No Other Plan to Reach the World

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 4.51.10 PMJesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20)

There is an old legend that takes us back in time and recounts the time when Jesus slips back into heaven after He had died on the cross and rose from the dead. According to the legend, the angel Gabriel met him. Gabriel frowned when he saw the marks of Jesus’ scars of His tortuous years on earth, especially the scars of His crucifixion. Gabriel said: “Master, you suffered terribly for those down on earth.” “Yes, I did,” was Jesus’ reply. Gabriel continued: “Do they all know now about your life and your forgiveness? Have they all heard about your death and resurrection?” “No, not yet.” Said Jesus. “Right now only a handful knows. Only a handful of people in Palestine know about my death and resurrection.

“Gabriel looked perplexed. “Then,” he asked, “Well… How will everyone find out about your wonderful life and your sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection?” “I have asked Peter, James, John and a handful of friends and followers to tell other people about it. And when other people hear and believe, they in turn will tell others. And Gabriel, by and by, the planet earth will hear the message.” Still frowning, the angel responded: “But, hmmm, you know how people are on earth. What if they… What if Peter, James and John get tired? What if they tell the story and then the next generation gets all involved in other pursuits? What if way down in the 18th or 21st century, people aren’t committed any longer to your commission? Have you made other plans?” The Lamb of God looked directly at the angel of God and said: “I have no other plan. I am counting on them.” (Author Unknown).

Can a Man Forgive Sins?

Let Down (3)It never ceases to amaze me about how biblical prophecy was remarkably fulfilled in great detail even though sometimes it was spoken hundreds of years beforehand. In the prophecy of Isaiah, for instance, God told us that He would send a Messiah, a man who would be more than a man; He would be God in the flesh:

14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14)

 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us (Matthew 1:23).

Some say that Jesus never went around claiming, “I am God.” I agree that Christ was far too humble of soul to state such an arrogant statement, but when you look in detail as to what He did and said, it was evident that He saw Himself as God. Take, for instance, the healing of the paralyzed man:

3Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7“Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11“I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (Mark 2:3-12).

In this passage, we see Jesus making an indirect claim to be God. Christ claimed to be able to forgive sins—an astonishing claim! C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity puts it well when he writes,

“One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to.  I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins. Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offenses against himself. You tread on my toe and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, himself unrobed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give his conduct.  Yet, this is what Jesus did.  He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured.  He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the person chiefly offended in all offenses. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws were broken and whose love is wounded in every sin.  In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivaled by any other character in history.”

Do not miss this truth, my dear friends. God has come to us in human form and shown us His great love for us by taking the penalty that our sins deserve—death and separation from God. Isn’t it time to receive Him as Savior and Lord—for that is exactly who He is!

Keith Thomas

The Suffering Servant of God

jesus-bowed-under-weight-of-cross1The Lord God, the creator of the Universe, knows ahead of time what is going to happen. To show that He alone is God, He spoke through various prophets letting them know and us, what He was going to do. The prophet Isaiah, for instance, ministered for over forty years (740-697 B.C.) and spoke about a time when God would send a suffering servant to the nation of Israel. This servant of God would be humiliated, persecuted, spat upon, mocked, the hair from His beard would be pulled out, and His back would be whipped:

6I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; 
I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting (Isaiah 50:6)

Isaiah went on to prophesy about this Suffering Servant, that He would be despised and rejected, but in this act of suffering He would carry our transgressions, sorrows and our infirmities (physical or mental weaknesses):

3He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, 
yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 
5But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; 
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 
6We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; 
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:4-6).

The prophet Isaiah, five hundred or so years before Christ, spoke in detail about the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ, sharing with us that this One sent from God would make His life an offering for sin. Jesus fulfilled all of these things and much more. He was brutally whipped on His back, beaten by the company of soldiers about His head, humiliated and mocked as they impaled Him with a crown of thorns, before leading Him off to one of the worst tortures that man has devised—crucifixion. He would come as a substitute and take the guilt that we have incurred by our lives of sin and animosity toward God, and pay the penalty that our sins deserve. Because of this one act of love by the suffering servant, Jesus, God can deal with us in grace and mercy. This suffering servant would be God Himself. He Himself would show us how much He loves us and desires us to enjoy relationship with Him. This plan to buy us back from Satan’s slave market of sin, was put into operation thousands of years ago when man decided that he would listen and obey Satan rather than God in the Garden of Eden. The just penalty that God had to place on this rebellion was death and separation from God (Genesis 2:17). But because of God’s love and mercy He did not leave us in this state—He would come and take the just penalty on Himself for sin. This act of love would be a covenant in blood, a solemn agreement by two people—you and God. For all those who agree to the terms of this solemn covenant or agreement, He will take your sin and count it paid for by the act of love by the Suffering substitutionary Servant, Christ. What about you, dear reader, will you agree to the terms of this covenant? Your sin has been paid for two thousand years ago by One who came to die in your place. To agree to the terms of the covenant, you must repent (turn from your sin towards God in obedience to Him) and believe (trust in Christ as your Savior from sin) the gospel (the good news that God loves you and has taken the initiative to cancel out your guilt and everything that keeps you from enjoying eternal life with Him). If you will call upon the name of the Lord in this way, the promise is that you will enjoy eternal life:

16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (John 3:16-18).

He is only a prayer away. No matter what sin you have done, He will forgive you on the basis of the substitutionary death in your place of His Son Jesus. He hears every heart cry. Let this be your day. Eternity is a long time—there is no time like the present. Turn to the lover of your soul.

Keith Thomas

Do Whatever He Tells You!

guantoucrossoff_2944287bHis mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5).

God spoke to sister Chang of an Asian country, to do something that made no earthly sense at all. He told her to go and preach the gospel on the steps outside of the local police station. Such an action may lead to arrest even in Western nations, and in this country it is a sure way to invite severe punishment. But the more sister Chang prayed about it, the more clearly the inner voice of God continued to tell her to do it. Finally, she saw no option but to obey God. Standing on the top step outside the police station, she boldly proclaimed the gospel to astonished onlookers. Within a few minutes several officers dragged her inside and placed her under arrest. To the human eye her obedience looked foolish, but God can see things that we can’t. Sister Chang was sentenced without a trial and sent to the local women’s prison, where she was placed alongside thousands of spiritually lost souls. She boldly and lovingly proclaimed the gospel to her fellow prisoners. The light of the gospel spread like wildfire. Within just three months, 800 women believed in Jesus! The entire atmosphere of the prison changed, and new sounds of praise and worship were heard echoing down the prison hallways and in the courtyard. The prison director was greatly impressed at the change in the atmosphere and was able to trace it to the preaching of sister Chang. He brought her into his office and said, “You have made my job easy! There is no more fighting between the prisoners and the women have become gentle and obedient. We need more people like you working here. From today, we have decided to let you go free. We want to give you a full-time job here in the prison, and we will pay you 3,000 yuan per month” (about US$ 375, a fortune in rural Henan province). He continued, “we will also give you a car and your own driver, and will find you comfortable housing.” Sister Chang briefly considered the offer, and then replied, “Twenty years ago I became a disciple of Jesus Christ and he has been wonderful to me. I don’t believe your offer of a car, driver and salary is in line with what Jesus wants to do with my life, and I belong to Him. All I want to do is to preach the good news.” Despite her rejection of his offer, the director released her from prison that day, and she continued her ministry for the Lord. It always pays to do what the Lord tells you to do. Don’t argue, don’t fight about it, and don’t try to work out all the details with your mind. Just do it. That is the one mark of a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

From the book, Back to Jerusalem, by Paul Hattaway, published by Piquant, Carlisle, UK.

Who Is The God of This Age?

images-1The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).

We are in the midst of an unseen battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. This war is being fought on a spiritual plane over control of the human race. The majority of the population of planet earth has had the cloak of deception placed over them and they cannot see the good news as to what Christ has done in redeeming (buying back) men from the grip of the god of this age. Satan is the god of this age, an evil angel that chose to rebel against God and drew away with him an army of angels and demons after himself. His chief tactic against you and I is a strategy of deception to keep you from seeing that the Bible is the Word of God. The Bible is a compilation of 66 books that tell the story of a God who is the creator of the world and loves you and I so much that He paid the penalty of sin and rebellion against God by dying on a cross for the just payment of our debt of sin.

There are many so-called gods in this world, how does one tell who is the true God? The Bible tells us that there are only two kingdoms, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Satan has used religion against God. He knows that there is a missing piece that is absent from the jigsaw of your life—a part of your inner nature that cries out for the true God. Satan has served up different religions on earth in the hope that he can satisfy that inner craving for God that you have. That’s why our passage today describes Satan as the god of this age blinding the minds of unbelievers. We can tell who is the true God by the fruit that comes from the tree of the belief system of whatever god you have listened to in the past. Jesus in the passage below tells us to look at the outflow of a person’s life to see if there is evidence of true spiritual life—God’s life:

16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit (Matthew 7:16-18).

True Christianity is about receiving the gift of God, eternal life, into the core of your being. The result of receiving this impartation of the gift of God is that your life becomes “a good tree,” and bears “good fruit.” What does good fruit look like? The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus contrasts the two kingdoms that are at war in this world. Satan is pictured as a thief whose plan is to steal what God wants to freely give you—the gift of eternal life in Christ. Satan wants to kill you and destroy you from ever being a threat to his kingdom. On the other side of this war, we see that Jesus Christ came to give you the gift of God’s life, eternal life, and the kind of life that is lived to the full.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).

Have you received this free gift of eternal life? There is nothing you can do to earn it. It is not worked for; it is a gift that one receives from the hand of God. Why don’t you ask Him to come into your life? Turn from serving self and Satan to serve the Living God. Receive the gift of eternal life today. Here’s a prayer you can use:

Prayer: Lord of Heaven and Earth, I come to you today acknowledging and believing that you are the true God and have sent Jesus into the world as my substitute for sin. I turn from my sin today. Come into my life and make me new. I receive today your free gift of eternal life in your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for all that you have done for me at the cross. Amen!

If you sincerely prayed that to God—welcome to the family of believers all over the world!

Keith Thomas