Thursday, February 27, 2020

             By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.
    Fanny Crosbie (1820 -1915), ‘The Queen of Gospel Writers’ wrote 8,000 hymns, even though she was blind, that have brought hope, peace and joy to multitudes. Blessed Assurance Jesus is Mine is one of those great hymns!
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood
Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day
                 WE ARE HEIRS OF GOD!
  The Bible says: “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abbba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son: and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (Galatians 4:4-7)
     St. Paul wrote: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry, Abba Father.
     “The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8: 14-17)
     The Greek word 'heirs’ (klēronomeō), means a receiver of an inheritance, a beneficiary. How did all this happen? By the grace of God and faith in the finished work of Christ for us on the Cross, we receive Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. There is even more - we are joint heirs with Him and will reign with Him. This is too much for our mortal brains to assimilate. It is beyond our understanding, but so is everything else about God!
    Trying to understand God is a ‘fool’s task’. Don’t be an idiot. Take off the mask of stupid pride and get on your knees and have a talk with Jesus! I like the way Verner von Braun, the father of America’s Moon Project put it: “The farther we probe into space, the more I believe in God!” And concerning a man knowing God, John Wesley stated: “You might as well ask, “Can a worm understand a man?”  If a worm can understand a man, then a man can understand his creator!
      G.B. Hardy, a Canadian Scientist said: “When I looked at religion I said, I have two questions. One, has anybody ever conquered death, and two, if they have, did they make a way for me to conquer death?
    “I checked the tomb of Buddha, and it was occupied, and I checked the tomb of Confucius and it was occupied, and I checked the tomb of Mohammed and it was occupied, and I came to the tomb of Jesus and it was empty. And I said, There is one who conquered death. And I asked the second question, Did He make a way for me to do it? And I opened the Bible and discovered that He said, ‘Because I live ye shall live also.'” (John 14: 19) John MacArthur
    Friends, at this very hour, the cremated body of Siddhartha Guatama (now known as the Buddha) lies in a grave at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains. Muhammad, the founder of Islam, is buried in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Joseph Smith is buried in Nauvoo, Illinois. Charles Darwin is buried at Westminster Abbey in London. They are all dead and their graves are occupied. Only Jesus Christ proved that what He said was true by rising from the dead.”Charlie H. Campbell
     “I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.” –Thomas Arnold, historian and Oxford professor
    “If all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude that the sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea, in which Jesus was buried, was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy, or archaeology that would disprove this statement.” – Paul Maier
     “I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history…” – E. M. Blaiklock, Professor of Classics at Auckland University
    “One of the most amazing facts about the early Christian belief in Jesus’ resurrection was that it originated in the very city where Jesus was crucified. The Christian faith did not come to exist in some distant city, far from eyewitnesses who knew of Jesus’ death and burial. No, it came into being in the very city where Jesus had been publicly crucified, under the very eyes of its enemies.” – William Lane Craig
     “All the power of Rome and of the religious establishment in Jerusalem was geared to stop the Christian faith. All they had to do was to dig up the grave and to present the corpse. They didn’t.” – Henry Schaefer III
    “In 56 A.D. [the apostle] Paul wrote that over 500 people had seen the risen Jesus and that most of them were still alive (1 Corinthians 15:6ff.). It passes the bounds of credibility that the early Christians could have manufactured such a tale and then preached it among those who might easily have refuted it simply by producing the body of Jesus.” – John Warwick Montgomery
     “The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single greatest event in the history of the world. It is so foundational to Christianity that no one who denies it can be a true Christian. Without resurrection there is no Christian faith, no salvation, and no hope. “If there is no resurrection of the dead,”
    “Paul explains, “But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then our preaching is vain, and your faith is also vain.” (1 Cor 15:13-14).
    “A person who believes in a Christ who was not raised believes in a powerless Christ, a dead Christ. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then no redemption was accomplished at the cross and “your faith is worthless,” Paul goes on to say; “you are still in your sins” (v. 17).” –John MacArthur
     How are we able to believe this amazing Gospel, the good news that we can be transformed from sinners to saints, from enemies of God to being adopted into His Kingdom? The greatest example is Saul of Tarsus who was a fierce enemy of Jesus Christ and His church, ravaging, imprisoning and killing Christians.
     When the Lord Jesus appeared to him in a blinding light, he was converted and became the most powerful preacher of the Gospel. Saul of Tarsus took the name of Paul, the little one, wrote more than one-half of the New Testament, founded the Church in the Gentile world and sealed his testimony for Jesus Christ as a martyr!
    He said: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
     “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.” (Romans 5: 6, 8-10)
   “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the word of reconciliation: To wit (that is), that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5: 17-19)
                     JESUS UNFOLDS THE MYSTERY!
       Jesus asked: “But whom saith thou that I am? Simon Peter… said, Thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God.  Jesus said… For flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father in Heaven.”  (Matthew 16: 13-17)
      The Holy Spirit alone has the divine ability to reveal to a human being that Jesus Christ is indeed the Messiah, the Anointed One and Son of the Living God! And only the Holy Bible, the written Word of God can confirm that revelation!
    The vicarious death of the incarnated Son of God and His glorious resurrection has purchased forgiveness of sins, full pardon and eternal life. Jesus, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High: Being so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent Name than they.” (Hebrews 1: 3-4)    
      To Believers, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the deposit or guarantee of our inheritance: “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated  according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will: That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.
     “In whom also ye trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of Promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

                   By Gloria & William Gaither

So long I had searched for life's meaning,
Enslaved by the world and my greed,
Then the door of the prison was opened by love,
For the ransom was paid - I was free.

I'm free from the fear of tomorrow,
I'm free from the guilt of the past,
For I've traded my shackles for a glorious song,
I'm Free! Praise the Lord! Free at last!

I'm free from the guilt that I carried,
From that dull empty life I'm set free,
For when I met Jesus, He made me complete,
He forgot how foolish I used to be.

I'm free from the fear of tomorrow,
I'm free from the guilt of the past,
For I've traded my shackles for a glorious song,
I'm Free! Praise the Lord! Free at last!

     St. Paul wrote: “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise and to the unwise, So as much as in 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.” (Romans 1: 14-16)
     Here is St. Paul’s Mission Statement: I am a Debtor to the Gentiles. I must pay that debt by giving them the Gospel. I am Ready to preach the Gospel in pagan Rome. Later, he stated: “What mean ye to weep and break my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21: 13). I am not Ashamed of the gospel of Christ, even though it was despised and hated by the Jews and ridiculed by the Gentiles!
    The Apostle to the Gentiles had a divine call from God to preach the Gospel of Christ to the pagan and the unreached masses of humanity. He understood the plan of God to dispense the glad tidings of the vicarious death and the glorious resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth to the whole world.
     He had a mandate to go where others had not gone. He was a trailblazer on a mission for God and nothing would stop him until his work was finished. After the unsuccessful coup in Damascus to kill him, Saul of Tarsus was led to Arabia, where I believe, he was tutored by Jesus Himself. Almighty God had a hidden secret that was made in the Council of Heaven, in the Godhead.  
      It was probably there that the great ‘Mystery of God’ was revealed to him: “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and generations, but now is made manifest to His saints; to whom God would make known what is the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of Glory.” (Colossians 1: 26,27)
      Jews were forbidden to have dealings with Gentiles. A Canaanite woman came to Jesus for the healing of her demon possessed daughter. He made it clear that His mission was to reach the Jewish people, but her faith brought her a miracle.
    He said: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, help me. But He answered and said, It is not meet to give the children’s bread to dogs.
    “And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”  (Matthew 15: 24-28) 
     His ministry was to the lost sheep of the House of Israel and to offer His life on the Cross for all people everywhere. The job description to His apostles, disciples and all believers, however, is to carry His gospel to all people everywhere!
    “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 these signs shall follow them that believe; in My Name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
    “They shall take up serpents (Paul in Malta); and if they drink any deadly thing (some preachers in Soviet prisons) it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 16: 15-19)
      The great persecution by Saul led to evangelization among the Gentiles: “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the Miracles which he did.
     “For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.” (Acts 8: 4-7)
       JESUS IS THE GREAT I AM!                            
     Jesus Christ said: “But the hour cometh, and NOW is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and of truth.
   “The woman saith unto Him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak to thee is He. The woman left her water pot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come see a man who, which told me all things that ever I did: Is not this the Christ?” (John 4:23-26,28)
    Jesus said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life. I am the Bread of Life. I am the living bread which came down from Heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world… Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you;
    “Whoso eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.” (John 6: 47-55)
    “… I am the Light of the world, he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of Life. And He said unto them, ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world. I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins if ye believe not that I am He.” (John 8: 12, 23,24)
    “I am the Door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and go in and out and find pasture. The thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10: 9, 10);
    “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh unto the Father except by Me.” (John 14: 6); “I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine.” (John 10:14); “I am the Resurrection and the Life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11: 25);
    “I am the True Vine, and My Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that I may bring forth more fruit.” (John 15: 1,2)
              WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS:
               COME BACK TO JESUS!
     If you have drifted away from the Saviour, run back to Him and cast yourself into His loving, caring and healing arms! He is constantly waiting for you. That is why He told the parable about the Prodigal son who returned to his father after ruining his life through careless, wicked and riotous living!
     “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was yet a Great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet:
     “And bring hither the fatted calf and kill it; and let us eat and be merry: For this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found…” (Luke 15: 20-23). The most important prayer anyone can pray is: “Father, I have sinned.”
      He knows about every one of us and He understands us because He was Himself tested and tempted just like all of us, yet without sin! “God the Father hath according to abundant mercy begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (Hebrews 10: 3)
     “For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of   our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4: 15, 16)
     There is divine healing for all human hurts, pains, torments and sorrows! There is a balm in Gilead for all sin sick souls, wounded spirits and diseased bodies. There is peace, assurance and tranquility for confused, tormented and bewildered minds!
     The Healer from Nazareth is still passing by the blind man sitting by the side of the road, begging for bread. The Miracle Worker that stopped on the Jericho Road to administer Divine Healing and wholeness, has not gotten old, tired or helpless, but is the same yesterday, today and forever!
     He still heals the blind and infirm who wait for a touch from the Master’s hands. The Sea Walker still comes to us when our boat is about to sink. He comes walking on the waves of our tempestuous lives, often at the height of our problems.  As happened to the disciples, He often comes to us in the third hour of the night as we struggle to quieten our spirits, dispel our fears and calm our nerves!
    He says, “Peace be still. Don’t be concerned. Be of good cheer. I know all about you and I have come to help you!” There is still hope, faith and agape love for the sin hardened soul and fear plagued ‘Rebel called Man’.
     When it seems that all hope is gone, we hear His voice saying, “Peace be still and know that I am God. I will never leave thee nor forsake thee, I will be with you all the way, until the journey’s end.” He will not desert us nor abandon us till we reach the ‘golden shore’ and meet Jesus face to face in our Heavenly Home!
    There will be no disappointments there, and all will be peace and glorious harmony in the ‘Radiant Place’ that our Saviour, Jesus Christ has gone to prepare for us! There will be no more sorrow, sickness, pain or death in that ‘Land of endless day’, where Truth reigns supreme and fear and falsehood is unknown and the Prince of Peace is King!
     We sing with gusto that great Gospel song, ‘What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see. Just to look upon His face the One who saved me by His grace. When He takes me by the hand and leads me through the Promised Land, what a day, glorious day that will be!’
     However, before we go there, there is much to explore, enjoy and envision here on this ‘terrestrial ball’ we call earth, which our Heavenly Father created by, through and for His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
    The 17th chapter of St. John’s Gospel is an extraordinary theological sermon! The heart of our Saviour is exposed to humanity as He literally sweeps away the Mystery of His incarnation and allows us to understand a little of the LOVE between God the Son and His Father, and the yearning heart of Jesus to please His Father.
   And the great cost to Jesus in laying aside His Godhood, in order to fulfill the great act of love and sacrifice, found in the Plan of Redemption!
    We see and hear the Father’s heart of warmth and pleasure as He spoke at His Son’s baptism and again at His transfiguration: “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased, Hear Him”!
    He was saying: “Take your eyes off Elijah and Moses. Look at My Son!” Amen.