Following Jesus Will Cost You!

Beheading

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet, because you are not of the world, but I chose you out o the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:18-20)

Is this verse a warning given to those who will become followers of Christ? The answer to that question is a definite–yes! Confirmation that you are a follower of Jesus Christ is that you are despised for His Name.

 The God of the Bible is unique and separate from the plethora of false gods worshiped by the world.

Satan, who dominates the evil world system, is identified in scripture as the “prince of the air” and “god of this age” and it is he who instigates the hatred towards Jesus Christ, and His followers. The One True God, Yahweh or YHVH (tetragram) is the object of Lucifer’s abhorrence and detestation.

JEHOVAH is separate from all other false gods because His Name denotes the eternality, immutability, and uniqueness of His nature. He is also Judge and Lawgiver Who has hatred (Psalm 5:5), Enmity (Nahum 1:2), and Vengeance (Deut 7:9-10; 32:39-42) towards the sinner every day. These same attributes and identification of YHVH was applied by the Lord Jesus Christ to Himself in chapter eight of the gospel of John as confirmation of His deity. Therefore, hatred or rejection of One was in fact denunciation of Both.

“He who hates Me hates My Father also” (John 15:23)

Mere association with Jesus or the God of the Bible sparks anger and hostility towards (by the world) those who represent Him. Why is there such antagonism and resentment towards true believers or followers of Christ? Jesus tells us that because of His coming the world has no excuse for their sins and that He testifies that its deeds are evil. Christ followers who demonstrate intimacy, love, obedience and fruitfulness will invoke a similar response from the world. Men and women who reject Jesus Christ (as Savior) do so by choice, not out of ignorance.

Paul Washer writes in his book titled The Truth About Man, that “Man is not a victim, but a culprit. He cannot, because he will not. His corruption and enmity toward God are so great that he would rather suffer eternal perdition than acknowledge God to be God and submit to His Sovereignty. For this reason, moral inability may also be called willing hostility.” (Washer, pg. 55)

In his book, Washer uses the relationship between Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 37:4) as an illustration of moral inability. He writes, “Joseph’s brothers could not speak to him on friendly terms. It is not because they lacked the physical ability to speak, but because their hatred was so great toward him that they were unwilling to be friendly to him. In the same way, fallen man’s hostility toward God is so great he cannot bring himself to submit to God.” (Washer, pg. 56)

A similar example is revealed in the relationship or interaction between Jesus and Judas as recorded in the gospel of John. Judas having been selected by Christ to be His disciple was specifically chosen because God knew that he (Judas) would be the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.  “…and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled” (John 17:12) Judas loved the present world and would benefit monetarily by betraying or benefits, deliberately offering Jesus to him by the chief priest for thirty pieces of silver. Notwithstanding, Jesus offered to Judas (the same night) the opportunity to confess, plus, repent of his disloyalty and to become a recipient of His forgiveness. His final act of love towards Judas is demonstrated in the passing of ‘sop’ to Judas during the last supper. “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it…”(John 13:26) According to Jewish tradition, the host (Jesus) would designate the first morsel of food to the special guest as a way of symbolizing friendship. Similar to Joseph’s brothers, Judas was unwilling to turn from his (satanically inspired) plot against Jesus which would eventually lead to both his physical and eternal death.

Disdain towards Jesus and Joseph can best be attributed to the depraved nature of the human heart. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murder…” (Matt 15:18) Men in rebellion against God abhor being confronted about their iniquities or transgressions. Jesus, having completed or accomplished the work the Father called Him to do would soon return to His original position glory. The responsibility of reaching the world with the “Good News” was delegated to His followers in the manner known as the Great Commission. “…I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world…As Thou didst send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”

As servants of Christ, each believer will or should expect to experience similar circumstances to those endured by our Master during His earthly ministry. The ‘world’ (kosmos) refers to the created moral order in active rebellion against God and His followers. The Words of Christ, when spoken against the captives of this world system, bring opposition, hatred, suffering, and in some cases even death. Jesus clearly warns (verse above) all who believe in Him that they too will undergo persecution.

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for yo to follow in His steps.” (I Pet 2:21)

D.A. Carson summarizes this point well in his book titled The Gospel According To JohnHe warns, “Those who preach Jesus’ gospel and live in progressive conformity to His own life and teaching will attract the same antagonism that He did.” (Carson, pg. 525)

Do the Words of Christ coincide with the mindset or approach to ministry by today’s church leaders? Stay tuned for part two of this message.

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Christ is the Hope and Real Meaning of Christmas

'The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.'  O Little town of Bethlehem

‘The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.’ O Little town of Bethlehem

I was recently asked by a young disciple of Christ if the celebration of Christmas was in the Bible. My response to his question was an immediate—Yes! Both the wise men and shepherds came to worship and praise Christ soon after His birth. “

Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:2)

“And they came in hast and found their way to Mary and Joseph and the baby as He lay in the manger…And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen just as had been told to them.” (Luke 2:16,20)

The specific day observed by Christians around the world to commemorate the annual celebration of birth of Jesus Christ is on December 25th. The feast of Christmas was developed by the early church to combat a heathen celebration known as “Saturnalia” or winter solstice. The primary reason for countering this pagan celebration was to place strong emphasis on the importance of redemption and to reflect on the early ministry of Jesus Christ. According to Walter A. Elwell in his Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, “Christmas is not only a time to celebrate the birth of Christ, but it is also a time to stress the importance of receiving Him into the heart. His incarnation celebrates not only his birth but also His messianic age, which is the beginning of the end of the world as it marches toward eternity.”

Much speculation is made over the actual date of His birth by both theologians and secular historians. Scripture does not reveal the exact date of His birth, nor does it stress the time in which believers should celebrate of the Lord’s incarnation. What we do know is that by the late fourth century, Christmas was celebrated by many people within the church. Elwell also writes, “The church thereby offered the people a Christian alternative to the pagan festivities and eventually reinterpreted many of their symbols and actions in ways acceptable to Christian faith and practice. For example, Jesus Christ was presented as the Sun of Righteousness (Mal 4:2), replacing the sun god, Sol Invictus…” (Elwell, pg. 238)

Men like John Calvin, John Knox, the American Puritans, and many Presbyterians were in opposition to this practice. Mainly, because each generation incorporated into the its celebration many pagan customs (holly, mistletoe, Christmas tree, log fires, etc) and added new traditions (Christmas carols, nativity crib, etc). I would assume or suppose that the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church of Colosse would support their stance against such practices. He writes, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” (2:8)

It was the Lutherans, the continental Reformers, and most other Protestants who defended the observance of Christmas by Christians. They sought to take the opportunity to stress the doctrine of the Incarnation during this seasonal celebration. I would suppose or speculate (again) that these individuals stressed their freedoms in Christ as mentioned by Paul (in his letter to the Romans) as a motive for participating in the Christmas festivity. The strong or mature believer’s faith in the passage below permits or allows him to exercise his freedom in Christ.

“For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for god has received him…One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it…” (Romans 14:2-3, 5-6)

By the mid-twentieth century Christmas was celebrated throughout the world. Countries such as Africa, Asia, and Latin America joined Europe in its festivities, plus incorporating new customs into their practices. With the recent influx of Modernism or Liberal Theology, the twenty-first century church has incorporated both a great deal of materialism and  an almost reverent response to the character known as Santa Claus. The strong emphasis on adapting religious ideas to modern culture and modes of thinking has almost eliminated from Christmas its original objective of Christ worship.

In either case, each man, woman, and child will have to stand before Christ for evaluation. It is interesting to note that His judgment does not take into account religious traditions or personal preferences like celebrating Christmas. This commemoration is not mentioned in scripture; therefore each believer must follow the dictates of his own conscience (unless specifically prohibited in scripture). The objective by the early church was call attention to redemption and to reflect on the ministry of Jesus Christ. We too during the Christmas advent must take the opportunity to draw men, women, and children back from their obsession with toys, gifts, sports, parties, etc to the worship of Christ (Crīstesmæsse, meaning “Christ Mass). The objective of every believer should be to bring non-believers into the true knowledge and worship of Christ, but also to the understanding of His immediate return.

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year from our family to yours!

What does it really mean to bear fruit (in Evangelism)

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain…” (John 15:16)

This is not an article on predestination or election, even though I could use the words of Christ to support each, but rather a note about suffering. Those of us chosen of God were specifically selected by Jesus Christ our Lord to bear fruit that would last throughout eternity. A good tree will demonstrate spiritual fruit such as godly attitudes (Gal 5:22-23), righteous behavior (Phil 1:11), praise (Heb 13:15), and leading others to faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 1:13).

Since I am an evangelist and was ordained by God to share the gospel with lost people I would like to discuss a view of witnessing rarely mentioned in Christendom. We hear much about tens, hundreds, and even thousands of people professing faith in Jesus Christ every year as a result of outreach or evangelism events (Crusades, Blitzes, Church Services, etc). Baptism figures totaled at the end of the year by Church and Para-Church organizations are used to provide evidence that their outreach efforts were productive or successful.

Nevertheless, it is important that believers consider suffering punishment, imprisonment, rejection, hardships; etc for the gospel as a form of fruit bearing. As example that strongly supports this statement is revealed in the life of the Apostle Paul. Consider his calling as revealed in chapter nine of the book of Acts. This great evangelist was told (by Jesus) that he was not only a “chosen” instrument but would “suffer for My names sake.” Our Lord foreknew that Paul would experience beatings, stoning, shipwrecks, imprisonments, hardships, hunger, thirst, sleepless nights and the like for preaching the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. Nevertheless, Paul and other messengers of God throughout both the Old/New Testaments as well as church history experienced similar circumstances.

Cover of "Ashamed of the Gospel: When the...

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John MacArthur in his book titled, Ashamed of the Gospel” writes, “…Jeremiah, for example, preached forty years without seeing any significant positive response. On the contrary, his countrymen threatened to kill him if he did not stop prophesying (Jer 11:19-23); his own family and friends plotted against him (12;6); he was not permitted to marry and so had to suffer agonizing loneliness (16:2); plots were devised to fill him secretly (18:20-23); he was beaten and put in stocks (20:1-2); he was spied on by friends who sought revenge (v.10); he was consumed with sorrow and shame eve cursing the day he was born (vv. 14-18); and finally, falsely accused of being a traitor to the nation (37:13-14), Jeremiah was beaten, thrown into a dungeon, and starved many days (vv.15-21).” (MacArthur, 88)

John Fox records in his book Fox’s Book of Martyrs the testimonies of hundreds of men and women who throughout church history suffered to the point of death for evangelizing the world. This would include Stephen, the Apostles, Christians under Nero, Domitian, Trajan, Christians in living Persia, France, Calabria, Bohemia, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, China, Japan, Spanish America, Great Britain, Ireland, Scotland, United States, India, West Indies, Inquisitions under the Papacy, etc. Men like John Wickliffe, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Charles Surgeon and the like all suffered some form of persecution for their faith and for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Would emulating the sufferings of Christ be considered bearing fruit in the eyes of God?

Scripture records that before the Bema Judgment seat of Christ, believes are rewarded for their fruitfulness. The Bible mentions at least five rewards and two of them pertain to leading people to Christ known as the ‘Crown of Rejoicing’ mentioned in Proverbs 11:30; Dan 12; and I Thessalonians 2:19-20. The ‘Crown of Life’ is given to those who successfully endure trials, persecution, or suffering (for His name) is mention in James 1:2-3 and Rev 2:10.

Even though the current climate in our culture or world opposes the teachings of Christ, believers must (like their predecessors) be bold, plus steadfast in the proclamation of the gospel. Even if it means consequences that would cause Christians to suffer some form of ridicule, rejection, or negative repercussions for His name sake.  Not only is there a reward in eternity for this sort of fruit bearing, but also an opportunity to produce fruit in this present life. Remember, God called you out of the darkness and into His marvelous light in order to produce fruit that will remain!

Foundational Characteristics Of Missional Leaders

By Gary Rohrmayer

One of my favorite leadership books is “Be, Know, Do: Leadership the Army Way” by Frances Hesselbein and General Eric K. Shinski (USA Ret.) This book takes a close look at the official Army Leadership Manual and applies its principles to the corporate and civic leadership realms. Here is the Army’s definition of leadership, “Leadership is influencing people, by providing purpose, direction, and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization”. (pg 5) This definition has three words that stand out to me: influencing, operating and improving. Influencing: motivating and loving others in the mission for the mission. Operating: creating plans, developing systems and managing their execution so that the mission is achieved. Improving: adding value to those around you and to the organization for the betterment of the mission.

So what does a missional leader look like in a local church? Here are eight qualities of those leaders who are seeking to align themselves and their churches with God‘s mission.

1. They are passionate followers of Christ.

Their leadership flows out of their relationship with Jesus and his missional call on their lives. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”. (John 15:5 NIV) Cultivating spiritual intimacy is essential for leaders to live a vibrant missional lifestyle. For the leader to hear and obey God they must first love God.

As a new believer I read a lengthy biography of George Mueller written by A.T. Peirson. George Mueller lived during the 19th century. He was a rebellious young man who came to faith in Christ at the age of 20 and shook up the world with his humble faith and his passionate devotion for God. Four things that motivated me out of that biography were:  Read more of this post

Preach The Word!

 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalm 126:5-6

Have you thought about the importance of the Word of God lately?  I mean the all encompassing necessary breadth of the importance of  God’s Word?  It occurs to me that God, the Father sent the Word to open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf in order that men, women, boys and girls might be saved unto eternal life.  The Word is the Christian’s all in all; our Redeemer.  The Bread of Life.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The same was in the beginning with God.

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

If those verses don’t make it clear enough, the Apostle John (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) writes this in verse 14:

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

My exhortation and prompt to you today is to Preach the Word of God. The evangelist is to Preach Christ and Him Crucified, Risen and the only Way to the Father.

1 Corinthians 2:2
King James Version (KJV)
2 “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

We here at Evangelize4Life Missions Corp. want to help you be ready to give an answer and to go forth bringing men from death to life. We do this by publishing this blog, teaching on our daily radio talk program

1 Corinthians 15:3-4   (KJV)  “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”

Be Blessed,

Preach The Word!

 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalm 126:5-6

Are you faithfully doing the work of an evangelist?  The Word of God is clear that we, as Christian Believers ought to be involved in the ministry of evangelism as a way of life.  Jesus taught this principle in the book of Matthew.  Let’s look at the parable of the Sower found in chapter 13.

It should be noted that through this teaching we are to grasp that Christ is both the  Sower and Seed.  In addition, Christ is teaching that we ought to be preaching the same message that He did.  We are to then Preach The Gospel; Tell Men.   How they respond depends upon the condition of their heart.  Remember that all men have the potential to receive the seed of the word.  As John MacArthur has rightly preached, “Dirt is dirt.” Read more of this post