The last three week’s have been busy. I’ve been in California starting work on a doctoral program at my Alma Mater, and —at last— it’s time to go home.
My work here is almost done, and I have to catch that plane, but there are so many loose ends I need to tie up.
Will I be ready in time? Either way I have to go.
Revelation 22:12 contain some of the very last words of Jesus Christ to mankind:
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.”
Quite simply, are you ready?
Either way, when he comes, it’s time to go.
For those who have rejected his rule, it will be time to face their judgement.
For everyone who will repent of sin, turning from it to God for forgiveness, trusting only in his sacrifice on the cross to cleanse them and make them righteous… it will be the day of undeserved reward!
What would you say about a church that lost its love for the lost?
Many churches today would claim to be all about loving people. If you were to ask what it means to express that love, you might be surprised how little you would hear about telling the good news to lost people!
If we’re going to show Biblical love for this world, we need to have a crystal clear understanding of two key truths:
1. People are lost.
Jesus said it plainly, that he came to seek and to save the lost. Put another way, he said he came to call sinners to repentance. The reality the Bible so clearly teaches is that every sinner is lost–cut off from fellowship with God by sin, and heading for a lost eternity–the punishment prepared for everyone who lives as a rebel against their Creator. That’s lost!
It’s a little bit tragic then, when churches try to ‘love’ people by simply being nice to them, or by trying to meet their physical needs. If Christians actually understand God’s message of salvation from sin through Christ, it’s spectacularly unloving to merely meet people’s physical needs, and not warn them of their danger and tell them the gospel.
No one is saved by joining our group!
If people could be saved by liking Christians and wanting to be part of the church, then it would make sense for churches to concentrate on being as likeable as possible. But they can’t. To be saved, people need to realise they’re lost-rebels, and repent, believing in the gospel message. No one is saved by joining our group!
2. Lost people need the good news.
The greatest need for the people of the world today, is the same as the greatest need for the people of the world in Christ’s day. Poverty has always existed, but Jesus didn’t tell the church to go fix poverty. Sickness has always cursed the world, but Christ did not commission the church to “Go into all the world and build hospitals in every nation.”
Let’s be clear. The greatest need the world faces is its lost-ness, and the one, unchangeable commission given to the church (Part three of our threefold purpose for the church in this series) is to preach the gospel.
Don’t get me wrong, when hearts are changed by the gospel, hospitals will be built. There is nothing wrong with wanting to build a hospital to bless people–in fact, it’s all good–it’s just not the purpose of the church. True, it may flow from the work of the church, but the mission of the church has always been to deal with the greatest need, and that’s the gospel. All the social change we could wish for is intrinsically linked to the transformation of individual selfish human hearts.
making poverty history is not the goal of the church, but when selfishness and laziness are history, poverty gives way to industry and generosity
Viewed this way, making poverty history is not the goal of the church, but when selfishness and laziness are history, poverty gives way to industry and generosity. Individuals transformed by the gospel will always want to relieve poverty and sickness – which is all good, but when churches allow social projects to displace the preaching of the gospel as their primary focus, the greatest need of mankind is left unmet.
Thankfully one Day, poverty will indeed be history, but in the meantime the mission of the church is to rescue lost souls from an eternity of misery.
“New Thought” prosperity preacher – forerunner of Joel Osteen & Co.
Ps 23 (The Prosperity Version)
The Lord is my banker; my credit is good.
He maketh me to lie down in the consciousness of omnipresent abundance;
He giveth me the key to his strongbox.
He restoreth my faith in his riches;
He guideth me in the paths of prosperity for His name’s sake.
Yea though I walk in the very shadow of debt,
I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me;
Thy silver and Thy gold, they secure me.
Thou preparest a way for me in the presence of the collector;
The fillest my wallet with plenty; my measure runneth over.
Surely goodness and plenty will follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall do business in the name of the Lord forever.
OK – so you can hardly believe it… but yes, that was published in a book about prosperity by Charles Fillmore who died in 1948.
Shocking? Yes. Blasphemy? Yes. Ahead of his time? Definitely!
I decree and declare, a lot of hot air, and I wonder why God doesn’t answer my prayer. I have asked him for riches He must surely agree That he ought now to do what is best now for me. … Continue reading →
“Merry Christmas…” “Happy Christmas…” Will somebody please tell the world that it’s not going to happen this year… just like it didn’t happen last year!
Forgive me for playing Scrooge for a moment, but it is just a bit ironic that while more people than ever are wishing each other happiness associated with Christmas, practically no one here in Britain seems to know anything of the joy that God designed in the Christmas message!
I’m not exactly in favour of saying it, but “Happy Holidays” is at least a bit more accurate a wish for most people. All the vast majority can expect over the next few days is a short lived blast of the pleasures of food, drink and family-fun.
The harsh reality, of course, is that all the festivities in the world don’t actually solve our problems, and while postponing them for a few days can feel good at the time, we can’t escape the mess we live in. When we surface after Christmas, all the best gifts that this world can offer leave us wondering if it’s all just glitter and ribbons on an empty cardboard box.
“Good news of great joy”
When you hear that the angel announced to the shepherds that Jesus’ birth was “good news of great joy that would be for all the people,” you might be forgiven for wondering what happened to all the joy!
The tragedy is that our generation has missed the joy of the Christmas message simply because it’s almost completely lost the original Christmas message that God designed for our joy.
The double tragedy is that the message is not difficult to grasp. Understanding it is as easy as understanding two words.
It’s my prayer that this Christmas will be a truly happy one for many here in Britain as people come to understand this message of joy!
May this Christmas message from GraceLife London bless you in that way as these two words that hold the key to understanding the first Christmas are unfolded for you.
Like the absent minded arsonists in this video, most people seem to forget that their movements are being constantly recorded and will one day be used as evidence against them.
How terrible it will be to be in the dock and have the video of your own inbuilt CCTV replayed. There will be no excuses possible, and no question about the verdict, just the crushing realisation that you’ve done what you knew was so terribly wrong, and now you’ve been caught, exposed and are about to be punished.
Thankfully God offers us all the most remarkable terms for all who’ll accept them:
– Repent of your sin, confessing it and turning from it now, before you’re brought to His court. – Beg Him for his forgiveness, and he takes the punishment on Himself, placing it upon his Son who died in the place of sinners!
Now that’s quite an offer, considering what we all have recorded!
Have you ever wondered about the role of your work ethic and your conscience in enabling effective prayer?
Definitely you’ve experienced this: that awful moment when you realise that you need God’s help, but haven’t been doing what you should.
Like the beggars we are, we go back to the throne of grace at such times, cringing perhaps that we need to cry for another demonstration of God’s unparalleled mercy… but conscious all along that we also probably need his discipline if we’re ever going to turn from our repeated failures to do what is right.
Thankfully God is unimaginably patient and knows we’re just dust, and if you don’t yet know the delights of Psalm 103 for cringing beggars, let me encourage you to go there now!
But God does discipline, and that can include unanswered prayer. No doubt you’ve seen a striking difference in this respect in some Christians lives. There are those individuals that stand out from the crowd, people who seem to be striving in everything they do to behave in that noble, honourable, excellent way that leaves them with a clean conscience, and God seems to especially attend to their prayers.
By contrast perhaps, when you want to pray, you immediately call to mind all the time you waste, your lack of prayer and study, failure to visit the sick, remember those in prison… and the list goes on.
Can you really expect God to answer your prayers?
“Well yes,” you say, and you call to mind the many times God has helped you after your cries for mercy just before you step out again to serve him, in faith and dependence on his grace. Yet in the back of your mind you know that there is a connection between our godliness and the effectiveness of our prayers, after all “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much,” is there in James 5.
Another passage that deserves more attention is Hebrews 13:18-19 where there’s a clear connection between expecting prayer to be effective, and the conscience of the one asking for prayer!
“Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honourably in all things. I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.” (Heb 13:18-19 ESV)
Pray for us, says the writer to the Hebrews, because we are sure that we have a clean conscience… since/in that we’re desiring to behave honourably in all things. What he then goes on to show is the most amazing confidence in the effectiveness of their prayers, fully expecting an earlier visit to them than could otherwise be hoped for!
What if we emphasised God’s amazing grace to beggars like us to the point that we ignore the reality that God disciplines those he loves, and that his discipline can include unanswered prayer? What if there was something we needed to doin order to be able to know answered prayer?
Would that make our answered prayers something received by works and nullify God’s grace? Not at all! In just the same way when we initially repent of our sin, it is only by grace that we’re saved, through faith in Christ’s sacrifice, and God himself has to grant the repentance to us… yet there is a clear connection between our repentance and our salvation! When we delay our repentance, God delays our conversion! If we refuse to repent, we will not be saved.
So can we conclude that as long as we refuse to deal with the items on our conscience, God may just refuse to answer our prayers?
If so – there’s a clear connection between our work ethic, our conscience, and effective prayer.