A GREAT DOOR & MANY ADVERSARIES
By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.
“For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.” (1 Cor. 16: 9)
In the Gospel work there are always many adversaries because the Devil opposes the work of God. And when there are open doors in an area, Satan is more aggressive than ever in persecuting the Lord's servants.
MARTIN LUTHER stated: “The greatest trial is not to have a trial.” History proves that the church grows more rapidly when it is under the fire of persecution than when it is not! It is easier to fall asleep spiritually and stop praying and witnessing when everything is going well and there is no opposition!
A.G.WARD said: “The age in which the church was most completely separated from the world was the age in which Christianity was most victorious in the world.” - From Dr. Charles S. Price's Golden Grain, quoting one of the early leaders of P.A.O.C.
Everywhere St. Paul travelled to preach the Gospel, he met with serious persecution. Often the persecution began after God had stretched forth His hand to heal the sick and a spiritual revival had begun.
At Philippi, St. Paul cast out a demon from a fortune teller who could then no longer perform her evil work, which in turn angered her masters. The makers of pagan artifacts were incensed at the loss of their income because the Gospel had changed people's lives. The results of their outcry caused Paul and Silas to be beaten and thrown into a prison.
A MIRACLE caused them to be thrown into prison and a MIRACLE brought them out. The miracle of the earthquake that opened all the doors gave Paul and Silas the opportunity to win the jailor and his family to Christ, which in turn undoubtedly strengthened the Church greatly!
PERSECUTION WAS HIS COMPANION!
“And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
“And at midnight Paul and Silas PRAYED, and sang PRAISES unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bands were loosed.” (Acts 16: 23-26)
God's MIRACLE rescued Paul and Silas and brought the Philippian jailor and his family to Christ: “And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.” (Acts 16: 33-34)
A CHOSEN VESSEL OF THE LORD!
SAUL of TARSUS knew beforehand what was coming. Our Lord had made it clear from the very beginning, that he would have to suffer severely as His hand-picked Ambassador to the Gentile world. Here was His message to Ananias:
“But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way, for he is a Chosen Vessel unto Me to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and before the chidren Israel: For I will show him how great things he must SUFFER for My name's sake.” (Acts 9:15, 16)
Years later SAUL, who had changed his name to Paul wrote: “Are they the ministser of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more: in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews received I forty stripes save one.
“Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren:
“In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
“In Damascus the Governor under Aretas the king that kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.” (Acts 11: 23-28; 32,33)
ST. PAUL'S GREAT DISTRESS!
St. Paul suffered more than most men during many years of Christian Ministry, as he spread the Gospel far and wide and founded the Church of Jesus Christ across the Gentile world, as St. Peter and the other apostles did among the Jews!
He wrote: “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus sake. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the POWER may be of God, and not of us.
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed: we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed: Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” (2 Cor. 4: 5-11)
In Troas, God had OPENED the door for St. Paul to preach the Gospel but because Titus had not arrived, he left the revival. He regretted it deeply and coupled his forgiveness with the man who had sinned grievously, whom he said should also be forgiven.
“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. Futhermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's Gospel, and a DOOR was opened unto me of the Lord. I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to TRIUMPH in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of His knowledge by us in every place.” (2 Cor.2: 11-14)
To St. Paul, this was certainly a grievous mistake. He had gone to Troas to preach. God had opened the door among the heathen, but he was so worried about Titus that he left the revival. He felt that he also needed God's grace and mercy, which he received.
The great 'Man of God' did not tolerate false brethren who sought to minimize Jesus Christ and replace Him with their old theology. He wrote of it as: “another spirit; another gospel or another Jesus”.
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtility, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” (2 Cor.11: 3,4)
Again, St. Paul stated: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another, but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
“But though we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than ye have received, let him be accused.” (Gal. 1:6-9)
The Lord's Chosen Vessel wrote: “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” (1 Cor. 16:22). What does all this mean?
St. Paul who had been given the Gospel from Jesus Christ personally by revelation and by being carried into Heaven and seeing things that he was not allowed to tell, was captivated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Church, which is His Body!
He KNEW that there is only One Way to God and Heaven and that is through Jesus Christ alone! He was not preaching any short-cuts to God. Everyone must come the same way, through the Cross and by the Blood of God's Paschal Lamb!
He used two Aramaic words, Anathema and Maranatha; one meaning censure, suspended or accursed and the second, our Lord comes. He was warning that when the Lord Jesus returns it will be a great and wonderful day for His Church, but a dreadful day of censure for those who do not know and love the Lord!
The Righteous will receive eternal blessedness but the others an eternal censure and curse! Concerning the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, St. Paul instructs the Church: “Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus Christ is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (1 Cor.12: 3)
Now you know why adherents to the Cults and pagan religions will miss Heaven and populate Hell. The Muslim religious-political belief ridicules Jesus Christ as the Son of God, saying that is impossible for God to have a Son! The Jesus they preach is not 'the Jesus of the Bible', but an imposter who will force all Christians to accept Islam or be killed!
CHRIST IS NOT AN EVOLVING IDEA!
The Western Report Feb. 8, 1993 story of Christian Unity in Alberta carried this excerpt:
Edmonton’s Dr. Max Solbrekken is more blunt. “We can’t sit at the same table with people who presume to change the word of God — call God the Father ‘she,’ license homosexual acts, change Christ’s own words on marriage, or deny that He rose from the dead. That’s blasphemy. The only truth that unites Christians is the person of Jesus, and He is not negotiable. I’m all for Christians joining together, but Christ is the living Word, not an ‘evolving idea,’ and He doesn’t change with the times.”
There is however a path to God and Heaven, and that is the way of REPENTANCE and FAITH toward our Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Bible says: “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance to God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21).
There can be no forgiveness without repentance toward God, which is sorrow for sin and rebellion against God. And faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross for us!
Jesus warned: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt.7:13, 14)
The Holy Bible says: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be SAVED, and to come unto the knowledge of the TRUTH. For there is ONE God, and ONE Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a RANSOM for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Tim. 2: 3-6)
JESUS invites occultists, cultists, pagans and all lost souls to come to Him for forgiveness and cleansing through His precious blood and total healing from all the powers of the Evil One. His love reaches out to everyone!
He stated: “Come unto Me all ye who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matt.11: 28); “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to Him, and will sup with him and he with Me.” (Rev.3: 20).
ENDURING UNTO THE END!
Jesus warned about coming tribulation: “And many false prophets shall arise and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
“But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world as a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt.24: 11-14)
St. Paul stated: “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is me, if I preach not the gospel. For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel has been committed uto me.
“What is my reward then? Verily that when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel. For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself a servant, unto all, that I might gain the more.” (1 Cor.9: 16-19)
“For what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” (Phil.3: 7-10)
My good friend, BOB ROSIN, used to say, “It's one thing to start. It's another thing to finish.” And that is the truth!
Behind us lies thousands of years of history confirming the power of Almighty God in Creation, the lives and messages of Israel's prophets, the Incarnation and life of Jesus Christ and His message to us, the Apostles of our Lord and the great revivals that were wrought by the Holy Spirit in the Early Church and for the past nearly 2,000 years,
And ahead of us awaits the unknown with its opportunities to fulfill our calling in the further spread of the Gospel. Obeying God's Word, we rely on His promise to never leave us nor forsake us as we carry on the work of those who have laid down their lives for the cause of the gospel.
Acknowledging our own weakness we throw ourselves upon His strength and great mercy, and holding on to His Almighty Hand we stretch ourselves to do the impossible through His power, knowing that in the end we win!
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep through the Blood of the Everlasting Covenant make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, in Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb.13: 20,21)
And now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and the fellowship and communion Holy Spirit be and abide with us all until Jesus comes. May He strengthen, bless, forgive, heal, protect and prosper us all in His holy name! Amen.