Have you ever felt that you would die if God didn’t save someone you knew? Most of us think, “If I just talk to them the right way, they’ll come to Jesus,” and we comfortably avoid the excruciating soul agony of praying as if we would not be denied. The problem with this is that no one will ever come to Jesus this way. Until we give up the delusion of self-sufficiency and all of our back-up plans, recognize that our laziness and lack of concern put Jesus on the cross, and finally become anguished for the lost, God will not send his Holy Spirit. Being converted is not enough. Without this anguished mind, even those who love Jesus can easily slip into a calloused heart and dead religion. Are you able today to enter the throne room of God and get an immediate answer? Do you know what it is to travail in birth for a soul? If not, does this fact bother you enough for you to cry out to Jesus about it???
This robust finale to this week’s broadcasts on the theology of the sinning Christian pinpoints unrighteousness as the number one issue facing America today. America’s wickedness is rooted in unbelief in the power of the blood of Jesus to remove sin now. Though carefully couched in Reformed theology, this unbelief comforts a person in sin. It blocks the crisis of honestly looking at one’s sin and deciding to do something about it. The truth is, only those who are born again and stop sinning will be saved from eternal damnation. Do you honestly hate your sin, or just its penalty?
(Note: Our dear brother Malcolm Lavender is still alive. He recently published a fresh translation of the New Testament that preserves the original doctrines of salvation from sin!)
The following lecture was the third in a series preached by Charles G. Finney to his own congregation at the Chatham Chapel in New York in 1835. The editor of The Evangelist took detailed notes and published the lectures that same year.
By 1868, over 80,000 copies had been printed in English. Having been translated into French and Welsh, the lectures also spread across Europe and impacted thousands of souls. A dear brother has made all of these precious lectures available online for free, including both print and audio recordings.
LECTURES ON REVIVALS OF RELIGION
by The Rev. CHARLES G. FINNEY
HOW TO PROMOTE A REVIVAL
TEXT. —Break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. –HOSEA X. 12.
THE Jews were a nation of farmers, and it is therefore a common thing in the Scriptures to refer for illustrations to their occupation, and to the scenes with which farmers and shepherds are familiar. The prophet Hosea addresses them as a nation of backsliders, and reproves them for their idolatry, and threatens them with the judgments of God. I have showed you in my first lecture what a revival is not–what it is–and the agencies to be employed in promoting it; and in my second, when it is needed–its importance–and when it may be expected. My design in this lecture is to show,
HOW A REVIVAL IS TO BE PROMOTED.
A revival consists of two parts; as it respects the church, and as it respects the ungodly. I shall speak to-night of a revival in the church. Fallow ground is ground which has once been tilled, but which now lies waste, and needs to be broken up and mellowed, before it is suited to receive grain. I shall show, as it respects a revival in the church,
1. What it is to break up the fallow ground, in the sense of the text.
2. How it is to be performed. Continue reading How to Promote a Revival
Indifference thrives on moral insanity. Like many Americans, you may recognize that our country is crashing. But what are you doing about it? Have you taken the attitude, “Well, there’s nothing that I can do about it,” and then responded with either angry feelings towards the corrupt “powers that be,” or by saying, “Well, I might as well enjoy life while I can?” This sin of not praying will not be atoned for. God is willing to step into history and turn America back to righteousness. But, God will not do it until Christians will give up their casualness and entertainment, wake up to reality, and weep and wail in the prayer closet as if they would not be denied. Will you do this?
(Notes are available!)
Today, violence, suffering, and the inner pain that sin has brought to our culture–which all would have caused our grandparents to weep, wail, and fast–now produces almost no tears, no brokenness, no crying out to God, almost no reaction at all… We see many of those around us sinking into hell, and yet we’re only slightly concerned about them. We are much more concerned about our own lives, our own pain, our own whatever, and have only a slight burden of prayer, in spite of this incredible, palpable wickedness… With hardened hearts and seared consciences, we assume, “Sure, everything that’s happening in the world is terrible, but that will never happen to me. God won’t bring his judgment on me. After all, I’m an American.” This is a lie from Satan! Are you consciously aware that the lukewarm church is a billboard sign from God that proclaims His judgment has already come upon the church?
God commands us through the prophet Joel, “Rend your heart.” This happens when we finally get honest and earnestly confess our own self-centeredness and shallowness and cry out to Jesus, asking Him to change us. Isn’t it time that the unholy trinity of me, myself, and I be fully crucified by Jesus? Will you cry out to Jesus to change this, or will you allow this suffocating indifference to blind you to your lukewarmness?
In his message to the church at Laodicea, Jesus promises those who buy gold, white robes, and eye salve from him: “All those whom I may love, I convict and instruct. So you must be zealous and you must repent…the one overcoming, I will give to him to sit with Me on My throne” (Revelation 3:19-21).
Do you hear the instructions of Jesus? Your salvation depends on obeying and submitting to what the Holy Spirit speaks to your heart. Jesus said, “My sheep always heed My voice, and I know them, and they always follow Me” (John 10:27).
Does this describe your Christian experience? Or are there areas of rebellion in your life that you’ve been “working on”–perhaps for years? Beloved, do not rest until you’ve overcome sin by faith in Jesus Christ!
On December 26, 1934, the Holy Spirit revealed the Every Creature Vision to Rees Howells. Just as the Savior came to make atonement for the whole world, so would the Holy Spirit live in the bodies of 10,000 people who would be channels to bring the gospel of holiness to every person on earth. This is the purpose of the National Prayer Chapel. Will you sacrificially give at the call of the Holy Spirit to move Pilgrim’s Progress to National FM radio?
Thank you to those who called and gave to cover the cost of radio for January! God bless you!
King David saw the love of God and yet believed that he could get away with adultery and murder. The resounding effects of his sin continued for years until God finally worked it through David’s soul: “Should I win the favor of Yahweh, He will bring me back…but should He say, I take no pleasure in you, then here I am, let Him deal with me as He likes” (2 Samuel 15:25-27).
Will you let God show you the full enormity of your crimes? If you allow God to take you to this great place of crushing, God’s promise is that He will be close to you: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalms 51:17).
It is early evening in Judea. Just outside Jerusalem, Peter, James and John are walking with Jesus to the olive grove, to the place of crushing: Gethsemane. Jesus begins to stumble. He is in obvious pain and turmoil. Jesus is staggering because He is so troubled in His spirit. His heart is breaking. He is literally at the gateway of death. He is being sent on a course of action that will separate Him from His Father.
Jesus was one with the Father. He did and said only what the Father instructed. Now He faces the total loss of His Father’s presence. Jesus falls to the ground and begins to pray. “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him. And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:42-44).
We Have Casually Left the Presence of Our Father
Unlike Jesus, most of us have been able to casually leave the presence of our Heavenly Father. It is so casual that we suffer no apparent agony of heart or deep distress of soul. We experience no sorrow to the point of death. In fact, just the contrary is true! We act as though we think we are still in His presence, enjoying His favor. But to all outward appearances, we live the way the world lives. Most of us enjoy its favor and privileges. The world loves us. Jesus said, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:19).
Most Christians enjoy the same TV shows, the same movies, the same books, the same magazines, even the same leisure-time activities as those who do not profess that Jesus is their Lord. We have given into an indulgent, free lifestyle that reflects the values of the world and not of Jesus Christ. Money has become our god of choice. We, too, are caught in the rat race of working to earn an income that will buy all the privileges of the world.
We are in a terrifying position! We claim Jesus as our Savior, but we serve the world as our Lord. We walk with pride, arrogance, and haughtiness before the living God of heaven. We even deny our sinful condition in order to maintain our innocence, insisting with great intellectual arguments, that God’s presence is with us.
Jesus was utterly crushed by the loss of intimate closeness with His Father. The impending separation was so devastatingly painful that Jesus was overwhelmed to the point of death from a broken heart. He could not, in His human spirit, see through the darkness of separation. The separation created a chasm so wide, and the ugly tenaciousness of the world’s sin was so powerful, that He despaired of life itself.
What crushes our spirit? What seems utterly unbearable? What causes us to sweat blood and cry out in anguished pain? We are usually crushed by the worries and responsibilities of this life, by our love of money, or by our desire for the great American lifestyle: the mortgage payment, the car payment, the credit card bills, utilities, food, and all the other things we consider so vital to our well being. Financial loss is unthinkable! Just the thought sends a chill of panic through our systems. A friend recently confided in me that her worst fear is that she will become a homeless bag lady. Every time she drives her new Mercedes-Benz downtown, past the homeless, she is stricken with terror.
We are crushed by sickness, by a mate who proves unfaithful, or by our families’ rejection. We are crushed when we do not reach our goals for successes, when failure or loss removes our illusions of security. Today, we who call ourselves Christian, live with the same fears as those in the world. We know the right words to say; conceptually, we have all the right answers. Many of us even find comfort in God’s Word and the rituals of our Christian faith. But do we imagine that those of the world do not also find comfort in the memory of God or in the god they have created? They, too, have their beliefs and rituals of faith.
We have left the presence of our Heavenly Father, of Jesus, and even the Holy Spirit. For so many years we have chased after the world that we think our behavior is “normal Christian behavior.” We have sold out to the world so that we could enjoy its rewards and favors.
Jeremiah Identifies Six Steps into the Pit
Step One: Forsaking God. Straying from His holy presence. Not asking, “Where is the Lord?” No longer drinking from the spring of living water. No longer reading God’s Word in the early morning, or seeking His presence on our knees late into the night. Losing our sense of historical perspective. Casually leaving His presence. No longer crying out for His mercy or provision. Taking for granted our salvation. (Jeremiah 2:5-6,13).
Step Two: Choosing to provide for ourselves. Digging our own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. Putting our confidence in our skill to care for ourselves and provide the necessities of life for our families. No longer being willing to wait upon the Lord or to walk in the darkness by faith. Trusting in business strategies or marketing campaigns to accomplish the work of the Gospel. (Jeremiah 2:13-18).
Step Three: Losing our sense of awe for God. We preach forgiveness without requiring confession and repentance. Speaking of love but not discipleship, grace without taking up our cross. We become sentimental, permissive, and no longer exercise tough love that disciplines and holds accountable. God becomes a “doting father” who gives His children whatever they ask for, and above all else, He no longer disciplines or brings up the ugly subjects of sin, compromise, or hell. (Jeremiah 2:19).
Step Four: Losing all shame for sin. Not being concerned about how we use our time or money except, “Are we enjoying the fruits of our labors?” Running here and there to pursue a new business deal that we hope can forever free us financially. Plunging into the dissipation of professional sports on television. Consuming large amounts of filthy movies, music, novels, or whatever pleases our senses. We have lost all sense of “shame.” We choose to be broad-minded. (Jeremiah 2:20-24).
Step Five: Following other gods. Forgetting the God of heaven, we follow after the gods we have come to love. We say to our work, “You are my provision.” To our money, “You are my comfort and security. In you I trust.” We roam with freedom to whatever pleases us. We love pleasure and the wonderful lifestyle of the modern church, which has a memory of God, a form of Godliness, but no sacrificial obedience. (Jeremiah 2:25-33).
Step Six: Saying, “I am innocent!” “Surely, God is not angry with me. I am living a righteous life. I will not blush with shame. After all, I have to be realistic! I am responsible for taking care of my family and myself. Under the circumstances, I have only done what any reasonable person would do. I have done my best.” As we continue to pursue friendship with the world we also cry, “God, My Father, we need a revival! You are my friend, why are you so distant?” (Jeremiah 2:35; 3:3-5).
Here in these six downward steps in Jeremiah is the story of the modern-day church. The Lord says to us today: “‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt—you have rebelled against the Lord your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,’ declares the Lord. ‘Return, faithless people,’ declares the Lord, ‘for I am your husband’” (Jeremiah 3:12-14a).
Jesus Reached His Limit with God
Jesus was on His face crying out with agonizing pleas to His Father. Before Him was the cross and the heavy load of sin. Jesus is being called by the Father to suffer as the atoning lamb, but He sees only the darkness of hell. With a heart that is breaking, He makes the choice to die for us. Jesus would not, could not, sell out to the evil of darkness or compromise with the world. He cried out, “‘Abba, Father,’ He said, ‘everything is possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will’” (Mark 14:36).
This beautiful act of submission to the Father’s will is what made possible the blood atonement which provided the salvation of all mankind. If Jesus had pulled back and said, “No,” all would have been lost! Through the years, Israel had offered millions of sacrifices, blood had flowed freely, but salvation could not be purchased by the sacrifice of a lamb or a bull. Only the most precious blood of the Son of God could pay the price for our rebellious sin (John 3:16). Jesus reached His limit with the Father and said, “Yet not what I will, but what You will.” What is your limit with the Father? The scriptures are full of stories about God testing His people to see what is in their hearts. You remember the stories of Job, Elijah, Jonah, David, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When pressed to the very edge, they all chose, even at the risk of death, to serve, worship, and obey only the Living God of Heaven.
Ezekiel was called as a watchman for the house of Israel. He was to speak to his countrymen the warnings of a coming judgment (Ezekiel 33: 31-32). Ezekiel was uncompromising in his obedience to the Lord. He had been pressed to the very edge. He chooses to trust God through his tears and brokenness of heart. His time of intense suffering began with the word of God concerning his beloved wife. “Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears. Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead. Keep your turban fastened and your sandals on your feet; do not cover the lower part of your face or eat the customary food of mourners” (Ezekiel 24:16-17).
Ezekiel spoke to the people that morning, and by evening, his wife died. He did as God had commanded. People began asking him why he was not mourning the loss of his wife. He told them the sad news that the holy temple, the sanctuary of God, was going to be desecrated because of their sin. He continued telling them that their sons and daughters would fall by the sword, and that they would be unable to mourn their lost. Ezekiel was a sign to them of what would happen to their families because of their rebellious sin against God.
This heartbreaking story reveals a man of God that had been tried in the fire and came out shining like pure gold. He was willing to allow God to use his family in any way necessary to bring forth the character and holiness of his God. When he stood before the people, he raised up a banner of love and glory, of holiness and judgment; he burned with an awesome fire straight from the heart of God. He spoke of grace that condemns sin and of grace that justifies the sinner. He could stand with such uncompromising courage because he counted not his life as precious. He reached his limit with God and prayed, “Your will, not my will, Oh my God!”
Remember King Saul? A farm boy out searching for his daddy’s donkeys when he meets the prophet Samuel. Then Samuel anointed him the first king of Israel. The Spirit of God comes upon this farm boy king. He is given a new heart, and the people see him prophesying with the prophets of Israel. All who had formerly known him asked, “What has happened to the son of Kish?”
Samuel instructs King Saul to go to Gilgal and wait for him there seven days in order that the prophet could offer burnt offerings. The Philistines were gathering against Israel with three thousand chariots and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore.
When the men of Israel saw that they were far out numbered, they began to desert Saul and hide themselves in caves and thickets. In obedience to Samuel, King Saul waited for him seven days at Gilgal. All but 600 of his men had deserted him. Those who stood loyal were frightened and desperate. Saul thought he could wait no longer. He offered the burnt offerings, hoping that God would understand and accept his human worship. Samuel arrived just as the burnt offerings were finished. He said, “What have you done?” (1 Samuel 13:11-12).
Saul, the scriptures say, “thought,” and then went into action in order to save the day for Israel. He moved without regard to the word of God spoken by the Prophet Samuel. He moved with the very best of human wisdom. He was impatient. He was unwilling to wait in the darkness for the light which always comes after submission to our Lord’s command.
When King Saul was pressed, he would not submit to the will of God and walk in obedience before Him. We, like King Saul, have done too much thinking and not enough waiting before our Lord. Jesus was able to go to the cross because He waited before the Father and then chose to submit Himself to the Father’s will. In the church today, we lay our plans for evangelism or church programming, then spend a few minutes in the presence of the Father asking Him to bless our best effort. We then go about our business of doing church out of human thought, human effort, and human experience. Then we have the audacity, the arrogance, to say, “We are doing the work of God!” We are bringing strange fire to the altar of our Lord Jesus. He has turned aside His face from among us!
What’s in Your Heart?
When Jesus was pressed to the very edge, He responded with tears of sorrow and brokenness. Jesus returned there three times to His disciples in the Garden; each time He found them sound asleep! He responded by falling on His face before His Father, pleading in prayer that He would not have to go to the cross. He responded by submitting to the will of His Father and boldly went to the cross, suffering its shame.
Often, when we are pressed to the very edge, we, like the disciples, go to sleep or numb out with television or sports or hard work—anything to escape facing the reality of our situation before God. If all else fails, we try to think or feel our way through, as in the case of the disciples. They deserted Jesus and ran for their lives. They did not want to be taken into custody or charged along with Jesus.
God specializes in pressing His people to their limit! He will allow sickness, business failures, loss of family or friends—whatever is necessary, to reveal what is hidden in our hearts. Paul writes to the Hebrews: “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness” (Hebrews 12:7-10).
We have revealed what is in our hearts today by rejecting our Father’s discipline. We have found ways to take care of ourselves. We have hardened our hearts against the Lord. We have linked arms with the world. Apparently, many think we serve a tame God who is silent and unwilling or unable to meet with His people. Many pastors have told me in their discouragement, that they can no longer afford to wait on God. They argue that times have changed! They say to me, “We know what we must do; it’s simply a matter of creating the appropriate means to accomplish the task.” The church becomes market-driven, responding to the latest trends in the world’s culture. The church no longer shapes our society. Rather, the church has been shaped by the society. The social church is sold out to do whatever it takes to pander to its master, the world. Let us stop our rounds of useless activity. With Joel, it is time to “blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill.” (Joel 2:1).
Our God says: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among My people, if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14).
It is time for us to humble ourselves before God and admit that we have failed in the work of the Gospel. Instead of being salt that transforms our society into the likeness of Christ, we have become traitors to the Gospel. We are loved by the world and enjoy all of its benefits. The grip of the world is so powerful, the illusion of success so sweet, the joy of human potential so fulfilling, that we can barely see the form of our Lord knocking at our heart’s door.
We Must Pray!
Our only hope is to get on our knees before Almighty God. When Jesus was faced with what separation from the Father would mean to Him, He did not want to go to the cross. His response was as natural to Him as breathing. He prayed! He fell to the ground praying earnestly, with tears and a broken heart. After the hours of struggle, He was able to humbly submit to the Father. Jesus prevailed in prayer. He prayed through until He could say, “Enough.” Then He was ready for the cross.
We must pray! Most find that after a few minutes of praying, their thoughts begin to wander, and they run out of things to say. Prevailing prayer begins after the first hour. That is when we have to make a decision. Are we going to get up from the floor and go about our human enterprise; or are we going to take captive our thoughts? We must choose to get honest with our Lord Jesus about what’s really going on in the emptiness of our human spirit.
This is the story of Gethsemane. Prevailing Prayer. Jesus, with His face alight by the Holy Spirit, walks without hesitation to the cross. He takes on all the vile sin of mankind and makes atonement with His shed blood. “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be My disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out” (Luke 14:26-27; 34-35).
We are called to walk with Jesus in Resurrection Power. God’s plan is to forgive our sin and to heal our land. He will do this as we turn from our wicked ways and seek His face. The long silence of a Holy God will finally be broken. The power of the Holy Spirit will be poured out. The Church will be adorned in pure white as the Bride of Jesus Christ. The Church will walk victorious through whatever suffering or tribulation lies before it.
We must get on our faces before our God. We must repent. Every private personal agenda must be laid aside, now. Our place of employment, our time, our money, our possessions, our skill and expertise, our family, our friends, and, yes, even our lives must be laid in obedience on the altar of sacrifice before the Lord Jesus Christ. He is now the boss! Regardless of the personal cost, we must not act on any decision until we hear clearly from Him.
Now is the time to pray! Ask the Lord to give you the gift of repentance for your sins. Ask Him to show you your true condition before Him. Ask Him to cut from your heart every evil and ungodly thing. Turn now. Wait upon the Lord with tears and agony of heart even as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane. This will not be just ten or fifteen minutes of prayer. Jesus, who was without sin, had to spend hours praying before He was ready to go to the cross. There is no shortcut.
Move into a private, quiet place. Kneel before the Mighty Merciful Judge of all mankind and pray. Stay there until your heart begins to change and becomes soft toward the Lord Jesus. Make a commitment to be done with low selfish living! Pray through to victory. Pray until you are a changed person by the mighty power of the Holy Ghost flowing through you. Read aloud on your knees the Word of God. Claim the promises. Believe today that God is absolutely faithful to you. Pray until the tears of repentance are replaced by shouts of praise to a Holy God who is both your Lord and your Savior.
Your place of crushing and your act of submitting to the Lord will result in the flowing oil of the Holy Spirit in your life today. Praise Jesus. Bless His Holy Name!
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?
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?
Welcome message by Sister Michelle
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.)
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!
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.)
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?
Welcome message by Sister Michelle
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?
Welcome message by Sister Michelle
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?
What will you give Jesus this Christmas? The wise men who visited Jesus in Bethlehem brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These three gifts symbolize what we can give to Jesus today: the piercings that make us holy; the bitterness of our past failures; and a sweet-smelling smoke of joy, intercession, and ministering to Jesus. Each of these gifts will give God a handle on us to mold our character into the likeness of Jesus and open up the way for God to intervene on the earth and bring his kingdom in revival power!
Charles Finney described his conversion as, “I felt myself justified by faith…I was in a state in which I did not sin. Instead of feeling that I was sinning all the time, my heart was so full of love that it overflowed…I could not feel that I was sinning against God. Nor could I recover the least sense of guilt for my past sins.” Does this describe the condition of your soul? Like Finney, each of us must enter this state by faith: not an intellectual decision, but a voluntary trust in specific promises of God. Will you, this Christmas, receive God’s gift to us in Christ, and allow the Holy Spirit to take possession of your soul?
(Note: The first part of the video had audio problems and has been deleted.)
Jesus is a person – He is not a set of philosophical principles that will help you have a better life. You must choose to humble your heart and lose your life for Jesus, just as He lost His life for us. Will you separate yourself for Jesus, and let Him change your heart from tin to flesh???
After Bunyan’s Christian and Hopeful leave the Delectable Mountains, they meet a pilgrim named Ignorance from the Country of Conceit. He entered the way by a crooked lane instead of the narrow gate. Ignorance refused to be convinced that he would be unable to enter the Celestial City unless he was crucified with Christ and born again. If you believe that Jesus was literally punished for your past, present, and future sins; that his obedience is credited to you; and that you will always be a sinner until you die; then you are following in the steps of Ignorance. Will you, like him, reply, “Follow the religion of your country, and I will follow the religion of mine?” Or, will you decide to hate sin and forever forsake it?
Today’s welcome and sermon are from October 30. The call of Holy Spirit as uttered through Pastor James is to closely examine our words as they unveil those deep hidden things in our hearts. What do your words reveal about your own heart?
God has delayed His judgments to give Christians time to pray for personal and national repentance and revival. He seeks an Elijah company: individuals who refuse compromise with evil, abandon all hopes for fame, and devote time to earnestly pray. Have you, by faith, been made righteous so that you can cooperate with Jesus in His revival plan? Are you at all sensible of the hundreds around you who are under sentence of death, who will meet you at the judgment, and, if you have done nothing, accuse you down to hell? Beloved, it is time to wake up, get clean with Jesus, and pray!