JC Ryle – The Great Separation!

What a powerful piece this is…

The Great Separation!

J.C. Ryle, 1878

“His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly cleanse His threshing floor. He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire!” Matthew 3:12

Wheat or chaff? You see my question — for whom do you think it is meant? Is it for corn merchants and farmers only, and for none else? If you think so, then you are much mistaken. It is meant for every man, woman, and child in the world. And among others, it is meant for you.

The question is drawn from the verse of Scripture which is now before your eyes. The words of that verse were spoken by John the Baptist. They are a prophecy about our Lord Jesus Christ, and a prophecy which has not yet been fulfilled. They are a prophecy which we shall all see fulfilled one day, and God alone knows how soon.

Reader, I invite you this day to consider the great truths which this verse contains. I invite you to listen to me, while I unfold them and set them before you in order. Who knows but this text may prove a word in season to your soul! Who knows but my question may help to make this day the happiest day in your life! Listen, before you begin once more your appointed path of duty. Listen, before you start once more on some round of business. Listen, before you plunge once more into some course of useless idleness and folly. Listen to one who loves your soul, and would sincerely help to save it, or draw it nearer to Christ. Who knows what a day may bring forth! Who can tell whether you will live to see tomorrow! Be still, and listen to me a few minutes, while I show you something out of the Word of God.

I. Let me show you in the first place, the two great classes into which the world may be divided.

There are only two classes of people in the world, in the sight of God — and both are mentioned in the text which begins this tract. There are those who are called the wheat — and there are those who are called the chaff.

Viewed with the eye of man, the earth contains many different sorts of inhabitants. Viewed with the eye of God, it only contains two. Man’s eye looks at the outward appearance — this is all he thinks of. The eye of God looks at the heart — this is the only part of which He takes any account. And tried by the state of their hearts, there are but two classes into which people can be divided — either they are wheat, or they are chaff.

Reader, who are the WHEAT in the world? Listen to me, and I will tell you.

The wheat means all men and women who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ — all who are led by the Holy Spirit — all who have felt themselves sinners, and fled for refuge to the salvation offered in the Gospel — all who love the Lord Jesus, and live to the Lord Jesus, and serve the Lord Jesus — all who have taken Christ for their only confidence, and the Bible for their only guide, and regard sin as their deadliest enemy, and look to Heaven as their only home. All such, of every church, name, nation, people, and tongue — of every rank, station, condition, and degree — all such are God’s wheat!

Show me men of this kind of people anywhere, and I know what they are. I know that they and I may not agree in all particulars — but I see in them the handiwork of the King of kings, and I ask no more. I know not whence they came, and where they found their religion — but I know where they are going, and that is enough for me. They are the children of my Father in Heaven. They are part of His wheat.

All such, though sinful, and vile, and unworthy in their own eyes — are the precious part of mankind. They are the sons and daughters of God the Father. They are the delight of God the Son. They are the habitation of God the Spirit. The Father beholds no iniquity in them — they are the members of His dear Son’s body — in Him He sees them — and is well pleased. The Lord Jesus discerns in them, the fruit of His own travail and work upon the cross — and is well satisfied. The Holy Spirit regards them as spiritual temples which He Himself has raised — and rejoices over them. In a word, they are the wheat of the earth — God’s wheat.

Reader, who are the CHAFF in the world? Listen to me once more, and I will tell you this also.

The chaff means all men and women who have no saving faith in Christ, and no sanctification of the Spirit — whoever they may be. Some of them perhaps are infidels — and some are formal Christians. Some are sneering Sadducees — and some self-righteous Pharisees. Some of them make a point of keeping up a kind of ‘Sunday religion’ — and others are utterly careless of everything except their own pleasure and the world. But all alike, who have the two great marks already mentioned — no faith and no sanctification — all such are chaff. From the atheists Paine and Voltaire — to the formal churchman who can think of nothing but outward ceremonies — to the unconverted admirer of sermons in the present day — all, all are standing in one rank before God all, all are chaff!

They bring no glory to God the Father. They honor not the Son, and so do not honor the Father who sent Him. They neglect that mighty salvation, which countless millions of angels admire. They disobey that Word which was graciously written for their learning. They listen not to the voice of Him who condescended to leave Heaven and die for their sins. They pay no tribute of service and affection to Him who gave them life, and breath, and all things. And therefore God takes no pleasure in them. He pities them — but He reckons them no better than chaff!

Yes — you may have rare intellectual gifts, and high mental attainments — you may sway kingdoms by your counsel, move millions by your pen, or keep crowds in breathless attention by your tongue — but if you have never submitted yourself to the yoke of Christ, and never honored His Gospel by heartfelt reception of it — then you are nothing but chaff in His sight. Natural gifts without saving grace, are like a row of ciphers without an unit before them; they look big — but they are of no value. The vilest insect that crawls in the filth — is a nobler being than you are! It fills its place in creation, and glorifies its Maker with all its power — and you do not. You do not honor God with heart, and will, and intellect, and members, which are all His. You invert His order and arrangement, and live as if time was of more importance than eternity, and body better than soul. You dare to neglect God’s greatest gift — His own incarnate Son. You are cold about that subject which fills all Heaven with hallelujahs. And so long as this is the case, you belong to the worthless part of mankind. You are the chaff of the earth.

Reader, let this thought be deeply engraved in your mind, whatever else you forget in this volume. Remember there are only two kinds of people in the world. There are wheat — and there are chaff.

There are many nations in Europe. Each differs from the rest. Each has its own language, its own laws, its own peculiar customs. But God’s eye divides Europe into two great parties — the wheat and the chaff.

There are many classes in England. There are nobles and commoners — farmers and shopkeepers — masters and servants — rich and poor. But God’s eye only takes account of two orders — the wheat and the chaff.

There are many and various minds in every congregation that meets for religious worship. There are some who attend for a mere form — and some who really desire to meet Christ; some who come there to please others — and some who come to please God; some who bring their hearts with them, and are not soon tired — and some who leave their hearts behind them, and reckon the whole service as weary work. But the eye of Jesus only sees two divisions in the congregation — the wheat and the chaff.

There were millions of visitors to the Great Exhibition of 1851. From Europe, Asia, Africa, and America — from North, and South, and East, and West — crowds came together to see what human skill and industry could do. Children of our first father Adam’s family, who had never seen each other before, for once met face to face under one roof. But the eye of the Lord only saw two companies thronging that large palace of glass — the wheat and the chaff.

Reader, I know well the world dislikes this way of dividing professing Christians. The world tries hard to fancy there are three sorts of people, and not two. To be very godly and very strict does not suit the world — they cannot, will not be holy. To have no religion at all does not suit the world — as that would not be respectable. “Thank God,” they will say, “we are not so bad as that!” But to have religion enough to be respectable — and yet not go into extremes, to be sufficiently good — and yet not be peculiar — to have a quiet, easy-going, moderate kind of Christianity, and go comfortably to Heaven after all — this is the world’s favorite idea! There is a third class, a safe middle class — the world imagines; and in this middle class — the majority of men persuade themselves they will be found.

Reader, I denounce this notion of a middle class as an immense and soul-ruining delusion! I warn you strongly not to be carried away by it. It is as vain an invention as the Pope’s purgatory. It is a refuge of lies, a castle in the air, a Russian ice-palace, a vast unreality, an empty dream! This middle class is a class of Christians no where spoken of in the Bible!

There were two classes in the day of Noah’s flood; those who were inside the ark — and those who were outside. There were two classes in the parable of the Gospel net; those who are called the good fish — and those who are called the bad. There were two classes in the parable of the ten virgins; those who are described as wise — and those who are described as foolish. There were two classes in the account of the judgment day; the sheep — and the goats. There were two sides of the throne; the right hand — and the left. There were two abodes when the last sentence has been passed; Heaven — and Hell.

And just so, there are only two classes in the world:
those who are in the state of nature — and those who are in the state of grace;
those who are in the narrow way — and those who are in the broad;
those who have faith — and those who have no faith;
those who have been converted — and those who have not been converted;
those who are with Christ — and those who are against Him;
those who gather with Him — and those who scatter abroad;
those who are wheat — and those who are chaff.
Into these two classes, the whole world may be divided. Beside these two classes, there is none.

Reader, dear reader, see now what cause there is for self-inquiry! Are you among the wheat — or among the chaff? Neutrality is impossible. Either you are in one class — or in the other. Which is it, of the two?

You attend church perhaps. You go to the Lord’s table. You like good people. You can distinguish between good preaching and bad. You think Popery false, and oppose it firmly. You think Protestantism true, and support it cordially. You subscribe to religious societies. You attend religious meetings. You sometimes read religious books. It is well — it is all very well. It is good — it is all very good. It is more than can be said of many. But still, this is not a straightforward answer to my question: Are you wheat — or are you chaff?

Have you been born again? Are you a new creature? Have you put off the old man, and put on the new? Have you ever felt your sins, and repented of them? Are you looking only to Christ for pardon and eternal life? Do you love Christ? Do you serve Christ? Do you loathe heart-sins, and fight against them? Do you long for perfect holiness, and follow hard after it? Have you come out from the world? Do you delight in the Bible? Do you wrestle in prayer? Do you love Christ’s people? Do you try to do good to the world? Are you vile in your own eyes, and willing to take the lowest place? Are you a Christian in business, and on week days, and by your own fireside? Oh, think, think, think on these things — and then perhaps you will be better able to tell the state of your soul!

Reader, I beseech you not to turn away from my question, however unpleasant it may be. Answer it, though it may prick your conscience, and cut you to the heart. Answer it, though it may prove you in the wrong, and expose your fearful danger. Rest not, rest not, until you know how it is between you and God! Better a thousand times find out that you are in an evil case, and repent in time — than live on in uncertainty, and be lost eternally!

Reader, remember my question. Begin to meditate on it this very day. Are you wheat — or chaff?

To read the rest, go to http://gracegems.org/Ryle/great_separation.htm

mid-week apologetics booster (11-17-2016)

Good morning friends,

Here are some links to help you to contend for the faith (Jude 3) and encourage you to “be prepared” (1 Peter 3:15):

  1. Yes, You Do Have Time to Learn Apologetics | CrossExamined.org: http://crossexamined.org/yes-time-learn-apologetics/
  2. What Christian Parents Should Tell Their Kids About the Election: http://christianmomthoughts.com/what-christian-parents-should-tell-their-kids-about-the-election/
  3. Why Do So Many People Misunderstand the Word “Faith” – THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/why-do-so-many-people-misunderstand-the-word-faith-2/
  4. A Christian view of economics: http://mbcpathway.com/2016/11/10/a-christian-view-of-economics/
  5. Why did Jesus tell people to “go and sin no more” if sinlessness is impossible? https://www.gotquestions.org/go-and-sin-no-more.html
  6. J.P. Moreland on Why God Won’t Force People Into Heaven: http://apologetics-notes.comereason.org/2014/08/jp-moreland-on-why-god-wont-force.html
  7. OS Guinness, where is America headed: https://boxcast.tv/view/os-guinness-where-is-america-headed-274210
  8. How Did Christianity Prevail in Ancient Rome and What Can We Learn from It? http://crossexamined.org/christianity-prevail-ancient-rome-can-learn/
  9. Make Religious Freedom Great Again | Public Discourse: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2016/11/18221/
  10. Why we need to let Trump have a fresh start: http://www.premierchristianity.com/Blog/Why-we-need-to-let-Trump-have-a-fresh-start
  11. Why I Voted for Donald Trump: https://1peter41216.wordpress.com/2016/11/11/why-i-voted-for-donald-trump/
  12. 5 Misconceptions about the Bible | Sean McDowell Ph.D.: http://crossexamined.org/5-misconceptions-about-the-bible/
  13. 4 Reasons We Know Humans Have a Soul – Jonathan Morrow: http://www.jonathanmorrow.org/4-reasons-know-humans-soul/
  14. 3 Facts in Genesis 1 which confirms the Biblical Creation: https://samzlogic.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/3-facts-in-genesis-1-which-confirms-the-biblical-creation/
  15. Why are the Gnostic Gospels non- Canonical ? https://samzlogic.wordpress.com/2016/09/30/why-are-the-gnostic-gospels-non-canonical/
  16. Truth Is Narrow and Exclusive for Everybody. This is a fun little video from Impact 360 on relativism, tolerance, and Christianity’s claim to be objectively true: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rt8bJyiUAhY
  17. Five Apologetics Questions You Need to Think Through: http://www.str.org/blog/five-apologetics-questions-you-need-think-through
  18. Deceit and Lies We Have Been Told on Homosexuality – REALity – scientific evidence not supportive of homosexual myths: http://www.realwomenofcanada.ca/deceit-and-lies-we-have-been-told-on-homosexuality-reality/
  19. 7 Things You Should Know About Temptation ($0.99 on Kindle) – this is a REALLY good little book, filled with Scripture and practical advice: https://www.amazon.com/Things-Should-Know-About-Temptation-ebook/dp/B01FY45DVC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479312971&sr=8-1

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.  Romans 10:1-3

Blessings

mid-week apologetics booster (11-10-2016)

Good morning friends,

Considering the week we’ve had (and continue to have), here is a survey of verses from all over the Bible that speak about governments and nations:

  1. But select capable men from all the people–men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain –and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.  Exodus 18:21
  2. For dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations. Ps. 22:28
  3. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance. Ps. 33:12
  4. God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne. Ps. 47:8
  5. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.  It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.  Ps. 118:8-9
  6. The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. Ps. 21:1
  7. Fear the LORD and the king, my son, and do not join with the rebellious, for those two will send sudden destruction upon them, and who knows what calamities they can bring?  Prov. 24:21-22
  8. By justice a king gives a country stability, but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down.  Prov. 29:4
  9. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6
  10. For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us.  Isaiah 33:22
  11. “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them.” Daniel 2:20-21a
  12. the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men. Daniel 4:17b
  13. “Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Matthew 22:19-21
  14. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” John 19:10-11
  15. On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: ” ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. ‘ Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.  Acts 4:23-28
  16. Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!” Acts 5:27-29
  17. Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  Romans 13:1-4
  18. I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone– for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  1 Timothy 2:1-2
  19. Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good  Titus 3:1
  20. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy  James 4:12a
  21. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.  1 Peter 2:13-14
  22. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. 1 Peter 2:17

Now, for your links:

  1. What Trumps Trump and Clinton? What are the issues that should be important to Christians in the election? Democrats vision for America: In their own words. Republicans vision for America: In their own words. Why you are not voting for one person but thousands of people.  This is a great Frank Turek podcast (48 min) that gives a Christian perspective on the issues that were facing us in this election.  Even though the election is passed, I still think it would be a worthwhile listen for everyone.  If you have the Cross-Examined App, you can listen to it there as well: http://player.subsplash.com/80aae55
  2. “Apologetics and RC Kept Me from Leaving Christianity” | Ratio Christi: http://ratiochristi.org/blog/post/apologetics-and-rc-kept-me-from-leaving-christianity/5080?tab=all_blogs_tab#.WBwE7MtlDqC
  3. Was Jesus a Socialist? – The Revolutionary Act: http://therevolutionaryact.com/was-jesus-a-socialist/
  4. Jen Hatmaker: Hermeneutics, Hurt, and Human Affection Part II | Joe Dallas Online: http://joedallas.com/blog/index.php/2016/11/04/jen-hatmaker-hermeneutics-hurt-and-human-affection-part-ii/
  5. Are There Forgeries in the New Testament? (Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians) – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/forgeries-new-testament-ephesians-colossians-thessalonians/
  6. Q&A – God, Alien Life, Kepler-452b, & a Fictional Jesus? | James Bishop’s Theology & Apologetics.: https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/04/qa-god-alien-life-kepler-452b-a-fictional-jesus/
  7. A Brief Meditation for Election Week – White Horse Inn: https://www.whitehorseinn.org/2016/10/a-brief-meditation-for-election-week/

Wise men store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.  Proverbs 10:14

Blessings to you all

mid-week apologetics booster (9-22-2016)

Good morning friends,

Another week has gone by, and we all need to ask ourselves, have we done anything this week to advance the kingdom of God and the Gospel?  The Apostle Paul said

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” (Philippians 1:12-14)

I suspect that you were not actually physically in chains for Christ this week, but there are other ways that you may’ve been advancing the Gospel.  Maybe you were at AWANA last night advancing the Gospel and the Kingdom of God.  May you gave money to a faithful ministry that is advancing the Gospel and the Kingdom of God.  Maybe you made a meal for brothers and sisters at Church, or did some cleaning or maintenance at the Church.  Maybe you served the homeless in our community at one of the many relief organizations.  Maybe you spoke up in a personal conversation, communicating and defending you faith in Christ.  I know of one of my brothers who led someone to Christ this week in a faraway land over the phone and internet (WeChat).  She prayed to receive Christ and her life was changed forever!  Praise the Lord.  This brother of mine was a faithful witness over several months of weekly calls, teaching and preaching the Word of God to her (after the business talk was finished).  He was advancing the Gospel into a country where she may not’ve heard it otherwise.

God has placed us where we are with our circle of influence.  Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.  This is our chance in this lifetime to make a difference for the Kingdom of God in a dark and hurting world!  I like how Pastor James MacDonald phrases it – “we need to be shouldering weekly Kingdom responsibility”.  He stresses the fact that every born again, Bible believing, follower of Christ should be striving to:

  1. Walk with Christ
  2. Worship Christ
  3. Work for Christ

I pray that you would all make a difference for Christ this week!

Here are you weekly links:

  1. Watch “Catch The Light for Intelligent Design Audio Play – 8th Clip” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/CAgobUvih5Q
  2. Why Abortion Is Unjust Discrimination – A Clear Lens: https://clearlens.org/2015/12/11/why-abortion-is-unjust-discrimination/
  3. The Complete Series: Ten Basic Facts About the NT Canon that Every Christian Should Memorize – Canon Fodder: http://michaeljkruger.com/the-complete-series-ten-basic-facts-about-the-nt-canon-that-every-christian-should-memorize/
  4. Tom Gilson talks about how to have critical conversations about difficult topics with teens | Stand to Reason: http://www.str.org/node/42138
  5. Watch “The Kalam Cosmological Argument” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/6CulBuMCLg0
  6. Open Biola: Free Educational Content Created & Curated by Biola University | Open Biola: http://open.biola.edu/
  7. Watch “Are Beliefs the Result of Where One Is Born?” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/VjHRqToHhCU
  8. Watch “Understanding and Sharing Truth in our Culture” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/5ODX5r3d_2I
  9. New Video Destroys the False Claim That Abortion is Just 3% of What Planned Parenthood Does | LifeNews.com: http://www.lifenews.com/2016/09/14/new-video-destroys-the-false-claim-that-abortion-is-just-3-of-what-planned-parenthood-does/
  10. Watch “29. Hasn’t Christianity done more harm than good?” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/0bOyoAjhUc8
  11. Watch “Was the New Testament Written Early?” on YouTube: https://youtu.be/pBxoNiTyfHw
  12. Arguing, Quarreling, and Questioning | Think on These Things: https://jaredrabbot.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/arguing-quarreling-and-questioning/
  13. What Is Postmodernism? | NAMB: https://www.namb.net/apologetics/what-is-postmodernism
  14. Faith Actually: Definitions Matter: http://faithactually.blogspot.com/2016/07/definitions-matter.html?m=1
  15. Pastor Andy Stanley says the Bible is too hard to defend – Evangelical pastor preaches that the Bible isn’t the foundation for the Christian faith: http://creation.com/andy-stanley-rebuttal
  16. Cosmologist Luke Barnes answers 11 objections to the fine-tuning argument: https://winteryknight.com/2016/09/11/cosmologist-luke-barnes-answers-11-objections-to-the-fine-tuning-argument-4/

Blessings to you all!

Success In Life

A thought occurred to me before I went to bed last night… It occurred as I was thinking about my quest to lose weight. I realized that in order to have the long-term success that I was seeking, I needed to forego momentary pleasures of eating whatever delicious food I desired. This is the concept of “delayed gratification”. Then I began to think of just how many things in life require the same discipline. Here is s short list I thought of:

  1. Weight loss (Prov. 23:1-3; 20-21)
  2. Getting a college degree (Prov. 1:5, Prov. 9:9, Prov. 18:2, Prov. 4:7, Daniel 1:1-21)
  3. Staying out of debt (Prov. 22:7)
  4. Staying sexually pure (1 Corinthians 6:18-21)
  5. Learning a skill such as a programming language, golf or a musical instrument (Prov. 22:29)
  6. Scripture knowledge and memorization (Ps. 119:11)
  7. Being well-read (having read many good books) and the knowledge and benefits that come from that. (Daniel 1:17)
  8. After staying with a company a long time, achieving a high level of vacation benefits
  9. Saving for retirement (Prov. 13:11)
  10. Persevering under trials rather than just quitting (James 1:12)

I’m sure there are many more examples that could be given. “Delayed gratification” is a message young people need to hear and understand today. It is a great skill to be learned in life, and it is a proficiency you should master in order to be successful in life.

“Delayed gratification” is even pivotal in the greatest and most important pursuit in life, the pursuit of the Christ. Jesus said:

If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. Luke 9:23

The Christian life is a life of self-denial – not as “a work” that will make you acceptable to God, but has a recognition that He is your Lord and Master. As Paul said:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

If you’re not born-again, this is impossible. If you are born-again, this becomes possible and should be a natural inclination for you. Delay your gratification for something better later in this life, and ultimately in the life to come!

Difficult Situation

Last weekend, I found myself in a difficult social situation.  I was in situation where I had to attend.  There was a lot of partying and worldliness going on.  But I decided to just accept it and make the best out of it.  I don’t drink and continued in the same pattern that Saturday night.  Many of the people at the event know that I’m a Christian.  So, I socially participated fully with the people around me as they continued to get more and more inebriated throughout the night.  I will tell you that it was very difficult – one of the more difficult social situations I’ve ever been in.  The following morning, after 4 1/2 hours of sleep (my body just woke up at 5:30 am 🙂 ), I was contemplating what had happened the night before, the Holy Spirit brought several Scriptures to my mind which gave me great comfort and peace about the situation.  I would like to share these with you, my readers, hoping that as you face similar situations, you may be similarly comforted:

John 17:14-16 “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

1 Corinthians 5:12-13a What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.

1 Corinthians 13:2-3 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

1 Corinthians 9:22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.

Job 1:4-5 His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.

I thank God that He answered my prayer and showed me that I was faithful to Him at that event.  The Holy Spirit was able to use Scripture I had memorized to comfort me greatly.  As Jesus says in John 14:26:

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Praise His holy name!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will–to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.  Ephesians 1:3-8

Amen!

Profound Sequence in John 8:31-32

One of the things I love about Scripture memorization is the practice time, when I can meditate deeply on the meaning of the passage I’m practicing. One such passage is:

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

During a recent time when I was practicing this passage, something struck me that I’d never considered before. If you pay close attention to this passage, Jesus is communicating a profound sequence that takes place with his followers:

  1. Faith – to the Jews who had believed in Him. This is not just a generic “gotta have faith” pep talk. This is belief in the Son of the Living God!
  2. Obedience – “If you hold to My teaching”. Holding to His teaching rather than ignoring His teaching is obedience. Jesus wants obedience. He says “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). Likewise, the half-brother of the Lord says “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22)
  3. Discipleship – “you are really My disciples.” True disciples follow and obey.
  4. Knowledge – “Then you will know the truth”. Obedience to Jesus and His teaching result in the disciple knowing it is true.
  5. Freedom – “the truth will set you free”. Following and obeying Jesus does not result in bondage, but rather in freedom. Jesus said “He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18b). That is freedom from bondage to sin. Romans 6:14 says “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace”.

It is a journey that begins with faith, continues in obedience and the end result is freedom! Praise God!