What Drives the Gospel?

The good news both moves the church and is what the church uses to move others.  It is both petrol and Porsche…so to speak.  Now, where do we see the church test driving its power to evangelize?  The book of Acts.

What is Acts?  Its basically a book about what the apostles did—mostly Peter and Paul. But, even though these guys are doing all the stuff…Acts is more about the work of the Holy Spirit IN these men and IN a newborn baby church. These apostles saw Jesus, but no one sees the Holy Spirit. Remember what Jesus said about the Spirit in John 3:8—He’s like the wind.

Anyway, the book of Acts is a story (the scholars like to refer to that as historical narrative). But think of it like a bridge between the gospel accounts and the epistles—it provides the history behind the epistles.  Acts ties the NT together. It is the beginning of the fulfillment of Matthew 28.18-20.  Acts is a record of the work of the Holy Spirit.

Interestingly enough, this Spirit wants to work, move, live, and empower humans.  This is not a force but an intentional Person moving according to an intentional framework of activity.  Therefore, if you are looking for an outline for the book of Acts (Us bible teacher type people are big on outlines) then you can just read Jesus’ last words in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Boom…there’s your outline.

I.  Witness in Jerusalem (1.1–8.4)
II.  Witness in Judea and Samaria (8.5–12.25)
III.  Witness to the end of the earth (13-28)

Realize that Luke is also one of these witnesses that Jesus is talking to here, even though he probably wasn’t actually there when Jesus said those words. Luke was a doctor (Col 4.14 Paul refers to him as ‘the beloved physician’) and therefore had a specific interest in recording disease, healing, and acts of mercy.  So, as one of these witnesses Luke was a smart guy—he was a doctor and so he had a PhD or whatever the equivalent was….the way he wrote his (Greek) grammar, (all that “most excellent Theophilus” stuff) shows that he could hang in a very formal, scholarly style…but he chose to write the majority of Acts without a lot of literary fanciness.  Luke knew his audience was mostly made up of women, slaves, soldiers, children, beggars, and other outcasts.  So, we can see God’s hand of mercy first in just how straightforwardly this book is written. Although Luke was a doctor YOU don’t have to have a PhD to understand Luke/Acts.

One more thing about Luke, he was a Gentile. But as a Gentile who knew something (actually a lot) about Jewish history. He saw God’s mercy. Not only that, but physicians have a unique perspective about our anatomical similarities as humans (both Jew and Gentile). I think God may have used this knowledge in Luke’s writing to pay special attention to the spiritual similarities between both Jew and Gentile.  Luke notices the human condition, more importantly the neediness which characterizes such a condition.  This is what drives his writing…the Good News of Jesus Christ setting things right between a merciful God and sinful humans.

As mentioned before, Luke noticed mercy. And, as a believer in Jesus he saw God’s mercy.  As a Gentile (dog) now being included in God’s family he saw mercy, as a doctor he had the skill and desire to show mercy, and he took time to show mercy even to us as God used him to record the words of life in the Book of Acts.

So, speaking of mercy notice a parable by Jesus which…well…you’ll know….. Luke 10.25-37.

Luk 10:25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

Luk 10:26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”

Luk 10:27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Luk 10:28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

Luk 10:29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Luk 10:30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.

Luk 10:31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.

Luk 10:32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

Luk 10:33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.

Luk 10:34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.

Luk 10:35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’

Luk 10:36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”

Luk 10:37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

And there it is.  You’d think Jesus would let the Priest or Levite be the hero.  That’s the logical rhetorical device to present an object lesson on mercy to a congregation right?  Make the protagonist someone they can identify with.  Jesus has already given the lawyer a way out earlier when he asks him about his attendance to the law…he shows his ignorance by instead of saying, “Uh, no one can do all that perfectly Jesus” saying “Yeah, I already do all that stuff.”  So, Jesus brought forth the radical ethical teaching which he always does to these guys.  This teaching characterizes the heart of the 2nd Adam.  He is the teacher.  This is his lesson.  Since I’m going to be referring to the parable of the Good Samaritan a lot I’m going to just call it the “PGS”. But by now, maybe you’re wondering (or maybe not, I don’t know) what the PGS has to do with a study of Acts?

Well, first off Luke wrote them both. Secondly, Luke’s gospel is the only one where the PGS shows up. Thirdly, Samaria is specifically mentioned by Jesus as a place for apostolic witness…… remember the outline. But honestly, the book of Acts just picks right up where Luke’s gospel ends. It’s like a package, sort of like a luncheable—what would the little mystery meat be without the cracker? Luke and Acts go together. Luke shows the big picture here…..we get to see the teachings of Jesus (like the PGS) lived out in the 1st century church. If you do read Luke/Acts you’ll see Samaritans popping up a lot, but definitely a lot of conflict between Jews and Gentiles. They were kind of like Jews and Palestinians are today.

Anyway, in the PGS Luke records Jesus explaining a New Testament lifestyle; in Acts Luke shows how the gospel spreads through a powerful mercy which is applied for neighbor, stranger, and enemy with no strings attached.

That’s right, a powerful mercy.

A powerful mercy, what is that?  While it is certain that the power that the Holy Spirit gives manifests in various ways.  A key ‘power of the Holy Spirit coming upon you’ is one that enables the believer to have PGS style mercy. A guy named Harvey Conn called this “lordship evangelism”.   “All the believers were one in heart and mind.  No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.  With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.”Acts 4:32-33

O.K. remember the PGS? Well, look at the way these new believers in Acts 4 are living out what the priest and the Levite failed to do in that parable.  Tim Keller notes that, “This economic sharing had to be conspicuous and amazing to outsiders.  Apparently it helped give the preaching of the apostles even more power.”  You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. So, what kind of power is Jesus talking about here?

Part of the power of evangelism is showing mercy to one another. But, while mercy does drive evangelistic endeavor. Mercy is not moralism.  Its not just all about doing nice things for people. Get this, mercy is both an indicator and a vehicle for the activity of the gospel. And we can talk about what that means in this forum.  I’d like ideas.  I’d like honesty.  I want to hear what you think about the power of God to witness through a PGS mindset which truly drives down the Jericho Road of Asheville, NC; Columbia, SC; New York, NY; wherever you may be.

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21 Comments

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21 responses to “What Drives the Gospel?

  1. IWanthetruth

    I just had a wonderful time spending the past few weeks reading the Gospel of Luke and then immediatley going to the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. What a great way to read these two books, one and then the other.

    I also just finished Matthew and had many things shown to me while reading that Gospel.

    Now that we are back on with this blog I want to go back and pull out some of the things that jumped out at me for discussion.

    On another site I have been on frequently as of late we discussed the question, “What is the Gospel?” I will go back and pick some things to share that I thought were really good.

    Blessings
    Tim H

  2. IWanthetruth

    This started it off and I would like your input about this as well…

    For all of my Christian experience, I always thought the Gospel, Good News, Glad Tidings (depending on the translation) referred to Christ’s supreme sacrifice for us sinners. This seems to go along with the belief of most congregations (churches) with which I’ve had some contact over the years.

    Matthew probably tops the charts for the number of times that I’ve read. You can imagine the shock a month or so ago when I read:

    Mathew 4:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

    ” (Mark 1:14-15 seems to be identical!) And for the first time that I realized the word ‘gospel’ was here – not once but twice!

    So, why would he be referring to His own death three and one-half years in the future in the past tense?

    As near as I can figure, ‘gospel’ is equivalent to ‘the kingdom of God is at hand’. My first thought on this could be when He comes again in the last days. But on reflection, perhaps it is when the Spirit comes at Pentecost. But even these are still in the future! Oh! What a muddled mess we can make when we try to understand!

    I’m hoping some of you have some better ideas on this than my pitiful speculations.

  3. IWT,

    But, what is the force behind this Good News message of the kingdom of God reality? Christ at work in his church through the work of the Holy Spirit. The Father’s sovereign hand is seen in the spread of graceful salvation through the 3rd Person of the Trinity as manifest in the Church…the now mysterious-incarnate body of Christ. WE ARE THE MESSAGE, what we do, how we live, and what we say, is the gospel to a horror-filled Jericho road world.

  4. IWanthetruth

    As I just shared with another friend, It is not the programs the ministries that we have but it is the power of the word of God, come alive in a persons life, and seeing that power at work through the Holy Spirit.

    I stated it was also my responsibility to Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, strength, and mind and the other part to love other the same. What is true worship? Helping the widow and the needy.

    I think there was a thought on the other site that the gospel was more than, what in my mind is very simple. Man seems to make such a big deal out of it, but as you said above, it is how it is lived out in US and then how that translates to the world (our neighbor).

    The Kingdom of God is at hand, meaning, Jesus and His death and that until the cross and ressurrection happened the Kingdom of God wasn’t here yet? Or that Jesus being here was the Kingdom of God at Hand? or that the Gospel , the Kingdom of God is at hand has been here since the foundation of the world? yes, yes, yes?

  5. Iwanthetruth

    Re: What is the Gospel?
    « Reply #17 on: February 08, 2009, 04:42:52 PM » Quote

    ——————————————————————————–
    Quote from: IWanthetruth on February 08, 2009, 09:57:39 AM
    For clarification Bruce and others,

    The title of this thread is “What is the Gospel?”

    Is the question being asked for a simplistic answer?”

    As I read the posts (which by the way are wonderful and I am in agreement) I seem to see two different aspects of what is being written.

    1) The Gospel
    2) Those things that are a product of the gospel (IE. growing in the Fruit of the Spirit as one learns to Walk in the Spirit, etc).

    I can only speak for myself, and as the reason for wanting to explore the more fundamental issues of our faith in more depth, is precisely for the reasons you’ve just stated. Hope that doesn’t sound stupid?!

    I get so sick and tired of how we, as believers in general, are so inclined to desire to have everything wrapped up in a neat little box with “X” marking the contents. Ask most Christians what the Gospel is and you will tend to get the same old answers, because they’ve heard the same old answers reeled off time and again by others. Obviously we need to have an outline to base our explanations to those we meet, which is why I quoted from Ephesians previously, but as you have quite rightly stated, the whole issue of what are by-products of the Gospel have begun to surface. But let us ask ourselves, are those things not the Gospel too?

    The Gospel is obviously good news to those perishing who come to belief, but that is only the beginning of an eternal journey, and the Gospel in all its glory should be no less exciting and vibrant to those of us who have been saved since Noah was a lad, to those coming into the Kingdom afresh.

    Another subject I was planning to bring about shortly would be repentance, because just as the subject of the Gospel we are now discussing, it is not something that should be labelled and put behind us as though we’ve “been there, done it, and got the t-shirt!”, but it is something to be examined in the light of His Word, to discover what a sheer joy and God given mercy it is when we embrace it properly.

    To be honest I couldn’t care less if we never discussed anything more on this forum than the subject of the Gospel, because if we did, what we would be doing is discussing the fullness of the beauty and wonder that is God in Heaven revealing Himself to those He created.

    Coming back to Ephesians 2 for a second, it is the Gospel that when we were dead in our sins and trespasses, we were made alive in Christ, through the faith within us that is not of our own, but a gift from God that none should boast. But it is no less the Gospel that those of us who are saved from death, then begin to explore the fact that we are now seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that His exceeding riches in grace and mercy can be displayed to all by the way He treats us. And it is no less the Gospel to find that, not only are we saved from death, and seated in heavenly places for His glory, but we know also that we are His workmanship, known intimately, and have good works awaiting our willingness to embrace them, and with confidence that we are perfectly designed for the task of completing them as we serve Him. Oh what a wonderful God we serve!

    So yes I agree that we need to have a clear reason for the hope we have, but the more deeply we explore the grace we know as the Gospel, the more able we will be to express the reality of what it means to those who are perishing!

    I am so excited I could rip a tissue!!

  6. IWT,

    Programs vs. Power. Well, I see your dilemma. Unfortunately, programs are an almost unavoidable reality within the church. Oftentimes, they are simply a starting place for people in the pew to begin thinking more evangelistically and move away from a compartmentalized faith.

  7. IWanthetruth

    I have a friend that wrote this and I shared it at another site and it was a blessing to those who had read it. I wanted to share it with you as well…. I hope this word speaks to your heart and it ministers to you…..

    THE UNCHANGING MESSENGE OF THE CROSS
    J. A. Matteson
    02.26.09

    “Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.” Galatians 6:12

    Grace is antithetical to works. Justification by faith has been and will remain a stumbling block to human pride. The essence of justification in Christ is right being, a new creation, while the Adamic nature insists on external works. Let not a man consider his baptism as a means to gaining divine approval unto salvation. Let not a man be
    persuaded that his tithe and offerings will win him a place at the wedding feast of the Lamb. And lest he be selfdeceived let him soberly reckon that even his loftiest thoughts of God remain polluted by sin and are an abomination before the eyes of him with whom he must give an account. Only by grace is a man accepted by the Lord. The Adamic nature craves the approval of men (those who desire)—at the expense of being pleasing to the
    Lord—and the Lord’s bond-servant finds himself engaged in a daily struggle against the old nature. In order to be of use to his master the man of God is continually tested and passed through the fire in order that the object of his loyalty may be revealed. And once he is convinced in his own mind as to his loyalty to the cross, he is given
    opportunity to declare it, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). So powerful is the inner urge for approval of men that, left unchecked, the old man will carry away the Lord’s bond-servant, striving against any and all who threaten the attainment of its passions; viz., the exaltation of self in the eyes of men. The message of the cross is not of this world which is why it is hated by the world, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you“( John 15:19). Any gospel that is loved by the world is a false gospel. Herein lies the damning temptation by ambassadors of Christ: to alter the message of the cross so as to try to win the approval of men.
    What folly and arrogance is this? What misguided attempt is this, striving to perform the work of the Spirit? The old serpent whispers, “If you can get them to like you they will want to become as you are” (i.e., Christians). The Spirit and the flesh are opposed to each other; the nature of the Spirit is to convict, while the nature of the flesh is to console and appease. There is no comfort in death to the sons of Adam. But the fragrance of death at the foot of the cross is delightful to the nostrils of God. The Law slays the sons of Adam, delivering a fatal piercing through the heart of self- righteousness in order that they may forsake their vain striving of works and plead for a pardon by
    the Savior. The Law precedes the Good News and is integral to it. Apart from the Law the Gospel is neutered of power, becoming meaningless in the ears of the sons of Adam. For this reason the Apostle states, “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). It is the Law that drives the sinner to Christ in desperation as the horror of his standing before a holy and just God penetrates his heart. The Law is held in contempt by sinners as it demolishes pride and self-righteousness. The enemies of the cross desire to “make a good showing in the flesh” (i.e., win the approval of men) by deleting the Law when
    presenting the gospel, which is no Gospel at all. The demand of the cross is repentance, and the Lord delineates the requirement of it, “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). Let God’s
    messenger faithfully deliver the Law in con-junction with he Gospel and he will witness the power of God unto genuine salvation in the hearts of men. And they will bear much fruit and their fruit will remain.

    Father, my desire is to remain faithful to your Word regardless of the cost to me personally. Empower me this day to be a worthy ambassador of the cross which finds its meaning and power in Your Law.

  8. IWTT,

    Yeah. The 2nd use of the law is the bridge between the first and 3rd uses…..if you follow Calvin’s understanding of course.

  9. IWTT,

    No. The first use of the law is the plain sense of command—Do this Don’t do that or else. The 2nd use of the law is that of conviction, in that it points us to Christ as we realize that we are unable to live up to its requirements. The 3rd use of the law is summed up in the 10 commandments, and as Captain Jack Sparrow would say are now, “More like guidelines” for holy living—a moral guide to help the Christian in the walk of sanctification. This is a highly condensed understanding gleaned from John Calvin’s ‘Institutes of the Christian Religion’—On The Law of God II.vi.-vii.

    As Calvin would say, “The principle use of the law is as a positive guide to the Christian life.” II. vii. 12.

  10. IWanthetruth

    Thank you, I understand. I’ll look into that further and study this.

  11. IWanthetruth

    TOWARDS SIMPLICITY
    03.06.09
    Yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Philippians 1:24

    By sojourning with the Lord in faithful obedience the manifest outcome for the Apostle was simplicity. Spiritual discernment entails distinguishing between the simple and the complex, cultivating the former while
    mortifying the later. The tendency of the flesh is to interpret life through the prism of complexity which distresses the mind and dilutes spiritual fruitfulness. The orientation of simplicity is always towards the cross while complexity redirects the mind to the cares of the flesh and the world, “If anyone wishes to come after Me,
    he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). Inherent to the fallen nature is complexity and the saint finds himself frustrated in his progress towards simplicity, “For I joyfully concur with
    the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7:22-23).
    Simplicity perceives that the Lord’s bond-servant functions in the world as His conduit of grace and that His Master strategically places him in settings in accordance to His purposes of redemption, “my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else” (Philippians 1:13). Simplicity does not consider strange the circumstances of Providence, but rejoices in the
    knowledge that the redemptive current of grace engineered by the Lord is apt to flow through the life that remains in the Vine, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). Simplicity is Christo-centric while complexity is ego-centric; simplicity joyfully endures temporal harsh earthly realities with a view towards the surpassing eternal benefit of things not seen; simplicity reckons time immortal a precious jewel and considers the gain of this world as muck, “eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Complexity is innate
    and instantaneous to the Adamic nature, simplicity is counterintuitive to the flesh and progressive in its development, “for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Philippians 4:11). Complexity hungers for glory from men; simplicity delights in honor from God. Complexity is prideful and persuaded it is entitled to be served; simplicity serves others as unto the Lord. Complexity filters decisions through the rubric of a personal cost-benefit analysis; simplicity is consumed with pleasing the Lord,
    “Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him” (2 Corinthians 5:9). Grace is tenacious and Providence lovingly affords unique twists and turns in each saint’s pilgrimage, lovingly designed to yoke his constitution to simplicity by breaking the bonds of complexity. The Apostle in personal reflection displays the simplicity which the Spirit cultivates, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is
    gain” (Philippians 1:21). The bond-servant of the Lord who engenders simplicity will yield much fruit for his Master. And its characteristic concern is that the fruit of simplicity be developed in others through the Gospel, “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10). While on pilgrimage the saint’s heart rests in green pastures
    alongside still waters, and on that Day the fruit of his life—evidence of the indwelling Spirit—will bring praise, glory, and honor from the Author of simplicity, “Well done, good and faithful slave…enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21).

  12. IWTT,

    “Simplicity does not consider strange the circumstances of Providence, but rejoices in the
    knowledge that the redemptive current of grace engineered by the Lord is apt to flow through the life that remains in the Vine…”

    What/Who is this from? I particularly like the above sentence. Although, I would hardly label something such as ‘the circumstances of Providence’ as being simplistic.

  13. IWanthetruth

    This is from a friend of mine that has been putting out a daily “thought” on the scripture that he is reading in his morning devotions. Sorry. I forgot to put his name on the document. J.A. Matteson. He has given me permission to share them. If you would like, I have more, and I would be glad to send the file of writings I have so far. Contact me at the e-mail address so I have yours again. I cleaned out my e-mail address book and your got the nix.

  14. Iwanthetruth

    THE SLIPPERY PRECIPICE
    J.A. Matteson
    03.09.09
    I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered. Deuteronomy 10:2

    Intimacy between the Lord and His bond-servant can place the servant on the slippery precipice of selfrighteousness. Indignation at sin is a fruit of the Spirit, to hate what God hates is praise worthy; however, assuming the seat of divine judgment is of the flesh, “Moses’ anger burned, and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain” (Exodus 32:19). It was not due to any inherent worthiness that Israel received the Law, to the contrary, it was due to transgressions, “Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions….” (Galatians 3:19). Shattering the tablets before the people may have
    served as a theatrical visual illustration of their breaking the covenant of the Lord, yet the reality is that as Adam’s progeny their breach of the Law occurred prior to it being written. The Lord did not command Moses to shatter the tablets—he took that bit upon himself. Moses’ display of human anger was raw emotion and it did not further the redemptive purposes of the Lord, “for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). Moses withheld the Law of the Lord from the people due to sin when the Lord intended for them to have it because of their sin. The Word of the Lord to sinners is given by grace and not merit and it serves to: reveal the holy character of God, man’s inability to live up to God’s
    standard of perfection, and to drive sinners by faith to Christ for eternal salvation. As with Moses the temptation of the Lord’s bond-servant is to withhold the Word of the Lord from the Lord’s people due to transgressions when the Lord would have His Word proclaimed to turn wayward hearts back to Him, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). To be “profitable for” is to be beneficial and helpful; to be administered “for correction” is to bring to light faults contrary to the Word of the Lord. The manner by which the Word is to be presented is with humiliation lest the Lord’s bond-servant be caught-up in the sin of presumption with regard to his own spiritual condition, “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3). Let the ambassador of the Lord proclaim His
    Word in the darkest places, in the face of ramped degradation and licentiousness, amidst hostile opposition and competing views. It is the Word of the Lord that pierces the secret places and of the heart and reveals the things contrary to it. By it sinners are made righteous by faith and saints grow in grace as Christ if formed in them. It is the Word of the Lord that endures while all else eventually comes to not, it is reflective of His perfect love which does not diminish, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God
    stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8). The servant of the Lord may in anger be tempted to withhold God’s Word from his people due to their sin, but to do so is contrary to His will and demonstrates a lack of understanding by the preacher. It is through the agency of the Word as tutor that sinners are brought to repentance by the Spirit. Let not the man of God presume upon the Lord by withholding that which brings life, “… the words
    that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63). The servant of the Lord must once and for all rid his mind of any notion that the dissemination of the Word of the Lord is predicated upon righteous deeds by the saints. They are saints by calling and not merit and it is not the preachers business to withhold their spiritual rations due them, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). The man who faithfully labors in plowing and sewing the Word will in due season reap with great joy, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will
    reap if we do not grow weary” (Galatians 6:9).

  15. IWanthetruth

    DISMALY DISTANT
    J.A. Matteson
    03.11.09

    And God gave them over…Romans 1:24

    The people of God are called out into a distinct relationship with the Creator of all things. They are to be a peculiar people, separated unto holiness as the Lord their God is holy, “put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:24). While longsuffering and merciful the Lord will not strive indefinitely with sin when hearts become dismally distant from His. There exists a dreadful transition zone, a tipping point, when persistent and willful defiance results in the provocation of divine wrath. In any generation when the heart of a people grows numb to the leaven of the Spirit by pronouncing right as ‘wrong’ and wrong as ‘right’, judgment is as certain to fall as a blind man who trips over a large stone. Judgment is progressive—recall the plagues of Egypt—, observable, and commences
    as a result of the suppression the Word of the Lord, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). Any who turn a blind eye to biblical revelation are teetering on the ledge of a perilous hillside. When the Word of the Lord is rejected something else takes its place and the only possibility is a psudo-truth that is demonically informed, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires” (2 Timothy 4:3). The fruit of the initial stage of judgment is a sensual orientation where chastity and modesty are euphorically jettisoned, “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them” (Romans 1:24). A pornographic culture with all of its trappings is the result. To what extent is the culture experiencing stage one? The second stage is progressively worse—homosexuality becomes mainstream, “…God gave them over to degrading passions…women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural… men…burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts….” (Romans 1:26-27). On this point God’s moral law is explicit, “…do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived…nor homosexuals….” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Unrepentant homosexuality is categorically inconsistent with the new birth and any person professing Christ yet remaining in that lifestyle is on the wide road to destruction, hell bound, being tragically deceived by Satan. To what extent is the culture experiencing stage two? The third stage is the loss of the general capacity to think correctly along moral lines, a spiritual dementia ensues whereby people simply cannot find their way back to the pathway of righteousness, “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper” (Romans 1:28). The mind is now broken and no longer works as designed, professing to be wise people in this stage have become utter fools, “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed” (Titus 1:16). To what extent is our culture experiencing stage three? In addition to these three stages divine judgment may also include war, pestilence, and famine. Considering the forgoing, perhaps those called out by the Lord unto salvation need not look to the future for judgment, it has likely already arrived. And
    if so to what extent has the Church been infected by the debauchery of the culture? Has she lost her savor? Has she trimmed her lamp so low as not to be visible? Repentance in the culture begins with the household of God, “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Repent and turn away from your idols and turn your faces away from all your abominations” (Ezekiel 14:6).

  16. TimH

    Thought I’d post here for all to “enjoy” as well. Thought provoking especially the bolded line…

    THE GREATEST ENTERPRISE
    04.14.09
    J.A. Matteson

    For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men…. Titus 2:11

    The incarnation of the Son of God is the quintessential display of grace, for that which is known of God finds its expression in the divine initiative; recipients of grace are illumined to His Person and majesty, being conscripted to a global enterprise with eternal consequences. Imagine them now in darkness, helpless, hopeless, blind, deaf, despairing, pierced through with many sorrows, not knowing their right hand from their left, always learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth, thinking themselves wise but being detestable in every deed, idolaters, insolent, with eyes full of envy and lust, desiring and never being satisfied, blissfully ignorant of their spiritual condition and of the deep pit over which they dangle by a thread, whose demise in hell surely awaits them, lest they repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. And such were all of you.

    Can you picture them, for they are your neighbors, family, friends, associates, co-workers, partners, those far and near. To be called by Christ is to be on mission with Christ, to co-labor with Him in His redemptive mission of mercy. The missionary call to pilgrims is inclusive, it excludes none. Recipients of grace become channels of grace whereby the Gospel of Jesus Christ is transmitted to the sons of men that they might be saved, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).

    The sacred trust of the Gospel requires its recipient to enter into the work of the Savior, to engage and dialogue, defend and propose, to juxtapose and refute, plead and warn. Response to the Gospel is none of your business; your obligation to your Master is to preach it passionately, consistently, and honestly, leaving the outcome of your endeavors to the Lord whose Word never returns to Him empty but always accomplishes His divine purposes in the hearts of men, “Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, ‘We shall hear you again concerning this.’ So Paul went out of their midst. But some men joined him and believed….” (Acts 17:32-24).

    Be not disheartened as some men will reject your message outright as foolishness, sneering at you, for the Apostle sneered at the message of the cross repeatedly and gleefully approved of the stoning of Stephen, all prior to being encountered by the risen Christ. Be hopeful when men express an openness to hear more about the Way, the Truth, and the Life, diligently interceding for them, that by grace they may come to the knowledge of the truth, and be given the gift of repentance which leads to faith and eternal life. Rejoice heartedly when men respond to your message of the cross with enthusiasm and faith, giving unbridled praise to your heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of their souls. God is no respecter of persons and, therefore, neither is the pilgrim who diligently preaches the Good News of Jesus Christ, merci-fully extending it to all men, those of every tongue, tribe, race, religion, and nation. Salvation is of the Jews and by grace the Lord is now grafting into the Vine of Christ Gentile branches.

    The present hour is that of grace when all men are implored to come to the Savior. An hour is coming, a Day is dawning, when the fullness of the Gentiles will have come in, when the grace of God will abruptly end; and just as the door to the ark closed without notice, so too divine judgment will commence suddenly, when the reaping angel of El Shaddai will cast the cluster from the vine of the earth “into the great wine press of the wrath of God” (Revelation 14:19).

    Until that Day faithful pilgrims of the King of kings and Lord of lords will sojourn on the earth, keeping their hands to the plow, casting the seed of the Word, pleading with all men to be reconciled to God, to be saved from the fearful wrath of the Lamb, to become recipients of the blessed hope of His appearing, to become joint heirs of His glory, as benefactors of the Tree of Life, their names written in the Book of Life. Pilgrim, you possess the oracle of Truth, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord of glory who has entrusted you with the Word of Life is faithful and will empower you by His Holy Spirit as you preach His Word. There are many endeavors to which a man may give himself while on earth, and all are temporal; the greatest enterprise is to be a co-missionary with the King immortal who promised, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).

    Copyright 2009 Immutable Word Ministry (“…the Word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8)

  17. Wow, you really like Mr. Matteson Tim.

  18. TimH

    Yes, I do. I was very frustrated this past Easter Celebration day as I looked for a church that was preaching what Easter was all about rather than putting on a show.

    I gathered from a past comment you made that you didn’t have such a problem with PDL as some of us might, but for me, coming out of that scenario and recognizing the make up of it, I found that every church I was interested in going to was influenced by that method and when we called about their service, we got the same answers and they all pointed to PDL, weak sermon and show.

    The other orthodox churches in this town grab hold of Emergent Church or Contemplative issues, and I mean not just a touch of it, but whole heartedly.

    The others! Third Wave, Bill Johnson, Randy Demain (just 15 minutes north of us is the church he is over), Manifest Sons of God, etc. hyper-charismatic style church or as you like to call them, neo-montanist.

    This man is the one that I can get together, (we pray and discuss the word), with whom I believe is closes to preaching/teaching scripture in truth, in context, etc. His heart IS for the lost and wants to see them come to the Lord.

    When he writes something that touches me I want to share it. There has been alot written but I don’t share much of it here, as you know.

    Blessings

  19. Perhaps you and he could start a local independent Reformed church? It sounds like there is a need.

  20. TimH

    We have discussed this much. He believes very strongly in being under some type of authority as a church. Without going into depth, previous coverings probably wouldn’t do so because he went charismatic on them.

    I still have a thought to convert my 864 sq ft garage into a meeting place in the neighborhood and have a bi-monthly meeting. Praying about that as well.

    Even though I can’t seem to be happy with what is around God is still good. Many doors have opened for me to minister in my immediate neighborhood, sharing Christ. So it’s been actually pretty exciting.

  21. Tim H

    Yes I like this mans writings…. doesn’t pussy foot around…

    SWEET THE PROMISE
    J.A. Matteson
    04.25.09
    …others were tortured…others experienced mocking and scourging…chains and imprisonment. They were stoned…sawn in two…tempted…put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goat skins being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated…of whom the world was not worthy…. Hebrews 11:35-38

    Beware of any gospel that characterizes the grace of God exclusively in terms of worldly gain in the form of finery, ease, health, and/or wealth, for it is a different gospel from that delivered by Jesus Christ and His Apostles, it is a false gospel, and as such it has no power to save. Scripture records and Church history testifies that the life of the pilgrim
    may be, and often is, met with severe and protracted difficulty. Watch out, therefore, for men who would lead you astray by bringing to you strange teachings that dilute, distort or otherwise diminish the Person of Jesus Christ to serve their own covetous ends. Guard against a gospel that promises much and requires little. Watch out for any who diminish God’s glory by making Him out to be your bell-hop who responds eagerly to your every fleshly whim, for such a depiction of I AM is a repugnant sham and those who propagate it will be judged accordingly on that Day; the God of Israel is the Supreme Sovereign and He does not bow to the misguided beckon calls of men; He is Lord of all things seen and unseen, sharing His glory with no man. In the present day there are men teaching strange doctrines not in accordance with the truth of Scripture, men of depraved minds who for sordid gain deceive and shipwreck the faith of the weak. Depictions of the Lord by these men appeal to the base desires of men—making them popular, yet they are delusional misrepresentations of the Lord of Hosts; they are idols constructed in the recesses of depraved
    minds. These teachers of false doctrine will suffer the consequence of their error and those who naively follow them will suffer harm spiritually, emotionally, and physically. All that the Lord does in and through the lives of His saints is for His glory and their good. At times His purposes are best met through the deliverance of His people and at other times by allowing them to suffer. Pilgrims who are suffering are advised to inquire of the Lord to discern if perhaps they are experiencing the loving chastening of the Father, and if sin is revealed then confession and repentance will restore their relationship with Christ. Yet men who attribute all suffering as a result of sin are liars and false teachers, the glory of God is smeared by their misrepresentations of His character, and in His time they will receive the full recompense for their folly at His hands, for “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). As the writer clearly demonstrates the saints of God often do not have a comfortable life on earth, many suffer at the hands of wicked men, others some suffer sickness and death, poverty, and loneliness as a result of
    abandonment by family and friends due to their confession of Jesus Christ. Many endure a lack food, clothing, shelter, while multitudes are abandoned by non-believing family members, numerous are shunned by co-workers and passed over for promotions, fired, and for many em-ployment opportunities are withheld. In the words of the Apostle many are regarded as the scum of the earth and most of their existence on earth is one of pain and suffering. For some this is God’s design, not to punish due to sin, but to sanctify and exalt them through faith in the Him who calls.
    Providence assures pilgrims seasons of comfort and suffering. Accepting suffering in faith develops endurance, making sweet the promise, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

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