November 30, 2008

Grace Abounding: Please Pray for Evangelism

I was in West Philadelphia yesterday evening with my dear friend and older brother in Christ, Herman Lee, Sr.. We met at 69th Street in Upper Darby and began passing out gospel tracts around 4 pm. It was really an amazing time. I had been praying all day for God's Spirit to move and work in me to witness to the lost. The temperature began dropping as the evening became darker. There were a lot of people walking up and down the street, and they all looked so needy to me. That is, they all seemed to be so blind to the fact that eternity is awaiting them very shortly, and they need to have a righteousness that is not their own to be saved from the judgment of God against sin. I praise God that He has provided Jesus Christ to be our righteousness, but most people will never receive that free gift because they have no genuine saving faith in Him.

Well, as the day grew colder, I put on my hat and gloves. People kept walking by. I spoke to at least half a dozen people, both young and older, about their souls. Most of the time, I just began preaching instead of asking all the standard questions. And not surprisingly (because of God's purpose in preaching - 1 Cor. 1:17 and etc.) they listened. I spoke to a young professing athiest, just preaching to him about how God has provided so much evidence by sending His Son to be the Savior and changing the lives of wicked lawless men to be transformed by His power through grace, and how doubting God's Word is the same as calling Him a liar, and this young kid stood their and took it all in so openly. The words just began flowing from my lips. I told him that all the false religions in the world point to Jesus Christ as the only way, because that is what they are all so vehemently denying. I told him about the love of God in sending Christ to take our sin upon Himself. I gave him a New Testament to read, and left him with another tract for him to give his lady friend who was waiting for him over by the wall. I exhorted him to read the Bible, and he was agreeing to do it. Amazing to see God's grace at work there!

There was so much more that went on. People of different ages heard the word preached. Many of them recognize they need to check themselves to see if they are genuinely saved. Many of them were relying upon their works, which are as filthy rags in God's sight (Isaiah 64:6). Many of them were genuinely interested in knowing the truth about these things. Others left the tracts we passed out to them torn up on the sidewalks. But generally, most seem very open on 69th Street in Upper Darby.

One young man was the son of my fellow laborer, brother Herman. He had become a Muslim, and both him and his friend (who I tried speaking to) were closed to hearing the gospel. Please pray for Andre. They would not accept anything from me.

I am so blessed, as the most unworthy of saints, to be used by God in evangelism. You can labor together with me by asking God to cause fruit to come out of all this, and for sinners to be converted to true grace, the grace that changes sinners into saints.

God bless to all who serve the King!

November 28, 2008

Letter of Encouragement to Fellow Sufferers

I finished reading 1 Peter today according to my daily Bible reading plan. The letter of 1 Peter was written to strengthen and encourage suffering believers who were scattered all around the world, but specifically those in five named regions (1 Peter 1:1). Although I have not yet had my life threatened by anyone for being a Christian, and nobody has beaten me up or stolen all my property, I am still very comforted from reading this letter. All true Christians in every place do experience various trials and sufferings (Romans 8:17; 1 Peter 2:21). Anyone who does not suffer in some manner as a Christian is simply not one. But it can be very distressing and heartbreaking when the various trials seem to overwhelm, and then, the letter of Peter is meant to provide this kind of strengthening encouragement to help us endure:

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you. Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 5:6-11 ESV).

My fellow Christian friends, you who are elected by God and called to be partakers of His glory in Christ Jesus our Lord, you must not be afraid, or discouraged, or fainthearted, or anxious because "after you have suffered a little while [whether it be mental anxiety, spiritual trials from Satan, physical pain, or any other form of sufferings], the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." And, if you have heavy anxiety over the willful ignorance of people whom you love, who also reject you and reject the truth of Christ, then just know that your sufferings may be a part of God's plan to bring them to repentance, and if not, God will work it all out for your joy and His glory in the end (Romans 8:28; 1 Peter 1:6,7). Only stand firm, be strong, give yourselves to prayer and to reading the Bible, and may the God of all grace give you peace.

In Christ Jesus, I can say that I love you who are my true brethren in the faith. Grace be with you all.


November 27, 2008

Things I'm Thankful For: just sharing from my heart

First, I am thankful to YHWH (Jehovah, the LORD) because He is good and His steadfast love, His lovingkindness and mercy endures forever: "Give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever." (Psalm 136:1). And also Psalm 138:2, "I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted your word above all your name."

I am also thankful that He chose me, loving me forever, even though I am the least worthy of the smallest dirt-crumb of loving kindness from the King of all ages. He loved me by giving His Son to die for me and rise so that I am accepted in His presence, not just for a little while, but forever and ever and ever! (I already feel humbled to the floor just by this thought).

I am thankful for the Bible in English, because that is my language, and people were literally hunted down, arrested, imprisoned, tortured, murdered, strangled and burned for translating the Bible into this language.

I am thankful for everything because I have eternal life, and so everything, whether good or bad is working out for good in eternity according to God's purpose (Rom. 8:28).

Therefore, I am thankful for grass, and for the sky, for stars, and for family.

For frogs and for salamanders, for water, for the internet, for self-control, for the Holy Spirit in me doing His work by God's grace.

For friends, and for enemies.

For disease, hurts, broken relationships, emotional pain, mental confusion, the misunderstandings and slander of people who do not love the truth.

For wearisome toil, for traffic, for Satan's opposition, for my own temporary humiliation, for God's grace that works through faith which works by love.

For God's promises, and for the birth from above.

For being separated from the world.

I'm thankful for my mother, for my niece and nephew, for my parents and brothers and sister.

Even more, I'm thankful I have true brethren in Philly, Pittsburgh, and all around the world who are my eternal family in Christ (we'll be together forever). I'm also thankful for sugar, and insulin too :)

Honestly, I don't feel very thankful right now, but I truly am, and I am thankful that God will flood my heart again and again with thanksgiving at the right time... Oh, Lord, make me a thankful man!

How about you?

God bless to all who are resting in the righteousness of our King Jesus!

November 26, 2008

No Confidence in the Flesh

Thus says the LORD:
"Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the LORD."
(Jeremiah 17:5 ESV).

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD."
(Jeremiah 17:7 ESV).

November 17, 2008

Grace Abounding: Josh's Mother Needs Help

My neighbor (on the other side of Lancaster County) and fellow believer in the truth has been letting people know about his mother's condition and her need for support. Josh has a great blog called Truth Matters. His mother has been sick with cancer, and she needs to take expensive medication but her insurance will not cover the costs, so all the expense must come out of pocket. I am writing here to inform my readers about this need, so that perhaps the Lord in His mercy may move your hearts to give or to pray for Carol and Josh through this post.

Go to Truth Matters and read more about Josh's mother, Carol's need. Thank you!

November 15, 2008

Romans 6:1-2: Should We Sin Because of Grace?

I was reveiwing my notes on Romans 6 in preparation for a Bible study on the beginning of the chapter, and I decided to post my brief notes on verses 1-2. Perhaps it may later be followed by more? Here is Romans 6:1:
"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?"

In response to Romans 5:20-21, where we learn that grace abounds even more where sin increased. Does that mean that we should keep on sinning so that grace may continue to abound? If grace is so much more abundant where sin is increased, then why not sin so much the more in order that grace may keep abounding? That is the question, and that is the issue most often brought up when the religious mind understands grace. The religious person responds in distrust: "What are you saying, that we can keep sinning so grace will abound?" While the non-religious person responds with antinomianism: "Wow! I can sin as much as I want and God's grace will cover it - that's great!" etc. But Paul makes it clear that this objection to grace, as well as the abuse of grace is not possible at all. For one thing, sin is not the cause for grace to abound. Paul didn't write in verse 20, "where sin increased, sin made grace abound all the more..." No, but rather he wrote, "but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (KJV). So since grace is a free gift of God and cannot be earned by good works, we should also realize that it cannot be earned by sin either. Grace is free, undeserved, and no sinning can bring more of it, since it is only freely given at God's own goodwill and pleasure.

In the next verses we find out just how impossible it is for us to continue in sin because of grace.

Romans 6:2
"By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?"

The answer to the question in verse 1 is a strong, resounding NO! No way! May it never be!

Why? Paul answers the question with another question: How can we be dead and still be alive at the same time? In other words, we died to sin, so how can we be alive to it still? Those who are dead are no longer living, and those who have died to sin can no longer live in it anymore. It is an impossibility, a contradiction for a Christian to continue to live a sinful life, because he has died to sin.

A Death Poem:

Did you ever die?

What happens when someone dies?

First, they lose their ability to do anything. No more breathing, heart-beating, feeling, tasting, hearing, smelling, seeing. No more thinking, speaking, reading, writing, praying, being. No more moving.

Death takes everything away. No more wearing, buying, selling, enjoying. No more money, friends, family, health, house, city, town, pets, spouse, children, country.

All gain is lost. All hopes quenched. All plans ended. The past is gone, the future lost, the present restricted.

Death ends it all.

So, have you ever died? I don't mean physical death like I described above, because then you would not be reading this now. Have you died to this world? Have you died to sin? Have you died to self? Have you died to the law so that you may live to God in Christ who is the fulfillment and end of the law? Have you died with Christ, and so have you been raised to new life with Him? If so, just as you cannot live while being dead, you cannot continue in your old life of sin while being a Christian. That would be impossible.

I'm not forgetting the other objection to this teaching in Romans 6, and Paul didn't either, that is why we have Romans chapter 7. We are free from sin, yet we continue to fight with it until we are completely delivered from "this body of death". Nevertheless, we are dead to it, and so we walk in newness of life.

Let us remember, it is all of grace! And we must not forget it :D

November 13, 2008

Responses Welcome: How Has Grace Worked to Change You?

You may share whatever you like about God's grace working in you...

I would like to simply say that Romans 5 and six are two interlocked chapters. The first dealing with the glory of God's grace toward the vilest of sinners, and the second dealing with the power of His grace to transform lives completely through the death and resurrection of Christ. As I've been reading Romans 6, I am reminded of how grace changes lives forever, and how being freed from sin and living in obedience to God through Christ is as much the gift of God as justification by faith alone.

Grace took me from being a self-deceived hypocrite, who used to justify sin by claiming forgiveness since I "believed" in Jesus, therefore God would forgive the evil that so characterized my heart and life, both inwardly and outwardly. Grace opened my eyes to the severity of my sin as I read the Bible, and grace gave me a completely new life hidden in Christ, where knowing God through Christ and being holy and sanctified to Him are what I hunger and thirst for now. This all is a gift of God's grace to me through the work of Christ my Lord when He died and He rose and He lives forever as my great High Priest.

November 7, 2008

Grace and Repentance: Do They Go Together?

Does the message of repentance fit in with the message of grace? If so, how?

During his earthly ministry, Jesus denounced certain cities for their unrepentance (Matthew 11:20-21,22-23,24).

And after saying those things, he went on to say that only the Father's gracious will can reveal the truth to people and bring them to repentance (Matthew 11:25-26,27,28-30).

Without true, genuine repentance, you cannot and will not be saved. But that repentance can only be graciously granted by the loving Heavenly Father's will. It is my desire to share the gospel with sinners, but without repentance, there is no salvation and no gospel. Oh, LORD God, that you would grant repentance to some poor dead sinners in this day by your powerful grace! Amen.

November 5, 2008

This Video Blew Me Away... Its Worth Watching All

This Video came at the right time for me. It has confirmed so much of what I've learned over the past 2 1/2 years. Watch the whole thing if you can, because we need to hear these things and tell them to others!

"When you refuse to preach on the radical depravity of men, it is an impossibility that you bring glory to God, His Christ and His cross. Because the cross of Jesus Christ and the glory thereof is most magnified when it is placed in front of the backdrop of our depravity. 'She loved much, because she has been forgiven much.' And she knew how much she had been forgiven because she knew how wicked she was. Ah, we are afraid to tell men of their wickedness, and they can never love God because of it. We have robbed them of the opportunity to boast not in themselves, but to follow the admonition: 'Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.'"

- Paul Washer, Ten Indictments Against the Church sermon.

November 4, 2008

Assurance of Salvation

Sometimes the path to assurance can be a dreary road, but there is hope for those who trust the Lord.

Does your assurance rest on Christ as your salvation?

Romans 8:31-38
What then shall we say to these things? [To what things? Why, the things that were written before this of course! See Romans 1-8. But more specifically to Rom. 8:23,24-25, and especially Rom. 8:28,29,30!!!] If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all [i.e., all who are 'children of God' and 'heirs with Christ' and who have the 'firstfruits of the Spirit' - Rom. 8:16,17,23], how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died - more than that, who was raised - who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?...

What is the argument here for being sure we are saved? On what basis does it rest assured? We always need to be careful not to write too much on important truths, since that can overwhelm our mind instead of strengthen it by what the Scripture plainly says. Paul assures his readers that the assurance of the promise of eternal salvation rests not on anything we have done, but rather, on what God has done in Christ. Paul made it clear in chapters 6-8 that only believers who have been crucified with Christ and have died to sin, to the law and to the world are saved. That all who have the Holy Spirit and are being led to put to death the deeds of the flesh are saved. But when he talks of where our assurance really stands sure, he says (for those who meet the previous qualifications of being genuine Christians, see Romans 8:1-28 for evidences of being saved), it is God who is for us, since He is the one who predestined us, called us, justified us and ultimately glorified us before we even had any say in the matter! So our confidence for being sure is in what God has done for us, not what we have done for Him.

The fruits of righteousness are a result of what God has done in saving us, and are an evidence that we are saved, but I don't think we can look to them for real confidence. What we look to for a firm ground of assurance is found in Christ. God did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all. I have often thought, "How can I doubt God's love?" I know for a fact that in my natural flesh, I want to do nothing but doubt God, which is sin and is the same as calling Him a liar! But by His grace and through the work of His Holy Spirit, I cannot doubt what He has done for me. He gave up His own Son for me. He loved me in an unbelievable way, and now I believe it! How could I possibly think He won't do the rest of what He promised, such as eternal salvation? "How will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?"

There is more here, but I think you get the point. I am sure that I am saved, because I have repented sincerely of my sins before God, have put all my hope and trust in the one man God anointed to be the Savior and in whom all are commanded to believe, and have bowed my heart and life to Jesus Christ as my Lord and God. But the only reason I have to be sure that all this means salvation for me, is that God loved me by giving up His own precious beloved Son on the cross to take away my condemnation, so that through His resurrected life, I may be justified and live forever at peace with Him. This kind of love makes me want to shed tears of joy! How about you? Does the cross of Christ truly mean salvation for you? Are you believing? Remember that faith is a gift in Ephesians 2:8-9! One of the things I was teaching on Romans chapter 5 this past Sunday, and I said, "Do you know why all who are in Christ by faith can never, ever, ever, ever be lost or condemned?" And they kind of looked at me expecting an answer from me, so I said, "Because Christ was already condemned for them." That is why I will never be lost, the perfect Lamb of God was condemned for all my sins, and now there is nothing left for me but salvation! If He was condemned for me, I cannot be condemned. I know this is for me, because of the grace the Lord has shown to me in giving me His Spirit, repentance and real living faith. My faith and works are sometimes weak, but I can never doubt the all surpassing love of God in Christ my Savior. It was a battle for me in the past to know this, but that is why I look unto Jesus (Heb. 12:2). I hope you all do the same.