Those that are exposed to God’s Light must make an immediate decision. They will either accept Him or reject Him. There is no neutral ground. “Almost persuaded” is not good enough. We must become totally committed to Jesus. When we trust Him completely, we will never be disgraced. But for those that reject Jesus, they will stumble and fall. If they choose to continue to reject His free offer of salvation, then they choose to go to hell. We have been called out of darkness into His wonderful Light. Therefore,we must be the Light that draws others out of darkness. We have been chosen, made royal priests and a holy nation. We must be ambassadors of that nation and spread the Good News so that others can become citizens as well.
19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” — 2 Cor. 5:19,20 (NLT)
We must speak boldly with no fear of rejection. After all, it is not us, personally, that they are rejecting. They are rejecting Jesus and His plan of salvation. Our part is to scatter the seed, it is God’s part to see that they take root and grow. We must labor in the fields understanding that we may not see the results of our work while we are here on earth. Our treasures are laid up in heaven.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Jesus had just told them that one of the 12 would betray Him. It is only natural that they would wonder which one it would be. Jesus told them it would be the one to whom He gave the bread. Even when Jesus dipped the bread and handed it to Judas and said to Judas, “Do it quickly”, they still did not understand. When Judas took the bread, he immediately left. He walked out into the darkness of the night. Judas had spent years with the Light of the world, yet it seemingly had not penetrated the utter darkness of his lost soul. Judas was still more concerned about his own well being than he was about the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is possible to sit in the light without seeing the light when you are blind. Judas was spiritually blind and unwilling to see the Light. Jesus knocks at the door, but it is up to each of us to open the door and let the Light into our hearts and lives. We can hear the Word daily, just as Judas did, and still not be redeemed. We must not only repent from our sins and empty ourselves of all impurities, but we must fill that void with the Light of the Word.
9 But you are a chosen people,(S) a royal priesthood,(T) a holy nation,(U)God’s special possession,(V) that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light – 1 Peter 2:9 NI
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Stephen has just recited a short summary of all the things God had brought the Israelites through and the miracles He had peformed in bringing them to the Promised Land. Stephen also reminded them that God did this for them in spite of their unbelief and unfaithfulness. He did it as a fulfillment of His covenant with their ancestors. Even though God was faithful, the Israelites were not, refusing to listen to Moses and any of the prophets God sent to them with messages warning them to repent and be obedient to God. Instead they persecuted and murdered the prophets choosing to remain in their sinful ways and worship idols made by human hands. The people Stephen was addressing were still following in their ancestor’s paths, choosing to kill the Messiah rather than to give up their worldly ways and repent. If Stephen were here today, he could add the history of our country to his discourse and the accusation would still be true. After all the years of God blessing this country with His abundance, we are still a “stubborn people, heathen at heart and deaf to the truth”. More and more, as each day passes by, we become a more sinful nation. We refuse to believe that God will punish us just as He punished the Israelites. We must pray that God will have mercy on this nation of ours, that He will replace our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh and write His name upon our hearts.
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death. — Hebrews 11:17-19 NIV
Abraham had lived for years waiting on the fulfillment of God’s promise of a son through which he would become the father of many nations. The son, Isaac, finally came when both Abraham and Sarah were well past normal child-bearing age. Now, after a few short years with Isaac, God is asking Abraham to kill the dream. How could this possibly be? Surely, Abraham had misunderstood what God said. But, no, Abraham had completely understood what God said. God knew how much Abraham trusted Him but Abraham needed to know that as well. If God has given any of us a vision or a dream in the past and it has not yet happened, do we trust God enough to let it die? Do we trust Him to bring that vision back to life, even if it takes a miracle? The birth of Isaac was a miracle and the ram being caught in the bush was a miracle. Ah, you say, but Abraham was a chosen person, a friend of God’s. God might do that for Abraham but not for me. But, you would be wrong. We are all chosen by God and we are all friends of God. God has not changed and He is still doing miraculous things on this earth. If it takes a miracle for God to fulfill His promises to us, there are plenty of miracles left and more than sufficient power to make those miracles happen. We must believe. God does not always respond to every need, but He always responds to faith.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. — 1 Peter 2:9
24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. — Prov. 18:24
28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them,“Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
“Yes, Lord,” they replied. 29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you” — Matt. 9:28, 29
6 “I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, 8 for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me. 9 “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you.–John 17:6-9 (NLT)
From verse one of this chapter, Jesus has been talking to the Father. He has been rehearsing to the Father all that He had done in obedience to the Father. Of course, God already knew all of this. But Jesus was specifically pointing out to His Father that the disciples had now accepted the truth of His words and the truth of who He really was. Jesus was leading up to His intercessory prayer for not only His disciples but for every person that would believe in Him from then until the end of this world. Starting tomorrow, we will be looking at THE most beautiful, powerful intercessory prayer that has ever been spoken by a human. And what makes it even more meaningful is the fact that it is only an example to show us what Jesus is doing in heaven right now. 24 But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. 25 Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.—Hebrews 7:24, 25 (NLT)
Just think about that for a minute, Jesus, Himself, is praying for us right now!
“What have we to dread, what have we to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms”?*** The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you. He drives out the enemy before you; he cries out, ‘Destroy them!’ —Deuteronomy 33:27 (NLT)
***Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” words written by Elisha Hoffman, music by Anthony Showalter
28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going, but I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you should be happy that I am going back to the Father, because he is greater than I am. 29 I have told you this now, before it happens, so that when it happens, you will believe. 30 I will not talk with you much longer, because the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me, 31 but the world must know that I love the Father, so I do exactly what the Father told me to do. “Come now, let us go.—John 14:28-31(NCV)
Jesus is telling the disciples and us that He must leave but He will return one day. If Jesus doesn’t go to the Father, then the Holy Spirit will not come to abide with us. Jesus knew and understood that the time was swiftly approaching when He would not be able to see and talk to all the people that needed to hear the Good News. But the Father already had a plan in place, His Spirit would come and abide in each of us, so that none of us would ever be alone again. The Holy Spirit will teach us, lead us and prepare us for the return of our soon coming King. Jesus is also telling the disciples and us that satan is not defeating Him, but still, He must do what He must do. It has been the plan since eternity that He would be the perfect, sacrificial Lamb that would redeem fallen man. The time was quickly approaching for Jesus to complete His mission here on earth. He needed to return to the Father because He had work to do in heaven. 24 But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. 25 Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.—Hebrews 7:24, 25 (NLT)
11 After all, God’s saving kindness has appeared for the benefit of all people. 12 It trains us to avoid ungodly lives filled with worldly desires so that we can live self-controlled, moral, and godly lives in this present world. 13 At the same time we can expect what we hope for—the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 14 He gave himself for us to set us free from every sin and to cleanse us so that we can be his special people who are enthusiastic about doing good things. 15 Tell these things to the believers. Encourage and correct them, using your full authority. Don’t let anyone ignore you.—Titus 2:11-15 (GW)
The very moment that we repent and turn to Jesus for salvation, we are saved. Don’t let anyone deceive you, if you died the very moment you accepted Jesus, you would go to heaven. But for us who live, we are continually being saved as long as we walk on this earth in these tents of flesh. We are looking for the day when we will be completely saved. That is our hope and His appearance is what we are waiting for. God has given us His Spirit to train us to live godly lives so we can live self-controlled, moral lives today. Jesus died to cleanse us from all sin and make us a special people for His glory. However, you are chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, people who belong to God. You were chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God, who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.– 1 Peter 2:9 (GW)
This is our belief and our hope. We are called to stand firm, encourage and correct others. If they choose to ignore our words, they are ignoring God’s words and they do so at their own peril.