The Big Issue
Most British people would be familiar with vendors of this magazine (which seeks to combat poverty and homelessness) at stations and in our high streets.
But what is the real big issue in life?
It is this: Do you believe in the Son of God Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour?
If you don’t you stand condemned by God: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”(John 3:19).
Three men died on Roman crosses outside Jerusalem 2,000 plus years ago. One of those men, a thief, went to hell blaspheming the Saviour, the other by God’s grace recognizing his Saviour said, “Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom.” What a statement, a statement of faith and salvation, and a huge encouragement to Christ as he was dying. Christ responded, “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.” He saw what the big issue was as he hung dying and he got it sorted just in time? Have you?
If you are ignorant (of God in Christ) you are a slave to Satan. Let this stir you up that are ignorant from your seats of sloth whereon, like the blind Egyptians, you sit in darkness, speedily come out of this darkness, or resolve to go down to utter darkness. ‘If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost,’ II Cor. 4:3. In one place sinners are threatened, ‘they shall die without knowledge,’ Job 36:12; in another place, they shall die in their sins, John 8:21. He, indeed, that dies without knowledge, dies in his sins; and what more fearful doom can the great God pass upon a creature than this? Better die in a prison, die in a ditch, than die in one’s sins. If thou die in thy sins, thou shalt rise in thy sins; as thou fallest asleep in the dust, so thou awakest in the morning of the resurrection; if an ignorant Christless wretch, as such thou shalt be arraigned and judged.
Hear wisdom crying in the streets, and Christ piping in your window in the voice of his Spirit and messengers, ‘How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you,
I will make known my words unto you,’ Prov. 1:21-23. Seek God in his word and the preaching. Whether young or old rich or poor seek the Lord.
We want life-a life of glory, happiness, purpose, freedom, companionship, truth, peace and holiness. God, in Christ is the life (John 1:4). To know him is to have eternal life (John 17:3, 1 John 5:11-12). It is abundant life (John 10:10). An unbroken covenantal relationship with God is life. The life of Christ within (Gal.2:20) is “like an everlasting river that quenches all our thirsts.” It’s the life Adam and Eve had pre-fall. Death came as separation from God leading to misery, meaninlessness, bondage, guilt, unrighteousness and shame. Spiritual death (separation from God), physical death and eternal death are all aspects of this death.
Christ rejoiced throughout his life except for the hours of separation fromhis father. He was full of joy because he found pleasure in obeying God and he delighted in him at all times (Psalm 16:11, Psalm 45:7, Heb.1:9, he obeyed Phil.4:4). All that we seek (the headings of this book’s chapters) is found in Christ-we are complete in him (Col.2:10). The lost, born deceived, think that by feeding their bodily appetites, they will fulfill the deep longings of their hearts but these are insatiable till rest is found in Christ.
Excellent little book in it’s analysis of human need, human motives and human satisfaction!
The world is depressed. The author really ought to use the Biblical word joy because that is what he means– enduring joy, not just passing pleasure (I Peter 1:8). It is a satisfaction and contentment deep in the soul. Either immediate or future happiness is behind all we do. We must seek it in enjoying and glorifying God. Happiness in self-love? No, because we are never self-sufficient and not designed to be selfishly independent, only God is completely and eternally happy.
Materialism is empty. God’s providential gifts are designed to draw our affections to him. All of creation is designed to tell of the glory of God, not feed the lusts of our flesh. Of course we have needs but all the seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling are things to enjoy and be thankful for as his gifts. Being ungrateful, and coveting what we don’t have, is idolatry (witness Adam and Eve). The vast majority of sin and crime is caused by this. (James 4:1,2 and subsequently breaking all of the second table of God’s law, the ten commandments).
Christ, the fount of living water is substituted by broken cisterns. Being deprived of spiritual joy necessarily makes people get addicted to physical pleasures (Eccles. 1:8, Proverbs 27:20). Perverse appetites are insatiable. “We must pursue God with all our heart, mind and strength.” We go after fool’s gold…
when Christ must be our supreme treasure. We must deny ourselves and whatever is hindering us to follow Christ (Matthew 16:24). ” Those who find pleasure in God will find pleasure in every situation”-Henry Scougal. This was how Paul and Silas could rejoice in prison. The loss of all we have ought not to diminish our joy. We must relinquish all to follow him….and this is practiclally outworked by believers seeking to belong to a true church where Christ is present-JK. Blessed is the nation (or man) whose God is the Lord (Psalm 33:12).
This excellent little paperback by Jeff Johnson published by Reformed Heritage Books 2018 costing less than £6 on line, is excellent because it examines our motives-why we do what we do. In other words it helps answer David’s prayer in Psalm 139-“SEARCH ME AND KNOW MY THOUGHTS AND LEAD ME IN THE WAY EVERLASTING”. It is a modern day equivalent of the book of Ecclesiastes setting forth what all human hearts long for, and proving that not in anything created but in the Creator is glory and fulfillment to be found. Its subtitle is “Finding satisfaction in Christ alone.” I purpose to summarize each chapter in a series of blogs. He sees our longings being for glory, happiness, peace, purpose, freedom, companionship, truth, holiness and life eternal. The glory we seek is infinite and eternal and is found only in God (II Cor.4:17). Only he is of infinite value, his glory is the sum of all he is. This glory completely and forever satisfies the three persons of the trinity (John 17:5). We are miserable because we aspire after glory in the wrong things. There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.(Proverbs 16:25). “The biblical contrast to glory is vanity…the praise of people and the glory of this world are passing away.” (I John 2:17, Eccl.1:2). What is your glory?Or to put it another way, what do you worship? Augustine said, ” Thou hast made us for thyself and our hearts are restless, until they find rest in thee.” In actual fact what we as believers long for, is the restoration of the image of God in us accompanied by seeing and living with God-this desire will be ultimately fulfilled. (I John 3:2). Because Christ is the image of God all our goals are found in him. The sinful world foolishly follows Satan in the perverse notion that following his suggestions and following our lusts will fulfil us-it is a lie! ( I John 2:15-17, John 8:44).
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Finding or losing our soul Click on slide showϖ
To find and keep your soul you must lose it by surrendering it to Christ (who after all paid for it with his blood).
To lose your soul, and that eternally, all you need to do is hold on to it for yourself and neglect or reject the claims of Christ.
Jim Elliot, martyr among the Auca Indians in Ecuador in 1956 stated, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Christ himself, the Apostle Paul and a myriad of saints since, are testimony and examples which prove that life lived for God is the best and indeed only way to live and invest it.
Sermon by Pastor Martyn McGeown of Limerick Reformed Fellowship.
The most important fact about you is whether in the sight of God your maker and judge you are justified!
Resurrection (click icon for slide show)
Key subject in this the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
In summary Romans 4:4-5 teaches that when we speak of man relating to God:
- Boasting is excluded
- God is no man’s debtor
- Man must realize he is ungodly
- He must repudiate his own works
- He must believe God justifies
- The only righteousness acceptable to God is Christ’s
And I have to add that salvation (justification and all that follows from it) is by grace, through faith in Christ.
“No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” John 14:6. There is a gulf, a gap, a separation between man and God caused by sin (Isaiah 59:2). Sin is inborn in us causing us to come short of the proper purpose of all things which is the glory of God. We cannot obey his commands. This gulf continues after death (Luke 16:26). Only Jesus Christ enables man to bridge the gap because he:
Is God and man who did no sin.
Atoned for sin in his death.
He has devolved Power from the Father to save us from the guilt, power and presence of sin.
The illustration above enabled me to understand the gospel over 40 years ago.
The Psalms exalt God and realistically portray mankind as ephemeral and sinful. Praising God is not natural for the human heart. By nature we all want praise for ourselves, we think we are good and deserve heaven. It is not until the Spirit of God, by the word of God, convinces us of our sin, of God’s righteousness and of judgment to come and Jesus Christ reveals himself in the gospel of grace that we can see ourselves as we really are and praise our creator and redeemer.