Hell and everlasting punishment

hellClick here for recording of Ian Thomas preaching on Hell and Everlasting Punishment

Today’s subject is a solemn one, the most solemn that you will ever hear from me but for us to have revival we need to wake up out of our slumber and focus our energies upon the most important things of life.  The reason Christians today are without backbones are because these truths are no longer heard nor believed.  I said previously that revival comes when old Scriptural truths are regained and the topic for today is one that needs to come back.  It maybe as a result of hearing this that revival will come because we will actually push forward with the preaching of the Gospel.  Perhaps we should not be so much praying for revival but that God will send labourers into His harvest field.  I will say again – unless there is a return to the truths of Scripture we will not see revival.  So today’s topic is the Bible truth about hell and everlasting punishment.  There is much in Scripture especially through what Jesus has to say on this.

John 3:18 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:36 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

What needs to be set forth is the awfulness of it, the hopelessness of it, the unendurableness of it, the endlessness of it.  To keep quiet about it or to ignore it is just about as irresponsible as one can be. 1 Peter 4:17–18 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” It is our duty to warn people to flee from the wrath that is to come. Revelation 6:17 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

There are many arguments today made against this doctrine believing that God’s character could not possibly send people to hell.  There are people who actively go round today espousing the opposite – a guy called Rob Bell is one who was Pastor of Mars Hill – he now goes round universities undoing this doctrine.  I had tutors at Uni who also believed that there was no such thing, even saying Jesus didn’t even preach it.  And many taught by them follow this line of thought.  I’m not sure how this is justified for Jesus says in Matthew 25:41 41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels”.

God has sent throughout Scripture punishment regularly as we read in 2 Peter 2:4–9 ‘4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; 6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; 7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— 9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.’  It is no wonder that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom.  It is just inescapable that God will judge and bring people to punishment.  God is love but it is not the sentimental kind but is holy and hates evil.  It is not a love that simply lets people of the hook. Psalm 5:5 ‘The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity.’  How often we find that God is angry and full of wrath.  He did not create humankind for them to do their own thing though he has given them freedom to choose – but people in their rebellion have shook the fist at God but there will be a day of recompense.  God in His mercy has made a way of escape, if we would have it.  Mercy is always shown before judgment.  But if it is spurned, as it often is, then judgment will come.

Some say that God is unjust to sentence people to an eternity in hell.  But who are we to judge? The awfulness of sin is glossed over not realising that God cannot bear it nor look at it and will not put up with it.  Those of us who have been saved realize just how much we deserve eternal punishment.

Some say that the punishment won’t go on forever for God will destroy people in the lake of fire, that is, make them cease to exist.  But the word for destroy in Scripture never means to annihilate for the Greek word for destroy is elsewhere translated lost – as for instance the lost sheep of Israel – but Israel still exist!  If death is annihilation, or should be translated as such, how then are we resurrected again to come before the Judgement Seat?  Scripture speaks only of punishment and torment – and it does not have an end.  Scripture speaks in Isaiah 33:14 ‘14The sinners in Zion are afraid; Fearfulness has seized the hypocrites: “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” will there be in eternity.’  It says here people will live with the fire forever.  Time and again in 13 places Scripture records Jesus as saying there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Sin is ultimately punished two ways: either by the blood of Jesus or the fires of Hell. The fires of Hell and the blood of Jesus in a sense go together: they are the two final ways God chose to deal with sin. The fires of Hell do not truly satisfy the justice of God. This is the reason why Hell is eternal. If the fires of Hell satisfied the justice of God we could be sure that Hell would not last forever. But only the blood of Christ completely satisfies God’s justice.[1]

Hebrews 9:27 27 ‘And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.’  Ecclesiastes 11:9 ‘Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment.’  When I see the party goers on Fridays and Saturdays, yes, they have permission to go and enjoy – but, be warned, judgment will be passed on their actions.

Acts 17:31 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”   And this day is described in Revelation 20:11–15 11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

I cannot read this without being afraid for the people of this world.  For so broad is the way to destruction that almost all 7.1 billion are on their way to judgment day without Jesus being their Saviour. Romans 3:10–12: “As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.””

There is no escape when we die.  John 8:21 Then Jesus said to them [His enemies] again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.” Once they died in their sins, it was impossible for them to go to heaven and be with Jesus. In John 13:36: “Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.”” Peter will go to Heaven – His enemies will not.

In this passage we read at the beginning about Lazarus and the rich man we gain many insights into what happens to the unbelievers: Luke 16:19–31 19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ”

This holding place of the dead has two compartments – one for the wicked and one for the righteous.  Scripture plainly declares that the only ones that are righteous are the ones who have been justified by faith (Rom 5.1).  Between them there is no going from one compartment to the other. The rich man is being tormented in a flame.  As confirmation of this: Matthew 13:37–42 37 He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

There they remain until the judgment, when they shall be resurrected will be brought before the Great White Throne to receive their final sentence that we have also already read in Rev 20 where if their name is not written in the book of life the lake of fire is the last destination, forever, in a conscious torment, remembering as did the Rich Man in our original passage the life he led and regretting it.

For believers who have died and for those who will friends, let us be clear: 1 Thessalonians 4:13 13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.

We were those who at one time had no hope too: Ephesians 2:12–13 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Now we, 1 Thessalonians 1:10 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

John 5:24: ““Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”

There are many, many other Scriptures I can mention in relation to this subject but even though this is not an exhaustive study I still think that the point has been made.

1)    The first response to all this is surely to make sure that we are Christians.  Let us make sure we have the way of escape.

2)    Second we have to be eternally grateful that Jesus has made a way of escape where we are now a people of hope.

3)    Third, we have to use all our means, all our prayers, all our efforts to make known the Good News that there is a great Salvation to be had.  We need to be aware of the plight of the 7.1 billion souls on this planet.  A day should not go by that when we look upon our friends, our family, our neighbours, the people whom we meet, our colleagues, those we see on TV, our politicians and so on we will remember that one day before God they will stand.

A prayer:

Lord, wake us up to the plight of the billions on this planet and make every effort to bring them into your Kingdom.  Move us with the same compassion that you had for you came to seek and save the lost.  Fill us with you Holy Spirit and empower us.  Send workers into your harvest field, Lord, and bring in the sheaves to honour and glorify you.  Thank you that the invitation is still open.  Thank you for your patience.  Have patience with us too as we seek to do your will and disciple the nations baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


[1] Kendall, R. T. (2004). The Judgment Seat of Christ (16). Fearn, UK: Christian Focus.

All Scripture is quoted from the NKJV

Hymns, Prayers and Encouragements 17/03/13

Hymns Prayers and EncouragementsIn God we can trust all our lives.

Day by day and with each passing moment, strength I find to meet my trials here; trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment, I’ve no cause for worry or for fear. He whose heart is kind beyond all measure gives unto each day what He deems best—lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure, mingling toil with peace and rest.

Ev’ry day the Lord Himself is near me with a special mercy for each hour; all my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me, He whose name is Counsellor and Pow’r. The protection of His child and treasure is a charge that on Himself He laid: “As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,” this the pledge to me He made.

Lina Sandell Berg, 1832–1903

Pope Francis – we welcome you! (Right?)

Pope Francis – should he be welcomed?

I am alarmed at how quick evangelical Christians have been to welcome Pope Francis.  Does the fact we have a new one change the organisation?  Or does it change the message it brings?  I think not.

It might seem like a good thing to do (to welcome Pope Francis) but it gives credibility to the Roman Catholic Church (RC) and its leadership. We may agree with the RC in relation to many moral matters (and perhaps disagree) but I can say the same in relation to my Muslim friends and the Islamic faith.

In relation to doctrine, which is the most important part for Christians, the RC have little in common with evangelicalism.  This is especially true in the veneration of Mary and the Saints, and in the 7 Sacraments. Ignorance of what the RC teaches is a problem. We willingly call them brothers and sisters in Christ.  How?  By finding the lowest common denominator (normally morality) for unity.  High profile Christians, such as Jonathan Edwards of the Baptist Union of Great Britain among others, are giving credibility to the RC.  This does not help but muddy the water.   This is not to say that there are no brothers and sisters in Christ in the RC but, I think, ought not to be.

Salvation by works (what RC teaches) is not what evangelicals (protestants) believe – but works as a result of salvation, in Christ alone.

So, glossing over ‘the much that divides us’ is not helpful but blurs the line even more. The RC Gospel is another Gospel. And the Apostle Paul said that was anathema.  This is the strongest condemnation anyone could give – basically saying ‘be condemned to hell’.

Now, I do not know Pope Francis and he may genuinely be a nice guy, humble, and loving but that is irrelevant if the Gospel is not right to start with.  I have met my share of non-believers who would seem more Christian than Christians.  And some Christians who, unfortunately, give non-Christians a run for their money in their lifestyles.

New Pope or not – the Catholic Church cannot change in regard to its essential doctrines.  Therefore evangelical Christians who take the Bible for their authority (or those who claim that Jesus is) cannot have unity with the RC, its new Pope or any of its adherents – except those who truly have found faith in Jesus- and this in spite of the teaching (doctrine) of the RC.

And the main reason for well-known evangelicals welcoming Pope Francis along with many within evangelical circles is because of their lack of knowledge of Scripture or the ignoring of it or the denigration of it.  No wonder we are sleeping instead of sounding the alarm.

On another point, wholly unrelated(!) his politics does not (yet?) [in response to an article about praying that this will be a ‘man of peace for the world’ in the Baptist Times] make him a man of peace for inflammatory comments he made last year in relation to the Falkland Islands.  It reveals nationalism which would be abhorrent to most, especially Brits.  And, of course, there will be a man of peace in due time who will be anything but, but to whom the whole world will go.

Do we welcome the new Pope? No.  He is a man who will influence many – and I think that that will not be a good thing for it will harden hearts against the true Gospel.

Hymns, Prayers and Encouragements 10/3/13

Hymns Prayers and EncouragementsPrayer is not just a time for making requests to God though it includes this – but it is about our relationship to God.  The following hymn is as a result of a prayer meeting that had been attended by the author:

1.

Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray; this is my heart cry day unto day; I long to know Thy will and Thy way; teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray.

2.

Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer, here ’mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care; men lost and dying, souls in despair—O give me power, power in prayer!

3.

My weakened will, Lord, Thou canst renew; my sinful nature Thou canst subdue; fill me just now with power anew, power to pray and power to do!

4.

Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray; Thou art my Pattern day unto day; Thou art my surety now and for aye; teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray.

Chorus:

Living in Thee, Lord, and Thou in me; constant abiding, this is my plea; grant me Thy power boundless and free: Power with men and power with Thee.

Albert S. Reitz, 1879–1966

Revival – Can we have it again?

RevivalRevival – Is it possible in the UK (and elsewhere)?

Matthew 17:14–21 (NKJV) 14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

“I am profoundly convinced that the greatest need in the world today is revival in the Church of God. Yet Alas! the whole idea of revival seems to have become strange to so many good Christian people. There are some who even seem to resent the very idea, and actually speak and write against it. Such an attitude is due to both a serious misunderstanding of the Scriptures, and to a woeful ignorance of the history of the Church. Anything therefore that can instruct God’s people in this matter is very welcome.”[1]

Today I want to talk about revival.  Today in the UK and especially in Wales there is a move away from the Church and to personal religion or spirituality that is not the religion of Jesus or revealed in the Bible.  It looks like all hope is lost for our present generation.   It could be that we don’t actually realise what is going on but there is a battle for the hearts and minds of the people and the Church is not winning but rather is compromising God’s truth so that we can be more palatable to the people of the world.

But according to Acts 1:8 (NKJV) and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.  We have the uncompromising truth that is the Gospel.

Right on our doorstep as a Church homes directly around the Church and the whole estate, village or town – our Jerusalem, in our Country – our Judea and Samaria.  That is not a small number let alone the fact we have the ability to reach 536,600,000 English speaking people on the internet – which is our ends of the world – and, of course, any other language that we know – so what are we using the internet for?  We have a massive mission field – for what are we using Facebook, twitter, blogs, Pininterest, Google+ and the rest for?  Are these gateways into the lives of others being used for our own entertainment alone or do we look for ways to be Christ in the world? We don’t need to travel anywhere for we have the world on our laptop and mobile devices.  We are called witnesses to Jesus – it is a mammoth task – but with God on our side the tide of godlessness even in our nation can be turned.

Ephesians 6 makes it clear that we are in a war against Satan and his host of demons.  Our fight is not against other human beings.  Ephesians 6:12 says: (NKJV) 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

And Satan has bound the many.  The war is being done in the Spiritual Realm.  Binding the strong man, that is the devil, to get to his people to make them children of the living God.  How can this be done except by prayer and fasting?

Sleeping angelIn September 2011, my wife, Irena, and I were in Macedonia and we went to Church – and to be honest I was not expecting to hear much of the message as my Macedonian is pretty rusty now (I was formally a missionary in Macedonia) – but I asked God to help me understand anyway.  But before the preaching a man was invited up who was an American, and he said that we should be praying for revival in Macedonia – and then he went on to say that he had a woman friend who had visited the Church that Evan Roberts, the 1904 Welsh Revivalist, was at – and whilst she was there – and this is what the man said – so I cannot vouch for the credibility – she had a vision of a sleeping angel – and she asked God why is the angel sleeping – and God told her that the angel is sleeping because no one is praying for revival.

My friends, I do not know if the story is true or not – but that man could not have known that there was someone there from a Welsh Church in the congregation – so I took it as a word from God regardless.  Even if it were not a direct word from Heaven it is plain that Scripture indicates that this is how we will see a change in our nation.

In the passage that heads this page there are two things that had to be done for the demon to leave were prayer and fasting.  We are in a battle – but it is not with people – but with spiritual powers at work in their lives.  Unless we return to prayer, unless we use the spiritual disciplines at our disposal in God’s economy then we will not see a change; we will never see our nation return back to God.  The effect of the Welsh Revival of 1904 was worldwide and it kept the nation on track so that through the great wars we were trusting God for the outcome.  Revival not only affects people spiritually but socially.  When the Gospel is preached the heart of human beings are changed irrevocably and when it happens on a large scale nations can be changed as a result.

And friends we have such a great responsibility.  We don’t have revival because we have stopped caring for the lives of our fellow countryman.  We forget so easily that each person will have to give an account to God.  We forget that, like Tozer said, ‘we hold onto the tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly (and this) has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions’.  This deadly opiate is the apathy we have as a result of thinking that there is only a Heaven and no Hell.

Habakkuk in his very short book of 3 chapters that takes about 10 minutes to read prays for justice to come in Judah.  So he is told by God that judgment is coming in the form of the Chaldeans.  Habakkuk now realises what God’s justice looks like and he doesn’t like it because it is all too terrifying.  So, then Habakkuk prays for mercy for the people rather than justice because he understands the judgment that is to come.

Revival has come in the past when old truths from Scripture have been recovered and preached.  Today the doctrine of hell is one of those teachings that has suffered a great deal probably because of the abuse it had centuries ago – so the pendulum swung away – but now the pendulum has to swing back to recover the truth that if for the people of God whom the Lord judges it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God then what will it be for the godless of this age?  Jesus Himself said that it would be better to cut off our hand or foot than to go there.

How come we are not like Habakkuk crying out for mercy, praying and fasting on behalf of our friends, family and countrymen:  Revive us, O God.  If we realise that God’s judgment and anger will be poured out upon the world that does not believe in Jesus then we are going to pray-ers and those who fast because we would not wish what will happen upon our worst enemy for even 5 minutes.

God wants all people to know Him and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  But His people, as the angel, are asleep and getting on with their own thing and have become too comfortable.  But the promise of Scripture stands: 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) 14 ‘if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.’ What a promise!

We’ve got to get motivated because at the moment the Church is sleeping and sleep walking others into the judgement of God.  What does the Scripture say? ‘Wake up, O sleeper and rise from the dead.’ (Eph 5.14)

Perhaps it is time to take seriously time with God, praising Him, praying to Him making our petitions known to Him, praying for the Church, for our estates, villages, towns and for Wales, etc, and then listening to Him and reading what He has to say in His Word – perhaps getting up earlier or staying up later to make sure we do.  Is this really a hardship or a sacrifice?  Jesus made a point quite often of going apart, getting up early, and praying.  But I will speak about what real sacrifice is: That was Jesus dying on a cross drinking in the last dregs of the wine of God’s wrath so that we who so deserve hell could be free – and not only us but He is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  How should we or how can we repay such kindness?

fasting

We don’t hear much about fasting these days but sometimes we have to be as Jesus when He said John 4:34 (NKJV)34 “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work’ in reply to the fact he had not yet eaten.  He simply had God’s work to do and that took precedence over food.  In fact, his own mother and brothers thought he was mad that he did not stop to eat at times because he was so involved in God’s work.

What about fasting, proper fasting, from food, for a period of time, say, for a day?  Fasting is not about twisting the arm of God, no! It so that we can pray more effectively and be more open spiritually to God.  But it is a lost art to the majority of Christians today…but Jesus assumed that we would pray and fast as a matter of course for He says: When you fast and pray do not do it in public…Jesus simply believed that we will.

For you have need of endurance, says Hebrews 10.26, so that after doing the will of God we may receive the promise.  Prayer is where we love God with the heart and mind, and fasting is about loving Him with our bodies too.

There is something else about revival – and that is identifying ourselves with those of the world:  Realising that we are all sinners, there is none that are good.  We read of Moses, of Isaiah, of Daniel, of Nehemiah and others praying this kind of prayer.

prayer handsMoses prayed in Exodus 34:9 (NKJV) 9 Then he said, “If now I have found grace in Your sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance.”

Daniel 9:4–5 (NKJV) 4 And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, 5 we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.

Surely we want to see revival – in praying these prayers we are identifying with and interceding for the sake of our fellow humans as well as ourselves.  Do we not also pray in the Lord’s Prayer: forgive us OUR trespasses?  There are intercessors among us to stand in the breach.  Jesus intercedes for us; will we intercede for our neighbours?  How else will we see revival?

There is something I have not yet mentioned that will make all the difference: God’s power.  I read the latter part of Acts 1.8 earlier but here is the rest of it:  Acts 1:8 (NKJV) 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

We can apply the words of Jesus to us as His people: Luke 4:18–19 (NKJV) 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Only God’s power can overcome the obstacles of reaching people for Jesus.  Unless we watch, fast, pray, awake out of our slumber we will lose another generation to the devil and it will be even harder again to reach the generation that follows.  What we need is the power of the Holy Spirit and the only way we are going to get there is through spiritual disciplines of prayer and fasting.  We have to implore God to pour out His Spirit upon us as with the early Church and in revivals we have only ever heard about.

We are completely reliant upon God’s power and leading.  Again, we are not self-reliant but God-reliant.  The strong man, the devil, has power over the lives of people in this town but we are overcomers for we are a people of God’s power.  We have the power of Him who raised Jesus up from the dead living in us.  We have Jesus in us. And so we need to be a people of prayer, of fasting and of witnessing.

There is something that can get in the way of all this as we see in the demon passage we read – in verse 20:  Unbelief is the hindrance for God’s power to work.

So it is time to move back and to return to the Bible: Romans 10:17 (NKJV) 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

So, our faith, our belief, is in the God who speaks today.  We have a faith that is based upon reliable evidence.  In our witnessing we can, in the power of God’s Spirit, preach Jesus knowing that God will work in the hearts of our hearers.  If we have faith as small as a mustard seed God will meet us the rest of the way and we shall see His power at work.

We need to build the foundations in our lives especially spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, Scripture and witnessing.

Revival will come, by God’s grace, if we awake, if we turn to God and seek His face for the sake of the people of around our Churches and beyond.  Will we join God in this momentous task – will we be co-workers with Him to seek and save the lost?  Let us commit ourselves to this task and to pray and fast for God’s mercy to be poured out: Habakkuk 3:2 (NKJV) O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.

What will we do?  Who will take up the challenge of calling together God’s people to pray that God will move again in such a way?



[1] Christian History Magazine-Issue 23: Spiritual Awakenings in North America. 1989. Worcester, PA: Christian History Institute.

Hymns, Prayers and Encouragements 3/3/13

Hymns Prayers and EncouragementsO God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne still may we dwell secure; sufficient is Thine arm alone, and our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood or earth received her frame, from everlasting Thou art God, to endless years the same.

Time, like an ever rolling stream, bears all its sons away; they fly, forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day.

O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, be Thou our guide while life shall last, and our eternal home.

Isaac Watts 1674–1748

Hymns, Prayers and Encouragements 24/2/13

Hymns Prayers and EncouragementsThe following hymn is our response to God’s promise to us to forever with us…

O Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end; be Thou forever near me, my Master and my Friend: I shall not fear the battle if Thou art by my side, nor wander from the pathway if Thou wilt be my guide.

O let me feel Thee near me—the world is ever near; I see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds I hear: My foes are ever near me, around me and within; but Jesus, draw Thou nearer, and shield my soul from sin.

O Jesus, Thou hast promised to all who follow Thee, that where Thou art in glory, there shall Thy servant be; and, Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end; O give me grace to follow, my Master and my Friend.

John E. Bode, 1816–1874

Critical

I am curious as to why so many of the Reformed Tradition in their Systematic Theologies are so critical of others (I’ve decided not to name and shame) who also take God’s Word as the ultimate source of authority (Sola Scriptura) and drag down such who are also seeking to know God, His will and the things revealed by the Holy Spirit of God.  [I am not talking about those who do not regard Scripture as a Christian’s authority though even here still have to be careful of HOW we judge].

It seems that other genuine Christians are being treated as heretics and non-Christians just because of a difference of understanding.  I believe that such an attitude is itself heresy.  Oh, there are heretics and such should be exposed as such but generally these are those who put on the cloak of being a Christian but their teaching reveals they are nothing but wolves in sheep’ clothing.  There are definite things we should all believe as Christians but we are pilgrims together  with the whole true Christian witness; present, past and in all places.

The truth that is revealed in part to one group may be revealed in another part to another group as happened during the Reformation.  Of course not all of those who call themselves Christians are Christian as Jesus made plain – many will call Him ‘Lord, Lord’ but he will declare He never knew them.  Let us judge aright.

We do not agree on everything. I do not call myself either Reformed or Arminian as if these are the boundaries we should establish between us (and actually I have issues in both camps in their respective Systematic Theologies but glad to get a rounded perspective on Scripture even if I do disagree from time-to-time – however I do also make it clear I am not a liberal), and generally it is true that there is only one ‘right’ answer – but we should treat each other with grace, for God reveals things that are hidden from academics and reveals them instead to children!  Whether we have a high IQ or a low one – everything we have comes from God.  Let us be so careful of Spiritual pride.  And we need, yes, need each other.

Let all things be done for GOD’s glory.

Redeeming the Time

When in Ephesians 5.16 the Bible speaks about redeeming the time what do we understand by this?  How do we buy time?

Redeem the Time

I think one way is to be aware of what we are doing with our time.  Just how aware are we of the time we use?

If we had to record what we were doing every 10 minutes of the day how much of that time would be revealed to be wasted?  By doing such an exercise it should make us focus more clearly on those things that we should be doing.  Accountants in Accountancy Practices actually have to record what they do every 10 minutes to give an account of their time, to charge the right rates to the right clients and to be accountable to the boss.  If this is standard for them should we should make it standard for us who have should have a greater value on the time God has given to us?

Why not give it a go, say for one week – just one week(!); record what you are doing for every 10 minutes of the day for seven days?  Then see whether you are sleepwalking through each day and whether or not you are as awake as Scripture bids us to be.

Jonathan Edwards, an American Theologian of over 250 years ago, kept records of what he did all the time (he wanted to make sure he studied for 13 hours every day) and kept records of what he ate to see whether what he ate made him sleepy or enabled him to continue working.  I think he was a bit extreme but it was his response to love the Lord our God with our minds, with our bodies, with our hearts, with all our strength.

Jesus made it clear that we should set aside time to come apart (Mark 6:31 (NKJV) 31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)  This was so they could get refreshed – but refreshed for refreshment sake or for us and them to get back into the fray reinvigorated for the Lord’s work?  (Everything we do, including our jobs, should be done for the Lord).  So, there is nothing against resting, entertainment, and sleeping – just how much we do of these? And ask the question: Am I redeeming the time?

Perhaps we can find that time to pray and read His Word after all…

What do you think?

I was prompted to post this because of an Infographic included in this post found from PC World that I found on Monday…but the message above was prepared on Sunday 17th but not included in the end in my Sunday sermon at Ely Baptist.

Hymns, Prayers and Encouragements 18/2/13

Hymns Prayers and EncouragementsHymns

Yesterday I was having a discussion with Christian friends after I mentioned that great encouragement that one day we will see Jesus face to face and thinking about what hymns and songs there were.  So, I thought, why not?  Why not have one posted today!  So here you are and I hope you will make it your prayer and it is an encouragement to you…

1.
Face to face with Christ my Saviour,
Face to face what will it be,
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ who died for me?
(Chorus)
Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky.
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by.
2.
Only faintly now I see Him,
With the darkling veil between.
But a blessed day is coming
When His glory shall be seen.
3.
What rejoicing in His presence
When are banished grief and pain.
When the crooked ways are straightened
And the dark things shall be plain.
4.
Face to face!  O blissful moment!
Face to face, to see and know.
Face to face with my Redeemer,
Jesus Christ who loves me so.
Mrs. Frank A. Breck 1898