Saturday, April 16, 2011

First Things First by James Carroll Sanford

In the games men play, such as football, basketball, hockey and etc. there is the element of time, a time allotted in which the game is to be played.  Every coach of a team has a game plan for defeating his opponent.  He chooses conditions and teaches the game plan to his players and expects them to adhere to his plan in order for them to win the game.  While time is an important element in the game, it is not the most important.
  1. Complete trust in the coach and his plan,
  2. Working together as a team,
  3. Staying focused on the game,
  4. Sticking to and executing the game plan,
  5. Taking advantage of every opportunity to score points,
  6. While at the same time, with wisdom, defending against the schemes of the opponent is the common goal of every player. 
  7. Being aware of the clock is important.  Knowing that the clock is running, good players take advantage of ever moment, not distracted by looking back at past mistakes or by looking ahead to the end, but knowing that the signs on the clock indicate that time is passing, serves to encourage every player to work even harder as the end draws near. After all, victory over the opponent is the goal of playing the game; the rewards are for a job well done. This is the plan of victory.
In light of the current events in today’s world, it is tempting for a Christian to get caught up in speculations of the outcome of these events as they relate to the coming of the Lord Jesus.  The signs of the times are important to us, but we must realize these signs and their significance are not the most important.
The Holy Scriptures teach us that “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, ---- {Deut. 29:29f NAS}.”

Thus, our searching for truth must be confined to what is to be revealed.  The thing our Lord has chosen not to reveal belongs to Him and we must not be found guilty of conjecture in even speculating about those things lest we drift into error.   If we become occupied with God’s “secret things,” we will be found to be one who neglects the study of the things which God would have us to know and to do.  Some of the things hidden are the day of our Lord’s return, the end of the age, the end of time and the beginnings of the new heaven and earth.

In answer to questions concerning these things our Lord Jesus said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone (Matt. 24:36 NASU).”

We are taught to know the signs of the coming of these things, but only God knows the exact time that He will bring about these events and He will reveal them to us in due season.

In the book of Matthew, chapter 28, beginning with verse 18 we read, “Then Jesus came to them (His disciples) and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (19) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20 NASU)

Here our coach, Jesus, has given us the game plan.
  1. We must believe in our Coach and His game plan.
  2. We must work together as a team. 
  3. To do this we must be “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith , one baptism;  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Eph. 4:2-6 NASU).”
  4. And we must stay focused on our commission, that is, our game plan. 
  5. This means sticking to and carrying out the game plan, not drifting off into fruitless speculations about things that are still hidden.  We are to preach the gospel, that is, the good news pertaining to salvation through faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ. 
  6. Before ascending into heaven our Lord spoke these words to His chosen, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1: 8 NASU).
He told them to begin where they receive the Holy Spirit, Jerusalem.  And then go to the surrounding area, Judea.  Normally the Jews did not associate with the Samaritans, there was enmity between them.  But Jesus commanded His disciples to preach the gospel to them also, and thought out the world.

The following may be seen as our system of scoring points; being filled with the power that the Holy Spirit brings, preaching with boldness, as the apostles did on the Day of Pentecost, leading lost souls to Jesus through the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16), baptizing them in His name and teaching them in the ways of righteousness, on every opportunity.  We start where we first received the Holy Spirit, then in the surrounding community, and then among those that we would not normally associate with, and then, though out the world.
The Apostle John writes, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God”  (1 John 5:3-5 NASU).

(6)  Our Lord, through the Apostle Paul, gives us the perfect plan of offence and defense, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints (Eph. 6:10-18NASU).”
(7) Study the prophets, study the book of Revelations, read chapter 24 of the book of Matthew, and other Scripture concerning the end of the age,  know that our redemption is near, but do not neglect the preaching of the gospel.  After all, leading lost souls to Christ for salvation, snatching them out of Satan’s grasp, is our goal in defeating him.  The rewards that await us are for a job well done.  Selah

James C Sanford

No comments: