24 March 2015

MY JOY IS FOUND IN YOUR JOY


I want to share my heart personally with you this morning because we are going see Paul’s heart as we open this portion of scripture! Because this portion of Paul’s letter is personal and it reveals the true heart of Paul. Nothing excites me more than to see people growing in their walk with the Lord. Especially those who the Lord allowed me to be a part of! That excites me because it’s a privilege. This should be every pastor’s heart around the world this morning to see God’s children walking with Him. SEE MY JOY COMES.......
  • When you want to talk about Him and His glory.
  • When you want to learn and grow through the studying of the His Word.
  • When you want to pray and praise His name in the good and bad times.
  • When you want to share about what the Lord has been teaching you through your circumstances
  • When you want nothing more than to see people come to the Lord through Jesus Christ.
  • When you consume all your time and energy focused on Him! Because He is worth. it! And everything else seems meaningless in comparison to Him and His glory.
BUT sometimes my joy can seem to be sizzled out or distant! Because we only get to spend so much time together! Sundays, prayer meetings, special functions or visits throughout the months! But I know in my heart of hearts that’s not true! Though we all go our separate ways and have personal lives. I can rejoice in the fact that we serve an amazing God who….keeps us, sustains us, sanctifies us, secures us by His sovereign grace. That gives me peace and thankfulness for each and every one of you this morning. For Paul it was a little different!  Look what Paul says in (v17) “Taken from you” denotes an understanding of “being orphaned”

It literally means “to be torn apart” A Literal translation of this verse says “we being orphanized from you” It gives you the sense of a parent is without or the loss of a deceased child or a child is orphaned from its deceased parents. This portion of Paul’s letter illuminates how he felt about this forced separation from the Thessalonians. PAUL FELT THIS WAY WITH ALL HIS SPIRITUAL CHILDREN:

CORINTHIAN CHURCH: “For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.” 2 Cor 2:4

PHILIPPIAN CHURCH: “it is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.”  Phil 1:7-8

PHILEMON’S CHURCH FAMILY: “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.” Philemon 1:7

ROMAN CHURCH: “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.” Rom 1:8-10

EPHESIAN CHURCH: “Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears (v31).......And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.” Acts 20:36-38

There are more examples of other churches that Paul founded on the word of God about his passionate heart for them. Paul loved these people just as much as the churches I just mentioned... ”He was torn from his children” The reason being..................going back to what was happening in Acts 17. Paul had no choice but to leave because the Gospel was causing so much commotion. Paul was forced from his spiritual children. Can you sense the emotion in his letter especially during a very trying time for any Christian with all the persecution?Their fellow countrymen; the religious types of their day! Not to mention the brutal behaviour of the Roman Emperor. It was almost impossible for Paul to return because of the hatred towards the gospel. Look what he says at the end of verse 17 “endeavoured more eagerly to see you face to face with great desire” Literally means “A great desire to see your face” I have a passion, I’m compelled and I have this controlling desire to see you again, I miss you dearly loved ones. This wasn’t a job to Paul but a passionate desire and care for others. See, this is humility in action seeking the interest of others. Why? As he said to the Philippians “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,” Phil 2:2-5

Something happened that made this action impossible. Because he couldn’t! Why? Answer is found in verse 18 “Satan hindered us”
  • Satan is seeking whom he many devour
  • Satan has been doing this from the very beginning!
  • Satan has been trying to tear down the church and the children of God for centuries
  • Satan wants nothing more than for the church of God to fail
  • Satan desires nothing more than to see corruption in the church of God
LISTEN WHAT PAUL WROTE TO THE CHURCH OF CORINTH And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”2 Cor 11:12-14. Please do not be fooled! For Satan has deceived many into believing a lie! How? He gives some truth with much error! Paul was hindered in coming to them! Hindered (means) to cut into, detain” it’s a military term referring to digging a trench or breaking up a road. One of the countermeasures an ancient army would take against the opposition was to dig a massive trench that would prevent enemy troops from reaching its men. Another way to frustrate the enemy’s progress would be to tear up a brick or stone road so that he could not traverse it. It’s the idea when Paul gently rebuked the good people of Galatia “You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?” Gal 5:7. It’s the same expression Peter used when he said “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

Satan was making it hard for Paul to come back to them.....Again going back to Acts 17. Satan hated Paul, and anyone who bring the true unadulterated Gospel message. Paul was a marked man…because of his passion for the gospel. Paul was hated by many and many wanted to kill the apostle Paul! Again going back to Acts 17. We always have to remember that no matter what Satan tries to do, he will never have victory over our lives. Because?Jesus has conquered sin and the grave, He is seated on the Throne, He is above all things, and He is the Sovereign Lord and Creator of the universe. The Sovereign One who said “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail (succeed, win, and triumph) against it.” Matt 16:18. Despite the road block that Paul was faced with; this didn’t stop him from finding joy in the Thessalonians church! Look at (v19) Paul shows us the personal side of his heart with 3 expressible things that gave him such great joy and victory! Even if this meant being separated, hindered by Satan and his fallen angels from the people he loved and desired to be with. THIS SHOULD BE OUR HEARTS AS WELL THIS MORNING! SHOULDN’T IT? Nothing can ever separate the love that we have in Christ Jesus our LORD. If you don’t believe me then listen to what Paul writes “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 8:37-39. Though we are miles apart physically we are always together in spirit.........Though we all go through different circumstances of life we are there for one another. Though we cannot always be together, we know God can and for that we find rest. He is always with us to the end of this life and forever in eternity! That’s why Paul could write the words he wrote! Look what Paul writes……..

YOU ARE OUR HOPE (referring to the promise of future reward and eternal blessing)

“Hope” as the world typically defines it is a desire for some future occurrence of which one is not assured of attaining…..like most false religions. The ancient world did not generally regard hope as a virtue, but merely as a temporary illusion. Historians tell us that a great cloud of hopelessness covered the ancient world. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,” 1 Peter 1:3-4. This is not our home! Paul knew, that even through separation and persecution he found genuine joy that the hope these people had was in the Lord Jesus Christ. Biblical hope is not "finger crossing", but is alive and sure because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Doesn’t this encourage your heart? Knowing that you we have born again loved ones who cannot be with us physically, but have that same hope that we have!

YOU ARE OUR JOY (our external happiness and satisfaction)

“Joy” is describes an attitude which is cheerful and glad. The world defines joy as the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. But, the Bible defines joy as a gift of God, a fruit of His Spirit, which is independent of your circumstances. Luke 24:51-53 display this joy for us! “While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.” We see this expression of joy when Paul said “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.” Phil 4:1. And even though he was faced with so much opposition over the gospel. This did not rob him of the joy he had in God’s children. It’s the joy that the bible speaks of as “overabundance” that could never be extinguished by Satan or anyone else. As Paul said in 2Cor 1:7 “Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” John Piper said “for the Christian things may go really bad right now and yet not rob him of his JOY. The JOY is the JOY OF HOPE. Christians set their hearts on how good it will be in the age to come and in the presence of Christ after death. This is why Christians can REJOICE in tribulation and not just in health and peace and security. Tribulation drives the roots of JOY down into HOPE. The future JOY streams back into the presence and lightens every load.”

YOU ARE OUR CROWN OF REJOICING (your eternal life is a like a reward)

“crown of rejoicing” or of "glorying", or "boasting" It wasn’t that Paul gloried in them, for they gloried not in men. Paul gloried in the Lord, for His righteousness, riches, wisdom, strength, and grace, in the person, blood, and cross of Christ. Paul gloried of them, as trophies of divine grace, as a prey taken out of the hand of the mighty, and as lawful captives delivered from the power of Satan. The Bible speaks of 5 DIFFERENT kinds of crowns or wreaths in the New Testament!

The IMPERISHABLE WREATH that celebrates salvation's victory over corruption“And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown but we for an imperishable crown.” (1 Cor 9:25)

The RIGHTEOUS WREATH that celebrates salvation's victory over unrighteousness. “the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, (2 Tim 2:18)

The UNFADING WREATH of glory that celebrates salvation's victory over defilement. “you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” (1 Peter 5:4)

The WREATH OF LIFE that celebrates salvation's victory over death “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life” (James 1:12)

The WREATH OF EXULTATION which celebrates salvation's victory over Satan and mankind’s persecution of believers. This is the wreath Paul is speaking of in this passage! (Refers to the overwhelming victory God gives His own: over sin, suffering, death and judgement). To those who are faithful no matter what the circumstance or situation may be! Nobody can take that away and Paul knew that wonderful truth! See, the crowns that God gives His servants are not like…… those crowns which were given to the conqueror, in the Olympic Games! Which were made of diver flowers, of the olive, wild olive, pine tree, and of parsley, and inserted in a branch of the wild olive tree and which quickly faded away? Peter called it an imperishable, unfading crown as we have seen earlier!

See my greatest joy is for you to see….
  • Jesus as your crowning glory.
  • Jesus as your crowning victory.
  • Jesus as your crown of eternal blessing.
  • Jesus is the reason you boast and live your life for.
  • Jesus is the reason you find true joy [not happiness] in a perverse and corrupt generation.
  • Jesus is the reason you love your spouse more, your children, your singleness. Why? Because Jesus is all satisfying.
Nothing or no one can ever take that away from us.......because it’s by His power and strength that we are forever His “in the presence of the Lord Jesus at His coming”. This should be everyone’s aim in the Christian life! Rejoicing over those who rejoice with us in Spirit and truth.

  • The saved
  • The sanctified
  • The children of God
  • The crowning glory of God
  • This was Paul’s source of joy and happiness (v20) “for you are our glory and joy”
William Macdonald said “The saints were Paul’s glory and joy. He had invested in human personality and his reward was spiritual sons and daughters who would worship the Lamb of God for all eternity”. THAT’S MY JOY AS WELL! To know that God is doing a work in and through your lives. To know that He keeps His promises of “coming again” for His children. To know that you are worth it and your worth is found in Christ. Thessalonica, continually were a source of glory and joy to Paul. Their existence in Heaven would also be an eternal source of glory and joy to Paul, Silvanus and Timothy! So let me ask you the Sunday question! Look around at the faces in this room! Who will be in Heaven that will be your eternal source of glory and joy? Can you say with Paul about those in this Sanctuary “for you are our glory and joy.”

03 March 2015

A HEALTHY CHURCH STILL CONTINUED



What does it mean to anticipate something? If you’re having a hard time answering that question; rewind back to Christmas Eve and your children….and fast forward to Christmas morning! Better Yet! Look back to the time when you and your lovely spouse were going to get married in the coming months. All the planning and organizing and sending and seeing who was going to come to your special day. Then the day arrives! Think back to your bride and her reaction when that day finally came. Filled with excitement, nervousness and joy because the day she has been anticipating, is finally hereWhat does it mean to wait? Because I hate to wait and that’s my sin! It means to anticipate with patience, a readiness and understanding that the day is getting closer and I need to be alert and ready when that day in the future comes.The same truth can be said about our salvation! We anticipate our fallen bodies to be finally redeemed from this earth.

It reminds me of what Paul wrote……“Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” Rom 13:11. Every day, we are one day closer to standing before Jesus in His entire glorious splendor. We are one day, one breath closer to the completion of our redemption. God doesn’t just sit back on the fence to see how you’re going to get through in the Christian life. If that were so! I’m in big trouble, because I would have left a long time ago. We are kept by His power…that’s why the gospel is so amazing. He keeps wretched sinners and makes them and keeps them clean until the day of redemption. The New Testament reminds us of this truth…..“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil 1:6. My fear is that………I don’t believe the church at large is waiting [anticipating] for the resurrected Jesus Christ and the promises He brings. Why do I say that? Why do we get so excited and anticipate?
  • Christmas morning
  • Your wedding day
  • The latest video game pre-launch at midnight
  • Our birthday,
  • The Stanley Cup playoffs / Brier Cup ;)
  • The trade deadline
  • When hunting season starts
  • The beginning and closing of a school year.
  • The next season of 24 and Jack Bauer
  • Our family coming to visit.
  • My Leafs second win in over a two month period.

Don’t get me wrong! There is nothing wrong with anticipating and waiting for these things. What I’m most concerned about is that we anticipate these things more, than we do the return of our King? Who is the Living God who sustains us under His might power and sovereignty. I want us to see something very important as we close this chapter! Why does Paul say what he says in closing remarks to chapter one? Why does he mention or remind the church about the resurrection of Jesus and that we have been delivered from the wrath that it yet to come? I believe it’s here in his letter to remind us of what we truly are to anticipate as a church and individual sanctified child of God. This is it…….this is our hope and promises found in the redeeming blood of the Lamb. If there is no resurrection, then there is no future hope for anyone of us. It goes back to what Paul was trying to remind the Church of Corinth! In 1 Corinthians 15 we read…… “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.” 1 Cor 15:1-6

See Paul told the Corinthian church, if Jesus wasn’t resurrected then we are still in our sins and that means the wrath of God still abided on us. He continued to say to the church in Corinth ……….“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” 1 Cor 15:12-14. Which means? “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” 1 Cor 15:17. If Jesus wasn’t resurrected according to the scriptures then our sin still remains …..which means the wrath of God abides on us. Paul affirms the belief of the resurrection and the wrath that has been passed over us through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

This is important truth and promises to hold dear to our weak and feebly hearts at times as we wait for His return. It’s the power of His resurrection and hope in Christ that we can face today and tomorrow. It’s the power of His resurrection that we can sing and praise His name each and every day and every Sunday we come together. Paul wrote to Titus and said this……  “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:13-14. We need to understand! The gospel has no power without His death and resurrection.
  • It’s the power of God that crushed Jesus and killed Him, because of our sin.
  • It’s the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead to give us life.
  • It’s the power of God that raised you from the dead to save you from His wrath.
  • It’s the power of God that keeps you and gives a burning passion as you await His return.

MARK OF A HEALTHY CHURCH HAS A BODY THAT WAITS EXPECTANTLY FOR HIS GLORIOUS RETURN.

This was a church that waited for His Son from Heaven to return! Paul praised them because they were a “waiting church” (v10a) “wait” conveys the meaning of expectant waiting—sustained, patient, trusting waiting. It pictures an eager looking forward to the coming of one whose arrival was anticipated at any time, waiting for one whose coming is expected.” To wait for the Lord's return is a sure characteristic of a true believer. The present tense can be rendered "keep on waiting". Waiting for the return of their Lord and King was their lifestyle, the habit of their life, the truth that colored all their daily activities and afflictions. This should be the same and displayed in our lives……in our church! “Waiting for God to act is the best opportunity for the right things to happen His way.” David C. McCasland

Who are you looking for today? Remember Jesus could come back today! Are you ready to meet Him in the clouds? In Act 1:6-11 we read “So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"  He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." His victory over death makes this promise completely credible. And this truth underscores why we must always speak of His resurrection when we proclaim the gospel to lost people who are dead in sins and trespasses. There is no good news without Jesus' resurrection!

We are to patiently wait as a church because ….…..
  • It’s about His Mercy………… Psalm 123:2
  • It’s the truth that we’ve been pardoned…………..Psalm 39:7-8
  • It’s about His salvation and calling on our life…………..Psalm 25:5
  • It’s an outward expression of His sustaining grace and faith in our lives……..Galatians 5:5
  • It’s for our good……..Psalm 52:9
We are to wait with patience, continually, all the day with full confidence! Isa 25:9 says “It will be said on that day, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation." Where do we see that exemplified in the word of God? How about a man named Simeon? We read “Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,  "Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word;  for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel." Luke 2:25-32 How about Hannah? How about David? How about the Apostles and the Early Church?

We look back to His first coming, but among these early believers the great hope was in His coming again. This should likewise be the mindset of modern believers! This should be your passion and excitement this morning and when you leave this building. Let me ask you! When was the last time you anticipated the return of the Living King? We need to be sober and alert to His coming, because He will, and He is coming back! This is where our hope begins and ends as born again believers. John Piper said “The center of Christianity is the coming of the Son of God into the world as a real man to destroy the works of the devil and create a new people for His own glory. The very heart of our faith is that He did this by obeying the law of God, dying for the sins of His people, rising victorious over death, ascending to God’s right hand with all His enemies under his feet. The second coming of Christ is the completion of His saving work. If you take it away, the whole fabric of His saving work unravels.”

This is our hope and this is what we are waiting and anticipating for each and every day! This is what gives us strength when we have a bad day or things don’t seem to go right! This is where we find comfort and rest when we see what our Premier of Ontario is doing and when we see brothers in Christ being beheaded for their faith and hope in Christ. Peter echoed that same expectation when he wrote, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers” 1 Pet 4:7. I want my life and my family’s life to represent Him and His glory when He returns. I want my life not be wasted on things that have no value, not in shame or regret because of my grumblings and lack of faith! As John wrote “And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame at His coming.” And I don’t think that will happen as John says it wills for some, if we, keep our eyes fixed upon the gospel and understand what it truly means to be saved. He has saved us from the wrath that is yet to come to the sons of disobedience! That could be someone you know and love this morning….if Christ returned today!

Jesus told Nicodemus this truth……. “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:18. And John the Baptist said at the end of John chapter 3……. For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for He gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:34-36. This church got this truth! And this is why they waited with a joy anticipating Christ return. They understood what it meant to be saved from this pending doom for so many people according to Matthew 7. They understood that they were set free and for that nothing else distracted them in their worship and in the importance of proclaiming the gospel to lost sinners. So, why did they wait with anticipation with thanksgiving? By the summary statement Paul makes in (v10b) “Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” Not only did they wait, but “they were delivered” “Delivered” means to rescue, the deliverance the Lord provides in His death and resurrection. He is the Rescuer and Deliverer and Savior of those otherwise headed for divine judgment and eternal punishment. (v10)

What were they delivered from? And you could say the same thing about your life, if you’re born again! We are delivered from “The wrath to come” Turn over to 1 Thess 5:9 to see what i mean! “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” We have been delivered from the wrath to come. God the Just and the Justifier looks upon me as righteous! This is amazing that God has turned me around to serve Him by His mercy and grace. He has saved me from the wrath that is yet to come! Wrath is God’s eternal judgment against sin! This absolutely scares me! To know God will judge sin at the end of all things. God cannot do anything but judge sin for what it is: an abomination to His character and perfect will. Nothing and nobody will not go unnoticed by a holy and just God! The Hebrew writer writes……“but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation (God’s righteous anger) which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. And again, "THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Heb 10:27-31

John makes this abundantly clear……“And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Rev 20:15. A W Pink wrote this in an article is from the February 1917 "Our Hope" magazine……“This is one of the danger-signals which God has placed across the sinner's pathway to Hell. At every turn of the Broad Road there are notice boards giving warning of the Destruction which lies ahead. The Sunday School teacher, the prayers of godly parents, the sermons of faithful preachers, the little Gospel tract, the warnings of conscience, the innate fear of death, the declarations of Holy 'Writ, are so many obstacles which God places in the way of the sinner-so many barriers to the Lake of Fire….One chief reason why God wrote the Bible was to warn the sinner of the awful consequences of sin, and to bid him flee from the wrath to come.” His Son’s death is a reminder for us of God’s hatred toward towards sinners. His Son’s resurrection is a reminder of His effectual love towards sinners. The gospel saves and delivers us from the wrath that is yet to come.

The church of Thessalonica is for us as a blueprint church. They weren’t perfect and they weren’t holier than thouBut they lived there lives on the promises of God…..and they turned the world upside down with the truth of the gospel. Jesus, has bought us with His blood, and we are here for Him!  To serve, wait and rejoice in His coming! MY DESIRE AS YOUR PASTOR………. is to lead by example and for all of us to genuinely follow after the footsteps of this church family from some 2000 years ago. As Leonard Ravenhill said “When I see the church in the New Testament, they didn’t have stately buildings, they didn’t have paid evangelists. They didn’t have a lot of money. They didn’t have organization. They couldn’t get on TV and beg. But I’ll tell you what they did do, they turned the world upside down!!” Leonard Ravenhill also went on to say as he pleaded with the church “We live too much in time, we are too earth bound. We see as others men see. We think as other men thinks. We invest our time as the world invests it. We invest our money. We are supposed to be a different breed of people. I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ needs a new revelation of the majesty of God. We’re all going to stand one day… can you imagine it?.. At the judgment seat of Christ to give an account for the deeds done in the body.”

I want you to think about that statement of the late great Leonard Ravenhill. I want to challenge you! Self-examination if you will. This should be yours to have as an inward spiritual attitude that. Why? He saved you from His wrath and eternal destruction. Our attributes in life should display……..
  • A working faith that god supplies. 
  • A labor of love for one another. 
  • A hope that patiently endures to the end. 
  • A humbled adoration of praise to God who called [Elected] you out of darkness and raised you from the dead.
  • Is gospel saturated with a deep desire for the world to know the good news?
  • Has a known [genuine] testimony to the grace and mercy founded in the gospel.
  • Has turned to follow the true living God from idols and that Jesus is more valuable to you then anything.
  • Has anticipation for the future as we wait for our King.

Will you join me, even though it may be hard at times to serve our King the way He intended us to serve? We have the blue prints…….we have His word…..we have His Spirit! We have message. Let’s change the world, one soul at a time, through work of the Spirit, under the power of God through the gospel. The purpose statement of my life and the church is this…….“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”

23 February 2015

A HEALTHY CHURCH CONTINUED




Is God, a jealous God? Well, “Jealousy” by definition is a resentment against an opponent, vigilance in maintaining or guarding something. A biblical definition of “jealousy” is "apprehensive of loss of exclusive devotion", it’s an intolerance of competition or unfaithfulness" The bible is very clear when it comes to God and His jealousy. Why? God has a passionate desire that things should transpire as He desires, which is always in accord with His character. "You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God,..” Exo 20:4-5. In Deut 4:23-24 we read “Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the LORD your God has forbidden you. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” Joshua said “You cannot serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good." Joshua 24:19-20

God is also jealous that we should not sin against Him, because it provokes Him to anger. The warning and the consequences went out to the people of Israel as they turned to worship gods created by man. "The LORD would not spare him; for then the anger of the LORD and His jealousy would burn against that man, and every curse that is written in this book would settle on him, and the LORD would blot out his name from under heaven.” Deut 29:20. “For they provoked Him to anger with their high places, And moved Him to jealousy with their carved images.” Psalm 78:58. Paul warned the church about playing games with God.“You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?” 1 Cor 10:21


What is something that we all have done and may still struggle with today that provokes God to anger? Our desires over God, I will do what makes me happy! This is Idolatry! This is something this church family turned from, to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel. But what is idolatry? “idolatry”  “is an image, form or representation, usually of a man or other animal, consecrated as an object of worship; a pagan deity.” Idols are usually statues or images, carved out of wood or stone, or formed of metals, particularly silver or gold. I always like to use Erwin Lutzer explanation of idolatry because it goes even deeper than that. Erwin, leaves no room for compromise for today’s generation when it comes to idolatry! He says “an idol can be a physical object, a property, a person, an activity, a role, an institution, a hope, an image, an idea, a pleasure, a hero. If I can simply define idolatry! It is something that gives you and me more pleasure (fulfillment) than GOD” It was John Calvin who said “our heart is an idol factory.”

In a fallen world, people regularly seek things they can worship, even though the Creator is before us in plain view.......Watch sporting events! Our homes even! Churches around the globe! Movies and television. The “idol factory” is hard at work and it does everything it can to get your eyes off of Christ, and gets our eyes fixed on temporal pleasure and passions that lead to destruction. 

Do you have any gods in your life at the present time? If we are not! Consuming our lives with more of Him and less of this world were susceptible to falling into the sin idolatry. If we are not! In drenching our lives, or families........in the Scripture, in prayer, sharing the hope of Christ and communion with the saints! Then, we are at risk of becoming an idolater! That’s how easily idolatry can happen to a person. It can be something as simple as…..
  • Idolizing your pastor…..He is so cool.
  • Idolizing personal prosperity……I love my money and stuff and all that bling.
  • Idolizing self-worship…..the “I love me” syndrome.
  • Idolizing of background…we can more proud to be a Canadian then we are a Christian at times.
  • Idolizing hobbies ……I find more pleasure in these over spending time with God.


Understand this though! God hates idolatry! And God says this is a major problem. Why?


Idolatry is an Abomination......“for it is an abomination to the LORD your God.” Deut 7:25

Idolatry is forbidden.......“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” You shall have no other gods before me.” Exo 20:2-3

Idolatry is changing the glory of God into an image.....“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” Rom 1:21-23

Idolatry is changing the truth of God into a lie......“because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator,…” Rom 1:25

Idolatry forgets God and brings judgment......“And if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God.” Deut 8:19-20

The bible is filled with idol worship. The Nation of Israel built a Golden calf to worship because they were impatient with Moses and return from the mountain. (Exodus 32). King Jeroboam had two golden calves build for the people to worship because it was to much for the people to go to Jerusalem. (1 Kings 12:28). Mannasseh had alters build in the house of the Lord. (2 Kings 21:4-7). Amon walked in the way his father did. (2 Kings 21:21). Nebuchadnezzar had a 90 foot statue of him built for people to worship. (Dan 5:23). The people of Lystra thought Paul and Barnabas were Greek gods to worship (Acts 17:16)

But there is hope for the idolater! There is mercy and grace for sinners to find rest in Christ, and to be set free. We see it in this chapter of Paul’s letter……praising God for their transformed lives from idolatry! Again, not only were the Thessalonians living a Christian life commendable by all these things we have been looking at over the past month...But they showed the world that they were transformed by the living God....not a false or a dead god. The power of the Gospel changed the way these people…

  • Thought
  • Lived
  • Breathed
  • Desired
  • Who they worshipped
  • Who they would die for
Their testimony to everyone outside in the community and surrounding cities was so powerful and noticeable. That even an idolatrous people could see something different in them. But they were a church transformed by the power of the Gospel that Paul proclaimed to them. What’s more amazing is……the people outside the church knew it! Why? By what (v8b -v9) says! “for they themselves declare” the people who came in contact with the Thessalonian believers.This was a church that had a body that knew what it meant to worship the true Living God and people took notice of that.

THE MARK OF A HEALTHY CHURCH IS A BODY THAT HAS TURNED TO SERVE THE TRUE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE.


Paul wrote “You turned” (v9)

Which means “motion toward, to turn about, around or toward and then to convert.” Note the order, as it is not "accidental". First we fix our eyes on God. Then we turn from idols. When our eyes of faith are opened to see the true and living God, the vain, dead so called gods are seen for the empty unsatisfying worthless created things they are. The Gospel changes our lives from idolatry to repentance, a turning away from idols to a faith that submits to Christ alone. This is why Paul continues to write about this changed life in the following chapter. “ For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively (successfully)works in you who believe.” 1 Thess 2:13. William MacDonald rightly observes... “that they turned to God from idols, not from idols to God. It wasn’t that they had become fed up with their idols and then decided to give God a chance. No, they turned to God and found Him so satisfying that they dropped their idols. Let us never lose the sense of thrill and awe that is implicit in this account. Two men go into a heathen city with the word of the Lord. They preach the gospel in the power of the Spirit. The miracle of regeneration takes place: men and women become so enraptured with the Savior that they abandon their idols. Next you have a local assembly of believers praising God, living lives of holiness, bravely enduring persecution, and winning others to Christ. Truly the Lord’s service is the prince of callings!” See, it isn’t that their idols became boring or unpleasant to them. It’s because the gospel penetrated their hearts and they saw that it was sin. They didn’t just drop their idols….they repented because they were their gods for a season. “Turned” is same expression we use when a person repents over their own sin! Genuine repentance is evidence to the supernatural work in your life through the gospel. We see this in action! “Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38. The bible says that after Peter preached the gospel to the people they turned from their idols! In Act 2:41 we read “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” Jesus said “….but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3b. “Repentance” a change one’s mind for better, heartily to amend with abomination of one’s past sins. Salvation involves a person turning of what they loved over God to God and His goodness and grace. Repentance requires taking in a whole new point of view; looking at it God's way. 

A great example of a people turning from idols is ……..Asa, the first good king who tore down all idols and burned them (1 King 15:9-14). Mannasseh later in his life turned and destroyed all the idolatry in the house of the Lord and in Jerusalem. (2 Chron 33:15). The city of Nineveh! “Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, "By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish." When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.” Jonah 3:4

God truly hates idolatry, because He created us to worship Him. This is why we need redemption. Every single one of us were idolaters’ before the gospel penetrated our sinful heart. We need to understand God hates idolatry and He does not take pleasure in the unconverted man or woman perishing because of the bondage of sin. Ezekiel penned these words “But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die……Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” Eze 18:21-23. This church family had their eyes opened to see the glory of the cross and to understand Christ is our greatest treasure. Our prize for all eternity and His is [should be] our only desiring for worship, nothing else.


Paul also said “They Served” (v9)

Which means….”to serve as a bond-servant (doulas) to be a slave, the most demanding form of servitude” “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Rom 6:16-18. We welcome slavery towards the Lord Jesus Christ…………..I know, I do! The Thessalonians’ had turned from mindless devotion to false, dead demonic idols, to a new (born again) welcome slavery to the ONE TRUE Living God! THE ONLY GOD THAT IS WORTHY OF OUR PRAISE ADORATION......We serve a living God......WHICH MEANS?

  • A Breathing God
  • A Caring God
  • A Loving God
  • A Sovereign God
  • A Wrathful God
  • A Patient God
  • A Merciful God
  • A Righteous God
Not a god made by……. man or of wood, silver, gold, or a statue, a cross or fallible man! We serve a God who desires and deserves our adoration and thanksgiving. That’s why I wake up every morning thankful, that he turned this wretched man that stands before you this morning, from false idols to the truth of the Gospel and the power of His salvation. So that I could be used for His glory in the local church to serve Him with my life! So that I could serve Him in the way He intended me to.…..by enjoying Him forever and bringing Him glory! What have you turned from to follow the Lord Jesus Christ? What was your idol or your god before salvation came? Do have any idols in your life this morning? As R C Sproul Jr said this week “Every idol, if you scratch it, is a mirror. We worship ourselves.” I know who I use to be, but the gospel changed my life forever! If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Could you prove beyond reasonable doubt that your faith is true and genuine? What does the mirror of your life say now? Only you can answer these questions.


01 February 2015

A HEALTHY CHURCH IS A CALLED CHURCH




What do we know about God? Well, according to the scriptures we know that He is…….

  • Omnipotent [all powerful]….(Job 42:2)
  • Omnipresent [everywhere present]….(Ps 139:7)
  • Omniscient [all- knowing]…..(1 John 3:20)
  • Self-sustaining……(Job 12:10)
  • Self-Exist…….(Exo 3:13-14)
  • Sovereign……(Isa 46:10)
  • Great………. (Psalm 104:1)
  • Love…..(1 John 4:8)
  • Just….(Gen 18:25)
  • Wrathful ……(Rom 9:22)
  • Merciful…….(Micah 7:18-20)
  • Truth…..(John 17:17)
  • Holy…….(Isa 6:3)
  • Immutable….(Heb 13:8)
  • Transcendent……..(Heb1:3)
See an "Attribute “a quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something. The attributes of God are generally a collection of descriptions from Scripture of who God is. An "attribute" can be defined as something God has revealed himself to be. Perfection a quality, trait, or feature of the highest degree of excellence; the act or fact of perfecting as seen in……..Ps 18:30-31 “This God—his way is perfect…” They are the qualities of the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit)
They are permanent qualities. They are inseparable from the being or the essence of God. They belong to His nature and that outwardly reveals His essential qualities. They are His permanent or essential qualities of His nature which He has made known to us in His Word. The Bible declares though various passages that these belong to God! Here is what I want you understand though! We find comfort in these attributes as God’s children in knowing this truth, but this knowledge or illumination only came to us when God drew you to Himself when you were at the bottom of the sea, dead in your sins and trespasses. John penned these words that Jesus spoke “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:44. We were all dead, drowning in a well until the Lord gave us new life.

God asked Ezekiel? In Ezekiel 37:3 we read “And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord GOD, you know." Then God told Ezekiel to do something. “Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD." So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live." So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then he said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.' Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD." Eze 37:4-14

We come to a part in this passage that causes many people to step around it or ignore it all together. But this passage conveys to us a beautiful truth that exemplifies the dry bones in Ezekiel! It gives me such comfort and rest in knowing that a Holy God saw my helpless state and breathed into me a new life. See, the doctrine of Election teaches us that God chose certain people in Christ before the foundation of the world. Paul said “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” Eph 1:3-6. Listen to what Paul calls the church at Thessalonica “Beloved by God” Which means “Christians are the recipients of the sovereign love of God.” See, Christians are the elect, chosen of God solely by His sovereign, loving, purpose, apart from any human effort or wisdom. But we also need to understand that this wonderful doctrine does not teach that He chose some to be damned. If men are finally lost, it is because of their own sin and unbelief. See, the same bible that teaches election, also teaches human responsibility. You can either respond to this wonderful free gift or you can reject it. It’s not that you accepted Jesus, it’s that Jesus found you and drew to Himself and by that act of His love and your heart is receptive to His gift of salvation. We see that response to God’s prompting in (v6) “received the word” which simply means “they had believed the gospel and been converted.” As John MacArthur says “Election is the act of God whereby in eternity past He chose those who will be saved. Election is unconditional, because it does not depend on anything outside of God, such as good works or foreseen faith (Romans 9:16). This doctrine is repeatedly taught in the Bible, and is also demanded by our knowledge of God.

Again you might struggle in this area of life because the word “Election” is only for the religious elites or the pastors to debate, study or argue over. But it’s not! Because it’s written that you might rest in His sovereign hands. This truth is not to divide, but to encourage you in your Christian walk to know how personal and how much God is invested in your life. Again, a holy God saw our helpless state and rescued us from danger; which is Hell. Is it hard to comprehend this doctrine to fit into our finite-minds? Yes. Sadly though, some try to dismiss it or reconcile it with their own predispositions. But Spurgeon warned such people about this way of creating theology to fit our life styles. He said “Men who are morbidly anxious to possess a self-consistent creed, a creed which will put together and form some a square like a Chinese puzzle, - - are very apt to narrow their souls.” So we can’t ignore this wonderful truth found in God’s word. The church will never be able to reconcile this doctrine, but we must not turn our backs on such a blessing found in this truth of God’s election. For example! Take this book you hold in your hands for a moment, to help you understand how God “called you” out of darkness. Jesus said “I’m the Way the Truth and the Life...............no one comes to the Father but by Me!” Jesus also said Broad and wide is the road that leads to destruction.....and many will go in by it! But narrow is the way....which is difficult, which leads to eternal life and few find it! Matt 7:13. This was a church that received the Gospel with much affliction because of the Roman presence and there brutal war times tactics....and their hatred to the Gospel because it was exclusive! Not only the Roman Empire! But they also faced ..............Jewish people, leaders (who were haters of the Gospel) going in and disrupting the fellowship or the Gospel that was being proclaimed by Paul and his faithful brothers in Christ. (Act 14-20)…………..all because it was exclusive through Jesus Christ.

See this was a church that - Heard the Gospel and responded to the calling and prompting of God’s grace. They were once dead, but God made them alive again as He did with the dry bones.They were a people who were transformed by the Gospel and it was exemplified in and through their lives.

A HEALTHY CHURCH IS A BODY THAT HAS BEEN CALLED TO A GENUINE SALVATION.

God’s election give evidence to your new “calling” Why? There has been a dramatic change in your life which is demonstrated through the new birth! The Bible says prior to salvation, all people are dead in sin--spiritually dead. And in this state of death, the sinner is utterly unable to respond to any spiritual motivation and therefore unable to…… love God, obey Him, or please Him in any way. Eph 2:1-3 we read “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. This is where the beauty of election shines into our lives……God doesn’t just sort or save you for a while or a certain sin behaviour. He saves with His perfecting love by choosing [adopting you] into His family through the gospel. As Paul Washer said “When God saves a man, He is regenerating his heart, turns him into a new creature, and the evidence is this … he will live like a new creature and he will confess Christ.” God in His mighty power gives us the ability to understand this great love by demonstrating this through ……A working faith, a labour of love and steadfastness that is irremovable found in the hope of future things. It’s by the power of God through the HOLY SPIRIT (v5)

“Power” means specifically miraculous power (usually by implication a miracle itself), ability, abundance, strength, mighty wonderful work. Think about it! Your new life is a miracle on display of God’s handy work in your life. See it’s a miracle that God has allowed anyone of us to be saved! The bible says.......
It’s by His unmerited favour and grace to wretched sinners like us (you and me). He humbled Himself and by Himself on the cross to reconcile us back to the Father! Please remember: He does the saving...You don’t. Why? Because all we know how to do... is SIN! And God must get the glory! As Psalm 79:9 says “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name's sake! LISTEN TO WHAT JESUS SAIDYou did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed (selected) you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain ...” John 15:16. Though He was talking with His disciples about their future ministry! Shouldn’t these same principles apply to our lives a well? We see the answer in (v4). In 2 Timothy 1:9 informs us that God "has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity." In 2 Thess 2:13, the apostle Paul tells his readers, "God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation." The Thessalonians embraced this truth because it was the power of the Spirit that brought and produced conviction of sin…..repentance and conversion. And we see that they accepted this wonderful truth (v5). This is only possible through the saving work of God through the Holy Spirit through the preaching of His word. We read that truth in 1 Cor 2:9-12 “But as it is written: "EYE HAS NOT SEEN, NOR EAR HEARD, NOR HAVE ENTERED INTO THE HEART OF MAN THE THINGS WHICH GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM." But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.  For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”

Again I cannot stress this enough.......He does the calling........you don’t! It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that any person will ever be saved. The Bible says faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God. Don’t get me wrong! That’s a major part of everyone’s conversion! But there is more than just hearing someone preach the Gospel.....there are many people who have heard the Gospel and refuse to come to the cross of Christ! Take For example......2 people hear the same gospel message proclaimed by the preacher......the invitation is given to come forward and confess your sins to a holy God and to follow by faith in the Risen Saviour. The first person goes forward, but the second person turns around and walks away! Why did one go forward and the other turn around to go home? They both heard the same gospel message! And sometime we shake our fist at God angrily and ask “Why don’t you or why you didn’t save my_______?” SEE the simple answer is this! It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to go forward.....Because He gets the glory in a person salvation.........................not the other way around! As Paul said In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Eph 1:11-14. It’s the power of God through the Holy Spirit that anyone is saved! It’s only by His grace I’m able to breath His air, the smile that I have, the food I eat, my position as pastor, my amazing family, my everything, is all [and only] by the Grace of a sovereign God, who looked upon me and saw nothing good but saved me despite my fallen state. It’s only by grace He saved me and you! What is the Mark of a Healthy Church?
This church had a genuine salvation by the power of the Holy Spirit the third person of the Godhead (v4) 

Knowing this truth...We can personally be assured of the great love of God towards us in Christ based on our own election. Though we may not fully know God’s purposes, how election works, or why the Lord chooses as He does, but, we do have enough to encourage, comfort, and inspire us as we walk by faith, fulfill the good works prepared for us by God. Election is good and glorious; it is beautiful and it displays for us the glory of God in your salvation. As John Piper said “It is good news to know that the root of your salvation goes down forever and ever into eternal grace and never gets to a point where it is contingent and fragile and dependent on your foreseen faith or your foreseen good works.” Are you confused yet? I hope not! Maybe you’re asking yourself! Why hasn’t God saved my spouse, my parent, my son or daughter, my co-worker or neighbor? I guess the ultimate question of why God chose some for salvation and left others in their sinful state is one that we, with our finite knowledge, cannot answer. But! We do know that God's attributes always are in perfect harmony with each other, so that God's sovereignty will always operate in perfect harmony with His goodness, love, wisdom, and justice. The doctrine of election is an evidence to God’s saving grace, which in turn produces a healthy church for the glory of His name. As R C Sproul said “If God did not act first, no one would be saved. The divine initiative is the only possible principle that can account for any person coming to Jesus Christ. God has chosen to save some people and bypass others. We don’t know the reason for this, but he does act in this way. It is his decision, based on his nature, character, and plan. We cannot understand his reasons, but we can be grateful that he chose to save us.” Remember that truth! Because He chose to save you and me. We are walking miracles by the grace of God, that there is still a hope for sinners to be saved through the gospel. And God uses the church as a means to display this glory - His “called out ones!”