Sunday, July 31, 2016

                    WITHOUT DOUBT:
            WE CAN KNOW FOR SURE?
                                      By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.

      President Harry Truman said: “Only two things are sure, death and taxes.” He certainly made a point, but was only partly right. There are more things that are sure, like Judgment Day, Heaven and Hell!
   Expanding this argument, let me state unequivically that nothing in life is as sure as the Grace of God! Nothing is as grand, marvellous and unique as the Lord’s prevenient grace toward us
      You may ask: “What is Prevenient Grace?”
     Plainly stated, prevenient grace is the awesome fact that God in His mercy loved us and reached out to save us before we ever thought of Him or considered serving Him! He loved us and chose us for Himself before the foundations of the world.
     St. Paul declared: “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” (Eph1: 4; 2 Tim.1: 9).
     The Bible says: “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.” (John 3: 16). It was God reaching out to us, instead of us reaching out to Him!
      “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 3: 9,10,19)
     Propitiation which means 'mercy seat, satisfaction, expiation’ denotes God’s satisfaction with the death of His incarnated Son (God in human flesh) for the sins of the world, and His resurrection from the dead for our justification! We shout out the good news together with St. John: “We love Him because He first loved us!”
     That is the prevenient grace of God in operation – the unmerited favour of God working out our salvation, before we were born and while we were yet sinners and enemies of His Kingdom!
     The Bible states: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for an unrighteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God
commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom.5: 6-8)
                             PAGAN GODS ARE CRUEL & SEVERE!
     They are products of the cruel minds of dictators and despots who seek to control people for ulterior motives, such as power, finances and prestige! In my world travels, I have observed a plethora of gods, goddesses, images and heathen idols.  
   They are often grotesque, ugly and weird, representing pagan gods who supposedly protect worshippers from even more more sinister looking, grotesque and ghastly devils!
     Muslims worship the god Allah, chosen from a multitude of gods in Arabia in the seventh century, by an illiterate camel train driver and sword wielding warrior. He is severe and loves only those who love him. All who refused to embrace this god or bow to Mecca would be exterminated! Others worship gods of their own making or imagination!
      Christians worship the eternal God of the universe, Who has created us all and cares for us. He loves us with a perfect love, which extends even to those who hate and reject Him! That is the true Lord God Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! (Ex.3: 6; Eph.1: 3)
     All so-called gods and goddesses are counterfeits and must be treated as such! The Eternal God states: “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no god beside Me. I girded thee (Jacob–Israel) though thou hast not known Me. That they (the heathen) may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside Me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.
     “Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker...I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even My hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded. Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God and there is none else.” (Is.45: 5,6,11,12,18,22)
                            CAN ANYONE DOUBT GOD’S LOVE?
     How could anyone doubt the unconditional love of God when you consider the compassionate prayer of Jesus, our Saviour to His Father, from the cross? “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” (Luke 23:34).
      He is the God of compassion and love, Who forgives the sinner, heals the sick, strengthens the weak and helps the poor! He brings peace to troubled souls, removes spirits of fear, lust and hate and pours in His mercy, grace and health! Blessed be His name forever!
      As we human beings seek to understand or describe God, we find ourselves lacking proper words. We often get bogged down in the quagmire of ignorance in our feeble attempt to communicate the attributes of the ONE Who is the fount of all wisdom, knowledge and understanding!
     The Bible states: ”Have ye not known? Have ye not heard? Hath it not been told you from the beginning? Have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? 
    It is He that sitteth upon the CIRCLE of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a tent to dwell in: That bringeth the princes to nothing; He maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.”
                          COLUMBUS LED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT!
     Twenty seven hundred years ago the prophet Isaiah declared - by divine revelation – that the earth is round! Scientific 'flat earthers’ were warning Christopher Columbus that he must not sail too far west because he would fall off the earth! Here is his response to the 'flat earth scientists’ and other elites of Queen Isobel’s Spain:
     “In this time I have seen and put in study to look into all the Scriptures, cosmography, histories, chronologies, and philosophy and other arts, which our Lord opened to my understanding (I could sense His hand upon me), so that it became clear to me that it was feasible to navigate from here to the Indies; and He unlocked within me the determination to execute the ideas...
      “Who doubts that this illumination was from the Holy Spirit? I attest that He (the Spirit), with marvellous rays of light, consoled me through the holy and sacred Scriptures, a strong and clear testimony...encouraging me to proceed, and, continually, without ceasing for a moment, they enflame me with a sense of great urgency.” - From 'Christopher Columbus Book of Prophecies’ translated by Kay Brigham.
     It was God who led Columbus to the New World so that the Gospel could be dispensed here. His voyage began the greatest expansion of the Gospel geographically, since the first century A.D. Although he was a Genoese Jew living in Spain, Columbus felt that his name 'Christopher' which means 'the one who carries Christ' (to others) was given to him by the Lord!
     The Word of God instructs: “Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of His understanding.” (Is.40: 21,22,28)
     Apodeictic is a little - used word that comes from the Greek apodiktikos, meaning 'evident without contradictions'. In my opinion, this is the nearest we can come to express what God is like! Everything about God, the Supreme Being and Eternal Sovereign is “evident beyond contradictions”You cannot contradict that fact that He is eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, transcendent, merciful, gracious and compassionate.
                                              GOD IS PURE LOVE!
    Who has the credentials to contradict His power, wisdom, omnipresence, transcendence, total goodness, magnificent mercy, prevenient grace and agape love? The answer is “NO-ONE!” Certainly not the left-liberal pin-heads who teach atheism in our universities, file biased news reports, or pass corrupt and immoral laws with which to further their godless agenda and usurp authority over unsuspecting people in democratic nations!
     Calvary proves the love of God and His opinion of our worth! Jesus’ death on the cross was one-of-a-kind. It is Evident Beyond Contradictions!’ St. Paul tried to describe this great act of love through this statement:
     Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Rom.5: 9,10).
      “Jesus, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
      “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name that is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil.2: 6-11).
     This treatise deals with these truths: We know God! He knows us! We know who are true Christians! We know what our future is! We also know what we must do to get others to believe!

    “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water (God's Word) and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. 
     "That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be BORN AGAIN.” (John 3: 3, 5-7)
   St. Peter stated: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath BEGOTTEN us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
    “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever.” (1 Peter 1: 3, 23). And Jesus said: “Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you.” (John 15: 3). St Paul wrote: “That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the WORD.” (Eph.5: 26)
     “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.” (Phil.3: 10). For I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” (2 Tim.1: 12);
   That 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. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1: 3,7)
     “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquorers through Him that loved us.
     “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, not angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom.8: 35,37-39).
     The story is told of Satan appearing before Martin Luther; “You are a great sinner”, accused the Great Liar, “therefore you will be lost!” Luther countered: “That I am a great sinner is true, but it is also true that Jesus Christ the Son of God died for my sins, therefore I shall not be lost, but I shall be saved. And now be gone!”
      And the lying Tempter and Trouble-maker left forthwith! On another occasion, Luther is said to have answered a knock on the door of his home to find Satan himself standing outside.
     “What do you want?”, asked the Reformer in a stern voice! “I’m looking for Martin Luther” answered 'old slewfoot’! “He doesn’t live here anymore!” replied the 'Man of God’.“What do you mean, are you not Martin Luther?” countered the 'Old Serpent’!
   Then Luther quoted God’s Word to the 'Accuser of the Brethren’: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” (Gal.2: 20).
     Being confronted with the truth, the devil had to leave! He knows that he has lost, because Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection stripped him of all his power over everyone who believes in Christ’s finished work on Calvary!
     The Bible declares: “For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through Death He might Destroy him that had the power of death, that is the Devil; And Deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Heb.2: 14-15)
      Jesus said: “I am the Good Shepherd and KNOW My sheep, and am known of Mine. As the Father knoweth Me, even so I know the Father: and I lay down My life for My sheep” (John 10: 14)
      “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice... My sheep hear My voice.” (John 10: 14-16,27)
    “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord KNOWETH them that are His. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from evil.” (2 Tim.2:19).

    “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
      “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of Antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1 John 4: 1-3)
      "That they all may be one: as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.” (John 18: 21,23)

      “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
     “Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.. What shall we then say to these things?"
     " If God be for us, who can be against us?   He that spared not His own Son, but delivered them up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
      “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 
     "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom.8: 28-39)
      “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not an another; although my reins be consumed within me.” (Job 19: 25-27)
      “According to His Divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine Nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1: 19)
      “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1: 8)
     “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul doth prosper.” (3 John 2); “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know as even I am known.” (1 Cor.13:12)

      “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13: 34)
      JESUS said: “Come unto Me all ye who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt.11: 28)
     “That they all may be one: as Thou Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in US: that the world may be believe that Thou hast sent Me.
     “And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world MAY KNOW that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.” (John 17: 21-23)
    St. Paul declared: “I am a debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise and to the unwise. So, as much as is within me is, I am ready to preach the Gospel to you that are at Rome also.
     “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”(Rom.1: 14-16)
    After seeing God's miracle of the earthquake and the prison chains falling of the prisoners, the Philippian jailor cried out: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16: 30, 31)
      “And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but He that believeth not shall be damned. And they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word with signs following. Amen.” (Mark 16: 15,20)