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THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
"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." (I Timothy 1:15)
The Great Expository Preacher, Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, whom many have called the Greatest Expository Preacher of the 20th Century, said in approximately 1958, that "the greatest problem in the Christian church is its superficiality." A few years later, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said that "the greatest need in the world today is for men and women to know God through the Lord Jesus Christ." Today, there are many fantasy stories dealing with a multiplicity of things supposedly related to the afterlife. There are pagans who profess to believe in animals. Hindus believe in reincarnation. Muslims speak of the Koran and of martyrdom as the only sure way to "paradise." They hold that God has no son and that Mohammad is the prophet of God. Mormons follow a non-Christian, pagan religion rooted in polytheism, and even assert the fantasy claims that male followers of Mormonism can advance to actually "becoming gods." Atheists maintain that there is no God. However, Psalm 14:1 says, "The fool hath said in his heart there is no God," thus evidencing the truth of God's Word that "the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness . . . ." (I Corinthians 1:18) Most atheists assert that when one dies, it's just "the end." God's Word testifies otherwise. At death, one is either going to Heaven, through the Lord Jesus Christ, or is going to Hell if they have not been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other alternative, no middle ground. Agnostics say that one cannot know whether there is a God or not. Of course, they're not really agnostics; they're really atheists.
Indeed, there are even those who profess to be Christians who espouse all forms of "damnable heresies," such as denying the sufficiency of Christ and of God's Word. There are those who claim to be ministers of the Gospel of Christ who deny the global flood and of God's description of sin, and even denying the Lord who has bought them. Of course, the Lord Jesus and the apostle writers spoke in the 1st Century A.D., of the fact that in the last days, there would be "false teachers and false prophets" who would "rise up and deceive many." I have even heard a pastor recently opine that "the Gospel of Jesus Christ contains both good news and bad news." The very fact that one would even utter such a statement, whether in jest or not, shows his ignorance and lack of respect for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which contains no "bad news" at all.
God's plans and purposes were forever established before the foundation of the world. The second person of the Trinity, the Living Word of God, would become man, taking on flesh ("a body Thou hast prepared for me," said Jesus) to become a partaker of flesh and blood for one purpose: "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." (Hebrews 2:14-15) Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. He came to save His people from their sins and to give His life a ransom for many. This is truth, not merely a story, and it is truly "good news" to the people of God. There is no bad news.
The Source of the Blessings
The source of all spiritual blessings is God. Everything begins with Him "before the foundation of the world." The Apostle Paul had a special relationship with and love for the Church at Ephesus. The Church at Ephesus also had a special love for Paul. You can read about this relationship in the 20th chapter of Acts, beginning with the 16th verse and continuing to the end, where we see that Paul, as he was leaving Ephesus, knelt down and prayed with them all. They "wept sore," and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more." Thus, when Paul was a prisoner in Rome and called himself an apostle of Jesus Christ, he stated that he was an Apostle "by the will of God." Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes the entire letter to the Church at Ephesus as being "the most sublime" of all of Paul's writings in the New Testament. Thus, Dr. Lloyd-Jones said that one might say that the overall theme of the Epistle to Ephesus is that everything is "by the will of God."
The Identification of the Blessings
In this letter to the Church at Ephesus, Paul states the fact that they (and all Christians) have been blessed by God "with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." He details some of those blessings in the very first chapter as follows:
1. Chosen in Christ.
2. Before the foundation of the world.
3. That we should be holy and without blame before the Lord God.
4. In love, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto Himself.
5. Such adoption was by the good pleasure of God's own will and to the praise of the glory of His grace.
6. He hath made us accepted in the Beloved (the Lord Jesus Christ).
7. We have been redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ.
8. He has forgiven all of our sins according to the riches of His grace. (The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.)
9. He has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence and made known unto us the mystery of His will according to His own good pleasure which He purposed in Himself. In other words, He has chosen to reveal His will to us, which is the only way in which we know anything of the Living God.
10. In the dispensation of the fullness of time, He is going to gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven and which are on the earth, even in Him.
11. In Jesus, we have obtained an inheritance; indeed, we have actually become joint heirs with Christ, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who works all things after the counsel of His own will.
12. Amazingly, He has done this "that the apostles should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ."
13. And we, who in the fullness of time have come later, have also trusted in Christ after we heard the Word of Truth, the Gospel of our salvation, the greatest story ever told.
14. After we believed, we were also sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise. A seal placed on us by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and no one can pluck us out of His hand.
15. We have received these blessings now because it is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, all to the praise of the glory of the Lord God.
There are those who would challenge the sufficiency of scripture and, thus, disagree with some or all of the stated blessings. There are those who are masquerading as ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who have said such things as: "The first twelve chapters of Genesis are mere allegory," that "the Genesis flood was a local flood, not a global flood." (What a patently absurd statement to make.) The evidences of The Flood are worldwide. Just ask yourself if The Flood were only in and around the Euphrates River, why wouldn't God have merely said to Noah, "Get your camels and your other animals and head to Egypt?" Jesus Himself testifies to the fact of the truthfulness of the global flood. (Matthew 24: 37-39) One must be "willingly ignorant" to believe in such unprofitable and unwise assertions, no matter how "wise the person to be." These "false prophets" and "false teachers" espouse other fantastic claims: "Therefore, Brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught. . . ."
The Requested Blessings
Among other things, Paul told the Church at Ephesus that he prayed for them, asking God for the following blessings for them, and he gave thanks for them:
1. That the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, would give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. Indeed, Jesus Himself says that "this is life eternal that they may know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." (John 17:3)
2. That the eyes of your understanding would be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of God's calling and what the riches of the glory of God's inheritance in the saints.
3. Paul also prays that you would know what is the "exceeding greatness of God's power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places far above all principality and power and might and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come." In other words, Paul is praying, in reality which means that God is praying intercessory prayer for all of us who are "in Christ Jesus," that we might know the dynamite resurrection power which was wrought in Christ when He was raised from the dead.
The Substance of the Greatest Story
Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. He Himself bore our sin in His own body on the cross that we might be dead unto sin and alive unto righteousness, and with His stripes, we are healed. He took our sorry record and gave us His perfect record. The greatest story ever told!
Ravi Zacharias has had a profound influence on many lives, preaching and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is in stark contrast to those who would proclaim that the reason Jesus came into the world was to bring about "social justice," or, in other words, "redistribution of wealth." This is a "damnable heresy." Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners from their sins. Zacharias says flatly: "Jesus did not come to make bad men good, but to make dead men live." What a great story. What a fantastic claim. Is it not this the greatest story ever told?
Take heed. As we see the exponential increase of false teachers and false prophets, who have come for the sole and explicit reason "to deceive many," we need to follow Jesus' admonition to "take heed that no man deceive you." Jesus says that there shall be many who shall come in His name, saying, "I am Christ, and shall deceive many." Take heed. Do not be deceived.
How does one take heed? How do you avoid being deceived? By remembering that Jesus Christ of the seed of David came into the world to save sinners and was raised from the dead. Immerse yourself in God's Holy Word. It is, after all, more to be desired than gold, yea, much fine gold. Gold is selling now at more than $1,700.00 per ounce, and many say that it is going to exceed $2,000.00 perhaps or even $3,000.00 per ounce. God's Word is worth more than gold. Jesus said, "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and loses his own soul?" Or to put it another way, what shall it profit a man, or woman, if he or she gained the whole world and loses his or her own son, daughter, or grandchild? Take heed that you be not deceived. Immerse yourself in God's Word. Meditate thereon day and night, that you may observe to do all that is contained therein. Know the truth. Be aware of the fact that God's Word is sufficient. Sufficient for what one might ask? Sufficient for whatever may arise. God's grace is always sufficient. The Lord is always "able." "Able to make all grace abound toward you so that you, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work." "Able to do exceeding, abundantly above all that you can even ask or think . . . ." Determine to know Him better. Ask Him to enlighten your eyes. Ask Him to increase your understanding. Ask Him to strengthen you in your inner person, "that Christ, by His Holy Spirit, would dwell in you by faith, that you, being rooted and grounded in love, would be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height and know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you will be filled with all the fullness of God." Ask the Lord to help you to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."
The greatest story ever told is that God almighty so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. Do you know Him? Do you believe in Him? If not, ask the Lord to help you to believe. Ask the Lord to grant that you may know Him, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.
Now, to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that you may even ask or think according to the power that works in us, and to Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Your friend and brother in Christ,
Worldview Weekend Foundation
PO BOX 1690
Collierville, TN, 38027 USA