No Wheelbarrow, No Salvation!

No Wheelbarrow, No Salvation!

One of the greatest tightrope walkers the world has ever seen was a man named Charles Blondin— or, as he was known internationally, the Great Blondin.  Charles Blondin was born on February 28, 1924 and rose to international fame by being the first person to tightrope across Niagara Falls.  He was a master showman, highly skilled at his craft, and gifted with a unique, riveting flair for the dramatic.  For the better part of three decades he entertained huge, mesmerized audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

But his greatest feat took place on June 30, 1959, when he became the first man to cross the great Niagara Gorge or, as we call it today, Niagara Falls.

On that day over twenty-five thousand people gathered on both the American and Canadian sides of the Falls to watch the Great Blondin attempt the impossible.  He was to walk on a thin rope only 2 inches in diameter and made entirely of hemp, stretched 1,100 feet across the gorge, and suspended 160 feet above the raging river— all without any safety net or harness.  One small slip, one slight loss of concentration and focus, one unforeseen gust of wind, and the Great Blondin would fall 16 stories to his death.

The crowd watched with nervous anticipation and he slowly, carefully, step by step, one foot in front of the other, made his way along the swaying rope, crossing a distance of over three football fields in 23 minutes.  When he finally reached the Canadian side, the crowd burst into a roar of triumphant applause.

But the Great Blondin wasn’t finished.

Over the next few days he walked across Niagara Falls many times and each time with increasing dramatic theatrics.  Today’s walk, it seemed, must be greater than yesterday’s show.  One time he walked across blindfolded.  Another time on wooden stilts.  Still another while wearing shackles and another while wearing a gunny sack.  He crossed riding a bicycle, he crossed in the dark, and one time he carried a stove on his back and cooked and ate an omelet over the middle of the Falls.  With each crossing he pushed the limit of what the audience believed he could do and each time they responded in praise and adulation for the Great Blondin.  It seemed they believed he could do anything on a tightrope. “Nothing,” they said, “was too difficult for the Great Blondin!”

One day he walked across Niagara Falls pushing a wooden wheelbarrow.  The audience enthusiastically cheered .  Then he placed 350 pounds of cement in the wheelbarrow and made the return trip.  When he arrived back at the American side, the crowds broke into thunderous applause.

Looking at a man who seemed to be cheering the loudest, the Great Blondin asked him, “Do you believe I am able to carry a man across in this wheelbarrow?”  The man eagerly proclaimed, “Yes!  I believe you can.  In fact, I know you can!”  To which the Great Blondin replied, “Then get in.”

The man refused.

Blondin then turned and addressed the watching crowd.  “Do you believe I am able to carry a man across the Falls in this wheelbarrow?”  They all responded loudly, “Yes!”  And again, “Which one of you will get into the wheelbarrow and let me push him across?”

They all refused.

No one was willing to get into the wheelbarrow.  No one was willing to place their life in the hands of the Great Blondin.  No one was willing to have him push them across the Falls, yet they all firmly believed he could do it.  In fact, they’d just seen him push 350 pounds of cement across in that very wheelbarrow but refused, to the man, to get into the wheelbarrow themselves.  Why?  What’s the disconnect between faith and trust.  What’s the difference between simple belief in something or someone and trusting them with your very life?

Simply this: It’s the difference between saving faith and non-saving faith.  It’s the difference between true salvation and being deceived into thinking you belong to Christ.  It’s the difference between the wide road of destruction and the narrow path of eternal life Jesus warned about (Matt. 7:13-14).  And it’s the difference between a living eternity in heaven with Christ and all that means, or a horrid eternity of dark torment in hell.

It’s the difference between life and death, light and darkness, heaven and hell.


No Wheelbarrow, No Salvation

Are you one of the ones that believe the Great Blondin can do what you’ve seen him do, yet you refuse to place your life in his hands, you refuse to get into the wheelbarrow?

You see, eternal life with Christ does not come from simple, cognitive belief.  Just believing is not enough.  You might believe in Jesus.  You might even believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for your sins.  You may even believe He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of the Father.  You may even go so far as to believe Jesus will someday come again to defeat Satan and bring in eternal righteousness.  You may even believe that day is coming soon… but none of that belief alone leads to salvation.  None.

Why?  Because Satan also believes the same things about Jesus (James 2:19).  In fact, Satan doesn’t just believe, he knows Jesus is the Son of God.  Satan knows He rose from the dead and he knows Jesus is coming soon to judge the living and the dead and that thought makes him tremble (1 Tim 4:1).  Yet Satan defiantly refuses to bend his knee to the Lordship of Jesus (Rom. 10:9) and Satan will spend eternity in “everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).  Do you believe like Satan believes?

It doesn’t have to be that way.  Your life now and your future eternity can be different.  But please know, your time is running out.

Head knowledge, mental assent, is not enough for salvation.  Believing the Great Blondin can take a man across Niagara Falls in a wheelbarrow is not enough— unless you are willing to be that man.  You’ve got to be willing to get into that wheelbarrow.  You can’t watch from the sidelines and think you’re saved.  You’ve got to place your faith and trust, your entire life into the hands of the Lord Jesus, for salvation to take place.  You’ve got to surrender your will to Him, everything.

Jesus’ terms are simple:  It’s all or nothing.  Jesus gives you all that He is for all that you are.  It’s called the Great Exchange: His Perfect Life for Your Broken Life.  You give Him your life, all of your life, the good and the bad, and He comes to live in You.  Permanently.  Forever.

You must die for Him to live.  It’s called being born again and it’s the most amazing thing this side of heaven (John 3:3-4).


Not What We Say, But What We Do

If you claim to be a Christian, you’re probably pretty mad right now that I would be so bold as to “judge” you and your spiritual life.  And I know that if you had a Facebook page, you would probably put “Follower of Jesus” or “Christian” or something like that as your religion tag.  But look at your life.  Look at the fruits of your years of living.  How much of it has any eternal value or significance?  How much of what you do every day gives glory to the God you claim to serve?  How much of your actions and deeds are good, holy, just and righteous?  Jesus called them fruits, “spiritual fruits” that the Holy Spirit alone gives those who belong to Him (Matt. 7:16-20).  In fact, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”

Did you get that?  It’s not those who say they believe in Jesus that will enter the kingdom of heaven, it’s those who “do the will of the Father.”  It’s not our words, but spiritual fruits that only the Holy Spirit gives.

Examine yourself.  Are these the spiritual fruits you have manifest in your life?  If not, be honest with yourself.  You know you’re not a Christian.  And if you would let yourself think beyond the immediate, you know you’re not going to heaven.

And that breaks my heart.  I know we, the church, have failed you many times and haven’t lived the Christ-like example we should before you.  I ask for your forgiveness for our failures. But I also ask you don’t judge Jesus by me or any other Christian.  We’re a poor example of who He is.  He’s all love and, as you know, we’re not.  He’s gracious and forgiving, and we’re not. He’s more than I can describe and more than you’ll ever need or want— but you must put your trust, your entire life into His hands and let Him change you from the person you are into His own image, the person He created you to be.  He doesn’t want to make you better, He wants to make you new.


Just Ask

All you have to do is ask— and then get into the wheelbarrow and let Him take you wherever He wants.  You must put your entire life into His hands and hold nothing back.

My dream and prayer is for you to know and experience Jesus for who He really is and not who you think He is or who the church has portrayed Him to be.  He’s far more than anything you can imagine (Eph. 3:20-21).  In fact, my prayer for you has been the same as Paul’s prayer for those he loved.  He says to those he loves the same thing I want to say to you:

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come (Eph. 1:17-21).

Don’t wait.  Get into the wheelbarrow.  Give everything to Him.  Ask Him, beg Him to be the Lord of your life and watch the transforming power of His Spirit change everything about you and make the rest of your life a blessing to many.

Ask Him today.

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Malachi:  The Book of Remembrance

Malachi: The Book of Remembrance

Message from Malachi

A Prophetic Warning to the Church

The Book of Remembrance

“Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them;
so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name”

Malachi 3:16

For the seventh and final time the priests in the days of Malachi demand God be more specific in how He was chastising them for their apathy, disrespect and sin.  First, God said He loved them.  And, like spoiled, ungrateful children they responded to His love by saying, “In what way have You loved us?” (Mal. 1:2).  From there, six more times, God lovingly corrects His priests and people and yet they have the arrogance and gall to call God’s hand and demand He provide them proof of what He was saying about them.  They said:

“In what way have we despised Your name?” (Mal. 1:6).
“In what way have we defiled You?” (Mal. 1:7).
“In what way have we wearied Him (God)?” (Mal. 2:17).
“In what way shall we return?” (Mal. 3:7).
“In what way have we robbed You?” (Mal. 3:8).

Finally, God says to His servants, “Your words have been harsh against Me.”  And they quickly reply, “What have we spoken against You?” (Mal. 3:13).  In effect, we reject what You are saying about us, God, and demand You produce evidence to support Your claim.  Really?

So God, gracious and loving, ever patient and forgiving, presents the evidence they demanded.  He has heard what they have been saying to each other about Him.  He knows their demeaning words spoken in the shadows, in silent whispers, in gossip, about His love, His justice and His faithfulness.  He knows all and hears all.  And their words about Him have been harsh, cutting, and hurtful.

It began in Malachi 2:17 where God’s sense of justice and fairness was questioned and condemned by the people and priests. But God heard their talk, their hushed conversations to each other, and was wearied by their words.  “Everyone,” they claimed, “who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord.  And He delights in them.”

Ouch.  That’s calling the very nature and essence of God into question.  And that’s not a very wise thing to do

Then, they continued in the next chapter by saying, “It is useless to serve God; what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked as mourners before the Lord of hosts?” (Mal. 3:14).

Excuse me.  Let’s just get a few things straight before we go any further.  First, you haven’t kept His ordinance.  Not one little bit.  Have you been listening to what He has been telling you about robbing Him (Mal. 3:8), breaking covenant with your wives (Mal. 2:14), offering defiled food on His altar (Mal. 1:7), and despising His very name (Mal. 1:6)?  And second, saying you are walking around like mourners at a funeral makes one want to laugh.  There’s no mourning over your sin or over the disrespect of your God.  None.  You’re knee deep in guilt and self-delusion thinking God doesn’t know your heart and hear your words.  He is, after all, God— the always-present, all-powerful, and all-knowing God.


But What About Those Who Do Right?

But what about the others?  What about those who have stood firm in their faith, those who have presented themselves as a living sacrifice to the Lord (Rom. 12:1-2), those who, like Paul, have fought the good fight (2 Tim. 4:7)?  What does God say about them?

“Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name” (Mal. 3:16).

The other group, those who feared the Lord, the remnant, spoke to one another and the Lord heard what they were saying (Mal. 3:16).  In fact, He was so taken by their words and their devotion to Him, in contrast to the harsh, hurtful words spoken by the priests and people, that He had their words written in a book of remembrance and set before Him.  Did you ever wonder why?


The Book of Remembrance

What is the book of remembrance that was written before God? (Mal. 3:16).  And what was written in it that needed to be remembered?

Several places in the Scriptures we find a reference to God’s book (Ex. 32:32; Ps. 56:8; Dan. 7:10; Rev. 13:8, 20:15).  Some of these references speak of the book of the living or the book of life, but they generally mean a book of righteous people or righteous deeds.  In fact, the Persian kings kept such books that recorded services rendered to the king so those services could be rewarded in due time.  Remember King Ahasuerus, Haman, Mordecai and Esther for example (Esther 6:1-3).

As with Mordecai, often rewards are delayed.  And sometime they are delayed to the point they seem like they will never happen, like they’ve been forgotten or intentionally overlooked.  When that delay continues indefinitely discouragement, depression, rejection and despair often occur.

But the Bible also teaches that faithfulness to God will never go unnoticed and will be rewarded in due time.  The book of remembrance is God’s way of telling those who might grow weary in doing well (Gal. 6:9), those who faithfully suffer alone in trials and tribulation (Jas. 1:2-3), those who may become discouraged or depressed, that God remembers and He sees and “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).


Are We Written in His Book of Remembrance?

God has a reason for His book of remembrance.  It’s to show the world the distinction between “the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him” (Mal. 3:18).  It’s much like the plagues on Egypt, during the days of Moses, where the Lord made a clear distinction between His people and those who were cursed, the Egyptians (Ex. 9:6, 26; 10:23).  Or, in I John 2:19 where it says: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”  Again, the goal is to show a crystal clear distinction between “the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and one who does not serve Him” (Mal. 3:18).

Hence, the book of remembrance.

But there’s also another reason for God to write the names of His righteous children or their righteous deeds of faith in a book of remembrance.  It’s not to help God remember because He is, after all, God and remembers all— but it’s to help us remember that God never changes (Mal. 3:6) and He will not forget those who don’t forget Him (Mal. 3:16).  And for those whose names and deeds are written in His book and not to be forgotten, for those who “feared the Lord and spoke to one another” God has a special promise.  A special promise He doesn’t want us to forget.

“They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “on the day that I make them My jewels (or, special treasure, personal possession).  And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him” (Mal. 3:17).  Did you read that?  Can your mind wrap around the glorious, indescribable, uncontainable blessings He has for those who are His?  Just think, those who love the Lord with all their heart, those who serve and revere Him above all others, those who are called by His Name, those who live in the awe and wonder of who He is will be His personal possession and He will make them His own special treasure, His own jewels.  Can you think of anything more glorious than that?

Is your name written in the Lord’s book of remembrance?  Has He recorded your service rendered to the King of Kings so He can reward you in due time?  Is there anything in your devotion to the Lord Jesus worthy of remembering?  If so, praise to the Lord.  All glory belongs to Him.  But if not, why?  Why waste another second of your finite life living for the trinkets and toys of this fallen world when you can live for the praise and adoration of the King and be called His special treasure.

After all, God does not change and His Word is true. Always.

And this is the promise to those whose name and deeds are written in the book of remembrance.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:20-21).

Come Lord Jesus.

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267:  God Listens and He Hears

267: God Listens and He Hears

Malachi 3:16 says:

Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name.

Did you catch that?  A book of remembrance was written before Him.

Is your name written in the Lord’s book of remembrance?  Has He recorded your service rendered to the King of Kings so He can reward you in due time?  Is there anything in your devotion to the Lord Jesus worthy of remembering?  If so, praise to the Lord.  All glory belongs to Him.  But if not, why?  Why waste another second of your finite life living for the trinkets and toys of this fallen world when you can live for the praise and adoration of the King and be called His special treasure.

The following is a study on Malachi 3:13-18.

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Podcast 264:  Accepting the Challenge of God

Podcast 264: Accepting the Challenge of God

After almost three chapters of blistering accusations in Malachi against His people and His priests, the Lord offers a profound challenge to them based on their obedience.  And the area in which He challenged them was, of all things, money.

Command:  “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house.”
Challenge:  “and try Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts.
Promise:  “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”
Results:  “And all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,” says the LORD of hosts (Malachi 3:10, 12).

Do you believe the promise given to them also applies to you?  If so, will you accept the challenge to not rob God?  And, if not, why?

The following is a study on Malachi 3:6-12.

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Fire by Night, Jesus by Day

Fire by Night, Jesus by Day

After redeeming the woman caught in the very act of adultery (John 8:4), Jesus proclaims to the crowd, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).  This was the second of His seven “I Am” statements in John.  To recap the scene, the woman’s accusers, the scribes and Pharisees (John 8:3), brought her to Jesus demanding He decide what was to be done with her (John 8:5).  “Does she live or does she die.  What do you say, Jesus?”  They were not concerned about her or her sin, but had used her to set a trap in order to test and discredit Jesus among the people (John 8:6).  But, as usual, Jesus was one step ahead of them and would not take their bait.

He simply wrote in the sand while they spewed their self-righteous, hypocritical venom towards the woman.  Finally, when He had heard enough, Jesus stood and said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7).  Conviction set in.  Her accusers realized they were unfit, in the eyes of God, to judge her adultery since their sin was much greater.  And they “went out, one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last” (John 8:9).

Jesus then turned to the woman and spoke the words of redemption to her.  He said, “I do not condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11; Rom. 8:1).  It was at this point our Lord proclaimed His second “I Am” statement.

“I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).


I Am the Light of the World

This description should not surprise us since Jesus has been compared to light since the first chapter of John.  “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).  He spoke of the light six times in that context.  In John 3:19 we read: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”  And again, light is used another 5 times in this context.  John MacArthur says: Jesus Christ alone brings the light of salvation to a sin-cursed world.  To the darkness of falsehood He is the light of truth; to the darkness of ignorance He is the light of wisdom; to the darkness of sin He is the light of holiness; to the darkness of sorrow He is the light of joy; and to the darkness of death He is the light of life.

But there’s even more.

During the Feast of Tabernacles there were two main ceremonies the Jews celebrated.  One ceremony took place each morning of the eight day feast when the priests of Israel joined with others to draw water from the pool of Siloam in golden pitchers.  Then, when they returned to the temple, the priests poured the water on the altar of sacrifice while singing and chanting Isaiah 12:3 and Psalm 114:7-8.  This water ceremony was in remembrance of God providing water from the rock during their wilderness wanderings.  And it was most likely during this ceremony, on the last day of the feast, that Jesus stood and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).

There was also a lamp lighting ceremony whereby, after the sun had gone down, four huge candelabras were lit in such a way the light would illuminate the sky like a searchlight.  This ceremony, accompanied by singing and dancing and holding torches, served as a reminder of the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night that guided the Israelites in the wilderness (Ex. 13:21-22).  And it was against this backdrop Jesus proclaimed Himself to be the “light of the world” (John 8:12).

But most amazing is the structure of John’s gospel that presents Jesus as manna (John 6), then water (John 7), and now light (John 8).  Jesus is the manna that fed God’s people in the wilderness, He was the water flowing from the rock to quench their thirst, and He was the light of fire by night to guide their way.  Jesus is our Provider, our Source of Strength, our Protector, our Guide, and our Light along the way.

This is the mighty God we serve.


Fire by Night

When we examine the cloud that protected the Israelites during their wanderings we can learn much about Jesus.  For example, the first time the cloud is mentioned in Exodus it is associated with and identified as the literal Presence of God (Ex. 13:21-22).  This means the Israelites, all during their generation of wanderings and troubles and doubts, always had the Presence of God with them.  All they needed to do was look up and they could visibly see God in their midst.  They were not alone (John 14:18).

And neither are we.  Why?  Because Jesus now dwells among us (John 1:14).

The cloud, the Presence of God, also protected the Israelites from their enemies and from the elements themselves.  We see the cloud standing between Pharaoh’s armies and God’s people— protecting them until they could safely cross the Red Sea (Ex. 14:19-20).  The cloud also provided shade for them as they camped in the desert for close to 40 years.  With temperatures during the day reaching 140 degrees and at night falling below freezing, without the cloud, the very Presence of God, they would have all perished.  Without Jesus, we likewise would perish.  After all, “He is the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

The cloud also communicated to the Israelites when they should go and when they should stay.  It was the primary means by which the Lord guided His people during their wanderings.  When the cloud moved, they moved.  If they stayed when the cloud moved, they would die from the scorching heat since their protective shade was removed. If they ran ahead of the cloud— same problem.  In the same way, Jesus said we live and breathe when we stay connected, abiding, in the vine (John 15:4).  “For without Me,” Jesus said, “you can do nothing (John 15:5).

When Jesus said He was the light of the world He was proclaiming to them, and to us, that He is the very Presence of God, their source of protection, and the One who guides in all truth.

Again, that is the mighty God we follow.


What Does it Mean to Follow?

But what does it mean to follow?

The last part of Jesus’ second “I Am” statement reads:  “He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).  But what does that mean?  The Greek word for follow means “to accompany, to go with” and can apply, in a general sense, to the thrill-seeking crowds that followed Jesus just for the entertainment value (John 6:2).  But it also can refer to a true disciple (John 1:43, 10:4, 27).  In this context, Jesus is speaking about true discipleship and not casual followers.  He’s talking about coming to Him on His terms, and on His terms alone, and not like the ones who said:

Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”  Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”  But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matt. 8:19-22).

Or the conversation between Jesus and the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18-27.  As you recall, the rich young ruler walked away from following Jesus because the cost was too high.  Remember, we come to Jesus on His terms— and nothing else.

Jesus summarized what it meant to follow Him like this:  “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).

Are you following Jesus?  Is He the Light of your world?  Have you denied yourself, picked up each day the instrument of your own death, and faithfully followed Him?

You should.  You need to.  Why?  Because He is our Protector, our Provider, our Light, and Our Guide.  If He’s not your Lord, you will spend eternity in Hell, in torment, alone, separated from the love of God, paying the penalty for your own sins.

And, in case you didn’t know, eternity is long time.

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