My prayer is that this letter finds you rejoicing in the Lord Jesus and in the awesome privilege of knowing and serving him. I pray that, in this ever-darkening world, you are shining more brightly each day as a living epistle of his love and truth. How great to know that Jesus is “The Man,” and that he is “in your corner,” cheering you on moment by moment, and thrilled to see you looking to him and following his leading.
At a fellowship the other night, someone asked me, “Why is it that we get to know the Word like we do when 99% of other Christians do not?” The truth is that since 1967 I have often asked myself the same question, but I’m not sure I’ve yet come up with a satisfactory answer. My first response was, “Because, like I, you were once in the right place at the right time to hear the accuracy of God’s Word set forth.” OK, but why can’t more people say the same? One reason is because since the first century, there have been only a comparative handful of “right places” on the whole earth where that truth has been available.
Jesus said that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness would be filled. Does that mean that you and I are more hungry for truth than other believers, including many “big name” Christians whose preaching of traditional error makes it clear that they have never been taught the truth we hold so dear? I don’t know. What I do know is that I am exceedingly thankful that somehow God connected me with someone who had heard such wonderful knowledge of the truth. And that has motivated me through the years to stay faithful to sharing it with others, because if I do not communicate it to them, maybe they will never hear it.
Another thing that motivates me is the plethora of prevarication to which the Devil is subjecting people. He has millions of human cohorts, most of them unaware they are doing so, telling countless lies about everything that is important for mankind to know, both biblically and otherwise. No doubt you are aware that the biblical motif is: “THIS IS WAR!” Since Genesis 3, God (now assisted by Jesus Christ), good angels and godly people have been pitted against Satan, bad angels (demons), and wicked people.
Using those willing to work for him, and others doing so unwittingly, the Adversary is today ramping up his assault on Christians, using words like “homo-phobe” or “Islamo-phobe” or “(fill-in-the-blank-with-whatever-is-ungodly)-phobe” to brand those who stand up against evil as bigoted, intolerant, prejudiced, and fanatical. His goal is to make as many people as possible “Christo-phobic.”
Because this is a battle between truth and lies, it is a war of WORDS. Adam lost “Word War 1” because he failed to trust his Creator’s love for him, but thank God that the “Last Adam,” Jesus Christ, won “Word War 4” by dying, and that he is going to win “Word War 7” by coming in his resurrected body and destroying all wicked people, as well as evil itself, aka “Satan.” Currently, you and I are living in the middle of “Word War 5” (see Administrations Chart), and we must arm ourselves with the truth set forth in the Church Epistles.
In our “post-modern” culture, many dismiss the very concept of “truth,” or at least reduce it to a matter of personal opinion. As one sagacious observer of this insanity quipped, “If truth is relative, then cannibalism is just a matter of taste.” The rejection of truth in post-modernism means that one’s attempts to persuade another are construed as acts of oppression. Because everyone’s beliefs are equally valid, no one has the right to “impose” his beliefs on anyone else. The sad thing is that this mindset is permeating the Christian Church and diluting some believers’ fervor to win people to Jesus Christ and then help them live for him.
In the past 23 years, I have been chided by some who have accused me of trying to “recruit” people into the ministry with which I was working. “Recruit” seems a bit sterile, but I looked it up in the dictionary, and what I found is most significant: “to enroll someone as a worker or supporter.” Is that not what Jesus did (and is still doing), for the cause of God? How about Paul? How about you? Isn’t that what each of us as a Christian is called to do—constantly?
The biblical word is “persuade,” and it means, “to induce one by words to believe.” YES, I want to persuade every human I can to follow Jesus Christ. That means I am doing all I can to persuade everyone I can to be a vital, active part of the best ministry I know of that helps them become like him, and that is The Living Truth Fellowship. YES, I will try to persuade everyone I can to hear/see all of our teachings, for their benefit, and I hope that our work motivates them to support us with prayer, love, and money. What’s wrong with that?
If you look up the word “persuade” in Scripture, you will find that the Devil is doing all he can to persuade people to believe his lies about God, Jesus, and themselves, and he is not shy about it! In fact, those he uses are constantly and loudly broadcasting his lies, and they don’t care at all what people think about them!
But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
Acts 14:19 (ESV)
But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.
Did you get that? Those opposed to the truth apparently took the day off from work in order to travel from Antioch and Iconium to Lystra to stop people from hearing God’s message. If I am reading the map correctly, it was about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Antioch and about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Iconium. So what? That’s a relatively short drive. Not on a donkey! The Iconium folks had to take off all week from work! “What are you doing on your vacation next week, Moishe?” “Well, I thought about hitting the beach, but instead I’m going to walk 100 miles (160 kilometers) each way to stir up people into a mob and stone the Apostle Paul.”
Why would anyone do that? Because they themselves (with some demonic assistance) were persuaded that what they were doing was right. Before you and I can effectively persuade non-Christians to make Jesus Lord, or Christians to believe what the Word really says or to sell out to following Christ or to do the right thing in a particular situation, we must first BE PERSUADED ourselves. If we are not fully persuaded, we will not risk discomfort, rejection, loss of our friends, public humiliation, or, perish the thought, prison or execution. As you read the following verses, think about how Abraham and Paul lived, risking everything for God:
Romans 4:20 and 21
(20) Yet he [Abraham] did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,
(21) being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
Romans 8:38 and 39 (NKJV)
(38) For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
(39) nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
2 Timothy 1:12 (NKJV)
For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.
2 Corinthians 5:10 and 11a
(10) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
(11) Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men….
Because he was persuaded that Jesus Christ really did rise from the dead, and that he is actually going to come again and judge each human being, Paul constantly tried to persuade others to follow the Lord Jesus (e.g., Acts 13:43, 18:4). He knew that he was on The Ultimate Treasure Hunt with the Lord, looking for those hungry souls buried beneath the muck of this world and often beneath the crust around their own hearts. He knew that God, Jesus, and the angels go wild when someone gets saved, and he knew that he would be richly rewarded for those he won to the Lord and nourished in the Word: “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?” (1 Thess. 2:19).
In the October FRUIT OF D’VINE, I wrote about God looking down on the earth at the various categories of people, and seeing into the heart of each person (Ps. 33:13-15,18-19). One category I did not mention is those whom God sees are genuinely “hungering and thirsting” for truth. It would be great if all those folks were glowing like Moses when he came down from Mt. Sinai so that we could easily spot them and fearlessly present Jesus Christ to them, knowing that they would joyfully embrace the Good News. But alas, such is not the case. In fact, some who will believe do not appear to be likely candidates—like the Apostle Paul, who was murdering Christians.
So how do we know who really hungers to know God/Jesus/the truth? Actually, we let them determine that, by setting FOOD in front of them, that is, the milk and meat of the Word, the Bread of Life. If they eat, they’re hungry; if they don’t, they’re not. Yes, we want to serve the food as attractively as we can, and we can learn how to do that better and better, but if it is junk food, it will not satisfy their hunger. Jesus said we’d be “fishers of men,” which implies that we must learn what “bait” attracts those fish that are hungry. If you were once in the right place at the right time and heard the Word of God “rightly divided,” you have a tackle box full of attractive lures. That is, you have truth that will truly satisfy one’s spiritual hunger.
Sure you do. Think about it. Most Christians are “fishing” with unappetizing junk food for bait, that is, nonsensical notions like the Trinity, Jesus is God, “dead” people are “alive,” God is in control of all that happens, etc., etc., etc., each of which requires people to suspend their reason and logic and embrace self-contradictory gibberish that does not work in life. But you have a PERSUASIVE MESSAGE. So open your tackle box, bait up your pole, and get out on the lake! Rather than pulling fish out of the water to eat them, you’ll be pulling people out of the fire to feed them.
How many human beings do you think will lie in their beds tonight and cry out to God for truth, help, or love? Have you ever wanted to “Be Somebody”? Well, guess what? You can be the answer to someone’s prayer. You can be that somebody who brings them the truth, just like the somebody who brought you the Word. How thankful are you for him or her? Aren’t you glad they cared enough to open their mouth?
Remember how your heart burned within you when, at last, you heard the Word of God set forth with precision, conviction, and love? You can provide that same unspeakable joy for many other people. For me, sharing the Word with someone is the most energizing thing I know of. How about you?
In closing, I think it is pertinent to briefly address some brethren’s unbiblical aversion toward being part of an “organization,” which is: “the structure or arrangement of related entities.” Those entities are “organs,” and an organ is “a part of the body with a specific, vital function.” An organization is also “an organized body of people with a particular purpose.” Doesn’t that aptly describe true Christianity, as well as any ekklesia honestly trying to spread the Gospel?
Doesn’t God clearly tell us to intimately align ourselves with others committed to living the truth and spreading it? Of course He does, and I know many saints who were once committed to doing just that, but who now pretty much going it alone, without the zeal they once had to share the Good News. I’m sorry if some Christian leaders have let you down, but please don’t let that stop you from doing what you can (Mark 14:8) with the truth you have been taught. When we each stand before our Lord Jesus, I think he will ask us something like, “What did you do with what you knew?”
You and I are “on a mission from God,” and He calls us to work together with Him and with one another in order to help Him have as big a family as possible for all eternity. When we give of ourselves by sharing the Word with people, the Lord Jesus works with us to help us reach their heart. And God not only chalks it up in the REWARDS column on our rap sheet, He also moves in our lives to give us spiritual growth and blessings of all sorts in this life. It’s a win-win situation!
(13) for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
(14) How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
(15) And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Rejoice in the Lord, and enjoy The Ultimate Treasure Hunt with him today.