Halloween from a Christian’s Perspective
THIS IS A RE-POST FROM THE FOLLOWING WEBSITE
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As most of you know, I became saved in my mid 30’s. I was good and upright most of the time, but that doesn’t get you anything regarding salvation. The only road to salvation is through the blood and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I’m not getting on a soapbox or providing a sermon (well, a little one anyway). The reason for web page is to ask each and every one of you to consider the ramifications of this ‘holiday’ we (our society) call Halloween. Yea it’s an awkward subject. That fact pushes me even more to ‘stand out of my comfort zone’ to say what’s on my heart.
Up until the time I was saved I allowed my children the ‘right’ to go out trick or treating as I felt it had no harm. Only until I DID become saved and started researching Halloween, was I very much awakened by all the goings related to this ‘holiday’. I have put together an article for your reading pleasure. Please take this seriously. All too many times we (as parents) don’t want to be the ‘bad guys’ when it comes to our children. Well, in my humble opinion, we don’t have that option. We are required to raise our children up as best we can. We have enough problems with the world ideas without adding more to it. Some might say, “But we only do this in fun…we don’t practice witchcraft.” That which represents Satan and his domain cannot be handled or emulated “for fun”. Such participation places you in enemy and forbidden territory and that is dangerous ground. To me it’s a very ‘black and white’ issue – there is no ‘gray area’ here.
Another reason you shouldn’t permit your children to celebrate Halloween by dressing up and going door to door is the issue of safety. The possibility of a child being struck by an automobile, kidnapped, poisoned, or otherwise injured is greater on Halloween than on any other night of the year.
Still, I think it is wise for parents to give their children a creative alternative to celebrating Halloween. They shouldn’t feel like they’ve missed something because they are Christians.
Our family likes to spend Halloween together. We plan special activities that are more fun for the kids than begging candy. In the past, we have all gone out together for ice cream, or we might stay home and have a special evening together doing something just for them. Rent a tape! Play some games! Read the Bible – wow, what a concept!
That way when the children face the inevitable pressure of talking with their friends about what they did on Halloween, they can share their faith in positive terms, rather than having to speak of what they can’t do because of their parents’ Christian faith.
Through the ages, Halloween has gone by various names but all have been tributes to the same dark force, Satan. There is no place in the life of the Church or the Christian for such participation.
As a final note: If you really feel so compelled not to allow your children to recognize this ‘holiday’ for the mere fact they will get free candy, please let me know and I will personally buy some candy for your children. As always, please take no offense at my suggestions. I feel compelled and led by the Holy Spirit to pass this on. Trust me – your kids will get over it (at least the first year) and actually respect you more for the decision you made!
Thanks for your time. I’ll get off my soapbox and start my little sermon now….
WHAT IS HALLOWEEN?
Millions of Christians will allow - even encourage - their children to participate in Halloween on October 31.
The Christian church tried to eliminate the Druid celebration by offering All Saint’s Day as a substitute. As Christianity spread over Europe and the British Isles, it attempted to replace the pre-existing pagan cult worship of Apollo, Diana or Ymir, but to no avail.
Some churches will fully sanction the event with parties held on their premises. Decorations will feature witches, brooms, cats, Jack-o-Lanterns, and bobbing apples.
What’s the harm? Where did this holiday come from? Why is the holiday celebrated? History provides the answer.
The uninformed Christian has no idea that there truly are demonic spirits, which are contacted and activated as people call out to them in jest or in seriousness. Every act around Halloween is in honor of false gods, which are spirits in the realm of the Satanic. Those who have been deeply involved in witchcraft and who are now free, declare that even those who say they worship spirits of nature are in actuality contacting the satanic realm without knowing it.
HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN
The American celebration rests upon Scottish and Irish folk customs which can be traced, in a direct line, from pre-Christian time. Although Halloween has become a night of celebration to many, its beginnings were otherwise. The earliest Halloween celebrations were held by the Druids in honor of Saman, lord of the dead, whose festival fell on November 1.
It was the Druid’s belief that on the eve of this festival, Saman called together the wicked souls that within the past 12 months had been condemned to inhabit the bodies of animals. They were released in the form of ghosts, spirits, witches or elves.
The Druids, an order of priests in ancient Gaul and Britain, also believed that the cat was sacred because cats once had been human beings but were changed as a punishment for evil deeds. From these druidic beliefs come the present-day use of witches, ghosts, and cats in Halloween activities.
If we as Christian parents simply disregard the unchristian aspects of such practices as mere fantasy or superstition and then encourage our children to participate in them, we run the risk of communicating the message that the spiritual battle waged by the rulers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12) is not to be taken seriously.
Allowing children to participate in the celebration of Halloween may appear to be quite harmless on the surface, but the spiritual implications are far from Christian. In today’s world, fortune-telling, ouija boards, ESP, telepathy, horoscopes, voodoo, clairvoyance, yoga, hypnosis, magic, transcendental meditation, Eastern religions, reincarnation, metaphysics and many other practices are expressly forbidden in Scripture. They are related to the occult and satanic forces. Therefore believers should have nothing to do with them. Note the following Scriptures:
"Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God." (Leviticus 19:31)
"Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance" (1 Chronicles 10:13)
"Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you." "A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads." "I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people." (Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Leviticus 20:27, 20:6)
The Bible very clearly instructs Christians to have nothing to do with the practices of darkness. Halloween is a rite with pagan, demonic roots. The Celtic people who lived over 2,000 years ago, feared the evening of October 31st more than any other day of the year. It was the eve of the Lord of the Dead. To celebrate, the people built bonfires, wore masks and costumes in order to prepare for the arrival of spirits. Fire rituals and divination were part of their celebration. Pagan priests even offered human and animal sacrifices. The following symbols and customs all have satanic origins:
The term “Jack-o’-lantern” came from an Irish folk tale of the 18th century. Jack was an Irishman. He had tricked the Devil into climbing an apple tree. He then cut a cross symbol in the tree trunk, thus trapping the Devil in the branches. At his death, he was unable to again access to Heaven because of his meanness. The Devil, having a long memory, would not allow him into Hell. So he was forced to walk the earth endlessly. The devil took pity on him and gave him a piece of coal to light his path. Jack put it inside a hollowed-out turnip that he had been eating.
Apples were considered have long been associated with female deities, and with immortality, resurrection, and knowledge. One reason is that if an apple is cut through its equator, it will reveal a five-pointed star outlined at the center of each hemisphere. This was a Goddess symbol among the Roma (Gypsies), Celts, Egyptians, etc. There are many Halloween folk traditions associated with apples:
a. Unmarried people would attempt to take a bite out of an apple bobbing in a pail of water, or suspended on a string. The first person to do so was believed to be the next to marry.
b. Peeling an apple in front of a candle-lit mirror was believed to produce the image of one’s future spouse.
c. Attempting to produce a long unbroken apple peel was said to estimate the number of years you had to live. The longer the peel, the longer your life expectancy.
BROOMSTICKS AND WITCHES
This image (however cartoon-like) shows an actual ritual in which witches mount broomsticks (symbol of the male organ) and leap high around the fields on them to “teach” the crops how high to grow. In our drug-conscious society, it should be noted that the flying witch actually related to the fact that witches believed they could fly great distances to their feasts by smearing their bodies with “flying ointment.” This ointment actually contained drugs like bella-donna, aconite and cinquefoil and gave them psychedelic “trips” so that they thought that they flew distances. Are these images we wish to convey to our children?
The black cat is also both the witches’ “familiar” or magic helper, and is the chief totem (idol) of the goddess of Wicca, Diana. In legend, she turns into a black cat to commit incest with her brother, Lucifer. It is also a form of the Egyptian goddess, Bast.
GHOST AND SKELETON
These relate to the belief that spirits of the dead were roaming throughout the land. They induce fear in children.
FRUITS AND NUTS
Three of the sacred fruits of the Celts were acorns, apples, and nuts - especially the hazelnut, considered a god and the acorn, sacred from its association to the oak.
SKULL AND MASK
The Druids wore masks, skulls and costumes, even offered human sacrifices on October 31st, to ward off evil spirits.
BOBBING FOR APPLES
In AD 43 the Roman Empire was in solid control of the Celtic people. As a result of this control the idol worshipping Romans introduced another ceremony honoring their false gods to the already demoniacal Druid New Year’s celebration. It was in honor of their goddess of fruit trees. They would try to grasp fruit, floating in water, without the use of their hands. This is the origin of BOBBING FOR APPLES according to the Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Associated Press quote, October 16, 1977.
TRICK OR TREAT
The Druids went from house to house asking for a contribution to their demonic worship celebration. If a person didn’t give, their trick was to kill him. The people feared the phrase “Trick or Treat.”
Therefore, it is inappropriate for Christians to celebrate Satan’s high holy day or to celebrate with those who practice witchcraft and use occult symbols such as witches, black cats, ghosts, jack-o’-lanterns, etc. This time can be used to make children aware that Halloween is an alliance with the powers of darkness and that it is now our privilege to live as children of light.
As believers, we can take this opportunity to provide a creative alternative to this celebration of darkness. In ancient Israel, the majority of Jewish festivals occurred at the same time as pagan festivals. God did not simply tell his people not to engage in pagan festivals, He provided an alternative. During every major pagan festival, the Hebrew people would take part in a God-given alternative, a festival celebrating the same general subject but with a completely different focus.
As a parent of young children, you have a responsibility to follow the biblical admonition to protect and train them with Scriptural principles. Children need to be taught that there is no such thing as a “cute” witch or a “friendly ghost”. Scripture is very clear that Christians are not to celebrate pagan rituals. The Halloween season is a golden opportunity to make this clear to the children.
I have come to believe that celebrating Halloween does not honor Christ. I have shared my conviction with my family. As a result, we have replaced the celebration of Halloween with something completely unassociated to it. We make it a family night and do something special together. You can see that I do believe in the PRINCIPLE OF REPLACEMENT. I believe that Romans 12:21 teaches it. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Certainly remove the bad. Explain to your children why you are not celebrating Halloween any more. BUT then replace it with something that will glorify God (I Corinthians 10:31). Be creative. Make what you do more fun, yet honor Christ. Have a harvest party where you focus on Christ the creator and his provisions for you. Have a Christian video party. Have a glory gathering where Christian songs are sung and the Word is preached. Get a group together and go from door to door (not dressed up) and pass out Gospel tracts then meet for a time of fellowship afterward.
My closing challenge to you is this. Prayerfully consider what Christ would have you to do. May your desire be that of James, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:7-8).
Study By: Kenneth Boa
After surveying thousands of people around the world and performing more than 400 written case studies, James Kouzes and Barry Posner identified those characteristics most desired in a leader. In virtually every survey, honesty or integrity was identified more frequently than any other trait.1
That makes sense, doesn’t it? If people are going to follow someone, whether into battle or in business or ministry, they want assurance that their leader can be trusted. They want to know that he or she will keep promises and follow through with commitments.
The Integrity of Samuel
In light of this research, Israel’s high regard for Samuel comes as no surprise. Samuel was a man who exuded integrity. Nowhere is this best illustrated than in 1 Samuel 12:1-4:
Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you. Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day. Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these, I will make it right.”
“You have not cheated or oppressed us,” they replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.”
During his farewell speech, after having led Israel for decades, Samuel promised to repay anything he had unjustly taken from anyone. What a promise! Even more impressive was the people’s response. Not one person rose up to make a claim against Samuel.
Samuel’s honesty and personal integrity permeated every area of his life. These two characteristics directed how he regarded his possessions, his business dealings and his treatment of those who were weaker than himself. Samuel held himself accountable to the people he led. He opened himself up to the scrutiny of everyone with whom he had ever had dealings. As a result of this practice, Samuel’s leadership has become legendary as this story has been told and retold throughout the centuries.
People want to know that their leader can be trusted. They want to know that leaders will keep promises and follow through on commitments. Promises and commitments are significant, though, in our day of Machiavellian ethics, it seems that they have become optional. We often seem more concerned with convenience and performance. We give lip-service to the importance of character, but we have the idea that when things get tough, the rules can be changed and commitments and covenants may be discarded at will.
But the Bible makes clear just how important our covenants are. Throughout the Scriptures, God focuses on the fact that he is a God who makes and keeps his covenants, that he can be trusted (1 Chronicles 16:15;Psalm 105:8). God can be trusted because he is trustworthy. That’s the point: it always comes down to the issue of character, not just words. Biblical integrity is not just doing the right thing; it’s a matter of having the right heart and allowing the person you are on the inside to match the person you are on the outside. This is how God is. This is how his people should be.
Perhaps a good word to think of is “consistency.” There must be consistency between what is inside and what is outside. God is totally consistent. His actions and behaviors always match his character and nature. And his goal for us is nothing less. Christ’s objective for his disciples is to make us disciplined people. In the words of John Ortberg, “Disciplined people can do the right thing at the right time in the right way for the right reason.” Just like God.
The God Who Never Changes
Is there anyone we can trust? People let us down again and again, because there is often a discrepancy between what they claim to believe and how they actually live. But God will never let us down, because he never changes. His promises are as good as his unchanging character: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Jesus does not change. The Living God does not change. His love, his truth and his goodness are not governed by external circumstances or conditions – they never vacillate. Therefore, God’s character and the promises he makes are supremely worthy of our trust and commitment. He does what he says, and his covenant love is always dependable.
This is fundamental. What can I lean against? What can I trust in? What can I pursue with reckless abandon? So many of us have been burned by relationships, by people going back on their word, claiming that they said something when they did not say it. It can make you cynical if you’re not careful. But when we come back to the character of God, we realize, “He is the unchanging standard.”
Because it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18; Titus 1:2), he is the ultimately reliable source of hope. His changeless character is the foundation of all of his promises. Whatever he says he will do is as good as done, and when we hope in his promises, this hope becomes an anchor for the soul, both firm and secure (Hebrews 6:19). Unlike many parents, God’s yes is always yes, and his no is always no (James 5:12). When God says yes, it stays yes; when he says no, it stays no. This has both negative and positive ramifications. Negatively, there is no getting God to change his mind through bribery or whining. Positively, when God makes a promise, he can be counted on to fulfill that word.
The sting remains of broken promises from parents – ballgames missed, trips never taken. The writer of Proverbs accurately diagnoses much of our present malaise when he says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12a). Much of the heartache we experience is directly related to the unreliability of people.
But God’s actions flow perfectly out of his character: “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind” (1 Samuel 15:29). There is no possibility of manipulating or bribing or bargaining with God, because he will never compromise his perfect integrity. God himself has testified, “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6). God’s perfect and constant character allows us to trust in his promises and timing.
God is integrity. He does not merely act with integrity; integrity is his character. But what about us? The biblical virtue of integrity points to a consistency between what is inside and what is outside, between belief and behavior, our words and our ways, our attitudes and our actions, our values and our practice.
The Dis-integration of Isaiah
When the prophet Isaiah had a vision of the glorious and awesome Creator of the universe, he was overwhelmed by the holiness of God.
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two the covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
R.C. Sproul comments on Isaiah’s encounter with the holiness of God:
To be undone means to come apart at the seams, to be unraveled. What Isaiah was expressing is what modern psychologists describe as the experience of personal disintegration. To disintegrate means exactly what the word suggests, “dis integrate.” To integrate something is to put pieces together in a unified whole…. The word integrity…[suggests] a person whose life is whole or wholesome. In modern slang we say, “He’s got it all together.”2
Isaiah says, “I’m undone. I’m torn apart,” which is just the opposite of integrity. To have integrity is to be integrated, to be whole, to have it all together in a sense, to be consistent. Isaiah finds himself torn apart, and this forces him to realize his own deficiency. When faced with the awesome holiness of God, Isaiah becomes aware of his own uncleanness. Throughout the Bible, man’s encounters with God are very consistent in this way.
For example, when Peter realizes the power of Jesus he falls to his knees and says, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8) Peter knows that what has just happened is not natural; it is, in fact, supernatural. This is not the way things work, but instead of saying, “How did he do that?” he says, “Depart from me, I’m a sinful man.” Peter is not only aware of Jesus’ power, but of holiness and his own sinfulness. An encounter with holiness is traumatic. The holiness of God becomes a standard to which we can never measure up, and this is traumatic for people who so desperately want to fool themselves into thinking they are self-sufficient.
In John 18, a cohort of 600 armed soldiers comes to arrest Jesus and have their own traumatic encounter with holiness:
Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Six hundred soldiers fall to the ground, and the word that is used implies that they were sort of held there, pinned to the ground. There are many speculations as to what exactly happened, but it appears as if the veil of his flesh lifted, and that pre-incarnate glory that he had before the foundation of the world was opened up for a microsecond. It was sufficient to overwhelm them. R. Kent Hughes, in his commentary Behold the Man suggests:
Jesus’ answer was one of his last uses of the power by which he calmed the seas, stilled the winds, and healed the sick. The cohort didn’t arrest Jesus – he arrested them. His words were a gracious warning that they were in over their heads.3
They must have known something wasn’t quite right. Six hundred armed men are now more afraid than the one they came looking for.
Throughout the Bible, men discover just how traumatic an encounter with holiness is. The transfiguration scared Peter so much he didn’t know what to say (Mark 9:6). John, on the isle of Patmos, sees Jesus and is so overwhelmed he “fell at his feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:17). This is the same John who had leaned on Jesus in the upper room (John 13:25). John would often sit next to Jesus. There was an intimate bond between them. But when he saw that holiness, he was overwhelmed. The conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:4), Moses’ reaction to the burning bush (Exodus 3:6), Joshua’s interaction with the commander of the army of the Lord (Joshua 5:14), Jacob’s response after his dream at Bethel (Genesis 28:17), Gideon realizing he’s been interacting with the angel of the Lord (Judges 6:22). The list goes on and on of people who are absolutely terrified and overwhelmed by the awe-inspiring holiness of God.
God’s holiness is truly awesome, and our natural reaction to him is one of fear. But there is another side of his nature, his closeness to us, that somehow allows us to have this relationship with him. Jesus, the mediator between God and man, makes it possible for us to avoid being consumed by his awesome holiness, and instead to be declared righteous. That is amazing. The Living God is willing to say that you are righteous. How is that possible? It’s because Christ himself is in us.
When we live our entire lives before the face of God (corem deo) and practice a constant abiding in his presence, we realize that being people who do not manifest integrity is inconsistent with the dignity and destiny we’ve been called to. We have been called to live on a higher plane than that, to “live a life worthy of the calling [we] have received” (Ephesians 4:1), because, now, Christ is in us. He wants to live his life through us (Galatians 2:20); we are not only his representatives (2 Corinthians 5:20), as members of his church we are, in some mysterious way, his body (Ephesians 1:23; Colossians 1:24).
Now, that’s impossible unless he dwells in us, but therein lies the solution. In fact, this is the genius of the Christian life. Christianity is not a religion; it’s a relationship. Christianity is not about rules and regulations. Instead, it is the presence and power of a person who indwells us and promises to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
As fallen men and women, we realize how disintegrated we are when we come face to face with God’s perfect integration. And, like Isaiah, it forces us to recognize our deep need for personal reconstruction. Isaiah realized the depth of his own sin in the process of catching a glimpse of God’s perfect holiness, and he acknowledged those areas in which he had turned from his commitments as a priest and a prophet. But his commitment and his life as a faithful prophet demonstrate for us the possibility of framing a life of integrity with God’s help.
The Hypocrisy of the Pharisees
If we fail to face up to our inadequacy, we fall into the trap of the Pharisees: hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is the opposite of integrity, and this is precisely what Jesus accuses the Pharisees and teachers of the law of inMatthew 23. Six times in this sermon, he uses the stinging word “hypocrites” (vv. 13, 15, 23, 24, 27, 29). Originally, a hypocrite meant an actor who put on a mask to assume a false identity while he played for the audience. This accusation would be particularly offensive to the Pharisees who hated all forms of Hellenization, including the Greek theatre. In essence, Jesus was calling them the very thing they hated.
Anyone who has ever labored under the false notion that Jesus was some kind of quiet, nice man will have trouble with these verses:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are….
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness….
“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”
Matthew 23:15, 27-28, 33
This is not, to use Philip Yancey’s expression, “Mr. Rogers with a beard!” Jesus’ language reveals the depth of his righteous anger. Notice that each verse that includes the word hypocrite begins with the words: “Woe to you.” This word “woe” (ouai) can contain pathos, anger, warning and derision; and may include all of these at the same time. In this passage, Jesus lambasted the Pharisees for saying one thing and doing another. Their lack of integrity was not only substandard for those who would follow Christ, as religious leaders they were guilty of misrepresenting God the Father.
We have already discovered that integrity – the direct opposite quality of hypocrisy – is the quality that people want most in a leader. Clearly, the Pharisees and teachers of the law in Jesus’ day failed to live up to that standard. When we talk about integrity today, we generally use other, closely related terms such as ethics andmorality. But a clear understanding of the concept of integrity requires clear thinking about all three words. Each has a distinct meaning. When properly used, they bring clarity to a crucial but often misunderstood leadership essential:
- Ethics refers to a standard of right and wrong, good and evil. It’s what the Pharisees said they believed was right.
- Morality is a lived standard of right and wrong, good and evil. It’s what the Pharisees actually did.
- Integrity means “sound, complete, integrated.” To the extent that a person’s ethics and morality are integrated, that person has integrity. To the extent that a person’s ethics and morality are not integrated, that person lacks integrity.
Let’s look at this another way. If your friend John tells you he will lie, cheat and steal, he has a low ethic. If he does business that way, he also has a low morality. John is unethical and immoral, but he has integrity – twisted as it may be – because the morality is consistent with the ethic. If John claims to cheat and steal but doesn’t cheat and steal, he is moral in practice but lacks integrity, because his morality doesn’t match his ethic.
You can have a high or low ethic. You can be moral or immoral. The choice is yours. But if you want to have integrity, you must choose your ethic and live to match it. Anyone who wants to lead at least owes it to prospective followers to let them know what they are getting into.
The Bible teaches a high and holy ethic. A person who claims to be a Christian and to live by biblical standards makes an ethical statement. He or she has committed to a certain morality. For that person to have integrity, then, he or she must live by the biblical ethic. Jesus makes it unequivocally clear that the worst choice is the hypocritical one. This is serious business. When we find our walk not matching our talk, the probing question of Jesus should echo in our hearts: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). If we imagine the holy eyes of Jesus Christ, Lord of the universe, as he asks this question, we ought to be at least a little frightened.
The Process of Integration
It’s self-evident that a hypocrite is unqualified to guide others toward attaining higher character. No one respects a person who talks a good game but fails to play by the rules. What a leader does will have a greater impact on those he or she wishes to lead than what a leader says. A person may forget 90 percent of what a leader says, but he or she will never forget how the leader lives. This is why Paul tells Timothy:
Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
In this life, we never attain perfection. But there should be progress toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. We will never attain it this side of eternity, but the there should be visible progress, evident to others. Notice the two things Paul exhorts Timothy to watch: your life and your doctrine. In other words, give careful attention to your behavior and your belief. Make sure they match. Constantly examine yourself to see whether or not your walk matches your talk.
Bill Hendricks encountered an illustration of this principle in the go-go days of the real estate market of the 1980s. He met a developer who claimed to have woven what he called “biblical principles of business” into his deals. But when the market went south, he skipped town and left his investors to pick up the pieces – and the debts.
Another of Bill’s friends stands in sharp contrast to the first. He too was a land developer. He too talked of integrating biblical principles into his business. And when the market crashed, so did his empire. But unlike the man who ran away, this land developer, as a matter of conscience, worked out a plan to pay back his investors.4
Money tends to bring out what’s really inside, doesn’t it? When it comes to financial matters, you really discover what a man is made of. Which of those two men would you rather follow? Which one demonstrated integrity? David writes about the man “who keeps his oath even when it hurts” (Psalm 15:4b). He is the man who “will never be shaken” (v. 5b). There is simply no substitute for a man or woman of consistent Christ-like character.
That doesn’t imply that any of us will be perfect. In fact, the New Testament doesn’t call for perfect leaders; it calls for those who are models of progress in their faith. We will all stumble in many ways, but our desire is to see progress toward the integration of our claims and our practice.
Secrecy and Small Things
The best way to discern whether or not we are making progress is to ask ourselves, “How do I live when no one’s looking?” It’s easy to look like a person of integrity when people are watching, but do I live my private life with the same level of consistency as I live my public life? So much of our lives are consumed with what might be called “image maintenance.” We spend vast amounts of energy trying to get people to think about us the way we want to be thought about. John Ortberg suggests, “Human conversation is largely an endless attempt to convince others that we are more assertive or clever or gentle or successful than they might think if we did not carefully educate them.”5 Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:1 are hard to get around: “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
It’s possible to live one life publicly and another life privately. That’s not integrity; it’s an invitation for God’s discipline. We are to live with consistency in public and in private, because our Father “sees what is done in secret” (Matthew 6:4). Since this is the case, being faithful in small, secret things is a big deal. It may be the case that God is far less concerned with your public persona than he is in your private character. He may be more concerned with how you manage your personal checking account than how well you administer the books on a big business deal. It’s in the small, secret places of self-evaluation that God’s grace changes you and shapes you into the image of his Son.
In the end, we become what our desires make us. Who we become reveals what we really desire. If you desire the praise of men, then you will become a certain kind of person. But if you desire the praise of God, then integrity will need to become a priority. As you sense the overwhelming holiness of our Creator, you will understand how unraveled you are. But as you focus on the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, you will recognize that even though you may feel undone, you are not undone because he has made you whole. His grace is sufficient, for his power is made perfect in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
1 Kouzes, James M., and Posner, Barry Z. Credibility: How leaders gain and lose it, why people demand it(San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993), 14.
2 Sproul, R.C. One Holy Passion (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1987).
3 R. Kent Hughes, Behold the Man (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books), 129-130.
4 Adapted from Howard Hendricks and William Hendricks, As Iron Sharpens Iron (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), 67-69.
5 John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997), 164.
This story is out of my book; ‘Yes, You can hear GOD, too!. This book is available at www.joanpearce.org
Many years ago I was in California doing a “God is Taking the City Program” with several churches. We had just completed a twenty-four hour prayer meeting at one of the churches. I was tired, and one of the women asked me if I’d like to sleep at her home instead of returning to where I was staying. I clearly heard the Holy Spirit say, “Go home to your apartment.”
When I got home, I dropped into bed and was instantly asleep. However after a very short nap, I sat up in bed and heard God say, ” Go into Santa Crus.”
Santa Cruz was a forty-five minute drive away from where I was. I quickly obeyed! I arrived at a boardwalk and amusement park area where there were rides and games.
I asked God, ” Do you want me to go to the Boardwalk?” He told me, ” No, Go to the beach and sit by the lifeguard station.”
As I sat there waiting to see what God wanted me to do next, I began praying,” Gos is that the one? or how about the person over there?” The Holy Spirit said, ” Be Still and I will speak to you.”
We must be still and wait so that we will be able to hear God’s still small voice when HE speaks to us. In the Distance, I say a young Hispanic boy who looked to be about eighteen or nineteen years old. He was walking on the beach, kicking sand.I heard the Holy Spirit say, ” He’s the one I want you to talk to.” I started walking toward him.
When I got to where he was, I reached out and stopped him. He looked up at me and said, ” God speaks to me, and I believe He has something for me to say to you, Do you want to hear it?”
He looked at me as ifI was a fruitcake! His body language was saying, “Leave me alone!” I asked hime again, “Do you want to hear what God has to say to you?” He said, “Lady, I have the feeling I’m going to hear this anyway, so go ahead.”
So I told him, “One month agom you lost your girlfriend, She broke up with you. Then two weeks ago, you lost your job. And then you tried to commit suicide.”
He looked up at me in amazement and said, “Yes… and in that exact order. How did you know?”
I said, ” I told you God speaks to me! God wants me to say something else to you. Do you want to hear it?“‘When he said yes, I went on to tell him,”God has a perfect wife for you and a perfect job. Suicide is not the answer to your problem. Jesus is the answer and HE is all you need,”
When I heard the Holy Spirit say, ” Don’t sat any more. Go and sit down.” I went back to my blanket on the sand, sat down and prayed, “Holy Spirit, save Him!” I was deep in prayer and travail for his soul.
The Holy Spirit said,” Look!” I looked down the beach and the young man was on his knees crying! I said to God, “Holy Spirit, if you need any help, here I am! Bring him to my blanket.”
For about forty-five minutes he walked the beach. He got within ten feet of me and I heard the Holy Spirit say, ” Go to him and speak to him.” I went over and asked, ” Do you remember me?”
He said,”Yes.” When God speaks to me concerning someone it’s because that person has been crying out to God. So I asked him,” Have you been calling out to God?” He told me he had been out partying the night before and had gotten home very late. That morning at 8:45 ( the exact time the Holy Spirit awakened me from my nap) a thought came to him to go to Santa Cruz.
Two weeks earlier, when he tried to commit suicide, he had had t attend a suicide clinic for counseling. While nervously waiting for his appointment, he read all the plaques on the office walls. One of them he read was about footprints on the beach. It told about a man during a time of trouble who went walking on a beach. As the man walked he realized there was only one set of footprints in the sand because Jesus was carrying him.
The young man explained that he was somehow led to go and walk on the beach at Santa Cruz that morning. He had the thought that God would come to him and pick him up out of all his sorrow and hurt.
"Is that what you really want?" I asked him, "for Jesus to lift you up and heal you?" "yes," he exclaimed; "YES!"
I told him the plan of salvation, about Jesus’ great love and awesome sacrifice. I said, ” Right now, here on this beach, we can kneel and you can receive Jesus into your heart.” We knelt and prayed, and he received Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
God has been moving MIGHTILY and we have been seeing such great signs and wonders and notable miracles. God’s word says, “Equip the saints to do the work of the ministry” Our School of Ministry and School pf the Supernatural have been absolutely phenomenal. The first School of the Supernatural was in Pennsylvania and we recorded it on DVD’s. People are sharing these with their pastors and friends and people are seeing that it is a well-balanced, scriptural teaching. As a result, interest in it has grown, and we are getting calls about it from different parts of the United States. I have been spending quality time in the presence of God and God has been downloading to me revelation about seeing the captives free, doing deliverance, praying for the sick and living in the supernatural. God has spoken to me to write a book on the supernatural, which I have begun doing.
In the scond Scool of the Supernatural, which was in Florida, we had several Bible Scholars attend. When they told their pastors what they were learning, their pastors told me they could hardly wait to schedule another school because they had not heard before such revelation and clarity on living in the supernatural.
I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THE SCHOOL OF THE SUPERNATURAL THAT WILL BE HELD IN GERBER,CA SEPTEMBER 12-15. Even since Florida,God has downloaded so much more, I am bubbling over with excitement to share at this next school.
Our night meetings at all the schools have been beautiful demonstrations of the supernatural. People have been set free of demons, and notable miracles have occurred. Many have said the presence of God held them to the floor. They tried to get up but could not as God healed them, gave them directions, gave them revelations, talked to them about their ministries. Some were on the floor for hours. After attending these schools, people are steeping out into ministry.GOD IS TRULY PREPARING HIS CHURCH TO WALK IN THE SUPERNATURAL. Plan on attending the school in September.
PRAISE REPORT From White Earth
As you know, for years we have been going to the White Earth Native American reservation. After ten years were invited to one of the local churches on the reservation. We did revival meetings there and WOW! Did GOD move! I was teaching on the fire of God. The children in the class room said they wanted the fire of God so the teachers came and asked me how to teach on it. I told them to teach about the Holy Spirit and then have them, the children, pray, “Fire of God fall on me, fire of God fall on me, fire of God fall on me” No one knew what was going to happen. The FIRE OF GOD came upon those children! They fell on the floor and began weeping and crying and praying in tongues. Some of the children were crying and praying in the Holy Spirit until midnight and their parents had to carry them to their cars, still under the presence of God. The next day, one of the little children, while she was on the school bus, fell to her knees in the aisle, put her hands up and said, “Fore pf God fall on me!” And she began speaking in tongues. This happened all week. The fire of God was hitting the children upstairs, and the teenagers and the adults downstairs. Attendance kept growing and by the last night the building was totally full… We truly had revival.
We were just at Christian Retreat, Which is located on the White Earth Reservation, where we had an awesome move of God’s presence and glory. Several people were set free from demonic activity, a lot of the Native Americans attended, five more children received Jesus and were filled with the Holy Spirit. We did a small outreach on White Earth and nine people accepted Jesus, and five of them came to church that night. The pastor that we ministered with in May is scheduling us for a week in 2013.
We are in New York, Speaking at several churches, and doing a mission trip in Brooklyn..Check out my ministry page on Facebook for more updates https://www.facebook.com/ChannelOfLoveMinistries?ref=hl.
There is still time to join us in Trinidad, Nov. 26-Dec 3, where we will be visiting two orphanages, doing street preaching, and doing church services. Pray about coming with us.
As you can see, we are very busy in God’s harvest. Everything we do takes finances, and not small finances….LARGE finances. By your giving you make it possible for multitudes to come into the Kingdom, and lives to be changed. Great will be your reward. Partner with us with your love gifts. Go to www.joanpearce.org and click on donate… this is tax deductible so sow today and change a life.
We love you. Thank you so much for all your prayers and your love support for Channel of Love Ministries. Again a reminder IF you have not liked us on Facebook do so today https://www.facebook.com/ChannelOfLoveMinistries?ref=hl
Marty & Joan Pearce
Life can be very wearying at times for a variety of reasons. Perhaps we have wearied ourselves with our sin (Jeremiah 9:5). Perhaps life has just pushed us physically and emotionally to great lengths, and we are simply tired and worn out. Maybe we have reduced the Christian life to a legalistic system of standards and performance that has made living tiresome. If we have sinned, we must repent. If we are simply languished, there is a time for rest. If we are relying upon self for sanctification, we need to surrender control and come under grace. God’s call to the Christian is perseverance and finishing strong. We will battle fatigue, indifference, and the flesh, but we must continue to believe and do good. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (see also 2 Thessalonians 3:13). God makes a conditional promise here by saying that we will bear fruit and gain eternal rewards at the proper time if we don’t lose heart and grow weary. In fact, if we lose heart in our praying, we are not to expect answers (Luke 18:1-8). Thus, it is of great importance that we know how strength can be sustained and renewed.
The context in Galatians 6 is speaking of sowing to the Spirit versus sowing to the flesh. What God is driving at in His command that we persevere in doing good is that we would continue to bear fruit, both internal and external. We are to be taking care that our heart motivations are right, that our thoughts are pure, and that the fruit of the Spirit is evident in our lives. We are also to be active in serving others by bearing their burdens and showing them good will such that they will see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). Both internal and external components should be a regular reality for the Christian. If we slough off in either, we will have violated Galatians 6:9, failing to persevere, giving in to spiritual apathy, and losing our first love.
The answer to sustained Spirit-filled living is not merely Christian activity. The church at Ephesus in Revelation 2 continued to stand for truth and defend sound doctrine. They didn’t tolerate false teaching, and their good works were abundant. God’s issue with them, however, was that they lost their first love. Initially, they did things because they enjoyed God and the pleasure of serving Him, but as time passed, their works became form and function rather than the outworking of love and the abundant life in Christ. The same thing happened to the people of Israel in Malachi’s time. In Malachi 1:13, God confronted Israel because they had been saying that His work was “tiresome.” God always wants a heart of devotion, love, passion, and commitment. Perseverance isn’t simply continuing in doing the “right things,” but it is a matter of being driven and controlled by the love of God.
If we have been exasperated or if we have lost heart, the ultimate answer is to look to Jesus. Hebrews 12:3 says, “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.” When we feel ourselves growing tired of God and ministry, we must consider Jesus. Jesus’ life was brutal with many rejections and more suffering than we can conceive of. Yet He endured it, and by His power at work in us, we can persevere in heartfelt service as well. When our strength fails and we feel that we can’t go on, Christ is our hope. He never grows tired or weary, and He promises to renew the strength of those who wait upon Him (Isaiah 40:28-31). Relying on willpower alone to sustain us spiritually is not going to suffice, but trusting in God’s sufficient grace to work in and through our weakness will (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
So if we are sensing a spiritual weariness and a loss of joy in the things of God, here is what we must do. We must acknowledge our condition as sin. Isaiah 43:22 says, “Yet you have not called on Me, O Jacob; But you have become weary of Me, O Israel.” The issue is that we grow weary of God. Since God is to be the source of our joy and since worship is to be directed toward Him, our issue fundamentally when we lose heart must stem from a spiritual “fatigue” with God. He becomes a bore to us, we put Him on the back burner, or we don’t care to commune with Him through reading His Word or prayer. We don’t give God the time of day because we have “other interests.” It is at this point that we must acknowledge the reality of our spiritual slide and draw near to God Who will, in turn, draw near to us (James 4:8). God alone is the supplier of strength, so when spiritual fatigue enters our lives, we must acknowledge it, repent of it, and let God be our joy. As God becomes our joy, we can trust that strength will soon follow after as we wait upon Him. As Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Are you losing spiritual strength? Better said, have you lost your joy in God Himself? Repent, and let God be your joy; His strength and grace will soon follow.
Spiritually Dressed For Success
Pr 20:18 (NIV) Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance.
- The purpose of this Bible Study is to consider and meditate on the Scriptural meaning of each piece of the armor of God, so that we might stand firm in the battles of life.
Eph 6:10-17 (NIV) …Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Why Spiritual Armor?
Rom 13:12 (NIV) The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Jer 46:3-4 (NIV) “Prepare your shields, both large and small, and march out for battle! Harness the horses, mount the steeds! Take your positions with helmets on! Polish your spears, put on your armour!”
1 Cor 14:8 (GLT) For if a trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who will get himself ready for war?
Luke 21:36 (NIV) “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
Mal 3:2 (NAS) But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears?..
1 Cor 10:12-13 (NIV) So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Jude 1:24 (Wey) But to Him who is able to keep you safe from stumbling, and cause you to stand in the presence of His glory free from blemish and full of exultant joy…
Jas 4:7 (NAS) Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
The Belt of Truth
Eph 6:14 (NRS) …fasten the belt of truth around your waist…
Isa 11:5 (NIV) Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash round his waist.
Ex 12:11 (NIV) This is how you are to eat it [the passover lamb]: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand…
1 Kings 18:46 (NIV) The power of the Lord came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.
Eph 4:25 (NKJ) Therefore, put away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor.”
- Ray Stedman: “No Christian has the right to a private life. Our lives are to be lived openly before all men, transparent, a spectacle unto all the world. We have no private lives and we must not expect to have. This is basically and fundamentally wrong. Christians are to be demonstrations of the truth.”
Col 3:8-10 (NIV) But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
2 Th 2:10 (NIV) …They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
The Breastplate of Righteousness
Php 3:9 (NRS) …Not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.
Isa 59:16-17 (NAS) …Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, and His righteousness upheld Him. He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head…
Ex 28:15 (NIV) “Fashion a breastpiece for making decisions… Make it like the ephod…”
1Ki 3:9 (NIV) So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.
Ps 94:15 (NIV) Judgment will again be founded on righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it.
Pr 2:7-8 (NIV) He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.
Standing on The Gospel
Eph 6:15 (NIV) …your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
Eph 6:15 (Wey) …as well as the shoes of the Good News of peace—a firm foundation for your feet.
Rom 10:15 (KJV) …As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”
- Imagine yourself standing barefooted in a rocky climate, like in the Middle East. You could move—ever so carefully—but without shoes you would be useless in battle. The weight of the other pieces of armor would only make your feet more sensitive if you had no protection. You would be a “push-over” for the enemy, as you would have no agility and be wincing in pain every time you attempted to move. This is why it is essential to have our “feet shod with the gospel of peace”.
- This is the gospel as we have received it. It is foolishness to many, but life and light to those who believe in it and are willing to follow and be “included in” Christ’s death. In practice, the Gospel means we are dead to our self-life with all of its lusts and instincts, and alive with new life in Christ. The good news is that by considering ourselves “dead men” in Christ, we can be put at peace with God in Christ. If we have truly died to self, then over time our instincts will be “dead” to the rocks and glass and thorns of this world which used to move us. Those standing on the gospel will not react in the flesh. Instead, we will move by God’s Spirit with a protected disregard for such “fleshly” considerations, being “readied” by the “shoes” of the “death, burial, and resurrection of Christ”, which is the Gospel that brings peace.
Gal 5:16-17 (NAS) But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
Rom 8:5-13 (NAS) For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. …the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God… But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Isa 52:6-7 (NIV) “Therefore my people will know my name; therefore in that day they will know that it is I who foretold it. Yes, it is I. How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation [Yeshua, Jesus!] who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”
The Helmet Of Salvation [Jesus]
Isa 59:16-17 (KJV) And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation [Yeshua] upon his head…
1 Th 5:8 (NAS) But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love; and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.
Ps 140:7 (NAS) “O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation [Yeshua], You have covered my head in the day of battle.”
- Jesus—Yeshua in Hebrew—means “Salvation”. Salvation is Jesus Christ.
1 Cor 2:16 (NIV) “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Php 2:5 (NKJ) Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…
1 Pet 4:1 (NKJ) Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.
2 Cor 10:3-5 (NRS) Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards; for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.
Eph 4:14-16 (NKJ) …We should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
The Sword of The Spirit - The Word of God
Isa 49:2 (NAS) He has made My mouth like a sharp sword, In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me; And He has also made Me a select arrow, He has hidden Me in His quiver.
- Matthew Henry: “To the Christian armed for defense in battle, the apostle recommends only one weapon of attack; but it is enough, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. It subdues and mortifies evil desires and blasphemous thoughts as they rise within; and answers unbelief and error as they assault from without. A single text, well understood, and rightly applied, at once destroys a temptation or an objection, and subdues the most formidable adversary.”
2 Cor 6:7 (NIV) …in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left…
Ps 149:4-6 (NIV) For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation. Let the saints rejoice in this honour and sing for joy on their beds. May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands.
The Shield of Faith
Eph 6:16 (Wey) …take the great shield of faith, on which you will be able to quench all the flaming darts of the Wicked one.
Ps 35:1-3,9 (NIV) Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. Take up shield and buckler; arise and come to my aid. Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”… Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in his salvation [yes, Yeshua again].
Ps 3:2-3 (GLT) Many are saying of my soul, There is no salvation for him in God. Selah. But You, O Jehovah, are a shield around me; [you are] my glory and He who lifts up my head.
1 Pet 1:5 (NAS) …who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Ps 33:20 (NIV) We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
1 Tim 6:12 (NIV) Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
1 John 5:4-5 (Wey) For every child of God overcomes the world; and the victorious principle which has overcome the world is our faith. Who but the man that believes that Jesus is the Son of God overcomes the world?
Pr 30:5 (NIV) “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”
Be Strong In The Lord, By the Power of Grace
1 Cor 16:13 (NIV) Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.
2 Tim 2:1 (GLT) …Be empowered by grace in Christ Jesus.
Eph 3:7 (GLT) …I was made a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me, according to the working of His power.
2 Cor 9:8 (NIV) And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
Col 1:11 (Wey) Since His power is so glorious, may you be strengthened with strength of every kind, and be prepared…
Php 4:13 (NAS) I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
The Battle is The Lord’s
1 Sam 17:47 (NKJ) [David, speaking to Goliath] “Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”
Deut 20:3-4 (NIV) …”Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be faint-hearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”
Ps 18:32-35 (NIV) It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great.
Zec 4:6 (NIV) …“‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
Rom 11:36 (GLT) Because of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.
I. What Happens When We Die?
Have you ever wondered what happens when you die? I suspect we’ve all thought it at one time or another. Here is the biblical answer: What happens when you die depends on what happens before you die. The Bible tells us that all humanity may be divided into two groups—the saved and the lost. In our text the lost are those who “have no hope.” The moment of death marks a great division in the human race between those who are saved and those who are lost.
A. For the Saved
Those who have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior go immediately into the presence of the Lord. They are “away from the body” and “at home with the with Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). As the Apostle Paul languished in a Roman jail, he expressed a desire to depart (from his earthly body) and to be with Christ in heaven. In his mind, dying would be “gain” because it would usher him into the personal presence of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:21-23). Jesus made the same promise to the thief on the cross: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
Meanwhile the body is buried awaiting the day of resurrection. Our texts us that “God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (v. 14). That means there will be a literal resurrection of the bodies of believers who died “in Christ.” That resurrection will be no less literal and no less physical than Jesus’ own resurrection.
Often while conducting a graveside service I will remind those present of the words Moses said when he heard the voice coming from the burning bush: “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5). Then I will say something like this: “This place of burial is holy ground. Look around you. Today all you see are signs of death–gravestones, markers, flowers, monuments. Everything about this place is quiet, peaceful, serene. It is a good place to bury the dead. But it won’t always be like this. When Jesus returns this very spot will be a place of resurrection. Take off your shoes, you are standing on resurrection ground.”
B. For the Lost
But what happens to those who die without Jesus Christ? They are sent immediately into a place of torment called hell. They will remain there until the Great White Throne
Judgment when they will be condemned for all eternity and cast into the lake of fire
(Revelation 20:11-15). If these things are true, then the most important decision you can ever make is the decision to trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. And the most important thing you can ever do for your friends and loved ones is to share the Good News that Jesus died and rose again and wants to be their Savior.
II. What Happens When Jesus Returns?
All of that is very encouraging if you are saved, but it still doesn’t answer the question, Will we see our loved ones again? It’s great to know that they are in heaven if they know Jesus, but our hearts still cry out, “Will we see them again?” Our text does indeed answer that question but the answer is tied into another central question: What happens when Jesus returns?
Many of us know about Bible prophecy enjoy studying the movement of men and of nations. Perhaps you have read books about the Last Days and wonder how events in the Middle East may be preparing us for the coming of Christ. All of that is important and useful but it is not what Paul deals with in our passage. He is concerned about something much more fundamental. He wants us to know exactly what will happen when Jesus does return—whenever it happens, whether today, tomorrow or in a thousand years. The signs are important but the Second Coming itself is much more important.
In this passage Paul lists six things that will happen when Jesus returns.
A Sudden Descent 16
“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven.” The emphasis in the Greek is very strong. It is the Lord himself who will descend. Not a substitute or a stand-in. Not a lookalike or an angel. Not a guest host or an Old Testament saint. Not a figment of our imagination or some ghostly religious figure. But the Lord himself will return. He will bodily and personally return to the earth.
After Jesus ascended into heaven, two angels appeared and spoke to the disciples, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). I love those three words: “This same Jesus.”
This same Jesus. Born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth, he who walked the dusty roads of Galilee, who healed the sick, raised the dead, and preached good news to those in captivity. He was betrayed, tried, denied, condemned, scourged, crucified, and buried in a borrowed tomb. On the third day he arose and 40 days later ascended into heaven where for 2000 years he has been seated at the right hand of God.
This same Jesus … dismissed by many, ignored by others, mocked by some, hated by others. This same Jesus, head of the body, Lord of the church, creator of the universe. This same Jesus, the Lord himself, shall descend from heaven.
The one who saved us, the object of our prayers, the hope of every dying saint, the one whose message we preach. This same Jesus is returning to the earth that rejected him. Once he came as a lamb to the slaughter, now he returns as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Once he was judged of men; now he comes to judge all men. Once he was crucified; now he comes to be crowned. Once he was mockingly called “King of the Jews.” Now he comes as King of Kings and they mock him no more.
This same Jesus is coming again!
A Loud Shout 16
“With a loud command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet call of God.” He descends amid great pomp and ceremony. There is the shout of authority, the voice of majesty, and the trumpet call of victory.
In the old days whenever the king was coming to a village, the town crier ran ahead and shouted, “The king is coming! The king is coming!” In the same way the King of Kings will make his entrance known to the entire world.
A Great Resurrection 16
“And the dead in Christ will rise first.” This is a statement of priority. Evidently some in Thessalonica were worried that when Jesus returned he would rapture the living but leave the dead Christians in their graves. Paul says, “Don’t worry about it. The dead in Christ rise first.”
Note two little words in our text. It is the dead “in Christ” who are raised. This is only a resurrection of believers. The unsaved dead are left in their graves. They will be raised at the Great White Throne judgment 1000 years later. There are two resurrections, not one, and they are separated by 1000 years.
Let us understand what our text is saying. All the believers in Christ will be raised. That includes people who died 2000 years ago—James and John and Peter who was crucified upside down, and people who died 1500 years ago, 500 years ago, 100 years ago, 50 years ago, 10 years, 1 year ago, 1 month ago, and those who died in Christ this week. It includes Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, Peter Lombard, Charles Spurgeon, Billy Sunday, Jim Elliott, Mr. Bruce, Mrs. Spurny, Ruth Hall, Fred Hartman, and Len Hoppe.
It will be a literal resurrection from the dead. How? We simply do not know. But the same God who raised Jesus from the dead will also raise from the dead all who follow him. This includes those who die at sea, whose bodies are cremated, those who die on the battlefield, and those who die a lingering death from cancer. They will be raised indestructible with brand-new bodies, clothed with immorality, healed, restored, put in their right minds, raised to live forever, raised to die no more.
Let the people of God rejoice. The grave will not have the final victory because the dead in Christ rise first.
A Glorious Rapture 17
“After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them.” Do you see the phrase “caught up?” It’s the Greek word harpazo, which means to seize or snatch, to swoop down and take away. It’s a word that always implies a change of location. In this case it means that living believers will be literally lifted off the earth.
How will it happen? In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. How fast is that? It’s faster than it takes to blink your eyes. One moment you’re baking cookies, the next moment you’re flying like Superman. One second you’re eating pizza, the next you’re in the air. One minute you’re in the shower, the next you’re being blown dry at 30,000 feet. Just like that. We will be here one moment and gone the next.
Take some iron filings and sprinkle them in a pile of sawdust, then pass a magnet over the pile. What happens? The force of the magnet pulls the iron filings from the pile. Like a magnet attracts iron filings, even so the Lord knows those who are his. He will literally lift us off the earth to meet him in the air.
A Happy Meeting 17
“To meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” Notice three key words. We will meet the Lord. We will be with the Lord. We will be with the Lord forever.
Do you remember what Jesus said to the dying thief? “Today you will be with me in paradise?” Where is paradise? It’s wherever Jesus is. The glory of heaven is not the streets of gold or the gates of pearl or the river of living water. The glory of heaven is Jesus. Wherever he is, that’s where heaven is.
That’s the happy meeting for all of us. We will see Jesus. Face to face, in person, we will be with him.
A Grand Reunion 17
Notice what Paul says in verse 17, “We will be caught up together with them.” Then he says, “We will be with the Lord forever.” This is the ultimate family reunion. All of God’s children from all the centuries from every land and nation and tongue and kindred together at last with Jesus.
This is what Christians have always believed. We lay our loved ones to rest in hope that they will be raised immortal when Jesus returns. Do you know why the Bible calls death for the Christian “asleep in Jesus”? Because whenever you go to sleep you always wake up later! Death is not the end for the Christian. It is only the glorious beginning. The English word “cemetery” comes from the Greek word that means “the sleeping room.” The dead in Christ will wake up, their bodies brought back to life by the resurrection power of God, they will be raised from the grave immortal, and we shall rise through the clouds to meet them in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
And that brings us, finally, to the ultimate question …
III. Will We See Our Loved Ones Again?
The true answer is, It depends. It depends on them and it depends on you.
1. It Depends on Them
We will only be reunited with our loved ones if they were saved through faith in Jesus Christ. Let us not let sentiment stand in the way of sober biblical truth. Not everyone will go to heaven. Those who in this life had no time for Jesus will find in the next life that he has no time for them. If our loved ones died without Christ, then there is no biblical reason to think we will ever see them again unless we see them at the final judgment when they are eternally condemned.
But if our loved ones died in Christ, then yes indeed, we will see them again.
2. It Depends on You
But the answer also depends on you. Where do you stand with Jesus? Is he your Savior and Lord? Have you ever trusted him and him alone for the forgiveness of your sins?
That brings me to the end. So I ask the question one final time. Will we see our loved ones again? The answer from Scripture is clear. We will see then again if we know Jesus and if they know Jesus.
We should do all things to show that we love God and that we love others. God wants us to love people that are hurting so we need all that the Holy Spirit has for us so you can walk up to somebody and have a word of knowledge.
Here is a quick story: We were doing some evangelism work down in Florida. Before we left the Holy Spirit said you are going to run into somebody today that is very oppressed. So we were being lead by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit told us were to go. The Holy Spirit told us to go down to this little mall, it is a little tourist area. The Holy Spirit told us the restaurant to go to in this mall. We went in there and the first thing we did was start talking to the owner. The owner told us that business has been very slow. We know that everyone’s business is hurting with the economy situation right now. So we prayed for this owner and for his restaurant, then we asked him if he knew Jesus. He said, “No”. Then we spent time leading him to Christ. I was thinking WOW this is good. I was thinking maybe he was the one that was oppressed, because of his business. I started to leave, as I started to walk out. You know how the restaurants are set up with different one’s having their meals. Then the Holy Spirit stopped me and said, ‘see that lady over there?’ I went yes. She is the one that I am sending you too. So go and talk to her. Then the word of knowledge started coming. I went over there and I said: “honey, I know that you don’t know me, (she was an elderly lady) but the Lord told me that suffering from severe fear oppression.” This lady started crying. She had a napkin that was right beside her, she pulled the napkin away, and under the napkin were all these pills. I asked; “what is that?” She said “these are my antidepressant pills. I sat them there and set my napkin on them because I did not want all the people to see all the pills I have to take. I was sitting here thinking, I don’t want to have to take these pills anymore,” she then said I usually just take them all by popping them in my mouth, before I eat, but for some reason I just sat them down here, and threw my napkin over them. In my heart I was saying, I don’t want to be oppressed anymore.” She continued to share with me that her husband had just passed away, her children have been treating her wrong, this is going wrong and that is going wrong. She then said, that is why I cried. When you said that God said, that I was suffering from oppression and depression, and I was just praying: ‘God can you help me so I don’t have to take all these pills?, God can you help me not to feel this way anymore?’
I said to her: “well, God has sent me here to you.” She then invited me to sit down with her, and have a cup of tea. I said sure and my partner and I sat down at her table. She was not saved, but she was crying out to God. How many of you know that many unsaved people cry out to God? When people are in trouble, hurt or sick they will cry out to God. That is when the unsaved will cry out Oh, God. This lady got saved that day. Then we got her to church. We did follow up with her as she was lonely, she was so lonely. Loneliness is so bad and there is a lot of lonely people out in the world today. During the follow up visits and her being plugged into a Bible believing Church this woman was set free from her depression and her oppression. She is now a vital part of a church down in Florida being a blessing to other and moving in the gifts of the Spirit.
I talked to someone and they said that I don’t call myself ‘Christian”. I said you don’t, but haven’t you prayed and asked Jesus into your life and have been filled with the spirit? They said yes but I don’t call myself ‘Christian. I asked why, and they said I call myself a believer. I told them that I was a believer too. They said that I don’t call myself a ‘Christian’ because I don’t act like Christ.
Our life styles have to reflect the lifestyle of the one we serve. If we are going to walk and move and have our being in Christ Jesus then the same fruit that Jesus had in his life we should have in our lives. Jesus said that we can go and do miracles, Jesus wants us to raise the dead, He wants us to pray for the sick, and He wants us to cast out devils. Jesus has given us all power and all authority. He wants us to do this, the more time you spend in prayer the more clearly you will hear the voice of God.
Many time people have come up for prayer for one thing and when we are in tune with the Holy Ghost, God may say that they have this, that and another thing wrong. You can say God showed me this and they have responded yeah, but that is not what I came up for prayer about. Well, do you want to be healed of those things…Well yeah is the responds. See God is speaking through you through the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
This is why it is important to walk the way Jesus wants us to walk. We need to spend time in prayer. God wants our lives to be in tune with HIS spirit. The only way we can Walk the talk is spending time in prayer. The only way we can pray for the sick, see demons flee, and see the dead raised, is to have a constant walk in Christ. We can not one day be praying for the sick, speaking life to others and then for weeks on end not walking uprightly. We need to abide in Christ. That is the key to being a “CHRISTian” Christ-like that is what that word means. We are to be like Christ. Joan Pearce out of the way (put your name in where my name is) and Christ be the center of my life and help me abide in you. This is what the word says in John 15:4’ Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.’
Abide in Christ is a teaching that I offer on my website : www.joanpearce.org I encourage you to fill your life with GODLY teaching, fill your life with GODLY music, Fill your life with the WORD. Be blessed, be healed, be set free and GO and share the GOOD news of Jesus