December 31, 2008

This last day of the year

December 31

Morning

"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." John 7:37

Patience had her perfect work in the Lord Jesus, and until the last day of the feast he pleaded with the Jews, even as on this last day of the year he pleads with us, and waits to be gracious to us. Admirable indeed is the longsuffering of the Saviour in bearing with some of us year after year, notwithstanding our provocations, rebellions, and resistance of his Holy Spirit. Wonder of wonders that we are still in the land of mercy!

Pity expressed herself most plainly, for Jesus cried, which implies not only the loudness of his voice, but the tenderness of his tones. He entreats us to be reconciled. "We pray you," says the Apostle, "as though God did beseech you by us." What earnest, pathetic terms are these! How deep must be the love which makes the Lord weep over sinners, and like a mother woo his children to his bosom! Surely at the call of such a cry our willing hearts will come.

Provision is made most plenteously; all is provided that man can need to quench his soul’s thirst. To his conscience the atonement brings peace; to his understanding the gospel brings the richest instruction; to his heart the person of Jesus is the noblest object of affection; to the whole man the truth as it is in Jesus supplies the purest nutriment. Thirst is terrible, but Jesus can remove it. Though the soul were utterly famished, Jesus could restore it.

Proclamation is made most freely, that every thirsty one is welcome. No other distinction is made but that of thirst. Whether it be the thirst of avarice, ambition, pleasure, knowledge, or rest, he who suffers from it is invited. The thirst may be bad in itself, and be no sign of grace, but rather a mark of inordinate sin longing to be gratified with deeper draughts of lust; but it is not goodness in the creature which brings him the invitation, the Lord Jesus sends it freely, and without respect of persons.

Personality is declared most fully. The sinner must come to Jesus, not to works, ordinances, or doctrines, but to a personal Redeemer, who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree. The bleeding, dying, rising Saviour, is the only star of hope to a sinner. Oh for grace to come now and drink, ere the sun sets upon the year’s last day!

No waiting or preparation is so much as hinted at. Drinking represents a reception for which no fitness is required. A fool, a thief, a harlot can drink; and so sinfulness of character is no bar to the invitation to believe in Jesus. We want no golden cup, no bejewelled chalice, in which to convey the water to the thirsty; the mouth of poverty is welcome to stoop down and quaff the flowing flood. Blistered, leprous, filthy lips may touch the stream of divine love; they cannot pollute it, but shall themselves be purified. Jesus is the fount of hope. Dear reader, hear the dear Redeemer’s loving voice as he cries to each of us,

"IF ANY MAN THIRST,
LET HIM
COME UNTO ME
AND DRINK."


Evening

"The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." Jeremiah 8:20

Not saved! Dear reader, is this your mournful plight? Warned of the judgment to come, bidden to escape for your life, and yet at this moment not saved! You know the way of salvation, you read it in the Bible, you hear it from the pulpit, it is explained to you by friends, and yet you neglect it, and therefore you are not saved. You will be without excuse when the Lord shall judge the quick and dead. The Holy Spirit has given more or less of blessing upon the word which has been preached in your hearing, and times of refreshing have come from the divine presence, and yet you are without Christ. All these hopeful seasons have come and gone-your summer and your harvest have past-and yet you are not saved. Years have followed one another into eternity, and your last year will soon be here: youth has gone, manhood is going, and yet you are not saved. Let me ask you-will you ever be saved? Is there any likelihood of it? Already the most propitious seasons have left you unsaved; will other occasions alter your condition? Means have failed with you-the best of means, used perseveringly and with the utmost affection-what more can be done for you? Affliction and prosperity have alike failed to impress you; tears and prayers and sermons have been wasted on your barren heart. Are not the probabilities dead against your ever being saved? Is it not more than likely that you will abide as you are till death for ever bars the door of hope? Do you recoil from the supposition? Yet it is a most reasonable one: he who is not washed in so many waters will in all probability go filthy to his end. The convenient time never has come, why should it ever come? It is logical to fear that it never will arrive, and that Felix like, you will find no convenient season till you are in hell. O bethink you of what that hell is, and of the dread probability that you will soon be cast into it!

Reader, suppose you should die unsaved, your doom no words can picture. Write out your dread estate in tears and blood, talk of it with groans and gnashing of teeth: you will be punished with everlasting destruction from the glory of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. A brother’s voice would fain startle you into earnestness. O be wise, be wise in time, and ere another year begins, believe in Jesus, who is able to save to the uttermost. Consecrate these last hours to lonely thought, and if deep repentance be bred in you, it will be well; and if it lead to a humble faith in Jesus, it will be best of all. O see to it that this year pass not away, and you an unforgiven spirit. Let not the new year’s midnight peals sound upon a joyless spirit! Now, NOW, NOW believe, and live.

"ESCAPE FOR THY LIFE;
LOOK NOT BEHIND THEE,
NEITHER STAY THOU IN ALL THE PLAIN;
ESCAPE TO THE MOUNTAIN,
LEST THOU BE CONSUMED."

December 30, 2008

Question: What do you think of Jesus Christ?

The great test of your soul’s health is, What think you of Christ? Is he to you "fairer than the children of men"-"the chief among ten thousand"-the "altogether lovely"? Wherever Christ is thus esteemed, all the faculties of the spiritual man exercise themselves with energy. I will judge of your piety by this barometer: does Christ stand high or low with you? If you have thought little of Christ, if you have been content to live without his presence, if you have cared little for his honour, if you have been neglectful of his laws, then I know that your soul is sick-God grant that it may not be sick unto death! But if the first thought of your spirit has been, how can I honour Jesus? If the daily desire of your soul has been, "O that I knew where I might find him!" I tell you that you may have a thousand infirmities, and even scarcely know whether you are a child of God at all, and yet I am persuaded, beyond a doubt, that you are safe, since Jesus is great in your esteem. I care not for thy rags, what thinkest thou of his royal apparel? I care not for thy wounds, though they bleed in torrents, what thinkest thou of his wounds? Are they like glittering rubies in thine esteem? I think none the less of thee, though thou liest like Lazarus on the dunghill, and the dogs do lick thee - I judge thee not by thy poverty: what thinkest thou of the King in his beauty? Has he a glorious high throne in thy heart? Wouldest thou set him higher if thou couldest? Wouldest thou be willing to die if thou couldest but add another trumpet to the strain which proclaims his praise? Ah! then it is well with thee. Whatever thou mayest think of thyself, if Christ be great to thee, thou shalt be with him ere long.

"Though all the world my choice deride,
Yet Jesus shall my portion be;
For I am pleased with none beside,
The fairest of the fair is he"

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

December 25, 2008

Let us to-day go down to Bethlehem

December 25th devotional from Charles Spurgeon.

“Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14.

Let us to-day go down to Bethlehem, and in company with wondering shepherds and adoring Magi, let us see him who was born King of the Jews, for we by faith can claim an interest in him, and can sing, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” Jesus is Jehovah incarnate, our Lord and our God, and yet our brother and friend; let us adore and admire. Let us notice at the very first glance his miraculous conception. It was a thing unheard of before, and unparalleled since, that a virgin should conceive and bear a Son. The first promise ran thus, “The seed of the woman,” not the offspring of the man. Since venturous woman led the way in the sin which brought forth Paradise lost, she, and she alone, ushers in the Regainer of Paradise. Our Saviour, although truly man, was as to his human nature the Holy One of God. Let us reverently bow before the holy Child whose innocence restores to manhood its ancient glory; and let us pray that he may be formed in us, the hope of glory. Fail not to note his humble parentage. His mother has been described simply as “a virgin,” not a princess, or prophetess, nor a matron of large estate. True the blood of kings ran in her veins; nor was her mind a weak and untaught one, for she could sing most sweetly a song of praise; but yet how humble her position, how poor the man to whom she stood affianced, and how miserable the accommodation afforded to the new-born King!

Immanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendour.


Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) was England's best-known preacher for most of the second half of the nineteenth century. In 1854, just four years after his conversion, Spurgeon, then only 20, became pastor of London's famed New Park Street Church (formerly pastored by the famous Baptist theologian John Gill). The congregation quickly outgrew their building, moved to Exeter Hall, then to Surrey Music Hall. In these venues Spurgeon frequently preached to audiences numbering more than 10,000—all in the days before electronic amplification. In 1861 the congregation moved permanently to the newly constructed Metropolitan Tabernacle.

Spurgeon's printed works are voluminous, and those provided here are only a sampling of his best-known works, including his magnum opus, The Treasury of David. Nearly all of Spurgeon's printed works are still in print and available from Pilgrim Publications, PO Box 66, Pasadena, TX 77501.

December 24, 2008

George Whitefield, A Preacher with Power

Today (December 16th) is the 294th anniversary of the birth of George Whitefield, December 16, 1714. Last year, Tim Ashcraft wrote a fine biographical sketch of Whitefield that I would encourage you to read. A list of resource on Whitefield is also offered there. This morning, I opened up Iain Murray's Lloyd-Jones: Messenger of Grace (BOT, 2008) and found a section in chapter two, "Preaching and the Holy Spirit," where Murray draws a comparison between Whitefield and Lloyd-Jones in order to illustrate the necessity of power in preaching. This is penetrating:

There is an obvious reason why preaching too often lacks the ability to hold the interest of those who listen. It is because the word spoken has no more than a fleeting access to the hearer's mind. A statement is briefly heard only to be crowded out by the individual's own thoughts, which he may well find more interesting and pleasant. Thus the twenty or forty minutes of a sermon may pass, with a person in the pose of a listener, yet actually paying attention to very little. In contrast, powerful preaching takes hold of the whole person. It gets within a man. It first arrests the mind and then speaks to the heart, the conscience, and the will. Where this element is present inattention becomes a near impossibility. Skilful oratory and carefully crafted speech can go some way to hold the hearers but it does not command attention in this manner. Powerful preaching penetrates more than the surface of the mind; it does more than merely present teaching; it is capable of causing a moral and emotional earthquake - 'not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit, and with deep conviction' (1 Thess. 1:4).

An eighteenth-century church-goer who was also a shipbuilder confessed that he had often built a ship from stem to stern during a sermon, but when he heard George Whitefield he found himself unable to lay a single plank. The reason for this was noted by another of the evangelist's hearers: 'Whitefield preached like a lion, he spoke as one conscious of his high credentials, with authority and power.' So it was with Lloyd-Jones. His message often carried the conviction that it was more important than any other possible consideration. (pp. 34-35, emphasis mine).

Posted by Jason Button

TheoSource: George Whitefield, A Preacher with Power

The Christmas Gift that lasts for Eternity

A Christmas Gift that lasts for Eternity, and what is that gift? It is the Gospel, it is the truth. It takes true love to tell someone something that no one else will tell them. I grew up as a kid in bondage to sin and no one ever told me I was going to Hell, they never told me I needed to repent or I would perish. It was all fun and games, and it was no big deal. In God's eyes it is a HUGE deal.

1 John 1:6 - If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

December 10, 2008

A Personal Revelation of Christ by David Wilkerson

If you are a preacher, missionary or teacher, think about this: What are you teaching? Is it what a person taught you? Is it a rehashing of the revelation of some great teacher? Or have you experienced your own personal revelation of Jesus Christ? If you have, is it ever-increasing? Is heaven opened to you?

Paul said, “In him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts17:28). True men and women of God live within this very small yet vast circle. Their every move, their entire existence, is wrapped up only in the interests of Christ. Years ago I knew the Holy Spirit was drawing me into such a ministry, one that preached Christ alone. Oh, how I yearned to preach nothing but him! But my heart was unfocused, and I found the circle too narrow. As a result, I had no flow of revelation to sustain my preaching.

To preach Christ, we must have a continuous flow of revelation from the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, we will end up repeating a stale message. If the Holy Spirit knows the mind of God and searches the deep and hidden things of the Father, and if he is to well up as flowing water within us, then we must be available to be filled with that flowing water. We must stay filled up with a never-ending revelation of Christ. Such revelation awaits every servant of the Lord who is willing to wait on him, believing and trusting the Holy Spirit to manifest to him the mind of God.

Paul said Christ was being revealed in him, not just to him (see Galatians 1:16). In God’s eyes it is unfruitful to preach a word that has not already worked its power in the preacher’s life and ministry. It may seem all right for certain shallow ones to preach Christ with contention—but not so for the man or woman of God. We must preach an ever-increasing revelation of Christ, yet only as that revelation effects a deep change in us.

Paul also voiced a personal concern: “Lest…when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Paul certainly never would have doubted his security in Christ; that was not in his mind here. The Greek word used for castaway means “unapproved” or “not worthy.” Paul dreaded the thought of standing before the judgment seat of Christ to be judged for preaching a Christ he did not really know or for proclaiming a gospel he did not fully practice. This is why Paul speaks so often of the “living Christ” or “Christ living in me.”

We cannot continue another hour calling ourselves servants of God until we can answer this question personally: Do I truly want nothing but Christ? Is he truly everything to me, my one purpose for living?

Is your answer yes? If you mean it, you will be able to point to a dung heap of your life, the one that Paul spoke of when he said, “I…do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:8). Have you counted all things as loss for the revelation of him? If you want nothing but Christ, then your ministry is not a career—your ministry is prayer! You will not have to be prodded to seek him; you will go often to your secret closet, knowing that the moment you walk in you are seated at his table. You will worship him, sitting in his presence unhurried, loving him, praising him with upraised hands, yearning after him and thanking him for his wisdom.


http://davidwilkersontoday.blogspot.com/


David Wilkerson is the founding pastor of Times Square Church in New York City and is most notably known for his book The Cross and the Switchblade. His passionate preaching and prophetic wisdom has impacted untold numbers of Christians around the world.

Additional information concerning David Wilkerson Ministries can be found at the World Challenge Inc. website.

November 28, 2008

A Divine Promise from God

Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 5:5, KJV

In the Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he points out a very important quality that is necessary for the minister of God. He tells Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV).

Every Christian should be able to understand what the Scripture says through personal study and making sure the text that is preached from the pulpit on Sundays is used in a correct exegetical and hermeneutical manner. Those who sit and listen to the preacher on Sundays should not assume every word that comes forth from their mouths is 100% correct, though it should be, but too often, a verse can be misinterpreted to make a text of Scripture say something that it does not.

The second chapter of the Apostle Peter’s second epistle provides a clear description of the destructive doctrines, doom, depravity and deception of false teachers of the gospel. Those who abuse a text of Scripture, not just once but also over a period of time, for any particular purpose that is not directly related to a more in depth biblical understanding of the Bible is subject to the consequences described in that chapter and should be forewarned and corrected.

Exegesis and hermeneutics are taught more thoroughly in seminary but even at a very basic level, one can use a bible software like e-Sword and it is a tremendous blessing to any layperson who is a student of the Word of God, becoming like the Bereans in Acts 17:11.

This is why the Scripture encourages every Christian to be diligent in their study of the Bible, rightly dividing the word of truth from what is false, or incorrect.

A misinterpretation of any text of Scripture opens the minister up to further scrutiny by the congregation, to discern if the minister’s motives for using a particular text from Scripture is biblical or not. Too often, the first thing an unbeliever will criticize about the church, is how often the minister talks about how much God wants to bless you if you give your money to this or that particular ministry, or church.

When a person gives their money to the work of ministry for the LORD Jesus Christ, their hearts need to be right, in the manner in which their giving is directed.

If our finances are given solely for expecting any multiplied amount returned to us, our motive for giving is all wrong and becomes more like a lottery ticket, “you gotta give in order to get blessed!”, and that is just the wrong motive to give to the work of ministry for the LORD Jesus Christ.

But if our motive is to see the work of the ministry blessed by our giving, to further the work of the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world, then our motives for our giving is right and if God blesses us with some financial return on that, well then PRAISE GOD!!! However, if nothing is ever returned financially that is even better.

I would not want to see someone have a greater expectation on a financial return from God because of their giving over one soul that has been won to Christ, or to support missionaries with the financial ability to go into the world and preach the Gospel. What is more important, seeing God multiply my money back to me or supporting people who desire to see souls won to Christ and added daily to the church? I think it is obvious, well, to me it is.

Before I begin, I would like to introduce a few words that are mentioned in the opening verse of this post and present a clearer understanding of them related to Scripture.

Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 5:5, KJV

First, in this verse, the word wrought that is used here, in Greek, is the word katergazomai, which means to work fully, that is, accomplish; by implication to finish, or fashion.

Next is the word earnest and the Greek word for this is arrhabōn and it has a Hebrew word too, which is similar in Greek, which is ‛ărâbôn.

Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries indicate that the Greek definition is a pledge, that is, part of the purchase money or property given in advance as security for the rest.

The Hebrew definition for the word ‛ărâbôn states (in the sense of exchange); a pawn (given as security): - pledge.

The New Living Translation offers a pretty good interpretation of this verse, “God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.”

The NIV does a good job also of interpreting this verse correctly, “Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

Now let’s read again 2 Corinthians 5:5 from the King James Version, for a better understanding of this verse and the words that are used.

Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 5:5, KJV.

Reading this verse alone, questions arise asking, what is it that God accomplished, by implication to finish and what is this earnest, pledge or purchase money that was used to give us His Spirit? Did God write some sort of check as a deposit for one’s redemption and salvation? What is to come because of the earnest deposit God made?

In order to gain a more complete understanding of this verse, one must read the entire passage of verses from 1-8 and what these eight verses are talking about is the assurance of the eternal life in heaven, for the born again believer in Jesus Christ. Each verse will be presented through this exegesis of text.

Exegesis and Hermeneutics

In verse 1, we first take notice that Paul is speaking to Christians in Corinth and his letter reminds them that they have an expectation of eternal life in heaven to look forward to as Christians, after their mortal life has ended. Yet in heaven, the body will have a new home that is not the result of any manufacture, because God has created this new body for every believer and is eternal in heaven.

For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Corinthians 5:1.

Next, in verses 2 and 3 we read there is a deep desire to be clothed with the garments that await us in heaven and such clothing will prove the repentance, forgiveness and salvation of every man and woman who has been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 2 Corinthians 5:2-3.

Isaiah 61:10 (NKJV) says, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
On the Day of Judgment, a person will either stand naked before God with nothing to prove their salvation or faith in Jesus Christ or they will stand before God wearing the garment of salvation, the robe of righteousness that is found only in Jesus Christ.

Verse 4 describes the inner desire to be clothed in the robe of righteousness, to be in heaven now, yet burdened to have to patiently wait for the life of this mortal body to end and for an eternal life in heaven to begin.

For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 2 Corinthians 5:4.

Now, verse 5. This is what God has done, what He has accomplished and finished for us. He has given us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee, to be a witness regarding the eternal inheritance for the Christian believer.

Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 5:5.

God has given the Holy Spirit as the guarantee, the pledge of the new body we will have in the glories of heaven. This verse does not refer to a financial principle that God requires a down payment to release His best to those who give to Him.

In John MacArthur’s sermon referencing arrhabōn, he says in his sermon, “For example, Jeremiah was a faithful prophet who did what God asked. One of the things God asked him to do was buy a piece of property (Jeremiah 32:7). After Jeremiah bought the field, he sealed the transaction (v. 14). Similarly, when a person puts their faith in Jesus Christ God gives to them the Holy Spirit and that finishes the transaction.

“When God gave us the Holy Spirit, we were enabled to speak from God's Word with authority (John 16:23).

“When God gave you the Holy Spirit, He gave you the only guarantee you will ever need.

"In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14, NKJV, emphasis mine).

John MacArthur said, “How do we know that Christ is our inheritance? What is the guarantee that once we jump into Christianity with both feet that we won't discover that it's a dead end? The Holy Spirit. God has provided a guarantee because He knows we need to have confidence in our salvation.

“We have not yet been totally redeemed. We have been redeemed spiritually, but we await the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23). We haven't received our full inheritance because we're not in heaven yet. But we know it will happen because we "were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the earnest of our inheritance" (Ephesians 1:13-14). The Spirit is the guarantee that "the redemption of the purchased possession" will indeed happen.”

Verse 6 then states that while we remain in our physical bodies we are not in the presence of the LORD, though that is what and where we desire to be.

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:6.

Verse 7 is a verse that many Christians quote often saying, “For we walk by faith and not by sight.” However, what does this really mean in light of this passage of Scripture? Our walk in this world is one of faith, complete dependence and trust upon God, in His will and not ours.

Finally, verse 8 for the Christian believer is that they can have the confidence that one day they will no longer be absent from God, but will be in His presence forever.

We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8.

Therefore, the true indication of what is to come, the promise of eternal life, is the Holy Spirit. It is He that lives and dwells within the Christian as they anticipate the day they will live with the LORD Jesus Christ for all of eternity.

God redeems the sinner from His wrath and judgment of their sin by their repentance and faith in His Son Jesus Christ. God then gave the man or woman who has become a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), His Spirit to dwell within them for the remainder of their earthly lives until the time of death where in heaven, they will live spiritually until their bodies are resurrected from the grave at the end of the world.

What Was the Cost?

It certainly was not cheap by any means and the closer one grows to Christ and understands the great price that God paid for their redemption, causes them to fall more deeply in love with Jesus Christ and thankful for what God did to save a wretched sinner as they were, as I was.

I think Hebrews 9:11-15 (NKJV) really sums this up quite well, what the cost was to purchase us, to redeem us to God for the salvation of our souls and the forgiveness of our sins.

“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” (emphasis mine).

Conclusion

God has accomplished for the repentant sinner who through faith in His Son Jesus Christ, he or she has received the blessed gift of God’s Holy Spirit to dwell within them, as the assurance of the eternal inheritance that belongs to them as born again believers.

The passage 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 (NKJV) is exclusively about the assurance of the resurrection, expectation of eternal life and the promise of God’s Holy Spirit that has been given to those who have been born again by the Spirit of God.

2 Corinthians 5:5 has a metaphorical tone with reference to value using a term like deposit with the understanding that it means a pledge in advance or security for the rest as was introduced in this post.

In terms of contextualization of this verse and passage, would be similar to homeowners who have a mortgage on their home. The homeowners agree with a lender, to number of monthly mortgage payments (pledge), because part of the purchase money (deposit) has been given in advance as security for the rest,” the full ownership of the property at the conclusion of the established number of mortgage payments.

Therefore, if we use these Hebrew and Greek words in a correct exegetical and hermeneutical manner for contextual understanding and application of the text, God has given us His Holy Spirit to dwell within us as a pledge, or an advance of what we will receive in heaven one day, living eternally in the presence and the fullness of God. The presence of God’s Holy Spirit is a promise, to the born again believer, of the assurance of the eternal life that awaits them upon the moment of death.

To interpret this text, 2 Corinthians 5:5, to mean that one can give God any pledged amount of money in anticipation of what will come from Him is a gross misinterpretation of this text. God cannot be bought and there is no way anyone could get God to perform anything for them because they have committed to a monthly pledge of money, to a ministry, a church or a building fundraiser campaign and expect God to do something great in their lives.

For example, when a minister, such Faith Church senior pastor Frank Santora in New Milford, CT, teaches that God will do something great because of one's financial pledge to a building fundraiser campaign named Arrabon, he has misrepresented the text from the Bible and grossly misinterpreted what the text actually means.

This is why I introduced this post with 2 Timothy 2:15, to say that every Christian must perform their own due diligence of study and research of the biblical text and not just take for granted what any preacher is saying from the pulpit.

The text Pastor Frank Santora has used as a basis for his fundraiser campaign has been misinterpreted greatly, in an attempt to persuade people into giving their money to the church, with the expectation of those who give that God will somehow do something great in their lives because of their pledge to this campaign.

Read the entire passage and see for yourself if this is referring to anything at all, regarding finances or financial blessing bestowed upon the giver. You will find that it does not.

The apostle Paul's charge to Timothy in his second letter said, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV) and that is exactly what I have strived for regarding the interpretation of this passage of Scripture.

God has prepared an eternal body and home for the born again believer. He understands our desire to be with Him for all of eternity and He wants to see His children clothed in the righteous robe of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. He has given His Holy Spirit to live within us, until we can live fully with Him in heaven for eternity. For a time, we will live in this physical body patiently waiting to live in the presence of God for eternity. Our view of that time will be one of faith that will be indescribable with words today, yet when that day comes, there will be a pleasantness and joyful experience that will be no longer be held back by our natural bodies. One day, our eternal lives will be full, complete and eternal in the presence of the King of kings and LORD of lords, the LORD God Almighty.

Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 5:5.

If the reader were to now take some time to read 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 slowly, the reader should be able to clearly see that the focus of this passage is not about giving money to God for the release of His best blessing upon those who give to Him, but the promise of the Holy Spirit as an assurance of their salvation.


Reference

MacArthur, J. (n.d.). The Believer’s Life in Christ, Divine promises guaranteed. Retrieved from http://www.biblebb.com/files/mac/sg1905.htm on November 28, 2008.

Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

November 5, 2008

My First Funeral


On Sunday, November 2, 2008, I had the distinct privilege and honor to minister to family and friends of a member of our Marine Corps League - Westchester Detachment, of which I am the Chaplain.

Irwin Howard died of prostate cancer and I was fortunate to have spoken to him a few times over the phone, letting him know that he was missed by members of the league detachment and was asked for at each of our meetings.

I had visited him at his home on Saturday October 18th and on the following Monday he moved into a hospice facility in Hawthorne, New York.

On Wednesday the 22nd I visited him briefly while I was on my way to a wake for another member of our detachment, whose wife was tragically killed when she was struck by a car along side the road she was walking on.

A week later, on the 29th, I visited him again and had the fortunate opportunity to meet two of his children. I spent about an hour with them, learning about their father, their mother and the rest of their families.

Then on Friday morning, October 31st, a family member called me to inform me of Irwin's passing and had asked me if I would be available to perform a funeral service for them, to which I was humbled to have been asked and honored to do for them.

This would be my first funeral too.

Just like when I had preached in July, I knew that I would need to depend on God to help me formulate the sermon that would minister to the family and guests, but also to make sure that nothing of what was said was of my agenda.

I just wanted to remain faithful to the preaching of God's Word.

I had prayed Friday evening, beginning to write my sermon. Saturday I spent some more time in prayer and writing, took care of a few errands here at school for one of our missionaries in residence and then returned for some more prayer and preparation of my sermon.

Saturday evening began a time of fasting for the next day. All I wanted was to feed my spirit in worship, prayer and continued study of the Word so that I would not misrepresent God in my sermon.

I woke up around 7:30 a.m., to spend some more time in prayer, review my sermon and to be able to meet the family at the funeral home by 10:30 a.m., to go over anything before the service began at 11:00 a.m.

Here are a few facts that developed before and during the service:
  • I learned that Irwin was Jewish but not a religious man.
  • Some of his children were also Jewish but married spouses who were Roman Catholic.
  • One family member stated in their eulogy that although Irwin was an atheist and did not believe in God, he lived a godly life.
  • There was a menorah placed behind the casket that was draped with the American flag.
  • One other family member said that while they knew Irwin did not believe in God, they believed that because he lived a godly life, he walked right through the pearly gates of heaven where God welcomed him.

The following is an edited version of what was spoken at the funeral service.

Good morning to everyone and on behalf of the family and the Marine Corps League, thank you for coming.

My name is Kurt Michaelson and I am the Chaplain for the Marine Corps League in Westchester and I had the distinct privilege to spend a very brief amount of time with Irwin who died a few days ago.

A few members of the family have informed me that they would like to offer a eulogy this morning and when they have conculded, I will then return to deliver the message.

Let us pray as today's service begins.

Invocation
"Our Loving Eternal and Heavenly Father, as we meet this morning to remember our dear friend and loved one, I ask you to be to us, the God of all comfort, and the God of all grace. Give us perspective as we face the reality of death and eternity and to grow in the proper understanding of Your truths of life found in Your Holy Word. I ask this in the name of Your Son Jesus Christ, AMEN."

Eulogy from family members.

Message - John 11:17-27, Isaiah 53:3-4, 61:1-3

(Note to the reader: Before I began to preach, I hesitated for a few seconds as I looked down to my Bible at Isaiah 61:1-3, where I was only going to read verse three, but I felt a strong conviction in my heart by God, to read all three verses so that it would be understood in its full context and not just a portion of it.)

I read the following verses from Isaiah 61:1-3 that says:

1 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn,

(I read this next verse slowly and deliberately, pausing briefly at each coma and looking out to the family and friends.)

3 To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

Today, I want to point out two verses of Scripture from the book of Psalms that reflect this man's life, whom we are mourning.


Would the children please stand?

First, in Psalm 127:3 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” The Psalmist was referring to the blessing that children are in building a family, specifically the ability to keep the family name alive on earth.

Thank you. You may be seated.

Next, I would like to ask for the grandchildren to stand.

The second is from Psalm 128:6, which says, “Yes, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!” This is evident in his life, as a promise fulfilled by God that saw the joy of an offspring continued beyond his days.

Thank you. You may be seated.

There is a passage from the New Testament that I would like to share with you, concerning two sisters and the death of their brother.

In John chapter 11:1-16, we read that Mary, Martha and Lazarus were all very close to Jesus during His earthly life and ministry. When Lazarus became severely ill, a message was sent to Jesus to inform Him so that He may come and comfort His dear friend. I am sure that Mary and Martha had possibly thought that the LORD would come and heal their beloved brother too, having heard of His many miracles that He had done.

After waiting a few days, the LORD travelled then to Bethany, to meet Mary and Martha as they were in mourning over the death of their brother Lazarus.

Upon hearing news that the LORD was nearing Bethany, Martha got up and rushed out to meet the LORD and she said to Him, “LORD, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha replied, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” And Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Martha replied saying, “Yes, LORD, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

When Martha had said that she believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, this was not an intellectual acknowledgement of who Jesus said He was, but where the Greek language has translated the word pistueo which means, by implication to entrust, especially one’s spiritual well being to Christ.

The LORD still had not arrived yet into town and now Mary had rushed out to meet the LORD, when her sister had returned and told her that Jesus was asking for her. Falling down at his feet Mary said to Jesus while weeping, “LORD, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Read out loud John 11:33-37.

And later we learn that Lazarus was indeed raised from the dead and that many of the Jews who were there believed the things which Jesus did and believed on him (v. 45).

In this entire passage, we find five very important things in Jesus as He met with Martha and Mary concerning their brother Lazarus.
  • He loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus (11:5). This type of love is described in Greek as a fondness or a love that is dear to a person, often seen among cousins, uncles and aunts in a family, even among friends who are like family. In the Marine Corps that certainly exists.
  • He comforted and showed compassion to Martha and Mary in their time of mourning and despair. Though their brother was dead, He said that through Him there was eternal life beyond the grave.
  • Martha and Mary found consolation in the LORD more than they did in those that surrounded them in mourning. They both rushed out to meet Jesus who was coming to see them.
  • He showed his human side of emotion, weeping when Lazarus died.
  • He brought hope to them regarding eternal life, where He would soon face His death on the cross, where He gave Himself for our sins (Gal 1:4) defeating death, hell and the grave through His resurrection.

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah says of the sin-bearing servant, he would be a man of many sorrows, familiar with bearing the burden our griefs and carry our sorrows (Isaiah 53:3-4). Jesus had carried the burden of anguish and sorrow of Lazarus’ death and He carries your burden of griefs today too.

Notice that the word griefs is plural meaning many and there are many who are grieving here today.

When we mourn over the loss of a loved one, it is my hope and prayer that those who are grieving will see Christ in those who are mourning with them.

It is my hope, prayer and sincere desire for the friends and family of Irwin, that all of those who mourn, would be comforted and consoled by the Holy Spirit of God, where beauty would be given for their ashes, the oil of joy for their mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness which they now feel.

Today, through Irwin's death, God has given us an opportunity to confront our own mortality, to personally reevaluate our lives and turn to Him while there is still time.

Some of you feel that God could never forgive you of the sins you have committed and you would be right. You and I are sinners by nature and we deserve a physical death and a spiritual death. We deserve an eternal death as a just punishment for our sins.

In God’s infinite love for you, He reconciled you to Himself. He was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself not counting your sins against you, rather they were charged against His Son, for you. But God demonstrated His love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (2 Corinthians 5:18-19, Romans 5:8) that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17, NKJV).

The psalmist wrote (Psalm 90:12, NKJV), “So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

The apostle James wrote saying, “whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14, NKJV).

Today, if you have heard God’s voice, please do not harden your hearts. The writer of the book of Hebrews says that we can boldly come to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16).

May the LORD give us grace to properly consider how few the number of our days are and to quickly reconcile our sins against God, through His Son, through repentance and faith in His Son.

I then called for members of the Marine Corps League and Korean War Veterans Association, to come forward to render a last salute to their departed brother Marine.

Then, turning to the casket I said, "Shalom chavarim, shalom chavarim. Shalom le’hitra’ot. Shalom chavarim."

And translated in English this means, "Good-bye my friend, good-bye my friend. Good-bye, until the next time. Good-bye my friend."

The funeral director then informed everyone regarding the procession route and what would take place next.

When everyone had arrived at the cemetery, the Marines had been patiently waiting at the cemetery too since 0800, standing guard over the burial plot waiting for one of their own.

Family pallbearers then brought the body to the grave and placed it on the support frame, for the final portion of the funeral service.

Prayer at the cemetery
"Almighty God, our Father in Heaven, in your sovereign love you created this man in Your image and likeness, our loved one and friend. From the dust of the ground you created man and there we return at the end of our days.

We thank You for the privilege of knowing Irwin and the friendship we have had with him before his death. We thank You for the way he influenced the lives of many, and for Your grace through difficult times his family and friends have endured during the last days of his life. We are grateful for Your Love and amazing Grace; You, who sent us the Great Shepherd of the Sheep. You who have prepared a place for all who trust in You, and who alone are worthy of all Glory, Honor and Praise.

Almighty God and Heavenly Father may we turn to You for strength to sustain us in our weakness, may we turn to You for comfort in our affliction and pain, may we turn to You for grace and mercy in our sin against You and may You walk with us this day and forevermore. I ask this in the name of Your Son Jesus Christ, AMEN."

In closing, I would like to read the following verses to the family and friends gathered here today:

"The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." Numbers 6:24-26.

One Marine bugler played Taps and then the other two proceeded to fold the American flag and present it to one of Irwin's sons. It was a very emotional time as the flag was presented and the rest of the family watched.

This concluded the service.



Epilogue

This was extremely difficult to do since it was my very first funeral and had such a mix of things that developed up to and including the service.

I knew that I would not be deterred from preaching the Gospel to approximately 50-60 people who were in attendance that morning. My sermon lasted no longer than 15-minutes too, by God's grace.

I asked of the LORD to calm me and to give me strength, to remove myself from what would be seen and heard where they would only hear the Lord Jesus Christ. I asked for grace to speak in love to all in attendance and I am grateful to God that those requests were answered.

In the apostle Paul's letter to the Romans he said, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel (of Christ), for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." (Romans 1:16, NKJV, emphasis mine) and this verse was my encouragement regarding my sermon.

I knew that by standing behind the pulpit to minister to the family and friends who were there that day, I would be held accountable and responsible to God, with the task of presenting the message of salvation, hope and grace through faith in Jesus Christ. I could not waiver on that at all and betray the LORD.

As Taps was playing, I had closed my eyes and turned my head up towards the sun, still hoping that I was faithful to preach God's Word to the people this morning.

With my focus on the LORD at that moment, as the notes to the song were playing I heard within me, "You were faithful," and I cried when I heard this.

I just wanted to be faithful to the preaching of the Gospel and I am humbled by God's acknowledgement that I was.

The rest would be up to God and those who heard the Gospel. I could do nothing more than preach the truth in love, in meekness and fear, giving people the hope that is within me (Ephesians 4:15, 1 Peter 3:15).

I could not have done any of this on my own at all and I am grateful for God's strength and grace to faithfully preach His Word, to all who needed to hear.

When I was asked to perform the funeral, I had called Kristi shortly thereafter and asked her to come with me, to support me and without hesitation, she did. Once again, her prayer for me before the service was heart-felt, spirit led and filled with the Word of God, to encourage me and give me strength.

I thank God for her that she came with me.

Yesterday, I received this email from our league detachment Commandant:

Kurt,
I wanted to thank you for the special attention and comforting words you provided at the service for Win Howard on Sunday.

Your efforts as Detachment Chaplain are greatly appreciated by all the members. You showed the true spirit of "Semper Fidelis" and made the Detachment proud in honoring one of our own.

Gratefully,
Mickey Winston
Commandant
MCL Westchester County


"But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear." 2 Timothy 4:17, NKJV.


Reference

Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

October 10, 2008

Evangelical Truth - A Reflection Paper

Last week, I handed in a short reflection paper regarding the book, Evangelical Truth by John Stott. This book was a required reading assignment for my Theology in a Global Context class that is taught by Dr. Paul Siu.

Seminary has been quite demanding on my time with an incredible amount of reading that must be done in such a short period of time. As challenging and demanding as it is, I am enjoying my time here, to learn what the professors here are so passionate about and that is bringing the gospel message of grace through faith in Jesus Christ throughout the world.

I hope you enjoy reading my paper below and at the end is a photo of the final grade that I received.


************************************

I enjoyed reading this book by John Stott very much. I felt the introduction was a bit long and drawn out and I was beginning to become disinterested in what he wanted to communicate. Once I began reading the first chapter, I was very engaged with the author to understand the subtitle of the book, which is his plea for unity, integrity and faithfulness.

In the introductory definitions of Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, I find myself to be more of an evangelical. I would agree with J.I. Packer’s six evangelical fundamentals that are found on pages 23 and 24 of the book: 1. The supremacy of Holy Scripture, 2. The majesty of Jesus Christ, 3. The lordship of the Holy Spirit, 4. The necessity of conversion, 5. The priority of evangelism and 6. The importance of fellowship.

The priority of evangelism is of utmost importance to the call of God upon my life as an evangelist/pastor.

Stott noted one of the aspects of the gospel is that it is Christological, saying that the gospel is not preached if Christ is not preached and the authenticity and centrality of the gospel must proclaim His life, death, burial and resurrection (p. 27). I completely agree with this statement as this is how I feel and would certainly oblige myself to ensure that Christ is central in my personal life and in ministry, as an evangelical preacher. Likewise, he also said, “the only authentic Christ is the biblical Christ (p. 39) and this must always be true for the evangelical Christian.

When Stott mentioned that postmodernism is the sworn enemy of claims to absolute truth, this strengthened my present opposition, to the ignorance, pastoral leaders have argued to be more pluralistic and relative rather than uncompromising and dedicated to the truth of God’s Holy Scriptures. This relativism, even minimizing the gospel has pervaded many churches, including one I belonged to and it was very disheartening to see the pastor acquiesce to a model or method of ministry, of another church, rather than following the example of the early church in the New Testament (Acts 2).

Stott mentions the risk of humility among some evangelical preachers, who lacked a fair and true understanding of Scripture, who had likely not combined the divine and human elements of God’s Word through the human authors and I agree with him. I have seen this not only from the church I had previously attended, but have noticed that all too much in other churches around the country, reading about them through various bloggers.

I have learned to come to the Scriptures with reverence, with diligence in study and daily preparation for ministry, but most importantly with a great amount of earnest prayer, as Stott states (p. 54). I have learned this from where I presently attend worship services at Times Square Church in New York City and Stott’s book has reinforced this within me.

In my former example, there was very little submission to the authority of Scripture for the sake of being relevant or non-confrontational, thereby reflecting little authority to Christ. To put it quite bluntly, a little submission to the authority of Scripture or to Christ, is no submission at all, but rebellion. There can be no compromise to the Scripture when it comes to remaining faithful and true to preach the pure truth of the Word of God.

Scripture must always be correctly interpreted and not deconstructed from the author’s original intent of the historical biblical text. While postmodernists will choose to make the text of Scripture say what they want and make themselves to be a unique entity, but not a biblical one, evangelicals will remain conscientious in the proper biblical exposition of Scripture in the evangelical church.

Chapter two of the book was the most interesting part of this book to me, which where the central focus of the Christian faith, the cross.

As an evangelical Christian, it is important to note as Stott has, that no one can ever enter into the holy presence of God, now or in the future, in the filthy rags of our own mortality.

Reading about the Justification by Faith (pps. 76 – 78) was very refreshing as I continued reading. I have often heard of the phrase, “justification by faith alone,” but have never realized that it also meant “justification by Christ alone.” And where Stott said, “faith has no function to receive what grace freely offers,” brings a greater meaning to my salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. I, like the apostle Paul, want to glory in nothing that I have done, but only in what Jesus has done on the cross for me.

In chapter three, The Ministry of the Holy Spirit, I really enjoyed the explanation of the four insights to the new birth of a Christian. The new birth is a work of God, it is sudden and not necessarily, a conscious experience and it is not identical with baptism.

I can certainly identify with these key points, as distinguishing traits of myself as an evangelical Christian from those of other traditional beliefs. The assurance of salvation, if not accompanied by faith in Christ, will be nothing more than a false sense of assurance while on the broad road to destruction.

Evangelical Truth was a very enjoyable book to read and I would recommend it to others.

Dr. Siu's comment says, "And this reflection is also a very enjoyable read. It is insightful and thoughtful. I particularly like your staunch position against postmodern hermenuetics. Keep up the excellent work!"

Reference

Stott, J. (2003). Evangelical Truth - A personal plea for unity, integrity and faithfulness (2nd ed.). Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.

September 29, 2008

The Length, Breadth and Height of this House is Equal in Measure

And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. Revelation 21:21, NKJV

Last week, I read an article about the Yankees' last game at the Stadium as fans walked on the field prior to the last home game of the season and capturing a moment of baseball history, upon "The House That Ruth Built,” which will no longer exist next season.

While many fans have a great expectation, of the new stadium facility, under construction across the street, I wondered how many had the same hopeful expectation about seeing heaven, seeing the LORD Jesus Christ, or even His return to establish His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:1-2, NKJV

Well, the new Yankee Stadium facility is not the New Jerusalem city the apostle John is talking about, but what he saw, the coming new heaven and earth, it must have been a breathtaking sight!

However, here is an event where people were brokenhearted of a building that will soon fade away to rubble and dust and at the same time feel an anticipation of joy waiting for the new stadium to open, where they can walk in and look in awe at what they will see.

“But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.” Luke 16:17, ESV.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5, NKJV, emphasis mine.

Every one of us will one day cease to live here on earth and will enter into eternity, forever, without an opportunity to escape hell or to desire anything more than heaven itself. The choice is ours, the free-will given by God to choose.

"The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass." (Revelation 21:21)

I know that I would be in awe of seeing streets of pure gold in the New Jerusalem city! Words just could not describe what that sight must actually be like.

Those streets of pure gold would never have to be repaved either, there would never be any cracks in it, nor would it ever wear down and have any potholes in them either!

The apostle John described the dimensions of the New Jerusalem saying, “The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.” Revelation 21:16-17, NKJV.

So how big is this New Jerusalem city? Well, it is certainly bigger than Yankee Stadium.

Well, 12,000 furlongs multiplied four times is 48,000 furlongs. One furlong is equal to 220 yards, so 48,000 furlongs would be approximately 1,400 miles. 1,400 miles the New Jerusalem city will be in its length, width and height. And the walls of the city, 144 cubits, would equate to 216 feet in thickness. A wall 216 feet thick and 1,400 miles high and there are four walls of this New Jerusalem city!!!

Now that would be a remarkable sight in all of its glory!

Plot a 1,400 square mile on the United States to get an idea of the magnitude what the New Jerusalem city will look like.

Jesus said that in His Father’s house there are many mansions (John 14:2) and if it were not true, Jesus would have said so and yet, He has gone to prepare a place for every person who has repented of their sins and placed their faith and trust, for their eternal salvation, in Him and Him alone.

Yet, many will never see or enter heaven because they have not been born again and instead have the wrath of God abide upon them (John 3:3-7, 36). If a person is not born again, they will be eternally separated from God in hell.

The Bible says that in hell, people stand up eagerly waiting for new people to arrive (Isaiah 14:9).

And yes, you read that correctly, there are people in hell that will stand up as they wait for the arrival of those who have chosen to reject God’s gift of salvation of grace through faith in the LORD Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Read these two versions from the Bible, God's Holy Word:

“In the place of the dead there is excitement over your arrival. The spirits of world leaders and mighty kings long dead stand up to see you." Isaiah 14:9, NLT

"Hell from beneath is excited about you, to meet you at your coming; It stirs up the dead for you, all the chief ones of the earth; It has raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations." Isaiah 14:9, NKJV

The New Living Translation says that those who have been long dead stand up to see you coming, as if you are an important person to be honored for entering hell and to be in their company!!!

Who can forget the roaring of the crowd at Yankee stadium when Aaron Boone hit the game winning home run against the Red Sox, to send the Yankees to the World Series in 2003? Is a similar sound heard for the one who enters hell for eternity?

I do not know about you, but I do not want hell to be excited about anyone's anticipated arrival! Not even Aaron Boone or anyone else. As you read either of those verses again, is this true of you? Have you rejected God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ? Would there be world leaders and mighty kings in hell anxiously waiting to stand up for your arrival in hell?

Those who will miss heaven will have done so at the expense of their own selfishness of temporal satisfaction, while ignoring the sacrifice made for them that is their redemption and their eternal security.

I could hardly imagine what the sounds would be like for anyone arriving in hell, but I do believe, by faith, there is an exceeding joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents (Luke 15:7-10).

Yogi Berra and the fans may way good-bye to the stadium that has seen some amazing things happen over the years, but none of them, in all of history’s greatest events, will ever compare to the arrival of the King of kings and the LORD of lords, Jesus Christ and the New Jerusalem city.


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17


Reference

Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

An Unbiblical Chain Email

I received this from a friend of mine earlier this week and she sent it with good intentions, yet she just does not have a better biblical understanding for stuff like this.

She replied enthusiastically with thanksgiving for the proper biblical understanding that I provided to her in my reply and I thought you might be blessed by reading the reply too. Here is what was sent to her.


Novena - One Hail Mary and One Our Father

Novena: You were chosen to receive this novena. The moment you receive it, say: Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus, Holy Mary Mother of God pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

GOD WANTED ME TO TELL YOU, It shall be well with you this coming year. No matter how much your enemies try this year, they will not succeed. You have been destined to make it and you shall surely achieve all your goals this year. For the year 2008-2009, all your agonies will be diverted and victory and prosperity will be incoming in abundance. Today God has confirmed the end of your sufferings, sorrows and pain because HE that sits on the throne has remembered you. He has taken away the hardships and given you JOY. He will never let you down.I knocked at heaven's door this morning, God asked me... My child! What can I do for you? And I said, 'Father, please protect and bless the person reading this message...

This is a Novena from Mother Theresa that started in 1952. It has never been broken. Within 48 hours send 20 copies (Or as many as you can - God does know if you don't have 20 people to send it to. It's the effort and intent that counts.) to family and friends. This is a powerful Novena. Couldn't hurt. Can only help.

My reply follows below, but first, let me ask, do you know what Novena means? Well, according to dictionary.com, the definition for Novena is a devotion consisting of nine separate days of prayers or services. So whoever has sent this, is likely a Roman Catholic church-goer and does not understand what the word Novena means. This in no way consists of nine separate days of prayers or services at all, which alone is disqualifying biblically.



GOD WANTED ME TO TELL YOU, It shall be well with you this coming year.


If God truly has spoken such to a person, who is this person and what kind of life have they been living that I should trust in this? Why isn't the world changed right now, because of these "prophetic" words? Why isn't it well now and why do we have to wait until next year? Isn't it bad enough as it is now?No matter how much your enemies try this year, they will not succeed. Paul asked God three times for the messenger of Satan to be removed, the thorn in his flesh and God did not answer Paul's prayer (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

In addition to that, Jesus said that we would experience persecution and tribulation because of the Word, (Matthew 13:21, Mark 4:17).

In Paul's letter to the Romans he asked what could separate us from the love of Christ? "Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" These things imply what they say, tribulation (we see that in the financial markets), distress (look at the climate and weather related disasters), persecution (fierce attempts to silence Christians from preaching against homosexuality, removal of the Ten Commandments), famine (we see this in third world countries and even here at home), nakedness (look around the poor neighborhoods), or danger (everywhere), or threats to kill with a deadly weapon (locally and globally).

It's just absurd for someone to say that God has restrained every attempt of the enemy from a person. Just look at Job! (Job 1-3). He was a righteous man of God and God allowed Satan to ruin his life, because He knew Job would not curse God for his losses and he was told by God that he could not physically touch him. Job lost everything, including his children in a matter of hours and he still did not curse God for his tragic losses, yet his wife wanted him to! (Job 2:9).

The apostle Peter even said that we should rejoice in partaking in the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:13), so the statement which implies the enemy will not succeed is contrary to Scripture.

The Christian and the unbeliever will both suffer attacks from the enemy. That will never go away until Christ returns and Satan is bound for 1,000 years and then tossed into the eternal lake of fire.

There is no easy road to walk for the Christian.

Jesus said, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it." (Matthew 7:13-14, New Living Translation)

The apostle Paul said to Timothy, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." (2 Timothy 3:12).

So how much do you really want to live a godly life in Christ knowing that you will suffer persecution and God will allow such persecution to occur in your life.


You have been destined to make it and you shall surely achieve all your goals this year.

Yes, this is possible, but not just because God said so. Sin has not been removed from this world, nor has Christ returned to restore His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

When He comes, the lion will lie down with the lamb and the two will not be predator and prey. This type of theology, "You have been destined to make it and you shall surely achieve all your goals this year," is nothing more than a "name it and claim it" type of theology and it is not biblical.

For the year 2008-2009, all your agonies will be diverted and victory and prosperity will be incoming in abundance. Today God has confirmed the end of your sufferings, sorrows and pain because HE that sits on the throne has remembered you. He has taken away the hardships and given you JOY. He will never let you down.

If God has confirmed the end of your sufferings, sorrows and pain then that would mean you are no longer living, because only in heaven will "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4).

God remains on His throne, but emails like this remove Him from His throne when unbiblical stuff like this is written and circulated on the internet.

It's not that God will never let us down, but we often let Him down by the way we live, selfishly and sinfully.

He will never leave us, nor forsake us, but we have and often walk away from Him, when we shouldn't.

This is a powerful Novena. Couldn't hurt. Can only help.

No power is contained in such an email that holds no solid biblical teaching whatsoever.

This actually does hurt people, in a spiritual way because they are being led to believe that what they are reading, even praying to be true, when it isn't. The use of Scripture has been misinterpreted severely by the originator of the email, just as the serpent had done in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3, NKJV) and as Satan tempted Jesus when he was in the desert for 40-days (Luke 4:1-13, NKJV).

Can this help? What do you think? The answers are found in the Bible and that is where to look and which is true.


Reference

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

September 25, 2008

Just, and the justifier of him which believeth. Romans 3:26

Today's devotional reading written by Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

"Just, and the justifier of him which believeth." Romans 3:26

Being justified by faith, we have peace with God. Conscience accuses no longer. Judgment now decides for the sinner instead of against him. Memory looks back upon past sins, with deep sorrow for the sin, but yet with no dread of any penalty to come; for Christ has paid the debt of his people to the last jot and tittle, and received the divine receipt; and unless God can be so unjust as to demand double payment for one debt, no soul for whom Jesus died as a substitute can ever be cast into hell. It seems to be one of the very principles of our enlightened nature to believe that God is just; we feel that it must be so, and this gives us our terror at first; but is it not marvellous that this very same belief that God is just, becomes afterwards the pillar of our confidence and peace! If God be just, I, a sinner, alone and without a substitute, must be punished; but Jesus stands in my stead and is punished for me; and now, if God be just, I, a sinner, standing in Christ, can never be punished. God must change his nature before one soul, for whom Jesus was a substitute, can ever by any possibility suffer the lash of the law. Therefore, Jesus having taken the place of the believer-having rendered a full equivalent to divine wrath for all that his people ought to have suffered as the result of sin, the believer can shout with glorious triumph, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?" Not God, for he hath justified; not Christ, for he hath died, "yea rather hath risen again." My hope lives not because I am not a sinner, but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died; my trust is not that I am holy, but that being unholy, he is my righteousness. My faith rests not upon what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is, in what he has done, and in what he is now doing for me. On the lion of justice the fair maid of hope rides like a queen. (Bold emphasis and underlines added.)



Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) was England's best-known preacher for most of the second half of the nineteenth century. In 1854, just four years after his conversion, Spurgeon, then only 20, became pastor of London's famed New Park Street Church (formerly pastored by the famous Baptist theologian John Gill). The congregation quickly outgrew their building, moved to Exeter Hall, then to Surrey Music Hall. In these venues Spurgeon frequently preached to audiences numbering more than 10,000—all in the days before electronic amplification. In 1861 the congregation moved permanently to the newly constructed Metropolitan Tabernacle. Spurgeon's printed works are voluminous, and those provided here are only a sampling of his best-known works, including his magnum opus, The Treasury of David. Nearly all of Spurgeon's printed works are still in print and available from Pilgrim Publications, PO Box 66, Pasadena, TX 77501.

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