To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘The Gospel’ Category

How Can The Unsaved Live?

I am pondering here upon the experience of being a unbeliever and wondering how they can go on in life. When I say unbeliever I am referring to those who do not acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Saviour; those who have not repented of their sins and believed in Jesus as their Saviour.

Now life can be tough for the believer; sometimes very tough. We read of Paul and Barnabas how they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said. (Acts 14:21b-22). Many hardships can be experienced by those believing in the Lord. However, always there is hope. There is hope of eternal blessings secured by our Lord and Saviour which we will fully enter into by-and-by. Moreover, there is knowledge that our sovereign kind Lord is watching over us to work out all things for His glory. 

However, for the unbeliever there is none of this. They are ultimately cast out on the sea of life, with all its uncertainty, without any sure and certain hope concerning the future. They do not have faith and thereby they do not have God and that means no hope. Amidst all the camouflaging of eternal issues and the pursuit of the pleasures of this life, there still remains the great uncertainty of death and beyond.

Moreover, they have no anchor for the soul in the turbulence of life. There are no everlasting arms underneath them promising to strengthen them and comfort them.

Oh what a fearful position it is to be unsaved. Is that you? You may have plenty of religion, but if you do not have Christ then all is not well. So come and find Christ as Saviour and enter into the joyous privileges of being a Christian.

The Gospel And You

As we come to the end of 2018 I simply ask: are you saved? The great rescue plan of God needs to be embraced by us all or else we eternally perish. The issues at stake could not be bigger. Life is passing away for us all. We have a limited number of years on this earth and then eternity dawned.

Let us get to the heart of the matter. The great problem we have is that of our sin. God in all of His beauty and holiness has banished us from His beautiful holy presence because our sin is repulsive to Him. Our plight is desperate and is summed up in Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. Condemned to eternal non-hearing by our God is the dreadful consequence of our sin.

Oh what shall we do? All our best efforts are contaminated by our sins. We are left hopeless and helpless.

And then we hear the good news of the gospel. A Saviour has been provided; he is the long-promised one. His name is Jesus and he comes to save his people from their sins. He, as the sinless one, goes to bear the sins of many. Through His death on the cross, He, the eternally alive one, submits to death that we might have His eternal life. He dies my death that i might have his life. Such love.

So come and embrace the rescuer of the rescue plan; come and repent of your sins and believe in Jesus Christ. And as you know sins forgiven, you know eternal acceptance with God. You will be embraced by Him forever and He will not let you go. Oh what good news this is.

May we all be rejoicing in this great salvation as we come to the end of 2018

 

Would I Wish To Be Accursed.

Paul has explained the glorious gospel of the glorious grace of our glorious God and then declares with overwhelming profundity in Romans 9:1-3a:

I speak the truth in Christ – I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit – I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. 

What a statement that is. He has such an overwhelming gospel love for his own people, the nation of Israel, that he would even wish himself to be accursed should that lead them into blessing in Christ.

Imagine that! He would even be happy to take eternal punishment through bearing the curse of God because of his sin. He would be willing to endure being cut off from Christ in order that others would enjoy eternal gospel blessing.

I must confess I stumble at that, I hesitate at that and yet I am overwhelmingly challenged by that. I feel that my heart is way away from the heart of the apostle Paul. My love for others is pitiful in comparison to his love.

But oh for some stirring in my heart to have some of this gospel love for my family, for my friends, for my colleagues, for my community, for my nations. Oh Lord stir me with gospel love.

The Power of The Gospel

Here is a great video displaying the power of the gospel. I found it so encouraging as how the same gospel that has won my heart has such transforming power to create a people for himself. I encourage you to spare 45 minutes.

You Have Got To be Saved.

The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved (Jer. 8:20),’ are the somewhat pathetic words of the nation of Judah. The question I want to ask is; Are they your words as well? They have a certain pertinence in that you are reading them in the November newsletter. That means, very literally, the summer has ended and harvest-time has past. It means as well that another year will soon be passed away. So is it true that you, yes you, are still not saved?

To make any issue of you being saved, we must immediately explain what it is to be saved. When the Philippian jailer was in a state of shock after an earthquake had shaken his prison he was forced to be suddenly faced with his weakness before God (see Acts 16:25-28). As a result he was fearful of what that meant for his future. Through the earthquake he had some taste of the great impending judgement of God and he was afraid. It is in that context that Paul mentions about how to be saved. So Paul urged him to “believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31)”. Through believing in Jesus he will be saved from the real and anticipated suffering that comes under and through the wrath of God.

To be saved then, is very much connected with being rescued. It is about deliverance from danger; it is about salvation. When Paul said to the jailer that he must believe on the Lord Jesus he was indicating to the jailer that there was an escape from the terrible rigours of hell. But how is it that Jesus delivers us from this perilous future. It is because Jesus died for our sins. As Isaiah prophetically says But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities (Is. 53.:5a). The wrath that the jailer anticipated comes because of sin; my sin. However, the Lord Jesus died to take away our sins. So when we believe in Him truly we are turning from the foulness of our sins, and realising that we can be accepted with God and delivered from the wrath to come in and through Jesus Christ. This is salvation and as Peter declared Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Only in Jesus can we be saved.

So returning to our original question about being saved we ask, in an alternative fashion: has Jesus saved you? It is so important that you face this question. If you are not saved you face eternity under the righteous judgement of the Lord God Almighty because you have offended His holy majesty and decided that you don’t want him. This is terrible and it reminds us how offensive our sin and rebellion are to God. So you must be saved.

To be saved you need to realise the vile character of your sins and turn from them. You then need to look to Jesus Christ who died on the cross to bring salvation. You must turn to Him and believe. If you do then you will be saved.

Oh you must do this. Let nothing stop you. Which leads me to ask this November of you: What is stopping you if you are not saved. Salvation is on offer as God’s great gift to you. Is there a problem of understanding it? But it could not be simpler. You have a problem and that problem is your sin. There is one remedy for your problem and that is found in Jesus Christ. So heed the Word of Isaiah 45:22 ‘Turn to me and be saved all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.

You say that you are just fine without Jesus Christ and you don’t understand this fuss about God, judgment and eternity. If this is your case then I urge to you to think and re-think. You may persuade yourself that life is OK here, but what of God and His judgment? His eternal judgment is real for those who die in their sins outside of Christ. If you die in your sins you face an angry God, fall under His judgement and anticipate an eternity of suffering: will that not make you to think?

Finally, you may have been made thoughtful about these matters through reading this, but you are thinking: I don’t know if I am saved. To which I say go and seek counsel from a Christian you trust. But most important go to God to seek to sort our the matter with Him. In particular test yourself by reading through 1 John. John said of his writings in that book: I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13). So read I John to test whether you are really saved

And if you are saved. Then praise Him for His goodness. Thank Him for His salvation. And go live for Him.

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of November 2016)

 

The Prosperity Gospel.

The Prosperity Gospel holds sway in a vast number of churches. It can also easily hold sway in our churches and our hearts as well. The Prosperity Gospel is very attractive and very popular, but it is a false teaching which is very harmful to those who fall under its influence.

What is the Prosperity Gospel? It is the message which declares that if you become a Christian then you will have health, wealth and happiness. Moreover, if you become a really good Christian then you will have lots and lots of health wealth and happiness. Accordingly, in order to seek to prove its truth the leaders of church and ministries, where this message declared, must be very wealthy, very healthy and very happy.

What underlies the message? Three issues cause the message to deviate from the truth of the Bible. These are wrong perspectives on God, His blessings and His desires or His people.

  • God is seen as a nice God who always brings nice things into the lives of His children. So if you have unpleasant things in your life then that proves God is not happy with you.
  • His blessings are viewed in a worldly way. The way of the world is that I am happy and I get what I want. So God’s blessings are viewed in terms of a healthy bank account a fit an healthy body and happy circumstances.
  • God is interested in me having a happy and comfortable life

Whereupon we must ask if these perspectives are not right then what should be the proper view of God, His blessings and His desire for his people.

  • God is the true god I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord (Jer. 9:24b). God is not focussed on exercising niceness. He is focussed on exercising grace and truth. So we notice of our Lord Jesus as He entered this world that he was full of grace and truth (see John 1:14).
  • Our blessings are not to be measured according to the measure of this world. Our blessings are connected to another world. Our blessings are not in ourselves, but in Christ (see Eph. 1:3)
  • God is interested in me being holy and having all my satisfaction in Himself.

The agenda of the Prosperity Gospel is based on the agenda of this world, whilst the agenda of the true gospel is focussed on the world to come. In working out His agenda, so very often God gives His people very painful circumstances in this world. God’s people do suffer. The Book of Job in the Old Testament with all of its 1070 verses, is devoted to this theme. The question that underlies this book is: Does Job trust God for what he can get from Him (the worldly way) or does he trust Him because of who He is (the godly way)?

In the New Testament we immediately see how God’s agenda is different with the beginning of the ministry of our Lord Jesus. At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him (Mark 1:12-13). The Spirit of God sent the Lord to a hard place with hard experiences. But note that angels came from another world to sustain Him in the hardship.

And then we see with Paul how God sent a thorn in the flesh. Whatever that was, it was not nice. Let us read Paul’s account in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 as he looks back on this experience:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul suffered so that he would know the power of God.

We need to have these things rammed into our beings. We so easily think that God is being good to me only when I have good things and He is only answering my prayers when I get what I want. Yes thank the Lord when you do have blessings from him. Every meal you receive, for example, is an indication of His blessing. But remember you may have far more to thank God for through Him giving you a broken leg or him giving you a difficult colleague at work. This is because we learn far more when circumstances drive us to God than when everything is comfortable and we trust in our situations.

In the light of these things. I raise three concerns:

  • So many people are thinking they believe in Christ, but they do not believe in the true Christ. Christ died for the forgiveness of our sins so that we might be like him. To believe that Christ died to bring great things to me is a lie and takes people to eternal hell.
  • When bad things come into their lives so many (so-called?) Christians treat it as a blip in life and can say nothing about it. But when good things they are gushing with happiness. The true Christian knows that God is good in both and can worship Him in and through both.
  • The false gospel of prosperity promises you contentment in what you have and fails. The true gospel offers you acceptance in Christ and eternal blessing in Him and succeeds.

So be finished with the teachings of the likes of Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, David Oyedepo and Enoch Adeboye. But more subtly be finished with any thought that God is only working good when I am passing exams or earning lots of money or achieving lots of things.

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of September 2016)

 

True Gospel / False Gospel

Some pertinent observations here as Tim Challies examines a Joel Osteen sermon.

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