Franklin Graham, son of the late and revered Rev. Billy Graham, regularly makes headlines for his vocal defense of the Christian faith, but some might not know that the evangelist experienced some faith struggles during his early years.
Despite coming from a famous Christian family, Graham recently told Charlotte Pence Bond, host of Edifi’s “Doubting It” podcast, that he wandered a bit on the faith front during his early years.
“I grew up in a Christian family … my parents lived what they taught, we went to church, went to Sunday school, we had devotions in our home in the morning [and in the evening],” he said. “Just because I grew up in a Christian home, it didn’t make me a Christian.”
Listen to Graham share his powerful spiritual journey on “Doubting It” at the link below
Graham struggled with God’s role in his life. Rather than placing faith at the center, he sought to serve himself.
“I just didn’t want God running my life. I wanted to run my own life. I wanted to have fun. I went to church, because I was expected to,” he said. “As I got older in my teenage years, I was more interested in pleasing myself. I just turned my back on God and tried to serve myself.”
But the more he sought to place himself at the center, the more unhappy he became. Eventually, Graham came around, had a powerful moment of reflection — and was set on course to follow in his father’s incredible footsteps.
“One night, I just got on my knees and I said, ‘God, I’ve sinned against you and I’m sorry,’” he recalled, noting that he asked God to take the pieces of his life and use them. “I still make plenty of mistakes, but when I prayed that prayer it was sincere.”
That moment of authentic faith catapulted Graham to live a life of faith and devotion, with the evangelist noting that he has “never doubted since that God is real” nor has he questioned whether “Jesus Christ is God’s son.”
“There’s power in the Gospel,” he said.
Graham discussed the importance of communicating to young people through powerful stories — an effective vehicle Jesus used in his own ministry.
Through stories, he believes he can make transformational change in hearts and lives.
“I would encourage young people … start every day in the word of God,” he said, going on to herald the necessential nature of prayer. “Prayer allows us to go right into the presence of the king of kings, the Lord of Lords … we can go straight to God.”
Let me ask you a question, and I’d like you to be honest with yourself about the answer…
What percent of the decisions you make on a daily basis are made out of fear?
If we’re honest, I think we’d all say the answer is a lot more than we’d like it to be. That’s because fear has a way of gripping us like no other emotion can. And it haunts us incessantly… prompting us to replay the worst-case scenarios over and over again in our minds.
But I love the acrostic the late Zig Ziglar gave us: F-E-A-R: False Evidence Appearing Real.
You see, fear, anxiety, and worry are results of listening to lies from the enemy. And Satan is a really good liar. But when we instead focus on God’s promises to take care of us, we begin to hear those lies for what they are, and the way we think about and handle our fears begins to change.
It’s interesting that the word worry comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word würgen, which means to “strangulate.” It paints a picture of a wolf at the throat of its prey.
Worry, anxiety, and fear will choke the life out of you. They cause you to assume a burden that God never intended for you to carry… and that burden can hinder you from accomplishing God’s work in your life.
But I love the promise found in 2 Timothy 1:7, “God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power.”
Maybe today, you’re tempted to run from something wonderful God has for you because of fear. Or perhaps you’re overwhelmed with worry about the current events of the world. Let me assure you, those feelings aren’t from God — they’re from Satan. And as a believer, you have the Holy Spirit power within you to defeat them for good!
George Washington has long been credited with instituting the tradition of concluding the oath of office with the phrase, “So help me God,” at his presidential inauguration in 1789. This profound event has helped shape and influence our nation. Washington’s love for God and country has served as an example for all American history. We have the most unique country in the world. We have the most blessed country in the world. God’s good hand is on it. With the great freedom we have been given, comes great responsibility. People who truly know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour are responsible for what no one else is responsible for in our country. Our religious liberty is a gift from God, not from the state; therefore, we answer to God for this liberty.
Read 1 Timothy 2:1-8 and notice that it is God’s desire that “all men…come unto the knowledge of truth.” Like Timothy, we have been taught certain truths. We know that God is real. We know that heaven and hell are real. We know that there is a certain judgment. We know that Jesus Christ is coming again. We know that evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse. We know that men for money, power, or other reasons may soil their conscience. And we know that when men soil their conscience, it will surely cause their lives to shipwreck. What are we to do with the truth we have been given? How can we use the truth to impact our nation for Christ?
We Are to Speak to God About Our Country
The Bible says in I Timothy 2:1-2, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” All of us would like to live that quiet and peaceable life, but that quiet and peaceable life according to the Word of God does not begin by marching in the streets or protesting in some town square. It begins first of all with speaking to God about our nation.
The ultimate outcome of the struggle in our nation rests in the hands of God. Our first responsibility is to call on God. I want us to stop just for a moment, and ask ourselves, “How many times have we complained without praying? How many times have we griped about something we didn’t like but we didn’t pray about it?” We must speak to God first.
We Are to Speak to Our Country About God
The first thing is speaking to God for our country. The second thing is to speak to our country about God. The Bible says in I Timothy 2:3-6, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” We meet many people who have not come to “the knowledge of the truth.” How will they ever know the Creator God? It is our responsibility in our country to take advantage of every freedom we enjoy, to open our mouths and proclaim with our whole heart that our God is the true God, the Creator God, and all truth proceeds from Him because He is before all things.
Instead of sitting down, twiddling our thumbs, and having debates about every opportunity we do not have, we need to take advantage of every opportunity we do have. We need to begin speaking to our friends, neighbors, and co-workers about God. This is what our country needs.
We Are to Allow God to Speak to Us
and Obey Him
Thirdly, we are to always allow God to speak to us and obey Him. I Timothy 2:7-8 says, “Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” Notice the parenthetical phrase in verse seven, “I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not.” This is given to us by the Lord in the Word of God so that the reader better understands the author. When we write something in parentheses, that gives a little more earnestness or clarity.
The Word of God says in Psalm 134:1-2, “Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, which by night stand in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord.” In other words, “God, see into my heart. This is all for the Lord. It is all for His glory. I am coming to God with a clean heart and giving it to Him.”
Our responsibility is to pray for individuals, for leaders, for authorities; to speak to God about our nation; to speak to our nation in humility and boldness about the truth; and to confront them about Christ. Do you know the Lord Jesus as your Saviour? There is only one way to heaven. Do not be fooled and die and go to hell forever. Do not just live on religion. You must know the true God. That is why we are here.
We have the greatest work in this world to do: being His witnesses and His intercessors, and He will enable us for this work if we keep our own hearts right with Him.
If you will, open your Bible to the first chapter of Acts, again. We’re going to go back to this wonderful, wonderful book, and I want to read again for you the opening 11 verses just to set them in your mind.
“The first account I composed Theophilus about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day when He was taken up to heaven after He had, by the Holy Spirit, given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these, He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of 40 days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, which He said, ‘You heard of from me.’”
“‘For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epics which the Father has fixed by His own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.’”
“And after he had said these things, he was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received him out of their site. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while he was going, behold two men, two angels in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
Now what we have been learning as we have begun our study of the Book of Acts is that the Lord’s work of redemption, His cross work is completed. He has given the offering that sanctifies forever those who believe. He has provided the sufficient atonement to satisfy the wrath of God. He has done His atoning work. He has born in His body our sins in His death, and we have died and risen in Him. So the work of redemption has been completed on the cross as far as the sacrifice of Christ is concerned.
However, the work of gathering the redeemed goes on, and it goes on in that first generation through the apostles, and then through the church as the apostles establish the church. So what we have here in volume 1 is really the first great story of the history of redemption following the finished work of Christ. This is indeed volume 1 of the history of the gospel in the world.
The responsibility for the proclamation of the gospel and the establishment of churches passes to these 12. They’re actually 11 until a little later in the chapter when a 12th is chosen to take the place of Judas, a man named Matthias. The 12 is sort of reconstituted, and they become the first wave of evangelists and preachers that go out to gather the redeemed and to establish the church. Here we are many, many millennia later, a few thousand years plus, two millennia later, hundreds of years later, and we’re still engaged in the same work passed down generation to generation to generation of gathering the redeemed into churches and even establishing churches in places where Christ is not named, taking the gospel to the ends of the earth, the remotest part of the earth, preaching Christ, establishing churches in places where they’ve never known that.
So this is the history of the church, and this history goes on until the last person in the economy in the plan of God is redeemed, and then the church is raptured out of the world, and that glorious era comes to its fulfillment. So we’re seeing the Lord then pass the baton in those verses that I read to His disciples. You can see there that He is speaking, according to verse 2, to the apostles whom He had chosen.
That is the 11, and there will be added Matthias. Now from a human standpoint, to give them such a massive responsibility seems like a bad idea, a really bad idea. To think that these 11 plus one are going to be able to take the gospel to Jerusalem alone would be a stretch, and then to think they would fill Judea with the gospel and then expand into Samaria, and then they would go to the ends of the earth is many might think a pipe dream, something foolish.
And not just because it’s such a massive undertaking. It’s such an unthinkable thing. If you were to start a business or an enterprise with a small group of people, you might not say at the very beginning that our responsibility is to take this thing to every person on the planet. That would be probably beyond your most wild imagination. Just the sheer massive nature of such a task is daunting to even think about, let alone to be assumed, by essentially socially powerless people, people who are not only powerless socially. They’re virtually powerless educationally, academically, religiously.
None of them is important in any of those categories. They’re a bunch of working men. As many as seven of them may have been fishermen. And not only are they the most unlikely people to do this task, but beyond that, they don’t seem well suited to it for a number of reasons. They have demonstrated very weak faith, and it would seem to me it’d take some very strong faith to get a grip on that kind of enterprise, and Jesus repeatedly says, “Oh, you have little faith. Oh, you have little faith.” Not only that, they have a track record of very sketchy obedience.
They’re as likely to be disobedient as to be obedient. In fact, when the Lord has given them specific things to do, they have failed to do them. In the heat of that night that Jesus went into the garden to pray, He didn’t ask them to do a very difficult task. He just asked them to stay awake and pray, and they fell asleep. After His resurrection, He asked them to go to Galilee and wait for Him. They went to Galilee. They didn’t wait for Him. They went back to their old enterprise.
So they haven’t proven either to be strong in faith or to be particularly effective or consistent in enduring and obedience. And you can add to that that they’re cowardly. In fact, when Jesus was arrested in the garden, they all forsook Him and fled. It’s also very true that they seemed to be impatient. And if you’re going to take on a task that’s going to end up taking the message to the ends of the earth, you’re going to need a lot of patience.
But they demonstrate impatience. They even demonstrate their impatience here because their question is, “Are you going to bring the kingdom now? How long do we do that? A few days, a few weeks?” And they’re marked with a lot of things that would make us doubt their ability to pull it off. So we understand then that they need to be made ready for this. Somehow, if these men are going to change the course of human history, something has got to happen to them. How are they ever going to be used to do that? So the apostles then become the focus of our Lord in this opening section before He leaves. He leaves right there in verses 9 to 11, so before He leaves, these opening verses tell us how He has tried to get them ready.
They are the ones He chose for the job, John 15-16. “You have not chosen me. I’ve chosen you and ordained you for this. You are the chosen ones,” at the end of verse 2. So here is the final countdown to His ascension when He leaves, and He won’t be back until His second coming, which is yet future today. Our Lord then in these days that He has, a 40-day period between His resurrection and His ascension, has to provide the essential tools for them to finish what He started, to go out and preach the gospel and plant churches in such a way that it extends throughout all of human history and across the globe.
These provisions are laid out in these opening – essentially opening eight verses and with the addition of verses 9 to 11 as well. The whole letter is written to Theophilus, and I just want to make a comment about that. Theophilus is a proper name, most likely, that could be translated friend of God. Theo, God, Philus, friend. But it’s a gentile name. It’s a Greek name, so this probably refers to some noble gentile. There is some history that would indicate to us that this was an influential, wealthy official in the city of Antioch, perhaps well known to Luke, who is the writer. Maybe that indicates that Luke was also from Antioch. That’s a little bit of speculation.
There is some history that says he was a convert in Antioch of Paul and Barnabus. So Theophilus, whoever he is, and maybe those are accurate things, doesn’t need to be identified to the readers of Acts. Why? Because they would all have to know him. The reason Luke doesn’t tell us who he is is because he assumes everybody knows who he is. So let’s say this. At least he is well known to the church.
And by the way, he is not just Theophilus. He gets a little more branding than that. He is in Luke 1:3 “most excellent Theophilus.” Now when somebody gets to be called most excellent, you’re now in the category of officials. This is some important man, some important Roman officials. Later in the Book of Acts toward the end, you’re going to run into people like Felix and Festus, and they’re going to get that title most excellent. You reserve that for some very important person.
Here then is a very important person, a gentile in the Roman world. He’s an official of some kind. He has come to Christ maybe through the influence of Paul and Barnabas, maybe from the city of Antioch, and maybe Luke being from the city of Antioch, they would come to know each other. Why would Luke send the letter to him? Because he’s a man of great influence, and he wants to put this letter in the hands of a man of great influence so it can be distributed. And by the way, this is very good for Luke to do because Luke understands that the gospel is supposed to go ultimately to the world.
So you want to put it in the hands of somebody who is outside Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and is in that world. And there’s something else I think plays into this. All through the Book of Acts, you’re going to see this. This will kind of prepare you for what’s coming. Luke seems eager to find open doors with gentiles, and that’s what begins to happen, as you know, with the ministry of Paul in chapter 13 all the way to the end of the book.
It’s about Paul in the gentile world, and Luke knows that Paul took the gospel to the gentile world. He wants the gentile world to embrace the gospel. The gentile world has no experience in the gospel, essentially no knowledge of the Old Testament, totally pagan, totally alien. And the church in its early years is persecuted by the Jews and persecuted by the gentiles as well. So I think Luke is endeavoring to do what he can do to help make the gospel acceptable in a gentile world.
Now remember, the gentiles thought this gospel was foolish. Right? First Corinthians 1, “To the gentiles, this is foolishness.” It was, to them, maybe more than foolishness. Some of them saw it as a threat, and some of them persecuted the believers. In many towns, Paul was persecuted, and ultimately, he was executed. So I think Luke has an interest in commending Christianity to the gentile world to help get past the persecution to provide opportunity in the future.
How does he do that? Well we’re going to see that unfold. But occasionally, through the Book of Acts, Luke records an incident where the Romans are kind of to Paul, where – for example, in chapter 16, chapter 18, chapter 19, chapter 27, the Romans are kind to Paul, which means Luke is saying to future readers, “Hey, they didn’t see him as a threat. They didn’t see him as somebody they had to be afraid of. They were kind to him.” In chapter 19, very important official in the city of Ephesus gives Christians a commendation.
So here is someone else in the gentile world saying, “You don’t have to fear. You don’t have to be afraid of these people.” In chapter 25, Festus declares openly that Paul has done nothing worthy of death. Then you come later into chapter 25 and 26, and you come also to Festus and to Agrippa, and they both agree that Paul, if he had been released, would have every right to plead his case with Caesar. So Luke, at certain points, just touches on the notion that Christianity has been no threat in the gentile world to provide for future evangelists some acceptance. In the face of Christians being persecuted early on, he wants to show that they were good citizens, that they were no threat to the powers in Rome, they were no threat to the social order, they were not criminals, and they had proof of that by the way they conducted themselves in the ministry of Paul in particular, and the way the Romans responded.
So Luke is taking a long-range view at the great commission in the gentile world. Now that’s just a little introductory material. Let’s go to see the tools that he gives them in this section, the tools that he gives them. First of all, we told you the proper message. He had to give them that. Verse 1, “Jesus began to do and teach. He began to do and teach.” And we talked about the fact that Jesus began, and He will continue this work through His apostles and through His church and through His people until He comes again.
It’s the work of doing and the work of teaching. We talked about the essential. If the gospel is go to the end of the world is that you get the gospel right, that you teach the truth. That’s why the New Testament makes such an issue out of getting sound doctrine. Right? We read that in 1 Timothy again this morning purposely. Avoid those people who have strange doctrine. Find those people who have sound doctrine. If anybody comes along, preaches any other Christ, don’t listen to him. “Don’t invite him in your house, John says.” “If anybody comes and preaches another gospel, let him be damned. Let him be anathema,” Paul says.
There is all through the New Testament, Epistles, this effort, and even in the Book of Acts to protect the true message, the true gospel. You know me. You know that through all the years of my ministry, I’ve done everything I can to point out where the gospel is misrepresented or where it goes wrong. This is part of the sacred trust. We are stewards of the gospel in our generation to make sure it gets spread correctly and passed to the next generation without defect.
So to begin with, He has to give them the content of the message, and so in verse 3, we are reminded that He spent a period of 40 days speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Not nonstop for 40 days, but during those 40 days, He appeared to them on many, many occasions with a purpose of instruction. Instruction. They were to make sure they had the right message. And may I remember you what we said this morning? It’s all about the words. The words have to be correct. It’s all about the words, the words.
Whenever God discloses Himself, he discloses Himself in words, and the words of divine revelation are written down. God did not give the Bible writers impressions which they turned into words. There’s a big movement now attacking the inerrancy of scripture, attacking the inerrancy of scripture by saying – they use this kind of phrase. “There was a speech act. There was some kind of divine speech act in which God disclosed himself, but the writers didn’t necessarily write it down without error.”
But that is not what the Bible claims for itself. The Bible claims for itself that every word of God is pure, every word, like silver refined seven times in a furnace. This attack is mounting right now, by the way, as we speak at this particular time, in the evangelical world. There’s a massive attack on the true doctrine of inerrancy, but that’s not surprising because Satan wants always to attack the word of God going back to Genesis. Right? Has God said, has God said, has God said.
So we’re in the process even now as I speak of planning to address this head on going forward to uphold the inerrancy of Holy Scripture because that’s everything. It comes down to the words, the words, and we saw that. Didn’t we? John 5, John 6, John 8, John 12. “The words that I speak. The words that I speak. They are life. They are life. They are life. They are life.” When God reveals Himself, He doesn’t reveal Himself in impressions. He reveals Himself in words, and the words are written down accurately. It doesn’t mean that they understood the words necessarily. You remember 1 Peter 1:10-12. Peter says that the prophets of old looked at what they wrote to try to understand it.
They got the words right, but they weren’t sure what the time was or the person of the fulfillment. You remember in 2 Peter, Peter says, “The things that Paul wrote are hard to understand, and some people twist them.” But it was never a question of the words. It was a question of the interpretation. Wasn’t always – and even today, there are some passages where we don’t know what the appropriate interpretation is because we can’t reconstruct all the original setting.
But the words are essential, so just making that little emphasis sort of on that point of the right message. Jesus wanted them to get the right message. For 40 days, He made they understood the kingdom, they understood the nature of the kingdom, and how to come into the kingdom, which is the gospel way and what the gospel was. And of course, they were to not only teach it, but to do it, to do gospel ministry. Part of that was living exemplary lives to support the claims of the gospel.
Secondly, we looked at the proper manifestation of the proper confidence I think is a better word. They – if they’re going to do this job, they have to have the right message, and they also have to have the right confidence that going forward, this is the mandate that they need to do. And what is that confidence? “It is that confidence that comes to them when they see him alive from the dead,” verse 3. “He presented himself alive after his suffering by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over those 40 days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.”
They needed to know it was Him. It was really Him, and He proved it by many, many infallible proofs, many convincing proofs. And one of them was, and I love this one, one of them was when He came back from the dead, He was speaking about the same subject He was speaking about before. The kingdom of God. The subject never changed. Same subject talking about the kingdom of God, the rule of God. I think He probably started with the universal rule, Psalm 1:45 and verse 13. “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. God is the king of all that He has created. God is the sovereign of the entire infinite universe and of all eternity.”
He probably taught them about the sovereign kingdom of God in which God rules over everything and nothing escapes His sovereign rule. But He probably brought that down to what could be called the mediated kingdom, the kingdom that is mediated on earth that becomes the kingdom of salvation, and then talked about what it meant to have God as your savior, God as your king personally, not universally in the infinite aspects of the universe, but personally in the heart.
And He taught them the gospel and entrance into the kingdom. We looked at that a little bit last time. That brings us to the third point. They needed the right message. They needed the right confidence, the right assurance, and that was that He was indeed alive, that He had conquered death. They also needed the proper power, the right power. Let’s pick it up at verse 4. “Gathering them together, he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem.” That’s sort of putting on the brakes after telling them to go and telling them that they were going to have to fulfill the great commission as we see it at the end of Matthew, the end of Luke. He holds them back. He puts the reigns on them a little, and He says, “Don’t leave Jerusalem.” Why? Wait. Wait for what the Father had promised, which He said, “You heard of from me. Wait. Don’t go anywhere.”
They are trained at this point. They’re educated. They have the message. They have the evidence that He’s alive. They’re ready to go. But He says, “Wait. Don’t go anywhere. Holy history in this next segment is not to begin yet.” Wait for what? “Wait for the promise the Father had given. Wait for what the Father had promised.” What would they have thought about that? How would they have processed that?
Well, let me take you back to Ezekiel 36. Ezekiel 36. Here’s a promise from God. A familiar new covenant promise. “I will sprinkle clean water on you,” – verse 25 – “You will be clean. I’ll cleanse you from all your filthiness, from all your idols. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit within you. I’ll remove the heart of stone from your flesh, give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will be careful to observe my ordinances.”
That is what the Father promised. Promised the coming of the Holy Spirit who will come and dwell in them. That is the promise of the Father. The promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit. That’s God’s pledge to His people. Joel 2. They would have known, Ezekiel 36, they would have known Joel 2. “It will come,” – verse 28 – “after this that I will pour out my spirit on all mankind. Your sons and daughters will prophesize or old men will dream dreams. Young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants, I will pour out my spirit in those days.” So they knew that connected with the arrival of messiah and the establishment of the kingdom of God and the salvation that God had promised would come the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
So that is the promise of the Father. The promise of the Holy Spirit, which He said you heard of from me. As long as they had been with Jesus, Jesus had reiterated that promise. He had reiterated that promise. In fact, if you go back to John 1, when John was speaking, John the Baptist testified, saying, “I have seen the spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and he remained on Him.”
At the beginning of the ministry of Jesus at His baptism, the Holy Spirit comes on Him. When Jesus begins His ministry in the city of Nazareth, He says, “I am here to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies about messiah. The spirit of the Lord is upon me to preach the gospel.” So in a very real sense, Jesus is the prototype of the filling of the Holy Spirit, the empowering of the Holy Spirit for ministry.
And Luke 3, the spirit comes on him. In Luke 4:1, he goes forth to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. So what was promised in the Book of Joel, what was promised in the Book of Ezekiel, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon God’s people took place first of all in Jesus Christ who is the prototype. He is the God man, but He is fully man, and He is empowered by the Holy Spirit, and we know that His whole ministry was basically operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. What he did, he did by the power of the Holy Spirit. So Jesus who had received the Holy Spirit at His baptism, who was empowered by the Holy Spirit, then began to promise to his disciples that they would have the very same thing, that the Holy Spirit would come upon them as well. Let’s kind of track that just briefly.
John 7:37. On the last day – this is the last day of the feast of tabernacles, which we’ll get to on Sunday morning, “The great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me as the scripture said from His innermost being will flow rivers of living water,’ but this He spoke of the Spirit whom those who believed in Him were to receive, for the Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
So it is the promise of the Father, but it is also what Jesus promised as well. The promise of the Holy Spirit who would come after Jesus had ascended and been glorified. He repeats this a number of times in 14-16 of John’s gospel. “I will ask the Father. He will give you another comforter, another helper, a parakltus, that He may be with you. That is the Spirit of truth.” Verse 26. “The helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things. Bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”
Again, chapter 15, verse 26. “When the helper comes or the comforter whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father. He will testify of me.” Chapter 16, verse 7. All this is going on in the upper room at the Passover, that final Passover. “I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away. If I don’t go away, the helper will not come. If I go, I will send Him to you.”
And then over in chapter 20, the most interesting gesture, verse 22, “He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” That was in anticipation. Didn’t happen then. It didn’t happen until the day of Pentecost. All that to say that’s what was promised by the Father and reiterated by the Lord himself. Look at Acts 2:33. This is Peter preaching on the day of Pentecost. “He says that Christ has been exalted,” – verse 33 – “to the right hand of God in His ascension, having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit. He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.”
So what is the promise of the Father, back to chapter 1? Back to chapter 1, verse 4. “The promise of the Father is the coming of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus also spoke of, which they heard from Him.” Then He goes on in verse 5. “John immersed you with water, buried you in water, but you will be immersed with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” I don’t want you to see that word as associated necessarily with water there.
This is simply a word that means immersed. Literally submerged. You’re going to be submerged with the Holy Spirit not many days from now, and of course, he was talking about the day of Pentecost, which was just a few days in the future. I want to mention something to you that I think is so very important. This is not a request to the apostles to somehow get baptized in the Holy Spirit. This isn’t telling them to seek it, pray for it, plead for it. This is a statement of fact.
Can we go back to it again? This is a promise of the Father, which the Lord reiterated, and verse 5, “John baptized with water, John the Baptist with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” That’s a statement of fact, and that is a statement of fact for every believer, every believer. First Corinthians 12:13. “All of us have been literally submerged into the Holy Spirit. It is a simple command. It is not a condition. It is not something you look for. It is not something you hope for. It’s something that is a fact, unconditional.”
First Corinthians 6. “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.” You don’t seek that. You don’t seek that. In fact, that is a gift that comes to every believer. I love the language of 1 Corinthians 12:13. “For by one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, and we’re all made to drink of one spirit.” We’re literally engulfed in the Holy Spirit.
Now what is the purpose of this, verse 8? “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” This is for power. The job is too great, too formidable, too demanding to be done in human strength. Paul’s language in the letter to the Corinthians. “Weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty unto God.” This is the promise of the Holy Spirit. Every believer following Pentecost receives the Holy Spirit, takes up residence. Literally a dominating forces, dominating power of our lives.
John refers to the Holy Spirit as the anointing which we have from God who teaches us all things. Paul in Ephesians 1 says, “We are sealed by the spirit of promise. The spirit protects us unto eternal glory.” We’ve gone through in recent years all the ministries of the Holy Spirit. But those ministries which the Holy Spirit renders on our behalf, and this is the important thing, He does within us. Within us where He has taken up his residence. Listen to the language of Ephesians 3:16. “Paul is praying, and he prays that God would grant you according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through his spirit in the inner man.”
He’s saying to these Ephesians, “I want you to know the full power of the Holy Spirit who is in your inner man so that Christ settles down and is at home in your life, so that you’re rooted and grounded in love, so that you can comprehend with all the saint, the breadth, and length and height and depth and can know the love of Christ, which surpasses all knowledge, and you may be filed up to all the fullness of God. I want you to know the full power of the Holy Spirit, which shows up in increased love, which shows up in increased fullness. That is to say a complete, consuming sense of obligation and joy and worship directed toward God. And when that happens, He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all we can ask or think according to the power that works. Here is the key within us.”
In other words, what Paul is praying is that you would take advantage of the power, the fullness of God, the Holy Spirit that is in you. How do you do that? Well, Galatians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly.” Ephesians 5:18 says, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Same thing. Be dominated by the word of God because that’s where the Holy Spirit’s power is released. You know the word, you love the word, you live the word. The Spirit uses the word to empower you. We know all those things, so I won’t belabor that point. But there is a necessary power, and that is the power of the Holy Spirit.
We’ve seen that through the years in every passage in the New Testament that deals with it, and we’ll see a lot more of it when we get to Chapters 13, 14, 15, and 16 of John’s gospel. We’ll also see more of it, and I’ll save some of this when we get to Acts 2, and the Holy Spirit actually shows up, and we see what happens. We’ll kind of delineate more about that. But at this point, let’s just say in the transition they needed the right message. They needed the right assurance, and they needed the right divine power because this is not a task that can be accomplished by the strength of men.
Fourthly, our Lord identifies what we’ll call the proper mystery, the proper mystery. Verse 6. “When they had come together, they were asking Him saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel? Is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It’s not for you to know times or epics, which the Father has fixed by his own authority.’” I quoted 1 Peter 1:10-12. The prophets who wrote the Old Testament didn’t know what person or what time. There’s a necessary mystery, a necessary mystery. Of all the kingdom teaching that Jesus had done, the part that excited them the most was that this was going to happen soon. The earthly kingdom was going to come. He was alive from the dead. Their hopes were burning bright. He was about to establish His kingdom. They had to be sure about it.
Remember back on the Emmaus road? Luke 24:21. “They were moaning and said, ‘We thought He was the one. We thought He was the one.’ And then he discloses himself, and they’re joyous, and then He appears to them.” John 20:19-20. “They see him, he appears, and now this energizes their desire for the kingdom, and so they jump to the conclusion that this is the end. It’s going to happen. They’re saying, ‘Lord is it at this time you’re restoring the kingdom to Israel? Is it now?’”
The Old Testament age is over. Messiah is here. He did the work of atonement. He’s alive. This is it. A few days. Now He’s saying the Holy Spirit is going to come, and Joel connects the coming of the Holy Spirit with the last days, and Ezekiel 36 connects the coming of the Holy Spirit with the last days. And Peter, James, and John had seen Christ transfigured on the mountain and seen his glory, already a glimpse of His kingdom glory. This is a natural question. When is it going to happen? When is it going to happen? When is the kingdom going to come?
You say, “Well wait a minute. The kingdom already existed.” Yes, in one form it did. The spiritual kingdom. He was ruling over the hearts of those who had put their faith in Him. That’s not what they’re talking about. When they say to Him, “Is it at this time you’re restoring the kingdom to Israel,” what were they saying? They were expecting what kind of kingdom? What kind of kingdom were they expecting? Millennial kingdom. No, that hadn’t been introduced as a 1,000-year kingdom until the Book of Revelation.
They were expecting the kingdom promised to Abraham, the kingdom promised to David, with all the promises that were reiterated to the prophets and through the prophets. They were expecting that Israel would be restored, Israel would be saved, the new covenant of Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 would be fulfilled, Israel would be saved, that Israel would be restored, the throne of David would be elevated again. All the kingdom promises would come to pass. Salvation would come. They would be the dominant nation in the world. All the kingdom promises, including the coming of the Holy Spirit. In other words, they were pre-millennialists. They believed in an actual kingdom for Israel.
And they said, “Is it now?” So if Jesus was a millennialist and there is no kingdom, this is His moment to say, “Oh, by the way, guys, not going to happen.” It is inexplicable if there is no kingdom for Israel that Jesus didn’t say that. But rather, He said, “None of your business when that’s going to happen.” That’s very different than saying, “That’s not going to happen.” The Greek order, Lord, at this time, will you restore the kingdom to Israel? And there are a lot of people who say, “Oh, there’s no kingdom for Israel.”
I preached recently in a place, and I preached on Isaiah 53. And you remember when we went through Isaiah 53. I talked about how that’s the confession that the Jews will give in the future when they look on the one they’ve pierced and mourn for him, and then out of that will come salvation in the kingdom. After I finished the message, someone came to me and said, “You know, it was a great message. I really appreciated it, but it would have been a lot better if you’d left the part about Israel out.”
I said, “This is Isaiah 53. This is Israel. This is Israel’s confession. How do I leave it out? What do you mean leave it out?” There are a lot of people who just don’t see a future kingdom of Israel. This is the moment of all moments for Jesus to say, “Guys, I got some bad news for you. That’s all been canceled. You’ll find out more about it later. Just get past Pentecost. The church is taken over for Israel. Israel is done. The church is the new Israel. All the promises once given to Israel are going to be fulfilled in the church. You just need to kind of wait. We’ll unfold that.”
He could have said, “No. Israel gets the curses, but the gentiles are going to get the promises.” He would have had to say, “You know, the prophets are kind of dreamers,” or, “That was Plan A, but God had to go to Plan B.” But that wouldn’t make any sense for Him to say that. Why? Because in Matthew 25 and in Luke 13, He told them the kingdom was going to come. He told them He was going to come. He described features of His coming, features of His kingdom. He told them about the kingdom.
So if you’re going to cancel out the kingdom, you’re going to have to explain why Jesus didn’t do that. But what he does tell them here is, “You can’t know the time. You cannot know the time. It’s going to come in an hour when you think not.” Didn’t he say that? It’s going to come like a thief in the night. He’s going to come suddenly. Here we are a couple thousand years later, and I don’t have any more information on it than they did, but I have news for you. That’s a good thing not to know so that every generation lives as if He might come at any moment. The doctrine of imminence.
Luke 19:13. He said, “Occupy until I come.” He said, “Work, for the night is coming. You live as if every day was your last day. You invest in every single day everything that you can for the sake of the kingdom of God.” That’s why I always say vacations are highly overrated. God revealed enough to excite our anticipation and kept enough secrets so we don’t know when it is, so every generation lived in the anticipation that he could come at any time.
When Paul was talking about the rapture of the church, he said, “We who are alive and remain.” We. Talking about himself as if it could happen in his day. So they needed to know that as they went out on this task it was an open-ended situation. They were going to just keep being faithful without ever knowing when it was all going to come to an end. Don’t concentrate on that. Don’t speculate on that. In the last couple of weeks or so, Harold Camping died.
You probably heard about him. He kept predicting when Jesus was going to come. He made 12 predictions, and every time he did that, he violated the simple statement of scripture. He’s coming in an hour you think not. Twelve times, and he was wrong every time. There have been all kinds of strange, bizarre groups that have predicted the coming of Christ. You know, people who get their pajamas on and sit on the roof on a certain day, ready to go. That is not how we approach the coming of Christ. We work as if every day is our last, and we plan as if his coming was far off, and we leave the date to him, and that infuses every waking hour with tremendous responsibility. I don’t want to know. I don’t know when I die, when I’m going to die. I don’t want any previews of that.
I don’t want somebody to tell me, “You’re going to be dead in six months.” I don’t need that. I just want to work every day as if it’s my last. I don’t want to know that. I don’t need to know that. Now all that leads us to a simple conclusion tonight. We’ll just call it the proper mission. The proper mission. And what is this mission? Verse 8. After the power comes on you, you’ll be my witnesses. You shall by my witnesses. You shall be. The Holy Spirit comes, and you become a witness. This is a statement of fact. You’re the only witnesses he has. Right?
You are the witnesses. In Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and even the remotest part of the earth. The word witness, very interesting word. It’s martyres, plural. We get the English word martyr. What’s the connection? The connection is that the word witness came to be the word martyr because so many witnesses to the gospel died. They died. Word came to mean one who dies for his testimony because so many did. You remember when Jesus said, “If any man will come after me,” He then said, “Let him deny himself.” Take up what? Cross. Cost you your life. You have to be willing to hate your own life.
You know, in thinking about that in our context, and I want you to just kind of think this through with me for a minute, there was no supporting Christian culture at this time in the birth of the church. The world was pagan, totally pagan. There was no affirmation of some kind of cultural Christianity, cultural Christian morality. They were aliens to everything in the culture. And there they went, preaching the words of Jesus about God becoming incarnate, the bread of heaven coming down there.
They were saying that if you didn’t believe in Him, you were going to hell forever. They were saying that people were sinners, and they were going to perish in their sin. They were preaching the gospel. They had nothing to support them whatsoever. It was alien to the Jews. It was a horrible message to the gentiles. It was an equally horrible message. Persecution was happening everywhere so that witnesses essentially became martyrs because it was so tough.
When I wrote the book Slave, I said they were going into the Roman world full of slaves, and they were saying there’s a necessity if you’re going to enter the kingdom of God and escape eternal hell that you become a slave of Jesus. The worst possible invitation imaginable was to say to somebody, “You need to become a slave, a permanent slave of a master who will be your only master,” and this master was a crucified Jew from Israel. This is a very hard sell. Foolishness, stumbling block.
Keep in mind there was no support for that message at all. You think about that kind of connected up to our country today. Most of you older people grew up in a time period in America when there was cultural Christianity. There was a kind of Christian consensus in America. People understood the church, they understood the Bible, they understood the gospel. They understood the morality that came out of the Bible. Sometimes it was called the Judeo Christian Ethic. But even more, it was a cultural kind of Christianity. If you grew up in the south, you probably joined a church, some church, because if you joined a church, you could get a job at the bank.
If you joined a church, you could be hired somewhere because you were one of the good guys. If you joined a church, you connected with other people, and you were socially acceptable, and you were religious, and you believed in God, and that was good, like the founders of America believed. They didn’t believe in the God of the Bible, but they believed they couldn’t keep people moral if there wasn’t some divine threat. So they created a God of their own imagining to hold over peoples’ heads. So there was a belief in God, and it was defined primarily by the Bible.
So there was a kind of cultural morality that survived a long time in America, and it was showing up in elections 20 years ago, 15 years ago. There was still a consensus. We remember the moral majority, the religious right. They were still to get people elected, still able to have some clout and some power. Let me tell you something. Gone. Gone. No more. There is no more cultural Christianity. There is no collective Christian consensus that is going to have any power in this country whatsoever.
In fact, the more distinctly Christian we are, the more we will be labeled as extremists. Bizarre, alien, homophobic, intolerant, guilty of hate crimes. Cultural Christianity is, as we know it, that kind of consensus coming from a Biblical understanding is gone. It is gone. The people who now vote in America couldn’t care less. They couldn’t care less about that. The people who carry the elections, they don’t want anything to do with that. They want to escape the extremism of cultural Christianity as they see it. So I think as we go forward, it’s going to come down to this, and this is exactly where it ought to be anyway.
Forget the cultural Christianity, because people really got going in the wrong direction all that time, fussing around in Washington, trying to get certain things done legislatively. You do everything you can to vote for morality and family and marriage and all of that because it’s better for people to live that way. It’s better for kids to have two parents. It’s better for men and women to get married. It’s better to be moral. It’s better not to be a criminal. It’s better not to commit all kinds of sex outside your marriage.
It’s better not to freewheel through life having relations with anybody you want. That’s bad. It’s better not to do all that, and we want what’s best for people if nothing else as a common grace. But we’re not going to have any power to make that happen in the future, and many people thought that was exercising their Christian witness, and it wasn’t. It wasn’t. I remember a few years ago when I was asked to go to the White House during the Bush administration to meet with the White House staff to explain to them how they could get back to the point as Christians where they could see the people who opposed them politically, morally, and socially as the mission field rather than the enemy. They had turned their mission field into political enemies.
Christianity went into redefinition, and Christianity became some kind of political movement. It’s shifted now. Nobody is going to call it the Christian right. People who used to say things like that now call themselves the Tea Party because that’s not a religious phrase. But we’re not going to have that kind of clout anymore, and what’s going to happen is we’re going to have to be back to where we should have been all along. The gospel advances by personal testimony to Christ one soul at a time.
Okay? This is what we were originally called to. And as I said this morning very briefly, I think we’re closer to living in conditions like these people did in the Book of Acts than we’ve ever been in the history of our country. We’re like aliens in an increasingly anti-Christian culture. And what is our witness? Our witness is to give testimony to Christ, to speak of Christ, to speak the gospel. Obviously, you could say a lot about that, but let’s just leave it at that point.
We need to say everything we can possibly say about Christ personally. May I just point one thing out to you? If you are a Christian, you have received the Holy Spirit. If you have received the Holy Spirit, you are a witness. The only question is if you’re a faithful one or an unfaithful one. And your Christian witness isn’t discharged by getting mad at non-Christians. Your Christian witness is scandalized by doing that. They’re the mission field, not the enemy. And the kingdom advances not through politics, not through some kind of cultural morality. The kingdom advances one soul at a time through personal testimony, personal witness.
From you, from me. From me, maybe it includes preaching. For you, maybe it includes neighbors and giving them a Bible study. Maybe it’s one-on-one, but that is the way the kingdom advances. Spirit filled, spirit powered, individual believers are made witnesses who give testimony to the power of the gospel and the truth of the gospel on a personal level. And so again, I say the kingdom advances one soul at a time.
Well, so we don’t drag this out endlessly, there’s a final word here, the proper motive. Proper motive is tied to the proper mystery. Verse 9, “After He said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold two men in white clothing stood beside them. Two angels appeared. They also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky, gazing?’” The verb there is very strong. Why are you transfixed, gazing into the sky, as if you’re losing Him?
“This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven will come in just the same way as you’ve watched Him go into heaven. He went in clouds. He’ll come back in clouds.” Is that a motive? Yeah, that should be a motive. That should be the great motive. What do you mean? I mean he’s coming back. Listen to what John writes at the very end of the Book of Revelations. “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’” John says, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus.” I’m coming quickly. My reward is with me to give to every man. That’s our motive. He’s coming. He’s coming suddenly, unexpectedly, and that kind of splits into two realities. Personal meeting and eternal reward.
What’s the personal meeting side of it? Then shall every man have praise from God, 1 Corinthians. You’ll be rewarded for what is gold silver precious stones. That’s the other side of it. The personal meeting, well done, good and faithful servant, the eternal reward crown that he gives to faithful servants. So it’s a two-fold motivation that when I see him face-to-face, I want him to know I love him. I want to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” and I want to receive a full reward. John says, “Look to yourselves that you lose not the things you’ve wrought, but that you receive a full reward, a full reward.”
That’s the message. To that first generation of 12 apostles, and here we are 2,000 years later, and amazingly, by the power of the Holy Spirit, they were able to get it started right. And now Christianity in your generation is circling the globe in a way that they would never have ever imagined the day in which you’re living. Just imagine, you hear me preach here, and there are people in rice patties in Asia hearing the very sermon I give to you in their own language. Not just me, but many, many other preachers and teachers.
The gospel is circling the globe. We’re living in the greatest revival of Biblical truth in the history of the world simply because of its electronic capabilities circle the globe. We’re also nearer the second coming than we’ve ever been as the gospel is extending to the ends of the earth. Many verses in a new testament encourage us to be faithful until he comes. I hope maybe you’ll see that in a fresh light. Lord, again, we are so blessed to have your truth to understand life and history and ministry and the church, and ministry responsibility, and the gospel, and all that is incumbent upon us to fulfill our responsibility to you, and to express our love, and to serve in a way that will produce eternal joy.
We’re so thankful for all of this. We give you glory. Make us faithful. In the Savior’s name, amen.
Parents of transgender-identifying teens held protests outside children’s hospitals that house transgender clinics in six cities across the United States and Canada in a joint effort spearheaded by these families and a recently-formed LGB group.
Rallies were held in Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Hartford, and Ontario, Canada on Valentine’s Day to protest against the use of experimental drugs and cross-sex hormones on youth who are struggling with same-sex attraction, are on the autism spectrum, or suffering from depression or other mental struggles.
Carrie Hathorn, the national organizer for LGB Fight Back, a group that was formed last summer, and two mothers of trans-identified children, both of whom spoke with The Christian Post on condition of anonymity, said it’s vital the public take action to resist the heavily financed transgender movement that they say is causing catastrophic harm to young people.
The prescribing of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones followed by cosmetic surgeries that lead to sterility are unethical and abusive to children, they stressed.
“Lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people were the first to be targeted for ‘trans’ medical experimentation,” Hathorn explained. “Big Med and Big Pharma used transgenderism to Trojan Horse the LGB movement. They turned PRIDE into a corporate event, then added the T to LGB. Big Med and Big Pharma see LGB people as a market to exploit for profit,” she said.
Due to the shame they often experienced within the broader culture, these industries are providing gays and lesbians a medicalized “way to pretend to be straight by making us into facsimiles of the opposite sex,” she said, asserting that this is a billionaire-funded movement that has become corporatized, turning their bodies into marketable commodities to be modified under the guise of “progress.”
Among the financial backers pushing gender identity policies in the legal structures of nations worldwide through various philanthropic activities and lobbying efforts are tech titan Tim Gill and John Stryker, who is heir to a $13.6 billion medical corporation and the creator of the Arcus Foundation, according to an earlier report in First Things.
Hathorn said that many of those in her organization have known homosexuals and bisexuals — as both partners and friends — who went through the process of transitioning,and they are devastated by the physical and psychological damage that has been done to them.
“Some of us even went through ‘trans’ phases ourselves. But now, Big Med and Big Pharma have expanded their profit-driven market to target kids. In so doing, they further reinforce the public narrative that trans identities are innate, lifelong, and unchangeable. LGB Fight Back opposes the medicalization of our community and of children,” she said.
Among the signs held at the six-city protests were “Stop transing gay kids” and “Trans is not the new gay.”
Kelly (not her real name), a nurse in the Chicago area, took part in a protest at a park near a Planned Parenthood clinic, which is now a leading provider of cross-sex hormones, because she is ready to fight. Her daughter, who’s in her 20s, claims a trans identity and has been saying she’ll go on hormones soon. Her daughter has decided to go by a different name and wear a breast binder to flatten her breasts.
The mother said she had wanted to take action before last week but was too distraught to engage.
“The parents are paralyzed because they are afraid they’ll lose their kid,” Kelly explained. “They are ashamed. They don’t wanttheir kids to know about this (that they have objections and concerns) even though their kids are telling everybody. They’re just hoping that nobody knows. They don’t want to lose their job, and nobody has helped them.”
“But I am no longer paralyzed. I have about a year before my daughter explodes (emotionally). She still says she’s going to do it; she’s getting a little bit more headstrong on it,” she said.
“So I am now ready to fight … and I’m grateful for COVID because we can wear a mask and no one knows who we are.”
Kelly told CP she would rather lose her job than lose her child to the trans movement.
“This is wrong, this is medically wrong,” she declared, “and I want someone to pay for this. I do.”
Although transgenderism is framed in much of the media as a right versus left conflict, the parents’ group that Kelly is a part of is politically and religiously diverse, and they’ve bonded over the plight of their kids.
“We were just at a loss for words. Everybody tells you it’s your fault, or not that it’s even your fault but that you’re the crazy one (for not supporting your child’s trans identity). It’s like you’re in the twilight zone,” she recalled, speaking of a gathering she had at her home of distressed parents.
Kelly, who’s an evangelical Christian, added that she’s grateful the LGB group is now helping them organize to fight for their kids’ lives.
“I kind of love that everybody’s coming together. Isn’t this where Jesus would have been?” she posited.
Going forward, she hopes to continue increasing the visibility of the protests to break the media blackout on this issue. Her influential friends in the Chicago area where she lives have started to change their views about transgenderism as well, she added.
Some of her friends, who once thought she wasn’t being kind and that she should accept her daughter’s belief that she’s a boy, have since come to understand the complications and harms linked with medicalized gender-transitioning. What changed some minds among these friends was reading journalist Abigail Shrier’s book, Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.
“The public is not aware of these horror stories. They don’t want to hear. And that’s wrong,” Kelly added, explaining that many don’t realize how the ideology has crept into every professional sector.
At a recent four-hour training session that Kelly went to at the hospital where she works, she recalled the presenters telling those in attendance: “‘Now remember, when you say pregnant women, you need to say pregnant people, as you could be hurting someone’s feelings.'”
In Hartford, Connecticut, another mother who also participated in last week’s six-city protests told CP that she’s been gathering with other heartbroken parents since 2017.
“The idea for the action (protests) was to have a positive message,” said the mother, who is named here as Dawn, to protect her identity.
Placards and signs that participants held outside Connecticut Children’s Hospital contained messages such as “Children Cannot Consent to Puberty Blockers,” “Children Need Love Not Puberty Blockers,” and “Let Kids Develop Naturally,” along with other words of love, underscored by the protests being held on Valentine’s Day.
“So come at me and tell me I’m a bigot for loving my kid,” Dawn said sarcastically.
Dawn has been involved in the issue for approximately six years. Her daughter, who’s now a young adult, identifies as the opposite sex and is taking cross-sex hormones.
“I think a lot of us thought that trans issues were gay [issues] and we figured that it was all part of the alphabet soup and that affirming people as trans was the identical thing as lesbian or gay,” she explained, noting how successful the marketing of that message has been over the years.
Yet the proverbial alarm bells started to go off when she learned of the drugs being used to block normal puberty in gender-confused youth.
“We have experience with those drugs in another context and I know that they may have life-giving benefits for some people, but they also make you sick as can be,” she said.
“And I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, these are being given to young children.'”
“I think people have this vision of people being like http://cassette tape decks. You can hit pause and then come back the next day and hit unpause and everything is going to be just like it was. And that didn’t make any sense to me.”
Transgender advocates and their allies in the medical field have routinely claimed that puberty blockers are a mere “pause button,” the effects of which are fully reversible and are given to children in order to buy them more time to decide whether to proceed with the next steps in a gender transition, such as cross-sex hormones and cosmetic surgeries to appear more as the opposite sex.
“I knew that these kids [on puberty blockers] were laying down their bones, laying down their teeth. And I just thought, this just can’t be. And then I found out that if you’re on blockers and you go on to cross-sex hormones, you wind up sterile,” she said.
Speaking to liberals who think supporting trans rights is a good thing, Dawn said she understands where they are coming from, that they do not want to be a bigot, or for others to regard them as bigoted.
“But you’re not being a bigot to want to protect kids from being experimented on,” she asserted.
“We’re talking about children,” she stressed. “We’re talking about permanent effects. The burden is on you to make sure that that’s safe.”
Dawn believes that this issue is so hidden that the prevailing assumption is that everyone feels exactly the same way. But to have increasing numbers of people who care and show up to protest is meaningful.
“We’re the biggest tent you can imagine,” she said of the diversity of the group, noting that half rejoiced over President Joe Biden taking office while the other half was in mourning.
Their group includes Orthodox Jews, Mormons, right-wing Christians, and “regular white bread Episcopalians like me,” Dawn said, and plenty of others who are atheists or humanists.
The efforts around the country come on the heels of a protest in late December outside of Children’s Hospital-Los Angeles, which houses one of the largest transgender youth clinics in the country.
Prior to the demonstration, concerned parents erected a number of billboards promoting Shrier’s Irreversible Damage book alongside such messages as “Puberty Is Not A Medical Condition” and “Why Do So Many Of Our Youth Think They Are Transgender?” due to the lack of media scrutiny of the topic.
The Los Angeles protests were the “spark” that set LGB Fight Back’s activism in motion, Hathorn told CP. The group sent out press alerts about the Valentine’s Day protest but received no response from reporters.
“It was literally crickets,” Hathorn said. “I was hoping that our actions would break the media blackout but I have now realized how bad it is.”
She recounted that she used to support transgender rights and admits to being completely indoctrinated with gender identity ideology for approximately 20 years. When she was in college in the early 2000s, such content was being heavily propagated in core studies programs.
“But it was kind of a slow and brutal awakening to come out of that ideology and realize that what was happening inside of my community — that people I knew had gone through this process of being medicalized and wanted it for themselves. And I was one of the people cheerleading and thinking that this is the right thing to do, and that affirming it was saving lives. But that all came crashing down for me when one of my friends committed suicide who had transed,” she said.
Hathorn found out about her friend’s death in summer 2018 and, as far as she knew, almost everyone in this particular friend’s life had been totally supportive of her transition. This friend, a graduate student in her 30s who was heading the LGBT group on campus, had been on hormones for at least seven years, she recalled.
“Transing does not actually save lives. It did not save my friend’s life,” she said.
“This whole thing is very intense for our community, people who have absolutely been indoctrinated,” Hathorn said, when asked if she is seeing more gays and lesbians starting to express discomfort with the medical practices involved in gender-transitioning.
But some are starting to wake up, she said.
“It’s slow, it’s like deprogramming. The conditioning has been so intense for us, and frankly, the pressure to go along with this. Because if you say or even ask the question ‘Do you think fewer people would decide to medicalize if homophobia wasn’t such a problem in society?’… just asking that question, you’re considered a bigot,” Hathorn said.
When she started asking similar questions even in the months before her friend’s suicide, friends she had known for 10 to 15 years “unfriended” her and stopped communicating with her.
“I know people who have moved out of their cities because the hate toward them became so intense from people that they’ve known for a very long time,” she said.
“We can relate to what these parents [of gender dysphoric kids] are going through.”
Lesbian communities “kind of don’t exist anymore,” Hathorn added. She noticed increasing numbers of “butch” lesbians started to become trans around the year 2010.
Such women are still around, she said, but when they’re partnered they look like heterosexual couples. Now, heterosexual men are claiming to be both female and lesbian. These men have been bullying lesbians, telling them that they are bigoted for not wanting to date so-called transwomen.
Vast sums of money are driving this movement, she reiterated. The trans movement became so gigantic because it funneled the money into all kinds of LGBT groups and other nonprofits.
“That backdrop of having tons and tons of money, the funding going to all these trans issues, it has set the stage for the pharmaceutical industry, the medical establishment, and the psychological establishment to profit off of the misinformation, the lies, and the suffering of children and young adults,” Hathorn said.
“Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, you need to understand that this is a medical emergency, a medical crisis of sorts. And the more kids and parents who go down this track, the bigger the issue is going to become, but to the absolute detriment of these people, these kids. It’s because of the irreversible damage,” she added.
January 11, 2021, Governor Ducey gave his State of the State address in which he outlined his plans and goals for Arizona.
This is the time of the year when the President of the United States usually gives the State of the Union Address to the Nation. In it we hear the President’s views of how things are going in America and how he wishes for them to go in the future.
Joe Biden hasn’t addressed our Nation yet. It was thought he’d make that speech in early February, then maybe on February 23. It hasn’t happened and now it looks as though he isn’t going to make that speech at all.
I certainly wouldn’t want to upstage the Governor or the President, but today I want to give you God’s State of the World Address.
The State of the World is a topic much more important than the State of the State or the State of the Union.
– It’s more important because it involves the welfare of not just the 328.2 million people in The United States, but includes the 7.8 billion people in the whole world.
More people skipped Doug Ducey’s message than heard it, but God’s message is a message you can’t afford to skip.
– Because it’s Jesus’ assessment of the world, not mine.
– Also, because it has to do not just with economics, or education, but with Eternity.
– Its primary concern isn’t peace among nations, but peace with GOD
The State of the World’s Population
GOD would remind us there are more souls than ever needing the Gospel today.
– World population is 7.8 billion, with the highest growth in developing nations.
– Global outreach opportunities have never been greater — Christians are concerned about feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, tending the sick, and educating the illiterate.
That’s why we dig wells in Africa, buy blankets in Iraq, help the down-trodden in India, feed and care for the homeless in America………….when we do these things we’re doing them for/to Christ!
The State of the World’s Morality
What in the world has happened to our world?
What a dysfunctional mess we have on our hands!
Our culture is losing its moral and ethical roots!
People are redefining the meaning of moral in order to justify their self-indulgent, hedonistic behaviors and lifestyles.
Principles of Americans have become rotten as the moral compass of America continues to decay.
Not only our Christian moral standards, but our political system.
This can be seen by the newly elected members of Congress who are Socialist Democrats.
These anti-Americans are injecting poison into this country pushing for the same socialist policies that destroyed Venezuela.
I believe the moral decay in the United States is the direct result of our country increasingly opposing God over the years in favor of secular humanism.
As we continue to reject God and push Him out of our nation, we’re swinging our doors open and welcoming corruption, hatred and violence in our country with open arms.
In Edward Gibbon’s final volume of “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” we see 3 of the 5 major causes he sites as destroying Rome that are clearly apparent in America right now.
They are: The breakdown of the family, an insatiable craving for pleasure, and the decay of religion.
We’ve become a nation as wicked, or even more wicked, than Sodom and Gomorrah, as evidenced by the increased acceptance of sexual immorality and the gruesome abortion laws that have been enacted.
We as a nation and as a world are steering off course onto the broad road leading to destruction.
We need a spiritual revival! We need to repent and turn back to God while we still can!
Ronald Reagan warned, “Without God, there is no virtue because there’s no prompting of the conscience. And without God, democracy will not and cannot endure. If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”
The State of the World’s Crises
Jesus would direct our attention to the widespread crises we’re facing today.
– These are heartbreaking times.
– With more people come more diseases and greater mortality rates.
Globally, about 10% of the world’s population has gotten Covid 19 (Coronavirus).
– In one year it’s reported that 3 million people died from this pandemic.
Vaccines have been developed to combat this disease, but their lasting effects are still undetermined. Doctors live in fear of a new virulent, unstoppable epidemic.
In addition, there are millions of people at war today, and thousands upon thousands are dying.
– Rogue states are developing nuclear capabilities, and shadowy terrorist organizations are seeking weapons of mass destruction.
– President Biden has repaved the way for Iran to get Nuclear Power which is kind of like feeding a tiger so it’ll have strength enough to attack and eat you.
– Radical Muslims are taking over the Mid-East and have set their sights on Israel and America!
– They plan a world-wide Caliphate with Shira Law which will destroy anyone who refuses to convert to Islam.
Russia’s are moving towards an invasion of Israel.
GOD warned Iran (Persia), with Russia (Magog), and a coalition of allies (including Turkey, Libya, Syria, Sudan) will go to war and will invade Israel.
Ezekiel 38-39 warns this coming war between Iran (Persia) and Israel will take place sometime after Israel has been re-gathered into her land as a nation (fulfilled on May 14, 1948)
This prophetic war hasn’t taken place yet…
THIS WAR will be unlike any other war in history … this war will unleash a series of IRREVERSIBLEevents which will change the world forever.
– God set aside two whole chapters in the Bible to warn us of this coming war…
According to the Bible, Israel must stand alone … with God.
Someone will ask, “Well, won’t the United States be there to back Israel, aren’t we allies?”
– When this coming war does finally start, the United States will be unwilling (or unable) to help Israel defend herself.
– We’ve already witnessed President Biden and his Government have cooled relations with Israel.
– Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel will stand alone if need be.
The Bible warns the invading armies will ultimately be destroyed by God, it’ll be a devastating war for both Israel and the whole world. (Read Ezekiel 38 and 39)
Bible scholars are divided as to whether this coming war is part of the prophetic battle of Armageddon or will just precede Armageddon to prepare a way for the Antichrist.
– This will trigger the final prophetic 7-Year Tribulation which God has set aside for Israel and the World which is sometimes called the “Apocalypse” …
THE WHOLE WORLD should be sitting on the edge of their seats with white knuckles watching this terrible prophecy slowly start to unfold.
– Those who call themselves Christians are to “examine” themselves in the Word and in their faith to make sure they’re not just ‘almost’ Christians.
Matthew 7:21-23 21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
Too many Christians are “lukewarm” in their faith in Jesus and knowledge of God’s Word.
Revelation 3:14-16 14 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation: 15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!
Jesus warned us in, Luke 21:36 — “Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.”
The Bible promises that faithful Christians who are alive at that time and have endured in their faith in God’s Word are not “appointed” to this coming time of “God’s wrath” that’ll be “poured out” upon the “whole world.”
1 Thessalonians 1:10 10 And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heaven—Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.
1 Thessalonians 5:9-11–For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. 10 Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. 11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
Any day could bring the world to the edge of Apocalypse.
There are earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, drought, fires, blizzards, and all kinds of natural disasters as God tries to get our attention.
WAKE UP! IT’S TIME TO GET SERIOUS IN YOUR COMMITMENT TO JESUS CHRIST!
The State of the World’s Technology
Daniel 12:4 — But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase.”
Daniel received some of the most sweeping prophecies found in the Bible.
Daniel’s prophecies take us from the days of the Babylonian captivity (which Daniel was part of) to the very end of this age . . .
It’s fascinating to see how God told Daniel, after giving him some of the most remarkable prophecies found in the Bible, to “shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end” and then gives Daniel two signs that would help us identify “the time of the end”…
#1. The ability to travel from one place to another would be unlike anything seen before in history.
It’s interesting to note that from the time Daniel wrote this book until almost the 20th century, the speed man could travel remained fairly constant … limited to the speed of foot, horse, and boat.
#2. ][ And knowledge would increase at a rate … and to a point … unlike any time in history.
It’s interesting how many reports and articles now brag how the sum total of man’s knowledge is doubling at a rate unlike anything ever found in the history of mankind . . .
Are you having a hard time believing in God? Just watch the news.
– Read your Bible it will become clear … Why? God is warning us . . .
The rapid development of technology is another distinctive sign of our age.
– Instant communication, entertainment-on-demand, and nanotechnology are daily changing the world so fast that we can’t keep up.
If you buy a new computer it is obsolete by the time you get it home and set-up.
Internet connections have created a global economy — the world’s open for business 24/7.
– The changes aren’t all good.
– In addition to online pornography and Internet gambling, there’s the danger posed to children by a lifetime of staring at screens.
The World Bankers are planning to do away with cash and the government is figuring ways to confiscate your savings to pay National Debt and then they can better control your earning and spending……….MARK OF THE BEAST!
There is a global push now to get rid of cash. And Revelation 13 tells us why. God warned us in Revelation 13 that the day would come when certain laws would be enforced and anyone who refused to go along with those laws would no longer be able to ‘buy or sell’.
Revelation 13:16-17 16 He required everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. 17 And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name.
The World Bankis calling for governments to work together to implement standardized, cost-effective identity management solutions … Moreover, the nature of the deployments has required an economically feasible solution, and has demonstrated that reliable, biometric ID cards can affordably be used on a large scale. It offers hope for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal of getting legal ID into the hands of everyone in the world by the year 2030 with its Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative.”
– You will notice that this refugee crisis in Europe is making the push for a global ID system even stronger.
So what does Satan need to do in order to successfully enforce the mark of the beast?
– Get rid of cash and make the financial system purely electronic, so that those in control
will simply be able to press a button and stop God’s people who refuse the mark from being able to buy and sell.
PAY ATTENTION! GOD SAID THIS WOULD HAPPEN AT THE END OF THE AGE!
5. The State of the World’s Religions
Jesus would be mindful of the state of the world’s great faiths.
On line reports indicate that there are 2.4 billion Christians, 1.8 billion Muslims (24%) (the fastest growing religion), 535 million Buddhists, 1.2 billion Hindus, and 16% of the world’s population claim no religion at all.
One Muslim leader proclaimed: “We aim to establish Allah’s religion in its entirety, in every soul and upon every inch of this earth, in every home, institution, and society.”
At the same time, persecution against Christians is widespread and underreported, occurring in 183 nations of the world.
– Latin America is now the largest continent of Christians, and the church in Africa is the fastest growing.
Meanwhile Pope Francis is traveling the world recruiting leading Evangelical pastors, Hindus, Muslims, and whoever else he can talk into forming a “ONE-WORLD RELIGION!”
– He recently proclaimed that Jehovah and Allah are the same God!
Pope Francis decreed that 2016 was a Holy Year and priests may absolve women of the “sin of a procured abortion” during a Holy Year. At the close of 2016, he made permanent the permission that he had provisionally given priests to forgive the “sin of a procuring abortion” through the sacrament of reconciliation, more commonly known as “confession.”
In Catholic teaching, it was normally only bishops or the Pope himself who may absolve the faithful of the sin of abortion, which led to excommunication from the Church.
In keeping with his ministry of mercy, however, Pope Francis extended his powers of forgiveness to those “missionaries of mercy” priests who will visit Catholic dioceses and parishes.
Only Christ can forgive sins!
Pope says, those who believe they have the absolute truth, (which would be genuine born again Christians who know nobody can absolve sins and get us to Heaven except Jesus Christ,) and go on condemning others through slander and defamation are in the wrong.
He is saying, Religious fundamentalism must be combated.
The Pope is trying hard to replace God in today’s world.
6. The State of the World Shouldn’t Surprise Us
If God was giving a “State of the World” address, are these the observations He’d would make?
Actually, Jesus did give us a “State of the World” message that transcends the centuries.
We call it “The Olivet Discourse” because He spoke it on the Mount of Olives shortly before ascending to heaven.
In Matthew 24:6-14 Jesus described the state of affairs that would dominate the world between His ascension and His return: 6 And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. 7 Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. 8 But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. 9 “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. 10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.
Well, there you have it!
– God’s message about the State of the World isn’t very hopeful right now, but a new, greatly improved world with new leadership is on the way!
Jesus knew history in advance, and He’s still in control.
The problems of this world won’t be answered in peace initiatives, political movements, climate change seminars, or world religions.
The State of this World won’t be redeemed by medical advances or modern technology.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only answer, and the return of Jesus Christ is the only hope.
If you’re disturbed by today’s headlines and tomorrow’s uncertainties, look to Jesus.
Trust His unfailing predictions, and lean on His unchangeable promises.
He told us in Luke 21:28 — “So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!”
There are so many wonderful, wonderful instructions given to us in the letters of the New Testament that comprise the teaching that relates to our Christian living and Christian ministry that it’s good to go back and be refreshed in these things.
Turn in your Bible, if you will, to chapter 6 in Ephesians. A very familiar portion of Scripture is the main focus of this chapter. It actually begins in verse 10 and it runs all the way down through verse 20. It is about the Christian’s war or, if you will, the armor of the believer.
This is really the end of the epistle and needs to be seen a little bit in its context. This particular epistle follows a pattern that many of the epistles of the New Testament follow, particularly those written by Paul, in that the opening chapters – namely, in this case chapters 1, 2, and 3 – identify our position in Christ. They are doctrinal. They define for us what it means to be a Christian.
For example, back in chapter 1, it means that we have been blessed with all spiritual blessing or every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. And then Paul unpacks all of that, starting in verse 4, in one long sentence running down to verse 14, “We have been chosen before the foundation of the world to be made holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us, so that we have been adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for the purpose that we might be to the praise of His glory.” We have redemption, verse 7, through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace and that grace He lavished on us.
Furthermore, He has given us revelation in that all wisdom and insight has been made known to us. And that involves the mystery of His will, that which was formerly hidden and is now revealed. We are able through the revelation of Scripture to understand not only the past and the present but the fullness of the times, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in heaven and things upon the earth. We have obtained an eternal inheritance to which we have been predestined.
We have been sealed through that eternal redemption with the Holy Spirit of promise in verse 13, who is given as a guarantee and engagement ring, a down payment, the Greek word arrabōn, sealing our final inheritance and our final redemption as God’s own possession to the praise of His glory.
So Paul starts out with this long staggering list of benefits and blessings that belong to us because we belong to Christ. And Paul prays then that we would understand all of this, verse 18, the eyes of our heart being enlightened to know what is the hope of His calling and the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, what is the surpassing power that has been extended to us, the working of His might, the very power that raised Jesus from the dead.
And then he says that this Christ, who is our Christ, having been raised from the dead, is seated at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the age to come. And everything has been put in subjection under His feet because He’s the head of everything.
Keep that in mind because all rule, authority, power, and dominion, words like that come back again in chapter 6. And there, clearly, they refer to demonic powers. So here in chapter 1, we are told – and it’s very important – that among the benefits and the blessings of belonging to Christ is that He is not only the head of all things, not only the head of all things given to the church as head of the church, but He is over all demonic powers in this age in the one to come. So we are told that the One who is the head of the church, the One who is our Lord and our Redeemer, our Savior, is also the One who has total power over the forces of hell.
Chapter 2 further describes this wonderful gift of salvation by reminding us that we were dead in trespasses and sins but we have been made alive, verse 5. We have been made alive together with Christ by grace, raised up with Him, seated with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, with a view that in the ages to come, He’s going to show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
And this is how these first three chapters go. All of the blessings are defined. We are His workmanship, verse 10. We have been created in Christ Jesus for good works. The result of our regeneration is that we do those works that please God, which He prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. We used to be excluded from the purposes and plans of God, now we are included, along with Jew and Gentile, and that’s how chapter 2 ends.
Even when you come into chapter 3, Paul talks about the wonderful privilege that has been his to be a steward and to be a minister. Even though he’s the least of all saints, as he says in verse 8, in order that he might bring to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things. That is, he has been able to be the vehicle by which God reveals the glorious truths of the New Testament, which define the infinite and eternal blessings that are ours in Christ.
And so these chapters are all about what belongs to us because we belong to Christ. We have been granted from the riches of His glory everything we need. And the third chapter then closes with this great doxology, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we can ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” So there is this doxology, this outburst of praise in response to all that is ours in Christ.
And then in a very typical fashion, there is a “therefore” in chapter 4, and that is to say we now move from the doctrinal section to the practical section. We now move to the duty section, you might say. Since all of this is true, since God has given you all of this, this is your position in Christ, this is all that belongs to you because you belong to Christ, here is what is then required of you. “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” That sums it up.
And then he begins to unpack all of that. “We are to walk in a way that is consistent with our calling, that means humility, gentleness, patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, diligently preserving the unity of the Spirit,” which is then further elucidated in the subsequent verses. “We have been grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. We are to make sure that we use that grace. We are to submit ourselves to those who are evangelists and teaching pastors in the church who are there for our edification, to build us into mature people, a body fitly brought together – verse 16 – held together by that which every joint supplies according to the proper working of each individual part.”
So here we come into the body now and we have a function, and a responsibility and a ministry for which we’re gifted and given the grace that is required for that function. We are to walk differently than we used to walk, no longer walking like the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their minds, no longer being callous, sensual, practicing impurity with greediness. We didn’t learn Jesus Christ, verse 20 says, in this way.
In reference to your former manner of life, verse 22, lay aside that old self. We are called to a new kind of life. In order to live that life, verse 23 says, we have to have our minds renewed. And that’s where the Word of God comes into the picture and thereby we put on the new self, created in righteousness and holiness. We set aside falsehood, we speak truth, each one of us with his neighbor. We’re angry but we don’t sin – in other words, only a righteous anger, don’t let the sun go down on our anger.
And then this: “And don’t give the devil an opportunity.” Don’t give the devil an opportunity. The assumption here is that any of these kinds of behaviors give the devil an opportunity, including the ones that come after this. Don’t steal anymore, but work, performing with your own hands what is good, not only that you might provide what you need, but you might have something to share with the one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, that only such a word is as good for edification according to the need of the moment that it may give grace to those who hear.
Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit. That is, don’t do anything that would bring grief to the Holy Spirit. Any unholy act would do that. Get rid of all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander. Let it be put away from you, including all evil – that’s the word malice, evil. On the positive side, be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you. You come into chapter 5 and he says, “Be imitators of God, walk in love as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us.”
Don’t let immorality or impurity or greed be named among you. Let there be no filthiness or silly talk, coarse jesting, obscenity. It just keeps going like this. This is how you live because of what God has done for you. You were formerly darkness, verse 8, now you’re light. Walk as children of light. Verse 15, be careful how you walk, not as unwise but as wise. Make the most of your time. Don’t be foolish. Understand what the will of the Lord is. Don’t get drunk. That’s dissipation.
Be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another in psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, singing, making melody with your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks for all things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Be subject to one another in the fear of God. And he tells wives how they’re to act and husbands how they’re to act. And he tells parents how they’re to act and children how they’re to act and slaves how they’re to act and slave owners how they’re to act.
Coming down into chapter 6, verse 9, then, you have all of this accumulation of the details of living out our Christian life. Standards for unity, standards for life in the church, for ministry, principles for purity, for fellowship, for witness. What the Spirit-filled life looks like, a life controlled by the Spirit of God, if you will, under the dominating impulse of the Word of God. The great theme here is to walk the worthy walk.
In the metaphor of walking, there is a certain benign reality. Walking is not difficult. Walking is the easiest thing we do. And one might assume that because this is the metaphor that is used that it somehow means this is going to be a stroll for us. Well, the reason the New Testament writers like to use the word “walk” is because it is a constant pattern. But it is not to make us assume that this is some kind of a stroll that’s going to be easy. I think we know better than that. And we certainly know better than that when we come to verse 10 in chapter 6.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. The assumption here is it will not be easy. It’s going to take strength. It’s going to take strength that you don’t have. That’s why it says be strong in the Lord and repeats it in the strength of His might. This is not an easy walk, it is a walk in the sense that it is repetitive, that it is constant, that it is not highs and lows, fast and slow, it is a pace. You’re to live a godly, holy pace. But it is not easy.
You have a lot of things working against you. First of all, the flesh. Your fallenness is a problem, as is mine. We all face the same reality that we’re living in an unredeemed body. There are in this body impulses that go along with being human that are not yet redeemed. And that is what Paul calls the flesh in Romans 7, and it wars against the spirit. There is a battle going on in every believer between the spirit, which is that new creation, and the flesh, which is what’s left of that old man. And there is a war going on so that Paul says, “I don’t do what I want to do and I do what I ought not to do.” And he says, “It’s a wretched man that I am.” He describes it like having a corpse tied to your body that you can’t get rid of.
In Galatians chapter 5, which is another helpful passage along this line, we learn more about this conflict. In Galatians 5:17, “The flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, that is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit against the flesh. These are in opposition to one another so that you may not do the things that you please.” The reality of living our Christian life of walking the way we ought to walk, walking a worthy walk, is that it is not easy. It is not easy because of the opposition of our unredeemed flesh.
What are the elements of this flesh? Verse 19 of Galatians 5, “The deeds of the flesh are these: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and things like these.” So this is not an exhaustive list, this is merely a representative list. Those are the kind of things that are done by people who have no part in the kingdom, verse 21. The people who continually practice those things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
On the other hand, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things, there is no law. And so therein lies the battle. The Sprit drives us in the direction of that which is holy, the flesh drives us in the direction of that which is unholy, and that is the battle. So the battle is not outside of us; in this sense, the battle is inside of us. It is inside of us.
It doesn’t do you any good to – like the medieval monks, it doesn’t do you any good to pluck out your eyes or go live in a cloister somewhere on the side of a mountain so that you’re somehow away from sin. It doesn’t do you any good to have some kind of surgery that is supposed to deal with your desire, as some of the medieval monks did. And by their own testimony, it had zero effect on their evil desire. Doesn’t do you any good to run from sin because wherever you go, sin goes with you. It’s in you. Even though you may be a believer, there is still remaining sin.
So you’ll not be walking some kind of stroll through a happy meadow, if that is a way to view it, you really are walking through a minefield that is inside of you. The minefield has been basically set by your own flesh, and there’s a war from the very outset on the inside. You don’t need the devil for that war, your own fallenness is sufficient. But when you add the presence of the devil, the battle becomes all the more fierce.
And if you go back to chapter 4 and verse 27, which I read to you a moment ago, Paul says in the middle of all of this, walk this worthy walk, do not give the devil an opportunity. And falling into any of the patterns that are described there as sinful patterns is how you give the devil an opportunity. So we have an enemy that is in us, and we have an enemy that is outside of us. We have to be aware of this.
So when the apostle Paul comes to the end of this epistle in which he calls us to walk in a certain way, and to live a certain kind of Christian life, he reminds us that we have a very, very aggressive and formidable enemy; namely, Satan. And he says in chapter 6, “Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might put on the full armor of God that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil, for our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Wow – that’s serious stuff. There are adversaries that are human, but behind them is supernatural evil. And, you know, before you come to Christ – this would be true of the Ephesians or anybody else – you’re caught up in the kingdom of darkness to which you belong. You’re under the power and authority of the prince of the power of the air, the ruler of this world, who is Satan. To borrow the language of John 8, you are of your father, the devil.
And so you come to Christ, and Satan still is committed to your destruction. Once he had you, now he doesn’t have you. Once you were part of his system, now you’re not. You have become the enemy of Satan, and an enemy indeed you are, as he is an enemy to you, so you are an enemy to his cause now that you have come to Christ.
In a sense, when you were saved, when I was saved, at the point that we were saved, we were basically delivered out of the kingdom of darkness, to borrow the language of Colossians 1. We had been captive to (2 Corinthians 10 says) certain ideologies that were fortifications, wrong views, wrong thinking, and we were set free and brought captive to Christ. We were rescued out of Satan’s fortress, out of his lying, damning, deceptive ideologies, all those ideas raised up against the true knowledge of God.
He doesn’t take it lightly. Christ literally rips us out of his clutches, as it were. We are like brands snatched from the burning, to borrow the words of Jude. Satan then brings to bear upon us all the forces of hell as if to undo what Christ has done. So we have an enemy that is in us and we have an enemy that is outside of us. How do we deal with the enemy that is in us? Galatians 5 says, “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” Put another way, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Put it another way, “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
We walk in the Spirit, which means to walk in the things that the Spirit affirms, which would be the things that are revealed in Scripture as holy attitudes, holy thoughts, holy words, and holy behaviors. But what do we do about the enemy that is outside of us? How are we to cope with this supernatural, massive evil? When you think about it on a cosmic level, it’s a pretty astonishing thing that we’re dealing with. We live in an infinite universe. It has no end. It is infinite. The bigger our telescopes get, the more they penetrate into outer space, the more stunning and staggering it all becomes. And I don’t need to take you through all the science of that. But it is a stunning, staggering thing.
And you might think, “Why in the world would God create this massive, massive universe where, traveling at the speed of light, it would take millions of years to get to the edge of it? What is that all about when all that ever seems to happen is down in this tiny little dot called the Earth?” Well, this is not the only place where things are happening. There is a host of beings that occupy the space between this little planet and the very throne of God at the final end of the infinite heaven. The Bible describes that as the realm of Satan and his demons, as well as the realm of holy angels.
We get a little bit of a glimpse occasionally into the battle between holy angels and the demons that occupy that realm, such as when God dispatched an angel to bring an answer to a prayer prayed by Daniel and he was held up by a demon. But when you think about God creating the universe the way He created, understand that while there is the human realm here, there is the spiritual realm that is vast. I only point that out to you to let you know that this is a formidable, formidable enemy that we have and we cannot be ignorant of his schemes.
There are countless demons with him. In fact, in Revelation chapter 12, it gives us a picture of Satan when he fell, and it says he took a third of the angels with him. So there are twice as many holy angels as there are fallen angels. But there are ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands and ten thousands, the highest number in the Greek language that has a word. So it’s just another way to say there are uncountable angels; there are, therefore, countless demons in Satan’s army and arsenal.
The question is: How does Satan operate? Well, he operates against the people of God through a system that would be called the world. That’s why we say we have a threefold enemy (the world, the flesh, and the devil). The flesh is in us, the devil is outside of us, and the means the devil uses is the world system. Christians don’t need to feel that Satan could come and live in them. No Christian in the Bible is ever pictured as being indwelt by a demon. The only people that had demons in them were nonbelievers.
You cannot, like so many do today, say that because a believer has a besetting sin in his life, as we heard in testimony tonight in baptism, because a believer may have a besetting sin, he still has a demon of whatever in him that needs to be exorcized. There is no indication in Scripture that any believer ever could have a demon living in him. We are the temple of the Spirit of God. There are times when Jesus casts demons out, but always out of nonbelievers.
Furthermore, there’s nothing in the Bible that associates demonization with moral evil. That may surprise you. Demon-possessed people manifested bizarre behavior, sometimes screaming at Jesus in a synagogue, sometimes jumping into a fire, being suicidal, having some physical infirmity. But there’s no illustration in the Scriptures of a demonized person having that demonization manifest in moral evil. So sin is an issue of the flesh. Demons can’t overpower people and make them sinners, but what they can do is overpower people who are already sinners, and, of course, cause them to manifest bizarre kinds of behavior and self-destructive kind of behavior.
But as far as Christians are concerned, no demon could take up residence in a believer. There is no illustration of that anywhere in Scripture. We are the temple of the Spirit of God. You say, “Well, then, what do we have to fear from Satan who is just one of the fallen angels who we call demons? What do we have to fear from them?”
They dominate the world in this way: They own the unregenerate people of the world, they own them. The unregenerate people in the world are in the kingdom of darkness. They are under the power of the prince of the air, Ephesians 2, right? That’s exactly what we saw earlier. You formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that works in the sons of disobedience.
What is the world? We’re not talking about the planet, we’re talking about the kosmos. The opposite of kosmos is chaos. And there is an order in the world. There is a system in the world that is run by Satan. It is a sinful system. Demons work in that system. That system basically operates by demonic power through human agencies. And this is what comes at believers.
It isn’t so much that the devil himself comes at you, although there may be times when that does occur in a more specific way; such as when Jesus turned Peter over to Satan to accomplish a certain purpose in his life; such as when a messenger from Satan was coming after Paul and attacking Paul’s ministry in Corinth, and he prayed that it would be removed; such as in the case of Job when God allowed Satan to go after Job. There may be those occasions when Satan or a demon becomes, in the purposes of God, a means by which God accomplishes something in our lives.
That is not to say that that demon will take up residence in a believer, but it is to say that for God’s purposes, He may allow Satan or He may allow a demon to have some effect on a believer, such as in the case of Paul, tearing up the Corinthian church, and God allowed him to do that because Paul had had so many revelations, he needed to be humbled. And having demons wreak havoc in his church was a humbling experience for him, and God wanted him humbled.
There may be times when God allows Satan and demons to do certain things in the realm in which His people live for ends that are His, purposes that are His. God allowed Satan to bring Peter into a very, very difficult situation where he actually wound up denying the Lord, and he was restored and recovered and then he would be able to strengthen the brethren who would go through a similar situation. God allowed Job to be hammered by Satan in order that he might prove that saving faith can never be broken and that he might come out a purer worshiper than if it had never happened.
So Satan may be occasionally, sometimes for the purposes of God may be allowed or some demons may be allowed to have some effect, some way on our lives for divine purposes. Remember now, please, the devil is God’s devil. God owns the devil. God commands the devil. God sets the parameters where he can operate and where the demons operate.
I saw that and I pointed it out to you in the first chapter, that it is Christ, having been raised from the dead, seated at the right hand of God in heavenlies, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named in this age and the age to come, and things that are named are persons. He has power over all persons, whether they are spiritual persons or physical persons living in this world. People or angels all come under God’s control.
So all of that to say there may be occasions when God permits demons to do certain things that affect believers, not from the inside but from the outside. But the primary issue that we have to understand is that Satan works against believers by developing a world system in which believers must live that brings temptation to bear on their flesh. You would like to think that we could live in a world that’s not hostile. People say we have to protect our children from evil influences. Lots of luck. Not going to happen – not going to happen. And evil men get worse and worse.
I think here in the United States of America, we enjoyed a kind of reprieve for a while because this country had so much of Christianity in its beginnings and its roots, and in many ways our culture was influenced by great revivals of the gospel, and there was a kind of cultural morality that maybe insulated us a little bit, at least superficially. That has long since faded away, and we are now living in a culture that is fully exposed to the worst of the kosmos that Satan has crafted among godless people. We are all literally hammered and battered and besieged – aren’t we? – by this system that is really designed by Satan and plied through people.
Now, the leading edge of this system is ideological. The leading edge of this system is that Satan appears as an angel of light, disguising himself as an angel of light. Works most of the time in religion. His ministers are angels of light. All false religion is called by Paul doctrines of demons. In other words, all false religion is concocted by Satan as a part of his system to lead people into deception religiously. And they are doctrines of demons that are propagated, Paul says in 1 Timothy 4, by hypocritical liars.
So the leading edge of Satan’s effort in the world because man is by nature a religious animal – that is to say, his conscience and his mind – the conscience by the moral law written in his heart, the mind by the reality of cause and effect – leads him to God. And the most natural thing for a human being is to understand that because he has a moral law, there had to be a moral lawgiver; because he understands that nothing can exist unless it has a cause, there is a great cause. So there is a great cause who is also moral. That’s inherent in the understanding of man.
Satan knows about that god-consciousness, and so Satan diverts that from the true God to an endless array of false religious systems of which he is the author. And all of them have one thing in common: They tell man that salvation and a right relationship with God can be earned – can be earned. Some of them are moral, some of them are immoral. Across the spectrum, something for everybody. But that’s the leading edge.
It’s false religion because man is naturally a worshiper. And because he has a conscience, he has the sense of guilt over his own sins. And so Satan invents religions that attempt to mitigate that guilt. But for those people who have so stomped their conscience into insensitivity, there is also a full world system available to them that is irreligious, atheistic, if you will, blatantly immoral. And there is that world in the middle that says yes, I’m spiritual, but I can be spiritual and immoral at the same time.
All of these ideologies that range from very legalistic, tight kinds of restrictive religions for people who find an appeal in that, to the kind of open, flagrant, atheistic immorality at its worst level and everything in between is all part of this very broad system designed by Satan. And there is enough in it that it has the ability to drive temptations at all of us. That’s how Satan works. You don’t have to worry about Satan crawling inside of you and making a residence there, it’s not going to happen if you’re a believer.
But we live in a day when we not only deal with the temptation that is in us as all believers had, but we have to deal with the system that is outside of us, and the system is more sophisticated and it is worse than it’s ever been and all the bad of the past has been accumulated and stayed and been fully developed. And now we have media to make it worse than it’s ever been in terms of its exposure. I personally think that Jesus needs to come soon because the onslaught is so massive that it’s beyond hope of ever being reversed.
I’ve been saying to people, by the way, if you think somehow there’s going to be a turnaround in America – forget it. Forget it. We’re going down the path of immorality at such warp speed, we’re not going to turn around. This is Romans 1, we’ve been turned over by God to the consequences of our own choices, and Satan is having a field day in the system. And we are all inundated by it.
So what do we do about it? Well, that was kind of an ad lib introduction, but let’s look at verse 10. I didn’t even turn a page here, that’s not good. Verse 10. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” This is the preparation – this is the preparation. Be strong – not a time for weak people. Doesn’t it strike you as interesting that at a time when the power of the world is its greatest that its ever been, the weakness of the church is at its greatest as well? At a time when the world system is more formidable than it’s ever been, the church is weaker than it’s ever been.
And we are called to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might, recognizing we don’t have in ourselves the strength, we have to rest in Him. But know this, that the power is already yours.
Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. There is no temptation taken you but such is as common to man. God is faithful, who will never allow you to be tempted above that you’re able but will with the temptation make a way of escape. 1 Corinthians 10:13. The Lord has gained the victory at the cross. The Lord has taken up residence in our heart in the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, and all the power that is there is the very same power that has raised Jesus from the dead.
And we have already pointed that out, and I did that on purpose so I could take you back to it. We understand this. Go back to verse 18 of chapter 1, “I pray the eyes of your heart to be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might, and it’s the very strength which He brought about in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.”
It is the very same power that raised Christ from the dead. It is the same power that exalted Him to the right hand of God. It is the same power He exercises over all rule and authority and power and dominion, every name that is named. And this power has caused Him to put all things in subjection under His feet, made Him His head over the church, which is His body, and the church as His body – I love this – is the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
We are the fullness of Christ. We have the fullness of Christ; therefore, we have the fullness of His resurrection power. In the third chapter also, Paul prays that we would understand this. Verse 14, chapter 3, “I bow my knees before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” Verse 20, “Now to him who is able to do exceeding, abundantly beyond all we can ask or think according to the power that works within us.”
So the power is there. It’s not as if we have to plead for the power. Christ is there, and with Christ’s presence is Christ’s fullness, and with His fullness is His power. So we are strong. The strength is there. All that we need is there in the very presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So we begin with the preparation, and the preparation is to understand that we have to rest in the strength of Christ. The second thing I want you to see in this text, as we just begin, is the equipment. The preparation is to realize our strength is in the Lord, and that strength is available to us. Secondly, the equipment – put on the full armor of God. How do you tap into the power? Here’s the key. How do you tap into the power? You put on the full armor of God. I’m going to leave that because verse 13 says, “Take up the full armor of God” and then describes it starting in verse 14, running down to verse 17.
So when we look at the armor itself, we will see the equipment that allows us to tap the strength, okay? The strength is there, it is bound up in the armor, and the armor is defined for us in verses 13 to 17, and we’ll look at it in detail. So the preparation and the equipment – thirdly, the enemy. We need to understand our enemy, verse 11. “Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” The schemes of the devil.
We don’t need to take a lot of time to define Satan, this is not a course on Satanology, if you will. Suffice it to say that Scripture describes the devil carefully and repeatedly. Jesus believed in him, referred to him, spoke to him, pronounced judgment on him. The apostles believed in him, obviously, as Paul does here when he writes about him. He is active through all human history. He rebelled against God in heaven, according to Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28, he was thrown out of heaven, he is the one who fell from heaven, described also elsewhere in Scripture, including the twelfth chapter of Revelation.
When he came to earth, he tempted Eve in Genesis 3. He tempted Christ in Matthew 4. He perverts God’s Word, as we see in Matthew 4. He opposes God’s work, as we see in Zechariah chapter 3. He hinders God’s servants, as we see in 2 Thessalonians 2. He restricts (or tries to restrict) the proclamation of the gospel by blinding the minds of people so the gospel cannot come to them, 2 Corinthians 4. He snares the wicked in 1 Timothy 3. He deceives the nations, as we see in the book of Daniel as well as the book of Isaiah and the book of Ezekiel and the book of Revelation, chapters 16 and 20.
He fights with Michael, that means that he is conflict with the holy angels. He has the whole world in his lap, 1 John 5, the whole world lies in the lap of the evil one. He runs the whole system. All his evil is basically worked through unregenerate people who make up his kingdom, and that is the world system, and that is the source of temptation driven at our human flesh by this very sophisticated system.
He is a person. He is called the anointed cherub. He called the prince of this world. He is called the prince of the power of the air. He is called the god of this age. He is called the prince of demons, Luke 11:15. He has personal names. Fifty-two times, he’s called Satan, which means adversary. Thirty-five times he’s called devil, or diabolos which means slanderer. He is called that old serpent, that great dragon. He is described in 1 Peter 5:8 as a roaring lion who goes about seeking whom he may devour. In John 17:15, he is called the evil one, intrinsically evil, ponēros.
He is called Abaddon and Apollyon in Revelation 9, that is a destroyer. He is called the tempter in Matthew 4, the accuser in Revelation 12, and the spirit working in the sons of disobedience in Ephesians 2, as we just read. He is described as a murderer and a liar. He works overtly, blatantly, and covertly. He works overtly in the raunchy open wickedness of the world. He works covertly in the false religious systems of the world. Mark it, folks, both are under his power.
He will be religious when he needs to be religious, sanctimonious when he needs to be sanctimonious, and blatantly wretched and wicked and vile as it suits him. He is some enemy. He is the one who once was Lucifer, the son of the morning, the anointed cherub fallen from heaven, the ruler of the demon world, and plies his wretched assault on God’s kingdom through the humans that are his subjects. We cannot be ignorant of his schemes.
Schemes comes from a verb meaning to stalk – to stalk. It suggests that lion, stalking his prey that Peter referred to. He uses special tactics, guile, deceit, craft, subtly. We need to beware, that he is a very old enemy, been around since before the world was created. In 2 Corinthians 2, verse 11 says, “In order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan for we’re not ignorant of his schemes,” same idea, you can’t be ignorant of his schemes. You must understand. As we read in 4:27 of Ephesians, you don’t want to give him any advantage.
We must understand that he works in false doctrine. We cannot just embrace everybody in every religion, that would be embracing Satan. Hard to get people to understand that. Really hard to get people to understand that. Tertullian once said, “Diabolos est dei simia,” the devil is God’s monkey. He apes God, part of his strategy. His system is the world. That’s why we hear James say, “If you love the world, you’re an enemy of God.” Right? Friendship with the world is enmity with God.
Or we hear John say, “Love not the world, nor the things that are in the world. For all that is in the world, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life is not of God, it’s of the world, and the world is passing away.” False religions, heresies, subtle deceptions, as well as blatant immorality, all part of his arsenal. And through all of that, he would assault believers and attack the truth and endeavor to hinder the work of God.
He loves to snatch the Word away, as we heard in the parable of Jesus and the sower where the seed is sown in the hard ground and the devil snatches it away. He loves to pervert the Word. He loves to interfere in the life of the church. He works in so many ways. He can create all kinds of false theologies that cause believers to doubt, all kinds of false standards of spirituality that cause believers to think that they’re not really required to live holy lives. He creates theologies like antinomian theologies and perversions of God’s truth.
In all these things, he is at work. And so this means, as we think about these things, that we are engaged in battle. We have to prepare for that. We have to be equipped for that. We have to know our enemy, and we have to understand that we’re in a battle. Verse 12, it is a struggle. It is a struggle not against flesh and blood. People are not really our enemy. I know sometimes we think that immoral people and people who advocate immoral things and people who make referendums against marriage, such as the one we’re facing this week, are really our enemy.
No, our real enemy is far, far more powerful. These are just dupes. These are just pawns. These are just people that he uses who belong to his kingdom. We’re not struggling against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the spiritual forces of this wickedness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness that reside in the heavenlies. And that’s what I told you, between here and the throne of God, that’s the domain of demons and angels where there is angelic conflict.
Understand that we have a formidable enemy who has developed a very successful system. The rulers and the powers would simply be the rankings of demons. They’re all structured. Like the holy angels have some structure, as we learn in Scripture, so do the demons. There is a kind of world, there’s a kind of kosmos, even among demons where they have varying ranks. Some of them are associated with nations and governments, in particular, as we see back in Isaiah and Ezekiel and even in Daniel. Spiritual wickedness in very high places.
Should we fear? No. Verse 13 says, “We should react not with fear, but with readiness.” Herein is our instruction as we engage in the battle. “Take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day and having done everything, to stand firm.” That tells us there can be victory, right?
What is the evil day? The evil day is any day that evil comes. In fact, the evil day would be a way to describe this era in the world. The evil day would be a way to describe living in the world. For us, every day is an evil day. This is evil’s day as opposed to the day of righteousness to come in the future. So as we live in the evil day, if we are putting on the armor, then we can resist. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” We can resist. Victory is promised.
And when the battle is over and the smoke is cleared and the dust is settled, we can be standing firm. That’s a promise of victory. Paul wonderfully understood that. Second Corinthians 4 – I love this. Second Corinthians 4:8, “We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; perplexed but not despairing; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed.” In the end, the devil threw everything he had at him but he couldn’t be victorious. He triumphed through it all and so can you. There is victory promised.
So he says your preparation is in the strength of the Lord. Your equipment is in the armor of God. Your enemy is formidable, the devil. You need to understand his schemes. You’re engaged in a real struggle, and your struggle is not just with humans but it’s with a supernatural force, a complex structure, a hierarchy of demons that operate in the heavenlies. This may seem more than you could ever be able to bear, but the truth of the matter is, if you put on the full armor of God, you will be able to resist in this evil day, this era of evil that dominates the fallen world, and when it’s all over, you can stand firm.
I know that’s what you want in your life, and so starting next time, we’re going to look at verse 14 where it says, “Stand firm, therefore,” and it tells you how. This is how to tap the strength, this is how to stand firm no matter what Satan brings. Let’s pray.
Father, we thank you for the clarity with which the Scripture enlightens us, as always, on things that would otherwise be absolutely mystifying. We know the world is full of ridiculous, foolish ideas about Satan, bizarre, Halloweenish fantasies that are not even close to reality. And then there are those people who would deny the existence of the devil altogether.
But we know the truth because we know your Word. We thankyou that you’ve given it to us and you’ve opened our minds to understand it, to be enlightened by it, and that you’ve promised us that even though we have an enemy that is cosmic, an enemy that is massive, an enemy that is as old as time, an enemy that is experienced in evil for thousands of years at a supernatural level, an enemy who has seen all human behavior come and go, a mass, a force of demons who literally rule over the unregenerate population of the world and have developed a system that is powerfully evil.
You have told us that we can stand and resist and be firm if we have the armor on. What a wonderful, hopeful promise that is. And we stand in that promise, ready to know how to tap that strength, to be strong in the Lord and in the power of your might. So continue to open your truth to us and ready us to live triumphantly to your glory, even in this evil day.
We know the day will come that Satan will be vanquished, sent forever to the lake of fire, which you prepared for the devil and his angels. Until that time, we cannot be ignorant of his schemes nor can we be foolish enough not to put on the armor. Enable us to do that, Father, that we might live not only to your glory but that we might live lives of fruitfulness and joy in the path of obedience. And we’ll thank you for your Son’s sake. Amen.
Well, we’re going to open to the book of Acts, finally, and I’m going to at least read Verse 1.
I do confess to you that I am a firm believer that if you understand the overall significance of a book, you can navigate it. I don’t know how you are if you ever use a Google map, but when pop up a Google map on your iPad or whatever it is and you want directions, if you’re like me, you want to see the whole picture first. I want to know A to Z, and then I can get down into the details and kind of track along with that if I have some kind of sense of where I’m going.
I think that works really well in studying the Bible, especially when you approach a new book, to get some kind of an overview of the whole thing, to pull back and get the full picture. Now in reading Verse 1, you’re going to get enough for us to get started. The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach. Luke is referring – Luke is the writer, the historian. He’s referring to his gospel, the Gospel of Luke.
That was the first account that he composed and sent to this gentleman named Theophilus, which means “Lover of God.” And first volume of history was about all that Jesus began to do and teach. That’s a very important verb. Luke wrote Volume 1, the Gospel of Luke, about all that Jesus began to do and teach. The Book of Acts is Volume 2 about the continued doing, if you will, and teaching of Jesus.
The gospels, you might say in one sense, tell the story of the finished work of Christ. You do remember that he said in his high priestly prayer in anticipation of the cross in John 17:4, “I have finished the work you gave me to do.” And then on the cross, according to John 19:30, just before he gave up his life, he said, “It is finished.” So it is true that the first volume, the Gospel of Luke, and for that matter, all the other gospel writers, tell us of the finished work of Christ. The long awaited sacrifice for sin that satisfied God fully, he offered.
By the sacrifice and offering of himself, he saved forever those who believed, and of course, he secured their redemption by his resurrection from the dead. Now nothing can be added to the finished work of Christ. Nothing. It was satisfactory to God, and so God raised him from the dead to validate his satisfaction, and then God gave him a name above every name, exalted him to his right hand, gave him the name Lord, restored him to complete exalted heavenly glory, and even added a new dimension now as the savior because he had offered personally the sacrifice.
And so he would then purchase with that work a vast array of redeemed people throughout all of human history who would forever praise and honor and glorify him. This is the work that Jesus finished, but there also was the work that Jesus only began. The work of redemption he finished. The work of doing and teaching he just began. The work of proclaiming the gospel, teaching the kingdom, and living the kingdom he only began.
You might say he began in his ministry to collect the elect. He began to collect them, small group they were as we reminded in our study on Sunday morning in John 6. He began to collect the elect, but he only began that. By the time he ascended into heaven, there are just a few. They’re all in one tiny little country in the midst of this globe. A hundred and twenty gather in the upper room in Jerusalem, and several hundred more in Galilee, and that’s the beginning. That’s what Jesus began.
So Acts, as Luke continues to write, is the story of what Jesus continues to do and teach. This is Volume 2, although it’s the first book of church history, it’s Volume 2 of the New Testament history of redemption. And if you will, it could be said that it’s actually Volume 3 because the first volume of redemptive history is the Old Testament itself. Acts continues the story, the story and the long process completing God’s redemptive work through Christ.
So Luke says the first account I composed, the Gospel of Luke. The Gospel, which like the other three Gospels, tells the story of, listen, of the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. The Old Testament gives the prophecies of the coming of Messiah, and the Gospels give the record of the realization of those prophecy. The plan of God promised in the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament.
God brings the chosen redeemer to save Israel and the nations that was promised throughout the Old Testament. So Luke’s Volume 1 is very, very important. Let’s go back to Luke 1 for a moment, and let me read the first four verses so you understand something about Luke’s writing. By the way, if you ever have the opportunity to listen to the messages that were preached from this section when we went through Luke, you’ll find them very instructive.
So Luke writes, “In as much as many have undertaken to compile account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses of servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well having investigated everything carefully from the beginning to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.”
Now I just want to grab one phrase, the exact truth. Luke is a fastidious historian to start with from the human view. He’s a meticulous historian. And you add to that, of course, that he’s inspired by the Holy Spirit, and he sets off to write, and in Luke’s mind, he doesn’t know this will be called Luke, and he doesn’t know Volume 2 will be called Acts. He writes one great, long history, and the goal was exact truth. To provide absolute certainty of the facts of redemptive history, to provide full assurance to believers, like Theophilus and others, that God’s promise of salvation was being fulfilled.
The prophecies in the Old Testament that came through the prophets to whom he refers as eyewitnesses and servants of the word, those prophecies were precise and exact and identified places like where he’d be born in Bethlehem and details about his life and details about his death. So Luke wants to write a history to show that all the precision of the Old Testament that pointed toward Christ was fulfilled with the same kind of precision.
So Acts then continues the story of the exact truth of God fulfilling Old Testament prophecy with the coming of Messiah, and then after Messiah’s resurrection and ascension, God continues to fulfill the story, and Luke writes with the same precision. Why? To provide certainty. To provide certainty so that you may know the exact truth about the things you’ve been taught so that you may know.
You’ll remember that at the end of this book of Luke, as Luke signs off, Jesus opened their minds to understand the scripture, and he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all the nations beginning from Jerusalem. You’re witnesses of these things, and behold, I’m sending forth the promise of my father upon you, namely the Holy Spirit. Stay in the city until you’re clothed with power from on high.”
And that is how Volume 1 ends, and Volume 2 essentially begins with the arrival of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is promised in the book of Luke and comes in the book of Acts the way the Messiah was promised in the Old Testament and came in the book of Luke. This is an exact and precise history. The early readers were being taught then essentially that the apostles and the prophets spoke the truth.
Luke writes to give them assurance. The Holy Spirit would come and the work would continue. Luke writes with certainty about Christ from his birth to his ascension in Volume 1, and he writes with certainty from the ascension to the coming of the Holy Spirit to the gospel being proclaimed to the world for the establishment of the church.
That’s just kind of a broad overview. As in the Old Testament, all that is going on in Luke and Acts is being done by God. I told you God is the sovereign power behind all of redemptive history, and the spirit works the will of the father, and the son does the will of the father. God is at work redeeming his people in the Old Testament and in the New. An interesting little note. Luke loves to use a particular word in its death in the Greek language, and it means it is necessary. Luke uses that word 40 times in his writings to affirm to us that it is necessary that this happen.
It is necessary that this happened. It is necessary Luke records in his Gospel because the Old Testament profit said it. It is necessary, Luke says in the book of Acts, because Jesus predicted it and promised it. So Acts is Volume 2 of Luke’s history, and the first volume of the history of the church written to give believers an exact account so they could have confidence that God is still fulfilling his redemptive promise.
And you might say, “Why do they need confidence? Why do they need assurance?” For one thing, Judas had killed himself, and another had to be chosen to replace him among the 12, and that happens in the first chapter of Acts. Judas was an apostle. Is that a preview of more disaster to come? But the message is that nothing can stop the purpose of God or the power of God from unfolding, not even the apostasy and suicide of an apostle.
Alan Thompson writes, “The dominant feature is that the sovereign plan of God has not been derailed by this most wicket of actions, a betrayal from among the ranks of Jesus’ own inner circle.” And then subsequently, the suicide of the betrayer. In fact, it is necessary. We’re told in Chapter 1 that it fulfills prophecy. Verse 20. God is at work. All the redemptive purpose of God continues.
So what do we call this book? The Acts of the Apostles? The only time the apostles appear is in Chapter 1. Together, as a group, then you have Peter and John together for a while. And then later, you have the Apostle Paul who is really not part of the apostles. So kind of a push to call it the Acts of the Apostles, even though that’s probably what’s in your Bible.
Some have said it should be called The Acts of the Father because if anybody is at work unfolding his redemptive plan, it is the father, it is God, and you know what, you can make a case for that because the Lord opens the heart of Lydia because in Chapter 14 in Verse 27, when they arrive together, the church together, they begin to report all that God had done.
So you could make an argument that we could call it The Acts of the Father. You could also have an argument and we could call it The Acts of the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit separates Paul and Barnabas, so the Holy Spirit is working to separate these men to send them on the missionary trip out of Antioch.
I kind of prefer the Acts of the Risen Lord because the theme of the preaching through the whole book is the resurrection. That’s the theme of the preaching. Starting with the message at Pentecost, Christ has arisen from the dead, and all the apostolic preachers feature the risen Christ. You say, “Well, it’s one thing to preach the risen Christ, but is the risen Christ acting?” Yes. Let’s go back to Verse 1.
The first account, the Gospel of Luke, was about all that Jesus began to do and teach, and so we could conclude that what he began, he would also complete. Alan Thompson, whom I quoted a minute ago, says this. This is his title for the book. “The Acts of the Lord Jesus through his people by the Holy Spirit for the accomplishment of the father’s purposes.” So write that just under Acts in your Bible. That’s it. The Acts of the Lord Jesus through his people by the Holy Spirit for the accomplishment of the father’s purpose.
Is Jesus involved in the Book of Acts? Is he continuing to be involved? Yes. He has gone back to heaven and been placed at the right hand of God, given a name above every name. He is the Lord. He is identified as the head of the church. Several times in the epistles, he is the head of the church, reigning from heaven as the head of the church as the king over his spiritual kingdom, he extends his kingdom through the history of the Book of Acts.
It is the Lord Jesus at work. You begin to see that in Chapter 2, Verse 47. And the Lord was adding to their number, day by day, those who were being saved. The one who is Lord, the one who is the Lord of the church, he is still at work. He is saving. He is adding people to the church. He is after all, remember now, the head of the church and the king over his kingdom.
In Chapter 11, I’m just giving you some illustrations, we’ll see it as we go, there were some of them, men of Cypress and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks, also preaching the Lord Jesus, and the hand of the Lord was with them, and the large number who believed turned to the Lord. So they were preaching the Lord and hand of the Lord, same Lord, was there.
They were preaching the Lord Jesus, and the hand of the Lord Jesus was causing people to be saved. So again, the king is on his kingdom. The king is over his kingdom. He is the head of the church. He is building his church. He is saving his people. One other illustration just for the sake of time would be in Chapter 16 in Verse 14.
A woman named Lydia from the city of Thyatira, seller of purple fabrics, a worshipper of God, was listening, and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. Some might argue that’s God. I would argue that where Lord appears in this book, given that it was the name of Christ, he is at work. There’s a negative indicator, too, of Jesus’ involvement. If you go to Chapter 8, you find Paul persecuting the church, ravaging the church.
And we all know the story. Who stopped Paul? Who stopped him? Jesus. Showed up on the Damascus Road in Chapter 9. Stopped him dead in his tracks. Now Jesus is engaged both in the growth of his church and in stopping the destruction of his church. Jesus appears in the 18th Chapter in a vision to Paul and says, “Don’t be afraid any longer. Go on speaking, and don’t be silent, for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in the city.”
Jesus, the head of the church, says, “I’m going to reach people in this city who belong to me, and I will protect you. I will protect you. You have nothing to fear. Go on preaching.” So here is the Lord building his church, and the Lord of the church protecting his church. Chapter 23. Things are getting very difficult for Paul. Persecution amping up with a conspiracy to actually kill him. Verse 11, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage, for as you have solemnly witnessed to my cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also. I’ll protect you until you reach Rome.”
So in summary, the Lord Jesus reigns over his kingdom from heaven. The Lord Jesus is engaged in building his church by adding people to the list of redeemed, saved souls. He is fulfilling the father’s plan, and he’s doing it by the preaching of the Gospel and the power of the spirit working through the preaching. But make no mistake, it is the Lord continuing the work he began.
The gospel is preached, sinners are saved, the church is established, leaders are chosen, saints are edified, witnesses given for Christ, and all along, the believers are suffering for their noble effort and being rejected by the world, but the Lord is protecting them so that the gospel can be preached, and the elect will be gathered, and this is the history of the church until he returns.
Acts is the first volume in that history where Christ continues the work that he began when he was on earth. By the way, we’re writing Volume 21 if we just count centuries, but it’s the same work. What’s going on? The Lord Jesus is reigning from heaven. He is the head of the church. According to the father’s plan and by the Holy Spirit’s power, he is continuing to do what he began when he was on earth.
The Gospel is being preached, sinners are being delivered, the church is being established, leaders are being chosen, saints are being edified, witness given for Christ, and all along, the saints are suffering but being protected so that they can do the work of bringing in the elect. This will go on until he establishes his rule on the earth when he comes to reign.
Now Luke is not an apostle, but he’s a close friend. Essentially, he was a close associate of the apostles for 30 years from 30 AD to 60, it appears. And he knows the story. He knows the history. He knows the history, from the death of Christ on. He was part of it. So he knows what happened in Jerusalem and Judea and Sumeria and beyond because he was there.
The Book of Acts, I want to tell you, sometimes people ask the question – in fact, I was asked this question recently. Is the Book of Acts descriptive of prescriptive, which his a technical way of saying is it just history for the sake of information, or is it theology for the sake of edification? The answer is yes. Of course it’s descriptive. Like all narrative texts of scripture, it is descriptive history, but it is also prescriptive theology because its history is our theology. It is our ecclesiology. It is our pneumatology.
It is our soteriology because they preach the gospel we preach. This is the church of which we are a part. So in a sense, what began to be in the Book of Acts still is, and on the same basis, we’re living this history, which while not written down in the New Testament is written down with the same exact precision in heaven. Kind of exciting to be a part of that. Isn’t it? I think there’s another message that you need to understand was very, very important to be communicated in this pattern of growth, and it is this: That the gospel is universal, and it goes beyond Israel.
Even the disciples were pretty stuck on the fact that all the promises of God were theirs and maybe theirs alone. They had the traditional, typical attitude toward gentiles that the Jews had developed through centuries, and toward half-breed Samaritans, it was even worse. And Jesus, after all, came to Israel and really never went beyond Israel, other than journeying a little bit into Decapolis, an area around Galilee where gentile towns had developed.
The Jews were very provincial about the promises of God belonging to them, but the Book of Acts just blows that to pieces. You could go back to the Old Testament, and I could show you passages in the Old Testament where the messianic promises relate to the world and the nations. There are many of them. Somehow the Jews missed that.
You’re not very long into the Book of Acts until you realize that Philip is preaching to the gentiles, but a gentile eunuch is converted, that Peter is preaching to a gentile soldier named Cornelius, that the church is established after Jerusalem in a gentile city called Antioch, and that Paul takes the gospel to the gentiles all over the Mediterranean world of Asia Minor.
And that leads to a discussion in Acts 15 about, wait a minute, how does this work. This is such a hard sell that when the first gentile conversions happen, God allows the same miraculous phenomena of tongues to occur so that the Jews don’t think this is some kind of a second class event to Pentecost. So there was a very important message to proclaim to the Jews through the Book of Acts, and it starts in the very first chapter in the eighth verse.
“Go preach in Jerusalem, Judea, Sumeria, and the world, that Christianity is global.” And we will see that. You could divide the Book of Acts into six sections. You won’t remember this, so I’m not going to give you detail on it, but Section 1 ends at Chapter 6, Verse 7 tells the story of the church at Jerusalem and the preaching of Peter.
And it finishes by saying the word of God increased by the number of the disciplines multiplied in Jerusalem, a great multiplication, a great number of priests were obedient to the faith, and that’s the end of Section 1, and the gospel expands. From Chapter 6, Verse 8 through Chapter 9, Verse 31, the gospel spreads throughout Israel, Judea, all the way to the martyrdom of Stephen, all the way to the preaching in Sumeria by Philip.
And that section ends this way, Chapter 9, Verse 31. So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Sumeria enjoyed peace, being built up, and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase. So Chapter 6, Verse 7 ends the first section by saying the church increased.
Chapter 9, Verse 31 moves the church throughout Judea and into Sumeria and says at the end, the church increased. You come to the third section. That would be from 9:32 over to Chapter 12, Verse 24. That section ends – and by the way, that section includes the extension of the church to the gentiles, Antioch, and that ends with these words. “Let the word of the Lord continue to grow and be multiplied.”
This is the story of the building of the church, the developing of the church, the addition of the church from the beginnings of Jerusalem then to Judea and Sumeria, and then into the gentile world as far as Antioch. And that also includes the salvation of Cornelius through the instrumentality of Peter. So the gentiles are adding.
The next section is Chapter 12, Verse 25 to Chapter 16, Verse 5, and this tells the story of the church going way beyond Antioch, jumping into Asia Minor, and the preaching tour through Galatia by the Apostle Paul. And that section ends in Chapter 16, Verse 5, so the churches were being strengthened in the faith and were increasing in number daily.
These sections that all end with the same sort of summary of the development of the growing church. Sixteen six begins to tell the story of Paul reaching the great gentile cities, like Ephesus and beyond Asia Minor even into Corinth, and this ministry goes on all the way into Chapter 19, and it ends in Verse 20. So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.
That’s how all the sections end. Final section, Chapter 19, Verse 21, goes all the way to the end. Tells the story of the final years of Paul’s ministry before his imprisonment in Rome. And how does that section end at the end of the book? He stayed two full years in his own rented quarters, was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness unhindered.
So that’s the overview of the history of Acts. Got it? It’ll be on the quiz. The quiz will be in 20 minutes. I wouldn’t do that to you. But it’s important, isn’t it? Does that get your arms around this book that could just be a lot of stories that you couldn’t quite grasp? It ends with Paul in prison, and so Luke stops there.
Luke had lived through 30 miraculous years from the resurrection to the imprisonment of Paul. He’d lived in those 30 years of the first fulfillment of the great commission by the first force of apostolic preachers to the point where churches were established, and the next generation was put in place by placement of elders. In fact, Luke wrote a history, started in Jerusalem, and ended when the gospel was penetrating Rome, the capital of the world, their world.
So I’d like to think of this as 30 years in which Jesus continued his work ordained by the father, energized by the Holy Spirit, and brought to fruition through the means of apostolic preaching of the gospel. It’s a magnificent story. It’s an incredible account. Let’s go back to the first chapter for a few minutes we have. And in Chapter 1, we have some very essential foundational elements given here because the father’s plan worked through the spirit’s power by the son, has some requirements.
And it’s quite interesting that Chapter 1 sort of lays these foundational truths. The narrative part doesn’t really start until Verse 12 when it says, “Then they returned from the Mount called Olivet. So before we get into the actual action here, there are some things that precede that, very important things. Let me read 1 through 11.
“The first account I composed to Theophilus about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day when he was taken up to heaven after he had, by the Holy Spirit, given orders to the apostles whom he had chosen. To these, he also presented himself alive after his suffering by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of 40 days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.”
“Gathering them together, he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the father had promised.” By the way, that’s how he ended Luke, and that’s how begins the next volume, which he said, “You have heard from me.” In other words, the Lord had promised the coming of the Holy Spirit. “For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” “So when they had come together, they were asking him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It’s not for you to know the times or epics which the father has fixed by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses, both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Sumeria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.’”
“After he had said these things, he was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received him out of their sight, and as they were gazing intently into the sky while he was going, behold two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come in just the same way as you have watched him go into heaven.’ And with that, they went back to Jerusalem. School was over. Initial lessons were taught.”
Six things appear in those 11 verses that I read to you. In what you would call the final lesson, the final preparation, this if you would like to call it is the last will and testament of Jesus. This is the last talk he ever had with them before he went back to heaven. Very critical. Very important. And in these words here, and they are few, really, he gives to them all that they need. He reminds them of all that is essential, and let me just suggest there are six things here.
The first is he says you have to have the proper message. You have to have the right message. You have to have also the right confidence. Thirdly, you have to have the right power. And then, interestingly enough, you have to have the right mystery. You have to have the right mission, and you have to have the right motive.
These are timeless. These we need to know because we’re just continuing to be the instruments that he uses to finish what he began. We need to make sure the message is right. We need to make sure we have confidence in that message. We need power beyond ourselves. We need the right mystery, and I’ll explain that. We need to have a clear vision of the task or the mission, and then an overwhelming and overarching motive.
Now we’re not going to cover all of this tonight, we never intended to. This is for us to work on over the next few, but let’s just take a look at the message. To effectively carry on Christ’s work, you have to begin with the message. The message has to be right. And if I can piggyback on what we were saying this morning, it all starts with the words of Jesus. Correct? It all starts with the words of Jesus.
That’s why there are four gospels. So we can get as many of the words of Jesus as the Holy Spirit wants us to have. Plenty of people running around with the wrong message. They are wearisome. Aren’t they? Cults and corrupt versions of Christianity, misrepresentations of Jesus and the gospel. It’s important to have the right message. I’m not talking about biblical ignorance here. I remember there was a test given to college students some years ago to try to find out how they – what level they were familiar with the Bible.
The answers were really incredible. Sodom and Gomorrah were lovers on some answers. Who were Sodom and Gomorrah? Lovers. Who was Jezebel? One answer was Ahab’s jackass. Who was Eve? She was a woman created from an apple. One college student said Jesus was baptized by Moses. I’m not talking about that kind of ignorance. That’s everywhere and far worse today than it’s ever been. Biblical ignorance is at an all time high.
Sadly, there’s an awful lot of ignorance about the message, the gospel message, even in, quote unquote, the church, evangelicalism. I don’t need to belabor the point, but when Jesus began his work, it included teaching Verse 1. It included teaching. And Luke is a great model for this because Luke wants the exact truth. I love that about him. He is the precise historian.
“I’m writing,” he says, “So you have the exact truth.” And the only place we can go for this is the scripture. And when you have that confidence in the scripture, that it is the exact truth, you’re launched as an effective communicator of the gospel. When you know the word and you believe the word, you’re powerful because you’re not equivocating. There are all kinds of people who write books that critique Christianity, call things into question, deny the inspiration of scripture. These are from so-called Christian writers, Christian scholars. I would remind you that those kind of people are impotent. They’re just another guy with another opinion.
When you hear powerful preaching, when you hear powerful representation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, you know one thing for sure: There is a preacher who believes in scripture because he boldly proclaims it. That’s where the ministry has to start. If we’re going to build the church, we can only build the church on the truth of the gospel. Right?
Faith comes by hearing the truth concerning Christ, the word of Christ. Romans 10. How will they hear without a preacher? But the preacher has to preach the message concerning Christ. So I don’t need to beg that issue any further. You get that. You know that. Everything begins with the teaching. That’s why there’s a seminary across the patio because you have to get it right.
If anybody preaches another gospel, let them be what? Let them be damned, cursed. If anybody preaches another Christ, let them be cursed. But there’s another little word there, too, and it says that Jesus began to do and teach. And while we can’t do what Christ did, miraculously, that’s not what it’s talking about. What it’s talking about is the power of his life to draw people. You remember it was he who said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to myself.” He was attractive not only because of his teaching, but because he personified what he taught. He was consistent with his message. And I simply want to make that an issue for your thinking that if the Lord is going to use us, there’s going to have to be the right message in the right package, the right messenger.
And always remember that statement by the German philosopher. Show me your redeemed life, and I might be inclined to believe in your redeemer. Pretty hard to make the gospel believable unless it’s believable when somebody looks at you. Not that you have to be perfect, but you have to demonstrably be committed to the truth you teach. There are lots of people who talk about Christ but don’t live a life that points to his power.
I remember reading an article year ago where a writer said, “Personally, I’ve discovered that Jesus probably had a lot more class than most of his agents.” It is a familiar knock on Christianity that I wouldn’t want to be a Christian because there are so many hypocrites, and while that’s a pretty lame excuse, and it won’t stand up before God, there’s some truth to it.
Powerful preaching comes from the overflow of powerful demonstration of the transforming gospel. So that’s where you have to start. You have to start with the right message, clearly. And so Jesus, until the day he was taken up to heaven, Verse 2, after he had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom he had chosen. What is that saying?
That is saying that Jesus continued to live the message and teach the message until the ascension. Until the ascension, he was the personification, the incarnation of everything he preached and taught. This was the priority. I just would like to make the point that Jesus didn’t spend those final 40 days feeding poor people, although that’s a noble thing to do.
If you look at the next verse, end of the verse, for 40 days, he was speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. This school was in. I would have loved to have been in that seminary, 24/7 for 40 days with a risen Christ. You’d hang on every word. You’d absolutely hang on every word. But this is where all of our work begins. It begins with the right message.
Understanding the truth of the gospel, the truth of the kingdom, and living it as we proclaim it so that from the time that Jesus arose and met with his disciples in that upper room on the resurrection night, for the next 40 days, he had those chosen apostles with him, instructing them in the things concerning the kingdom of God. That’s what they’re going to be doing if they’re faithful.
They’re going to be instructing others. That is discipleship at its most profound point. And they had a lot to learn. Didn’t they? You go back and look at how they lived and how they were so confused all the time and how he taught them lessons – the same lesson, again and again. They didn’t seem to get it. They were so ill prepared for what was going to come that even when Jesus was arrested, they all fled and scattered.
They were hard pressed to believe even when he appeared to them risen from the dead. Thomas who wasn’t there said, “I’m not going to believe that.” They didn’t believe on the road to Emmaus. They were beleaguered. John’s gospel ends with them going back to their fishing nets even after Jesus had appeared to them and taught them, to some degree, some of those 40 days.
They were hard to communicate to, but these were desperate times. This was it. This was it. When the 40 days were over, it was over. How urgent it is that the message be communicated. That’s the priority. So for 40 days, he taught them the message they would have to preach. But by the way, even with the right message, they weren’t ready to go yet. They weren’t ready to go. That’s why he had previously said, “Don’t go. Stay where? Stay in Jerusalem until you’re empowered from on high.”
So the message is essential, and the living of the message is essential, but I will promise you one thing. Even with the right message and doing your best to conform to that message, your own human power isn’t going to make the difference. I love what Spurgeon said. “We might preach until our tongue rotted, until we exhaust our lungs and die, but never a soul would be converted unless the Holy Spirit uses the word to convert that soul.”
So it is blessed to eat into the very heart of the truth until at last, you come to talk in scripture language, and your spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord so that your blood is bibline, and the very essence of the Bible flows from you. But you still need the Holy Spirit. School was in, and the truth was taught. There’s one other thing that I would add, and then we’ll stop. A second point. You have to have the proper confidence.
Now remember, they didn’t have a Bible, except the Old Testament. They knew now because they had the gospels that the prophecies of the Old Testament had been fulfilled. And what did I tell you was the marked characteristic of the early apostolic preaching in the Book of Acts? Their use of what? The Old Testament. They get it. Made that point in the first message we talked about Acts. You see quotes from the Old Testament all over the place that you never see in the gospels. They didn’t know that the Old Testament was being fulfilled until here. Now they know.
And so you – they all of a sudden start using Old Testament prophecies and saying, “They’re fulfilled, they’re fulfilled, they’re fulfilled.” So they did have confidence now for the first time that scripture was fulfilled in Christ. But where was their confidence that the plan of God would go to the next generation, the next level of fulfillment? Here it is. Verse 3.
“To these, he also presented himself alive after his suffering by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over 40 days.” Where did their confidence come from? The what? What event? The resurrection. The resurrection. Over a period of 40 days between his passion and his ascension, Jesus appeared to them. Not all 40 days, but in intervals during those 40 days. And manifested himself to them not as some kind of apparition, not as some kind of ghost, not as some kind of ethereal being, not as some kind of a vision, but he appeared to them alive after his suffering with the wounds by many convincing proofs.
He really was alive from the dead. He really did live. Paul lays out in 1 Corinthians 15 the urgency of the resurrection. If Christ is not risen, we’re of all people most miserable. If Christ is not risen, all gospel preaching is foolish. If Christ is not risen, we have no hope. Everything is lost, and that’s what they were saying on the road to Emmaus. “We thought he was to be the one.”
So he keeps coming back over 40 days and appearing to them in infallible, incontrovertible convincing evidence that he is alive. That’s a critical reality. That’s their confidence. And you say, “Well, what does that do for me?” What it does for you is it gives you the very same confidence because the record of those proofs and appearances are given in holy infallible scripture. So you have the same experience.
Only difference is you, loved one, you have not seen, whom having not seen you love. Is there ample proof in the New Testament for the resurrection? Yes. If you have any questions about that, go look at the litany of sermons on resurrection Sunday that have been preached here in the last 40 some years. The proofs of the resurrection are all recorded in the gospels, written down for us.
That was an absolutely essential confidence. They were so exploded into joy by the resurrection of Jesus Christ that that’s what elevated them. That’s what loose them from the despondency and the fears and the doubts and the questions and all the wondering about whether Jesus was the messiah. So if you’re going to be effective in carrying on the work that Jesus began on his own and then passed onto the first generation and every other generation until we got to century number 21, you start with knowing the message, the right message, which is of course the word of God and the gospel, and having the right confidence that Christ is alive.
And he is building his church, and he wants to use you to do that. That’s how the history goes. Well, that leads us to the next and really what is the compelling point. You have to have the right power. We’ll keep that for next Sunday. Let’s pray. Father, thank you again for your word to us. I say that almost every time because I’m so overwhelmed with gratitude for the shear blessing of scripture. No matter how I search it and search it and mine it and think about it, study it, it never disappoints. Never.
It always fulfills its promise to be alive, transforming truth. We’re so blessed to be a part of what you’re continuing to do of your unfinished work. We thank you that you finished the redemptive work, but you’re not finished with the redeeming work. You continue to do it through us. May we be useful and faithful. Thank you for such a privilege. Amen.
A recent report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children claims that Facebook had 20.3 million reported incidents of child sexual abuse material. In comparison, Pornhub’s parent company MindGeek had only 13,000 reports. Facebook accounted for 95 percent of the incidents in the report.
The Daily Beast reports that according to new data from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) CyberTipline, the vast majority of online child exploitation reports were linked to Facebook. The study found that over 20.3 million reported incidents related to child pornography or trafficking were linked to Facebook.
In comparison to the millions of incidents reported on Facebook, Google had 546,704 incidents, Twitter found 65,062, Snapchat reported 144,095, and TikTok found 22,692. Facebook accounted for almost 95 percent of the 21.7 million reports combined across all platforms.
MindGeek, the Canada-based parent company of multiple porn websites including Pornhub, RedTube, and YouPorn, reported far fewer incidents than Facebook. MindGeek reported 13,229 reports.
MindGeek participated in the study for the first time last year following a year-long campaign called #Traffickinghub which aimed to shut down Pornhub for its alleged role in promoting underage human trafficking by hosting content featuring minors.
It is noted that both Pornhub and Facebook alleged that the data they provided may include duplicates. Pornhub alleges that the 13,229 stat “includes several thousand duplicates, with most reports submitted multiple times in an abundance of caution.” They claim that the number of unique incidents is 4,171.
Facebook released a similar statement alleging that 90 percent of the failed incidents were “the same as or visually similar to previously reported content.” If this is correct, Facebook’s total number of unique reports would still be 2,030,722, the largest number in the data pool by far.
Facebook published a press release titled “Preventing Child Exploitation on Our Apps,” announcing new measures to monitor child exploitation. The tools include new informational pop-up for related search terms, a policy for removing profiles associated with child-related flagged content, and an “involved a child” option for reporting “Nudity & Sexual Activity” on the platform.
Facebook stated in the release: “Using our apps to harm children is abhorrent and unacceptable. Our industry-leading efforts to combat child exploitation focus on preventing abuse, detecting and reporting content that violates our policies, and working with experts and authorities to keep children safe.”
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address email@example.com
Christina Dent is a mother of three and the founder and president of End It for Good, a conservative non-profit that invites people to consider alternatives to our criminal justice approach to drugs and drug use. These alternatives range from ending criminal penalties for drug possession to legal regulation of substances, all with a Kingdom-focused goal of less societal harm.
Other Ways to Listen to this Podcast with Christina Dent:
-How did becoming a foster parent change your view on the War on Drugs?
-You contend that the vast majority of harm that comes from drugs is from criminalizing drugs, not the drugs themselves. Why do you believe that?
-What do you say to the idea that as soon as you decriminalize drugs, you are condoning their use?
-What is the responsibility of church leaders in the efforts to help the U.S.’s drug problem?
Key Quotes from Christina Dent
“My story is not a radically changed lifestyle. It’s really a radically changed mind.”
“I thought a mom who used drugs when she was pregnant must not love her child…[but] I just saw this mother who loved her son just as much as I loved my three sons, this fierce love, this desperate desire to do the right thing, to be there for him, to be a good mom, even though she was struggling with this addiction.”
“The United States has by far the highest incarceration rate in the world.”
“Even if I think drugs aren’t good and even if I think drug use isn’t good, is outlawing, criminalizing the right thing to do? Is the criminal justice system the right tool to be using for this issue?”
“How we handle drugs is about how we handle people.”
“I started to see this pattern in the kinds of harm that I was coming across and learning about….One kind of harm from drugs comes from the harm that substances can do themselves by putting them in our bodies. The other kind of harm comes from what happens when you criminalize a substance.”
“We are not fighting crime by prohibiting drugs. We’re actually funding it.”
“We have a huge overdose crisis, but the vast majority of those overdoses aren’t happening from the legal, regulated substances. They are happening because of people getting substances on the street that they don’t know the potency or purity of.”
“I could see Joanne’s drug use, but I could also see that incarceration just would be really harmful.”
“What I learned on this journey was something I had never known before, which is the role of trauma in driving drug use and addiction, that it’s one of the highest risk factors for whether a person who uses drugs begins problematically using them.
“Drug use at its core is ultimately about feeling better.”
“When we traumatize people in an effort to get them to stop using substances, we’re actually creating more risk factors for them to develop an addiction or for an addiction to increase.”
“We are not starving out addiction by criminalizing people who are using drugs. We are actually feeding it.”
“My goal has always been to reduce harm to people. My goal has always been that I want to see lives saved and preserved. But I came to realize that my goal was still the same, but what I think is actually going to get us closer to that goal is very different.”
“We have to acknowledge that there is no world where all harm from drugs goes away. That’s not true with alcohol. We have loads of harm from alcohol today. But if you look at what happened during Prohibition…It’s created this whole explosion of other harms.”
“It isn’t that there is a perfect solution. It’s that we have to weigh the pros and cons of the solutions we have.”
“I definitely would agree, there are some people today who aren’t using substances because they’re illegal that will probably use them if they’re not illegal. That’s true—I’m totally fine saying that that is true. But at what cost do we keep those few people from using those substances?”
“There’s lots of regulatory options. We have a lot of those set up already.”
“What [other countries] are doing are switching from a criminal justice approach to drugs to a health-centered approach to drugs, and as you do that, you see better outcomes.”
“We hold the lives of people like Joanne in our hands.”
“There are a lot of bad or immoral or even outright sinful things that are not criminal, and Christians aren’t lobbying for them to be criminal…just because something is legal doesn’t mean that we are encouraging people to use it, and it doesn’t mean that just because something is bad that criminalizing it or using the criminal justice system is the best way to handle it.”
“I see what Oregon did [in decriminalizing drugs] as a huge step forward in stopping the use of the criminal justice system and allowing people to be addressed in a way that best helps their drug use.”
“The majority of Christians in America feel faith-bound to criminalization.”
“For Christian leaders to at least really engage in this conversation is really important. Because what I’ve found in our work is that there are lots and lots of Christians who are rethinking these issues and they’re looking to their leaders to sort of signal to them, is it okay to rethink what we’ve been doing?”
“Drug use is rampant. Addiction is rampant, and families in our churches are suffering under the weight of shame and silence.”
“This is what the church can provide…a safe place to have these conversations and an open place to consider alternatives.”