God is Good

Our God is a good God. When bad things happen to good people we might have a tendency to lash out and blame God. God is not the author of bad…He’s the author of good. When He made a tree…he said it was good. When He made the light…He said it was good. All that God made was good. God is on your side today. He wants to fill your life with goodness and joy and love and peace.

A Psalm Revealing the Goodness of God

                                                       Psalm 100:1-5

A Devotional Study of Psalm 100

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

• Shouting in Verse 1
• Gladness in Verse 2
• Knowledge in Verse 3
• Thanksgiving and Prayer in Verse 4
• Goodness and Love in Verse 5

I.  “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.”

 We may not have the chemical and biological makeup to be a person who enjoys shouting. We may be timid about shouting. That is, not at all comfortable shouting. There is, without a doubt, times when nothing else will express what we have in our mind and in our heart. We must shout!
Here, the Psalmist is urging us to Shout for Joy…to the LORD.
American’s have a lot to shout about and many times, do shout, but rarely do we shout to the Lord.
a.) We shout at the stadium when our football team is in a close contest about to make a critical play. Our team makes the play and scores the point. The crowd erupts into a great, ear shattering shout! Yes, we shout in our ballgames.
b.) We shout at the racetrack when our favorite driver finally inches forward and takes the lead all the way to the finish line. Again the supporting fans erupt into a deafening and collective shout.
c.) We shout when there is danger and we attempt to get the attention of a loved one who is in imminent risk of dying or serious injury.
But here the writer of sacred Scripture strongly urges us to shout for Joy! Joy to the Lord. Your heart is so filled with goodness, joy and love for God that nothing else will express that Joy, but a great, heart rendering SHOUT!!!

Here’s a little song from my youth that will bring a little shout out of you.  It’s a fun song and has more verses than Carter has little Liver Pills…well, almost!  Remember this?  “I’ve Got the Joy.”

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.
Where?  Down in my heart!
Where?  Down in my heart!
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart,
down in my heart
down in my heart to stay.

The song leader used to cup his ear and shout out to his singers…”WHERE?”  And the reply could be deafening.  WHERE?  Down in my heart! 

Here are more verses…

And if the Devil doesn’t like it he can sit on a tack.
OUCH!
Sit on a tack!
OUCH!
Sit on a tack.
And if the Devil doesn’t like it he can sit on a tack
Sit on a tack today.
The kids sit on the floor and shout “OUCH” 
and repeat this until the song is over.

I’ve got the peace that passes understanding,
Down in my heart,
Where? Down in my heart!
Where? Down in my heart!
I’ve got the peace that passes understanding,
down in my heart
down in my heart to stay.
I’ve the got love of Jesus, love of Jesus
Down in my heart,
Where? Down in my heart!
Where? Down in my heart!
I’ve the got love of Jesus, love of Jesus
down in my heart,
down in my heart to stay.
 

“this next verse must be sung very quickly to cram all the extra words in. But it works!”

 
I’ve got the wonderful love of my precious redeemer way down in the depths of my heart, 
Where?  Down in the depths of my heart, 
Where?  Down in the depths of my heart. 
I’ve got the wonderful love of my precious redeemer way down in the depths of my heart; 
down in the depths of my heart to stay!

 I’ve got the love for all people down in my heart 
Where? Down in my heart 
Where? Down in my heart 
I’ve got the love for all people down in my heart 
Down in my heart to stay. 

And I’m so happy. So very happy !
I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart. 
And I’m so happy so very happy 
I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart!

You can’t sing that little song and not get happy.  It’s a happy song, a joyful song and it makes you SHOUT!

 

YOU SHOULD TAKE THIS SONG HOME WITH YOU AND SING IT AGAIN AND AGAIN WITH YOUR KIDS AND GRANDKIDS.   WHEN YOU ARE DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD BREAK OUT THIS SONG AND SING IT AS LOUD AS YOU CAN.  LET THE FOLKS PASSING YOU WONDER WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN DRINKING.  PUT SOME JOY BACK IN YOUR LIFE AND SHARE IT WITH THE WORLD. 

Verse 2, Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

II. This verse injects Gladness into the Worship experience. We, of all people, should be Glad. Let me ask you a question, “Are you glad?”

Are you glad you are here? Are you glad you are not in some bar, drinking; Or, in your wrecked car, drunk? Are you glad you are not in the morgue, dead?
Tell me what you are glad about and I can tell a lot about your life and position in life.

The Bible says, “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm118:24. The writer is saying, this day, today, the very day we are living right now…this day right here in the sweet now and now—this day God has made for us…We should rejoice (joy) and be GLAD in it. Are you Glad?

Turn to two or three people and grab their hand, smile at them say, “I am glad!!!” Tomorrow the first people you meet…smile, shake their hand and say, “I am glad!.” Get in the habit of expressing your gladness in the Lord.

“But…” you say, “won’t people think I am a little fanatical?” What do you care what they think. You apparently don’t care what they are thinking when you snap at them, or grumble about things.

You want to shake someone up and cause them to ponder your attitude when you walk down the street? Do this tomorrow. The first two or three strangers you see on the street, walk up to them, extend your hand in greeting…introduce yourself and then say, God made this day and I am glad.” Then walk off. Hello!!!

What have you got to be glad about? You might ask:
I am glad for God. I am glad He loves me. I am glad He saved me. I am glad I am going to Heaven when I die. I am glad to have Christian friends and loved ones. I am glad to have a good church. I am glad for my family. I am glad for my job. I have a lot to be glad about. Say that with me…”I am glad”.

III. Know that the LORD is God.

a.) It is he who made us,
b.) and we are his; we are his people.
c.) (we are) the sheep of his pasture.
Verse 3 Promotes Knowledge. Christians should know a few things. The first thing a Christian should be certain about…The LORD is God. When you know that…When you know that the LORD is God…you already know more than 60 percent of all the professing Christians in America. Think about that…The LORD is God!

The Lord is not just a good man…He is GOD! He is the God-man. If he is not God…He is not good. If He is good, He is God. The LORD is God.
a.) The LORD is God
b.) The LORD made us. We didn’t just happen. I don’t care what the educational institutions declare…If at the root of their understanding is not this great fact, “It is He…God…The LORD who made us” then everything they attempt to force feed into your mind is wrong. It is in error. It is anti God. He made us. We are His by virtue of that fact. We have no right to say no to Him.
c.) We are His people. Let your mind wrap around that thought. We, you, me and everyone who names the Name of Christ…We are the people of God. We are in His family. We have rights; we have privileges; we have joys; we have peace. We are His and He is ours.
d.) We are the sheep of His pasture. That means He cares for us. We can cast all of our cares upon His strong shoulders…because He cares for us. First Peter 5:7 says those very words, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” That’s a deep thought. God knows where you are…He knows what you are doing…He cares for you. He’s looking out for you. Place your heavy load of cares over on the Lord.

IV. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; Give thanks to him and praise his name”.

These are the out years…before the Christian is Raptured Home. We shall make an application from this statement. We will, today, enter His presence with “Thanksgiving.” When you pray…you are entering into His presence. Never forget this wonderful truth. Want to be near to God? Pray. When you pray…you are drawing near to the heart of God. How much do you pray? We are instructed to pray all the time.
Long before America had Billy Graham, London had Charles H. Spurgeon, He was London’s greatest of all pastors and preachers. Mr. Spurgeon addressed this matter of praying often and always by saying,
“It is a very simple matter to ask; but how gracious it is, on the part of God, to add to such a simple thing as asking (Get this) His promise of giving! He did not say, “Desire the blessing,” but “Ask for it.” He does not say, “Purchase it,” but “Ask for it;” nor “Labor until you finally obtain it by your own efforts,” but “Ask for it.” Brothers and Sisters, if heaven is to be had for the asking, and if all that is needed to bring us to heaven is to be had for the asking, who would not ask? Whatever else a believer may fail to do, he must never fail to ask.
“If we have never asked God for anything at all, we may be quite sure that we were never converted.”
“A prayerless soul must be a Christless soul; but if we are really in Christ, we must have practiced the sacred art of asking, and we ought to continually ask. If there is any difficulty in our minds, let us ask, for the Holy Spirit can solve it. If there is any needs in our homes, let us ask, for our Heavenly Father can supply it. If there is any weakness in our spiritual nature, let us ask, for God can strengthen us. If there is any longing desire of our soul, which even leads to great sorrow of spirit, let us ask, for our desire can be granted if it is a right one, and our sorrow can be removed. To ask my brethren, is very simple; and let the Lord’s name be praised that, usually, the best asking is that which is the most simple.”
These wonderful thoughts on prayer flowed from Spurgeon’s pulpit through his sermon, “Pray, Always Pray, delivered November 3, 1878. Mr. Spurgeon died 1892 at the young age of 58.
My friends, God is never more pleased with you, as one of his Children, as He is when you pray to Him. We humans love to hear from our children, our parents, our loved ones. Nothing warms our hearts as a letter from home, or phone call.
Years ago just before Mother’s Day. The telephone company was using celebrities to promote calling mother on Mother’s Day. I still remember The University of Alabama college football great…Coach Bear Bryant suggesting folks call their mothers on Mother’s Day. While I don’t remember all he said, I do remember his passionate statement, “I wish I could call my mother…” Oh, Coach Bryant wanted to hear his mother’s voice one more time.
Do you think Coach Bryant loved his mother more than God loved her? Do you believe Coach Bryant wanted more to hear his mother’s voice than God wants to hear your voice?
God loves your prayers. He loves for you to step into His presence with “thanksgiving.” He loves your “praise.” That’s why the Psalmist said, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”

V. And finally, I bring you the last verse in this great Psalm. Look at Verse 5. “For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

I heard a pastor say recently, “One of the main reasons we have a time for greeting folks each Lord’s day is this: There are folks in this church who have not touched another human this entire week. They are lonely. When you shake that person’s hand today you are blessing them with a gentle touch as from the Lord. They will treasure that hand shake.”
Dr. George W. Truett, long-time pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, said, “Be kind to everyone you meet, because everyone is having a hard time.”
This last verse imparts a simple, but profound thought to our spirit. This thought was so powerful that it shook the planet when Jesus was born and shook it again when He died and shook it one more time when He resurrected. He shook the earth with His goodness.
a.) The Lord is good. Don Moen and Paul Overstreet couldn’t pass up this thought without writing a song that blesses thousands of Christians each Lord’s day. Here’s their chorus, “God is good all the Time.”

GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME
HE PUT A SONG OF PRAISE, IN THIS HEART OF MINE
GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME
THROUGH THE DARKEST NIGHT, HIS LIGHT WILL SHINE
GOD IS GOOD, GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME

They were saying in other words what God said best, “The Lord is good and his love endures forever:”
Not only is the Lord good and that good extends out to the very end of the age…His FAITHFULNESS continues right along with His goodness. You might say His faithfulness is a companion to His goodness.
I close these thoughts with one of the sweetest and most meaningful verses in all the Bible:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
May God complete this message in the heart of each of you as you let the Holy Spirit do His perfect work.

The Preacher as the KEY!

Preachers should keep their Teaching, Simple; Their messages, Scriptural; Their Sermons Short. Simplicity is one of the key ingredients of a successful message. If you go back and retrace all of the messages Jesus delivered you will not find a long, boring, sophisticated, blowhard message in the bunch. They are all simple, honest and straight on. He didn’t put on the dog. God knows He could have.

Have you ever mused on the question, “Why does one minister have more visible success than another?”  Like it or lump it, some do have more visible results.  I am not referring, necessarily, to those larger denominational congregations that mostly grow because of their particular affiliation.  That’s not always spiritual growth. 

Let’s lay out the obvious things we notice about successful preachers.
1. He is handsome. Ok, rule that one out. I have seen some plain looking preachers who do very well in the success field. Looks have little to do with it. However, you should look as good as you can.
2. He has more money. Money? Are you talking about personally? I have seen some successful preachers who have few material goods to their name, but when they preach God blesses and souls are stirred, men and women flood the altar.
3. They have more wealthy church members, their members give more in the offerings. Now you know better than that. We are not here speaking of facade.  We are looking for distinctive differences that will make a big difference.
4. Successful preachers are more articulate, better educated, have more earned degrees. Nope, not that. If that were the case Simon Peter would still be fishing for a living and you would have never heard of him. Matthew would still be collecting taxes and never mentioned in the Bible.
5. Successful preachers have better manners, better personality and are more friendly.
I think we can agree that we have known some pastors and evangelist that are so plain spoken that folks don’t cater to them at the first.  Some murder the King’s English.  How do you account for those you have heard and even seen on TV who have significant speech impediments? Yet they attract great crowds and see many converts added to the church.
6. I think we can come to an agreement that some ministers, some Gospel preachers are more successful than others and we have not touched on the reasons. Oh, some of the above can have a small effect on the overall ministry, but little.

Let’s look at three (3) reasons why some preachers have a greater degree of success than others.  These may not be the only reasons, but are the three I have selected.  It might be an interesting exercise if you think of others that might be just as effective, or more so.  A good sermon makes you think.  So think.  But while you are thinking…

We will use the three letters of the word KEY to form an acrostic for our outline.

I. “K.” stands for “Keep it simple.”  Here I am referring to your message.

We could say, Keep it Simple; Keep it Scriptural; Keep it Short.

Too many preachers try to create a sermon that is designed to impress other preachers. The words they speak have a preacher sound to them.  Preachers are usually your worst audience.  They wish you would come down and let them up there and preach.   Another distressing thing is the length of too many sermons.  You should try never to preach longer than the weakest kidney in the room.  Our generation is a TV audience.  People are used to having a commercial break.  A time where they can get up and roam around for a minute or two and take care of issues.   When you preach over 30 minutes you run the risk of losing 90 percent of your audience.  The other 10 percent need to go use the restroom or get a drink of water.   I realize you have to study harder to be brief than you do to run long.  Study harder!  Keep your sermons short.  Keep your people wishing you had more time.   If you preach long and your people are looking at their watches–they are not wishing you had more time.  They are hoping you will bring that thing in for a landing.   Accomodate them.

Don’t use complex illustrations that tend to detract from your theme and stay away from those that are chosen to impress other ministers–preachers that usually are not present when you preach anyway.   Make sure your illustrations create word pictures in the minds of the regular people in the pew.  Make them ring true, because they are true!   When Jesus used the illustration of the fig tree it was an actual tree.  He was longing for fruit.  Listening to Him teach in Scripture do you have any difficulty visualizing those fig leaves and seeing Him searching for figs.  No figs.  No fruit.  We get the picture.  We understand His emotion.  That is a “Wow” type illustration.  According to the leaves it was  time for figs and He had every right to expect them, but there were no figs.   Even though it was not the proper season for figs, the leaves promised fruit.   That illustration lives.

An illustration should be a window that lets the true light of the Gospel into the souls of men and women. Choose your illustrations wisely. Project them precisely. Select them with the skill of a surgeon in an operating room choosing his instruments. Apply them with the creative touch of a painter’s brush on the canvas of man’s heart. Let your hearers leave saying in their heart, “The preacher was speaking directly to me today. I felt every word.”

Simplicity is one of the key ingredients of a successful message. If you go back and retrace all of the messages Jesus delivered you will not find a long, boring, sophisticated, blowhard message in the bunch. They are all simple, honest and straight on. He didn’t put on the dog. God knows He could have.

Here was a Man who could raise the dead, make the blind to see, He could walk on water and heal every soul brought to Him. He could turn water to wine; He could feed five thousand hungry men with a few fish and biscuits.

He could get the job done. But that didn’t enter into His preaching by way of bragging. Look at His work. Read His sermons. Listen to His words. Those unlearned fishermen could understand every utterance. Those simple villagers heard him gladly. In fact they followed Him everywhere he went just to hear more of His Word. The multitudes followed Him. Again and again the people and His disciples were impressed with the words He spoke. No one ever spoke like this Man.   The Bible says, “The officers answered, “Never man spake like this man.” John 7:46

Never…Never…Never…did any man speak like Jesus!

Just how did Jesus speak? He spoke with honest simplicity. He spoke TRUTH. Some of His words, though simple for us to understand today, were hidden truths from his disciples prior to Him being put to death on the cross.  Much of His teaching had parts hidden from those who followed him. When God wanted to hide truth from people He wrapped that truth in simplicity.

Look at His parables. They were very simple, pointed teaching from the mouth of that “carpenter’s son”.  But His words were deeper than the ocean and packed with more meaning than all the books in Yale and Harvard combined. His sermons were simple, Scriptural and short. No man spoke like Jesus.

II. The second letter of our KEY is the letter “E” and it should stand for EMPATHY.

Empathy not Sympathy, Empathy not Sarcasm, Empathy not  Sanctimonious.

There can be a great deal of difference between the word Sympathy,  and the word Empathy. When you have sympathy for another person you are stimulating certain feelings in your mind that are similar in kind to those that affect another person. Those feelings may trouble you and probably do, but they won’t necessarily move you to help.  It might cause you to feel pity for the poor soul. 

But if you have Empathy for that person you are mentally taking on the feelings and problems of the other person like their situation has become yours. It can weigh you down.  Empathy drives you to participate vicariously in another’s trouble.   Another word that is closely associated with empathy is compassion. Jesus saw the multitudes as sheep without a shepherd and He had compassion on them (Mark 6:34). Compassion moved Him. How long has it been since you were moved by the challenges some other person is wrestling with? How long has it been since one of your sermons moved you?  Mark this down and remember it well: Good, sound preaching always hits the preacher first!

President Clinton was famous for him saying, “I feel your pain.” There is a great difference in saying that and actually “feeling that pain.” Sympathy can honestly look at a bad situation and say, “I am so sorry you are going through that.” But do nothing to remedy the matter.

Empathy steps into the other man’s shoes and feels every pang of hurt, every stab of guilt or whatever that person is going through and does what he can to alleviate the problem, or help the person, but always careful never to participate in his sin or folly.  Empathy will give the very shirt off your back to cloth a naked person. Sympathy will look at the same naked man and say, “Well bless your heart.  You need to put on some clothes.” What does that mean? What does that do to help?  He goes on his way without doing anything.

When you, the preacher, have genuine spiritual empathy for your congregation your words will communicate truth to their souls. You will telegraph “I care” and the person hears those words in his spirit. He knows you care. He feels it, he believes it. Your words massage his troubled soul and lifts his spirit to new highs. It makes him able to leave that service with hope. God’s people need fresh hope; fresh oil; fresh encouragement.

The preacher does not learn spiritual empathy in Bible school or the seminary. He doesn’t pick it up from the latest sermon outline book or Sunday school quarterly. He learns it by internalizing the Word of God in a personal way.

The Word become more necessary to him than the food he eats and the pillow upon which he rests. God’s Word is acted out in the very fiber of his being through the words he speaks, the actions he takes and the kindness he reflects where needed; and the firmness he projects when that is required.

Spiritual empathy is never harsh, but it can be firm; straight shooting. It is never rude. It is never hurtful, but always prayerfully administered. That is not to say others might not view the preachers actions as being rude, or hurtful, but the recipient, God’s people, or the convicted sinner will receive your words as given. Though the preacher’s words might at first sting, they find a resting place in the hearer’s heart and work there to perfection.

Empathy can be like that two edged sword—cutting away the cancerous sin or obstructions that hinders the sinner from hearing the truth or doing the right thing. Empathy better be bathed in your prayers and supported with Holy Spirit power, or it will likely morph into something very different and become at best, ineffective.

III. The third and final letter of our acrostic is the letter “Y.” This letter stands for YOU.

You, sir, are God’s key for reaching lost people. You are God’s instrument to teach His people. You are God’s “watchman” to protect them from evil. His people can not hear without a preacher (Romans 10:14). You are necessary. You are important. Why? Because God called you to be important; you are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10) . Preach the Word! The Apostle Paul wrote, ” Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” — 2 Timothy 4:2. Again Paul said, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” Mister, that is a mouthful!  Are you a “watchman” or a watch man?
“O son of man, I HAVE SET THEE A WATCHMAN unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me… IF THOU DOST NOT SPEAK TO WARN THE WICKED from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but HIS BLOOD WILL I REQUIRE AT THINE HAND… IF THOU WARN THE WICKED of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but THOU HAST DELIVERED THY SOUL…” – Ezekiel 33:7-15
“…Be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. FOR THERE ARE MANY unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision (the religious crowd): WHOSE MOUTHS MUST BE STOPPED… TEACHING THINGS WHICH THEY OUGHT NOT… This witness is true. WHEREFORE REBUKE THEM SHARPLY, that they may be sound in the faith…” -Titus 1:9-13
You are part of His plan. You are somebody. Whether, or not others see you as that, you have to recognize that you are an integral part of God’s plan for this time on earth. You have an important job to do. You have to feed the sheep. You have to win the lost. You have to make disciples. You have to watch for the souls of your congregation and keep them sound in the faith. You have to lead the congregation.

You are the KEY! The Holy Spirit takes that KEY in His capable hands and opens doors that seem impossible to open. He uses that KEY to melt hearts that seem colder than ice. He uses that KEY like a hammer to break open a heart that is harder than any rock. He uses that KEY to speak peace to the troubled souls of God’s people. Your sheep should feel better when you are near.

Some times all the man of God has to do is be there. Hold that dear old saint’s hand. No words need to be spoken because your empathy radiates an unspoken message from your spirit to theirs. That message is as real as if you have spoken and written your words down on a card and given it to them. The current of God’s spiritual electricity is flowing through your veins to them. Dear man of God, you are The Lord’s special KEY for this generation.

If you are the spiritual KEY for your church, your mission, your revivals it matters little that your church or mission is small in number or very large.  There are no small works for God.  Each is important and provides an avenue for the Lord to work.  When you are living out the ideals expressed in this message you will find even a small work begins to reflect the spiritual light of your preaching.  Christians become revived.  Souls are saved.  People are added to the church.  May this message sink deep into your heart and spirit and stir your mind with a new vision and give you fresh  ideas about reaching the lost and teaching the saints.

Seven Things to Take to Church with You

We are coming up on our Independence Day holiday. Our nation has been rocked to her foundation by what appears to be foolish experiments with our financial bedrocks, mortgages, corporations, insurance, health care, manufacturing, shrinking of our dollar, Supreme Court, employment woes, massive federal debt ($145,000 for every American taxpayer), immigration woes, and next year a fresh round of raising taxes. As bleak as it seems surely to be, there is always hope. This nation was founded on the idea that people could come to this land and enjoy freedom of religion. However, America has drifted too far away from true religion. The erosion of our religious freedoms threatens our nation at its core. That same evil erodes our Constitution and with each chip of that grand old document the foundations of America can be heard to groan and her timbers shaken. Real hope lies in a return to the basic character planks and principles that caused this land to become a great land. A Soviet leader said one time that his nation would bury America without firing a shot. The spirit that ruled that ruthless leader is still alive and seducing our leaders today on both the left and the right. That spirit is not communism or socialism (though both are rooted in some of the mischief we see creeping upon us). That spirit is ungodliness. Each generation is more and more comfortable drifting further from God. If we are to embrace the concept of hope for a better day, I think it might involve the way we view something as basic as our local church. What does church mean to you? Last night this thought stirred me and I listed out some things I hope you won’t mind me sharing with you. I hope you will prayerfully consider declaring a new Independence Day in your heart as we celebrate the birth of our nation. One Nation Under God…

We are coming up on our Independence Day holiday.  Our nation has been rocked to her foundation by what appears to be foolish experiments with our financial bedrocks, mortgages, corporations, insurance, health care, manufacturing, shrinking of our dollar, Supreme Court, employment woes, massive federal debt ($145,000 for every American taxpayer),  immigration woes, and next year a fresh round of raising taxes.  As bleak as it seems surely to be, there is always hope.  This nation was founded on the idea that people could come to this land and enjoy freedom of religion.  However, America has drifted too far away from true religion.  The erosion of our religious freedoms threatens our nation at its core.  That same evil erodes our Constitution and with each chip of that grand old document the foundations of America can be heard to groan and her timbers shaken.  Real hope lies in a return to the basic character planks and principles that caused this land to become a great land.   A Soviet leader said one time that his nation would bury America without firing a shot.  The spirit that ruled that ruthless leader is still alive and seducing our leaders today on both the left and the right.  That spirit is not communism or socialism (though both are rooted in some of the mischief we see creeping upon us).  That spirit is ungodliness.  Each generation is more and more comfortable drifting further from God.  If we are to embrace the concept of hope for a better day, I think it might involve the way we view something as basic as our local church.  What does church mean to you?  Last night this thought stirred me and I listed out some things I hope you won’t mind me sharing with you.   I hope you will prayerfully consider declaring a new Independence Day in your heart as we celebrate the birth of our nation.  One Nation Under God…

Seven Things to Take to Church With You

By the Editor
 
1. Your Bible–Always be armed with God’s written Word. “…be ready…” (I Pet. 3:15)
2. Prayerful attitude. House of prayer (Matt. 21:13) (Eph. 6:18) “Praying always…”
3. Receptive attitude.  “Ears to hear” (Matt. 11:15) Have God’s Word in your heart. Listen carefully to the preacher.        Listen to the Music & song.
4. Giving attitude. “Give…” (Luke 6:38)
5. Friendly attitude. Be friendly at church (Prov. 18:24) Shake hands and greet people warmly with a smile.
6. Attitude of Communion.  Why are you in church? Meditate on what Jesus Christ did on the cross & His resurrection; How? Thoughtfully, prayerfully & privately. (Philippians 4:8) While you are seated in your church have your own private communion service in your heart.  Prepare your heart for worship.
7. Your self.  Make sure you show up! Not just in your body (that should be a given), but in your mind and your spirit.  Be there… 100 percent (First Cor. 4:2).

Avoid Hell at All Cost

Not everyone believes the Bible, or accepts it as a historic Book dictated and preserved by God. I suppose I could broaden my first statement by saying not everyone believes in God. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in God or accept His Book as being the Instruction Book of the ages.

How to Avoid the Bible’s Hell

By Ron English

Not everyone believes the Bible, or accepts it as a historic Book dictated and preserved by God.  I suppose I could broaden my first statement by saying not everyone believes in God.  I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in God or accept His Book as being the Instruction Book of the ages.

In my early years I would have argued for the Bible, but I was not reading it.  I believed in God, bur rarely called on Him.  Perhaps I could say I had a distant respect for the two, the Bible and God, but no real relationship with either.

One old preacher said, “Most people live a guilty distance from God.”  I think that was where I was.  I wasn’t opposed to the Bible in theory or discussion, but I lived in opposition to it.

No one ever stopped me on the street and asked if I was going to Heaven, or asked if I had any interest in Heaven.  Like many kids in my town I attended vacation Bible school and occasionally attended one of the local churches.  Still no spiritual lights came on and no personal worker approached me.  It is safe to say that the big questions found in the Scriptures never troubled me in my early years.

My grandmother talked often of Jesus and made me believe He was important to her.  She loved to read her Bible and she often listened to Christian music.  In later years I would remember her as a saint.  Now, looking back, I sense she planted a few spiritual seed in my mind and heart and watered them.   I am not sure she was aware that was what she did, but I am.

I had an uncle who was dedicated to his church known by the townspeople as Red Hill because of the red clay hill it was built on.  I would one day come to know that congregation as being “hard shells” because of the rigid doctrines they believed.  My uncle was surely a “hard shell” believer.  He was a good man, a devout man, but stern in his understanding of the Scriptures.

It was in the light of that church teaching that I think the subject of Heaven and Hell was first contrasted in my mind.  Some in our town who did not attend that church often joked that the “Hard Shell’s” believed some were going to Heaven and some were going to Hell.  The Heaven bound were chosen by God and they had no real say in the matter.  Those going to Hell were destined for the flames and had no recourse.

Because that contrast was so vivid and that concept so strange I started asking questions.  It made no sense to me that one was consigned for Hell without any choice.  Just as it made no sense to me that God would tag certain ones for Heaven and give them no choice.   I realize now that I was not exactly fair with “Red Hill” and their “Hard Shells.”

I soon realized that people held strong beliefs about all kinds of churches.  The one they attended and the others.  We had several brands of churches.  The next town over from us was larger in population and they had even more churches.  Fifty miles away was an even larger city and still more churches, more denominations.  I knew little of any of them.  But that didn’t keep me from forming opinions about the churches and the people who attended them.

One day I decided if I am ever to make sense of church and churches I should look into the Bible.  To my surprise the Bible said very little about local churches that appeared on nearly every block in our cities.

Somewhere along the line I started attending a local church.  It was not the hunger for the Word of God, but for the association of a young lady who was attending church every Sunday.  Between attending church and hearing the pastor speak from the Bible and from my own reading of the Scriptures certain thoughts began to form in my mind.  I started thinking more of Heaven, the place, and Hell, the place.  I looked in the Bible to learn all I could about both.

I soon learned that I wanted, some day, to go to Heaven and I knew for dead sure I didn’t want to go to Hell.  My spiritual journey lasted for a good long time and I accumulated a good bit of doctrine that resides in my heart until this day.

I learned early how one might avoid Hell.  Here are the simple, but I think true, things that everyone who has an interest in this subject might appreciate.

1. If one is to avoid Hell, he must first realize there is a Hell.
2. Hell is a separation from God and goodness.
3. Hell is a place of torment.
4. Hell is permanent: Once in Hell there is no getting out.
5. I discovered that Jesus spoke more about Hell and judgment than He ever spoke about Heaven.  That fact startled me at the first and continues to amaze me.

There are any number of things I could list about Hell and all of them true from the Bible, but I think it good to move on with our theme, “How to avoid the Bible’s Hell.”

I think the single greatest truth I learned from the Scriptures was that God loved me and didn’t want me to go to Hell.  That was different than any thing I learned from my uncle and the “hard shells.”  God loved me!

The second great truth had to do with the action God took to make sure I could escape Hell.   When I learned that I was condemned to Hell as a sinner by virtue of my birth, you can imagine how relieved I was to learn Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sins.  God’s Son died for me!

God is so loving and generous.  He didn’t just pay for my sins, but He paid for the sins of the whole world.  The debt—my debt and the debt of the world was placed on Jesus at the cross.  The old Gospel hymn, At the Cross, written by Isaac Watts, and Ralph Hudson says:

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
o Refrain:
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

That great song encapsulates the whole idea of the Gospel, the price for sin and the great redemption that Christ provided.  I have come to believe that most of the great doctrines of the Bible that are now so precious to me was first planted in my heart by the repeated singing of hymns like this one.
Avoiding Hell requires one to accept the amazing gift that God provided through Jesus and His death on the cross.  Not just His death, but His resurrection, too.  During that time I discovered J. Wilbur Chapman’s hymn, One Day! that instilled more truth in my heart concerning the work Jesus did.

Living, he loved me; dying, he saved me;
Buried, he carried my sins far away;
Rising, he justified freely, for ever:
One day he’s coming—O, glorious day!

Looking back on my love for the old hymns I find them instrumental in helping me find God’s path to avoiding Hell.  God loves me and has made a way for me to escape Hell and one day, thankfully, live with Him in Heaven.  I realized not everyone is comfortable with this concept, but for me it brings great joy and peace and happiness.

Do you ever have reason to be concerned about Heaven and Hell?  Do you know for sure, if you should die tonight, that you would go to Heaven?  That is a profound question and thought.  Your eternity rests on it.   Notice I did not ask anything about your church affiliation.  I didn’t ask if you had been baptized.  I didn’t ask if you are a good person.  I didn’t even ask if you believe the Bible, or believe in Jesus.

Without a doubt one should believe the Bible.  When you believe the Bible it is understood you will also believe in Jesus.  The Book as a whole is about Him.   “Search the Scriptures; for in them (the Scriptures) ye think ye have eternal life: and they (the Scriptures) are they which testify of me.”  — John 5:39

I hope you will give these matters your undivided attention and come to some determination quickly.   Do you have Eternal Life?  First John 1: 1-5 is rich with wonderful truth about Jesus, the Christ.  John testifies that he and the other disciples saw Jesus with their own eyes; we looked upon Him.  Our hands have touched Him–the Word of life.  He went deeper by saying we have seen that Life and now we bear witness and show everyone that Eternal Life,  that life which was with the Father and that life was manifested unto us.  John said what we have seen and heard we declare unto you.  Why?  So all of us can have fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.  Read for yourself the Scriptures where I paraphrased the above remarks.  1John 1:1-5  (I hope you will read all of that chapter).

In the last chapter of First John, Chapter 5, He reports, And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”  (verses 11,12)

Do you have Eternal Life?  Eternal Life is Jesus Christ!  For you to have it–you must be in Jesus Christ.  No exceptions.  No “ifs, ands and buts.”  YOU MUST BE IN CHRIST TO POSSESS ETERNAL LIFE.

How can you become a person who is in Christ?  By believing on Him, the Son of God.  (Verse 10) That word believing means trusting.  You know how to get into a boat.  You know how to get into your car.  You must trust Jesus Christ and be in Him.  You must believe and accept the work He did on the cross.  You must believe that He died for your sins and that He was buried and three days later resurrected from the dead.  He is alive!  Trust Him.  Believe on Him.  Follow Him.

On this blog you will find a number of Bible messages that give great detail on how to be saved and to know you will go to Heaven when you die.  Don’t be lazy–do some research.  Read the sermons.  Read the one by Dr. John R. Rice, “What Must I Do to Be Saved?”  There are some audio messages on this blog.  You can listen to a message.

God has left you a long message in the Bible.  It is the highest form of foolishness to neglect it.   If a rich uncle died and left a Last Will and Testament I believe you would be greatly interested in what he left and to whom he left it.  A greater death took place than a rich uncle–it was the death of God’s Son, Jesus.  He has left you His Last Will and Testament.  Greater riches than silver and gold are left for those who receive Him.  Read it!  Study it!  Love it!  Tell others about it!  By all means–tell your family.  Don’t be left behind.

I would love to hear from you.  Write me Editor@salvationlinks.com and I will be happy to assist you with additional helps.  If you trust the Lord as a result of reading this message please write me and let me rejoice with you.  God bless you.

1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

2(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

3That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

4And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full

Editor’s Note: The theme for this message was first published in Ezine Articles under the title, “How to Avoid the Bible Hell.”  You can find it by going to www.ezinearticles.com and searching for that title under the author’s name, Ronald English.

Dr. Chapman

“No Difference!”

by Evangelist J. Wilbur Chapman (1859-1918)

“For there is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the      glory    of God.”– Romans 3:23

This is one of the most difficult statements to receive in all the Bible, and I     can well understand how the unregenerate man would resent its application. I can hear him say, “What! no difference between the man who has fallen to the very lowest depths of sin and wretchedness, and the man who, boasting of his morality, has swerved only a little from the path of duty and the law of God?” And the answer to this question is both “yes” and “no.”

There is a difference and degradation wide as the poles; but “no difference” so far as guilt is concerned, for both have rejected the Son of God, and this is the sin of sins.

If two men were before the court, one charged with a great offence and the other with one of less degree, it would profit the latter man but little to say, “But, your Honor, I am not so great an offender as my companion in misery.” The judge might well reply, “You are both guilty; in that ‘there is no difference,’” and this is the teaching of my text.

God’s Word declares, “He that offends in one point is guilty of all”; not meaning, of course, that he has of necessity broken every law, but he has broken away from God for his transgression. If I am held prisoner by a chain, it is not necessary that I should break every link in the chain that I might go free, but only one and that the very weakest; and so be that offends in one point is guilty of all and nothing less, while he that offends in all points is guilty of all and nothing more. “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Three important questions grow out of this text as I have considered it. First, I do not ask if you are a sinner, for as we ordinarily use this word, we of one who is lawless, wild and profane. But I ask,

I. Have You Offended in

One Single Point?

If so, “There is no difference.” Man would not say it, I know; but God says it and it is written the Book, and by the Book we shall be judged.

Look at the prodigal. He was as truly a prodigal when he had taken the first step over the threshold of his father’s house, as when afterward you see him sitting in the midst of the swine, and trying to fill his belly with husks which the swine did eat.

He is more degraded in the second picture, but not more guilty.

Look at the leper. He is just as truly dead when the first sign of the dread disease appears, small though it may be, as when afterward you behold him, a loathsome object, sitting outside the city gates, with bandaged mouth, crying “Unclean! Unclean!” He was a leper, however from the first, and by the law dead. This is the teaching of the text. If you have rejected the Son of God, whatever your position, “There is no difference” – all are alike lost.

It is not even a question of great sin. Many a man might plead “not guilty” if such a charge were made; but first of all,

I. Secret Sins

There is a text which declares “our secret sins in the light of His countenance,” and another reads that “All things are naked and open before Him with whom we have to do.” In the light of this, who can stand?

Not long ago in one of the school buildings of Chicago a picture of an eye was placed on the blackboard as an illustration, and in a little time by order of the school board it was painted out, for it had been so perfectly painted that whatever position a child might be in the room that eyes was upon it. The effect was disastrous.

But there is one eye which never slumbers and can never be painted out. “Thou God seest me.” The sin was at midnight. He saw it. It was in New York or London or Paris. He saw it. Thus to the charge of “secret sin” you must plead guilty, and “there is no difference.”

II. Sinful Thoughts

But the charge is even closer. We are responsible for the sinful thought which tarries in the mind by the consent of our will. Who can stand in the light of this?

A distinguished scientist has made the statement, which wise men receive, that if a man stands out in the sunlight and acts, his act, good or bad, flashes away to the sun and a picture which is never lost is made. And if he speaks, the sound bounds away, up and up, far beyond his reach, and makes its record forever. And if he refuses to step into the light, or in the darkness speak a word, this scientist declares that by the very thoughts of his mind certain physical disturbances occur which make a record lasting as time.

I remember sending a telegram in a western city, and shortly after realizing that my message had been wrong, I made my way to the office to recall it.

“Why,” said the operator, with a smile, “it is gone, and is flashing over the wires now, beyond my recall.” So with your sinful thoughts. They bound away, and no man can recall them when once they go.

The answer to this charge must be – “guilty.”

III. Beginning In Sin

Some are beginning NOW. Held by the fascination of the evil one, and lured on by his charms, they are rushing on to Hell. On one of the busiest streets of the gay city of Paris stands a building famous for its beauty. Over the magnificent doorway you may read these words, “Nothing to pay.” The admission is free, the entertainment within is fascinating, and hundreds of young men pass through the portals, the rank and file of them taking their first or last step to Hell.

All sin is dearly bought, for it has Hell back of it. It blights the life, wrecks the character, and blasts the fondest hopes of the soul. And when that awful day comes, and situation is gone, and character lost, and the hearts of loved ones broken, and you are cast a stranded wreck on the shores of time, you will cry out in terror, “O, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me” – and there will be no deliverance. You will be more degraded then but not more guilty than now, for the chiefest of sins is the sin of unbelief, and that was the cause of your downfall. “There is no difference.” God pity you.

Do you know the Bible description of the end of a career of sin from the world-standpoint? “Weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.” “Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whore-mongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” God save us from such a company. A minister could never lead a man to serious thought until he quoted the text: “The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God.”

Great sin humanly speaking is not necessary, but only forget Him and “There is no difference.”

If you have read that remarkable book, “Robert Falconer,” written by George MacDonald, you will remember the dream of the wife of Andrew Falconer. He was a drunkard and after her death, her dream being told him, resulted in his conversion. She said in her letter, which she had written him:

“I thought, Andrew, that the resurrection morn had come, and I was looking everywhere for you. Finally in my wanderings, I came to a great abyss. It was not so very wide, but it was very deep and was filled with blue, like the blue of the sky. On the other side I saw you, Andrew, and I gave a shriek which all the Universe must have heard. Something made me look around. Then I saw One coming toward me. He had a face – O, such a face! fairer than all the sons of men; He had on a garment which came down to His feet; and as He walked toward me, I saw in His feet the print of the nails. Then I knew who He was. I fell at His feet and cried, ‘ O Lord, Andrew, Andrew.’ ‘ Daughter, would you go to him ?’ I said, ‘ Yes, Lord.’ And, Andrew, He took me by the hand, and led out over the abyss, and we came nearer and nearer, until at last we were united, and then He led us back to be with Him forever.”

O, my friends, not in the next world if not in this, but here and now we may be made one in Him, one for time and eternity; but failing here, all hope is gone and there is before us only the blackness of darkness of despair. “For there is no difference.”

The next question is of the greatest importance:

IV. Do You Come Up to

God’s Standard?

It is not enough to be simply a member of the church. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils ? and I will profess unto them, I never knew you” (Matthew 7:22, 23).

We have such a way of measuring ourselves by ourselves that we may feel well satisfied with the result. But how about God’s standard ?

Upon my return home at one time, my wife placed in my hands a piece of paper, written all over, but only two words were intel1igible. At the top of the page was the word ‘carriage’ plainly written; the next word was the same, only not so well written.

It was my little daughter’s first copy-book. The teacher had written the word at the top of the line, and she had done fairly well so long as she had looked at the copy. But she had fallen into the serious error of copying the line just above her work, and the word at the bottom of the page as nearly spelled “man” as “carriage.” Thus people measure themselves by those around them, forgetting that He said, “Look unto me and be ye saved” (Isaiah 45:22).

You may be better than the members of the church; but what doth it profit? You may be the best man in your community, but that does not save.

How about God’s standard?

Her Majesty, the Queen, I am told, frequently issues an order for soldiers to compose her guard. Every man must be at least six feet tall. I can imagine some young Englishmen measuring themselves by themselves, until at last one man in great delight exclaims, “I will surely get in for I am the tallest man in town.” And so he is; but when he stands before her Majesty’s officer, he is rejected, for he is three-quarters of an inch under the mark.

His being taller than his friends profited nothing; they had all fallen short; some more, some less. But “there was no difference.”

And if you turn my question in upon myself, I confess that I do fully come up to the high standard of God; not in myself in any way, far from it – but in Christ; for “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,” and wherein I fail, He makes up.

It is no point as to whether Adam or Eve were the more sinful; they were both guilty, and “there is no difference.”

The chiefest of all sins is not drunkenness, although that is horrible; it is not licentiousness, although that is vile; it is the rejection of God’s mercy – or the sin of unbelief. “He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). And whosoever he be among you – sinner, either great or small, if he fail here, he stands with the condemned, and “there is no difference.”

The last important question is this,

V. What Is the Remedy?

There is another “no difference” which answers the question. “For there is no difference … for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him, for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:12, 13).

1. It is useless to try by any amount of exertion, or feeling, or even prayer, to bring about faith. I have had my own experience in this. God says in His Word, “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”

This is a sure way. A college student was greatly troubled spiritually, and was in conference with one of the professors until midnight. Just as he was leaving the house, going out into the darkness, the professor placed in his hands a lantern saying, “Take it, George, it will light you home a step at a time.” And this is what the Bible does.

That lantern did not light up the forests, nor make luminous the landscape; it was not meant that it should; but it made every step bright.

Man was lost by hearing Satan. He can only be saved by hearing God. Plant your feet firmly by faith on one single promise, and God will begin at once to make clear the way if you will only believe Him.

2. To the Philippian jailor’s question, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul’s answer was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” And there is no respecting of persons, for “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

A friend of mine told me that when he climbed the Matterhorn he was besieged by men, waiting at the base of the mountain, ready to guide him up the difficult way; but the most of them would have never brought him down in safety, for they were simply men out of employment. He very easily, however, secured a safe guide when he said, “Show me your papers.” Then the men who were without them stepped back, while the real guides stepped forward and holding out their papers he read something like this:

“We, the undersigned, have climbed the Matterhorn under the care of such a guide (giving his name), and we commend him to our friends” – and then followed the names of people of great renown at home and abroad, a member of Parliament, a member of Congress, and your personal friend; and my friend at once felt secure because others had made the trip in safety.

It is like that when under condemnation you ask, “What must I do?”

Infidelity attempts an answer; Philosophy makes a vain effort to reply; and Jesus Christ the Son of God comes with the rest. Let me suggest to you the real test. Ask them each, “What have you done?” Demand of each that their papers be shown. Then will He come whose garments are dyed red, whose hands were pierced, and whose heart was broken, who died and rose again that He might become the justifier of all them that believe; and on the very palms of His hands you read the names, John Bunyan, John Newton, Jerry McCauley, and brighter than them all – Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“He hath saved us, and kept us, and in His presence we rejoice with a joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

And this is enough. I for one will say, “Blessed Lord, if You can save others, and I know that You can, You can save me; and I will let You do it now.” Will you join me in this now?

3. To sum it all up, if you would escape condemnation you need simply to

V. Have A Willing Mind

About Salvation

Then by faith accept what He in grace offers you. I have heard Christian workers say to earnest inquirers, “Give your heart to God, and you maybe saved.” But this is unscriptural – at least the order is wrong. Accept first the gift of eternal life, then give yourself, out of gratitude for His goodness.

The first saves you; the second is the first-fruit of your salvation.

When William Dawson, the celebrated street preacher, was conducting a street meeting in London, he was told of a young man in a neighboring house that was dying. He climbed the rickety stairway and stood by the bedside of a young man, a victim of consumption, and just nearing eternity. He found that he was the son of wealthy parents, but that his father had cast him off because of his sin.

When William Dawson said he would intercede with the father in behalf of the son, the boy said it would be useless, for the father had long ago cast him off. And it almost seemed that he was right, for when Mr. Dawson entered the spacious mansion, and mentioned the boy’s name, the father said, “If you have come, sir, to talk of that scapegrace, I shall ask you to leave. He is no son of mine.”

“Well, sir,” said the preacher, “he will not be here long to trouble you, for I left him dying.”

In a moment the man’s whole attitude had changed. “Is he sick? ” he asked. “Is Joseph ill? Then take me to him.”

And soon he was on his knees by the side of the dying boy, his arms about him, and his head pillowed on his breast. All the boy could say was, “Father can you forgive me?” and the strong man could only sob, “O Joseph, my son, my son; I would have forgiven you months ago if you would only have received it.”

My friends, I bring you good news indeed, glad tidings of great joy. “God hath for Christ’s sake forgiven you,” and if you would be saved, you need only to accept His gracious gift. The first “no difference” is discouraging, but the second one is sweeter than honey in the honey comb.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”

You have read this wonderful message that tells you how to be saved and why you should be saved.  Dr. Chapman was a famous evangelist and then a famous pastor.  Dr. Robert L. Sumner published this message in his publication, The Biblical Evangelist(May-June 2010). Dr. Sumner says of the sermon, “It deals with what has long been a troublesome text to some, especially “good people” hearing for the first time of their desperate need of redemption.”  Dr. Chapman’s pastorates included one of  the largest churches in the country at the time, Bethany Presbyterian in Philadelphia, with members like John Wannamaker, the department store magnate and Postmaster General in the administration of Benjamin Harrison.  We hope you will remember Dr. Chapman for giving Billy Sunday his start in evangelism.  What a gift that was!

http://jwilburchapman.blogspot.com/

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Bible Prophecies Predicting the Coming of Christ

The Old Testament is filled with references to the coming Messiah. Dr. MacArthur has selected several of the key prophecies to present his message. This is a thrilling account of what is yet to happen on this earth. All of the prophecies pointing to the first coming of Christ happened as predicted. These will, too
!

Read what Peter Stoner, in his book, Science Speaks says about these Bible prophecies.

Prophecies of the Coming Messiah

by Dr. Jack MacArthur

The Old Testament is divided into three great periods: the Mosaic, the Davidic, and the Messianic. The Mosaic Period gives us the great germ of all that later unfolds in the perfect and fragrant bloom of Christ, the “Rose of Sharon,” the “Lily of the Valley.” Its prophecies branch out into particulars which tell us that not only Abraham’s seed, but all the families of the earth are to be blessed in this Coming One. He is to be a prophet like unto Moses, yet clothed with higher authority and gifted with higher wisdom. He is to be a lawgiver, a leader, a ruler, and a redeemer.

In the Davidic Period, the same One is to be a king of war as David, yet a prince of peace as Solomon. His kingdom, however, is to be without succession and without end, which could be true only of a royal order higher than human. In the Messianic Psalms, various aspects of the dignity and divinity of this coming King are set forth.
The Messianic Period is represented by the book of Isaiah, the richest mine of Messianic prophecy in the entire Old Testament. The 40th through 60th chapter is one continuous Messianic poem, in which Christ is depicted in His three offices as Prophet, Priest and King. The prophecies of Isaiah set forth for all ages the character and career of this Servant of God.

Isaiah 9:6, written in 700 B.C., prophesies that a God-child would be born: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful [literally, “Miracle”], Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” The Gospel of John relates the fulfillment: “In the beginning was the Word [Christ], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us …” (John 1:1, 14)

Isaiah 7:14 gives the amazing prophecy that this God-child would be born of a virgin: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” In Matthew 1:18-25 we read that Christ was indeed born of a virgin, named Mary, and that the Holy Spirit (God Himself) was His Father. If it is argued that this prediction of the virgin birth of our Lord was addressed only to the faithless Ahaz, Isaiah 7:13 makes it clear that this prediction was addressed to the whole “house of David.” It was a continuing prophecy addressed to the Davidic family.
Micah 5:2 predicts that the God-man would be born in Bethlehem: “But thou, Bethlehem…out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Matthew 2 tells of the visit of the Magi (Zoroastrian astrologers who were evidently acquainted with Old Testament prophecy) to Jerusalem, inquiring, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” The answer was prompt and decisive: “In Bethlehem of Judea; for thus is it written by [through] the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah; for out of thee shall come a Governor that shall rule my people, Israel” (Matthew 2:5,6). Here is a definite prediction, definitely understood and just as definitely fulfilled. That it was made in the year 700 B.C. precludes human sagacity. What led Micah to select this one little village among the thousands of Judah? Who could accurately foretell what would take place in any obscure town 700 years after his time? There is only one answer: Micah was divinely inspired by the Spirit of God.

The phrase in Micah’s prophecy, “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting,” cites the pre-existence of Christ. In John 8:42 Jesus declared that He lived before coming to earth as a man. In John 17:5 He prayed, “…O Father, glorify thou me with…the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”
Jesus’ forerunner was also foretold in Scripture, Malachi 3:1: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in; behold he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 40:3: “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” In Matthew 3:1,2 we read, “John the Baptist [came preaching] in the wilderness of Judea, And saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
In 500 B.C. the Prophet Zechariah predicted that Christ would enter Jerusalem as a King riding on an ass: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem, behold thy King cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation, lowly, and riding upon an ass…upon a colt, the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9). Matthew 21 tells us that this was exactly how Jesus entered Jerusalem.

Zechariah further predicted that Christ would be sold by His enemies for thirty pieces of silver: “And I said unto them, if ye think good, give me my price, and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver” (Zechariah 11:12). Matthew 26:14, 15 tells us, “Then…Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they bargained with him for thirty pieces of silver.”
At approximately this same date, 500 B.C., Zechariah prophesied that the smiting of the Shepherd (Christ) would cause the sheep to scatter: “… smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered …” (Zechariah 13:7). After Jesus was seized by His enemies, Matthew tells us, “Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled” (Matthew 26:56).
Psalm 35:11 predicts, concerning Messiah, “False witnesses did rise up: they laid to my charge things that I knew not.” Matthew records the fulfillment: “Now the chief priests, and elders…sought false [witnesses] against Jesus to put him to death” (Matthew 26:59.

About 700 B.C. Isaiah wrote prophetically of the humiliation of the Messiah: “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair. I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6). Matthew writes, “Then they spat in his face, and buffeted him, and others smote him with the palms of their hands…” (Matthew 26:67)
Isaiah 53:7 poignantly pictures the Messiah standing silent before His accusers. “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth.” Matthew 27:12 confirms the fulfillment. “And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.”
Josh McDowell, in his book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, tells us that 29 prophecies from the Old Testament, which speak of the betrayal, trial, death, and burial of our Lord, spoken at various times by many different voices during the five centuries from 100 to 500 B.C., were literally fulfilled in Jesus Christ in one 24-hour period of time.
In connection with Christ’s passion, the inspired Prophet Isaiah wrote, “… he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5,6). Matthew confirmed the fulfillment of this prediction when he quoted the words of our Lord—“For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Peter further confirmed it when he said, “Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree…” (I Peter 2:24).

Again, Isaiah predicted of Christ, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem his stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4). Matthew beautifully tells of Christ’s fulfillment of the first part of this prophecy during His healing ministry on earth; “…he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick, That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah, the prophet, saying, He himself took our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:16, 17). Physical disease in itself is not necessarily the result of personal sin; it is one of the tragic results of man’s original sin and his fall (Rom. 5:12). Thus, Isaiah 53:5,6 prophesies that our Lord would bear our sins on the cross. His death was substitutionary and atoning.

One thousand years before Christ, the Psalmist predicted that our Lord would fall beneath the weight of His cross. His knees would become weak; His flesh would fail. Psalm 109:24, 25: “My knees are weak thr9ough fasting, and my flesh faileth of fatness. I became also a reproach unto them; when they looked upon me, they shook their heads.” John tells us, “And he, bearing his cross, went forth…” (John 19:17). Matthew gives us further word that His strength gave out. “And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; him they compelled to bear his cross” (Matthew 27:32).

Psalm. 22:15 is an amazing prophecy concerning the Messiah: “they pierced my hands and my feet.” A prophecy yet to be fulfilled says, concerning Israel and its Messiah, “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10). When these prophecies were written, no one was executed in any manner which involved “piercing of hands and feet.” The Encyclopedia Americana records that crucifixion as a mode of punishment for crime was a part of the Roman system of jurisprudence. The Hebrews inflicted the death penalty by stoning. But when Palestine became a Roman territory, the Hebrews were compelled to adopt the Roman method of crucifixion, No life could be taken supposedly without Roman permission, and all executions were supposed to be carried out by the Roman government. Evidently this was not rigidly enforced, because Stephen was stoned, and there were no recriminations following his death. So Luke 232:33 tells us, “And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, [or the skull], there they crucified him…”

A fascinating prophecy in Isaiah 53 reads, “… because he hath poured out his soul unto death; and he was numbered with the transgressors …” It is affirmed in Mark 15:28: “And the Scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.” Matthew 27:38 relates how this prophecy was fulfilled: “Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one of the right hand, and another on the left.” It is amazing that Isaiah should predict that the child who was in reality the Mighty God, would as a man die the death of a criminal among criminals! The only possible explanation is that his message was inspired of God, for no man would have been so presumptuous.
In Psalm. 22:8 the Psalmist predicted that the Messiah would be mocked because of His trust in God, who would be challenged to deliver Him. Matthew records this exact picture in perfect fulfillment. “Likewise also the chief priests, mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others, himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him, for he said, I am the Son of God” (Matthew 27:41-43)

In the same Psalm, the Messiah declares, “…they look and stare upon me” (Vs. 17). Matthew 27:36 reports this actually happening: “And sitting down they watched him there” as He was writhing in agony of the world’s sin.
Speaking for the Messiah, the Psalmist then prophesies that men would “… part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture” (Psalm 22:18). John 19:23,24 answers; “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part, and also his coat. Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said, therefore, among themselves, Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be…” How could the Psalmist have known this would happen a thousand years before Jesus Christ was born? There is only one answer: his words were inspired by God.

At approximately the same date, the Psalmist boldly declared that men would give the Messiah gall and vinegar to drink, while in His death agony (Psalm 69:21). The Apostle John tells us, “After this Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar; and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth” (John 19:28, 29). This was usually given because of its supposed anesthetic effect. Given to criminals, it was an act of kindness; given to the righteous Savior, it was an insult, after what they had done to Him.
Psalm 22:1 records the awesome cry: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 records the fulfillment: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a lour voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” During this moment the God-man was feeling the forsakenness that men experience who die in the rejection of God’s love and grace. But the Psalm makes it clear that He was not forsaken of God, for we read in verse 24:”…he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, neither hath he hidden his face from him; but when he cried unto him, heard.” Undoubtedly, this cry must have recalled to the minds of some of the Jews within hearing the cry of Psalm 22, and perhaps it occurred to them that this prophecy was being fulfilled in their presence as Jesus was crucified!

Psalm 31:5 predicted that the Messiah would cry out, “Into thine hand I commit my spirit …” Luke 23:46 records that at the end of His long agony Jesus uttered these very words as a direct fulfillment of the prophecy.
One of the most amazing Messianic prophesies, found in Psalm 34:20, was that none of His bones would be broken. It was the custom following crucifixion that if by sundown those who were hanging on crosses were still alive, their legs were broken to hasten death. But, as the Apostle John informs us, “…when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they broke not his legs …” (John 19:33).

Psalm. 38:11 predicted that the Messiah’s friends and kinsmen would stand aloof from His “sore” (His suffering). The fulfillment is described in Luke 23:49): “And all his acquaintances, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.
Psalm 22:14 tells us that the Messiah’s heart would be broken: “… my heart is like wax; it is melted within me.” John 19:34 records: “But one of the soldiers, with a spear, pierced His side, and immediately came there out blood and water.” Physicians explain that this is a sign that Christ’s heart had indeed ruptured within Him. Jesus literally died with a broken heart.
Amos 8:9 foretells the sun’s setting at noon and the earth’s becoming dark on a clear day, which occurred when Jesus was crucified. Matthew 27:45: “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.” The Jews reckoned twelve hours from sunrise to sunset, which would make the sixth hour near noon, and the ninth hour about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. How could Amos have known this eight centuries before it happened? There is only one answer: he knew it because God knew it, and he wrote what God moved him to write.
Seven hundred years before it was fulfilled from the cross, the Prophet Isaiah wrote how the dying Messiah would make intercession for His murderers (Isaiah 53:12). Luke 34:34 records Jesus’ prayer: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

Again, Isaiah prophesied, “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death …” (Isaiah 53:9). Matthew details the fulfillment: “The thieves also, who were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth” (Matthew 27:44). Then, in verses 57-60, he relates that Christ made His grave with the rich: “…there came a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who … begged the body of Jesus.” “And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb …”
Christ’s resurrection is seen in the amazing prophecy of Psalm 16:10. “For thou wilt not leave my soul in sheol, neither wilt thou permit thine Holy One to see corruption.” The Apostle Peter quoted these words in Acts 2:29-31: “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch, David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his [David’s] loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne. He, seeing this before, spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hades, neither his flesh did see corruption.” Indeed, Christ’s body saw no corruption, for on the third day He rose literally, physically, and bodily from the dead!
As Peter declared, we have “a more sure word of prophecy” unto which we should all take heed. No one can begin to explain the hundreds of amazingly accurate Messianic prophecies fulfilled to the letter in Jesus Christ without admitting the divine authorship of the Word of God.

Peter Stoner, in his book, Science Speaks, tells us that using the modern science of mathematical probability, in reference to only eight prophecies concerning the Messiah, the probability that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophesies, is 1 in 1017. That would be 1 chance in 100,000,000,000,000,000.
To help us comprehend this staggering probability, Stoner illustrates it by supposing that we take 1017 silver dollars and spread them out on the face of Texas. They would cover the entire state two feet deep. Now put a mark on just one of those silver dollars, then mix the whole mass up thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and instruct him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up that one silver dollar and say that it is the right one.
What chance would he have of finding the right one? The same chance that the Old Testament prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having the come true in any one man, providing they wrote in their own wisdom.

These prophecies, then, were either given by inspiration of God, or the prophets just wrote them from their own imagination. In such case they had just 1 chance in 1017
of having them come true in any one man. But they all were realized in Jesus Christ!
And not only eight prophecies, but hundreds more!

Taken from The Biblical Evangelist edited by Dr. Robert L. Sumner