Calling Witnesses (Part 3)

April 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Luke, Salvation | 9 Comments
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The witnesses who have testified so far against the unconverted sinner have been:
1. True Christians
2. Praying People
3. Godly Men and Women of the Bible

Now I call:

FOURTH WITNESSES: DEPARTED CHRISTIAN LOVED ONES

These witnesses are called to rebut the claims that are often made by those who are unconverted: “My best witness could not be here. I had a friend or a family member who knew the Lord, and this person would vouch for me and tell you that I’m not so bad as to need a savior. But this person has gone on into the afterlife.”

Therefore, I will call such a person to testify now. This person will not testify in your favor as you suppose. This person wants very badly for you to come to Jesus. Your departed Christian loved ones are in Heaven now, and though they may have shed many tears for your condition while they were alive, they can not cry for you now. Surely they prayed for you often and fervently while they were in this world, but they have other, far more pleasant, occupations now. They are engaged in full-time worship of their Lord – in-person worship – joy unspeakable. It is not completely clear from the Bible if these loved ones will be present when you are called before God on the day of judgment, but, if they are, and if they hear God’s sentence that you are condemned, and if they hear God’s command for you to depart from His presence for all eternity, their response will not be the response they would have had while still living in this earthly realm. No, their response before the judgment throne when you are cast out will be, “Amen, God is good and He has done what is right.” You see, no one, having experienced God’s love, His unveiled presence in Heaven, the full application of His free grace, will take sides against Him. All tongues will confess that He is just. These people pitied you while they viewed you through the lens of God’s common grace, but if you remain unconverted, God will lift the restraining grace which you experienced in your earthly life, and you will be revealed for the monstrous rebel against your Creator that you truly are. As one preacher said, all of creation will stand and applaud that God has rid the earth of such a thing as you.

FIFTH WITNESSES: THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN IN GENERAL

These witnesses are in glory now. One instant after their very first glimpse of the glory of their Lord, they realized how foolish it was for them to have wasted any time whatsoever bickering and squabbling over who may or may not have wronged them while they were here in this world. It no longer matters to them in the least whether someone took something that rightfully belonged to them, or whether someone said something hurtful about them that wasn’t true. Those common worldly occurrences do not hinder their joy one bit. All their tears and regrets have been wiped away. When they appear before God for judgment, His beloved Son steps into their place, and says, “Father, this one has trusted Me – His sin was put to My account, and I have paid it all.”

I know that you would probably like the opportunity to cross-examine these witnesses. “Aren’t you bored there,” you want to ask them, “just worshiping God for all eternity?”

How foolish your question seems to them! Their very first glimpse of God’s glory seemed to last an eternity of eternities and it was all pure bliss. And that first glance was just the start of the start. It only gets better and it never ends. There is no such thing as boredom in Heaven.

SIXTH WITNESSES: UNREDEEMED SINNERS IN HELL

These witnesses are the opposite of the previous witnesses. They have gone to the grave without trusting Jesus. Their pain and torment will make it difficult for them to testify.

And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

Luke 16:22-24

As an unconverted sinner, their testimony might shock you. Jesus used Gehenna to illustrate something of the nature of hell. Gehenna was the dump outside the city where the fire was not quenched and where the worms that lived on the garbage never died. It is not a place of relief for unconverted sinners – not a place where you will be able to say, “At least I don’t have to listen to preaching there – no more ‘holy rollers’ to invite me to church. No one trying to tell me about Jesus – none of those ‘religious hypocrites’ there.” That is not the testimony of these witnesses.

Instead, their testimony is “Oh! – how I wish I would have believed God’s Word! How I wish now my idiotic pride would not have kept me from admitting I was wrong and God was right! How I wish I hadn’t believed the evolutionists and the agnostics – they supported me and encouraged me when I was alive – but where are they now? Where are the people who told me, ‘Everybody gets to come to God in different ways?’ They told me that it was silly to think that Jesus of Nazareth was the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that nobody would come to God the Father if they didn’t come through Him. Now, I am separated from God, I am in darkness – I am trapped – I will never get out… and I am in torment.”

If you are an unconverted sinner, even those who sided with you to their end are now testifying against you.

SEVENTH WITNESSES: THE ANGELS

Next, I call to the stand the Heavenly host of ministering spirits that we call angels. They are servants of God. They are His messengers and His army. They also minister to living Christians. Now, however, they will testify against the unsaved.

These angels are not the red-faced little babies playing harps that you may have seen in greeting cards or curio cabinets. These creatures move among the spirit world. Whether they are on an errand for God, engaged in battle against Satan and his minions, or protecting one of God’s servants in his ministry at any given time, we do not know. However, we do know that they rejoice in Heaven when a sinner is saved. Their testimony is most likely going to be that there are times when they pass by an unsaved person who suddenly uses God’s name as part of a curse word, or who utters the precious name of Jesus Christ because he is exasperated or frustrated over something. In righteous outrage the angel lifts his fiery sword to take vengeance on behalf of the Almighty, and it is only the loving longsuffering grace of the Almighty that restrains him. These angels have not disobeyed the Lord since the rebellion of Lucifer caused the banishment and condemnation of one-third of their number. They must find it almost unthinkable and immeasurably horrible that you would rebel daily against your Creator, and even more so that you would then reject His Son Who bled and died for your soul!

You have heard the testimony of a number of witnesses. They are all against you, and yet they plead with you to turn to Christ. You might say, “I’m not in any kind of shape to come to Jesus… I don’t dress like a church person, I don’t talk like a church person, I don’t even think like a church person…” My friend, that is irrelevant. The issue is not what you look like – it’s Who you look to. God in His grace and mercy has allowed you to make it this far. Do not turn away from the testimony you have heard with the poison of unforgiven sin still in your system. Look to Jesus today: LOOK AND LIVE.

If you’ve already looked to Christ by faith – if you’ve already trusted and received Him as your Savior – what a world of good it will do you to look again – look often – look every chance you get! There’s nothing more encouraging for a Christian who’s on a long arduous journey home than to look upon the One Who saved him to begin with.

Calling Witnesses (Part 1)

March 2, 2011 at 10:16 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Salvation | 9 Comments
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One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

Deuteronomy 19:15

Lord, the testimony of Your Word is so plain, so clear. I pray that Your Spirit would make it even clearer as we read it. I pray that no one would be confused. I pray, Lord, that You would present us with the clear choice You always have: to reject You or trust You. To doubt or believe. To obey or rebel. I pray that even the rejecters, and the doubters, and the rebels would have a clear understanding, but, by Your power and Your divine will, I pray that all would repent, believe, trust, and obey. In Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.

And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. But neither so did their witness agree together. And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death. And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.

Mark 14:55-65

Witnesses can be unpredictable. Generally, the testimony of many is more convincing than the testimony of one. I have seen instances where a parade of witnesses – all expected to testify for someone – actually ended up testifying against that person. You might be reading this as someone who has heard the testimony of at least one witness who has testified before you of the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Someone, at some time, has told you that Jesus Christ was and is the Son of God; that He lived a perfect, sinless life; that He died on the Cross for the sins of the world; that He was buried; that on the third day He rose again from the dead; that He was seen by hundreds of witnesses – physically, bodily resurrected; that He ascended to Heaven; that He lives today, ready, willing, and able to save the souls of all who trust Him; that – even today – even RIGHT NOW – if you will repent of your sins, believe these things about Him are true, call upon Him to save you, and receive Him as your Savior – He will place His seal on your eternal soul, He will be your Lord and Savior, and you will one day go to Heaven, to be with Him forever.

Maybe you have heard these things from at least one witness, but yet you remain unconvinced. When I ask you if you know for sure that you will go to Heaven one day, your answer is:

“I hope so.”
“It depends.”
“I’m not sure.”
“Nobody can know that.”
“If others in my church are going, I’m with them, because I’ve done what they’ve done. If they’re going, I’m going too.”
“I’m trusting the fact that I’ve been baptized.”
“I’m trusting my own good deeds and good works.”
“I’m trusting Brother So-and-So or Sister So-and-So or Pastor or Minister or Father So-and-So – if they’re going, I’m going too – I’m at least as good as them.”

In case someone reading this remains unconvinced of the Truth, I intend to call a number of witnesses. I could call on many to testify for the Lord – to proclaim the wonderful change He has made in their lives. But instead I want to address those who may have heard those types of testimonies before yet remain unconvinced.

The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Psalm 14:2-3

If you are not seeking God, what are you seeking instead?

For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.

Philippians 2:21, emphasis added

You want your own way instead of Jesus Christ’s way. Therefore, instead of calling witnesses for the Lord, I will call witnesses against you. These are not “hostile witnesses.” They are not testifying against you because they are mad at you. They love you. In fact, they are in a great state of anxiety over the condition of your soul. They long to see you saved. But make no mistake – while you refuse to surrender to Christ their testimony is “against” you.

FIRST WITNESSES: TRUE CHRISTIANS

When I ask them about what it is like to be a true Christian, you will observe something remarkable: They know about their future rather than wonder about their future. If you are a child of disobedience, you may have slandered these witnesses. You may have called them a “bunch of hypocrites.” You may have heard them say they were Christians, but then you saw them commit a sin, and it made you doubt their authenticity. Or you may have ridiculed these witnesses: “Here comes Billy Bible. Here comes Holy Roller Susie.” You may may have even persecuted these witnesses: “Get out of here with that religious talk.” Maybe these witnesses are the types of people who offend you because they appeared to be “too Holy” – too much interested in talking about God. But let’s get the roles straight: You are the rebel; they are obedient. Rebellion pays tribute to obedience in the form of insults, mocking, and threats.

In their testimony you will notice both a surety and a fear. Not a fear of you, but a fear for you. They have a fear of the horror of your sin and the price you must pay for your sin if you will not trust Christ. For if you die without Christ, your future is almost indescribable – and indescribably horrifying.

We don’t say much about hell these days, but the Bible is clear.

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:28

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

II Corinthians 5:11

These witnesses have a fear not only for your future, but also a fear of their God. That fear is a blessed fear. It is the fear of a son’s fervent desire to please his father. These witnesses – because they do fear God – do not fear anything else. On the witness stand they testify lovingly toward you, and they tell you that if you do not fear God, you must fear everything else.

Would you cross-examine these witnesses? Would you ask them, “Why should I trade fear of death, fear of eternity, fear of hell, for fear of your God?”

They will easily answer with irrefutable truth. They will say, by God’s power, my fear of Him has given me a peace that defies your ability to understand.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7, emphasis added

They will say, “I know I have a Master, and that makes me a servant, but who would not want to serve a Master Who has died for His servants, and who wants better things for them than they want for themselves?”

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest… For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28; 30

These witnesses have established a strong case against the unconverted, but I have many more witnesses to follow, which I will continue calling next time.

The True Jewish Justification

October 20, 2010 at 11:30 am | Posted in Romans | 4 Comments
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Some people were already arguing against the doctrine that Jesus had given to Paul. They were saying, “Look, if he’s teaching that God’s Law was given to point out that it could not be kept, then why should we even do good? Let us do more evil to bring about more good.” But the Holy Spirit through Paul says that God is righteous. He is not slack concerning His promise. He requires faithfulness, because He is faithful. He can judge our unrighteousness, because He is righteous. How do the just live? Or what do they live by? Faith.

The Holy Spirit sums up this part of the argument by declaring everyone guilty.

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Romans 3:10

He is quoting, opening, and alleging Psalm 14:1-3: “[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.] The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

They were not “seeking” God. By saying, “No God,” they were also saying no “to” God.

The way people try to justify sin would make you think sin was actually good for you.

I need to get more focused on how I feel. If I feel good doing something, then it must be right. If somebody tells me something, I hope it is “confirmed in my spirit,” so that I don’t have check the Bible – that’s too confusing, that’s too much hard work.

typical church-goer

Satan wants you to believe that the best law to follow is: “Do what feels right – that’s the best thing for you.” But even if we did have some excuse to sin, the sin still wouldn’t be good for us.

Destruction and misery are in their ways:

Romans 3:16

That’s not only the misery and destruction of the people I sin against, the people I hurt with my sin. No, that’s my own misery and destruction, too. By way of illustration, every time a doctor tells a smoker that he’s dying of lung cancer, he must be secretly thinking, “Does that surprise you?” People who smoke cigarettes may honestly enjoy it, but they can’t honestly say that they thought it was going to be good for their health. If I know the first thing about the Bible, why would I be surprised when sin causes me to get hurt, to get sick, to cause division among my friends and neighbors?

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:23

These are easy-to-understand verses that can be used to show an unbeliever the way to salvation.

Romans Chapters 3-6 are also key to understanding the doctrine of justification.

When you read the Bible, pray for the Holy Spirit’s help in understanding the Scriptures. If I had a book about electrical wiring, and I wanted to know what something in the book meant, I would like to be able to call and ask the electrician/author what he meant. The Holy Ghost is the Author of the Bible. He explains how we can be “justified” before God – how we can be counted as “righteous” before God, beginning in Romans 3:23 and on into Romans Chapter 4.

What does “righteousness” mean? It means being “right” with God.

To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Romans 3:26

Because everyone has sinned, no one can be right with God because of what he or she does. How, then, can we be right with God? We can be right with God if He forgives us. The Bible says He forgives us if we believe and trust in Jesus. Then He views us as being right with Him.

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Romans 3:24

Then, what does God expect from us when He sees us as justified or “right” with Him? He expects us to do good things.

Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

Romans 3:31

Romans Chapter 4 addresses the misconception the Jews had about their ancestral father, Abraham.

What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Romans 4:1-3

Abraham was “counted as righteous.” We might say he was “saved” by his “belief” – by “faith.” Not only Abraham in Genesis, but David, in the Psalms, knew that their works couldn’t outweigh their sin.

Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

Romans 4:6-7

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

Psalm 32:1-2

It is not the man who hasn’t transgressed or the man who hasn’t sinned who is right with God. It is the man to whom the Lord has not imputed iniquity. David understood that the truly blessed man of God had his sins covered, and his transgressions forgiven, and his iniquity was not imputed to him or counted against him.

Will the flood waters call us to repentance, to seek forgiveness? For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.

Psalm 32:6

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

Psalm 32:11

The Holy Spirit knew that the Jews would point to Abraham’s circumcision and say, “Wait a minute, Paul, you told us that outward circumcision didn’t count as righteousness. Abraham is the one who received the sign of circumcision.”

So the Holy Spirit has Paul say, “Yes, but look at when he was circumcised.”

Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

Romans 4:9-12

Abraham was counted as righteous first because of faith, then the circumcision was received as a sign and an outward seal. That’s how the ordinance of baptism is supposed to work for New Testament Christians. It does not save us, but it is a sign that marks us as believers.

What is the specific example of Abraham’s faith? When did he believe God, and not hold to belief in the natural?

And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

Romans 4:19-22

We have a common expression whereby we say someone is “as good as dead.” That’s how Abraham was when Sara got pregnant.

Who are you going to believe? The television anchorman on the evening news or God? The “scientist” who tells you the earth is billions of years old or God? We all have faith in something. And we really don’t struggle with faith in the natural. Most people will plop down in a chair they’ve never sat in before without a second thought.

Romans 4:21 says Abraham was fully persuaded. Are you fully persuaded? Or are you like King Agrippa: “almost persuaded?” 90% persuaded is not really persuaded at all.

Atheists Aren’t Real

January 30, 2009 at 12:21 pm | Posted in ProfessingAtheists | 10 Comments
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There is no such thing as a real “atheist.” According to Romans 1:18, people who pretend that they do not believe in God, actually not only believe in “a” God, but, deep down, they know that the Hebrew and Christian God of the Bible is the One True God. They don’t like this, so they “hold this truth in unrighteousness.” In other words, they make a great effort to push it down, or hold it down, so they don’t have to think about it and feel conviction. This is also the truth within Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1. Fools who deny the existence of God are only trying to convince themselves of what they cannot really believe. Even in specifics related to the effect of God’s wrath on the world’s geological history, the Bible tells us that people try to be “willingly ignorant” (II Peter 3:5). As one preacher put it, “willingly ignorant” means “dumb on purpose.” People’s unrighteous lives may give the appearance of integrity to the profession of their “atheism,” but the fact is, they are fighting hard against, or running away from, what they know to be true.


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