WORKERS TOGETHER WITH GOD By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.
Chapters 4-8: Our Heavenly Father could have requisitioned the work of salvation to be carried out by Angelic Beings, but He didn't! He has given the work of preaching the Gospel to men and women, who are converted, called and commissioned by Him.
We are His servants! We must accomplish that which God has called us to do, for certainly we do not want to be labeled, "Slothful Servants".
Hear the words of Jesus in a parable: "...His Lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. (The Greek word here translated usury or interest is in the original profit)
"Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the un-profitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 25:26-30)
FAITHFUL & WISE SERVANTS
Jesus declared, "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
"Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you that He shall make him ruler over all His goods.
"But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
"The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth". (Matt. 24: 44-51)
Let us pray this prayer together:
"O God, help us keep our eye single toward You and our eternal inheritance. May we ever be true to Your Word, and Your call on our lives, so that we never reproach Your Name or Ministry! Amen!”
Our Lord refers to Faithful and Wise Servants as well as Evil Servants. In this parable, this lord gave power, authority and dominion unto his servants to RULE over his household, during his absence!
This is a picture of Christ going to Heaven and giving authority to His servants to rule, in His absence! Upon His return however, He will demand an accounting of what we have done with the talents He has given us, and with the authority and dominion He delegated to us.
If our record indicates that we have served Him well, there will be Rewards and Promotions. "...He shall make him ruler over all His goods." (v. 47)
On the other hand however, if that servant forgets the awesome responsibility he has, and begins to abuse his fellow-servants and disregard his office, living in debauchery and drunkenness, there will be punishment. Let us always walk worthy of our calling!
IF YE FORGIVE NOT!
"Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents ($52,800,000 - if in silver).
"But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
“Then the Lord of that Servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
"But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence: (approx. $44.00) and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
"And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
"Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?
"And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall My heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses." (Matt. 18:23-35)
AN AWESOME LESSON FOR US!
The amount of $52 million which this lord forgave his servant speaks of the enormous debt we owe to God and which He has forgiven us. The $44 which the fellow servant owed speaks to us of the miniscule debt our fellowmen owe us. Yet, we who have been forgiven so much by our Lord, have such a hard time to forgive our fellowman!
How flawed and how foolish is our thinking sometimes, and how serious a sin that is! One more thing! Here, Jesus strikes a powerful blow against the erroneous doctrine of Extreme Grace or Eternal Security! After the servant was forgiven, he was again judged and cast into prison! How sad!
A Bible principle we find all through the Scriptures, is that we must treat others as we would have them treat us! This portion of Scripture is the basis for what we call the 'Golden Rule'.
Jesus said, "Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." (Matt. 7:12). One of the sins that causes people to deteriorate spiritually, lose the blessing of God and become sick physically and mentally, is the terrible sin of unforgiveness!
How unfortunate that some people who call themselves Christians carry a grudge against another Christian, or someone else.
Jesus used strong words to address this subject, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses". (Matt. 6:14-15)
It is so important that none of us point our finger in condemnation or judgment at a weaker brother or sister, FOR WHOM CHRIST DIED!
St. Paul admonishes us, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted”. (Gal. 6:1)
Again the Scripture warns, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall”. (1 Cor. 10:12)
The Apostle emphasizes, "If God be for us, who can be against us? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us." (Rom. 8:31, 33, 34)
It is dangerous to condemn another Christian, who has been redeemed by Christ's atoning blood, even though we may not understand or condone everything he or she may or may not do!
By criticizing a fellow believer, we are in fact saying that Christ's redeeming blood is not effective or doing a good job. If God has justified someone, we ought to leave them to God. Let us always remember that we are all answerable personally to God, for our own actions and not those of others!
St. Paul warns: “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand”. (Romans 14:4)
Before his own Master, each servant either stands or falls, Daily, we should 'Thank God' for His awesome and wondrous Grace and mercy toward us all!
CHAPTER 5: WORKING UNDER A NEW SET OF LAWS!
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:34-35). Our Lord Jesus Christ had much to say about the love of God, and how it relates to our lives.
The Bible says, "...whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another." (1 John 3:10-11)
St. John defined divine agape love: "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
"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 that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
"Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us." (1 John 4:7-12)
The Apostle of Love emphasized: "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also." (1 John 4:20,21)
St. Paul also taught responsibility for our actions, "None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself." (Rom. 14:7) Again, "Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth." (1 Cor. 10: 24)
TRUE CHRISTIANITY IS KIND!
It is our responsibility to be a blessing, and help our brothers and sisters in Christ! Christianity, however, demands that we be kind, charitable and good to everyone with whom we have contact!
"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." (Gal. 6:9-10)
St. Paul did not mince words, in his letter to the Galatians: "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." (Gal. 5:14-15)
The answer to this carnality, is to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh; for our flesh lusts against our spirit and the spirit against the flesh, as there is a real battle going on constantly between the flesh and the spirit.
If we allow the flesh to win, we will be nasty, mean and cutting one to another, but if the Holy Spirit gains the upper-hand, we will be kind, generous, good and merciful! If we succumb to the works of the flesh, terrible results will manifest themselves, and in the end, bring spiritual death!
The works of the flesh, as well as the fruit of the Spirit are listed by the Apostle: "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings..."(Gal. 5:19-21)
St. Paul also enumerates THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, which comes only after we have accepted Christ, submitted to the Word of God and given the Holy Spirit free course in our lives!
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.." (Gal. 5:22-23)
LAW OF GIVING & RECEIVING!
God's Word teaches that true Christians not only forgive, but ALSO RESTORE THOSE WHO HAVE WRONGED THEM. This is a very difficult thing for the natural man or the worldly person to understand!
Jesus came into a world filled with hate and brought love - a world filled with sickness and brought healing - a world filled with pain and sorrow and brought joy - a world filled with unrest and brought peace - a world filled with death and brought life.
He brought a new Way of Life. He brought the Law of Giving and Receiving. He said that if you want to really live, start giving! If you want to receive something, give something first! And if you want a harvest, you must plant a seed!
William Penn so eloquently stated, “If there is any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to my fellow human being, let me do it now, and not deter or neglect it. I shall not pass this way again”!
"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete, withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38)
Our Saviour spoke about seeking God first, putting spiritual things first - instead of temporal or monetary things. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33)
Francis of Assisi stated, “It is in giving oneself, one receives, it is in forgetting oneself, that one is found; it is in pardoning that one obtains pardon.”
JESUS BROUGHT A NEW CONCEPT!
In the Business Community as well as other areas of life, there seems to be an unwritten law, born of the old nature - "every man for himself" or "dog eat dog".
In other words: Take all you can get; go as far as you can go at someone else' expense; climb as high as you can, even if you have to step on others to get there. That is the natural, carnal, human approach to life: greed, pride and personal ambition at all costs, regardless of consequences!
Jesus however, brought a new concept. He said, "If someone smites you on one cheek, turn the other or if someone takes you to court to take away your coat, give them your overcoat also." He also said, "If someone compels you to go a mile, go with him two." (Matt. 5:39-41)
Here is the advice the Lord Jesus gave to His followers: "Give to him that asketh thee, and from that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." (Matt. 5:42-44)
JUDGE NOT THAT YOU BE NOT JUDGED!
Jesus was very practical in His warnings, admonitions and commands to His followers. Here, He deals with judging, as well as being merciful: "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
"Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." (Matt. 7:1-5)
There is not one among us that has reached the place in God, where we can sit as judges of our brothers and sisters in Christ!
We must not judge our brother, but rather pray for him. It is very important that we help those that have fallen, and restore them to a place of fellowship in Christ, with their brethren.
Jesus said, "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful." (Luke 6:36) St. Paul admonished, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." (Gal. 6:1-2)
CASTING OUT BEAMS & DEVILS!
Jesus spoke about casting out beams out of our own eyes before we can see clearly enough to help our neighbour or brother. By getting our spiritual eyesight focused on Jesus rather than our brother and his faults, we soon see our own shortcomings and are able to have a spiritual experience with God ourselves!
Then we can help our brother who has problems, as well. It is the same with casting out demons!
Jesus said the reason His disciples could not cast out the evil spirits from deaf and dumb epileptic boy in Mark 9 and Matthew 17, was because of their unbelief...which is born of sin!
Before we are able to cast out demons from those who are tormented and oppressed, we need to judge ourselves and pray for compassion and grace to forgive and love those who are in need!
Then, we must fast and pray to get rid of our unbelief! When we have done that, we will have the faith and power to drive out the devils in Jesus' Name!
Through study and observation, I have come to the conclusion that it takes more faith to forgive a brother or a sister who has offended you - believing that they have changed - than to heal the sick, cast out devils, or do other wonderful works for God!
Jesus said, "Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. And the apostles said unto the Lord, increase our faith". (Luke 17:3-5)
The apostles felt devastated. Their faith level was too low for the hypothetical situation which Jesus presented to them. They answered, "Lord this is too much for us. We are unable to do that with the faith we now have".
Notice: They were preaching the Gospel, healing the sick, casting out demons and even raising the dead in Jesus' Name, but this was more that they had faith for! They said, "Lord increase our faith".
THE SPIRIT OF FORGIVENESS!
I repeat, it takes more faith to forgive a brother who has wronged you, believing that he won't do it again after he has wronged you a number of times already, than to heal the sick!
In the Christian Church, we need the spirit of forgiveness and faith, in order to forgive and restore those who have wronged us!
In many churches, hearts and homes are broken, because of the lack of confidence in the ability of the person who has done wrong, to change! Of course, the person who has done wrong, must repent and ask for forgiveness, then we must not only forgive but forget and restore!
The Scripture is very clear regarding our duty to forgive, if we want God to forgive and bless us! The Holy Spirit is very much a gentleman in His dealings with mankind, and that is why the Scripture says, "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God." (Eph. 4:30)
The Gospel of Christ is actually hindered by the actions of Christians, that are to propagate and promote that Gospel. By our actions we slow down the movement of the Holy Spirit. We become stumbling - blocks, if we do not live according to Christ's instructions!
The Bible speaks about people devouring one another and being consumed through their back-biting, arguing and criticizing! St. Paul wrote: “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another”. (Gal. 5:15)
St. Peter is also implicit in his instructions, that husbands and their wives love one another! As Christ loved the Church, so must husbands love their wives, and wives reverence and obey their husbands. If there is disunity between husband and wife, their prayers will be hindered.
"Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered." (1 Peter 3:7)
Again the Scripture says, "Let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." (1 John 3:18)
We must put feet to our faith and practice what we preach! It is imperative that we love one another and in honour, prefer one another. (Rom. 12:10)
Let us always help our brothers and our sisters wherever possible, so that they may receive the blessings of God, for time and eternity!
FORGIVE: SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN!
Jesus Christ gave us another powerful admonition: "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." (Matt. 18:15-17).
The Bible says, “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. (Eph. 4:3)
It is imperative that Ministers of God - with His help - strengthen the brethren and bless all who name the Name of Christ, and be a stepping stone instead of a stumbling-block to them!
In Luke's gospel, Jesus tells His apostles that they must forgive their brother if he offends them, repents and asks for forgiveness as many as seven times in one day. But, St. Matthew writes: "Then came Peter to Him and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven." (Matt. 18:21-22).
No wonder the disciples said, "LORD, INCREASE OUR FAITH." To forgive someone that has wronged, maligned, criticized, accused, hated, smeared and lied about you; to forgive such a person seven times in one day is huge, but seventy times seven – four hundred and ninety times in one day is EXTRAORDINARY!
That would take the Grace and Mercy of God, and the FAITH OF GOD! It can be done, and is being done by those who give themselves to God totally, making no provision for the flesh. Only one who is totally given over to God, would be able to do such a thing! And only by the power of the Holy Spirit.
OVERCOMING LUSTS OF THE FLESH!
Let me repeat - WE MUST WALK IN THE SPIRIT, IF WE ARE TO OVERCOME THE LUSTS OF THE FLESH! We must be filled with the Holy Spirit and allow our Blessed Lord Jesus to take total charge of our lives.
If it were not possible to forgive this way, Jesus would not have admonished us to do so. But remember, "...with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible". (Mark 10:27) And Jesus said, "If thou canst believe all things are possible to him that believeth." (Mark 9:23). Amen.
CHAPTER 6: GO QUICKLY & TELL!
Jesus said, "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; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover". (Mark 16:15-18)
This portion of Scripture is called, "The Great Commission." Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." The Gospel is clear cut - either people believe and are saved, or they refuse to believe and are damned!
What an awful situation to be found in and what an awesome responsibility to share the truth with those who are "lost" in their trespasses and sins! After receiving the Gospel, we are duty bound to share the Good News with others!The angel said to the women on that first resurrection morning, "Come and see the place where the Lord lay and then go quickly and tell His disciples that He goeth before them into Galilee." (Matt. 28:6-7)
COME AND SEE: GO AND TELL!
After having heard the Gospel and received Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour and been baptized with the Holy Spirit, we are compelled to share with others that same glorious Gospel! Our Lord said, "Go ye into all the world," and preach the Gospel to everyone!
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea, an angel of God brought this message to some lowly shepherds: "...Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)
It is our responsibility to preach the Gospel to people everywhere; the black, white, red, yellow, and brown. Hindus, Muslims, Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Atheists, Buddhists, and Communists must all have an opportunity to hear the good news; as well as the rich, poor, young, and old!
We must share the Gospel with all because JESUS died for all! 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. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved." (John 3:16-17)
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for all people everywhere and God is no respecter of persons, places, or times! St. Matthew also records the Great Commission: "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (age)." (Matt. 28:18-20)
The Bible says, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness (with demonstration) unto all nations; and then shall the end come." (Matt. 24:14)
THE LABOURS OF ST. PAUL
Defending himself, St. Paul wrote, "I laboured more abundantly than all of them." (2 Cor. 6:5). He declared, "Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers 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 five times 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. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not?
"If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities." (2 Cor. 11:22-30). The great apostle worked unceasingly to propagate the Gospel, and in all his labours, sufferings and trials, he always sought to encourage his fellow labourers in Christ!
"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Cor. 15:57-58)
OUR JOB IS WAITING FOR US!
To the Thessalonians, St. Paul wrote, "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father." (1 Thess. 1:3)
We have so much to do and there is so little time in which to do it. Surely, we must avail ourselves of every opportunity to labour for Christ! His mind was always on the Lord and the work of propagating the Gospel: "Remembering without ceasing." He enumerated these three most essentials of the ministry:
1) Your Work of Faith
2) Your Labour of Love
3) Your Patience of Hope
In his ‘love chapter’, St. Paul wrote, "Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity (agape love)". (1 Cor. 13:13)
1) WORK OF FAITH
The Christian life is a "life of faith". And the work of spreading the gospel is a "work of faith". Make no mistake about it, preaching the gospel and ministering to the needs of the people - instructing, counselling, caring for the weak, visiting the sick and feeding the poor - is a work of faith!
Without faith to fast, pray and bring healing to the sick and suffering, many are denied the blessings Christ has provided through His vicarious death and glorious resurrection! With God, however, all things are possible. He has promised to supply the faith we need to bring His miracles to the needy, for His honour and glory!
Certainly, with faith "all things are possible", but without faith "we cannot please God". (Mark 9:23; Heb. 11:6). Without doubt, the work of the Gospel is the work of God. And faith gets the job done!
Jesus declared, "I know thy works and thy labour, and thy patience..." (Rev. 2:2). Our Saviour stated: "But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard, He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second and said likewise.
And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father?" (Matt. 21:28-31)
It is important to follow through with affirmative action after having answered a call to dedicate ourselves to God! We must put feet to our faith because faith is a fact, but it requires corresponding action!
A Gospel song says: "I'll go where you want me to go dear Lord, over mountain or plain or sea; I'll say what you want me to say dear Lord, I'll be what you want me to be."
Let us not only sing or speak words of dedication - Let us in fact do them - My friend, let us do the will of God, in Jesus' name!
GOOD SAMARITAN: GO & DO LIKEWISE!
In all these parables, statements and admonitions Jesus clearly demonstrated the fact that He desires, as well as requires from us dedication, consecration, obedience, loyalty, and sacrifice!
We must put God first in all things! Jesus said, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33)
Regarding the Good Samaritan who was kind to the injured stranger, Jesus admonished the lawyers who questioned Him to, "Go, and do thou likewise." (Luke 10:37)
Very definitely, Jesus expects us to be kind, benevolent and charitable to our fellowmen!
Jesus said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Matt. 22:37-39)
As Christians, we must do more than is expected of us, in pleasing God and helping our fellowmen. We must PRAY constantly for more love, and grace and determination to fulfill God’s Call on our lives!
WE MUST GO THE SECOND MILE: BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY!
The following account speaks about the fulfillment of our duties to Him: "But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?” (Luke 17:7,8)
Jesus said: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye ABIDE IN ME. I am the Vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.
“If ye ABIDE in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is My Father glorified that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples. As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you: continue ye in My Love.” (John 15:4-8)
2) LABOUR OF LOVE
Jesus said, "The harvest truly is plenteous but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest". (Matt. 9:37-38)
One of the greatest needs in the Church today, is for labourers. Diligent workers are needed for His vineyard. The word labour denotes hard and heavy work. And Gospel work is heavy sledding. Our work is never finished, because so many are still lost and destined for Hell unless we reach them for Christ!
And only a relatively few care enough about the UNREACHED to spread the Gospel to the lost and dying of this generation!
It isn't easy to love some people and yet Christ commands us to do so! We must see the sinful, wicked, and evil of this world in a new light. We need to see them as God sees them.
The Bible says, "For God so loved, that He gave..." And we must do the same! Here are the lyrics of a Gospel song that has often encouraged me to press forward with the Good News:
“Oh, the Love that drew salvation’s plan. Oh, the Grace that brought it down to man. Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary! For Mercy there was great, and Grace was free. Pardon there was multiplied to me. And there my wretched soul found liberty, at Calvary!”
Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. (John 15:13). Jesus Christ went all the way to Golgotha for us, to purchase our salvation. Can we do less than give ourselves in love and compassion to reach our fellowman?
3) PATIENCE OF HOPE
Oh, how we need longsuffering and patience to continue proclaiming the Gospel, reaching out to the lost, and praying for the sick, suffering and incurably ill.
Jesus is our Hope! He is the hope of the world and the only One Who can breathe life and hope into hopeless situations. May God help us to keep our eyes on Jesus, "The hope of Israel", so that the fire of God will continue burning in our hearts.
Only then will we receive the patience we need to persevere in these perilous, trying times!
St. Paul commends Timothy on his patience of hope. Our hope is in Jesus and our hope is Jesus, therefore we must be patient and continue winning precious souls to Christ and strengthening His Church!
We need a lot of patience, as we strive for perfection in this wicked world, and seek to salvage the lost for Christ before it is too late! God expects us to do our duty and more! I believe this is a rule we must follow in our dealings with God, our fellowman, and our loved ones!
We must not seek to do the least to fulfill our obligation, but more than is expected of us. If necessary, we should go the second mile, do the extra work, turn the other cheek and help those who cannot return the favour!
THE WILL OF GOD FOR US IS TO GO BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY IN LIVING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE!
Jesus Christ said, "And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain". (Matt. 5:41)
Often, we see some dear saint of God who has suffered so much abuse from a drunken husband or persecuted by her family and yet exhibiting so much patience and agape love toward them all!
And we ask, "Can I have this same selfless spirit and longsuffering patience"? And the answer is, “Yes”. The Bible says, "Tribulation worketh patience..." (Rom. 5:3)
LET US NOT BE FOUND WANTING!
We are warned not to be found sleeping at the time of His return, but to be busy working! We are sobered at the thought of Christ’s Return and the unfinished task He left us to do in the meantime!
"But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is.
"For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who has left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
"Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming SUDDENLY He find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, watch." (Mark 13:32-37)
St. Paul admonished, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light". (Eph. 5:14).
He wrote, "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith". (Gal. 6:9-10)
CHAPTER 7: WE ARE WORKING WITH AND FOR GOD!
"He is not here: for He is risen, as He said, and, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him: lo, I have told you". (Matt. 28:6-7)
The Scriptures record the working together of God and man in His divine economy and plan. Mankind has been chosen to be co-workers with God, upon this earth!
Not only are we heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, (Rom. 8:17) but we are also bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh. (Eph. 5:30)
We are children of the living God (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1-2), and our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says, if we serve Him now and suffer with Him we shall reign with Him, in that glorious day! (Rom. 8:15-18)
The angel told His Disciples that JESUS had gone before them into Galilee and He would meet them there with special instructions!
Our Lord Jesus Christ stated that those who believed and were baptized would be saved. Those who did not believe would be damned! And that certain signs would follow them that believe: Signs of power and demonstration, as the Holy Spirit manifests Himself confirming the Word of God that they preach!
And this is exactly what occurred: "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
"And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following." (Mark 16:19-20)
The Bible says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them". (Eph. 2:10)
St. Paul called himself the servant of the Most High God, the prisoner of Jesus Christ, and an ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven. (Eph. 3:1, 4:1, 6:20; 2 Cor. 5:20)
What an honour to represent Almighty God and Jesus Christ His Son, to this wicked world. His ambassadors and representatives - epistles of Christ, seen and read of all men - love slaves for Jesus; suffering for His Name's sake, being ridiculed, mocked, laughed at and persecuted for the Name of our Saviour. What an honour and privilege!
A DUAL PRIVILEGE!
The Bible says, "For unto you, it is given on the behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake". (Phil. 1:29)
There is a price to pay, to please God and be a part of His great work. St. Paul wrote: "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution". (2 Tim. 3:12)
Galatians 6:12 speaks about suffering persecution for the cross of Christ. Writing to Timothy, St. Paul warned: "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us". (2 Tim. 2:12).
The Bible admonishes us to resist the devil who "goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour". We must resist Satan in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in our brethren that are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
"But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." (1 Peter 5:9-10)
The word afflictions as used here means pressure! Troubles brought on by the devil; persecutions, testing, trials and sufferings that Satan brings upon God's people, because of their decision to follow Jesus Christ!
Satan seeks to discourage God's children from serving the Lord by bringing upon them these many afflictions!
When we RESIST the devil, he FLEES from us. We RESIST him in the Faith! We RESIST him by trusting the Lord Jesus Christ; by Believing the Word of God, reading, studying, and living it!
When we testify on Christ’s behalf, pray, intercede for lost souls and give our Missionary offerings to reach the heathen, we are resisting the devil! When we resist the devil in the faith, he must flee from us. The Scripture says we have power over the devil and can drive him out, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
WHAT A GREAT TRUTH!
The BIBLE says: "Submit yourselves therefore to God, resist the devil and he shall flee from you." (James 4:7). The literal Greek gives the inference that Satan shall flee in terror from us!
St. Peter wrote to persecuted and imprisoned believers. He stated that after they had suffered a while, they would be perfected, stablished, strengthened and settled in God.
Tens of thousands of Christians died at the hands of the enemies of the cross. Great numbers of Christians were thrown into prison, crucified, destroyed by the sword, eaten by lions, used as gladiators, and abused terribly because of their faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel.
And the tradition continues! Dr. David Barrett - Anglican clergyman and statistician - claims that for the past dozen years or more, 330,000 Christians have been put to death annually because of their faith in Jesus Christ somewhere across the globe!
FELLOWSHIP OF CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS!
Concerning this suffering, St. Paul wrote, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us". (Rom. 8:18)
We must become partners with Him. Not in sickness because He was not sick. Nor in sin because He committed no sin, but in suffering abuse for His name!
The Bible says, "But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy". (1 Peter 4:13)
My beloved friend, as you read these words may the truth sink into your heart. And may you realize that anything that is worthwhile, is worth going after with all of your heart and paying the total price, even if it means your very life!
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN LIFE, IS TO PLEASE GOD. IF THAT MEANS DYING FOR HIM, WE WILL RECEIVE A MARTYR'S CROWN!
NO PERSECUTION COMPLEX!
The Scriptures are given to us so that we can learn specific lessons from the lives of godly, as well as ungodly men and women! They were written “for our admonition, upon which the ends of the world are come”. (1 Cor. 10:11)
St. Peter writes: “And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample (example) unto those that after should live ungodly;” (2 Peter 2:6) And St. Paul concurs: “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample”. (Phil. 3:17)
“Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.” (2 Thess. 3:9) “So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.” (1 Thess. 1:7)
“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” (1 Cor. 10:11)
OF COURSE, WE DO NOT LOOK FOR PERSECUTION. WE DO NOT HAVE A PERSECUTION COMPLEX. WE ARE HOWEVER, REALISTIC AND KNOW THAT IF WE SERVE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE DEVIL WILL OPPOSE US, AND PERSECUTION WILL FOLLOW! IN THE END, THE JOY WILL BE SWEET AND OUR PEACE COMPLETE, AS VICTORY IS ALREADY ASSURED!
The Bible says, "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, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
"Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
"Whom having not seen, ye love; in Whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:3-9).
And REMEMBER, our Heavenly Father watches over us and Jesus intercedes for us, as does the Blessed Holy Spirit: “Wherefore He (Jesus) is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” ‘(Heb. 7:25)
“Likewise, the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Rom. 8:26). Amen.
- To be continued