— Brother Phil Enlow: Praise God! How many of you know what Brother Ricky is talking about with being in a battle?
( congregation inaudible ).
Yeah. It seems like there’s an increase in the power of darkness that the Lord has allowed to flood our earth. We’re told to expect it, and the Lord is using it, and He’s using it to prove who we are. He’s using it to prove who He is. And I believe He’s using it to bring about a separation in the human family.
And, you know, we sing so many wonderful songs about who we are in the Lord and what He’s done for us. And that’s an awesome thing! It’s an amazing thing that He has chosen us, “…before the foundation of the world.” (KJV).
I mean, what a God we have, that knows us ahead of time, isn’t choosing because we are worthy somehow and better than everybody else. He has a way of taking the worst of the worst and saying, “That one’s Mine. Look what I’m gonna be able to do with that one. I’m gonna take them out of the gutter. I’m gonna clean them up, and they’re gonna be something in My Kingdom for My glory.”
I’ll tell you, we have no reason to live for anything else. But this is an hour when I believe God is calling His children to grow up, to learn to know Him, exactly what Ricky’s been talking about.
And somehow, in thinking of who we are, my mind went to an unusual place, perhaps, this morning and in the last couple of days. Because, the question really is, how do we become an heir of all these things? Who is it that this is all about? When we’re talking about who we are in Christ and being chosen and loved and His children and all of that, how do we get to that place? Who does that…is that talking about you, for example? Something to think about, isn’t it?
And a simple illustration…now obviously everyone here has been born into the human family. That’s how we became human. But just to talk about a particular family, let’s just pick on Philip. Hi!
( laughing ).
But, how did Phillip become a Johnson? Did he adopt a code of ethics and a code of conduct, and learn what the beliefs were and did he earn the place? No! He was born! He was born a Johnson. And, God help him. Yeah, well that’s all right…
( laughter ).
I was born one-quarter Johnson myself, my dad’s mom. But anyway…and you know, there’s obviously a process of being born and growing and learning and learning how to live out that identity, but that becomes the identity of anybody, in the natural sense. You know, we learn who we are and we learn what our place in the scheme of things is.
But you know, it’s not like that, I mean, it is like that in the Kingdom of God. But we tend to think that we can somehow be born into a natural family and, well, this is our religion. We can simply come to church. We can learn the songs. We can claim the blessings for ourselves. We can just sort of embrace the faith of our fathers, in that sense, and that becomes, well, I’m a Christian, I was born into a Christian family. But it isn’t that way, folks!
And I think one of the burdens that I have, and I just have to trust the Lord with this, is this really…when we talk about things like this, is this talking about you? Jesus spoke to a religious leader who came to see Him with questions. And that religious leader was…was a leader. He was a teacher. He was somebody who would instruct somebody else. They would come to him with questions and he would give them the answers that his religion dictated. His name was Nicodemus.
And, Jesus began to talk about some things that he didn’t understand. He said, you have to be born again because if someone is simply born of flesh, that’s what they are. You know, it’s not enough to simply be born into the human family and adopt a Christian religion.
I’ll tell you, what the world is coming to is gonna make a distinction. People are gonna go one way or the other. They are going to either be in God’s family or they’re gonna be in the human family. And the future of the human family is not a good one, apart from Christ.
But anyway, Jesus began to talk about a different kind of birth. And the one who gives that kind of birth is God! It is from above. It is something that brings and it introduces into the heart, not just a new religion, but a brand-new life! Something has to happen on the inside that doesn’t happen simply because you’re born into a family and come to church.
That won’t do you any good unless you really come to this place where God does something…performs a miracle in your heart, and gives you a new heart and a new spirit, and comes to live within you! You will not have what it takes to stand in this darkness.
( congregational amens ).
Now, you can pray all the prayers you want to, but if you’ve never let Him have your heart and your life, this is not talking about you. And my prayer is for anybody…I’m thinking about young people who grow up here. We’ve seen them come and go, too many times over the years. They sing in the choir. They learn the words. They sing the songs. They profess the professions. But it never has really taken root in the heart.
Brother Ricky talked about the choices that we make. You know, even as a believer we can make wrong choices. But, you know, so can Philip. And so do we all, in our natural families. And that doesn’t make him not a Johnson anymore. He just needs correction. And we’re like that in our relationship with the Lord and He’s faithful to correct His children. He doesn’t throw them out because they mess up. Aren’t you glad about that?
( congregational amens ).
Thank God! He is faithful! Oh, His love goes way beyond that of any human parent. But I’ll tell you, the problem is that there is a choice that has to be made at some point in someone’s life. And until that point is past, you’re still on the outside looking in, trying to be this or trying to be that, trying to find who you are. And I’ll tell you, I want to be His child!
( congregational amens ).
Praise God! You know, Livera talked about when she was baptized, and the thing that was the most real to her was, I’m losing my life. Well, that life needs to be lost. Now you know, you live a while and you suddenly realize this is a pretty temporary place. You know, I can remember when Livera was a teenager, and many others here. And some of you were just kids. Some of you weren’t born yet.
And now look at us. And here we are, and we’re feeling the infirmities of our age, and we’re having to make arrangements and see doctors and all these kinds of things. And, we’re burying people from time to time. That’s the way of the world. That’s the world you’re born into. Don’t you just feel your youth and say, oh, I can make choices, I can do what…it’s my life, I’m gonna do what I want with it.
I’ll tell you, you cling to your life…Jesus said, you want to save your life? You’re gonna lose it. Now did He say that ‘cause He was mean, wanting to be a big bully? No! It was because His heart was…I’ve got life that’s really life!
Do you know why you’re here? There’s no other purpose in your being here except to come to know the One who made you! You’ve got a temporary life in a temporary world. Something we’ve said many times. But oh, the choices that we make when He comes calling, when He comes and begins to convict and begins to call people out of the human family into His family!
And all of these earthly identities go away. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Jew or a Gentile, or slave or free, or all the things He mentions in the scriptures that affected people in the first century. All those identities go out the window when we become a member of the real family!
That’s the family that’s gonna live forever! Not because they’re worthy, not because of any other thing but what Jesus did on the cross! He is the One who defeated this one who’s fighting against us so hard! The battle was won at the cross! His blood cleanses from every sin that could ever separate us from a Holy God!
( congregational amens ).
Praise God! Oh, but have you ever entered in? Jesus talked about passing from death to life. You know, when a baby’s born, they pass out of the mother’s womb into the world outside. There’s a birth. It’s a real event. And it’s not like you have to have a certain experience or anything like that. Everybody’s absolutely different. Somebody could have one that’s very dramatic and somebody else it’s just a very quiet surrender. It’s just private.
But have you ever passed that point? Have you ever, ever been born of God’s Spirit and come into His family? That’s the question that hangs over every—that hangs over every single person on this planet.
You talk about who you are! Every earthly distinction ceases to matter, because the very world in which we live will one day…it won’t be here. You could live your entire life, and as Jesus said, “…gain the whole world…” (NIV). You could be the one that owns everything and everybody looks to. You make all the decisions.
And you live out your life in grandeur and power and riches and pleasure and anything you want and your heart desires and then you’re gonna die! And you’re gonna face Him, and everything you worked for will be burned up and forgotten! You realize that?
Does not the Lord say of the new heavens and the new earth, “…the former...” won’t even, “…come to mind?” Do you think we’re gonna go through eternity just thinking back, oh, I wish that could have been different? Oh, my God…full of regret. There is gonna be such a newness, such a freshness, such a reality, that God will put everything of the old out of our minds. It will be as if it never happened.
Talk about something being brand new! That’s incredible! That’s the family I want to be a part of! That’s the family that God would build and nurture here! Praise God! That’s the burden, I guess, I’ve had on my heart.
I think of some scriptures in 1st Peter that back this up. Peter is writing to some of God’s children. He calls them God’s elect. And he talks about all the places they live, in the beginning of the book. And he says they’ve, “…been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father….” That means God knew you long before you were here.
The fact is, He knew you before He ever started creating the stars. God knew about you! He knew everything that was wrong with you, and He still loved you.
But how does that choice work out? “…Chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit…” What does sanctifying mean? Set apart! That’s the greatest meaning of the word.
If I were…let’s say I was looking for…silverware, let’s just pick silverware. And my only source for the silverware was to go through all the junk shops around, and pick through all of the dirty, tarnished, messed-up, bent…all those kinds of things that have just really reached the point of being junk, and I began to choose. You know, there might be one that kind of looks halfway okay. Do I choose it because of that?
I’ll tell you, there’s a God who will look there and say, there’s one that’s bent and tarnished, but I’m gonna take that one. That’s in My pile. And here’s another one. That’s in My pile. And there’s a God who can take you from the junk heap, and clean you up and unbend you, and make you fit to serve a king.
( congregational amens ).
The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! That means chosen, set apart! This pile is going into the trash. This pile is mine! That’s the God that we serve! Folks, I want to be one of those!
But there is a sanctifying work. There is a work that God would do. He’s a Spirit and He will come and work on your heart and convict you and drop thoughts into your minds and show you your need. The real question is what do we do when He does that? Do we resist and fight and put up our guard and just demand, this is my way? Just get away. Leave me alone. I’m okay. I want to do my thing.
Or do we say, yes, Lord? I’m exactly what You say I am. I am a sinner in need of a Savior. And I cannot help myself and I don’t deserve Your help, but I’m listening. But I believe the words of the promise, the hope of the Gospel. I’ve heard your words, Lord, and they touched my heart and I embrace them. I let go…I gladly hand over this life that I cannot keep anyway. I give it to You, and I receive You into my heart as my life, as my Lord, as my Savior.
You know, Brother J.P. asked last night…last week, who is Jesus Christ to you? Very related to all of this, today. But I’ll tell you, there’s a God who knew you, who went out to look for you when you weren’t looking for Him. I wasn’t either. He came looking for me.
He didn’t come because He thought I was special, better than anybody else. I have exactly the same need as anybody else! If there’s somebody that’s hearing this and you’re in prison because you’ve done horrible things, I am no better than you are! When it comes to being a human being, we were born with a nature that drives us to do the very opposite of how God means us to be.
And there is no religion that can fix that. There is only a Savior who comes to the inside, gives us a new heart and a new life, and then we learn how to live that life! Listen to how Peter puts it. He’s exhorting us as to how to live and how God wants us to live. Verse 22 of chapter 1, he says, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth….”
See, there’s that choice. Truth is gonna come. What do we do when it comes? There’s a respect. There’s an obedience that has to happen, and from the heart. “…Obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers….” You know, you don’t have anything that could be described as real genuine love, unless He, the Author of love, comes in. We can sort of like each other, for very selfish reasons. But the kind of love that he’s talking about here, only God can put in our hearts. That’s what we need.
“…So that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” Okay, how does that happen? How can I do that? “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”
I’ll tell you, when God speaks it’s like planting a seed and there’s life in that seed. And our hearts are like soil. Oh, my God, I just sense…just a tiny little bit of what the Lord is feeling. I wish I could sense it better. I’m such a poor vessel.
But, there are young people right here. You need to realize what God thinks about you and how much He cares about your life. And I’ll tell you, if He ever saves you, no matter what it takes, you’re gonna look back with such incredible gratitude—incredible gratitude that God would go to such lengths to cross your stubborn will and mine, and reveal His love and His perfect provision!
He’s not coming and saying, measure up and I’ll accept you. He’s saying, come broken as you are. Give me your heart, your life. I’m the only One that can rescue you and make you what you need to be! I’m the only One that has the power but you’re gonna have to give me your heart and your life! It won’t be yours anymore, it’ll be Mine!