The Promised Possession of God’s People

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

In a confusing and contradictory-seeming passage, God gave the Old Testament patriarch Abraham the land of Canaan “for an everlasting possession” (Genesis 17:8, NKJV).

You might think while reading this, “How could God promise Abraham’s descendants a permanent homeland? Surely Abraham must have known that the land in front of him wouldn’t last into eternity.” The New Testament even tells us that the world will be destroyed by fire, burnt completely out of existence, after which the Lord will bring about a new heaven and earth. Was this promise of an “everlasting possession” to Abraham some kind of trick? It couldn’t be a mere piece of real estate. How could that be eternal?

The fact is that this land of promise was symbolic of a place beyond the earth. I believe Abraham knew this in his spirit. The Bible says that as Abraham moved about in Canaan, he always felt alien. “By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10).

Abraham’s heart longed for something beyond the land itself. He could see the true significance of the land blessing, and he realized, “This place isn’t the real possession. It’s just an illustrated sermon of the great blessing to come.” Abraham grasped the true meaning of the Promised Land; he knew Canaan represented the coming redemption of God’s people, the safe haven that the Lord would invite his people into one day. Jesus himself said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). 

The Holy Spirit enabled this patriarch to see down through the years to the day of Christ. He knew that the meaning of his Promised Land meant a place of total peace and rest, and this place of rest is Jesus Christ himself.

The Lord Jesus is our promised possession. We are his, but he is ours as well, and God invites us to obtain our everlasting possession by simple faith.

Where Are the Timothys?

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

It was to the Philippian Christians that Paul first introduced this truth, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5, NKJV).

Paul wrote this message to them while he was imprisoned in Rome, declaring that he had the mind of Christ and casting aside his reputation to become a servant of Jesus and his church. Then he wrote, “I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state” (Philippians 2:19).

This is the thinking, the outworking, of the mind of Christ. Here was a pastor, sitting in jail, yet he wasn’t thinking of his own hard situation. He was concerned only about the spiritual and physical condition of his people, and he told his sheep, “My comfort will come only when I know you’re doing well in spirit and body. As a result, I’m sending Timothy to check up on you.”

Then Paul makes this alarming statement: “For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state” (Philippians 2:20). What a sad statement! As Paul wrote this, the church around him in Rome was growing and being blessed. Clearly, there were godly leaders in the Roman church, but Paul says, “I have no man who shares with me the mind of Christ.” Why was this so?

Evidently, there was no leader in Rome with a servant’s heart, no one who had cast aside reputation and become a living sacrifice. None had the mind of Christ. Instead, everyone was set on pursuing his own interests. “For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:21). Paul’s words here cannot be softened: “Everybody’s out for himself. These ministers seek only to benefit themselves. That’s why there’s nobody here I can trust to naturally care for your needs and hurts, except Timothy.” Paul could trust no one to go to Philippi to be a true servant to that body of believers.

Dear believers, let us be a Timothy to our church and community! Our prayer should be “Lord, I don’t want to be focused only on myself in a world that’s spinning out of control. I don’t want to be concerned only about my own future. I know you hold my path in your hands. Please, Lord, give me your mind. I want to have your servant’s heart.” Once we have become servants to the church, only then will we truly have the mind of Christ.

The Confusion of the Masses

Gary Wilkerson

In our society, a small group seems to be leading the changes that are happening in our culture, and they are very enraged. The whole situation reminds me of the large crowd who stormed into Ephesus’s stadium in protest of Paul’s ministry. In Acts 19:21-41, the people leading the riot were the idol-makers, but for the thousands of other people in the stadium, scripture doesn’t use the word “enraged.” It uses the word “confused” for them.  

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that show where the television reporter goes to college campuses and asks protestors questions about why they believe what they believe or why they have a placard “Pro-this” or “Anti-this.”

The reporter asks them why they’re there, and they say, “Well, because it’s right. It’s a movement. This is correcting an injustice.”

They’re just spouting off what professors, society, the media or friends are trying to tell them is “cool” or “relevant.” If you’re not supportive, you’re a hater. Who, as a teenager or young adult, wants to be an outcast? They have no idea what they’re actually doing there. No idea at all. They don’t know the history of the movement they’re supporting. They don’t know why they believe what they believe. They’re not standing on any real moral fiber of their own. 

A large percentage of people are confused. I would even go so far as the estimate that probably as many as 90 percent of people don’t know why they believe what they believe when it comes to major cultural issues. They’ve heard that ‘enlightened’ people think this particular way; they read an article; they saw something on the news, and so they began to believe it. Most aren’t really enraged about the issues; they’re just confused.  Similar to the Ephesians in Acts 19:29-32, most of them do not know why they’ve come together. 

Our response should be the same as Paul’s after the riot. “After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece” (Acts 20:1-2, ESV).

We need to stand up and not be discouraged. We ought to encourage one another and continue to live as witnesses. We must live as hope and light for our society.

The Only Way to Bear Fruit

Jim Cymbala

Fruit in the Bible can mean a lot of things; it can mean fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, meekness, kindness; but it can also mean fruit of ministry. As we see in the New Testament, certain men from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch, and the hand of the Lord was with them, and multitudes turned to the Lord (see Acts 11:19-26).

How did they do that with most of the New Testament unwritten still, no public buildings available for preaching, with Caesar Caligula or Caesar Nero who claimed to be a god on the throne? How did they do this with no complaining about the culture or the environment and how hard it was with all these pagan gods? They just got on with the work.

A long time ago when I was making excuses for a lack of fruit, God hit me upside the head and brought me down to some important realities. The only way to bear fruit is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Most people have heard of the famous D. L. Moody, one of the greatest evangelists of the 19th century who was also responsible for founding the Moody Bible Institute. Four years before he died, Moody wrote a letter without any capitals or punctuation. Words were misspelled. The guy would have been laughed out of the building today with our emphasis on slickness and presentation. However, he bore fruit. People heard him and turned to the Lord. 

As scripture says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:7-8, ESV).

The work of God is carried on by faith! “The just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, KJV). We just have to share the Word because when we do that, the Spirit comes in and then change is possible.

Don’t blend that pure, good news in with legalism, church culture, our own cleverness or ‘creative’ additions as a way to express our own egos. We’re going to have to give an answer one day for the quality of our work (see 2 Corinthians 13:5-7). Who’s going to be measuring us? Not our peers! We will be measured by the Word of God.

We are called to be ambassadors, and ambassadors only convey the message that they’ve been told to deliver. No more, no less.

Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.

Wrestling with the Flesh

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

As followers of Christ, we are to take God at his word and accept as true what he says about us. This means our ‘old man’ represents someone who still seeks to be seen as right before God because of his own works. Such a man’s conscience continually brings him under guilt, but instead of repenting, he pledges to overcome his sin problem himself. “I’m going to change! I’ll start fighting my besetting sin today, no matter what the cost. I want God to see how hard I’m trying.”

Such a man brings much sweat and many tears to the Lord. He prays and fasts to prove that he has a good heart and to satisfy his own pride. He’s able to resist sin for days at a time, and so he tells himself, “If I can go for two days, then why not four? Why not a week?” By the end of the month, he feels good about himself, convinced he’s working himself free.

Then his old sin resurfaces, and down he goes into deep despair. That starts the cycle all over again. Such a man is on a treadmill, and he will never get off.

Paul tells us that the old man was pronounced dead at the cross. His old man was crucified along with Christ, killed in the eyes of God. Jesus took that old man into the grave with him, where he was forgotten. The Lord says of our old man, “I won’t recognize or deal with such a one. There is only one man I recognize now, one with whom I’ll deal. That is my Son, Jesus, and all who are in him by faith.”

The new man is the one who has given up all hope of pleasing God by any effort of the flesh. He has died to the old ways of the flesh.

This new man leans on the truth of this verse: “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” (Galatians 3:11, ESV). He believes, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). He may not always feel it or even comprehend it fully, but he won’t argue with his loving Father’s Word. He accepts it on faith, trusting the Lord is faithful to his Word.