Posted in salvation, theology

When God speaks a name twice

By Elizabeth Prata

Bible trivia: When a name is used twice in a row it is an expression of intimacy, communicating great emotion.

Abraham! Abraham! Genesis 22:11.

Jacob, Jacob. Genesis 46:2.

Moses, Moses! Exodus 3:4.

Samuel! Samuel!1 Samuel 3:10.

Martha, Martha. Luke 10:41.

Simon, Simon. Luke 22:31.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem Matthew 23:37.

Saul, Saul. Acts 9:4

My God! My God! Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22:1.

Now think of the other time a name is used twice, this time not from God or Jesus to a beloved person, but from people who thought they had beloved intimacy with Jesus- but didn’t.

Lord, Lord. Matthew 7:21-23.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

That verse takes my breath away in its devastating truth. Many in this case means in Greek a high number, great in extent. If many will say to Him Lord, Lord, pleading an intimacy that had never existed, we know that on this day there are many who claim an intimacy with Jesus they do not have. They think they do, but they don’t. They’ll find out later. It’s the unsettling truth that we live with now, and will sadly watch later as the bitter truth emerges.

This should enhance our gratitude to Jesus all the more. Prayers of thanks to Jesus for His cross, His resurrection, His salvation, and His assurance are not inappropriate at any time.

If you are unsure whether you say ‘Abba, Father’ and will be received, or wonder if you will be one who says Lord, Lord later and be rejected, then I recommend these resources to you:

Is It Real? 11 Tests of Genuine Salvation

Can I Be Sure I’m Saved?

by faith you have been saved verse1

Posted in salvation, theology

Lost person: Needs a Missionary. My (short) story of the Amazon

By Elizabeth Prata

In 2013 I watched a movie called End of the Spear, about missionaries making first contact with the Stone Age Huaorani tribe of Ecuador not far from the Shell oil company corporate base in Shell-Mera Ecuador. It’s a good movie and I recommend it. The missionaries made the contact in 1956 in the Amazon basin. I got curious and looked up where Mera is, and it is only 5 miles from Puyo.

huaroni tribesman 1956
Ecuadoran Huaorani 1956. Needs a missionary

I was in Puyo, I was in the Amazon.

This is why I am so fascinated by Providence. Little did I know that the incident the modern movie depicts was in 1956 a famous event in Christianity- and still is. When the five missionaries who were killed by an aggressive tribe in the jungle in the middle of the last century in a different hemisphere, that a mere four decades later there I would be at that nearly exact place, sitting at a cafe on the main street unaware of my own lostness and need for those same missionaries who had arrived years before.

I was unaware and unaffected by the drama of courage and salvation that had taken place and had opened up so many hearts. And how Jesus knew that a few years after that, I would become one of His children, my very own heart He opened up to His grace.

He knew I’d come to understand the debt I owe to those missionaries who in the great relay race over centuries, kept the faith alive for all peoples and tribes and tongues to hear the words of life, the baton of belief passed from hand to hand and mouth to ear, so that one day I might partake of the great truth. All I knew back in 1996 was that there were too many Jesus statues in Puyo.

amazon rainforest1
American woman, 1996. Needs a missionary

With a magnificence as great as His grace and the power of the Gospel word, we should rightly celebrate His work in the world in awe and in gratitude. Even on the days when you feel useless for Christ, know and understand that the seeds of faith are powerful and everything you do and say in His name adds to His tapestry of faith, and makes a difference. Providence is an amazing thing- because Jesus is always at work.

Posted in salvation, theology

Tap dancing on the fence

By Elizabeth Prata

Christianity is a dichotomy. A dichotomy is defined as “a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different.”

With Christianity, you’re in or you’re out
You’re in Christ or you’re in satan
You’re saved or you’re lost
You are on this side of the narrow gate or that side
You believe in Christ or you don’t
You’ve repented or you haven’t
You’re justified or not
Eternity is heaven or hell
It’s a black and white situation

Some people like to tap dance along the fence, not deciding one way or another. They put off salvation. They decline to think of spiritual things, but they acknowledge God and His creation and the presence of sin. They just don’t do anything about it. They are tap dancing along the fence, not on this side nor that side.

There is no Switzerland when it comes to your soul. There is no neutral ground, no safe spot from which to simply watch the proceedings.

Isaiah 49:8 says

Thus says the Lord: “In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you; I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages,”

And Paul quotes that Old Testament verse in 2 Corinthians 6:2
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation”

If the Holy Spirit has convicted you of your sin, do not delay in responding. We never know the number of our days. The Lord could require your life from you this very evening. (Luke 12:20).

The more you delay in responding to the Holy Spirit’s livening of your conscience and sorrowing of your soul over your sin is to harden yourself to further ministrations. Failure to respond, or a delay in responding, is an answer. It’s a “no.”

People who tap dance along the top of the fence are taking a terrible risk. One day, they will stumble and fall.

Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday end a week of Christ’s Passion. It’s a week whereby He made a way for sinners to come to the Father- through Him (and Him only). Get off the fence and come to Jesus through His narrow gate.

and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15).

fence

Posted in assurance, encouragement, pilgrim's progress, salvation

How to guard from carnal thoughts and actions. What will do it?

I am reading and studying the John Bunyan book Pilgrim’s Progress. John Bunyan wrote this book in 1678. I am using a study guide from Mount Zion Bible Institute (free) and also notes and commentary from Ken Puls of Founder’s Ministries/Founder’s Press.

I absolutely love the language of the old Puritan times. At one point, Christian had fallen asleep and now had to retrace his steps because he had lost his scroll. The sun was setting and he worried would not make it to the safe and secure way-station Porter’s Lodge before dark. He had been told there were lions awaiting (though chained). He was nervous about the noise the doleful creatures would make.

I wrote this during my reflection time-

When I stray from the righteous path or lose my scroll, the night time noise of the doleful creatures disturbs my heart and troubles my mind.

Christian made it to the Porter’s Lodge, where he engages in conversation with Prudence. She asks Christian,

Saco Museum Panorama of Pilgrim’s Progress

Prudence: Can you remember by what means you find your annoyances at times as if they were vanquished?
Christian: Yes:
–when I think what I saw at the cross, that will do it;
–and when I look upon my broidered coat, that will do it;
–and when I look into the roll that I carry in my bosom, that will do it;
–and when my thoughts wax warm about whither I am going, that will do it.

What a wonderful summation of how to remain on the righteous path, and so to banish carnal thoughts and wayward behavior!

Ken Puls wrote: [excerpted]

The conversation at Palace Beautiful continues with Prudence asking Christian some questions. Prudence represents our carefulness to walk in the wisdom and truth of God’s Word. To be prudent is to live and act with discretion and to exercise good judgment. Prudence is the practical outworking of wisdom. Christian prudence is godly wisdom in action, as we apply God’s Word to what we think, say and do.
Piety began the discussion by drawing out Christian’s story and testimony for the benefit of all in the Palace; Prudence probes deeper. She presses Christian into a more weighty conversation that explores his inner motivation and struggles. Her questions focus on: 

1. His inward battles with former lusts
2. His fortitude to fend off carnal thoughts and worldly temptations
3. His strategy to guard his heart and mind against sin

I’ll focus on the third question and excerpt Puls’ notes here-

Prudence then asks Christian about his strategy to guard against carnal thoughts. What means are most effective in vanquishing besetting sin? 

Christian mentions the value of meditating on God’s Word. He ponders the truth of Scripture and preaches it to himself. He anchors his thoughts in the promises of the gospel: the cross of Christ (the place of deliverance), the imputed righteousness of Christ (the coat he now wears), the assurance of salvation (his roll that he carries close to his heart), and his destination (eternal life in heaven). 

Finally Prudence asks him why he is so eager to reach heaven. Christian is anchored in God’s Word and aiming for eternity. He has embarked on a journey and understands that this world is not his home. It is filled with sin, death, trials and afflictions, and it can wearisome as we press on day by day. We must remember that we are just passing through. Christian longs for the joys that await us in glory: 

There we will see Christ face to face (1 John 3:1-3; Revelation 22:4).
There we will be free, not just from sin’s condemnation and power, but from its presence (Revelation 21:27, 22:3).
There we will have life eternal; there will be no more death (Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 21:4).
There we will be in the company of angels (Revelation 4:8) and the redeemed (Philippians 3:20) forever.

When you are discouraged…plagued by carnal thoughts…have sinned…drifted a bit…with ease and alacrity one can return to Jesus! Think of the cross, reflect on your salvation, look into the Book, and ponder your eternal destination.

That will do it.

Posted in assurance, faith, john macarthur, salvation

The dreadful reality of the apostate Church

One of my most fervent prayers is that your church is not filled with comfortable unbelievers. Why? I dread this day:

Artist: Boris Sajtinac

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ ” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Today is the day we should…

...draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22)

Here is a resource for you to test your faith and find assurance

Is It Real?– 11 Biblical Tests of Genuine Salvation
1 John; 1 John 5:1; John 10: 10; 1 Peter 5:10

Throughout the letter is a series of tests to determine whether you possess eternal life. If you don’t pass these tests, you’ll know where you stand and what you need to do. If you do, you’ll have reason to enjoy your eternal salvation with great assurance.

Posted in encouragement, rejoice, salvation

Relief in Christ, a soul rejoices

Psalm 107:4-9

Some wandered in desert wastes,
finding no way to a city to dwell in;
hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
till they reached a city to dwell in.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

This was me! Was this scripture written with my name in mind? Certainly it must be so? A poor wanderer, a Pilgrim without a destination, a sinner without repentance, yet longing for something, something. For what did I long? For what drink was I thirsty? Why was I feeling a deep, gnawing distress? Why was the way crooked? From whence did this trouble come?

Praise our glorious Lord for loving me before I knew Him. Praise Him, for though He was offended by my sin, He set the straight Way through Jesus for me, a sinner, to enter. Praise Him for satisfying my soul, completely. Praise Him for His wondrous works to the children of man.

No longer a wanderer, I am atop the rock, and the rock is Christ.

Posted in doctrines of grace, encouragement, irresistible grace, salvation

Of Tractor Beams and Irresistible Grace

My walk toward the cross was more like trench warfare. I fought it. During the time of the most pitched spiritual warfare, I created a lot of art in attempts to understand what was going on with me as my spirit fought the Savior but I couldn’t express it in words.

In this piece below I felt intuitively that my spirit was trying to transform but something was holding me down while at the same time something was pulling me up. In the piece below, the butterfly is broken and unable to transform because it is caught in a net as it attempts to fight off whatever has captured it. The poem, which I re-typed in larger font, mentions Strigoi. This is a folk personage who, in Romanian legend, is a kind of vampire. I intuitively felt that a dark force of evil had caught me, so I used the reference to Strigoi.

Strangely (though not so strangely if you understand the Bible) I was trying to get “upward” toward something better, BUT NOT JESUS! Horrors, anything except Jesus! I bought Buddhist books, pagan books, New Age gooks, psychology books, all in vain attempts to stave off the one last resort to try- Jesus. I was vigorous about it.

During that time I felt that the world had two elements to it, good, or love, and evil. I represented that fight in this piece, called ‘Intelligent Design.’

You might notice that same cupola in Intelligent Design that is in the Suspended Transformation piece. It has a sort of evil eye as a wind vane and to me, seemed very demonic. It represented a strong tower or fortress of evil. My mistake then was thinking that good, or love, and evil were equal combatants in this world. Of course I know now that Jesus has overcome everything and evil bows to His will. The battle is not equal. It is not even.

I remember shortly after I was saved, this battle and its exigencies were still fresh in my mind and very palpable. I said to a church friend of the Arminian type, “I was brought to the cross kicking and screaming.” She looked at me and dismissively said, “You were not!” My friend and her circle in which I was involved strongly believed that the believer decides for him or herself to go forward down an aisle and the walk down the aisle is littered with rose petals, dancing unicorns and rainbows. While that may be some people’s experience, my own experience at salvation was one of agony, blood, tears, and resistance. I did not want to go. But I could not resist.

Source The Graphics Fairy

On Star Trek, tractor beams were a beam that emanated from a spaceship and when aimed at a lesser vessel, inexorably drew the then-helpless vessel toward the greater vessel. No matter if the lesser vessel had its shields up, or if its thrusters were in full reverse, or if they attempted to bug out at warp speed, once caught in the Tractor Beam, they could not escape and were pulled to the Vessel. The name ‘tractor beam’ was coined from food chemist and science fiction writer E.E. Smith’s original “Attractor Beam.” I was a Trekkie (original series) and I always liked the tractor beam. I did not know, but God knew, that decades later I would be caught in His tractor beam of grace.

Today I understand that God wrote our names down in His Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4). The default condition of every person on earth is that we are all sinners all the time and we do not seek God. (Romans 3:10-11).

However, His grace is such that, at the appointed time, God uses His irresistible grace as a tractor beam to draw people to His Son. (John 6:44). Without it, we would never willingly “choose Jesus.” We can’t and if we are drawn, initially we resist. However God is so mighty and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, so no one can resist it forever. Otherwise it would mean that satan and man can frustrate God.

John Murray said of irresistible grace:

The enmity of the human heart is most virulent at the point of the supreme revelation of God’s glory. So deep-seated and persistent is the contradiction that the Saviour as the embodiment of grace is rejected. It is when we recognize this that the need for irresistible grace is perceived.

No one cay say to Him, “Nah, I’m good.” Could Lazarus reply to Jesus in the tomb, “I want to lay here a little longer.” No. The Doctrine of Irresistible grace is the “I” in the TULIP acronym for the Doctrines of Grace. Though personal experience is not the final analysis of anything, I know my salvation walk was fraught with resistance. I dug in my heels.

It is a moral and spiritual impossibility for a person to come to Christ apart from the Father’s drawing. What we find now is that it is a moral and spiritual impossibility for the person given by the Father to the Son not to come. There is by Jesus’ verdict the invariable conjunction of these two diverse kinds of action—“all that the Father giveth me will come to me.” There is invincible efficacy in the Father’s action and this means grace irresistible. (John Murray)

At the time I was revolted by the notion of anything about Jesus, that the something better my heart was wanting was indeed Him. I  now am grateful every day that I know Him and that I can ponder His beauty and wondrous glory at any moment of the day. I can read His word at any time and earn more about Him. I can pray and enter into the throne room. I can see Him in other people of the faith. He is endlessly fascinating to me, to a degree that is as far as the east is from the west as I had found Him revolting before salvation. Only Jesus could turn such a drenched heart of sin and His very name on my tongue made it bitter, to one of cleansed wonder for His glory. Only him. Thank God we cannot resist Him.

For more on Irresistible Grace,

CARM definition and supporting verses

Irresistible Grace is the Power of God

The Doctrine of God’s Effectual Call

Note:
John Murray on Irresistible Grace, From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: http://www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343”

Posted in prophecy, rapture, salvation, tribulation

Will any people be saved after the rapture, during the tribulation?

A friend on Facebook asked me a question. I like questions. They send me searching the Bible for a Spirit-led answer. I enjoy studying for a purpose. Here is the question:

How it can be that the bible states that most people will go to hell, yet in the tribulation, so many are saved they can’t be counted? Is the dynamic different in the Tribulation?

As for most people going to hell, yes that’s true. The Bible says that Jesus promised-

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13-14)

A specific answer as to how many will be saved during the wrath known as the Tribulation period can’t be given, because we cannot quantify “many” and “few”. We know for example, that many people died in the Flood (most actually). Few were on the narrow way, (only 8 people actually. Noah and his family). We know that most were sent to destruction when four of the five cities of the plain were destroyed. Admah, Zeboiim, Sodom and Gomorrah were thriving cities full of people, and most were sent to destruction when the angels came to destroy them with brimstone. (Genesis 19:13, 24-25; Deuteronomy 29:23). Only a few were saved (4 actually, and one of those turned out to be a false convert).

Over the course of world history we can’t know how many means few and how many means many. But we notice the fact that as soon as Jesus began teaching the hard truths, most left him. (John 6:60, 66). If we look at the scene in context as a microcosm of the world population, most people throughout history have either rejected Him outright or left the faith showing they never were of Him at all.

Therefore I believe the dynamic in the Tribulation is different. I base this on the verse in Matthew where Jesus said the Tribulation will be a unique time in world history. (Matthew 24:21,

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.

As for why so many would be saved, it is because the Tribulation is the fulfillment of the Bible’s promises. John MacArthur says in his sermon “Tribulation Saints part 1”,

“We have prayed that some day there would be a sweeping revival across the world that would bring millions of souls into the Kingdom. It has been the prayers of God’s people through the centuries that God would bring a great harvest of souls. And He will. One day it will come. It will be the greatest movement of God’s saving power in terms of sheer numbers that the world has ever known. Now that anticipation of that should not shock us because God longs to save…”

Revival is something we always pray for, but we don’t often realize that the revival that comes might look very different than the revival we envision in our head. Usually we envision a peaceful, joyful revival that sparks cultural change and personal peace. Yet the revival ahead in the Tribulation will be in a time of blood and war and grief and widespread martyrdom.

The reasons so many will be saved are found in Romans 11:26, that all Israel will be saved, and in Genesis 12, the fulfillment of Abraham’s covenant that all (pagan) nations through Abraham will be blessed.

If you’re interested, you can hear about salvation during the Tribulation explained more fully in John MacArthur’s sermon “Tribulation Saints” parts 1 and 2, expositing these verses from Revelation 7 under discussion.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10).

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:13-14)

Praise the Lord who saves!!

Posted in encouragement, Felix, grace, procrastination, salvation, thanksgiving

Thankful for salvation: thoughts on Felix

After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” (Acts 24:24-25)

It is stated earlier that Felix was thoroughly familiar with “The Way”. (v. 22). Whether it was because Felix had been governor in the area for almost a decade, or because his wife was Jewish, or both, Felix was familiar with the facts about Jesus and his “sect” as Paul’s accuser Tertullus put it. Felix was secure in his knowledge of Christianity in the intellectual realms, enough to feel confident to make a decision regarding the case.

But when the case got personal, really personal, Felix became alarmed. He told Paul to go away and when it was a more convenient time, Felix would think about it. The Greek word for time used in this verse means “a suitable time” or “the right moment”. But there will never be a more convenient right moment.

As James Montgomery Boice said of Felix’s procrastination, if you put it off, the same sinful nature that made you put it off today will make you put it off tomorrow. Nothing will be different. In addition, you’ve begun a habit of procrastination which will only deepen and entrench. Tomorrow it will be worse for you. Now is the acceptable time (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Notice Felix’s alarm at being told of sin and judgment. In the Greek the meaning of terror is ‘being in the grip of a great Godly terror’. The word is used 5 times in the New Testament.

–When the women who brought spices to the tomb after Jesus’ death saw the gleaming angels, they were terrified.
–When they were gathered and Jesus appeared to His disciples they became terrified.
–Cornelius’ terror at seeing a holy angel in a God-given vision.
–In Revelation when a great earthquake occurred and a tenth of Jerusalem fell, the people became terrified and gave God in heaven glory.
–Felix, upon hearing Paul speak of sin and judgment.

You see, in each of the four cases, apart from Felix, the people became terrified upon directly seeing a slice of heaven. Or in the case of the earthquake they knew it was a mighty work of God Himself. And just as seeing a holy angel of God or experiencing God’s hand directly, Felix was experiencing heaven. It wasn’t just Paul speaking some words articulately and Felix becoming annoyed or a bit worried. It was the Holy Spirit opening the depths of Felix’s soul to see his own sin compared to heaven. It was a deep, spiritual terror. Paul’s words and their effect should have brought about the same reaction from Felix as Peter seeing Jesus as Lord of creation with the heavy, full nets of fish in Luke 5:8. Peter fell at Jesus feet, saying “Go away from me, I am a sinful man!” Felix said, “Uh, come back later, this is inconvenient for me.”

When Felix was confronted with his sin and positionally saw how far he was from Jesus, he should have done the same as Peter. Yet though the Lord graciously offered Felix the opportunity to see his sin in light of God’s glory, and though Felix did see it and became abjectly afraid, he procrastinated.

This is a decision. Jesus said whoever is not with Him is against Him. (Matthew 12:30).

So don’t let anyone sway you from evangelizing this way, talking of sin, self-control, righteousness, and the coming judgment. “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” doesn’t have the same potential spiritual terror to pierce the soul as “You’re dead in your sins and Jesus is coming to judge you.”

There is no record in the Bible as to whether Felix found “a more convenient time” and reconciled to God. Probably not, seeing as the next verse records that Felix kept Paul in prison to see if Paul would cough up some money for a bribe. In this case, it IS worse for Felix. All that intellectual knowledge will put him in a worse position at the judgment.

For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. (2 Peter 2:21)

It’s Thanksgiving. I can think of no better gift than salvation to be thankful for. A close second is the Holy Spirit as a gift and a deposit inside us, illuminating the wonders of the Holy Bible to our mind and growing us in sanctification. Or perhaps Jesus forgiving our sins after salvation, or maybe it’s His chastisement which refines us into sterling silver and gold. Or maybe seeing the world, on our walk after the meal, and giving God the glory for His beautiful earth. Or His eternal, boundless grace. There is so MUCH to be thankful for, if you are a Christian. Offer the Gospel to someone today, maybe by next year at this time they will be praising God in gratitude for their reconciliation, and blessedly, Thanksgiving will have taken on a whole new meaning for them.

EPrata photo

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Further Reading

All Dressed Up and No One To Thank

Giving Thanks for Salvation

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!