Friday, November 27, 2015, 4:27 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Fully Ready.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 46:27-28 (NASB).
“But as for you, O Jacob My servant, do not fear,
Nor be dismayed, O Israel!
For, see, I am going to save you from afar,
And your descendants from the land of their captivity;
And Jacob will return and be undisturbed
And secure, with no one making him tremble.
“O Jacob My servant, do not fear,” declares the Lord,
“For I am with you.
For I will make a full end of all the nations
Where I have driven you,
Yet I will not make a full end of you;
But I will correct you properly
And by no means leave you unpunished.”
The Setting (Summary Jeremiah 39-44)
The setting is this, as translated to our day and time: Many people who profess the name of Jesus Christ are living in open idolatry and spiritual adultery against their Lord God. God, in his great love and mercy, has been confronting his rebellious people with their sins of idolatry and spiritual adultery, warning of judgment, and calling them to repentance. But, the vast majority are not listening. They are not heeding the warnings. Many even despise these warnings, and they despise the messengers through whom these warnings come. And, thus, they persecute and perhaps even kill the Lord’s servants and witnesses.
God has been warning them, as well, against putting their trust in humans, because there are many liars and deceivers throughout the world who are leading God’s people astray. Yet, many are not listening. They are not heeding the warnings, and they are continuing to put their trust in humans over God. They are not testing what they hear, read and see, in prayer, and against the word of God, and in spiritual discernment and wisdom, but they are going their own stubborn way, some even vehemently refusing to even consider that what they are believing and trusting in could be false, and that they might well be deceived. So God, who keeps his word, is bringing against them the judgments he promised.
Some people, through judgment, will continue in their own stubborn way, refusing to repent, and they will deny the Lord they once professed to know, and they will take the mark of the beast. Others, through judgment, will be humbled before God, will acknowledge their sins, will turn away from their rebellious ways, and will submit their lives to their Lord God, and will follow him the rest of their days. Others, who had not been living in rebellion, will be refined and made holy through this process, while still others who never knew Christ, and/or who had never professed his name, will come to believe in Jesus Christ, by God’s grace, through faith which dies with Christ to sin, and which is resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).
Still, there will be others who will make a show of repentance, but it is not sincere. They call on God when they need help, but then they turn and still go their own way, because they don’t like the answers they get back from God when they do ask him for help.
Although I certainly do not relish the idea of judgment, i.e. I am not looking forward to it by any means, I do believe that scripture teaches that in these last days, although we are now living in a time of great rebellion, we will see the adulterous church of the last days revived, and that from the revived church the true (full) gospel will go to the ends of the earth, and that people from all nations will be saved before our Lord returns for his bride (his saints).
As well, although the true church is being persecuted severely, which we who live in the west will come to experience, too, in due time, we can rest in the comfort that our God is with us, that he will not leave us or forsake us, and that he will give us all we need to keep going. He will give us the strength and power of the Spirit of God to live holy and godly lives, pleasing to God, in these troubled times. So, we are not to fear what is coming or be afraid when it comes. God will strengthen us and keep us, and one day he will take us to be with him forever, and then we will have peace, and no one will make us afraid ever again.
For those of us who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we should be giving out the gospel of Jesus Christ to all who will listen, yet we need to be giving out the whole gospel as taught by Jesus and his apostles, and not a watered-down version which is most popular in the west today. So, what do I mean by that?
There are many people and church leaders today who are teaching that God does not require repentance or obedience as part of our faith response to the gospel of our salvation. They ignore the bulk of teaching on salvation in the scriptures and build their doctrines around only the verses they approve. They reduce “faith” to a mere confession of Christ as Savior, or to a prayer to receive Christ, or to an intellectual assent to what Christ did for us in dying for our sins, or to an emotional decision made at an altar out of a desire to escape hell and to go to heaven when they die. Yet, they forget that Jesus Christ died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might forsake our former ways of living for sin and self, be transformed of the Spirit of God, and now live for Christ, walking in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 8:1-14).
God’s grace to us, in dying on the cross for our sins, is not just so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. It is also not free license to continue in willful sin against God without guilt and without remorse. God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and desires, and to live self-controlled, godly and upright lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self and take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) Jesus Christ. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) we will lose them for eternity. But, if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). Paul reiterated this teaching in Romans 6 and 8 when he said that faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin, and that sin no longer has mastery over our lives, but now we are free to come under the control of Christ’s righteousness.
Eternal life is also not something we gain just when we die. When we trust Jesus Christ to be our LORD and SAVIOR, we receive eternal life with God at that moment, which is abundant life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Our lives are no longer our own to be lived out how we want, doing what we desire, but our desire should now be for our Lord, and we should want to know and to do his will for our lives. He didn’t die, again, just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He came to give us life to the full while we still live on this earth, but full life surrendered to him, no longer conformed to the ways of this world, but transformed in the renewing of our minds so that our lives will be living proof of what God’s will is for his people – his good, perfect and pleasing will (See: Ro. 12:1-2).
Yet, we must know and accept the fact that when we preach the full gospel of salvation, as taught by Jesus and his NT apostles, that we will be hated and persecuted and even put to death for our testimonies for Jesus Christ, because we do not deny his name, and because we hold strong to the tenets of the faith as laid down for us by Christ himself. Yet, we must know that God will work all this out for our good and for the good of those who will also come to faith in Jesus Christ, because through these times of trial and testing we are being made holy, we are being transformed into the likeness of Christ, we are being taught to rely on God and not on ourselves, we are learning perseverance and endurance, and we are also learning compassion toward others who are suffering in like manner so that we can encourage them with the encouragement we ourselves are receiving from Christ.
So, if you are suffering persecution for the name of Jesus Christ, hang in there, do not get discouraged, and keep trusting and believing that God has a purpose for it all and that he will see you through this to the end. Or, if you are professing to know Christ as Savior, but you are still walking in your flesh, then turn from your sins today and follow (obey) Jesus Christ with your life from this moment on. Or, if you have never trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of your life, surrender your all to him today and allow his Spirit to transform you in heart and mind away from living for sin to living for Christ and walking in his righteousness. Time is running out. Not one of us knows if he or she has tomorrow. So, trust Jesus Christ with your life today, while you still have today.
Fully Ready! / An Original Work / June 19, 2013
Based off Acts 20-22, 26; Mt. 28:18-20; Ac. 1:8
Why are you weeping and breaking my heart?
I’m fully ready to suffer for Christ.
If I must die for the sake of His name,
I am convinced it will not be in vain.
Glory to God and to His Son Jesus,
Who has redeemed us; bought with His blood.
May I speak to you? Jesus came to me;
Asked of me, “Why do you persecute me?”
He said, “Now get up and stand on your feet.
Go, and you’ll be told all I have for you.
I have appointed you as a servant,
And as a witness; you have been sent.”
“Go into the world and preach the gospel.
Open the blind eyes. They will receive sight.
Turn them from darkness to the light of Christ;
From power of the evil one to God,
So they may receive forgiveness of sins,
And a place among those who’re in heav’n.”