Revelation 14: The Harvest of the Earth

Extract from our forthcoming book

Extract from our forthcoming book

Revelation 14 presents us with four different visions, but each vision has the same theme running through it. The message of the four visions could be summarized as the statement that there are only two kinds of people on earth – the saved or redeemed and the unsaved or the wicked. The first of the four visions gives describes the blessedness of the redeemed; the second is a warning to the wicked, whilst the last two visions show the reward of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked.

The Blessedness of the Redeemed

14:1 Then I looked, and here was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him were one hundred and forty-four thousand, who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.

The Lamb (The Lord Jesus Christ) is seen standing on Mt. Zion, a reference to heaven itself. This word standing conveys the idea of His eternal abiding in God’s immediate presence. The reason we stand in God’s presence is that he abides there for us. In this way He is the surety of all God’s covenant promises.

For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; (Hebrews 9:24)
Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

Whether the 144,000 redeemed standing on Mt. Zion symbolically represent the whole church or is an actual group of the redeemed (the as those sealed in chapter 7), the description given of them applies equally to every believer in Christ. And what a blessed description it is.

They have their Father’s name written on their foreheads. This means they are sons of God. It is not “their God’s name” but “their Father’s name” God’s redeemed Christ’s people are not adopted, but born of God, by his Spirit. Only those who have a second birth, a spiritual birth, are part of God’s redeemed people.

Jesus said…”Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
It is this new or spiritual birth that makes us children of God. It takes place when we receive the Lord Jesus into our hearts by faith.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: (John 1:12) (See also James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 John 5.1)
The Father’s “name” means his character or nature, whilst the forehead (or face) shows the character of a man. These saints have been fully conformed to share their Father’s nature. The saying goes, “Like Father like son” You’ve heard someone say “Isn’t he like his dad!” But to be like God – this is godliness and glory. Just as Christ is the image of God, so we shall share his image, for when we see him we shall be like him. (1 John 3.2) This has been the purpose of God for the redeemed since the days of eternity.

For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, Romans 8:29 It is certain that as we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. (1 Cor. 15:49)

This process is continuing now. We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Cor. 3:18

14:2-3 I also heard a sound coming out of heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. Now the sound I heard was like that made by harpists playing their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one was able to learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth.

The voice of the redeemed is heard coming from heaven; it is the whole church singing. The 144,000 Jews saved during the tribulation now join in the song of the redeemed and the body is complete. Only the redeemed can learn this song, for it is born out of experience and cannot be feigned. Like a torrent these millions of redeemed sing praises to God in thanksgiving for what he had done for them. It was like a new song, says John, for it will ever be fresh, even though they will sing it for eternity. The song is an eternal song of praise to the one who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood (Rev. 1.5). It is accompanied by the soothing sound of harps, a picture to my mind of their eternal peace.
Notice how the voice of the church is described in a similar way to the voice of Christ. Their speech has been purified – like Christ it is full of grace and truth and is seasoned by Christ’s own purity.

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, Colossians 4:6 We are also told in Col 3.8 But now you must put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.

14:4-5 These are the ones who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed from humanity as first fruits to God and to the Lamb, and no lie was found on their lips; they are blameless.

In their mouth is found no guile; no pretense, deceit or subtlety. The redeemed are the first fruits to God. The first fruits were to be given as an offering to God, as our whole lives are to be given up as a living sacrifice to the Lord. Like a virgin bride has eyes only for her husband, the church of Jesus Christ has eyes only for Christ. (see 2 Cor. 11.2) They remain undefiled for they are presented perfect through the offering of Jesus Christ (Heb. 10.14). They are without blemish. Christ died that He might “present the church to Himself as a glorious church, without spot, wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27). That is why we are able to stand before God’s throne, with heaven as our dwelling place forever.

The redeemed follow the Lord wherever he goes. To follow means to be in the same way with. Are you walking in the same way with Jesus? If you are, and you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, then you are going to be among that group of people singing eternal praises before the Lord.

The tragedy is, however, that there is a group of people who will never sing the praises of the Lord. Whilst Christ died for all, not all are saved. Though Jesus paid the price for the sin of every man, only those who accept God’s gift of salvation are saved.

A Warning to the Wicked

14:6-7 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, and he had an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth — to every nation, tribe, language, and people. He declared in a loud voice: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has arrived, and worship the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water!”

How gracious God is that the events depicted in the book of Revelation have not come yet! God is giving all people everywhere time and chance to repent. But the end will surely come in the way described. God’s mercy cannot be rejected forever without consequence. So here follows a vision of three angelic messengers, bringing warning to the inhabitants of earth. The first angel warns that men should fear God and give Him glory, for the time had come to judge the wicked of the world. This is the everlasting gospel: repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, thus glorifying God. It is essential to act on this warning now; for the time is coming when it will be too late to repent and give God glory.

14:8 A second angel followed the first, declaring: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great city! She made all the nations drink of the wine of her immoral passion.”

The judgment of the wicked is announced in the fall of Babylon. This is the first time that this spiritual city, an anti-type of the Heavenly Jerusalem, is mentioned in Revelation. The term “Babylon” represents all that opposes God. This spiritual reality is embodied in all of humankind’s behaviour, even their commercial, international and religious behaviour. After the flood in the days of Nimrod (Gen. 10.8 – 10), God told people to spread out over the face of the earth and repopulate it. Instead, in a spirit of rebellion, they banded together to build a tower reaching to heaven, making themselves (they thought) secure from God’s interference. That tower was built in a place called Babel, later Babylon. So Babylon represents rebellion against God in the heart of every unregenerate person. It is the spirit of lawlessness, manifesting itself in lawless deeds, and through the systems humankind creates to facilitate their rebellion. Zechariah 5.8 depicts wickedness (moral filth) as a woman in a basket, who is taken to her own place in the land of Shinar (Babylon). In this verse we see that all nations are intoxicated—taken over spiritually, like someone possessed—by her harlotry, her moral filth and unfaithfulness to God.
Many commentators speak of two Babylons in Revelation – a commercial or financial and a religious one. In fact, let us be clear that they are both parts of the same system of lawlessness against God.
The second angel’s message is timely yet simple: the Christ-rejecting world system will be brought to an abrupt end very soon.

14:9-11 A third angel followed the first two, declaring in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and takes the mark on his forehead or his hand, that person will also drink of the wine of God’s anger that has been mixed undiluted in the cup of his wrath, and he will be tortured with fire and sulphur in front of the holy angels and in front of the Lamb. And the smoke from their torture will go up forever and ever, and those who worship the beast and his image will have no rest day or night, along with anyone who receives the mark of his name.”

The third angel brought a warning to those who will see the culmination of this spirit of lawlessness as the antichristian spirit is embodied in a man – the antichrist. Those who participate in this ultimate rebellion by giving their allegiance to Satan (by receiving the mark of the beast) can be sure of suffering God’s eternal vengeance. This reveals that just as there are only two groups of people on earth, so there are only two destinations at the end of life too.

Jesus said: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (From Matt 25:31-46)

14:12-13 This requires the steadfast endurance of the saints — those who obey God’s commandments and hold to their faith in Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: ‘Blessed are the dead, those who die in the Lord from this moment on!’ ” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so they can rest from their hard work, because their deeds will follow them.”

Throughout the ages the faith and patience of the saints has revealed that it is better to die than to lose one’s own soul. Many have given up their lives rather than give up their faith. It is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep in order to gain that which he cannot lose.
The interjection “blessed are those who die in the Lord” – is forever true and has been given the sanction of the eternal Holy Spirit. Those who sleep in Jesus are at rest – no longer troubled or vexed by pain, persecution, trouble or toil. Their work on earth is done, wrought in them by God according to his eternal purpose and the due reward of their labors – and much more – is laid up for them in heaven.

“EYE HAS NOT SEEN, NOR EAR HEARD, NOR HAVE ENTERED INTO THE HEART OF MAN THE THINGS WHICH GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” 1 Cor. 2:9

Ever since our Lord Jesus Christ arose victorious over death, those who die believing in him are blessed. Their entrance is immediate into the presence of God; to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 2 Cor. 5:8 and To be with Christ.. is far better. (Phil 1:23)

Two Great Harvests of the Earth

The final two visions differ in content but convey a similar message to the first two. The picture is of the final salvation of the righteous and the final judgment of wicked.

14:14-16 Then I looked, and a white cloud appeared, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man! He had a golden crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple, shouting in a loud voice to the one seated on the cloud, “Use your sickle and start to reap, because the time to reap has come, since the earth’s harvest is ripe!” So the one seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped. 

First we see Christ reaping the harvest of the earth – gathering his own to himself. We who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thess. 4:17

Clearly this first harvest happens before the harvest for judgment and is a reference to the ‘rapture’. But remember this is a vision. The Lord, I think, will not need an angel to tell him when to call his people home; for that time is appointed by the Father and known only to him (Mark 13:32).

The Lord Jesus Christ is already gathering in his precious harvest now. The precious seed of his travail on the cross has been sown. Millions are turning to him for salvation as the fields are ripe for this harvest. He alone is worthy to reap this harvest – hence the golden crown signifying his rightful claim and kingship over those he has redeemed – the gold denoting his own glory and God-head. But a time is coming when he will gather his wheat into the barns of his heavenly harvest home. He will gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” Luke 3:17

14:17-20 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.

Such a burning of the chaff is depicted in the final vision. The angels are sent to reap the harvest of judgment. The wicked are described as the cluster of the vine, for they are to be trodden in the press. Notice they are the vine of the earth, not of Christ the True Vine. Their grapes are fully ripe for their wickedness has reached its full potential. The winepress is outside the city of Jerusalem and will be trodden by Christ himself, inflicting everlasting punishment on his enemies (2 Thess. 1.9)

The initial fulfillment of this outpouring of wrath evidently takes place on earth immediately at the coming of Christ; at a place called Armageddon, as the demon inspired armies of the world gather in a futile attempt to fight off our returning Lord. They are literally struck dead by the word that proceeds from his mouth, their blood flowing in deep rivers for miles around. A vast number of people is indicated – for this is no symbolism.
That will not be the end of the matter, for even with such a death their punishment has only just begun, for when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. They shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 2 Thess. 1:7-9

Conclusion

Since there are only two groups of people in the world, and only two final destinations for people after life is done, the question has to be, which group are you in? Whose side are you on?

Are you on the Lord’s side? The coming of the Lord will mean, for the believer, unspeakable satisfaction; but for the unsaved person and backslider it will mean unutterable shame and unending separation.

Such truth for today should lead us into holiness of life and busyness in service for our Lord. Remember that Jesus may come today. When the harvest of the redeemed is taken home to heaven and you are left behind, all that will be left for you to face will be the harvest of judgment. Don’t leave it too late! Take Jesus as your Saviour today.

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Readers of the Lost Ark

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Image (c) James Steidl

Introduction to Bible Study

Of all the furniture and fixings of the Tabernacle, God first of all indicated to his people that an Ark was to be made. (Exodus 25:10-16; Exodus 27:1-9)

The first word from heaven to Moses was, “let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. And they shall make an ark of acacia wood” (Exodus 25:8, 10).

This implies that the ark was of first importance, and that the rest of the items of worship revolved around it. When a man designs and builds a house, he leaves thought of the furniture till afterwards, but the fact that the ark was considered first reveals that God’s beloved Son, and that “He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Col. 1:17).

Such was the importance of the ark that it was to be placed in an area called the Holy of Holies, where only the high priest was allowed to enter, once a year, and even then not without presenting the blood of the sin offering made on the Day of Atonement.

The ark was the symbol and sign of God’s presence among the people of Israel. God told Moses: (Exodus 25:8) let them make for me a sanctuary, so that I may live among them. And the center of that sanctuary was the Ark of the Covenant.

So much did the idea of God’s presence among them being represented by the ark, sank so deep into the minds of the Hebrews, that when the ark was captured by the Philistines, it was taken as the sign the God, their glory, had departed from them (! Samuel).

Yet again, this was a mere symbol. God allowed the ark to be captured as a sign of his disfavor concerning the sinful practices of the nation, and especially the priesthood led by the immoral Hophni and Phinehas, whose sin Eli the high priest failed to challenge.

But when the ark was in captivity, it held its captors captive!

For everywhere the ark went, God commanded plagues and destruction on the people until it was returned.  Even when the ark was brought back to Israel, the people of Beth Shemesh showed disrespect to God by opening the lid, and above 50,000 of them died.

These vents are probably the inspiration behind the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark. Starring Harrison Ford, the film depicted a fictional adventure revolving around the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant. Actors speak of the ark “leveling mountains” and destroying the enemies of God’s armies.

In reality of course, this never happened. When the enemies of Israel were defeated before them, it was because of God’s presence not the ark.

The ark was intended by God to be rich in its symbolic teaching for us as Christian believers 

The Specifications of the Ark

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The ark was a chest made of acacia wood, overlaid within and without of pure gold. At the top was a crown of gold which held the mercy seat and cherubim. Two rings on each side, with staves, made the ark portable.

Inside the ark were four items of supreme importance: the two tables of the law (Exodus 25:16), the book of the covenant (Exodus 24:7), the pot of manna (Exodus 16:33; Hebrews 9:4), and Aaron’s rod that budded (Numbers 17:10; Hebrews 9:4).

 The Spiritual Significance of the Ark

The ark and all its contents speak of the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the acacia wood we see His perfect humanity, while in the pure gold His perfect divinity. The ark was fashioned with a crown of gold at the top. Men crowned the Lord Jesus Christ with thorns; but God crowned Him with glory and honor (Hebrews 2:9) and  set Him at His own right hand far above all principality and power. The name of Jesus is the name above every name.

The four rings of gold and the two staves are what linked the ark to the people. Because of them, they could know that the ark was meant to accompany them wherever they went.

The staves were never to be removed, revealing the constancy of Christ’s commitment to his people. He is always available to them He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

The Contents of the Ark

The golden pot that had manna” (Hebrews 9:4).

Moses was commanded to “lay it up before the Lord, to be kept for [future] generations” (Exodus 16:33). This manna was the bread with which God fed his people for 40 years in the wilderness, and in John 6:31-38 Christ used it to illustrate his own claim to be “the bread of life.” The manna, although supernaturally provided, did not impart spiritual life, for Jesus said “Your fathers ate manna, yet are dead.” By partaking of Christ the bread of life, “a man may eat and live forever.”

Aaron’s rod that budded (see Hebrews 9:4).This situation arose where Aaron was challenge by the people as to his election by God to the office of high priest. God answered the grumblers by inviting them to leave one rod in the tabernacle overnight, each rod representing one of the 12 tribes of Israel. Next morning, Aaron’s rod had not only blossomed, but produced almonds (see Numbers 17:8), thus vindicating God’s choice of the house of Aaron to be High Priests before Him.

The Lord Jesus Christ, although not born to the house of Aaron, is made our High priest forever, by the power of His own endless life. Unlike Aaron, he will never die, and so does not have to pass on the priesthood to others.

The budding rod is a picture of His incarnation, crucifixion (Isaiah 53:2, 8) and resurrection (see 1 Cor. 15:4). The fruit which he produces is in the lives of those he has redeemed and who share in that resurrection life of Christ, and one day he shall present these before God his father (see Hebrews 2:13; Psalm 22:30).

“The tablets of the covenant” (Hebrews 9:4).

These two tablets of stone contained the moral law, the Ten Commandments, detailed in Exodus 20:1-17. Jesus was the only One who kept the whole law. In the words of prophecy it is recorded: “Behold, I come; in the scroll of the Book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:7-8).

When He appeared in the flesh He said, “I did not come to destroy [the Law] but to fulfill [it]” (Matthew 5:17).

Paul reminds us: “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).

(c) Davi Sales

The book of the covenant (see Exodus 24:7 and  Deut. 31:25-26).

At one time the ark contained the book of the covenant, which contained the scriptures which had been received up to that point, containing not only the moral law (as was written on the stone tablets) but also the other civil laws which God commanded Moses to give the people.

Even this book was sprinkled with blood, as were all the people who heard it read to them, (Hebrews 9:19-20) revealing that another covenant would come, and be ratified by the blood of Christ, and involved the blotting out of our sins and transgressions of the law committed under the first covenant.

Most scholars have considerable difficulty in assigning a reason for each of the measurements of the ark (2½ cubits long and 1½ cubits high and wide).

We must admit that some details of scripture reveal that the fullness of the divine mind is unknown to us

: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33)

 The contents of the ark reveal Christ to be: our wisdom – the Book of the Covenant; our righteousness – the tablets of testimony; our eternal life and satisfaction – the pot of manna; and our enduring and faithful High Priest – the rod that budded. Indeed, Christ is all things to us.

The Covering of the Ark

The Mercy Seat (Exodus 25:17-22)

The mercy seat was made from one slab shaped piece of solid gold (2½ by 1½ cubits), which fitted exactly inside the crown of the Ark of the Covenant.

Two cherubim were hammered into shape at the two ends of the mercy seat, not separately, but from the same one piece of gold as the mercy seat.

Their wings were raised to cover the mercy seat; and the faces were bent downwards, gazing at it.

Unlike the ark, the mercy seat was made of pure gold (see Exodus 25:17-18). No wood was used in its manufacture. The mercy seat points to Christ in his nature as divine and able to forgive our sins and show mercy.

Only by shedding his blood on the cross could Christ make grace and forgiveness available to guilty men.

Every year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the blood of propitiation was sprinkled upon the mercy seat.

Paul speaks of Christ as our Propitiation, or Mercy Seat. He says:

“God set Him forth to be a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God has passed over the sins that were previously committed” (Romans 3:25).

Jesus has made “propitiation for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:17).

John has the same thought when he says: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

The mercy seat is a symbol of the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which we can know reconciliation, forgiveness, justification and peace.

Cherubim in scripture often speak of God’s justice. We first see them in Garden of Eden with “a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24).

They are often depicted as messengers of God’s judgment (see Ezekiel). Some suppose them to be above the mercy seat, ready to pour out the judgment of God, unless atonement is made.

 When God passed through Egypt in judgment, He first warned His own people to sprinkle blood upon the doorposts and lintels of their homes, for he said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13).

God’s judgment holds back its sword because the blood has been shed and sprinkled. The flaming sword of God’s wrath was sheathed in Christ (Psalm 85:10). In John ,we see two angels in white one at the feet, the other at the head where the body of Jesus had lain, indicating to us, that atonement had been both made and accepted (John 20:12).

The mercy seat appears to provide part of the crown of the ark, and indeed Jesus would never have been crowned with glory and honor had He not fulfilled God’s perfect plan of redemption.

Because he is crowned, we can be sure that the mercy seat will never become for us a throne of judgment, but is forever a throne of grace.

Conclusion

In the Ark of the Covenant and its mercy seat we see a glorious picture of our exalted Lord, who reaches out to us in mercy on the basis of the finished work of Calvary.

Reader, have you trusted Christ to forgive and cover all your sins? Do so today!

 You will find a righteousness, eternal life and satisfaction in Him alone.

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One God, One Mediator between God and Men, One Message (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

One God, One Way to God

There is only one mediator between God and man – the man Christ Jesus. (c) Ptphotos

One God.

Even today, there are many people who worship numerous gods. In India there are said to be over 20,000,000 named “gods”- their idols. The ancient Greeks, for example, had one god for the sun and another for the moon, one for the sea and another for fish etc.

The OT teaches the truth that there is only One God. Deut 4.35; 2 Sam 7.22.
In many places Isaiah confirms this truth Isa. 43.10; 44.6; 45.5 etc.

It was taught by the Lord Jesus Christ: Mark 12.29,32.

At Athens Paul told the Greeks, who had many gods, of the One true and living God. In fact it is taught throughout the NT. Romans 3:30, 1 Cor. 8:4.
It was this teaching of Paul’s that caused a riot at Ephesus. Acts 19.26

Since there is only one God ,who made us all and who loves us all He would have ALL to be saved.

There are those who agree with the truth that there is one God, but who do not believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. They say they believe that there is only One God. So do the demons James 2:19. Is the God that they worship the God of the Bible? John 4:22. All humans must come to know God Himself in person of Jesus Christ.

One Mediator.

The Qualifications of the Mediator.

What is a mediator? (Lit: go between). It is someone who acts in order to bring about peace between two parties. If there were in an industrial dispute such a mediator would need to understand both the claims of the employer and the needs or rights of the employee.

But here we are thinking of a mediator between God and man. Such a person must understand the claims of God and in order to do this he must Himself be God. The mediator must also understand the need of men, and in order to do this he must himself be a man.

The Lord Jesus Christ is qualified to be our mediator.
He is God. 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb.1:8; Isa. 9:6;John 1:1-3,14.
He is Man. Phil. 2:7; Rom. 1:3; Heb. 2:14

The Work of the Mediator

The only way in which both God’s holy requirements and the need of the people could be met was for Christ to fully satisfy the claims of God on behalf of the people. He did this by his life- He fulfilled all of God’s claims – by fulfilling or keeping the whole law of God. He was without sin. He did this by his death- He paid the penalty of sin on behalf of law breakers. Romans 5:6. If a man breaks the law and is unable to pay his fine he faces imprisonment. Yet if another person offered to pay on his behalf, he would be free. Once released, the offender could not be charged with the crime a second time, for the penalty had already been paid. This is what is meant in our text where it says “He gave Himself a ransom for all.” The law of God said that the soul who sins shall die, but Christ was our substitute, He died instead of us.
We have all sinned and broken God’s law. Judgement has been passed upon us all by God’s word. There is no fine high enough for our crimes, the penalty must be death, and that not physical death but eternal death, everlasting conscious punishment. “The soul that sins shall die.” Yet there was one who was willing to die in my place. Gal. 2:20; Heb. 2:9. So that now we can be reconciled to God.
God does not need to be reconciled to man – His love, His attitude to man has not changed and never does change. It was sin that separated us from God, and now that Christ has died for our sins, we can be reconciled to God. By giving up his life on our behalf and instead of us, Christ has annulled the power of sin to separate between God and the believer. (VINE)

The Scope of The Mediator (v6 for all).

In His work of offering Himself sacrificially to God, Christ was acting on behalf of all men. John 3:16; John 1:29; 1 John 2:2; Romans 5:6.
There is no one at all who is outside the scope of the mediator’s work. There is no one out of his reach that He cannot save. And He will save all who believe on Him. Whosoever believes on Him…

One Message.

God has ordained that the facts about what Christ has done should be made known to men by other men. For this reason Paul (v7) says that he had been ordained by God to be a messenger – a preacher of the gospel of Christ. His message was simply about what God has done for us to bring about salvation. It is that Christ died for our sins, that he was buried, and that on the third day he rose again. By believing in him, we are saved and have eternal life. There is no other way to God than the one he Himself has made. There is One God, One Mediator between God and man, and One message of salvation. Only by believing in Christ can we receive eternal life. Acts16.31; Romans10.9. It is part of God’s plan that people HEAR the gospel so that they might believe. It is his plan to use YOU to tell them. Are you taking part in God’s plan? Are you living your life to tell others about what great things Jesus has done for you? God needs people to be willing to share the good news of Jesus with others. This is His plan so that they might be saved.
It may be that you have never believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and received him as your saviour. You may do so today. Will you believe and be saved?

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The Seven Churches (Revelation 1-3)

I had to re-blog this post from Word4u2’s Blog which I think is a great outline for your small study groups to use. Perhaps you would like to use it in conjunction with our free commentary on Revelation here: http://www.biblestudiesonline.org.uk/#/revelation/4570702127 Thanks Word4u2!

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A Milestone in the Ministry

Direction sign

Near Rome, the apostle Paul thanked God and took courage.

TEXT: “when Paul saw [the brethren], he thanked God and took courage” Acts 28:15

Introduction
Paul had reached a milestone in his ministry. After years of thinking, praying, writing, traveling and suffering he at last entered the outskirts of Rome. This was the fulfillment of his God-given dream. Despite his being a prisoner and close to exhaustion in his spirit, soul and body, he was in sight of the city, and so “he thanked God and took courage” Acts 28:15.

As a church we too have reached another milestone. One year is ended and a new one has begun. What Paul did as he entered Rome is a principle for all Christians. Every day we should thank God and take courage, but especially when He brings us to a milestone such as this. From the text we see what made Paul thank God and take courage. Firstly, there was a:

I. A Backward Look Paul thanked God as he looked back. It wasn’t simply the arrival of the Christians from Rome that filled him with joy. To him, the sight of them meant:

1) The Fulfillment of Paul’s Prayer About five years before this Paul had written to the believers at Rome to say: “God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you” (Rom 1:9-10). He concluded his letter again mentioning his desire to come to Rome. “When I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.” Rom 15:29

The events of those five intervening years takes up nearly 2/3 of Acts. Paul spent much of that time in prison, and even when he was free doing mighty works for God, He endured stonings, beatings, imprisonments and shipwreck. What a lot of trouble just to get to Rome! No wonder when he got there he thanked God. His prayer had been answered at last.

As we look back at the end of one year and the beginning of a new, we can see how God has answered prayer Yet we still have many unfulfilled spiritual desires. Let us not give up praying and desiring, for we will receive the answer in time and then we too shall thank God and take courage.
As Paul arrived in Rome, he could look back over the sufferings which led him there. We too can look back over a year of trials, suffering, and sickness. It is because God has brought us safely through to this day that we thank God and take courage. The coming year will bring its own trials and disappointments. As believers we have no idea why God should lead us this way. It must have seemed strange too, the way that Paul arrived in Rome. After all he was bound in chains on board a prison ship. I bet he didn’t think the answer to his prayer would come wrapped up in such strange packaging. Stranger still is that all this was no accident or misfortune. It was the outworking of God’s perfect will for His life. If we can only get hold of this: through our circumstances, God is working out His purpose in our lives. All things work together for good to those who love God. He has an eternal and spiritual work to do in us and he will not fail to do it! Victory will emerge from the very trials that threaten to put us out for good. If we can get hold of this truth by faith as we enter another year then we can thank God take courage.
Our trials, whatever they are, will not be forever, though they sometimes seem to be. There will be an end to them all. For although Paul had his eyes fixed on the earthly goal of his journey, Rome, in his letters from prison he revealed to his friends that his eyes were fixed on a very different goal. At the end of his life he said, “I have finished the course and kept the faith, henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord the righteous judge will give to me in that day and not to me only but also to all them that love his appearing.” We will see his lovely face some bright golden morning. Jesus is coming again. As we look for that blessed hope, let us thank God and take courage.

2) The Fulfillment of God’s Promise Twice the Lord appeared to Paul to assure him that he would reach Rome. The first time was in a Roman castle in Jerusalem, after he’d nearly been lynched (see Acts 23:11). The second instance was on a storm-tossed ship when, humanly speaking, all hope of being saved was gone (see Acts 27:24). The apostle had not forgotten these promises; and as he approached Rome, he gave thanks for their fulfillment. Have you thanked God for the revelations, blessings and promises He has given you in your lifetime? I remember how the Lord said to me “I will fulfill my purpose concerning you.” I often thank Him for that. Recently the Lord promised us as a fellowship, “I will build you again.” With Solomon we can say “There has not failed one of the Lord’s good promises.”

3) The Fulfillment of God’s Purpose Did you know that God has a purpose for your life? No one can read through Romans without seeing the purpose of God for men and women in Jesus Christ. Paul writes of being “called according to His purpose” and being “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom 8:28-29)

God was working out his purpose in Paul’s life in seemingly strange ways. But he was an apostle, what about ordinary believers? Does God fulfill His purpose in their lives? Luke briefly describes the behavior of those believers who came out to meet Paul. If the apostle had wondered whether his teaching had any effect on their lives, we can see by their actions that they had embraced it with all their hearts. Some of them walked 43 miles to the Appii Forum; others 33 miles to the Three Inns, to welcome a despised prisoner in chains as if he was a king. For Paul, this meant that they were not afraid to be identified with a preacher under arrest! By the simple fact of their coming out to him, Paul perceived the genuine work of grace, bring done in their lives. God was working out his purpose in them, and for this Paul thanked God, and took courage.
There is nothing that brings more joy and encouragement to the preacher’s heart, than the response of spiritual growth among his hearers and converts. Writing to the Thessalonians Paul said, therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord. For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God, (1Th 3:7-9)

II. A Forward Look-“When Paul saw.. he took courage” Acts 28:15. The word courage means good cheer, boldness and confidence. This Christian quality enables us to endure suffering and remain faithful to complete demanding tasks. It is the touch of God which carries us beyond selfish interests. It is a strong characteristic of godliness which never vaunts itself. And so “Paul . took courage” Acts 28:15

1) He Sensed Courage Through the Fellowship of the Saints “When Paul saw [the brethren], he took courage” Acts 28:15. We have already noted that these brothers welcomed Paul like a king. Their lives had been transformed by his ministry of pen and prayer and they wanted him to know it.
The apostle needed this encouragement. He appears to have been in a mood of discouragement at this time, verging on depression. He was still recovering from the rigors of travel and weakness. Not only that, but thee apprehension of what lay ahead caused him anxiety daily, and that can rally take it out of you. The pressure of living in Rome,the cruel suffering of imprisonment and the solemn responsibility of reaching Rome for Christ all bore down on him. Some of the churches he had founded had already turned away from him. Some of the saints he had befriended had turned their backs on him. This deep sense of betrayal and loneliness threatened to overwhelm him, but then the saints come out to meet him. And all ata once Paul was able to thank God and take courage.

How many of God’s servants have collapsed under the strain because there was no one to encourage them in the Lord. These people honoured Paul for his ministry, they were thankful for it. That encouraged him. We all need each other’s ministry and encouragement. That is why we must not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Have you received and are you fulfilling a ministry from the Lord? Are you encouraging your brothers and sisters by regular attendance, support in prayer, support financially, support lovingly and personally? Remember, without it, you could cause some servant of God to fall under the strain – to give up all hope under the load.

The story is told of a fireman who was trying to reach a woman who was crying for help at the window of a burning house. Someone in the crowd cried, “You can’t do it, come down.” The fireman was already badly burned and almost choked by smoke. He began to descend, leaving the woman to her fate, when a man shouted, “Give him a cheer!” The crowd made the air ring with their encouragement. The fireman stopped and again ascended toward the window, and helped by the cheers of the crowd brought the woman to safety. Are you a cheerleader or a cheer-killer?

2) He Sought Courage From the Fountainhead of the Spirit-“he took courage” (Acts 28:15). Wonderful as is the encouragement of the saints, it will never take the place of the fullness of the Spirit.

As Paul landed at Rome’s port named Puteoli he could see fleets of Roman warships. Nearby were crowded beaches and the yachts of wealthy citizens. Here was Rome with all its power, pomp and splendor, yet here was Rome with all its sin, vice and wickedness. But above all, here was Rome filled with souls needing Jesus. The cry rang in Paul’s ears one of great missionary challenge. Paul had spent months thinking about the events that awaited him. Only heaven-sent courage would enable him to be:

a) A Preacher for God in Rome Five years previously he had written: “So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.” Only the Holy Spirit can give the believer boldness to witness for Christ in the face of great opposition. Paul received this boldness, for he went on to write, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” Rom. 1.15. Paul was no novice to church planting. Three long missionary journeys had taught him that only the Holy Spirit could enable him to stand for Christ when all the devil’s forces were arrayed against him.

If there was ever a time when we need the Holy Spirit it is today. Stephen F Olford says “In the most subtle and yet relentless manner, the enemy is gaining ground-not only in the world at large, but in the church of Christ. The authority of the Bible, the Deity of Christ and the efficacy of the cross, not to speak of other doctrines of our faith, are being attacked. Moral standards are being relaxed, and the authority of the ministry is being challenged. Only those with holy courage will ever survive the onslaughts of Satan” SFO is right. So we need, like Paul to take courage and we can take it in the person of the Holy Spirit.
Paul needed courage to be:

b) A Prisoner for God in Rome From this time on Paul referred to himself as “a prisoner of Christ Jesus Phil. 1:1. Yet instead of giving into his circumstances, he made them the platform for his ministry. When the church at Philippi wrote to express their concern regarding his imprisonment, he replied, “I want you to know that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, that my chains are in Christ” Phil. 1:12, 13 Soldier after soldier, chained to his side, was led to a saving knowledge of Christ, so that the whole palace of Caesar was feeling the impact of his ministry! Rome was being slowly, but surely, conquered for Jesus. What a challenge this is to us! All around us we see sin and rejection of God, yet in the midst of our own suffering and trials, in the face of insurmountable obstacles, we must continue faithfully to witness to the gospel, for it is: “the power of God for salvation”. Our obstacles are no more a hindrance than Paul’s chains. As we boldly declare the gospel, we too shall see the fruit of an ingathering for Jesus.

c) A Penman for God in Rome Historians tell us that the apostle wrote six of his epistles before his imprisonment, but no fewer than seven during his stay in Rome. Rather than mope about his confinement within doors and moan about what he could no longer do for the Lord, he made great use of his time in prison. He used the opportunity to pray, direct mission work from his cell and teach by use of his pen. When free, his preaching reached hundreds for the Lord. From prison Paul influenced millions.

What a blow this strikes at the pessimistic defeatism of modern church life! We are forever talking about what we cannot do because of lack of funds or space, or personnel. But here is a man who took courage, in the restricted confines of his prison, and through his pen reached a world! When God closes a door in one manner of service, we need not fear, for he will open up more effective ways of service. Let us then have faith to thank God, and take courage.

Conclusion
We have looked at a milestone in Paul’s ministry. The backward look should teach us how to thank God for all things. The forward look should show us how to take courage and go forward, regardless of the scorn of the world, the weakness of the flesh, or the fury of the devil. We are on the Lord’s side and He has a glorious purpose to fulfill in our lives. Let us, then, at this, another milestone in our church’s ministry and thank God, take courage, and go forward.

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Rewards

Jesus rewards his servants

Rewards (crowns) for the faithful to Christ.

Eternal Life is a Gift.

What is a reward? It is something that is received for work well done. We may also call it a prize. When an athlete competes in the games he does so for a prize. But eternal life is not a reward. It is not earned or merited. Bible makes this clear. It is the GIFT of God Rom 6.23. Titus 3.5. Salvation/eternal life is a gift. Gifts cannot be earned – only received. We receive God’s gift of eternal life by believing on His Son Jesus Christ who died for us so that this free gift of eternal life might be offered to all.

Rewards Gained for Christian Service

However, once we are saved, the Lord gives us the opportunity to gain rewards for our service. These rewards are not given for our success or polish and professionalism. It is our motives that the Lord Jesus Christ will judge in that day. 1 Cor. 4.5 and 1 Cor. 3.13-15.
When and where will this judgement take place and what kind of judgement is it?

The Judgement Seat of Christ Rom. 14.10c

Firstly, we should say that it is not a judgement of sin. The believer’s sin has already been judged once for all in Christ. For us, judgement is passed. Christ Himself bore the judgement of our sin. We can say Rom. 8.1. However, a day is coming when the Lord will judge His own people for the works that they have done in service to Him. This will happen when we appear before the judgement (or BEMA) seat of Christ. The BEMA seat was well known in Paul’s day as the place where the master of the Olympic games awarded the prizes to the competing athletes. When will this happen? It will be when the Lord Jesus Christ comes again for His own, He will come into the air and call His church up to meet Him.(1 Thess. 4. 16,17). It is generally accepted that it is at this time that He will give out rewards for faithful service an that this will take place in the air/clouds. Christ will display in front of the whole universe exactly how much He thinks of our service to Him.

What are the Rewards which will be available?

The Bible speaks of a number of crowns (or wreaths) that can be won. Whether they are literally crowns of some sort we do not know, but we doubt that they are. What are they?

The Crown of Life. Rev 2.10

This reward is for all those who have remained faithful to the Lord Jesus in spite of difficulties, trials or persecution. Jms 1.12. In these days we need to hold on to the faith and to the truth of the gospel. Col. 1.23; Heb. 12.1,2; Jude 3; Heb. 2.1. Will the Lord find us FAITHFUL? Will we be able to say with Paul 2 Tim. 4.7

The Crown of Righteousness 2 Tim 4.8

To those who have loved the appearing of the Lord Jesus. We love Him now although we do not see Him. 1 Pet. 1.8. And we long for the day when we shall see Him face to face, for then we shall be like Him 1 John 3.2. It is this hope that keeps us pure, and that enables us to endure and remain faithful in our Christian trials. Titus 2.11-13

The Crown of Rejoicing. 1 Thess. 2.19

This is the reward of the evangelist. Souls won to Christ by our ministry are so precious that they are regarded as being a reward in themselves – a crown. These are the “wages” that Christ speaks of in John 4.36. The reaper joins with the sower in his work, shares the same hope of harvest, and so rejoices with Him in the harvest. The harvest is Christ’s reward. Isa. 53.11 We are workers together with him. John 4.34.
But this is not only so for those that are called of God to be evangelists. We can all have a share in the work of soul winning by bearing witness to the Lord Jesus Christ in many different ways, and we can all share in the reward and joy of the harvest.

The Crown of Glory 1 Pet 5.4

This crown will be given to those that have faithfully looked after Christ’s sheep. They have tended them and fed them with the word of God. They have endeavoured to live out their lives as examples to the flock for Him. They will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Even a gold medal won at the Olympic Games will eventually wear out and fade away, but Paul tells us that the rewards which we receive from Christ will never pass away. 1 Cor. 9.25

Can a Crown be lost?

We may have already done much which is deserving of reward. But if we then neglect our duty, become slack in our service for the Lord or even drift away from holding on to the truth, then John warns us that we can forfeit our reward and that someone else who is more deserving may receive it instead. 2 John 8; Rev. 3.11.
There may only be a little time left. Some of us may have worked hard for the Lord for many years. There are those who are now unable because of age to do as much as they once did or as much as they would like to do. But God looks at the heart. He knows what you would still do for him if you could. All he asks is that we remain faithful and true to Him. We must HOLD FAST. STAND FIRM. We need to remain faithful in the little things. And when he comes we will receive a full reward.

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The Call to Mission

Sermon Help Outline

Christian Missions Image (c) Photowitch

The communion service gives us an illustration and a motivation for mission. Jesus Christ came into the world with this mission – to save sinners. It was a mission motivated by love. Of course, after his death and resurrection Jesus said as the father has sent me even so send I you. He has communicated to us the mission he began. Christ has provided the gospel, that we might run to proclaim it.

The cross provides us with

A Call to mission.
It was at the cross that God demonstrated his great love for sinful humanity. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. Paul knew that he owed his salvation to the fact that God so loved the world. If God never loved the world, he’d never love me. Which is why he describes his mission in terms of a debt. To the Romans he wrote that he wanted to come and preach the gospel among them because he was a debtor to all men. (Rom 1:13-14). A debtor because the love that had reached out to him and saved his would was for all men. He owed it to God and to men, to pass on the good news of free salvation for all.

It is a debt which we repay by our giving

Some may say I was never called to preach or to go on a mission trip. But may I say very clearly that love motivated giving is an expression of the gospel of Christ. God so loved the world, and he gave. Our giving to mission work,  is an expression of God’s love, and confirmation of the gospel of Christ at work in our lives. You may wish to call it a sermon without words, but its a sermon that speaks very loud. Our missionaries have often told us how thankful the people are for the financial help we send and the help they receive from these saints being there with them. And when believers are helped by other believers, they return thanks to God.

Paul was always eager to remember the poor, and was taking up a collection for the poor saints in Judea at the time of the world-wide famine in the first century. Of this giving, and of your giving, we can say the same thing:

For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:12-15

Paul links the sacrifice and gift of Christ with the sacrificial giving of his church. This is true when Calvary love motivates our giving.

But Calvary love also motivates our going.
Paul said the love of Christ compels us, he means compels us to preach the gospel.

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
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Since Christ died for them, he died for all men, and so we have a debt to pay to all men, that they might hear the good news of eternal salvation.

Thank God that we have such a wonderful gospel to proclaim. Salvation is obtained by Christ, salvation and pardon for sin is free to you on the basis of what he has done on the cross. We preach Christ crucified, says Paul, yes we do, yeas we must. The gospel is for the whosoever.

Since Jesus died for all men, William FP Burton pioneer Pentecostal missionary in Central Africa said “We couldn’t go to the wrong place -we had to preach it to them all.”

Our partner pastors go from village to village to proclaim Christ, often in the face of opposition. The love of Christ has to constrain us to go, because it is only Calvary love that reaches out to all men. When we proclaim the gospel, if you hand out a tract in town or witness to a friend at college or university, that is the hand of God stretched out all day long to those who are lost. Your hand is the hand of God, let him love the lost through you. And I don’t mean in a soppy or emotional way. God deliver us from mere sentimentalism and emotionalism, and send us to go with the gospel.

We have the call to mission.

Then we have received the commission of our Saviour.

Go into all the world and preach the gospel . GO and teach all nations.

If we go because the love of Christ compels us to go. then the word of Christ commands us to go. In his name, and for his love we go. The call of Christ for believers to preach the gospel has never been more urgent.

Our Lord said: Go into the highways and byways and compel them to come in.

Thank God that we can labour for the master in his harvest field. It is difficult work, but the word of God assures us that those who sow will also reap in due time. Those who go forth bearing precious seed will doubtless come again rejoicing bringing their sheaves with them. Don’t be discouraged by lack of results – keep going. Dr. Livingstone preached all over central Africa without a convert, but wrote in his journal. One day will see converts for every sermon, for the seed has been sown.

Finally, in response to the call and commission of the Saviour, but we also must yield our commitment to the Saviour. This commitment to mission is two fold.

We must surrender our lives. The call is to mission. Will you respond to the call. The call is to go, will you go? Christ is still calling men and women to go. His word has never changed “You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem , Judea, Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth.” That’s a phrase that’s been on my mind a lot lately. To the uttermost parts of the earth.
But whether its to the other side of the globe or the other most side of the street, there are men women and children who need a Saviour. Men women and children for whom Christ died. Will you surrender your life? Christ doesn’t want anything spectacular from you, he wants your commitment. It may be a commitment to teach in Sunday school ,it may be commitment to support and pray for mission, but it has to be full commitment to the Lord.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1-2

Lay your life on the altar for God, he’s calling for you today. You have only one life to invest. Will you invest it in a good job, in making money or a name for yourself, or fulfilling your ambition to be a top manager or a happy housewife? Or will you invest it in Christ’s lowly service? Only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Jesus will last.

Young people, you have a life to give. make sure you lay it on Christ’s altar. Older people, he still wants all your life. Have you laid it afresh on the altar of his will lately and said Lord, I’m still here, still send me.

But if we must be surrendered to mission then we must be empowered for mission.

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

The Holy Spirit was given to the church that we might be empowered for mission, that we might be witnesses to Christ to the uttermost parts of the earth. We must remember as we sit in our Pentecostal churches, that it was as they went forth and preached everywhere that the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word with signs following. This is no easy life, but it is an empowered life. Who can minister in the name of the Lord? Who can win a soul for Christ. Who is sufficient for such things, not you or I. But he has made us able ministers. He has set his anointing on us all. Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit says the Lord your God.

On receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit the disciples were empowered and emboldened to speak for Christ and to even rejoice as the faced suffering and persecution for his name. Have you received the Holy Spirit.? If we are to receive the Holy Spirit’s fulness then we must accept the necessity of our full surrender to the Lord, and our full commitment to his mission.

William Burton whom I have already mentioned wrote about missionary Rosalin Heggie. A little woman. Nothing extraordinary about her. But she’d been called, and she responded. She accepted the commission of the Saviour, she went forth, fully surrendered and empowered by the spirit and planted over a thousand churches along the shores of lake Tanganyika in Congo.

Have you heard the call. have you accepted the commission. Will you give and will you go? Is your life on the altar for God, surrendered and empowered for his service, to work for his kingdom until he comes?

Prayer
Sovereign Lord, you know all our hearts. Help us to hear your call, to accept our service and to yield to your voice. In Jesus name Amen.

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The Fellowship of the Gospel

The Fellowship of the Gospel Phil. 1:3-11

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Introduction
We are told to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Yet not one of us can do this on his/her own and not every one is called to work in exactly the same way. Paul knew this from his own experience, as he traveled around preaching the gospel he knew that he never went on his own. With him were many fellow helpers, preaching or ministering to him in practical ways. Behind him were the prayers and financial support of god’s people. This is what paul is talking about when he speaks of the fellowship in the gospel. We are all to work together in the mission of spreading of the gospel of Christ.
God has put the desire in all our hearts that souls might be saved. it is not enough merely to have this desire in our hearts, god also calls us to do all we can to accomplish this salvation of souls.

As we have fellowship with each other in the spreading of the gospel, we are also having fellowship with Christ in his great work of saving souls. We are workers together with him. Think of Andrew – once he had come to know Christ as his Saviour, the first thing he wanted to do is bring his brother Simon to Jesus that he might be saved too. and he was saved – Jesus did the saving, but andrew told Simon about Jesus, so Andrew and Jesus were working together. in the same way we can work with Jesus that others might be saved. so the fellowship of the gospel is a fellowship we have with each other and with Jesus.

The Fellowship of Gleaning
In the book of Ruth we find Ruth going through the harvest fields gleaning to get food for herself and her mother in law to eat. That means she was picking up by hand one by one the ears of barley which been left by the harvesters. That is like our work for Jesus Christ, only instead of barley we are picking the souls of men and women boys and girls one at a time for the Lord. God calls men and women to go into his harvest field to work to bring in a harvest of souls. Once he has saved our souls, we become soul winners, bringing others to Jesus. As we go with him into his harvest field, he promises to be with us. ..Lo I am with you always. He promises to reward us. Whatever is right I will pay you.

Whether we are young or old, whether we know a lot or little about the gospel – we can all tell someone else about Jesus. We can just tell them what we know, and invite them to come to him for themselves. For the gospel is an invitation for men and women to come to Jesus Christ.

When Now. For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Cor 6:2

There is no time to be lost. It is only a very short time until the Lord Jesus Christ shall come again, and then the day of grace will end – there will be no more opportunity for anyone to be saved. At the present time before Jesus comes God is offering an opportunity for all men everywhere to repent and be saved, but the time will come when the door will be closed. Listen to what Jesus said.

And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, Gen 6:3
Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. “When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ Luke 13:24-25

The chance will not be forever, so we must work together now to bring the gospel to men and women boys and girls in our town and our families.

When we work in the harvest field we will know Christ’s power. The Holy Spirit is given that we might have power to be witnesses for Christ.

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8

We will never be alone in the harvest ministry for Christ will accompany us, the Holy Spirit empower us and the Lord will confirm his word with miraculous signs following.

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen. Mark 16:15-20

Christ does not only call us to bear witness with our word, and with miraculous signs, but supremely by our lives. We will never win souls by our words only, but our living. No one will ever listen to us unless we are living as Christ would have us to live holy, separated lives. Living as Christians should. If we are not they will not listen – why should they ? If this gospel is not important to us, why should it be to them? They will perish in their sin, and at least part of the blame will be ours. The only thing that stands between your family and an everlasting future in hell is your witness for Christ, the witness of your life and the witness of your word. The same is true for our friends.

We share Christ’s desire for souls to be saved. Remember what Jesus said -you are my friends, he shared his heart with us, he tells us not just what he is doing but why he does it, he shares the very desires of his heart with us.
This is what Christ does when he gives us a love for souls, he gives us a burden in our hearts to see souls saved, it is his burden, we share it with him so that we might witness for Jesus and pray in real earnest.

Only the love of Christ in our hearts is a good enough motivation for us to serve him. We serve him because we love him, we owe him all our love always. Why do we work with children, why do we love children, because he does and he shares his love and puts it in our hearts. I can’t say it clearer than this, the Jesus in me loves the children, and Jesus and me are one.
There is nothing more satisfying, nothing brings us greater joy than serving Jesus. As we do this with all our hearts, he will provide everything we need. Whether it is food, or clothing or a place to live, Jesus says, But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matt 6:33
By the way, what did Ruth find as she gleaned in the fields? She met Boaz. She found her future husband as she was serving God. In finding Boaz she found everything else.

So whether we are running children’s clubs, crusades, delivering literature, holding open airs or giving financially and prayerfully to make it possible for others to do so, we are having fellowship, working together in the harvest field for the master.

We not only have fellowship with him, but with one another and this is:

The Fellowship of Going on
We are not only to work together for Christ, but go on together with Christ. The early Christians:
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42
Just like these, so all Christians in every age are to go on in Jesus Christ, to grow in the grace and knowledge of Him. Paul loved those he had won to Jesus Christ. He was delighted when they were going on with Christ and very concerned when they were going wrong. He called them his hope, his joy and his crown of rejoicing. His great hope was that they would go on in the Lord and grow in spiritual maturity into men and women of God.

Writing to the Thessalonians, Paul could ask: “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” (1 Thes. 2:19). And the apostle John declared: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth (3 John 4). How many of us can rejoice in this fellowship of the gospel?
Paul’s prayers throughout the New Testament are that they would abound..grow..increase..are you growing, increasing? Spiritual growth is achieved by the Word of God.

as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 1 Peter 2:2

How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. Psalms 119:9
When we come to Christ, he accepts us just as we are, he forgives us and cleanses us from all our sin. But we soon realize that here are things in our hearts and lives that do not please him, and we need to change. But what are we going to do about them? How can we cleanse our way? by paying attention to God’s word and obeying it. This book was written so that we might know God’s will for our lives. The more we learn and obey there more we will go on in the Lord.

By prayer. To go on with the lord we must learn to pray. Prayer in public meetings and prayer at home in private. It’s an advantage of course if you have got your own room. Then you can get out of the way, shut the door and pray. What can you pray about, absolutely anything and everything. Just tell God what you want, how you feel, what you need. Ask for his help to live the Christian life and he will.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7

Fellowship. No Christian was ever meant to stand alone. We always need each other and sometimes we need to lean on each other, love and care for each other. Don’t any Christian never break up their relationship with their Christian brothers and sister because one day soon you may find that you really need it more than anything else.
not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Heb 10:25

An open heart. It is possible for the Christian having gone on with God for a while to become hardened in his or her heart. The word of God warns us not to harden our hearts, that means not to become stubborn against God.

For this reason, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice, stop hardening your hearts [ie stop being stubborn] as in the rebellion, in the day of the testing in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me; they tried Me and saw My works for forty years.
For this reason, I was angry with that generation, and said, ‘They are always being led astray in their heart and do not know My ways.'” So in My anger I took an oath: ‘They will not enter into My rest.'”

Be careful, brothers and sisters, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief which turns away from the living God. But exhort and warn one another daily, while it is still “Today,” lest any of you be hardened [ie become stubborn] by the deception of sin.

Instead, we should be willing to listen to the voice of God and to obey the voice of God, for:
There is a way that seems right to a man but the end thereof is death.
As we keep an open heart to God and his word and in prayer he will lead us on.
God dwells with the broken, humble, open, teachable heart.

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. Isaiah 57:15.

A contrite heart is a heart that is sorry for its sin and it is the opposite of a hardened heart.

To those with open, contrite hearts the scripture says “I am confident of better things of you, things that accompany salvation”. Writing to the Philippians Paul says:

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).

God works in us to will and to do of his good pleasure and He never leaves a work undone.
Christ has saved your soul and he is determined to have his way in your life. Sometimes he patiently waits until you are ready to open your heart and respond to his call.
We are not saved by our good works, but by God’s grace. We are kept not by our own power but by God’s power. He is able to keep us. If we face temptation to go astray, Jesus gives us the answer, for he has overcome sin by his death on the cross. We don’t need to go astray – we will if we are determined to – but we don’t need to. Even if we are faced with great temptation, God is able to make a way for us so that we can overcome sin and temptation in our lives.

No temptation has taken hold of you, except what is characteristic of humanity. But God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are capable of, but with the temptation will also make of escape for you to bear up under it.

Sometimes the way of escape which God provides is just to get out of the situation. Don’t put yourself in a position where you can be tempted, because you could regret it for the rest of your life. If that is not possible, then another answer is to tell another Christian about your situation and agree with them to pray together about it. Unless you are deliberately determined to take the wrong way, God is able to keep you, but he can’t keep you against your will.

Conclusion
Are you ready and willing to go on with God? Then pray ‘Lord I don’t feel I have the strength but I know you will give it me if I ask you. I will serve you Lord in the fellowship of the gospel.

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The Love of Christ

The Love of Jesus

The Love of Jesus

(Eph 3:18,19) That you may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.

The love of Christ is perhaps the most precious subject in the universe. From the pages of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John may we tonight have a glimpse of its breadth, length depth and height.

The Love of Jesus is:
A personal love. The Bible clearly portrays God’s love for his people as a personal love. There is nothing remote or general about it. He says in Jer 31.3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jesus love is personal. Christ calls us all by name. He has a personal relationship with each of his followers. It was at the last supper, Jesus’ final night in this world, that he told His disciples “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” Luke 22.15 On the night before his crucifixion, where else would Christ wish to be but with his disciples, who through His death and resurrection were to become His brothers and friends? He wanted to be with them. If you love someone you want to be with them. Jesus was not ashamed to show His love for the disciples. John tells us that “Having loved his own who were in the world he loved them unto the end (completely and utterly)” John 13.1 As they sat down to eat a meal together, Jesus washed the feet of each one, an act which reveals His genuine and personal love. Then they sang a psalm of praise together. It was at the last supper that Christ instituted the communion service, a simple act in memory of Him – His body was about to be broken and His blood shed for them. It is at the communion that we remember Christ’s personal love for us. As Paul says, He is, “the Son of God who loved ME and gave himself for ME.” Gal 2. 20

Can we accept a challenge from this. Jesus said that we are to love one another as he loved us, that is personally. We are to build personal friendships and relationships with each other. When we meet together it is not out of a sense of religious duty, but because we love Christ and each other and we want to be together, especially together in fellowship with him. We are not to be ashamed to show our love in whatever practical ways we can, for our love is to be genuine not religious sham.

It is a perfect love. As they walk to the garden of Gethsemane Jesus reveals to his disciples that they will all desert him and flee. Peter’s protests of undying love fail to convince Jesus, who knows all things. He knew that Peter would deny Him at the very time when He needed him most. Yet this did not affect the Lord’s love for Peter. Peter’s failure would forever remind him that it was because Jesus loved Him that he was saved, and not because he loved Jesus. Peter’s love was imperfect, but Christ’s was perfect. Peter claimed a love that would die; the Lord was about to demonstrate His love by dying for Peter.
If Peter thought after his failure that the Lord would cast him off, then he had failed to understand the greatness of Christ’s love for him. John later describes Christ’s love as “Perfect love which casts out all fear” of rejection 1 John 4.18. Whilst Jesus was being sentenced to death, Peter was calling down God’s curses on Himself to deny that he was a follower of Christ. Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter, with such a look of love and concern that broke Peter’s heart. That look said, “Ah, but you are mine, I do this for you, and I will not let you go.” Peter went outside and wept bitterly.

Jesus had already told his disciples that “no one could pluck them out of his hand”, and as Paul writes to the Romans, “Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.”
Peter was not strong enough to withstand the onslaught of Satan which he faced that night before the crucifixion, but Jesus love for Peter was strong enough to keep him. Peter messed up and thought it was all over for him, but it would never be all over while Jesus sill loved him. After the resurrection, by the sea of Galilee, Peter was restored and recommissioned to be a messenger of the Lord, as he realised that Christ’s absolute love requires the response of absolute commitment.

“Oh love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee:
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.” George Matheson

It is a purposed love. As Christ approaches the garden of Gethsemane, He begins to enter His agony, an agony only He could face. The sorrow He felt was in itself sufficient to kill him. Mark 14.34. Asking His disciples, some further off and some near by, to pray with Him, He falls on His face to intercede with God for the last time as a man, asking that if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. Was it possible? Certainly. Christ did not have to suffer and die for the sin of the world. But there was no other way for lost sinners to be redeemed for God. This was the purpose for which he had come into the world. 1 Tim 1.15 Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners Christ’s death for man was no accident, for it had been planned from eternity. It was the reason that God sent His Son into the world. John 3.16 Realizing this, in the agony of the moment, Christ purposes to go through with it – not for His own sake, but for ours. “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” (v36) An angel appears to strengthen him, lest the sorrow be too much for his humanity.

Having purposed that He will give his life (soul) an offering for sin; and allow men to smite him; Christ approaches the arresting soldiers, led by Judas, to deliver himself up.  At all times the Lord Jesus Christ was in control as he offered himself to God for our sins. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life, so that I shall take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself; I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This command I received from My Father. John 10.17,18.
Similarly, before the Sanhedrin, Christ allows himself to be mocked, blasphemed and misjudged. For the first time in his life, Christ is struck. (Mark 14.65) Christ allowed those blows to fall, and endured them for our sake, for it was part of the plan of redemption.
When he was led away to Pilate, Jesus Christ gave a good confession. The charge brought against him in this instance was true, that he was King of the Jews. Even then, Christ could have saved himself, but he did not, for he had purposed to die that he might save us.

It is a propitiatory love. After the Chief Priests had got what they wanted from Pilate, Christ was led out to die on a wooden cross. The soldiers were used to this business. There were always ready for a bit of fun to break up the boredom. There is nothing new about the abuse of prisoners by soldiers. But there was greater venom in their treatment of Christ than any of those present would have admitted. It seems that every demon in hell, headed by Satan himself, had gathered to see off the Son of God. In fact it was Satan who inspired Judas to betray Jesus and it was Satan who sought to destroy Christ on the cross.
Today we see what they could not see. Hate’s worst crime is loves’ ultimate victory. For while it was Satan’s plan to destroy Christ on the cross, it was God’s plan that Christ might die to defeat death, hell and Satan, and bring men from darkness to light, rescuing them from Satan’s power. Acts 26.18

“Was it the nails O Saviour, that bound thee to the tree?
Nay, twas thine everlasting love, thy love for me, for me.” K. Kelly

Mark records that Jesus cried with a loud voice – but Luke tells us what He cried – “It is finished!” Before bowing his head, and dismissing his spirit. Christ had finished the work he came to do.
For Christ’s death is propitiatory: He offered His life as a sacrifice to appease God’s wrath. Our sin merited divine punishment, for the wages of sin is death. Christ took the punishment we deserved and died in our place.

It is a productive love.
Christ’s love produces love in others. The Bible shows us how Jesus love was productive. We see Mary anointing his feet with perfume as an act of loving devotion prior to his crucifixion. Elsewhere we see Joseph and Nicodemus coming to devoutly bury Christ’s body in Joseph’s own tomb. We see the other women, who had been present at his death, following them to the tomb, purposing to again anoint his body. It is not that this anointing would be necessary after all that Nicodemus and Joseph had done. It was rather that the women wanted to do something to demonstrate their love to Christ. What does Christ’s love produce in us tonight. Do we return his love for us with our love for him. Unlike the women who watched Jesus being buried, we have more reason to love him, for we know he is alive to save us from our sins.

Christ’s life produces life in others
The women never did get to anoint the body of Jesus. Coming to the tomb they found it empty and if the testimony of angels was not sufficient to convince the apostles, the personal manifestation of Christ was. They would never show their love to him in quite the same way again. John spoke of the word of life whom they had “seen, heard. handled” But from now on there would be a different relationship with the Lord. Once he had lived among them, now he would live within them.
This was the significance of Christ’s words to Mary, the first to see the risen Lord. “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended” (John 20.17) From now on there would a spiritual not physical relationship.

Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 2 Cor 5:16

Christ in you, the hope of glory. Col 1.27

Conclusion
Now that Christ lives in us, the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit that we might live for Him. Let us consider the depth.. that we might know the love of Christ that passes knowledge that we might be filled with all the fullness of God.

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Resurrection – Notes

Biblical Resurrection

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Resurrection concerns the body, never the soul. It is at the same time as reconstitution of elements and a reunion of soul & body.

 A Scriptural Truth

A Truth Taught in the Old Testament

The truth of resurrection was known to the OT saints. They Believed it.

JOB – Job 19.25,26
DAVID – Ps. 71.20b
HOSEA – Hos. 13.14
DANIEL – Dan. 12.2

Although particular details about life after death were not clear to them, they believed in the resurrection

In fact, boys were raised to life by both Elijah & Elisha. There were those Jews who still believed in Resurrection in Jesus’ time (e.g. John 11).

A Truth Taught by Our Lord Jesus Christ

See John 5.28,29 & John 6.40. He silenced Saduccees in Matt.23.23-32. Christ (& the apostles) raised numerous people to life during His earthly ministry. (A few instances are recorded).

A Truth Taught by the Apostles

Especially Christ’s own Resurrection At least 3 times by Peter Acts 2.23,24. Acts 3.14. Acts 10.39-41. Often by Paul eg. 2 Tim 2.8
The resurrection of Christ is a central truth of the gospel. The Lord Jesus IS the Resurrection. John 11.25.
No -one can be saved who does not believe in the resurrection of Christ. Rom. 10.9.
Many have been raised from the dead, but Christ was the first one raised never again to die. Rev. 1.18. He was the first to be raised with a glorified, immortal body (that is, not subject to death). He was the first, but because of His Resurrection there will be others. He is the PROTOTYPE – the FIRSTBORN from among the dead. Col. 1.18. Those who have believed in Him will share in His resurrection Rom. 6.5 & 1 Cor 15.49. Resurrection is the Christian hope. We will be raised because He was. Paul argues in 1 Cor. 15.12-17 that if there was no resurrection then Christ was not raised and if Christ has not been raised, then neither can we be.

The Order of Resurrection

Of Christ 1 Cor. 15.23,24.

Of Believers (and their Eternal State)

“Those who are Christ’s at His coming”. Resurrection of believers assured by Christ’s own and will be like his. John 6.40. John 11.25,26. Our resurrection bodies will have different characteristics to our natural bodies. We shall have bodies like his glorious resurrection body. We will be immortal – not subject to death or its effects such as sickness or sorrow. We will be “like the angels” who do not die – (angels have not got bodies, but like them we will be without gender as per Matt 23.23-32). It is important to note that flesh and blood cannot enter heaven. 1 Cor. 15.52-54. We will , in a moment, have a body fitted for eternity in the presence of God. Can we spritualise the Resurrection ? NO.
Firstly, Christ’s res was literal & bodily. He showed his hands and side Luke 24.39. It will be same for believers . When will it be? At the last trumpet 1 Cor. 15.52. When Christ comes into the air to receive his church. Have believers that have died already experienced Resurrection ? NO. Dead and living saints will be resurrected together see 1 Thess. 4.13-18. The resurrection of believers is called the first resurrection as it is closely assoc. with Christ’s own so as to be termed one. It precedes the 1,000 year reign of Christ on the earth, where the resurrected believers will reign with Him. Rev 20.4-6.

Of Unbelievers (and their Eternal State)

There is only one other resurrection spoken of in the Bible and is called the second or general resurrection It is the resurrection of the unjust as opposed to that of the just. We see this distinction in Acts24.15, Daniel 12.2 and John 5.28,29. When the righteous die, they are present with the Lord, where they shall wait for their resurrection. 2 Cor 5.8. When the wicked die they are in Hades, in fire & torment. Luke 16.19-23. This is not their final state. It is a prison where they are kept until the day of judgement. There is no hope of release or probation after death Prov. 11.7. The unjust will be resurrected after Christ’s 1,000 year reign so as to be judged by God. This second resurrection is to eternal punishment and condemnation. Rev. 20.12-15. It was never God’s intention that the body & soul should be separated forever. At the second resurrection the souls of the wicked will be reunited with their bodies and both soul and body will be cast into eternal fire Matt 10.28. There is no end to eternal punishment. It is forever. Jesus said “Their worm shall not die nor their fire be quenched”. This speaks of physical and spiritual agony forever. It will be too late to change your mind after you have died. If you are to escape that eternal fire then you must accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour.

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