Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Blessed Gift of Repentance

"And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." - Mark 2:16-17

In this Scripture we find a remarkable truth of the gospel of Christ; one to be laid hold of by all men everywhere. Recorded in three separate accounts (Matthew, Mark and Luke) is the story of Jesus eating amongst the sinners of His day, and the Pharisees calling His behavior into question.

"How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?"

This seemed odd to the religiously 'pious' Pharisees, who prized themselves on being set apart from the men of ungodliness. I'm sure they were thinking Psalm 1:1: "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful." Who did this Jesus think He was?

But see how Jesus responds: "They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick." Was Jesus implying that the Pharisees were indeed whole then? He goes on to say:

"I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

This statement is important. Was Jesus then saying that the Pharisees were righteous, without need of repentance? Absolutely not! Elsewhere, Jesus declares: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." (Matthew 23:27) The Pharisees only appeared righteous to others and to themselves, but inwardly they were tombs of death and sin, blinded by their own self-conceit. Rather, Jesus was revealing an important truth: that He came to call sinners to repentance, but if men do not think themselves to be sinners, then they are not able to hear His call! To hear Christ's call to repentance is nothing short of a miracle. It is a miracle for a man to humble himself under God's mighty hand and admit to his folly and sinfulness. Only then will He hear and believe Christ.

Those who hold on to their own self-righteousness are not able to repent, let alone hear the call. This is a scary thought! All men are commanded by God to repent and believe in Jesus, but because of spiritual blindness caused by pride and self-righteousness, such men cannot see their need to repent, and therefore cannot receive God's salvation. Repentance is not some obligatory chore which a person must undergo... it is an unspeakable blessing! A blessing not received by the haughty and proud: "for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." (1 Peter 5:5)

Oh brethren, let us look upon repentance in a whole new light: no longer as a painful obligation but as a precious blessing to those who are called! Because of Christ's victory over sin and death on the cross, we now can be forgiven and freed from all guilt and punishment! Now, when Jesus calls you to repent, say: "Yes Lord! I hear and understand! I will gladly believe in You, who freely gave Yourself for me!" Amen.

"Will You Pray for Us?"

While preaching yesterday I got talking to a group of young people about their sin, the righteousness of God, judgment and freedom in Christ. After becoming very convicted, they all asked if I would pray for them. We actually held hands in a circle (these totally godless youth) and the guys took of their hats. One of them didn't want to pray, but when I said I was going to pray that God would show Himself to them and save them, he jumped up and joined the circle in a flash. Must of been an amazing sight, as we held hands there at the Tannery praying for God to save their souls. Glory!

Also got to talk at length with a dear victim of homosexuality and confusion. We talked at length about what God has to say about the subject, and what it means to love or to lust. He was very agreeable to talk to, but warned me that other homosexuals would not take the message as kindly, and would even resort to beating me up. I already knew this, but this is counting the cost in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No fear in man!

"Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Seek the Lord

This message, taken from Psalm 24, was preached on March 17 at Philadelphia House Christian Fellowship. "Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob." Are we a generation of people who seek the Lord? Download below:

Eli Brayley - Seek the Lord
(Click the link above, then click Download, Save, then rename/place the file)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The General's Prophecy

This is a remarkable quote by the late General William Booth (1829-1912), founder of the Salvation Army, which should send shivers down our spines. Almost 100 years ago Booth said this amazing thing which today looks more like prophecy then coincidence:

"In answer to your inquiry, I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell."

How accurate and true this is speaking to us today! Many Christians do not realize the change Christianity has undergone in the last century because they do not know their history nor care to know. So often the Bible tells us to remember the ancient ways and to pass down knowledge from generation to generation. Paul's second letter to Timothy alone is overflowing with exhortation to hold fast to what has been passed down and not to forget the foundational traditions of the faith. Sadly, modern Christianity has failed to remember.

Yes, brothers and sisters, our religion looks eerily different than that of William Booth's. Our pulpiteers deliver frightening doctrines foreign to the congregations of years gone by. Our prayers do not reflect the same supplications as that of our fathers. Our hearts do not throb with unction from on high, the Holy Spirit not being our breath by which we live. The General's predictions are staggeringly true! I am discouraged to know that many readers will not even be effected by this.

I've heard it so many times from so many different preachers that everything is alright and Christianity is doing better than ever today... that we are an "army", on fire and on course, excelling in the mission of our 21st century. These are nothing but lies, do not be fooled. Why not pick up a book and read about how the Lord REALLY was moving mightly by His Spirit in days long forgotten, when men and women used to serve the Lord in holiness and power, and sinners were converted in miraculous revivals by the thousands?

"And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel." (Judges 2:10)

Dear people, let's not fall into this same fault as did the children of Israel! Heed the words of William Booth; learn the history of the mighty revivals of old; invest your time in seeking the Lord anew for a revival in our day! Our world lies in darkness... when will we take the candle out from under the bushel of deception?

Before you do something else, why not read the quote one more time.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Examine Yourself

This isn't anything new or complicated... I just thought I'd post a few simple questions for us all to stop and examine ourselves:

1. Am I nourishing my spirit with the Word of God? Am I eating as much spiritual food as I am physical food? If I ate as much real food as I read my Bible, would I be a malnourished starving wreck?

2. What does my prayer life look like right now (not what did it look like in the past)? Am I spending time with Jesus, my precious Savior? Can I spend hours in front of the TV yet find it hard to spend half an hour on my knees? Do I need to seriously discipline myself in this area and ask Jesus to make it natural and enjoyable and not an inconvenience?

3. Am I bearing good fruit or bad fruit in my life? Do my actions line up according to what I say? Can others see Christ in my life, and are the fruits ripe so that they can glean from them?

4. Do I die daily and take up my cross, peeling away the calloused layers of selfishness off my heart? Is the mind of Christ in me, which is selflessness, or does my flag still fly high from the walls of the castle?

5. Is there anyone that I harbor unforgiveness against? Do I hold any grudges, cherish any bitterness or nurture any resentment towards others?

6. Do I thank God consistently, rejoice in the Lord always, and praise Him unceasingly?

7. Am I honest before God and honest before men, or do I put on a performance in order to hide who I really am? Do I act as a different person when I am around my Christian or non-Christian friends?

8. Do I love the world or anything in the world? Are there things in my life I know that shouldn't be because my conscience warns me so? Do my deeds, interests and affections adhere to the will of God?

9. Am I concerned about lost souls? Do I occupy myself with eternal matters and the task of the Great Commission, where Jesus called me to seek and save those who are on their way to hell forever? Or am I more interested in doing other things than what is truly important?

10. Finally, do I willfully give God all the glory in everything I do? Do I choose to acknowledge Him in all my ways, and live and move have my being to please Him, and to magnify Jesus Christ whether by my life or by my death?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit

I definitely think it worthwhile to continue on this subject of the Holy Spirit. By this very simple article I will briefly expound on how to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Here lies the key to receiving the blessing:

"And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
(Luke 11:9-13)

It is as simple as asking, so it is no wonder why many of us are not full of the power of the Spirit. The vast majority of us do not stop to ask the Lord of it; we are either content to do things in our own strength and in our own way, or we are fooled into thinking we are already operating in the the power of God's might (both are symptoms of pride). Either way, our deficiency lies in our unwillingness to ask.

However, though it is as simple as asking, it is not always as easy as just asking, for many ask and do not receive. I said earlier that asking was the key, but like starting a car, a key is useless if the engine is broken. Before we can ask, we must make sure our lives are ready to receive.

Here are some conditions that will keep a person from being filled, despite their asking:

1. Unbelief - a person who does not believe that God will be true to His Word in filling them will certainly not receive the blessing. It works the very same way as a faith healing: you must have faith that you are healed, then you must rise up and walk! (Hebrews 11:6)

2. Selfish Intentions - a person who desires to be filled simply to gain power for their own agenda will not receive. The promise was for those people who would become witnesses of Jesus, servants of God in taking the gospel to all creation. There is no room here for a person who wants to simply feel good or do nothing. It is power to GO! (Luke 4:18-19, Acts 1:8, James 4:3)

3. Unsurrendered Life - the Holy Spirit does not desire to come in and reside in part of your heart, He demands ALL of it. A person asking to be filled is ultimately asking to be possessed by the Spirit of God, the opposite of being demon possessed. There is no halfway. The Lord will sell all the old furniture made of hay and wood and stubble, and buy for Himself new articles of gold and silver and precious stone. You must be willing to part with those lesser things. (Romans 12:1, 2 Timothy 2:20-21)

4. Hidden Sin - the Lord will not hear our prayers if we regard sin in our hearts. First confess your sins and repent of them, being cleansed by the Blood of Jesus, then can you ask with the assurance of being heard. (1 John 3:22, Psalm 66:18)

5. Giving Up - Ask, then seek, then knock. The Lord told the disciples to WAIT in Jerusalem until they were clothed with power from on high. We must wait patiently for the Lord to answer our cry, fainting not under the test of time. The Lord is searching for those who truly believe in His Word; those who will persevere to gain the blessing. Remember the persistent widow and don't give up! If you do, you won't be filled. (Psalm 40:1)

If your engine is operational and you've tied up all the loose ends, then if you turn the key in the ignition you will certainly spark a fire! Holy Ghost fire!

"For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." (Acts 2:39)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

More Fruit at the Tannery

Was preaching yesterday and the time spent was well worth it. Many Frederictonians heard God's Word being preached with very few interruptions.

I later talked with a group of young kids on March break, ages around 13 years old. A few of them had never heard the gospel before! All of them admitted to getting drunk and smoking pot and who knows what else... and these are 13 year olds! It was wonderful to talk to them about God and answer different questions they had about His existence, the accuracy of the Bible and the work of Christ. Praise the Lord!

Even better, a man rededicated his life to the Lord Jesus Christ, and he and his wife are now seeking the Lord once again! He was stirred by the preaching over the last few weeks and by what others were saying about it... knowing what was right and what was wrong, he decided to turn from his backslidden state and follow Jesus!

And here's one for Logic: three people are now plugged in newly to a local church!

Another thing that happened: Was summoned over by the police on two different occasions. They wanted to ask me some questions about who I was and what I was doing. The Lord granted me favor with them and they had no problem with the preaching at all. They were polite and even got to listen as I was talking with a young man about the Bible. I believe this is a very positive step in the right direction with the authorities.

Was able to speak with many others, some who I have spoken with before and others new. God is working at the Tannery!

God bless brothers and sisters.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Baptism of John: Past or Present?

"I will also ask you one thing; and answer me: The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?" - Luke 20:3-4

I wonder how many people are aware that this question is still in doubt today. Is the baptism of water that John instituted in the days of Christ the same baptism that we, the Church of the 21st century, exercise today? Many of you, I'm sure, are wondering why this important. Read on...

It is generally accepted among most North American churches today that the baptism of John is not the same baptism we have today (bear in mind it is also generally lukewarm throughout the entire western church in these days as well). I want to show in this article that this is an erroneous interpretation of Scripture and one that produces consequences detrimental to the Body of Christ.


To lay the foundation before we begin, John states:

"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire."
(Matthew 3:11)

So here we have a promise of another baptism, a baptism of Holy Ghost fire. This promise is later fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit falls upon the disciples as they wait in Jerusalem. It is the promise of power from on high; the supernatural infilling of God in man, enabling them to be effective witnesses of Jesus Christ. This gift of the Holy Spirit, often called "The baptism of the Holy Spirit" is an available blessing from the Lord even today, and He has been filling His people with power since the days of the early Church.

But somewhere along the way Satan has deceived the Church on this one point in order to rob them of this blessing from God, rendering them ineffective and impotent. And here lies his tactic:

The Bible instructs us that the Holy Spirit is a gift to be received, that a person must ask to be filled with the blessing. But now the devil has said: "You already have the blessing! You don't need to ask for it." And so nobody asks for it! Therefore time takes it's toll... erosion and corrosion... and we find ourselves today a weak and timid church, with no power, no passion, no strength and no authority... and yet we firmly declare: "We are filled with the Holy Spirit!" The truth is, we are a sick church surviving only on cold bread and lukewarm water.

Oh, the depths of our absurdity! Can anybody stand up and say our Church is ablaze like the church of the Apostles? But you say: "You are right, but times have changed." Do you think Jesus planned it this way, therefore our condition is satisfactory? No! I submit to you that our Lord Jesus Christ died for a Church alive and aflamed with the fire of God, more than conquerors and undeterred by the gates of hell!

So where does the problem lie, that we cannot just retrace our steps and realign ourselves with God's Word? As in the beginning, Satan has twisted what God has said in order to fool the people, and he has done it again with John the Baptist.

First of all, I give no credit to the devil, because his tactics in this case are feeble. The hindrance is man falling for his tricks. If we were to completely ignore the issue of the baptism of John, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit could still easily be understood (Acts 8:5-19), however, because so many people are stuck in the bog of baptismal errancy, we must address it.


The following is taken from the Book of Acts, chapter 18 verse 24 to 19 verse 7, which has blinded and confused our beloved western Church (NOTE: It would be advisable to use your Bible and read along):

"And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ."

"And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve."

First, I will explain the general but false understanding of this passage, then I will present the true meaning.

Right away, this distortion of Satan insinuates that Apollos was not saved. This they reason because the Scripture says "he knew only the baptism of John." But what is the baptism of John? In order to justify his false belief, Satan declares the baptism of John obsolete, meaning, it was a sacrament only used BEFORE the death and resurrection of Christ and not after. He then submits that a brand new sacrament of baptism is instituted: "baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus" (as said in Acts 19:5). Thus, Apollos knew only the baptism of John, and not the baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus, therefore he was not saved. Though this sounds good, it is dreadfully wrong.

What this means is... if Apollos was NOT saved, then he only needed to be instructed in the way of salvation. But if Apollos WAS saved, then Aquila and Priscilla needed to teach him about the baptism of the Holy Spirit (just like I am teaching right now).

The second passage of Scripture is a story of Paul meeting several disciples on the back road to Ephesus. Satan's distortion implies that the disciples were NOT saved (like Apollos was not) and that Paul needed to instruct them in the way of salvation, because the baptism of John was an obsolete sacrament (read the passages again for clarity).

The point the devil is trying to make is that there is no need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, because he has fooled the church into thinking the Spirit is already within us from the moment of salvation. Therefore, he must succeed in misleading us to think that these two stories are not speaking of the baptism of fire, but are simple conversion stories... when truly, the inspired text is trying to tell us that there is a second blessing! These two stories are all about the baptism of the Spirit!

Let me now explain the true meaning of the passages, dealing with each story at a time:


We must take note of five deliberate points the Bible gives us about Apollos which proves he was in fact a Christian:

1. An eloquent man
2. Mighty in the Scriptures
3. Instructed in the way of the Lord
4. Fervent in spirit
5. Spake and taught diligently the things of Jesus

Only the fifth point directly indicated his affiliation with Christ, however, all four other points suggest this man was saved with a solid understanding of prophetic truth. Yet Aquila and Priscilla had to "expound unto him the way of God more perfectly." What was his error? Not his eloquency... not his might in the Scriptures... not his instruction in the way of the Lord... not his fervency of spirit... not his diligence in preaching about Jesus... The Bible clearly tells us his problem: "but he knew only the baptism of John." This, and this only, was his problem.

So then, as I said earlier, here lies the question. Is John's baptism the same as ours (which means Apollos WAS saved but wasn't filled with the Spirit) or is John's baptism obsolete (which means Apollos was NOT saved and needed salvation)?

Therefore we must discover what exactly John's baptism is. And here it is: we find the answer plainly in 1 Peter 3:21:

"The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

Baptism by water is the baptism of repentance; and what is repentance? A pledge of a good conscience towards God. This is exactly what John the Baptist was preaching in the wilderness! Repent! A person baptized by John did not have to be baptized for repentance all over again. The only difference is that John did not know who the Messiah was, so he told people to believe in the one who was to come... we now know Jesus is the Christ, so when we baptize people in water, we baptize them "in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost" as Jesus commanded, but let no man mislead you: the baptism of water is still the baptism of repentance, and this has not changed one bit. Water = repentance.

"Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..."
- (Acts 23:8)

Here we have Peter giving the same command. So when a person is baptized today in our churches, understand fully that they are experiencing the same baptism that John ministered, which is the sign of repentance towards God.

Therefore, Apollos was saved, for all points indicate this, for he had undergone the baptism of repentance for the remission of his sins. Aquila and Priscilla took him aside to teach him about the baptism of fire, the filling of the Holy Ghost!

Likewise in the second portion of Scripture, Paul asks: "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" Notice he doesn't ask, "when you believed." These men were disciples who already believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. They also knew only the baptism of repentance, but had not yet experienced the second blessing, the filling of the Holy Spirit. Thus, Paul goes on to say: "John baptized with the baptism of repentance" and then baptizes them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ah, but here the devil objects: "See? They had to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus!" Absolutely, but what exactly IS the baptism of Jesus? It is not the baptism of repentance... That was the baptism of John, and these men were saved. The baptism of Jesus is the baptism of fire! "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." (Matthew 3:11) And to prove this, what happens next? Do they jump into the water? No, Paul lays his hands upon them and they are filled with the Spirit.


A contemporary question to ask yourself, like Paul asked, is: "Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?" The power of the Spirit is not just a feeling you get inside you at conversion. He is the promise of Jesus Christ to make us witnesses unto the world for the truth. As said before, the Church of west is in terrible shape because of the lack of power, because of the lie that we are automatically full of the Spirit at conversion. We will never see our nation impacted with the gospel until we admit to our fruitlessness, our fleshy attempts to do God's work, and our complete lack of the anointing of the Spirit.

So the question remains: Have you been baptized in Holy Ghost fire?