Be Still and Know That I Am God

The Bible challenges us with these words: “Be still and know that I am God.” Is it possible for many of us to take this counsel seriously? People of all ages sing the same chorus: we are too busy. We feel guilty when our schedules are not filled with things to do.

Well, there is one who would encourage us to take these words – Be still and know that I am God – seriously. His name is Martin Luther, the reformer of the sixteenth century. This reformation was born during a time when Luther sat silently in the presence of Almighty God as God spoke to him through the Scriptures. Let me share just two of these experiences.

Luther learned in his quiet times that God’s voice will bring peace of mind and soul.

Martin Luther was a man with a brilliant mind and a troubled soul. He had no peace with God. A brilliant theologian, R. C. Sproul, has an excellent lecture on Luther’s mental health in which he raises the question, Was Martin Luther crazy? Sproul, who is an admirer of Luther, would say no. Luther was a great man of God, but at times his behavior was so weird, one could conclude he was not quite normal. Sproul tells us that psychiatrists have studied his life, along with other great minds, and they have concluded Luther suffered from mental illness. We do know that he punished his body.

Roland Bainton, another Luther scholar, writes, “He fasted – sometimes three days on end without a crumb. He cast off the blankets permitted him and nearly froze himself to death. He believed in later life that his austerities had done permanent damage to his digestion.”

Because Luther had no peace with God, he chose to enter the Augustinian monastery at Erfurt, Germany in 1505 at the age of twenty-two years. His superiors soon became aware of his gifted mind, and they gave him opportunities to further his education. In 1512 Luther received the doctor of theology degree of Bible at the University of Wittenberg. It was at the university, while preparing his lectures on the book of Romans, that Luther had his great evangelical experience. He read in Romans 1:17, “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”

Luther met Christ in the Scriptures. The Lord revealed to him that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by our own good works. Now Luther was at peace with God. Christ had atoned for our sins at the cross. Trusting Christ alone, we are forgiven. The burden of Luther’s sin was taken from him. This is the primary message of the Reformation; it is the Gospel.

This is the message that God brings to us in our quiet times. It is the common experience of all Christians to have these great moments with Christ in this quiet time. Many of our abnormal behavior patterns could be eliminated if we only went aside for awhile each day and had our time with God. Many times in my ministry I have seen what the power of the Gospel could do in bringing peace to my soul and to the lives of others.

Luther also received the power of his convictions based on the Bible during those hours he was alone with God.

Now that he was at peace with God through faith in Christ alone, it was Luther’s conviction that the world must hear this message from the Church. He had suffered all of this spiritual and mental turmoil because the Church had not proclaimed the Gospel. This led him to write ninety-five theses that he wanted to debate with church leaders. Luther nailed this document to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg. This marked the beginning of the Reformation.

As Luther continued to be vocal about the Gospel, he was considered a menace to the Church and had to be quieted. Finally, at the age of thirty-eight, he was brought to trial at Worms, Germany. Emperor Charles himself was present, as were some distinguished scholars of the Church. A man by the name of John Eck was chosen to interrogate Luther. The following is a part of the conversation between Eck and Luther.

“Martin, how can you assume that you are the only one to understand the sense of Scripture? Would you put your judgment above that of so many famous men and claim that you know more than they all? You have no right to call into question the most holy orthodox faith, instituted by Christ, the perfect Lawgiver, proclaimed throughout the world. I ask you, Martin, candidly, do you or do you not repudiate your books and the errors which they contain?”

After thinking about Eck’s question for one day, Luther answered with these words:

“Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason, I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise.”

From where did this power of conviction come? He received this power from God when he was still and listened to what God was saying to him.

What can we learn from God’s Word and the experience of Martin Luther on this Reformation Sunday? If we will take some time daily to be alone with God, he will change our lives. He will fill our souls with peace and give us the convictions to make Christ known to others.

I ask you, is this not the kind of person our society needs today? Are they not needed in the world of business, in academia, in government, in education, in the Church? We have a clergy and laity who have the power of their convictions, which must be based on the Word of God. When God has convinced us that our convictions are true to the Word of God, we must be fearless. We cannot accept the modern teaching that God’s Word must be interpreted in the light of the culture in which we live. We are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We cannot let the world shape the Church. The message of the Church, which is God’s Law and Gospel, must shape the world.

How do we find time to be alone with God? If you are a Christian, don’t you believe God should have a high priority in your life? Does He not deserve some of your time, just to be alone with you in His Word? We are not just bodies; we are also souls. Our bodies have to be fed. And our souls also need to be fed so that we might have an inner peace which passes all understanding and a spirit that carries with it strong Biblical convictions.

Lifting a Burden

Have you ever had the joy of forgiving someone who had hurt you, but did not have the courage to ask for your forgiveness? That kind of joy comes from what we call living in the spirit of the Gospel. Because God forgives us daily, we are anxious to forgive others. Let us talk about this. It is something all of us need to hear.

Joseph is our example. Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son. He had ten brothers who hated him, which was understandable because of the favoritism shown by Jacob to Joseph. One day the brothers had an opportunity to sell Joseph to some Ishmaelites, who in turn sold him to King Pharaoh. Joseph soon won the favor of Pharaoh and was made a part of the royal court. There he served as what we might call the secretary of agriculture.

God had given Joseph the ability to interpret dreams. One day he interpreted a dream of Pharaoh’s. Joseph told the king that for seven years the crop would be bounteous. Then they would have a famine lasting seven years. So he recommended that, during the seven good years, a portion of the crop be saved for the more difficult times. Pharaoh accepted Joseph’s interpretation and appointed him to watch over the harvests.

When the famine came and others were starving, the Egyptians had plenty to eat. People from other countries flocked to Egypt to buy grain from Pharaoh’s surplus. Among those who sought food were Joseph’s brothers. When Joseph identified himself, the brothers were afraid he would seek revenge for what they had done to him. This could well mean the end of their lives. However, Joseph assured them he would do them no harm. All was well as long as father Jacob was alive. But then Jacob died, and the fear was revived in the brothers’ souls that Joseph would now kill them. It was then that Joseph spoke these famous words:

“ÔDon’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”

What an example of forgiving someone who did not have the courage to ask for forgiveness! This scene has been relived millions of times since the day Joseph assured his brothers he had forgiven them. It should be the lifestyle of every person who knows what forgiveness in Jesus Christ is all about.

In our morning devotion, my wife and I read this heart-warming story:

“Bill Valentine was umpiring a game between the Detroit Tigers and the New York Yankees. Dave Wickersham was pitching for Detroit, and he had nineteen victories for the season. One more would be a sign of stardom. But it was not to be. After a close play, Wickersham tapped the umpire on the shoulder to ask for a time out. Touching an umpire is against the rules, so Valentine tossed Wickersham from the game Ð depriving him of his chance for a twenty-win season. For the next thirty-nine years, Valentine lived with a gnawing regret for booting the pitcher in that split-second decision. But he does not carry that regret anymore. Last year, Wickersham wrote the umpire a note, telling him he was in the right in his decision, and that he had no hard feelings. That note lifted a weight from Valentine’s shoulders.” (Taken from Our Daily Bread, October, 04). Isn’t this a modern version of Joseph’s story?

Why would Joseph’s brothers fear he would kill them? If they had been in Joseph’s place, any of them would have killed the brothers who had sold him. That was their reasoning as they visited with each other about what they considered the apparent danger to this lives. One would have said, “Think about what we did to Joseph. Now what would we do if we were in Joseph’s place? Likely any of us would say, ÔThis is my chance to get even with those scoundrels who wanted me dead, and we would have seen that the execution was carried out.

Like Joseph’s brothers, we live with a spirit of retaliation. It is a part of man’s fallen nature. To forgive a person who has hurt us badly seems unreal. Yet we long for the relationship between the two of us to be restored. Joseph wanted to forget the past and enjoy his brothers for as long as they lived.

“Well,” you might say, “this story does not seem to relate to our culture. People do not carry guilt around like once they did.” Don’t be too sure about that.

What about the parents who feel they have failed their children? The abuse of alcohol had hurt their relationship. Or they were always so busy with their own agenda socializing or working hard to provide the money that was necessary to raise a family on today’s high standard of living. The years had gone by and they were not there as they should have been for those kids. Think of the relief it would bring those parents if they received a letter written by the grown kids saying, “We forgive you. Let’s get on with life. We love you!”

Consider the guilt that could be in the soul of a person who was unfaithful to his or her spouse. A night spent with another person while the faithful spouse was at home. Then comes the day when the truth becomes known. The guilty spouse needs to hear these words from the other: “I forgive you.” Impossible? Not if you live with a forgiving heart, because daily you are the recipient of God’s grace.

Or think of the son or daughter who has broken dad and mom’s hearts. Then one day mother and dad send a message to the guilt-ridden heart saying, ÔWatching you destroy your life and waste the many opportunities you had was difficult. We are not trying to hide any feelings. This is from the bottom of our hearts. We love you. We want to enjoy you and your own family now. Whatever you did that hurt us is completely, 100 percent, forgiven. You are our son and daughter whom we love, and you make us proud.”

Guilt needs to be forgiven Ð first by God, and then by the person offended or hurt.

The Bible concludes the story of Joseph and his brothers with these words: “Joseph stayed in Egypt along with all of his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years. Then Joseph said to the brothers, ÔI am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised by oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.'”

That happy time is for all our families if, in Christ, we have learned how to forgive others and to receive forgiveness from those whom we have hurt Ð whether it is God or man.

Judge Not – What Did Jesus Mean?

Jesus’ words, “judge not,” are often quoted in a day when absolutes are not held in high regard and relativism has been honored as a part of our society. Critics of the Christian faith tell the followers of Jesus that our judgmental attitude is extremely divisive. It divides families, friends, nations, and our world. Christians are often sharply rebuked when asked by their opponents, “Why don’t you take Jesus’ words – judge not – seriously?” That leads us to ask, how does the Bible interpret these words of our Lord?

Those of you who read the Bible know there are many passages that are spoken by Jesus or one of his Apostles where judgments are involved. Let’s look at two such portions of God’s Word.

In Matthew 18:15-17 Jesus talks to us about dealing with an erring brother who has fallen into open sin. These are His words:

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

It is obvious that the brother had to be judged wrong for living in a manner that was contrary to God’s Law. We have to ask, was Jesus inconsistent?

St. Paul is also guilty of judging brothers and sisters in the faith. Here are some of the Apostles words:

“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord” (I Corinthians 5:1-5).

Paul tells the congregation to excommunicate this person from the congregation. If he is permitted to stay, he will have a bad influence on others in the congregation. Certainly there was judgment going on in such a case. Has Paul forgotten what Jesus said about not judging others? How would he respond to a critic who tells Paul he is judgmental, and that is wrong?

I personally believe that we do not have a complete answer to the dilemma of Jesus’ statement telling us not to judge others, and then Scripture telling us that we have to make judgements. John Stott, the British clergyman and evangelical leader, writes, “In our creation we were given the ability to make value judgments. How can we obey His teaching if we do not evaluate the performances of others? God expects us to use our critical judgments.”

Mark Dever, a Baptist clergyman from Washington, D.C., writes, “Whatever Jesus means in saying judge not, he didn’t mean to rule out rebuking people in the Church for their behavior that is contrary to God’s Word.”

In our text Paul speaks strongly about judging people: “I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral or the greedy and swindler, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler” (vs. 9-11).

Using the entire New Testament as our authority, we can make definite conclusions regarding life among Christians and the necessary judgments that must be made based on the teaching of God’s Word. Here are a few insights:

1. When Jesus said, “judge not,” the reference was to judging a person’s eternal destiny. Judgment, used in this sense of the word, belongs to God. He made it clear that the only way to heaven is through faith in Christ Jesus. Where this person stands in his or her relationship to the Lord Jesus is between God and that individual. It is not for any human to sentence a person to heaven or hell.

2. The Bible leaves no doubt that, while Christians are not perfect people there must be a difference between the behavior of the Christian and one who is not a Christian. If there is no difference between the two, the Church has lost its witness to the world. Dishonesty in our business dealing is where Christians have been stumbling blocks to the world.

3. While eternal judgment belongs to God, a loving rebuke to those in the church who are living contrary to God’s will is the Church’s responsibility. But how far do we go in being our brother’s keeper? In cases where there is open defiance to God’s will, Paul counsels us to expel this member. In dealing with lesser cases, a loving conversation that confronts the person with his or her wrong should be done. We are God’s family, and being concerned about another’s behavior is a loving act. For example, your friend is keeping company with another man. You know it. Her husband does not know it. Above all, God knows it. What is your responsibility to this woman? Go to her and talk about what she is doing. Jesus says, “If she listens to you, you have won a sister.”

Many of our congregations’ by-laws provide for church discipline, but seldom is it used in most churches with whom I am acquainted. H. E. Dana said it well, “The abuse of church discipline is reprehensible and destructive, but not more than the abandonment of discipline.”

4. The reason for our action should be to help the person. There is no other reason.

5. The judgment of another person’s behavior must be done on the basis of God’s Law and not our own pious thoughts. There is enough in the Ten Commandments without adding others of our own making.

Well, these few comments have not exhausted the subject of judging others. Let us not set this subject aside. We are tempted in this day of wide open living to let anything go. When a voice of concern about the behavior of a person is voiced, the condemnation of a post-modern culture reigns upon him or her.

Eternal judgment belongs to God, but to lovingly confront an erring brother or sister in the Lord is the church’s responsibility to its own. God grant that my brothers and sisters will love me so much that they will come when I show an unrepentant spirit to the things of God. And God grant that we might love each other so much we will go to him or her when the need is apparent.

Ashamed of Jesus

“I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentiles.”

Those were the words that Paul spoke to the church in Rome. Now he writes to a young man, Timothy, “Don’t be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me, his prisoner.”

Timothy was a young pastor who had come from a spiritually-divided home. His mother and grandmother were Christians, however his father was not. Paul took an interest in Timothy and became his spiritual father. He took him on mission trips and instructed the young man in how to minister to people with the Gospel. Their relationship had grown to be very close. So it was natural for Paul, while sitting in a dark Roman prison, to write, “I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy.”

When he wrote these words, Paul was expecting to be martyred anytime. They had imprisoned him in Rome earlier. This was a nice imprisonment, if you can ever call being incarcerated nice. He had an apartment, and the only inconvenience was that a guard was always watching to see that Paul did not escape. People came to visit the Apostle, and he had the joy of leading many of them to Christ.

However, his second imprisonment was very difficult. He was on death row. Emperor Nero was determined to do away with the Christians. They had become too bothersome to him, and now it was Paul’s turn to die for Christ and his faith in the Savior.

During this time of waiting, Paul did much thinking. One of his most important questions was who will continue his work after he is gone. Having concluded that Timothy was the logical person to succeed him, Paul was considering some of Timothy’s weaknesses that needed to be strengthened. Paul had noticed that Timothy, at certain times, did not take a definite stand for Christ as quickly as he should have done.

We should stop right here and apply this message to ourselves Ð do not be ashamed of Jesus. Jesus had warned against this temptation. He says, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).

What does it mean to be ashamed of a person? This dictionary defines being ashamed as “embarrassed to be identified with a person.” The mother of a screeching child in a grocery store might fit this definition. She assumes that all observing the temper tantrum are wondering what kind of mother she is not to have better control of her child. In a more serious way, Jesus confronts us with the thought that we could be tempted not to be identified with him on certain occasions.

Such was the case with Peter in the courtyard when he was asked, “Aren’t you one of His disciples?” Peter denied it saying he did not know Jesus. He was ashamed momentarily, but he was ashamed of Jesus nevertheless.

Do you suppose that Paul, in the early months of his Christian life, could have been ashamed of Jesus? We know that he returned to Troas, his hometown, after his conversion. Suppose one of his boyhood friends asked, “Paul, is it true that you are a Christian?” He might have been a bit reluctant to say he was a follower of Jesus. This is pure speculation, but in his spiritual immaturity it could well have happened.

So it would not have been surprising if Timothy, at times, would have been ashamed of Jesus and being a close friend of Paul. It was for this reason that Paul counseled the young man to confess Jesus as his Savior and Lord, no matter what the circumstances were.

When are some of these times that we are ashamed of our Lord? Could it be when we have every opportunity to identify ourselves with Jesus, but we simply remain silent? Why were we silent? Being the only Christian in the bunch is not always easy. I am often asked to pray before a meal in some public place. I look around and see many people who confess to be Christian, and they are very articulate. Why was one of them not asked to pray? Do we need a specialist to do our praying? Might it be embarrassing to make your relationship with Christ known to your friends?

It is also true that witnessing for the power of Christ in your life can bring suffering. For Paul, it was death. For us, it could be social exclusion from the group whose fellowship we enjoy.

What is there about the Gospel that brings suffering? It tells others that I am dependent on God for everything, and I must bow down to Him. We independent people do not appreciate being beholden to anyone including Jesus. All of this makes me appreciate the testimony of some prominent people like Kurt Warner, the great football player. Never does he hesitate to tell others of what Christ has done for him and his family. Then there is Bernard Langer, the famous German golfer. He won a golf tournament on Easter some years ago. When the media interviewed him and remarked what a great day it must be for him, Langer replied, “Easter is a great day for all Christians who believe in the resurrection.” The testimonies are many.

What a testimony Paul left for Timothy and all of us in the hour of his death. “I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day” (12).

Just remember. Jesus is not ashamed of us. He obviously is ashamed of many things that we do, for they are contrary to His will. However, he takes us as we are. He reaches out to us and says, “You are my child forever.”

The Church Marches On

In this sermon, we consider an imaginary conversation with a friend who knows little about the Christian faith. This person has some interest in the Church, yet has had no experiential knowledge of Christianity. Our friend comes to us with four questions, seeking answers. We will try to help him understand a bit more about the Church and the faith.

Question one. How did the Church of Jesus Christ begin?

In Matthew 16, Jesus was visiting with his disciples. He asked the question, “Who do you say that I am?”

Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus responded, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father, who is in heaven. You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

This was the first mention of the word, “Church.” I am sure many of the disciples had no understanding of what Jesus meant when he said, “I will build my Church.”

Many months after that experience in Caesarea Philippi, the disciples were gathered in Jerusalem. They had gone through stormy days. Jesus had suffered, died, and was raised again. Forty days after his resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven, and his parting words to them were to remain in Jerusalem. Ten days after the ascension, the Holy Spirit came in a unique way. He bestowed his power upon those disciples, and they began to tell the story of Jesus and salvation. At the end of that day, three thousand people were baptized into the name of Jesus Christ and confessed him as Savior and Lord. Thus, the early Church had its birthday. You see, those who are baptized believers in Christ are members of the Church.

Question two. What place did the leaders play in the establishment and life of the early Church?

Leaders were and are very important in the Church, but no individual leader is indispensable. St. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, tells us clearly that the apostles and prophets laid the foundation for the Church, but Jesus Christ Himself is the chief cornerstone. It is Christ who holds the Church together. People are prone to believe that if an outstanding leader dies, something drastic will happen in the Church. This is not true. Even after the passing of this great leader, Paul, the Church of Jesus Christ moved on simply because it is Christ’s Church and belongs to no one person.

We can best illustrate this teaching in the person of St. Paul himself. Paul was the Church’s greatest leader. You can be sure there were those who felt that after Paul’s death the Church would decline in power and influence. Now this great leader sat in prison in Rome. The imprisonment was not difficult. According to our text, he lived in a rented house, and the only inconvenience was he had a guard who watched over him at all times. While in prison at Rome, Paul was supported by fellow Christians who came to visit him. He was irritated by Jews who refused to receive Christ as Savior. However, he rejoiced in the new converts whom he introduced to the Lord Jesus.

After spending about two years in prison at Rome, Paul was released. During that time he traveled in the Mediterranean, visiting such places as Crete. Some believe he got as far as Spain. While he was in Spain, Rome burned. The great fire lasted six days, beginning on July 18. Nero, the emperor, decided to blame the Christians for burning the city, and consequently could sentence them all to death. It was in that persecution, during Nero’s reign, that Peter was martyred. However, Paul was spared; he was supposedly in Spain.

One might wonder why Paul returned to Rome. He would have been safer anywhere, but Rome. However, he did return, and shortly thereafter was martyred. The historians set the date as late as 66 or 67 A.D. Paul was dead, but the Church of Jesus Christ moved on. No single leader was nor is indispensable.

Question three. What made the Church grow?

Lars Qualben, in his church history, gives nine reasons why the Church grew. Time does not permit us to discuss all nine reasons listed by Dr. Qualben, but I would like to mention two of them for our purposes in this sermon.

First, people’s hearts were captured by Jesus Christ. They believed He alone was the way to heaven. Christ had died for them; He had been raised. Through that suffering, death, and resurrection, Jesus offered all people the complete forgiveness of their sins. This great message so thrilled the hearts of those who believed that they bore witness to it whenever they had the opportunity.

Second, the lives of the believers supported their verbal testimony. People were drawn to the gospel. They sensed a peace, joy, and love in the lives of these Christians that they had not experienced. They came to understand that only Jesus Christ could fill the emptiness in life. They were soon convinced that only Christ could quench the thirst they experienced. Today believers in Christ have that same experience. From a human point of view, it is the Christian witness that the Holy Spirit uses in making the Church grow.

Question four. What is the Church’s future?

If our inquisitive friend were here, I would ask him to come and stand with me in the pulpit. Looking into the faces of the persons there, I would say, “Those in the congregation who trust Christ as their Savior and Lord are the people God will use to make the Church grow.”

Then I would ask my friend, “Why did you ask about the Church’s future?”

He then might reply, “I have been interested in the Church for a long time. As I have traveled through Scandinavia and northern Germany, I attended worship in many churches. No matter where I went in those countries, attendance in the churches was small. The church buildings were beautiful, but they had become museums or concert halls. They all have nice organs, beautiful stained glass windows, and the architecture was something to behold. Yet, where were the people? I thought, maybe it is just the Lutheran family in Christendom that is not faithful in attending worship services.

I then traveled to England. I came to the great St. Paul’s Cathedral, an Anglican Church. There again I saw the beautiful church structures, but few worshipers.

I came to America. There I visited some large churches in the metropolitan areas. There were few worshipers there, also. This caused me to wonder if the church is passŽ.

We pick up on the answer of our friend that the church might be passŽ, and tell him the future of the Church, from a human point of view, is dependent on the Christians’ witness. Christ builds his Church. The Holy Spirit makes believers out of unbelievers, but Christ has appointed all of us who are believers to be his ambassadors. He makes his appeal to an unbelieving world through believers. The Church of Jesus Christ will continue to move on. When Christ returns, the Church will be here. Remember what He said, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” That is His promise. Whether or not it will continue in this part of the world is dependent upon the Christian witness.

Now our friend could well be saying, “My, you Christians have a might challenge!”

How right he is. This is the challenge the Church has in any period of history. God grant that we will understand our divine calling.