28 May 2012

GO! - Paul Washer

HOW WILL THEY KNOW I’M A CHRISTIAN (PART 6)





Isaiah 6:1-10

I love the gospel! You might get sick of me speaking about this all the time, but I will not apologize for this wonderful truth we call the Gospel. See as a Christian……..I breathe the gospel, I eat the gospel, I live the gospel, I sleep the gospel, I am the gospel, I proclaim the gospel! You may be a person here this morning thinking to yourself "that’s not me Mike, I can’t do that [I’m to shy and unlearned in the master of evangelism]." Yes! You might be unlearned and not everyone is called to stand on the street corner preaching the gospel from a milk container. Yes! Not everyone is called like my buddy Kirk who goes out every day on the streets of Nova Scotia to share the good news of the Gospel. Yes! Not everyone is called to go to another part of the world to share the gospel. But! We are all called to live and share the gospel at every opportunity none the less, no matter how new or uneducated we might think we are in our Christian lives.

Take Moses! He didn't think he was equipped! “But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?" He said, "But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain." Then Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what shall I say to them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" Exo 3:11-14. 

Jeremiah didn't think he was equipped! Jeremiah said “……… "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth." But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a youth'; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD. Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, "Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.” Jer 1:6-9. 

Remember what Jesus said before He ascended to the right hand of the Father? “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." Acts 1:8. 

The Holy Spirit will give us the words to say to lost souls on their way to Christ less eternity. See we need to understand something about the Gospel! The gospel plays and actively lives in every aspect of our lives from the time we get up, until the time we go to bed. As J C Ryle said “A genuine Gospel-faith has nothing selfish about it – it never makes a man think only of his own salvation. It stirs him up, on the contrary, to concern about the souls of others. I always suspect that those who care nothing whether their brethren are saved or not, must in reality be ignorant or thoughtless about their own state.” Paul Washer said “Preaching [the gospel] is a matter of Life and Death and also how you live as a Christian is a matter of Life and Death.” When the world looks at us they should be able to see the gospel that saves to the uttermost. It’s the gospel that gives us life, joy and rest each and every day. It’s the gospel that saved our wretched souls from the way we used to be and live. Have you [we] forgotten that biblical truth in our lives? 

Jerry Bridges gives us a great reminder about the gospel “Typically, if we are not actually murderers, felons, or adulterers, we tend to think of our common sins as no more serious than a parking violation. We are so used to living with pride, selfishness, envy, gossip, and a whole host of other “respectable sins” that we don’t even think of them as sin. But the fact is that, as serial sinners, we are all as guilty before God as that murderer. You and I sin every day in thought, word, deed, and motive. And whether those sins appear great or small in our own sight, in reality every sin we commit is an act of rebellion against God, a rejection and attempted negation of his sovereignty and rulership over us. And even more serious and damning than our countless individual acts of sin is the very fact of who we are apart from Christ. Through our representative union with Adam in his sin, we are all born serial sinners, sitting on death row awaiting eternal damnation. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus took our place on God’s death row and actually died in our place to satisfy the justice of God so that God might fully pardon us without violating his justice. But if all God did was pardon us, it would never make sense for him to bring us into his household as adopted children and heirs… in pardoning and adopting us, God also does one other thing. He changes us into a different person, a new creation. As a result of being in Christ we are given a new heart, a new spirit, a new identity, and a new relationship.”

This is what the gospel does and did in my life………The gospel is a beautiful thing! As a born again Christian it’s impossible to hold or contain such wonderful news all to myself! The gospel is too important to go hide on an island and wait until He returns or calls me home. What I’m trying to get at is…As we have been going through these past few weeks to help us examine our lives in light of scripture! My love for the church will determine my love for Christ. My desire for His precious word will determine what I desire to know. My brokenness over my sin will determine whether I care about my sin or not. My focus on eternal things will determine what I love the most Him or this world. My zeal and passion to follow Christ will determine if He’s worthy of following to the end. If you are displaying these characteristics in your life! PRAISE God, because the gospel is life changing. The inward change of heart gives us an outward adoration for the things of God which is the gospel of Jesus Christ. As Paul said “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Gal 2:20. As Peter said so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” 1Peter 4:2. We come to an Old Testament encounter with a Holy God and a simple man. A simple man who was commissioned to do one thing………preach the wonderful truth of the gospel! We are going to witness 3 biblical truths about the gospel in this passage that Isaiah wrote………

THE GOSPEL MAKES US AWARE OF OUR SIN (V5-V7)

Look what Isaiah writes (v5) “I am undone!.......I am a man of unclean lips……I dwell with people of unclean lips” which means in light of God’s holiness Isaiah is able to see his unworthiness to be in the presence of God. John Owen one of the great puritans said this “Think of Adam after his fall, before the promise, hiding himself from God, and you have a perfect portrait of a poor creature without the gospel." This is what the power of the gospel reveals to the unregenerate heart. Isaiah knows he is a wretched sinner who is among other wretched sinners who have unclean hearts. We see this throughout the bible……..
  • Job
  • “therefore I despise myself…….” Job 42:6
  • Ezekiel
  • “I fell on my face” Eze 1:28
  • Peter
  • “…….Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." Luke 5:8
  • John “
  • ….When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead……” Rev 1:17


The gospel is all about how majestic and awesome God is, and how unclean we truly are in comparison. The gospel convicts and makes the sinner see his or her sin for what it is.The gospel shows that we are all sinners in desperate need of saving. Most of all the gospel reveals God. Isaiah is standing in his revealed sin and understandably knows he is unworthy to be in God’s presence. Why? Because God is pure and perfectly holy, and as God said to Moses to look upon Him would mean death. The only way to be cleansed is through the finishing work of Gospel found in the bible. Look what God does to Isaiah (v6-v7) An angel takes a “hot coal” which is symbolic of God’s purifying work…. and “touched his lips” to give him a spiritual cleansing. And by doing this God declared Isaiah clean! Which could mean “you are innocent….you are now righteous”. That’s the gospel truth we see in the cross of Jesus Christ. The gospel makes us keenly aware of our sin in light of God’s holiness and He needs to minster to us before we can minister to others. What do I mean!  In order to properly share the truth of Gospel it first has to been worked in us. A sinner who has been saved by grace going out to share to same news that saved your wretched life.

THE GOSPEL MAKES US AWARE OF THE NEED TO SPREAD THE GOSPEL MESSAGE (V8)

When the gospel has impacted our lives we become tremendously aware of the mass amounts of lost souls heading to a Christ less eternity. A place where lost souls will see their sin as Isaiah did before the purged them away……and they will be faced with those sins for ever and ever under the wrath of God over sin. The bible says……..There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth and they’ll wish they were dead, but be unable to have that request fulfilled. Revelation 14:11 says “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night,…” Isaiah eyes have been opened to the grace given to him to see lost people for who they truly are lost! It’s the gospel that fuels my passion and fire each and every day. Look what Isaiah says (v8) “Here am I! Send me.” Which shows at once his confidence in God, and his zeal. This is why I love the gospel! The gospel births a humble readiness to proclaim His wonderful gift found in His redemption. John Gill penned these words about Isaiah’s statement! “Isaiah, who before thought himself undone, and unworthy to be employed in the service of God, now having a discovery and application of pardoning grace, freely offers himself to God: this shows the true nature and effect of an application of pardon; it gives a man freedom and boldness in the presence of God, and stimulates to a ready and cheerful obedience to his will, and engages him with the utmost eagerness in his service”. This is the right thing to say by the way……..The Lord must rejoices when He hear those words come from His elect children. Why? It’s desperately needed today in our generation. Never underestimate what God can do with a willing servant. Remember what the Lord said to His disciples? “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." Matt 9:35-38

THE GOSPEL MAKES US AWARE THAT IT’S NOT GOING TO BE EASY (V10-V11)

This is probably the most discouraging thing a holy God could say to someone who has been commissioned by God to preach the gospel. Think about what the Lord is saying here! He says “go, and tell this people” Go and tell them to repent and come back in obedience to the Lord who is their sovereign protector and provider. Where have we heard this before? The same thing was said to Moses……“But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you………….” Exo 7:3-4. The same idea is can be applied today….go into the by ways and highways and tell sinners to come and dine with Jesus found in [Matthew chapter 22]. But it’s not going to be easy…many will make excuses not to come and they may kill you for it. "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast."' But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.” Matt 22:2-6. Paul said these words in Romans 11:8 “as it is written, "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day." The Lord is telling Isaiah that his message is going to fall on deaf ears and it is going to be very hard to reach this hardened and wicked generation.

(v10)  “Make the heart of this people fat” which means Gross and heavy, stupid and unteachable, hard and stubborn.

(v10) “make their ears heavy” which means  that they cannot hear the word, so as to understand it.

(v10) “…..and shut their eyes;” It denotes the state of mind which is more and more unwilling to attend to the truth.

(v10) “lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understated with their heart;” which means unless they’re broken over their sin and repent and embrace the truth of the gospel found in the Messiah……….they will continue down the road of destruction.
The gospel is going to fall on deaf ears and blind eyes…….. but I want you to tell them none the less Isaiah………..I want you to tell them Christian, none the less. Jesus never promised us that it was going to be easy! Did he? He said you and I will face people who will hate you for what you are saying…but be of good cheer they must hear it none the less in order to find His grace and pardon for sin. Romans 10:15-17 “And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

“On May 26, 2002, Memorial day weekend, a barge pilot passed out and hit a bridge  over the Arkansas River. This accident dropped a 600 foot span of the bridge 62 feet into the swift flowing river below. Eleven people (and a trailer full of show horses) died as their cars and 18-wheelers dove over the edge of the missing span, one piling on top of another. There were several fishermen on the river in a bass competition, which saw the bridge collapse. Realizing that the cars & trucks were still coming, one of the fishermen below the bridge reached into his boats' emergency kit for the emergency flare. Whipping the flare up into firing position, the fisherman let the missile fly: up, up, and over the edge of the last standing bridge span. That one flare providentially hit the windshield of the next 18-wheeler speeding down I-40 at 70 miles an hour. The shocked drive hit his brakes, and his front tires slid over the drop-off; putting his truck into reverse, he pulled his wheels back up onto the bridge, warning the other drivers. Another boat of fishermen saw a man under the damaged barge, who was holding on for dear life, and got a flotation device to him and pulled him into their boat, affecting the rescue. One man's (the river pilot) error resulted in the death of many (eleven people died); one man's quick thinking and action (the fisherman) saved the lives of many. The continued action of other fishermen saved the life of one who was savable, but sinking. You (we) have an emergency flare (the Gospel) in your emergency kit; will you pull it out to save the lives of others? Seeing people sinking down, about to go under will you throw them a life saver (Jesus)? Or are you afraid someone will think you silly or stupid for firing a flare or throwing of a life savior?

How will they know that I`m a Christian? By my passion and zeal for the gospel because the gospel is my life. God is still commissioning us to go! May we go for the sake of the gospel for the sake of lost souls? How beautiful are those who bring the gospel of peace. There are only five words the LORD desperately wants to hear from the church today!.............Here am I send me!

22 May 2012

HOW WILL THEY KNOW I’M A CHRISTIAN [PART 5]



Joshua 14:6-15

When you think of the word disciple what comes to mind? Serving, to follow after? If so you’re on the right train. A disciple by definition is: According to the New Oxford American Dictionary a disciple is “a follower, fanatic, believer, student, and supporter." In Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, we find that the word used in the Greek New Testament for "disciple" is "mathetes." This means “learner, pupil, and disciple." A disciple is one who believes and follows the teachings of another, and desires to learn more of his master's will. Historians said that the unbelievers in Antioch started calling the early beleivers "Disciples"  this and it was a derogatory word at the time. It meant “Little Christ”. The Unbelievers were using this to put down the Disciples. They said they were acting just like a Little Jesus....[Luke wrote this The Disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Acts 11:26b] It seems that trend of behavior hasn’t left us…….People today would say that we’re? Jesus freaks, fundamentalists, intolerant or haters to name a few. See! Being a true disciple is a lifelong process that never ends until He calls us home to glory. Things we need to understand……being a disciple of Jesus isn’t about having a new set of morals and rules to live by…..though that is true to some extent. Being a disciple is the supernatural and transforming work that God does as He continually changes each and every Christian into the image of Christ. This is the reason and foundation of our discipleship. Being a disciple of Jesus takes great courage, faith, obedience and perseverance! So let me ask you! Do you display the characteristics by the definition mentioned? Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ?

How will they know that I’m a Christian? By whom I follow with my whole life? I think one of the greatest examples of a disciple who lived and displayed these characteristics is a simple man name Caleb, who was a man who feared the Lord and wanted nothing more than to please and serve the Lord. Why? Because he had a high view of God and never found it boring to live his life for Him.

See back in the Book of Numbers we read about Caleb coming on the scene........Number 13: 26-33 “And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. And they told him, "We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large………..But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, "Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it." Then the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are." So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, "The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height………..and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them."

But this cut to the heart of Caleb because it says “And Joshua….and Caleb, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, "The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them." Num 14:6-9

What was there response to this outburst of devotion to the Lord? “Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the LORD appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel.” Num 14:10

 So what happened next? “Then the LORD said, "I have pardoned, according to your word. But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD, none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it. But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it. Now, since the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwell in the valleys, turn tomorrow and set out for the wilderness by the way to the Red Sea." Num 14:20-25
Now we fast forward 45 years later to the Book of Joshua chapter 14! We see this covenant promised fulfilled in a man who was a devoted disciple of the Living God. See we need to understand this wasn’t any ordinary land……this was the Hebron! This was the city of Abraham the “friend of God” and Hebron’s present day name is still called “The Friend”. Hebron is the city that represented the everlasting Covenant of all the children of faith to Abraham and his descendants [Gen 17:8]. Hebron was the city of David where he was crowned before he reigned in Jerusalem. Hebron is still one of the most interesting and delightful places in Palestine. Hebron is a highly elevated spot, overlooking a wide extent of country which has a scene of surpassing beauty, fertility and luxuriance. Remember what Moses wrote when they came back from spying? “And they came to the Valley of Eshcol and cut down from there a branch with a single cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a pole between two of them; they also brought some pomegranates and figs.” Num 13:23. Hebron country side is covered with vineyards and plantations…….The grapes of Eshcol still grow in the valleys.

So this isn’t some plot of useless land that God promised Joshua and Caleb some 45 years ago. This promise is what fueled Caleb to continue each and every day for! Why because it flowed with the protection and blessings of our Lord and as a disciple it was his passion to serve no matter what. Just as the Gospel flows with His promise of eternal life with His son Jesus Christ.
So, we see a wonderful example for us to live by today in this portion of Scripture. It speaks to all ages [young and old]

1.       A true disciple is someone who is  faithful [v7]
2.       A true disciple is someone who shadows another [v8-v9]
3.      A true disciple is someone who is strong and courageous [v11-v15]

A TRUE DISCIPLE IS SOMEONE WHO IS CHARACTERIZED BY A LIFE OF FAITHFULNESS [V7,V12]

 “I brought back word to him, as it was in my heart.” [v7] This is the heart of a true disciple! He gave to Moses upon his return a sincere, honest and faithful representation of the land, and its inhabitants, as it appeared to him. And it was his faith that drove his passion for God. Faith is one of the main ingredients that we find victory in battle, struggles and temptations in this life. It was Caleb’s faith that gave him the fuel to say the things he said when they went in to spy on the land, and here in this portion of scripture. When you’re a disciple [a follower after Christ with a burning passion]….it’s our faith that comes easy, because it’s God who grants us faith in the first place. Paul wrote these words! “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” Eph 2:4-8. One of the greatest gifts God could ever give us is a faith that is illuminated to His mercy and grace. Faith is the foundation of our relationship with Christ and is everything according to the Gospel. Even when Jesus spoke about the dangers of temptation and the command to forgive…..the disciples requested more faith. Luke 17:1-6And he said to his disciples, "Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him." The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"
It’s by our faith that we are able to endure and continue because we trust in the promises that He has made through His word [firmly planted in Christ]. Caleb knew that! The question for us is……Do we?

A TRUE DISCIPLE IS SOMEONE WHO SHADOWS THE LORD [V8-V9]

 When we follow him we are obeying Him and this means we are pleasing Him. That why it says “I have followed the LORD my God” and didn’t grumble with the others. See a disciple is someone who stands beside the Lord and won’t jump ship every time there is a ripple in the water. A disciple is a person who is firmly planted because of their faith to follow the leader which is the Living God of the bible. John Gill in his commentary said this “Caleb, did not join with them in an ill report of the good land; but having the fear of God before his eyes, walked after that, and delivered in his report faithfully, according to the dictates of his conscience, and the real sentiments of his mind.” Remember! When we stand fast in the place of testing….when we sacrifice our selfish things or desires is when will hear those beautiful words....Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'” Matt 25:21.

Let me ask you! If this was you what would you do? Are you going to grumble and complain with doubt and fear as the nation did? The reason I ask…….  Joshua writes these words about what Caleb spoke to Moses! “brethren….made the heart of the people melt” [v8] which means to discourage them; fill them with fears, to have sunken spirits. But the true disciple’s response in with faith because they believe and trust whom they follow! “but I wholly followed the LORD my God” This is what Jesus meant when he said “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." John 14:21. To follow after Jesus, is a disciples pre-requisite, it’s our duty, honor, and passion! To follow after Jesus is to have the greatest and most precious jewel in the whole entire universe. To follow after Jesus is to walk with a living hope in a mighty God….not a walk of doubt and despair because it looks impossible. Again remember what Jesus said “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God." Mark 10: 27

 A TRUE DISCIPLE IS SOMEONE WHO IS STRONG AND COURAGEOUS TO THE END [V11-V15]

Look what Joshua wrote for us to find encouragement! “I am still strong today” This is the part I love in this passage!  A man who is passionate, and all fired up to possess the promises of God. A man who will continue to do the Lord’s at any cost or at any age. This is what churches desire today and need today........More Caleb types, who will serve with courage, honor and are not afraid to stand for the truth of God and His promises. John Calvin said it best when it came to defending the word of God and His promises “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.” A disciple is strong not weak and unable to endure or continue! “I can do all things” Phil 4:13. A disciple never calls it quits until God says so…..and Caleb is a prime example for us here this morning. See society has it all backwards! The world says “plan for your retirement so that you can rest and enjoy life.” Get your Freedom 55 now, so that you can live out the rest of your life with ease and tranquility collecting shells and playing shuffle board. Why? Because you deserve it….you worked hard for it. Give me a break! Caleb is 85 years of age and he still wants to go to war because of his love and passion for the God of the bible. This truth goes on the same lines that Isaiah wrote “but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isa 40:31. We should never use age or lack off as an excuse to serve the living God of the bible.

The church needs more Caleb’s and less excuse makers as it happened in his day! “Where are the men of courage” as Alex Kendrick said in the movie “Courageous!” The same principle applies to you ladies.
·         Where are the men who will stand and fight for what are right?
·         Where are the men who walk with a burning passion for truth?
·         Where are the men who will fight for the sake of the gospel?
·         Where the men who are never are bored being a disciple of Jesus Christ?

Again never let age discourage you from serving. It’s not your age that’s holding you back it the lack of courage and strength to continue for His sake and for His glory. There is a place for everyone young and old….never forget that because Caleb is our example. The disciples in the New Testament are our examples. The reformers and missionaries though out generations are our examples. The churches since the early church until today are our examples. A disciple of Christ has not age limit and is never bored to say because He lives I can face tomorrow! But remember! Being a disciple isn’t about fame, fortune or personal glory or gain…..It’s a life that may seem boring to the world but life giving to the Christian day by day until He calls us home.

How will they know that I’m a Christian?  By my daily walk of faith to follow the Lord of hope with courage and the examples laid for me in Scripture.“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” Heb 12:1-3. How can we ever grow weary when the LORD is our source of strength to endure no matter how old we are or become? A true disciple follows until he or she hears those beautiful words “well done, good and faithful servant…”  Will you hear those precious words one day? 

21 May 2012

HOW WILL THEY KNOW I’M A CHRISTIAN [PART 4]




1 John 2:15-16

It always amazes me every time I read an article or blog post about how we try to so hard to fit in, when we are told not too by the One that grants us eternal life through the Gospel. Now, I’m not referring to the idea that we become monks or isolate ourselves on an island away from people and lost sinners. I’m referring to the fact that so many so called Christian’s are sometimes more fascinated with this world then they are with eternal things [meaning standing and desiring to look into face of Jesus, the one that saved my wretched soul]. Remember what Jesus said “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” John 17:15-16. As Leonard Ravenhill boldly said Is the world crucified to you tonight? Or does it fascinate you?" See throughout the Scriptures we read passages like.......


Isa 13:11 “I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.”


Matt 16:26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?......”


Mark 4:19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”


John 7:7 “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.”
John 15:18 If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”


John 17:14 “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”
Rom 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”


1 Cor 3:19 “For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.”


Eph 2:2 “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.”


1 Tim 6:7 “for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.”


James 4:4 “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”


How will they know that I’m a Christian? How we display ourselves in this world as a new creation under Christ. Let me ask you.......Do you smell like the world? Do you look like the world? Do you desire the things of this world? These simple questions can easily determine what you desire most! Christ or this world. As John Piper said “the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever” The only way that’s possible is to forsake this fallen world and all it has to offer. The only thing worth caring for is lost souls who have bought into the American dream or lie. As David Platt said in his book “Radical” ....we have turned Jesus into a nice comfortable suburb Saviour who wants us to be filled with what this world offers. He said “Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of these eager followers of Jesus in the first century. What if I was the potential disciple being told to drop my nets? What if you were the man whom Jesus told to not even say good-bye to his family? What if we were told to hate our families and give up everything we had in order to follow Jesus? This is where we come face to face with a dangerous reality. We do have to give up everything we have to follow Jesus. We do have to love him in a way that makes our closest relationships in this world look like hate. And it is entirely possible that he will tell us to sell everything we have and give it to the poor. But we don’t want to believe it. We are afraid of what it might mean for our lives. So we rationalize these passages away. “Jesus wouldn’t really tell us not to bury our father or say good-bye to our family. Jesus didn’t literally mean to sell all we have and give it to the poor. What Jesus really meant was…” And this is where we need to pause. Because we are starting to redefine Christianity. We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with. A nice, middle-class, American Jesus.” So let me ask you! Is He your all consuming desire and joy? And I’m meaning not just this morning, but each and every day? John has something to tell us this morning [he’s talking you and me (Christians) this morning]


He says “do not love the world” Now! We need to understand that this statement “world”! John is not telling us to hate.....His creation , His sunsets, His thunder and lightning storms as we saw the past few days. Wildlife & Mountains, Flowers or things of that nature. Yes, even the flat land of the Prairies. Why? Because declared the physical created world “Very Good”. Even though this world is stained with sin......nature’s physical beauty still declares the glory of God. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” [Ps 19:1] Something else we need to consider!  John also wouldn’t be telling us to hate humanity! Remember John is the one who penned the words “for God so loved the world” We wouldn’t need to listen to Jesus or the disciples about going into this fallen world with the Gospel. What John is referring to0........ Are the things that take our eyes of the prize [Jesus Christ?] Why? Because God know that the sinful man and woman are easily swayed to find more interesting in the things of this world......then they would with Him and His grace. That could be something as simple your favourite sports, TV show, book..... to job and relationships. Let me ask you! What fascinates you more?


For example is it......The team that wins that is going to win the Stanley Cup Playoffs? The pleasures of things in this world? Or the Gospel that saved your wretched soul and granted you eternal life with Jesus? Be careful how quickly you answer that question........because God’s knows the truth of your heart and its desires. Are you as Paul put it! “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Gal 6:14. To help preach that from our roof tops of our houses as Paul did, John warns us about three areas of life that leads to sin which causes us to turn our eyes to this world....... over Christ.


“lust of the flesh”
John is referring to the debased, the wicked cravings, desire of an evil heart. Jer 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” The “flesh” denotes the humanness and its sinful essence. “lust” refers to sensual impulses from this world that draws people towards sin. Which ultimately it’s any attitude, speech or action that opposes God’s Law. Its saying “I want this and I will have it...no matter what it takes it will be mine! Much of today’s youth have bought into this lie! They desire to fit in or like someone else and they will go great lengths to make this happen through fashion, music and etc. It’s the same thing James wrote “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” James 1:4. The world is enticing our little ones away from the family and a biblical worldview. It’s in the nature of the sinful man [his flesh] it’s what we were once in loved with (SELF)


“lust of the eyes"


With our eyes we are able to see God’s beauty, His creation and His excellent work. But! Our eyes also see temptation which is able to pervert the eyes and cause them to sin. See John is teaching us and warning us that the eyes have the capability to plunge people into dissatisfaction, covetousness, and idolatry. It’s so easy in our culture today to fall prey to these forms of sin. They look interesting or harmless on the outside......or worse yet they seem pretty and exciting, but if you looked deeper through the eyes of the new nature you would see that they empty and have no eternal value.


Biblical examples: Lot’s wife looked back because she was blinded by what this world offered.....David when he saw beauty of Bathsheba and that he must have it for his own.
Ananias and Sapphira when they lied and keep back a portion for themselves. Remember what Jesus said when He magnified the 7th commandment about the eyes? Matt 5:27-29 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.'  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.  Is this you? Or maybe this is still happening to you? One reason you might be falling into the trap that John is warning us about..........is because this world is filling your sinful desires with its lies.


“pride of life”


“pride” is an arrogance which arguably motivates all other sins. Pride corrupts the noblest parts of mans essence. It’s the ability to exalt oneself or seek fulfillment in other things. A prime example of this can be seen in Romans chapter 1. In Rom 1:21-25 “ 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. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.  A prideful person will do whatever it takes to remove the God of the bible from their lives by exalting something or themselves above Him and His deserved glory.


A prime example of all three of these at work can be seen where our sin nature began! In the Garden with Adam and Eve. Gen 3:1-7 “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked......” They lusted with their flesh because it appealed to their appetite. They lusted with their eyes because it was beautiful to look at. They became proud because they thought they could be wiser then God.


But the confidence and comfort that we can find throughout all of this........Is that Jesus Christ was tempted in the same way by Satan. And we know that He had victory and He’s victory is our victory to overcome this sinful world and all it has to offer! Luke 4:12 “And Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.' So after hearing John’s warning! What fascinates you more? What is truly fueling your fire? Is it the things of this fallen world that have no eternal value? Or is it the things of God that exceed far beyond our wildest dreams and desires? How will they know that I’m Christian? By the way I live out my life in this world for His glory. This world is passing away but He is renewing my love and passion for Him day by day until He calls me home. Not because Heaven is better, but because Jesus is there and He’s all I need and desire. As one writer put it! “one enemy that loves to usurp or LORD is self. This is a very dangerous enemy, because he comes in like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He is a cruel and crafty enemy; whenever we serve self, we are no longer serving Christ. Self will never be satisfied; it always wants to be just a little more comfortable, pampered and center of attention. Self will deceive you saying just a little more sleep, food or entertainment, but the next day he demands more; and the more you give the more you want. He will tell you how to serve Jesus and get you so busy doing all kinds of religious work that you won’t have time for prayer and reading of the Word. In reality you are not abiding in Him and have become alienated from the abundant life that you should have in Him. No wonder Jesus said to His disciples “if any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”


This is exactly what John is warning us about! Don’t fall prey to this fallen world to find fulfillment and joy. It will never happen. So let me ask you the Sunday question in light of John’s writings! What fascinates you the most this morning? Is it the world and all it has to offer? Or is it Jesus? But remember what Jesus said........"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. Matt 6:24. You need to decide because it will determine who you truly are and who you truly love the most!...........This world or Jesus?