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The issue of creation has been viewed as a peripheral issue and not all that important to the testimony of Biblical Christianity. By downplaying this issue many professing Christians think they can earn the respect of the unsaved world. They hope that maybe then the world will come to believe in Christ. However, we never make progress in the gospel by compromising the truth. In fact there are three major issues that stand or fall with the issue of creation.
First, there is the issue of authority. The Apostle Peter warned us in the third chapter of his second epistle that there would come “scoffers” in the last days who would follow after their own desires (v. 3). He describes them as “willingly ignorant” (v. 5). This refers to people who are deliberately ignorant, not willing to face the facts staring them in the face. For the person who believes the Bible this strikes right at the heart of the authority question. Are we going to believe the Bible or science? Which one is the final authority?
This question cannot be swept under the rug and forgotten as if it does not matter. In the 1970’s a scientist named Johanson found the skull of a supposed female ape-woman whom he dubbed as “Lucy”. The implication of the find for many evolutionists was that “she” could very well have been the “original” from which all of us have descended. However, the Bible clearly teaches that man was made first, then woman (Genesis 2:7-25). By which authority do we arrive at our conclusion - the Bible or the scientific community?
Hugh Ross, a progressive creationist who has accepted evolutionary ideas in astronomy, demands that we interpret the Bible by what we see in nature. He treats the Book of Nature as if it is a 67th book of the Bible (See Creation and Time, by Hugh Ross, pp. 56-57). However, the appropriate way to consider the authority question comes from the great reformer of the Sixteenth Century, John Calvin: “The Bible – God’s special revelation – is like spectacles that we must put on if we are to correctly read the book of nature – God’s revelation in creation.” (See Dr. D. James Kennedy, What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?, p. 102).
We should interpret science by a properly interpreted Bible. If so-called science has claims against the Bible, it either does not have enough facts or misunderstands the facts that it does have. No creationist should fear standing with the Bible as the final authority over nature. To stand with the Bible is to stand with Christ who proclaimed: Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away (Matt 24:35).
Second, there is the issue of time. This is a key issue in the creation controversy. While good Christians can disagree over this issue, it is clear that the historic view of the church has been that the Bible teaches a young earth and a young age for mankind. Exodus 20:11 concisely teaches that Genesis 1:1 is included in the six days of creation and refutes any notion of millions or billions of years as the age of the earth or the universe.
We readily reject the notion of man coming from monkeys and apes. Why? Because we know that Genesis 2:7 states that God created Adam directly from the dust of the ground. So we do not accept evolution when it speaks about the origins of man. But do we accept what evolution teaches about the origins of other things? Geologists say the age of the earth is 4 to 5 billion years old. Astronomers and cosmologists say the age of the stars, galaxies, and the universe is about 12-15 billion years old. But either the Bible is true or evolution is true. Both cannot be factually correct.
Finally, we see the issue of eternity. The truth is that these notions of millions and billions of years come out of the same swamp that says that man evolved from apes or monkeys. To embrace one aspect of evolution is to bring down the doctrine of creation and damage faith in the Bible. This affects the salvation of souls. Peter mentioned this in his exhortation in 2 Peter 3:4: “…Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” Dr. Henry Morris of the Institute for Creation Research notes how far this belief in evolution has gone: “It has been made the basic premise of origins and meaning, not only in science and history, but also in the social sciences, the humanities, the fine arts and practically every other discipline of study and practice in the world. This, indeed, is a most remarkable fulfillment of Peter’s prophecy, and surely must indicate that these really are the last days…” (Defender’s Study Bible, p. 1406).
When Paul stood at
Mars Hill in
This is no side issue. It is the central issue in the warfare we are engaged in. I have witnessed to many people who have rejected Christ because they were taught that evolution is true and the Bible is therefore wrong. Evolutionary thinking has captivated the scientific community of the world and also the culture. It has been Satan’s masterpiece to consign men and women to an eternal hell rejecting their Creator and Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. It has damaged the faith of countless Christians who have been intimidated and do not know what to think.
If the church is to turn the tide of thinking toward the Bible it must deal with the creation issues that are raging. Without a proper Creator, there will be no Savior. And with no Savior, a person will have to face the Coming Judge. No - creation is not a peripheral issue. It is the main issue with eternity hanging in the balance.
by Stephen Stallard
One of the most ridiculed stories of the Bible is the account of Noah’s Flood, which is contained in Genesis chapters six through eight. The skeptics have continually heaped scorn and mockery upon this account. Those who believe in a historical global flood are often looked upon with utter disdain. As Christians, we should not allow the humanists to dictate our beliefs about anything, including the Flood.
Some believers might say that the Flood is not important. They argue that it does not really matter whether or not the Flood was real, or whether it really covered the whole earth. But these well-meaning Christians cannot answer this question: If the Flood did not actually happen the way the Bible said it did, then how we can trust God about anything? After all, my eternal security is based upon the strength of God’s promise (Rom 10:13). If God’s words have no meaning then His promise of salvation is an empty one. With this in mind let us examine the case for Noah’s Flood.
We will first of all take a look at The Scriptural Record. The Bible is the infallibly inspired Word of God, and it contains no errors. It says “the fountains of the great deep and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights” (Gen 7:11b-12). This was no mere summer shower. The violent storm lasted forty days and forty nights, wiping out all flesh (7:21) and covering the entire earth (7:19-20).
have tried to say that the Flood was an event local to the
The Apostle Peter adds to the Scriptural record of the Flood. He recorded that “the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished” (2 Pet 3:6). He understood that the entire human civilization was destroyed as the result of the Flood. Only Noah and his family were saved: “while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved” (1 Pet 3:20b).
The greatest New Testament defense of Noah’s Flood is the Lord Jesus Himself. He used this historical example to illustrate the future judgment. He said “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matt 24:37). To reject Noah’s Flood is to reject the words of our Lord.
The Scientific Record also lends its support to the idea of a great flood in Noah’s day. The fossils have been used as one of the greatest “evidences” of Evolution. Contrary to popular teaching, however, nothing could be further from the truth. Fossils are not being regularly formed today. Why is this? If it takes millions of years (as the evolutionists teach) why are we not seeing certain dead animals and people finally becoming fossilized?
The answer is very simple. It does not take long periods of time to produce fossils. In fact, scientists have recently been able to document the rapid fossilization of modern-day fossils. So, where did the massive fossil graveyards come from? Renowned creation scientist Henry Morris has the answer: “There seems, therefore, no better explanation for their [the fossils] existence in most cases than the Flood and its associated geological and hydraulic activities” (See The Biblical Basis for Modern Science, page 293).
The Secular Record also helps to make the case for Noah’s Flood. People often make the mistake of assuming that the Bible is the only written record of the Flood. They are wrong. Diverse people groups from all over the world have both written stories and oral traditions that have been handed down for generations. These stories invariably tell of a vast flood that destroyed everyone on earth, except for one man and his family.
American Indians have an ancient legend about how the
The greatest Flood legend is recorded in the Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic. Merrill F. Unger pointed out that the Bible’s Flood story matched the Babylonian one in several ways. 1. They both state that the Flood was planned by God. 2. They both agree that the hero was told by God that the Flood was coming. 3. They both tell us that the Flood was a judgment for sin. 4. They both observe that the hero built a boat, in which he, his family, and selected animals survived the Flood. 5. They both tell of the duration of the Flood. 6. They both name the boat’s landing place. 7. They both describe how the hero sent forth birds out of the ark to see if the waters had gone down (See Archaeology and the Old Testament, pages 55-65).
We should point out that there are differences between the two accounts. However, the points of similarity are enormous. How is it that there are two different Flood stories that are alike in so many ways? The Evolutionists account for this by saying that the Bible copied from the Gilgamesh Epic. As Christians we know that the reverse is true. The Babylonians, Chinese, Australians, American Indians, and others all have similar flood legends. This could only have happened if there was an historical flood sometime in the past.
We have seen that the case for Noah’s Flood is clear and compelling, so why do so many people reject the truth? Humanists do not believe in a worldwide flood because they do not want to believe it ever happened. They are the ones who are described by Peter: “there shall come in the last days scoffers...saying where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that...the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. But the heavens and the earth , which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment” (2 Pet 3:3-7).
There was only one escape for Noah and his family; they had to have an ark of salvation. Similarly, there is only one hope for us. Jesus Christ is our ark of salvation. He paid our sin-debt and rose from the dead so that we could be saved through repentance and faith. We can be safe from the judgment to come by resting securely in Christ our Ark. God will judge this world. It happened once; it will happen again. Are you ready?
by Jimmy Stallard
One of the greatest deceptions in the history of the world has been the doctrine of evolution. For the last 150 years evolutionary thinking has been in the forefront of ideas about the reality of the world and the universe around us and it has made a major impact on society. Since Charles Darwin’s publication of The Origin of Species in 1859 the world has become a much more evil place and much of it can be laid at the feet of evolutionary teaching. Multitudes of people have rejected God and died without Christ because of this teaching more than any other teaching throughout time. What can be said about such a doctrine?
First, we see that evolution is really a religion of chaos. Its impact in modern times has been great since the Enlightenment of the 1700’s because evolution was wrapped in the garment of “science”. This gave it respectability and credibility. However, evolution is nothing new. It has been around for a long time. In his book The Long War Against God, Dr. Henry Morris documents the seed form of evolution at least back to the time of the Greeks. Six centuries before Jesus Christ Greek mythology was born along with Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism. All of these carried forms of evolutionary thinking. Dr. Morris points out that though Hinduism is much older than these other philosophies, its main writings used today, the Vedanta, have the same sort of teaching and came about in the same time period (p. 219). In other words, evolution has been masquerading as a scientifically proven fact when it is nothing more than a philosophy of life embedded in many pagan religions for thousands of years. This entire structure of survival of the fittest, with death and decay, gives rise to a philosophy or religion of chaos born out of paganism. And this is what our children are being taught in our public school classrooms and in the universities of the land.
Second, evolution can be described as a retreat from reality. Those who hold to false philosophies will accuse Bible-believing Christians as people who do not face reality. But what people quickly accuse others of is usually what they are guilty of themselves. Romans Chapter One gives us a clue as to how man retreats from reality. It tells us that man must suppress the truth for people not to see it (v. 18); that the existence of God is readily seen by mankind (v. 20); that man tends to think he is wise when he is really a fool (v. 22); that man will readily exchange the truth for a lie (v. 25); and that man does not like to retain the truth of God in his mind (v. 28). In other words, if man does not accept God and His truth as it is revealed in the Bible, he will retreat from that reality and create one to his own liking. This is the essence of what evolution has done. It is a philosophy and a religion that has been concocted to support living apart from a Creator God. In fact, Dr. Henry Morris suggests that Lucifer, who became Satan, would have been created the first day of Creation. His first sight would have been the chaos of waters around him (Genesis 1:2). Would this lead him to believe his origin was in the waters instead of being created by God? Perhaps the enemy of God has retreated from reality and has tried to impose a philosophy to support his views (Long War Against God, p. 259).
Finally, evolution has had a disastrous effect in the removal of absolutes. Romans One describes people who worship creatures rather than the Creator (v. 23, 25), that have been given up to their own “vile affections” (v. 26) and a “reprobate mind” (v. 28). The chapter closes with a list of sins describing the rebellion of planet earth to any moral code from its Creator (v. 29-32). Evolutionary teaching has made it convenient for people to reject God. With that rejection of God we have also jettisoned His moral code. It is not an accident, that with a rise of evolution to dominance in our culture about the time of the Scopes Trial in 1925, that morals have been on a decline in Western Civilization. Our nation has seen the turmoil of morals turned upside down as any Biblical authority is rebelled against. So our schools have in many places turned into war zones with human beings acting like animals with no restraint. If we teach our children that the Ten Commandments are not worthy to be displayed we communicate that the Creator who gave them is irrelevant. Then the standards of morality no longer apply and we reap what we sow.
It is hard to imagine any philosophy that could destroy more lives and condemn more souls than the teaching of evolution. The only future deception that could be greater is the revelation of the Anti-Christ. But even then, it is highly likely he will masquerade as a religionist with an evolutionary philosophy. It behooves every Christian to be firm against evolutionary teaching of all kinds because the salvation of souls may depend on what any Christian does with this subject. For the evils of evolution may not yet be finished.
“Billions and billions of years ago...” How many of us have heard that line in a classroom lecture, a museum tour, or a television special? Our culture has been subjected to a mass bombardment of this type of “billions of years” thinking. It has permeated our academic institutions, our medical research centers, our courtrooms, and sadly, even our churches. Far too often we hear the “Billions and billions of years ago...” line coming from the pulpit, or the pen of a respected Christian writer. This philosophy within the Church poses one of its greatest threats in the postmodern era.
Let me be clear. I steadfastly reject any notion of billions of years or long ages. Mankind, our planet, and, indeed, our universe, are the product of a recent creation at the hands of Almighty God. Many well meaning Christians of today refuse to take this stance. They attempt to combine the “billions of years” of evolution with the Creation described in the Bible. Although these Christians are sincere, dedicated people, their conclusions are diametrically opposed to the clear teaching of Scripture.
I will attempt to demonstrate why I am a Young Earth Creationist (YEC). I must point out one thing about this article: I will not be defending a young earth position scientifically, but only scripturally. A sound scientific defense of the young earth view is a needed component of Creationist teaching. I must limit the scope of this article, however, to the greatest reasons for believing in a young earth. These reasons can be summed up in one basic point: The Bible teaches a young earth. We will briefly examine a few passages in which the Bible teaches a young earth. First of all, we must define and describe the two most famous theories that Christians have developed to compromise on the issue of Creation and time.
The first view is called the “Gap Theory.” This view postulates a “gap” in between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. During this supposed gap the world’s population was wiped out due to its extreme sinfulness. Then, God allegedly started over with Adam and Eve. The “billions of years” fit neatly into the gap. The only problem with this view is that there is not a shred of textual evidence to support this theory. There is simply no gap mentioned, or even alluded to in the Bible.
The second view, more commonly held, is called the Day-Age Theory. Proponents of this theory maintain that each day of the Creation Week was really a vast age, possibly billions of years. This view (or a variation of it) has taken hold in many fundamental and evangelical circles today. Now, let us consider the biblical evidence for a young earth.
First of all, the terminology in Genesis leaves no room for either a gap or lengthy days. Day-Age advocates (called Progressive Creationists) have ridiculed the YEC position as being simplistic. They maintain that there are many possible meanings for the word “day.” And they are correct in saying that there are multiple meanings (there are actually five possible meanings for the Hebrew word Yom, translated “day”). Yet I feel compelled to point out that context must always be king in our translation and interpretation of Scripture.
Does the word “day” mean “day,” or does it mean “billions of years”? There is only one way to know for sure: examine the context of Genesis chapter One. God described each day with the words “evening and morning.” Now, it seems to me that God is saying that a day was an evening plus a morning (Jewish days started at sunset). I must conclude from the text that the days were consecutive, literal 24 hour periods.
The biblical chronology (presented in the genealogies) also argues against billions of years. The genealogies recorded in Genesis chapters five and eleven give us a listing of the patriarchs who lived before and after the Flood. While there may be small gaps in these records, we can rest assured that they provide us with a “ballpark estimate” for the time span between Adam and Abraham.
In fact, the famous Ussher Chronology, while not exactly accurate, was close to correct. It mirrored the independent findings of Creation scientists Sir Isaac Newton and Johannes Kepler. We cannot state with certainty exactly how old the earth is. We can, however, point to the biblical genealogies as proof that the earth is certainly not billions of years old.
We will look at one more biblical reason to hold a young earth position. The theological implications of an old earth lead to heresy. I realize that this is a strong statement, but it is one that I believe must be made. Both the Gap Theory and the Day-Age Theory teach that there was death, disease, suffering, and pain before the Fall. This is the exact opposite of what is taught in Scripture: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).
The Bible teaches that Adam introduced the plague of sin into the human race, and that the Last Adam – Jesus Christ – will set men free from this curse. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). But if the First Adam was not really the originator of sin and suffering, how can we be sure that the Last Adam will successfully defeat death and disease? You see, the old earth view undermines the very foundation of the Gospel by calling into question the history upon which the Gospel is based.
I specifically dealt only with the scriptural case for a young earth because I wanted to make a point about the authority of God’s Word. Let us try to objectively compare what we have been told by the secular scientists with what we read in the Word of God. An honest reader must confess that the Bible and evolutionary science seem to be at odds. And that is the point. A person could only conclude that the Bible teaches billions of years if they were influenced by evolutionary teaching.
The problem with that is simple: we are not to interpret the Word of God on the basis of the changing opinions of men. This is what Dr. Russell Humphreys calls the “Timothy Test.” Would Timothy, a first century Jew with no knowledge of “billions of years,” read Genesis and say “Oh, God created the world in six billion years”? The honest answer is that he would not; he would take God at His word, interpreting the Scriptures in a straightforward manner.
The opinions of men and the evidences offered by evolutionists and creationists alike will forever be subject to change. That is why we must stake our cause unflinchingly on the unchanging Word of God. This is why I am a young earth creationist.
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thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and the righteous
lavery. One reads this word and recoils in horror. It is a word with an immoral connotation. History verifies this by its report of the thousands who died in the Civil War to end its practice. Once accepted, it is now rejected. No man has the right to own another man.
Abortion. One reads this word and should recoil in horror. It, too, is a word with an immoral connotation. However, once rejected, it is now accepted. So much so that over fifty million lives have been snuffed out since 1973’s infamous Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade.
According to law, a mother has not only the right to own another human being, but to take its innocent life. Sadly, in the time it has taken you to read this paragraph an unborn baby will have been murdered brutally through suctioning, poisoning, or through the brutal practice of what is called partial-birth abortion (Dr. and Mrs. J. C. Wilke, Abortion: Questions and Answers, pp. 83-89).
Without question, the issue of abortion continues to divide America into the Twenty-First Century in the same way that slavery divided Nineteen Century America. One side speaks of “freedom of choice” and the other of the “right to life.” Just as it was with slavery, both sides try to claim that their view maintains the high “moral” ground.
for Christians who believe the Bible,
the question should be absolutely settled.
Life is precious and sacred in the eyes of God
(Psalm 139:14-18). A
baby is called a baby or a child, not a
fetus or a blob of tissue (Genesis 4:1; Luke 1:57-66).
Murder is still murder, even if it is
sanctioned by the highest court in the land.
The truth should be clear to any honest person – there can be no moral justification for abortion-on-demand and from all perspectives abortion should be viewed as a horrible and hideous atrocity.
for the Abortionist
Today abortion has become big business. The lucrative material benefits to doctors and abortion clinics have caused support for abortion to become entrenched in the medical community. The fact is “An abortionist, working only 20 or 30 hours a week, with no overhead, can earn from 3 to 10 times as much as an ethical surgeon” (Wilke, pp.182-183).
Why would anyone making these kinds of dollars support a pro-life initiative? Obviously, they would not. It is grossly immoral to earn a living by murdering innocent babies through abortion. The Bible still says “thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13) and Jesus proclaims through His Word to our generation
heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto
The abortionists do not want people to see what goes on in the back rooms of abortion clinics. God certainly sees. I believe if the American people could see what really goes on, they would support a pro-life position.
Convenience for the Mother
It is a fact, though vigorously denied by abortion advocates, that 99% of all abortions are done for the sake of convenience. This includes taking the life of the unborn child because the parents do not like the sex of the child, embarrassment over being pregnant out of wedlock, or because of the financial pressure that the pregnancy poses (See the testimony of Kenneth L. Connor, President, Florida Right to Life, Inc. before the House Health Care Committee, Tallahassee, Florida, September 15, 1989).
Barely one per cent of all abortions are done because of rape, incest, or the mother’s physical life being in danger (Wilke, p. 148). In other words, we have abortion as a means of birth control being practiced. This is an atrocity and should be totally rejected by any thinking, ethical person.
Further, feminist teaching has deceived women into thinking that in order to be “equal” with men they must be able to have abortions. It has become the sacrament of the political left. A man can get a woman pregnant and walk away if he chooses. But the woman cannot walk away so easily. So abortion becomes a ready made option allowing her to be able to walk away as freely as a man.
But if a mother has a right to choose, let her choose before there is a pregnancy. “Just Say No” can be a slogan for more than just drugs. Furthermore, the physical dangers to the mother that come from so-called “safe abortions” could be avoided by her pregnancy going full term. Studies show that abortion may lead to sterility, ectopic pregnancies, synechia, excess menstrual symptoms, miscarriages or uterine ruptures (Wilke, pp. 103-111).
Indeed, women (many of them young girls) have become the unwitting victims of a cruel, deceptive philosophy that is 100% fatal to their unborn babies. Thankfully, there is forgiveness and cleansing through Christ for “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). The pain of sin, guilt, and shame can be removed through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 10:43).
Hypocrisy of the Court
In 1973, the Roe v. Wade case was decided by the Supreme Court. It was this case, in a 7-2 vote, that unleashed the atrocities of almost four decades. All this came about, in spite of the fact that the decision itself violated the Constitution of the United States:
Make no mistake,
abortion-on-demand is not a right granted by the
In fact, the Declaration of Independence declares the vision of the sacredness of life shared by our Founding Fathers when it says:
is obvious to any person who can read,
that the last two rights mentioned are impossible if the right to life
denied. But this
been denied by a hostile Court. Supreme
Court justice Harry Blackmun, who wrote the majority opinion for Roe
bluntly “The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right to
(Cited by John W. Whitehead in The Second
American Revolution, p. 123.
So, a hypocritical Court created a right that did not exist to deny the right to life for unborn babies. This was nothing more than the immoral imposition of the immoral viewpoints of the judges without regard to law. One writer declared:
What is worrisome is that so
many of the Court’s increased number
The most disheartening of all is the fact that the unborn baby has no voice, no vote, and no defense.
Silence of the Church
Perhaps the greatest hypocrisy belongs to the church in America. In Christian circles there seems to be an attitude of que sera, sera. Many think that it is useless to speak out, and never bother to vote. Others have accepted the false concept that the separation of church and state means Christians can never try to influence the government for righteousness. How can the church believe this when the Bible is so clear concerning our citizenship responsibilities?
Many Christians never get involved, never write their representatives, never call to express an opinion, or never peacefully and lawfully attend a pro-life rally. I believe most do not do so because of the fear of appearing “radical.” The immoral silence of these believers is deafening. But the issue is not what people think of us, but what God thinks of us (Proverbs 24:11, 12; Matthew 25:45).
There is hope with the Lord’s help. We as a church can make a difference. We can seek to educate our legislators to support restrictions on abortion. We can seek passage of a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. We can vote for pro-life legislators who will stand up for moral convictions regardless of political outcome.
We can extend our love to hurting women by helping them through their pregnancies and by pushing for adoption as an option. I challenge any legislator – let each church in our country become an adoption agency that will have the liberty, without all the red tape of government bureaucracies, to adopt a child and place that child in a Christian home. Practically every church has couples who want children but cannot have them. There will be no unwanted children, if only we will let them live.
of the most hideous atrocities found in the Bible was the practice of
heathen nations around Israel causing their children to “pass through
fire.” It is a
reference to child
sacrifice to false gods. Today,
passing children through the fire and sacrificing to the gods of greed,
immorality, and self-satisfaction.
any nation, there can be no greater atrocity than the murder of its own
Our prayer is that, if the Lord Jesus Christ tarries His coming for 100 years,
the future generation of that time will look back on our day of abortion-on-demand in the same way that we look back on slavery. Even so, come Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:20).
The Presidency, Sports, and Racism
By Jimmy Stallard
The recent election of Barack
Obama, a person of color, to become President of the
But on the other hand another news account gives a different story. At the end of this year’s college football season we have seen the normal firing of many coaches and the hiring of new ones to take their place. Out of over 100 major college head coaching positions there are only four black head coaches. All the while 53% of the players are African-American. To many this seems to be out of sync to say the least.
make matters worse
The Bible is not silent on the subject of racism and Christians who claim to believe the Bible should not be silent on the topic either. There are several principles that should guide how we reflect on such matters. The world and its viewpoints should not be an authority for us, nor should our own inner desires and prejudices. The inspired Word of God is the final authority for us in this matter. We bow before God’s truth as the final Supreme Court of Appeal. What are the principles from His Word that should guide us?
(1) God is no respecter of persons.
The Bible says this on several occasions (Deut 10:17; 2 Sam. 14:14; 2 Chron.19:7; Rom 2:11; Acts 10:34, 35). In Acts 10:34, 35 truth came from the Apostle Peter after his prejudice against Gentiles had been evident. These words are fitting for our consideration on this subject:
Then Peter opened his mouth
and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter
If God is no respecter of persons, how can we be justified to do so? I confess. I did not vote for Obama, nor could I. I am staunchly pro-life and most of the liberal views that Obama held, I could not support. I had every right to vote for someone else. I did not have the right to oppose him simply because he was African-American.
If a head football coach is black should that automatically disqualify him from consideration? Would not that violate what the Lord has told us in these passages of the Bible? If God is no respecter of persons, neither should the believer be a respecter of persons.
(2) Cultural Christianity does not equal Biblical Christianity.
with these “cultural” ideas has come
some historical baggage that lovers of Christ should jettison from our
system. Since I am
a Southerner through
and through, I have the right to say this.
Some of the South’s viewpoints on issues of race
were cultural, not
Biblical. But they
were often defended
in the context of the Bible and Christianity and so slavery and
were justified with a cultural Christianity that falsely used the Bible
justify wrong-doing. Rest
has been plenty of racism in the North,
(3) We all are united by birth to Adam and Eve from the beginning.
If we accept the Bible, we must accept the Creation account given in the opening chapters of the Book of Genesis. We at Treasures of Truth Ministries believe in creation instead of evolution and a young universe/earth instead of an old universe/earth. We believe that God’s record of creation in Genesis is to be taken at face value and not tortured out of reality to get the record to agree with evolutionary dogma.
it applies to our topic, it should be
clear to any thinking person that if you believe we all have descended
set of parents as God clearly teaches (Adam and Eve) then we are all
and Eve had in their
DNA the ability to propagate various kinds of features, including
skin colors. Most
likely, Adam and Eve
were a brown (maybe suave looking) color similar to the people of the
unity in creation should give us pause
if we want to think too highly of ourselves over other varieties of
colors. Pride on
this issue has led to
much hurt, strife, and death throughout many cultures over all the face
who make it their goal
to believe and follow the Bible must take great pains not to allow the
pressures of society or culture to dictate how they believe and
truth. In the early
church we find a
tremendous example of God’s people united together.
The leadership were
praying in the
SHOULD A CHRISTIAN BE INVOLVED IN POLITICS?
By Jimmy Stallard
False ideas are difficult to stop. In modern times there have been many voices raised advocating the notion that Christians should not be involved in the political arena. Many Christian people have gullibly accepted these notions into their thinking and the result has been catastrophic for our nation.
Whether it is deciding not to vote, or voting without spiritual guidance, many Christian people refuse to be involved in the decision-making process which we call politics. There are several reasons for this being the case:
(1) First of all, Christians rightly understand that our trust should be in God and not in government (Psalm 146:3). God’s people above all people do not look to the state as the answer to life’s problems. However, being involved in the political process tends to look as though we are depending on government. This is not the case, of course, but many see it this way.
(2) Second, the last fifty years have seen the rise of a secular mind-set which trumpets a modern concept of the “separation of church and state.” This view not only promotes the separation of the institutions of church and state (which every Christian should embrace), but also the separation of any moral law based on religion from the public arena (which every Christian should reject). This intimidation has kept many Christians from getting involved in the political activities.
the Founding Fathers intended no
such separation – the opposite is true.
While President, Thomas Jefferson asked the Senate
ratify a treaty
with the Kaskaskia Indians with a condition of using federal money to
both George Washington
and Thomas Jefferson , as Presidents, signed legislation by the early
Congresses which set aside land to be used for planting churches in the
frontier areas of
(3) Third, another reason Christians do not get involved is that politics is a dirty business and we know that believers are supposed to nice and sweet. Many feel that for them to get involved in politics will somehow make them "dirty" spiritually. To be sure, we do not need to use the world’s methods (2 Corinthians 10:3-5), but Christians do not become dirty simply because they support, give, or work for a particular political candidate.
There are some clear moral imperatives that should convince Christians that getting involved in the political arena is required for proper Christian stewardship. Here are some positive Biblical reasons why Christians should register and vote, be active in their prayers and support for candidates, and if called upon by the Lord, to run for public office:
(1) We are responsible to the government and should not take our responsibilities and privileges lightly. Romans 13:1-7 tells us that "the powers that be are ordained of God…".
(2) The wrong people in public office results in extra hurts and pressures on the population. Proverbs 29:2 "When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn."
Politics affects laws. Laws
based on moral principles that will restrain evil.
These reasons alone should be enough to convince any honest Christian that it is not only right, but necessary to be involved. Our involvement should always portray loyalty to the Person of Christ and to principle over party.
Our involvement should always be with pure motives and proper attitudes. But…we must be involved! Our children and grandchildren need us to be involved. For those who would shun their responsibility these words of Abraham Lincoln should be cause for serious contemplation:
by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.
Regardless who gets elected to Congress or the White House, God’s ultimate purpose will triumph. Our involvement is just a means to God fulfilling His purpose in the world and serves as a testimony that we really care about what is happening in His world.
by Stephen Stallard
I sat in stunned silence as the vote tally was read to all of the assembled delegates and spectators. It was a special business meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, and I had been invited as an observer. I had eagerly accepted the invitation, for I knew that this meeting would feature a doctrinal battle of great importance to Christendom. Two theologians, Clark Pinnock and John Sanders, were the subject of the vote. These men called themselves “Open Theists,” and claimed that God did not know the future. Since these men denied the inerrancy of Scripture, they were formally charged with violating the doctrinal statement of the Evangelical Theological Society. This vote would determine if they could remain within that august scholarly body, or if they would be kicked out for promoting heretical doctrine.
As an observer, I did not have a vote in the matter. I had to sit quietly (and nervously) as the ballots were passed around. Both sides had proclaimed their case passionately, and now the matter was left to the delegates. When the final vote was in both men had survived the charges brought against them, and retained their place within the Society. I will never forget how shocked and outraged I was. A group of supposedly conservative scholars had just made it acceptable to redefine God.
This new doctrine of Open Theism is spreading through the Church like a cancer. Good Christians have fallen prey to this heretical teaching, which strikes at the very nature of God. We will examine this subject, asking ourselves three simple questions: What is Open Theism? What is wrong with Open Theism? And why does it matter?
First of all, what is Open Theism? Open Theists believe in an “open” view of God, meaning that, to Him, the future is still “open,” or undetermined. We do not know the future, they say, and neither does God. How could He possibly know whether you are going to put on black or brown socks, or whether or not you will order Chinese or Mexican for dinner? While those examples may seem trivial, others are far more serious. Does God know if a sick loved one will be healed? Does He know where your next pay check is coming from? Does He know whom you will marry? Open Theists would have us believe that God does not know these things. Indeed, He is caught off guard and surprised by tragedies such as the terrorist attacks on 9-11.
Gregory Boyd made plain his view of God in a book entitled God of the Possible: “Our omniscient Creator knows us perfectly, far better than we even know ourselves. Hence we can assume that He is able to predict our behavior far more extensively and accurately than we could predict it ourselves.” Boyd is saying, in essence, that, based on what He knows about us, God is a pretty good guesser. John Sanders made this shocking statement in The God Who Risks: “In these texts [Jer 3:7; 32:35] God is explicitly depicted as not knowing the specific future. God Himself says that He was mistaken about what was going to happen.”
This leads us directly to the second question: What is wrong with Open Theism? Although there are many fallacies of this view, we will examine at least three flaws. First of all, Open Theism contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture. Notice these words spoken by God: “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it” (Isa 46:9-11). It is clear that this verse speaks of God’s foreknowledge of the future.
Secondly, Open Theism undermines the prophecies of the Bible. Jesus prophesied that Peter would deny Him three times, and that is exactly what happened. In fact, Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection were replete with fulfillments of prophecies. Yet the Open Theists do not view those events with rock solid certainty. For example, Open Theist Clark Pinnock maintained that God did not know if Judas was really going to betray Christ until it happened! Erwin Lutzer mocked this idea: “Pinnock suggests that if Plan A fails, God has a Plan B. Maybe someone else would have crucified Christ if the key players had backed out. But if Plan A failed, what makes us think that Plan B would have been successful? Nor could God have been certain about Plans C and D. Imagine Jesus coming to earth, all the prophecies notwithstanding, and no one puts Him to death!” (Ten Lies about God, pg 127).
Thirdly, Open Theism produces a shallow view of God. Those who propose this view have a low view of God. If Osama bin Laden is one step ahead of God, planning another terrorist strike (about which God knows nothing), then I would ask “Just what is God doing up there?” Is God God, or is He not? Open Theism makes the mistake of putting God into the box of human reasoning and recreating Him in our own image. This is a grave error, for it defaces the name of God and demeans His character, creating an inferior “god” of lesser glory.
With all that has been said, people might still be asking the final question: Why does it matter? It all boils down to the matter of faith. The open view of God produces a people of weak faith. If God is uncertain and confused, then I cannot trust Him to lead me. That would be like the blind leading the blind. My God knows what is just beyond the sunset, for He is the God who wrote tomorrow. And if God knows what tomorrow holds, then I can trust Him to guide me each step of the way. Does God know the future? The answer is a resounding “YES!” God knows what tomorrow holds in store for you, and He has promised that He will be with you every step of the way.
by Jimmy Stallard
If there is one thing in this modern church we can be certain about - it is that nothing is certain!! For over a generation our secular culture of humanism has taught us that there is no such thing as absolute truth. The Bible cannot be reliable, miracles did not happen, and what Christ really did and said, we just cannot know for sure. This kind of liberal thinking has been around a long time, yet in recent times it has crept into the believing side of the church. People who claim they believe right are saddling up with a new “emerging” philosophy and riding into the western heat of heresy, all the while claiming they have found a better way.
claim of this thing called the “
Can anybody wonder what Charles Spurgeon would say to this? What about Jonathan Edwards, Dwight L. Moody, or Billy Sunday? This “emerging” movement is simply the old lies of liberalism wrapped in different garments. A spiritually minded person can hear the hissing of a serpent from beneath those garments. One thing is certain. Wrong methodology in approaching the work of the Lord leads to wrong theology. Anything that desires to strip away our certainty about God and the Bible within the church is nothing more than apostasy.
epistle of Jude deals with apostasy and begins its admonitions with a
call to the certainty of faith. First, there is the
salvation. In verse one, Jude writes to believers
calling them those
that are sanctified and preserved.
The first word speaks of being
set apart for
Second, there is the certainty of revelation. In verse three, Jude speaks of what God has revealed to His people. He tells us to contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. We are to contend. That means to stand for something in opposition to something else. To be sure, it does not mean to be contentious or cantankerous. But it does speak volumes of the certainty we ought to have in our own hearts and minds. What we are to contend for is the faith. This does not mean a person’s personal faith. It means “the” faith, or the “Christian” faith. The idea is we are to contend, defend, and stand up for the truths of the Christian faith. This faith has been revealed for us in what we call the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17 & 2 Peter 1:19-21).
Third, there is the certainty of opposition that will be judged by God. Verse four describes these kinds of people in no uncertain terms. They have five qualities that every Bible believer ought to recognize. Examine the verse and see if you do not see them: (1) They have secretly entered the church. (2) They will be judged by God. (3) They are considered ungodly, or without God. (4) They turn God’s grace into lasciviousness, i.e., they use the grace of God to justify all forms of sensuality and the lowering of standards. (5) They deny the truth about the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This kind of apostasy was emerging in Jude’s world and the apostates have never changed. They claim to embrace the Christian religion, but they deny the very elements of the truth and power of it (2 Timothy 3:5-7). In the process, they rob those they minister to of the certainties that bring faith, hope, comfort, joy, and peace.
In 1924, J. Gresham Machen, a great Presbyterian scholar, wrote his classic book on Christianity and Liberalism. He pointed out that Christianity and liberalism were not the same thing. One had the certainty of truth - Christianity. One had the uncertain sound of unbelief - liberalism. He warned almost a century ago that God’s people must look to the past, to their sacred books (Old and New Testaments), not to the present age. He fervently cried “On the contrary, the condition of mankind is such that one may well ask what it is that made the men of past generations so great and the men of the present generation so small. In the midst of all material achievements of modern life, one may well ask the question whether in gaining the whole world we have not lost our own soul. Are we forever condemned to live the sordid life of utilitarianism? Or is there some lost secret which if rediscovered will restore to mankind something of the glories of the past?”
Machen declared is that there is an urgent need for great men and women
culture. To be great these men and women must be people of strong
every age the enemy of our souls desires to strip any vestige of the
of strong faith from God’s people. The “emerging
church” and its “contemporary
creed” are one more work of the enemy to rob people of the
certainty they need
in life. We must hold tenaciously to the certainties that God has given
This is God’s question for us today - “Have
not I written to thee excellent
things in counsels and knowledge, That I might make thee know the certainty
of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of
truth to them
that send thee?” (Proverbs 22:20-21). Anything that
denies the certainty of
the truths of God does not deserve to emerge in my church, your church,
church. May it forever be called what it really is - the emerging
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World War III?
by Stephen Stallard
Escalating violence in the Middle East the past week has caused some to pause and consider our involvement in the world. Some have wondered if we are in the middle of the next great clash of civilizations. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich recently said that “This is World War III.” Is he right? Are we really at war with a shadowy group of conspirators who seek our annihilation? Frank Salvato has an interesting article on this subject in the New Media Journal. Salvato said that “It is now clearer than ever that the hostilities taking place in the Middle East are based in a conflict of ideology jockeyed by religious fanatics hell-bent on world domination.”
Consider the facts: Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (say THAT five times fast) has repeatedly
for the annihilation of
As radical terrorists plot around the world to attack American interests, we must consider the stakes. We are fighting in a so-called “War on Terror.” This is good, as far as it goes. I believe, however, that we must declare open war on the ideology of Islamofascism - for these militants have already declared war on us.
We are not fighting isolated
What should be the American response? How should we, as Christians, urge our government to act? Christians have debated the idea of a just war throughout the centuries. As we lay down a framework for an American response, we must keep two principles in mind: First, we must do all we can to respect human life. War is evil, and that means people die. We must do all we can, however, to ensure that innocent life is spared. Second, we must ally ourselves with like minded democracies. Freedom loving people share common interests. Those in Western Civilization must band together to defend our common ideals against an insidious and deadly threat from Islamic extremists. With that in mind, we must take several firm steps.
First of all, we must be
unflinching in our support of
Second, we must mobilize
for a lengthy and difficult conflict. If we are in
the middle of World
War III, this will not end when American troops stand down in
Third, we must take preemptive action to protect ourselves. We were hit on 9-11 because we failed to “connect the dots.” The way to prevent terrorist attacks is to connect the dots ahead of time and hit the terrorists where they are. This means that we should be prepared to bomb terrorist camps around the world. We should also be prepared to invade any region that foments Islamic terrorism.
We must be willing to overthrow radical regimes that sponsor Islamic terrorism. We should look these tinhorn dictators square in the eye and say “Reform, or else!” If they fail to comply, we should support those who plot revolutionary movements within those countries. We should rethink our policy that forbids the assassination of world leaders (the terrorists try to kill our President, why should not we, in war time, try to kill their leaders?). And we should be prepared to commit our military resources to free oppressed nations from tyrannical , terrorist governments.
Finally, we must throw down the gauntlet to the Islamic World. It is time to stop calling Islam a religion of peace. While many Muslims may be peaceful, the facts are plain: Every foreign terrorist attack against this country in the last twenty years has been conducted by Muslim terrorists. We must declare war against Islamofascism, for we are not at war with terrorism. Instead, we are at war with an ideology that thrives off a religion of hate and fear. Islam is a religion that gives shelter and blessing to cowardly men who butcher and murder innocent women and children. It is time to call a spade a spade. We should wage war against the Muslims who fight us. And we should force the rest of the Muslim world to choose sides. You see, many “moderate” Muslim governments are already siding with the forces of Islamofascism - by not fighting against their evil. It is time to repeat President George W. Bush’s forceful statement after 9-11: “You’re either with the terrorists of you’re with us.” If they do not stand with us, we should cut off every Islamic nation from every benefit of the modern world. We should be prepared to follow up tough talk with tough action.
I have argued here for a robust
use of American power in the world. I firmly believe that it is vitally
necessary to our security. Furthermore, it is morally right. I would
add, however, that the war is not only fought in the
The war rages every day as we seek to go and make disciples in Christ’s name (Matt 28:19-20). The battle is engaged every time we try to pray, or study the Scriptures. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Eph 6:12-13). We must commit our troops into battle when necessary. And we must wage the war of the ages on our knees.
We are in the middle of World
War III. A coalition of nations is forming to bring about our defeat.
resolute and brave people can win this conflict. Trusting in Almighty
should remember that we can win this War. We must, for
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His Way Is Perfect
One of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible is Romans 8:28 which states “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” This verse reveals how God deals with all of His children, not just a select few who are “spiritual.” It should never be used like a good luck charm or a verse to try to twist God’s arm to do our bidding.
The text does not teach that all things that happen are good. Calamities such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, accusations, drownings, car wrecks, plane crashes, etc. have all happened to Christians. The Bible is full of examples of bad things that have happened to God’s people (Hebrews 11:34ff).
Secondly, the text does not teach that God works everything according to our concept of what is good. How we might view a trial or calamity might be different from God’s perspective. The three Hebrews Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego made a commitment to be loyal to God even if it meant being thrown into the fiery furnace. They believed God could deliver them from the fire. But they also knew that God might not (Daniel 3:17,18). It was only as Joseph could look back over the years that he could see that
“…as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good…”(Gen 50:20).
What does our text mean? Surely it teaches that God has a higher purpose for all of His children. This is something that must be understood by faith for we know that all things work together for good only by faith. We must trust His sovereign purpose. Further, it implies that God has made a great investment in our lives. Through the salvation we have through faith in Jesus Christ God has promised that He will bring us to heaven at last and we will be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29,30). And finally, we see that God will eventually bring everything around for His greater glory and our ultimate good. In fact, His glory is at stake in the lives of His people, so He has promised to work all things together for good concerning us.
Sidlow Baxter in his great book Does God Still Guide? reminds believers of the
need to trust God
with their lives. After
believers to weather the hard times of life he points out the wonderful
of God’s truth – “The
God who bled to save you on Calvary loves you too
well ever to mock you…He is too wise to ever make a
Setting the Captives Free
“And the Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends...” (Job 42:10). These mysterious words bring to an end the story of Job’s suffering. Job had suffered unjustly for some time as the result of an epic contest between God and Satan. God had allowed Satan to take away everything but Job’s life. Job suffered through a literal hell on earth, losing his family, his fame, and his fortune. Most disheartening of all, he lost his friends.
Job’s three closest “friends” came to comfort him and help him during his time of testing. Job was soon to discover that they were Satan’s greatest weapons of defeat and discouragement. Rather than encourage him, they did nothing but attack and criticize. No man suffered more at the hands of friends than Job. Yet at the end of the book, when God vindicated His servant, we find Job praying for his friends. What can we learn from this prayer of Job? We can find two basic attitudes that Job had toward his friends.
First of all, he forgave his friends. Job’s friends were ordered by God to offer sacrifices and to seek forgiveness for their sin. They understood that they had sinned against Job and against God. Job could have called down fire from heaven to destroy his foes (you and I probably would have). Instead, he interceded for those who had maligned him for so long. Forgiveness is a choice, but it is often a difficult one. As Christians, we must remember that it was our sin that nailed Jesus to the cross; yet He still forgave us.
There is another attitude that Job had toward his friends, one that went beyond forgiveness. Job loved his friends. You might not think that you can possibly generate the emotion of love in your heart for those who have hurt you deeply. But I have learned that before love is an emotion, it is a choice. We must choose by God’s grace to love those who have wronged us. Jesus said that if we only love those who love us we are no different than the Pharisees (Matt 5:43-46).
In a sense, every person who has been wronged is in captivity. Our bitterness and our anger chain us in the dungeon of our past. God turned the captivity of Job and unleashed His mighty power in his life when he chose to pray for his friends. God is waiting to do the same in your life. So I ask you, how often do you pray for your “friends?”
The Comfort of
by Jimmy Stallard
When compared to the religions of the world the Christian faith offers the most comfort of all. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and other faiths do not offer what Jesus Christ offers to those who would believe and receive Him as their Lord and Savior.
The famous saying that “truth should afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted” applies here. The final destination of the saved represented in genuine Biblical teaching provides hope, encouragement, and comfort that cannot be gained anywhere else. What are these comforts that the Bible speaks of?
is a real place.
It is not a
figment of the imagination or a myth like those of ancient
Second, heaven comes at death for the saved. The Bible refers to the death of the believer as a dissolving (2 Corinthians 5:1), a departure (Philippians 1:23), and a decease (or exodus, 2 Peter 1:15). There is no soul sleep for the Christian. Paul said “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). The body goes to the grave and the spirit/soul goes to heaven in the presence of Jesus.
Thirdly, heaven brings glories for the child of God. The scripture speaks of dying and going to heaven as a great gain. Again the Apostle Paul declared “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). He told the Romans “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). Think of any kind of suffering you have had to endure on this earth. If you are a genuine Christian then there is no suffering that you have experienced which will not be overwhelmed by the glories that await you in heaven.
Finally, heaven is a wondrous
Bible confirms in many places that we not
only will know each other in heaven, but that we will enjoy fellowship
eternity. We know
that Abraham and
Lazarus communicated with each other (Luke 16:19-31). We know that
Elijah fellowshipped with Jesus, Peter, James, and John on the Mount of
Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-4).
Apparently, all believers will be able to fellowship with one another in families, with friends, and even with the saints of old whom we have never known. All the glories of heaven will overshadow the hurts of the past. Revelation 21:4 gives us these words of encouragement: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away”
Certainly the Christian faith offers hope and comfort through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Most likely the greatest comfort the believer will ever experience in eternity is the comfort that will come through the very presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. As the songwriter wrote so ably many years ago “Jesus will outshine them all”! If you take Him as your Lord and Savior now in this life, the comfort of heaven will be yours.
Evangelism and Missions
Bringing God’s Light to a Blinded World
By Stephen Stallard
The Lord indicted the Jewish people: “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness. None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity….their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace” (Isaiah 59.2-8)
These charges against Israel were sobering, yet God was not finished. He wanted His chosen people to understand their true condition: “Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men” (Isaiah 59.9-10).
God declared that Israel was like a blind man, staggering through the day as if it were twiglight. This was an accurate description of unbelieving Israel. And it is a remarkably accurate picture of our world today. Yet the most stunning words are found in verses 15-16: "and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor.”
God was astonished that no man in Israel would stand up to intervene for the truth. He looked down from heaven and saw cowardly priests and pitiful prophets who would not lift a finger to stop Israel’s downard spiral towards destruction. God wanted someone to intervene. Someone to pray, someone to preach, someone to fight on behalf of those who were sealing their own fates. He was astonished because there was no one willing to intervene.
Our world today is no different. Without Jesus Christ, multitudes of people are bound for hell. And God still asks the same question: He wonders in astonishment because there are not many who dare to intervene. As Christians, we must understand that God has called us to intervene. He has called us to the task of world missions. We must take the good news of the Gospel to our friends, to our colleagues, and to those in remote destinations around the world.
Take a look around you. We are surrounded by blind men and women, people who think that there is nothing wrong with their eyesight. But they have been blinded to the truth, and they are headed over a cliff they do not even know is there. It is up to us to do something. It is up to us to intervene.
by Jimmy Stallard
In the middle of the Twentieth Century, A. W. Tozer lamented that it was hard to find a meeting in a church in which God was the only attraction. If that was true then, it is certainly more so now. While the God of the Bible has not lost His power, it is clear that His church has, to a great degree, lost what it takes to win souls. There seems to be no clear desire to share the excitement of our faith with the unsaved world. The Psalmist declares “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5, 6). I believe it is appropriate to apply these verses to the sowing and reaping involved in evangelism and soul winning. They teach us what it takes to reap a harvest of souls for the Lord.
When I was in seminary I served as a Chaplain at a nursing home. We had services on Thursday afternoons and usually visited on Saturday afternoons. One Saturday I put in several hours of visiting and had one room left. There was a lady bedridden in that last room and I said to myself – I’m tired and there’s a ball game on television I would love to see. I will come back and see her next week. So I went home. But next week came and as I went to visit this woman, the bed was empty. I asked the attendant where she was and the words have rung in my ears for over twenty-five years – she died earlier this week! How cruel of me to care more about the things of the world than about the soul of this dear woman.
That incident will always be part of the sanctified hall of shame in the back of my mind that is a daily reminder of my obligation to share Christ with the lost. Do you have a burden in your heart? What hinders that burden in you? Is it the job you have? Is it busy church activities? Is it sin in your life? Have the burdens of the here and now caused you not to be able to pick up the burden of the Lord?
Second, we must be diligent to work. Our text says “He that goeth forth” (v. 6), “they that sow” (v. 5) and “bearing precious seed” (v. 6). Jesus said “the seed is the Word of God” (Luke 8:11). The going forth echoes the great commission given by the Lord Jesus Himself when He said “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). To find a job you must go and look. To find a car you must go and shop. To find a church you must go and hear. To find a school you must go and check it out. Going is built into life. If a church wants to stay warm with God it must go after souls. If a church wants to keep from becoming in-grown and stale it must go after souls. If a church wants to guard itself from becoming unbalanced in its ministry, it must go after souls. If a church wants the blessing and power of God dwelling upon it, the people must go after souls. Going is not the job of the pastor, evangelist, or missionary only. It is the job of every believer.
Third, we must depend upon God. He has promised that He will use us as we go forth. The Psalmist declares that each of us “shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:6). This speaks of the certainty of results. Satan has tried to convince us that God will not use us to win souls. He uses intimidation to keep us from caring, from going forth, and from believing. God’s power goes before us. This is no guarantee that every person we share Christ with will get saved. But it is a promise that God will use us. And if we fish enough at the right fishing holes, we will see results.
An elderly man was walking down a deserted beach just as dawn was breaking. He noticed a young man up near the edge of the water who was very busy picking things up off the beach and throwing them way out into the ocean. As he drew nearer, he saw that the man was busily picking up starfish that had washed up on the beach the night before and was throwing them back into the water, as hard and as fast as he could. Upon reaching the young man, the older man questioned, “Son, do you not see the futility and fruitlessness of your task?” The young man, who never stopped bending and throwing, said, “If they stay out here and the hot son rises overhead, they will burn up and die.” The older man shook his head in exasperation and answered, “But, look! There are starfish lying on the beach as far as you can see in either direction! They are countless! How can anything you do matter at all?” The young man reached down, picked up another starfish, and said, “It matters to this one” before throwing it as far as he could into the welcoming waves. We may feel the little we do does not matter. But it matters to God, and to that soul for whom Jesus died. The question for us is simply are we burdened enough to share the excitement of our faith?
A Tale of Two Sons
The Parable of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15:11-32, has been told and repeated many times. Many people are familiar with the story of the son who ran away in pride, and then returned destitute and humble. My thoughts turned to this passage as I considered the issues surrounding the biblical family. This parable tells us a lot about family life, especially the relationships of fathers and sons.
In evaluating ourselves as sons, we can compare ourselves to the young men in this story. We can take a look at the lives of the two unnamed sons and see clear examples of what a son is NOT to be. Think you measure up fairly well? Don’t be so sure.
Luke described a man who had two sons. They both worked for him on his estate. On the surface, it seemed that everything was fine. Yet there was trouble in the house. Luke tells us that the younger son demanded an early inheritance. “”Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me” (Luke 15:12).
This brings us to the first of three errors made by the two sons. The younger son refused to wait on God’s timing. He knew that he would receive an inheritance. His father’s estate would be fairly distributed between his sons at the proper time.
Yet the younger son did not want to wait. He wanted to be able to enjoy life with a pocket full of cash. He reasoned that the inheritance would not do him any good once he was old and gray. So, he demanded his money NOW.
American youth are characterized by impetuosity; a brashness that knows no prudence. Males are especially known for this trait. Let’s face it, guys. In order to keep up our macho image, we beat our chests like Tarzan and rush madly into situations without thinking things through.
Our natural tendency is to demand immediate satisfaction. We want to be gratified in the here and now. How many sons struggle with submitting to their father’s authority, because they long for freedom and independence? Freedom and independence are wonderful, in God’s time. But they must be earned. And most of us are unwilling to take the time to do that.
How many good sons have fallen into sins of immorality? Why is this? It is because we are not patient. God has given each of us the normal desire to be married, and to enjoy the benefits of married life. Yet too many of us are like the younger son; we demand instant gratification. Many young Christian men are obsessed with girls, sex, and marriage. And when they cannot marry when they want, they turn to other avenues of fulfillment.
Pornography is an attempt to satisfy our God-given desires outside of God’s timing. Fornication is an attempt to do an “end run” around God’s plan. After all, His plan might be good, but we just don’t have the time.
The Prodigal Son refused to wait on God’s timing. He could have had the inheritance, and the blessing of the Lord. Instead, he got the inheritance...and a curse upon his life.
The younger son made another mistake. He refused to follow God’s Word. He had doubtless been raised in a devout Jewish family. He knew right from wrong. The Scriptures record, however, that he strayed from the path.
“...The younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living” (Luke 15:13). The older son pointed out that his brother had “devoured” their father’s inheritance by living with harlots (15:30).
This young man journeyed into the world, eager to see what it had to offer. His eyes grew wide as he saw things that he had never even imagined. Like Pilgrim, standing on the threshold of Vanity Fair, he was tempted to throw his convictions to the wind. And he did.
The younger son decided to turn his back on the godly teaching he had received growing up. No longer would God be the ultimate authority in his life. From now on, he purposed to be his own boss.
So he partied, and he partied hard. The Prodigal Son rushed headlong into the clutches of sin, as the warnings of his godly father became a distant memory.
How many of us have also chosen to disregard God’s teachings as they apply to our lives? You might say “Stephen, I’m not like the Prodigal Son. I don’t do that kind of stuff.” Perhaps you are right. You may not be immoral, and you may not waste your money. But is God’s Word the guiding authority over your life?
You see, God does not make distinctions between “BIG” sins and “little” sins. He looks at us and evaluates whether or not we are following His teachings, laid down in His Word .
The Prodigal Son refused to follow God’s teaching, and he paid a terrible price for his rebellion. With his money gone, and his companions no where to be found, he began the long trek home. The path took him through a pig sty before it led him in humility back to his father’s door, where he begged for mercy and forgiveness.
This leads us to the third sin of the two sons. This one, was committed by the elder son. He made the error of refusing to recognize his own sin. When the jubilant father threw a party for his returning son, the elder son became bitter. He said “These many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time...” (Luke 15:29). This son must have been a cousin to the Pharisees. He acted as if he had never done anything bad, at least, anything REALLY bad.
Consumed by arrogance and envy, he watched bitterly as his family celebrated his brother’s return. Somewhere along the line this brother became obsessed with his own importance, and his own contribution to the family farm. He grew angry at his brother for abandoning the family and leaving him to do all the work. And when his wayward brother returned, the elder son sneered down his elitist nose at his younger, “sinful” brother.
The younger brother’s sins were outward sins, what we call sins of the flesh. The older brother’s sins were secret sins of the heart, that manifested themselves in his response to his brother’s return.
As young men, we face the same temptation to become cocky and arrogant. We become stubborn and refuse to recognize our own sinfulness before God.
This passage is the tale of two sons. One committed horrible, noticeable sins. The other committed horrible, private sins. One repented, the other did not. The younger son said “Father, I sinned against heaven, and in thy sight” (Luke 15:21).
As sons, we each deal with these
same issues. We can struggle, and rise again like the Prodigal Son, who
admitted his need and turned in repentance. Or, we can be like the
who allowed sin to engage in a hostile takeover of his heart. Which
kind of son
How to Remain Pure While Single
by Stephen Stallard
I realize that the above title is ambitious, and might be viewed as arrogant. After all, I’m only twenty-one years old, and hardly an expert in the field of purity. I want it to be known, therefore, that I approach this subject with a great degree of trepidation. The Bible says “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12). I am by no means an authority on biblical purity. As a minister of the Gospel, however, I do feel compelled to proclaim the whole counsel of God. And I do believe that, as a young person, I have a unique perspective that I can bring to bear upon this issue which might be a blessing to others. What I have learned about purity I have learned primarily at home, from my mother and father, two people of high morals. I want to share with you what I have learned. I want to tell you the secret to remaining pure while you are single.
We live in an age of instant sexual temptation. We are bombarded by sensuality from internet pop-up ads, television commercials, newspaper advertisements, and street side billboards. Everywhere we turn the world is crying out to us, begging us to gratify our desires in our way, in our time. As Christians, we are aware of God’s command to “abstain from fornication” (1 Thess 4:3). We know that God designed physical union to exist only as a part of marriage. Furthermore, we know that God defined marriage as one man, one woman, for one lifetime (Mark 10:7-9). The problem is not what we know, or do not know; for we have plenty of knowledge.
In fact, countless Christian teens all across the world are trying to keep their purity. They know what they are supposed to do. They go to conferences on abstinence, they read books on Christian dating, and they hear sermons about “fleeing youthful lusts.” Many practical suggestions have been offered. We have been told not to get ourselves into compromising situations with a member of the opposite sex. We have been told to quit playing the dating game. We have been told to just deny ourselves. While these steps are useful, many young people have followed them, and many of them have fallen.
While I am in favor of following the practical tips I just mentioned, I believe that there is another aspect that we tend to underemphasize. In fact, I believe this one truth is central to maintaining our purity. We can give up dating and bad movies, and still become involved in immorality. There is only one way to beat this hideous sin: we must learn to love God supremely.
Most people view singleness as a curse. Girls sit around and twiddle their thumbs and wait for some dashing young man to come knocking. Guys go out pounding the pavement, checking out all the promising possibilities. The goal is to get married, and fast! This kind of attitude leads directly to promiscuous behavior. It teaches us that we must satisfy our own desires sooner, rather than later.
But if we learn to love God supremely, we will be content to remain single as long as He desires. In fact, I am convinced that Christian young people need to learn to enjoy singleness. What does that mean? Enjoying singleness means “Loving God with all my heart, soul, and mind, until He directs me, through my parents, to share that love with someone else.” Too often, we focus on quitting the dating game, or stopping our flirtatious behavior, or any number of things. Too often, we forget about focusing our love and adoration upon our Savior, Jesus Christ. If we love Him passionately, with every fiber of our being, it will reduce the risk of our falling into sin. As we become consumed by Christ the pleasures and temptations of this world will seem like a distant, bizarre reality; one in which we have no part.
While there are many things we can do to keep our purity, there is one basic mindset that is an absolute necessity. We must love God supremely. Jesus wants singles who are ardent lovers of Himself. He has sounded forth a clarion call to purity, and it is ringing throughout this land. Will we heed His call? Many of us want to, but we do not seem to know how. The “secret” is in loving Jesus. We must lose ourselves in His love, and the lustful inducements of the world will rapidly fade away. May God grant us freedom and purity as we love Him with all of our hearts.
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The Heritage of a Family
by Jimmy Stallard
“The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage” (Psalm 16:6). Walter Stallard came to America in the 1640’s and settled in the state we now call Virginia. Thus began the family tradition of American Stallards.
verse before us speaks of family tradition, blessing and heritage. Psalm 16:6 can
be divided into two parts.
The first section mentions “lines”
and “pleasant places” which
refer to surveyor’s boundaries. Each
The second part of the verse mentions a “goodly heritage”. While we often think of inheritance in a monetary or material way, it can also refer to the blessings that God has provided for us through family and friends down through the years. Many years ago I wrote in the margin of my Bible next to Psalm 16:6 these words: “Thank you, Lord, for my Mom and Dad, for my Grandparents, and my family history. Thank you for all the homes and friends you have provided through all the years. This verse is true of me”.
While the context of Psalm 16 is Messianic, its application to every child of God is authentic. It would be an excellent exercise for every believer to remember and recall the blessings that have come through his or her family. Can you say before the Lord that “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places”? Perhaps you had a poor family upbringing or were raised in a bad situation. You could not see how anything good could be said about your particular predicament. Maybe it was an abusive drunken father, a domineering mother, or maybe some strong willed children that disrupted the home. How could that be called “pleasant”? How could anything associated with it be considered a “goodly heritage”?
If you are a saved person, you need to reflect on the fact that through whatever circumstances you have come God has brought you to Himself for His glorious purpose. Whether or not you grew up in a believing home or not, you can rejoice in what God has done to bring you to this point in your life. Our focus should be on the heritage as God sees it. How does He see it?
First, it is the Heritage of God’s Person. The Psalmist recognized in the previous verse that “The Lord is the portion of my inheritance...” (Psalm 16:5). The Lord Himself is viewed as being the centerpiece of our inheritance. Everything we have in this world pales into insignificance compared to having the Lord Himself in our lives. Not His blessings, but God Himself is our portion. This personal relationship with the Lord is what separates Biblical Christianity from Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other religions of the world. We walk with a personal God who knows us and we know him (John 10:27). It is a relationship of love, grace, and mercy (John 13:35; Titus 3:5). Apart from this no other inheritance of any kind would ever matter.
it is the Heritage of God’s Provision. Yes, we do live in a real
world where material possessions
necessary part of life. Much
this world’s material blessings choke out the spiritual
causing us to turn away
from the God of our inheritance (Matthew 13:32).
But this does not negate the fact that it is
God who has given us all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). We receive enough of the
“goodly heritage” of
this world’s goods as we seek first the
it is a Heritage of God’s
Every place I have ever lived. Every family member God has granted to me. Every friend I have ever known. Every job I have held. Every church I have ever been a member of. Every day of life God has allowed me to live and breathe on this earth. And especially the day God allowed me to put my faith and trust in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and was saved eternally. All of these things have been part of that great and goodly heritage surveyed out by the hand of God to me. To Him I give all the praise and glory. When I think about my family through all the years, I know that God has worked through them for my sake. I can truly cry out like the Psalmist, “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.”
Harassment of America
by Jimmy Stallard
Since the 1970’s media attention has been focused on the problem of sexual harassment. Actions between the sexes in the work place, especially those of men toward women, have been prominently displayed in the print media and on television. We have been exposed to sensual themes from the Clarence Thomas hearings in late 1991, from Bill Clinton’s presidency, the Navy tailhook scandal in the 1990’s, and more recently the trial of pop singer Michael Jackson.
These kinds of happenings are not new. But they are occurring with greater frequency. To the committed Christian who believes the Bible, these kinds of activities are morally reprehensible. Men should treat women with dignity and purity (1 Timothy 5:2) and women should refuse to be a temptation to men (1 Timothy 2:9, 10). But what is the real problem that needs to be resolved? Is it just the fascination of the news media? Or is it something else? There are two basic causes for this in our culture.
First, there has been an eclipse of Christian influence. The Judeo-Christian ethic, or the teaching of morality based on the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) has been discarded. No longer do people have any concept of right and wrong. Even worse – our society has come to say that those who do believe in absolute standards of right and wrong are out of step with the times. To raise a standard of righteousness is to be intolerant. And nobody wants to be viewed as intolerant, especially Christians who are supposed to be kind and loving.
To be sure, tolerance does not equal love, as the world claims. While true genuine love will have components of grace, mercy, and compassion toward those who struggle with sin, genuine love must also be based on truth. Jesus said “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15) and “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31,32).
The modern mind which has immersed itself in sensuality cannot accept these truths. To those with this kind of thinking right living means strict, puritanical, old-fashioned intolerance.
With this eclipse of Christian influence has come devastating consequences. In the introduction to his best seller The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom (who was not a Christian) points out the impact this has made on higher education: “There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative…The danger they have been taught to fear from absolutism (i.e., moral standards) is not error but intolerance” (p. 25).
second reason our culture has succumbed to sensuality is the
This breakdown of the traditional family has been speeded up by the glorification of immorality by the media. Television shows regularly glorify sex and ridicule the authority of parents, especially that of fathers. Pornography finds its way into our homes through ungodly movies, videos, MTV programs, and evil internet sites. “Gay rights” is trumpeting sodomy as an alternative lifestyle that should be tolerated even though the Bible and practical experience teach that it leads to devastating consequences and judgment (Genesis 18 & 19; Romans 1:18-32).
feminism has tried to force feed Americans a refashioned version of the
that social engineers new definitions of husbands and wives that
God’s design (1 Peter 3:1-7; Ephesians 5:21-33; Titus 2:3-5). Added to this,
the contraceptive sex
education approach has turned many of our schools into dispensers of
for our kids and reinforced the sensual mindset upon the youth and
The only ultimate solution to the social ills that prey upon our families is a revolution. That is a revolution in the sense of a returning to our roots, an about face, a revival of repentance. The establishment of Biblical morality in our culture requires no state church or official enforcement of dogma. It does demand recognition of the moral precepts of the Ten Commandments as the only way to maintain a stable, productive, and civilized society. The Founding Fathers of America agreed with the Apostle Paul who declared:Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine [teaching] (1 Timothy 1:8-9).
It is only the standard of God’s law which can give us purpose in life. Only by moral standards will a nation have the will power to make right decisions. Only through these absolutes of right or wrong will our children possess the basis of success in their lives – the ability to resist evil.
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by Stephen Stallard
A few years ago I stood in a church library and stared in wonder at their video collection. Two videos in particular seemed to stand out to me. One was called simply “1999?” while the other was entitled “2000?” These videos, produced by a well-known, respected Christian minister, speculated about the timing of the Lord’s return. Unfortunately, both videos were outdated; 1999 and 2000 had already come and gone and nothing had happened.
Sadly, this is representative of many in Christian circles today. People have been guessing about Christ’s return and predicting it for two-thousand years. Rumors circulated in Paul’s day that the day of Christ was at hand (2 Thess 2:2). The Apostle Paul wrote his second Thessalonian epistle in order to refute these errors. But it seems that the Church has not learned its lesson.
Soothsayers and doomsday prophets abound, pointing to the calendar and telling us to get ready. They analyze apocalyptic sections of Scripture and confidently tell us that we can know for sure the general timetable of Christ’s coming. But God works on His timetable, not ours. Does anybody remember Y2K? Multitudes of predictors came out of the woodwork to tell us that Christ’s return was imminent, and that it was connected to the catastrophic event called Y2K. Then the Millennium bug fizzled, the catastrophe was not that catastrophic, and the Lord did not come back.
Time after time people have predicted the Lord’s return, only to give Him a bad name when He did not come. Still, each new theory continues to generate intense excitement within Christendom. Books are sold, movies are made, and people brace for the end. Then nothing happens. So, the old theory is thrown onto the ever-growing ash heap of predictions to give way to yet another theory. As a result, people can become disillusioned with Christianity in general and with prophecy in particular.
What does the Bible say about making predictions? There are two passages that strongly warn against this. In Matthew 24:36 our Lord said “But of that day and hour [referring to the future Tribulation] knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” Jesus wanted His disciples to know that no one could predict the Father’s plan. Someone once said to me “We can’t know the day or the hour but we can know the year.” This flies in the face of the clear intent of this verse. Jesus was telling His disciples that no one could know when these prophetic events would transpire.
The second passage makes this even clearer. Christ’s disciples wanted to know when He would set up His earthly kingdom (Acts 1:6). Jesus answered “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power” (Acts 1:7).
The phrase “the times or the seasons” is based on two key Greek words (chronous and kairous). When these words are understood literally, the phrase can be translated as “the periods of time and the points of time.” Jesus told His disciples that it was not for them to know the period of time in which He would come. Nor were they to know the exact point in time at which He would set up His kingdom.
On the basis of these passages, what are we to conclude about the practice of setting dates? We can discern two general principles. First of all, we should not be date-setters. The general thrust of these two verses is that no one but the Father knows when the end will come. When we set a date we raise people’s expectations. If we are wrong (as everyone has been for two-thousand years) it will only discourage saints and drive away sinners. The Jewish rabbis of the biblical era had a saying about date-setters: “Perish the men who calculate the time.” They understood the dangers involved with predicting the Lord’s coming.
we should live as if Jesus could come today! Paul believed in
return of Christ (1 Thess 5:1-10). Warren Wiersbe said “We do
not look for
signs as such; we look for the
Savior.” Let us not engage in setting dates and
predicting the Lord’s
return. Let us live each moment as if it is our last. Let us work to
others before the Day of the Lord overtakes us as a “thief in
the night” (2 Pet
3:10). The great reformer Martin Luther had only two days on his
today and “that day.” My challenge to you is that
you would live each day as if
it is that day.
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The Coming Storm
by Jimmy Stallard
There have always been doomsday predictors who have called for the end of the world. Many people ignore the doomsdayers. Still others worry about where the world is headed.
If one were to hear the sayings of our age they would hear apocalyptic language as they have never heard it before. Newspapers, magazines, television and radio newscasts, and now the internet are ripe with references to “armageddon” or “new world order”. The use of these expressions increases with each new day.
When I was a teenager I remember a night
that several tornadoes came through our town and county in
The world knows, deep down, that something is coming. A storm is brewing just over the horizon. But man has tried to convince himself that it is not really coming, or if it is, it is something good. Like a person who denies he has a terminal illness, he plunges forward in hopes that some man-made utopia will save him in the end. He has pronounced our time as the dawning of a New Age. Peace is breaking out all over. Hope abounds that he will solve his own problems and bring peace without acknowledging Jesus, the Christ, as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6, 7).
Contrary to popular opinion, the Bible is not an antiquated book of nice stories that have lost their relevance. The Bible is the infallibly inspired Word of the Living God. Its message speaks to this age from an age long ago with prophetic truth. IT WARNS OF A COMING STORM WHICH AWAITS THE HUMAN RACE AT THE END OF THE AGE.
What this world needs now more than ever before is not politicians trying to placate every desire of the populace, but modern day Paul Revere’s…prophets who will boldly proclaim the storm is coming. This time was declared by Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:21 as unprecedented in human history. It has been called “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7) and the seventieth week (Daniel 9:27). Joel referred to it as the Day of the Lord: “Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come” (Joel 1:15).
I personally believe that the church will be raptured or translated to heaven prior to this judgment upon the earth (See 1 Thessalonians 4:17-5:9) and certainly that affects my thinking about the topic. But regardless what one thinks about the timing of the rapture Christ’s words cannot be ignored. Before the age of Christ’s kingdom appears on planet earth there will be experienced a day of sorrows for those who are alive at that time.
Ted Bundy, the multiple killer, got stay after stay from the courts concerning his death sentence. His death was imminent. It always clouded his horizon like an ugly shadow that would not go away. The day came when he walked the hall, sat in the electric chair, had a hood placed over his head, and the lever was pulled. The judgment was carried out to its awful conclusion.
planet has been on death row. Righteous judgment looms on the horizon
and it is
imminent. But the
day will come when the
trumpet shall sound and then the storm will arrive. The storm will be
unprecedented. No worse trial or catastrophe has ever been experienced
Will you be ready? Let
the words of
Jesus bring you to a serious and sobering reflection on the times in
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Kingdom of our
by Jimmy Stallard
The recent news of war breaking out in southern Lebanon - as Hezbollah captured Israeli soldiers and began raining rockets down upon civilians in Israel - has sent shivers up and down the spines of Americans, including Bible-believing Christians. Ever since Israel became a nation in 1948 every move toward war (which is most of the time) raises the question “Is this the end?” Or “Is this the prophesied time of tribulation about to happen?” “Is the Lord about to come?” Certainly our text calls for patience even as events move with rapid fire speed. The Lord declares “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” But what could be more troubling than a nuclear Iran or North Korea? What could be more discouraging than a standoff in Iraq and the threat of terrorism within our own borders?
With the threat of Islamofascism facing the Western world there seems very little to be thrilled about on the world scene. From the point of view of an unsaved person who does not believe the Bible and does not know Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior from sin, there seems to be little prospect for hope. The tired liberal cliché “Can’t we all just get along...” does not seem to work with terrorists. Even the rest of the Muslim world seems afraid of these people. In fact, if these groups were to ever get a major foothold into law and government, either in the U.S. or Europe, the secular humanists would begin longing for the day when the “religious right” would stand up to Islamofascism. For indeed, the only thing that could possibly stop them is a return to Christian principles as the basis of thinking, believing, and acting.
But the greatest problem the
world faces is not the Islamofascists. It is not the threat of
Some Christians would disagree
with my interpretation, believing that there will be no manifestation
kingdom on this earth (this is called Amillennialism).
But no where can
I find a declaration in Scripture that says that the promises made by
There is no stopping this
kingdom from coming. No political movement, no mighty army, no
organization can stop it from coming. It has been prophesied - it will
Daniel the prophet interpreted the dream of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel
Two. His predictions of the future kingdoms of the earth were based
revelation. He faithfully portrayed the future kingdoms of the
Empire, the Greek Empire, and the
It is a kingdom set up by the
Messiah Himself, and God’s people (those who have been saved)
will reign with
him (Rev 20:1-6). The nation of
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Revival and Prayer
Getting the Glory Back
Exodus Chapter Thirty-Two records the familiar story of the Golden Calf, the idol that the people of Israel had fashioned out of their own jewelry. While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the oracles of God, the people were down below rejecting that God who had delivered them from bondage only a few months before. As a result of their wickedness, the Nation of Israel was deprived of the presence of God. He said, “I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiff-necked people…” (Ex. 33:3). The Glory of God departed from Israel.
First of all, we must obey the Divine
Command. The Lord instructed the people of
Secondly, there must be Definite
Contrition. After removing their ornaments, the people of
Finally, we must make a Desperate Cry. Note the words of Moses: “If I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight… (Ex 33:13). He went on by presenting a bold request unto the Lord: “Show me now thy glory” (Ex 33:18).
As a result of this prayer, Moses was allowed to see a part of God’s glory, something not revealed to very many. And the Nation of Israel, because of its repentance, was restored to fellowship with God. The glory returned to their camp. As we survey our decadent society, we must remember that revival begins with individuals. Ask God to begin the work in you. Ask Him to show you His glory!
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Prayer and the Reality of God
by Jimmy Stallard
Recently I had a $200.00 need for a brief trip I needed to take. The day after I asked God to provide for this a $ 200.00 check showed up in the mailbox. Last year I had a $1,000.00 need revealed to me over the phone. After I hung up the phone I cried out to God to give me $ 1,000.00. Within one hour someone delivered to my front door twenty fifty dollar bills. This past week my family and I had a discouraging day and in our family prayer time we claimed Psalm 86:17 which says Show me a token for good: that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, LORD, hast helped me, and comforted me. The next day we received over $1,000.00 from three different sources and I received a wonderful ministry opportunity. Throughout my life and ministry I have seen God give some very powerful and precise answers to prayer. These are not the “generic” kinds of prayers. These are circumstances and events that can only be explained by the fact that the God of heaven answered my prayers.
This kind of testimony is necessary for every child of God to be encouraged in his or her life and to go forward with the gospel. However, it seems apparent that many of God’s people can give very little testimony of powerful and precise answers to prayer that can only be explained that God did it. This fact alone reveals why many young people in Christian homes and raised in Christian churches leave home in their young adult life without faith or a sense that God is real. They have never seen God do anything that could only be explained as something that God did. God is not real to them. He is only a concept and the Bible is only a book of rules and regulations. The idea of a vital, living relationship with the One True God is foreign to such believers. The philosophy of answered prayer is a pipe dream that they would not dare to try to put into practice.
However, in his great book The Deeper Secrets of Prayer Dr. Sam Wolfe, an evangelist who makes much of prayer, makes this statement “Believing prayer is that fulcrum on which the lever of God’s omnipotence rests.” This statement reflects the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ in His upper room discourse of John 14-16. Here we find three major truths about prayer that should challenge the believer to believe God for great things:
First of all, God will answer prayer to bring glory to Himself. In John 14:13,14 Jesus challenges His disciples with these words “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” This stands as the main reason for answered prayer. It is not for us to get what we want, though through prayer we can. It is not for us to advance His kingdom, though through prayer we can. It is so that God will get glory to His name and be seen and felt as real – the one true God of the universe.
To be sure, a Christian who is in rebellion toward God will not be able to get his prayers answered. The scripture clearly says we will not be able to pray in the midst of a crisis if we are not walking after the Lord (Proverbs 1:23-31). If we waver as a double-minded man the Lord will not give us anything (James 1:6-8). If we have hidden unconfessed sin the Lord will not hear us (Psalm 66:18-20). But God delights to demonstrate how real He is to His children for their comfort and for a testimony to the world of the reality of His presence.
Second, God relates prayer to bearing fruit. In John 15:16 Christ speaks of prayer and fruitbearing. I personally believe He is talking about souls saved through the life of the believer. But whatever the fruit is in John Chapter 15, it is clear that the Lord wants souls to be saved. We have been “ordained...that your fruit should remain”. While God cares about the believer’s problems, difficulties, sicknesses, pressures of life, etc. this should not be the primary focus of the believer’s prayers. The primary focus should be advancing His kingdom and His way through our lives and through the church. There is nothing wrong with maintaining lists of sick people for our prayers, but if that is all we ask God for we have missed out on the major ministry we have through prayer. Often I have prayed for God to bring across my path someone in need of salvation so I would have an opportunity to reap a harvest. He has done this many times through the years. He will do it in your life as well.
Finally, God answers prayer so that God’s people will be filled with joy. In John 16:24 Jesus says “Hitherto (up to now) have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” God wants us to live a joy-filled life regardless of the trials and difficulties we face. By answering our prayers He demonstrates that He is with us and will see us through. This brings great joy to our hearts and encouragement to our situations. The Bible teaches “for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). There is great strength that comes to the life of the Christian who is experiencing great joy through the answers to prayer that God gives. With joy comes a powerful testimony that the child of God can carry into the world. This demonstrates that our God, the God of the Bible, is real...and can be real to every soul that by faith claims Him for their own.
Answered prayer glorifies God, bears fruit for His
kingdom, and brings
great joy to us who experience it.
Perhaps your life has been barren and empty. You find that heaven seems
blocked off to
you. Ask God to
search your life to find
out why you cannot get through to the Lord.
Confess any known sin and surrender to His claims
your life. Then go
out in faith believing God for answered
prayer. Do not turn
loose of the Lord
until you hear from the God who is real.
Charles H. Spurgeon, the great Baptist preacher of
Marks of an
by Stephen Stallard
“God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food.” Recognize that prayer? It is considered “cute” when little kids stammer out these words in their quavering voices; but don’t you think it would be odd to hear a bunch of adults praying this in unison? Why is that? This prayer is fine for children, but spiritual adults are expected to be able to pray in a deeper manner. Sadly, it seems that many Christians have never moved beyond the ABC’s of prayer. They are still praying shallow, child-like prayers. Let me give you a few examples: “Be with the sick,” “Bless the missionaries,” “Saved the unsaved,” and “Help the pastor.” These vague prayers are far too common in our homes and churches. God wants us to graduate from the kindergarten school of prayer so that we can move on to the real work of prayer: intercession. Intercession is waging a spiritual war on the behalf of others. The classic example of intercession is found in the life of Abraham. Genesis chapter eighteen details how Abraham petitioned God on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah. This passage demonstrates the characteristics of an intercessor.
First of all, an intercessor is someone who maintains a close relationship with God. Notice the question that God asks Himself as He planned the destruction of these evil cities: “Shall the Lord hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” (Gen 18:17). God said that He could trust Abraham with this knowledge because He knew Abraham (Gen 18:19). Are you on intimate terms with the Lord? Can He trust you with His plan? God will not hear the intercessory pleas of someone who is far from Him. Abraham was described as the “Friend of God” (James 2:23). He was able to approach God as an intercessor because He was God’s friend. Can God say that about you?
How can we expect to help others if we do not have the ear of God? If disaster strikes me I want to be able to turn to a ready band of intercessors – people who know God and are known by God. In order to be an intercessor we must be on praying ground, walking daily in fellowship with the Lord.
Secondly, an intercessor is someone who
to the character of
God. Abraham did not merely say “Lord, please
Finally, an intercessor is someone who
persistently cries out to God.
It is easy to get discouraged when our prayers are not answered,
when we believe we are praying according to the will of God. Abraham
asked God to spare the righteous people living in
God has called His children to the battle of intercession, and we must not shirk this fight. We can have faith because the “effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).
by Jimmy Stallard
The spirit of a man says a lot about the character of that man. The Bible speaks of the possibility of every man, woman, or child having a right spirit (Ps 51:10), a faithful spirit (Prov 11:13), a humble spirit (Prov 16:19), a patient spirit (Eccl 7:8), a poor spirit (Matt 5:3), an excellent spirit (Dan 5:12), or a meek spirit (Gal 6:1). It also speaks of the possibility of a man having a negative kind of spirit. It is possible for a man to have a hasty spirit (Prov 14:29), an haughty spirit (Prov 16:18), or a perverse spirit (Isa 19:14). There are many examples that we could glean from the pages of scripture.
The text before us records a powerful rebuke from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ to the disciples he had earlier named “the sons of thunder” (See Mark 3:17). These were the two brothers James and John. James would later die by the sword and John would become known as the “the disciple that Jesus loved” and the “apostle of love”. But in their raw temperament they had an attitude that was quick to condemn and judge. Their “spirit” would not be considered Christian by any stretch of the imagination. When the Samaritans did not respond to the ministry of Jesus properly their initial response was “wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias (Elijah) did?” Jesus’ rebuke stands as a stark reminder to anyone who would represent the name of the Lord Jesus “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:55-56).
The context reveals the struggles of the disciples and informs the modern reader of the right “spirit” and right “attitude” that should be the trademark of genuine revival in the life and heart of the believer. If I could exchange my life for one truth being established among believers everywhere this would be it. Note the following:
(1) They had misconceptions about true greatness. In Luke 9:46 the Bible tells us that the disciples were arguing over who among them was the greatest. The verses before this explain that the disciples did not understand that Jesus was going to the Cross to die (Luke 9:43-45). That, to them, was not a picture of greatness, but of cruel failure. The humility of going to a cross would not even enter their minds. Then in the verses after this (Luke 9:47-48), Christ instructs them to look to small children as their example of humility. Small children are dependent on their parents so we must be dependent on God. We should never consider ourselves to be self-sufficient or truly great apart from the work of God in our lives.
(2) They were proud based on an assumed position. Pride had found a nesting place in the hearts of the disciples. Man is incurably religious and that religious disposition tends to cause each man to view himself as more “right” than the other guy. This festered to a boil as the disciples saw someone else ministering in the name of Jesus without their permission (Luke 9:49-50). They viewed themselves as the only ones who had the right to lead others to follow Jesus. Jesus rebuked them by saying “Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.” How many Christians are there who feel they should be in charge by virtue of who they are or some assumed position they hold. How many churches have been torn asunder by proud people who think others should be listening to them? As Revivalist Harold Vaughan of Christ Life Ministries has declared “pride is the major roadblock to revival.”
(3) They overreacted based on their wrong observations. Luke 9:54 declares that “when his disciples James and John saw this...” The reaction of James and John to the Samaritans rejection of Jesus was based totally on their own personal observations. It was when they saw these things that they wanted to call fire down from heaven and destroy them. What kind of spirit is this? There is a common expression that is almost Biblical – believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see. Most Christians would be shocked at what the Bible says should be the basis for our forming judgments of others. In fact, if Christians want to imitate Jesus they must go much deeper than judging others based on what they see or what they hear. Listen to the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the Messiah: “And [God] shall make him [Messiah] of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge...” (Isaiah 11:3, 4). No wonder that Christ so castigated James and John for the manner of spirit they were displaying. Who were they to want to judge others based on their own personal observations? In fact, Satan traffics in such overreactions. The attitude of judgment that dominated them was akin to dropping an atomic bomb on a flea to kill it. This will never bring a spirit that is conducive for revival.
(4) They thought they were basing their views on the Bible. In Luke 9:54 James and John based their request to Jesus to call fire down from heaven upon the example of Elijah recorded in the Bible. Elijah had called fire down from heaven in 1 Kings 18:36-40 and God answered and sent fire upon the altar. Note James and John did not just want God to send down fire upon an altar but upon people – “wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them”. They very quickly wanted to judge the Samaritans and have God kill them. This was a spirit that did not originate with God, but a malicious spirit of judgmentalism originating with Satan. God’s people need to desperately understand they cannot use the Bible for their own petty viewpoints. We are not allowed to take scripture and twist it to form judgments about others. In fact, there is nothing so blinding as a judgmental spirit (See Matthew 23). James and John thought they were justified in their appeal to scripture, but they were not.
Many believers are crying out to God for revival in our day. As Vance Havner has preached, the times are desperate but the people of God are not. Even those who talk the most about revival and mention it often in their prayers and conversations seem to lack this spirit of desperation. We must face the facts. God will not send revival among a people of the wrong spirit. When Jesus looks at you what does He see? Does He see a person of an excellent spirit or would you be just another son of thunder? What manner of spirit are you?
by Stephen Stallard
One of the most crucial doctrines of the Bible is that of the eternal security of the believer. In fact, it is has been my practice to share this teaching with new converts immediately after their salvation. I have found that it is helpful to get these brand new Christians started “on the right foot.” Satan would love to steal this doctrine away from Christians, for without it, we are more susceptible to his attacks. He will hurl his fiery darts of doubt, fear, discouragement, and temptation at us when we founder on this issue. If we are not eternally secure, we might live the Christian life in a tepid manner, we might not be effective for Christ, and we might not serve God with any confidence.
I certainly do recognize that many good Christians disagree on this issue. Many believers are sincere, devoted servants of Christ, who also maintain that it is possible to lose one’s salvation. While I appreciate their perspective, I must disagree with their conclusions. I think that these Christians have placed an unnecessary burden upon their lives. I believe that God wants us to live in a spirit of freedom; we are free forever from the penalty of sin!
While there are many verses that explain this teaching, John 10:27-30 is the classic passage. Here, the words of Christ are crystal clear. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.”
It is obvious that Christ here promised that His sheep (believers) will never perish. Since we know that Christians die, this cannot refer to physical death. Instead, these verses are speaking of perishing in a spiritual sense. In other words, the sheep would perish if they stopped being the sheep! Our eternal security is not based upon feelings, or good works, nor is it based upon our memory of a conversion experience. It is based upon the rock solid foundation of the person of Jesus Christ. We will look at three reasons from this passage that we are free forever.
First of all, our eternal security is based upon What Jesus Knows. Christ said “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them...” Jesus knows the identities of all of His sheep. He has tagged them, as it were. He is like a tender shepherd who assigns pet names to the members of his flock. The Great Shepherd knows each of His lambs, and He knows each of them by name.
He knows our dreams, our ambitions, our secret desires, and our needs. The Shepherd knows the sheep better than they know themselves.
I manage a fast food restaurant
Similarly, Jesus has invested Himself in us. He knows His sheep, and He is not about to allow any of them to get away. That would be bad shepherding! Earlier in this chapter, Jesus said that the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep (verse 15). I ask you: How could this Shepherd - who died for the sheep and knows them so well - how could He lose any of His sheep? We are not a statistic to Jesus Christ. We are one of His lambs, and because He knows us, we are forever free.
Second, our eternal security is based upon What Jesus Does. The action of Jesus that ensures our freedom is two fold. First, Christ said “I give unto them eternal life.” This is a positive action. Christ bestows this gift upon us. Eternal life must, by its very definition be eternal. If it is a temporary life, based upon our good behavior, then it is not really a gift of eternal life.
The second action is a negative one. Jesus said “they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” The image is of Christ holding tightly to His sheep. He will not allow them to leave, nor will He allow them to be taken. Since Jesus is omnipotent, there is no one who has the power to remove the sheep from the safety of His hand. Because of what He does, we are forever free.
Finally, our eternal security is based upon Who Jesus Is. Jesus explained that no one could take the sheep out of either His hand or the Father’s hand. Then Jesus exploded a rhetorical bombshell. He said “I and my Father are one.” In essence, Jesus said “The sheep are secure because I am God. And I’m not going to let anything happen to my sheep.” The Jews understood this to be a clear declaration of deity, for they immediately sought to stone Him. They thought He was a blasphemer because He claimed equality with the Father. What they did not understand was that He was equal to the Father. He was in fact, Almighty God. As God, He could do whatever He wanted. Jesus said this to demonstrate that the security of His sheep was based, not on the whim of the lambs, but upon the character of their Shepherd.
So, what are we to do in light of this teaching? We should fall on our knees and worship the great and good God who mercifully keeps us free forever. And we should live our lives in His service. Because we are not in bondage, we can live confidently, and boldly strive for victory in the Christian life.
While this doctrine has been misconstrued by some as a license to sin, this was clearly not what Jesus was saying. He was merely affirming that His sheep are forever free. This was not because of their works, their feelings, or their memories. The security of the sheep was based upon what Jesus knows, what Jesus does, and who Jesus is. Based upon the character of Jesus Christ, we as Christians know that we are forever free.
by Stephen Stallard
Heaven. The very word awakens a multitude of emotions within the heart of every man. There is something about that word, Heaven, which stirs us and draws us. It arouses the deepest longing of the soul. It stands before us as a place of peace and comfort. It holds out the promise of a rewarding ending. And it is the dream of nearly all those who have ever lived.
Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about heaven, and how to get there. Let us briefly point out how a person does not get to heaven. You cannot reach heaven by being good, or even by being religious. The Bible says that we are not saved by good works (Eph 2:9). Our most noble humanitarian efforts and our greatest acts of kindness are not enough to buy our way into heaven. When you stand at the pearly gates God will not examine your baptismal certificate or your tithing record. He will not ask if you were faithful in prayer and church attendance.
So how are we to fulfill this lifelong dream of every human? How can we reach heaven, that place of majesty and splendor? Well, there is only one way. Allow me to present the following illustration.
imagine that you are going to fly across the country from
you arrive at the airport you stand in line for a while, knowing that
patience will be rewarded with a spot on the airplane. Finally, an
worker speaks to you and asks where you are headed. “
Your heart begins to pound more rapidly as you try to explain. “Nobody said anything about needing a ticket. But I prepared for this trip for a long time. I was really good while I stood in line. Can’t you let me on board?” The airport worker shakes his head sadly. “I’m sorry, but there’s only one way to get on the plane. And if you don’t have a ticket, I’m afraid you’ll have to be left behind.”
So it is with heaven. There is only one way to get to heaven, and that is through Jesus Christ. Without a proper ticket, we can never reach that wondrous place. We need to understand three principles about getting to heaven.
First of all, heaven is free. We do not gain entrance into heaven through the “works of righteousness which we have done” (Tit 2:5). In fact, the Bible states that all of our best deeds are sinful in God’s eyes (Isa 64:6). Compared to a perfectly holy God, we sinful human beings just do not measure up. That by itself is bad news. But the good news is that Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, lived a perfect life on our behalf. He satisfied the demands of God and suffered in our place. Technically speaking, God’s gift of heaven is not free. Someone had to pay the price. Since it was a price too great for you and I, Jesus paid it for us. He offers to us His gift of eternal life in heaven.
heaven is received by faith. Knowing that Christ lived and
died for you
will never save you. You must realize that He died in your place,
equivalent of eternal hell for you. You must acknowledge that you are a
deserving of that hell. Finally, you must choose to accept His
gift. If someone offered to buy your plane ticket so you could fly to
Having faith in God does not mean that you merely believe in God. Instead, it means that you choose to acknowledge Him as your Lord and Savior. You repent of your sinfulness and throw yourself at His mercy, trusting Him by faith to save you. Simply put, we ask Jesus to save us, trusting Him and Him alone to get us into heaven.
Finally, heaven is forever. The Bible says that whoever asks God to save them will be saved (Rom 10:13). This is an eternal promise of God. The Lord has never lied to anyone, and you can be sure that He will keep His word. The Bible teaches that eternal life, once given, can never be taken away (John 10:28-29). Someday our time will come and we will step through heaven’s portal, home at last. And we will spend an eternity of bliss as we serve and praise our great God and King.
Heaven cannot be reached by being good. Salvation is found only in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the only One who can get you into heaven. I have my ticket. Do you?
by Jimmy Stallard
If I could go back in time I would want to go back and view the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. No man ever died as He died. Oh yes, many men died on crosses since crucifixion was the means of carrying out the death penalty in the Roman Empire. But no one faced the cruel torture and the agony of the judgment of God as Jesus did. The Bible is null and void without the Cross of Jesus. The Gospels record clearly how central the Cross is to the thinking of God’s plan for the world.
First of all, notice the prophecy of the Cross. In Mark 15:28 the Bible declares “and the scripture was fulfilled.” We see that the Cross was no accident. Jesus was no vagabond who was murdered. What we read fits the plan of God and is the fulfillment of all that was prophesied before. We find the Cross prophesied from the garden of Eden when God gave the promise of a redeemer to the serpent (Gen 3:15) to God’s promise to Abraham (Gen 22:8) to the greatest passage on the death of Christ (Isaiah 53:1-12).
Jesus Himself prophesied of his crucifixion and resurrection in John 2:19-21. Peter confirmed the prophesies of the Old Testament as being fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth when he declared “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name, whosever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). I personally was saved under the preaching of Dr. Sam Wolfe as he preached messages on Christ in the Old Testament out of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness.
Would you like to know the details of your death before it took place? Would you like these details written down for everybody else to see? Would you even want to know when you are going to die? The great Twentieth Century preacher, B. R. Lakin, declared “If I could find out where I’m supposed to die, I’ll never go there!” Seven hundred years before He was born, the Old Testament prophesied how Jesus would die (Isaiah 53). Jesus Christ knew He would die. He knew when He would die. He knew how He would die. He knew all of this before it ever took place.
We also see the pain of the Cross. Mark 15:25 tells us “And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.” Being crucified was a horrendous way to die. The Bible speaks of the scars of scourging Jesus endured (Isaiah 50:5-7). In the Latin the word for this was from excoriare with Ex which means off, and corium, meaning skin. This conveys the idea of the stripping off of the skin that Jesus suffered as He was beaten by the Roman guard. There were the scars of the spikes in his hands and feet (Psalm 22:16) and there was the scars of the thorns as He wore a crown of thorns (Matthew 27:29). After He died a Roman soldier pierced His side and blood and water gushed out (John 19:34; Zechariah 12:10).
But the worst pain that Christ suffered came from bearing the sins of the world. The Apostle Paul gives us a statement of the great exchange between Christ and the sinner when he declares “For he (God the Father) hath made him (Jesus Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin: that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). In that dark time hanging on the Cross, Jesus became sin, your sin and my sin. The Bible declares “...and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). When Christ became sin, the Father poured out judgment upon His own Son turning His back on Him so that He cried out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46). By enduring this pain of the Cross on our behalf Jesus opened the door for us to receive His righteousness and be saved.
Finally, we see the power of the Cross. Mark 15:38 tells us “And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” The Holy of Holies had been closed off for none but the High Priest of Israel, but now the veil was torn away by the power of God showing the world that through Christ we have access to God. Now the Holy of Holies had been moved to the throne room of God in heaven and into the hearts of men. Access is not through a Catholic priest, a Baptist preacher, the rituals of baptism or communion, or through the church – “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
A few years ago my family and I became close friends with a little Jewish lady named Amy. She was a precious ethnic Jew who had lost her Jewish belief in God but treasured the traditions of being Jewish. We invited her over to our house with some church members to have the Passover Seder, a Jewish ritual. Our hope was to demonstrate to her that Jesus of Nazareth was the true Messiah of Israel and that she could believe in Him. As I read from the Jewish books she had supplied I began to read the passage of Isaiah 53 and she stopped me. Then she said “That’s the New Testament you are reading from! You are reading about Jesus!” I replied, “Yes, I am reading about Jesus, but it’s not from the NewTestament.” The Cross is indeed central to everything we do and everything we share as Christians. We must lift up the Cross of Jesus for He has said “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32).
The Christmas Miracle
by Jimmy Stallard
The Christmas season is one of the most special times of the year. People are busy decorating, buying presents, or putting up Christmas trees. Christmas hymns are sung with vigor. Eggnog or hot chocolate becomes a regular visitor to our homes, and our children often become the center of attention.
All of these things help make up what we call the Christmas “spirit.” But what really makes the season special is not what men, women, boys, or girls do, but what God has done. The Christmas season celebrates the greatest event in the history of the world – the coming of God into the world.
Without the coming of the baby Jesus, there would be no special season. There also would be no life of Jesus to emulate. And, most importantly, there would be no Cross and no Empty Tomb to redeem man from his sins.
From the very beginning God had promised a solution to the problem of man’s rebellion. In the Garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve had sinned against the commandment of God, a judgment was pronounced upon the woman, the man, and the serpent. God said to the serpent “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:16).
The promised “seed” would be none
than the little baby born in
First, there was the miracle of the Incarnation. The Old Testament gives predictions concerning the coming Messiah and it is clear from the record that only the babe in the manger could be the fulfillment. Note the following:
(1) The baby would be born in
(2) The baby would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:16-20).
(3) The baby would be God Himself come in the flesh (Isaiah 9:6, 7; John 1:14).
Second, there was the miracle of
the Star of
Many attempts have been made to discover what this star was by way of a natural explanation. Some have said it was a conjunction of the planets Mars, Jupiter, or Saturn in the night sky. Others believe it was a comet or a supernova that appeared at that time. However, there is nothing in the Bible to suggest that this star was anything less than a miracle of God accompanying the coming of the Messiah. It is possible that the light of this miraculous star was given at the time the angels made their announcement of the birth to the shepherds. The Bible says “...and the glory of the Lord shone round about them” (Luke 2:9). Most likely the glory of the Lord was revealed with light (See Matthew 17:1-5). This manifestation of God’s glory in the Old Testament was called the shekinah glory and signified a special presence of God (Exodus 24:16; 1 Kings 8:10). Certainly the coming of the promised Messiah would bring God’s presence among the people of God.
Third, there was the miracle of
providence at work in the birth of Jesus.
The Word of God had prophesied that the Messiah
(Adapted from the book The True Spirit of Christmas by Jimmy Stallard to be released sometime in 2008).
Gospel of Grace
by Jimmy Stallard
The Epistle to the Galatians warns us about another gospel which is not the real gospel. The theme of this letter from the hand of the Apostle Paul is the gospel of grace. But there were some in Paul’s day, as they are in our day, who strip the gospel of all grace and teach a work’s system of salvation. This performance based gospel condemns men for all eternity. Our text tells us that if anyone preaches this gospel “let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9). Of course, repentance is a necessary ingredient for any man or woman to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 21:32). But we must be careful to communicate that the belief in salvation by grace excludes the notion of salvation by works.
Because of man’s estrangement from God, man is incapable of earning favor with God. Every religion in the world today teaches salvation by works and most “professing” Christians will tell you they are “good enough” to go to heaven. Surely, God will not punish them for their sin! Look at all the good they have done! They are as good as anyone else and certainly God will receive them.
Those who think in these terms are deceived (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). The truth is “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). No one will ever be able to cancel out his sin debt by his own good life of works and deeds. Sinful, rebellious man cannot come to God on his own terms. He must come God’s way or not come at all. He must come to God based on the principle on grace. This is why the Scripture declares “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He has saved us...” (Titus 3:5).
Grace is God doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Through Jesus Christ, God’s Son, and His death on the cross to pay for our sin debt, God provided for us a way to be saved apart from works. Salvation by grace is the opposite of salvation by works or good deeds. A careful study of the book of Galatians reveals four major implications of this principle of grace.
First, if salvation is by works, it is not by grace. Paul states “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no man be justified” (Galatians 2:16). To keep the law or do good works in order to be saved would mean salvation is not by grace. But the Bible declares salvation to be through grace. Romans 11:6 declares “And if by grace, then is it no more works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be by works, then is it no more of grace: otherwise work is no more work” (See also Romans 4:4-5 and Ephesians 2:8-9).
Second, if salvation is by works, the Cross means nothing. Galatians 2:21 exhorts “I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” To “frustrate the grace of God” means to make it void or to nullify it or to set it aside. Paul further explains what he meant when he said that if a right standing could be attained by keeping the law of God, then Christ’s death was meaningless. Why did Jesus come to die on the cross if we could save ourselves by our own righteous life? The cross has eternal meaning only because He came to save sinners who could not save themselves.
Third, if salvation is by works, no one will ever be saved. The third chapter of Galatians reveals the following “for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe” (Galatians 3:21-22). The teaching is emphatic. If God could give a law for men to keep in order for them to be saved and go to heaven, He would have done so. But man is a sinner and will not be able to keep the law perfectly. Prideful men may feel they can make it to heaven by being good enough. But the only “good” man is the one who realizes that no one will ever be good enough and so he flees by faith to the shelter of the cross as his only hope of heaven (See John 5:24-29).
Finally, if salvation is by works, man will boast. Near the end of the book of Galatians the Apostle Paul makes a powerful declaration when he thunders “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto men, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14). The only thing Paul wished to glory in was the cross of the Lord Jesus. The cross is the emblem of God’s love for us and it is also the emblem of our sin. It reveals how helpless we are apart from God’s provision for us. The only thing we can do is glory in the cross. Man is incurably religious and will forever try to earn his salvation. It is rooted in man’s inability to admit that he is a sinner and will never be good enough to be saved. The Bible teaches that man would boast if he was able to save himself. But man, no matter how many good deeds he performed, would have no right to boast before God (Romans 4:1-2). Boasting is excluded (Romans 3:27). God has so constituted the issue that the plan of salvation must be apart from works lest he would be tempted to boast about how he earned his way to heaven (Ephesians 2:9).
To come to God in any other way than through grace is to be a thief and a robber (John 10:1). Any other gospel turns the Christian faith into just another religion like those in the world. The glory of the true gospel rests upon it being a gospel of grace. It is by grace through faith in what Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross and through the empty tomb. It is only that gospel that saves a soul forever.
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of” (Genesis 22:1-2).
Imagine how hurt Abraham must have been as his dream was shattered! He had been told by God that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars; yet now he had been told to kill his only son. Abraham did not realize that God was testing him. What would you do? I’m sure that Abraham tossed and turned all night as he pondered the Lord’s command. In the end, Abraham chose to obey.
and Isaac gathered the wood, the fire, and the knife, and they went to
Abraham placed his son upon the altar, and readied the knife. He raised the sharp blade into the air, and brought it down toward his son. At the last moment, a voice rang out from heaven and told Abraham to spare his son. It was then that “Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.” (Gen 22:13).
the perfect example of a substitute. A substitute teacher is someone
in and takes the place of a regular teacher. Isaac’s
substitute was a male
lamb, an innocent animal that God killed in his place. Why did God do
Well, it is clear that He was testing Abraham’s level of love
and devotion. But
I also believe that God set this up in order to foreshadow
see, 2,000 years later God would offer up His only begotten Son on a
Tradition has it that the followers of Muhammad laid
In order for God to be just, He had to punish our sin. but in order for Him to be loving, He had to set us free. How could He possibly do both? His love found a way, in the person of Jesus Christ. He crucified His only Son, and placed our sin upon Him, so that Jesus took our punishment for us. God provided a ram as a substitute for Isaac...and the spotless Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, for us. Are you resting in the sacrifice that He has provided?
The Unknown God
by Jimmy Stallard
In the famous encounter the Apostle Paul experienced with the Athenians on Mars hill, he made mention of an inscription he saw as he passed through the city. The altar, or monument, simply stated TO THE UNKOWN GOD. Then he began to preach a message about this “unknown God” as he proclaimed “Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:23).
Scholars have debated what the inscription means. Did it refer to one of the myriads of gods the Athenians worshipped, or to something else? Don Richardson, in his book Eternity in Their Hearts, described the story of Epimenides, the Cretan, who gave advice to the Athenians in the midst of a plague. He encouraged them to turn loose several sheep. If these sheep laid down on the ground they would there build an altar to a god which the Athenians had not yet discovered. Whether Paul knew of this incident or not, the Bible does not tell us. But he stood to declare the truth about that God that was to those of his day still unknown.
However, Paul speaks to our day as well. Those who
Civilization are living in a decadent society. While there are many
intellectual, physical, and social attainments and pursuits in our
true God of the Bible is still unknown to most of our civilization.
Phillips said of the Athenians could be said of us in
The inscription “To The Unknown God” raises some important questions we ought to consider. The first question is simply this - Is there a God? The existence of God is evident for anyone who wants to be honest. The Bible teaches that only a fool would reject the reality of God (Psalm 14:1). The created realm all around us reflects the work of a divine intelligence: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handywork” (Psalm 19:1). Paul told the church at Rome “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). The conscience within man also offers evidence of the reality of a supreme moral being to whom we are accountable (Romans 2:11-15).
The second question concerning this “Unknown God” is simple: Can God be known? If the Bible teaches anything it is that there is a God and that God can indeed be known by mankind. The writer of Proverbs asked a series of questions about God when he declared: “Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, if thou canst tell? (Proverbs 30:4).
A.W. Tozer, in his book The Knowledge of the Holy, challenges the reader with these words: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us” (pg 9). We must think about this God. We must know this God. In fact, we have to know Him if we are to have life. Paul declared Him to be close at hand (Romans 10:8) - as close as our mouths and our hearts. We must avoid at all costs being like the Athenians who have an Unknown God in their midst.
there is a God, and if He can be known, the third
becomes How can God be known?
Paul’s very presence at Mars Hill
However, the major way that God has made himself known to our world today and throughout history has been in the Person of Jesus Christ. In fact, “God who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son…” (Hebrews 1:1-2). If a person wants to know God they must know Christ. He is God come in human flesh (John 1:1,14 and 1 Timothy 3:16). He declared to Phillip “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father…” (John 14:9).
When a man or a woman looks at the cross of Christ he should immediately know three things: the sin of mankind, the love of God, and the truth that God wants to be known. The Bible repeatedly teaches that a person comes to know God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 10:8-13 and John 1:12-13). Jesus Himself declared “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).
All around us are monuments or altars to the gods of our day. Idolatry did not die out in the first century after Christ. Many are hedging their bets for the future on their idols. In the wreckage of what is Twenty-First Century Christendom, many have erected an altar to the so-called “Christian God.” This God is unknown to the masses, but He can only be found in Jesus Christ. Has this “Unknown God” become known to you?
What Does Easter Mean for Us?
by Stephen Stallard
It was a quiet Sunday morning in Jerusalem as a group of Roman soldiers stood outside a garden tomb, grumbling among themselves. Who ever heard of guarding a dead person? Tired and hungry, these men did not understand why the Pharisees had asked that they guard this tomb. Sure, they had heard the rumors about the man named Jesus. But He was dead now; what could He do? They talked quietly as the day dawned, unaware that they were about to witness the greatest event in human history.
Suddenly, the earth began to roll back and forth as if it was a mighty ocean wave. The soldiers were tossed to the ground as a blinding white light flashed across their vision. They could hear the grinding sound of a large stone being rolled away and terror gripped their hearts as they realized that someone was opening the tomb. With their clouded vision they could dimly make out the figure of a man coming out of the tomb. The soldiers cried out in fear and shut their eyes, hoping that they were having a nightmare. But it was no nightmare; it was humanity’s dream come true.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ was the greatest event in the history of the world. Dr. Harold Wilmington said that the “sign of Christianity is really not the cross, but an empty tomb.” As we celebrate Easter we should ponder the three major truths that the Resurrection teaches.
First of all, the Resurrection demonstrates that Jesus is God. During His three year ministry Jesus claimed to be God on numerous occasions. He explained that He had existed before Abraham, saying “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). To the Jewish mind, this was a clear claim to deity, for Jehovah referred to Himself as the “I AM THAT I AM” (Ex 3:14). Jesus was telling the Jews that He was the “I Am” of the Old Testament. This ambitious claim was backed up by the miracles that Jesus performed. The greatest proof of His deity, however, was the Resurrection.
The Resurrection also demonstrates that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice. Jesus went to the cross in order to pay the sin debt for humanity. As the only person who had ever lived a perfect life, He was the only person who was qualified to pay for someone else’s sins. He suffered the equivalent of eternal hell as God the Father placed our sin upon Him and turned His back on His only begotten Son.
we be sure, though, that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice for
us? How do we know
that His righteousness was sufficient to pay our sin debt? The answer
questions lies in a cold, damp, empty tomb near
Finally, the Resurrection demonstrates the future that awaits Christians. The Bible teaches that Christ’s Resurrection was the first fruits of those believers who have died (1 Cor 15:20). The Apostle Paul explained that we would one day rise from the grave: “But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming” (1 Cor 15:23). Because of Christ’s Resurrection, we will meet the Lord in the air and we will live forever with Him.
What does Easter mean? It means that Jesus is God. It means that we can have salvation by grace through faith. And it means that we will someday rise from the dead and spend eternity in heaven. Easter morning was a morning unlike any other. It was a morning that changed the world. Jesus is alive!
Facing Your Fears
by Stephen Stallard
Mark Chapter Five records the story of a man whose life was governed by fear. The Gadarene Demoniac lived a tragic life: he was abandoned by his friends, inhabited by demons, and controlled by his fears. He lived alone in a cemetery, running around wildly like the deranged man he was. Anyone who dared to venture into his territory was swiftly pulverized by the superhuman strength of this madman. He terrorized the countryside, and brought fear to the hearts of many.
We see in this man’s life a portrait of fear, and its paralyzing effect upon an individual. We also see that there is only one way to deal with your fears: they must be faced in the power of Jesus Christ.
First of all, we see the Effects of Fear. He “had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him” (Mark 5:3-4). Here was a man who had a morbid fascination with death; the only suitable dwelling place for him was in a graveyard. He regularly engaged in the practice of self-mutilation (Mark 5:5). Worst of all, he was “always, night and day...in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying...” (Mark 5:5). Imagine his pitiable plea for help, as it rang out night after night, day after day. He was a man who was not in control of his body or of his mind; but he was a man who desperately longed to be free.
Many of us have experienced a similar situation. We may not be living in a graveyard, or inhabited by demons, but we probably have experienced this man’s battle with fear. You see, fear is a cancer that takes control of the minds of those who give it sanctuary. Like the demons, it exerts control over us, causing us to make irrational and unspiritual decisions. And like this man, we can find ourselves paralyzed, unable to live for God because our lives are enchained by our fears.
Second, we see the Encounter with Fear. The Demoniac was used to ruling his roost. He tolerated no intruders into his domain. “But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him” (Mark 5:6). This is evidence that the man hungered for freedom: physical, emotional, and spiritual. when he saw His Creator, He ran and worshipped Him, knowing that Jesus was the only One who could give Him victory.
Think about what must have been going through the mind of Christ. He and His disciples had just stepped off a boat, having come through a violent storm. Jesus had just demonstrated His sovereignty over the storms of life, when He was confronted with another test. He saw an insane brute of a man bearing down upon Him, doubtless with the intent of killing Him. If it had been you or I, we probably would have gotten back on the boat and set sail immediately. But not Jesus. He looked confidently at this unbalanced man and waited for Him to fall on His knees and cry holy.
Here Jesus gives us a pattern to follow. We must learn to face our fears in His power and in His name. Christians today tend to be escapists, seeking the quickest route out of trouble. We run from our fears, hide from our anxieties, and bury our heads in the sand, hoping for a better day. Yet this is not what our Lord did. He faced His troubles head on. We must learn to confront our heart’s deepest fears, realizing that, until we do, our life will remain paralyzed by them.
Finally, we see the End of Fear. Jesus cast the demons into the herd of pigs, and the man was soon “sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15). The Demoniac was powerless, unable to help himself. But he did know who to turn to for help. He worshipped Jesus, and Jesus set him free.
Oftentimes we are controlled by our fears. And there is a lot to be afraid of in our modern world: hurricanes, terrorism, high gas prices, job security, and marital infidelity. These fears, along with many others, prey upon the minds of Christians, forcing them to wage a never-ending battle against anxiety. Like the Demoniac, we live a life that is paralyzed, unable to produce any fruit for Christ. We cannot continue to run from our fears. We must learn to face our deepest fears in the power of Christ. What fears are controlling your life? The bondage must end, the curse must be broken. Look to Jesus and He will set you free from your fears.
Liberty, License and Legalism
by Jimmy Stallard
My twin brother was pastoring in Arlington, Texas years ago when he shared with me an account of a conference he attended in Texas. Two Christian leaders spoke on the same day at this conference. The first stood up and proclaimed that Bible-believing Christianity centers in the fundamentals of the faith such as the inerrancy of the Word of God, the Virgin Birth and Deity of Christ, the blood atonement, the bodily resurrection of Christ, and the literal Second Coming of the Lord. He emphasized that Bible-believing Christianity is not a set of regulations to follow such as length of hair on men, pantsuits on women, or singing to sound tracks in church.
The second speaker stood up to preach his sermon and proclaimed just the opposite. Bible-believing Christianity is the pantsuit issue, the hair issue, the music issue and other external matters. Though this preacher believed in the fundamentals of the faith, his emphasis was on the particulars of external codes for the Christian life.
This portrays the essence of a struggle among many believers over outward conformity to “standards” of right living. Many Christians scoff at the concept of standards, crying “legalism” when confronted with them. Others warn about the lack of standards and cry “license” when they see believers without such standards.
This is no trivial matter. It strikes right at the heart of the Christian life. This issue now rages as a LEGALISM VS. LICENSE WAR. What are sincere, genuine believers to make of this war? Should we choose sides? Should we refuse to fellowship with believers who are on the other side? Or, is there some middle ground?
First, there is the danger of legalism. The Apostle Paul clearly teaches “ye have been called unto liberty” (Galatians 5:13). This liberty includes freedom from a law-works system for salvation (Galatians 2:16). Those who teach that salvation is earned or kept by works or law-keeping are legalists. Paul gives stern warning to anyone who would teach something other than salvation by the pure grace of God (Galatians 1:6-9). We do not earn favor with God. We can only have a right relationship with God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Some would say the term legalism can also be used to describe some approaches to the Christian life (Galatians 3:1-5) since this is part of Paul’s emphasis in Galatians (See Galatians 5:16-23). To be sure, to live the Christian life by a works mentality without emphasizing the enabling of the Spirit of God (Romans 8:1-4) or the victory of the Cross of Christ (Galatians 2:20) will produce a spirit of bondage and drudgery in our walk with the Lord.
The Bible teaches that when Christians differ over external issues they are to receive one another in fellowship (Romans 14:1), tolerate the differences (Romans 14:2, 3), refrain from judging others as unspiritual (Romans 14:4, 10), allow others to make up their own mind (Romans 14:5, 6), and follow those in leadership to maintain a spirit of peace in the church (Romans 14:19, 20).
We must ask ourselves some good, hard and honest questions. Do we judge others as unspiritual because their wives and daughters wear pants? Because the hair of their sons is over their ears? Because their music does not exactly coincide with ours? If we judge others in this way are we not guilty of violating the spirit of the Apostle Paul’s teaching?
Second, there is the danger of license. The danger of emphasizing liberty is just as real as that of legalism. In fact, in today’s climate of moral decline I would suggest that an emphasis on liberty that has become license is more of a danger to the church than legalism. I have heard many Christians justify immodest dress, questionable amusements, divorces, and even pornography by proclaiming their desire not to be a “legalist”. This results in opposition to strictness. Hence, those defending their so-called liberty often argue this way: If it is stricter than I want to be – that is legalism!! Don’t I have freedom in Christ? This is nothing more than libertarian deception and is exactly what Paul preached against: ...only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another(Galatians 5:13).
The Bible warns us that God’s grace should not be perverted into justification for sensuality: “For there are certain men crept in unawares...ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness...”(Jude 4).
In fact, God’s grace should lead us to a lifestyle that is one of holy standards that are necessary for a proper testimony before the world (Titus 2:11-12).
Just because a Christian believes in modest dress or takes a position against what he perceives to be Christian “rock music” does not make him a legalist. Could it be that there has been an overemphasis on liberty because the spirit of our age has infected believers to the point they have rejected certain truths of righteousness that are very much needed for the church today?
Third, there must be a proper attitude of love. The real issue is one of attitude. The legalist, with his pride, will be tempted to view spirituality through the eyes of his standards. His need is to learn proper Christian love for those who disagree with his standards (Romans 14:1-13). The believer who emphasizes liberty will be tempted to view any restriction upon his freedom as wrong. His need is to learn to hate evil in all its forms and be willing to submit to the righteous standards of the Bible, regardless of how small or trivial they may seem to be. In fact, the Bible declares a Christian should be willing to give up his liberty if it would be a stumbling block to other Christians (1 Corinthians 8:9-13).
Legalism or License?
of this war are wrong! A
of mine said it well in a sermon I heard him preach several years ago. He said “Legalism
is when I do what
others want me to
do. License is when
I do what I want to do.
by Stephen Stallard
How many times have you heard the saying “Ignorance of the law is no excuse”? The Law does not care whether or not you knew what the speed limit was, it is only concerned with the fact that you were speeding. Therefore, in the eyes of the Law, you are a lawbreaker. It is often times frustrating to enter an unfamiliar area, with laws to which you are unaccustomed. Trying to keep up with a myriad of changing laws and regulations can be frustrating, and an inadequate effort can land a person in jail.
Many times people feel the same way about the Law of God. They gaze with reverence upon the commands of Holy Scripture, fearing and trembling lest they violate one. They live their lives in discouragement and defeat, as they seek to keep all of the various commands given in the Bible. To a person in this scenario, the Law is a tyrant, and it casts a menacing shadow over every aspect of their life.
This is the situation Paul addressed in his epistle to the Roman Church: “Know ye not, brethren...how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?” (Romans 7:1). The Apostle Paul declared that the Law of God was oppressive, maintaining dominion over all mankind. As Christians, we need not feel this way about God’s Law. Instead, we can find our freedom in Christ who enables us to fulfill the righteousness of the Law.
Most people who feel oppressed by the Law do so because they misunderstand its purpose and role in the life of a Christian. Much damage has been done by those who have sought (sincerely enough) to apply the Law of God in a manner in which God never intended. We must understand the context of the Law if we seek to apply it correctly to modern day life.
Testament contains the Law of God. Given to
The ceremonial law focused upon those practical aspects of Jewish life, such as the ritual washing of hands, and the prohibition of certain foods. The judicial law laid the groundwork for the establishment of the government, which functioned as a theocracy – directly ruled by God. The moral law contained universal concepts, such as the dignity of man, the sacred character of life, and the inherent purity of the marriage relationship.
issued these directives to a specific people, in a specific time, in a
place. To think that all of these commandments are still applicable is
and distort the Scriptures in a manner worthy of the Pharisees. The
and judicial laws dealt specifically with
When Jesus Christ arrived on the human scene He astounded the Pharisees by focusing upon moral precepts instead of complex customs. Do not misunderstand: Jesus did keep the Law. But He demonstrated that keeping the Law was not following a list of rules and regulations. Instead, it was found in obeying the spirit of the Law. Jesus pointed out that it was not enough to abstain from fornication. Instead, followers of God’s Law should flee youthful lust.
Christ was asked to name the greatest commandment. For a Jew in His day, this might have been difficult. He would have been forced to consider many complex laws and traditions (many of which God never ordained). Yet Jesus answered without hesitation: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40). He cut straight to the heart of the matter, emphasizing love toward God and man. Indeed, all of the numerous Old Testament commandments can be boiled down to these two precepts.
While Christ eliminated the need for the ceremonial and judicial aspects of the Law, we as Christians should still follow His moral law. We should allow these principles to govern our hearts, so that we can fulfill the greater righteousness contained in the spirit of the law, rather than facing defeat at the hands of the letter of the law.
The Law was designed to be our teacher (Galatians 3:24-25). Its job was to show us our sinfulness and point us to Christ. To an unbeliever, that same Law is a terrible tyrant, one that exerts oppressive control over every aspect of life. To a Christian who understands God’s Law, it can continue to be a teacher. As we gaze into the mirror that is God’s Word, we see the reflection of ourselves, and we see exactly how far we are on our journey toward righteousness. But to a Christian who misunderstands God’s Law, it will continue to be a tyrant. It will rear its ugly head day after day, screaming out about the sinfulness of the soul, and driving men to their knees in despair.
I am not saying that we should shred our lists of “do’s and don’ts” (although some certainly should be). I am saying that true fulfillment of the Law can only be achieved in the form of a relationship with Jesus Christ. As we walk in the Spirit, He will enable us to fulfill the true righteousness of the Law. Only then, will the Law become our teacher, instead of our tyrant.
Learning to forgive is perhaps the greatest struggle that a Christian will ever face. It goes against our very nature to allow people to wrong us. Our desire is to strike back and to get even. We compile “black lists” in our mind and can instantly recall every single sin committed against us by each individual on the list. Forgiveness is as unnatural to sinners as work is to the sloth.
With that said, it is possible for every Christian to be characterized by a forgiving spirit. In fact, if this is not the case something is seriously wrong. It is at this point that people usually protest: “But Stephen, you’ve never been through what I’ve been through,” or “You don’t know what they did to me.” While these statements could be true, they are merely excuses for not obeying God’s command to forgive. Every single person has been scarred by others, and we would be naïve to think that our wound is somehow deeper or more severe. And we would be in direct violation of Scripture if we were to assume that our particular suffering exempts us from the biblical mandate to forgive.
Many people want to forgive, but just cannot seem to manage it emotionally. How can we learn to forgive? Forgiveness is a process, and it takes time and effort to learn how to forgive. There are three basic principles that we must grasp if we want to forgive.
First of all, we must remember how God has forgiven us. Oftentimes we tend to mete out a merciless form of Christianity, one that denies our own sinful past. It is as if we have forgotten how far down God had to reach when He saved us. The parable of the unforgiving debtor records the story of a man who was forgiven a great debt, yet could not forgive someone who owed him mere pennies (Matt 18:21-35). I nailed Jesus to the cross, murdering the man who loved my unlovable soul. If He can forgive me, how can I not forgive others?
Secondly, we must learn to love those who have hurt us. It is difficult to love our enemies, but this is what Christ commanded (Matt 5:44). Genuine love is the greatest expression of Christianity. It is what marks us as Christians before the world. How can we call ourselves children of God if we do not love and forgive those who wrong us? Again, our example is Jesus Christ; He loved each person who reviled Him, and He cherished each soul that rejected Him. The godly deacon Stephen was also an example of forgiveness. As he was stoned to death he saw beyond the murderous, hate-filled eyes and saw people in need of a Savior. He prayed “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” (Acts 7:60).
How can we cultivate this love for those who oppose us? Well, it is not a simple process. We must cry out to God and ask Him to help us love even our enemies. We can meditate on Bible verses that talk about love. We can remember how much God loves those who hurt us.
Finally, we must choose to forgive. A lot of people might say this is overly simplistic. I realize that we can’t just snap our fingers and be forgiving. But forgiveness is not a feeling; it is an act of the will. If I sit around waiting until I’m emotionally “ready” to forgive, then I will never find freedom in forgiveness. Forgiveness is volitional, meaning that I must consciously choose to forgive. It boils down to a matter of obedience. God has commanded us to forgive, and He will give us the power to forgive. He has told us to “be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph 4:32). God’s grace will enable you to forgive, but only if you are willing. The question is this, will you obey His command? Will you choose to forgive?
by Stephen Stallard
Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year. It is a wonderful season because it all about giving. Sadly, many of us have become too caught up in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. We sneak around and try to surprise our family and friends with special gifts, hoping to receive something equally exciting in return. We brave the stores on “Black Friday” after Thanksgiving so that we can get the best deals of the year. We fight the frantic crowds in the malls as we embark upon a quest for the perfect gift. Giving to each other is not wrong. What is wrong is to forget to give to the One who matters most.
When Jesus was born into the world He did not arrive with regal pomp and fanfare . He was born into a lonely manger, and although His coming was heralded by angels, they only told the shepherds. Yet Jesus’ act of humble love transformed the world. He grew up and eventually went to the cross, suffering a horrible fate on our behalf. He satisfied the righteous demands of a holy God by paying the great sin debt that we owed. It was a priceless gift, one that we can never repay.
The Magi who came to Jesus in His early childhood understood that He was more than a Savior - He was a King. They found Jesus and fell at His feet, worshipping Him and presenting their treasures to Him. They gave Him three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2.11).
These wise men realized that Jesus had come offering a priceless gift. They could not repay Him. But they bowed before Him in faith, and presented their humble gifts.
As Christians, we understand that we can never repay God for His goodness. Beyond salvation, He continues to do so much for us. His faithfulness is great and his compassion is new every morning (Lamentations 3.22-23). On a daily basis we are recipients of a priceless gift: God’s grace.
This Christmas season, let us not leave Christ out in the cold. Let us purpose to give back to Him as the Magi did. We know that we can never repay Him - to try would be foolish. But we can and should give back to Jesus this Christmas.
We can give our money to Him with a special Christmas gift. We can give our time to Him by serving at a shelter serving Christmas meals to the poor. We can give by sharing the Gospel with those who do not know Christ. We can give our all to Him by allowing Him to be Lord over all.
Jesus has given us the priceless gift of eternal life. What will you give back to Him this Christmas season?
If anyone doubts that Americans are a bitter people they need only look at how many lawsuits are filed every year. We have indeed become a litigious society. While this should not be surprising when we look at the unsaved world, it is surprising when we see God’s people filled with the same spirit of bitterness. The Bible clearly warns believers about this spirit of bitterness in Hebrews 12:15 when it says "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”
When we are bitter we often feel justified in our feelings because we view ourselves as having been wronged. But according to Scripture, bitterness is a sin (See Eph 4:30-32) and this sin puts us in a prison with invisible bars. Bitterness binds a person into slavery and blinds a person with deception. Therefore, it would be significant to evaluate why this spirit of bitterness is present in a person’s life, in a family, or in a church. There are three major reasons for this spirit. The first two make up the actual definition of bitterness and the third explains why bitterness gets amplified in people’s lives.
First, bitterness is a result of unforgiveness. The Bible states in language that is clear to understand that we are to forgive those who we perceive to have wronged us. Jesus Christ warns us that if we do not forgive others that God will not forgive us “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).
There is no qualifier in this statement of the Savior. While we cannot extend forgiveness until someone makes things right, we do not wait for others to make things right in order to forgive them. So powerful is this teaching in Scripture, it is amazing how we just miss it. Peter asked Jesus “...how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?” (Matt 18:21). How quickly we want to find out when we don’t have to forgive. The parable Jesus gave to Peter ends with a fearful admonition “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matt 18:35).
In the account of the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1-12), we find the Pharisees bringing the woman to Jesus. Would Jesus condemn her to be stoned as the Old Testament demanded or would He let her go in violation of the law? The result speaks volumes for Christians in the throes of bitterness. Jesus’ actions caused her accusers to leave and they did not have a quorum to stone her. While He did not condone her sin He did what genuine love always does – He found a way to forgive and not condemn.
Secondly, bitterness results when we try to balance our own guilt by blaming others. There are only two ways to deal with guilt – man’s way or God’s way. God’s way is to confess our sins and forsake them to have mercy (Proverbs 28:13). Man’s way is to try to balance the guilt in his spirit by blaming others. Often people who have been wrong in judgment or bitterness try to find fault with those they feel have wronged them. This fault-finding is an attempt to justify bitter feelings by blaming the other person. But its result only produces a bitter spirit. Jesus condemned the Pharisees as fault-finders who destroyed people’s lives with their bitter judgments. In fact, their spirit is what drove many away from God (Matthew 23:13). Those professing Christians who participate in covering their own guilt with bitter spirits will find people being driven away from them in the same way.
Thirdly, bitterness becomes intensified when we lose the adversarial contest that a bitter spirit creates. When we are tempted to get bitter at someone there usually is an unseen contest that is set up. In this contest there are winners and losers and there are those who end up “looking” right and those who end up “looking” wrong. When someone is on the losing side of this kind of contest the bitter feelings he or she has intensifies and increases greatly. The Apostle Paul gave clear instruction to us about this matter when he wrote to Timothy: And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure (perhaps) will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth: And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
Notice Paul’s instruction is that we must not strive. This means we cannot approach a conflict with someone else in an adversarial manner. To do so only sets up a contest that increases animosity. He further tells us to be gentle, or kind, in how we deal with those in this situation. We are to be teachers, not accusers, and this requires patience. Our approach to this person must be done in meekness. This entire passage of Scripture teaches that we must trust God when dealing with conflict with others. It should be obvious to anyone who will think it through that a bitter person has not done any of this. Bitterness increases in his or her life when they have lost the high moral ground in the argument they have with someone else.
As Christians we must make an honest commitment that we will refuse to get bitter. While this is easier said than done, we have the Holy Spirit within us to help us to overcome the temptations to get bitter. We must follow the example of Jesus who refused to get bitter at those who crucified Him and instead “committed himself to him that judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). There is coming a day when God will make all things right. Vindication will come in its own time. Bitterness must be laid aside and vengeance refused. Bitterness must give way to forgiveness and only then will we be out of the prison we have made for ourselves.
by Jimmy Stallard
As Americans faced the Great Depression in 1932, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”. But fear is the natural consequence we all face in a fallen world. It began in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:10) and has continued down the corridors of time and perhaps is having its greatest feast in this generation. The Bible declares that “The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the Lord” (Proverbs 19:3). But the Bible also tells us that, as God’s people, we don’t have to live in fear. God said to Israel “”O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine” (Isaiah 43:1). There are many natural fears that possess people today (See Quiz on Fear on page seven).
We are commanded to have the fear of the Lord which describes the heart attitude we should have toward God (Proverbs 1:7; 8:13; Isaiah 11:1-4). He is watching and weighing all our actions and attitudes and we will be accountable to Him in the end. However, another concept of fear is associated with a command not to be afraid and is aimed at God’s people. They are to trust God in the midst of the trials and terrors of life. The words of Jesus confirm this notion when He spoke to His disciples the night before He was to be crucified. After Judas had left the group of twelve to go and betray Jesus, Christ declares to the remaining eleven “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1). The disciples would need every ounce of faith to get them through the horrors of the crucifixion of Jesus as fear would attempt to overwhelm them.
But our Lord did not allow His disciples to go through the trials of fear without preparation and encouragement to take with them. Neither did He just tell them to ignore reality as the world does with a “don’t worry, be happy” approach. In John Chapter 14, one of the most beloved in all of scripture, He gave at least seven basic reasons or motivations to the believer not to be afraid.
First, He taught them to focus upon their future home, a home they would share with Him. He gave them the Hope of Heaven – “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). Whatever happens to the genuine Christian in this life, he or she does not have to be afraid. For the believer there will always be a better tomorrow in that place called Heaven (Philippians 1:21-23; 2 Corinthians 5:8).
Second, He taught them to focus upon the certainty of His Second Coming. Jesus did more than promise a future home. He promised He would intervene in the affairs of planet earth and deliver the saints alive at that time – “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3). The world, with its fears, will not continue on. Christ will bring all things to a consummation and end all fears (Revelation 21:4).
Third, He promised assurance of salvation to all those who would believe in Him. He declared “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Anyone who has Jesus in his heart and life can have assurance that salvation is his present possession. John later declared “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12).
Fourth, He promised He would answer the believer’s prayers. Christ emphatically declares “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13, 14). Multitudes of God’s people can give testimony of how the Lord has alleviated their fears through giving mighty and powerful answers to prayer.
Fifth, He has given the Holy Spirit. In this age of grace, or the church age, the Spirit of God is promised to indwell every believer – “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever…” (John 14:16). This comforter is called “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17). He will comfort and encourage in all of life’s trials. His presence has calmed many of the saint’s fears.
Sixth, He has given the opportunity of obedience. To the one who has His commandments and obeys them He promises to “manifest myself to him” (John 14:21). When a child of God is obedient to Christ He senses the presence of the Lord to a greater extent. In fact, Christ manifests or reveals Himself to that believer. Who can question that we won’t have to be afraid when Christ is revealing Himself to us in the midst of a trial?
Finally, He offers us His peace. Jesus declared “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). The kind of peace Jesus offers is the kind that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) when a believer fixes his heart and mind upon Christ (Isaiah 26:3). It is the kind of peace that cannot be offered by the atheist, the Buddhist, the Muslim, the humanist, or the moralist. It is the kind of peace that strengthens, comforts, and encourages us when we look into the casket at the body of a loved one who has passed on. It is the kind of peace that calms the soul in the midst of the worst kind of storms. Christ intended for His disciples, and all believers throughout time, to rest upon these promises so that their hearts would not be troubled when they faced their deepest fears. Jesus will always keep His promises.
by Stephen Stallard
I want you to use your sanctified imagination for just a moment. I want you to peer into the Devil’s command center, deep within the heart of Hell. I can see the demons on their lunch break, gathering around the water fountain to talk about the latest news. The demon Lust speaks up and says “Well, I’ve put in a solid four hours of work already, and I’ve gotten three people to fall into sin.” The demon Anger nods, and chuckles maliciously. “I’ve been hard at work today, too. The Boss has got me all over the place, working on some really tough projects. But today, I’ve been getting some people to crack. I’ve been getting them really angry.” The demons begin to swap stories and crack jokes. They are having a good time until a little, insignificant demon speaks up in a quavering voice. “Guys,” he says, “I’ve been having trouble with Joe.” All of the jokes cease, and the laughter fades away. “That’s right. I’ve been having trouble with Joe. He’s a new Christian, and I’ve been assigned to him. I’m supposed to get him down and drag him into sin. I’ve been working really hard, and sometimes, he messes up. But most of the time whatever I try just doesn’t seem to work.” Well, by this point, there was not a smile left on any demonic face. The scowls and grimaces and angry glares were displayed prominently. “In fact,” the demon went on, “not only does he resist my temptations, but he takes the offensive against me. He’s been doing a good job of fighting back, and winning over his friends to Christ.”
Well the demons began to curse, and utter the vilest sounding oaths you could ever imagine. They made a vow that day that things would change in Joe’s life, and that they would be the ones to make it change. They sent two demons out that afternoon and the next morning to try to defeat Joe. They gathered in eager anticipation around the water cooler the next day at lunch time, rubbing their scaly talons together in sinful glee. But they were disappointed by what they heard. Joe was still standing strong. In fact, he was beginning to make a difference for eternity. The demons knew that they could not put up with this, so they began to work overtime, putting in fifty and sixty hour work weeks on this one man alone. But the harder they tried, the stronger and more resilient Joe became. He took the fight to the Devil, as it were, kicking the demons in the teeth by living a life that was sold out for God. Pretty soon, word spread like wildfire through the dungeons of Hell. Every office demon and every frontline soldier heard the same story about the Christian named Joe. And eventually, the tale penetrated into the darkest, deepest recesses of Hell, where the Devil lived. And Satan sat on his throne and listened grimly as his demons told him the sad story of the Christian named Joe. And suddenly, the Devil knew Joe’s name. Do they have conversations like that about you in Hell? Does the Devil know your name?
The Devil knew the name of Jesus, and he knew the name of Paul, but he did not know the names of the Seven Sons of Sceva. Acts 19:13-20 records the story of the Seven Sons of Sceva. These men were sorcerers, magicians-for-hire. They were paid to cast spells, pronounce curses, and utter strange incantations. They heard about a man named Paul, who did great wonders in the name of someone called Jesus. Since he had great success, they decided to get in on the act. So they went up to some poor, demon possessed fellow and said to the demons “We charge you by Jesus, whom Paul preaches, come out of this man.” The response of the demons is unforgettable: “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” They then proceeded to physically abuse the seven misguided sons of Sceva.
This story demonstrates the powerful truth that all Christians should be known in Hell. If you were to walk into Hell and glance at the dart board, would you see your picture, punctured with dozens of darts, all hurled in anger? Does the Devil know your name because you’ve made a difference for eternity? Or are you unknown to the Devil because you merely sit on the sidelines while the war of the ages swirls around you?
What will make us known to the Devil? What will make him aware of who we are? The Devil knows those who go on offense against him. He knows those who attack him relentlessly. How can we stay on the offensive in this spiritual struggle?
There are two basic ways we can
take the fight to our enemy. First of all, we can
Queen of Scots said “I fear the prayers of John
Knox more than all the
assembled armies of
The second way to wage aggressive warfare is to win souls. There is nothing that strikes fear into the heart of Satan like the activities of a soul winner. Sometimes Christians tend to remain inside their comfort zones, ministering only to other Christians. We should want to minister to those who are on their way to Hell. We should be close enough to smell the smoke, close enough to feel the heat. And as Satan looks out from Hell, he will notice our work, and he will learn who we are.
Every morning President Bush
receives a threat assessment from our intelligence agencies. This
him of the latest threats to the security of our country. There is no
this report for the trivial and insignificant enemies. But, if
you’re a big
enough threat, you can be sure that the President of the
When the Devil looks at his threat assessment, is your name at the top? Are you a clear and present danger to the security of the kingdom of darkness? You should be. We should all wage war relentlessly against the Devil. We do this by staying on the offensive; by praying and winning souls. In short, we fight the battle by living for Jesus. Only then will we become a threat to Satan. Only then will the Devil know our name. Does the Devil know who you are? Does the Devil know your name?
by Jimmy Stallard
In an amazing warning the Lord Jesus Christ declared to the Apostle Peter that Satan, the adversary, “desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31). On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus wanted to protect and admonish Peter and the other disciples concerning the spiritual warfare surrounding them. They, like us today, needed to be alert to the battle they faced. Many a soldier and many an army have been caught unawares because of this lack of alertness to danger. Several thoughts surface as we examine this simple passage of scripture.
First, Satan is a real person.
What we mean is that he is a real
personality. He is
not some impersonal
force or symbol of evil in the world.
is a spirit being who is opposed to God and God’s people (2
Thess 2:8, 9). He
tempted Jesus in the wilderness and fought
against His ministry in
Second, the warning should be heeded by all believers. The admonition was not just to Peter. The “you” is plural in the Greek New Testament clearly indicating that Jesus had in mind more than Satan going after Peter. The devil wanted to sift the other disciples as well. The word desire in Luke 22:31 means to ask for. Could it be that Satan so desperately wants to have us that he even tries to get the permission of God to destroy us?
We could ask Job about that (see Job 1:12; 2:1-7). The Lord wants us to know that we are dealing with a dangerous and deadly enemy who wants nothing less than to destroy our lives, our witness, and our testimony. Peter was led by the Holy Spirit many years later to warn his readers “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Third, Satan desires to put us under intense trials and pressures. Jesus states that the devil wants to “sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31). “This sifting of wheat basically refers to the repeated, swift, and violent shaking of the wheat in a sieve.” (The Gospel of Luke, commentary by William Hendricksen, p. 973). The crucifixion Jesus would face shortly would serve as the beginning of this serious “sifting”. The pressure would be unbearable to the point of wanting to give up the faith and forsake the Lord. Satan knows that many will cave in to the pressures and will not remain faithful to the Lord when the pressures come. This happened with a man named Demas who forsook Paul when the pressure came in the Apostle’s ministry. The reason given was that he “loved this present world” (2 Timothy 4:10). It is at these times of weakness that Satan attacks with ferocity and God’s people must be prepared.
Fourth, victory comes from the intercession of the Savior. After the warning from the lips of Jesus, He gives comfort by declaring that He was praying for Peter “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not...” (Luke 22:32). Jesus always got His prayers answered. Yes, Peter did go on to deny the Lord and yes, Peter went through the sifter Satan had planned for him. But, no, Peter’s faith did not fail utterly or totally because Jesus had interceded for Him. The Book of Hebrews affirms this truth when its writer states “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). From this we understand that the Lord never forsakes His own when they face their deepest trials and pressures. The Psalmist declared “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand” (Psalm 37:23, 24). As Jesus identifies with the sinner on the Cross in His death, so Jesus identifies with His people in their trials through intercession. Our case becomes His case. He takes our need to Himself and intercedes to the Father on our behalf, as an advocate (1 John 2:1, 2).
It is always encouraging when I hear from someone who says they are praying for me. If I know they are faithful to pray, I am strengthened for the spiritual fight that lies ahead. When many people are praying for me, I am encouraged even more and feel that nothing in the battle will hurt me. But when I focus on the truth that my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is praying for me, interceding for me, I mount up as on wings of eagles knowing that the victory will be mine. In fact, if no person on earth prayed for me, I would still have reason to rejoice because of the intercession of Jesus for me. Yes, you and I, as Christians, have a great and powerful enemy. He can hurt us greatly. But, He is a defeated foe. Jesus destroyed His work on the Cross, was raised from the dead, and now sits in the heavens interceding for the saints. Yes, Jesus is enough to get me through to survive Satan’s sifter.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). This warning from the Apostle Peter is as applicable today as it was in the first century. Satan is not a mythical creature; he is a real, tangible threat to the work of God in us. In this verse Peter points out that Satan is like a roaring lion - he is on the hunt. A lion will stalk its prey across the deserts and fields of Africa. The “King of the Jungle” will stop at nothing to acquire its next meal. In short, the lion is a relentless foe.
wanted us to be vigilant because we also face a relentless enemy. Satan
determined to attack us at our weakest point. He has vowed that nothing
than the destruction of the Church and the defeat of God’s
plans will satisfy
him. He has battled against God’s people for over six
thousand years. Upon his
fall from heaven, Satan launched an immediate attack upon Adam and Eve.
was not content with his success in
stirred up the followers of Cain to commit gross sinfulness and then
God sent a worldwide flood to judge the human race. Then the Devil set
sights on a man named Nimrod, a man who would eventually lead a false
religion in defiance of his Creator. After God scattered the people
was determined to thwart the plan of God, so he tempted Abraham, Isaac,
Jacob. He attacked the early kings of
Jesus ascended back into heaven, Satan began battling the new entity
Church. He fought against Paul and John, Peter and James, and Stephen
Philip. He sought to crush the Christians as the
After the Reformers rescued the Church from the Dark Ages, Satan began to use a new stratagem. He used enlightenment rationalism to subtly invade the Church and distract it from its true mission. This has taken shape in our modern era via the threats from philosophy, psychology, humanism, and evolution. The Adversary spawned a liberal movement within the Church that undermined the foundation of the Christian faith by questioning key doctrines of the Bible. As liberalism was beaten back by the Fundamentalists, he has turned to increasingly subtle attacks.
Church is under assault from sweet sounding movements of pragmatism,
charming, charismatic leaders. Indeed, the
It should not surprise us that Satan has been able to adapt to every culture in history. “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Originally, Satan was named Lucifer, and he was one of the highest created angels (Ezekiel 28:13-19). Apparently, he still retains his beautiful angelic form, and can transform himself into something eminently pleasing. This is exactly what he has done in every generation. He has repeatedly attacked the people of God, using deception and half truths, as well as cunning and attractive tactics.
What can we do to stop this relentless foe? What can we do to fight an enemy that morphs at every turn, and then makes his sinful ideas look beautiful? We have only two sound strategies to employ.
First of all, we must be watchful. Peter exhorts us to be vigilant and on guard so that we will not be taken by surprise. So many Christians have their heads buried in the sand. They do not want to believe in the Devil. Or at least they do not want to believe that he is a threat. They choose to think of a cartoon version of the Devil - one with horns, a sharp tail, and a pitchfork. This caricature of Satan is unbiblical and dangerous, for it lulls us into a false sense of security. God does not want us to become obsessed with the Devil or demonic activity - this would be unhealthy. However, He has commanded us to be on guard. This means that we must be aware of who our enemy is and what he is doing in the world.
Second, we must be Word centered. Although not explicitly stated in our text, this principle is implied. If we are to resist the Devil as Peter commanded (1 Peter 5:9), our lives must be oriented around the Word of God. We will not be properly equipped to fend off temptation or fiery darts if we are not people of the Word. How many of Satan’s subtle attacks upon the Church could have been squashed if only God’s people had taken His Word seriously? In order to recognize evil we must be thoroughly acquainted with the Truth that is Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Only by wielding the Sword of the Spirit will we be able to recognize and defeat our Adversary.
Satan is a relentless enemy. His
message of rebellion has been resurrected, disguised, and proclaimed
countless generations. Yet we should never be discouraged. Although we
determined foe, we serve a victorious Savior. Jesus Christ won the
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