Our internet radio is back up and working! You can see it on the right side of the webpage or at the bottom of the page. Simply click the Pilgrim’s Progress logo, and it will automatically play the last three sermons or broadcasts. You can still access the internet radio via phone call at (641)793-9914. This will be considered as a normal phone call that won’t count against your data plan.
When Achan stole and hid gold, silver, and fine clothing from God, the Lord withdrew from Israel, and thirty-six people died in battle. The Lord exposed Achan’s sin to all Israel, who stoned and burned Achan and his family. Just as the fire of judgment consumed Achan, the fires of hell will consume us if we do not allow the Holy Spirit to probe us and uncover the worst parts of our hearts. And just as Achan’s brothers died because of his sin, our fellow men are dying in sin while the Church at-large remains powerless because she refuses the work of the Holy Spirit to bring her to repentance, and brays, “We’re all sinners!” Are you still a sinner? Or do you fear sinning? Will you spread your sin before the Lord now in deep repentance and a holy fear of God, that you and those around you might be saved; or will you wait until the Day of Judgment, and be damned?
The parable of the prodigal son shows two responses to the gospel. In the first, the lost son comes to his senses and cries, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son!” In the second, the elder son holds onto a hard, angry heart and refuses to go in to his brother, in spite of his father’s pleading. It is easy and dangerous to think that we are responding as the prodigal son when in fact we are responding as the elder brother. Have you returned to Jesus everything that you’ve stolen, and fully consecrated yourself to him? Or, do you still reserve the “right” to deny your heavenly Father’s pleading?
Focusing on the parable of the prodigal son, this continuation in the study of Charles Finney’s book God’s Call sets in terrifying relief the true condition of sinners as thieves and liars towards God. Like the prodigal, we must come to our senses and see that we’ve lived in a pretend world that says, “I own my life. I can choose what I do. I decide whether, and how much, I will give to God and obey him.” In reality, everything belongs to Jesus, and anyone who walks otherwise is a thief and a liar. The gospel allows no compromise on this point–we will not enter heaven unless we are saved from all sin now!
A deep consideration of how you have stolen yourself from God will produce great pain. We must see this before we can truly offer a full confession to God and make restitution to people whom we’ve injured. When you see that everything that you own, and are, belongs to God; and that you’ve stolen it all, and lied about it; you can then disown your life and return what you’ve stolen to Jesus Christ. These are God’s indispensable conditions for forgiveness and salvation from sin. Is this your present position before God?
In this sobering message, Pastor Ray identifies that salvation consists in a state of mind that is supremely happy in (and resigned to) God’s will. To be saved, we must recognize that we’ve stolen ourselves from God, return to Him, and make restitution to all we’ve injured. Doubtful actions will block us from hearing the Holy Spirit, sear our hearts, dull our fear of God, and ultimately ruin our souls. Is Christ’s yoke an iron collar of duty to you, or is your delight in the will of God? Where’s your heart with Jesus today as you listen to the sermon?
When Jesus healed the paralytic and said, “Rise up, and walk!” he was literally saying, “Awaken!” This call to come to consciousness, which is revival, is on all of God’s people. It is your responsibility and duty to put off deceptions, lay down the weapons of the devil, and fully consecrate yourself to Jesus Christ. Will you admit that the lack of revival is due to your own hardness of heart? Will you go on dozing in the land of Nod, or will you cry out to God?
In the American church and most of the western world, comfortable theologies of the sinning Christian have obscured the truth about God’s law and his atonement. A powerful illustration by Charles Finney, drawn from Ecclesiastes 8:11, demonstrates the intention of God to persuade sinners to give up their spirit of rebellion, and the great guilt of sinners who refuse obedience and abuse God’s mercy. Does the crucifixion of the Son of God melt your heart and fill you with intense desire to never sin again? Or, do your actions and heart say, “Jesus doesn’t have the power to save me from sinning. I can’t stop, and God loves me so much that even though I continue to abuse and insult him, he won’t send me to hell?”
In this vulnerable testimony, Pastor Ray shares his experience of entire sanctification. Entire sanctification is not some mystical experience: it is simply a covenant confirmed with Jesus that, “I disown my life, and I will receive from Jesus only what he chooses to give me.” As we deny ourselves the right to provide for ourselves, the Holy Spirit leads us down a path of suffering that eradicates selfishness and produces real righteousness. Have you made this covenant with Jesus? Are you living by faith that, if you seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, everything will be added to you? Or is your life still filled with what you’ve created?
Are you in union with Jesus? Rees Howells’ testimony illustrates the need to abandon selfishness, which is sin, in order to enter and stay in union with Jesus. The gospel is designed to eradicate selfish motives and draw one’s heart into pure benevolence. On the nature of this change, Charles Finney writes, “If you love God, you cannot reflect that you have wounded his feelings, without pain. You would not complain that you could not repent: The truth is, that if you were in the exercise of love for God, you could not help repenting[…]” Christian, is this your experience?
How can you tell whether a doctrine is true? By looking at Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and his words at the Last Supper, we conclude that there is one infallible test: does the salvation being taught save you from sin here and now? The American cultural beliefs that “Nobody’s perfect; everybody sins,” and, “We all go to a better place when we die,” are mere universalism. Real salvation expels selfishness and lust for the world and generates love for God and mankind. Listen as Pastor Ray shares these truths from the Scriptures and finishes by sharing one listener’s testimony of how Jesus changed and healed both her physical and spiritual heart! Humbly submit to Jesus and allow Him to pour His love through you, to God and to others!
(NOTE: Due to a fire at the radio station, the radio went off air for just over a minute, which we removed before posting.)
Normally, we integrate the welcome in with the sermon and provide one file, but we had some recording issues this Sunday. We praise Jesus that he restored the welcome from Psalm 145! Although it’s not a pristine recording, we pray that it will be a blessing to you. Correction January 9: It actually turned out incredibly well, we thank Jesus for His wondrous works!
Pastor Ray defines six things that we must NOT do if we want to walk in salvation. Does the sweet love of Jesus flow between his heart and yours? Are you angry with Jesus, the one who died and suffered for you? Or, are you angry at another, for whatever reason? Jesus came and died to destroy the works of the devil; will you allow Him to do that work in your heart today, and will you lay down all of your issues?
(NOTE: The welcome message was not recorded.)
Pastor Ray opens up this study of the atonement with the character of God revealed in John 3:16. Understanding that God did not come down to demonstrate his fury against Jesus, but that God loved and God gave, helps us understand the two-fold work of Jesus through the type of the two goats in Leviticus 16. At Calvary, Jesus made full provision for the forgiveness and removal of sin for all mankind. The second half of Jesus’ work is the sin-removing application of His blood to individuals who will die with Christ and be born again!
Jesus said, “Do not begin to think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I came not to abolish but to fulfill.” Weaving in Charles Finney’s allegory about parents pleading for the pardon of their condemned son, Pastor Ray shows that the new covenant does not abolish the requirements of the moral law. In the new covenant, God writes his law in our hearts so that we become righteous now. Has the law, by faith in Christ, been totally fulfilled in your heart? Are you, like the parents, pleading with God for the guilty–or, like the son, will you come to the date of your execution in rebellion and proud disdain, protesting your innocence?
(Note: There is no video for today’s broadcast.)
A person who looks into Jesus’ face, and sees the hardness and arrogance of his own heart, will respond with strong feelings and pained weeping. Once this sin is exposed, it cannot be covered; it must be removed by Jesus. Looking into theology, being distracted, or believing that when God looks at you he sees Jesus, will comfort the heart in its sin so that it doesn’t have to go through the pain of considering its real condition and what it means to be obedient to Jesus. Do you weep over sin–either your own, or the sin of others? Did you once have warm feelings that have now grown cold? Or have you never experienced this? If you’re not walking right with Jesus, will you let today be a new beginning of obedience to God?
The Spirit of God confronts us with the holiness of God and our own, particular sins. If we persistently reject the Spirit of God with excuses, grumbling, or rebellion; or by insisting, “I sin every day, and God is just going to have to accept me how I am,” the Holy Spirit will leave us. Such persons may be left with a shell of religion, but they are lost. This earth exists because God has preordained a church that will be made holy by faith–the question is, will you be part of it?
When Christian, of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, learned how to be saved, he immediately ran towards the narrow gate shouting, “Life! Life! Eternal Life!” Are you doing this? Have you ever? Jesus said, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Will the decisions that you make today save, or unsave, your soul?
Revival can come to any church at any time: not by a sovereign move of the Spirit of God, but by the church waking itself up to who God is, his righteousness, and their sin. The story of the palsied man, lowered through the roof and healed by Jesus, shows the three ways we can respond to this call for revival and to the gospel. We can scorn; we can be casually interested; or we can know that we are sick and be hungry for Jesus. Will you rise up immediately, and walk?
What does growing up in Jesus look like? It begins with submission to Jesus and self-sacrifice. Then, instead of doubting whether we’ve been born again and beating ourselves up over our failures, we determine to take our honest failures to Jesus in the prayer closet, renounce that way of walking, and claim the victory in Jesus. As we train ourselves to distinguish between good and evil, Jesus steps in to assist, vindicate, and defend us from every evil! Beloved, doesn’t having such a precious high priest fill your heart with love and yearning to live holy for Jesus?
What is the law of the Spirit of life? Simply, when a seed is planted, it dies and becomes a whole plant with much fruit and many seeds. To walk in the law of the Spirit of life, we must plant the seed of the spirit by forsaking all other loves and ownership of our lives; then, we will grow up out of the soil as a new man in Jesus with victory over sin. “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” (Romans 6:5). At Christ’s Second Coming, those who were born of the Spirit will receive a new, spiritual body; but those who walked in the flesh will receive an indestructible spirit given over to eternal damnation. Are you walking in the law of the Spirit of life, or the law of sin and death?
The Lord has said, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” But Jesus died so that our soul does not have to die! So how are we to die with Christ? We are to die first to our sinful actions, and second to our sinful nature. The sin nature is not part of our soul—it is a foreigner that affixes itself to our soul and controls it. Genesis 3:15 promises that this control is not total. You can repent! Glory to God! Listen to this powerful message to learn how to die to sin TODAY and walk in the freedom of Jesus!
Why did Lot’s wife look back? Jesus explains that she longed to preserve her life: to have all of her expensive stuff and friendships and still escape the fire of judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah. Are you, like Lot’s wife, trying to get to heaven without any self-denial? Or are you sold out for Jesus?
The battle for your soul needs to be settled so that you can pull sinners out of the fire. This three-stage process is depicted in the exodus of the children of Israel, their time in the desert, and their entry into the promised land. The first stage is an external battle with sin. When we leave Egypt and go to the desert, the battle turns inward. Many Christians die in the desert. To win–which is sanctification–we must submit to the Holy Spirit and His efforts to build a tabernacle for Jesus in our heart. Sanctification is not the work of a lifetime. After we determine that nothing will turn us from Jesus, and His blood wipes out lust and pride, we move into an external battle as we cooperate with God for the salvation of the lost. Has this inner battle for your own soul been won? Are you ready to go up and take the promised land?
As we head into Christmas, it is good to be on guard against the temptation to worldliness and materialism. Let’s consider how the wise men, King Herod, and the Sanhedrin responded to God giving his Son to a lost and dying world.
The wise men recognized that Jesus was God’s gift to the world, including them. As Pastor Ray stated in the December 19 broadcast, these wise men were not part of the Sanhedrin, and they were probably pagans. They did not outwardly belong to the people of God. But they recognized that the Messiah was sent for the world, and that included them.
The wise men brought gifts to Jesus. Have you given anything to Jesus this holiday season? Or have you been so caught up in buying gifts for other people that you have neglected to give to Jesus? Who has gotten more of your money: retailers, or Jesus?
The wise men brought precious gifts to Jesus: frankincense, myrrh, and gold. Have you given your gold to Jesus—have you given him what is most precious and expensive to you? Or have you given him just a little bit, and what you comfortably could have gone without, and spent the rest on others and yourself?
The wise men put their faces on the ground before Jesus. The wise men visited Jesus in Bethlehem, though it is uncertain from the Scripture if this was immediately after his birth or if some time had passed. Either way, Jesus was a young child–possibly an infant, and probably no older than two years old. A lot of humility is needed for a grown man, in the presence of others, to bow down before an infant or toddler. And, if the wise men did visit Jesus during the census time, their faces would have been on the floor of a stable. What would their faces have been in? What would it have smelled like? Dirt would be the best option. Have you given up your sense of being somebody before Jesus? Have you given up the pride that would lead you to feel shame at how low you would have to go in order to honestly worship God?
King Herod and the ruling Jews of the Sanhedrin wanted to kill Jesus. These men recognized that Jesus was a threat to their authority, power, and control. Indeed, with the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., their reign was thoroughly destroyed. Now, the kingdom of God, with Jesus Christ as its head, is being brought in the earth. What is your response to all this? Have you given yourself fully to join the ranks of Christ and his saints? Or is Jesus a threat to you—someone who demands that you renounce control of your own life, which control you believe is rightfully yours? Are you part of the rebellion against the kingdom of Christ? If Jesus were to appear before you now, would you sooner kill him than submit to him? How do your actions this past week respond to this question?
Give to Jesus because you love him. Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to consider how, in your actions, you can honestly thank Jesus for being your salvation. If you’ve been caught up in the shopping and buying, get alone with God and allow the Holy Spirit to soften your heart. Consider what it cost Jesus, and still costs him, to save men and women. Stay in prayer until you find that your natural response is to give Jesus everything that you have because you love him.
Beloved, may you be blessed in Jesus Christ this Christmas!
As we grow in Jesus, our thoughts and prayers about His Kingdom and Righteousness consume more and more of our mind’s eye. Our aim on this page is to share these prayerful thoughts and contemplations with our online ecclesia.