The Last Days and Preparing to Meet the Lord, Part 2
- By Sean Gooding -
"Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law."
By now, I hope that we have established that the above verse is about the proper teaching and preaching of God's Holy Word. Even just reading the scriptures is so important, that the Devil will tempt you not to read because you don't understand.
I had a conversation with a lady from the church I pastor this morning. She was talking about reading in the book of Luke. As she was about to read, the devil comes along and tells her, 'you don't understand this anyway; don't read it.' But she perseveres; and lo and behold, the Holy Spirit teaches her about producing fruit from a parable of Jesus' in Luke 13:6-9. She, by the power of the Holy Spirit, was challenged to work at producing more fruit in her Christian life.
This is why it is important to read the Bible and to allow God's Holy Spirit that lives in us to show us the truth of the scriptures. The Holy Spirit always leads us into truth, to obedience and to change. He ever lives to guide us into a deeper and more open relationship with the Lord.
We have shown and the scripture teaches that when the Word of God is read, preached and made available to the masses, it acts as a restraint against the progress of evil in a society. This is not just about Christians per se, but all peoples are restrained by the proper teaching and ready access to the Bible. This why there is such a push to remove the Bible from the public forum.
Here in the Toronto area, we have a situation where a member of the Toronto city council is trying to make it either very difficult or impossible for a church group to rent a city facility to host a church service. The push to remove the truth from the public is very, very real. You see, it is impossible to lie to people who know the truth. It is like knowing authentic currency and then coming across counterfeit currency and being able to identify it. When we have the truth of God's word openly taught, openly and readily available to the public for consumption, then when lies come along, one is able to spot them and avoid them.
Let us take a look at a phenomenon that is happening right now; we see it in the malls, in the stores, we see it in classrooms and in very public places.
Exodus 20: 12, "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."
I was taught this as a child. I am commanded from the Ten Commandments to 'honor' my parents. To respect them, to carry their names well and to listen to them.
In the New Testament, we see Ephesians 6: 1-3, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth."
This adds fuel to the fire by further explaining the idea of honoring your parents. We are called to obey our parents in the Lord. I am to do what I am told. This implies submission and humility. But today we have a society that encourages kids to disobey their parents. The government has gone behind parents' backs and provided to their children things that the parents have not consented to. Children can get contraceptives and vaccinations that the parents forbid by going around their parent's authority through the schools. It happened to my wife and I as parents; we found out that our kids could and did get stuff at the school that we had forbidden.
There is a deliberate plan to subvert the parental authority. Many of the child protection agencies, both in the US and in Canada, have the position that the children belong to the state, not the parents. Thus, the state can subvert the parent's authority. They can only do this because the idea that children must obey their parents and the fact that the children belong to the parents has been removed out of the public sphere. Children used to be taught, even in public schools, that they should obey their parents. I was. Now they are told that they can threaten their parents if they do something that they, the child, does not like.
The entire chain of authority has been overturned. Now, we have a society of unruly, undisciplined kids that have been unleashed on our teachers, our police forces and our society. The children have 'cast off restraint' since there is no revelation of the truth.
Further, we discussed some verses from Timothy, verses of instruction and clarity to the young preacher about the power of the Holy Word of God. In 2 Timothy 3: 16-17, we see these verses:
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
The Word of God is profitable. This is very important. The world system says that the Word of God is outdated, no longer relevant; but God says it is profitable.
We talked in the previous lessons about doctrine and reproof, and we have begun to talk about good works; and we will get there today as well. But if you do not think that the Word of God is profitable, then there is no desire to read it, to study it and to obey it. So, our very mind frame must be in line with the mind frame of God. Just like the lady I mentioned from this morning, she had the mindset that the Word of God is profitable; thus, when tempted not to read, she was able to resist the temptation, and God made the reading of the Book profitable to her.
I am amazed at how many of God's people do not make even the reading of God's Word a priority. I am not perfect, far from it, but if I go a day or so without reading the scriptures, and sadly it can happen, I get the Holy Spirit in me calling me out on it; and then I repent and read it. The Bible is profitable and valuable; it is God's message to us, to mature us and mold us into the image of Jesus.
How do you view the Holy Word of God?
Since the resurrection of the nation of Israel in May 1948, we have been in the last days. We have seen the rise of the New World Order as a system that is subverting the sovereignty of nations, infiltrating religion and exposing compromise, trying to silence or squash true Godly churches and trying to unify the world under global strategies. Soon, either by death or by the Rapture, we are going to be giving an account of the fruit that we have produced in the life we lived after we were saved.
Last week we began to look at Romans 12:1-2 in conjunction with Proverbs 29:18 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17. We talked about giving ourselves as living sacrifices to the Lord, and we examined verses like this in Matthew 6:33:
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
Or this one from the Gospel of Luke, Luke 9:23:
"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."
These are powerful and profitable verses that remind us that God wants us to surrender our lives. There are many who think that they would die for Jesus. But most are not living for Him. If you are not willing to be a living sacrifice, you will not be a dead one. All the people who died for the cause of Jesus Christ, first lived for Him.
Today we will explore the second part of Romans 12:1-2. Let us be reminded of the verses at hand:
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
Once we have made the decision to present our bodies to Jesus for His use, we are then instructed to 'not be conformed to this world.'
Have any of you ever made frozen lollies? You make a juice of some kind, then you pour the liquid into the molds, place a stick in them and let them freeze. The juice takes on the shape of whatever mold you put it in. The idea of being conformed is the same thing. But this is not really a physical thing; it is the mind that we are to work on. Notice that, in the next phrase, the transformation take place by the 'renewing of the mind.' In 1 Peter 1:15-16 we see this:
"But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'"
As well, see 2 Corinthians 6:16-17:
"What agreement can exist between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people. Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.'"
When we think of being holy, there is an idea of being pious. Most often, that is seen in a negative connotation. But God is Holy; the word really means separated. God is separated from us; He is perfect, first of all, and this separates us, so we need to be saved through Jesus. And when we are covered in Jesus' holiness, we can fellowship with God; He is no longer separated from us. But in a practical sense, God's wants our way of thinking and subsequently acting to be separated from the world; we are called to be Holy. Our thoughts, our opinions and our very framework for life should be solely based on the Word of God.
Many Christians want to transform the way they act, but actions are a symptom, not a cause. First, we must change the way we think. We must stop conforming to the thought processes of the world. Let me give an example:
The world teaches that a man and woman can live together without going through a marriage process; it is all the same. But it is not; God expects there to be a marriage ceremony of some kind. Whether big or small, civil or religious, there must be a ceremony of some kind and the legal acknowledgement that they are now one person. So, a saved person who is in a relationship must reject the mindset of the world and accept God's mindset. A young person who is being taught at school that they do not have to submit and obey Mom and Dad, must suppress these ideas with the truth of God's word and not conform to the world philosophy.
Once we have decided to surrender our bodies, the next step is to work on not conforming to the world system. This takes self-examination; you and I need to ask questions? What does God say about this topic? What does the Bible teach about this situation? How would God have me handle this? From time management, money management, how we exist in our marriages, raise our children, what friends we have, the church we attend, and on and on we go. What must I do to stop conforming to the world? Once you make the move, the Holy Spirit will step in and assist you. He is here to guide us into all truth, thus helping us to conform to God's holiness and not the world system. See John 16: 13-14:
"However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and He will declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me by taking from what is Mine and disclosing it to you."
Notice it says "He will guide you into all truth."
You and I must be willing to follow. Now we have surrendered our bodies; and as we are no longer conforming to the world, but conforming to the Word of God, we can begin the process of doing good works in our service to the Lord and be ready to face the judgment that for sure is coming our way.