Born To Bear WitnessWritten by Hoyt W. Allen, Jr.
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John had a tremendous amount of people that followed after him. He was very careful to inform them that he was not Christ, but only one to point to Him.
Quite often a preacher has problems with having "Preacher Lovers" in a congregation. That is, people want to follow him, rather than Christ. If he is not teaching or preaching because he has to be out of town, they don't even attend services. One preacher never tells his congregation that he is going to be gone, because he knows that "when cat is away, mice will play." One has a poor religion if it is "built upon a preacher" instead of Christ. If a preacher "falls," so does their hope of Heaven. John made it very clear that he came to witness of Christ. Any preacher worth anything today, will do likewise.
In John 3:25-30, an argument broke out among some of John's disciples over ceremonial washings. They came to John to settle dispute. He was quick to tell them that Jesus must be given pre-eminence in all things. John said that he (John) must become less and less in eyes of man and Jesus must become more and more. The disciples of John were having problems with Jesus gaining popularity, and John had to resolve this problem. John showed how "big" he was by his willingness to take second place. This is a "monument" to his character. It is one that all of us Christians would do well in duplicating. When Christians are willing to work in Lord's Church and not care who gets credit, a great deal can be accomplished. However, if a person fears doing anything, due to not getting a "pat on back," then Lord's work is drastically limited. If John taught us anything, it was a life of servanthood.
In John 1:6 word "sent" is from a Greek word (Apostello) from which we get English word "Apostle." This word normally means "one sent with a message."
No one has ever had a greater sender (God), nor has had a greater message than to point people to Jesus Christ, as John did. John's purpose of coming was to testify of Jesus. Day by day people enter court rooms to testify on behalf of others (witness to accidents, business frauds, martial disputes, etc.). However, no one can give a greater testimony than to inform people how Jesus saved them from their sins, when they accepted Him as Lord and Savior, by allowing their faith to cause them to repent of their sins, confess Him publicly, and permit someone to immerse them in watery grave of Christian baptism.
Now - some people may THINK they are saved, but were really not, according to God's Word. Some would say they were saved when: they heard a voice; they prayed "sinner's prayer" (not found in Bible); laid their hand on radio or TV; recited a confession or creed; got goose bumps when hearing a Gospel song; signed a commitment card at a religious service; or "prayed through" at an alter.
In John 1:8, John made it very plain that he was not Light, but came to be a witness of Light. All Christians today need to do likewise. That is, make it plain: who Jesus is (God in flesh); what church is (God's redeemed family); there will be a Judgement Day; there is a hell, as well as a heaven; and Lord's Plan of Salvation.
Just as John realized that he was born to witness about Jesus, today God needs men, women and youth to do likewise. Too many church members go to gridirons, ball diamonds and gymnasiums and shout, scream and yell for some athletic contest and then become closed-lipped and yellow-bellied when it comes to "speaking up" for Jesus. Shame on us if we are guilty of such. If we are a "Born Again" child of God, we have been born to witness! Let's do it, every day that God allows us to live.
All Scriptures quoted are from New King James Version unless otherwise noted.
Brother Hoyt W. Allen Jr. is a Restoration author, preacher and director of the KYOWVA Evangelistic Association in Ironton, Ohio. You may visit his website at www.kyowva.com.
Brother Allen's article is courtesy of the The Home Bible Study Institute - www.james1-22.org.
Permission to use is granted if attributed to author, his website and the website of The Home Bible Study Institute.
Where Are The Dead?Written by Stephen Kingery
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What happens to souls of dead today? Those who have been saved and remain faithful will go to be with Lord. Paul plainly states this: "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor, yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better." (Philippians 1:21-23) "We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from body and to be present with Lord." (II Corinthians 5:8) These verses clearly show that Paul fully expected to go directly to be with Lord upon his death. For Paul to say that it would be his gain to be dead, and to say that to be absent from body and to be present with Lord indicates this. Paul would surely not have made these statements if he was going to spend a long period of time in some intermediate state away from Christ.
Paul also states that saints will come back with Christ: "so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." (I Thessalonians 3:13) Saints in New Testament always refers to Christians. In order for saints to come back with Christ, then they must go to be with Him before that day. There are those who would have us believe that term saints used in this verse means angels. It is true that angels will come with Christ at His second coming. However, in as much as all other occasions of New Testament writers using word saints to refer to Christians, it is hard to believe that Paul would deviate just this one time and use word to mean angels.
The fact that our souls will go to be with Lord upon our physical death is also supported by this passage: "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus." (I Thessalonians 4:14) The word "sleep" here refers to dead, not a form of soul sleep. This is supported by story of rich man and Lazarus, for it is evident that both were conscience while yet dead. And also, when Jesus rose Lazarus (brother of Mary and Martha) we believe that Lazarus was conscience when Jesus spoke to him to rise from dead.
When saints return with Christ as indicated in passages noted above, they shall be united with their resurrected body. And those that shall remain on earth at time of His coming will be changed as well. They too, will receive a new body: "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed -- in a moment, in twinkling of an eye at last trumpet. For trumpet will sound, and dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (I Corinthians 15:51,52)
Not only will saints be resurrected on this day, for all that are dead will be resurrected. "I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of dead, both of just and unjust." (Acts 24:15) ; "Do not marvel at this; for hour is coming in which all who are in graves will hear His voice and come forth -- those who have done good, to resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to resurrection of condemnation." (John 5:28,29)
We also see that earth and all worldly things associated with it will be destroyed when Jesus returns. (See II Peter 3:10) There will be a general judgement where righteous shall be separated from unrighteous. The righteous will be welcomed into heaven while unrighteous will be ushered into hell.
Then a new heaven and a new earth will be introduced, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for first heaven and first earth had passed away." (Revelation 21:1) and "Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." (II Peter 3:13)
Death is not to be feared for those of us who are saved by blood of Christ. It is to be feared, and rightly so, by those who refuse to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. Personally, I do not fear death, but consider it as Paul did, looking forward to day I can be with my Lord. If you are without Christ won't you please consider these things. Give your life to One who can save it, give it to Christ.
Stephen Kingery is an author, preacher, teacher and founder of The Home Bible Study Institute.
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