Passing the Test

I remember in High School how I dreaded tests. What if I didn’t pass? Why do we have to have all these tests? I suppose that in some vague way, I knew they were important. Nevertheless, I look back now and see that they were very important. I didn’t want to go through them; now I’m glad I did. It’s that way with God’s tests, only far more significant! We are confronted with our need of salvation. We make a decision to believe or not believe. Let’s say that we believe. Was it true faith? Weak faith? Conditional faith? Did I really trust Christ with the control of my life? I agreed with the facts related to salvation. What if I find that I don’t like the implications of His control of my life? Would I take it back? What if He allows or even causes me to experience pain, disease, sorrow, loneliness, bereavement, etc.? If our faith is weak, has He let us down; failed us? If it is conditional and He doesn’t do what I wanted Him to do or thought He would do, do I turn my back on Him? God’s tests are blessings in disguise! They reveal to us the truth about our faith. We believe, if we are blessed. If not, we stop trusting? If we have truly trusted, we will come to have unshakable faith. Nothing will stop us from trusting! Like Job said in Job 13:15, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” The only way we can find out how strong our faith is, is by its being tested! We probably won’t like the test. It may be a very hard test. We may feel that we don’t need to be tested. If we “flunk,” we can give up or we can look to God for another opportunity to pass. Our will is much involved here. We can will to give up, but if we have real faith, we will trust no matter how severe the test(s). If we reach that point, we can know the joy of having uncompromising faith. In the hymn, “How Firm a Foundation,” (“K” – in Rippon’s Selection of Hymns), the fourth stanza explains the purpose of our tests: “When thru fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply; the flame shall not hurt thee — I only design thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.” Will we pass? Only, if our trust is unconditional! Selah! Trusting in faith is not wise; we must trust in the trustworthiness of the “Trustworthy One,” and never stop trusting Him!  Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

Internal Validation

When we see an advertisement and consider making a purchase, we look the product over, ask others, try a sample, test it, etc. We want to make sure that the claims are valid. Or, we might simply take the ad at face value and purchase the item, perhaps relying on the guarantee of satisfaction. Once we make a commitment, how well what we bought works will tell us if we made a good decision. If so, we have an inward satisfaction, an internal validation. Responding to the offer of salvation is similar in one way and different in another way. We hear the claims of the Gospel and make a genuine commitment to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. If it is an unconditional commitment, all the rest of our lives will give validation of the Truths of Scripture. The difference is that, unlike something we might purchase, we never take it back. When we yield to Jesus the control of our lives, we will learn to yield to His control for the rest of our lives. Through difficult and good times, through thick and thin, when we understand and when we don’t, we trust and go on trusting. As we study, apply and obey the Word, we will have internal validation. Time and eternity will validate our commitment! In John 10:10 Jesus said: “….I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Through all the ups and downs of our lifetime, unconditional trust and learning to apply and obey God’s Word will produce that abundant life in all circumstances. In his hymn, “Moment by Moment,”  Daniel W. Whittle gives voice to this abundant life: “Dying with Jesus by death reckoned mine, living with Jesus a new life divine, looking to Jesus till glory doth shine – moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine. Never a trial that He is not there; never a burden that He doth not bear – moment by moment I’m under His care. Moment by moment I’m kept in His love, moment by moment I’ve life from above; looking to Jesus till glory doth shine, moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.” Selah! Trials test; trust triumphs! We never walk alone, we have the Savior! That is abundant life indeed!   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

Faith on Fire

There is what seems to be a contradiction in the Bible regarding faith. In Romans 12:3, Paul states that: “….God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” In II Thessalonians 3:2, Paul states: “….for all men have not faith.” Actually these two seemingly contradictory statements combine to help us see a very important distinction between two types of faith. In the first instance, every one has the capacity to trust God, if they will. In the second statement, we discover that not all men exercise “saving faith.” There is still another aspect to this. It is possible to have a superficial kind of faith. This type of faith may be an intellectual agreement with Biblical teaching. However, it is agreement only; it is not acted upon. Saving faith is believing the facts and then responding to them in a positive way. The most important example is not only believing that Christ died for our sins; it is receiving the benefit of that death by receiving Jesus as our Savior and Lord and surrendering our lives to His control. It is learning, day by day, to obey and submit as we move toward Heaven. It is an unconditional faith! We determine to trust Him when we understand His ways and when it seems like there is no reason to trust. To have faith in faith doesn’t cut it; we are to totally trust Him. It becomes a “given” that He knows best and always does right even if it appears to be just the opposite. It doesn’t depend on circumstances; it is an irrevocable act of our will. That is saving faith! All men can exercise that kind of faith; not all men will. Edgar Page Stites, in his hymn, “Trusting Jesus,” gives us a simple, but profound testimony of true faith: “Simply trusting ev’ry day, trusting thru a stormy way; even when my faith is small, trusting Jesus – that is all. Brightly does His Spirit shine into this poor heart of mine; while He leads I cannot fall, trusting Jesus – that is all. Singing if my way is clear, praying if the path be drear; if in danger for Him call, trusting Jesus – that is all. Trusting as the moments fly, trusting as the days go by; trusting Him what-e’er befall, trusting Jesus – that is all!” Selah1 That kind of trust is faith ignited!  Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

Another Strange Thing!

We thought yesterday on the church’s lack of preaching about Hell. There’s something else that is not often preached. Before I mention what it is, let me encourage you to think about why it is not preached more often. I’m speaking about Heaven. We may get a little more preaching on Heaven than on Hell. Nevertheless, it is neglected. One reason is that some steer away from future things, perhaps due to the fact of some prophetic date-setting. However, I see a bigger reason and it probably is done without our being aware of it. If we are giving little thought to Heaven and Hell, where is our focus? I suggest that it is right on “the here and now” of this present world. If the devil can keep our minds on our lives here on earth, he has distracted us from preparing for eternity and from encouraging others to be prepared. It looks like he has done a good job! Unless we are faithfully engaging with the Word of God, we are easy prey to a spirit of worldliness. Wrapped up in our everyday living here, we give very inadequate thought to the hereafter. This leaves our enemy smugly satisfied. Christians have been accused of being so Heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. However, it is much worse to be so earthly minded that we are no Heavenly good. We are told: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2). If we move our focus from this present world to the reality of the eternal, we’ll share the perspective of Edward S. Ufford expressed in his hymn, “Throw Out the Life-line.” Think on this message: “Throw out the Life-line across the dark wave, there is a brother whom someone should save; somebody’s brother! oh, who then will dare to throw out the Life-line, his peril to share? Throw out the Life-line with hand quick and strong; why do you tarry, why linger so long? See! he is sinking; oh, hasten today and out with the Life-boat! away, then, away! Soon will the season of rescue be o’er, soon will they drift to eternity’s shore, haste then, my brother, no time for delay, but throw out the Life-line and save them today.” Selah! Only as we are prepared for eternity can we have the credibility to influence others to prepare for eternity. Are we prepared?    Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

The Church’s Strange Silence

We claim to preach the whole counsel of God. If so, why is it that one subject is rarely dealt with today? I have a hunch that you may already have an idea of what subject it is that I have in mind. When was the last time you heard a serious message on Hell? Most likely, not recently. For some, it may have been a very long time ago. The world jokes about Hell, uses the word as profanity, tells people to go there, doesn’t believe that there is really such a place and if there is, they don’t believe that God will send them there. They don’t take it seriously! Why should they, if the church doesn’t? Hell can be preached to scare people and for some, it has scared them enough to get their attention and possibly lead them to salvation. However, it should be preached factually, with compassion and concern. We should underscore how Jesus suffered and died to rescue people from such a destiny! We should remind them that it is their refusal to receive Christ as Savior and Lord that seals their fate. Procrastination can contribute to their eternal doom. Add to this, that too many in the church have given way to doubt and unbelief concerning eternal torment. This only strengthens doubt in the minds of unsaved people. If we water down the teaching of God’s Word on this subject, we are accountable for misleading people. Can we overdo preaching on Hell? Yes, but at this point in time, we are on the other end of the spectrum! Remember: “Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Jesus, in Matthew 25:41). This passage is but a fraction of Jesus’ teaching on the subject. He taught more about Hell than He did about Heaven! The moment a person dies, his or her eternal destiny cannot be changed! Fanny Crosby understood. In her hymn, “Rescue the Perishing,” she spells out our solemn responsibility: “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen, tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save. Tho they are slighting Him, still He is waiting, waiting the penitent child to receive; plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently, He will forgive if they only believe. Rescue the perishing, care for the dying; Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.” Selah! Perhaps, if the reality of Hell grips us, we might decide to witness to the lost!   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

Are You the One?

It doesn’t take a keen observer to see that something is wrong in many local churches today. Outwardly, all looks O. K. In some churches, there even seems to be excitement and activity. Occasionally, one might find a church that has a lingering resemblance to an authentic New Testament church. Over all, however, where does one find preaching with soul searching, convicting power? Where do we find a church with a burden for lost souls? Where are churches that are regularly discipling new believers and seeing them develop into mature saints? Where do we find a love for and excitement about Jesus? Do we only have churches where it is just business as usual? The work goes on like a well oiled machine but without anything more than mechanical movement. Part of the problem is our too common inward question: Why doesn’t someone do something to change things? Are you the one who should inspire change? Am I? Are there some serious Christians who would become so filled with love, zeal and concern for the work of God that they would seek the fire of God on their lives; are there some whose fervent faith would burn so brightly that it would be contagious? God, raise up men, women, young people, even sometimes a child, who would be revived and whose deep seated faith would ignite a burning faith in others.  A deep exposure to the Word of God and prayer, as well as all other means of grace is the pathway to genuine revival. Are you, am I, ones that will embark on that path? In Jeremiah 20:9, we have an illustration of the power of the Word of God: “Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His Name.” Then something changed the prophet’s thinking: “But His Word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, (tired of resisting) and I could not stay (hold back).” Has His Word set our hearts on fire? Let our prayer be that of Charles H.  Gabriel’s in his hymn, “Pentecostal Power.” He prayed: “Lord, as of old at Pentecost Thou didst Thy pow’r display, with cleansing, purifying flame descend on us today. Lord, send the old-time power, the Pentecostal power! Thy floodgates of blessing on us throw open wide! Lord, send the old-time power, the Pentecostal power, that sinners be converted and Thy Name glorified! Selah! Is there anything that we need more than that reviving power today?    Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

Conflicting Laws

When two laws fight against each other, we have a problem! One must be kept and can’t be; the other one we don’t want to keep but do. Paul described this conflict, showed us the answer and then he showed us how to handle the conflict. Look at Romans 7:19-8:4: “For the good that I would (do) I do not: but the evil which I would  not (do), that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” Verses 22-23 describe the conflict. This culminates in a cry of frustration but is followed by a revealing of Someone Who can resolve the conflict. “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Paul concludes Verse 25 with a summary of the problem. Then, as we move into the first four verses of chapter eight, Paul shows how Jesus can resolve the conflict. He begins by reminding us (this all relates to those who are born again) that there is no condemnation for all who are in Christ Jesus. In Verse 2, He explains: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me (us) free from the law of sin and death.” Jesus, having paid the penalty of God’s perfect, but broken, law, shows us how we can be freed from the old law of sin and death and how the law of the Spirit of life takes over. The answer is simple, but profound! “….we walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” As we follow the Holy Spirit, He will guide us into God’s Word (See John 16:13). As we read, study, apply and obey God’s Word, and are guided by the principles of Scripture, the old law loses its grip, is weakened, and fades gradually away. As that process is going on, the new law gains more and more control in our lives. This is sanctification! (See John 17:17; Romans 8:29).I can’t give you the exact quote and I don’t know the author, but this chorus shows us our part in the process: “Only to be what He wants me to be every moment of every day, yielded completely to Jesus alone, each step of this pilgrim way. Just to be clay in the Potter’s hands; only to do what His will commands. Only to be what He wants me to be every moment of every day.” This is the heart cry of those who are truly born again! Selah! If one is truly saved, he or she will turn from the old way that they were going and move in this new direction. They may stumble and fall, even start to turn back. However, if they have experienced genuine conversion, they will get righted or in some rare cases, be taken home prematurely.   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com