“The Everlasting Gospel”

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There are a lot of people who moan away about how they have had more trouble after becoming a Christian, than they had ever had before. Of course, this could possibly be true, however, if there has not also been, somehow, added more power to take care of all that “extra trouble,” and more joy in overcoming; then there must be something wrong? I thought that God is in the active business of uplifting fallen humanity, and does He not always replace anything “taken away” from us with “something better?”

Mountains

Mountains

We need to think very carefully about this. I recall being warned about it once by a Pastor when I first became a Christian. And yes, I have indeed had more trouble than I ever had, since even before I became a Christian. Before I gave my heart to God.

Now, this is where the really “careful thinking” comes in. Shortly after becoming a Christian, for eg., I met a fellow who was a Buddhist. Our association together soon revealed to me that both he, and all his family and friends, were fine people, very upstanding citizens, with splendid characters by any standards, they were very kind and would have given me the shirt off their backs if they thought I needed it. I never had to worry about trusting these beautiful people. They were of the highest integrity, even of others I had seen in various churches before. They were/are truly delightful people to be with.

So, on what basis can I urge such people to become a “Christian?” How do we explain why they should join our ranks? Isn’t it just another lame excuse on the part of “church people” to summarily dismiss all of the facts at hand, and to glibly say things like: “People need to look at Christ, The Truth, and not His followers?” If only we, His followers could escape our “Christian duty” so easily! For it remains true that if Christians have not had their lives changed sufficiently, (2 Cor 5:17), to fully withstand being scrutinized, or being closely watched, then they had better stop preaching up such a storm until they actually are changed! It has to be, that I must be, what I want others to be, to me.

While preparing this sermon, I came up with a rather unique scripture text to help me view “the everlasting gospel” in a relevant/more practical way:

Joh 6:11  And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to those who had reclined; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. 

Joh 6:12  And when they were filled, He said to His disciples, Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing is lost.

Some will be busy gathering up those fragments so that nothing be lost; while others will be busy eating them as fast as they find them!

As trials thicken around us, both separation and unity will be seen in our ranks. Some who are now ready to take up weapons of warfare will in times of real peril make it manifest that they have not built upon the solid rock; they will yield to temptation. Those who have had great light and precious privileges but have not improved them will, under one pretext or another, go out from us.– 6T 400 (1900).

We usually see this happening when Christians today boast about their “evangelism” and how we so intimately know the beast powers of Bible prophecy, recounting in breath-taking, gory details all of the plots and actions of “the beast?” Or “The Vatican” as some call it? “Oh, we are not talking about Roman Catholics in general, we are only talking about The Vatican;” they triumphantly proclaim. BUT IF I was a Roman Catholic that would NOT make me feel any better! Rev 17:18 does seem to indicate today’s Vatican State; but does this mean that, as Seventh-day Adventists, that this should be the main thrust of our Christian life & witness, as we can so painfully see on You Tube and other places?

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Scripture, to include Rev 14, Is supposed to be “all-sufficient,” but it will only prove “sufficient” when we are both willing and able to receive, believe and live all that God has put into us. “Working out our own salvation,” (Phil 2:12), simply means sharing, or disclosing what God has put into us by how we live our daily life, and how we treat other people. This is why He says “You are my witnesses…”(Isa 43:10). Didn’t Paul say we are transformed by the “renewing of our minds?” (Rom 12:2). With THE “everlasting gospel; God’s people do not conform; but they are transformed! Have you ever heard the religious mantra from the “conservatives” that say “spiritual transformation” is wrong? But this same text also says we are not to be “conformed to this world.” How are we any different from the world’s media outlets when all we want to peddle to people is a constant live-streaming of all things “beast” in our alleged Bible prophecy?” IS this really the main point of “the everlasting gospel?” Not if the first verse in the Book of Revelation is correct. There it is called “the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

The shaping of our life; of the Christian’s life has to come from the scripture, and not from the enculturation of your local beast-watch club who are incessantly occupied with spelling out every sordid practice and every evil plotting of “the beast” of Rev 13. Special emails. Special web sites. Special Truth. Only for ones like them. Such people saying these kinds of things “lovingly” [according to them] repeat frequently, all of the powerful influences and actions of “the beast,” all the while citing the evening news, or some other beast-watch materials as their “proof.” The Bible gets cast aside yet again by the Church members that proffer such “fullness of truth.” Some of us are creating a sordid, fear-based “allegiance” to Jesus.

The greatest deception of the human mind in Christ’s day was that a mere assent to the truth constitutes righteousness. In all human experience a theoretical knowledge of the truth has been proved to be insufficient for the saving of the soul. It does not bring forth the fruits of righteousness. A jealous regard for what is termed theological truth often accompanies a hatred of genuine truth as made manifest in life. The darkest chapters of history are burdened with the record of crimes committed by bigoted religionists. The Pharisees claimed to be children of Abraham, and boasted of their possession of the oracles of God; yet these advantages did not preserve them from selfishness, malignity, greed for gain, and the basest hypocrisy. They thought themselves the greatest religionists of the world, but their so-called orthodoxy led them to crucify the Lord of glory. {DA 309.2}

The same danger still exists. Many take it for granted that they are Christians, simply because they subscribe to certain theological tenets. But they have not brought the truth into practical life. They have not believed and loved it, therefore they have not received the power and grace that come through sanctification of the truth. [People] may profess faith in the truth; but if it does not make them sincere, kind, patient, forbearing, heavenly-minded, it is a curse to its possessors, and through their influence it is a curse to the world. {DA 309.3}

I have been aware for many years that Jesus, in Scripture, calls us friends. [Luke 12:4, John 15:14, 15, Mat 11:19, Mat 20:13, Mat 22:12, Mat 26:50, Luke 7:34, John 3:29, John 11:11, James 2:23](even with Judas Jesus did that).

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And I always thought this was amazing and wonderful; but today, I can see that I can and should call Him my personal Friend. And that is nothing short of a true Miracle! “Christ in me THE Hope of glory,” makes me the miracle! THAT is the everlasting gospel. Why do we call all of the “beast” messages a part of that “everlasting” when Jesus says all that beast-watch stuff we are so fond of preaching, has an actual ending point? Is “the beast” more important than Jesus in our crusades and our personal witness? THAT ending of those “beast powers” is the very place that Jesus has gone before us to “prepare,” [John 14:2-3], and the specific reason that our Friend Jesus says He is coming back again is to “take you unto Myself.” (John 14:3) So that we can be where Jesus is now. (Heb 7:25). THE results of John 6:37 in the individual believer is a large part of what Jesus has gone before us to “prepare…” We can and should call Him Friend. We must pray for grace to trust Him more, and for a thousand tongues to praise Him aright! Jesus is our Blessed Redeemer, because He is sent from The Heart of God. And thats why we can sing “It Is Well With My Soul.”

According to “the everlasting gospel, (see Rev 14)” there is hope amongst the fragments. (John 6:12) If your heart has been broken by grief, by worry, by fear, by someone doing you dirt, by loved ones dying, or by anything else, God’s desire is that we make art with the pieces. We are born of the anguish we bear, and we turn that into the love that we want to give, and then we are called “the children of God.” (Mat 5:9) “To them that received Him gave He POWER to become the sons and daughters of God!” (John 1:12) Jesus said “gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” (John 6:12).

Many have made ship-wreck of their faith, all of us have done wrong and been wronged. (Rom 3:23) But all of us have some fragments of faith that still live in us. (Rom 12:3). And it is our job as Christians to identify with people, in the same ways that Jesus did, for the purpose of gathering up those little shreds and fragments of people’s faith that remain and to come alongside them in the love of Christ, so that NOTHING be lost.” Scripture tells us that “…they gathered them up, and they filled twelve large baskets with pieces from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten…” (John 6:13). Jesus fed huge crowds of people with those fragments He was talking about! As Christians, we need to find those fragments of faith in others, and use them to build upon Christ, our Solid Rock.

I want to reflect, just for a few minutes, on how I was one of those “fragments” and how Jesus reached me through some very bitter trials.

Part of “the everlasting gospel” informs us that “they overcame the devil by the blood of The Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.” (Rev 12:10-11)

Now, this “word of their testimony” spoken of in the Revelation of Jesus Christ is our most powerful weapon against all manner of falsehoods, and iniquities. Its impossible for the devil to gainsay the power of a winning testimony about “the blood of The Lamb, and the word of [our] testimony about that shed blood in our personal life! There is a really interesting quote we should look at here:

In reviewing our past history, having travelled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what God has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history. {TM 31.1}

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While it is a good start to have a powerful testimony from past experiences; it is equally true that we cannot just stay in the past. A current and relevant testimony about what God is doing now in your life, is the crowning achievement that leads to victory NOW in Christ:

Earlier this year, as some of you know, my wife died of cancer, and she literally died in my arms while I was helping her from one room to the next. During the whole time it was happening, I had several people sending me mark of the beast “truth,” almost daily, AND they knew what I was going through, and they never sent me a single word of encouragement or hope. Just mark of the beast stuff. I cannot put it into words how horrible and desperate those insistent messages would make me feel. I almost ran out of things to hope for. And in her dying moments, my wife, unkowingly turned that whole thing around for me with just three words…

The real testimony here is that shortly before she died, she was having a really bad day and we got to talking about “the end” and her impending death. She was previous to that day not able to talk well, but I decided to ask her the following question:

“If you only had five minutes left, and you could only say one sentence to me, what would you say?” And she sat right up, became more alert than I had seen her in weeks and just burst out in a big smile exclaiming enthusiastically:

“I WAS LOVED.”

How many of us today, here and now can say with belief: “I was loved?” How many of us can walk out of the doors of our churches and say the same about Jesus: “I Was Loved?” “I was Loved by JESUS!”

My whole experience with my wife is helping NOW to encourage others going through a similar journey, and I am volunteering with a cancer patient and caregiver support effort that spans all provinces here in Canada.

2 Cor 1:3  Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! The Father is a merciful God, who always gives us comfort. 

2 Cor 1:4  He comforts us when we are in trouble, so that we can share that same comfort with others in trouble. 

2 Cor 1:5  We share in the terrible sufferings of Christ, but also in the wonderful comfort he gives. 

2 Cor 1:6  We suffer in the hope that you will be comforted and saved. And because we are comforted, you will also be comforted, as you patiently endure suffering like ours. (CEV)

If you have had pain, grief and tragedy, and there are only a few small fragments of faith left, use those fragments, “gather them up that nothing be lost,” and turn your pain into caring for someone else going through a similar journey.

May The Lord bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you; and plant within your heart a powerful winning testimony that will draw people to Christ. Throughout this next week, when I kneel in prayer; I hope to meet you there.

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