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Archive for April, 2018

“Making It In”

Pastor John, 

Beth and I were able to spend a few hours with Jimmy and Debbie today after our Sunday meeting. Jimmy spoke some about what a new and wonderful thought it was to think that Jesus never spent his time on earth striving to make it in to heaven. As we had lunch, Jimmy asked, “Has anyone here at the table ever had that thought?”  None of us had ever considered it.  It blessed us all to chew on it some more because it reveals more about God.

Jesus never spent a moment of his life worrying about “if I can only make it in.”  That wasn’t even an issue.  He possessed his salvation in doing the will of God.  Salvation was built into it. Everything that he ever needed was contained in doing the will of God.

While you were preaching about that today, about Jesus not spending his time on earth hoping that somehow, he could just make it in, I felt the Spirit of the Lord ask me a question.  And the question amounted to this,  “….and then what?”  In other words, if a person is striving, hoping that they can just make it in to heaven, then what?  Are they hoping to get there and then be free to live different from the way they had been living up to that point?  Are they hoping to get there and then be free to sin, after living a life clean enough to just make it in the door?

I felt like the Lord was asking, Who are you?  Are you someone different from you seem – someone who will be free to finally live after you “make it in”, once “the deal is sealed”, so-to-speak?  It was really a sobering thought, but also one that made it seem absurd to ever try to just “make it in” at all.  Our salvation is contained in our doing the will of God, also.  And it will remain there.

Jesus spent a great deal of time trying to persuade his disciples that it was only lack of faith in their father’s love for them that prevented them from moving mountains!  How much less should they have been concerned with just “making it in”!  Surely, Jesus didn’t die for that.

I love it when God reveals a piece of Himself; it always replaces something that I had been imagining about Him (and didn’t realize it) up to that point.

This weekend was wonderful.

Thank you,

Jerry

 

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Free to Obey God

Pastor John,

I was talking to the Lord this morning. I believe this was Him, so I wrote it down, below.

“Your judgment of this world is in how you live your life; it is not in words.”

Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world; they were already condemned.  He came to save souls.

We are not here to condemn the world; they are already in that condition without a word being said.  We are free to use any means to help a soul escape damnation, just as Paul declared: “To a Jew, I am a Jew, to a Gentile I am a Gentile, if by any means I may win their heart to Christ.” 

We are free to do good!

God can’t use you  until you are willing to do anything.

Jerry

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Hi Jerry.

Thanks.  It is true that our lives are what most should condemn the world, not so much our mouths.  That is what the Bible said about Noah.  He condemned the world by building the ark (Heb. 11:7).  He felt free to do the will of God, and look at the result!

Seeing that God uses everybody, even Satan, to accomplish His purposes, I would rephrase your last sentence to say this: “God can’t use you to the fullest degree until you are free enough from superstition to do anything He says.”

Religious fear is superstition, and it stymies our growth in Christ.  But the truth sets us free from all such things so that we may do the will of God gladly, whatever it is.

Thanks again.

Pastor John

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Luke 21:20

Hi, Pastor John.

Is Luke 21:20 talking about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD or is this about the end time when all nations come against Israel.

Thanks, 

Billy ​

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Hi Billy.

Here are the verses (our translation) from that section of Luke 21, where Jesus is answering his disciples’ questions about the end of the world:

  1. “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that her desolation is near.
  2. Then let those in Judea flee for the mountains, and let those in the midst of her cities depart, and let not those in the countryside enter into her.
  3. For these are the days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.
  4. And woe to the women who are with child and those who are nursing in those days, for there shall be great distress on the earth, and wrath on this people.
  5. They shall fall by the edge of the sword, and they shall be led captive into all nations.  And Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
  6. And there shall be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth, bewildered anguish among the nations because of the raging of the sea, and its surge,
  7. men fainting from fear and from expectation of things coming upon the world, for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
  8. And then they shall see the Son of man, coming on a cloud, with power and great glory.
  9. But when these things begin to take place, you stand erect and lift up your heads because it is your redemption drawing near.”

This clearly refers to the end of time.

Pastor John

 

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Humility and Freedom

Pastor John, 

Last night, you and I had a short discussion about your father, specifically about an event that you had described in the Preacher Clark Stories.  I can’t help but to think more on it today, and I want to share it. 

The setting was this: Your father was a young man, zealous for the Lord and preaching where he could, and doing so without the holy Ghost baptism.  In this particular case, he was preaching to a group that he described later as folk that seemed to talk at a low volume, or even mumble while he was preaching to them.  He was not aware at the time that those folk were Spirit-filled and that they were speaking to the Lord quietly in order not to disrupt preacher Clark’s sermon – but speaking nonetheless, as the Spirit gave the utterance.

There are two things about this story that I recall in particular that are really standing out to me now.  Last night’s meeting made these things come to life. 

First, preacher Clark was preaching to a group of God’s Spirit-filled saints, without having the spirit baptism himself! – not yet anyway.  And those folk were so kind, and so willing (and able) to receive whatever was from God, in whatever situation they were in, that they were yielding and speaking in tongues as this unconverted man preached Christ to them.

The second thing, much like the first, is that during at least one of those services, he pulled open the rolled up picture of Jesus on the cross that he had previously painted, and now carried with him, and often showing it to those he preached to when the time was right, and the crowd jumped from their seats when they saw it, praising God and shouting and speaking in tongues!  One of those saints even took the time after one service to tell preacher Clark that she had not heard such good preaching in years!

I am trying to imagine just how free those saints were to be able to humbly glean what was from God, from a man they knew 

did not yet know Him!  They were utterly unafraid of what was not God in the young minister, they held no contempt toward him for trying to teach them something, and they apparently made him feel enough of the love of God for him to return there.  They even remained humble and pliable enough to be in such a condition as to leap to their feet in a shout, the moment he hit the nail on the head with the picture of Jesus! 

I wondered last night, if I could do what those saints were doing in that story.  And then I realized that I had wondered about it because of the liberty in Jesus that you spoke of last night, a liberty that transcends anything that we can imagine.  It isn’t human, and humans can’t be that free; only God in us can, but we have to grow to it.

That is the kind of freedom Jesus was experiencing when he spent his time around people that needed him.  Jesus never feared that their ignorance of God or their sin was going to rub off on him.  He was above that; He was where his Father was.

After I received the holy Ghost back in the 1990’s, I began to cling to a standard that I thought was God’s righteousness.  It was a form of rightness, to be sure.  But that “rightness” was leaving out the liberty and freedom I had to hear from God, and to love and to laugh and to just be good to all men; to be happy!  That standard that I called God then, would not have permitted me to humbly sit under your unconverted father, collecting every good thing that he had to offer and then loving him for it, like those saints did in that story.  That standard couldn’t have received a thing from him.  Nor could it have rejoiced when he unrolled that picture of Christ on the cross.  That standard I had was nothing but fear, I think. 

I believe I better understand the scripture now: “perfect love casts out all fear.”

Thank you for Wednesday night.

Jerry

 

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Eternal Life

Pastor John, 

Many times you have told us that the promise of God to the faithful, the promise of Eternal Life, does not mean a promise of a life with endless days; it has nothing to do with the length of time in which we shall live. But that Eternal Life is a kind of life, it is a life like God’s life.

I considered today just how obvious that is, when one considers God’s promise to those who are unfaithful, and to those who refuse the witness of Jesus. He promised them suffering and anguish that will never end. 

Though it is true, their torment will last eternally, it is far from the “eternal life” that the apostle Paul described to the believers in Corinth, when he declared to them, “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

Jerry

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Hi Jerry.

The promise of eternal life is the promise of an endless life of perfect peace.   It is endless in the sense that “time shall be no more”.  In other words, time will not exist.

Eternal life is indeed God’s kind of life.  It is the holy kind of life that Jesus made possible for us we to live here, in this world.  In fact, we must live it here, or we will not be allowed to live it later.

Pastor John

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Israel and the Afterlife

Pastor John, 

I have it in my head that old testament Israel had no knowledge of an afterlife with God.  Also, that their understanding of the value of being God’s chosen people was based solely on receiving the blessings and protection that He promised them in this dangerous world, alone.  

Yet, David knew his soul could not be hidden from God, even in Sheol/Hell. Which means they had to have some idea about an afterlife?

Is there some element of that idea of mine – that the Israelites were serving God only for help with earthly things, that is true? 

I feel like I remember the very place I was sitting when you taught me that they obeyed God for His Earthly protection alone.

Thank you.

Jerry ​

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Hi Jerry.

David said, “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  So, I don’t see how it could be that the Israelites did not know about living forever.

No, I have never taught that the Israelites were ignorant of an afterlife, but you may have heard me mention that some people teach that.  I was made aware of that doctrine while attending seminary in 1976 or so, and I knew it was wrong even then.  I was told of some scholars who taught that the Israelites had no concept of a difference between the soul and the body, but that is easily disproved (e.g., 1Kgs. 17:21).

Thanks for the question.

Pastor John

 

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