All morning praying and reading the word, and still no message. Service starts at 2, and I’ve got to get ready to go soon. Suddenly a still small voice whispers “Ye must be born again, go to John 3” But as I read, no great message leapt out. Instead a burden for simplicity, and leading from the Lord to just read it and explain it slowly and gently. What a contrast from last week, when God gave a catchy title, and fiery message! A couple other passages were given by the Lord, Numbers 21:4-9 the fiery serpents, and the brasen serpent, and the call to look and live, Ephesians 2:1 “dead in trespasses and sins...”, and 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” A struggle over whether the family should go with me at this point just seems immaterial, but was a real battle back and forth, finally settled by the still small voice again. The whole family, piano, equipment, and all was packed up and off we went to the nursing home. This particular place has been a spiritual hold of foul spirits. Christ denying false prophets have had free course to disseminate their satanic lies, and the vast majority of residents professed unbelief in the deity of Christ openly, while several individuals would argue for nearly every heresy available, or make up their own. A few months ago God opened the door for the gospel to be preached there, and we went in, preaching the first message on the deity of Christ! When 1 John 5:7 was read, it seemed as if God had come down in power and authority and raised up a standard in that little hall with a few older forgotten folks in it! Who would have thought that the God of glory would deign to visit such infedels and invalids in the latter stages of degenerating diseases, and “mental disorders”? But he did! And he has continued to come and manifest his presence week after week as the gospel has been preached. Message after message has been brought on the deity of Christ, the doctrine of Christ, and the nature of true salvation. One man has a sound testimony, but confessed having been far from God for a long time! God dealt with him through the preached word by his own profession, and he expressed a desire to walk with God like he once did when newly saved, and to be used by God! Hallelujah! One lady, held aloof for some time, very unstable in her mind, but was drawn to service as if by cords of love from God, and turned to Christ. She is aloof again, and we wonder if she truly believed. 1 John 3:14 “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren...” Another man, a new addition, with the mind of perhaps a six year old, and the behavior of a 200 pound 4 year old in a wheel chair, when shown the gospel by bro. Michael, began to weep, and say “Jesus died for me”, with his peculiar bellowing repetitiveness – suddenly it was a beautiful condition instead of annoying! One hard case has been an emotional and very gentle older woman we will call “Mary” for her privacy sake, whose memory has been failing. One of the first weeks we were there, God burdened a young lady from our group, and she laboured with her for some little time, weeping, and gently entreating her that baptism would not save her, and that she was in danger of the judgment of God. Week after week the gospel was preached, and week after week she would maintain her righteousness, claiming to not have sinned, and that her baptism was sufficient. A couple weeks ago great progress was seen when she realized there were sins she had committed and we could see the Holy Spirit was beginning to break through the self-righteousness that kept her from Christ; but still she held fast her baptism, and church attendance. With her memory struggles and other disabilities, she found it very hard to follow the messages, or to maintain conversation, but she was drawn back again and again by the love of God. We were joined today by another dear family, and all the children were such a joy to the elderly and infirm. God confirmed that he had led me to bring all mine, as our little baby became an illustration as we opened the Word of God to John 3 and began to read and explain Christ’s words, “...Ye must be born again”. Today, most of the residents were busy or away, and though 8 arrived for service, we were soon thinned to 5 when the man that says he sees spirits and talks with them about us left his post at the end of the hall, a dear old professing believer threw up, and had to go, and one hard case walked out (She always leaves when we start to talk about sin and the exclusiveness of the gospel – ONE WAY… Today she lasted much longer so she could look at the baby, and listened more attentively than usual, though she did leave. This lady needs prayer!). With a deaf man, three believers with strong testimonies in the room, the Lord focused me on “Mary”. We continued through the message, and every time I would really feel like preaching, God held me back, and by his grace I yielded. Mostly just reading the scriptures, explaining, re-reading, re-explaining, etc. When we finished, and after greeting a few folks, I made my way to “Mary”
“Did you understand the message today ‘Mary’? “No, not all of it.” She said with a perplexed look. “What part was hard to understand?” “That part about the serpent, and Christ being like the serpent. I didn’t understand that at all.” “Would you like me to explain that to you again?” “Yes, I would like that!”
We opened the Bible to Numbers 21 and went over the whole story in more detail. She had admitted that she often tried to read the Bible, would get confused and discouraged, and put her Bible away. I showed her that the people were discouraged because of the way. The shortcut through Edom had water, grass, and civilization. But God had sent them around the long way through the wilderness, and it didn’t make sense. They were obeying God, but got discouraged and spake against God and Moses. I showed her that God’s way is simple, but it’s the long way around. Read the Bible, believe what it says, seek God for answers when confused. Religion offers the shortcuts, but God gives faith through the word of God. She saw how she was like the people, discouraged because of God’s way. We read how the serpents bit the people, which had all been preached before, and that Moses made the brass serpent and lifted it up. We went back to John 3:14-15 where Christ says “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” On through John 3:16, 17, and 18. We had a John Romans with a cross printed on the front. I drew a snake on the cross, and asked her a question. “Is it strange to see Christ as a snake on the cross ‘Mary’?”
“Yes it is, but I believe it because the Bible says it.” “Why did he do that ‘Mary’?” I said, pointing to the snake on the cross.
“I don’t know, because he had to?”
“No, remember II Cor 5:21 says ‘For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.’ Christ never sinned and did not have to die, but why did become like that snake?”
“Maybe he was trying to get a better position in heaven” “No ‘Mary’, he already had the highest position in heaven, and he left his position to come and die for your sins on that cross.” “Maybe he wanted to do it?” she said, still looking at that snake on the cross. “Do you remember how he sweated great drop as it were blood in the Garden?” “No!” “He prayed in the garden before he went to the cross, and wept and cried out to the Father for another way. He didn’t want to go to the cross and become sin. He prayed so hard his sweat was like great drops of blood!” “Oh my, that doesn’t make any sense! Why would he do that?” “For you ‘Mary’, because he loves you, and that was the only way you could be saved from your sins.” “Oh my God!” She exclaimed, as a tear rolled down her cheek. “Yes ‘Mary’ he is your God, and he died on that cross to save you from your sins. Do you remember that those who looked on the serpent would live?”
“Yes.” “All he requires of you is that you look to him, and live. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” “Oh, I see it now! I understand why he died. He died for me!”
“That’s right ‘Mary’, and that’s why your baptism can’t -? “I don’t need my baptism. I don’t need my church. I only need him!”
“That’s right ‘Mary’, look and live!” “Thank you so much for sharing this with me! I never saw that before! I didn’t understand. But now I know why he died on that cross!”
“’Mary’, if you died tonight where would you go?”
“I believe I would go to heaven” she said with confidence I had never seen in her face before, “Because I believe (looking at the drawing on the cross) that he died for me, and came back up, and he washed away my sins with his blood.”
This is the gospel. This is why Christ died. Hallelujah to the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world!