A church's success can be measured only by the emphasis it places on offering men and women the chance to choose Christ.
God forever fixed the value of a human soul when He “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, KJV). Souls are priceless. They are of more value than all the treasure of earth and sky.
The church where the gospel is preached without an evangelistic appeal, that is, a call for men and women to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and declare themselves on the Lord's side, is a failure. I realize that the public decision for Christ is a rare teaching in the world today, but in our meetings, everything is subservient to the decision to follow in the footsteps of Christ. read more
Probably our greatest hindrance in doing the will of God is the fact that it involves sacrifice.
The Christian life seems to be a strange experience in this way, and many people (even believers) today either choose to gloss over the uncomfortable component of sacrifice or ignore it altogether.
Even during the joyous celebration of Christmas, as believers, we should not overlook the fact that the baby in the manger was destined for the cross. The truth remains that our salvation, God's free gift to us, was not without cost. read more
MOST OF US KNOW THAT REPENTANCE IS A REQUIREMENT FOR SALVATION. BUT DO WE KNOW WHEN WE'VE ACHIEVED IT?
Repentance is an indispensable condition of entering the kingdom of God.
People generally are all at sea on this subject, as though insisting that repentance is an arbitrary arrangement on the part of God. I believe God has made human salvation as easy as the almighty, infinite, mind could make it! But there is a necessity that we "repent and turn to God" (Acts 26:20, KJV). read more
Have you ever heard the expression "going to hell in a handbasket"? Doesn't it sometimes seem--at least, judging by our leaders--as if that's what the body of Christ is doing? We have high-profile charismatic preachers divorcing their wives to marry someone else, evangelical pastors falling prey to Internet pornography, mainline denominational priests sexually abusing their congregants' children and, more recently, a homosexual priest being raised up to the position of bishop. As a Christian journalist, I hear the reports--and I cringe.
But I have learned that if we focus on what we see, we can easily become discouraged. So I choose to keep my eyes on Jesus, the magnificent Bridegroom, and my heart anchored in His Word, which tells us that Christ gave Himself for the church "that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:27, NKJV, emphasis added). His plan is for us to be a glorious church--a beautiful, wrinkle-free bride. read more
In going to the cross, Jesus Christ reconciled mankind to a Holy God. Today, his sacrifice offers us even more than salvation.
The blood of Christ is the thread that runs through the Bible from beginning to end, tying it together into a comprehensive whole. It is the central theme--the very heartbeat of the living, active Word of God; everything points to it. Therefore, it is imperative for our spiritual formation that we gain a fuller understanding of it.
One morning recently I had an opportunity to do this. I was reading a scripture verse so familiar to me that its words almost didn't register on my consciousness. "The blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin" (1 John 1:7, NIV). read more
Although no one can see the Lord and live, God passed by the prophet Elijah as he waited silently in a cave. Before God appeared to him, a number of powerful things preceded Him--a great wind, an earthquake and a fire (see 1 Kin. 19:3-13).
Interestingly, the Bible says that the Lord was not in these things, but He was in the "gentle blowing," a very special place requiring silence before God (v. 12, NASB). He speaks to us in a still, small voice.
When we become quiet before God, we are able to receive the revelation of His presence that Elijah received. We can also receive direction, correction and new instruction.
Elijah was surrounded by spiritual warfare and demonic activity. In moments such as these it's more important than ever to be silent in order to receive clear direction.
One of the characteristics of an intimate walk with God is greater rest and peace and a realization that God does the battling on your behalf. If you'll take time to silence yourself before God, He not only will give you direction but also will remind you that He's taking care of it all. Silence will make you see how small you are, how big God is, and that God has everything under control. read more
One morning several years ago when I was thanking God for the delight of His presence, I heard a voice say, "If you seek Me for the way you feel in My presence, it is no different from any other soul-realm passion." I had never thought about my relationship with Him in those terms before. God was saying that if I pursue Him simply for the pleasurable experience I have when He makes Himself known to me, then my enjoyment of Him is dictated by my feelings.
After this encounter I experienced a season of dryness--called a "dark night of the soul" by 16th century mystic John of the Cross--during which it seemed as if God was not there. This season was especially difficult because for years prior to it I had walked in an almost continual awareness of His presence. Now, suddenly, I sensed nothing.
During my "dark night" I realized that on our path to spiritual maturity, we don't go from mountaintop to mountaintop. We have to walk through valleys as well. Even after we have arrived in our "promised land" we may experience spiritually dry times.
Our nation is suffering from a social and moral collapse. If we have ever needed God's anointing, it is now, but where are God's elect?
Is there no one divinely empowered to fell the Goliaths of our age? Perhaps we need only look in our bathroom mirrors. If you believe in Jesus and are desperate for God, you qualify as one of God's elect.
We have erroneously held that God's chosen will never be assaulted by the adversary and driven to desperate day-and-night prayer. But desperation is often the very crucible in which God's elect are forged.
Jesus portrays this characteristic metaphorically in the parable of the widow who petitioned a hardened judge for "legal protection" (Luke 18:3, NASB). Although the judge was initially unwilling, by her "continually coming" (v. 5) the widow gained what was legally hers.
It is possible that this widow may have represented the church in a desperate prayer for protection against her adversary. We need the "legal protection" that a national revival provides; but it will not come without unceasing prayer.
It's our turn to pray. We are the widow who cannot give herself a reason for failure. God will answer our cry if we position ourselves at His throne. Certainly, He will grant us legal protection in our cities and our nation. read more