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#15 How Long Can You Rely On The Afterglow

April 28, 2009

Last week we looked at the subject of flippantly observing the Lord’s Supper. As we saw, it is a serious thing to come before the Lord and we know how He feels about those who take such a thing for granted. The names of Ananias and Sapphira, of Nadab and Abihu, of Uzzah, all bear witness to the seriousness of the matter.

 

Now building on that idea consider that there is no such thing as casual Christianity. There is no such thing as armchair Christianity. I dare say that we are either for Jesus or against Him. Our lives bear witness of the level of devotion that we have for Him. Consider too that faith is an action word. It is a verb. We are known by our fruits; the evidence of our lives tells the tale of our love for Jesus or our lack of the same.

 

Look with me to (Rom 4:3) “For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” The word believe means to trust, to rely upon, to cling to. Now these are actions, overt actions that we deliberately undertake. The Christian faith can be measured. It can be seen. It is tangible. This is why Jesus said; “You will know them by their fruits.” So the matter of faith is a sure thing. It is clear. And it should be unmistakable! As I said in last week’s sermon, if we are hauled into court on the charge of being a Christian, we should be able to be convicted on the first try…or else there is a problem. Now we know that there are many who name the name of Christ; who call themselves Christians, who claim to love our Lord. But their lives tell a different story.

 

But there is another group of people I want to speak about this morning. I want us to look at some selected texts of scripture dealing with Moses because it is very applicable to the subject matter that we are dealing with. Please turn to (Ex 33:18-) and notice what Moses wants more than anything! “Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” The thing that we see here is that Moses loved God and wanted to know Him more, wanted to see Him and probably embrace Him. This is what many people say they are going to do but I don’t think they know the True God or they wouldn’t have such notions.

 

But on the other hand, have you ever prayed that our Father in Heaven would show you His glory? Have you ever prayed; Lord, reveal yourself to me? It is not wrong to pray thus if your desire is to know God better, if you desire a closer walk with Him. Many true believers have spent hours on their knees before the throne of Grace just worshiping. And it is a truly glorious experience to be in the presence of the One whom your soul loveth!

 

Where is your heart on this? Do you know the wonderful presence of the Father? Can you say this? Do you know this by experience? Or have you merely heard of it? Job said; “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; (Job 42:5). “The knowledge which I had of Your Divine nature, and perfections, and counsels, was previously dark, and doubtful, and conjectural, being grounded chiefly, if not only, upon the instructions and reports of other men. But now it is clear and certain, as being immediately inspired into my mind by this thy glorious apparition and revelation, and by the operation of Your Holy Spirit; which makes these things as certain and evident to me, as if I had seen them with my bodily eyes.” So says Matthew Poole.

 

Now Job was a godly man, one in whom God Himself boasted to the devil…“Have you considered MY SERVANT JOB!” But this godly man was brought into a closer, clearer understanding of divine things. He was as it were, brought face to face with God almighty and He was a better man for it. So it is not sinful to desire a deeper, clearer understanding of God. It is not wrong to want to be closer to Him, to know Him better. This, I believe, is Moses’ hearts desire.

 

And our Father is very gentle with him. But He also clearly lays out parameters concerning how close we can get to Him while still clothed in sinful flesh. We read in verse 19 “And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” 20But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” There is a boundary we cannot cross for God is Holy and we are sinful. God is God and we are but flesh, God is the King of kings and we are His loyal subjects.

 

Also seen in this verse is the truth that any one who has ever said, “I saw God’s face” is a liar. If anyone has seen God’s face, they have been removed from this life and that is that. And to boast of such things is wicked as it reveals the audacity of the evil heart of men who want to build a tower that will reach unto heaven. (Ro 10:6-7)  “But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?”’ (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)

 

Having now set the stage 21 Then the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; 22 and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. 23 “Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.” Moses was about to be given a gift that as far as I can see, no one else has ever seen in this life. Men were allowed to see ladders spanning heaven; they were allowed to see horses and chariots of fire: they saw the throne of God but God’s face was not seen.

 

Remember what God said about His relationship with Moses; The context of (Nu 12:6-8)  is the boasting of Aaron and Miriam and their complaining against Moses. The Lord heard it and “He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. 7  “Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; 8  With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses?” Moses indeed had a wonderful close relationship with the living God!

 

Skip to (Ex 34) and we will take up the text at verse 5 where we see that wonderful instance when Moses beheld the form of the Lord. “The LORD descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the LORD. 6 Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” 8 Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship.   

 

I think that a key item to notice is Moses’ reaction to this glorious vision. God had allowed him to see as much of His Wondrous Glory as in this mortal life anyone was able to see. And Moses worshiped. There was nothing half hearted about Moses’ devotion to God. He was sold out to His Lord who had so graciously called him from darkness to light.

 

Now what was the result of this glorious ‘beatific’ vision? (Ex 34:29-35) When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone (literally sent out rays of light) because he had been talking with God. 30 Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and is it any wonder that they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. 32 Afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he commanded them all that the LORD had spoken with him in Mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. 34 Whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, 35 the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him.”

 

In (2Co 3:13) we are told why Moses put the veil over his face. Paul is speaking of the ministry of the proclamation of the gospel saying “and we are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away.”

 

Now we are partakers of the fellowship of the saints, a fellowship that includes our brother Moses. As children of God, we are looking forward “to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,” (1Pe 1:4) “And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” (1Pe 5:4)  

 

These are glorious promises and infinitely beyond our ability to comprehend. Now as we are here on the earth we are to store up treasure in heaven. We are standing upon the foundation of Christianity, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who purchased our salvation with His precious blood and who rose again for our justification.

But we are to be about something! We are to be doing something. We are to be making our calling and election sure. We are to be examining ourselves to see whether we are in the faith. We are to be about our Father’s business. We are to be walking as Jesus walked. We are to be shining as lights in this dark world, evangelizing the lost by our lives and by our words as we sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts, being ready to give a reason for the hope we have within us, with meekness and reverence! And we are to be keeping ourselves unstained by the world.

 

As you can see, the Christian life is really a full time job. It is a lifetime of labor under the SON as we fight against sin and strive for holiness of life, ever yielding ourselves, ever submitting ourselves under the mighty hand of God Who will exalt us in due season.

 

But there are those believers and so called disciples who are literally starving themselves before a banquet table of infinite store! Consider Moses again. He loved to be in the presence of God. He longed for that fellowship. And when he was in God’s presence, he was literally lit up!

 

The scriptures we looked at said that he put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel wouldn’t see that glow fade. But did Moses just sit back and think about the ‘good ole days’ of the evidential glow of the glory of God? NO! He went back again and again. He couldn’t get enough of God and longed to be lit up by His presence! His was a true and abiding love for God. And as you ponder the life of Moses you see that He loved what God loved and hated what God hated. The evidence is in concerning Moses. He was a true believer!

 

Now think about your own life. Oh I’m sure you pray. I’m sure you read the Bible. But when was the last time you were lit up in the presence of God? When was the last time you were filled to overflowing with His Spirit? And how long have you tried to ride our the afterglow of those wonderful times? I’m sure by now, the embers are getting pretty dim if not cold!

 

Think of it this way; have you ever been camping? And if so have you ever sat by the fire on a cool night and bask in its warmth? Its wonderful isn’t it. But after a while the fire begins to die down and if you don’t put another log on the fire soon it will begin to fade out. The embers will glow for a time but soon even they will go out. And then it will be cold!

 

Now go back to praying and reading the bible. You may ‘say your prayers’. You may have a ‘quiet time’ where you read the scriptures and pray. But think about it for a moment. You pray but are you really communing with God? You use all the right language, God, in Jesus Name, etc. You open up the bible and you read the words but do you hear the voice of God? Are you worshiping at the Throne of Grace and basking in the blazing light of the glory of God or are you ‘just doing the best you can?’

 

The Christian life is more than you know. Job was a man of integrity and a true servant before God but he was allowed to draw closer and have more intimate fellowship.

I am reminded of the saints of God from the scriptures and from Church History and I see a Grand Canyon of a difference between true Christianity and the modern ‘quicky’ version.

 

True Godly devotion is something that is ongoing. It does not occur at salvation and then fade away never to be heard from again. Devotion to God is a daily yielding up of ones members as instruments of righteousness to God. It is born on the day of salvation but must continually be heated in the forge of the Holy Spirit and stirred up in the fellowship of the saints.

 

I say with Dr. Tackett that if we truly believed that what we believed was really real, then we would turn the world upside down. Our lives would reflect the glory of God. The beams of the light of His glory would literally shoot out from our faces as we walked in the Spirit of the Living God.

 

If we really believed that the Bible was the Word of God and not open to ‘interpretation’ if we believed that God spoke those words for our good, then our lives would reflect that belief as we sought to implement the commands of God into our lives to be better conformed to His image. And we would bow in prayer before the God we love and plead that He would work that work of grace in us to conform us to the image of His dear Son, that He would grant us power to live for Him knowing that apart from Him, we can do nothing.

 

How long have you tried to ride out the afterglow? Have you possibly lost sight of the fact that our faith is a living faith? How long has it been since you pondered the word of God who spoke through His servant James and said in (Jas 2:18), “But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

 

Godly living is not an option! A life of true, demonstrable faith is the characteristic of true Christianity. The Christian should stand out in a crowd like a sunbeam through dark storm clouds.

 

In these dark times and I am speaking spiritually of course, in these dark times we must shine as never before. Ugly things are on the horizon if God should withdraw His restraining hand and the floodgates of unbridled wickedness pour forth. The scriptures are clear and true and ring truer everyday as we hear men like the Apostle Paul reveal the spiritual powers behind the ‘push’ toward unification of nations and dissolving of former truths and whatnot in (Eph 6:12) when He says “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places..

 

Monstrous evil is afoot today in the form of progressivism and modernism and post-modernism and whatever other isms there may be. We are being told many, many lies in the name of ‘moving forward’ in our ‘evolution as a species.’ Doesn’t this sound familiar? How about “Sacrifices have to be made for the good of the proletariat.”

We are told to bow down at the altar of government and to place our faith in our government and to rely upon them for our needs. But our government is a godless government and indeed they want to replace God in the minds of the people. They think that if they can just give people enough ‘stuff’ that the people, the little people, the plebes will be placated.

 

What is at stake here is the truth.

 

It’s time to scrap out the ashes, put fresh logs on the fire and light it up for the glory of God. And that is the key. We must be zealous, not for America, but for God. We must call upon God and God alone to rend the heavens and come down. We must call upon our Heavenly Father to once again reveal Himself to the people, not merely of our country, but to the world. We must call upon God to call men and women to Himself in saving faith, to once again exalt His Name in our land and to once again cause us to stand firm on the unshakable ground of His Word. We must pray for revival and reformation!

 

Consider that when Martin Luther nailed his famous ‘Ninety-five Theses to the door of the University Church in Wittenberg, he had no idea that he was being used by God to launch the greatest recovery of the gospel in history. What Luther was doing, in his own mind, was issuing a challenge for debate. Later on, he admitted that when he drafted these theses in 1517, he was still a mad papist which can be seen by some of the statements concerning Mary.

 

But consider that the action of this one man, seeking the reformation of the Church, was the spark, the catalyst that God used to call men and women out of the darkness of the dark ages and into His marvelous light. God’s truth had not left the earth as so many cults would have you believe, but rather there were only a faithful few, a remnant if you will, who held up the standard in the face of darkness.

 

But God moved and light dawned. Today we are living in darkness that at least equals if not surpasses the darkness of Luther’s day. And there are a faithful few who still preach the pure unadulterated word of God. There are, spread across our land, a faithful remnant who cling to the truth in the sea of darkness.

 

What are we to do? We are to remember the former things, long past, that our Lord is the true God and there is no other. He will not give His glory to another, nor His praise to idols.  The scriptures promise us that “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. (Isa 59:19) This must be our prayer! And we must remember that glorious promise of God found in (2Ch 7:14) where He Himself says “If my people, which are called by my name, shall 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.  

 

Get up from before that dead fire and renew your devotion to the God you love. Call upon Him, pleading for forgiveness for yourselves and your nation! And plead that He will heal our land to the praise of His glorious Grace! Amen!

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