Podcast 256:  Thirst, Come and Drink

Podcast 256: Thirst, Come and Drink

When Jesus confronts the Jewish leaders with the truth of who He is, they naturally respond by wanting to silence His voice, to take Him captive (John 7:32), to destroy Him or, literally, to kill Him (John 7:19).  And, unlike many of us today in the church, Jesus did not retreat but boldly stood and declared to them the gospel once again.  Consider the following:

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).

Jesus preaches to them the gospel in just three words:  thirst, come and drink.

Want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on John 7:25-39.

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Footsteps on the Stairs

Footsteps on the Stairs

It is possible that something like this could happen today?  I think so.  How about you?

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Jeremiah sat alone in the empty meeting room feeling a growing sense of despair.  The meeting had been announced to begin at noon— with lots of advertising and many people contacted.  But not a single person had showed up.  It was now nearly 12:30 and his growing sense of failure was almost overwhelming.  Why had this meeting with such a noble purpose turned out to be such a dismal and depressing disappointment?

The U. S. was in dire straits.  The economy was crashing; banks were failing; factories were closing; railroad companies were going bankrupt; unemployment was skyrocketing; and the nation was being divided largely along lines of politics and justice.  Added to the bleak economic picture, the American church was losing attendance almost weekly and the general spiritual condition of the country was extremely apathetic.

jeremiahlanphierBurdened by the terrible spiritual and economic condition of the nation, Jeremiah Lanphier, a Christian businessman, decided to invite others to join him in a noonday prayer meeting on Wednesday, September 23, 1857.  The meeting was to be held on the third floor of the Dutch Reformed Church on Fulton Street in downtown New York City.  Jeremiah worked hard to get the word around so that as many as possible would know of the gathering where they could come and pray about the economic and spiritual condition of the nation.

At 12:30 all seemed lost; the prayer meeting would not happen.  Apparently no one cared or believed that prayer could make a difference.  Sitting alone in the empty meeting room, Lanphier was surprised to hear the welcome noise of footsteps on the stairs and a moment later one person arrived.  In the next few minutes several more arrived and a total of six were present for the first prayer meeting that became known as The Laymen’s Prayer Revival or the Revival on Fulton Street.

Those at that first meeting were encouraged and they came back a week later— joined by others for a total of forty-two who gathered for prayer.  A few weeks later it was decided to have a prayer meeting every day at noon, and within six months over ten thousand men were gathering for prayer each midday in New York City.

The prayer revival that began on Fulton Street burst out of New York and flooded across the country.  From the tiny town of Hell Corner, New Hampshire, came reports that a prayer revival was born and hardened sinners were repenting.  In Chicago two thousand men met daily for prayer in a downtown auditorium.  Four thousand men were praying daily in Philadelphia and in other cities such as Waco, Texas, and Louisville, Kentucky, thousands more were gathering daily for prayer.

In Charleston, South Carolina, a Presbyterian pastor called for and led an evening of prayer for the nation.  At the appropriate time, the pastor rose to dismiss the crowd— but no one would leave— and the prayer gathering continued until after midnight.  Two months of nightly meetings followed with the crowds numbering 1500 to 2000, with hundreds of people turning to the Lord.

fultonstreetrevivalNot only were prayer gatherings being held throughout the nation, with large numbers of people coming into relationship with Christ, but God’s presence was being felt throughout the land.  Ships coming into New York harbor reported that when they neared the dock they were suddenly aware of the presence of God.  On one ship the captain and thirty of the sailors were converted right before the ship docked.  On the battleship North Carolina, anchored in New York harbor, four sailors knelt for prayer deep in the bowels of the ship.  Other sailors noticed them and began to mock what they were doing when suddenly they were gripped by the presence of the Lord and they too knelt to ask for forgiveness.

It is estimated that between October of 1857 and October of 1859, the churches in America received two million new converts as a direct result of the Prayer Revival.

The similarities between the conditions in America in 1857 and today are strikingly clear.  The nation then was in all kinds of economic and financial difficulty, as it is today.  The nation was deeply divided in 1857 over the injustice of slavery, and today our nation is just as divided, just as bitter and vitriolic, over politics and justice.

And then we have to compare the state of the church in 1857 to that of the church today.  If we are honest about the general spiritual condition of our nation, we have to conclude that it is at a low ebb.  Put aside the hyperventilating of a few telling us that, “Everything is okay!”  Yes, the number of megachurches is rising but at the same time, church attendance across the nation is dwindling and more churches are closing than are being opened.  Recognize that the Christian media have not done what they said they could and would do— evangelize America— and have largely isolated themselves in the “ghetto” of cable T.V.  There is no great move of God in our nation!

Will you join me in praying for revival in our land?

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This is from David Patterson.  You can read more about him at his blog, For Family and Friends.

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Truly Saved, Always Saved.

Truly Saved, Always Saved.

The doctrine known as eternal security or the perseverance of the saints is one of the cornerstones of Reformed Theology.  It can be defined as follows:

The perseverance of the saints means that all those who are truly (the operative word) born again will be kept by God’s power and will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again. *

For the Calvinist, it is the “P” in their TULIP acronym.

T – Total Depravity.  Man is fallen in nature and, therefore, in total depravity.  This means that (1) man cannot do anything or any work that is good, (2) man cannot, by his nature, comprehend what is good, and (3) man cannot have, by virtue of his fallen nature, any desire for good. He is totally depraved.

U – Unconditional Election. This can be defined, according to the Puritans, as such:

Unconditional Election is defined in this manner: God did, by His most wise and holy counsel, of His own, freely and unchangeably ordain some men to heaven and some men to hell by the nature of His good pleasure.  In eternity, God has predetermined the course of everything and everyone.  He had foreordained the eternal destiny of everyone whether to heaven or to hell for His glory.  Men are unconditionally elected by God for His purposes without any prior works (good or evil) by which God would judge them good or evil.  The election of men rests solely on the counsel and purposes of God.  God has not decreed anything which he foresaw in the future, for that would place His decree upon foreseeing something in the creature.

L – Limited Atonement.  In a nutshell, this means that Christ’s death actually paid for the sins of those whom He knew would ultimately be saved— for the elect.  In essence, God imposed His wrath, and Christ paid the penalty for the sins of:

1.  All the sins of all men— which would mean that all men are saved, which we know is not the case.
2.  Some of the sins of all men— which would mean that men are still in their sins.
3.  All of the sins of some men— the elect, the chosen, those He foreknew and predestined from the foundation of the world— which is the Biblical position. Hence, limited atonement.

I – Irresistible Grace.  Which is a term that refers to the fact that when God calls a person He also gives them regeneration, both of which guarantee that we will respond in saving faith. In other words, when the Spirit of God moves in the heart to change a person, that person will be changed. Period.

P – Perseverance of the Saints.  This is one area in which many evangelical Christians have differed over the years.  Many within the Wesleyan/Arminian tradition have held that it is possible for someone who is truly (again, the operative word) born again to lose that salvation.  Reformed Christians have held, and rightly so, that it is impossible for someone who is truly born again to lose their salvation.

But did you know the book of Revelation has something to say about the controversial “P” point in the TULIP acronym?  Actually, it has much to say about election, the sovereignty of God and eternal security or the perseverance of the saints.

Take a look at the following two passages of Scripture:

When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long , O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also. – Revelation 6:9-11

Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’ ” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.” – Revelation 14:12-13

* Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem, page 788.

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Do you see what I see?  Do you see what the Lord is teaching us about the perseverance of His saints?

The following is a podcast from April of 2009 that deals with those very issues.  It is a study on Revelation 14:12-13.

Download this episode (right click and save)

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The Witness of the Spirit

The Witness of the Spirit

We are in danger of getting the barter spirit when we come to God, we want the witness before we have done what God tells us to do.  “Why does not God reveal Himself to me?”  He cannot; it is not that He will not, but He cannot, because you are in the road as long as you won’t abandon absolutely to Him.  Immediately you do, God witnesses to Himself; He cannot witness to you, but He witnesses instantly to His own nature in you.  If you had the witness before the reality, it would end in sentimental emotion.  Immediately you transact on the Redemption and stop the impertinence of debate, God gives you the witness.  As soon as you abandon reasoning and argument, God witnesses to what He has done, and you are amazed at your impertinence in having kept Him waiting.  If you are in debate as to whether God can deliver from sin, either let Him do it, or tell Him He cannot.  Do not quote this and that person, try Matthew 11:28, “Come unto Me.”  Come, if you are weary and heavy laden; ask if you know you are evil (Luke 11:13).

The simplicity that comes from our natural commonsense decisions is apt to be mistaken for the witness of the Spirit, but the Spirit witnesses only to His own nature and to the work of Redemption, never to our reason.  If we try to make Him witness to our reason, it is no wonder we are in darkness and perplexity.  Fling it all overboard, trust in God, and He will give the witness.

From Oswald Chambers

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The Sin that Makes God Cry

The Sin that Makes God Cry

Let me give it to you straight— no beating around the bush and no soft-pedaling.  The sin that makes God cry is being committed daily, not by pagan workers of iniquity but by multitudes of Christians— the sin of doubting God’s love for His children.

Do you think it makes God sound too human and vulnerable to say that He cries?  Then ask yourself how a God of love could not cry when His own people doubt His very nature. Jesus Christ was God in the flesh, and according to the book of John He wept when those closest to Him doubted His love and concern.  That was God incarnate at the tomb of Lazarus, crying over friends who failed to recognize who He was.

Time and time again Christ’s dearest associates on this earth doubted His love for them.  Think of the disciples in a storm-tossed boat that was taking on water.  Jesus was in the stern of the boat, sound asleep.  Fearing for their lives, His followers shook Him awake and then accused Him of outright unconcern.  “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38).  How their accusation must have grieved the Lord!  That was God Almighty in their boat! How could He not care?  But whenever men take their eyes off the Lord and concentrate instead on their circumstances, doubt always takes over.  Jesus was astounded!  “How can you be afraid when I am with you?  How can you question My love and care?”

Christians today grieve the Lord in this matter even more.  Our unbelief is a greater affront to Him than the unbelief of Mary, Martha, and all the disciples, for our sin is committed against greater light.  We stand on a higher mountain and see more than they could ever see.  We have a completed Bible with a full and detailed record of God’s trustworthiness.  We have the written testimonies of almost twenty centuries of Christians, generation after generation of godly fathers who have passed down to us unshakable proofs of God’s love.  And we have countless personal experiences that testify to God’s tender love and affection for us.

Let us look for His exceeding mercy and love, admit the sinfulness of our unbelief, and recognize who He is!

By David Wilkerson
(May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011)

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The Human Side of the Nativity

The Human Side of the Nativity

Recently I have been pondering the events surrounding the birth of Christ.  The Nativity, as it is known.

But I have not been pondering the stuff we preach about every December.  You know, the supernatural side of that birth, the star in the sky, the annunciation of the angels to the shepherds, or the coming of the magi with gifts of great value.  No, I have been thinking about a man and young woman.  Tired.  Alone.  Rejected.  Seemingly forsaken.  They were frightened as Mary’s labor pains, sharp, deep and increasing in intensity and frequency, signaled that the birth of Messiah was drawing near.  And they were terrified at all that wondrous birth would entail.

Two people.  Two lives.  Two different stories.

The following is a song that, for me, captures the heart of young Mary as she gives birth to her Son, our Lord, Jesus.  It is written by Andrew Peterson and sung by Jill Phillips.  It’s called, “Labor of Love.”

Listen and reflect on that night, from the heart of Mary.

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maryIt was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyway that night
On the streets of David’s town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother’s hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
Every beat of her beautiful heart
Was a labor of love

Noble Joseph by her side
Calloused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
On the streets of David’s town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
Every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
Little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love

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And then we have the story told from Joseph’s side. This moving song is from Sawyer Brown titled, “It Wasn’t His Child” from their 19th album, True Believer. Listen to the Nativity as told by Joseph.

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josephHe was her man, she was his wife
And late one winter night
He knelt by her
As she gave birth
But it wasn’t his child
It wasn’t his child

Yet still he took him as his own
And as he watched him grow
It brought him joy
He loved that boy
But it wasn’t his child
It wasn’t his child

But like a father he was strong and kind and good
And I believe he did his best
It wasn’t easy for him but he did all he could
His son was different from the rest
It wasn’t his child
It wasn’t his child

And when the boy became a man
He took his father’s hand
And soon the world
Would all know why
It wasn’t his child
It wasn’t his child

But like a father he was strong and kind and good
And I believe he did his best
It wasn’t easy for him but he did all he could
He grew up with his hands in wood
And he died with his hands in wood
He was God’s child
He was God’s child

He was her man
She was his wife
And late one winter night
He knelt by her
As she gave birth
But it wasn’t his child
He was God’s child

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