Tags: altar calls, Christ alone, faith alone, Jesus Christ, Mark 16, Matthew 11, salvation invitations, The Truth
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
Are you struggling to believe the truth about your sin? You need to know that the Bible says that your sin is against God (Romans 3:23; Psalm 51:4), and that God, Who is just, righteous, and holy, will not let your sin go unpunished.
Have you faced the truth about eternity? Your life here on earth will not be the extent of your existence. Your soul is going to leave your body when you die, and you are going to face God, Who will either welcome you into Heaven or cast you into hell.
Do you find it difficult to believe the Bible’s promise that the gift of salvation is a free gift that you must receive by grace through faith alone? You cannot earn it or pay for it or add anything of your own merit to it, and you do not deserve it.
If you are struggling with any or all of these truths, do not give up. Believing in Christ can be a time of violent struggle for many people. You will either struggle violently to get away from the drawing power of the Holy Spirit, or you will submit and be drawn to repent of your sin, and trust Christ. You may even be struggling violently against your own pride, or peer pressure, or some lie which has led you to believe you don’t need a Savior because you are not in trouble.
The fact is we are all sinners. We all deserve God’s wrath. None of us deserve to go to Heaven.
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
The Kingdom of Heaven will suffer (“put up with”) your violence if you have the attitude of a desperate sinner in desperate need of a Savior. Salvation is a gift that Christ offers to you, but an offer alone does not make a gift. An offer must be received to be a gift. Will you receive it today?
Tags: altar calls, construction workers, fear of falling, fear of heights, Genesis 32, Paul Washer, salvation invitations, salvation testimonies, skyscrapers, the Gospel
And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh. Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank.
There are regulations in place these days for the safety of men who work on skyscrapers. They are required to be harnessed. They wear straps and belts and they follow rules designed to make sure that they are not in real danger of falling. But it was not always so.
Years and years ago, the men who built the skyscrapers that make up the skyline of big cities like New York and Chicago and Houston had a special knack for working at dizzying and terrifying heights. They became so accustomed to walking on beams and girders with nothing to hold onto for balance, that they hardly noticed anymore the perilous conditions under which they existed every day.
They strode back and forth, over and around, in and out of the maze of the steel frameworks that extended 50, 60, 100 stories into the sky. They no longer noticed the gusts of wind, the creaking of the infrastructure, the shadows and glaring sunlight. You may have seen this picture of the construction workers balanced on each end of a suspended beam, eating their lunch in midair, as if they were on a bench at the park and not precariously balanced thousands of feet from a gruesome mortality.
They became sure-footed without thinking about it and forgot about the danger. Until one day. Once in a while, one of these workers would be strolling at a rapid clip, a riveting gun in one hand, his lunch pail in the other hand, and his work boot would slide on a loose bolt, maybe a piece of paper from the foreman’s plans, maybe a tiny puddle of water, and suddenly – his arms began to pinwheel – he teetered out into the abyss – and like a bolt of lightning he suddenly realized where he was and what was happening. This fall would not result in a skinned knee or even a bloody nose crunching into the ground. No, this fall would result in 60 seconds of gut-wrenching screaming, followed by certain death. His co-workers wouldn’t even be able to identify anything except the greasy spot and a pock-mark in the earth. Desperately, he reaches out – for something – for anything – and he seizes hold of a nearby girder. He holds this girder in a death-grip. His whole world has taken a seismic shift, and his reality has narrowed to one thing and one thing only: DO NOT LET GO OF THIS BEAM.
Completely gone is the sure-footed, fearless skywalker. No more careless disregard for the height. His friends come to his rescue, but they are utterly unable to pry his fingers from the beam. He is stark white, fixated on the distance to the earth below, and his hands have cleaved unto the life-saving girder. Eventually, his fingers must be pried loose with a crow-bar, breaking several of them. He will never scale a skyscraper again. He will never be the same.
When I was younger I was like those construction workers who worked on skyscrapers. But my paths were not beams of steel 80 stories above the ground. My paths were the paths of sin. I grew up in a part of the country where men solved their problems at the bottom of a bottle or at the end of a fist. And I was well on my way to being just like them. I was extremely well-acquainted and sure-footed with sin. I lied just because I liked to lie. I had thoughts about girls – and would have made those thoughts a reality if I could – that were so wicked and perverse that if I told anyone the least offensive of those thoughts, no one would ever be my friend or speak to me again. I would hurt anyone that I could – including my parents, grandparents, teachers, and friends – if I could get an advantage by doing so. I loved me more than anyone else and I gave all my worship to me. I would have told you I believed in God, but I had made up a god with my own mind who could help me out on report card day and keep me from getting in too much trouble, but who really didn’t mind my sin all that much, and who thought I was a pretty swell fellow. In my imagination he was keeping track of my good deeds versus my bad deeds to see if I could go to heaven one day, but I was pretty sure that he would slip his finger on the scale on the day of judgment to get me in, because, after all, heaven just wouldn’t be heaven without me there.
I don’t want to give you the impression that I was noble in my sin, either. I was not like Robin Hood, robbing from the rich to give to the poor, or like James Dean, struggling against a society that just didn’t “get me.” Most of my sins – I thought – were secret, so I can’t brag about how “tough” or even “rebellious” I was when it came to authority figures. But one day, I heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and my foot slipped on the blood which had poured down Calvary onto the beam of my sin. And, clutching desperately, I grabbed for Jesus, and I have never let go. It is His strength that strengthens my hands and fingers. Now I do not walk with a physical limp like Jacob, but I am no longer completely “in-step” with the ways of this world. When I am yielded to the Spirit there is something different about my “walk” that should be noticeable to others. Jesus allowed me to grab hold of Him, wrestle with Him, and get the “blessing.” But my world has never tilted back. We must see what we need to be saved from. We must see the One Who can save us. We must reach out without pride – with our sense of self-sufficiency completely broken. And we must never forget what we were leaning and wheeling toward when He caught us and saved us.
If you’ve never had a moment like that, then how are you going to love Him? How are you going to see Him for Who He really is? How are you going to see yourself for who you really are? And how are you going to serve Him when nobody else is? Jacob dared to wrestle with the Lord because He was scared, and the Lord let him prevail and blessed him. Your sin ought to cause you to wrestle with God, not flee from Him.
Tags: Acts 16, altar calls, belief, Jesus Christ, Romans 14, salvation invitations, saving faith, standing before God, the Gospel
I’m going to tell you something surprising: I can tell the future… Well, not “the” future. Not everything about the future, but one thing that will happen to every single one of us in the future. The event that I know is in the future of every single person reading this is that, one day, we will all stand before the Lord.
But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
I am very blessed because I know exactly what’s going to happen to me after I die. But here is where my ability to see the future becomes limited. I know that I will stand before the Lord with my sins forgiven – with the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ having paid for my sins. I know that my future is a future I do not deserve, even though it is a glorious future – because of God’s grace. But I can’t say the same for you. I hope and pray that your future is just as glorious, but the thing I know about myself – yet cannot know for sure about anyone else – is with Whom I will stand before the Lord.
Will you answer this question about yourself right now? When you stand before the Lord, will you stand there with your sin? Or with His Son?
Those are your only two choices. Those who stand there with their sin – uncovered by the blood of Jesus – will not be forgiven. If you are in that category on that day, it will not matter how many good deeds, fine works, church activities, baptisms, confessions, memberships, or whatever else you may try to use as a covering for your sin. It will not matter how you try to polish your sin, so it compares favorably, or doesn’t look so bad next to someone else’s sin. No, if you stand before the Lord with your sin, and without His Son, your future is an eternity of everlasting torment in the place commonly referred to as hell. That’s not anyone’s “opinion” or “position.” That’s the TRUTH – spelled out clearly and plainly – so that a child can understand it – in the Bible.
Personally, I like knowing that my future home is in Heaven and not in hell. That’s right, I said I “know” it. The Bible says that the way to be saved is to realize and admit that you are a sinner, to repent and believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins, to believe that He was resurrected and that He lives forever, and to trust Him to save you.
The kind of belief that believes unto salvation is different than how we usually use the word “believe.” See, I believe I have some milk at home in the refrigerator. I saw almost a whole gallon in there before I left this morning. It should still be there when I get home. I’m not going to stop on the way home today and get some milk, because I believe I’ve already got some. I don’t believe milk just disappears. I don’t believe it can get up and walk away. I don’t think – even if somebody is burglarizing my house right now – they are going to steal an opened gallon of milk from my fridge. But is it possible that now, three hours later, I’m having a false memory and I really looked in the fridge yesterday instead of today? I believe that milk is going to be there, but I’m not staking my eternal soul on it. I’m staking my eternal soul on what God tells me about it.
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…
Tags: 1 John 5, altar calls, Great White Throne, Jesus Christ, John 3, Paul Washer, Revelation 20, salvation invitations, terminal illness
I once heard a preacher say to his congregation: “You are in the Bible.” This is a strange statement because the events that are recorded in the Bible, for the most part, took place thousands of years ago. What he meant was that you might very well be one of the ones standing in the crowd described in this passage of Scripture:
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Revelation 20:11-14 (emphasis added)
Obviously, if you are reading this, you are not yet among the “dead,” and I pray that you will never go to face God before His Great White Throne in judgment, but we must deal clearly and directly with that possibility.
You may have heard preachers say that you can find yourself in the Bible in another, less-frightening place. They will tell you that you can insert your own name in this well-known Bible verse:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that [insert your name here] should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The words that are supposed to be replaced by your name are “whosoever believeth in him,” referring to believing in Jesus Christ. If you will believe the truth about Jesus Christ and call upon Him to save you from the just punishment for your sins against God, then He will give you eternal life. If you will be the “whosoever” of John 3:16, you can avoid being the other kind of “whosoever:”
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Being unsure about any of this should bring you to a crisis. A crisis is a critical, crucial moment. It is when you come to a fork in the road of your life and you have to make a decision to go one way or the other. Going back is not an option and standing still is not an option.
Here’s an example: Pretend you are in the doctor’s office. You have been there many times before – for checkups and for minor treatments. Usually it is routine. Every once in a while you get some medicine, or at worst a mildly painful injection, but you always leave the doctor’s office with the hope that everything is okay – that you are going to get better. But this time it’s different. Instead of the doctor telling you it’ll be okay, he is very serious. His voice almost shakes and this scares you. He is telling you something you have never heard before and never expected to hear in a million years. He says you have a terrible disease – it is all over you – it has invaded your body and will eat you alive – and you will die. He goes on to explain some of the details about your condition. He has test results. He has x-rays, and they show that your body is black with this disease. He is trying to tell you there is a chance to survive – but only one chance. You must have surgery right now – right this minute – no thinking it over, no talking to your family and friends, no second opinion. Get to the emergency room right now and submit to being cut open – or die.
Now you see the meaning of a crisis: only two choices. No standing still, no waiting, no going back. Trust your life to a surgeon or die. Could you accept such a diagnosis? Or would you begin to hesitate? “I can’t be as sick as he says. I feel fine physically. I am strong. I am relatively young. Surgery is a major ordeal. It’s serious, my whole life will have to change. No more eating whatever I want, drinking whatever I want, no more staying out late doing whatever I want. I can’t just lie down on an operating table and trust a surgeon to cut me open. I like to be in control. I’ll control this with medicine. I’ll exercise, eat right, get more rest, change my lifestyle. I’ll do it in my own strength.”
When the doctor begins to plead with you and threaten you, you cup your hands over your ears, and you run out… thereby cutting yourself off from the only remedy.
Is this what goes through your mind when someone corners you with a Bible or tries to tell you that you are going to hell without Jesus? “This is too much to face. I can’t just trust God. Everyone will laugh at me. This is a big step. What if God really does give me a new heart and I don’t like to do the fun things of this world any more? What if I become God’s child and, like a good father, He begins correcting me when I sin? I like to sin – I don’t want God’s Spirit living inside me making me feel bad all the time. I can’t just stop doing the things I do for fun – the things I’m addicted to. Maybe I can cut back some. I’ll work on it myself. Maybe I can change the kind of person I am. I’ll go to church more often. I’ll even volunteer to do some work there. I’ll show God I’m not so bad.”
Please do not cover your eyes and cup your hands over your ears. Please do not run away. Sit still for a moment and stop thinking about what you’re going to do with the rest of your day. Put out of your mind the problems you will face at work tomorrow. Forget about what other people will think of you. This is about you and God. If you lie down and submit to Him, He is not like the earthly surgeon. Even if an earthly surgeon cures you it will only last for a little while. When God performs surgery, the surgery will be successful. The new heart that He will give you will be capable of loving and obeying God. You will care about eternal, important, valuable things – not the foolish everyday cares and concerns of this world. You can’t understand the joy of salvation until you experience it. Will you receive it today? Will you receive Him today?
He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
I John 5:12
Tags: altar calls, Jesus Christ, Mark 1, preaching the Gospel, salvation invitations, the Gospel, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, true Christianity, true Christians
2. You have told lies, stolen things, taken God’s Name in vain, looked at someone other than your spouse with lust – which Jesus equates with adultery of the heart – and broken many of God’s other commandments. (Exodus 20; Matthew 5:27-28). Most people don’t consider these sins to be all that serious because “everyone does them,” but they are deadly serious in God’s eyes. (Revelation 21:8; I Corinthians 6:9-10; Deuteronomy 5:11; Romans 3:10,23)
4. However, because God is also merciful and gracious, He made a way to be both just and forgiving – and to deal with your sins in mercy AND truth. Despite the fact that you have sinned against Him, He loves you. (John 3:16, Romans 3:25, Psalm 85:10)
5. Here is what God did so that we could be forgiven for breaking His laws and sinning against Him: A little over 2000 years ago, God came into this world as a Man – Jesus of Nazareth. He was born of a virgin (Luke 1:26-32). He lived a perfect sinless life (John 8:46; Hebrews 4:14-15). And, although He never broke the law and never did anything wrong, the authorities brought false charges against Him (Matthew 26:3-4), subjected Him to a rigged and illegal trial (Matthew 26:59-66), beat Him savagely (Matthew 27:26-30, Isaiah 52:14), tortured Him and mocked Him (Matthew 26:67-68; 27:28-31), and nailed Him to a Cross, intending to kill Him (Matthew 27:32-37). On the Cross, He willingly laid down His life and died (John 10:17-18; Luke 23:46). His body was taken down and buried (Luke 23:50-53), but on the third day He was resurrected and rose from the grave (Luke 24:1-7; I Corinthians 15:1-4)
6. Jesus took on all the guilt of all His people’s sins on the Cross. He became sin for you, and took your place as the condemned while God the Father poured out His wrath and His righteous judgment against sin on His Own beloved Son. (I Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:5, 10) Jesus also paid off your sin debt in full with His life’s blood (John 19:28-30; Colossians 2:13-14) and imputed His righteousness to your account so that you could be saved from God’s wrath and reconciled to Him (Ephesians 2:16; II Corinthians 5:21).
7. The Lord Jesus, in His Resurrection, demonstrated His victory over death, hell, the grave, Satan, and sin. He has ascended into Heaven (Acts 1:9) to sit at the right hand of God the Father (Romans 8:34), and He has all authority (Matthew 28:18) to grant salvation and eternal life to all who repent, believe the Gospel, and call upon Him as Savior (Romans 10:9,13; Acts 4:12; Ephesians 2:8-9).
Tags: altar calls, God's wrath, Jesus Christ, locmotive, Psalm 23, Salvation, salvation invitations, shadow of death, the atonement, valley of the shadow
My grandparents lived in a house that my grandfather built with his own hands. Behind the backyard he kept a garden where he grew peanuts, watermelons, sugar cane, mustard greens, and various vegetables. Beyond this garden was a shallow ditch, and beyond that, a set of railroad tracks. When the train came every day, it moved very fast. My younger brother and I used to talk about jumping onto one of the cars as the train went speeding past, but, thankfully, we never had the nerve to actually try it. The closest we came was when we would huddle down in the ditch right next to the tracks. It is a thrilling and frightening feeling to have the shadow of a roaring locomotive pass over you, but the shadow of a train passing over is far different from having the actual train itself “pass over” you.
David the Psalmist once wrote about the shadow of something even more awe-inspiring.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Note that the Holy Spirit inspired David to write about, not the valley of death, but the valley of the shadow of death.
Our sins, and the sins of the whole world, had been heaped onto the freight train of God’s wrath. (I John 2:2) That train was racing straight for us, and we deserved to be plowed into hell by the force of its judgment. Those of us, like David, who, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, have become the sheep of the Good Shepherd, may one day shiver in the shadow of death as it passes over us. (John 10:11) However, the locomotive of God’s righteous vengeance against sin was re-routed onto Christ the Lord Himself on the Cross of Calvary as He took the punishment we deserved. (I Peter 2:24) When you enter the valley at the end of life, will you be in the protective shadow of God’s covering (Psalm 91:1), or will you stand alone on the tracks, having made the fatal mistake of rejecting the Savior?
Tags: 2 Corinthians 1, comfort, funeral sermons, God of all comfort, Hebrews 4, Matthew 5, mourning, Psalm 147, salvation invitations, Titus 1
Lord, help us today to get our eyes off of uncertainty. Help us to take our focus off of questions like, “Why now?” “Why did it happen?” Help us instead to look at something we don’t have to wonder about – something we can know for sure – Your Word. In Jesus Christ’s Name I pray. Amen.
God is the God of comfort. “Comfort” means “with strength.” God has provided for us three main things which work together to comfort us. A table with three legs has strength and stability to stand. A table with less than three legs would be very unstable. The three legs of Christian comfort, stability, and strength are: God’s Spirit; God’s Church; and God’s Word.
God’s Word is a living Word. Psalm 147 is a Psalm of comfort. Its Words were written down long ago, but they are written in present tense because God – and His Word – are still doing these things today.
“He gathereth together.”
“He lifteth up the meek.”
“He maketh peace.”
“He sendeth out His Word.”
In modern English we would say, “He is gathering; He is lifting; He is making peace; He is sending out His Word…”
Today, you may be brokenhearted. If so, no creature is able to heal a broken heart. But there is One that we see only by faith – and He can heal… even a broken heart.
He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.
Even now He is healing broken hearts, and He is binding up wounds. Different people have different kinds of wounds, but God knows exactly what type of binding you need.
He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
There is nothing about you that God does not know. There is nothing broken in you that God can not heal. Understanding that God knows everything about you may make you uncomfortable. We know it’s true, but it’s scary. The Lord Jesus said:
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
That used to bother me. It’s so upside down from the way we’ve been taught. The way to get comfort is to mourn? “No,” says the common wisdom of man, “the way to get over mourning is to get your mind off it, to find something fun to distract you – then you won’t mourn.”
That’s not what Christ is saying. He is saying the ones who are blessed are the ones who have come to Him mourning over their own sins.
Has there been a day when you came to Jesus mourning over your own sins? If so, then Jesus kept His Word. You were comforted. And today you are truly blessed.
But if you’ve never come to Jesus Christ mourning over your own sins, please do it – receive the blessed comfort of healing and forgiveness.
“Your” time in this world is not really “your” time. It is really God’s time. There is going to come a time in the next few minutes or hours or days when something happens to make you mourn. When you want to ask, “Why the loss?” – remember all the times when you failed to ask, “Why the blessing?”
Blessed are they who mourn. They mourn over taking God’s time and using it for themselves. They come to Jesus and they are mourning because they have sinned against Him. Then He heals their broken hearts, and binds all their wounds. Will you tell Jesus you’re sorry for your sins? Will you go to Him mourning for yourself today? Will you ask Him to heal you? Jesus wants you to. His Word CAN NOT lie.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 15, altar calls, Good News, Hurricane Katrina, Jesus Christ, Mark 1, news headlines, salvation invitations, storms, the Gospel
When we see a weather report that says a huge storm is coming to our area, we do not normally think, “Oh boy, that’s good news!” But, in one sense it is very “good news.” It is good news because it warns us of impending danger in time for us to do something about it. Jesus said,
The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
The Gospel contains ideas, and the Gospel makes an argument. But first and foremost the Gospel is GOOD NEWS! It is good news because, if you are hearing it, there is still time to escape the impending storm of God’s wrathful judgment which is righteously due to all of us. Because we have sinned against God, the “Good News” should be the “lead story” every day of our lives:
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
I Corinthians 15:3-4
Tags: altar calls, Christ Jesus, curses, cursing, Galatians 3, God's plan of salvation, Jesus Christ, Salvation, salvation invitations, the Gospel
Have you perfectly kept all of God’s commandments your whole life? If not, you may be in serious trouble. In fact, you may be under a curse. The Bible says,
…Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
By posting this, I am hoping to bless you, even though you are under a curse! Can such a thing be done? Only in Christ Jesus.
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
If you will repent, believe the Gospel, and trust Jesus Christ to save you, you can, by faith, go from being cursed to being blessed!
Tags: altar calls, born again, Christ the Savior, come to your senses, John 8, Luke 15, receiving Christ, salvation invitations, the prodigal son
The Lord Jesus once described a young man who left his father’s home, spent everything he had, and wound up miserable and humiliated. Finally, one day, he decided enough was enough, and, according to Luke 15:17, he “came to himself.”
Are you like this wayward son? Are you broke, miserable, and humiliated? If you have never received Christ as your Savior, it will do you no good to “come to yourself” – for you do not have the keys to eternal life. A person who has only been born once in this life may “come to himself” and return to his “father,” but his father is the “father of lies.” (John 8:44)
The prodigal son came to himself, and remembered that he had a loving and truthful father. If you have trusted Jesus and been born again into God’s family, you may “come to yourself” and find His Spirit there within you, ready to forgive you and send you back to the Father.