Tag Archive: Sin


PRESSING INTO FEARFUL PLACES
by Carter Conlon

The book of Second Kings speaks of a time when the Syrian army surrounded Samaria in the northern part of Israel and cut off the city’s food supply. This resulted in an intense famine in the land, bringing people to a point of such desperation that they resorted to cannibalism.

Have you ever noticed that when things go wrong, people tend to blame God and His people? That is exactly what happened in this case. The king of Israel became infuriated at the prophet Elisha, threatening to take off his head because of the unspeakable hardship that had come upon the city. By the time the king appeared before Elisha, he was so weak that he had to lean on the messenger who was with him.

The word of God then came to them through Elisha: “Thus saith the Lord, Tomorrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria” (2 Kings 7:1). In other words, within twenty-four hours, provision would be available at such a cheap price that everybody would be able to afford it. There would be a supply beyond their wildest imagination! Yet, what was the servant’s response to this incredible news? “Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof” (2 Kings 7:2).

What a tragedy! Can you think of a more pitiful spiritual condition than seeing the provision of God right before your eyes but not being able to partake of it? That is exactly what unbelief does. It locks us out of the incredible provision of God.

Imagine, for example, that you were given a free ticket to one of the finest restaurants in town. You have the privilege of going in and ordering anything on the menu that you would like. The food is delicious beyond belief and will surely satisfy your deepest hunger. So you go down to the restaurant and stand on the street corner, peering through the window. You see all the people eating inside, and indeed the food looks good. But you are still on the other side of the window.

Somehow it is a strange affliction of humanity that we just cannot bring ourselves to go into unfamiliar places. Instead, we begin to think of all the reasons why we cannot go in and claim what was freely put into our hands. Will I be embarrassed when it becomes obvious that I have never been in a place like this before? What if I get inside and nobody serves me? What if I find out my ticket is not valid? How will I pay? And so we remain on the outside, looking in.

OUTSIDE OF THE PROMISED LAND
Sadly, that is how many people approach the Scriptures. They see what God says in His Word, they can quote His promises, they can sing about His faithfulness—but the question is, do they truly believe what He spoke? Oftentimes a deep, embedded fear remains in their heart, so they come up with a myriad reasons as to why they cannot claim the inheritance of God.

We find a similar response in the book of Numbers when Moses commissioned twelve men to spy out the Promised Land. “And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs…And they returned from searching of the land after forty days. And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel…and brought back word unto them…and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there” (Numbers 13:23–28).

The spies came back and essentially said, “What God said is true. We saw the provision, and indeed it is a land that flows with milk and honey!” However, not only did they see this incredible provision, they also saw the walled cities, the weaponry, the sons of the giants. As a result, ten of the spies focused on all the reasons why this Promised Land could not be theirs.

Now I want you to draw a parallel to the way we read the Word of God. You and I are always faced with a choice. We can see God’s provision and say, “Yes, it is there. It is true, and it is mine. I am going in to get my full inheritance!” Or we can stand there and say, “I see it; God’s promises are clear. But my parents told me I was useless. My teacher said I would never amount to anything. I don’t have much of an education. God, You know I am facing the giants. I see Your promises, but can’t I just admire them from afar? Surely You understand how limited my strength is and how big the obstacles are. Are You really offended if I choose to stay on the street and just look in the window?”

IT HAS ALREADY BEEN PAID FOR
Years ago, I received a complimentary dinner for four to one of the finest restaurants in the city. I saved it and took my father and mother there for their fiftieth anniversary. The maitre d’ sat us in one of the best booths, and we were presented with a menu offering an extensive array of dishes, listed at incredible prices.

When it came time to order, the poor waiter almost choked when my father said, “I would like a hamburger patty, mashed potatoes and gravy, and no vegetables.” My father was a miner, so he was accustomed to eating that way and was somewhat fearful of change. I remember how flustered he got when the waiter broke the news to him that they didn’t serve hamburger patties there.

How many of us do the very same thing, despite the fact that the Lord has set an incredible “menu” before us? “I’ll have a hamburger patty, please,” we say, when God says we can be an evangelist. God offers us the privilege of daily partaking of His very own life; of being led to places that are beyond the familiar; of experiencing something that is deeper than anything we have ever known. It is all available as part of our inheritance in Christ.

Jesus once told His disciples, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you” (John 16:12–15).

Jesus was saying, “The Holy Spirit is going to come to you; He will take what is Mine and show it to you because it is yours!” We now know that Jesus was referring to all that was purchased on the cross of Calvary. In other words, “I am giving you a ticket to everything that I have bought for you on the cross. I am giving you entrance into the victory that I won; every promise in the Bible is yours. The freedom, the vision, the healing, the supernatural empowerment of God to do the impossible—it is all yours!” However, although this is freely available to us as the children of God, we still must press in to lay hold of it.

LAYING HOLD OF GOD’S PROVISION
Continuing from our opening text in Second Kings, we see that the day did come when God made provision available, thus fulfilling the word He had spoken through the prophet Elisha. How exactly did He do it?

It all began with four lepers sitting outside the city gate finally coming to the conclusion, “Well, there’s no point in staying here! We are going to starve. We might as well go into the camp of the Syrians” (see 2 Kings 7:3–4). As the four of them headed down toward the enemy’s camp, the Lord made their footsteps sound like an approaching army, striking such fear into the Syrian army that they immediately fled. When the lepers arrived at the camp, they could barely believe what they saw—food everywhere, campfires still burning, horses still tied to their posts. Everything their hearts desired was right there before them!

Moved with compassion, the lepers gave word to the city’s gatekeepers about their discovery, and provision was eventually unlocked to the entire city. “And the people went out, and spoiled the tents of the Syrians. So a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the Lord. And the king appointed the lord on whose hand he leaned to have the charge of the gate: and the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died, as the man of God had said, who spake when the king came down to him” (2 Kings 7:16–17). The king’s servant, the one who hesitated and refused to believe the word of the Lord, was run over and trampled to death. May that never become the story of any of the King’s servants today!

On the other hand, we see that a group of people pressed through to this promise of provision—just as multitudes have done over the years. Think about all who have pressed in and found the power of God—the weak who have been made strong; those who couldn’t put two words together who went on to become great preachers of the gospel; those who were once despairing and ended up bringing hope to others!

Even the early church, as frail and feeble as you and I, walked into the camp of Jesus’ victory and found incredible provision. Those 120 disciples must have been aware that stepping out of that Upper Room could have meant death for some of them. Nevertheless, they were willing to press in to that fearful place. They knew that something had been purchased for them on the cross, and they were determined to get it. The words that Jesus had spoken to them must have come back to their mind—that the Comforter was going to come to them, take the victory that Christ won, and show it to them because it was theirs for the asking.

I can picture these men and women rising up to possess what was theirs, as if they were walking straight into the Promised Land. They went in to lay hold of the resources of God that they needed—boldness, love, a willingness to lay down their lives, if necessary, for the sake of His glory. And when they came out of that Upper Room, the disciples were clothed in righteousness and the power of God. They had new minds, courage in place of fear, vision where they once saw only their own frailty. As they stepped out into the public sphere, the 120, gripped by the power of God, overthrew the whole known world of their time. Even Peter, who had previously denied Jesus out of fear, preached a sermon that moved at least three thousand people to give their lives to Christ. This early church had clearly taken possession of their inheritance of the incredible provision of God!

GET UP AND GO IN
The good news that I have for you today is: Nothing has changed! The provision of God is still available; the Promised Land in Christ is still ours. The strength and ability of God to take us into His life is still there. The only thing that we have to face is fear—the fear of change, the fear of rejection, the fear of God calling us to an arena that we are not familiar with. But that is what faith is all about. Faith does not take us to where we are comfortable or can manage in our own strength. No! Faith takes us to places where only faith can sustain us.

You and I must have a willingness to press in to these fearful places. Perhaps the fearful place for you means getting out of a cocoon of security or out of a relationship that you know is wrong. It may simply begin by getting out of where you shouldn’t be so that you can get to where you should be. Whatever the case, we must get to the point in our lives where we say, “Enough staring in the window, I am going in the door. I don’t care what people think. I have a paid ticket to the provision of God, so I am going in. I am going to sit at the finest table, and I am going to order everything on the menu!”

That is who we are in Christ, and we must not settle for less in this hour! This generation deserves to have a glorious Church; this generation deserves to have a witness and a testimony—a people who have pressed in to fearful places and laid hold of the strength of God in Jesus Christ. It is time we rise up and say, “I am not settling for mediocrity when God has called me to glorify the Name of Jesus Christ on the earth. I am not going to let the devil destroy my family when God said that if I believe, not only I but my household would be saved; that if I fear the Lord and walk in His commandments, my seed would be mighty on the earth. I am not settling for less than my inheritance. I am going to press in by faith and prayer, knowing that everything in this Bible is mine!”

As you make the choice to press in to these fearful places, people’s futures will be changed. There will be people at the throne of God who will put their arms around your neck and say, “Thank you for standing up in the workplace. I would not have known Christ if you hadn’t. Thank you for coming to me in my poverty. Thank you for being a visible demonstration of God to me!”

So get up and go in—that was the message of Elisha, and that is the word of the Lord to you today. Get up and go in, for there is a miraculous life available to all who are willing to claim it. Hallelujah!

Carter Conlon
©2013 Times Square Church

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“Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
“Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

“And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:1–11).

Forgiveness—that is what this story is all about. How important is forgiveness? Well, very simply, without it we are not saved. It is conclusive in the Scriptures that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We have fallen short of who we were created to be, of how God designed our lives to be lived, of what kind of testimony we should have here on earth. We are truly amazed when we come to a place of understanding the depths of our sin yet recognize how God, in His mercy, chose through His Son to forgive us.

Forgiveness is also directly linked with mountain-moving faith. Jesus once told His disciples, “…Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe…he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore…What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:23–25). Jesus was saying, “I am willing to give you faith that can move mountains—all those things that stand before you and hinder what your life is destined to be. Whatever you are lacking, I will supply. But when you come to Me, if you have anything in your heart against others, forgive them, that your Father in heaven may forgive your trespasses.”

It is clear that without forgiveness, we cannot remain in the life flow of the blessing of God. Jesus went on to say, “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:26). That does not mean that you lose your salvation every time you struggle with unforgiveness, for it is a struggle that no one is immune to. However, it does mean that when we harbor unforgiveness in our hearts, a sense of well-being is lost. That life flow and ability to hear from God becomes hindered because ultimately the kingdom of God is all about forgiveness.

AN OUTWARD DISPLAY
Picture for a moment the scene in our opening text: Jesus is sitting in the temple teaching the people when suddenly in bursts some scribes and Pharisees. Keep in mind that the scribes and Pharisees were the keepers of the law—the ones who were supposed to represent the testimony of God in the earth. To their credit, they started out with the desire to preserve the Word of God. Fearing that it might eventually devolve into something other than what God had originally meant, they set out to be purists. They intended to guard the Word and to exemplify what was written in the text of Scriptures that they had up until that time. However, they ended up being more of an example of how religious zeal and incomplete obedience to the full revelation of God in the Scriptures can leave people bearing very little resemblance to Jesus.

Into the midst of the crowd they came, bringing a woman who was of the family of faith but who obviously had fallen and failed. Casting her down at the feet of Jesus, they said, “This woman claims to belong to the family of Abraham, part of the seed of God’s testimony on earth, but we caught her in the very act of adultery. Our Scripture says that she should be condemned and stoned to death. What do you say, Jesus?” The Word says that they asked this question in order to test Jesus and have reason to accuse Him. Ironically, they were quoting the Word of God, but they were arguing with the author—trying to tell Him what He meant when He wrote the Book.

Consider as well the outward appearance of the scribes and Pharisees in this whole scene. They would have been spit-and-polished, with everything pristine—their garments pressed with precision, the borders of their sleeves and skirts measured to exactly the right length. They had prayer shawls over their shoulders and prayer beads attached to their sides so that they would be known as people of prayer. Standing there adorned with all of this paraphernalia, they also had one more thing—they had stones in their hands. Or at least they had stones very close at hand, ready to condemn anyone who failed to meet their religious ideals.

REWRITING THE SCENE
Now contrast this to Jesus, who, according to Scripture, identified with the common man. He was made in our likeness, He took upon Himself our frailty, and He understands our weaknesses. He had no outward display—no symbols of prayer and obedience—except the manifestation of the full power and purpose of God.

As a carpenter’s son, Jesus likely wore regular workman’s garments. There was probably dirt around His knees since He had stooped down to write on the ground with His finger. Although we do not know exactly what He wrote, we do know that it stung the conscience of the religious but gave hope to a woman who had fallen. In other words, Jesus rewrote a scene of judgment and death into a place of forgiveness and hope. He rewrote this woman’s future—perhaps giving her the reassurance that her past as well as present frailties were still covered by the mercy of God, for she knew she was a sinner in need of a Savior. On the other hand, those standing by with the stones had long lost the understanding that they themselves were outside of the kingdom of God, having failed to represent His heart of mercy.

Jesus could not have rewritten this moment in history if He, too, had been holding stones. The same holds true for you and me. If we are found with stones in our hands, we will not have any power to make a difference or to rewrite the future; we will be unable to represent God in our generation. After all, how can we represent a kingdom that is established on a foundation stone of forgiveness if there is unforgiveness in our hearts? It is simply not possible, which is why we must come to a place of total forgiveness. Of course, this is never easy. It means that we must learn to overcome grievances that have been learned or personally experienced—sometimes deeply embedded over the course of our lifetime.

HOW TO LET GO
I remember a time when I was betrayed by somebody whom I loved and trusted. The betrayal was so deep in my heart that it took me about a year to get over it. I cannot tell you how many times I went before God and said, “Lord, I am not even at forgiveness yet—I am dealing with trying not to hate somebody. You have to help me.” No matter how many times I attempted to put those stones down, my hands simply would not let them go. If I succeeded in throwing them down for a moment, it was as if a bungee cord was attached to them, and they eventually bounced right back up into my hands again.

Nevertheless, I persisted in the battle, not willing to be a hypocrite in the kingdom of God. I found myself in the same place over and over, praying the same kinds of prayers, until one day, the Lord spoke to my heart: “Here’s how to do it. Turn your hands over and let Me take the stones away.” I realized at that moment that it was impossible for me to put them down in my own strength. Only the Lord could take away the stones, and I found that He was willing to do it.

The Scriptures speak of another man who had stones in his hands. He dwelt in the mountains and in the tombs—one is a high place and the other is as about as low as you can go on the earth (see Mark 5:1–5). However, instead of casting his stones at other people, he was cutting himself with them. It is a picture of a person who hates himself for what he has done and for what he is becoming. Just like the Pharisees, this man needed the courage to say, “Jesus, take these stones from my hands.”

Likewise, many Christians today are unwilling to forgive themselves for the things they have done in the past. Although the Lord has cleansed them, they persist in calling themselves unclean. God alone can give them the grace to let go of the past—to release the stones from their hands.

REPRESENTING CHRIST IN THE DAYS AHEAD
Without forgiveness at the core of our being, we can talk about Jesus, but we cannot represent Him. People who merely talk about Jesus become concerned solely about the exterior—about their own reputation, about being called, “Teacher, Teacher” and having the best seats at banquets (see Matthew 23:6–7). These things become the whole focus of their life. The people who truly represent Jesus are the ones bending down, writing in the sand. They are rewriting into people’s lives the mercies of Almighty God, no matter what they have done or how they have fallen.

I believe very soon many prodigals will be returning to the house of God—men and women who perhaps gave their lives to Christ when they were young, yet somehow ended up on a wrong path. They took the life of Christ and went far beyond the borders of where they should have been living—but not beyond the reaches of God’s love. And now the Lord is giving His church the opportunity to represent Him, offering these people hope for the present and rewriting their future. Just as the father welcomed the prodigal son when he came home, we can put our arms around others, covering their failures and empowering them to become everything that God is calling them to be. We can put a robe over their shoulders, shoes on their feet, and invite them to join us on the journey. But before we can do this, we must put down our stones.

I don’t know about you, but I do not want to misrepresent Christ in this world. Yet if I am ever going to err, let it be on the side of mercy. Let it be mercy that rewrites my life and the life of everybody God desires to touch through me. I want to be a bridge builder, not a bridge destroyer. I want to see the church come to life once again in our generation—every race, every nationality, every denomination coming together as one body in Jesus Christ for this final moment of time. This means that all of us must drop our stones—denominational stones, racial stones, all the grievances that we have been holding on to. By the grace of God, we must be willing to stoop down, get our hands and knees dirty, and start rewriting the future in people’s lives.

It all begins by holding up our hands and saying, “Jesus, take the stones from my hands. I know that I do not have a right to carry these, but I cannot put them down. You have to take them from me.” Remember, Jesus is not angry with your frailty or your struggle. All He is asking is that you simply turn your hands over and trust Him. Trust Him to take away any unforgiveness in your heart, any self-condemnation, any inner judgments that you may not even be aware of. It is God alone who can help you to forgive and bring you into this place of mercy and faith that He speaks of. It is God alone who can enable you to stop beating yourself for your past failures.

If we do not come to God and allow Him to take away these grievances now, as the body of Christ we are going to be swallowed by the evil of this generation. After all, it is clear that we are living in an hour when society is becoming increasingly divided and civility has practically gone out the window. This comes as no surprise, for Jesus warned that in the last days, nation will rise against nation (see Matthew 24:7). In the original Greek, this means that ethnic culture will rise against ethnic culture. In other words, the world will be marked by bitter divisions and hatred. Yet in the midst of this, you and I cannot be found like the rest of society. If we end up embracing any part of this system that is throwing stones at each other, we will no longer represent the Christ who went to a cross. Let everyone else do the judging, but we are called to live by a higher law—the love of God, the mercy of God and the forgiveness of God in Christ Jesus. It is the willingness to embrace what we would not naturally embrace; the willingness to call “clean” what others regard as unclean; the willingness to receive with hope
what others would call failed.

There is no other gospel that will change the hearts of men. It is not our garments, it is not our Scripture memorization, it is not our big Bibles —it is the love and mercy of God in our hearts that will make the difference. It is time to allow Jesus to take the stones out of our hands so that we can truly represent Him in this generation. As we learn to forgive, and as we are willing to stoop down and identify with people who the whole religious scene is about to write off in their ignorance, I believe there will be a harvest of souls in this generation beyond anything we ever could have imagined. Hallelujah!

Carter Conlon
©2012 Times Square Church

Much of the church in our generation seems to have been on a never-ending pursuit of God—only to emerge with little fruit to show for it. As a result, I believe a cry has come into the hearts of many of God’s people today: “I have sought God in the only way that I know, the only way I have been taught. I have tried to find Him in all the places they said He was, but I could never seem to lay hold of Him. I feel like the psalmist who cried out, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?’ (Psalms 22:1–2). I cry, but it is as if God does not hear me. Why?”

Suddenly it seems all our religious activity has come to a screeching halt, and we realize that despite all our seeking of God, we still fail to impact our society the way the church of Jesus Christ ought to. Now we finally have the sense to stop and ask the question: Lord, why have we been seeking You but You have not been answering us? I believe something within the story of Saul and David answers this question. Let’s look at the relationship between them as a type of your and my relationship with Jesus Christ.

SAUL AND DAVID
Although he was king over the nation of Israel and master of his own destiny, Saul eventually came up against an enemy that he instinctively knew was too strong for him (see 1 Samuel 17). He and all the people under his leadership stood trembling before a Philistine giant named Goliath. In the midst of his dilemma, David, a type of Christ, came to Saul with words of courage and faith: “Do not fear. I am going to go fight this battle for you, and I am going to win” (see 1 Samuel 17:32, 37).

Saul ended up embracing what appeared to be a foolish battle plan. A young boy filled with a heart of faith and a desire to see God glorified in the earth went out to fight for him. It was a battle plan that Saul would not have considered had he remained strong in himself. Similarly, if we have the courage to admit it, we would not have considered Christ if we had not eventually come to recognize our inability to win our battles in our own strength.

David went into the valley and decapitated the power of the enemy’s army. Saul soon found himself in hot pursuit of the enemy although he was actually getting the spoils of another man’s victory. When you and I embraced the cross, we too, entered into a power and victory that was not our own. It was Jesus Christ who won the battle over the powers of darkness. It was Jesus who unlocked our prison doors, brought healing to our wounded hearts and gave sight to our blinded eyes.

After this great victory, Saul took David home and made him a part of his household (see 1 Samuel 18:2). Similarly, when we came to Christ, we didn’t leave Him at church. We took Him home just as Saul took David home. David sat at Saul’s table, just as you have Jesus at your table when you open the Bible and spend time with Him.

Saul also benefitted from David’s skillful musicianship (see 1 Samuel 16:16–23). The Bible doesn’t specify, but it is likely that a spirit of worship coming from David’s heart as he played on that harp caused an evil spirit which was troubling Saul to let go of him. Today we have the assurance that the Lord “…will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). Perhaps there have been days when you felt heavy and oppressed, and your mind seemed to be caught in a tangled web of attacks. Yet after worshiping, you found that your mind was suddenly clear and that this evil had lost its hold.

In many ways, we find ourselves in a place very similar to where Saul was in his relationship with David. Eventually, however, something happened that began to separate the two of them. Likewise, I believe that in our generation, something has begun to separate Christ from His church. If we are wise, we will stop and consider: What happened in this relationship between Saul and David?

THE TURNING POINT
“And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music. And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom? And Saul eyed David from that day and forward” (1 Samuel 18:6–9).

Here is the key: Up until this point, Saul was still in control of his own life, and David was merely a wonderful addition to his kingdom. This is exactly how many people regard Jesus Christ today, which is not surprising since that is the way He has been portrayed in much of the preaching of our generation. Add Jesus to your plans, add Him to your career, add Him to your self-image. Just add Jesus! He is the power of God and will make a wonderful addition to your kingdom.

Things took a turn in their relationship when one day it dawned on Saul: David was increasing and he was decreasing. Remember, John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” Suddenly Saul realized, “Wait, David hasn’t come to be a wonderful addition to my kingdom—he has come to be the next king!” From hat day forward, Saul gathered his men and began to pursue David.

Most people do not have a problem adding Jesus to their agenda, but the thought of His becoming king and their becoming His subjects is where the real struggle begins. One day they realize the Lord is asking something of them that does not agree with their plans, and they suddenly find themselves at a juncture. Unfortunately many people, just like Saul, refuse to yield the throne. Of course, very few would have the courage to openly admit, “I am walking away from Jesus,” so they continue their pursuit of Christ. However, the pursuit is now only for the purpose of validating a throne they refuse to yield—an attempt to get the Lord to agree with their own personal agenda.

A FUTILE PURSUIT
“And the Ziphites came unto Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself in the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon? Then Saul arose, and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, having three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph” (1 Samuel 26:1–2).

What a classic picture of the type of pursuit of God so common in our generation! Saul would receive a report about where David was, and then with three thousand of his men, he would set off to find him. When the search failed, another report came and off they would go in another direction. Yet in this whole pursuit, he was never able to find David. How frustrating it must have been to always come back empty and seeming like less of a king than when he had set out—a sentiment shared by many today as they return home empty after attending the latest conference or supposed manifestation of Christ.

At one point in the pursuit, David and his servant Abishai had entered the very camp where Saul and his armies were sleeping. “So David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul’s bolster; and they gat them away, and no man saw it, nor knew it, neither awaked: for they were all asleep; because a deep sleep from the Lord was fallen upon them” (1 Samuel 26:12). David took Saul’s spear—a symbol of his strength and ability to make war. He also took Saul’s water bottle, which is the replenishment of God. In the New Testament, this is the spring of living water that Christ promises to those who truly belong to Him.

After they had climbed a hill opposite Saul’s camp and were a safe distance away, David called over to Saul: “Do not let my blood fall to the earth before the face of the Lord. For the king of Israel has come out to seek a flea, as when one hunts a partridge in the mountains” (1 Samuel 26:20, NKJV). David was essentially saying, “You are seeking me, but you cannot find me. It is as if you are hunting a flea or a partridge in the mountains.” Did you know that a partridge can camouflage itself? It may be a foot away from you, yet it can make itself the same color as the leaves and you will easily walk right past it. David continued to call over to Saul, “…Behold the king’s spear! And let one of the young men come over and fetch it” (1 Samuel 26:22). In other words, “We are a mountain apart, but here it is if you want it. Send one of the young men over to fetch it.” If only Saul had possessed a measure of humility in his heart at that point and said, “No, David, I am the one who should have been guarding it. I will come and get it.” It was a wonderful opportunity for Saul to humble himself—a moment that could have made a difference in history. In a sense, he would have been bowing his knee before the real king.

Now consider this scene again, keeping in mind David as the Christ-type and Saul as a type of what the church has become after walking in the stubbornness of our own ways. In our spiritual slumber, the Lord has come and taken our spear and our water bottle. He has taken our ability to conquer and removed what refreshes us. And now, just as David cried out from the hill, Christ is crying out to our generation from Calvary one more time, “Here is your strength to make war; here is the Living Water you are looking for. Come and get it!” Responding to this call requires humility. If you try to go up a mountain standing erect, you will fall over backwards. You must go up in a position of humility.

Saul could not bring himself to lay hold of the spiritual principle in this, just as there are people today who refuse to humble themselves and allow Christ to be Lord of all. Seek Him all you want—travel the world; hear about a revival in some country and get on the first plane over—but if you are not willing to bow and let Christ be Lord of all, your seeking will be in vain and you will constantly come home weak, empty and dry. Eventually you will reach the erroneous conclusion that Christ cannot be found and that revival in personal measure is just an illusion.

THE SEARCH IS OVER
Interestingly, the Scriptures also tell the story of four hundred distressed, debt-ridden men who headed toward where David was (see 1 Samuel 22). The beauty of it all was that they did not have a hard time finding him. Saul with his three thousand men, probably including some of the best spies and scouts in the land, travelled all over the countryside and could not find David. Yet four hundred discontented men just got up one day and essentially said, “Enough of this! We’re going where the anointing of God is.” So they went into the cave where David was, just as we are called in our generation to come outside the gate and join Christ (see Hebrews 13:12–13). They went outside of the system that had rejected Him as Lord, and David became captain over them.

These men did not come in their own strength or with their own resources, for they did not have any left. They did not come with a plan—they went to get the plan. It was as if each of them had concluded, “I would rather die with David than live in the kingdom of Saul with his powerless pursuit. I am going to where the power of God is.”

How was it that many of these men later went on to accomplish incredible feats—eventually being named among David’s mighty men (see 2 Samuel 23)? I believe it all started in that cave. I can imagine David telling them the story of the day he defeated Goliath. After all, what else was there to do in the cave? The four hundred would say, “David, tell us again. Tell us how you had the courage to go into that valley!”

And so David would rehearse the story over and over again—how he knew it just was not right for the men of God to be cowering on the mountainside while this giant perpetually raised his voice against the glory and honor of God. “Then the Spirit of God came upon me, and I stood there and called, ‘You come to me with a staff and a spear, but I come to you in the name of the Lord God of hosts, the God that you have defied!’”

I can just see courage and strength rising in these men’s hearts day after day until they finally concluded, “If God did that for David, and if that is how He is going to be honored, then I refuse to live in mediocrity any longer!” It is a type of those in our generation who say, “I am not searching anymore. I have found Him, for I am no longer trying to force my agenda into the kingdom of God. I have chosen instead to be abandoned to the will of God and to live for the honor of His name!” The four hundred found strength as they followed in the footsteps of David—just as those of us who are willing to follow in the footsteps of Christ will be empowered to change the course of history.

The Lord will once again take the weak, the discouraged, the disillusioned—the one who is an honest and sincere seeker of God. He will use the one who is not trying to bring any agenda to Him, but rather is seeking and walking in His will. Throughout history we have seen that when ordinary people seek the face of God with honesty, they find the fulfillment of the promise, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, NKJV).

I pray that in this hour, God will give us the courage to bend our knee to the lordship of Jesus Christ—that He will give us the power to humble ourselves and stop pursuing Christ for the wrong reasons. No more coming into the prayer closet and presenting God with our own plan, expecting Him to bless it. Instead, let us go in and find God’s plan, for there is no other plan and no other way. One more time, let us yield ourselves to His will, unto the death if necessary. That is how we will be set free from this futile pursuit and truly empowered to influence our generation. Hallelujah!

Carter Conlon
©2012 Times Square Church

What is Repentance? Sermon for 3-12-12 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:36-39

You will rarely hear a message on repentance today like the one Peter preached at Pentecost. His sermon led thousands to freedom in Christ. We’ve traded repentance for self help, psychology & the pursuit of happiness.

In order for their to be True Repentance, there must be an acknowledgment of sin. Sin, another term that we are now afraid to preach about in America.

Sin is no longer challenged or preached against especially by televangelist. A carnal preacher will seldom challenge sin because GOD forbid, you may leave and he may not get your money. They may offend you and in this Politically Correct day and age, the last thing we want to do is offend somebody or loose a potential customer.

What is Repentance?

Repentance is sorrow, regret and remorse over sin. Regret that you went against and violated the God who created you, gave you life and died on the Cross for the very sins you now feel sorry for. The Hebrew word translated means “to turn back” or “turn around” The Prophets of the Old Testament used this word to encourage people to a radical, conscious rejection of past sin.Repentance is a change in one’s way of life. Repentance is running from your sin, doing a U-Turn, going in the opposite direction where you are so disgusted with yourself that you never want to commit that sin again. And if you Truly Repent: You never will.

“Repentance is more than just sorrow for the past; repentance is a change of mind and heart, a new life of denying self and serving the Savior as king in self’s place.” ~ J.I.P.

Only the sacrifice of Christ’s blood can forgive. But repentance is the only way to know true healing and rejoicing. There is no other way to enter the peace and rest of Christ except through the doors of repentance. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the fruit that results from repentance:

Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 7: 9-11“Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”“ Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4

Repentance is the only way healing and strength can come to those who are caught up in sin.

In the book of Acts, which tells the story of the early church, the preaching of Repentance is mentioned nearly a dozen times.

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,” Acts 3:19

“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,” Acts 17:30

“but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.” Acts 26:20

“testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 20:21

Jesus speaks of Repentance over 22 times in the Gospels and He also mentions it several times in the Book of Revelation.

In Mark 2:17 Jesus said clearly He came to call sinners to repentance.“When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Mark 2:17

He also clearly calls us to preach repentance in Luke 24:46-47“Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise[h] from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24:46-47

Warning a sinner to run to the Cross or perish — is the greatest love message that can be offered to man. For it is repentance and trusting in the finished work of the Cross that leads to forgiveness.

What did John the Baptist preach? Matthew 3:1-11

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:‘Prepare the way of the Lord;Make His paths straight.’”Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:1-11

“John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” Mark 1:4

“Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15

Jesus says Repent or Perish ~ Luke 13:1-5

“There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:1-5

Rejoicing in Heaven “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:7“Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10

“But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:8-9

God wants us to Repent!

“Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?”’ 11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ Ezekiel 33:10-11

“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:3-4

Where are the God fearing men? Why do we allow this madness?Why do we seek to listen to and follow men and idols instead of God & Scripture? We act like dumb ignorant dogs, slaves to our masters, slaves to our sin who return to our own vomit over & over & over again!

You think you’re serving Him by saying, “I’ll repent some day.” That’s not a favor, that’s an insult. God, you’re good, just not good enough for me to give that up right now. These things are more precious to me than You. This sin is more beautiful than You, more valuable than you. It’s about me God! God, You’re good, just not good enough for me to repent and turn from my sin right NOW. My sin and satisfying my flesh are more important to me. I’ll repent one day when my sins ruin me, I’ll repent on my time. I’ll repent when I’m ready.” But what you’re saying to God is saying, “God, I’ll repent on my terms, not Yours. I’ll repent when I want to.”If you are doing this: You are insulting a Holy God!

As we have stepped into this New Year, I believe we also have entered a season when the Lord is asking His people to stop and consider something. Most likely it will be a short season, but a critical one—a season to seriously consider the extent to which we are willing to embrace and follow the full pathway that God has put before us.

Unfortunately, we are living in a time when much of the church of Jesus Christ has become hemmed in by the boundaries that society has set around it. We have allowed a handful of people to dictate when we can and cannot pray in public; what we can and cannot do in the name of Christ. Such limitations have been put in place despite the fact that those who believe in Jesus statistically comprise over 70 percent of the American population. We have retreated to a place where we can be assured that we will be tolerated—knowing that the world will have no problem as long as there is nothing in the church that stands as a definitive contrast to a society that continues to cast off moral restraint at an unprecedented level.

In God’s Word we read of a church called Ephesus—a church known for its works, endurance and doctrinal purity. Yet Jesus said to them, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:4). The church had lost the very thing that made her attractive—a wholehearted love for Christ and the embracing of His work on the earth. Those outside the church must have looked in and seen a relationship of merely mutual tolerance, much like a marriage that had lost its spark of love and passion.

Do you remember the first time you fell in love? The first days of your marriage? You were filled with passion, unashamed to be seen in public with your spouse. You walked down the street arm in arm, proud to acknowledge that this was the person you had given your life to.

Sadly, we look at much of what is purported to be the testimony of Christ today and cannot help but wonder where the passion is. It is like the married couple who stays together for convenience or for the sake of the children, all the while completely unaware of how unattractive their relationship has become. No wonder so many people have concluded, “If this is what a relationship with God looks like, no thank you! If this is the passion it produces, if this is the character that evolves from it, I would rather find something else.”

A MERCY CALL

Although we have in large measure moved away from the simplicity of Christ and have formulated theologies to justify our backslidden condition, I am thankful this is not the end of the story. The Bible tells us that we have a season to consider our ways. The prophet Haggai spoke to the people of God who were called to rebuild the testimony of Christ in their generation:

“Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little…Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord. Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit” (Haggai 1:4–10).

Consider your ways! Haggai was saying to the people, “You have settled into a form of religiousness. You developed strategies to fill the house of God and mask the encroaching spiritual bankruptcy, but now you suddenly find heaven closed. You boasted of a great harvest that was going to come in, but where is it? You had sporadic gatherings, seemingly with no substance, and the Lord blew it all away.”

Today’s church has made conversion so easy. There is no longer a need for repentance, no requirement to turn from sin, no admonition to give one’s life fully to the work and cause of Jesus Christ. Instead, people are told that if they will simply repeat a little two-line prayer, their sins will be forgiven and they will be on their way to heaven. We have opened the gates wider than the Scriptures have opened them. We have brought in a supposed harvest, but now are finding that this harvest has no power to stand against all that society is throwing against it. Many claim to be Christians, but where are the warriors—the men and women of character? Where are those who are willing to stand in the face of the storm?

“And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands” (Haggai 1:11). The Lord called for a drought, and this is exactly where we find ourselves today. The Lord has called for a drought in America in order to get the attention of His people, as well as that of a lust-laden society.

Remember, the mercy of God sends us into the storm. Yes, it is judgment, but mercy precedes and triumphs over judgment. We need to be brought into a place of realizing our true condition. How tragic it would be to live as if everything is fine only to discover later that we missed the whole purpose, stopped short of the gateway to eternal life, and lived a cultural Christianity with no reality in it.

AN ALTAR OUTSIDE THE GATE
The writer of Hebrews tells us, “We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle” (Hebrews 13:10). We have an altar! Yet there are those whose whole relationship with God is based on ordinances, laws and obligations. They have lost their passion and settled for a mediocre Christianity, just doing their time, reading their Bible for ten minutes every day, and vocally professing to be a Christian. They may not have the courage to love God in public or the heart to do His work, but there is also an altar for that—an altar with no power. There is no lasting ability, no sustaining strength, no revelation—nothing but ideas out of men’s natural minds.

On the other hand, there exists an altar that is much deeper and more satisfying, but it requires a refusal to settle for rituals and profitless labor. That is why Paul said to Timothy, “Stir up the gift of God that is in you” (see 2 Timothy 1:6). When you first came to Christ, the hand of God came upon you, and you were called to do something that only you could do. God gave you a responsibility, and He endowed you with gifts to glorify His name. So do not let things spiral down to the point of merely coming to church out of obligation; a passionless relationship with God that bears no fruit in the earth. If you allow that to happen, you can be certain that nobody will desire what you have. People will look at your relationship with God and conclude, “I am already despairing enough. I do not need religion adding to my misery!”

“Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate” (Hebrews 13:12). He suffered outside the gate! For the sake of saving us and enabling us to walk again with a holy God, Jesus traveled outside the gate—outside the limitations, outside the borders of the religion that tried to confine Him. He could have risen to become one of the highest in the whole echelon, but He refused to play their game. Therefore, they dragged Him outside the gate, outside of the city.

“Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:13–15). You and I are called to “go forth out of the camp” to where Jesus is. In other words, we have a chance as a church to come out from our cultural captivity—to come out to a new place where our mouths are open in constant thanksgiving. We can come out and approach the altar where the fire of God truly is, where His glory abounds, where people are given abilities that could only come from the heart of God.

Going to that altar requires humility, a contrite heart—admitting that perhaps our religion falls short of the glory of God for our lives. Notice that the Scripture speaks of “bearing His reproach.” That means it will require a death to self and a willingness to step outside the gate, for that is where this altar is found. At this altar we are willing to endure the scorn of a fallen world; we will not let the snickers in the workplace prevent us from bowing our heads. No! We have an altar, and it is called being given for the glory of God and for the souls of men. There is a place that this church age has been called to—a place where we fight to bring people into true freedom.

Hebrews 12:1 says it this way: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses…” The writer is referring to those saints described in the previous chapter—those who faced threats, fire, flood, trial, personal inability—yet none of these things were able to stop them. The same holds true for every genuine believer in Christ today—there is nothing that can stop the plan of God ordained for those who choose to be given for His glory.

“…Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). No weight can crush us; no sin can keep us! Jesus came to give sight to the blind, to open the prison doors to those who are bound, to heal those whose hearts have been wounded. That means we are free to get up and walk out of every place of captivity, and no opposition or limitation can stop us in this race. The only thing that can stop us is our personal choice to live within the confines that a fallen society has placed around us, cowering when they regard us as narrow, misguided, weak or foolish.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him… ” (Hebrews 12:2). The source of His strength, the vision that was before His eyes, was the joy of seeing you free; the joy of having you back in a living relationship with Him! It was all about you and me. Yet what have we set before us in this generation? Gold, cars, jobs, position and power. No wonder there is no joy in much of what professes to be Christianity. Our focus is wrong—it should be all about people! Jesus did not quit or give in to the scorn or accusations that came against Him, because He saw you and me ruling and reigning with Him forever. We will not tremble or remain silent once we begin to see the men and women around us the way Jesus sees them.

“[He] endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus won a victory! That is the altar that you and I have if we are willing to join Him outside the city; if we are willing to escape the boundaries and be put outside of a people who really are fighting against their own salvation.

“For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:3). Consider Him! Consider what He endured, and consider what you are willing to endure. Consider how deep and how far you are going to go in this walk with God. Are you going to settle in and become a powerless voice as Lot did—a man who was so intermixed with the ways of society that even after meeting with angels, he could barely bring his own family out of captivity? Or will you be like Noah, who built an ark, enduring the ridicule of people who passed by every day, and said, “You foolish old man, it has not rained here for years, and you are building a boat?” Yet the Bible says that Noah was a preacher of righteousness, and he brought his whole family to safety with him.

STOP AND CONSIDER
Do you feel the urgency of this hour? Do you realize that we are about to enter a storm of unprecedented proportions? Just as in Noah’s day, some people may ridicule this message and put it away. However, I urge you to get oil now, to get strength now, to make a choice now. As Joshua said, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

The prophet Isaiah said that in the last days, in the midst of the darkness, there will be a people who have a song of praise to God (see Isaiah 30:29). Of course, that does not just happen. It all starts when we make a choice to consider Jesus, understanding that the victory He has already won can be ours. We make a choice to go to an altar in a place that those who play games with God cannot go.

I encourage you to let 2012 be a year when you consider Jesus. Consider whether you will follow Him all the way. That means not being half-measure, not falling short, not running a cheater’s race, not bowing to the boundaries of society, not settling in to a relationship of begrudging service in the house of God. If you are determined not to settle for anything less than the fullness of what He has for you, you will find that the Lord will give you the strength of character to be salt and light in your city. He will give you compassion for all men, even those who oppose you. You will be taken into the divine life of Christ, and this will be a year when God will astound you!

Carter Conlon
©2012 Times Square Church

In our New Testament the word “Gospel” is euaggelion or “evangel.” This is where we get the term Evangelical. Evangelical is just another term to define true Bible believers.

Some have called the four writers of the four Gospels – Evangelists. By this they meant that these four men presented a Christ-centred Gospel. The message presented and
preached by these four has been called the evangelical gospel. But of course within the New Testament the Gospel or Evangel was not restricted to these four.

We are clearly instructed that Christ, the apostles, the early church and Paul the apostle all proclaimed the Gospel. It was universal. The Gospel was first defined as the “Gospel of the kingdom” (Mt.4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mk.1:14).

This Gospel was a message. Some try to define the Gospel as social action, but this cannot be a true definition when we look at the NT. Time after time the NT records that the Gospel was “preached” (Mt.4:23; 9:35; 26:13; Mk.1:14;16:15; Lk.9:6; 20:1; Acts 8:25; 14:7, 21; 16:10; Rom.1:15; I Cor.9:16). Two Greek words are used for preach. First kērussō which means to herald like a town crier. Secondly euaggelizō which means to announce or declare. So the correct means to make known the Gospel is by opening the mouth and speaking either personally or publically.

Although miracles, signs, healings and even baptism in water confirm and accompany the Gospel, they in themselves are not the Gospel (Mt.11:5; Lk.4:18; 7:22; 1Cor.1:17). It is also called “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) the gospel of God (Rom.1:1) gospel of his Son (v9) the gospel of Christ (v16) and the glorious gospel of Christ (II Cor.4:4) and Paul also called it “my gospel” (Rom.2:16).

The Gospel must be believed and obeyed (Mk.1:15; Acts 15:7; Rom.10:16). Through it men are begotten or born-again (I Cor.4:15) established (Rom.16:25) and they stand (I Cor.15:1). When Jesus returns He will take vengeance on “them that that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction” (II Thess.1:7-9).

To be Evangelical is to hold the Gospel as it is proclaimed, preached, presented, taught and written in the New Testament without subtraction or addition. John Milton (1608-1674) the famous English poet and author of the 17th century considered the word ‘Evangelick’ to mean ‘consonant to the doctrine of the Gospel.’ In other words to be Evangelical you must line up with the truths that go to make up the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the NT.

In the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary Evangelical is defined as: “According to the gospel; consonant to the doctrines and precepts of the gospel, published by Christ and his apostles…Sound in the doctrines of the gospel.” In the 1913 Webster’s Dictionary it is defined as: “Contained in, or relating to, the four Gospels…Belonging to, agreeable or consonant to, or contained in, the gospel, or the truth taught in the New Testament; as, evangelical religion. Earnest for the truth taught in the gospel; strict in interpreting Christian doctrine; preëminently orthodox.”

Since the term was first coined in Church history it’s greatest leaders, writers, defenders and preachers have consistently held to well defined truths. The Gospel and the New Testament are themselves made up of clearly defined truths which the early members of the Church believed and those who rejected such was not considered to be one of them. Certain truths of the New Testament Gospel have been set forth in such a manner as to divide between those who truely are evangelical and those who are not. Such truths are:

*A belief in the authority and Divine inspiration of the Biblical text as well as a literal acceptance of its historic narrative (Genesis, Creation, the return of Christ, etc).
*A clear belief that salvation is exclusively found in Christ alone through repentance and faith.
*A belief that Christ suffered the righteous judgement of God for our sins on our behalf on the Cross at Calvary.
*A belief in justification by faith alone.
*A belief that good works (obedience, holiness) will follow as the result and fruit of true salvation.
*A belief in a coming day of judgement for every man.
*A belief in a literal eternal conscious state of blessing as a reward to the righteous but an eternal conscious state of punishment in the lake of fire for the wicked.

Those defined as Evangelicals have held to these and other truths for 500 years. But more than that, true believers have held them as a continuing unbroken line from the days of the apostles down to our own day. Evangelical, when used correctly, is just another name for a Bible beliving Christian. When men move away from holding certain truths of Scripture they cease from being both Evangelical and Biblical.

Sadly today the term Evangelical has been redefined and twisted to be a broad term to mean and include anything and everthing. Even those who deny all of these key points now call themselves Evangelicals. Compromisers, heritics and apostates have constantly pressed to broaden the term Evangelical in a manner that includes themselves and their associates.

Let us again define, clarify, protect and proclaim these simple truths of Christ as a part of the New Testament Gospel. “I am set for the defence of the gospel” (Php.1:17). ‘I am appointed for the defence of the euaggelion – the Evangelical Gospel.’

The first usage of the term Evangelical in recent church history was in Germany at the time of the Reformation. In 1517 Luther nailed his thesis to the church door at Wittenberg. Two years later his followers were called Lutheran’s by their enemies but Luther preferred the term Evangelical.

When Luther finally broke from Rome and established churches free from Rome’s jurisdiction he called the new movement the Evangelische Kirche (evangelical church). It was a church built upon the true Gospel of Jesus Christ as opposed to a church built upon tradition, heresy and man-made regulations as that at Rome most certainly was.

The term Protestant was not used until 1529. The meaning of the Word is ‘to protest or to proclaim.’ Luther and many others were protesting against the error of Rome but were also proclaiming the truth of the simple Gospel of Christ. Philip Schaff the great church historian stated that the term Protestant must be supplemented by the term Evangelical for this reason: “The gospel of Christ, as laid down in the New Testament, and proclaimed again in its primitive purity and power by the Reformation, is the basis of historical Protestantism, and gives it vitality and permanancy.”

Writing in 1520 Luther said “We were all Hussites without knowing it.” By this he meant they had discovered the same truths of the Gospel and were holding to them in the same way John Huss (1373-1415) of Bohemia had done 100 years previously and for which he was martyred. His ministry and martyrdom gave rise to a spiritual movement called the Hussite’s which spread to other lands and later resulted in the Moravian revival. Huss had previously been impacted by the writings of John Wycliffe (1329-84) of England who through preaching the simple Gospel of the Bible had birthed a spiritual movement called the Lollards. These poor but profound preachers spread everywhere preaching the simplicity of the Gospel.

This reveals something of the unbroken line of leaders and spiritual movements which ran from the days of the apostles down to the days of the Reformation and onwards who held to the clear truths of the Bible.

In the mind of the Reformers to be Evangelical meant having a true grasp and understanding of the Gospel as a result of a conversion through justification by faith. That’s why they stood for Sola Scriptura – the Scripture alone. To be Evangelical meant that they believed the written Word of God was absolutely authoritive over every doctrine, tradition and practise in the church, in ministry and in life. Because of Sola Scriptura many spiritual leaders and movements were birthed in the following centuries that were Christ-centred. Evangelicalism has always been Bible-based and as a result of that has been Christ-centred.

The Reformation in Europe spread quickly from Germany to every corner of Europe raising up national reformers. They were not dealing with just a veneer of church order, structure or government; they were dealing with the foundation, the most vital issues of the Gospel, of justification by faith alone and the place of God’s Word in the Church. It was the beginning of a fresh return to the church of the Bible. To be evangelical meant conformity to the written Scriptures. Those who make light of the Reformation just show that they know little or nothing about it.

A return to the Gospel as presented in the Scriptures literally shook Europe from top to bottom and inside out, socially, politically and spiritually. Countries like Switzerland renamed individual counties ‘Evangelick Cantons.’ Through forty days of Gospel preaching John Knox saw Scotland set free from darkness, superstition, religious tradition and bondage. This return to an Evangelical Gospel led to great multitudes of genuine believers being martyred across Europe over the next 100 years. This was a spiritual revival.

William Tyndale

One of the greatest English Reformers was William Tyndale (1494-1536). The Lord used him in translating the Bible into the language of the English people. He was eventually martyred for his zeal in proclaiming the true Gospel. The first recorded usage of the term ‘Evangelical’ in the English language was made by Tyndale in his writings in the year 1531. Within his writings he spoke freely of the true Gospel as “evangelical truth.” In the following year Thomas More wrote a six-volume response to him in which he talks of Tyndale and his ‘evangelical friends.’ So from its first usage in English it not only defined the Gospel message but those who believed it as well.

The term Evangelical was then brought into the English language and used widely by those who held fast to the same fundamental doctrines of the Gospel which Tyndale held to, defended and died for.

In the 17th century men like Samuel Rutherford in Scotland and John Owen in England freely used the term Evangelical not for a party-name but for true Bible-believing Christians of whatever denomination. The Covenanter’s and Puritan’s of both nations continued their pursuit of a full reformation of the Church by the Word of God. The Reformation was a beginning not an end. During this era the Lord blessed the preaching of the Gospel by pouring out His Spirit a number of times to speed the work forward.

The breadth of Evangelicalism has been its recondition of all those who uncompromisingly hold to the foundational truths of the Gospel which makes Christ preeminent and central in all things.

Evangelical has always been broader than finer points of teaching concerning church structure, the Lord’s Table or baptism. Men have stood on either side of such arguments yet been solidly Evangelical. But let a man weaken on the foundational truths of the Gospel and he has departed from being Evangelical. A church group, denomination or movement is only Evangelical while it remains faithful to the truth of the Gospel.

John & Charles Wesley

In May 1738 almost 200 years after the Reformation young Charles Wesley (1707-88) while reading Luther’s commentary on Galatians was convinced, converted and found peace in Christ Jesus. Just three days later John Wesley (1703-91) was converted as his heart was strangely warmed at a meeting of Moravians where Luther’s commentary on Roman’s was being read. These two brothers as well as a great host of other preachers were to be used in God’s hand to proclaim the Evangelical Gospel with great power during what was called the Evangelical Revival (Awakening). But this was only another stage in the Lord’s progressive work; not the beginning of Evangelicalism. Through their preaching, their writings and their hymns the truth of the Evangelical Gospel spread to the ends of the earth.

To be continued…

The men who were raised up of the Lord in the 18th century to preach the Evangelical Gospel in power were commissioned by no denominational HQ. They were not backed and supported by any denomination in stepping out to shake the nations with the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ. Neither did they get together as a body of men and plan it. The Lord saved them with an old fashioned Evangelical Gospel, called them to preach it, then anointed them and sent them as Evangel’s of the Gospel.

The names of George Whitefield, John & Charles Wesley, Howell Harris, Jonathan Edwards, William Grimshaw, William Romaine, John Fletcher and Thomas Walsh stand immemorial. Yet these men but represent only a few who were suddenly prepared and called to carry the Gospel of salvations to great multitudes.

Their Doctrine

This army of preacher’s came from different nations and regions. They came from different family backgrounds and were of different ages and social standing. They were not trained in a college but commissioned from Heaven with unction. They differed in theological points of doctrine on issues like church government, communion, style of preaching, and even on Calvinism and Arminianism. But what bound them together was the truths of the Evangelical Gospel. An Everlasting Gospel forged in Heaven but given to men to preach. They differed at times to the point of conflict yet they were bound together on the essential fundamentals of the Gospel. Their doctrine was pre-eminently the person of Christ. They counted each other fellow-labourers in the harvest fields for the Master.

None of these diverse, unique and gifted men denied that there was a literal, eternal fiery Hell which sinners would go to unless saved by the power of the Gospel. None of them doubted the inspiration, authority, perfection and power of the written Word of God. They took it literally, simply and believingly. None of them doubted the literal account of Genesis. None doubted that a big fish swallowed Jonah. None doubted that God sent a Flood to destroy a wicked generation in the days of Noah.

These men believed that Christ had borne the wrath of God on their behalf. They believed that the Blood of Jesus Christ shed at Calvary was personally shed for them. They believed that by faith in that Blood they were justified from all sin and accepted in Christ Jesus with His perfect imputed righteousness. These preachers of the Gospel believed that through repentance and faith men received the new birth, a new heart, a new spirit, a new name and a new inheritance.

Their Preaching

They not only preached the old apostolic Gospel of the Apostles but they also communicated it in the same fashion, form and method. As oracles of God. As herald’s of God. Like town-criers. Like prophets of old.

These men believed in preaching. Preaching with conviction, preaching with unction, preaching with clarity, preaching with authority. They preached in homes, they preached in church buildings, they preached standing on grave stones, they preached in the open streets, they preached in the open fields, they preached to few, they preached to great multitudes which could not be numbered, they preached against heresy, they preached against hypocrites, they preached against unbelief, and they preached against sin.

They preached Christ in all His fullness, depth and breadth, making Him central in all things. Their consuming love for Christ and proclamation of Him held whole nations back from bloody revolutions. They preached the cross in all its glory and power without obscuring the judgement of God poured out there, the sin of man atoned for there, and the horror of suffering endured there. The authority of all their preaching, methodology and order was the infallible Scriptures. They again carried forward the work of reforming the Church to a more Biblical pattern.

The revival of the 18th century that swept Great Britain and America was thoroughly Evangelical. There was no Romanism, Liberalism, Modernism or Ecumenism in it. This was a true Evangelical Revival birthed of God, sent from Heaven and owned of the Holy Ghost.

The Pathway of Evangelical Revivals

If we follow the pathway of true Evangelical doctrine where these truths were held to and preached we find the path is heavily marked by Divine Visitations of the Lord from Heaven. All the various ism’s cannot claim such. A departure from sound doctrine and an Evangelical Gospel is a departure from genuine Heaven Sent Revival. It would be impossible to summarise these mighty outpourings even since the days of the First Great Evangelical Awakening.

Two nations which can claim to be ‘The Land of Revivals’ are Scotland and Wales because of the amount of and regular continuance of revivals, but they can also claim to have been lands of The Book – saturated with simple but sound Biblical doctrine and knowledge. The Church of any nation compromises over or that casts aside the simple Gospel truths of the Bible is saying “No” to Heaven Sent Revival. Is it any wonder then that amidst the present hour of compromise over Biblical truths there are so few genuine, mighty, widespread national revivals. Our Evangelical Fathers believed that the hope of regular revivals was a Biblical doctrine.

Just think of the 1830’s revivals in Scotland under the ministries of McCheyne and Burns and in America under Asahel Nettleton, and in England under Irish born James Caughey. Then The Second Great Evangelical Awakening which began in the 1850’s in America, Ulster, Wales, Scotland and England. The Welsh Revival of 1904. The Azusa Revival of 1906 which was but one of numberless outpourings across the world bringing the church back to real Pentecost. And the Hebrides revival in the 1940’s. It is impossible to summarise.

The vessels which were raised up in each of these, men like Evan Roberts, William Seymour and Duncan Campbell had one thing in common, they held to the same pure Evangelical Gospel and to the fundamentals of the faith. Yes they were very different indeed but they were joined to the same Christ, part of the same body, of one faith, preaching the same simple Gospel of Blood redemption.

Again my friends in this hour the answer for Evangelicalism is not a new united sound Evangelical alliance, the answer is not
a new style, a new strategy, a change or revamping of old biblical truths, a creating of a new ecumenical compromised third way. Oh no, the answer is always the same. Let the Lord again pour our His Spirit as on the Day of Pentecost and revive His wearied saints who will again arise and preach this Everlasting Evangelical Gospel to the ends of the earth to bring in a last harvest of souls before the Lord pours out His terrible judgement on the nations.

Let us pray and believe for a Third Great Evangelical Awakening like that in the 18th and 20th centuries and Evangelicalism will again be as Christ-centred, Biblically sound, holy, prayerful, vigorous and as fruitful as ever it has been in history. We care not for names, titles or creeds. Let the name Evangelical crumble into a misrepresentation and be forgotten but let us stand four-square on the written
Scriptures as a people in revival whatever men may call us.

I Want To Share My Thoughts On 1 Samuel 22:1-2, And How I Believe It Relates To Revival In America And The Nations Of The World ! Lets Read These Verses Together !
1″ David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him”.
2″ And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men “.=,Here We See David Serving Again As A Type And Shadow Of The Lord Jesus Christ, And We See That While He Is In The Wilderness Running For His Own Life, That All The Outcast’s Of The Society And The Church Of That Day Are Coming To Him, Beloved It Was The Same For The Precious Lord Jesus, The Sinful, The Weak And The Hopeless And Despised And Rejected Found Their Safety, Their Healing, Their Refuge, And Their Acceptance In Him And Through Him, Prostitutes, Gaderenes, The Poor, The Sick, The Lame, The Sinful, The Needy, The Rejected, The Weak, All Found A Friend, A Hope And Enduring Promise In Christ Jesus, When We Look At Those Jesus Chose To Follow Him, Those He Chose To Share His Gospel In Great Dunamis And Earth Shaking Power, They Were Not The Elite, Nor The Most Educated, They Were The Poor And Base, Weak And Despised Things Of This Earth, Poor Fisherman, Hated Tax Collectors, Not Welcomed In The Palaces Of Popularity, Nor The Synagogues Of Organized Religion, When We Look At John The Baptist Whose Ministry Shook The Nation, Brought Many To Repentance And Paved The Road To The Hope And Salvation Of Man, We See A Man Clothed In A Leather Girdle, He Dwelt Not In The Pearly Palaces Of Popularity, But In The Wilderness Of Rejection And Solitude, And I Believe That In This Generation, Like It Was In The Day Of Pentecost Revival Will Be Expirienced Not In The Mega Churches Of Formalism, Nor By Our Favorite T.V Preachers, Nor In The Hollywood Style Of Ministry Or What Is Called Ministry, But Is Mere Christian Entertainment, It Will Not Be Brought Forth By Outworn Slogan’s, Nor By The Gimmick’s And Fads Of Man And Flesh, But By Those Who In Discontentment, In Earnest And Undying Hunger Seek Refuge In Jesus Christ And His Cross, I Believe We Will See The End Of Denominationlism, As True Revival Cannot Be Contained In Four Wall’s, It Crosses The Lines Of Race And Age, It Looks Beyond A Viel Of Man Made Commandments And Traditions, I Truly Believe It Will Be The Outcast’s, The Rejected Of Society And Man Made Religion, That Will Expirience Revival In These Last Day’s As The True Message Of The Cross Of Jesus Christ Is Embraced, Remember In The Early 1900’s When The Revival Fires Of Pentecost First Visited America, It Was First Flamed Here In Topeka, By A Young Half Cocked Charles Parham Who Dared To Believe God And Embrace The Jesus Of The Bible, The Message And Faith Of The Apostles, He Met Opposition, But He Earnestly Cotended For The Faith And He Tred Against The Ever Changing Tides Of PopularityAnd Despite The Laughing And Mocking Of Others He Pressed On Any Way, And Thank God He Did, And It Was Then Flamed In Los Angelos By A Poor And Uneducated One Eyed Black Man, Who Believed That A Life Of Humility And Prayer Was Essential For Embracing The Power Of A Life Giving And Life Changing Cross, If History Is Any Indication, Then I Believe It Will Be The Discontented, The Poor, The Weak, And The Despised Of This Earth,The Hungry And The Hurting, That Will Once Again In Humility At The Foot Of The Cross And In A Brokeness Of Heart Will Expirience The Power And Revival Of Pentecost Once again !” (Chris Tanner) 2011.RevivaL.

It Was Here In 1901 Where Pentcostal Revival First Came To America Through The Ministry Of Charles F.Parham And His Message Of The Faith Of The Apostles !!!!!

The Man Forgotten By History, But If It Wasn’t For Him And His Ministry Here In Topeka, Ks, There Would Have Been No Holy Ghost Revival In America, It Was His Ministry That Influenced William J.Seymour, The Man Of Which I Speak,Is “Charles F. Parham” !!! I Live Just A Few Blocks From Where His Stones Folley Stood, At Times I Will Walk By The Old Site, A Pray And Say Jesus Do It Again-C.Tanner !!!

The Thessalonian church held a tender place in the heart of the Apostle Paul. In this expositional study of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians, we see a paradigm for pastoral ministry, emphasizing the life-changing content of the gospel and concerns of Paul’s heart for their healthy spiritual growth. Having established the believers in good Biblical theology, Paul clearly addresses issues of practical Christian behavior — sexual morality, work, honest living With the doctrinal foundations of the believers’ hope, namely,the Cross, the resurrection and return of Christ established, we will discuss the principles of healthy corporate life and worship within the local Church…

EXAMPLES:

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
English Standard Version (ESV)
Final Instructions and Benediction
12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,[a] encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
25 Brothers, pray for us.
26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.
27 I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Footnotes:
1 Thessalonians 5:14 Or disorderly, or undisciplined
Notice that Paul made Pastors promise to read and teach these letters……

1 Thessalonians 4
A Life Pleasing to God
1 Finally, then, brothers,[a] we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification:[b] that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body[c] in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
Footnotes:
1 Thessalonians 4:1 Or brothers and sisters; also verses 10, 13
1 Thessalonians 4:3 Or your holiness
1 Thessalonians 4:4 Or how to take a wife for himself; Greek how to possess his own vessel
There is a whole lot of action words in these texts. So we see that the believer has responsibility to work at their conduct, with the Holy Spirit helping them and providing the power of course…… Through Paul’s letter to the first-century church, we see practical actions and attributes that should mark the life of every Christian, no matter the circumstance.