THOUGHTS ON BEING A DISCIPLE OF CHRIST

DEEP GRATITUDE

On the way to Jerusalem he (Jesus) was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.Luke 17:11-19

The only thing we can ever offer to God is Deep Gratitude for HIS amazing, undeserved Grace.  In the above account, it is interesting that nine of the healed lepers (who presumably were Jews) lacked such gratitude because they did not see themselves as being in need of such grace, while the Samaritan ‘foreigner’ did!

A salutary warning to those of us, like me at 84 years of age, who have benefitted over many years from the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit: we can be too prone to take for granted our spiritual growth, and to think this growth is somehow our contribution to God, rather than His gift to us for which I am eternally grateful.  I like the verse of the old hymn about the Holy Spirit’s work in us: “And every virtue we possess and every victory won, and every thought of holiness, are His alone.” 

THOUGHTS ON MINISTRY

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.  Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God.  On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.  And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 4:1-3

What great comfort and instruction these verses provide for us as we labour in the work of the Gospel.  Once we have experienced for ourselves the rich and comprehensive blessing of God’s saving grace, we have an overwhelming desire to share this blessing with others, especially those close to us and those who are really struggling with the burdens of our troubled world.

The Apostle Paul reminds us of some very important truths to keep in mind as we struggle.

Firstly, our own salvation, and our taking hold of it, was never a result of our work/efforts, but is only ever brought about by God’s Sovereign Mercy!

Secondly, and because of this, we must never lose heart – If God managed to soften my proud, rebellious, self-centred, self-sufficient heart, he can do the same for anyone else as well!

Thirdly, we must never resort to using the world’s tactics/weapons, or to ‘watering down’ the claims of the Gospel, just to ‘get people in’.  As he wrote to the Christians in Corinth: “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4).

Fourthly, although it might be twisted and deadened by SIN, Man-made-in-the-image-of-God still has a conscience that the Holy Spirit can use to convict of “sin and righteousness and Judgement” (John 16:8)!

Fifthly, it is not our job to change people – nor is it ever within our skill-set!  Only God can remove the ‘veil’ that prevents people from coming to repentance-and-faith and thus dissociating themselves from all those who are ’perishing’.  Our only job is to proclaim the Good News, Faithfully, Persistently and Prayerfully, whenever and wherever we can, and then to leave the outcome in God’s hands (1 Corinthians 3:6)! 

THE ROAD THAT LEADS TO LIFE

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” ~ Matthew 7:13

This is a sobering verse and it is obvious that there is only one gate that leads to eternal life. The answer Jesus gave to Thomas makes it crystal clear there is only one way our Heavenly Father provided to break the curse of death that Adam brought on mankind.

“For our sake He (God the Father) made Him (God the Son) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

The narrow gate is the gate of His righteousness!

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him,Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

It is very significant that David was given a vision of the gate even before Jesus paid the price of his and our salvation – “you have become my salvation”.

Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.Psalm 118:19-21

I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD. The LORD has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death.” Psalm 118:17-18

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit that now indwells your Spirit but strive to do as Jesus did and pray daily to the Father “not my will but Yours be done.” God the Father will answer that prayer ensuring that the Holy Spirit directs your steps and you are an instrument of righteousness to God.

Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” Romans 6:11-13

“By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.” 1 John 2:5-6

EASTER – ALL ABOUT ETERNAL LIFE

During this Passion Week, it’s fitting that we turn our eyes to the cross. No tragedy could be greater than God’s blameless Son being slaughtered without mercy in horrid crucifixion. Yet as a result of His suffering, countless people will spend eternity with God in joyful celebration and endless pleasure. Jesus Himself will be forever exalted, and all will recognize Him as Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Eternal benefits are ours, all because He suffered.

He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Isaiah 53:5-7 NIV

When they came to the place called “The Skull,” they crucified Jesus there, and the two criminals, one on his right and the other on his left.”  Luke 23:33 GNT

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”  1 Peter 2:24-25 NIV

My entire theology can be condensed into four words, “JESUS DIED FOR ME.”  Charles Spurgeon

LIVING ETERNAL NOW

It is time to rejoice, time to be thankful, time to speak the praises of Him who is faithful even when we are not.  It is time to know and to look forward to dwelling with Him in the eternal realm. It is time to know that the things of this world are unreliable, and not to trust in them, but to trust in Him who alone is entirely reliable, in all of life! 

Bible prophecy tells us that in the last days before Jesus returns the world is going to turn away from God and His Word. It is already happening. God has also said that many who think they are Christians will fall away.

And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.Matthew 24:10-13

Hence, it is important we remind ourselves of God’s promises and to not grieve the Holy Spirit.

available on Amazon or request a copy from me ron@bakb.com.au

Having believed you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of His purchased possession” Ephesians 1:13b-14

Christ … who has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 1:22

Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God who has also given us the Spirit as a guarantee.  2 Corinthians 5:5

“He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

“The Lord Jesus Christ will confirm you to the end.”  1 Corinthians 1:8

“The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29

“Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

“Begotten, born again, into a living hope, an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4

“Neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:38-39.

That’s it – a cast iron guarantee!  It leaves only one question – is my guarantor reliable?  Can He be trusted?  

If we are faithless, He remains faithful.”  2 Timothy 2:13

ETERNITY – WHERE WILL YOU SPEND IT?

For over twenty five years, from 1930 to 1956, the people of Sydney woke up each day to a one-word sermon—”Eternity”—handwritten in white chalk or yellow crayon (when raining) on footpaths, train station platforms, and perimeter walls lining the city’s many walkways and streets. Each day a fresh batch of graffiti rendered in beautiful copperplate lettering style  would appear at places where there weren’t any the previous night. Somehow, for twenty five years, a mysterious figure had managed to sneak into the city every night and leave his presence on the city’s walls and sidewalks. It attracted the ire of Sydney City Council at first, but as the weeks become months, and the months became years, the “Eternity” graffiti became an iconic symbol of the city. Pedestrians stepped around and over the words, and street sweepers and cleaners left the elegant writings untouched. This is some way explains why the “Eternity” graffiti illuminated on the Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of new year’s eve celebration in 2000. The real explanation, God orchestrated it so that many worldwide would be impacted by the “Eternity” message. Arthur Stace was illiterate so it was obvious, certainly to Arthur, that God had initiated it. “I couldn’t understand it, and I still can’t,” Arthur later told in an interview.. But Arthur did know that God had asked him to do it. Arthur was obedient to go out on the streets of Sydney everyday, rain or shine, until the day before he died.

eternity-sydney-1
The “Eternity” graffiti illuminated on the Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of new year’s eve celebration in 2000. Photo credit: National Geographic

The mysterious figure behind the phenomenon, who was to become the most famous graffiti artist in Australia’s history, managed to keep his identity a secret until one morning in June 1956, when he was caught in the act. That morning, Reverend Lisle M. Thompson, who preached at the Burton Street Baptist Church, saw a church cleaner sneak out a piece of chalk from his pocket and write the word on the footpath.

Rev. Thompson approached the cleaner and asked, “Are you Mr. Eternity?”, to which the cleaner replied, “Guilty, your honour.” Soon after that encounter, the Sunday Telegraph published an interview with the artist and the mystery that had baffled Sydney for over 25 years was finally revealed. The cleaner’s name was Arthur Malcolm Stace.

arthur-stace-1
A rare photo of Arthur Stace – “Mr. Eternity”.

Born in 1885 in Redfern, Stace’s childhood and much of his adulthood was marked by abject poverty. His parents were alcoholics, and his sisters ran a brothel. In order to survive, he resorted to stealing bread and milk and searching for scraps of food in bins. At the age of 12, Stace became a ward of the state and worked briefly in a coal mine. As a teenager, he became an alcoholic and was subsequently sent to jail at 15 for drunkenness. His twenties were spent running liquor between pubs and brothels, and working as a lookout for gambling dens. During the First World War, Stace found work as a laborer with the Australian Imperial Force, but his recurring bouts of bronchitis and pleurisy led him to be discharged.

Stace finally found his calling in November 1932, when he went to listen to a Baptist preacher named John Ridley give a sermon. In a homily titled “Echoes of Eternity“, Ridley declared: “Eternity, Eternity, I wish that I could sound or shout that word to everyone in the streets of Sydney. You’ve got to meet it, where will you spend Eternity?“. The words so captivated Stace that at that very moment, Stace pulled a piece of chalk he had in his pocket, bent down and wrote the word “Eternity” on the church floor.

Even though he was illiterate and could hardly write his own name legibly, the word ‘Eternity‘ came out smoothly, in a beautiful copperplate script. Arthur had to ask the person next to him what he had written.

God has a calling for each one of us, what is yours? Don’t know, then get into prayer until you do. Also, will you be obedient as Arthur was to carry it out regardless of the cost?

The story of Arthur Stace (Acorn Press, 2017)

WHY THE FEAR OF GOD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM

A good article with the same name by Pastor Jack Wellman on http://www.patheos,com.

There is a misconception about the fear of God, but that’s where true wisdom begins.

Fearing God

Fear is not always bad. It keeps us alive, it keeps us from hurting ourselves, it keeps us from hurting others, fear makes us take our children or ourselves to the doctor. Fear keeps former alcoholics away from social gatherings where alcohol may be served, so fear has kept people alive and out of trouble, but it can also become debilitating if it’s an irrational fear, however, the fear of God is not this kind of fear. It’s not the fear of being struck dead or cast into hell because God gives us a choice. Jesus said, Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36).

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear

If you reject Christ as your one and only hope, then you have every reason to fear. Jesus said we should “not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). For believers, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love”. (1 John 4:18). Believers fear God, but it’s not the fear of judgment. Their sins were placed upon Christ. This fear is a deep, holy, reverential fear and respect for God and His Word. Fearing God means we obey God and His Word. That is the fear of the Lord, and that is where wisdom begins

Seeking Wisdom: To have wisdom is to have the ability to think and act using past knowledge and life’s experiences, and then understanding how these two relate. Wisdom is having a common sense and insight that only time, experience, and education can bring. Based on this, we can act with confidence in making choices or decisions, and knowing when it is best to avoid certain situations. Most people gain wisdom the hard way…by making mistakes, but these are often the best teachers. If you’re faced with an important decision, then pray to God and ask Him for godly wisdom. James tells us that “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). Scripture is full of wisdom. Moses wrote that we are to “Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples.” (Deuteronomy 4:6a).

LIVING ETERNAL NOW

Jonathan Edwards resolved “that I will live so as I shall wish I had lived when I come to die.” Before he died, he helped spark the First Great Awakening, became president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton), and is widely considered America’s greatest theologian.

Edwards was right to live each day in light of his death: he died at the age of fifty-five from the new smallpox vaccination.

If you knew that you would die next month of COVID-19, what would you do to prepare? What would you do or stop doing? What changes would you make to prepare to meet God?

Can I suggest you start living now with an eternal mindset Not only is the prospect you can die at anytime but also we now have the prospect of Jesus returning, perhaps in your lifetime.’

Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.1 Timothy 6:12

Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for My sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.Mark 10:29-30

available as an eBook on Amazon and as a trade paperback book from me. mailed anywhere in the world for AUS$20. email me your address to ron@bakb.com.au and click donate icon on Home page to make donation.

THANK YOU FOR THE CROSS

A message you need to imbibe. Imbibe is not a word I use. It just came to mind and it means “to take or receive into the mind”. The Holy Spirit does His work to give you the right word at the right time. Hopefully, the message will not only be received into your mind but it will inspire, even empower you to act and step out to do what God has for you to do in these “last days”.

GOD’S WRATH

God is in control of His universe, anyone who does not believe this will face God’s wrath. His Kingdom will come. Jesus will rule and reign on this earth.

Why do the nations rage and the people’s plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then He will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in His fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.
Psalm 2:1-6

Jesus will rule and reign in a new Jerusalem that will be on the highest mountain on earth

ETERNAL LIFE OR THE WRATH OF GOD ARE THE ONLY TWO OPTIONS:The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.John 3:35-36

WE ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE – HIS CREATION REVEALS THE TRUTH: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.Romans 1:18-29

GOD POURED OUT HIS WRATH ONCE PREVIOUSLY WITH NOAH’S FLOOD:The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord.Genesis 6:5-8

Replica of the Ark built by Johannes Huiber located in Holland. Answers in Genesis have also built a life sized Noah’s Ark in Cincinnati USA

GOD KNEW THAT THE WORLD WOULD IGNORE HIS SECOND WARNING OF COMING WRATH. WILL YOU?:Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of His (Jesus) coming? For, ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.2 Peter 3:3-6

JESUS GAVE US THIS WARNING ABOUT HIS SECOND COMING AND WRATH: “For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in His day. But first, He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation (Jesus was speaking to His disciples just prior to His crucifixion. They were asking Him about the “end times”) . Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” Luke 17:24-27

INSPIRING SPEECH – PRO ETERNAL LIFE

One of the most moving moments in the Republican Convention was the speech by Sister Dede Byrne, a surgeon and army veteran of the War in Afghanistan, who joined the order of the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Sister Dede Byrne speaks at the 2020 Republican National Convention

Here is an excerpt:

“Humility is at the foundation of our order, which makes it very difficult to talk about myself. But I can speak about my experience working for those fleeing war-torn and impoverished countries all around the world. Those refugees all share a common experience. They have all been marginalized, viewed as insignificant, powerless and voiceless. And while we tend to think of the marginalized as living beyond our borders, the truth is the largest marginalized group in the world can be found here in the United States. They are the unborn.

As Christians, we first met Jesus as a stirring embryo in the womb of an unwed mother and saw him born nine months later in the poverty of the cave. It is no coincidence that Jesus stood up for what was just and was ultimately crucified because what he said was not politically correct or fashionable. As followers of Christ, we are called to stand up for life against the politically correct or fashionable of today. We must fight against a legislative agenda that supports and even celebrates destroying life in the womb. Keep in mind, the laws we create define how we see our humanity. We must ask ourselves: What we are saying when we go into a womb and snuff out an innocent, powerless, voiceless life? As a physician, I can say without hesitation: Life begins at conception. While what I have to say may be difficult for some to hear, I am saying it because I am not just pro-life, I am pro-eternal life. I want all of us to end up in heaven together someday. Which brings me to why I am here today.

Donald Trump is the most pro-life president this nation has ever had, defending life at all stages. His belief in the sanctity of life transcends politics. President Trump will stand up against Biden-Harris, who are the most anti-life presidential ticket ever, even supporting the horrors of late-term abortion and infanticide. Because of his courage and conviction, President Trump has earned the support of America’s pro-life community. Moreover, he has a nationwide of religious standing behind him. You’ll find us here with our weapon of choice, the rosary. Thank you, Mr. President, we are all praying for you.”