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CMF eZine


The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.


The Greatest Work in The World!

By Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe | 1972

There are many good things that a man can do in the world today. But I have a conviction that the greatest work any of us can do is to help lead people to Jesus Christ. You do not have to be a “full-time Christian worker” to be a soul-winner. In fact, many of our greatest soul-winners are dedicated men and women who hold “ordinary” occupations, but who use every opportunity to witness for Christ.

We use the word “soul-winner” so often, and yet I wonder if we really know what it means? Perhaps it would be helpful to us if we discovered from the Bible just what a soul-winner is and what he is supposed to do. As I was studying this subject, I was interested to find many pictures of the soul-winner in the Bible; and I want to share some of these pictures with you.

The soul-winner is a shepherd.

“Let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).

James is speaking particularly about Christians who may stray from the truth, but his words also apply to the lost. If it is important for us to guide wandering believers back into God’s way, how much more important it is to guide unbelievers! We are shepherds, out seeking the wandering sheep. “All we like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6). If the lost sheep is left to himself, he will die; and if the lost soul is left to himself, he will perish forever.

Here is one reason society is in a mess: people have strayed from the truth. It was a gradual thing. First men questioned God’s truth; then they criticized it; then they ignored it; then they laughed at it. The world would rather believe lies than face God’s truth, in spite of the fact that these lies are leading men to death.

Jesus told the story about the shepherd who went out into the wilderness to find the lost sheep. What a beautiful picture of the soul-winner!

“But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed,
Nor how black was the night that the Lord went through,
E’er He found His sheep that was lost.”

The most important characteristic for a shepherd is love. The Good Shepherd so loved us that He laid down His life for the sheep. Do we love lost souls enough to search them out and share the Good News with them? Or are we so wrapped up in our own plans that we do not have time to think about the other person? We are supposed to be shepherds who help to guide the wandering back into the fold.

The soul-winner is a hunter.

Proverbs 11:30 says, “He that winneth souls is wise.” That word “winneth” has the idea of “catching, as a hunter catches an animal.” We are supposed to “capture” souls!

In many ways, the lost sinner is just like an animal. Jesus said to Saul of Tarsus, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 9:5). What is a goad? It is the sharp stick that the farmer uses to prod his lazy animals. God was “prodding” Saul; He was treating Saul like a stubborn animal! The lost sinner is just like a stubborn animal: he wants his own way, and yet he does not realize that his own way leads to death.

Just as it takes love to be a shepherd, so it takes skill to be a hunter. It takes skill to “capture” lost souls. The hunter is careful not to frighten the animal. He is very careful not to permit his scent to be carried to the animal. I wish more Christians were that wise! Too often unsaved people “get the scent” from the church and know all the things that are going wrong! We Christians must be very careful not to get in the way of the wind, but to let the “wind of the Spirit” blow as He desires.

Hunters will use different approaches in capturing animals. Many different kinds of traps are mentioned in the Bible, because you cannot use the same approach with different animals. Too often you and I use the same approach with every lost person, and we wonder why we often fail. It takes skill to be a hunter, and it takes skill to be a successful soul-winner.

The soul-winner is a fisherman.

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Christ called four fishermen to be disciples—Peter, Andrew, James, and John. And remember that fishing was not their hobby; it was their life’s work. To them, catching fish was not fun: it was a matter of life or death!

Do you know why Jesus called four fishermen? Because fishermen know how to stick with the job and get it done. You will rarely see a fisherman sitting around doing nothing. He is either casting his nets, or cleaning his nets, or repairing his nets. He is always wrapped up in fishing. So it is with the soul-winner: he is always involved in witnessing—and he stays at it! The most important thing about a fisherman is his ability to stick with it, because fishing can be a very difficult and disappointing vocation.

Too often, we “fishers of men” give up too soon. When the going gets tough, we decide to head for shore and give up fishing for a while. We sit around and discuss fishing instead of heading out to the depths to let down the nets! One preacher has suggested that most Christians have ceased to be fishers of men. Instead, they are owners of beautiful aquariums, and they spend most of their time moving the fish from one tank to another!

In Bible days, fishermen had three methods of fishing: hooks, spears, and nets. Peter let the hook down and caught the fish that contained the money for the taxes. If you plan to use a hook, be sure you have the right kind of bait, and be sure you stay alert so you know when the fish is there! It takes real skill and patience to use the spear, but this is a good way to get fish. Just keep your eye on the one you want, and spear him!

But the best way is the net, because you can catch more fish that way. It requires several men to use the nets; soul-winners must learn how to work together. To be sure, not every “fish” will be a good one. Jesus warns us that the net will contain all kinds of fish, some good and some bad (Matthew 13:47-50); but the presence of the bad fish is no reason for us to reject the good fish. Not every fish we catch for the Lord will be a true believer, but many of them will; and the more we try to catch, the bigger will be the percentage of true believers.

If we are going to bring souls to Christ, we must be like the fishermen that Jesus called: we must have persistence. Only God can give the catch, no matter how hard we may toil. And let’s remember that only God knows how big the catch is! Let’s not get so wrapped up in numbers that we forget how important one individual soul is to Jesus Christ.

The soul-winner is a harvester.

Jesus tells us to “look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35-38). It takes all kinds of workers to have a harvest: people to plow, people to sow and water, people to fight weeds, and people to reap the grain. But all of them are a part of the harvest! This is why soul-winners are compared to harvesters: we need to practice cooperation. Not compromise, but cooperation, a willingness to work together.

There is no end to what God will do for the Christian who does not care who gets the credit. The important thing out in the field is not competing for attention, but reaping the harvest. We are laborers together, and each one must help the other.

God has given us some marvelous tools for harvesting the grain: radio, television, literature, cassettes, computers, and a host of other tools. We are not to use these tools to impress each other, but to gather in the harvest. I fear that too often we harvesters are using the sickles on each other instead of on the grain! It is discouraging to see how one Christian attacks another Christian, or one worker criticizes another worker; and all the time the harvest is going to waste. One of the basic laws of the harvest is partnership: one sows, another reaps, but God gives the increase.

The soul-winner is an ambassador.

“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Imagine! We are God’s ambassadors! This certainly puts dignity into this business of winning souls! Instead of apologizing when we witness for Christ or make a visit in a home, we ought to act like dedicated dignitaries, sent by God—because that is exactly what we are! “As my Father hath sent Me, so send I you” (John 20:21).

As ambassadors, we have been chosen and commissioned; and our task is not to preach ourselves, but to represent the One Who sent us. “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord” (2 Corinthians 4:5). We represent Him, and we carry His message of peace. When an ambassador is sent to a foreign country, all his needs are met by his government, and he is protected by their armies. So with us: God has promised to meet all our needs, and His protection is our assurance of victory. All that the government asks is that the ambassador be faithful, and that is what God asks of us.

God is not at war with the world, but the world is at war with God. Our task as ambassadors is to tell the world that God loves sinners, Christ died for sinners, and that men can be reconciled to God. One of these days, God will declare war on the world; but before that happens, He will call His ambassadors home! While we are waiting, let’s be faithful ambassadors, representing Jesus Christ in the way we live and the words we speak.

The soul winner is a fireman.

“And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire” (Jude 23). “Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” (Zechariah 3:2).

The lost soul does not have to die to be in the fire; he is in the fire of condemnation right now! “He that believeth not is condemned already” (John 3:18). Lost people are already living in the “suburbs of hell,” yet they think their life is wonderful! Our task is to pull them out of the fire, because they are unable to save themselves. In other words, soul-winning requires urgency.

Perhaps this is why many Christians avoid trying to win souls: it is a bit risky to put your hands in the fire! Certainly soul-winners get “burned” occasionally but it’s worth a few scars to rescue somebody from eternal fire. Sometimes the situation gets a bit “hot,” but we must keep right on witnessing, because God may use us to snatch some precious soul out of the burning. And God has promised to be with us when we go through the fire, so there is really nothing to fear.

The next time you look at a lost soul, remember that he is already in the fire of sin and judgment. The worst is yet to come! Sin has so numbered him that he does not even feel the pains in his soul, and this is what makes his situation so tragic. Oh, the urgency of it! We must reach into the fire and help to pull them out! As those angels took hold of Lot and pulled him to safety out of Sodom, so we must lovingly snatch the brands out of the burning, before it is too late.

The soul-winner is a witness.

“If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it? And He that keepeth thy soul, doth not He know it? And shall He not render to every man according to his works?” (Proverbs 24:11-12).

The picture here takes us back to an Old Testament Jewish village. Here is a man who has been condemned to die. The elders are taking him outside the village to stone him to death, and you see the man as they go by. And you know that the man does not deserve to die! You have the one piece of evidence that will save his life! What are you going to do?

Some of us might say: “Well, I don’t want to get involved.” Or, “It’s too late to do anything now.” Or, “Who am I to tell others what to do?” God says, “Excuses! Excuses that will cost a man his life!” As soul-winners, you and I must be witnesses who have honest concern. It must burden us that men and women are being dragged off to judgment! It must concern us that we have the one message of life that can save them! The time has come for us to stop making excuses! Christ has left us here to be His witnesses, and our witness is the only thing that can save sinners from eternal death!

What does it take to be an effective soul-winner? It takes the love of a shepherd, the skill of a hunter, the cooperation of a harvester, the dignity of an ambassador, the urgency of a fireman, and the heart concern of a witness.

Let’s ask God to make us the kind of Christians that He can use to win others to Christ. Winning souls is the greatest work in the world—the most rewarding work in the world—the work that God blesses and that brings Him glory for all eternity!

______________

“Copyright © Moody Church Media. Used with Permission. www.moodymedia.org

 

'Useless' Faith?

Is there such a thing as ‘useless faith’ from a Christian worldview? Does the Bible answer the question?

First of all, I think it fair to say that we (professing believers) almost always think about faith in a positive light, as does scripture. The Old Testament is full of men and women of faith. The New Testament tells us we are saved “by grace through faith”. On occasion, Jesus commended individuals for their faith. In the book of Hebrews there is a long list of notable men and women of faith, as well as heroic deeds that were the result of their faith in a great God.

So what’s this about “useless” faith? Is it even a ‘thing’ from a biblical perspective?

I suggest to you that it is, and that ‘useless faith’ is a serious topic at least twice in the Bible, once from the perspective of the Apostle Paul, and once from the perspective of James, the brother of Jesus, in the book bearing his name. The Apostle Paul addresses the topic from something the Bible claims is a historical fact, while James approaches it with human works in view.

For a look at what Paul had to say about “useless” faith, we need only take a look at 1Corinthians, chapter 15, his great treatise on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the final resurrection of believers:

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Cor 15:12-19)

Apparently there were some in the Corinthian church who were denying the future resurrection of the dead, although it was being preached that Christ indeed rose from the dead, a fact attested to by witnesses.

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

Paul then states that if Christ has not been raised, his (Paul’s) preaching and the faith of Believers in Corinth is in vain (useless) (v 14), a point he reiterated in v. 17.

Moving on to what James has to say about “useless” faith, we’ll turn to James, Chapter 2.

 

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.\

First Janes asks his listeners if want to be shown that faith apart from works is useless (v. 20) and then says very clearly that faith part from works is dead (v. 26). Clearly he is saying that faith without works is useless and dead, but in what context? We need only go back to an earlier verse (v. 14) to see that James’ conclusion is based on someone professing faith but never displaying works did not have saving faith. He is saying that if claims o having faith do not produce works, it was personal faith professed, but NOT saving faith possessed, and completely “useless”.

So yes, there is such a thing as ‘useless’ faith according to the Bible, from at least two perspective:

1.  If Christ died but was not resurrected, our faith and indeed Christianity itself is useless (1 Cor 15). This is a serious doctrinal issue.

2. If we say we have faith, but our faith does not result in works to the glory of God, we never had the ‘gift of God’ faith (See Eph 2:8-9) that actually saves (James 2:14-25). This is a serious personal issue.

So we all have good reason to follow some sound advice from the Apostle Paul:

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Cor 13:5, ESV)

Are You Plugged In?

That question is directed mostly toward young Christians serving our country in the military. No, I’m not asking if you have an ‘electric’ personality! I’m asking you if you are plugged in to good, Bible believing fellowship, whether it’s a local on-base Chapel, local church, Bible study or fellowship group, or maybe just a good Bible study.

I’m asking because this last weekend I spent some time thinking about the years spent as a Christian serving on active duty in the Army’s Special Forces. How that scenario developed is another story for another time. Suffice it to say that when the Shepherd found the lost sheep and brought him back into the fold, the scenario was already in place, and I knew keeping my faith personal was not an option. But that’s not today’s story either.

This is about the question “Are you plugged in?” I ask you that because not being plugged in to Christian fellowship and Bible study can really stunt spiritual growth. We live in a fallen world surrounded by all sorts of influences detrimental to growing in our shared faith. We are also saddled with what some call a ‘sin hangover’, to use a somewhat crude analogy. It would be great if God just eradicated all of the sinful tendencies we have when we come to believe in Christ, but he doesn’t.

It goes without saying that if we are plugged into ‘power sources’ that can sustain us, we’ll not only be strong, we can be used of God in the furtherance of his Kingdom on earth. It’s the ‘plugging in’ part that I want to talk about. I don’t know about you, but I learned some things that were true when I was on active duty and are true now. They were true when I was single (living in the barracks or separated from my family because of travel), and true when our family was together. They are true now, for a couple of grandparents and empty nesters. Here are a few good principles, or rules to live by, or something in between.

  • Plug in! Connect to 1) on-base Chapel, local church, 2) Bible study or fellowship group, 3) one other believer, or 4) just a good individual Bible study. I would suggest all four, if possible.
  • Don’t wait to get invited to something, take the initiative, whether you are changing duty stations, on temporary duty or on a deployment. It says a lot about you and your desire to keep growing in faith.
  • When introducing yourself to a congregation or small group you visit, keep it simple and offer to serve. Don’t talk a lot about you have served in other places, or you might be considered a divine answer to prayer. Trust me. Be willing to serve, but take it slow.
  • Ask yourself, “Is this church or small group more about serving God, or getting stuff from God.
  • Listen more than you speak. You can learn volumes.
  • Keep a Bible handy and don’t leave home without it!

Just some tips from an old soldier. Experience is a great teacher. I assure you, NOT plugging in is always hazardous to your spiritual health. I also know that there are some of you that might be a bit apprehensive about getting connected when you find yourself in new or unfamiliar territory. CMF can help with that. We maintain a worldwide directory of CMF members, military friendly churches and other military ministries on or near military bases all over the world. There are also Bible study resources available online. Visit our Web page and look around!.

The Chief End of Man and the Purpose of the Church

The first question asked by the Westminster Shorter Catechism is, “What is the chief end of man?”. Some of us know the answer, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” In the Catechism itself, there are nearly a dozen passages of scripture provided to support the answer.

If you visit many of today’s evangelical churches, or even visit their websites, you might come away thinking that the chief goal of most believers is to find one’s special purpose, dream destiny, or most fulfilling life while occupying planet earth. If you doubt my assumption, just listen to some of the sermons from the most popular broadcasters on Christian television, or visit church websites. Listen to almost any sermon/sermon series and what hear is all about you. Even when scripture is used to support a lot of these sermons, they still end up being all about you instead of expositing/exegeting/explaining the actual text of scripture.

And then there are church web site ‘vision statements’. I can’t tell you how many vision statements I’ve seem that set as a goal of the church to help you find your ‘purpose’, or discover your ‘destiny’ on earth. While you might find a ‘What We Believe’ section with sound statements of belief, sometimes you have to dig deep to find them. The church vision statement is often boldly stated on a home page while a belief statement is several layers deep. The church vision is clearly a higher priority than the core beliefs of the church. I suggest that what we believe is far more important than a ‘vision statement’.

While the find your purpose/dream destiny goal sounds great and definitely attracts people, is it a biblical goal for the church? What does the Bible have to say about priorities in the life of the church and in the lives of individual believers?

Interestingly enough, we have a particular passage that dates back to Pentecost, when 3,000 heard the gospel proclaimed, repented and believed in Jesus as the Messiah (were ‘saved’).

Acts 2:42 describes the principle activities of these new believers;

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (KJV)

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (ESV)
“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (NASB)

Note the three activities of these new believers ‘continued steadfastly in’ or ‘were devoted to’:

  • The apostles doctrine/teaching
  • Fellowship
  • Prayer

Is it a stretch to assume that all three of these activities glorify God? The purpose of the church, made up of individual believers, is described in Ephesians, Chapter 4:

" 11And he (God)gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

We are told that God gifted the church with apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers (sometimes called the five-fold ministry) for specific reasons:

“…to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,  until we all (saints/believers)) attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood ,to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”(emphasis mine).

Note for whom the gifts are given; “the saints”, believers in Christ. Note also that the gifts given to the church are “for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.” There is nothing here, or anywhere else in scripture (trust me) about the church existing for non-believers. There is also nothing here, or elsewhere in scripture, that even remotely suggests that those with the aforementioned gifts are to help folks in the pews (or theater seats) have their best lives now, discover special purposes, or achieve dream destinies.

Would it be a stretch to assume that the purpose of those so gifted might be to teach the ‘doctrine of the apostles’, the object of devotion for the new believers in Acts? I think not.

How does that translate to today – the apostle’s doctrine? A no-brainer? It must refer to what is contained in scripture, that which was inspired (breathed out by God)!  

So, getting back to the chief end of man and the purpose of the church. When the subject matter being taught by evangelical leaders becomes all about you, who exactly is being ‘glorified’? I’ll leave it right there.

Oh, there’s one other little thing. Something that Jesus said:

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’.” (Matthew 16:25)

I’ll leave that one there too. Any questions?

_________________

P.S. If you don’t know much about church catechisms, here is a link that lists some, along with additional links to the actual texts.

Who is the Father?

WHO IS FATHER? 

In Exodus 3:13, Moses is inquiring of God as to 

how to answer the people of Israel about who sent Him to them, and what is His name.

Exodus 3-14-15--"God said to Moses, I AM who I AM.  And He said, say this to the people of Israel:  I AM has sent me to you.  God also said to Moses, Say this to the people of Israel: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, and the God of Jacob has sent me to you."

How often do we as believers in Jesus Christ refer to the Father God as "I AM?"  Jesus referred to Himself as the "I AM" as he was dialoging with the Jews in John Eight:

John 8:58--"Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."

There are many names for God used by Christians.  Daniel referred to God as the "Ancient of Days" in his vision in Daniel 7:9.

Jesus would refer to His Heavenly Father as Abba Father, a Hebrew name.   There are other Hebrew names used for God today:  Elohim, El-Shaddai, Yahweh, Jehovah and Adonai.

As you read through the book of Psalms you will identify many verses on God's protecting care of us:  

Psalm 18:1,2-- "I love you Lord, my Strength.  The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer, my God, my Rock in whom I take Refuge, my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my Stronghold."

Psalm 118:14-- "The Lord is my Strength and my Song; He has become my Salvation."

How comforting it is to think about God as our Father!  I was blessed to have a loving earthly father, while many of you may not have had the privilege of having such a father.   I hope you will begin to embrace the thought of God as your heavenly Father!   

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

I pray that you will embrace God as your heavenly Father.

EXTRA: The Name of Jesus is So Sweet I love the name of him whose heart knows all my griefs and bears a part.  Who bids all anxious fears depart.  I love the name of Jesus.  That name I fondly love to hear, It never fails my heart to cheer.  Its music dries the falling tear.  Exalt the name of Jesus.

As a military spouse and family counselor, Doris Waldrop Mincks has ministered to military families for many years.  Her ministry, Wives of Warriors Worldwide, WOWW, desires to come along side the military community to give encouragement and support to military wives, meeting the life situations unique to them.

http://accts.org/our_team.html

The Christian Risen With Christ in Newness of Life

The Christian Risen With Christ in Newness of Life

By Charles Simeon

Rom. 6:8–11. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Gospel in every age, when freely and faithfully delivered, has been calumniated as injurious to morality.  But St. Paul, though he well knew how his doctrines would be misrepresented, did not on that account mutilate the Gospel, or declare it less freely than it had been revealed to him: he proclaimed salvation altogether by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, without any works or deservings on our part: but at the same time he showed that good works, though excluded from any share in justifying the soul, would of necessity be practiced by every believer; because the believer, by his very profession, was, and could not but be, “dead unto sin, and alive unto righteousness.”  He showed, that there would of necessity be in the believer’s soul a conformity to his Lord and Savior, since he bound himself to it in his baptismal engagements, or rather professed to have the actual experience of it before he was baptized; so that he must be a hypocrite, and no true believer, if he was not holy both in heart and life.  To this effect he speaks in the whole of the preceding context; (ver. 1-7)—and in the words which we have just read, he confirms the idea, and founds upon it an animated exhortation.

To elucidate this difficult, but important subject, we shall consider,

I. The truth he assumes—

In close connexion with this is,

II. The persuasion he intimates—

“We believe,” says he, “that we shall also live with him.”

This persuasion is founded on a firm and solid basis—

From hence is deduced,

III. The duty he inculcates—

In this subject we may see,

1. The proper tendency of the Gospel—

2. The true criterion whereby to judge of our faith in Christ—

[We will not disparage other parts of Christian experience; but the only safe test whereby to try ourselves, is, the degree in which we are dead to sin, and alive to God—“The tree must be known by its fruits”—]

3. The connection between our duty and our happiness—

About the author:  Charles Simeon, (Sept. 24, 1759-Nov. 13, 1836), Anglican clergyman and biblical commentator who led the Evangelical movement.  Simeon was educated at King’s College, Cambridge, where he became vice provost (1790–92).  In 1782 he was presented to the living of Trinity Church, Cambridge, where he remained until his death. Renowned as a preacher, Simeon helped found the Church Missionary Society (1797).

 

By Grace Ye Are Saved

By Grace Ye Are Saved by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

It is by the grace of God that ungodly men are preserved from instant death.  The sharp axe of justice would soon fell the barren tree if the interceding voice of Jesus did not cry, “Spare him yet a little.”  Many sinners, when converted to God, have gratefully acknowledged that it was of the Lord’s mercy that they were not consumed.  John Bunyan had three memorable escapes before his conversion, and mentions them in his “Grace Abounding” as illustrious instances of long-suffering mercy.  Occasionally such deliverances are made the means of affecting the heart with tender emotions of love to God, and grief for having offended him.  Should it not be so? Ought we not to account that the longsuffering of God is salvation? (2 Peter 3:15.)  An officer during a battle was struck by a nearly spent ball near his waistcoat pocket, but he remained uninjured, for a piece of silver stopped the progress of the deadly missile.  The coin was marked at the words Dei Gratia (by the grace of God).  This providential circumstance deeply impressed his mind, and led him to read a tract which a godly sister had given him when leaving home.  God blessed the reading of the tract, and he became, through the rich grace of God, a believer in the Lord Jesus.

Reader, are you unsaved?  Have you experienced any noteworthy deliverances?  Then adore and admire the free grace of God, and pray that it may lead you to repentance!  Are you enquiring for the way of life?  Remember the words Dei Gratia, and never forget that by grace we are saved.  Grace always presupposes unworthiness in its object.  The province of grace ceases where merit begins:  what a cheering word is this to those of you who have no worth, no merit, no goodness whatever!  Crimes are forgiven, and follies are cured by our Redeemer out of mere free favor.  The word grace has the same meaning as our common term gratis:  Wickliffe’s prayer was, “Lord save me gratis.”  No works can purchase or procure salvation, but the heavenly Father giveth freely, and upbraideth not.

Grace comes to us through faith in Jesus.  Whosoever believeth on Him is not condemned.  O, sinner, may God give thee grace to look to Jesus and live. Look now, for today is the accepted time!

Harness The Good, Release The Bad

Harness The Good, Release The Bad

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things."  Philippians 4:8

Years ago there was a television comedy sketch where a comedian played a psychologist and his phrase he kept repeating was “harness the good, release the bad” and even though this was done in humor there is much truth to it.

Dwelling on junk that drags you down will drag you further down. This is a tactic of the enemy as he knows how to push our buttons on weak areas in our life. For instance, trying to get people to like you who have no interest is futile, and continuing to hound them and beg them sends them further away. Instead cherish friends who really like and care for you and don’t try to figure out why the others one don’t. It is a waste of time.

Release those things in your life that are not bringing you closer to Jesus. If something is causing you constant stress and turmoil it is obviously not of God. Pray and ask God to handle it.

PRAYER: Lord I thank you for helping me break strongholds that keep my mind occupied on areas that take me away from you. Help me let go of hurtful things and embrace the good things in life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Becky Juett Miller
God's Lemonade Stand
https://www.facebook.com/GodsLemonadeStand/
https://www.godslemonadestand.blogspot.com

The Resurrection

The Resurrection by C. I. Scofield

“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.” Matthew. 28:6.

Three Vital Truths

Next to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, His resurrection is the most important event in human history.  Indeed it may be said that three facts concerning Jesus Christ are so intimately related as to be of equal importance—His incarnation, His crucifixion and His resurrection.

Without the incarnation neither the crucifixion nor the resurrection would have been possible; (Luke 19:10) without the crucifixion the incarnation would have been of no avail for the salvation of a guilty world; (Hebrews 10:5-10) without the resurrection the fact of the incarnation, (John 12:24, 32, 33) and the efficacy of the (John 3:14) crucifixion would have lacked the attestation to which (Hebrews 9:22) Jesus Himself appealed as the final (Matthew 12:38-40) “sign.” (Romans 4:23-25)

The fact—Jesus rose

That Jesus rose from the dead has been called the best attested fact in human history. It rests upon the following concurrent testimony:

First, the personal witnesses of the resurrection were numerous, (1 Corinthians 15:5-8) they saw Him repeatedly, (John 20:14-29) knew Him intimately, knew His stature, features, (Matthew 28:16-17) the tones of His voice.  They were the holiest men the world ever saw, (Mark 16:9-11) incapable of falsehood. (Luke 24:10)  They were incredulous, hard to be convinced. (John 20:24-28)  They bore witness to the fact immediately, when their testimony, if false, could have been refuted.  Every true Christian is a personal witness that Jesus is alive.

The resurrection of Jesus proves His deity, “Declared to be the Son of God with power, (Romans 1:4) according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:”

Completes our justification, (Romans 4:25) “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification;”

Makes the believer’s own resurrection sure, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, (1 Thessalonians 4:14) even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him;”

Gives to the Church a living head, “And gave him to be the head over all things to the Church;” (Ephesians 1:22)

Restores to the sheep of God their great Shepherd, “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, (Hebrews 13:20) that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will;”

Establishes His High Priestly office, “Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

Gives the sinning believer an Advocate, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father.” (1 John 2:1)

Gives the Church a blessed hope, “Looking for that blessed hope.” (Titus 2:13)

And the earth a coming King, “And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David, (Luke 1:30-33) and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (Acts 15:14-16)

Preach the resurrection

Surely it is well that the tremendous fact of the resurrection of Christ should be restored, in our faith and motive, to its biblical prominence.  No one can read the Acts and the Epistles without seeing that the resurrection was, next to the cross, the central theme of the Apostolic preaching.

Modern denial

Today both the incarnation and the resurrection are denied by men who claim that such denial is possible within evangelical lines; but the Scriptures say that if Jesus did not rise there is no resurrection, our faith is vain, we are yet in our sins, and they who sleep in Jesus are perished. (1 Corinthians 15:17)

No wonder that around this truth the Apostles, by the Spirit, threw the sternest sanctions, as in the case of Hymenæus who, (1 Timothy 1:20) erring at this vital point, was delivered unto Satan that he might learn not to blaspheme. (2 Timothy 2:17-28)

Perhaps Peter best expresses the effect of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, when he says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again into a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:3)

That it was the rebirth of Christianity is, of course, patent to the reader of the Gospels and the Acts.  Nothing is more evident than that Christianity went into the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, with the body of Christ. (Luke 24:19)

But something occurred which suddenly lifted that group of sorrowing men and women into an ecstasy of faith and joy, and they said it was the coming again to life and activity of their Lord and Master.

The final proof

The fact that Christianity exists today proves that Jesus rose, but the final and unanswerable proof is the appearance of Jesus to Saul.

Harnack, the greatest of patristic scholars, contends that Saul was converted within ten years after the crucifixion.  The resurrection had been, during all those years, the very central subject of controversy.  This means that upon the denial of the resurrection all the dogmatism of Saul’s strong, positive nature had concentrated.

The slow years passed. (Acts 26:12-20)  Then, not to some credulous, wonder-loving peasant or myth-dreamer, but to the very arch-denier himself, scholar, thinker, man of action, man of strong tenacity of belief, of inflexible will—the unanswerable demonstration was given.

The man who, after this, doubts the fact of the resurrection is not accessible to conviction by proof concerning any fact which he does not wish to believe.

What the risen Christ is doing

The ministry of the risen Christ is in three parts:  He is Shepherd of the sheep of God, according to Psalm 23 and John 10; the High Priest of the redeemed, according to John 17 and Hebrews 7–8; the Head of the Church, “Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22-23)

As such He baptizes with the Spirit all who believe, (1 Corinthians 12:12-23) thus uniting them to His body, (1 Corinthians 12:8-11) endues them with gifts, guides them in service, (Acts 16:7) renewing their life from His own, and procures for them the mercies (Hebrews 7:25) needful for a pilgrim body in the world.

A caution

Never can the believer know the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, nor enter into spiritual rest and joy, until he comprehends, in some measure at least, this three-fold resurrection work of Christ.

There is a disproportionate attention given to the Jewish earth-ministry (Matthew 10:5-6) of our Lord during three and one half years in Judea and Galilee; (Matthew 15:24) and a consequent neglect of the mighty and varied ministry of the ascended Christ, (Romans 15:8) which has already lasted over nineteen hundred years.  “This ought ye to have done, and not to have left the other undone.”

About the Author: 

Cyrus Ingerson Scofield (August 19, 1843 – July 24, 1921) was an American theologian, minister, and writer whose best-selling “Schofield Reference Bible” popularized futurism and dispensationalism among fundamentalist Christians.

Scofield produced several major theological works. First, he wrote a book called Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, which expresses the principles of dispensational hermeneutics. Second, his annotated reference Bible became the standard for a generation. Finally, his Bible correspondence course made his teaching readily available around the world. All three of these works are still available today. Scofield’s impact has been magnified by his influence on Lewis Sperry Chafer, who founded Dallas Theological Seminary. DTS became the most prominent dispensational seminary in the world; its many high-profile graduates include Chuck Swindoll, Tony Evans, David Jeremiah, J. Vernon McGee, Hal Lindsey, and Bruce Wilkinson.

 

Thoughts on the Incarnation

By Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Editor’s Introduction

The season of the church calendar that begins, as Christmastide ends, is called Epiphanytide and continues until Lent begins.  The three main events focused on during the Epiphany season are the visit of the Magi, the baptism of Jesus, and Jesus’ miracle at the marriage at Cana.  The visit of the Magi is traditionally interpreted as symbolic of God’s revelation of himself to the Gentiles, and so one of the themes of the season is mission. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity also falls within the season, allowing another seasonal theme to be that of unity.

The Wise Men and the Incarnation

As soon as the wise men came to Jerusalem, they enquired, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?”  They were fully convinced that He was the King of the Jews, and that He had been but recently born, so they asked, “Where is He?”

In the case of these wise men, we see ignorance admitted.  Truly wise men are never above asking questions, because they are wise men.  Persons who have taken the name and degree of wise men, and are so esteemed, sometimes think it beneath them to confess any degree of ignorance, but the really wise think not so; they are too well instructed to be ignorant of their own ignorance.  Many men might have been wise if they had but been aware that they were fools.  The knowledge of our ignorance is the doorstep of the temple of knowledge. Some think they know, and therefore never know.  Had they known that they were blind, they would soon have been made to see; but because they say, “We see,” therefore their blindness remains upon them.

The wise men were not content with admitting their ignorance; but, in their case, there was information entreated. They thought it likeliest that Jesus would be known at the metropolitan city.  Was He not the King of the Jews? Where, then, would He be so well known as at the capital?  They probably asked the guards at the gate, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?”  But the guards laughed them to scorn, and replied, “We know no king but Herod.” Perhaps they met a loiterer in the streets, and to him they said, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” and he answered, “What care I for such crazy questions?  I am looking for a companion who will drink with me.”  Possibly, they asked a trader; but he sneered, and said, “Never mind kings, what will you buy, or what have you to sell?”  “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” said they to a Sadducee, and he replied, “Be not such fools as to talk in that fashion; or if you do, pray call on my religious friend, the Pharisee.”  They passed a woman in the streets, and asked, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” but she said, “My child is sick at home, I have enough to do to think of my poor babe; I care not who is born, or who beside may die.”  When they went to the very highest quarters, they obtained but little information; yet they were not content till they had learned all that could be known concerning the new-born King.

They were not satisfied with merely getting to Jerusalem.  They might have said, “Ah! now we are in the land where the Child is born, we will be thankful, and sit down contentedly.”  They heard that He was born at Bethlehem, so they journeyed thither; but we do not find that, when they reached that village, they said, “This is a favored spot, we will sit down here.”  Not at all; they wanted to know where the house was in which they could find the King whom they had come so far to seek.  They saw the star stand still above the village inn, and they knew by that sign that the new-born King was there, but that did not satisfy them.  No; they rested not till they saw the Child Himself, and worshipped Him.

The Wise Men, What They Teach Us

There is much to be learned from the action of these wise men; so let us, in thought, follow them.  They have come to the house where the young Child is.  What will they do?  Will they stand still, and look at the star?  No; they enter in.  The star still shines, but they are not afraid of losing its radiance, for they have come where they can behold the Sun of righteousness.  They lift the latch, and enter the lowly residence of the Babe.  They see the star no longer, and they have no need to see it, for there is “He that is born King of the Jews.”  Now the true Light has shone upon them from the face of the Child; they behold the incarnate God.

How wise you will be if, when you have been led to the place where Christ is, by any man, you do not rest in his leadership, but resolve to see Christ for yourselves!  How much I long that you may enter into the fellowship of the mystery, pass through the door, and come and behold the young Child, and bow before Him!  Our sorrow is that so many are so unwise as to be content with seeing us.  We are only their guides, but they are apt to make us their end.  We point the way, but they do not follow the road; they stand gazing upon us.  It was not so with the wise men.  The star had done its work, and passed away; but Jesus remained, and they came unto Him.

These men proved that they were wise because, when they saw the Child, they worshipped Him.  Theirs was not curiosity gratified, but devotion exercised.  We, too, must worship the Savior, or we shall never be saved by Him.  He has not come to put away our sins, and yet to leave us ungodly and self-willed.  Oh, you who have never worshipped the Christ of God, may you be led to do so!  He is God; therefore, adore Him.

Was God ever seen in such a worshipful form before?  Behold, He bows the heavens; He rides upon the wings of the wind; He scatters flames of fire; He speaks, and His dread artillery shakes the hills.  Who would not adore the great and terrible Jehovah?  But is it not much better to behold Him here, allied to your nature, wrapped like other babes in swaddling-clothes, tender, feeble, next of kin to your own self?  Will you not worship God when He thus comes down to you, and becomes your Brother, born for your salvation?

You cannot properly worship a Christ whom you do not know; but when you think of Jesus Christ, whose goings forth were of old, from everlasting, the eternally-begotten Son of the Father, and then see Him coming here to be a man of the substance of His mother, and know and understand why He came, and what He did when He came, then you fall down, and worship Him.

“Son of God, to Thee we bow, Thou art Lord, and only Thou; Thou the woman’s promised seed; Thou who didst for sinners bleed.”

We worship “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”  Our faith sees Him go from the manger to the cross, and from the cross right up to the throne; and there, where Jehovah dwells, amidst the insufferable glory of the Divine presence, stands the very same Person who slept in the manger at Bethlehem; there He reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords.  Our souls worship Him. Thou art our Prophet; every word Thou sayest, we believe, and desire to obey. Thou art our Priest; Thy sacrifice hath made us free from guilt, we are washed white in the fountain of Thy blood. Thou art our King; give Thy commands, and we will obey them; lead Thou on, and we will follow. Thou art God, and we worship Thee.

After worshipping Christ, the wise men presented their gifts to Him.  One broke open his casket of gold, and laid it at the feet of the new-born King.  Another presented frankincense,—one of the precious products of the country from which they came; and others laid myrrh at the Redeemer’s feet.  All these they gave to Him to prove the sincerity of their worship; they gave substantial offerings with no stingy hand.

These wise men, when they worshipped Christ, did not permit it to be a mere empty-handed adoration; and truly wise men are still liberal men.  Consecration is the best education.  It is thought, by some, to be wise to be always receiving; but our Savior said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

God judges our hearts by that which spontaneously comes from them; hence, the “sweet cane bought with money” is acceptable to Him when given freely.  He doth not tax His saints for His offerings, nor weary them with His demands for incense; but He delights to see in them that true love which cannot express itself in mere words, but must use gold, and frankincense, and myrrh,—works of love and deeds of self-denial and generosity,—to be the emblems of its gratitude.  We shall never get into the heart of happiness till we become unselfish and generous; we have but chewed the husks of religion, which are often bitter; we have never eaten of the sweet kernel until we have felt the love of God constraining us to make sacrifices for Him.  There is nothing in the true believer’s power which he would not do for his Lord; nothing in our substance which we would not give to Him, nothing in ourselves which we would not devote to His service.

 


Christian Military Fellowship

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Encouraging Men and Women in the United States Armed Forces, and their families, to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

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