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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Will you go to heaven?

Posted by Gary on October 24, 2014

What do you mean? Doesn’t everyone go to heaven? Not according to Jesus:

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

Frightening. According to Jesus, only a “few” find the way to life and “many” end up in hell, the place of destruction. But who believes Jesus? Do you? Do you believe that comparatively only a few go to heaven?

For some reason God has chosen to send me many funerals to do in my twenty some years in the ministry and I can tell you, there has not been one instance in which a family thought there was even a chance that their loved one went to hell, all have been certain their loved one went to heaven.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Receive and you will be received

Posted by Gary on March 7, 2012

Luke 18:9-14 “And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

There are many comparisons you and I could make between the Pharisee and tax-collector but here is the most vital one…As these two called upon God, one made mention that he had done something, the other that he needed something. The Pharisee rejoiced to tell God (or perhaps more honestly, himself) all that he had done which included things he claimed not to have done in comparison with the tax collector. But the tax collector as he speaks to God is conscious only that he needs something from God, he needs mercy. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

What a salvation!

Posted by Gary on February 15, 2011

“There is therefore now no condemnation.” –Romans 8:1

Come, my soul, think of this. Believing in Jesus, you are actually and effectually cleared from guilt; you are led out of your prison. You are no more in fetters as a bond-slave; you are delivered now from the bondage of the law; you are freed from sin, and can walk at large as a freeman, your Savior’s blood has procured your full discharge. You have a right now to approach your Father’s throne. No flames of vengeance are there to scare you now; no fiery sword; justice cannot smite the innocent. Your disabilities are taken away: you were once unable to see your Father’s face: you can see it now. You could not speak with Him: but now you have access with boldness. Once there was a fear of hell upon you; but you have no fear of it now, for how can there be punishment for the guiltless?

He who believes is not condemned, and cannot be punished. .. All the blessings which you would have had if you had kept the law, and more, are yours, because Christ has kept it for you. All the love and the acceptance which perfect obedience could have obtained of God, belong to you, because Christ was perfectly obedient on your behalf, and has imputed all His merits to your account, that you might be exceedingly rich through Him, who for your sake became exceeding poor. Oh! How great the debt of love and gratitude you owe to your Savior!- Charles Spurgeon

Salvation

Posted by Gary on December 4, 2010

If you are to have salvation and spend eternity with God, you must humble yourself and believe that salvation is His work; that you and I contribute nothing to salvation and must receive it as a gift through faith. A great many religious people will never enter the gates of heaven for their religion is their pride, they offend God by refusing to believe what He has said. God saves those who acknowledge they can do nothing to save themselves, that Christ has done all for them and they are forgiven simply by believing.

“But” you insist, “this sounds to good to be true”. “The Gospel” means “The Good News”. Can a salvation that is partially God’s work and partially yours be good news? How do you know when you have done enough? If you must perform enough good works to get to heaven then perhaps too many bad works will cause you to forfeit heaven. What a treadmill you are on and all the while offending God by refusing to believe His good news and pridefully insisting that you have goodness in yourself that can earn His forgiveness.

Will you be forever proud? Will you never humble yourself? Will you continue to point to something you have done (baptism, giving, church attendance) when God declares that “by the works of the law no flesh will be justified””:

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Galatians 2:16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.”

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

True of you?

Posted by Gary on November 27, 2010

Ephesians 2:1-3 “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”

Ask most people if they believe the Bible is true and my guess is most would say yes. Do you believe it is true in everything it says? Wouldn’t it have to be if it has been inspired by God?

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Anything you say dear

Posted by Gary on October 8, 2010

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

I have been thinking of late about the common statement/approach of parents that they don’t want to “shove religion down their children’s throats”. The approach of many parents is to leave it to their children as to whether they will go to church, spend time in the Bible and live the Christian faith. The thinking is, if they don’t want it, I don’t want to force it on them.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Praying for our children

Posted by Gary on April 23, 2010

Each week I try to include in our church bulletin a quote regarding the Christian faith hoping that people either before service or after will take some moments to read it, you know a little mini sermon from a guest speaker. I search the web and look for things to share and today found “Praying for Your Children” by William Scribner.

I would like to share a segment with you it was a rebuke and challenge for me. If we were really convinced that our children had souls and were going to spend eternity either with God or without Him we would pray more for them.

It is so very easy to say that we believe certain things such as the fact that our children have souls but what are we doing to help see them by saved? Prayer is vital but there is much more. Do we read the Bible to them and seek to apply it to their hearts? What do we let them watch and read? What do they see in us as they watch us? Is it the faith that we tell them we believe? Now Scribner:

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

When two aspirin will not do

Posted by Gary on November 13, 2009

With all our attention on the Swine Flu and the simple truth that one in four people will have cancer in their lifetime you would hope that we would all be doing some thinking.

The sad truth is that the fall of Adam has left us with hearts that by nature do not want to hear from God, to hear His word of warning of the judgment to come and even more sadly, unwilling to hear about His terms of peace through the sacrificial death and resurrection of His Son, the Lord Jesus.

We can refuse to go to church, turn off the television or radio as one of God’s messengers preaches or avoid the Christian in our work place or neighborhood but there is one messenger that God has that cannot be denied or ignored, sickness.

God will have His hearing and while every illness is not the direct result of sin, every illness preaches a sermon…sooner or later you and I are going to die and stand before the judgment seat of the holy God who made us. Are we ready to meet Him? Are we forgiven or still in our sins?

J.C. Ryle in his sermon, Christ in the Sick Room holds before us nine lessons that sickness teaches us. Won’t you do your soul some good today and read them and think? Maybe you’ll be moved to get serious about things and read the whole sermon. Wouldn’t it be something if we turned off the television, hung up the phone and put down the worthless books that we seem to have time for that do no good for our souls to read something that bears a message for our good? If you are not sick now, you will be soon and some day not so long from now with an illness that two aspirin and a call to the doctor will not remove. Take some moments now for Bishop Ryle:

I do not say that sickness always does good. Alas! We ministers know to our sorrow that it frequently does no good at all. Too often we see men and women, after recovering from a long and dangerous illness, more hardened and irreligious than they were before. Too often they return to the world, if not to sin, with more eagerness and zest than ever; and the impressions made on their conscience in the hour of sickness are swept away like children’s writing on the sand of the sea-shore when the tide flows.

But I do say that sickness ought to do us good. And I do say that God sends it in order to do us good. It is a friendly letter from heaven. It is a knock at the door of conscience. It is the voice of the Savior asking to be let in. Happy is he who opens the letter and reads it, who hears the knock and opens the door, who welcomes Christ to the sick room. Come now, and let me plead with you a little about this, and show you a few of the lessons which He by sickness would teach us.

1. Sickness is meant to make us think—to remind us that we have a soul as well as a body—an immortal soul—a soul that will live forever in happiness or in misery—and that if this soul is not saved we had better never have been born.

2. Sickness is meant to teach us that there is a world beyond the grave—and that the world we now live in is only a training-place for another dwelling, where there will be no decay, no sorrow, no tears, no misery, and no sin.

3. Sickness is meant to make us look at our past lives honestly, fairly, and conscientiously. Am I ready for my great change if I should not get better? Do I repent truly of my sins? Are my sins forgiven and washed away in Christ’s blood? Am I prepared to meet God?

4. Sickness is meant to make us see the emptiness of the world and its utter inability to satisfy the highest and deepest needs of the soul.

5. Sickness is meant to send us to our Bibles. That blessed Book, in the days of health, is too often left on the shelf, becomes the safest place in which to put a bank-note, and is never opened from January to December. But sickness often brings it down from the shelf and throws new light on its pages.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Wanting heaven or avoiding hell?

Posted by Gary on October 10, 2009

Revelation 21:27  “and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

John 3:5  “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

Reading J.C. Ryle the past few months has been such an encouragement and challenge. I have noticed in a number of sermons that Ryle comes back consistently to the issue of whether or not our hearts have been made ready for heaven while we yet remain on earth.

Ryle’s point is simple: Heaven is holy for God is there. Heaven is eternity with God, in the place of God, amongst the people of God, singing the praises of God, doing the will of God. If we have no desire for God, His people, His work and praise of Him now, why do we think we would like it later? Here is Ryle in his own words:

“Without conversion of heart we could not enjoy heaven, if we got there. Heaven is a place where holiness reigns supreme, and sin and the world have no place at all. The company will all be holy; the employments will all be holy; it will be an eternal Sabbath-day. Surely if we go to heaven, we must have a heart in tune and able to enjoy it, or else we shall not be happy. We must have a nature in harmony with the element we live in, and the place where we dwell. Can a fish be happy out of water? We know it cannot. Well, without conversion of heart we could not be happy in heaven.

Look round the neighborhood in which you live, and the people with whom you are acquainted. Think what many of them would do if they were cut off forever from money, and business, and newspapers, and cards, and partys, and races, and hunting, and shooting, and worldly amusements! Would they like it? Think what they would feel if they were shut up forever with Jesus Christ, and saints, and angels! Would they be happy? Would the eternal company of Moses, and David, and Paul, be pleasant to those who never take the trouble to read what those holy men wrote? Would heaven’s everlasting praise suit the taste of those who can hardly spare a few minutes in a week for private religion, even for prayer? There is but one answer to be given to all these questions. We must be converted before we can enjoy heaven. Heaven would be no heaven to any child of Adam without conversion.”

From a sermon entitled, “Conversion” by J.C. Ryle to read it click here

If you were to ask most people if they want to go to heaven virtually everyone would say yes. But I think an important question is, “Do we really want to go to heaven or do we just want to avoid going to hell?” Wanting to avoid hell does not mean that we will love the things of heaven, it just means that we want to escape flames.

Many people are deceived, they believe that they are on their way to heaven though they have never received the new birth or had their hearts changed by God. Being a Christian does not mean being perfect but it does mean that God has done something to us that fundamentally changes our hearts, desires and what we enjoy and live for.

Are you on your way to heaven? You may know simply by honestly asking and answering whether or not heaven dwells in your heart now. Do you love God? Do you think about Him? Do you desire to hear from Him in His Word? Do you like to talk to Him? Do you praise Him? Are you serving Him now as those who are in heaven now do? Have you divorced your heart from this world?

My question tonight is not whether or not you want to go to heaven, you may well want just to avoid hell which proves nothing more than that you have some degree of your wits about you. Have you been born again? Do you pursue the God of heaven and the things of heaven here on earth?

A time to celebrate?

Posted by Gary on July 13, 2009

As one whose calling and work includes performing funerals, I have a vantaged place from which to view the thinking of society when it comes to the death of others. In recent years you may have noticed that funerals are less frequently referred to as "funerals" they are more and more frequently called "life celebrations." The thinking here isn’t hard to follow, "funeral" sounds negative and sad, "life celebration" sounds joyful and hopeful.

There are times when we can rightly call for celebration when a person dies, when and only when that person was in right standing with God through the merits and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. When a forgiven, redeemed sinner dies it is reason to celebrate, that person has gone into the presence of God:

Psalm 16:11 "In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever."

According to the Bible, God Himself celebrates when one who belongs to Him dies and is brought to heaven with Him:

Psalm 116:15
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones."

Here painful honesty is required, an honesty that apart from enablement from God we will never apply. How many people are entering God’s presence when they die? How often do we truly have a right to call for celebration? Did you know, not many? "On what authority do you say this?" one might ask. On the authority of the Lord Jesus:

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

In twenty years of ministry and many funerals I can tell you that I can’t remember one time it being said of a person who died, "I don’t think they are in heaven." In virtually every case the declaration made of the deceased is that, "They are in a better place" or "They aren’t suffering anymore" or "God took them home". It doesn’t matter if the deceased never made any profession of faith in Christ or gave any indication of ever coming to repentance in their life. The base assumption is that essentially everyone goes to heaven, with every funeral we can rejoice. Oh, perhaps Hitler isn’t in heaven but beyond him virtually everyone else is in heaven.

Our calls for celebration without discretion flows from denial, a refusal to listen to the Son of God. Not many are going to heaven, only a few are finding the path to life.

How do we know if someone is in heaven? First, we cannot make the ultimate declaration in this matter can we? I do not mean it is impossible for a person to know they are going to heaven because Christ’s death insures that those who come to Him by faith will be saved. But even here we must be cautious…have you ever questioned whether or not you are truly in the faith?

2 Corinthians 13:5
"Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you– unless indeed you fail the test?"

If you have not tested your claim to heaven I would warn you that you are not standing on safe ground.