To Whom Shall We Go?

When you face Crises, Anxiety, Fear, Guilt, Poverty, Homelessness, Hunger, Old Age, Divorce, Wars, Sickness, Alcoholism, Drugs, Problems.

To whom shall we go when we are in a crisis situation? To whom shall we go when we labour and are heavy laden because of sin and all of its consequences? In the final analysis all crises result from sin. To whom shall we go when we need help?

To whom shall we go when troubled by guilt? To whom shall we go when we are filled with fear, when we are anxious and worried? To whom shall we go when we become seriously ill? To whom shall we go when there is trouble in the family? To whom shall we go when we are filled with doubt? when we need guidance? when we need strength? To whom shall we go when we lose our jobs, and when there is no food on the table?

To whom shall we go when we are worried about the evils that prevail in our nation? when we are afraid about nuclear weapons? when we are concerned about the immorality all around us? when we are fearful about the violence and crime that threaten us all?

To whom shall we go when our marriage is on the rocks? To whom shall we go when our children ask us how they should live? when they start staying out late? when they reject our guidance – to whom then shall we go?

To whom shall we go when all alone? when the weakness of old age comes upon us? when sickness and death stare us in the face? when faced with the death of a loved one? To whom shall we go?

To whom shall we go if our home is destroyed by flood or fire? To whom shall we go when our car breaks down and fails its MOT? To whom shall we go first in every crisis, in every need?

Going to the right person

In purely material terms it is acceptable to go to those who are experts in their own fields. For the broken-down car we go to the mechanic. For repairs to the house we go to the builder. For the rewiring of the kitchen we seek an electrician.

It is in spiritual crises that people blunder horrendously. Over and over again they wander from one counsellor to another. If they have a drink problem they try the hypnotist. If they have a marriage problem they go to their general practitioner for medication. If they have problems disciplining their children they go to the headmaster. If sex is a problem, then they write a letter to an ‘agony aunt’ in a magazine.

Now there is no denying that sometimes those counsels can give some help, but very often their words do not reach the heart of the problem. They can give harmful advice. They can prescribe sinful cures. They can even encourage immoral actions.

To whom shall we go? Some read their horoscopes for guidance. Others go to séances and try to reach the dead. Going to them is like seeking light in the deepest and darkest dungeon. It is a horrible thing to fall under the influence of those who seek the dead.

To whom shall we go? Some go to drugs. Some go to pubs. Some go to cults of all kinds. Some go to communes. Some go on the road. Some emigrate. Some say they go to science, but who was there when the heavens and the earth were made? Who can run a controlled experiment and print out the proofs and say, ‘God did not create. It all came out of nothing, by chance’? The scientist has no more answers than anyone else to the final questions – Who made me? what is the purpose of life? what lies beyond the grave? who is God? To whom shall we go for answers to these questions? The psalmist tells us, ‘Vain is the help of man’. They are all creatures like ourselves.

To whom shall we go – in every crisis, in every need, material or spiritual? Jesus tells us: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ Go to Him, whatever the dilemma.

‘Come to me!’

Go to Him for forgiveness. He has come into the world to deal with its greatest problem, human sinfulness and rebellion against its creator. He has taken the guilt of our sin to Himself and so has suffered under its load – not for His own wickedness, for He had none, but for ours. Receive that peace which they know whose sins have been forgiven by Jesus Christ.
Go to him for the protection of everything that is yours. Does that sound strange? But there was a man who once had an axe-head retrieved when it had fallen into the water. Remember how the shoes of the Israelites did not wear out in the desert. God rules also in the material things of the world, and does He not tell us to ask Him for daily bread?

Go to Him when you know that death draws near. He is the Resurrection and the Life. He has felt the sting of death and tasted its bitterness in a way that we who trust in Him shall never know. He has warmed the bed of death by lying in that tomb for three days. Death is not cold and fearful to those who have gone to Jesus Christ.

Go to Him, for He has all the resources of heaven and earth at His command. Compare that with what man has to offer you. Jesus can help in any need. By His power you can ford any river, cross any mountain and bear any burden. You can do everything He asks of you with the strength which He supplies. By Him you can forgive seventy times seven. By Him you can love your enemies. By Him you can turn the other cheek when men smite you. If it’s hope you need, you will find it in Him. If it’s patience you pray for, you’ll receive it from Jesus. If gentleness is your longing, then the fullness of gentleness is found in Jesus Christ. His resources are never exhausted. If the whole world should go to Him, He could cope. Go, then, to Him.

Go to Him, for He is accessible always. Wherever and whenever you need Him, He is there. ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’, He says. He is never indifferent to our condition, never annoyed that we are troubling Him again, never untouched by our pain, and never too preoccupied with other things. He won’t mock us, nor turn us away. Instead, He invites us to come to Him, and He promises us rest. Go, then, to Him! To whom else can you go?

Geoff Thomas

(Pastor ALfred Place Baptist Church, Aberystwytth, Wales)

Spiritual diet for Christian Couples in Courtship

 

First, we must recognize the four forms of Biblical truth by which God has

communicated to us:

  • principle,
  • precept,
  • practice,
  • prudence.

We might parallel these four truth forms to four food groups – protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

If we are missing any from our spiritual diet, we will not be properly nourished. Our spiritual health is dependent upon our feeding regularly from each of these four truth forms. To omit any from our spiritual diet will promote malformed and diseased spiritual lives.

  1. Principle:

Principle is the first truth form and is defined as a general truth by which God has ordered His creation. Our responsibility, of course, is to discover and apply God’s principles because they are an expression of His very character.

Don’t let that last statement escape you: as an expression of the very character of God, His principles are by nature applicable to all cultures. It sounds like the Bible is very relevant after all!  

2.    Precept

 

A second truth form is precept, a direct command of God that is rooted in principle, such as “Pray without ceasing” (1Th 5:17). To uncover the underlying principle behind a command, simply ask the question “Why?” Why are you to pray without ceasing? Because you are in a dependent, loving relationship with God—that is the intrinsic principle. And unless there is clear evidence to the contrary, you should normally assume that a Biblical command is applicable to you and your culture.

3.    Practice 

The third truth form, practice, is a Biblically defined exercise of a principle. Many Christians wrongly assume that the practices in Scripture are generally “culturally bound,” yet Paul declares just the opposite when he explains, “[Timothy] shall bring you into remembrance of my ways [practices] which be in Christ [principles], as I teach every where in every church” (1Co 4:17; cf. Phi 3:17; 4:9). Old Testament scholar Dr. Richard Pratt, in his interpretational guide entitled He Gave Us Stories, puts it this way: “In many cases a sharp distinction between form [practice] and meaning [principle] cannot be justified.

 

The New Testament does not merely insist that believers affirm abstract theological principles; it also requires us to follow forms and structures in the church. In many cases, the forms and the principles are largely inseparable. We do not need to contextualize the Biblical teaching; we need to teach and explain the requirements of Scripture.”10 Thus, we should usually understand that a Biblical practice is relevant to all cultures unless there are sound reasons to the contrary

4.    Prudence

Prudence is the fourth truth form by which God has communicated to us in His Word. It is the wise personal application of a principle. Does this make prudence optional? No, Solomon tells us that to ignore prudence rashly is sin: “He that sinneth against me [Wisdom] wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death” (Pro 8:36). Once you have concluded that a particular path would be prudent, to do otherwise would be sinful since the motive could only be to please self rather than Christ.

Is there only one way to God?

Important questions:

  1. Are all religions the same?
  2. Are all views of God the same? (Some religions have many gods, others only one).
  3. Are there any differences that really count?
  4. Surely don’t the gods of the different religions vary immensely?

What the Bible Says 

In the Old Testament God taught Israel to be totally separate and distinct from the other nations who worshipped different gods. He also showed Israel what He was like to them
in a very special way. This was in order to teach them and the world that He was different from all other gods. He alone was the true, almighty, holy, powerful, just and loving God. He made it clear that he did not want Israel to get involved with other gods.
When Jesus Christ was on earth He declared,

“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Peter declared,
“There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Paul referred to those who preached “another Jesus whom we have not preached” (2
Corinthians 11:4).

There is false teaching and a false message, which pretends to be the true. The Bible tells us that there is a heaven and a hell, and we can only come to God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself said,

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Christ is the only entrance to the narrow way. He has said to us,
“I am the way…”

He has also said to us that He is the door.

Salvation is not what we do… it is what Christ has DONE!

In the Word of God we are taught that we can do nothing whatsoever to contribute to our
own salvation, and must rely only and entirely, by faith, on what God has done in giving us His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die for sinners and rise again. The broad way is the way men prefer because it is a way that offers them something they can contribute towards their own salvation, and makes them feel they are not so bad after all.

True Christianity
True Christianity is unique. It stands on its own as being completely different from all other faiths. All other religions, apart from true Christianity, tell men and women that they can work their way to heaven with a bit of help. This is not the message of the Bible. The Bible says,

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8,9).

The Bible makes it clear that there is nothing we can do by way of works, to try and ‘get right’ with God. We must trust in the works of the Lord Jesus Christ – His life, death and resurrection – which He did on behalf of sinners: on behalf of all who will trust in Him.

False religion says, “Do this work and God will accept you.” True Christianity says, “Trust in all Jesus Christ has done – despair of ever saving yourself by your own efforts and look to Him to save you.” This is what the Bible teaches. Jesus Christ calls us to, ‘Come to
Him’ and receive the salvation which only He can give.

Have you come to Christ and found the forgiveness of sins?

What are the marks of a true church of God?

 

There are at least 5 marks of a genuine church:

1. The pure preaching of the word of God (Acts 2:42, 20:20,27, 1 Timothy 1:3-7,18-20, 4:16, 6:3-5,20, 2 Timothy 1:13, 2:1- 2,15, 3:14-17, 4:1-5).

What is preached must be the Christ-centred gospel. Pure preaching has to humble the pride of man by showing man to be a needy and helpless, poor and wretched sinner who needs God’s mercy and the grace of Christ to be saved. Pure preaching has to exalt the glory of God in Christ by showing Jesus to be the one and only hope for sinners from whom there is full pardon for sins and eternal.

2. Biblical leadership (Acts 6:1-6; 1& 2Timothy and Titus)

There are only two officers prescribed in the bible for each church – the elders and the deacons (Philippians 1:1; 1Timothy 3:1-13). Elders also called pastors or overseers/bishops provide spiritual oversight to the church (preaching & prayer). Each church is also to appoint men who cater for their material needs called deacons. Both officers must be blameless in their character, family life and ministry, to qualify to serve in the church of Christ.

3. Genuine membership:

While everyone is welcome to attend church, only genuine Christians form the membership of the church. As Christians we are to be a family, committed to each other; to love, accept, and forgive each other until death or God’s call causes us to part.

We are to live in Jesus Christ and take his commands seriously. We are to help one another grow toward Christian maturity by: bearing one another’s burdens, encouraging one another, exhorting one another, praying for one another, confessing our sins to one another, speaking the truth in love to one another, admonishing one another, building up one another, teaching one another, comforting one another, submitting to one another, serving one another, patiently bearing with one another, being hospitable to one another, living in peace with one another, regarding one another as more significant than ourselves, caring for one another, exercising our spiritual gifts to serve one another, being kind and tender-hearted to one another, being devoted to one another, accepting one another, forgiving one another, loving one another and greeting one another.

4. Right administration of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Baptism is only for true believers of any age. Whoever shows his/her faith by desiring to be fully committed to Christ and to the local church (Acts 2:41-42).  Baptism must not be administered to a person because they were born of believing parents or went through a Bible class (therefore infant baptism is unacceptable). Baptism should be in the name of the triune God (Matthew 28:19). Baptism should be performed by immersion in water because:

1)     The Greek word for baptism means ‘plunge, dip, immerse’;

2)     All the examples of baptism in the Bible show that it was by immersion (Mark 1:5 “in”, 1:10 “out of”, John 3:23 “much water”, Acts 8:38-39 “down into” and ‘up out of”);

3)     It is a symbolism of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:12).

The Lord’s Supper is for the members of a local church and saved visitors from other true local churches. It should be celebrated according to 1 Corinthians 11:17-34.

  1. 5.     Right application of discipline to members who do not live according to the word.

God’s church is holy and must be preserved as such. A little leaven (sin) left undealt with in one person will affect the whole church (1 Corinthians 5:6). Therefore, those who indulge in sin must be purged from the church so that the church can remain in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or blemish (Ephesians 5:27). Christ is coming to His church as bride that is holy in His own sight (not in sight of men. The church prepare for His coming by rejecting sin and excommunicating unrepentant members.

When evaluating your church, please consider that your feelings must be subjugated to conform to the truth of God’s Word. You must not evaluate any church based on your feelings, tastes and preference.

How to prepare an expository sermon:

 

  1. Identify & open the passage and read it
  2. Pray for your personal understanding, illumination of the Spirit
  3. Read the passage thoroughly in its context (reading both the material before it and the one after it). Study it looking at each of the words – what they say and what they do not say. Consider the grammar – is it singular or plural? What tense is it in? etc.
  4. Read the commentaries (Listen to what the Lord has revealed to others on the same)*
  5. Make notes
  6. Make an outline
  7. Ask questions to do with the passage
  8. Ask questions that relate to people in relation to the matters addressed by the passage (How does this relate to the hearers now?)
  9. Ask question of how the passage may be implemented. (What does the Lord require the hearers to do, not to do, believe, change, improve, understand, etc)
  10. Pray for the understanding of your hearers, for attention, Spirit of God to move them to obedience,
  11. Pray for the delivery of the sermon – with clarity, simplicity, profundity, fruit in salvation

 

* Much carefulness is needed in choosing good commentaries

 You need to meditate on a passage before you preach it so that you may be not only familiar with it but also have applied it on yourself.

CHRIST

 (Scripture: John 1:1-18; Philippians 2:1-11; Colossians 1:12-23; Hebrews 1)

In view of man’s helpless condition in sin, God in His love and mercy provided salvation with His own arm. That provision is Christ. Christ is the only way of salvation because He is God’s appointed way. Christ was sent by God to bring salvation. He fulfilled many of the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament – prophecies regarding his lineage, the place of His birth, the time and circumstances of His triumphal entry, His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, and many others. He will fulfill the remainder of the Messianic prophecies at His Second Coming. Christ is the Son of God. He is truly God, the second Person of the Trinity, existing from all eternity. Jesus claimed to be God, proved He was God by His miracles, received worship, and was declared to be God by His Apostles. The eternal Son took on human flesh in time and became the Son of Man in order to take upon Himself the sin of mankind. He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and laid down His life at the cross for the sins of the world.

ATONEMENT

(Scripture: Leviticus 16:30; 17:11; Isaiah 53; Mark 10:45; Romans 3:21-26; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Hebrews 9:23-28; 1 John 2:2)

Christ died for our sins. That is the summary of the atonement. We deserve eternal damnation, eternal death, but God intervened in Christ, who took upon Himself the penalty due our sins, by dying on the Cross. His burial proved that He died. His resurrection from the dead, three days later, proved that God accepted His death as payment for our sins and demonstrated His victory over death on our behalf. Christ was our substitute, just as the sacrificial lamb, innocent and without blemish, was the substitute of the offerer in the Old Testament. When Jesus died on the Cross He satisfied the just demands of the Law of God on our behalf, becoming a curse for us. He appeased the wrath of God that burned against us. God imputed our sin to Christ, as if He had sinned. He laid on Him the iniquity of us all. And God imputed the righteousness of Christ to us, as if we had never sinned. On the basis of this heavenly transaction, God declares us righteous. This is called justification. This justification is based wholly on the righteousness of Christ, not on our works, and is received by faith. If we believe on Christ, our sins are no longer imputed to us, they have been forgiven, washed away, removed from us forever. Therefore we have been reconciled to God and have peace with God through Christ. Only sin separates man from God, but in Christ we are brought near to God. Christ purchased us from the bondage of our sin and has made us His own. We once were slaves to sin, but now we are slaves to righteousness in Christ. We were once dead in sins and trespasses, but now we are alive in Christ.

 

What is the Gospel?

SIN

(Scripture: Genesis 3; Romans 3:23; 5:12; 6:23; Ephesian 2:1-3; 1 John 3:4)

Man having been given by God immense privileges and blessings:

  1. God – They enjoyed the closest fellowship with God. No man has known as close fellowship with God than Adam and Eve as we see in chapter 2 of Genesis
  2. Property – the garden of Aden, with everything in it! Man was given the whole earth to be his property! This means that Adam and Eve had all the riches of the earth – all the land and exploit all the minerals such as gold, precious stones, diamond, oil etc.! All the animals from horses to donkeys, cows to goats to camels, sheep, chicken, fish! All the vegetation – trees, wheat, rice, maize, tea, sugarcane, beans, fruits like pineapples, mangoes, apples etc. – both cash crops and food crops were all theirs! The rivers and seas and land were theirs! They were to do with all these wealth as they wished as long as they yield glory to the Lord… what could have been a better deal?
  3. Health and prosperity – There was no sickness or pain before the fall. There were no weeds before the fall. No thorns and thistles. No sweat. No loss!
  4. Food – Man was to eat of every tree in the garden. There was nothing that he could not fully enjoy. But he was expected to look, touch, climb and do anything else but eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil! This was not a prohibition in order to punish – it was a prohibition in order to help him see that his allegiance was to God not to  the wealth God gave him. He was not to eat because God had told him not to!

YET MAN THREW ALL THESE AWAY BY LISTENING TO THE DEVIL! This is the greatest catastrophe that has ever befallen man… listening to the evil one instead of listening to God. Obeying the devil and disobeying God. Following the bidding of Satan and turning his back to God! What a loss it was! What a disaster and calamity for all men because with this single disobedience he fell and brought down with him all his descendants. And with this fall came death just has God had said.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because of all sinned… For if many died through one man’s trespass…  For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation… For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man,… Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation of all men… For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners…so that sin reigned in death… (Romans 5:12, 15, 16b, 17, 18, 19)

What is sin?:

Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God. It is coming short of the glory of God. The standard of God is stated in His Word and underlined in the Ten Commandments.

We all know that we fall far short of our moral obligation to God. Because Adam brought us down by his own disobedience we sin because it is our nature – our desires and will are sinful, our thoughts and actions are evil, our words and affections are as sinful (Romans 3:10-18).

To show us our failure, God gave us the Law, including the Ten Commandments. The Law is like a mirror showing us our moral corruption. Our moral failure is called sin. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. The Bible tells us that sin is not only the deeds we do or don’t do, it includes every part of our being including our thoughts, motives, desires, and emotions.

We were born into this life spiritually dead to God, thinking only of our own desires and our own glory. We were born this way, because of the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve.

When we die, we shall stand before the perfectly righteous, holy, and all-knowing Judge and give an account for every word and deed. Because we are sinners, we are under the wrath of God and face, not only physical death, but also eternal death, complete separation from God and all His blessings, in Hell, described as the Lake of Fire. But we can do nothing to change our condition. We cannot change our own hearts or do anything acceptable in God’s sight. Even our ‘good works’ are like filthy rags before God.