Do you remember those days where you were about to play a game and everyone had to line up and two captains would pick their teams? I think the captains picked themselves, I forget. Back and forth they went unto there were a few left and then that last person standing there feeling a lot less sure of themselves than when they first started. The picks were usually a popularity or friends vote and then a vote for skill and then a vote to fill out the rest of the team. No one really wants to get picked last, well maybe not everyone. I saw an article about the 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft. The last pick would get a new car and Ovechkin really worked hard to be that last pick but the captains were on to him. This year “the last two picks each received a 2015 Honda Accord. By selecting him third to last, they ensured Ovechkin had no chance to get some new wheels.” Well that would have made a difference on the playground for those always picked last. Sadly this popularity vote doesn’t stop on the playground but continues into adulthood. You can see this take place in the work place, politics and even in the church. Have you wondered how in the world a person is promoted to a job they are not qualified for or someone elected that will not better those around them. We see in the church that many pastors and boards are made up of the most popular and successful but not necessarily the person most suited spiritually for the position. I like the story of the Apostle Paul being voted on for a position at a church. The church responds saying “We have your application for missionary appointment before us, and will be as frank as possible concerning your qualifications as a missionary. We have to be very careful in choosing our emissaries, and our Missions Board has reviewed your case thoroughly. We have decided that it would be unwise to send you as an ambassador of our religion for the following reasons: They go on to listed pages of problems. They said He was in jail, bad speaker, preached to long, too many conflicts, troublemaker, confrontational, etc. “As you see, Mr. Paul, we feel definitely after close scrutiny of your case, that you are undoubtedly the most unqualified applicant we have ever seen, and our advice for you is to find a church where you can work in harmony. We hope we have prevented you from making a terrible mistake in your life.” Sincerely we who have no discernment! While this is intended to be humorous, the truth of the matter is there are very few Apostle Paul’s in the church. Acts 19:11 “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” Yes there are those in TV land that will sell you a piece of cloth but don’t be deceived. What Paul was doing was what the church was supposed to continue doing. No it is not because it has ceased that we don’t see it as many false prophets / teachers say as they spew their demonic doctrines to whoever will listen, but because the church turned away from God’s word. Jeremiah 23:36 “But you must not mention ‘a message from the Lord’ again, because each one’s word becomes their own message. So you distort the words of the living God, the Lord Almighty, our God.” Lamentations 2:14 “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading.” Acts 20:30 “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.”
As far as how the selection process goes, scripture tells us this selection process is no popularity vote or for that matter not even about your talent. You are really better off being that last person picked. Mark 9:35 “Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Matthew 19:29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” Jesus gave the parable of the wedding banquet for the king’s son. Many were invited but did not pay attention. After a vivid description of what the king did, Jesus said Matthew 22:14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” Jesus is calling but are you listening. John 7:37 “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.”
God does choose people for a purpose and these are not normally the person the world would choose or even the church. Take Saul who became Paul. He was highly educated and rose in the ranks. He described himself Acts 22:3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. 4 I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, 5 as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.” By those standards you could see why he excelled, that is until he met Jesus. Scripture tells us that God chose Paul for a purpose. Acts 9:15 “But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” God did not choose him because he was educated. He actually went out in the desert and God taught him His way. God then told him what he would do. Acts 26:15 “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” This is what Jesus did and was to continue in His disciples. We saw that calling in Isaiah 42:5 “This is what God the Lord says—the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: 6 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” Paul obeyed and became zealous in the right Way after he set aside the way he thought was right.
God chose Paul for a purpose just as he chose the Thessalonians who listened to Paul. This was supposed to continue. We must understand that the harvest was supposed to continue. We are predestined for a purpose and that is to bear fruit. These selections were to bear fruit. Jesus came as first fruit. 1 Corinthians 15:20 “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Romans 8:29 “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” James 1:18 “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” Paul said to the Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 2:13 “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” Because of those firstfruits the gospel rang out loud and clear. Paul said 1 Thessalonians 1:4 “For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” They chose to obey the words they were given the opportunity to hear. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.” The gospel was not supposed to change as time went by. Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” Luke 6:45 “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
This power of the gospel was to continue on from the disciples as we saw with Stephen and Philip. Jesus gave the disciples power and authority. Luke 9:1 “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 6 So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.” Then we saw this continue with other disciples. Remember the bible doesn’t talk about every disciple just as it doesn’t talk about every miracle Jesus did. John 21:25 “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” These were just the stories of two disciples who were empowered by the Holy Spirit to go. Acts 6:3 says “choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” 5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. 8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.” Notice what the church is missing! If you are still not sure that the church does not look like the church Jesus is the head of, read carefully. Acts 8:4 “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.” Notice who it was that gave approval to the stoning of Stephen; it was Paul, God’s perfect choice.
As I talked about last week, when you look at the church you see something completely different than how it is supposed to be as laid out in scripture. It seems that God’s chosen have been ignored, like Israel and appears that man has chosen the wrong people to listen to because truth has been thrown down as Daniel tells us Daniel 8:12 “Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.” Isaiah said Isaiah 59:12 “For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: 13 rebellion and treachery against the Lord, turning our backs on our God, inciting revolt and oppression, uttering lies our hearts have conceived. 14 So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. 15 Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice.” Jeremiah was told Jeremiah 5:1 “Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city. 2 Although they say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ still they are swearing falsely.” 3 Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent. 11 The people of Israel and the people of Judah have been utterly unfaithful to me,” declares the Lord. 12 They have lied about the Lord; they said, “He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine. 13 The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them; so let what they say be done to them.” Just going to church is not seeking truth, especially in this day and age. Many attend church week after week and have no idea they are been taught false gospels.
Truth is supposed to be the foundation of all we do as a church. I will refrain from too much commentary on President Trump but this is a man who cannot speak without spewing lies. It really is quit appalling to watch especially with the ease to fact check his statements with so much media coverage. He will even show you who he is and brag about it like when he broke his contract and released his 60 minute interview ahead of time. The video only shows who he is. As I said before while Trump is a malicious man, the greater evil are those in the church, leaders / pastors who endorse him as their ambassador of Christ thinking he is leading the way to the end times. The end is coming but not how they think it will be. These are your dispensational types. They forget that God puts into power and removes but it doesn’t mean that the person God empowers is a Christian who builds the kingdom of God. Remember he used the enemy to destroy the kingdom of Israel and Judah. Isaiah 10:5 “Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath!” Many leaders and pastors in the church today have no problem looking their people in the eye and lying just like Trump. They will distort the truth so that they can remain in power just as Trump is trying to do. If they are not speaking truth, they are lying. There is a purpose for it just as Trump knows there will be gullible people listening who will fall for his appalling behavior. Like Trump these church leaders have no concern for the people who are listening. We are seeing this in the United States as the pandemic rages and churches still meet by the thousands even if they have to go to court to do so. Look at how similar some of the pastors and their churches are to Trump and his crowds of followers. For the likes of Trump and these other ministers, the size of the crowds is a “show of strength and an ego boost” as one person put it. They have no concern for the people. This virus as we have seen doesn’t care if you go to church. Ezekiel 13:2 “Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the Lord! 3 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! 4 Your prophets, Israel, are like jackals among ruins. 5 You have not gone up to the breaches in the wall to repair it for the people of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the Lord. 6 Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. Even though the Lord has not sent them, they say, “The Lord declares,” and expect him to fulfill their words. 7 Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, “The Lord declares,” though I have not spoken? 10 “‘Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, 11 therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. 12 When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with? 13 Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury. 14 I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the Lord. 15 So I will pour out my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, “The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it, 16 those prophets of Israel who prophesied to Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her when there was no peace, declares the Sovereign Lord.”’
God still calls his servants to proclaim the true gospel. His servants are supposed to be the church. As the church we are called to be bearers of the truth. These verses should represent the church. Malachi 2:5 “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. 7 For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth.” We must follow in Jesus footsteps and proclaim truth. John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 3:21 “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 7:18 “Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.” Jesus told the Jews John 8:44 “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” We must hold onto the truth so that we will be free. John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth.” Without the Spirit of truth we cannot follow truth, we will be deceived just as Jesus warned us not be.
There is so much in scripture talking about truth obviously because Jesus represents truth and scripture is His words. God’s chosen will be truth seekers and truth proclaimers. As we read, John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” When we reject the words of truth, we reject Jesus. Romans 2:8 “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” Paul describes these people who are 2 Timothy 3:7 “always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.” This revealing of folly is described in Isaiah 44:24 “I am the Lord, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself, 25 who foils the signs of false prophets and makes fools of diviners, who overthrows the learning of the wise and turns it into nonsense, 26 who carries out the words of his servants and fulfills the predictions of his messengers.” In the end liars do not get away with their falsehoods. Proverbs 26:23 “Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart. 24 Enemies disguise themselves with their lips, but in their hearts they harbor deceit. 25 Though their speech is charming, do not believe them, for seven abominations fill their hearts. 26 Their malice may be concealed by deception, but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.” Psalm 63:11 “But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God will glory in him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced.” As a warning to false teachers Paul said 1 Timothy 1:8 “We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.” Revelation 21:8 “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
There are far to many in the church today willing to lie to promote themselves as chosen by God, kind of like the self-appointed captains in the playground. Yes there are those who will lie to cover up their own sins but there are many more who stand in the pulpits lying to their congregations week after week proclaiming false / other gospels all the while thinking they are being blessed by God but in the end Jesus will say I don’t know you. We have been called to be truth seekers, truth bearers and truth proclaimers and it better be all centered on Jesus. 1 Peter 2:9 “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.” So what does it mean to be chosen? The definition of chosen is “selected from or preferred above others.” So you think back to the schoolyard and that would apply. If you were chosen last, you were the least preferred. Or you could use another definition that states “one who is the object of choice or of divine favor: an elect person.” That church definition can get you into a heap of trouble if you are not careful as those in the church will think about predestination. I heard one minister preaching to his congregation that some in church that Sunday had not been chosen for eternal life but just keep coming anyways. I always like to ask the question how does the person at the front saying that, know they have been chosen. He is not going to tell you I am not chosen but I am going to keep preaching anyways. While the bible does talk about the elect, you have to be very careful where you go with this topic. While some will say some are chosen for hell and others for heaven the bible makes it clear there is much more to it than that as belief and unbelief pay a huge role in the outcome. Jesus said Matthew 25:46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” for what they did or didn’t do. While many teach they have been predestined and there is nothing they can do to loose their salvation, they need to read scripture and see all the examples of those who were chosen who did not make it. 2 Peter 3:17 “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.” You are secure if you follow wholeheartedly. What were they warned about? Peter says, 2 Peter 3:6 “He (Paul) writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
All through scripture we see those who were chosen for a task. Way back in Genesis we saw Abraham selected for a purpose. Genesis 18:19 “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” Exodus 31:1 “Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. 6 Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you.” You also saw them tell the people to stop bringing their offerings because they had too much. These were people who were willing. God chose Saul to be the first King. 1 Samuel 9:17 “When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the Lord said to him, “This is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people.” When Saul turned away from God, God had chosen David to replace him. 1 Samuel 16:1 “The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” Now here we are at the playground again. 6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord. 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have? “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” 13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.” David got more than a new car; he received a kingdom and a promise that would last forever.
We also saw this selection process with Joseph. God chose Joseph out of the brothers for His purpose. Genesis 37:10 “When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.” We saw how God chooses when he chose the disciples. Acts 4:13 “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” He also chose Paul and empowered him greatly Acts 7:57 “At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 22:14 “Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15 You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” Ananias was told Acts 9:11 “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” Later (Saul) Paul said Galatians 1:13 “For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus. 18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. 21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.” Jeremiah was called by God Jeremiah 1:4 “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Ezekiel was set apart and chosen as a watchman Ezekiel 33:7 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.” God even chose women who at the time had no respect or voice to proclaim the greatest event anyone had ever seen. They were the first to proclaim the gospel message, He is risen! Luke 24:1 “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words. 9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.” Jesus rebuked the disciples for their unbelief.
All throughout scripture we see how God has chosen His servants to proclaim His words and He continues to do this today. While so few are listening to the call to attend the banquet, God sends out His prophets to proclaim the word of the Lord. Ezekiel was told Ezekiel 3:11 “Go now to your people in exile and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen.” No, this isn’t in addition to His words but His very words, the ones already written down that the church refuses to hear. 2 Kings 17:22 “The Israelites persisted in all the sins of Jeroboam and did not turn away from them 23 until the Lord removed them from his presence, as he had warned through all his servants the prophets.” We then see how the church was designed. How God chose people to build His church. Ephesians 4:11 “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”
Yes God chooses those to go out so that many will hear. As a nation God did this with Israel as they were supposed to be His prophets to go out and proclaim the truth. Abraham was given a promise Genesis 22:17 “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” They went from a few to as many as the sands on the seashore. Deuteronomy 10:22 “Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.” Psalm 105:12 “When they were but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it, 13 they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another. 14 He allowed no one to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings: 15 “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.” Deuteronomy 7:6 “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” Deuteronomy 18:5 “for the Lord your God has chosen them and their descendants out of all your tribes to stand and minister in the Lord’s name always.” They were supposed to 1 Chronicles 16:23 “Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. 24 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.” So God chose His people and then chose the land he promised to give them. Deuteronomy 31:23 “The Lord gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: “Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you.” Just as he gave them the land, God also gave them a leader to take them there. Joshua 3:7 “And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.” Joshua 4:14 “That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him all the days of his life, just as they had stood in awe of Moses.
So yes God chooses people to lead and he chose a nation to be His prophets to proclaim the name of the Lord to all nations. When God gave them the land, the nations were terrified. Rahab said to the spies Joshua 2:9 “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” Unfortunately Israel did not have that same king of fear in God nor did they trust His word. Joshua was told Joshua 1:2 “Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.” This was to keep going but Israel and Judah disobeyed his word and were vomited out of the land and taken captive with only a remnant left.
All throughout the Old Testament we see prophecy of a new people being chosen to carry on what Israel started. This would be the church of Jesus Christ. Joel 2:28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. 30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. 32 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.” Peter said Acts 2:16 “No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.” God no longer lived in a temple built by human hands but lived among us by His Spirit. He would empower His people just as he promised to do for Israel but like Israel we must obey. Israel was Deuteronomy 14:2 “a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession,” but now everything changed when Jesus came to us and the church became a special possession. 1 Peter 2:9 “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.” So we went from a single nation to the whole world having the opportunity to become a holy nation. 1 Corinthians 12:13 “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” The church then became a chosen people and like Joel said everyone who called on the name of the Lord would be saved. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” He gave everyone a choice to believe or not. Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” The disciples were told Luke 24:47 “repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” You really don’t need to preach or believe or even be clothed with power if you have been given no choice. When Paul talked to the Holy people at Colossae He said, Colossians 1:3 “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Just as Paul was sent out to rescue people, the church as a holy nation has been sent out. We see here how some are called to go and then people listen to them Ephesians 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Colossians 3:2 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Jesus would never have warned us not to be deceived or said only a few would make it or stand firm if there was no chance of ever falling away. If we stay true to God’s word, we are invincible but if you turn from His word you will be spewed out of His mouth. Just as Adam and Eve, Israel and Judah had to obey, so must the church.
I have heard people say that you have nothing to do with your Christianity because they are so afraid of saying there is works to it. No you can’t work your way into heaven but there is works. James has a lot to say about this. James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 2:14 “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. 20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. Philippians 2:12 “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life.” All these people who are not holding firmly are not blameless and pure. Those who have been deceived because they listened to false prophets will not hear well-done good and faithful servant. We are told to stand firm for a reason because the enemy is trying to destroy you. 1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” Jesus warned us not to be deceived. Listening to false prophets and teachers deceives you.
Just as the Levites were called to stand before the Lord, the church must also stand before Him. We would do well to listen to these instructions by Hezekiah 2 Chronicles 29:5 “Listen to me, Levites! Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove all defilement from the sanctuary. 6 Our parents were unfaithful; they did evil in the eyes of the Lord our God and forsook him. They turned their faces away from the Lord’s dwelling place and turned their backs on him. 7 They also shut the doors of the portico and put out the lamps. They did not burn incense or present any burnt offerings at the sanctuary to the God of Israel. 8 Therefore, the anger of the Lord has fallen on Judah and Jerusalem; he has made them an object of dread and horror and scorn, as you can see with your own eyes. 9 This is why our fathers have fallen by the sword and why our sons and daughters and our wives are in captivity. 10 Now I intend to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us. 11 My sons, do not be negligent now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and to burn incense.” Then as a church we need to listen to Hezekiah’s message to the people. 2 Chronicles 30:6 “People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. 8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. 9 If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”
The church is called to be a holy people. 1 Corinthians 1:2 “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours.” We like Paul are “to be set apart for the gospel of God,” The church is one nation made up of may nationalities. Galatians 3:26 “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Isn’t it odd to see churches who have different services for different nationalities? Ephesians 4:4 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” We are to go to the ends of the earth with the gospel message. 2 Corinthians 4:1 “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” As Paul said to the Thessalonians, 1 Thessalonians 1:4 “For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13 “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” Then they went out with the exact same message. 1 Thessalonians 1:8 “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere.” Think about how many people have now read this message of firstfruits. Those called go out and those who listen as firstfruits also go out and so on and so on and so but not in their own strength or power. To defeat the prince of this world we must have the power only Jesus can authorize us to have. Hebrews 2:4 “God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” Mark 16:20 “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”
When you look back to Isaiah, we can see that Israel was called to be a mighty nation but we can also see that the church was to continue in that calling because of the covenant with Abraham and the promise to David. Isaiah 41:8 “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, 9 I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. 10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 11 “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. 12 Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. 13 For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. 14 Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 42:42 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” Isaiah 44:1 “But now listen, Jacob, my servant, Israel, whom I have chosen. 2 This is what the Lord says— he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. 3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. 21 “Remember these things, Jacob, for you, Israel, are my servant. I have made you, you are my servant; Israel, I will not forget you. 22 I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” 23 Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.” Isaiah 49:5 “And now the Lord says—he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength—6 he says: It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” 7 This is what the Lord says—the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel— to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: “Kings will see you and stand up, princes will see and bow down, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
There is absolutely nothing that can stand against us if we would return to God. Yes the world will hate us just as they hated Jesus but that’s okay as Jesus said he would always be with us but we must obey. Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” John 15:19 “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” It was the Jews who crucified Jesus. Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” Yes the world will hate you but so will those who do not follow God’s word as they should. The church is shouting Isaiah 30:11 “Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” Job 21:14 “they say to God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways.” But for the true church, at this point the remnant, the world is ours for the taking. The church was supposed to change the world not be like it. Revelation 12:10 “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah.” John 12:31 “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.” 1 John 3:8 “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” Revelation 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” This is what this Holy nation the church was to continue to do. We were supposed to go out in power and authority of Jesus name. John 14:12 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
Picture with me the church operating with the power from on high, with all the gifts and fruits of the Spirit in full operation. Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
1 Corinthians 12:7 “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” If you can’t picture that then read the gospels and Acts. Here is one example. Matthew 8:16 “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.” The devil already knows what this looks like and he is fearful which is why he is working hard to destroy us. Revelation 12:12 “He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” We are told Psalm 81:13 “If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, 14 how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes! 15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever.” But instead the church would rather do what their hands can make. This only makes satan smile. In this same Psalm we were warned, Psalm 81:8 “Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—if you would only listen to me, Israel! 9 You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than me. 10 I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. 11 “But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. 12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.” If only we would listen and turn from our wicked ways we would speed the day of God. 2 Peter 3:8 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” I included this admonition from Peter again as many in the church distort Paul’s writing, so we must be very careful and test the spirits.
We are supposed to be a holy people. We speed the end and His coming by being a holy people. 1 Peter 1:14 “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” The church is supposed to be a light in this dark world. Peter said do not conform to the evil desires you had. Paul said 1 Corinthians 6:9 “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” This means the church had and should have power to change people. We are supposed to Luke 4:18 “proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” What we have instead is the church group of people using toy guns against Navy seals using real weapons. We were told Isaiah 54:17 “no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me, declares the Lord.” That is if you obey as Deuteronomy tells us. Deuteronomy 28:7 “The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.” If you disobey 25 “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth.” The enemy is decimating the church because of our disobedience.
The good news is our enemy’s time is up. Daniel 7:21 “As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.” Daniel 8:25 “He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.” Revelation 19:19 “After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 2 for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” Revelation 17:14 “They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” Deuteronomy 28:9 “The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him.” Isaiah 62:12 “They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.”
If you have heard the truth, then choose wisely and obey it. Not only are you chosen, you must choose to follow. Israel was chosen but refused to follow. We are given this choice. Moses said, Deuteronomy 30:15 “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods (false gospels) and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Joshua said Joshua 24:4 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Hebrews 3:6 “But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory. 7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. 10 That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” 12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” 16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” Ezekiel 33:11 “Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?”
So we pray with the Apostle Paul Ephesians 1:17 “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Choose wisely!