailing andgnashing of teeth.”

-Matthew 13:41-42 (Geneva)

I must tell you that I do not like delivering such a narrow message, but this is the biblical truth of the matter.  In my obedience to Christ I cannot deliver a message that would say otherwise.  Jesus mentions “weeping and gnashing of teeth” at least 5 times in Matthew alone.  Consequences of sin is death…consequences of living out your life in that sin without turning away from it and accepting Jesus Christ is eternal damnation in Hell.  Why else would Jesus mention this in so many sections of the scriptures. 

I want to paint a very real picture for you as I have discovered from God’s word and the help of many great theologians of the past and their commentaries.  In Hell there is no light, only absolute utter darkness.  This is at the extremity of darkness.  It is always said the darkest moment of each day is right before the sun comes up or dawn…think of that darkness except that light or dawn will never come…never!  This is an eternity knowing that Christ is just beyond this darkness that He was once the dawn of each persons day with great hope, but now you will NEVER be able to see this light again or have the hope of seeing this light…ever!  You will never experience a dawn again for all eternity.  Folks, this is the highest degree of darkness that will ever exist and that which none of us know or can fathom.  In this darkness there is absolutely no hope..no hope of light or even a mixture of some light not even a glimmer of light…ever!  In this darkness your eyes will not adjust in order to bring about some shadow of light…those in this place will never see again in this darkness….eternally alive with full site, but not the ability to see in that darkness, not blindness, but the inability to adjust ones sight at all.  This will create in the damned soul a panic that cannot be relieved…ever!  You will never be able to take a deep breath to calm your panic in order to allow time to adjust your eyes for it will be without success…there will be no adjustments to see in this darkness.  Darkness that is forever dark without any breech of light…ever!  Think about forever for a moment…can you visualize an end to forever?  I don’t think so…I sure can’t.  Forever is as far as your mind can go and then it still keeps going without end.

“..But he will answer, I don’t know you or where did you come from.  Then you will say, We ate and drank wtih you and you taught in our streets.  But Jesus will reply, I don’t know you or where did you come from.  Away from me, all you evil doers!  There will be weeping there, adn gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.”

-Luke 13:25-28(NIV)

You might be thinking as I was that this darkness is unbearable, however, this is the least worse portion of this place called Hell.  Hell is a place of horrific grief with a flood of tears that results in no purpose or sympathy or salvation or hope.  Grief stricken tears that will never end in joy or happiness.  This grief will have the wailing cry of a hopeless state of being.  Hopelessness with endless tears.  This is a place without sympathy and hope.  The anguish will prey eternally upon the lost soul in Hell…forever!  The emptiness this anguish and grief brings will only get deeper for all eternity, without end. 

You will read in several locations in the New Testament such as Matthew 8:12, 13:42 and Luke 13:28 about the “gnashing of teeth”.  This description alone would be enough for me.  Think about gnashing of teeth….people grinding and snapping their teeth at one another forever.  The indignation before those other lost souls as they gnash their teeth for spite and vexation.  All this as the result of the fury of the Lord Almighty.  For those in Hell, their memory will torment them forever as they remember the happiness of their past even though God was not a part of their life.  They will exist with an eternal memory of the opportunity to accept Christ, but the hardness of their heart would not give in.  Now, all they have is this memory in the darkest darkness with grieving and wailing beyond comprehension and no opportunity ever again to accept Christ.  They will never experience a happy moment ever again….never! 

As the reality goes on, Hell is a furnace of fire that will never burn up.  As the scripture describes in Jesus words that the fire is for the “tares” in the field that exist among the wheat.  Think about people setting around you in church that look like everyone else or may even appear to be believers, but may be the very soul that will keep the fires of this furnace burning hotter.  The fire of Hell is kindled by the wrath of God with the lives of these lost souls.  This fire is all consuming, but never consumes those within the flames.  This is a dark, tearful, grieving, hot place to spend eternity.  Within these flames are those in comfortless sorrow and incurable indignation at God, themselves, and those around them.  People in Hell will not be able to comfort one another….they will not have the ability to do this as there is no comfort for themselves.  This is a horrific never ending torment within the fires of Hell.  Many of the hypocrites of the past, present and future will enter the never ending torments of Hell.  Hypocrites are those that live in a daily routine of sinfulness all the while telling others not to do what they know they are doing is wrong…all in the name of Christ.  They do this without really having Christ in their hearts only on their lips.

One final aspect of Hell I will describe here as I wipe tears from my own eyes to think of the number of people that will spend eternity in this aweful place.  This is another degree of the torment which is the one final moment with those that accepted Christ and His salvation seeing the joy of those called into the sheep fold and see their happiness of the fact that their greatest hopes in Christ are fulfilled, but then suddenly have God turn to you and cast you into eternal darkness in Hell, because you failed to accept that last great hope in Jesus Christ and the final words of God to you is that He never knew you…never!  Do NOT believe the lies that our God cannot do this as He the one who created us all and He will cast those into Hell that are not of His chosen (elect) people, those hypocrites, those wicked vile people who tortured His remnant, the devil and his followers.  This is not to scare someone into heaven, but is a real part of God’s word that is not preached or taught anymore from the pulpits…because it might “offend” someone.  Hell is a real place!

This is not an easy message to write about…nor is one that I really wish to deliver, but at the obedience of the prompting of the Holy Spirit I cannot wish it away.  Many in the church today will tell you that Hell is not a literal place and that the God of the bible would never send anyone to a place like this.  All I can tell you is you had better be absolutely sure they are right before going through life living on that message.  The scriptures are pretty clear to the degree of the wrath of God for those that reject His Son and the work He did on the cross.  God is love…He also has wrath for the sinfulness that exist on this earth.  God hates sin and only Jesus can wash this sin in our lives away for good.  Although this message seems depressing and sorrowful, the great message that survives it all is to accept a life in Jesus Christ…those who belong to Jesus will not see this dark eternity without hope.  Jesus has made it clear throughout His life on earth as to the realities that await those who reject Him…do not be one of those! 

*This is in no way an extensive look at this subject, but to be a quick read, a jolting read to get those of us in Christ back to the reality of sin (not bad choices) and for those without Christ to understand what is at stake if they remain in their sinful life style.  May the Lord use each of us that know Him to reach the many that are lost in need of a savior.  May the Lord use Jesus’ very words from Matthew to Luke to prick the hearts of the lost and bring those lost souls into His kingdom family by His saving grace.  Remember, the Holy Spirit does the regenerating work not His followers.  We are mere servants and messengers of the faith…go and spread the true gospel.

“For many are invited, but few are chosen”.

-Matthew 22:14(NIV)

-Scott Bailey (c) 2008

Enjoy Ravi Zacharia on the reality of Hell!

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