Biblical Messages

Satan’s role in the end times, and the fate of those who’ve never heard of Jesus

In this penultimate instalment in the series on heaven, we tackle two questions offered by congregants: first, the role of Satan in the end times; and second, the fate of people who have never heard of Jesus. Early in the service, we welcome three young ladies into church membership on their profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. The message is based on Revelation 20 and Romans 1 (and others). You can watch the whole worship gathering below, or just the message below that.

Encouragement From The Word

Sifting

Sifting.

When we think of sifting, we tend to think of wheat, even though most of us probably have never actually done that, unless we’ve lived on a farm.

Sifting is the separation of the grain from the chaff.  The grain (wheat is the commonest one) is useful, but the chaff is not.

Metaphorically, the Bible makes use of this term in a number of places, particularly in the separation of followers of Jesus from those who don’t follow him.  Jesus even told Peter, as Jesus was preparing for his death on the cross, that Satan wanted to sift the disciples like wheat (Luke 22.31).  In that case, the evil one’s desire was to attempt to separate believers from their faith.

There’s a lot of that kind of sifting going on in the world today.

The devil is doing his level best to try to get followers of Jesus to walk away from the Lord.  He is putting all manner of trials in people’s lives in an attempt to separate people from Jesus.  He is trying to sift us.

But guess what:  he can’t pull it off.

Why not?

Because Satan doesn’t have that kind of power.

It actually takes very little to fend off the devil.  All you have to do is resist.

How do I know that?  Well, there’s some personal experience, but better than that, I know it because it’s right in God’s Word:

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4.7, NLT)

That’s all it takes.  You need merely to resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  As a follower of Jesus, you have the power of the Holy Spirit living in and through you.

Can I ask a favour of you?

Whether you’re in a challenging season or not, I’m asking you to commit that verse to memory.

Even if you don’t feel like you need it right now, it’s a pretty safe bet that you will need that word of encouragement at some point along your journey of faith.  If you put that piece of Scripture in your arsenal right now, you’ll have it forever.

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Memorize that, starting today, and then you’ll remember, at any point that Satan is trying to sift you, that all you have to do is resist, and he’ll leave you alone.  This may sound simplistic, and I assure you, it may be a long process; it may even be a daily struggle.  But if you resist, again and again, in the power of the Holy Spirit, you will overcome.

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

(By the way, I’ll be talking about Satan’s role in the end times on Sunday, and this verse will play an important role.  You’re welcome to join us at St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton, or on our YouTube channel if you’re too far away to come.)

Biblical Messages

Father Abraham

Remember how Dana Carvey, the American comedian, used to have a character called “the Church Lady”?  Everything bad was Satan’s fault, in her eyes.  But did you know that Satan can even use God’s people to accomplish his ends?  Jesus demonstrated that to his Jewish interlocutors in John 8.42-59, and we learn how to apply it in the message, which you can listen to or watch below.

Will you do me a favour?  Let me know if you actually prefer to listen to the message rather than watch it on YouTube, because I’m considering no longer making a special audio recording of the message, now that we are videoing it.  Thanks.

 

Biblical Messages

Christ Our Shepherd

Agrarian language and metaphor worked in the first century world, because everybody understood sheep and shepherds.  The apostle Peter, in the last chapter of his first letter, applies this to the life of the church when he gives advice to congregations and leaders.  Based on 1 Peter 5, you can listen to the message here:

Encouragement From The Word

The Decade of the Internet Meme

We live in the Decade of the Internet Meme. You know what I mean: those little sayings and phrases that are superimposed over some funny or awe-inspiring photo, designed to make us angry, make us think, or make us snort whatever we’re drinking out of our noses upon reading. We went from fifteen minutes of fame to the thirty-second sound bite to the 140-character tweet to the internet meme. To what we’ll degenerate next, I’m not sure. Grunts, perhaps?

I shouldn’t be quite so hard on internet memes. Some of them are quite clever, and others really do make you think. I saw one 10409612_10152661367262263_1917381814540968253_nyesterday that falls in the category of the latter. It said, “The enemy will try to limit your praying because he knows your praying will limit him.

Yep.

Whether young or mature followers of Jesus, we all have ‘dry seasons’ in our prayer lives. There are times when our conversations with God are rich and fruitful and totally energizing. There are other times when we wonder whether God is even listening – or why we wandered away from God while he was listening. And when those dry seasons come, you know that the author of lies is at work.

There is a fundamental belief inherent in that meme: a belief that there is an enemy. The enemy is the devil, Satan. We don’t know as much about the devil as we think we do, but this much we can determine: he is a spiritual being, with less power than the Holy Spirit, who seeks to keep God’s faithful from being all they can be in Christ. Sometimes, Satan gets blamed for things that are our own fault, but Jesus’ own experience with the devil (recorded for us in Matthew 4) suggests to us that there is a power that seeks to take us away from a single-mindedness oriented toward God’s glory and God’s kingdom.

And when we don’t pray, our orientation toward God’s glory and kingdom is diverted. Just as a lack of conversation with a spouse or a friend can lead to a lesser relationship, so a lack of conversation with God can lead to a relationship with the Lord that seems more distant…even though God has not moved.

There is another fundamental belief inherent in that meme, though, and that is that Satan’s power is really not that strong. Ordinary Christians can thwart the work of the enemy simply by praying. Our simple, child-like conversation with God can undo all manner of work that the devil has sought to do. That’s another reason why our prayers are so important. First, because they build our relationship with God and draw us closer to him; and second, because the work of evil in our lives and in the world is ruined by their simple utterance.

Didn’t know you had that kind of power, did you?

Of course, the power is God’s, but when we pray, God’s power works in and through us to deepen our walk with the Lord, and thereby to disarm Satan in his efforts to keep our relationship with God at the level of a casual acquaintance.

So keep on praying! Know that it encourages God, deepens us, and sends the enemy away with his (perhaps forked?) tail between his legs.

Next the devil took (Jesus) to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  ‘I will give it all to you,’ he said, ‘if you will kneel down and worship me.’ ‘Get out of here, Satan,’ Jesus told him. ‘For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him’” (Matthew 4.8-10, NLT).

Biblical Messages

Feeling Sorry For The Pigs

Jesus had many encounters with demons, according to the Gospels.  The one in Luke 8.26-39 is a bit different, because it happens in Gentile territory.  Most western people don’t really believe in Satan, demons or the devil.  In the global south, it’s another story, and it was definitely another story in first century Palestine.  You can listen to this message, “Feeling Sorry For The Pigs”, by clicking here.  Feel free to comment!

Biblical Messages

Dealing With Temptation

Temptation is something we face virtually every day, but sometimes, we don’t even know it, because right and wrong have been so blurred as to remove the notion of the meaning or existence of temptation.

Jesus experienced temptation, and one place his testing by the devil is recorded is Luke 4.1-13.  His experiences teaches us some valuable lessons in dealing with temptation.  Listen to the message here.