God Has a Wonderful Plan for your Life
By Ray Comfort
- According to an article in Porn Nation in World Magazine, of the men belonging to the Christian organization Promise Keepers (who make a promise to be “committed to practicing spiritual, moral, ethical and sexual purity) 53 % visit porn sites every week. An Internet survey of 6,000 pastors conducted in 2002 found that 30% of pastors had viewed Internet porn in the last 30 days. This is despite the fact that these men are to be the spiritual leaders of their flocks and families.
- Perhaps there is another reason that young people are leaving the church in droves. As these statistics show, there are many today who name the name of Christ, but who have failed to “depart from iniquity (lawlessness) II Tim. 2:19. They are false converts who have “asked Jesus into their hearts” yet they remain unconverted because they have never truly repented.
- Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, in Christ alone. The Law’s rightful purpose is simply to act as a mirror to show us that we need cleansing. Those who seek to be justified by the Law are taking the mirror off the wall and trying to wash themselves with it.
- To illustrate the point let’s look for a moment at civil law. Imagine if I said to you, “I have some good news for you. Someone has just paid a $25,000 speeding fine on your behalf!” You would probably respond with some cynicism in your voice, “What are you talking about? That’s not good news: it doesn’t make sense. I don’t HAVE a $25,000 speeding fine.” Your reaction would be quite understandable. If you do not know that you have broken the law in the first place, the good news of someone paying your fine will not be good news; it will be foolishness to you. But more than that, it would be offensive to you, because I am insinuating that you have broken the Law when you don’t think you have. However if I were to put it this way it may make more sense: “Today, a law enforcement officer clocked you traveling at 55 mph in an area designated for a blind children’s convention. There were ten clear warning signs indicating that the maximum speed was 15 mph, but you completely ignored them and went straight through at 55 mph. What you did was extremely dangerous. The penalty is a $25,000 fine or imprisonment.” As you begin to see the seriousness of what you have done, I explain, “The law was about to take its course when someone you don’t even know stepped in and paid the fine for you. You are very fortunate.” Can you see that telling you precisely what you have done wrong first actually makes the good news make sense?
- But if I take the time to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, it may make more sense. If I open up the divine law, the Ten Commandments, to show the sinner precisely what he has done wrong – that he has offended God by violating His Law – then he will become “Convicted by the law as a transgressor” James 2:9 Once he understands his transgression, the good news of his penalty being paid will not be foolishness, nor will it be offensive. It will be the “power of God to salvation” (Rom. 1:16)
- Scripture tells us that sin is Transgression of the Law (I Jn. 3:4) righteousness is of the law (Rom 10:5) and judgment is by the Law (Rom. 2:12, James 2:12)
- As John R. Stott said, “We cannot come to Christ to be justified until we have first been to Moses, to be condemned. But once we have gone to Moses, and acknowledge our sin, guilt and condemnation, we must not stay there. We must let Moses send us to Christ.” The law doesn’t help it; it just leaves us helpless. It doesn’t justify us; it just leaves us guilty before judgment bar of a holy God.
- For every 100 people making decisions for Christ, only 2 may return for follow up a few days later. George Barna says that the majority of people (51%) making decisions leave the church in 6-8 weeks.
- 84 – 97% fall-away rate is not confine to crusades but is typical throughout local church evangelism. Nor is this strictly a US phenomenon. Missionaries confirm that the statistics are the same in South America and Europe. An evangelist with a well known international evangelism ministry noted a similar problem in their overseas efforts.
- Sometimes there is confusion between “follow-up”) meaning “we need to follow the new converts around because they will fall away if we don’t” and discipleship. Meaning “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you”. I believe in feeding and nurturing converts. Discipleship is biblical and necessary but I don’t believe in following them. I can’t find it in Scriptures.
- Charles Spurgeon said, ‘They must be slain by the law before they can be made alive by the gospel.”
- Just as the world was not ready for the N.T. before it received the Old, just as the Jews were not prepared for the ministry of Christ until John the Baptist had gone before Him with his claimant call to repentance, so the unsaved are in no condition today for the Gospel till the Law be applied to their hearts, for “by the Law is the knowledge of sin” it is a waste of time to sow seed on ground which has never been ploughed or spaded! To present the vicarious sacrifice of Christ to those who’s dominant passion is to take fill of sin, is to give that which is holy to the dogs.
- I am a strong believer in following in the footsteps of Jesus. I would never approach someone and say, “Jesus loves you” It is totally unbiblical; there is no precedent for it in Scripture. Neither would I begin by saying, “I’d like to talk to you about Jesus Christ” Rather we need to bring the knowledge of the disease of sin (using the Law) before we offer the cure of the gospel.
- Those whom the Spirit draws to Jesus are those whom the spirit has convinced of sin. Without a thorough conviction of sin, men may seem to come to Jesus and follow Him for a season, but they will soon fall away and return to the world.
- History shows us that virtually every major revival of the past has been birthed out of a great awakening of those who thought they were saved, but were not.
- The size of our churches mean nothing if they prove to be full of false converts. May each of us give account with joy, and not with grief.
- This is the real significance of the Ten Commandments. Because the reveal God’s perfect holiness, we see ourselves as God sees us – in need of His grace and forgiveness.
- If we exalt one of God’s qualities over another, we can get a distorted view of God’s character. In fact, overemphasizing any one of God’s attributes to the exclusion of others can lead to heresy. For example, teaching only about god’s mercy and neglecting His role as judge will prevent people from understanding God’s hatred of sin and the future punishment for wrongdoing.
Acts 13 — David, God’s Servant
I love to read about the life and story of David, the sweet Psalmist of Israel.
As Paul stands up to beckon with the audience in Acts 13:15-43, he gives them history of Israel to tell them about Christ the Messiah. In his message, he refers specifically to David saying:
David was a man after God’s own heart — vs. 22
David would fulfill “all my (God’s) will” — vs. 22
David “served his own generation” — vs. 36
My prayer and desire is to be a man after God’s heart. I pray that I would have a testimony of fulfilling God’s will, all of it. And I want to serve the generation that God has placed me in — knowing that I can only serve it properly by doing so with God’s help and for God’s purpose.
Peter was placed in prison and “prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him” (vs. 5). They loved Peter, they needed Peter, Peter was an example, a pillar of the church and a blessing to the church… so they prayed God would free him. God sends an angel to the prison and freed Peter from there. Peter goes back to where “many were gathered together praying” (vs. 12) and knocks on the door. A young lady comes to answer and runs back inside telling everyone that Peter is at the door. After not believing it was him, they finally answer and “they were astonished” (vs. 16). I love this, not just because of the miracle of it, but because they were specifically praying that God would free Peter and then when God did, they were all “astonished”, it’s like they couldn’t believe it.
We have a promise in Matthew 7:7 that if we ask we shall receive. James 4:2 says that we have not because we ask not. John 14:14 says that “If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it”. It seems like this truth is repeated many times in the Word of God: John 14:13; 15:16; 16:23-24; I John 3:22; 5:14-15.
So, what really thrills me is that when we ask, God answers. We may not always receive right away or we may not receive what we want because God knows best, but I do believe God answers. This truth is not just theory in my life but has become a reality. Allow me to share one of the many, many times that God has allowed me to see this truth become real in my life. My wife and I were planning on serving God in Argentina as missionaries. While we traveled in the US raising funds to go, we prayed that God would give us souls and laborers in Argentina. When we arrived to language school in Peru, we continued praying this. When we arrived on the field of Argentina, we continued our prayer and asked that God would now send us those people we had been praying for for such a long time. God began to send us young men and women who would later take over the ministries, people who were being saved, men and women who would become pillars in the churches and many blessings. We were “astonished” at what God was doing, but were reminded that our great God told us if we would ask, He would answer. God not only answers but blesses above and beyond what His children ask. God is good!
vs. 5 – Peter was in prison for preaching but “prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him”. This story is funny because later he gets out and when Rhoda and the others see him at the door knocking they didn’t believe it was him – although they were praying he would get out, they couldn’t believe it when he was out. God does answer prayers! God has allowed some amazing things in our lives and I desire to continue asking from the Lord, knowing that when I pray without ceasing, God hears my prayers.
Vs. 21-23 – Herod goes out to sit on his throne and all the people begin to shout how great he is and that “it is the voice of God” and not of man. Instead of being humble, he let it go to his head and thought he was “the stuff”. So “the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory”. We saw this same fate with Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4) as well as the devil (Isaiah 12) and so will be with me and any of us that take the credit and do not give it to the Lord. God humbles the proud but God also exalts the humble… so it is better to let God exalt us than to try and exalt ourselves.
Vs. 17 – when the other Jews were a bit worked up because Peter went to the Gentiles (the people they didn’t feel was worthy to hear or be associated with), he refuted by saying, “what was I that I could withstand God?” And when some may feel that certain groups of people shouldn’t be given as much opportunity, I should realize that God wants all men to be saved and who am I to withstand God?!
Vs. 23-26 – I love the story of Barnabus, he is one of my favorite Bible characters. The Gospel had arrived to this area and the church of Jerusalem sent help, choosing Barnabus to go and be the help. He arrived and “exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord” (vs. 23). He began to encourage and give the people reason to continue serving the Lord and get close to Him. He then left and went to get Saul (Paul), the one he stood up for and presented to the apostles when everyone was afraid of him (9:27). Barnabus was a blessing, encouragement and help to every person he came in contact with. My desire is to be a blessing, encouragement and help to every person I come in contact with, to help them love the Lord more, grow in the Lord, and serve the Lord greater.
Acts 11:22-26 — Smart Men Seek to Help and Seek for Help
In this passage we see that a church of Antioch is in need so the church of Jerusalem sends out Barnabas to go help. Barnabas, according to this passage, was a man you could count on, man of experience, good exhorter, good man, full of the Holy Ghost, full of faith, and a blessed man. But although Barnabas had all these qualities, he went to Tarsus for the specific purpose “for to seek Saul”. I think he went to get help, but he also went to help Saul. This new convert, Saul, needed help and Barnabas has already helped him prior to this (9:27), but Barnabas also can use help on this new assignment. I think wise men know they can help others but they also know that they need help. Did Barnabas help Saul more than Saul helped Barnabas? It was mutual, neither could’ve done it without the other. It was God-orchestrated. But as wise men, both repeated again the process of helping others and getting help — later Barnabas helping Mark and Saul helping Timothy, while their companions helped them.
Acts 10 — God Reveals things in His Time
Story starts with life of Cornelius and moves to Peter taking a nap while waiting to eat. He has a vision and in that vision a sheet comes down of all beast and the Lord tells him to take and eat it. Peter said he could not eat the unclean but the Lord told him to not call unclean that which he has cleaned (repeated 3 times in total). Vs. 17 says that Peter really couldn’t figure out the meaning of this vision and while thinking on it, the servant of Cornelius came looking for Peter. Peter was told by the Sprit to go so he went with the men to Cornelius’ house. When he arrived (vs. 28), Peter tells Cornelius that he shouldn’t be there b/c he was a Jew and going to eat with this Gentile, but God showed him to not call unclean what God has called clean. It amazes me that at first Peter was confused what the Lord meant (by the dream) but later he understands clearly what God meant. And many times in my life I do not understand why something happens or what the Lord wants to teach me, but I should learn to hold on because it could be, as it was with Peter, that later down the road the Lord reveals to me what he taught me earlier.