MANY BELIEVE THEY ARE SAVED BUT ARE NOT

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.Matthew 7:22-23

How come many will be ignorant of what is necessary to gain eternal life? Sadly, many people are selective about what they want from God and it invariably relates to improving their experience in this life, e.g. prosperity gospel.

David Clarkson, author of The Conviction of Hypocrites (1622–1686) lists spiritual things that many are ignorant of. He writes: “They consider not that there must be regeneration…that there must be a new creation…There must be a universal change in every part of the soul…There must be holiness in life… A renouncing of the world… Mortification… A taking up the cross.”

These can only be achieved by repentance, accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour thereby receiving the Holy Spirit to enable the believer to live a Christian life.

Those who are born again of the Holy Spirit will know what is needed. However, countless people who consider themselves Christians are closed to these truths and are ignorant about what God requires for salvation. These kinds of people will think far too highly of themselves. “Self-love will not suffer them to deal impartially with their souls,” says Clarkson. This self-love deceives the hypocrite and causes him to flatter himself with only positive opinions. Truly, God must open their eyes and remove their blindness if they are to be saved.

If someone is able to rightly judge himself to be a sinner, there is still one final hurdle to be faced. Being able to see oneself as he is, he must now see God clearly. Clarkson says that many fall victim to “misapprehensions of God.” People will often mistakenly suppose that God is more merciful than He actually is. They think that God will neglect justice in order to issue forgiveness, which He will not.

Clarkson characterized such a thought process like this: “Though I allow myself in this or that sin, and fall into it now and then, why it is but a little one, and God is gracious, he is not so strict and rigid as some would make him.”

People will often assume what God is like based on what they want Him to be like, instead of how the Bible describes Him. Is the Bible false? Is God a liar? When Jesus said: “I am the way,” was He mistaken? We can confidently answer these questions with a “No.” Therefore, God will not make an exception for anyone (and make Himself a liar) in order to pardon an unbeliever. People must know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and be born again by the Holy Spirit to receive eternal life.

CHRISTIANS – The Urgent Case for Jesus in Our World.

Christians  The Urgent Case for Jesus in our World / Greg Sheridan

Greg Sheridan widely-respected foreign editor for The Australian. has written an impassioned, informed and utterly compelling case for the truth and importance of Christianity in our lives. He presents a strong argument for the historical reliability of the New Testament, meets the living Jesus there, explores the extraordinary personality of Paul, celebrates Mary’s activism and examines the magnificent richness of John.

Filled with insights, intelligence, warmth and humour, Greg also introduces us to a range of fascinating Christians today, among them political leaders, and young activists offering the radical Christian interpretation of love to their generation. His book explores the journey of those who have been guided by faith, such as Gemma Sisia, whose school in Tanzania has transformed the lives of thousands of children, and the dynamic Chinese Christians pursuing their beliefs under harsh restrictions. He examines where Jesus can be found in popular culture and talks to Christian leaders – Pentecostal, Catholic, Evangelical and others – in Australia, the US and Britain.

At a time when the chasm of understanding between secularism and faith has never seemed wider, Christians is timely, relevant and convincing.

‘At the heart of the Christian story is the truth about the life of Jesus … Greg Sheridan’s book is a good read about Good News.’ Peter Comensoli, Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne

‘If there is ever going to be a Renaissance of Christian belief to save us from the dreariness of much secular humanism, it will come from a book like Christians. I will be buying it and giving it away to believers and sceptics alike.’

Watch this video: an unbeliever who knows and is impressed by Greg’s work as a journalist interviews the author. He now believes there is a valid case for God that needs to be explored.

https://fb.watch/7xML_9LI7z/

PERSECUTION IN THE “LAST DAYS” FOR PROCLAIMING TRUTH

Three Christian street evangelists are standing trial on Thursday (February 23rd, 2017) at the Bristol Magistrates’ Court in the U.K., facing public order offences for preaching the “uniqueness of Jesus Christ” and challenging homosexuality and the teachings of Islam.

Isis beheading 21 coptic Christians

Note the three issues: I contend they are clearly issues Jesus spoke of as “end times” indicators. 1. uniqueness of Jesus Christ, 2. challenging homosexuality and 3. Islam (greatest Antichrist religion – God has no Father, God has no Son, Ishmael is the heir of Abraham).

Are we preparing for Jesus return? Is the church prepared for increasing persecution?  “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.” Matthew 24:9. The beheading of Christians by ISIS in the Middle East and elsewhere, “all these are the beginning of sorrows”. Matthew 24:8.

Christian Concern has reported that Michael Overd, Adrian Clark and Michael Stockwell were accused by police of “challenging Islam” and “challenging homosexuality” for their preaching at a Bristol shopping area in July 2016.

The evangelists reportedly engaged with the crowd and pointed out the differences between Islam and Christianity, using references from the Bible and the Quran to speak of “God’s love, and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ.”

persecution-in-these-last-daysMike Overd, a street evangelist and client of the British group Christian Legal Centre in the U.K. (seen in this undated photo), has been charged under Section 5 of the Public Order Act with “causing offence” for public remarks where he drew a comparison between Jesus Christ and Muhammad, September 2014.

Overd was also charged in 2014 for “causing offence” when he publicly denounced the Islamic  prophet Muhammad for marrying a 9-year-old girl, and was subsequently interrupted by a police officer and forcefully removed from the area.

The officer at the scene accused Overd and his friends of purposefully trying to agitate the crowd, arguing that the preacher has “gone over the top” and “he’s just wound up people.”

The evangelists were taken to Patchway Custody Center in Bristol and held for several hours, after which they were charged under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and the Public Order Act 1986.

The three men are arguing that their freedom of speech and freedom of religion are being violated, and insisted that all they were doing was sharing the teachings of the Bible and responding to questions from the crowd.

“Mr Overd and his friends are motivated by love. They want to share the Good News of Jesus with people who might not otherwise hear it. Sometimes that means addressing the false claims of other religions or ideologies,” said Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre. “Robust debate is sometimes necessary, especially when objections are being raised or abuse hurled. We shouldn’t be afraid of it,” Williams added. “The aggressive treatment of Overd and his friends by the police and prosecution is shocking. The police should be defending freedom of speech, not clamping down on it.” Williams further argued that being “offensive” is a subjective accusation, as it goes down to people’s individual viewpoints. “This was not just an attack on freedom of speech but an abuse of power. We will not only be seeking the acquittal of these Christian men but seeking an apology from the Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset police, compensation and assurances that officers are better trained to protect freedom of expression,” she continued.
“We cannot allow the Gospel to be shut out of public debate. Please pray for a successful outcome to this important case,” she added.

CHRISTIANS -“HATEFUL, MEAN, BIGOTED, NARROW-MINDED”

Someone has said, “If I can define you, I can confine you.” Once the caricature “hateful, mean, bigoted, narrow- minded” attaches to believing Christians, we become identified through that false lens. Thus, for example, when we attempt to support religious freedom bills in legislatures, we are immediately defined as “haters.” Big businesses and the media target legislative members and engender public support for the idea that core religious rights that were long the subject of broad societal consensus, are in fact unjustifiable shields for “bigoted” religious people and institutions that must not be tolerated.

Marginalisation

Once the caricature is drawn, then it becomes easy to move to the next step—marginalisation.

Think of this, for example, why is it that there is no evangelical on the Supreme Court? Evangelicals are one of the largest minorities in the United States. But, our pro-life position and views on marriage are regarded as not acceptable and militate against an appointment to the Supreme Court—and beyond that, to appellate courts and district courts. Our views are simply unacceptable to the political powers that be and we are sidelined from the public square— marginalised.

us-supreme-court-memebersEvangelical Scalia DIED

Discrimination

Once you can make a caricature of a group and marginalise them, you can discriminate against them.

The biggest examples of that, from a legal point of view, are the recent cases before the Supreme Court of Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor. In both cases, the present administration forcefully sought to discriminate against persons who, because of religious belief, did not want to facilitate abortions. Those decisions hung by a slim thread in the Supreme Court. Hobby Lobby won by a 5-4 vote, and the Little Sisters of the Poor case was sent back down to the lower courts, in all likelihood, because a majority of opinion could not be reached on a divided 4-4 Court.

Another example that is impacting Assemblies of God colleges and universities as well as all schools who are members of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) is a recent change in the Department of Education (DOE). Christian institutions are now discriminated against because they hold to biblical teaching on sexual morality.

Next on the horizon is the possibility that accrediting associations will determine that a school which has behavioural standards for students regarding same-sex or gender identity relationships is a school not worthy of accreditation, and/or that companies, school boards, and graduate schools will not admit or employ graduates of schools who “discriminate” on the basis of sexual orientation and identity. Schools will either be forced to accept standards imposed on them or go out of business.

Persecution

Step one: make a caricature of persons committed to scriptural teaching on morality. Step two: marginalise them. Step three: discriminate against them. Finally, the last stage: persecute them.

This is what is pending in the California legislature as I write—the outright persecution of Christian institutions by a state that says, “We will attempt to humiliate and marginalise you if you don’t give in.”

What’s next? Unless present trends are reversed, I can envision a day not too far off in which faith-based para church educational and compassion institutions are forced to close if they retain biblical standards of sexual conduct for employment, or even requirements that employees, faculty, or students profess a Christian commitment.

The local church itself will be the last domino to fall in terms of persecution. Tax-exempt status may be lost. Ministers could lose the ministerial housing allowance. Donors may not be able to deduct charitable contributions. Churches which utilise their facilities for public events and compassion ministry, in addition to their times of worship, will be declared public places of accommodation and forced to provide marriage services to same-sex couples.

If you say, “Oh, that can never happen in America,” then let me remind you that we never thought a day would come when the White House would be lit up with the rainbow flag to celebrate a decision by the Supreme Court to legalise same-sex marriage.

I have never written anything like I am writing to you now. I realise that what I am writing paints a very dark picture. You are now asking yourself, but what can we do? Here are some suggestions.

Pray

There may be some who are cynical about a call to pray. But, we know the Lord hears the prayers of His people. Let’s take to heart 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” We must pray for a third Great Awakening to come to America.

Prayers of gratitude for the religious liberty we have enjoyed, and prayers of petition for its future protection should be an ongoing and regular part of our personal and corporate prayer life.

Engage

Use whatever means possible to exert your influence on our culture and political system. Be informed as a voter. Run as a candidate for office if you sense the Spirit asking that of you. Let your elected representatives hear from you on issues such as religious liberty protection.

It’s also vital that we understand that we advocate religious liberty for others, not just ourselves. It is against our religion to impose our religion. When we find persons, organisations, or religious bodies who stand with us on the First Amendment protection of the free exercise of religion, then we welcome their advocacy alongside our own.

Of course, being engaged requires being informed; helping those who worship in our churches every week to understand the nature of the challenges we face, honestly but without overstating, is a critical first step. Had Christians across Missouri truly understood what was at stake in the religious liberty bill that failed in that state legislature earlier this year, the outcome may have been different. We must educate in order to inspire action.

Watch Your Spirit

There’s a fascinating verse in Jude 9 that says, Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil in a dispute about the body of Moses, did not dare to pronounce upon him a railing judgement. But he said, “The Lord rebuke you!'” In other words, Michael did not behave like the devil in fighting the devil. We must take to heart the admonition of the apostle Paul,

“The servant of the Lord must not quarrel, but must be gentle toward all people …” Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will “grant them repentance to a know the truth” (2 Tim. 2:24–25).                                                                                                                                                                                         Let’s be gracious as we take our stand on issues that concern us.

Do Good

The world may not agree with our beliefs, but they cannot deny when we do good. As individual believers and as a church together we must continue to serve others. We must be known as people of compassion and mercy. We are for the just treatment of others and we help the poor, the needy, the addicted, the wounded, the lonely and the downtrodden.

Keep Doing the Main Things

Our first and foremost call is to preach and live the gospel. Let’s keep the main things the plain things, and the plain things the main things. We must fulfil both the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18–20) and the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:37–39). That’s our priority! Let’s never substitute evangelism and discipleship with political action. Let’s keep eternal matters and temporal matters in perspective.

Our Battle Is Spiritual

God loved the world and so must we. We cannot give others any reason to identify us as “haters” or “bigots.” The world will not be won by Christians who are shaking their fists at sinners. Something is a truism when it is true. This truism is true: “We must hate the sin and love the sinner.” “For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armour of God that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Eph. 6:12–13).

Rejoice

Nothing happening has caught the Lord by surprise. He told us we would be persecuted because of our loyalty to Him. But we are not to be angry about that or downcast. Instead, Jesus said: ”

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.12 Rejoice and be very glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in this manner they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:10–12).

Thank you for letting me share my heart with you on this vital matter of religious liberty. In every dark time, believers have learned to say anew, “Our Lord reigns!”

This an abbreviated letter (grievous warning) was sent out by George O. Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God (USA) and chair of The Assemblies of God Fellowship