June 10, 2013
Beginning this week we want to do a four-week study on the cost of discipleship and revival.
There Is a Price to Pay
Salvation does not cost any person anything, because salvation is freely bestowed upon those who believe. Don’t let anyone rob you of this blessed truth. Ephesians 2:8, 9 states, For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Romans 6:23 says, For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Our Saviour shed His precious blood upon the cross over 2,000 years ago to redeem sinners. To be saved, one must receive this precious gift, the Lord Jesus Christ, for the remission of sin. When the transaction occurs God immediately gives eternal life to the receiver of His gift.
Friend, it is free. Because of it one can exuberantly say with Paul, Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15).
The Price Paid by Christ
A. His home
God’s gift cost the Saviour everything. This included the relinquishing of His heavenly home for a period of 33 years. Philippians 2:5-8 beautifully pictures the sacrifice: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Yes, He loved you and left the beauty of the “Holy City” to die an agonizing death upon Calvary. He said, I came down from heaven (John 6:38). Again, I am the living bread which came down from heaven (John 6:51). He loved you and gave himself for you (see Galatians 2:20).
B. His reputation
God’s gift also cost the Lord Jesus Christ His reputation. Philippians 2:7: [He] made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. His enemies tried to drag His holy name into the depths of degradation. Listen to them: He casteth out devils through the prince of devils (Matthew 9:34). He hath an unclean spirit (Mark 3:30). He hath a devil and is mad (John 10:20). “He is an illegitimate child.” They said even that? Absolutely. His sermon so convicted the sinners of His day that they, in retaliation, shouted, We be not born of fornication (John 8:41). Christ bore all of this abusive language because of His great love for the lost including you.
C. His happiness
God’s gift also cost Christ great sorrow. He could say in Matthew 26:28, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. He beheld the city, and wept over it (Luke 19:41). Again in Luke 22:44: And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Medical men state that blood is held in one’s body by capillaries. When they burst, blood seeps through the skin. Jesus prayed so agonizingly over the souls of men that His capillaries shattered, His blood seeped through His skin, and beads of blood and water ran from His brow to the ground. Oh, how Jesus loved the lost.
Hebrews 12:2 looks ahead to the joy anticipated because of the sorrow endured: Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him [seeing the redeemed in His presence] endured the cross.
D. His life
God’s gift also cost Christ His life. Psalm 22 prophetically depicts the event. Listen to the Saviour as He hangs, fastened by spikes, to the cross: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? Verse 6: But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. Verses 13-16: They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. Do you hear the agonizing groans of the Lord as he pays the price of salvation for you?
Isaiah, the prophet, also portrays the ignominious scene in chapter 53:1-5: Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Paul says, Christ died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). John adds, He loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood (Revelation).
Multitudes more of the “saved by grace without cost” crowd never win lost souls to Christ. Million slip into hell forever and forever and forever while believers fill their daily schedules with temporal earthly pursuits. They fail to witness because their exalted image could become tarnished by the taunts of those Christ-haters who belittle them. They might be called fanatics, fools, idiots, imbeciles, or Jesus freaks. Are we better than Christ who was called demented and mad in John 10:20? Are we better than Paul who said in 1 Corinthians 4:10, We are fools for Christ? God forgive us for not paying the cost of discipleship.
Let’s investigate the price some of God’s people paid as they followed Jesus.
Stephen, the first deacon, paid all he had by giving his life. In Acts 7:51 we find him preaching a strong, bombastic message naming sin. This kind of preaching is never popular. And [they] ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him (Acts 7:57,58).
The New Testament writers, with the exception of John, laid down their lives for the Saviour. Matthew died from the wounds of a halberd. Mark was dragged through the streets by a team of wild horses until death ensued. Luke was hanged. John was thrown into boiling oil. Though he lived, he was disfigured for life. Peter and Jude were crucified, and James was smashed to death by a club. Paul, last but not least, suffered more than the others combined.
He could say in 1 Corinthians 4:10-13, We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted [beaten], and have no certain dwelling place; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the off- of all things unto this day. In 1 Corinthians 15:31, he says, I die daily.
In 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 he continues, We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed: Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.
Again, 2 Corinthians 11:23-28: In labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, and fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
Think of it. Five times they scourged Paul with the forerunner of the Roman cat-o-nine-tails. Three times they used clubs on his body and once they crushed his head with rocks. Thinking he was dead, they discarded his body at the garbage dump of Lystra (see Acts 14:19).
Salvation is free, but it is not cheap. Discipleship that brings crowns and rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ is costly. Those who do not sacrifice here will have nothing in that day. They shall stand in Christ’s presence ashamed (see 1 John 2:28). They shall suffer loss of all rewards (see 1 Corinthians 3:15).
One who is a disciple, a follower of Christ throughout this earthly, pilgrimage, has no regrets as eternity approaches. Listen to Paul again in 2 Timothy 4:6-8. He is about to have his life ended by decapitation beheading. His head will soon roll from his body as the sword severs it. Is he remorseful, regretful, and sorry? Would he like to relive life without all of the sorrow experienced as Christ’s follower? You be the judge. He says, For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course. I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. There are no regrets-he is going home to be with Jesus forever.
Christian, get a copy of Fox’s Book of Martyrs. It will revolutionize your life as you see the price Christians have paid throughout history. They were grateful for free salvation and gave their all out of gratitude. Let me share two illustrations from this volume:
In the year 258 AD, three hundred Christians jumped into fires at Utica rather than renounce the Lord Jesus Christ.
In 304 AD, Timothy and Mara heard a knock at the door. A voice said, “Give us your Scripture portions that we may burn them.”
They replied, “Never. We would rather have you burn us.”
They took Timothy, removed his eyes, threw him in front of his wife, and said, “Now let him read his Bible.”
Six weeks later, the agents returned saying, “Will you renounce Jesus today?”
They then took this godly couple, and hanged them in trees in view of their little children. All this because they loved Jesus.
Salvation is free, but it is not cheap. Some of you have been treating it cheaply. Why not dedicate your life anew today. Get rid of habits, coldness, lukewarmness, and the spirit of unconcern that has hindered your growth in the Lord.
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
Have you ever wondered how the world must look to a little baby? After nine months of confinement, tucked close beneath its mother’s heart, the world must seem a strange, vast place.
Looking up from its crib, perhaps a little one’s first awareness is of faces looking down. Probably the first person to attract the baby’s attention would be its mother.
“Who is this person?” might be the baby’s first question, if it could speak. I’m told that the miraculous, divinely-planned bonding between child and mother begins almost immediately after birth. Many experts believe a baby even recognizes its mother’s voice from months of hearing it inside the womb.
And the baby’s next question might be, “Who is that man?” Given the proper time, care, and attention from the male parent, the infant will grow to recognize and love its father, too. Throughout every stage of its growth and development, that child needs the influence and nurture of both a mother and father. Expressing affection to the child in a positive way, like hugging, is important in developing a sense of security.
Sorry to say, too often there is not enough of a relationship between fathers and children. There is too little male bonding. Some recent studies have determined that a great many men spend only about ten minutes a day with their children. As a result, fathers are virtual strangers to their offspring. Children can’t identify with their father-they don’t know who he is or what he stands for. They would find it impossible to say what their dad’s outlook and philosophy is.
This condition is one of the sad and serious consequences of homes broken by divorce. There are millions of single-parent homes where children grow up never knowing the influence of a man in the house.
Even in homes with mothers and fathers, sometimes dads spend too many hours watching TV, or involving themselves in hobbies or activities that take them away from their children. Sometimes, even church activities can keep men really busy with Sunday and Wednesday services, and perhaps one or two other nights of serving on boards or committees.
Because of the hectic pace of modem life… and possibly even because of the demented, evil behavior of a small percentage of men who victimize and abuse youngsters-the normal, healthy bond of intimacy between father’s and children is deteriorating.
In recent months, there seems to be a new emphasis on developing positive parent-child relationships-especially with fathers. I applaud this and encourage every Christian father to invest more time and interest in his children. Almost nothing is more important to the whole family’s welfare than for the man of the house to be a real father.
As I look back over my childhood and teenage years, I realize what an important role my dad, Rex Shelton, played in my life. And looking around at the multiplied thousands of youngsters who have absolutely no father-image, or a father who takes little or no interest in them, or even worse, a father who persecutes and abuses them, my heart goes out to them.
No wonder our youth are out of control, our families deteriorating, and our nation veering disastrously off course! God, give us fathers-godly men like my precious dad!
Caring and sharing
I knew my father. He was a real, flesh and blood, down-to-earth person. He was not afraid to share his struggles and troubles openly…not to burden his children but to let us see how he worked through hard times and faced adversity…and how he trusted God. He openly showed us the reality of Christian living.
Dad had a big heart. He cared for others, and always was quick to extend a helping hand. Dad came from a family of eight children, and he even helped take care of his brothers and sisters, taking responsibility for them until they were old enough to be on their own.
My dad was tenderhearted… and not afraid of tears. He was moved by the feelings of others. If I cried, often he cried too, sharing my sorrow, and offering comfort and encouragement. I always knew he cared.
He also was free-spirited and fun loving, and never outgrew the joy of playing. I remember going swimming and water skiing, and tobogganing with him in the snow. Once, when I was just a little girl, Dad and I were out walking in the snow and I got so cold I couldn’t stand it. Dad picked me up, put me inside his coat, wrapping it snugly around the both of us. I felt so secure in his arms-protected, safe, warm, and loved.
That’s really how Dad made me feel all my life. I never remember him saying, “Leave me alone-I don’t have time for you right now.” He made time for me when I needed and wanted him-he was always there, physically and emotionally.
When I had a serious tooth problem and had to go to the dentist for a root canal, it was Dad who took me and held my hand through the frightening ordeal. And it was Dad who taught me to face reality, putting Merthiolate on a scrape and saying, “Rexella, this WILL hurt-but it will help you get well.”
Dad knew how to make me feel special. Sometimes I’d follow him out into the backyard garden-just because I enjoyed walking with him and looking at the vegetables. He’d find the biggest and best red tomato in the whole garden and give it to me, along with a salt shaker he’d carried in his pocket just for that walk.
Children love to know what their fathers do. My dad was a quality control inspector on a General Motors auto assembly line. I’ll never forget when he took me to see his work. I was so proud of him-I thought he was so important. It made me look up to him even more.
My father did not send me to church with my mother-he took us to church as a family. I started singing at church when I was about five years old. When I’d look out at the congregation, Dad was always there and his face shone with approval!
Years later, when Jack and I were young evangelists, whenever we were within 50-100 miles of home, Dad would drive over to be in our services. Sometimes it meant he could only sleep four or five hours that night because he was up each morning at 5:30 a.m. for work.
I’ve always thought it must be profoundly painful to be publicly ridiculed or disciplined by one’s parent. Dad always corrected me privately. I sometimes needed correction-and I got it! But Dad never humiliated me or made my misdeeds a public spectacle. And he used my mistakes as opportunities to teach me a better way.
Once I was trying to train a puppy to do tricks-with little results. I got so exasperated that I was yelling! Dad came out with a handful of treats and said, “Try using these as rewards-it will work better.” Then he told me that when he was a boy, his mother had taught him to use sugar cubes instead of a stick to train his horse. I never forgot that lesson.
I was so fortunate-so blessed to have a good father. It was never difficult for me to understand or receive God’s love because I had experienced the love of an earthly father. I could believe God would take my burdens (Psalm 55:22), supply my needs (Philippians 4:19), protect me (Psalm 91:11), direct me (Proverbs 3:5,6), and give me everlasting life and love (John 3:16). My earthly father had exemplified all these things to me. If Dad had these qualities, how could I doubt that God had them to the ultimate degree?
My dad taught me how to live. And he also taught me how to die. When my father’s life came to an end, I remember the whole family gathering in his hospital room to spend the last precious hours with him. He suffered in dignity…and died in peace.
Shortly before he crossed over into heaven, I was alone with Dad for a few minutes. I asked, “Dad, we don’t have a lot of time left to be together here in this world. Is there anything you have to tell me?”
He was quiet for a long moment, then he squeezed my hand gently and said, “Fulfill the reason for which you’ve been born!” Those words have been my goal ever since. And with all the strength and wisdom I can summon, each day I try to give my best…to the work of God that is my life’s calling.
Walking through the valley
Not long after this happened. Dad stirred a bit and said, “Look, I’m walking through the valley!”
“Who is waiting for you on the other side?” I asked, as tears streamed down my cheeks.
“My Lord,” he said. “My Lord is waiting.”
In a few minutes, Dad said he needed to rest, but he wanted to pray before he went to sleep. I held his hand as he prayed. He said, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord, my soul to take.”
I knew Dad could lay down to sleep, knowing he had been a good father-that his primary work was done. Like the Apostle Paul, he could say, “I’ve finished the course.”
Looking back fondly, somehow it seems just right that, in his last supplication, Dad would revert to that simple, beautiful child’s bed-time prayer. After all, he was moving into the presence of his Father.
The other day, after an exhausting session before the TV cameras, I was feeling a bit weary and under the weather. For some reason, when I got home I opened an old scrapbook, and a piece of paper fluttered loose. It was a church attendance slip from my childhood days. Written on the back, in Dad’s handwriting, was a note he’d jotted down for me after I’d sung at church. But his words reached across the years and blessed me once again. “Dear Rexella,” I read through my tears, “this was your most beautiful and best yet. Love, Dad.”
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Dear Dr. Van Impe;
I have been a student of yours and supporter of your ministry since I was a young man. I’m 52 years old now. In addition to your weekly broadcasts I also read dozens of prophecy related articles every day and I have noticed something; nearly all of them have picked up on your message lately and are repeating it in their messages to their followers. That is the mark of a true leader – their followers. You have become the teacher of teachers and the leader of leaders. God bless you and your ministry.
Hello Drs. Jack and Rexella,
I felt I needed to send you guys a thank you! Years ago, my husband was led to the Lord after listening to one of Jack’s sermons. He went into his sisters room and “took” a tape thinking there would be some good music on it, and there was a sermon by Jack! I love your boldness and each Sunday evening after church, we enjoy sitting in the den watching your show. You guys are the only folks I know of that give names and specific information. Please continue your work in the Lord Jesus Christ, and we will continue to pray for your safety and good health. Thanks to your program, I have a keen interest in Revelation and end times books as well. I feel that I can’t get enough information and the credit for that longing; I give to your program. May God richly bless you both, and when we are raptured home, I’m certain you will both have many, many crowns to lay at the feet of our Lord!
Love and prayers,
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