Nicodemus Came by Night -John 3:2

John 3:2 – The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

We are told that Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. The reason we are told this is obviously because Nicodemus at this time didn’t want to face the shame of openly associating with Jesus. Most of his fellow Pharisees were growing increasingly hostile toward Christ, and they quickly despised anyone who associated with Him. Nicodemus would obviously want to avoid such a taint to his spotless reputation, and to avoid losing all the recognition and honor and religious achievement he had earned for himself. Note, the more a man has (religion, honor, achievement, wealth, power), the more he has to sacrifice to become a follower of Christ.

Notice here the vast difference between the “wise” and “foolish” things of this world (1 Cor. 1:17-28). “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight” (Luke 10:21). Nicodemus, certainly one of the most wise things of this world, respected by all, well-advanced in learning and religious devotion, comes to Jesus under the cloak of night. Yet, the shamed Samaritan woman, to whom Jews wouldn’t even associate, full of sin and adultery, considered among the most foolish things of this world, is not ashamed to proclaim Jesus openly to all out of excitement that He is the Savior. Nicodemus sees many the miracles of Jesus and comes to the conclusion that He’s a great teacher sent from God, but the Samaritan woman sees just one of His miracles (His gift of prophecy) and comes to the conclusion that He is the Messiah! Nicodemus is afraid to confess Him openly, but the Samaritan woman boldly proclaims Jesus as the Christ to her whole town as soon as she meets Him! (see John 4:5-42.) Away with the wisdom of this fallen age! We need simple, child-like faith in the Savior. This simple faith is no doubt the essential evidence of the New Birth.

But even though Nicodemus came by night, at least he came! This is saying a whole lot more to his honor in the Word of God than the majority of the other Pharisees and religious leaders. There had to be at least some risk involved in coming, even at night. But notice that even though Nicodemus starts out very timid, scared, and worried about the cost of following Christ, it is significant that His exposure here to Christ more personally did not turn him away from following Him, but actually increased his desire to follow. In the Gospel of John, Nicodemus will grow progressively bolder and stand up for Jesus. In the midst of the Pharisees accusing and condemning Jesus, Nicodemus boldly sticks up for Him and is ridiculed (7:50-51). Then later, after the crucifixion of the Lord, Nicodemus isn’t afraid to publicly identify himself with the crucified Christ by bringing a whopping hundred pounds of spices for his burial and preparing His body alongside Joseph of Arimathaea (19:39-40).

It is noteworthy that this was at a time when all the Apostles themselves had fled! While Peter was very bold and started out his race with a fast sprint, he would fall and bite the dust hard at this time, but while Nicodemus was very timid and started our his race with a careful step at a time, he picked up strength and over time, his pace quickened and he gained ground, showing his faith by his perseverance and gradual growth. It’s not always immediate, fiery passion and zeal that characterizes true followers of Christ, but it’s faith with perseverance that counts (see Luke 8:15). We are not told specifically that Nicodemus finally believed with all his heart and actually experienced the New Birth, however, there is noteworthy evidence which leads us to have hope. Perhaps he was among the number of multitudes that were openly added to the church in the book of Acts, since there we are told that even many of the Jewish leaders believed (compare John 12:42 with Acts 6:7).

Nicodemus shows us his timidity at this time not only by coming at night, but by using the word, “we” when acknowledging Jesus’ authority: “we know that thou art a teacher come from God”. This appears to be a classic way of avoiding any appearance of personal commitment while at the same time acknowledging truth –by keeping the personal “I” out of it and just talking in general terms. This ploy is used in politics even to this day to avoid the appearance of conviction and commitment. But perhaps the main reason that the Apostle John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, informs us that Nicodemus used the word “we” rather than “I” is because as a ruler of the Jews and leader in the Sanhedrin, his case is representative of the case of Judaism as a whole; his spiritual condition was representative of the majority of the Jewish people and leaders. They acknowledged a lot of truth, saw the obvious when it came to Jesus, but still lacked spiritual life in them, still lacked the inward power of grace in regeneration, still lacked the Spirit of God, still lacked the real spiritual meat and substance of the Kingdom of God, and were ignorant of the righteousness which comes by faith.

Perhaps the most important question here is the one which Jesus would later ask His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mat. 16:15) Our answer to this question is crucial in determining our eternal destination. Nicodemus at this time would have probably responded to Christ by saying something along these lines: “You are an amazing teacher, a model rabbi, an anointed prophet, and a powerful miracle-worker, and without doubt, you are a man sent from God”. –But even recognizing all this is not enough. Peter would respond with the only correct answer: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mat. 16:16). Many people believe that Jesus of Nazareth was a great man, a wonderful teacher, even a prophet. But that’s not good enough if they miss the most important part. He’s all of that and much, much more. He is the Christ, the Savior of the world, the Lord of all, and God incarnate. He is our divine Substitution, our atoning Sacrifice, our Passover Lamb, our reigning King.

An essential part of the new birth is having the veil of sinful blindness lifted away and receiving a personal revelation of who Jesus of Nazareth really is. Jesus responded to Peter’s declaration of faith by saying, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Mat. 16:17). This was not just a matter of good insight or clever brain power. This recognition was the result of supernatural revelation to the mind of Peter from the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t just an intellectual revelation, but a revelation to the very heart of Peter, producing in him the faith necessary to believe on Christ as His Lord and Savior. This revelation was granted from above. It comes with the New Birth. When God regenerates a sinful man, he opens his eyes and grants the ability to see the things of the Spirit in a way that enables him to believe in the Savior with real faith.

So although we see that Nicodemus certainly recognized these great things about Christ, things which the majority of the other Pharisees failed to recognized (or failed to acknowledge we should say), the knowledge he had of this Jesus was an insufficient knowledge that at this time failed to believe in Him as the Son of God and Messiah of Israel, and therefore is the evidence that he was not yet born again. When someone is born anew, born from above, they will certainly have this divine revelation from above, resulting in a wholehearted commitment to Christ as King. Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, and in fact, we see by this that even his understanding itself was still in the black night of sin and ignorance to the real things pertaining to the light of the glorious Gospel and the power of the Kingdom of God.

Nicodemus realized that Jesus came forth from God, he recognized the supernatural nature of the miracles Jesus did, he admitted the authority Jesus had to teach the Word of God, he showed interest and hunger in hearing what Jesus had to teach, and he even confessed that it’s impossible that Jesus is not from God, since no one could do such miracles apart from God. Yet even with all this acknowledgment of truth, and even despite all his religious attainment, morality, and show of holiness, Nicodemus was still at this time a dead man, dead spiritually to the things of God. He needed to have life imparted to him from above, or else he would never see the Kingdom of God.

Advertisements

Moved with Compassion

Matthew 9:36 – But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

Matthew 14:14 – And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.

Mark 1:41 – And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.

Luke 19:41 – And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it.

John 11:35 – Jesus wept.

The heart of Jesus must have deeply impressed those who were His eye-witnesses, so much so that all four Gospels record instances of Him being “moved” with compassion and even weeping. He, being God in the flesh, was truly a Man of sorrows, a humble servant of all, a compassionate friend of mankind, and while we read of such numerous instances when He was thus moved with Godly sorrow, we read of no reported instances where He laughed. As He Himself said, “Blessed are those who mourn”. He bore the pain, infirmities, sicknesses, and sins of mankind and carried our burdens upon His own back. What a blessed Savior!

Many times we should be lamenting instead of laughing, fasting instead of feasting, mourning our own sins rather than scorning the faults of others, suffering to carry the Gospel to the lost rather than having a merry time in selfish, fleshly entertainment. Have we no sense of this compassion that was in our Lord which drove Him to go to the cross to bleed? Have we no sense of the gravity of man’s sin and sorrow? Have we no sense of Godly sorrow, no sense of brokenness, no sense of poverty of spirit, no sense of grieving over the sins around us? Where is the heart of Jesus among us today?

We read that Jesus was “moved with compassion”. Those three words, “moved with compassion” come from just one single Greek word: splagchnizomai. Thayer’s defines it: “to be moved as to one’s bowels, hence to be moved with compassion”. In other words, this was not just an intellectual acknowledgement of the sorrow and sad state of mankind, and it was not just a mental idea of someone’s pain that leads to the common phrase, “I know what you must be going through”. This was a deep, inward stirring of emotion that actually moved the Lord to action. It was a deep emotional feeling of understanding, identification, and pity that sprung from His heart of love for mankind and led Him to do something about it. His being “moved with compassion” was not just a result of His omniscience in knowing what people were going through, but it was a result of His heart of love in desiring to bring salvation, healing, restoration, freedom, and blessing to people’s lives.

This is the compassion that caused Him in His humanity to weep over Jerusalem when foreseeing its’ coming doom at the judgment of God, longing to show mercy even to the worst of sinners. This reveals to us the heart of Christ. He is meek and lowly in heart and invites sinners to come to Him and learn from Him. He comes down to the level of sinners with longsuffering, teaching with patience and grace, relating to them on their level. He heals the sicknesses and infirmities of sinners and liberates them from Satanic bondage. He blesses the poor and lowly and offers salvation to those who feel they least deserve it. He forgives the sins of repentant prostitutes and murderers and restores those who have a broken heart. He dwells with those of a contrite spirit, making His house with the most humble and lowly. This is the heart of Christ, and we better never forget it!

Is the same mind that was in Jesus in us today? Do we have the heart of God? Do we demonstrate to the lost world the mercy, compassion and love of God? Do we find ourselves moved with compassion, not just with a drop of moisture in our eye but with a deep stirring of our hearts that causes us to take action and stand up to be the instruments of God’s healing, restoration,  and salvation to those around us? It is a tragedy if we attempt to finish the work that Jesus came to do by carrying the Gospel to the ends of the earth if we lack the same compassion He had which moved Him to do it. Let us not be moved by money, by pride, by recognition from men, but let us be moved by the love of God in our hearts.

The Great Exchanges of the Gospel

A Scriptural Meditation on the Sacrifice of Christ

 

Christ became a man of sorrows so we could be eternally happy. –Isa. 53:3-4

 

Christ suffered God’s vengeance so we could receive God’s forgiveness. –Isa. 53:10

 

Christ was separated from the favor of God so we can be restored to God’s favor. –Mat. 27:46

 

Christ was put to open shame so we could receive open acceptance with God. –Joh. 19:5

 

Christ received God’s hatred for sin so we could receive God’s love toward us as sinners. –Rom. 5:8

 

Christ took the death we deserve so we could receive the life he deserved. –1 Cor. 15:22

 

Christ bore our sin so we could receive His righteousness. –2 Cor. 5:21

 

Christ became poor in this world so we could become spiritually rich in Him. –2 Cor. 8:9

 

Christ became a curse and died so we could receive the blessing and live forever. –Gal. 3:13-14

 

Christ was made lower than angels so we could be exalted higher than angels. –Heb. 2:9

 

Christ suffered temptation so we could be victorious over temptation. –Heb. 2:18

 

Christ died for our sin so that we could die to our sin. –1 Pet. 2:21

 

 

————————————–

Compiled by Josef Urban

www.puregospeltruth.com

 

Good Tree, Bad Tree -Matthew 7:17-20

Good Tree, Bad Tree

An exposition of Mathew 7:17-20

By Josef Urban

Matthew 7:17-20 – Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

INTRODUCTION

In the immediately context of this Scripture, the Lord is talking primarily about false prophets (see v. 15). They look like sheep, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Just as Satan appears as an angel of light, so his servants can appear outwardly to be ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:14-15). Thus, these false prophets can be extremely deceptive. They appear to be true, they appear to be preaching righteousness, and they appear to be of the light, of the truth. Yet they are counterfeits in the church. The Lord tells us that even though they outwardly appear to have everything right, not to be fooled. And the way we are to test them so as not to be fooled is to “know them by their fruits”.

So since false prophets and false teachers need to be known by their fruits, this means that we have to examine every preacher of the Gospel by their fruits, since we don’t know who the false ones are until we examine them. This is not contrary to the Lord’s command in verses 1-5 where He forbids unrighteous, hypocritical judgment. While it is wrong and sinful to judge others when we are guilty of greater faults, or to judge them based on “appearance” with opinion, tainted motives, or wrong judgment, we are commanded to “judge (with) righteous judgment” (John 7:24). We must use some standard of judging righteously if we are to examine the fruits of Gospel preachers. And the standard that we use to judge others must not our own standard, neither our own opinions, but rather, must be according to the standards laid down in God’s Word, and any conclusion we come to must be in line with the judgment that the Word of God has already pronounced upon such things. Then we are obeying the truth, judging righteously and not wrongfully. God is the judge, and my judgment is true when it simply comes into line with and agrees with His just judgment that is already proclaimed in the infallible Word.

That being said, this means that we need to examine every preacher that we listen to using God’s Word as the standard. If they don’t match up to the qualifications therein, then they are false and need to be exposed for what they are in order to try to prevent further damage being done to God’s flock by them.

And while all this is true, and the manner of recognizing false prophets is admittedly the primary context of our Scripture, I believe there is a secondary application that can be made to apply to all of us on a broader scale. There is so much more we could say about false prophets and how to recognize them, but for the sake of this short exposition please suffer me to approach this text from a broader perspective to relate directly to us all. I will now draw out some points of application from this text in the context of how it relates to all who call themselves a “Christian”, because, let’s face it, preachers aren’t the only ones who need to be tested today, but since there is so much false profession and counterfeit Christianity going on, everybody needs to be examined with the tests of Scripture to ensure they are truly brethren in Christ. And not only this, but we each need to examine ourselves to make sure that we pass the tests of Scripture as it relates to the nature of true faith and true fellowship with Jesus.

POINTS OF APPLICATION

1. A tree is known by its fruit. Obviously, the Lord is speaking in metaphorical language. He’s not interested in discerning every literal tree of the literal forest, but of discerning between true and false Christians. Every professing believer is a tree in the sense of which this Scripture speaks. And every professing believer bears fruit of some kind, whether it is good or bad. Therefore, just like the false prophet, the person who calls himself a “Christian” can generally be known by the fruits that they bear. By “fruit”, the Lord is speaking of our works. Therefore, in a general sense, we can usually tell who is a true Christian and who is a false one by examining a professing believer’s fruit with the Word of God, by the things they do, by the works being manifested in their lives, when comparing them with the testimony of Scripture. This can’t always be done, because to a certain degree the tares (false believers) in the church sometimes look a lot like the wheat (true believers), and we are instructed to let them grow together lest we root out and harm a good grain of wheat (Mat. 13:29-30). Yet, at the same time, when the fruit is manifestly obvious it must be discerned and the wicked must be dealt with appropriately according to Scripture (1 Cor. 5:12-13). The utter failure of most of the modern professing church in this area has resulted in multitudes of more tares in the field than there is wheat, and has destroyed the testimony the church is supposed to have in the world.

Note that a tree is known not by the fullness of its leaves, but by its fruits. That is, a tree can look healthy on the outside, full of thick branches and a fullness of brightly colored leaves, yet still bear bad fruits, proving it to be a bad tree despite its outward appearance. What I mean by this is that a professing Christian can make a good and loud pretense of saying they believe in Jesus, and even provide many lush evidences to endeavor to support their profession of faith. Yet, if they are bearing bad fruit then they must be a bad tree. Just because they say they are Christians who love Jesus doesn’t change the fact that they are a bad tree and a false believer. The fruit proves it. We must remember that the Lord Himself said this in just a few verses after our text, in Matthew 7:21-23:

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Evidently, one’s profession of faith means absolutely nothing before God, even if it’s combined with “many wonderful works”, if that person is practicing iniquity. So if someone says they are a Christian, does many great works, but lives a lifestyle in the habitual practice of sin, bearing the bad fruit of doing continually what is wicked in the sight of God, then it means nothing if they say they love Jesus. It doesn’t save them. Their faith is a spurious one; it is not the true faith by which God’s people are justified which inevitably results in a lifestyle of habitual holiness and righteousness (Rom. 6:16-19).

2. The tree makes the fruit; the fruit doesn’t make the tree. The fruit doesn’t determine what kind of tree a certain tree happens to be. Rather, the fruit only identifies to outsiders what sort of tree it is. But the real producer of the fruit is the nature of the tree itself.

This is important to understand because a failure to recognize this will have us trying to remedy a problem in the wrong way. For instance, if a sinner recognizes that his life is full of terrible sins, and he knows he needs to get right with God and stop living in such sin, it is a folly to him to attempt to deal first with his sins. If he takes the axe to the stems of all the fruits of sin on his tree and chops off all the fruits and destroys them, he will for a short time experience some degree of victory, and possibly even pride himself in what his own hands accomplished. But he will be sadly disappointed when in a short time all those corrupt fruits grow back. He can continually deal with those fruits, but they will continue to grow back. Thus, a sinner cannot stop living a lifestyle of sin by simply dealing with his sin and resisting it. There needs to be a deeper work going on.

The sinner needs to recognize that he’s not a sinner just because he sins, but he sins because he’s a sinner. The real problem is not the outward manifestations of sin in his life. The real problem is his wicked, depraved heart from whence all these sins flow (Mark 7:20-23). The axe won’t profit much if taken just to the fruit. It needs to be taken to the root of the tree. The sinner needs to utterly confess himself as hopelessly lost before God and allow God to do a deep work of grace within his heart, allowing the Holy Spirit to destroy the dominion of sin at its very throne from where it reigns -inside the heart. When the heart is “purified by faith” (Acts 15:9) through the Gospel by a real supernatural power working in his heart, then the love for sinful pleasure within will be subdued and replaced with the love for holy things. The old tree of the love for sin within needs to be chopped down, and the supernatural power of the Creator needs to create a new tree, a new heart, which desires all that is pure and holy. Then, and only then, will the corrupt fruit cease to appear outwardly.

In the same way, a good tree is not good because of its fruit. The reason its fruit is good is because the tree itself is. This means that a true Christian is not saved by his own works no matter how good they are. Rather, he is saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, and as a result, glorifies God through bearing the good fruit that God produces in him. First comes salvation by grace alone (Eph. 2:8-9) and then comes the essential good fruits of God-glorifying works that prove that grace has truly saved (Eph. 2:10). This order cannot be reversed; it’s impossible. Any attempt to do so and put good works before salvation by grace is to manufacture a heresy and foster to self-righteousness, which is no good work at all, but actually adds sin on top of sin (Isa. 30:1). It’s God at work within His saints through their new nature that causes them to bring forth good fruits.

3. A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit. Notice that Jesus didn’t say that a corrupt tree can only sometimes bring forth good fruit, but He said, “never”. The very plain meaning of His analogy here proves that it’s impossible for a tree which is corrupt by nature to bring forth anything which is not corrupt, let alone to bring forth that which is good.

Therefore, a sinner who has not been justified by faith in Jesus, who has not been born again, who has not had his heart regenerated by the Spirit of God in a work of grace, cannot do anything which is good and pleasing to God. Every work and fruit he brings forth is one of corruption, springing from a depraved and blackened heart. It is done from impure motives, motives which are not acceptable to God. Nothing he does flows from a heart of true saving faith in Christ, and whatever is not done in faith is sin, even if it would otherwise be something innocent (Rom. 14:23). Nothing he does flows from a true love for the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore there is an “Anathema” pronounced upon him, and consequently, since the man himself is cursed, so is everything he does (1 Cor. 16:22). He is still under the curse of the Law for failing to render to God perfect obedience as is right (Gal. 3:10), and he abides under the very wrath of God (John 3:36). He is an unclean thing (Isa. 64:6), and any attempt of any unclean thing to approach a holy God and have His favor will find that only wrath awaits them. He is a slave of sin, and therefore is free from righteousness (Rom. 6:20). There is no favor for such a sinner, such a one as has never been created anew in converting grace, and nothing he does can commend him to God’s favor. It is impossible for him to change his own nature in his own power and bring forth good fruits which are acceptable to God.

“They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:12).

Let it be settled forever. This has been wrongfully attributed to a doctrine of “Calvinism” long enough. This is not a doctrine that a man invented several hundred years ago; this is a doctrine of the Word of God. Man is by nature a child of wrath, a depraved creature, an accursed thing, unclean, and free from true righteousness -so the Word of God describes him. He cannot please God. Nothing he does can please God. There is not a single unregenerate man that does good, no, NOT ONE! Sovereign grace must regenerate his heart and make him a new creature, created anew in the image of God, imparting faith to believe into his very soul that he may see Christ and be saved, and then after being converted he will certainly bring forth good fruit.

4. A good tree cannot bring forth corrupt fruit. This is plainly obvious. A good tree will continually bring forth that which is good. A true Christian will continually bring forth deeds and works and fruits which glorify God. Springing from the nature inside of the good tree itself, the fruit is good, and a believer who has the Holy Spirit residing within, from their depths will spring forth works which give honor to God. Yet, though this is the habitual practice of the true child of God, we must remember that a good tree does not always produce perfect fruit. While the majority of what it produces is good, there will occasionally be some fruit with defects, far from perfect. In fact, if it is scrutinized close enough, one would find that even the best of its fruit has defects; thus the fruit of the tree is full of many defects. But though it has its defects, it is still good for consumption, good to be given abroad, because for the most part it is delightful fruit, good for all, pleasing in the sight of God.

It is so sad to see some ignore this obvious fact and to frequently use as a ‘proof text’ for the false doctrines of sinless perfection. However, it is plainly clear that the Word of God teaches that believers do stumble into sin and still have a sinful nature to war against (Gal. 5:17). The Lord Himself taught His disciples to pray, “forgive us our sins” just as He taught them to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”, thus showing in this daily prayer the believer’s need to constantly walk in a state of repentance before God -not of continual confession as a precondition of a repeated justification as some teach (for justification is once for all), but as a fruit of having the Holy Spirit within. When a man has the Holy Spirit, he will grieve over his own sin, and be humbled by it. He will readily acknowledge it before God and plead for grace to conquer continually. Therefore, it is a sign of saving grace, of true salvation, that a believer sees his shortcomings, stumbles, and sins which he hates so much and acknowledges them before God with a heart desiring perfect purity. Anyone who says they never sin and live in a state of sinlessness in the flesh only deceives himself, and the truth is not in him (1 John 1:8). And while this is true it also remains true that a real Christian will not be in constant bondage to the remaining sin within their fallen flesh, they will walk habitually in the Spirit in self-dominion over it, in holiness as a way of life.

So what does Jesus mean by these words? He must be understood in context. I believe he goes on to explain exactly what the “corrupt fruit” is that a good tree cannot bear: in Matthew 7:23 (already quoted), the Lord describes this corrupt fruit as being the “work of iniquity”. The Greek word for “work” is one denoting an ongoing, continual action, or in other words, a practice. It is a term of habit. And “iniquity” simply means, “lawlessness”. (And so the New King James translates the Lord’s words as “you who practice lawlessness”.) This is describing someone who lives as if they can sin without eternal consequence. They are living in sin. They sin and their hearts are not broken over it. They keep sinning and sinning and haven’t come to true repentance and of renouncing all sin deeply within their heart by faith in Christ.

So while a believer will not be absolutely sinless and perfect in holiness in the flesh, he will certainly not live a lifestyle of indulging in any sin willfully and continually. “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Romans 6:22). A good tree will not, and cannot, produce the corrupt fruit of living in continual carnality and sin, since the divine nature abides within him (1 John 3:9). God’s own Spirit within his heart won’t allow such a one to continually practice sin. Therefore, if such a one claims to be a Christian, but practices lawlessness, they are not a good tree, they are a bad tree, which the Lord goes on to explain what will happen to such a one:

5. Every tree that doesn’t bring forth good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire. This is without exception. God will not overlook corrupt fruit. He will rid His Kingdom of it all. If someone is living in the practice of sin, with the desires of their heart continually enjoying their sin, they are in for a fearful day when the axe blade of God’s justice is sharpened and is swung forth by the mighty hand of omnipotence, and those trees thrown into the fire to be burned forever. They will “suffer the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7). Oh, what a fearful thing! Oh, how man should tremble before God! As Jesus said: “Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mat. 10:28).

But let’s go even a little further. Notice that the text doesn’t say, “Every tree that brings forth bad fruit…” but it says, “Every tree that doesn’t bring forth good fruit”. -This goes even further. See, not only will every tree which is bringing forth corrupt fruit be chopped down and burned, but so will every tree that doesn’t have good fruit. Note, that the tree could look good from a distance, it could look just like a good tree, and there may not be any visible corrupt fruit on it. Yet, if there is an absence of good fruit, it is still a bad tree. A person may think they are saved, and may live what appears to be a morally spotless life in the eyes of their fellow man, yet if they fail to bring forth the good fruits of holiness, righteousness, truth, purity, love, faith, hope, peace, etc. as the Holy Spirit gives to His people, then they too will be chopped and burned. So we see the utter necessity here, not only for the absence of the practice of willful sin, but also for the positive righteousness and holy living that is the evidence and proof of our confession of faith. Faith without works is dead (Jam. 2:17).

6. A bad tree cannot become a good tree except only by the supernatural Creative power of God. It is an impossibility of nature that a corrupt tree changes its own inner nature and transforms into something which will bring forth good fruit. It simply cannot happen by natural means. There must be something supernatural; there must be a mighty miracle. There must be the making of a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). The God who created the world and called the world into existence from nothing must be the One who miraculously changes a man’s heart, destroys the roots of the sinful nature which only continually desires sin, and creates a new tree which will bring forth good fruit. It is takes His creative power, and this power is displayed gloriously in the work of redemption, namely in the work of regeneration. The new birth is the miraculous work of the Spirit of God wherein He creates in man a new nature resulting in an entirely new person and giving him the ability to produce good fruit. Apart from this creative work, no bad tree can ever produce good fruit.

7. Those who recognize themselves as bad trees need to be created anew in the image of God. The curse has passed upon all men, because all have sinned (Rom. 5:12). All men are cursed, corrupt trees by nature. And only those who are created anew and made to be good trees will inherit the Kingdom of God. There needs to be a work of grace in the hearts of those who are living in sin, changing their hearts, washing their sins away, and giving them a new nature to obey Christ, or else they will die in their sin. They must be born again (John 3:3).

CONCLUSION

Dear soul, the question goes to you now: Are you a good tree, or a bad tree? Don’t listen to your profession, but rather let the fruits prove it. Take an honest look and see if the things you are doing are springing from the divine seed of God within, resulting in that which is holy and godly to characterize your life, or whether they are coming from a evil heart of unbelief resulting in the practice of sin and iniquity. And if you know you have been made a new creation, and the fruit of your life and practice proves it beyond question, then rejoice and receive the assurance of faith from these words of the Lord Jesus. But if you see that you haven’t been thus made a new creation, then fear, fear God with all your heart, humble yourself before Him, renounce your sin, repent from your own ways, turn from all wicked things and turn to Christ alone in living faith, trusting Him with your whole heart to save you. Cry out to Him to do this work of grace in you. Call on the name of the Lord in desperation and simplicity of faith, trusting in His promises to save to the uttermost all that come to God through Him. The time is now to be converted, before the great Lord of the harvest returns with the axe in his hand. “And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Mat. 3:10).

September Ministry Update

 

We have been constantly laboring in this mission field for the last month. Too much has been happening to possibly write about it all, but I will share some highlights and testimonies. May God be glorified!
 
FELLOWSHIP WITH BRETHREN
 
There is a pastor from a small church in this area that we have come to be good friends with over the past month. This brother is really humble and truly seems to really love the Lord and desires to see people saved. His name is Otoniel. Here is a picture of brother John (left) me (middle) and Otoniel (right):
Brother Otoniel oversees a small church in this area. Even though he is a part of a large Pentecostal denomination, there is a world of difference between the churches here and the churches in the US of the same denomination. The corruption and apostasy of much of American Christianity hasn’t heavily saturated this area and defiled that which calls itself the church here, so there is still purity and simple devotion to Christ and love of the truth in a much greater measure (on average). We have been extremely blessed meeting fellow brethren in the Lord here who are so simple, some of which can’t even read, yet really love Jesus and glorify Him with their lives. We’ve been really encouraged and strengthened by their fellowship and hearing their amazing testimonies. (We may be uploading a video or two of some testimonies from some brethren here in the near future.) It’s encouraging to see that the Lord has reserved a remnant for Himself out of every place!
 
HOME VISITS
 
We’ve been able to visit various people in their homes and to preach the Gospel to them and go through the Scriptures proclaiming Christ. We have seen some people come under some wonderful conviction by the Spirit of God while visiting them and sharing with them the truth of the Cross and pray the Lord would make our labors fruitful.
There is a great need here for this type of ministry –visiting people in their homes and teaching them the Bible. It’s very time-consuming but seems to be perhaps the most effective way of establishing a solid Gospel witness to them and to build relationships with them and gain their trust. The state of many of the people in these villages is similar to the state in which the Evangelist Philip found the Ethiopian Eunuch, who wanted to know the Scriptures but couldn’t understand them and needed someone to teach him (see Acts. 8:30-31). So we have been doing this and are continually visiting people to teach them the Word of God.
 
We have also been talking with a women who wants to convert to Christianity and to her “husband” (they’re not really married) who is seeking the truth and counting the cost of following Christ. He is in a state of conviction and seems to have a real hunger to know more about Jesus. Neither one of them can read, so we are giving them CD’s of the Bible read on audio to listen to. We are praying that the Lord will grant even them, “repentance unto life”. Their responsiveness thus far has been the fruit of our Jesus Film ministry (read below).
 
WITNESSING TO THE MAFIA
 
The town that we are staying in is a stronghold for the Mexican mafia and drug cartel. Many of them are from this area. In fact, many of them are actually cousins of Lina. So a few weeks ago, as we were walking down the street, a gang of about 20 of them were gathered at a house, and saw us as we walked by. We were able to talk with them, and they recognized that they were family with Lina. They proceeded to call me names and racial slurs and to use profanity towards me, being a white boy and all, but we went over into the yard and talked with them. As they asked me if I drink beer, I told them that the Word of God says that no drunkard will inherit the Kingdom of God, and that God may have overlooked their ignorance in the past, but now commands them and all men everywhere to repent, because He’s appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through the Man who He has ordained, Christ Jesus! When I said this, they stopped their course jesting and immediately became dead silent and listened. We have visited one of these guys in his house since and had lunch with him, and plan on going back soon to share my testimony with him and to preach the Gospel. Oh, how glorious it would be for the Lord to save that man and make him a token of His grace!
 
PREACHING AT THE FIESTA
 
Every year, they have a Fiesta (large party like a festival) in our town. Nearly the whole town goes to it. Even many of those from this area who are in the US come back here for this time to visit their families and go to the fiestas. One day, I was praying that the Lord would open doors to preach the Gospel, and later that day, we got the idea of setting up a booth at the Fiesta to hand out tracts, Gospels of John and Bibles, and to preach to people from it. The Lord opened up the doors to do this immediately, and in fact, some of the mafia heard that we wanted a booth there to give out Bibles, and they said, “You just go and pick your spot, and we’ll take care of the rest”. So we were able to get a great spot to set up our booth right by the entrance where people come in and out from, and that for free! The Lord has even the hearts of the mafia in His hands and can turn them whatsoever way He wishes!
 
The Fiesta lasted for 9 days, and we were there almost every night. We were able to preach the Gospel to a number of people who came by our booth.
We had a large picture hanging in the back of the Second Coming of Christ in glory and of people screaming in terror at the sight of it –a pretty convicting picture for somebody that’s not right with God! Some people would walk by our booth, look at the picture, and freeze in fear with their eyes wide open! There was actually a fear that ran through the town we heard, and a rumor –people were saying: “It’s the last days! In the history of our town nobody has ever been at our FIESTAS to preach the Gospel!” We have been praying that the fear of God would grip the hearts of the people of this town and the power of the Holy Ghost would convict and convert them.
 
We were also able to preach to some of the vendors (workers) at the Fiesta, who travel from out of state from fiesta to fiesta to sell their goods. A few of them we had really good witnesses with, and they were very receptive and hungry for more. One man we preached to seemed to get really convicted, and when we finished speaking and asked if he had any questions, asked, “What’s the easiest way for me to get saved?” I showed him Romans 10:9-10 and explained what it means, and told him to get alone with God and confess his sins, repent, and call out to Jesus to save him, to put his faith in Christ and confess Christ as His Savior and to serve Him forever. A few nights later we talked to him again, and he has since been reading a Bible that someone else had, and we were able to give him his own Bible. He was very grateful and seemed very eager to read it and serve the Lord!
 
We were also able to preach to some of the band members from a music group that came to perform, and a couple of them were very receptive to the Gospel. One of them was tremendous –we all felt in our spirits, that this man is going to be a brother! Or so it seems. He just has the hand of the Lord all over him. We were able to give him and another member Bibles and they gratefully received them.
In all we handed out about 30 Bibles at the fiestas, all to people who sincerely wanted them and asked us for one and told us they would read them. Glory be to God!
 
PREACHING IN THE CHURCHES
 
There are a number of churches that we have come to discover in this area. I have been able to preach in them and teach the saints (and false converts) on some much needed truths and foundations and seek to strengthen the brethren.
 
I have been preaching in the church that brother Otoniel oversees on a regular basis now and it’s been a blessing. The Lord has been pleased to really pour out a blessing there and to give us a taste of His presence. We have seen the altar flooded with praying and crying souls, and are being broken and strengthened ourselves. My heart longs to see the Lord send a revival to his little church in this area. We thank the Lord for the blessed gift of His Spirit, for we can do nothing without Him.
Thanks be to God, I have also been able to share some messages with a few of different house church fellowships, to a youth group on a couple occasions, and even teach a class on Missions at a small Bible institute in the city (the class lasted for about 6 hours!). It turns out that the session I taught was the final session at the end of the year for the school, so it fit perfectly with taking what they learned and applying it. I was also able to answer questions they had about the “prosperity gospel”, “altar call salvation”, and more.
 
It’s been on my heart to emphasize some much-needed foundational truths, and share such messages dealing with the true meaning of the Cross, true and false conversion, the new birth, of what true salvation looks like, how genuine conversion takes place, striving to enter the narrow way, taking up the Cross, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and so on. The brethren are very receptive to the messages and appear to be very edified by them. Much of our ministry here has been to the brethren, as much as it has been to the lost. It’s unexpected, but the Lord has been pleased to use us to help edify His saints in the ministry of teaching. There is a great need here for solid, foundational, doctrinal teaching –for tearing down faulty foundations and laying down true ones. Oh, may God grant that His church in these last days may return to the Apostolic pattern, power and glory!
 
Since some people have satellite TV here (as is the case everywhere around the world no matter where you go it seems), some of that false “gospel” of greed has corrupted some churches in this area. I have been able to preach against this greedy prosperity heresy to some of the brethren here. Brother Otoniel even requested that I teach at a meeting on a Sunday about why the prosperity “gospel” is wrong, and so I was able to do that joyfully and earnestly contend for the faith. He, along with another brother in that fellowship that also preaches sometimes, have heard prosperity taught before, but neither one of the agreed with it as it didn’t sit right with their spirit. They were still uncertain though, so it met a great need for them to be able to go through the Scriptures on the subject and to expound of what the Lord taught concerning stewardship and money so that they may have a definite stance by the word of God.
 
There is a larger church in the city that has embraced this prosperity “gospel” and is teaching it. I had an appointment to preach there to the congregation last Sunday, but after praying, I had no peace about going, so cancelled the engagement. We are going to sit down with that pastor and talk to him personally about his error before we associate ourselves any further with him or preach there.
 
THE JESUS FILM MINISTRY
 
We were able to show the Jesus Film on two weekend nights in a row in the village we are staying in. This village has a population of about 500 people. And to our grand surprise, over 250 people showed up during the two nights! That’s half the people in our village! All the chairs were filled up both nights! On one night, a number of people even had to stand. These people were all able to watch this 2-hour video presentation of the Gospel of Luke. As soon as the Film was over, on both nights we stood up at the front and preached a short Gospel message to them, pleading with them to repent and be converted, to flee the wrath to come and to believe in Christ and be saved. We have already seen some fruit come from this event. Praise God!
 
We were not able to obtain any pictures of this event, since people in this village were making up lies about us, saying that we were going to film the whole event and take it to the US and sell it to get rich off of them. There are many outright lies of the Devil like this that float around in this town, out to oppose the Gospel. Men and women of corrupt minds, destitute of the truth, foaming up their own shame in slandering the work of God –may the Lord forgive them for their words against Him, and if He be willing, change their hearts and bless them with salvation. We didn’t take any pictures so as not to foster to this lie. So from now on, we’re going to be even more careful about what we take pictures of. If there is no tangible reproach or reason for people to blaspheme, they will make up reasons of their own, so we have to be extra-carefully beyond reproach.
 
We already have plans, if the Lord be willing, to show this Jesus Film in many of the surrounding villages as well, working with some surrounding churches and local pastors to reach their communities. This weekend we are staying for a few days with a pastor from a far town and preaching at some meetings in his church, and setting up the Film to reach his community.
 
MIRACULOUS HEALINGS
 
1. One day, we attended a Pastor’s meeting where a number of the local pastors gather together to talk about current issues. It was here that we were able to meet a lot of them and to set up appointments to preach in their congregations. After the meeting, as we were talking with some of them, a women ran into the room in distress! She had tears in her eyes, and had a baby in her arms of about 2-3 years in age. About 30 minutes prior to this, the baby had taken a hold of a bottle of kitchen cleaner and drank it while the mother was in the shower. She got out of the shower to discover that he drank it. She decided to put him in the car and drive him to the meeting, hoping we would still be there to pray for him. When she brought him in, he was unconscious. We all prayed for him, and Lina and I laid hands on him in the name of Jesus. We both had a supernatural faith rise up within us, and we believed he would be healed. But, after we prayed, nothing happened. He was still unconscious. Everyone tried to wake him up. They kept saying his name loudly, shaking him (gently enough not to hurt him, but strong enough to wake any baby up), rocked him up and down, etc. trying to wake him up. Nothing worked. A pastor took his finger, lifted the baby’s eyelid to look at his eyes, and after doing so said, “you need to take him to the hospital immediately”. They were even holding his eyelids open and loudly saying his name trying to wake him, but not a response.
 
Then, Lina grabbed the child in her arms and whispered very softly, “wake up in the name of Jesus” and when she did, the baby jolted, like when somebody gets scared and jumps. When he jumped, his eyes opened for a split second, but then he immediately slumped back over and fell unconscious again. He was back out. Then, in a faith not my own, in the name of Jesus Christ, I laid hands on him and rebuked the poison and its effects and commanded it to be gone and for him to be healed, and Lina spoke “life” into the baby. Immediately, his eyes opened wide and he woke up perfectly well. He looked around at our faces, and got scared seeing strangers, and began crying! He was made whole by the power of the risen Christ! He didn’t fall back unconscious again, he didn’t throw up, and he even drank milk afterwards (he was still on milk as his food). We talked to the mother days later and she confirmed that the only harm done to the baby was that the outside of his skin was burnt a little under his chin where the liquid dripped when he drank it! Is not the same Christ who worked wonders on earth 2,000 the same Christ who reigns in the Heavens and through His people now? Is not His power the same? Does He not still have compassion for the suffering and dying?
 
2. On another occasion, I had preached at a house fellowship. After the meeting, there was a teenage girl who needed healing, but she was so shy that she went to her mother and asked her mother to ask us to pray for her. A couple of days prior, this girl had something rupture in her ear, and blood started coming out from it. She was in constant pain, had a constant headache ever since. Then, to make matters worse, a day later, a bug flew into her ear and they never got it out! So brother Otoniel and I anointed her with oil, and laying hands on her in the name of Jesus, prayed for healing. I felt a wave of what felt like heat pass between my hand and her head as we did. As soon as we finished praying, she was healed instantly. Her face was gripped with astonishment, she looked utterly amazed, and tears formed in her eyes. Lina asked her, “what is it?” and the girl said, “All the pain is completely gone!” Glory to the Lamb! It’s not our own power or holiness, but Jesus, and faith in His name, that made that girl whole! He’s still in the business of healing the afflicted to the glory of His name!
 
Oh, how we need the power of God! We need the real Holy Ghost in our midst to see God manifest His glory and demonstrate His compassion! My heart longs for a greater measure, a greater baptism of the Spirit, a greater endowment of power to preach and confirm the Word, a greater faith to make substance of things not seen! We fall so short of true childlike faith and we need a holy desperation to be closer to God and to see Him work in a real way in people’s lives that they may believe the Gospel, to believe in and trust the Living Christ and not a dead religion that has a form of godliness but no power! I’m not talking about following signs, I’m talking about following Christ and having signs follow us as a result, having the Holy Ghost make manifest the Word by faith for the glory of the Name! Where is the LORD God of Elijah? 
  
SOME OBSTACLES AND TRIALS
 
There is a tangible warfare going on in the spiritual between us and these demonic strongholds of Catholicism, idolatry, pride, gossip, and greed that control this area. We are seeking to press through in prayer for a move of God, for the demolishing of these strongholds, for the salvation of souls, for the empowerment of the Body of Christ and for the desperately needed outpouring of the baptism of the Spirit. But there are some extremely stubborn spirits here that don’t want to be driven out, so we need heavenly re-enforcement by the power of God. Please pray against these strongholds here and for the release of the Spirit in this place.
 
Verbal persecution is also a constant obstacle here –not for us, for we count it a blessing, but for those who are seeking God, attending our meetings, and considering coming to Christ. Whenever a sinner in the town appears to be on the verge of conversion, all the others of the town begin to mock them and insult them and to tempt them. This is happening constantly, and it causes many people to be afraid to talk to us because they fear the shame and humiliation that all the town will give them for it. Because of this, we are having a hard time trying to reach some people. But, at the same time, this could be a blessing in disguise, since it means that there is a cost to pay when following Christ, and the people will count this cost before doing it. So in a way, it sort of filters out the chaff from the wheat, which is good. But the bad part is that some of what is filtered out won’t even listen to us on account of it and it hinders them from listening to the Gospel. So it goes both ways.
 
We are also battling with personal struggles of our own. All three of us have fallen sick since being here. One day, in the early afternoon, I fell extremely ill, weak, and unable to hardly move, with a sick stomach, a high fever, and pain all over. It was so bad for a moment I had thoughts of passing on to glory and had a wonderful time of fellowship with Christ as I meditated on the glorious thought of seeing His face for the first time! We still don’t know what caused this illness, and it only lasted for a couple days until I was able to function like normal and eat again. All three of us have also become sick with an infection, cold, sore throat and cough. Brother John has had an extremely trying time with asthma on top of this cold, and we’ve been praying for his healing. Lina has also been sick and keeps losing her voice, making it difficult to translate as we preach. Yet in all this, we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through Him who loved us and gave Himself for us!
 
There are also multitudes of bugs here, bugs of all sorts and kinds. There are wasps that fly in and out of our house every day, building nests. We kill them constantly but they keep coming. There are also a lot of bees that come in. There are also poisonous wasps, and poisonous bees that ooze venom from their stingers. There are tons of mosquitos, and we are getting bit constantly despite our best efforts to avoid them. We have probably had at least a hundred bites between the three of us (this is no exaggeration). There’s also these little critters they call “sancudos”, they’re a little bigger than a gnat, look almost identical, but when they land on you they bite and make you bleed. There’s even these strange insects that fly around at night, they look like beetles, and the people here call them, “female donkeys”. When they touch you or land on you, they release a chemical that burns you. I’ve been the victim of one so far, and it burned my neck and made a water blister from the burn. We’ve seen a tarantula here too, and a couple snakes. And pretty much every adult who has lived here all their lives testifies to having between 3-8 scorpion stings during their lives. So we pray and believe that the Lord would keep us safe and from getting ill from any of these bugs, especially the mosquitos and poisonous creatures. Praise God, we have authority to trample down snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19)!
We are so grateful for our brethren back in the States that are covering us in prayer and helping us with our physical needs as we continue to do this work in the name of our Sovereign Lord. We march onward, and may all the saints do the same, for the sake of the Name…
In CHRIST -Josef Urban

The Trial and Incarceration of John Bunyon

John Bunyon in Jail

John Bunyon in Jail

John Bunyan was a Baptist preacher, a pious man, and a man well-beloved by all who knew him. John Bunyan was incarcerated in the Bedford jail in England. The following account is taken directly from a transcript of the trial on October 3, 1660, that led to his imprisonment at Bedford:

Judge Wingate: “Mr. Bunyan, you stand before this Court accused of persistent and willful transgression of the Conventicle Act, which prohibits all British subjects from absenting themselves from worship in the Church of England, and from conducting worship services apart from our Church. You come, presumably, with no legal training, and yet without counsel. I must warn you, sir, of the gravity of the charge, the harshness of the penalty, in the event of your conviction, and the foolhardiness of acting as your own counsel in so serious a matter. I hold in my hand the depositions of the witnesses against you. In each case, they have testified that, to their knowledge, you have never, in your adult life, attended services in the Church of this parish. Each further testifies that he has observed you, on numerous occasions, conducting religious exercises in and near Bedford.”

John Bunyan: “The depositions speak the truth. I have never attended services in the Church of England, nor do I intend ever to do so. Secondly, it is no secret that I preach the Word of God whenever, wherever, and to whomever He pleases to grant me opportunity to do so. I have no choice but to acknowledge my awareness of the law which I am accused of transgressing. Likewise, I have no choice but to confess my guilt in my transgression of it. As true as these things are, I must affirm that I neither regret breaking the law, nor repent of having broken it. Further, I must warn you that I have no intention in the future of conforming to it.”

Judge Wingate: “It is obvious, sir, that you are a victim of deranged thinking. If my ears deceive me not, I must infer from your words that you believe the State to have no interest in the religious life of its subjects.”

John Bunyan: “The State, M lord, may have an interest in anything in which it wishes to have an interest. But the State has no right whatever to interfere in the religious life of its citizens.”

Judge Wingate: “The evidence I hold in my hand, even apart from your own admission of guilt, is sufficient to convict you, and the Court is within its rights to have you committed to prison for a considerably long time. I do not wish to send you to prison, Mr. Bunyan. I am aware of the poverty of your family, and I believe you have a little daughter who, unfortunately, was born blind. Is this not so?”

John Bunyan: “It is, M’lord.”

Judge Wingate: “Very well. The decision of the Court is this: In as much as the accused has confessed his guilt, we shall follow a merciful and compassionate course of action. We shall release him on the condition that he swear solemnly to discontinue the convening of religious meetings, and that he affix his signature to such an oath prior to quitting the Courtroom. That will be all, Mr. Bunyan. I hope not to see you here again. May we hear the next case?”

John Bunyan: “M’lord, if I may have another moment of the Court’s time?”

Judge Wingate: “Yes, but you must be quick about it. We have other matters to attend to. What is it?”

John Bunyan: “I cannot do what you ask of me, M’lord. I cannot place my signature upon any document in which I promise henceforth not to preach. My calling to preach the Gospel is from God, and He alone can make me discontinue what He has appointed me to do. As I have had no word from Him to that effect, I must continue to preach, and I shall continue to preach.”

Judge Wingate: “I warn you, sir, the Court has gone the second mile to be lenient with you, out of concern for your family’s difficult straits. Truth to tell, it would appear that the Court’s concern for your family far exceeds your own. Do you wish to go to prison?”

John Bunyan: “No, M’lord. Few things there are that I would wish less.”

Judge Wingate: “Very well, then, Mr. Bunyan. This Court will make one further attempt in good faith to accommodate what appears to be strongly held convictions on your part. In his compassion and beneficence, our Sovereign, Charles II, has made provision for dissenting preachers to hold some limited meetings. All that is required is that such ministers procure licenses authorizing them to convene these gatherings. ”You will not find the procedure burdensome, and even you, Mr. Bunyan, must surely grant the legitimacy of the State’s interest in ensuring that any fool with a Bible does not simply gather a group of people together and begin to preach to them. Imagine the implications were that to happen! Can you comply with this condition, Mr. Bunyan?

“Before you answer, mark you this: should you refuse, the Court will have no alternative but to sentence you to a prison term. Think, sir, of your poor wife. Think of your children, and particularly of your pitiful, sightless little girl. Think of your flock, who can hear you to their hearts’ content when you have secured your licenses. Think on these things, and give us your answer, sir!”

John Bunyan: “M’lord, I appreciate the Court’s efforts to be as you have put it – accommodating. But again, I must refuse your terms. I must repeat that it is God who constrains me to preach, and no man or company of men may grant or deny me leave to preach. These licenses of which you speak, M’lord, are symbols not of a right, but of a privilege. Implied therein is the principle that a mere man can extend or withhold them according to his whim. I speak not of privileges, but of rights. Privileges (licenses) granted by men may be denied by men. Rights are granted by God, and can be legitimately denied by no man. I must therefore, refuse to comply.”

Judge Wingate: “Very well, Mr. Bunyan. Since you persist in your intractability, and since you reject this Court’s honest effort at compromise, you leave us no choice but to commit you to Bedford jail for a period of six years (Editor’s Note: This six ultimately became 12 1/2 for his repeated refusal to sign the license). ”If you manage to survive, I should think that your experience will correct your thinking. If you fail to survive, that will be unfortunate. In any event, I strongly suspect that we have heard the last we shall ever hear from Mr. John Bunyan. Now, may we hear the next case?”

-Of course, neither Judge Wingate nor the world had heard the last of John Bunyan, for during his lengthy incarceration in the old Bedford jail, with his Bible as his constant companion and guide, Bunyan gave to the world the epic ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’. Bunyan was denied pen and paper, and Pilgrim’s Progress was written with pieces of charcoal from the fire that kept his body warm on the paper wads used as stoppers in the milk bottles from which he drank.

The Judgment Seat of Christ – Vision by Paris Reidhead

Here is a new video I just made about a fearful vision that was shown to the late preacher Paris Reidhead who has since gone on to be with the Lord.

1 Corinthians 3:10 – For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

In Christ
www.puregospeltruth.com