Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead. When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject” (Acts 17:29-32).
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him (Hebrews 9:27-28).
For we (Christian believers) must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (II Corinthians 5:10).
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead (unbelievers), great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
Our Western mentality is such today that most of our minds immediately throw out red flags against any biblical mention of divine judgment. Even when evangelical messengers include the divine attribute of grace along with our preaching on divine judgment, we are often tuned out, turned off, and rejected. Still, we who are called of God are not excused from our assignment to remind both Christians and unbelievers that we shall all appear before God to give an account of our lives on earth.
Christians—all who have repented of sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord—will appear before the judgment seat of Christ. We who have been saved by faith shall be judged by our works. Rewards will be given for faithful service and for hardships suffered for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s—the greater the suffering, the greater the rewards.
Unbelievers—those who have not believed in Jesus Christ as the Son of God sent to atone for their sins by a traumatic death on the cross—will be judged justly for their rejection of their only hope of salvation and punished according to the sins they have committed over a lifetime. Not believing in Jesus Christ will turn out to be the greatest sin. Eternal punishment will be their judgment, and they’ll know it comes from a just God who loved them enough to pay off their debt of sin had they only believed.
The apostle Peter assures us that our God judges each man’s work impartially (I Peter 1:17), meaning that He is absolutely just in every individual’s case and shows, no favoritism. At the great white throne judgment, lost souls will at long last discover within themselves a fear of this absolutely Holy One, an amazement at His Presence, even a respect for this Glorious One who judges them. They’ll have no defense, no argument, only the realization that they’re getting what they deserve for their final unforgivable sin of rejecting the Almighty God’s one and only Son who paid for their sins so that they might believe in him and receive eternal life.
A Word to Believers
In 21st century America’s secular mindset, Christians are being tempted to lose their sense of the holiness of God and begin morphing into the worldly values and styles of a pagan world. But we are called to be light in a dark world and to be salt in a decadent society. God’s Word warns us that when our lights go out the darkness becomes great, and when the salt loses its strength and taste corruption is the result.
As we near the closing out of our year and the approach of 2015, I confess a foreboding that increases as I move deeper into intercession for our beloved America. I do believe that God raised up our nation to be a powerful witness to all the other nations on planet Earth. He brought about the American experiment to prove His great love, power, and grace. We were meant to be a people who would glorify Him by taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth, by meeting the needs of suffering humanity at home and abroad, by experiencing the outpourings of the Holy Spirit in periodic spiritual awakenings, and by rekindling revival fires throughout the earth.
But who will deny that we have lost our way, our purpose, our vision, our message, our freedom? So much of our nation is in slavery today—in bondage to debt, having mortgaged our future and that of future generations; and enslaved by drugs, unbridled sexual passions, and materialism. And worse, we seem bent on dismissing God from the public square.
Our gracious and loving God has clearly marked out the only solution, but it has to begin with the millions of us who claim to be followers of His Son. He challenges us:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land (II Chronicles 7:14).
A Word to Unbelievers
In love and concern for all who have not trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior, I beg you to hear a word from the inspired King Solomon: I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end (Ecclesiastes 3:10-11). This wise man is referring to the awesome responsibility the Creator has placed upon mankind as free moral agents to choose their course in life. But when he writes that God has also set eternity in the hearts of men, he is referring to our God-given innate sense of life beyond death. Anthropologists report that in nearly all cultures there exists a haunting belief that death does not end human consciousness. Mexicans, Peruvians, and Polynesians believed they’d go to the moon when they died. Our native Americans believed they’d go to their happy hunting grounds. The sense that death is not the end has shaped nearly every civilization—that is, until recent times among Western civilizations. What the anthropologists have not told us about these civilizations is the various moral guidelines they followed to prepare them for life after death.
But thank God for the Living Word of God, Jesus Christ; and thank God for the written Word of God, the Bible. I can write down for you the eternal truth about our need for preparing for the next life, not because I figured it out myself and not because I heard it from a philosopher. But I can assure you of the true way because I’ve tried and tested it, and it works. It comes from the Holy Book, the Bible, and it tells me that a loving God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
Please, my unbelieving friend, I beg you to not allow the invisible evil forces that have messed with your mind for so long to stifle, harden, deny, and murder that divinely-imparted instinct to exercise your freedom to place your trust in Jesus Christ alone as your Savior. Recognize and acknowledge that the gracious Holy Spirit is calling you to trust and confess Christ as your Savior.
You are not only missing out on an eternity with a glorified body, mind, and spirit to enjoy a life of endless joy with your Heavenly Father and redeemed loved ones; you are also missing out on the glory of God in your earthly existence. Repentance and faith in Jesus Christ brings the Spirit of God into our lives with power for daily living—peace with God, strength to cope with our own selfishness, inspiration for prayer and worship, wisdom to make good decisions, an inner grasp of God’s will for family, business, and relationships.
We are closer to our Holy God’s set day when he will judge the world (Acts 17:31) than any of us realize! Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts (Hebrews 3:15).
Facing the New Year of 2015
I am grateful to the Lord for His faithful presence throughout the year that is passing. I praise Him for all of you who have prayed for us and invested in the cost of operating Christian Renewal Ministries for another year. All bills are paid, thanks to your generosity. Our travels were limited, since there were only two Schools of Prayer and a few one-time preaching events. Since July I have been serving as Interim Pastor of the Livingston Church of the Nazarene, and this will conclude on December 28. Also, Shirley has rented her house in Dothan, Alabama, so we will no longer spend our winters there.
So, what are we looking forward to in the coming year? The Lord has laid things on our hearts, and we sincerely beg for your prayers regarding these concerns.
1. Gathering prayer warriors weekly for Revival Praying. Every Saturday morning I hope to meet with a group of people who are interested in learning about and practicing Revival Praying. We’ll spend 15 to 20 minutes in the Word studying what God has to say about prayer preparation for His outpoured Spirit. Then for at least an hour we’ll practice prayer in obedience to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. I’ve known for 20 years that it is God’s plan to give a great Northwest Awakening, and that He has chosen the Gallatin Valley to be the epicenter for that revival. But genuine revivals require preparation. Any born-again Christian believer is welcome to learn and pray with us. We’ll meet at the Big Sky House of Prayer in Belgrade, Montana, at 215 Arden Street (turn west off Jackrabbit Lane onto Arden, go about 1/4th mile, turn right at building 215, and enter the second door on the left—#32).
2. Finishing a new book, OUR HOLY GUEST. I’ve been prayerfully writing on this for a year, have completed 25 chapters—brief devotionals on the believer’s relationship with the Holy Spirit, explaining the secret to a powerful life with Christ. I’ve only a few more chapters to go. Shirley has already begun the editing and early in the new year we should be able to announce its availability and offer our readers a pre-publication price. Pray for me as I finish this project which has been inspired by the Holy Spirit.
3. Considering a CALL TO PRAYER radio broadcast, covering southwest Montana to begin with a 5-minute daily broadcast Monday through Friday. I will be appealing to Christian believers to meet the requirements for a great spiritual awakening, the only thing that will purify the Church and save our nation. Our financial standing at the present time will not allow this venture. However, if we pray and enough people feel as I do about the need for this message and will commit to supporting the broadcast, then this can come to pass for God’s glory. This broadcast should also appear on our website.
4. Believing the Lord still wants to use Christian Renewal Ministries for calling believers back to the Upper Room for special outpourings of the Holy Spirit on our churches and homes and lives; and that there are local churches here and there who might want to invite us to conduct Schools of Prayer to challenge God’s people to a meaningful prayer life. Shirley and I will be available throughout 2015 as the Lord gives health and strength.
5. Trusting the Lord for the financial costs of operating the ministries for another year. We are operating on a slim margin, but so far we have been able to publish the JOURNAL, maintain a website, and counsel hundreds on the Spirit-filled life through e-mails, phone calls, and prayer sessions at the House of Prayer or in our home. Please pray with us as to what the Lord would have each of us do to sustain this ministry. Shirley and I ask the Lord at the beginning of each year what He would have us give. This year, I know I am to increase my monthly amount. If you could read our mail and hear the calls we get expressing the needs and praising the Lord for the help they receive at our Schools of Prayer, I believe you would see the value of any investment the Lord would have you make. It would seem self-promoting if we published these remarks, but I do wish you knew what is happening in some lives, homes, churches, and ministries through this work. To Him be the glory!
So, let’s keep on praying, giving, and believing until we see the mighty revival so desperately needed or until the Lord comes!
I’m grateful for our Board of Directors: Gail & Betty Fremont, Duncan & Susan Hill, Ron & Mary Ann Johnson, and Rich & Christi Sherlock. And how much we appreciate my daughter Pris Larsen who serves this ministry as our Executive Assistant.
All of us wish you and your families A BLESSED HOLIDAY SEASON AND A GLORIOUS SPIRIT-LED NEW YEAR!