You see this picture?

DV0103You see this picture? Its from John 8. The woman caught in sin.

You and I were caught. No, it is not a scandal in the news perhaps but the shame and fear of consequences does something to our entire being.

Your mind and heart has a race and you cannot catch your breath. God catches people doing everything from stupid to evil things, everyday, all the time.

See the frowns of the religious, even so-called church people and the tenderness of Jesus?

Yes he is looking at you. he stands in between you and them.

The jury of the religious are powerless to hurt you despite your sins.

This is the day Jesus says with a smile of love, “I don’t condemn you, go and sin no more.”

Today, is the day Jesus showed you forgiveness of sin and freedom from sin.

He shows you mercy despite your crimes.

You did not ask, he just does it. Your spirit comes alive and your desires now have changed.

Jesus Christ shows you justice as well.

The justice of the cross.

He died in your place. He was glad to do it. He loved you as he did it. He loves you gladly now.

All the LAW and its law-men could do was justly bludgeon you with stones.

You see that smile? Jesus has spoken in his justice and righteousness and all is well.

You will never be condemned. The consequence and power of sin has been broken by Christ the Almighty Savior. 

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DEFINE FOR ME, “PENTECOSTAL”

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THERE WAS NEVER A GREATER NEED FOR A GENUINE PERPETUATION OF PENTECOST IN THIS LAST HOUR! To see and be part of those who have turned the world upside down with the Gospel (Acts 17:6).

At this present time in one form or another there are around three hundred million people who claim to have experienced Pentecostal blessing and being baptized in the spirit. But sadly for some and an increasing number it is only in name are they alive but in reality they are dead (Rev 3:1-2). Yes we see the wildfire folks in some groups but sound and noise does not mean motion and forward movement. It is only madness.  Others churches have little or no sense of the presence of Christ in them, very little biblical, Christ centered preaching. They are dead or about to die! How sad!  It is those that used to be vibrant are now those with the dead preachers and dead congregations.

When I refer to “Pentecost” I am NOT referring to ONE DENOMINATION OR GROUP.  I am speaking about the movement that began on the day of Pentecost known as the true expression of Christianity.

This movement reached the world in exponential time with the gospel of God’s grace: that is, salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. This movement in which the Lord Jesus Christ himself worked with men and women confirming what they preached by signs and wonders.

Those signs and wonders were exactly what they were: signs that pointed to Christ and things that were done by God himself that would lead people in wonder and awe of Jesus and Jesus alone.  Pentecost is not about signs and wonders. Pentecost is all about Christ who has been exalted in majesty at the right hand of God who, “hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” (Acts 2:33).

When the people saw them declare the wonderful works of God he explained, “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2:16-17). 

When I refer to “Pentecost” I am not referring to the charismatic movement which has distinguished itself from the Pentecostal movement. I’m referring to those who believe that after the new birth experience all believers in Jesus are promised to be filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:4).

We must embrace the baptism of the Holy Spirit, while yes, it brings a greater degree of holiness, it is really more of and empowerment to be a witness for Christ and his gospel (Acts 1:8) for those who are already saved by the blood of Jesus.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit brings what is written in the scriptures into personal experience as the reality of the presence of Christ in the preached word and of the ministry of prayer for those who have need. The real Pentecostal resists the post modern programs and inventions for marketing the gospel and sees any lack in the church attendance, backsliddeness, sickness, deliverance as a greater need for seeking God for a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit in every dimension of their lives.

© 2013 Soul Health Care Ministries. Hey give credit where credit is due!

TODAY COULD BE THE DAY!

jesu with us“Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” (Rev. 3:10)

PROPHETIC VIEWS are not a salvation issue for me. While, rapture “haters gonna hate” it is one of those things (at least for me) that we can agree to disagree on as Christians.  In my opinion, very few seem to believe in and preach on the RAPTURE of the saints before the Great Tribulation these days, I will continue to do so charitably. There are those who avoid speaking about the rapture due to the all the false prophecies that have been made especially in the last few years.  But it makes no biblical sense to change doctrine because people have misunderstood it or preached it incorrectly.

In my humble understanding, there are three Advents or “arrivals” of Christ.  The first Advent was his incarnation (God coming as man) when he came to bring us salvation from sin (Matt 1:23; 1 Tim 3:16).  The second Advent will be the Rapture of the church “in the air” which will be his salvation from the seven year Great Tribulation (1 Thess. 4:13-18).  The third Advent will be his coming to earth to rule and reign for 1000 years ( Rev. 19:11-14; Zech. 14:1-4).

The Rapture is when the saints who died and those who are alive “will be suddenly caught up together…in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:17).  Christ’s coming in the Rapture for christian people is imminent meaning that he could return at any time.  Many passages suggest this (1 Corinthians 1:7; Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Timothy 6:14; Titus 2:13; Revelation 22:20).

“The basic idea of the Rapture is drawn from the Latin term for “caught up”—rapturo. It means that the church of Jesus Christ, those who have trusted in Christ as their Savior, will literally be transported from earth to heaven in an instant. There will be no death for those who are raptured. They will be taken—caught up—in the air to be with Jesus! Paul believed that Jesus’ return was imminent, and that brought great comfort to him in his daily struggles. It is not difficult to understand Paul’s longing for this to occur when faced with the trials we are confronted with daily. However, no one knows when this will happen. We do know that we are given His Word as the assurance that it will happen.” (C. Stanley)

The sense of Christ’s coming seems to not hold the same excitement as it once did for some and the idea that, “Today could be the day.”  no longer seem to be as the Bible says, “the Blessed Hope.” As a young believer, I was excited about the rapture. I was excited that one day I would be able to see the Jesus that saved me from from the miry clay of sin. The Jesus that I loved was coming for me.  I was excited about being in heaven with all the men and women that I was reading about in the Scripture. I was excited to be with those that I knew as believers that had died and went home before me. Many times after prayer or being in church I had a real sense of the presence of Christ knowing he could take me home to heaven  at any moment.  It also gave me the sense that every day I could expect great things from God.  Now at this point in my Christian faith, truly understanding justification by faith alone and the grace of God I can truly do what Paul says and comfort and encourage-not TERRIFY others with these words! Those wonderful words of grace which speak about the coming of Jesus for his people.

Some Christians forget, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” (Phil 1:21-23).  To be with Jesus is FAR BETTER! But today it is like the old preacher said, “Everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.”  Jesus tells us, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24).  I am excited that Jesus who is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25) and Christ who is our life (Col 3:4) will appear for us and bring us home at any moment! Some Christian people wonder if they will make it because they struggle with sin. I did not say trying to get away with sin, but  they fight sinful issues. Paul prayed,  “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess 5:23). Paul also taught that Christ will, “Present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, (Col 1:22). Child of God get ready, the Lord loves you and wants you with him, he has reserved a wonderful place for you already (John 14:1-3). 

I think because people have lost this hope of the RAPTURE it seem they are giving in to a fear of death or at least the unknown. The Bible says that Jesus came so through his, “death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Heb 2:15).  In fact, through the new birth (John 3:3-5) the Christian has already been spiritually resurrected. Their bodies will be transformed, into a spiritual body that will be imperishable and and raised in power (Phil 3:21; 1 Cor 15:34, 42, 44). Whoopeee!  Those bodies will have no pain, and never die. Each body will have a label marked by the eternal designer God as it were, which says, “made in heaven.”  (2 Cor. 5:1). That is awesome.  This means they already have eternal life. That is exciting!  Today, yes today could be the day.

Feed My Sheep 2: Christ our Guardian and Guide

“Jesus saith unto him, ‘Feed my sheep.’  ” (John 21:17).

Christ’s command to Peter is pastoral.  It is given as a true shepherd. The word “pastor” and shepherd” are words that are used interchangeably and rightfully so.  It describes the role of a man who is responsible for the care and feeding of sheep.  God declares that He takes sole responsibility for his sheep and despite the errors of men and churches- He tends them well. “The Prince of Pastors” (1 Peter 5:4DR) gives orders to Peter and all under-shepherds to care for his flock. We will speak of this in the next article.  But for now we must see that Christ  is concerned for the sheep. We fail to appreciate the pastoral role of Christ as the great Pastor of the sheep (Heb. 13:20). 

Christ is the shepherd that cares (1 Pet. 5:7) for us and  He says, “I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign LORD.” (Isa. 34:15NIV).  You are his, always and he will always care for you. Rev. Barnes says, “Friends on earth, the great, the frivilous, the noble, the rich, may forget you; God never will. Remember that you will never be entirely neglected. Father, mother, neighbor, friend, those whom you have loved, and those to whom you have done good, may neglect you, but God never will. You may become poor, and they may pass by you; you may lose your office, and flatterers may no longer throng your path; your beauty may fade, and your admirers may leave you; you may grow old, and be infirm, and appear to be useless in the world, and no one may seem to care for you; but it is not thus with the God whom you serve. When he loves, he always loves.” There is none like our shepherd Jesus.

Christ is the Good Pastor-Shepherd (John 10:11).   The literal rendering is,  “I am the shepherd, the good one.”  I like that. In the Latin Vulgate it reads, “Ego sum pastor bonus bonus pastor…”  Bonus is Latin for good and the Latin Vulgate emphasizes that he is good twice.  He is the very Good Shepherd, his actions are good, he went about doing good and laying down his life for his sheep was good. There are many shepherds but he is the GOOD one!  The word for good here is kalos, which in ancient writings refered to outward beauty. Thus Christ’s beauty is his character and nature as our Shepherd.  Of Christ,  the Holy Spirit says, “thou art fairer than the children of men.” (Psalm 45:2). Who is like this Good Shepherd?   His beauty is seen in his generosity, as he gives a gift that words cannot describe (1 Cor 9:15) and he gives his life.  He is the apex of all that is loveable and admirable and his sheep find they are irresistibly drawn to him (John 10: 26-27).

Jesus Christ takes up his rightful role in our lives and our Guide and Guardian. God claims sole ownership and care for his flock, his church.  All others who are called pastors are inferior to him. Yes, men who are pastors are gifts from the Son of God to his church (Eph 4:8) but Christ is the Chief Shepherd and the Guardian of the souls of his people (1 Pet. 2:25; 5:4). When expecting a Lion John saw a bleeding Lamb (Rev. 5:6) and when expecting a shepherd we see a leading Lamb. Even in eternity Jesus Christ is, “the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd.” (Rev. 7:17ESV). He is a Strong yet gentle Savior!  But here is another proof that we are not only rescued in his grace but kept by his grace. Grace, love, mercy are not just some force, or element or virtue separate from God. It is Christ himself who in his grace, mercy and love  guards and protects the souls of his flock.

Christ  is always concerned with the welfare of his own people and desires to nourish their souls.   That is the distinguishing mark of the Lord our Shepherd. The Bible says that, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” (Isa 40:11).  Notice from that passage that Christ feeds, carries and leads his people as his vulnerable flock, his young lambs. He alone is the source of their nourishment and guidance. It says that he guides them with the wisdom of a shepherd, bearing them with his strong protective arm and gently bringing them close to his chest. Paul says, that  “our life is hid with Christ in God.” (Col. 4:3).

He is the Lord is our Shepherd (Psa. 23:1). How often have we read Psalm 23 and failed to see Christ in whom all our needs are met.  Christ is all  (Col. 3:11), therefore all we need.  God has ordained this so that as he says, “thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:14).   There is none, we should not want because of him, we should want no other because of him.  He makes us to rest and guides us into peace.  He is the one who changes the direction of our lives into a paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even if the path leads through the valley of death’s shadow-not only the possibility but the eventuality of death, we do not need to fear because Christ bears us in his powerful hands all the way to the path of glory and heaven! Those that hate us even our enemies shall see the wonderful provision of the Lord for us, the oil of his presence in us. There will be such joy that our lives will overflow with goodness and mercy and we prepare in this life to spend eternity with our Shepherd.

© 2011 Stephen S. Gibney Soul Health Care Ministries

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THE SALVATION UNDERGROUND GONE PUBLIC!

“But those who die in the Lord will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead!” (Isaiah 26:19NLT).

On Oct 13, 2010 the whole world watched in awe as 33 Chilean miners that were trapped two thousand feet below the earth were lifted to safety by what many call a miraculous rescue. They spent 69 days (a much shorter timespan than predicted) underground but just a few days ago they took a 15 minute journey upwards to the surface in a small capsule that was no wider than an average man’s shoulders. There was a lot of joy, men thanking God and family reunions. In a time of really bad news in the world, I think this was a real boost to the global morale of  the millions of people who watched the rescue updates on television. I posted on Facebook, “EVEN NOW MEN ARE COMING UP OUT OF THE GROUND!

I read in one article, “They were trapped underground, in a place like hell itself — claustrophobic, dark, fetid — and they come up like they were resurrected,” says Robert Thompson, a professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University. “Western civilization doesn’t come up with stories much better.” 

Salvation in the Bible is often compared to being brought out of  a pit, “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” (Ps. 40:2). I CALL THIS THE SALVATION UNDERGROUND GONE PUBLIC. He brings people up from out of the ground of death and distress into new life. The idea of  salvation, the resurrection of the body, heaven and eternal hell are biblical  concepts of the Christian faith.  Problems of many kinds were illustrated often as a pit into which people fell and were trapped. A pit also symbolized unsolvable problems and desperation  from which only God could save you.  A pit was a place where unless you received outside help you would die. 

God is the wonderful Savior of all men (1 Tim 4:10). It is because of Who He is that He delights to rescue his own people (Ps. 18:19) and he  even shows kindness to the most miserable, unthankful characters (Luke 6:35). No one is like God who still loves doing awesome wonders (Ex. 15:11). he brings men and women up out of the ground all the time. But we should note that here are two kinds of salvation: one is temporary and the other eternal. Sometimes in the scripture physical salvation illustrates and symbolizes eternal salvation. One is the saving of the body, the other is the saving of the soul.  Your body can be saved, but that does not mean your soul is saved. Your body may not be saved, but your soul can be saved. You see my point: they are not the same. The physical salvation of the Chilean miners is only temporary, the salvation of the soul is eternal.  

Jesus Christ spent his life before he went back home to heaven doing good, especially temporal acts of salvation: healing the sick, opening blind eyes, unstopping deaf ears, providing miraclous food, walking on water, evicting demons and raising the dead (see Acts 10:38).  Talk about the SALVATION UNDERGROUND gone public!  He did so many wonders that the whole world could not contain the records (John 21:25). But one time he warned the crowd that was fed miraculously, “Do not work for food that spoils; instead, work for the food that lasts for eternal life. This is the food which the Son of Man will give you, because God, the Father, has put his mark of approval on him.” (John 6:27GNT).  We get out of trouble only to fall back into trouble again. That is the life we live. That is the here and now. Those who are healed physically can get sick again, those who are provided for financially can lose their money, those who were raised from the dead will die again. 

But eternal salvation is the greatest gift from which real joy comes. The gift of eternal life begins by the most powerful act of God! He takes the soul of  men and women that were once dead spiritually (Eph. 2:1-5) and regenerates them (John 3:3-8; Titus 3:5) or brings them back to life. They are born again with a living hope (1 Peter 1:3)! When the SALVATION UNDERGROUND goes public, once a person is born again that life can never be taken from them because it is the beginning of eternal life (John 10:27-29). Even if they die physically they will go on living eternally in heaven, because we are at home with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8).

There is physical life on earth and spiritual life in heaven. Jesus said, “Do not store up riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal. Instead, store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. ” (Mt. 6:19-20GNT). Things do not last on earth. They can be eaten away, rusted away and taken away. In heaven everything lasts forever.

Christ even empowered his disciples then and now to do wonders (Mt 10:1; Mk 16:16-18). But He laid out his disclaimer about miracles and taught his followers that real salvation is not because you can do wonders or have experienced miracles yourself (John 4:48).  The real joy of salvation is that our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).  God can and will use people on earth to rescue others but only God can rescue our souls from eternal death and hell. “For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it.” (Eph 2:8-9). We should rejoice and be thankful when God rescues us in this life as he does so many many times. But his greatest gift is when he gives eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:9) to those who trust in Christ alone as Savior because “Salvation is to be found through him alone..” (Acts 4:12GNT). 

God may be speaking to your heart even now through this article. The Salvation Underground can go public in your life. He will bring you back from the dead and the first sight you will see will be Jesus Christ reaching his hand to you in this horrible pit of sin you are living in. You know without his help you will be lost!  He is the only One who cares and can save you!