Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on 10/6/02
"Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and tongue and people" (Rev. 14:6, RSV).
Most churches take what has become known as "the great commission" very seriously: "And he said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15, RSV). So I can see that some of you would think, "Has Jan lost it already? Who hasn't heard the Gospel, pray tell?" Even though I grew up listening to "gospel preachers," who preached what they claimed was the gospel, thundering from the pulpit about what would happen to us if we didn't obey, I never heard the real Gospel, the one lived by Jesus and plainly spoken by Paul the Apostle, until I was nearly thirty years old. Equating the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ to an escape from hell fire and damnation is a little like equating the tiny town of Jane, MO, to New York City, or London or Paris. There may be some similarities, but living in Jane does not prepare you to live in a big city. Likewise, if you only regard the Gospel as your ticket out of hell, you have never really heard the Good News!
Gary Amirault (www.tentmaker.org), made a recent plea for material which can be put into a tract to hand out. I had no intention of doing anything about it, because to me, passing out tracts belongs to the old wine skin, but on Sunday afternoon, as I was waking up from my well earned nap, I "heard" a poem set to rap music, of all things. The beat was there and the loud, compelling rhythm. As the words began pouring out, I got up and wrote it down, which I'll share later. When I read it to Lenny, he suggested, "You need to send that to Gary for his project." At first, I didn't see the connection between Gary's request and the poem, but the Lord gave me a series of questions to go with the poem, which I made it into a tri-fold brochure that Gary can use any way he wishes, or not at all, as the Spirit leads. As the words flowed onto the screen, I thought, "Well, here's my talk for Sunday, as well."
The Lord gave me ten questions to go with the poem, which I'll include for your meditation. Don't take my word for anything, but remember this verse: "Yet I know that the touch of his Spirit never leaves you, and you don't really need a human teacher. You know that his Spirit teaches you about all things, always telling you the truth and never telling you a lie. So, as he has taught you, live continually in him" (I John 2:27, Phil). This is your scriptural authority, if you need it, to take this to the Lord and get Him to answer these questions for yourself. Some of you could write this as well or better than I can, but if you would like hard copy of the brochure, send me an e-mail with your "snail mail" address and I'll send you a copy. Now, to the questions.
1) Have you heard the GOSPEL, the Good News, the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16), or a watered down version of it which makes your eternal destiny dependent upon YOUR actions, rather than upon the POWER of Almighty God? "For I am not ashamed of the gospel. I see it as the very power of God working for the salvation of everyone who believes it, for the Jew first but also for the Greek" (Rom. 1:16, Phil). If you have heard it said that God did His part and now, we have to do ours, i.e., to believe, repent, etc., keep reading.
2) Have you been saved by grace (God's unmerited favor) only to find that many conditions have been added to it, the successful completion of which determines your eternal destiny? Paul explained it clearly: "For it is by grace that you are saved, through faith. This does not depend on anything you have achieved, it is the free gift of God" (Eph. 2:8, Phil). The hardest part about this verse is giving up your leverage. Some apparently think that because they believed Him, now He is obligated to save them. In actual fact, we could only believe (a gift) because He had ALREADY saved us.
3) Do you know that God loves you unconditionally, even while you were still in sin? "everyone has sinned, everyone falls short of the beauty of God's plan" (Rom. 3:23, Phil). "And we can see that it was at the very time that we were powerless to help ourselves that Christ died for sinful men" (Rom. 5:6, Phil). The gospel preachers I heard got these truths exactly backwards, for we were told that in order to obtain forgiveness, we had to believe, repent, confess and be baptized. Paul makes it clear from these verses and others, that we believe and repent and are baptized BECAUSE we WERE saved by Christ's sacrifice, once for all (Rom. 6:10). Otherwise, He would have to go back and die on the cross every time a sinner repented.
4) Are you aware that the blood of the Lamb of God atoned for the sins of the whole world, not just for the lucky few who happened to hear the name of Jesus? Christ is "the one who made personal atonement for our sins (and for those of the rest of the world as well)" (I John 2:2, Phil). And let's not forget that, "God has NOT sent his Son into the world to pass sentence upon it, but to save it, through him" (John 3:17, Phil).
5) Do you realize that justification by His grace is a GIFT? "They are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:24, RSV). And to bring it home, Paul declared, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 6:23, RSV). A gift is, by definition, "free," but Paul makes it more emphatic by calling it a "free gift."
6) Have you heard that God is not willing that ANY should perish, but all should come to repentance (change their minds about who they are)? "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Pet. 3:9, KJV). Does the Lord lack the power to get His will done? Wouldn't He be a complete failure if millions could defy His will and end up in hell?
7) Have you considered that it is the goodness of God which leads men to repentance rather than fear of hell fire as the "gospel preachers" told us? "Are you, perhaps, misinterpreting God's generosity and patient mercy towards you as weakness on his part? Don't you realize that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?" (Rom. 2:4, Phil). This is another way to say that when we realize that we are forgiven through Christ's atonement, our hearts are melted; our rebellion flees away and we change our mind about God and about ourselves.
8) Do you know that death is NOT the end of the story? Preachers tell us to repent before it is everlastingly too late, yet when Jesus went to Sheol, He preached to the long dead, disobedient souls of Noah's day (I Pet. 3:18-20), and Paul tells us that "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men" (Eph. 4:8, RSV). If you are grieving the death of someone you loved who, as far as you know, did not accept Christ, rejoice. Nothing is too hard for God, who will lose no one, because Paul tells us "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:10,11, RSV). Notice this list includes those "under the earth," the DEAD, in other words. One last point on this question. Do you remember that Moses disobeyed God and was not allowed to enter the Promised Land? (Deut. 34:1-8; Num. 20:12). His punishment only lasted in this life, because he was on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus and Elijah (Matt. 17:3-4), proving that physical death does NOT decide a man's eternal destination.
9) Do you rejoice that Christ lives within the believer and it is by HIS faith, not ours, that we live? "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live BY the faith OF the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20, KJV). His faith can never fail us!
10) Do you understand that it was God who called us out of darkness into the light? "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (I Peter 2:9, RSV). Since God is the one who called us out of darkness, we can relax for "....He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6, RSV). When He sits on the throne of our lives, there is no anxiety, no pressure and no responsibility for how things turn out because "...we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10, RSV). God has everything planned out. "Guide me, Oh thou Great Jehovah" is more than a grand old hymn. It is the marching orders of His Sons through the kingdom of heaven on earth.
If you answered "No," to any of these questions, we encourage you to seek the Lord's face, to open your heart to the New Wine of the Spirit, the eternal Light, which cannot be kept under a bushel, under man's control. About this light, Isaiah proclaimed: "Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising" (Isaiah 60:1-3, RSV). Jesus prophesied that the Light of the world shines in us like a beacon, a city set on a hill (Matt. 5:14). Father, open our eyes to see your Light in us, shining out of darkness, bringing hope and joy to a very black world. As we behold your glory in the face of Christ, we will be like Him in this world. Use us as your angel (messenger) to deliver your eternal gospel to all those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and tongue and people. Anoint us in this hour "to bring good tidings to the afflicted; ....to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion, to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that HE may be glorified" (Isa. 61:1-3). Amen. Jan Antonsson.
Here's the poem. God gave me the rhythm and the words; I think the meaning gives an old story a new twist. Imagine it spoken to a rap music beat, and loud instrumental accompaniment. Who said God doesn't rock?
by Jan Antonsson
God is the Man, the only One who can,
and the garden is the place, where He shows His face,
where the stuff hit the fan.
One bite of fruit sent them down the chute, running from the light
into the black of night, driving through the dark, no place to park,
they died from fear and fright.
Satan flashed a grin, thinking he could win, watching as they fell
farther into hell, in a death spiral spin.
Life was very grim, no peace or joy within, but deep within the Man,
the Father had a plan for victory over sin.
The blacker black became, the more twisted the game, God the Man knew
that who He is, is true, and He will take the blame.
He sent Himself to Earth, which was only death and dearth,
to bring grace and glory to a very somber story, soon to turn to mirth.
The end of the tale, through fire, wind and hail, is that God is One;
through His firstborn Son, He is all in all, female and male.
The universe proclaims the One with many names,
who came through fire and flood, and by His precious blood,
each one of us reclaims.
All the angels knew, what God was going to do, bringing a new birth
to everyone on Earth, implanting new creation, to all in every nation,
for you and you and YOU! He drove out shame and sin, put Himself within;
because He loved them home, they had no wish to roam,
when they could be with Him.
Earth claps its hands in all the heathen lands.
We'll proclaim His rest until everyone is blest; victory He demands.
All are in the Son, where His perfect will is done; in primal power we live,
with His great love to give, to all from son to son to son. Selah!
(Written 9/29/02 for the Saints of the world).
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
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This page was uploaded to the web on 10/4/02
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/14/08