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

 

 

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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).

A Brief Account of My Testimony

By Josef Urban

In early 2004, the Lord reached down from Heaven and plucked my soul from the fire. At that time, I was living a life of sin, wickedness and rebellion, running the streets, fighting, lying, cheating, stealing, using drugs, etc. I was truly the worst of sinners. I knew of God intellectually, and desired to serve Him, but was such a slave to sin that I saw no possible way to ever be free. I knew of God’s calling and hand upon my life from a young age. I tried many times to repent and get right, and even prayed all the time for the Lord to change me, but every time I tried to reform my wicked ways I always failed and relapsed back into slavery to sin even worse. One time, when seeking God, I had such a mighty revelation of Christ that I got dramatically delivered from some of the demons that were holding me in bondage, and for a few days experienced a freedom and victory, but soon went back to my sin. The devils came back seven times worse.

Pretty soon, I hardened myself against God so much that I became a professed atheist. I would curse Him openly. I knew God was real, but I hated Him, and didn’t want to serve Him. I was extremely angry, hateful, and worst of all, all-out rebellious. Because of this rebellion, the Lord began to smite me. I began to experience many mental and physical afflictions that were unnatural for a youth of my age. The hate within me would rise up and control me at times, and I would lash out in fits of rage, being tormented by terrible depression and despair. Because of my wickedness, I would also get into fights. One time I was beat up so badly I came close to losing my life. When I got up from being knocked out, my face was utterly dripping with blood. I continued to rebel. The Lord then began to smite me with the most painful thing on earth: kidney stones. I ended up being hospitalized a number of times. Nothing could ease the pain except morphine injections. One kidney stone almost took my life, because it was blocking my urinary tract and causing my blood to be poisoned. However, just before the doctors were to call for emergency surgery, I passed it. I also experienced many infirmities dealing with my stomach and digestive system. I knew all of this was the judgment of God for my rebellion, and these are but a few of the things I went through during this time. I was conscious that this was a result of the hand of God upon my life, for “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God”.

After a period of this affliction, I renounced my atheism. Now, I professed to believe in God. I knew He was calling me, and I wanted to serve Him. But I was a slave. A total slave to sin. I couldn’t get free no matter how hard I tried. But the Lord was drawing me still. The Spirit of God was moving upon my heart. Though I was now involved in heavier drugs than ever. One night, I had a turning point that I’ll never forget. I took so many drugs that I thought I was going to die from overdose. I spent the night smoking cigarettes and marijuana, getting drunk, snorting cocaine and using a synthetic hallucinogen that I can’t even recall the name of. I began to see skulls, hallucinating. My heart began to race so incredibly fast and I was struck with a dreadful fear that I was about to die. In my distress, I called upon the Lord and He answered me. I asked Him to let me live through the night. I told Him that if He lets me live, I will try to clean myself up and serve Him.

Praise God, He answered this helpless sinner’s prayer! So I began to go to church. I started attending an extremely large one. It was seeker-sensitive, with the dramas, movies, slick speeches, etc. I would feel so good when I left. However, I knew I was lost, a slave to sin. Pretty soon, I started to get convicted because I wasn’t getting convicted at this place. It had a form of godliness without the power, and my desperate soul needed the power and a miraculous breakthrough or I was going to die in my sin and I knew it. Many times I had tried to read the Bible, but I didn’t understand it, and this place wasn’t helping me to one bit. So I began to go to a different church. This one was much smaller. Here, enough Scripture was preached for the Spirit of God to use. I began to come under heavy conviction. The weight of sin weighed heavier and heavier upon my shoulders as I sat through the services. An altar call was always given at the end of each service, and I would just boil in conviction. I wanted to serve the Lord, but was afraid that if I dedicated myself to serve Him, I wouldn’t be able to live righteously, and would be a hypocrite. I thought I was too terrible a sinner for God to make a saint out of. I was trying to clean myself up before I came to Christ, because I thought God would never accept such a wicked sinner as myself. I thought I needed to make myself righteous before I came to Christ so I could be a good Christian. Then, one day, the Pastor prophesied. Without knowing me, he said, “You’re trying to clean yourself up before you come to Christ, but that’ll never work. You need to come, just as you are, and He will clean you up”. It pierced my heart like a sword!

I still resisted, under heavy conviction and drawing by the Spirit of God. I went home, and for a whole week I wrestled around with the idea of forsaking ALL to follow Christ. I knew what that meant. And the Spirit made it so plain to me, that if I surrender all, forsake all, and follow Him, that He would set me free and make me a new creation. A whole week passed, and it was the day for the next service at this church. Then the Lord spoke to me, though it wasn’t with an audible voice, but it was so real and personal and powerful, and He said, “You get right with me NOW or I will cut you off”. I knew this was it, that I either came to Christ TODAY or else sinned away my day of grace. Tomorrow was too late. So I went to the church early, and found the pastor before the service. I ran up to him, and looking him straight in the eyes, said, “I’m ready. I want to surrender my life to Christ”. I told the Lord that if He would clean me up and set me free, then I would give my life for His service, and right there, laid down my rebellion and surrendered. The pastor prayed with me, and I believed with all my heart in the Lord Jesus, and confessed Him with my mouth.

Many people think Christ was crucified on a Friday. However, I believe He was crucified on a Wednesday, leaving Him dead for 3 full days and 3 full nights. So the “Good Friday” should actually be “Good Wednesday”. It was on this Wednesday that I surrendered my life to God, in the year 2004.

However, since I just quit everything cold turkey, I began to go through some incredible withdrawls from my drugs. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday passed. Now it was Sunday morning. I was about to backslide again. I couldn’t handle it. It was now “Easter” morning, the day of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As I was so weak and on the verge of defeat, I went back to the church, earnestly hungering and thirsting for true righteousness. The whole sermon was about the resurrection of Christ. It was here and then that the Lord revealed Himself to me powerfully. I had a heart-revelation of the risen, victorious Son of God, and I saw Him for the first time through the eyes of faith. I truly saw that He is the Almighty God, the sinless One, who personally put down all sin and death under His feet and rose from the grave in victory to be my Mediator at God’s right hand! He became mine personally! It was as if He had died and rose for me personally! I had instant assurance that my sins were forgiven! And the chains that held me in bondage were snapped! The burden of sin that wieghed me down was lifted! The peace and love of God began to flood my heart like a mighty cleansing stream! I was cleansed inwardly and rivers of glory and liquid love washed away my sin by the blood of Jesus. “He who the Son sets free is free indeed!” I began to weep profusely. For over an hour, I wept and wept in tears of joy, my soul being flooded with the righteousness, peace, love and joy of God! I knew in my heart of hearts, and in my deepest spirit, that this was it, and I was SET FREE; truly, finally, once for all, never to be the same! I had a powerful revelation of the mighty risen Christ, and distinctly remember that I kept weeping because I knew that I didn’t choose Him but that He had chosen me. I was overwhelmed with the thought that He had chosen me, and the indescibable love He bestowed upon me by His free grace. And I knew ever so profoundly that as a result of Him choosing me, nothing could now pluck me out of His hand. I felt years of sin and rebellion being utterly washed away by the infinite grace of God. This time my life of sin was gone, never to come back. I truly became a new creation. I had no idea the Bible said all these things, but I knew them there and then, by revelation, within my heart.

Praise God! I immediately got rid of all evidence of sin and went idol smashing! I laid out all my secular CD’s on the ground and smashed them to pieces with a rod! I threw away all my paraphanalia, movies, and everything that was wicked and cleaned house! Immediately, my heart was so changed that I couldn’t even stand the sound of rap music any more, which I used to listen to. Now, I went and bought a worship CD and absolutely loved the hymns and songs on it, glorifying my risen Lord with spiritual songs! I began to talk differently, without cussing, and much more politely. My pride was shattered and I saw myself as the lowest worm on earth, but a redeemed worm! I began to dress differently and much more properly. I used to always wear a hat or bandana on my head, but now, I didn’t like to. I liked to comb my hair now instead! I could no longer fit in with or run with my old friends. Whenever I seen them afterwards, I would testify of what the Lord did, and pretty soon, they disappeared from my life peacefully, which was a miracle in itself. Everything changed!

The Bible became my favorite book. Praying and studying and worshipping God became my favorite things to do. I was so hungry for God that I would read and read and pray and pray, constantly reading the Scriptures and praying over their meaning. I would go in my room, lock the door, and prostrate myself before the Lord for hours, worshipping Him and praising Jesus! Before, I couldn’t understand the Bible, but now, it became so illuminated to my understanding that I was spiritually nourished by its truth and I hungered for more like a newborn babe. This book became my best friend on earth, and I read it so much that my family would criticize me for it, call me a bookworm, and tell me to put it down and go do something physical with my hands. But of course I would reply by telling them what I was learning, and testify about the power of God and preach repentance for the remission of sins in the name of Jesus.

Soon after my conversion, I sought out to be baptized, and was baptized in water (by submersion) to publicly affirm my faith in Christ, and to openly renounce my old life of sin, and that I have personally been buried to the old life and risen again to a new life in Christ. I was also at this time seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I had learned about it by reading the book of Acts in my Bible, and wanted it for empowerment to serve God and to bring me into a closer walk with Him. I earnestly sought this baptism of the Spirit for weeks. I was so hungry for more of God. I surrendered to Christ on the Wednesday He was crucified, was truly born again and raised to a new life on Resurrection Sunday, and the Day of Pentecost was coming up in two weeks at this time when I was seeking the baptism of the Holy Ghost. I proclaimed a two week partial-food fast, and prayed constantly for this blessing. Then, when the Day of Pentecost was fully come according to the calender, it was a Sunday. I was desperate now. In the evening, I began to pray so hard that I began to sweat. When calling on the Lord and praising Him, suddenly the striving ceased, and my hands began to feel as if electricity was surging through them. Then, flowing from my belly came the release of the Spirit, and I began to speak with unknown tongues, praising God.

Now, I was brought into a new level of communion with God and received a boldness in Christ that I never knew before. For an entire year after this, the Lord had me in a season of studying and praying, of learning and growing in grace. The Lord became my Teacher at a whole new level. For that whole year I did no ministry, other than serving as an usher and helper at my local church. The whole year was filled with learning the Scriptures, and being taught by the Spirit to rightly divide the word of truth.

After this year, the desire began to burn within me to go out and preach to the lost. I was conscious that the Lord was calling me to preach His word. God answered my prayers to use me for His service, and I soon began to take Gospel tracts and literature and go to the center of the city in my hometown to the crowded bus stops, parks, and open areas to tell people about Jesus and declare the message of salvation through His name. I started by handing out tracts and talking with people individually. Before long, I was standing up in the public squares and preaching in the open air on the streets, shouting abroad to all that the same Jesus who saved me can save them! I have since been preaching the Gospel on the streets and wherever there’s lost souls who need the Lord.

It was around the time that I began to preach the Gospel that the Lord started to open my eyes to see the hypocrisy of many modern Christians and to see the error of much that goes on in the system of modern American Christianity. The Lord made it clear to me that I was to sit under Him and that He would be my teacher, and I was not to sit up under any man as my teacher. As I continued to learn the ways of the Lord, and study the Scriptures, the Lord eventually led me out of the local church I was attending because it was in serious error, beginning to teach prosperity doctrines and compromising the message of the cross and failing to preach true repentance and holy living. After leaving this place, I began to seek fellowship at other churches, only to find them all filled with so much error, whether it’s hypocrisy, Phariseeism, legalism, perverting grace as a license to sin, not testing the spirits, etc. My soul was so grieved. But praise God! He led me into fellowship with other likeminded believers, and He continues to draw His own sheep together to this day, by the unity of the Spirit.

I have preached the Word of God since the day the Lord first sent me, mainly on the streets, though occasionally in fellowships and chapels, and have seen the hand of God do many marvelous works. It is a wonderful thing to see sinners buckle to their knees under the conviction of the Holy Ghost and to cry out to the Lord in repentance, even as I did years before. I have seen the Lord deliver crack addicts, alcoholics, drug addicts, and more, sometimes even instantaneously with no withdrawls, by the power of the Gospel. I have seen demon spirits come screeching, howling, and roaring out their hosts by the power of the name of Jesus (yes, demons are real, I have seen them). I have seen people miraculously healed from cancer, partial cripples made whole, and more, by the power of God when prayer was made on their behalf. In fact, all of the infirmities that I was constantly afflicted by myself before my conversion (kidney stones, digestive problems which was believed to be Chron’s disease, etc.) have been healed and I have not had a single problem with those things since.

The prophet Isaiah wrote about Jesus, saying:

“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He (Jesus) grew up before him (God the Father) like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isa. 53:1-12, NIV)

Dear reader, I want to ask you now: what’s your testimony? Have you been saved from sin’s power? Do you have a living and personal relationship with God as your Heavenly Father? Have you seen that your sins have seperated you from God, and that God is holy? The Bible declares that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). It further declares that all those who sin shall DIE (Eze. 18:20). This death that all sinners must die is not physical death, it is spiritual death, in “the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8). God is so righteous, and full of justice, that He will punish all who practice sin on the Day of Judgment. The Bible declares that on that day, God will be full of fury and blazing wrath, taking vengeance against all iniquity. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). Don’t think He’s going to overlook your sin, because He won’t. He will punish it to the uttermost, except you repent.

You have broken God’s Law. Nothing can change that. You deserve death and Hell. BUT, there’s good news. Jesus Christ was the Word, as God, and existed from the beginning, before anything was ever created (Joh. 1:1). He was born in the womb of Mary, who was a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit. He lived a sinless life. He never broke God’s Law, and as God’s only begotten Son, He never sinned, not even once. After doing many miracles and preaching His Gospel, He was crucified on the Cross. Though we have sinned, and we deserve God’s wrath, Jesus Christ took that wrath upon Himself in our place. The Bible says that without the shedding of innocent blood in a way ordained by God, there can be no forgiveness of sin. Jesus Christ shed His blood for His people, to cleanse them from their sins. We broke God’s Law, and Jesus paid the fine with His blood. Then after being dead for 3 days, and 3 nights, He rose again bodily from the dead. He appeared to His Apostles, to others, and to over 500 chosen witnesses. These went forth, preaching the Gospel in His name.

Now, dear soul, you know what the Lord can do. You know He died to set you free from your sin and bondage. I tell you by the command of God, REPENT and BELIEVE the Gospel. Turn from your life of sin, and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith, trusting Him to redeem you, save you, cleanse you, and make you a new creation by His Spirit. The same Spirit that rose Him from the dead is the same Spirit that can raise you up from the deadness of sin to the newness of life! But you must surrender. Come to Him! Don’t wait! I’m a living testimony to His power! If He can save me He can save anyone, including you!

Jesus said, “You must be born again” (Joh. 3:7). He said that if you are not born again, you will never see the Kingdom of God, which means you’ll never go to Heaven either. I can testify that I’ve been born again by the power of God, not because I was righteous or holy, no, no! But because God is full of love and compassion for His afflicted and elect sheep and saves them by GRACE alone according to the good pleasure of His will. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph 2:8-9). Have you been born again? Have you become a new creature in Christ? The Bible says: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17). You must be born again, by the Spirit of God, by the grace of God, through faith in the Lord Jesus, or you will perish in Hell under the mighty hand of God’s justice!

Don’t wait any longer! Turn and live! Be converted! “Now is the accepted time, today is the day of salvation.” Call out to the name of the Lord! The same God who created everything, the same God who saved me, is the same God who can save you right now if you will call upon His name in faith and forsake all to follow Christ.

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