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An Old-Fashioned Doctrine

by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam
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How many there are whose hearts would be thrilled if they understood the old-fashioned Bible doctrine of sanctification!

Sanctification is not a negative matter: “Don’t do this” and “Don’t do that.” It is rather the positive truth that God wants us for Himself as a sacred possession, much as a bridegroom considers his bride his very own in a special, sacred way.

Bible sanctification is a twofold truth, affecting both our standing before God and our spiritual state. In one sense every true believer in Christ has already been sanctified, or consecrated to God, by the operation of the Holy Spirit. Thus we read:

“…God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit…” (II Thes. 2: 13).

“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit…” (IPet.1:2).

This has nothing to do with our conduct. God did it. Sanctification begins with Him. Thus Paul could write to even the careless Corinthian believers and say: “Ye are sanctified” (1 Cor. 6:11; cf. Acts 20:32; 26:18), i.e., “God has set you apart for Himself.” This phase of sanctification is based on the redemptive work of Christ in our behalf, for Heb. 10:10 says: “We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

But now God would have us appreciate this fact and conduct ourselves accordingly, consecrating ourselves ever more completely to Him. This is practical, progressive sanctification. “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification” (I Thes. 4:3). Hence Paul’s benediction: “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly” (I Thes. 5:23), and his exhortation to Timothy to be “a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet [fit] for the Master’s use” (II Tim. 2:21).

How can believers be more wholly sanctified to God in their practical experience? By studying and meditating on His Word. Our Lord prayed: “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17), and Paul declares that “Christ… loved the Church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word” (Eph. 5:25,26).

 

The Purpose of Prayer

by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam
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The question is sometimes asked: If God’s will and purpose are unalterable, why pray? The answer is simply: Because the divine purpose, which any answer to prayer must represent, includes the prayer itself. It is enough that He “who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11) invites and exhorts His people to “come boldly unto the throne of grace” to “let [their] requests be made known unto God” (Heb. 4:16; Phil. 4:6).

But prayer is not merely petition, as many suppose. It is one aspect of active communion with God (meditation on the Word being the other) and includes adoration, thanksgiving and confession, as well as supplication. Hyde, in God’s Education of Alan, Pp. 154,155, says: “Prayer is the communion of two wills, in which the finite comes into connection with the Infinite, and, like the trolley, appropriates its purpose and power.”

We have an example of this in the record of our Lord’s prayer in the garden, for, while He is not to be classed with finite men, yet He laid aside His glory, became “a servant” (Phil. 2:7) and “learned obedience” (Heb. 5:8; Phil. 2:8). In this place of subjection He made definite and earnest requests of His Father, but closed His prayer with the words: “Nevertheless, not My will, but Thine, be done” (Luke 22:42) with the result that He was “strengthened” for the ordeal He had to face (Ver. 43).

Thus prayer is not merely a means of “getting things from God” but a God-appointed means of fellowship with Him, and all acceptable prayer will include the supplication — as sincerely desired as the rest: “Nevertheless, not My will, but Thine, be done.”


 

 

Doubting Thomas

by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam
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Don’t believe your doubts. Believe God’s Word.

Said our Lord: “Whither I go ye know, and the way ye know” (John 14:4).

Said Thomas: “We know NOT whither Thou goest, and how can we know the way?” (Verse 5).

Who was right? Of course our Lord was right. He knows us better than we know ourselves. But Thomas, believing his doubts rather than his Lord, found himself not merely questioning, but contradicting Christ Himself.

The trouble was that Thomas was thinking on a lower level than was our Lord. Thomas was thinking only in terms of locality and method, while our Lord had persons in mind. All through these pre-crucifixion chapters of John, our Lord appears to be occupied with thoughts about His Father, He had not been talking about going to heaven, but of going to the Father (13;1; 14:12). Nor had He referred to moral conduct or theological dogma when He said, “the way ye know”. Rather He had referred to Himself, who alone could gain for Thomas an entrance to the Father. “No man cometh unto the Father,” He said, “but by Me” (14:6).

So our Lord was right. Thomas did know whither Christ was going: “to the Father.” And he did know Christ, the way. Had Thomas, rather than our Lord, been right, Thomas would have been a lost soul but, only a few hours later, in our Lord’s hallowed prayer to His Father, He was to say: “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou has sent” (John 17:3).

We must be careful about criticizing Thomas too severely, for while he was apt to look on the dark side of things he was also ready to give his life for his Lord. Of all the apostles, it was he alone who said, when the Lord proposed to go to Judaea shortly before His crucifixion, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (John 11:16).

At our Lord’s resurrection, however, we again find Thomas believing his doubts, in fact, defending them, as he says: “Except I shall… put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). But when, “after eight days,” he was invited to do just that — as he stood in the very presence of Him who is “the resurrection and the life”, he repented the folly of his unbelief and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (Verse 28).

Lesson: Don’t believe your doubts. Believe what God says.

 

Every-Man Evangelism

by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam
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“Do the work of an evangelist.”

Paul’s Spirit-inspired injunction in II Tim. 4:5 applies indirectly to every believer in Christ. Are not our pastors simply leaders in the work of the Lord? Shall the congregation sit idly by as the pastor alone does “the work of an evangelist?” God forbid! The pastor is rather to be an example to his flock to go and do likewise.

How well this writer recalls the days of the so-called Darby-Scofield movement when multitudes all over the country thronged to hear Bible teachers like Gaebelein, Gray, Gregg, Ottman, Chafer and Newell. These able men of God expounded the Word as the “blessed hope” of the Lord’s return was being recovered. But these Bible teachers were evangelists too, in the truest sense of the word, and their evangelism was contagious.

In those days almost all premillenarians, including the young people, carried New Testaments in their pockets wherever they went. Why? They hoped and prayed for opportunities to testify to others about God’s plan of salvation through Christ and they wanted to show them the way from Scripture. In those days if a Christian failed to have a New Testament with him he was apt to be reproved with the words: “What! a soldier without a sword?” By contrast few believers carry New Testaments about with them today, and they certainly don’t carry Bibles!

Some are telling us today that this brand of fundamentalism is out of date and ineffective in these fast-changing times. We reply that all of us ought to get back to this brand of fundamentalism, this earnest effort to personally win souls to Christ by showing them God’s plan of salvation from the Scriptures.

God help his people in general and each spiritual leader in particular, to “do the work of an evangelist.”

God's Promise vs. Man's Efforts

by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam
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“For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath…” (Rom. 4:14,15).

This should be self-evident to us all. If blessing is gained by the works of the Law, it is earned. This is why Gal. 3:18 says: “If the inheritance be of the law it is no more of promise, but God gave it to Abraham by promise.”

The Apostle Paul, God’s great apostle of grace, declares in Rom. 4:4,5:

“Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

But let’s go back to that phrase: “the law worketh wrath.” Many people somehow do not see this. Even some clergymen tell us that the Law was given to help us to be good. But God Himself says, “the law worketh wrath.” Every criminal knows this, and every sinner should know it. God certainly places strong emphasis upon it:

“Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions” (Gal. 3:19), “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be brought in guilty before God” (Rom. 3:19). “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20).

If we come to God expecting eternal life because of our good works, are we not offering Him our terms, which He can never accept? He will never sell salvation at any price, and certainly not for a few paltry “good” works, when our lives are filled with failure and sin.

Our only hope? God has promised to give eternal life to those who trust in His Son (John 3:35,36; Acts 16:31; etc.).

“The gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

Can God Forget?

by Pastor Ricky Kurth
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“And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 10:17).

We know that God forgives the sins of His people, but does He forget them? It would seem so. Our text suggests that He “will not remember” the sins committed against Him by His children (Isa. 43:25). Believers have always found a great deal of comfort in this blessed thought.

But then God calls upon us to likewise forgive others “even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). Doesn’t this suggest that we too should forgive and forget? Perhaps you are thinking, “But Pastor, you don’t know what they did to me!” True, but was it more than what was done to God when men crucified His Son?

Remember, God’s vow to forgive and forget the sins of His people includes even the brutal murder of His only begotten Son. We are tempted to think, “Well, it’s easy for God to forget,” but such is not the case. God says of the sins of unbelievers that He “will NEVER forget ANY of their works” (Amos 8:7). How then can this God of “total recall” forget our sins? Does His memory have a convenient “on/off ” switch that makes it easy for Him to forgive and forget? If so, then we who do not have such a switch would have an excuse for forgiving but not forgetting. But if God has such a switch, would He not also have to erase His memory of Calvary, or else forever wonder why His Son had to die? But it cannot be that God could forget the Cross, for Revelation 5:6 joins John 20:27 to reveal that the Lord’s resurrection body will forever bear the scars of the Cross, making it impossible for God—or us—to ever forget His sacrifice for our sins.

What then is the answer to our question? Can God forget our sins? Perhaps the reader has noticed that we never read that God will forget the sins of His people, but rather that He “will not remember” them. By a deliberate act of His “will” He chooses to act toward us AS IF He has forgotten our sins, on the basis of the blood of the Cross. That’s how fully and completely He has forgiven our sins. And if we are to forgive others “as” God forgave us, then we too must choose to act toward others as if we have so fully forgiven their transgressions against us that we have forgotten them—also on the basis of Christ’s shed blood. This and this alone is complete forgiveness of others, and it is high spiritual ground indeed.

May God help us to live with a slate wiped clean of “all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking… with all malice” (Eph. 4:31).

Not Ashamed

by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam
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The Apostle Paul uses three wonderful phrases in Romans One: “I am debtor” (Ver.14), “I am ready” (Ver.15), and “I am not ashamed” (Ver.16).

As God’s appointed Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul declared: “I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise”.

The gospel now was no longer to be confined to Israel, but was to go to all nations, and Paul felt himself a debtor to proclaim it, first because God had appointed him to do so, and second, because he held in his hands that which would save the lost. He was morallyobligated — and so are Christians today.

Notice: the Apostle did not say, “I am debtor, but” and then begin to give a thousand excuses, as so many Christians do. He said: “I am debtor…SO…” and his fidelity to his call is seen as he adds: “So, as much as in me is,I am ready to preach the gospel” (Rom.1:15).

Oh, that the millions of Christians today would join Paul and say: “I AM READY to preach the gospel with all that is in me”.

But in Verse 16, the Apostle explains why he was ready to put his all into proclaiming the gospel to the Gentiles:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; unto the Jew first and also to the Greek [Gentile or Nations]” (Rom.1:16).

Many thousands of Jews had already come to trust Christ as Saviour, but the good news of Christ’s finished work of redemption was — and is — “the power of God unto salvation to EVERY ONE that believeth”.

Surely there is no other way. None of the pagan religions can give the assurance of salvation. They all represent efforts to find or earn salvation. Only the gospel, the good news of our Lord’s payment for sin can give us the knowledge, the assurance and the joy of salvation from sin.


The Dispensation of Grace

by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam
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Many people have a mistaken notion that a dispensation is a period of time. This is not so, however, for the word “dispense” means simply “to deal out”. The word “dispensation”, then, means “the act of dispensing or dealing out”, or “that which is dispensed or dealt out”.

There are medical dispensaries, for example, where medicines are dispensed to the poor. Sometimes these dispensations are conducted on a particular day of each week. Such a dispensation of medicine may take a full twelve hours each week, but it does not follow from this that a dispensation is a period of twelve hours! It is rather the act of dispensing or that which is dispensed.

The word “dispensation” is used many times in the Bible, although it is not always translated the same way. In Ephesians 3:2, Paul writes of “the dispensation of the grace of God, which is given me to you-ward”. God had committed to him wonderful message of grace to dispense to others. Thus we read in Acts 20:24 his stirring words, spoken in the face of persecution and death:

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, AND THE MINISTRY WHICH I HAVE RECEIVED OF THE LORD JESUS, TO TESTIFY THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD.”

The “gospel” or “good news” of the grace of God: This was the dispensation committed to Paul for us by the risen, ascended Lord. This is always Paul’s message.

“Where sin abounded GRACE did much more abound…the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His GRACE… justified freely by His GRACE, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…by GRACE are ye saved, through faith” (Rom.5:20; Eph.1:7; Rom.3:24; Eph. 2:8,9).

Paul, the Pattern -- His Conversion

by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam
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No conversion in sacred history is given so much attention as that of St. Paul. Besides the many references to it, we find three detailed accounts of it in the book of Acts. As Saul of Tarsus, the learned Pharisee, he had led his nation and the world in rebellion against God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

St. Luke says: “As for Saul, he made havock of the church” (Acts 8:3). The believers at Damascus feared Saul’s presence among them, saying: “Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem?” (Acts 9:21). Paul himself later testified: “Many of the saints did I shut up in prison…and when they were put to death, I gave my voice [vote] against them” (Acts 26:10). “…beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it [laid it waste]” (Gal.1:13).

There must have been an important reason why God saved this rebel leader. Clearly it was that He might make Paul, not only the herald, but the living example of “the exceeding riches of His grace” to sinners. Paul himself said:

“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord…for…putting me into the ministry; who was before A BLASPHEMER, AND A PERSECUTOR, AND INJURIOUS: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. AND THE GRACE OF OUR LORD WAS EXCEEDING ABUNDANT….This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that CHRIST JESUS CAME INTO THE WORLD TO SAVE SINNERS, OF WHOM I AM CHIEF. HOWBEIT FOR THIS CAUSE I OBTAINED MERCY, THAT IN ME FIRST JESUS CHRIST MIGHT SHOW FORTH ALL LONGSUFFERING, FOR A PATTERN TO THEM WHICH SHOULD HEREAFTER BELIEVE ON HIM TO LIFE EVERLASTING” (ITim.1:12-16).

The Captain of Our Salvation

by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam
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Years ago a man of God was asked to preach at the funeral of a young soldier whose parents were unsaved.

During the course of his message the preacher sought to impress upon his hearers the basic fact that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom.6:23).

This greatly upset the parents. After the service they complained: “This is embarrassing. Our boy was not a sinner.”

The truth was that shortly before his death this young man had done what every true, born-again Christian has done. He acknowledged himself to be a lost sinner and, trusting Christ as his Savior, had been so gloriously saved that his parents were mystified that he could be so happy in the face of death.

The simplest believer in Christ understands all this. He knows that for the “old man” the death of the body is indeed a “dishonorable discharge” for laws broken, orders disobeyed, responsibilities unmet, and trusts betrayed. But for the “new man the death of the body is the vestibule through which he is ushered into the blessed presence of “the Captain of our Salvation,” the One who “by the grace of God tasted death for every man” that He might “bring many sons unto glory” (See Hebrews 2:9,10).

This is why we read in Hebrews 2:14,15:

“Forasmuch, then, as the children [of Adam] were partakers of flesh and blood, He [Christ] also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

“And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”

No wonder St. Paul’s simple message of salvation was: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

 

How To Have Boldness

by Pastor Paul M. Sadler
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Scripture Reading:

“And [pray] for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
– Ephesians 6:19,20

In our modern day there is a great demand for instant success. We read frequently of how many have risen to fame and fortune practically overnight. Seldom, however, do we hear of the hours of labor, practice, sacrifice and discipline it took to build that career. Most times we only hear and see the end result. Many have been deceived and disillusioned to think that they can have fame and fortune with little or no effort.

In these days in which we live, the world seems to have a powerful influence over the lives of many believers. For this reason many members of the Body of Christ are looking for that book, conference or seminar that will be a shortcut to spiritual maturity. When it comes to our spiritual lives and having boldness of faith we want instant results with little or no effort put into it. As a Pastor, I would have to say that to have boldness in the faith as the Apostle says, there must be three key ingredients.

Time:

Just as physical growth takes years, spiritual growth also takes time. As we come to spiritual maturity we become more and more confident to speak out for the Lord. It takes time to learn that we have to take our eyes off of ourselves which causes us to be reluctant to speak because of the fear of men.

Discipline:

It takes discipline to sit down with the Word of God and study to acquire a knowledge of the Scriptures. We don’t mean just reading the Bible devotionally. It is said that we retain only about 20 percent of what we read. But, if we read and study, we retain about 60 percent when comparing Scripture with Scripture. The better equipped you are in the Word of God the more comfortable you will be to share the truth, rightly divided.

Consistency:

If we are to gain the respect of others in order to more effectively minister the gospel, we must be consistent with the truth. Don’t sound an uncertain trumpet, be able to substantiate what you teach with the Blessed Book. Not only should we speak the truth in love consistently, we must also live the truth. Our lives are the only Bibles some men see. That’s why the Apostle Paul warns us to put “away lying, [and] speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another” (Eph. 4:25). True boldness in the faith does not come naturally, it is something we grow into as we increase in the knowledge of Him Who has called us into the glorious light.