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Men (and women) Everywhere!
17:30 “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now
commands all men everywhere to repent.
have noticed over the years that there is always a tendency on the part
of different groups of people to limit the Gospel.
Some limit it to ethnic groups.
Some limit it to a select group of the elect that God has
predetermined will be saved. Whatever
the limitations are, I notice that the people that preach the
limitations include themselves in the select group that they believe God
has called to be saved. The
people that I talk to who limit the Gospel take pride in the fact that
they are a select people that God has chosen to be saved.
is no Limitation in this Command
verse settles all of that for me. I
always let the simple scriptures explain the difficult ones and this
scripture seems fairly straight forward to me.
God commands ALL MEN EVERY WHERE to repent.
Now we know that true repentance is the change of mind that
brings us to faith in Christ. One
who hasn’t repented still has problems with what God has revealed in
the Scriptures that are keeping that person from believing.
Once we quit arguing with God, we are able to accept the truth of
God. Repentance produces
works just as faith produces works.
Works do not produce repentance.
So when Paul says that God commands all men everywhere to repent,
he is saying that all men everywhere need to change their minds so that
they can come to faith. No
one is saved apart from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Obviously, the Jews need for repentance involved different issues
than the Greeks need for repentance in Athens. Athens is where Paul was
preaching that God commands ALL MEN EVERYWHERE to repent.
all men everywhere repent? God
would not and does not command us to do that which we cannot do.
Some might argue that we cannot move mountains but that command
is a conditional promise. If
we have faith as a mustard seed, we could remove mountains.
I apparently don’t have that much faith.
Paul refers to the faith required to move mountains in 1
Corinthians 13:1-3. In that
passage he lists all faith along with other improbable exaggerations.
So I think I can say, that properly understood, the commands that
the Lord gives us are commands that we can and should carry out.
Man is weak and fails with regard to the moral commands of God,
but this command is given to overcome that weakness.
This command must be obeyed to be right with God.
need to Lose our Pride
need to lose our pride after we are saved and recognize that we are just
sinners saved by grace. I
know that sinners become saints upon believing in Christ.
But saints are still just sinners saved by grace.
We have nothing of which to be proud.
In preaching the Gospel, we preach that we too were caught in the
quagmire of sin. We too had
been deceived by Satan. But
by God’s grace we heard the Gospel and dealt with our problems of
unbelief and trusted Christ. Yes
we who are “in Christ” or “in Him (Ephesians 1:4)” are now
God’s elect people. In the
Old Testament those who were “born right” were his elect people.
In the New Testament those who are ”born right” or “born
again” are his elect people. In
the Old Testament, his elect was a physical people.
In the New Testament, his elect is a spiritual people that has
obeyed the command to repent.
have had people tell me that repentance is just a message to the Jews.
This verse puts that argument to rest.
I have had people tell me that only select people out of every
tongue, and nation and tribe are chosen to be saved.
This verse puts that argument to rest.
Ultimately, no one is excluded from the promise that those who
trust or believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved.
After all, in John 3:17 the Lord says, “For God did not send
His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through
Him might be saved.” Of
course the whole world is not saved, but God’s purpose in sending His
Son was to make it possible for the WHOLE WORLD to be saved.
who miss out on God’s salvation will have only themselves to blame.
Limiting the Gospel to certain groups of people would allow the
unsaved to blame God for their unbelief.
The Serpent questioned the certainty of the Word of God in the
garden and he is still doing that today.
We who have repented and believed should certainly not be used in
limiting the Gospel in any way. We
should not be doing Satan’s work of questioning clear simple promises
of Scripture. When I preach
the Gospel, I know that God is ready and willing to save any in my
audience who are willing to come to Him by faith.
God loved the world--the whole world without limitation.
For that I am truly thankful.
for the week of March 1, 2015
Saved People Make Dumb Decisions
7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find;
knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives,
and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
the Middle Eastern folk tales called “A Thousand and One Nights”
there is a fable about Aladdin and his lamp.
Without going into detail, Aladdin comes into possession of a
lamp which when rubbed produces a genie who says he can fulfill three
wishes for Aladdin. Aladdin
uses the wishes to get rich and powerful and to defeat an evil sorcerer.
Now the story is fiction with a moral point.
Unfortunately, many people seem to treat the Lord like a genie
(magical spirit who takes human form and performs miracles).
They use this verse to believe that they can get anything for
which they ask. The only
trouble is that experience proves that they can’t.
This out of context interpretation of the passage is detrimental
to our faith. When we find
out that the verse as it is often interpreted does not work, it would be
fairly easy to lose confidence in all that we believe about Christ being
the eternal Son of God and the Savior of Sinners.
Prayer is Powerful
Lord did command his followers to pray and He usually tells them to pray
in His name. That simply
means that they are to pray for things that He authorizes.
We need to forgive others in order to be praying in full
fellowship with the Father and only then can we really be praying in the
Lord’s name. Nearly all of
the portions on prayer have conditions associated with the prayer, but
not this promise. So is this
promise an open ended prayer where we can treat the Lord like a “Genie
in a lamp?” The answer is “no!”
Key is near the Door
preachers that I have heard over the years always said that when
interpreting a difficult passage that the key was always near the door.
That was another way of saying, “let the context determine the
interpretation.” In this
case the context has to do with a very misunderstood verse about
judging. Most think the
passage says we shouldn’t judge when what it really says is that we
shouldn’t judge in a way that we would not want to be judged.
The passage says do not judge hypocritically and if you do, it
will come back to haunt you. In
addition, we are to get our own lives in order before trying to correct
passage also has a well-known verse about giving that which is holy to
dogs and not casting pearls before swine.
Again, in the context, the Lord is saying that we should not go
to unbelievers to judge spiritual problems.
Paul clarifies this in 1 Corinthians 6.
Then the Lord gives this admonition that we have quoted above.
Quite clearly the Lord is saying that if we don’t know how to judge a
problem rightly; if we ask, the Lord will give us the wisdom to do so. This
is clarified by James the Lord’s brother who writes, “If any of you
lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without
reproach, and it will be given to him (James 1:5).”
So when the Lord says ask, seek and knock he is not trying to
make us feel like failures for not being able to do miracles, but He is
encouraging us to diligently seek for the wisdom we need in judging or
discerning right and wrong when a problem is difficult.
If we seek for that wisdom, the Lord will make sure that we find
are some things for which we don’t need to ask the Lord.
We who are believers in the Lord don’t need to ask for the Holy
Spirit since we were sealed by Holy Spirit the moment we believed.
We just need to say thank you.
But wisdom—now that is different.
Even saved people make dumb decisions.
Because of that we do need to ask for wisdom.
verse is not an Aladdin’s lamp. The
Lord is probably not going to make you miraculously rich (though if you
are saved, He has promised to meet your needs.) This verse encourages us
to know that the Lord will give us wisdom if we ask Him for it.
Please don’t take this verse to mean that the Lord will spare
you if you intentionally jump off a third-story roof.
We were not made to fly. I
guarantee that you will get hurt. Even
the Lord did not do this
for the week of March 8, 2015
Last Great Enemy
14:34 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to
death. Stay here and watch.”
Last Great Enemy
people want to avoid death if at all possible.
Even Christians who say that they are not afraid to die tend to
wear seat belts, they go to doctors, they eat health food and they work
out at gyms. Generally these
are things that help us live longer. We
may say that we are doing those things just to feel better while we are
living; but, somehow, I think most people are like me.
They would like to live forever or at least until the Lord
returns. I believe that God
will rapture (catch away) the church before the great and terrible day
of the Lord’s wrath comes, and I would certainly prefer going to
heaven that way without having to face that last great enemy called
death (1 Corinthians 15:26). Heaven
is no doubt a wonderful place, but most of us would just as soon fight
it out on planet earth rather than having to face that last great enemy.
There are exceptions of course.
There is a day coming when the wrath of God on a Christ-rejecting
world will be so severe that people will seek death and not find it
(Revelation 9:6). There are
also people that for one reason or another take their own lives.
But these are exceptions and not the rule.
Do we Dread of Fear Death?
is to a great extent a mystery. People
tell us that no one has gone to heaven and then come back to tell us
about it. But of course that
is not really true. I have
talked to people who have had out of body experiences that seem quite
believable to me. However,
there are a number of reasons why some of the current books on best
seller lists do not seem believable to me.
But the most reliable book is the Bible, and in the Bible the
Lord authoritatively tells us about heaven because He came from there.
In addition, Moses and Elijah appeared on the Mount of
Transfiguration talking to the Lord.
Moses had died about 1500 years earlier and Elijah had been taken
to heaven without dying. But
both were living a conscious life in heaven and they knew what was going
on with the Lord down here on earth. Death
is certainly not the end but those who die unsaved will wish that it
was. For those who have
trusted Christ, eternal life has got to be glorious.
We may not know a lot about that life but it has got to be a
whole lot better than this one.
it appears that Paul had an out of body experience in 2 Corinthians
12:1-6. He was caught up to
paradise and saw things that he wasn’t allowed to tell us.
However, he does tell the Corinthians that he would rather be
absent from the body and present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).
He too went to heaven and came back and it caused him to want to
it Wrong to Fear Death?
short answer to this question is “no.”
If we are saved, we certainly do not need to fear what comes
after death. But the process
of dying can be a fearful thing. The
Lord knew in the Garden of Gethsemane that His process of dying was
going to be painful. He was
going to be crucified. Satan
used that issue to attack him in the Garden.
That is why the Lord was EXCEEDING sorrowful even unto death.
If the Lord could be attacked by Satan that severely before He
died, certainly Satan will often attack the believer that way before he
or she dies. The unbeliever
should fear death because of what comes after death for them.
The believer may fear the process of dying but what comes after
will be glorious.
Believer is not left Alone
Lord wanted three of His disciples to be with Him when He was facing the
death. Most people want
their friends and relatives present when they die.
But for the Lord, the disciples were not really with Him.
Instead they were tired and slept. Thankfully
some of them were with Him at the cross.
But the Lord will never leave the believer alone in their hour of
trial. Isaiah says to
not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are
you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
shall the flame scorch you. (Isaiah 43:1-2)
fear of death for a Christian is really the fear of the process of
dying. Fearing death is not
sin. Even the Lord feared
that process. But the saved
can be encouraged by the promise that in that hour of trial, the Lord
will be with them. And after
the process is over, we too will hear and see things that will leave us
speechless. If I were
an unbeliever, I would be quaking in my boots.
But for a believer the best is yet to come.
for the week of March 15, 2015
Potholes of Life
13:38 “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this
Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins.”
Friday was the first day of spring.
It even felt like spring and smelled like spring.
After a hard cold winter when the wind has been howling and snow
has been falling and the temperatures have been dropping, it is always
refreshing to feel the warmth of the sun on a nice spring day.
We are reminded that winter doesn’t last forever and that life
is about to be renewed. It
almost, almost I say, wants to make one sing and dance.
But in the spring, sometimes it is necessary to face the potholes
that we hit during the winter.
in the Road
the first day of spring this year, I took my car into the dealer for
some routine maintenance. Only
it wasn’t routine. They
told me that the tires weren’t wearing properly and that the car
should aligned. Now I
shouldn’t have had to be told that as I remember at least three
“bumps” in the road that almost caused my teeth to fall out.
One of them caused the glove compartment door to release and fall
open. I knew that I should
have done something about the damage that those bumps in the road likely
caused. But the car seemed
to be driving fairly well, and I kept putting off the inevitable.
I kept trying to tell myself that there was nothing really wrong
and that the car would be fine without a checkup by the doctor.
is kind of like that in our lives. Sin
is really just an offense against God and it may be an offense against
other people. Sin can be
intentional and it can be unintentional.
Sin can be things that we should have done but didn’t do, and
it can be things that we did do that we shouldn’t have.
But anyway we describe sin, sin is a bump in the road of life.
If sin is not faced, it will seem like we are in the winter
season of life with the wind in our faces and the temperature below
zero. It will seem like the
steering is not right in our cars. Many
little bumps can accumulate to where the car is not driving right and
one big bump can really destroy our peace and happiness.
People would like to ignore the bumps in life and say that they
don’t matter. However,
ignoring these problems (and we don’t need to be told that they are
problems), can cause serious depression and anxiety.
And worse of all, sin opens us up to Satanic attack where we want
to blame God for our problems instead of trusting Him to solve them.
Many of us blame God for the way He has made us and for what He
has allowed in our lives. In reality sin proves that Satan is real, and
we should be blaming him and not God.
there is a solution. It is
called “forgiveness of sins.” There
is just nothing like true forgiveness.
It involves a meeting of minds.
The offender must confess his sin.
The one who is offended needs to be able to forgive that sin.
When minds meet, there is reconciliation.
Men forgive others because they know that they too have harmed
others. It would be hypocritical to want to be forgiven if we can’t
forgive others. Because of
our own sin, we really don’t have the right to punish others (correct
and discipline maybe, but not punish).
But God can do what man cannot.
He recognizes that sin deserves punishment.
Christ bore the punishment our sins deserved and now offers to us
the “forgiveness” of sins on a righteous basis.
When we confess our sins, He can be faithful and just in
forgiving them (1 John 1:9).
all know the joy that comes when we are reconciled to friends and family
members that we have offended. It
is just like smelling the first flowers of spring.
But it is much more exhilarating to know that we have been
forgiven by God. That puts
the car back on the right track. That
corrects the damage the bumps in the road have caused and puts the wind
at our back. Why, oh why,
would anyone want to go through life shackled by the burden of
unforgiven sin when in a simple moment alone with God, confession can be
made and forgiveness and reconciliation can be obtained?
Pesky On-going Sins
we are going to enjoy a spiritual spring time and if we are going to
have the car of life run in a straight line, we need the forgiveness of
sins that comes with the new birth. That’s
the time in our lives when we first understood and trusted in the truth
that Christ died for our sins. When
we receive Christ as our Savior, one of our blessings is to receive the
forgiveness of sins. Provision
has been made for past sins, on-going present sins (we all have them),
and future sins. But because
of those pesky on-going present sins, we who are forgiven need to
confess to those we sin against; and, most certainly, we need to confess
to God when we hit bumps in the road as we go along life’s pathway.
When we are reconciled to God and to one another, the sun will be
warm, the wind will be light and from the south, and the car will drive
down the road in the way it was designed.
for the week of March 22, 2015
the Lord Trust Me?
4:2 Continue earnestly in
prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also
for us, that God would open to us a door
for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in
Paul preached the Gospel, He looked for doors that the Lord had opened.
He had found one at Ephesus.
What joy he must have had as he saw their response to the Gospel.
But on his last personal
contact with the elders at Ephesus he tells them, “For I know this,
that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not
sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking
perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves (Acts
20:29-30).” He knew that
the work that had started with such love and enthusiasm for the Lord,
would soon be corrupted by those who were after disciples for themselves
rather than making disciples for the Lord.
The Ephesians would not be able to discern savage wolves and
perverse teachers. Ultimately,
according to John in Revelation 2:4, they had left their first love.
This probably took about 30 years.
The Lord had not left them but they had left the Lord.
is no joy in knowing that any good work that God establishes will be
attacked by those who not only want to have people follow them instead
of the Lord, but who
actually want to destroy that which is of God.
The joy is in knowing that with regard to the church in the broad
sense, the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
The Lord is always going to have faithful people.
They may feel isolated and alone.
They may be weak and small in number.
They may be misunderstood by the world and by secular Christians.
At times they will be considered legalistic and at times they
will be considered out of touch with society.
But I want to be a part of their number.
Not only do I want to trust the Lord, but I want Him to be able
to trust me.
Joy of a Door that the Lord Opens
we have to wonder if the Lord really does trust us.
My ministry is small. It
was supposed to be large by now. We
say we don’t measure our success by numbers or riches; but frankly,
once in a while, there needs to be some encouragement in this business.
We not only need to know the promises of God, we need to see Him
fulfill those promises in a tangible way.
Most of my friends are so in to teaching the Christians that they
ignore the few unsaved that may be present in a meeting.
I try not to do that. I
pray for open doors in the Gospel. And
recently, once again, the Lord gave me that:
was holding a Bible study in my local church (some of you know the name
of that church is Panera Bread). The
Bible study was in a back booth and we thought we were being discreet,
but maybe, just maybe, I had gotten a little bit too enthused about the
subject matter at hand. All
of a sudden a college-age girl sitting ahead of us, got up and asked me
if she could ask me a question.
I said absolutely. She
said I have been overhearing your conversation and I have wondered if
God hates homosexuals. Now
that was not the subject of our conversation
I was happy to tell her that God hates sin but He does not
hate those who sin. In fact
that is what Easter is all about. The
resurrection proves that God has been satisfied with the substitutionary
sacrifice of Christ for sin, and those who have sinned in any way can be
forgiven. And that is a
wonderful thing. I did
assure her that because I believe the Bible, I had to tell her that the
practice of the homosexual lifestyle is sin but that it is not the only
sin that grieves God. Heterosexual
sin also grieves God. We have all practiced sin of differing kinds in
differing ways. My Bible
study partner was watching her face while we talked and was impressed
with the fact that her question was not confrontational.
Her interest was genuine. She
did not question whether there was a God, but wanted to know how He
viewed the problem. I gave
her some contact information and I hope to talk to her again.
was thankful that the Lord thought he could trust the two of us to be
faithful to that girl. We
did see the Lord open a door to the Gospel. We
didn’t force the Gospel on that girl, but we were available and maybe
kind of vocal. On a
number of occasions people in Panera’s have told us that they have
been listening. We don’t
intentionally try to preach to those around us, but if they overhear, it
is ok with me. And it must
be ok with the Lord.
joy there is in being trusted with the message of the Gospel.
Maybe, just maybe, others have overheard us as we have discussed
the truth of Scripture in that “church” and maybe, just maybe, our
work has influenced more people than we know.
I want to find those open doors where the Lord can trust me to be
faithful to Him. Let others
be the destroyers, l want to be a builder.
for the week of March 29, 2015