“…For He Himself has said: ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:5-6
Jesus Christ came into this world to reach those who feel that nobody cares. The Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in Him. The Lord Jesus Christ does care and He is reaching the lonely and the desperate, the confused and the hurt, the depressed and the disillusioned. Jesus Christ, Himself is reaching out to you.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. As we turn away from our sin and turn to Christ we find forgiveness and freedom.
In 1977, shortly after my conversion to Christ, I wrote this poem:
Frustration and dissatisfaction are the first symptoms of a backslider. No matter how deeply hidden inside, there is that despondent recognition that he is missing out on the abundant life Christ came to give. There is that uncomfortable realisation that he is rejecting Christ’s love. The backslider knows that he is out of touch with God and that his once treasured relationship with the Lord has ceased . He is beginning to wonder if he will ever again experience the joy of fellowship with Jesus, the confidence of being in the centre of God’s Will, the peace of mind that comes from knowing that everything is working together for good and that inexpressible fulfillment of being in contact with and union with Jesus.
How could anyone who had experienced God’s perfect will settle for second best? What on earth could have made him give up? Why did he fall away from Jesus and settle for the world?
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"Only let your conduct be worthy of the Gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the Faith of the Gospel and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of Salvation and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me." Philippians 1:27-30
In the Scripture we receive many commands for unity. Not the fake unity of the World Council Churches and the Roman Catholic apostates, but Biblical unity as in Philippians 1:27: "Only let your conduct be worthy of the Gospel of Christ…" Standing fast in one spirit with one mind striving together for the Faith of the Gospel. We are not called to have unity with the world. Our Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed in the garden of Gethsemane, prayed for His people. He made it very clear as He prayed: “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.” John 17:9, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth." John 17:17
Unity in Christ
What is the basis of truth? The Word of God. "As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their Word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me." John 17:18-21
"Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: 'Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a pharisee and the other a tax collector. The pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men - extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
The Lord had been teaching His disciples about prayer in the first eight verses of Luke 18. In the parable of the persistent widow, He taught of a helpless person with nothing but right on her side. She desired justice and her persistent prayers to God and pressure against the unrighteous judge, brought about justice in the end. The Lord encouraged His people to be bold, confident and persistent in their prayers.
"The message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."
1 Corinthians 1:18
All too often the Cross is seen as the "national flag" of the church. The Cross was never meant to be the mere nostalgic symbol of a religious system. Neither is the Cross a signpost. The Cross was not meant to re-direct our lives, but to end them. The Cross is not an ornament, but an instrument of death!
The cross was used by the Romans in the same way as we use the gallows, a gas chamber, an electric chair, or a firing squad. The Cross in the Bible is an instrument of death, yet out of it has come life. It was meant to be the sign of a curse, but it has become a symbol of God's blessing. It should have signified defeat, yet through it Christ achieved a triumphant victory. Christ has turned that instrument of destruction into the means of salvation.
On the Streets and in daily witness we have often come across this response. Many presuppose the goodness of man and fail to understand the Holiness and Justice of God. But doesn't God love everyone, equally? And are not all sins equal in the sight of God?
Those Whom God Hates
The answer is clearly, No! The Bible is quite clear that there are actually many whom God hates.
"These six things the Lord hates, yes seven are an abomination to Him; a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies and one who sows discord among brethren."
"Let no one deceive you with empty words because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience."
Does God Hate You?
The proud, liars, murderers, the wicked, those who rush to do evil, false witnesses and those who sow discord among brethren are among those who God declares that He hates. God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11)
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
Can we accept Jesus as Saviour, without submitting to him as Lord? I have heard this question in various forms numerous times over the last several years.
Jesus Christ is Lord
It is quite disturbing that anyone could consider separating Salvation from the Lord Jesus Christ. It portrays an inadequate understanding of the problem of sin, the nature of God, Christ’s mission on earth and our purpose and calling as Christians.
"Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His Word. But Martha was distracted with much serving and she approached Him and said, 'Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.' And Jesus answered and said to her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.'" Luke 10:38-42
It was at the end of the rainy season and the beginning of Summer, in Bethany, a village 3km East of the Temple in Jerusalem, on the East slope of the Mount of Olives. It was the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus (John 11:1).
Martha welcomed the Lord Jesus and His followers into her home in Bethany. This was not the Lord's first visit to Bethany, nor to Martha's home. As a gracious hostess, Martha welcomed the Lord and arranged comfortable seats for the Lord and His disciples, bringing them refreshing drinks and washing their feet from the dust and dirt of the paths they had trod. Other inhabitants of Bethany crowded around to hear more of the teachings and parables of the Lord.
“Which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the Resurrection from the dead.”
Careful Investigation is Encouraged
There is nothing wrong with being cautious and careful when it comes to eternal matters. Indeed there is much in the world that we should be skeptical about. We should not be gullible. There is far too much superstition and ignorance in the world. We should carefully investigate and establish what the facts are. We need to have the courage to face the facts.
Faith in Facts
Christianity does not require one to make a blind leap into the dark. False religions require blind faith. Christianity is an intelligent step into the light, in response to facts. We do not promote faith in faith, but faith in facts. It is not the amount of faith you have, but in where you place your faith.
God Ordained Work
At the very dawn of history God called man to work. God ordained work before the Fall. Work is not a part of the curse. Adam was commanded to tend the garden before he fell into sin (Genesis 2:15). Labour is a God-given responsibility. Work is not a curse to be avoided, nor is it an undesirable activity only to be pursued when necessary. In the Bible we are commanded to:
“be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed…”
2 Timothy 2:15
Heathen Nations Despised Work
Before the coming of Christ, the heathen nations despised physical work and consigned it to slaves. When Christ was born, half of the population of the Roman Empire were slaves. Three-quarters of the population of Athens were slaves. When Luke visited Athens he noted that
“all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.”
Jesus Revolutionised Labour
But Jesus revolutionised labour. By taking up the axe, the saw, the hammer and the plane, as a carpenter our Lord imbued labour with a new dignity. Christianity undercut slavery by giving dignity to work. By reforming work Christianity transformed the entire social order. In time this gave birth to the free enterprise system which brought unparalleled prosperity and progress to billions of people.
“The hand of the diligent makes one rich.”