Thursday, June 27, 2013

This Is Your Hour

By Dr. Ronnie W. Wolfe

Luke 22:53 When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.

The Lord is in complete control of time, and there are appointed times (hours) for things that God has in his own power. He speaks of the time's being fulfilled in Mark 1:15.  He also speaks of his time's being at hand in Matthew 26:18.  He speaks in John 7:6 and 8 to his brothers that his time is not yet come. He says to his own mother in John 2:4 . . . Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

But when Jesus faces the great multitude at his arrest, he has full understanding, through his communication with his Father, that his hour is come for suffering, bleeding, and dying, drinking his cup given to him by his Father.  He surrendered to this great multitude of priests, elders, etc. on his own accord. They, no doubt, thought that they would have to capture him as a fugitive, but he surprised them by his immediate and complete surrender to them. He had settled this with God the Father in Gethsemane when he feared, but now he is not afraid, for he has complete submission and surrender to his Father's will.

When he surrendered to this company of police, he told the men of the Sanhedrin in Luke 22:53 When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.  Jesus' hour was spent in Gethsemane. Now it is their hour, their hour to execute their mean plots, their lying plans, and their deceitful justice.

Their hour was a dark hour. Matt. 4:16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.   Did we not all sit in darkness before we met the Light of the world? This evening was physically dark, but it was also in deep spiritual darkness as this wicked plan was executed.

This was their hour, the hour (or time) for these Jewish rebels to execute their plan and purpose for this so-called King of the Jews, this Messiah, this destroyer of the Law and the Temple. This was their hour to fill up their sin to the full. It was their hour to lie, deceive, and connive evil justice and nefarious jurisdiction.

But their hour would not be long, and their victory would be futile. We read in  Acts 3:14-15  But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 15  And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.

This is your hour. If you are in the darkness, that hour of darkness is very lonely and gloomy and treacherous. It leads to eternal death in the darkness of hell; but repentance from dead works and faith in Jesus Christ brings one to the Light and eternal life and light in Christ, Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen. (1 Tim. 6:16), for . . . now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Doctrine of Sin #5 - Sin Is A Religion

By Dr. Ronnie Wolfe

I spoke Sunday evening on the fifth lesson concerning the doctrine of sin. Everyone thinks he knows what sin is, and I am sure we all do essentially; but there is much involved in the doctrine of sin called Hamartiology--the study of sin.

In the first four lessons I tried to explain that there can be no sin without (1) God, without (2) law, without (3) conscience, and without (4) a sinner.  Sunday evening I taught a lesson on sin as a religion.

First, I spoke of the existence of God and compared it with atheism, that atheism is a destructive doctrine and that it has a sad presence. Then I made the statement, "If it is foolishness NOT to believe in God, then it would be wisdom to believe in him." See Proverbs 9:10.

Sin, then, is nonconformity to divine law and is manifested in three ways shown from 1 John 2:16.

1.  The lust of the flesh (sensuousness or wantonness).
2.  The lust of the eyes (human weakness)
3.  The pride of life (selfishness, self-centeredness).

When these three things have grown to maturity, then it brings forth death, as James tells us in James 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

We are reminded of the passage in Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In our selfishness, we desire earthly things rather than heavenly things. We are all sinners (Romans 3), and we were at one time all children of wrath (Eph. 2:3).   Sin brings only death, and all of our works before regeneration are sin, for ...  without faith it is impossible to please him: (Heb. 11:6).

My final statement in the message was "You sin because you love the world and worship the world and all that is in it, but true worship goes to God; and the only way to worship him is to be born again."

Ephesians 2:8-10  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Friday, June 21, 2013

First Day of Summer

By Ronnie W. Wolfe

The first day of summer of an exciting day for many people. These people look forward to the many things they can do in the sun, or in the shade, or even inside. Today will be the day with the longest stretch of daylight throughout the entire year. What will we do with that daylight?

Well, I can think of a biblical reference or two that may help us decide.  The Bible says in John 9:4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. This should be a striking warning for each of us to redeem the time (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5). Evil days are upon us, and this is the time that we should use God's time wisely. We should prepare ourselves with Bible reading and prayer, attend the Lord's house at every scheduled service, and witness to as many people as God gives us opportunity to do so.

We should also be aware of what Job says in  Job 14:1 Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.  Life is not fair, and life is hard; this is a fact that every child is taught by parents. Life is also short, and we it is incumbent upon each of us to struggle through life expecting that things will not go smoothly.

May God give each of us wisdom to be vigilant in our work for him. To him be the glory!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Prodigal's Father

By Dr. Ronnie Wolfe

Much is said, and much theology is entertained, about the prodigal son in Luke Chapter 15. This should be so in the main, but should we not also give some attention to the prodigal son's father? He is mentioned and made reference to in most sermons, but it seems to me that there is not enough emphasis given on him in most sermons. So in my thoughts today may we give a little more attention to him?

Notice, first, that he is the father of two boys, and these boys were of separate natures. One was a home body, an obedient and stable child of his father. The other son was a rebellious and wanton child with aspirations of grandeur and lofty and lively living.

As a result, the father was in a position in which he needed to deal with each son in a different way. One was much easier to train than the other. One needed little attention; the other needed much attention. Although most of us would censure the father's giving the prodigal his inheritance, we must realize that this father did just that.

Next we must realize that the father loved both of his sons. We might even name them Pride and Joy, since that is what they were to him.  He was blessed, he knew, to have these two sons even though one was a rebel. Rebellion comes with a sinful nature, and we see rebellion in both sons by the end of this story. God has a very special love for all of his children (his sons). He loves them with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3).

The third thing we notice about the father is that he allowed each son to do according to his own will. He did not try to force the one son to go away, nor did he try to force his prodigal son to stay home. God in his mercy has given us a free will, and this free will is limited by our own sinful nature; so we are going to do as we please within the perimeters of our nature. We are all selfish in our own nature, so we should not judge that the son who stayed home was pure of evil thoughts. We see later in the story that he was not.

Then we learn in the story that the father, evidently (by implication) was continually awaiting his son's return. He knew that his son would return. His fast love for his son determined the conclusion of this story, and we read of our own case in 1 Peter 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. God's fast love for his people guarantees that they will all come to him, and he will not cast them out (John 6:37).

The father also received his son back from his wantonness. How loving is a father who, when confronted with the return of a rebellious and beaten-down son, wreaking of the world's love with evidence of the wear and tear of the world upon him, receive him back into the family? God does just that with sinners, who wreak of the world, are destitute of spiritual understanding, and are beaten down by sin. He receives us upon our return to him in repentance and faith.

Finally, we notice that the father accepts him, not as a hireling, but as a son. His love has not changed, and now the love is mutual. Our love for our Heavenly Father is based upon the concept that he received us unto himself despite our sin and weakness. Rom. 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Several more things could be said, but the comments are becoming too lengthy.

Would you not love to have a Father like that?  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Our Prayer Life

By Dr. Ronnie W. Wolfe

To keep up a constant, sincere, and (may I say) a successful prayer life, one must first develop a dependent spirit about himself. He must realize that without God nothing is possible, and we humans are a dependent sort; we need God's presence and power to go through even one small bit of time in our lives, because he is the source of all our blessings. He sustains us on a constant basis through his loving kindness and mercy.

The Bible teaches us that we should have fervent prayer. James says in  5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  In fervent prayer much can be accomplished. The Greek word for "availeth" is ISCHUO  and has the basic meaning of strength or power or energy. In other words, effectual, fervent prayer gives power for us to accomplish God's purpose in our lives.

Missionaries need this power of purpose; pastors need this power of purpose; deacons need this power of purpose; actually, everyone who is a believer needs this power of purpose. If a believer is fervent in prayer; that is, he is powerful in prayer, working with energy to keep up his praying practice, much will be accomplished.  The Greek word for "fervent" is ENERGEO and is implicit and explicit of power or work.  We must work at praying; it does not come automatically by any means.

But we must beware of our praying. Stephen Charnock said, "Prayer is often most fervent when it is least godly." This can be very true, especially if we pray out of mere repetition and physical practice or when we pray to consume things upon our own lusts -- James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Charnock calls this practical atheism, and it is so that we believers in Christ can sometimes act in an atheistic way when we pray out of mere practice rather than being sincere and heart-rent in prayer.

Paul was not being casual or pithy when he said, "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17).  Keep up the practice, the work of prayer. Do not relax or turn away from this practice. We must be fervent in our praying, but not only fervent but also sincere, having our hearts sprinkled -- Heb. 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What's New Today?

By Ronnie W. Wolfe

When I awoke this morning, I went into the bathroom as usual and looked into the mirror. I was wondering what was different today than yesterday. As I looked and pondered, I realized that it is not what is new that is important but what is STILL.

I noticed that I am still alive. That is a miracle from God, since the Scripture says in Acts 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. This is a fascinating fact. It is comforting to know that I am still alive.

I also noticed that I can still see. I have friends who are blind; some were born blind, and some were brought to blindness later in life. Now I see myself in the mirror and realize that God has sustained my sight throughout the night.

I am not much for singing, but I sang a note or two and realized that I can still make sounds with my mouth. What a wonderful realization! Living in muteness must be a stressful existence. God has been good to me to allow me to still be able to speak.

Then I noticed the dog scratching on my bedroom door, anxious for me to come out. That made me realize that I can still hear. Isn't that a wonder that God would retain my hearing through the night and throughout the years that I have been alive?

Although I have severe arthritis in my arms and shoulders, I realized that I am still able to move my arms and can get around well enough to visit homes and hospitals and attend church regularly. I can preach without much effort physically.  This is such a wonder!

In HIM we live and move and have our being!  Those are profound words from the Scriptures. I can do no less than bow my head and thank God for my existence and my health from day to day; and if it all ended tomorrow and the rest of my life were to be spent in a wheelchair or in a nursing home, I would be supremely blessed even above measure!

The normalcy, then, of life is not so normal after all; it is a wonder of God! HIS name is Wonderful!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Light That Lights Every Man

     In the Gospel of John Chapter One and verse nine, we read of the "Light that ligheth every man that cometh into the world." We have no doubt that this Light is Jesus Christ, for he is the Word who was in the beginning, who created all things, without which nothing was created, and who became flesh and dwelt among us.
     John admitted that he was not that Light but had come to bear witness of the Light, Jesus Christ. John was the forerunner of Jesus Christ, the one crying in the wilderness (Isaiah 40:3). John was simply the messenger; Jesus was the Message, the Word, the Son of God, the Messiah, the King.
     Jesus has lit every person who has come into the world. This means that Jesus gave human, natural understanding, logic, and a mind that is higher than animal species. Man was made in the image of God with intelligence and reason that no other animal has. By this Light that lights every man who comes into the world, we can know that God exists; we can understand the higher moral order of humans over animals; we can reason between right and wrong; we can understand (without comprehending) that God is real and that God is the great Creator, since matter cannot be created from itself, and matter is not eternal.
     God is the Great First Cause; outside of him there is no other cause that could bring about so complex an order as we see in our universe. With the Light that God (Jesus Christ) has given to each of us, every person becomes guilty before God:  Romans  3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
     This chapter goes on to say that he came unto his own (neuter) "his own things," and his own (masculine) "his own people" received him not; but I am happy that the verse ends like this:  "but as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God."
     If you are still in your sins and have never turned from them, repented and turned to Jesus, seeing him die on the cross to pay for all of your sins, and trusting him with your whole heart, I pray that God will shed more light upon your soul and show you your need of a Savior and open your heart and mind to the good news of the Gospel of God so that, believing in him alone, you may become a son of God and receive eternal life.
     This new and granted light given by grace is a Light that is above man's comprehension.  Notice 1 Tim. 6:16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen. This is why we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. This Light we cannot approach, but it may be given to us, and that is done by God himself through faith in his Son. He is the perfect Light. Through him the word of God becomes a lamp to our feet and a light unto our path.

Precious Word Divine
Shine into my inward part
To make me wholly Thine
Through grace within my heart.

Precious, holy Light
Bring salvation to my soul.
Give me radiant sight
And make me whole.