Posted in demon possession, encouragement, john macarthur, joy, S. Lewis Johnson, salvation, sin

The joy of submitting to Jesus, and the tragedy of rejecting Him: two anecdotes (and a third)

There are two responses to the Gospel, yea or nay. Here is S. Lewis Johnson with an anecdote about a person who said yea.

Paul, His Gospel, and Thomas Jefferson

George Cutting is a man who is best known for the fact that he’s the author of a little pamphlet. You usually find it in tract racks of Christian churches. It’s entitled, “Safety, Certainty, and Enjoyment.” Mr. Cutting was just a simple Christian man who went around preaching the gospel. He was also a business man, as I remember, and one day he was bicycling through Norfolk in England. He was an Englishman. And he said it was early in the morning, and as he was going through, he was a very quiet man, he suddenly gained from the Lord the distinct impression that he should shout out a Bible verse. And so, right in the midst of this small town, there were just a few houses around, he shouted out “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” He said he cycled on a little bit longer, and the Lord seemed to say definitively to him, “Say it again.” So he said he shouted out, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” 

Six months later he was visiting in that little village, and he was doing, as he frequently did, just knocking on door after door. His first question, he said, was always, “Are you saved?” That’s called the direct approach. [Laughter] So a woman opened the door and he said, “Are you saved?” And she said, “Oh yes. About six months ago I was in great distress of soul. I plead with God to help me, and even while I was calling upon him, I heard a voice cry out, ‘Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.’” And she said, “I was startled. I wondered if I had really heard right.” She said, “I prayed again to the Lord, and I said, “Lord if that is the message, repeat it again.” 

[Laughter] And she said, “And I heard it again and I trusted Christ, and I’m saved.” And Mr. Cutting had the joy of telling her that it was he who had called out the verse. That’s preaching. You know, when Paul tells us to be instant in season and out of season. And imagine there were lots of citizens in that little village who thought that it was very much out of season to hear a Bible verse shouted out early in the morning from one of their streets. But it was in season for that lady. 

there is only one response to the message of the apostle, and that is to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ. Does salvation come by praying through? No. Does salvation come by paying the church? No. Does salvation come by good works? No. Does salvation come through religion? No. Does salvation come through some religious ritual which we practice, baptism, or sitting at the Lord’s Table? No. Does salvation come through the organization of the Christian church? No. You must be born again.

Here is John MacArthur with an anecdote on a person who said nay.

The Tragedy of Neglecting Salvation

And so, we believe it is a warning to the intellectually convinced, those who have heard the gospel, know the facts about Jesus Christ, know that He died for them, know that He desires to forgive their sin, know that He can some into their life and change their life but are not willing to receive Christ as Savior. And may I hasten to add that’s the most tragic category of people in existence. And I’ve told you a story once before that points it up as graphically as anything. I’ll never forget on one occasion when a lady came into my office and informed me that she was a prostitute. And she said, “I need help” And I said, “I guess you do.” And she said, “Please, I’m desperate.” 

And so I presented the claims of Christ to her from beginning to end and I said, “Would you like to invite Jesus Christ into your life?” And she said yes. She said, “I’ve had it.” She was at the bottom to say the least through the dope scene, the whole bit. So she prayed a prayer and evidently she invited Christ into her life. And I said, “Now,” I said, “I want to ask you to do something.” I said, “Do you have your little book that you have all your contacts in with you?” And she said yes. I said, “Well, let’s just take a match here and we’ll burn it.” And she looked at me and she said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Just what I said. I mean, if you’re really going to live for Jesus Christ and you’ve really accepted His forgiveness and you really met Him as your Savior, let’s burn that book and we’ll just have a little party here and just praise the Lord.” And she said to me, “That’s worth a lot of money.” She said, “That’s worth an awful lot 

Then she said to me, “I don’t want to burn my book.” Put it in her purse and looked at me right in the eye and said, “I guess I don’t really want Jesus, do I?” And she left. 

Now you see, there was somebody who when the..when it really came down to the nitty gritty and counted the cost, she wasn’t ready. I don’t know what the story of that dear girl is. My heart has often ached for her and I’ve often thought about her. But I do know that she knows the facts and she believes them, but she’s not willing to make the sacrifice. And it’s a bad bargain, for what she kept wasn’t worth anything compared to what she could have had in Jesus Christ forever.

These days in 2015 it is not popular nor even accepted to speak of hell or demons. But they exist, they are active in the world, and they still do possess people, just as they did in the time of Luke 4:31-37. That’s the passage John MacArthur was preaching when he related this anecdote:

This is a rare thing. I’ve preached the gospel for a long time and only about three times in my whole life have I ever heard demons speak, been confronted. One of them was a few weeks ago, I told you about last week, right down in the front when a demon-possessed person came running down the aisle after I was preaching the gospel, exalting Christ’s power over the kingdom of darkness, came at me and said, “Why are you attacking me? Why are you trying to hurt me?” Which is exactly what the demon said here.

But it was some years ago when I had first come to Grace. We had built the family center and we were having services there before we built this facility. It was a Sunday night and after the service was over I was over having some food with somebody from the church and I got a call from Jerry Mitchell who was here a few weeks ago. He was on the staff at the time. He said, “You’ve got to come down here, John, I’ve got a…I’ve got a girl in here whose got all kinds of demon voices.” He had never experienced anything like this and I never had either. And I said, “Well I don’t know if I could be much help but I’ll come right down.”

So I came down, I walked in and there was chaos in the office. It was over in the building by the family center, and I walked in and the place was in disarray and it was obvious that she had been terrorizing things. She had overturned the desk and poor Jerry who was a boxer in the Navy was having a hard time defending himself against this girl, and that is characteristic of New Testament accounts where there’s a certain level of strength that’s beyond normal. And I’ll never forget the greeting when I walked in the door. I walked in the door and this…out of this girl’s mouth — whom I had met and with whom I had spoken because she had been coming to the church — came this voice, and I can’t, obviously, replicate it. But in my memory I know what the voice said. It’s something like: “Not him, not him, not him, get him out, get him out, get him out,” to me.

Well my first reaction was, “I’m leaving. I’m not sure I’m up to this.” Wow! And my second reaction was, “They know who I am and they know whose side I’m on, that’s very affirming.” It was affirming. I sort of started feeling apostolic. Paul I know and Jesus I know and John MacArthur, you know? Wow! Amazing!

I don’t think that demon was afraid of me humanly. I don’t have any human power to deal with demons. In fact, Jerry and I didn’t know what to do. We started trying to send the demons away. We sent them everywhere you could think of, the pit, the abyss, Phoenix, anywhere hot, you know. And the bottom…the bottom line is they didn’t go anywhere and so we just were praying and saying, “You know, this isn’t working, this casting out thing isn’t working. I’m not Jesus and we’re not apostles and we don’t have authority over that kingdom.” There’s only one way that this girl will ever be delivered and that is when Christ delivers her in the act of salvation.

So we wrestled, literally physically trying to restrain her and get her in a chair and she was so exhausted physically and finally calmed down and we gave her the gospel. And she confessed her sin. I’ll never forget it, just really gushed out her sin before the Lord and embraced Jesus Christ and then it was just this calm that came everywhere. There was deliverance. Nothing to do with me, nothing to do with a formula, nothing to do with an exorcism, nothing to do with that at all, that…that is not what deals with demons. She needed to be delivered from the kingdom of darkness, you understand that? And she was. She was.

The demon was terrified of me not because of something I could do in the human. The demon was terrified of me because the demon connected me with the message of the gospel. And the demon knew that if the gospel came to this girl and she believed that he was finished. And that’s exactly what happened. She was as clean as the driven snow after that and never had another occasion of that kind of terrifying experience.

Anyone who is not of Christ and in His sheepfold is under bondage to the god of this world, satan They are serving him, whether they believe it or not. And anyone who has not confessed their sins and submitted to the Gospel is at risk for being possessed by a demon.

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). Does that means He might be far? Yes. Someday, He might turn a person over to their sin in a hardened heart and salvation might not be possible after that. His grace, peace, mercy, and love is manifold. Having the gentle and lovely Spirit inside of us is a ‘burden’ that is easy. As we saw from the anecdote about the demon, having satan in us is a burden that is harsh and heavy. How many woes lay in the demon direction, and how many blessings there are in Christ. Seek Him while ye may!

Posted in jesus, macarthur, S. Lewis Johnson

Expositor FM: A new internet 24-hour radio station

My face when someone says they are doing a Beth Moore study/doing a Jesus Calling Devotional/posting a Joyce Meyer quote.

Here is a link to some critiques of these women who are doing harm to the faithful.

Woman to Woman

On the upside, John MacArthur at Grace To You has launched a new internet radio station. 24 hours of SOLID bible teaching adn hymns. I have listened to it for the several days it has been up and it’s great! I heard a wonderful exposition of Jonah 1-2 from James Montgomery Boice and iI loved every minute of it. The sermons come from the aforementioned Boice, Steve Lawson, John MacArthur, S. Lewis Johnson, Dan Duncan, The Master’s Seminary, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Dr Barnhouse. If you enjoy having ‘background’ stuff on while you’re at home doing chores, ladies, this will fill the bill. Nothing errant or wild or wrong will pollute you. If you enjoy listening to sermons with focused attention, this station also fills the bill. Meaty and doctrinal, edifying and faith-building, I recommend Expositor FM.

http://www.expositor.fm/

Posted in day of the lord, imminent, prophecy, rapture, S. Lewis Johnson

What does it mean when the Prophets say "The Day of the LORD is near?"

I was listening to S. Lewis Johnson preach Obadiah. in a sermon titled “The Prophet of Edom’s Doom.” In Obadiah 1:15, the Prophet of God says,

For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations.

Any reader of the bible, Old Testament or New, casual reader or diligent, will have read that expression. It is rendered frequently. For example Ezekiel 30:3 states the Day is near, so does Joel 1:15, Joel 2:1, Zephaniah 1:14, and so on. Were all the prophets wrong? It has been two thousand years! What can we make of this?

S. Lewis Johnson explains.

Now, he [Obadiah] says the day of the Lord draws near on all the nations. Well, of course, that would lead us to ask the question, “Well, now what a minute, the day of the Lord has not come yet. It’s been hundreds of years since the prophet Obadiah prophesied and not only has it been hundreds of years but we don’t have anything in the immediate future to indicate that the day of the Lord is nigh at hand. The catching up of the church has not even taken place yet, so how can he write near? Was he wrong? Did the prophet speak not unto inspiration when he said the day of the Lord is near? What do we mean when we say near in the sense of the prophetic word?

Well, probably we mean something like imminent; that is, it may come at any moment. We don’t mean it must come at any moment. That’s evident from the Biblical teaching in the Old Testament as we see here and also in the New Testament. So the term really means something like it is imminent, it may come. Now, it so happens we know that the day of the Lord has not come and it’s been a long time.

One of the students of the Book of Obadiah, a very good student has said, “Now, when we say that a prophetic event is imminent just what do we mean?” The following illustration is helpful. With a little care one may balance a heavy book on the edge of a table. There the book remains poised. Let the room remain absolutely quiet and the book may stay there indefinitely yet at any moment a slight jar may cause it to fall.

No one can predict the precise instance of its drop, for its fall is imminent. So it is with the next event in the prophetic schedule. He says, “The rapture may come in our day or it may linger far beyond our time. Not itself, the day of the Lord, it is the vestibule of that day.”

EPrata photo

Therefore since the Day of the LORD is near, the rapture is nearer. Let this be a comfort to you.

Posted in counterfeit christians, hosea, prayer, S. Lewis Johnson

An oddly wonderful prayer

When I read the bible, I read through a whole book. Not all at once, usually chapter by chapter. And sometimes if the chapter is long, or convicting, or complicated, only part of the chapter. Then I pray. Then I listen to an expositor. If I can’t find a good sermon I read a commentary on the passage. Then I read the passage again. Usually a phrase or a verse will leap out at me, and I’ll mull that, I’ll look at parallel verses, or the historical background, and pray. And pray some more. Then I go on with the next chapter. In this way the Spirit delivers understanding and sews the quilt of the bible together pieces by piece so that little by little I gain understanding.

Finding credible Old Testament expositors is difficult but we as a body of believers are blessed to have John MacArthur’s Isaiah sermons, Martyn Lloyd Jones, and S. Lewis Johnson to name a few. I’m reading Hosea right now and Pastor Lewis has a sermon series on the entire book.

I appreciate the care and accuracy he applies to his preaching. But also I’ve come to appreciate his prayers. He prays after reading the text and he prays at the end. His prayers are moving. They are just as wonderful as the text he is preaching on. He prays with sensitivity, within biblical standards, concerns from the heart…and this. I thought this was an odd and wonderful prayer. Odd because no one prays this any more.

We pray for the whole church, for all of those who name in sincerity the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and we pray, O God, that those who counterfeit Christianity may experience failure. We know that Thou hast said, the church will be founded upon the confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against the true church, and we pray O God for all of the manifestations of the truth. We pray for the other churches where the gospel is proclaimed, and today Lord may they be fruitful in their ministry.” ~S Lewis Johnson

Praying for the failure of the counterfeits, while at the same time praying for all manifestations of the truth. How wonderful.

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Hosea 7, “The Blessedness of Grey Hair”
Sermon audio

Transcript

Posted in encouragement, exhortation, God, hosea, moth, S. Lewis Johnson

Sometimes judgment comes not as brimstone or earthquake, but as a moth

When you read the bible, stop frequently to ponder. Think about what you’re reading. Also, frequently ask yourself, “What does this mean?”

We read about different metaphors in the bible, and we read about different insects and animals sometimes as a part of those metaphors. In Psalm 59:14 we read that enemies return at evening, howling “like a dog”. In Proverbs 6:6, we are advised to be like the ant. Psalm 18:33 says, “He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.”

Sometimes God uses a metaphor to ascribe a quality to Himself. In Matthew 23:37 God says tenderly,

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” See also Ruth 2:12.

Wiki creative commons

Insects mentioned quite often include the moth. Moths are mentioned several times.

but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:20)

“For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; but my righteousness will be forever, and my salvation to all generations.” (Isaiah 51:8)

But see this verse from Hosea where God pronounces judgment on Israel, God says HE will be like the moth!

I am like a moth to Ephraim, like rot to the people of Judah.” (Hosea 5:12)

So in reading Hosea 5 when you come across a verse like this, stop and ponder, ask, what does it mean? What do moths do, how do they act, so we can better understand what God is saying here.

When we think of God working, we often think of Him powerfully and noisily working great things, such as in the scene from 1 Kings 19:11-12

And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.”

But God works quietly too, as the low whisper showed. (NOT that God speaks to us today in a still, small voice, that was not the point of the verse). It’s that He works loudly and demonstrably but also quietly.

It is the same with the moth. Though we think of judgments like brimstone and earthquakes, a judgment is also what the moth can do, and in a way, it is worse.

Moths (or moth larvae) work secretly, stealthily. You put away your clothes for the summer and when winter comes again you take out that sweater and it has been rendered useless because of all the holes in until it is good for nothing. It will not cover your nakedness anymore. Pulpit Commentary quotes Calvin:

“The meaning of the prophet is by no means obscure, and that is, that the Lord would by a slow corrosion consume both the people; and that, though he would not by one onset destroy them, yet they would pine away until they became wholly rotten.”

Gill’s Exposition says,

“Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth,…. Which eats garments, penetrates into them, feeds on them privately, secretly, without any noise, and gradually and slowly consumes them; but at last utterly, that they are of no use and profit:”

Can there be a worse judgment? To awaken finding yourself one day wholly rotten? A slow but sure destruction that had come upon you? Not even having rated a loud showy judgment of brimstone, but a lowly worm having done you in.

S. Lewis Johnson ended his exposition of Hosea 5, a sermon titled “God Withdrawn“, this way-

The perils of apostasy! When we apostatize from the faith, when we depart from the faith, when lethargy and indifference grips us, the real enemy is the Lord God Himself!

If you have believed in Jesus and your life is in a shambles because of indifference and because of  lethargy, the Lord God may be working like a moth in your life. May God help you to recognize what is really happening, and may He stir you by His Holy Spirit to come back to Him. Confess your sin, seek to put Him first in your life. Use the time He has given you for the glorification of His name. The remedy as Hosea puts it so plainly is, ‘know the Lord.’ ” (Hosea 5:4)

Take protective measures against the moth’s destructive capabilities by keeping your faith living and active. Study the word, know the Lord. Pray ceaselessly. Serve lovingly. Submit constantly. There will be no need to mothball your holy garment if you never put it away for a season!