Biblical Foundations for Evangelism (Part 6)

The law and judgement of God

The best way to know our own lostness and depravity before God is to look deeply into the law of God and especially the Ten Commandments. By the law of God I mean the first 5 books of the Bible (The Torah), Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The law of God can be divided into the ceremonial law, the moral law and the civic law. The ceremonial law in the Torah had to do with the construction of the Tabernacle, the Temple service, the animal sacrifices and dietary laws that God instituted for the nation of Israel. These ceremonial laws were only temporary and was a shadow of the things to come in Jesus Christ. All the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament pointed to Jesus Christ and His sacrifice that would take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). With the coming of Jesus Christ into the world who was the substance of the things to come (Collosians 2:14-16) God fulfilled the ceremonial laws of old Israel (Matthew 5:17-18) and abrogated them. That is why the curtain in the temple was torn in two when Jesus died at the cross (Matthew 27:51).

The civic law that God instituted was meant and instituted by God for the nation of Israel and when the nation of Israel was judged in 67AD this lost its function because the Everlasting King and eternal Judge came into the world. The civic law with its many commandments had benefit for the Israelites and children of God can still make use of them and obtain principles that would benefit societies and cultures today. But as binding on the people of God today they should not always be applied in every circumstance. E.x. We as children of God don’t have to rest after every six years from all work and every 49 years. We don’t have to celebrate the yearly feasts the Israelites used to celebrate. But we should honor the principle for work and rest and celebrate the salvivic events in history wrought by God (the birth of Christ, the death of Christ, the resurrection, the Ascension of Christ and the day of Pentecost). We are not forbidden to wear clothes of different material (Deuteronomy 22:9) but we are to obey the principle of separating from worldliness and not mixing idolatry with godliness and so on. In other words, the moral law embedded in the civic law guide us as Christians even today. What is of concern for us at this stage especially in evangelism is the moral law of God, given to us especially in the Ten Commandments and its out-workings in the Torah (Leviticus 18:1-23). The law of God shows us the nature of sin. It shows us the sinfulness of sin. The law of God (Ten Commandments) is good and holy and right (Romans 7:7) and is also the expression of God’s character. In the Ten Commandments we see what God loves and what God hates. We see in them what God condemns and what God commands. We see what behavior He blesses and what behavior He curses (Deuteronomy 27,28). Although the Ten Commandments are given in the negative (“you shall not murder”) it doesn’t mean the positive is not required (“protect innocent life and those who are vulnerable”) or (“you shall have no gods before Me”) ; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind” etc.

What is especially important for us in the law of God and the Ten Commandments is that it shows us how we have offended God. Each of the Ten Commandments stands for a family of sins. For example “you shall not murder” prohibits taking an innocent life, abortion, euthanasia, hatred towards a person, envy, jealousy, unrighteous anger etc. “You shall not commit adultery” prohibits “sexual lust, fornication, incest, pedophilia, bestiality, homosexuality etc. Each commandment deals with a family of sins. If we look deeply into the law of God we would see how many times we have offended God’s majesty and infinite worth and realize we should get justice from God. In the Ten Commandments and in the Torah we see that God never clears the guilty (Exodus 34:4-6; 20:4-9) and that because of our sins we deserve an Infinite punishment. We deserve infinite punishment, everlasting hell, because we have sinned against an Infinite holy God. If God was not as valuable and worthy and glorious as He was then our sentence would not be unlimited and deserving of eternal hell. Since God is infinite and almighty and the Creator and Sustainer of everything we deserve such an infinite and severe sentence.

We see that sin is serious in the narrative of Adam and Eve. God said they would surely die when they ate of the tree in the middle of the garden and they did die when they ate (Genesis 2:10-3:15). They spiritually died when they sinned and their sin affected the human race ever since. Adam was the Federal head, the representation of mankind in the beginning when God made the heavens and earth and because of his sin we all became sinners (Romans 5:12-21). In Adam we all died (1 Corinthians 5:22). Adam also eventually physically died and all humans will die physically as a result of sin.

We also see in the Torah the veracity of sin and the judgment of God on sin. We see this most clearly in the narrative of Noah in Genesis 6. Because the thoughts of mankind was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5) God decided to destroy mankind except Noah, his family and selected animals and life-forms. God judged mankind for their sins with death. God never can just wipe our sins under a rug and forgive. Because God is just there must be punishment for sin. There must be divine payment for every sin. That is so because when we sin we reject God’s authority over us, we despise His rightfully ownership over us, and we insult His worthiness and value. Every time we sin we say, in fact, “God we choose sin instead of you. We rather have sin than you. We rather be satisfied with sin than with you.” And because God is infinitely valuable and worthy and just and holy we deserve an infinite worthy sentence. The sentence against each of our sins is death: spiritual death and physical death. Death came into the world by one man, Adam, everlasting life came into the world through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12-22). The soul that sins must die (Ezekiel 18:20). The penalty and wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The day that you eat of that tree you shall surely die (Genesis. 2:17).

Because we were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) we have moral motions. We are moral beings. That means we can differentiate between evil and good, between right and wrong. We are like God in that respect. But because we are born in sin and because we have all violated God’s standards for us, encapsulated in the Ten Commandments, we deserve justice from God. We are all guilty before God. The world will face judgment before God. We will give an account before God of how we have lived (Romans 2:14-16).

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation‬ ‭20:11-15‬ ‭ESV‬‬)‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The Old Testament is an account of how God judged individuals and the nations for their sins. God used the Philistines, the Syrians, the Assyrian Empire and the Babylonian Empires to judge His people. And God has done that throughout history. Even if people never heard the law of God or the Ten Commandments they will face judgment because God has written His laws on our hearts and He has revealed His eternal power and His divinity in the things that He has made, in nature and creation (See Romans 1:18-24). We are all without excuse before God because we have rejected and rebelled against the light of nature and of God in our conscience. Our guilt is real because it is moral. By nature we reject God’s love and God’s goodness because we love evil. We cannot save ourselves from our sins. We cannot do what we ought to do: obey God’s laws. But we do what we want to do: sin. And because we do what we want to do, sin, we are accountable to God and guilty before God for every sin we commit.

As evangelists we can only be successful and do what God wants us to do if we first declare the law of God and the demands of the law and show our hearers how they fall short of God’s standards and His glory before we give them the good news of the gospel. We have to give our hearers the bad news first before they will ever receive the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If people are not aware of how they offended God and how they broke His holy laws and how they grieved His Holy Spirit and what punishment and judgment they deserve why should they care of the good news of salvation? If we don’t tell people how sick they really are why would they want spiritual healing, salvation?

We see in the Old Testament how the prophets always declared the sins of the people and the judgements of God before they gave them the hope of the gospel and the hope of forgiveness if they would repent of their sins. Evangelists that reject this order will breed a bunch of false converts that only want Jesus for their own ends or for the gifts of love, peace and joy and forgiveness that He may give them.
If we don’t see our own danger before we see the remedy we won’t come to God for the right reasons. Ray Comfort the evangelist has shown us clearly why it is so important to use the law of God in evangelism to convict the sinner of his sins and show him the nature of sin. We must tell people to flee from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). This was also the way great preachers have done in past centuries:

The purpose of the law is firstly to strip us of our pride and own righteousness.
Charles Spurgeon said: “they will never accept grace until they tremble before a just and holy law.”
And Martin Luther said: “the first duty of the gospel preacher is to declare God’s law and show the nature of sin.”
Romans 7:7 states: “I had not known sin, but by the law..”
Paul the apostle made it clear how to use the law of God lawfully, that is, to convict the sinners of his sin:
But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.”(‭I Timothy‬ ‭1‬:‭8-11‬ NKJV). ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
We use the law of God lawfully if we use it like Jesus Christ did when he encountered the rich young ruler. Jesus used the law of God to convict the rich young ruler of his sins. When the self-righteous young ruler justified himself, Jesus pointed to His riches as His idol.

“A man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mark‬ ‭10:17-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬).‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

We will be wise if we also use the law of God to show people their sins. And after we showed them their sins give them the remedy, the cure. In our gospel presentations we must first diagnose the sick with spiritual cancer before we can prescribe them with the cure of spiritual cancer: the gospel! For self-righteous people we should use the law. For the contrite of heart, the broken and desperate for salvation we give the gospel.

Biblical Foundations for Evangelism (Part 5)

The depravity and lostness of humanity

The great Reformers, John Calvin, Martin Luther and others have rediscovered the plight of man before God as they studied the Scriptures in the original languages in the sixteenth century. For many centuries the church of God was in the dark about their true condition before God. How depraved and lost are human beings without God? Are they partly depraved, and partially lost. Do they need some assistance to be better individuals? Do they only need assistance from God to be accepted by Him? Or are they totally depraved, totally lost?

The Bible makes it clear in Romans 3:11-19 that humanity are unable to help themselves, unable to save themselves. We are in fact dead in our sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1-2). We don’t need divine assistance only, we need to be born from above, born of the Holy Spirit. We need a new birth (John 3:3-5). We are radically evil and sinful. We are not as evil as we could be, not all of us! We are totally depraved, meaning there is no way we will turn to God unless the Holy Spirit makes us alive to spiritual realities. Listen to how Paul the apostle puts it:

“as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”” (Romans‬ ‭3:10-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬).‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The Scriptures here explain the condition of man without God. This passage makes it clear that we don’t need improvement and self-actualization. We don’t need to revamp the self. We need a complete change of our natures to come to God. We need spiritual regeneration. We need to be born again, we need the Holy Spirit to make us alive unto God if we have any chance to come to God and be saved. The Father must draw us in order for us to come to Christ (John 6:44). We are not by nature looking and seeking after God. Rather, it is God who was and is seeking after us. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He takes the initiative in salvation. It is God who awakens us to our sinful condition. It is God who convicts us of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). It is God who shows us our depravity before God. If left to ourselves we will never seek after God. We are born in sin (Psalm 51:6). We go estranged from the womb (Psalm 58:3). We are all born in Adam with a sinful nature (Romans 5:11-19). We are born evil and rebellious. Again, I said we are not as evil as we could be, but we are morally and totally depraved, God-hating and unable to choose God and receive His salvation unless God takes the initiate and shows us our sins and how heinous our sins are in front of his holy and just presence.

Many times we compare ourselves to other sinners, like serial killers and prostitutes and thieves and murderers and rapists and say to ourselves we are not as evil as they are. My friend without God’s restraining hand we will become the worst creatures of hell! Without God’s restraining hand nothing will stop us from becoming as evil as Hitler or Stalin if we are given the opportunity. Many times we are not as evil as we could be because we lack the opportunity to sin in such ways. But we should not think that serial killers and rapists are more evil than the self-righteous and the religious. Was it not the Pharisees and the Scribes in Jesus’ day that were excluded from the kingdom of God and tax-collectors and prostitutes that entered the kingdom of God? You see if we start relying on our own goodness and righteousness then we are in a worse danger than when we live in spectacular sins. If we live as if we don’t need God and become self-sufficient then we shut ourselves out from God’s grace and mercy. This self-righteousness is what made the Pharisees in Jesus’ day so contemptible in God’s sight. As Charles Spurgeon said:

“The black devil of licentiousness has slain her thousands, but the white devil of self-righteousness has slain her tens of thousands.”

Paul the apostle said of the Jewish leaders:

“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” (Romans‬ ‭10:1-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬).‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Self-reliance is what is taking many people in our societies to hell. You are not safe at all if you think you do not need Christ desperately from day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute, and second to second. The prophet Jeremiah warned us with these words:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”” (Jeremiah‬ ‭17:9-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬).‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

As John Calvin the theologian said: “the heart of man is an idol factory.” Left with an unregenerate heart no human can image what we are capable of. And relying on our own abilities and living independently before God may be the worst kind of evil. It is a heinous crime against God’s majesty to inwardly say to Him: “I don’t need you.” What surprise God-haters and God-ignorers and God-deniers will face when they stand before God one day face to face and hear the words: “depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Jesus Christ described the heart of man in this way:

Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”” (Mark‬ ‭7:18-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬).‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

We are eternally lost, eternally damned, eternally wicked and totally depraved left to ourselves and our own devices. We are without hope and salvation without God shining into our hearts the truth of the gospel. If we want to know the extent of our depravity before God all we have to look is at the law of God and the Ten Commandments. In the law of God we see our guilt to the fullest extent. In God’s moral law we see how many times we have fallen short of the perfection and glory of God.

 

 

Biblical Foundations for Evangelism (Part 4)

4. The Promises and Commands of God

There are thousands of promises that God has made in the Bible to His people throughout history and they are all yes and amen in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20). This means that all the promises that God has made to His people in the Old Testament and the New Testament find their ultimate fulfillment in Christ Jesus. God promised that He would crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15, the devil) and He did by Christ’s perfect life, death and resurrection. God promised that all the families of the earth will be blessed through the seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) and God will bless them through the seed of Abraham who is Christ Jesus. God promised that if we trust in Him with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding and acknowledge Him in all our ways, He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:3-5) and He does this through the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ (John 10:1-5). God promised that He will write His laws within our hearts (Ezekiel 36:24-26) and God did that and does it and will do that before and when we repent of our sins and have faith in Jesus Christ. The new covenant is sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ and whosoever comes to Him in faith and repentance will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and have God’s laws written on their hearts.

All the promises of God in the Old and New Testament had conditions connected with them. Also, prophecies worked much the same way as the promises of God. All prophecies were also promises of God, but not all promises were prophecies. Prophecies will come to pass and have come to pass regardless of human cooperation and conditions being met. The promises of God to man always had a condition to be met. That doesn’t mean the fulfillment of the promises could be achieved or merited by humans or God’s people but there were always conditions connected in order that it may be fulfilled.

Let’s give two examples: The promise of Genesis 3:15 where God promised that He would crush the head of the serpent were going to happen regardless of what humans would do. It was therefore not only a promise but a prophecy. God crushed the power of Satan through Jesus Christ. But take the promise of Proverbs 3:3-5. There is a condition connected to this promise. If we trust in God with our whole heart and if we lean not on our understanding and if we acknowledge Him in all our ways then God will direct our paths. Promises like these can come to fulfillment in a person’s life hundreds or thousands of times as the believer comes to Christ, but they have conditions. All the conditions in all the promises in the Bible can be summed up in turning from sins and trusting in Christ Jesus, or believing in Christ Jesus.

All the promises in the Bible: “Ask and it shall be given, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7-9) must be connected to the Person and work of Jesus Christ. If we miss this then we miss the whole point why God made promises to His people.
The conditions to receive salvation is repentance and faith in Jesus Christ (Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21). And the summary of growing in Christlikeness is continual repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

When it comes to the work of evangelism we must admit that it is based on the promises and commands of Christ. We evangelize because God has promised that the word that comes out of His mouth will not return to Him void but will accomplish what He pleases (Isaiah 55:11). We evangelize and know the seed that we sow will not be in vain because God promises that the work of the Lord is not in vain:

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, since you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV).

For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do
‭‭(Hebrews‬ ‭6:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬).

““Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”” (Revelation‬ ‭22:12-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬).

Not only do we have these and other promises that our work in the Lord in evangelism will not be in vain, but we have the commands of the Lord to go out into all the earth and share the gospel to every person. Jesus commanded His disciples:

“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to every creature”
(Mark 16:15).

“Then said He to His servants, the wedding-feast is ready but they who were invited were not worthy. Go you therefore into the highways and as many as shall find, invite to the marriage” (Matthew 22:8,9).

We all know that the parable of the wedding feast refers to the Marriage supper of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, and that His servants are those who should invite people from everywhere! Jesus said to His disciples:

“All authority in heaven and in earth is given to Me, go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all things that I have commanded you…and I am with you to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

No disciple of Christ can make a disciple without evangelizing and sharing the gospel in his teaching. Disciples ought to teach the gospel in discipling. And they will be successful because God has promised to be with them unto the end of the age. God will never command something of His disciples that He doesn’t give the power to do.

And Jesus said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke‬ ‭24:46-47‬ ‭ESV‬‬).‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Paul said woe is me if I don’t preach the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:16). The gospel of God is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:17,18). God has chosen the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe (1 Corinthians 1:18). If God has chosen human beings to proclaim the gospel and if he has chosen the gospel to save people, (1 Peter 1:23-25) which he has, it becomes evident why we should proclaim and declare His word to a lost and dying world. God has promised to bless his word and He has promised to build his kingdom and church until He comes again (Matthew 16:18).

We cannot be wiser than God and think that He will use other means to save sinners. God saves His elect through the hearing of the word of Christ (Romans 10:17) and He will save them as his church proclaims his gospel! Of the increase of Jesus Christ’s government and peace there will be no end (Isaiah 9:6,7).

 

Biblical Foundations for Evangelism (Part 3)

3. The Character of God

The Holy Bible, the 66 books in the New and Old Testaments, reveals to us the character of God. We call it special revelation. Although God reveals aspects of His divine nature and Godhead in nature and the created order, we cannot know God savingly through natural revelation. Creation exhibits God’s beauty, we see this in sunsets or in different flowers and animals God has made. Creation exhibits God’s power, we see this when we hear a thunderstorm and when we see lighting. Animals feeding their young and birds caring and feeding their chicks, demonstrates God’s compassion and care for creation and living things. The complexity of the human body exhibits God’s intelligence and wisdom and insight. How ecosystems work and how all the different gasses and heat and oxygen come together with many other elements to make life possible on planet earth demonstrates and reveals that God is a God of order and wisdom and power (See Romans 1:18-23).

We can talk much more how nature reveals the divine nature of God, but the world we live in is fallen and we see this also in nature. We see things and plants and trees decaying and dying but that was not part of the original creation. When God made the heavens and the earth in the beginning, He made it perfect and very good (Genesis 1:27). There were no sickness, sin, death and suffering in the original creation. So when we see things dying we see God’s judgement on display. Fruitful seasons and rain from heaven also reveal and display God’s goodness. The stars and the galaxies in the sky reveal God’s greatness.

But if we only look at nature and the created order and the universe we will not enter into a personal saving relationship with God. We need another source, to know God redemptively. That source is the Holy Bible. In the Bible we find God being revealed in the following way. God revealed Himself to the prophet Moses like this:

“And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation” (Exodus‬ ‭34:6-7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬). ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

In Nahum 1:3,4; Psalm 103:11,12; and Psalm 145:8,9 we see God revealed in the same way. God is a merciful God and a gracious God, a God of truth and goodness, but also a God of justice and judgement and righteousness. Over and over again in the Old Testament we see God revealed as a God that executes justice and righteousness and mercy (Jeremiah 9:23,24; Psalm 99; Nahum, Amos etc.) God will by no means clear the guilty. He will avenge Himself on His enemies.

In Isaiah 6:1-6 God reveals Himself as the Holy One:

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”
‭‭(Isaiah‬ ‭6:1-3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬).‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Also in Psalm 99 and in the book Isaiah and in many other places in the Bible God revealed Himself as holy. The holiness of God refers to the fact that there is no evil or unrighteousness in God. God cannot steal, or lie or be deceptive or commit idolatry or dishonor His own Name. Everything God does is for His holy Name sake and for His glory. His glory lies not only in the fact of His holiness and purity but in all His divine attributes. God’s holiness makes us different from God, because even the angels who are in heaven are not as holy as God is. Even the Angels who cannot sin in heaven praise God for His holiness, because they are holy because God made them so. Because of God’s holiness and justice we as human beings are in a great predicament if we don’t receive His forgiveness. As Psalm 130:4 says: with God is forgiveness therefore He should be feared. If God was not a forgiving and merciful God He wouldn’t be God. All God’s divine attributes combined make God infinitely glorious.

God is not only merciful and just and righteous and wise and holy and gracious and good and forgiving and loving, which we call God’s attributes that He shares (His communicable attributes) with people and Angels, but He is omnipotent (All-powerful), and omniscient (All-knowing) and omnipresent (everywhere present). We call these God’s transcendent attributes. The things He will never share with us to their full capacity are called his incommunicable attributes. God’s transcendent and incommunicable attributes makes God forever unique and different from us. Christians are called to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, but not to His deity. God knows everything about everyone who has ever lived, He has all the power in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18-20) and He is everywhere present and always will be. No person or angel or demon or any created thing can ever hide from God. No person can ever keep something secret from God and no one can ever overpower God in any way. In Psalm 139 we read the following:

“O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me” (Psalms‬ ‭139:1-5, 7-10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬).‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

You might ask me: How do these truths about God have anything to do with evangelism? The revelation of God in Holy Scripture has everything to with evangelism. If we don’t know who the God is we proclaim how can we be effective in evangelism? I recommend the book: “The attributes of God” by A.W. Pink to everyone who shares the gospel with a lost and dying world. We have no business to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ if we do not know the character of Jesus Christ. It is pivotal that we study the word of God and be immersed in the revelation of God of Himself. When we study Scripture and when we study general revelation in nature we come to know the majesty and glory and holiness and nature of God. We get familiar with the God we have offended and the way we can be restored to His glory. Explaining the character of God should be the first thing we explain to lost sinners when we attempt to evangelize them. Without a good understanding of the holiness of God, the justice of God and the wrath of God against sin, people will not accept the good news we want to bring them.

Good news is no good news unless we know the bad news of how intensely we have offended God and the just punishments and wrath we deserve from the Maker of the Universe. We need to understand the seriousness of sin, the sinfulness of sin and God’s nature before we evangelize.

Another important thing we must realize about God which the Scriptures reveal is that God is unchangeable in His divine perfections. God’s gloriousness cannot change. God cannot become sinful or evil or not holy. There is no variables and shadow of turning with God. There is no escape from God’s holiness and nature, for no one in the Universe. We all will stand before Him one day. We will all give an account of the lives we have lived in the body (See James 1:17; Malachi 3:6; Numbers 23:19; Romans 2:14-16).

The source, way and outcome of the godly and ungodly

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Text Psalm 1

1)“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2)but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3) He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4)The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5)Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6)for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psalms‬ ‭1:1-6‬ ‭ESV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬)‬‬

The source, way and outcome of the godly and wicked

Introduction

This psalm serves as an introduction and summary to the whole book of psalms, all 150 of them, or we can say the five books in the psalms. It sets forth the way of blessing and the way of cursing or damnation. It helps us to understand the two main categories of people in the world, the godly and ungodly or the righteous and the wicked or the saints and the sinners. That is what the whole book of psalms is about. Much of it is wisdom literature and although we find different types of psalms, like psalms of praise, or of complaint or prophecy and so on, the psalms help us in our devotional lives. They give us words to pray when we have no words and it helps us to identify with the saints in ages gone past. They help us see we are not alone in our difficulties and fears and failures.

In this psalm we see the way of blessing set forth. We see where the way of happiness and joy is found, lasting happiness. The constant pursuit of all men is the pursuit of happiness. That is why many greet each other in the beginning of every year with “happy new year.” I like to tell people when they greet me with happy new year, “blessed new year” because the word happy to me has less meaning than blessed. I pray that everyone who listens to this message today will find blessedness in this year and not mere happiness. We think many times when things go our way or when we don’t have many trials or when we have enough money or when we are given gifts and when we experience comfort we have happiness. But to be blessed means something different. To be blessed means you have a happiness that transcends your particular circumstances. Being blessed means that no matter your circumstances and situation in life you have lasting joy.

This psalm and the whole Bible helps us to find the way of lasting happiness, blessedness, and fullness of joy. Psalm 1 directs us to the source of blessedness, the way of blessing and the outcome of blessedness. Early in my Christian walk I have memorized this psalm and I believe by God’s grace He has helped me to internalize this psalm and make it my way of living and as a result I have experienced the benefits of doing what is commanded here and the fulfillment of the promise we find in this psalm. And today I want to encourage you to obey the way of blessing set forth in this psalm if you haven’t done so yet, and if you have I want to encourage you to keep obeying until the day you die!

So let us start and see what is the source of blessing and cursing:

1. The source of the godly and wicked

The source of the godly

 Is the law and word of God

Now when this psalm was written down, by David we presume, he mentioned that the way of blessing is to delight and meditate on the law of God. That is the word mentioned in Psalm 1. The law of God referred to the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The word for law in the Hebrew is “Torah.” That is the book that the people of God used at the time. More Scripture was written down century by century, but we know that the Torah was there, the Book of Moses, in David’s time. Now the psalmist tells us here that only the Torah was enough to give a life of blessing. He was telling us here that this Torah, the Book of Moses, by delighting in it, and meditating on it, in other words, knowing it, is the source of blessing. There was enough in the Torah to direct and guide the Israelite to a life of blessing.

But this word can definitely and must be applied not only to the Torah or the first five books of the Bible! Because we know today that we have more than five books from God. We have the full revelation and word of God contained in the Old and New Testaments! How much more blessed should we be in the 21st century now that we have God’s revealed word in the Old and New Testaments! It shocks me we when I hear of people who have access to the word of God and the will of God but never reads it. For centuries past in the Middle ages the common people in the world had no access to the word of God. Only priest and monks who could read it in Latin and those who stayed in monasteries could read and study the Bible. But then came the invention of the Printing press in the 15th century and then the first Book that was ever printed was the Bible! But the common people in Europe could still not read it. It was only when giants of the faith like Martin Luther and William Tyndale and then others translated the Scriptures into German and English and other languages that the Bible became accessible to ordinary people like you and me. But there was great persecution because of the availability of the word of God and many, many believers in Christ, were martyred because of the word of God.

And today the word of God and the law of God has never been so accessible and available in so many languages in history. But then when you ask people in Western countries: have you ever read the Bible? They reply: no! This is shocking! The only source of eternal blessing is veiled from their eyes. If I would ask: Have you ever watched a football game they would say: yes! If I would ask: have your ever watched: “The Lord of the Rings?” or “Star Wars?”, they would say: yes. Or have you ever read a newspaper? They would say: off course! But if I ask them: have you ever read the Bible? They say: No! The only source of lasting blessing however is the word of God, the law of God, the Bible!

 Is the God of the Bible (John 4:14; John 7:37) rivers of water

You would ask me: why is it that the Bible or the word of God is the only source of blessing? The Bible is the only source of blessing because whom it reveals! God! It is the Holy Spirit who gave us the Bible. All of Scripture is breathed out by God is is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and instructing us in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). In the Bible we find the character of God revealed. We find the will and purposes of God revealed. We find the way of blessing revealed! We find the way of salvation revealed and we find the nature of man revealed. The Bible is a book of blessing because it reveals to us the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ! It reveals why we need salvation and it reveals how we can receive salvation. There is no other book like it! The sacred Scriptures is able to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 3:15). That is why it is called the word of truth (Ephesians 1:13) and the word of life (Philippians 2:18). By it be are born again, made alive, strengthened, sanctified, purified and edified. By it our faith becomes strong and by the word, saving faith is created (Romans 10:17). The Bible is the source of blessing because it leads us the Rivers of Living Water, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

 The supremacy and excellence of God and his word

The word of God is forever settled in heaven (Psalm 119:89). It cannot be destroyed. By the word every person will be judged one day. There is nothing more precious than the word of God. It is more precious than all the gold put together in the world. It is more valuable than all the jewel and precious stones and possessions and products put together. By the word be are warned of coming judgment. By the word, promises are given of eternal life. By the Word we find direction in life and comfort and medicine for our souls. The word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). It is more relevant than the daily newspaper. No book in the word has sold so many copies. No other book in the world have been translated in so many languages. More books have been written about the Bible than any other book. This book is banned in many countries today and yet it cannot be chained. Because it is God’s Book and because God is the primary author of the 66 books we find in the Bible. It is the most important book in the world and it will remain the most important book for all eternity. And it is the most important book in the world because it is trustworthy and truthful in all it affirms about life, death, righteousness, salvation, the world and humanity in general. It is God’s inerrant, authoritative and eternal word to the human race.

The source of the wicked

 Is the counsel of men

We see in the first verse that the godly does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. But the ungodly follow the counsel of the ungodly. And we find the counsel or the philosophy or thoughts and intentions of the ungodly everywhere. We find the counsel of the wicked in the newspapers and sometimes in church counsels, in liberal theologian publications, in curricula of state education, in textbooks of psychology in bookstores and on the radio and on the Television and many times in news reports. We find their counsel in sophisticated language and in crude language in the streets in Kempton Park. We find the counsel of the ungodly between some family members and sometimes from State Presidents. If any person’s mind is not controlled by the Holy Spirit and the mind of Christ, we find ungodly counsel. Ungodly counsel means by definition where God’s counsel is rejected or ignored. Where homosexual unions or marriages are condoned, where abortion on demand and sexual deviancy and immorality and idolatry and gambling are approved there we find the counsel of the ungodly. The source of the ungodly is the system of the world.

 Is his own sinful inclinations and heart

The human heart is deceitful above all else (Jeremiah 17:9) and it is desperately wicked. Even if you take all the magazines and newspapers and Televisions and Radios and Internet and books and human philosophy away you will still have your own ungodly thoughts to contend with. The mind of the flesh is in direct opposition to the mind of the Spirit. As Genesis 6:5 and 8:21 said: the inclinations of the human heart is only evil continually from its youth. We counsel ourselves in the wrong direction. We are by nature self-centered and preoccupied with our own interests and desires. By birth and by nature we are the ungodly and if we listen to the world or if we listen to own hearts or if we follow our own hearts we are doomed! So please I plead with you in the new year: don’t listen to your heart if you don’t have a new heart in Christ! But even if you have a new heart, be aware your old self. It still needs to be put to death daily!

 Is the way of the world

The source of the ungodly is the counsel of worldly men, men devoid of the wisdom and knowledge of God. As Jesus said in Matthew 7:13,14, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and many go that way..” The wisdom of this world will not lead you to salvation and blessedness. It may make you rich in early goods. It may lead you to success in business or in the corporate ladder. It may lead you to have a big family and to be a well adjusted individual in society or it may not, nevertheless, it will not lead you to lasting blessing. You may end up doing Yoga and in some spiritual form of religion like Buddhism or New Ageism or whatever form of asceticism, but it will not lead you to lasting blessing and holiness. Hedonism, asceticism and atheism, consumerism or adventurism or all the “isms” that the world puts forth as the way to happiness cannot lead you to blessing because it rejects God and righteousness and leaves Christ out of the equation.

2. The way of the godly and wicked

The way of the godly

 He separates Himself from ungodly counsel, sinners and mockers

The first thing the godly considers is the outcome of the ungodly and when he realize their fate and where the way of the ungodly leads he fears. Because the end of the ungodly is destruction, damnation and hell. The godly knows this and therefore separates himself from the wicked counsel of the ungodly. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what is evil and ungodly, it means he doesn’t follow the advice of the ungodly. He doesn’t stand in the way of sinners. He doesn’t become too acquainted with sinners. Bad company ruins good morals. Birds of a feather flock together. Iron sharpens iron. The godly don’t flock with the ungodly. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t know unbelievers personally or become friends with them. But we should be careful not to be influenced by their talk and jokes and sinful behavior. The mark of a converted man is that he separates from evil company. He does not sit in the seat of the scornful. Sin has progressive levels. First it allures you, and tempts you, then it makes a “nest on your head” and then you dive into that lifestyle. The godly has turned from the ways of the world, the counsel of the world, the pleasures of sin, and the mocking of Christ and God and righteousness. He has seen the destructive effects of sin and ungodliness, he has felt it in his own life, and therefore turned from it and is ever turning from it towards God. Biblical repentance is the trademark of the godly. Conviction of sin, contrition over sin, confession of sin, and conversion towards God, from the world to God characterizes his life.

 He meditates on the Word day and night. He not only reads or scans it

Verse 2 tells us in the text that the blessed man, the godly man or woman, meditates over the law and word of God. It is interesting that the Bible doesn’t say here that a man is blessed when he only reads the word of God. Just reading the Bible won’t make you blessed. But without reading it you won’t be blessed either. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day knew the Torah. They memorized the Torah. But they were not blessed because they didn’t obey the word! The Bible tells us in Psalm 1 that a man will only be blessed when he turns from ungodliness towards the Word and meditates on it. But we must start with reading. We can’t meditate on the word of God if we don’t read and know it, can we? So we must read it, first and foremost. For the last 15 years of my life I have read through the Bible once a year. And I think it is a good practice. Many Christians read through the Bible once a year, some read through it twice or even three times a year. But many times reading it can become a mechanical practice, a sort of legalism. We think just because we read the Bible regularly we will be helped. But in this psalm it is clear that the man who is blessed not only reads or listens to the Bible being read, but meditates on the word. If the Bible is the most important book in the world and if the way of blessing and the way of cursing and the way of eternal life and eternal damnation is clearly and truthfully taught in this book, then we owe it to ourselves not only to read, but to meditate and ponder and study this Book. That is why we have Bible studies at churches. And I want to encourage you today not only to be a reader of the Bible, and that you must be, but to be a pondered and meditator and a Bible student for life. Nothing is more critical for you to know and understand the contents of Holy Scripture. Because without knowledge of the way of salvation and blessing you cannot be blessed!

He finds joy and delight in the Word (Psalm 19)

But it doesn’t end there! The psalm tells us that God blesses a man who delights in the word and meditates on it day and night. In other words, the words of God is his constant and daily companion. He doesn’t only come to the Bible and quickly reads a few chapters and and then go on with his daily activities and work duties and forgets what he has read. We are not saying that all Christians must study the Bible five or ten hours a day. What this Psalm is telling us is that we must feed and be nourished by the word of God. Man does not live by bread alone but my every word that proceeds from the month of God (Matthew 4:4). Blessed is the man who receives his strength from the Bible. Blessed is the man who delights in the word of God as if he has found a great treasure!

Let’s be honest today:

Do you find pleasure in reading and thinking about God’s word?
Or is reading the Bible a boring exercise that you quickly want to get over with, and tick it of your “do to list” for the day?

Let’s be honest! Off course there are more exciting parts of Scripture than others, but in general, are you excited about the contents of Scripture?

Why should we find delight in the word of God?

Here are a few reasons:

 In it we find the nature and character of God on display, our Creator, we find supreme worth and beauty on display
 In it we find unchangeable and eternal truth that will shape the destinies of men forever, for bad or for worse
 In it we find the way of salvation and righteousness clearly explained and illustrated
 In it we find the words that will lead to fullness of joy
 In it we find the power that will renew and transforms our lives
 In it we find the Savior of the world and the way of eternal peace and life
 In it we find thousands of promises that will give you hope and build your faith
 In it we find God’s purposes and secrets revealed

The godly sees these things in Scripture and are so captivated by them that he longs to see more of God and Christ every day. He has received and embraced the truths of Scripture and that makes him blessed.

 He finds delight in the Word because of whom and what it reveals: God, Christ and his salvation (2 Timothy 3:16; John 15:7)

The only reason ultimately the godly is blessed is because he has found Christ in the Scriptures. He has seen the surpassing worth of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures, he has seen the salvation in Christ revealed in the Scriptures and he has embraced the precious promises of the Scriptures concerning Christ. He has been born again by the Spirit and because he has life in God he can appreciate the things of God. He has received forgiveness of sins offered and he knows that he is clothed with the righteousness of God. He knows that he belongs to God and God had given him or her His most precious gift, the Holy Spirit, as an eternal inheritance!

 He finds delight in the Bible, because of its transformative power (creates faith and repentance and obedience)

And not only that he experienced over time the transformative power of the Holy Spirit at work through the word of God and because he becomes more sanctified and because he experiences the power of God over sin and the purifying power of God in the word, he cannot but help to be addicted to the word. The mark of the godly is not only that he reads the word of God daily, and that he meditates on the word, but that he does it day and night, that he internalizes the word, that he thinks about it all the time and seeks to apply it every day of his life. He is a transformed man who believes the word in its totality to be true and trustworthy and he obeys the word of God. His word abides in him and he obeys the word constantly.

My friend I want to ask you: Do you long for the word?
Do you find more joy in it that in your favorite soccer team or television program? Let’s be honest!

Do you seek to be transformed by it?
Do you read to find God there and His will for your life?
Do you seek to apply the word constantly in your life?

The way of the wicked

 He walks in the counsel of the ungodly (he exposes himself)

The way of the wicked is foremost a problem of the heart as we said earlier. But it does not end there. The wicked exposes himself constantly to sin. He walks in the counsel of the ungodly. He is not satisfied with his own ungodly thoughts. He seeks affirmation from his ungodly friends so that he justify himself in his ungodliness. Birds of the same feathers flock together. We will rarely see ungodly men or woman who don’t seek friends with whom they can do ungodly things together. He exposes himself to more ungodly ideas and philosophies.

 He considers to do wickedness

Then he considers how he can act in ways that are ungodly without getting caught. Or he would try to find reasons to justify his ungodly line of reasoning. For example: the man who wants to sleep with a woman who is not his wife. Or a man who wants to evade paying income tax or the woman who wants to abort her baby. There are many ways to justify these actions. The wicked not only exposes himself to wicked ideas but considers how to perform them.

 He stands in the way of sinners.

He considers and finds delight in sinners and ungodliness. He has committed himself to the way of sinners. He has identified himself as one of them. These people are proud of being sinners. The sense of shame over sin has gradually decreased. Their consciences have been seared with a hot iron. They don’t feel the pain of sin in their consciences anymore. They don’t care about the consequences of sin anymore as long as they can be seen as one of the guys or girls or the “men.” Their eyes are filled with pride over evil deeds and wickedness.

 He participates actively and immerses himself in wickedness

He sits in the seat of the scornful or mockers. In verse one we see progression in a lifestyle of sin. Sinners are not as evil as they can be, but sinners become more wicked as days and years pass by. They invent more evil schemes and plans. They sin more and more and delight more and more in evil and in corruption. And in the final stage they become mockers of those who love righteousness and Christ. They start to ridicule and blaspheme the name of Christ, curse the Bible and what it stands for. They become nefarious opponents of Christianity and Christ and the church and many times persecutors of the church. They mock and insult the absolute standards of the Bible and will do this publicly. May God have mercy on the ungodly and the wicked for so was all of us at one point in time and for some, for longer periods of time! May God have mercy on your soul if you are one of the mockers of what is good and right and Christlike!

3. The outcome and goal of the godly and wicked

The outcome of the godly

 He bears fruit in his season (John 15:8).

In this psalm we see that a comparison is made between the godly and a fruit-tree that is planted by a river. Now if a fruit-tree is planted by a river and there is enough water this tree will bear fruit in it’s season. In other words, the tree will fulfill its reason for existence: to bear fruit and so be useful to humans and animals and provide them with necessary vitamins and nutrients to keep them healthy and prevent sicknesses. When I was in Ghana recently I was amazed when our host, Daniel, who is a farmer, explained to me the healing and nutritional value of papayas, coconuts, bananas, apples and other fruit. I was quite amazed! It made we want to eat coconut, papaya, tomatoes, apples and bananas every day!

The man who abides in Christ, who abides in His word, (John 15:7) is the man who will bear fruit in his season. There is no question about it. It cannot be otherwise. Just as a fruit tree who gets enough water cannot not near fruit. If our lives are anchored in the word of God and in Christ, an increasing amount of love and peace and joy and patience and goodness and kindness and humility and self-control and faithfulness (Galatians 5:22, the fruit if the Spirit) will be on display in our lives. And the more we stay in the Word and the more we abide in Christ more of these things will “hang” from our lives that will benefit and help and nourish the souls of men! It cannot be otherwise.

 His leaf does not wither. Photosynthesis.

Now fruit-trees does not always bear fruit, does it? It only bears fruit sometimes in the year. Sometimes it doesn’t bear fruit, but we can say it prepares itself to bear more fruit the next year. But some fruit trees always has leaves on them. Now leaves are of much benefit to the human race. If there were no leaves on any tree in the world life on planet earth will cease to be because the leaves on trees are responsible for the process called photosynthesis. This is the process in which the leaves of the trees absorbs carbon dioxide in the air and releases oxygen in the atmosphere. If there was no absorption of carbon dioxide and no release of oxygen into the atmosphere we would all sooner or later die! This psalm tells us the godly is like a tree whose leaf does not wither. Now I don’t know if the writer who wrote this palm knew this, but God certainly did! And he inspired the writer to write this down. A tree whose leaves do not wither is therefore of enormous value to our planet and for life on this earth. And so is the godly, those who abide in Christ, those who meditate on the word, day and night, and those who repent of being influenced by the evils of the world. What we say and how we say it exudes life, because of the life within us, who is Christ. The gospel we preach brings life and presents life. The Christ we proclaim and the life in us helps people to be cleansed. We are clean through the Word that Christ has spoken to us! The godly’s life has great benefit to the church and unbeliever, even if they don’t know it.

Everything he does prospers

Our text tells us that whatsoever the godly does prospers. Now certainly, this is a wonderful promise to believe. And it can certainly be applied to ordinary things we do in the business world or in our different professions, whether we are doctors, teachers, plumbers, housewives or engineers. And we see examples of this in Scripture. Joseph and Daniël were successful in all they did and were promoted in heathen kingdoms to rule over people because God was with them. But even they had much opposition that they had to face respectively. Look at David and Paul the apostle, David was a successful king and Paul was a successful church planter, but that didn’t mean they didn’t face much opposition and persecution because they abided in Christ and in his word.

But rather, this prospering is meant spiritually. When we abide in Christ and his word abides in us, what we ask we will receive because we ask the things that are on God’s heart and mind. We are more transformed into the likeness of Christ and we increase in the graces and knowledge of Christ because that is what we long for!

 He is forever blessed. He has salvation in Christ

And because we repent of sin and abide in Christ we are blessed because we have salvation.

 He glorifies God (John 15:8)

And this fruit that we bear glorifies Christ. The fruit of the Holy Spirit.

The outcome of the ungodly

 He is like chaff that the wind drives away (verse 4)

Chaff unlike the wheat or the corn that it is separated from in a winnowing trough or machine, has no function. You cannot eat it, it has no nutritional value. It is driven by the wind in different directions. So are the wicked. They are of no use in the end in the economy of God. Their lives have no purpose and meaning because they don’t have the life of God in them. God uses unbelievers for the saints sanctification, but in the long run, they will be thrown away. More than that…

 He will not stand in judgement

They will be condemned for their actions, and choices and sins and mockeries. They will be sentenced and the justice of God will be executed on them for not embracing the Word of God, for not fearing its warnings, for not believing in its promises and not embracing the Savior it portrayed.

 He will perish everlastingly

And their condemnation will be everlasting and just in hell and then in the lake of fire. Their way will perish, their mockery and scorn will end and their delight in their sin and in wickedness will end. God will reign over them in justice and judgement and so God will be glorified in their destruction.

My friend as you hear these words today:

What is your foundation or source?
The wisdom of the world and sinners or the wisdom of the Bible?

Which way characterizes your life?

Are you delighting and meditating on the word of God day and night? Or are you meditating and delighting on the ways and sins of the wicked?

What will be your outcome?

Will your life bear lasting fruit and will it benefit your neighbor? Will your be prospering in Christ Jesus?

Or will your life be like the chaff in the wind, useless and meaningless?
Will you be condemned with the rest of the ungodly?

May God and his Word, be your source and way and may His glory be your outcome and goal! Amen

 

 

Biblical Foundations for evangelism (Part 2)

The revelation of God (Holy Scripture)

The word of God recorded in the Bible is our standard to measure truth from deception and false doctrine from true doctrine about God, humanity, and salvation and sin, God’s standards for right and wrong and righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:14-17 is critical to understand why the Scriptures have been given to us. Paul the apostle is speaking to Timothy:

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy‬ ‭3:14-17‬ ‭ESV). ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The aim of Scripture and the reason God has preserved it for the human race is so that we might become wise unto salvation through Jesus Christ and to teach us concerning righteousness and how to live God-honoring lives. The Scriptures were given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and they are enough and sufficient to teach us everything we need to know how to be saved for eternity, have eternal life in the Holy Spirit and how to live lives pleasing to God. We cannot add anything to the full revelation of God and we should never take anything away from sacred Scripture (See Revelation 22:18,19; Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6). God’s word is forever settled in heaven (Psalm 119:89). Not any Christian commentary, systematic theology, devotional book by renown Christian writers or any sermon preached or so-called modern day prophecy equals or supersedes the authority of sacred Scripture. Our lives, our Christian lives, should be based on sacred scripture, because in sacred scripture we see the revelation of the character of God, his ways, his standards for truth and righteousness and the way He worked out his redemptive plan in history. The 66 books we have in the Old and New Testament have sufficient information about God, not exhaustive, but sufficient to make us wise unto salvation and to correct our sinful behavior and attitudes, motives and words, so that we can be satisfied with God in Christ and the Holy Spirit. It is in the Bible we find the very words of God, the unchangeable words of God that revives us, directs us, comforts us, encourages us, regenerates us, warns us and guides us in the narrow way to heaven.

Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar (Proverbs 30:5,6 NKJV).

The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of the earth, purified seven times (Psalm 12:6 NKJV).

Because the Word of God is the chief agent in the work of regeneration by the Holy Spirit, we should know the word of God, study the word of God, memorize the word of God and meditate on the word of God, day and night (Psalm 1:1-4). The word of God is the primary power in evangelism and in the proclamation of the gospel. In the Bible we find the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16,17). We see that the Bible is the Sword of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) that it is still living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and that it is the word of truth by which we are born again.

“having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the LORD endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you” (I Peter‬ ‭1:23-25‬ ‭NKJV‬‬).‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

“Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of His creatures” (James‬ ‭1:18‬ ‭NKJV‬‬).‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The word of God is our weapon that pierces the darkness, that triumphs over deception and the lies of the devil as we read it and as we proclaim it wherever we go. It gives hope to the hopeless and convicts of sin, righteousness and judgement by the work of the Holy Spirit. By the word of God the church is sanctified and built up in love (John 17:17). Without the word of God we have no warrant to evangelize and to share the hope that is within us. It is the very foundation that the church is built upon and by God’s providence we have it today preserved in thousands of manuscripts in the world and translated into hundreds of languages around the globe. If we study history we see how God has preserved it through the work of his church and the Holy Spirit that even though we have variant readings in the thousands of manuscripts available to us we can determine with astounding precision the intent of the Holy Spirit through the pages of Scripture and the meaning of the word of God. The variant readings of the different manuscripts in Hebrew and Greek available to us do (comprising 1% of all the manuscripts) not in the slightest vitiate or overturn the truth of Scripture and God’s plan of salvation and our understanding of righteousness and what right and wrong and sin is. God has preserved for us so many manuscripts so that we can know with certainty how God wants us to live and how we can receive eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

Although God used men to write the Scriptures we do now have, the primary author was the Holy Spirit. God is the originator of Scripture.

“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter‬ ‭1:19-21‬ ‭NKJV‬‬).‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The Word of God

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The Word of God, His Identity, His characteristics and His purpose

John 1:1-18
1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2) He was in the beginning with God.
3) All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4) In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5) The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6) There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light,
7) that all might believe through him.
8) He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9) The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
10) He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.
11) He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
12) But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
13) who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”)
16) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
17) For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
18) No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known (‭John‬ ‭1:1-18‬ ‭ESV‬).‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Introduction

This passage is probably one of the most famous passages of the Bible and also one of the most important ones. This passage is also one of much controversy especially verse 1 and regarding the identity of the Word of God. The Jehovah Witnesses have changed the meaning of verse 1 in their Bible, and the Muslims have long debates over the meaning of verse 1 as well. They would say “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was a God”, not God himself!!! I remember a long and heated debate I had over verse 1 once I did evangelism in Durban in the year 2000 with a Jehovah Witness about this issue. John, the apostle, wrote this passage at the end of his life after he contemplated long and hard over the identity of God. He was Jesus’ beloved disciple and probably the closest to God of all the disciples. He was one of those who saw Jesus’ transfiguration on the Mountain and heard the voice from heaven saying: “This is my beloved Son, hear Him.” He was also immersed in the Roman Empire and immersed into knowing Greek culture which was the dominant culture at that time as Greek was the dominant language at that time. He knew exactly what he wrote as the Holy Spirit lead him.

In Greek philosophy, the word “Logos” is translated as “Word” and had a special and specific meaning relating to the first Mover or Causer of the Universe. The Greek Philosophers used the term “Logos” to refer to the Originator of all things. The apostle John came centuries after and knowing the significance of this word, used this word, “Logos” translated as “Word” in English and equates it with God, the Creator. We are going to look at four things today which I believe this portion makes clear: First the identity of the Word, secondly the characteristics of the Word, thirdly the purpose of the Word and then lastly the reactions to the Word. So let’s dig into the text.

1. The identity of the Word

— The Word is God. Verse 1 reads: “The word was with God, and the Word was God.” The implication of this verse is that there is more than one person in the Godhead! The Word was God. The phrase “In the beginning was the Word” is repeated, meaning before everything else, before time and space and matter and energy were created the Word was there. He was in the beginning. In other words from eternity past, He was there. God doesn’t have a beginning, and He doesn’t have an end. He is beyond space and time and matter and energy (Psalms 90:1,2).

— The Word is Jesus Christ (verse 14,17). The identity of the Word becomes clear in verse 14. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. In other words, the Word, which is God, became human and then we see in verse 17 the text reveals the Person who is the Word is Jesus Christ, full of grace and truth. This phrase “full of grace and truth” is also repeated. We get it also in verse 14. Jesus Christ is, therefore, God, the Word, who became flesh and is full of grace and truth.

— The Word is the Creator. Verse 3 reads: “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing that was made was made.” Verse 10 reiterates that truth, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him..” The letter to the Colossians 1:15-20 reveals: “everything was made through Him (Christ) and for Him”; “In Him, all things consist.” Hebrews 1:3 also says of Him, “He upholds all things according to the word of His power.” Jesus Christ was the first “Causer”, the first “Mover” the Originator of time, space, matter and energy! He is God! He is the Creator.

— The Word is the only Begotten Son of the Father. Twice this word “begotten” is used in the Greek. The ESV translated it as the Only Son. I believe “Begotten” is a better translation. That doesn’t mean Jesus was created. That is what the Jehovah Witnesses and the Arians centuries ago believed and attempted to teach. Jesus became a man in time. He became a human being; he became a baby, born of the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary, but before He was born as a human, He has always existed. That is what John testified in verse 15, “He who comes after me was preferred before me because He was before me..” (John 1:15, NKJV). Before Jesus was born, He existed. That is also what Jesus told the Jewish leaders later in the book of John, “So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John‬ ‭8:57-58‬ ‭ESV‬). ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

We know that when God revealed Himself to Moses at Mount Sinai, He said His Name was: “I AM what I Am” (Exodus 3). Jesus told the Jewish leaders He is “I AM” equating Himself with God. Hebrews 1:3 says the following about Jesus: “He is the exact representation (replica) of the Father.” The Word became a baby, but as Collossians 2:19 says “the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him bodily.” Jesus is not less God than the Father. Jesus Christ is fully God. The Holy Spirit is also fully God, and the Father is also fully God, yet we don’t serve three Gods but One God, distinct in three Persons. Jesus is Almighty, the Father is Almighty, and the Spirit is Almighty, yet we don’t worship three Almighty’s but one Almighty! Jesus is omniscient, the Father is omniscient and the Holy Spirit is omniscient, yet we don’t serve three Omniscient Ones, but One God, distinct in three Persons. That is the mystery of the Trinity!

2. The characteristics of the Word of God

— He is Life. John 1:4 says, “In Him was life…”. John 14:6 says that Jesus is the life. He is the Fountain of life and of being (Psalm 36:8). Acts 17 reads: “In Him, we live and move and have our being”; “He gives us life and breath and everything.” Without the Word, there would be nothing, but God. The Word gives life, sustains life and takes life away. He is the reason we breathe and walk and think and reason and feel and enjoy and live! He is the Prince of Life as Luke said in the book of Acts.

— He is Light (verse 4-9) 1 John 1:5 reads that He is without sin, without darkness. He is incorruptible, without blemish, without fault. He is perfect in every respect of being. We know that the sun that was created by God, emits light and heat and is responsible for physical life, plant life, etc. to occur on this planet. In the same way, does Jesus Christ give us life and existence. He is the reason human beings exist and live and breathe and have consciousness and self-awareness and have a sense of right and wrong (moral motions) and have personality.

— He is glorious. He came to make known the glory of God (verse 14). Verse 14 says we beheld his glory, referring to the disciples. Hebrews 1:2,3 says that Jesus Christ is the brightness of the glory of God and 2 Corinthians 4:6 says that God has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ’s life and death on earth, we see the peak and pinnacle and magnitude of God’s glory!

— Out of His fullness comes grace and truth (verse 14,17). The brightness of God’s glory is to be found in the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. In Christ, we see the full panorama of God’s glory. His power, His meekness, His mercy, His Justice, His humility and His exaltedness, His grace and truth and love. God is without falsity, falsehood, and evil. God cannot lie. John 14:6 says that Jesus is the truth. He is ultimate reality and life. We consist in Him. He is grace. He gives us things that we don’t deserve. We deserve punishment, condemnation, damnation and contempt, because of our darkness and rebellion and sins, but God withheld His justice to be unleashed on us, because of Jesus Christ. As John 3:17 says, Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world but that the world may be saved through Him! God came to overlook sin, and His glory lies in this, that He came to save sinners like you and me, but it cost Him the highest price. He came to satisfy the truth and justice of God. He did not come to abolish the law of God but to fulfill it so that we can receive His grace and Spirit of truth and His righteousness.

3. The purposes of the Word of God

— He became flesh in Christ Jesus (verse 14). He tabernacled among us. The incarnation of God, the fact that God became a human being was planned by God before time began (Revelation 13:8; 1 Peter 1:17-19). In the Old Testament, the Tabernacle was the place where God’s presence was felt and experienced. The offerings of animals because of sin took place in the Tabernacle and the word used in Greek here “skenoo” has the meaning that God came to tabernacle among us. In other words, Jesus Christ came to bring us close to the presence of God. He came to manifest God’s presence, as He is and was God. He came to offer His own life as a sacrifice to bring us close to God. In Jesus’ humanity, He came to identify with us; He came to be our High Priest to identify with our weaknesses. Jesus wept. Jesus got tired. Jesus became dirty. Jesus became hungry and thirsty and experienced suffering and sorrow. He became one with us. He became a human to be our eternal sympathetic High Priest.

— He came to shine in the darkness and to overcome the darkness (verse 5). He drove away the darkness. Jesus’ miracles testified of that. Demons fled before His presence. Diseases were cured in his presence. He exposed men’s sins and secrets. Darkness couldn’t handle Him. And death could not hold Him! Through His perfect life, substitutionary death on the cross and resurrection he also overcame darkness and Satan (See Hebrews 2:12-14; Colossians 2:12-15). John the Baptist testified of Him, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus came to take away our sins, to destroy the darkness in us!

— He came to enlighten every man. Verse 9 says: “The true light that enlightens every man came into the world.” He came to show us our sin and give us real meaning and purpose. Psalm 18 reads: “He enlightens my darkness.” God came to show us our depravity and wretchedness and sinfulness. He came to show that our hearts are desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). After we see our rebellion and wretchedness God makes us new and we become children of light through faith, through the Holy Spirit. He comes to make us new creatures. He enlightens us! He unites us with Himself, with holiness and purity and joy through the Holy Spirit. Have you experienced that friend? Are you a child of the light? Jesus said in John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

— He came to make God known (verse 18). Verse 18 says no one has ever seen God at any time, meaning no one has seen His face, no one has lived in His glorious presence from eternity past, except He who have always been with Him, who is Jesus. But, Jesus said to Thomas: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:7-11). Jesus Christ came to reveal who God is, who the Father is. He came to reveal God’s divine perfections. Jesus came to show us the full panorama of God’s majesty. Jesus came to declare who God is. He came to reveal God’s nature.

— Jesus came so that we may be born of God (verse 12), that we would believe in Him and receive Him. He came that we would trust in Him, that we would believe in Him. John 1:12 declares: “for as many as received Him, who believe in His Name (His Person) He has given the right to become children of God.” We are not born into the kingdom of God by natural birth, by infant baptism, by going to church or reading the Bible or by doing good things, but by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, by the hearing of faith, by the preaching of the gospel, by the abiding word of God (1 Peter 1:23-25). Jesus came that we may have spiritual life in the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ came so that people can be united to the true Light and Life. He came that we may become His adopted children.

 

4. The reactions to the Word of God

— John the Baptist came as a witness (verse 5,6). He was humble and pointed people to Jesus. He did not come to take the honor that was due to Jesus Christ. John the Baptist, who was the greatest prophet of all time, said: “He must become more, and I must become less” (John 3:30-36). Every significant person in history is dwarfed in significance in comparison to Jesus Christ. He must have the prominence ! He must be preeminent. He is above all. John the Baptist knew that, the apostle John knew that, do you know that? Or do you want to make a name for yourself? We are here to point people to Jesus! He is the source of Light and Life and salvation; we are mere reflectors and mirrors of the true light. John the Baptist knew this, do you know that?

— The world did not know Him (verse 10). People don’t know God intimately by nature. They may know of God or things about God. This is amazing! In Jesus’ time people knew Jesus but did not recognize Him for who He was. Some did like his disciples, but many did not know Him, and it is still the same today. Many know about Jesus, but they don’t know Jesus personally. Do you know Him? Jesus said: “This is eternal life, that you may know the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent” (John 17:3). Jesus also said: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me…My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John‬ ‭10:14, 27-28‬ ‭ESV). ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

These were shocking words of John: “He was in the world, the world was made through Him, but the world did not know Him.” Is that so in your life? Is He among you, around you, but absent in you? Does He know you? Do you know Him? What a tragedy it would be if you don’t know Him! You would miss out on the meaning and purpose of your life! You would miss out on life itself; you would be a living corpse, the walking dead on its way to eternal shame, death and destruction if you don’t know Him! ‬
— His own (Israelites) did not receive Him (verse 11). The Jewish leaders and Jewish people rejected Him and eventually crucified him by the Roman soldiers. What an irony. The people who should have identified him the easiest were blinded to His real identity! Yes, the people of God, the nation of Israel didn’t receive Him. They all waited for the promised Messiah! There were hundreds of prophecies about Him in the Scriptures! They expected His coming for centuries. But when He came they didn’t receive Him! Most didn’t. They yelled when He was charged with blasphemy: “crucify Him, crucify Him!” Oh, the irony! They should have worshiped Him, yet they rejected Him and crucified Him! Have you rejected Him, my friend? Has God come and made His home within You? What would your reaction be?

— Those who receive Him, those who believe in Him, are born again (Verse 12). Out of His fullness those who believe received grace upon grace!! Does that experience describe you, my friend? Have you come to receive the gift of God, the living waters from within, the blessed Holy Spirit and forgiveness of sins in Christ?

 The Word’s identity is thus: He is God, His Name is Jesus Christ, He is the Creator of the Universe, and He is the only Begotten of the Father.
 The Word is Life. He is Light. He is infinitely glorious and full of grace and truth.
 The Word’s Purpose is that He came to be one of us, a human being, to identify with us and become our sympathetic High Priest. He came to shine in the darkness and overcome the darkness through His perfect life, death, and resurrection, and He came to make God known unto us. He also came to give us new spiritual life and adopt us as His own children.
 John was a witness of Him to the people of God. He pointed people to Him. The world did not know Him. His own people rejected Him, but those who receive Him, those who believe in Him have eternal life in Him.

I close with John the apostle’s statement: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John‬ ‭20:30-31‬ ‭ESV).‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

 

Biblical Foundations for Evangelism (Part 1)

 

The sovereignty and election of God

When we talk about the sovereignty of God we mean that God is in absolute control over everything that He made. As Jesus Christ said: “not a sparrow falls to the ground without the will of my Father” (Matthew 10:28). Everything that happens in this world, that has happened and will happen occurs because God wills or permits it to happen. He can stop the birds from flying in the sky. He can stop your baby boy from crying. He makes the son to shine at the exact temperature He wants it to shine. He controls the winds (John 6:12) and the rainfall and the droughts on this planet. He works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). Whatever He pleases He does, in the heavens above and on the earth beneath (Psalm 115:6). No one can sway His hand, no one can thwart his purposes. What He has purposed he will do (Isaiah 46:9,10). He sets up thrones and rulers and He makes them to perish. He makes one rich and another person poor (1 Samuel 2:1-10). He makes alive and He kills (Deuteronomy 32:39). Every person dies at precisely at the time God wants them to die (Psalm 139:15,16).

Although God rules on high and although God is involved in the minutest details of every living thing, and although no cell in the human body can function without God’s sustaining hand, we are still responsible human beings and we are accountable for the lives that we live before Him. God is not the author of sin and evil and He is not responsible for the sin we are involved in. Having said this God still can stop people from sinning against Him if He so pleases. God orders everything in the world we live in exactly as He wants, yet He is not responsible for our evil motives, actions, attitudes or words. We call this the doctrine of concurrence. If we look at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and how He died for us we know that it was according to the predetermined counsel and plan of God that Jesus had to be crucified, (Acts 2:24) yet the Romand soldiers who crucified Him, the Jewish authorities who accused Him, Pontius Pilate who allowed it, Judas who betrayed Him, the disciples who fled and Peter who denied Him, all grievously sinned against God in the events that led to His crucifixion. And so it is with life in general. God allows many evil things everyday to happen in this world, but He can stop every sin if He so pleases, but He does not. And because of this truth, although we cannot understand the complexity of daily living fully with our finite minds, we worship God for who He is and pray to Him that He would save those whom He has appointed (Acts 13:48).

When we talk about the sovereignty of God in evangelism we believe that the work of the evangelist and believer in Christ is not in vain (Isaiah 55:10; 1 Corinthians 15:58). The work that God has called every believer to do will accomplish its purpose. God has a people across the world and when they hear the gospel being preached to them the first or second of hundredth time, they will believe as the Holy Spirit makes them alive to the truth of the word (John 3:3-6). When Jesus Christ came to this earth He came to give His life for the sheep, not for the goats (John 10:14-16). Jesus Christ came to give his life as a ransom (Mark 10:28) for many, not all people everywhere. Jesus Christ did not pay the debt of all people who have ever lived. If He did that then all people will go to heaven. If unbelievers don’t believe in Christ they go to hell. If Jesus died for the sin of their unbelief then even the sin of not believing in Him will be forgiven. But it will not. The Bible makes it clear that those appointed to eternal life will believe and be saved (Acts 13:48). All that the Father will draw to the Son will come to Jesus Christ (John 6:44) and those who come to Him in repentance and faith will never be cast out (John 6:37-40). When Jesus prayed before he went to the cross recorded in John 17:3-21, He prayed not for the world but for those who the Father gave Him and those who would believe in him by the word of God.

God has purposed that people from every people and language and tribe and nation (Revelation 5:9;7:9) will be saved and be there praising the Lamb and the Father forever and ever. Because God secured and purchased the elect’s salvation by the blood of Jesus, the appointed number will believe and God’s kingdom will have no end. Of the increase of Jesus’ government and peace there will be no end (Isaiah 9:6-9). The eternal salvation of the elect of God is sure and steadfast and immovable. Jesus Christ did not only make salvation possible for humanity. He actually secured salvation for those who will believe. The sheep hear Jesus’ voice, God knows them and they follow Him. God gives them eternal life, they shall never perish and no one will pluck them from His or the Father’s hand (John 10:27-30). Before the foundation of the world God has chosen the sheep in Christ to be holy and blameless before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4).

Because God has a people we as evangelists and Christians and missionaries can go out in the world and proclaim the gospel, knowing that those who hear and are effectually called and those who repent and believe will be forgiven their sins and be declared righteous by Christ. Because God is ruling, because God is sovereign, because God’s purposes cannot be thwarted, because all authority in heaven and on earth has been give to Christ, because Christ accomplished salvation for those who will believe, because Jesus Christ conquered the grave we can have all the confidence to go out and proclaim the glorious gospel and expect those whom God will effectually call (Romans 8:28-30) will be saved. As Romans 8:28-30 declares:

“All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes. For whom He foreknew He predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. And those whom He predestined He called and those whom He called He justified and those He justified He glorified”

And as Romans 9 states salvation doesn’t in the final analysis depend on human effort but on God who chooses. This is not an easy thing to hear but these truths are based on Scripture (Romans 9:13,14; Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:4-7; Romans 3:24-28). The election of God and the sovereignty of God remains to a large degree a mystery to human beings. God’s judgements are unsearchable and his ways are past finding out (Romans 11:33-36). God’s glory therefore remains.

Distress of Soul, God’s benefits and the believers’ Resolutions!

God's presence

Distress of soul, God’s benefits and our resolution.

Psalm 116

I love the Lord because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live. The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!” Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord In the land of the living. I believed, therefore I spoke, “I am greatly afflicted.” I said in my haste, “All men are liars.” What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord Now in the presence of all His people. Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His saints. O Lord, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord Now in the presence of all His people, In the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord! (Psalms 116:1-19 NKJV)

Introduction:

At the end of a new year, I think it is fitting to look at this Psalm and to reflect on what God has done for us. We should reflect what situations of difficulty we were in before we knew the Lord and then renew our “vows” before the Lord. It is fitting to recommit our lives to God at the end of the year. For many it may have been a bad, stressful and difficult year, the past year, it may have been a year of missed opportunities, for others a year of prosperity and blessings and success. Whatever this year was like, we can look forward to new things. This year may have been a year where you have backslidden into sins you thought you’ve had victory over or it may have been a year of great triumph, financially, emotionally or/and spiritually. Let’s look how Psalm 116 can help us!

Verse 1 is in a sense a summary of the whole Psalm. Verse 1 is a declaration of the Psalmist’s love for the Lord, because the Lord has answered his earnest prayer and supplications. The Psalmist declares His love for the Lord not only because the Lord heard his supplications, but because God delivered him from his distress. And then the Psalmist gives a resolution that he will call upon the Lord as long as he lives. In other words, the Psalmist gives himself to God for time and as long as he will live because God did something for him. The rest of the Psalm is an unpacking of these three realities and can be divided into three parts. Firstly the Psalmist distress and difficulty are described, secondly, what God did for the Psalmist or “the benefits of The Lord” are described and then his declaration of purpose or his resolution is given.

1) The Psalmist describes his situation:

–The writer was in a desperate situation and called for help. He said: “The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!” (Psalms 116:3,4 NKJV). The person who wrote this Psalm wasn’t in a small fix. He was in a desperate situation! It could have been a physical danger or a near death experience, but what we can conclude is that he felt that “the gates of hell was about to swallow him up and that it would be the end of him.” He felt an intense spiritual need. He pleaded, “..deliver my soul!”. He not only experienced a need but that he was bound for hell. “The “pains of death surrounded me” and “the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me.” These are the words that he used. He knew something of the gravity of being lost and damned before God. He felt as if God was about to lay down his wrath on him. He was at the point to be overwhelmed by the powers of hell. It would not be wrong to say that the powers of sin overwhelmed him. He was bent on hell. It would not be wrong to conclude that he saw his immense guilt before God and that the reason why he felt trouble and sorrow was a consequence of his sins. He was in a desperate situation. He said: “I was brought low.” Dear listener have you been brought low before God? Maybe this Psalm describes your situation!

— If you are a believer in Christ you know that these words described you before you were saved. If you are not a Christian, these words describe a man who has been awakened to his sinful state and for many this will describe people who will go to eternity to hell who don’t know Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. They will experience the “pains of hell” and “the pangs of Sheol” forever and ever. When I read this Psalm, I could immediately identify because I was in such a fix before I met God. For those who know me, they know that I was involved with drugs and the occult before I met Christ. And I know that I experienced a war between darkness and light in my life when I came to Christ. I experienced attacks by the evil one, sorrow upon sorrow, distress, anxiety, and harassment by evil and then eventually deliverance from demonic oppression. I can identify with this Psalmist. But brother and sister do you know that even though you didn’t experience demonic oppression or possession that “the pains of death” also surrounded you and that the “pangs of Sheol” also laid hold of you? We were all hell-bent sinners before we were saved. We all have gone astray each to his own way (Isaiah 53:6). All of us have sinned (Romans 3:23) and we all have fallen short of God’s glory. We were all guilty before God. And the penalty for our numerous sins is spiritual death (Romans 6:23). The soul that sins must die (Ezekiel 18:20). Separation from God for eternity is what we deserve. — The wrath of God abided on all of us before we believed and obeyed the gospel of God (John 3:36).

— We started to experience a need for salvation and that the Holy Spirit worked in our lives. It was, in fact, a grace that we were burdened by the thought of God’s wrath abiding on us. It was, in fact, a mercy that God opened our eyes to our desperate plight. Many in the world don’t see their need for God, and they are the ones who are blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). The care-free, happy-go-lucky, self-sufficient are the ones in real danger. They are headed for an eternity without God, and many don’t know it! Friend, do these words describe your situation? Do you experience the “pains of death” or the “pangs of Sheol?” If you do, listen to what I am about to say to you.

2) What are the benefits of the Lord? What did God do?

— The Psalmist’s situation changed when he had a revelation of who God was. He mentioned three things. When he looked back on his life, he said: God is Gracious. God is Merciful. God is Righteous, and it is implied that he is Faithful as well, which He is. He preserves the simple. The Psalmist had a revelation of who God was. That is what the Bible reveals as well about anybody who are saved from their sins. Jesus said: “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27 NKJV). Salvation doesn’t come by education, but by revelation as an old missionary said. Then after the revelation the Psalmist started to call on the Lord. The Psalmist started to call for deliverance and mercy and grace from God. And He found that God was able to meet all his needs. Listen to what he says: “Return to your rest, O my soul, For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you” (Psalms 116:7 NKJV). After he had called to God, he found the benefits of the Lord. He found the bounty of the Lord. He tasted that the Lord was gracious. So let’s look at these benefits in particular.

God is gracious. That God is gracious means God gives us what we didn’t work for ourselves. For us as New Testament believers God gives us the righteousness of Christ. This righteousness is imputed to the believer in Christ. Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life in our place. Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law on our behalf and credited it to our account. We cannot earn this righteousness, we cannot buy it with money, and we cannot work for it because we are all sinners. We all have a flawed righteousness. But God gives us this righteousness when we trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. That is why a God is gracious.

— God is merciful. God gives us not what we deserve. We deserve hell. We deserve eternal punishment. “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness” (Habakkuk 1:13 NKJV). Because we transgressed the law of God, we have guilt before a holy God. We have offended an infinite worthy and glorious God. We have lied, stolen, coveted other people’s possessions and wives or husbands, we have taken God’s name in vain, and we have made or worshiped idols numerous times. If anything or anyone has ever been more important to you than God, then you have committed idolatry. Jesus said: if you only look at a woman with sexual desire you have committed adultery (Matthew 5:28). If we hate another person, we have committed murder in God’s eyes (1 John 3:15). We needed to be punished for our sins. We need God’s forgiveness. The just punishment of sin is death. But God gives believers in Christ not what we deserve. He gives those who believe in Christ mercy. God is merciful. Over and over in the Bible God is called the God of mercy (Exodus 32:6,7; Psalm 145:8,9; Psalm 103:8; Jonah 4:2).

God is righteous. Our sins will never go unpunished. Never (Exodus 34:6,7; Nahum 1:3,4). God is righteous and holy and because of that we had to be punished for our sins, but God made a way so that we don’t have to bear the wrath of God and so that we don’t have to suffer everlasting punishment. Because God is righteous, we need to receive justice from God. But because of the perfect life and sacrifice of Christ on the cross 2000 years ago, outside Jerusalem on the hill called Golgotha, we can be justified. Because Jesus died as our substitute for our sins and took our punishment upon Himself, we can be acquitted. Only because of the crucifixion of Christ can we be blameless in God’s sight. God can now be just in forgiving us and be merciful and gracious to us, because of the substitutionary life and substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross on Golgotha 2000 years ago.

— God preserves the simple. God saves those who humble themselves and confesses their sins. The Bible promises: “Everyone who calls upon the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). But why would you call on God unless you think you need help? Unless you came to the end of yourself? Unless God humbles you, you would not call upon Him. God PRESERVES the simple. In other words, salvation is not an once off event where I needed God 20 years ago or four years ago when I was saved but now I go on in my own strength. No! We need preservation, sanctification, and protection from the powers of sin, self and Satan. We need constant help and saving power of the Holy Spirit. We need preservation and the main Agent here is the Holy Spirit. He preserves us from falling away from the faith. “You delivered my feet from falling.” God is in the business of preserving his saints. Salvation is ongoing and progressive. We need Him still. God preserves us. “You delivered my soul from death.” This may have been true in a physical sense for the Psalmist, but how much more is it true of us who believe in Jesus Christ? Through Jesus Christ’s life and death and resurrection, the power of death has been totally and decisively destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:50-58). O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?

— “I was brought low, but He saved me” God saved the Psalmist. He made him His child.

— God delivers us from depression and sorrow. “You delivered my eyes from tears.” He gives us joy. Salvation by God gives us inexpressible joy as 1 Peter 1:8 says. If there is not joy in your life, then it stands to reason if you are saved, because the fruit of the Spirit is joy.

— “He has loosed my bonds.” This statement refers to deliverance from the power and slavery of sins. Did you forget Christian that you have been delivered from the power of Satan? Did you forget that God has loosed your bonds? Satan is a defeated foe. Jesus broke the power of Satan once and for all at the cross. He disarmed him and made an open spectacle of him at the cross (Colossians 2:15).

— “I believed, therefore, I spoke” God granted him faith. The Psalmist had faith in the divine attributes of God. Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). All these benefits would mean nothing unless we believe in them. Unless we believe they actually apply to us and are meant for us the benefits of God are of no value to us. This brings us to the next point.

3) What shall I give to the Lord for all His benefits? The Psalmist’s resolve.

“I will take the cup of salvation.” In other words, I will believe that all God is for me, and all that He has done for me in the Person and work of Jesus Christ ACTUALLY applies to me. I will run with His salvation. I will allow the Holy Spirit to apply it to my life. I will hold on to His salvation. I will take this cup, this treasure of Jesus Christ and the Father and the Holy Spirit and rest in God. “Return to your rest, o my soul.” I will soak it all in and be satisfied in God.

“I will call upon the Name of The Lord.” In other words, I will continue in my relationship with God. I will not give up or lag behind. God will not only be my God in distress and adversity but also in abundance and prosperity. I will keep on praying, seeking for help, advice, counsel, strength and salvation from God.

“I will walk before The Lord in the land of the living.” I will stay close to God. I will seek His fellowship. I will hide nothing. I will walk in the light as God is in the light. I will humble myself and confess what I need to confess. I will do restitution to whom I should do restitution. I will walk before God and ask for prayer from other Christians. “O Lord, truly, I am your servant,” Can we say this for this year? We are not serving and pleasing man, but God. “Truly?” “Really?” Is it money, man, wife, husband, family, children, career who you are primarily serving or are you primarily serving God?

–“I will pay my vows in the presence of His people.” I know Jesus told us never to make a vow because many times in the heat of the moment we promise God things something extraordinary which we find later on we cannot do. But every Christian owe God their lifelong worship, adoration and service. I will do what I promised God I would do. What promise did you make God when you were in a desperate time in your life? What did you promise God you would do if He were to save you from your sins? I know I had promised God certain things when I was in distress and when the “pangs of Sheol” got hold of me. Are your eyes still set on doing what you promised God? I know I purposed to serve God for the rest of my life just as the Psalmist did. This resolve means: I will lay my life down for His church. I will serve the Lord. I will die to self and comfort. I will take up the cross, deny myself and follow Jesus. It is interesting that the next verse after this resolution is: “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints”. By doing what you promised God, may result in your physical death, (like we witness now around the world as ISIS are beheading Christians in Iraq and Syria, just because they are Christians), but it will definitely mean death to self and death to your own selfish interests and selfish desires. This year is a new beginning for us all. Will we devote our lives, our time, our resources, our abilities, our talents, our money, etc. to God and live for Him?

“I will offer thanksgiving to God.” I will keep in remembrance the benefits of the Lord. The Bible is replete of the command to give thanks to God.

— “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15 NKJV).

— 1 Thessalonians 5:16 “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV).

— Philippians 4:5-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6 NKJV), etc.

–Will you count your blessings this year as a regular exercise? Will you offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving to God? These five things were the Psalmist’s resolves. When he looked back on how God delivered him and when he pondered all the benefits of the Lord, he made these resolves. Will you do the same in the coming year?

Looking back on what God has done for you, will you take the cup of salvation?

Will you keep on calling on the Lord?

Will you walk before the Lord in the land of the living?

Will you pay your vows in the presence of his people?

And will you offer thanksgiving to God?

The rest of your life is taking off with a bang! Are you set to take off in it, with God, for God, and in God?

 

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