Summary of sermon by Erlo Stegen, 11 Oct 2015
If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
The central point is found in verse 17, “for it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household”. People often think that God’s judgement should begin with those who are outside. Yet God’s Word says that it will begin with those on the inside. We want the lost to be saved, but it begins with us who are believers. Some think it refers to the building, but the Bible clearly teaches that God does not dwell in a house made with brick and mortar, but in a house of Living Stones, in other words – believers.
This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? 2 Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord.
“These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.”
God works among the lowly, who tremble at His Word, who allows Him to change their lives. God cannot dwell with evil, where sin abides. He wants to dwell with the righteous. Do you recognise God’s time in your life – it is a very special time.
When Jesus approached Jerusalem and looked at it He wept, because they did not recognise God’s time for them.
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.
43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.”
The natural man does not listen to God’s Word, nor regard it. It is extremely dangerous to ignore the Word of God. Even little children need to take note of the Word of God. If you do not recognise your time, the time of your visitation, difficult times lie ahead for you, and God will hand you over to your enemies, as happened with Jerusalem.
Shouldn’t this make you tremble when God warns you how He would tear you down and not build you up if you don’t recognise your time of visitation by God?
13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.
God sees when you are not pre-occupied with Him but with money, the world, yourself, etc., and He warns that He can shut up heaven that it will not rain, and command the locusts to devour the land – spiritually. It is happening in our country at this very moment. See how drugs are destroying the land. That is the locusts. It devours you so that nothing is left. And God warns that He would send diseases, and just look at the diseases in the land. Just see how people are consumed by their sins. Observe and see what it’s like in the world, and realise the truth of God’s Word.
What is even worse is that it happens right in the church. Homosexuality is rife, where even churches take Sodom and Gomorrah right into their midst. Such relationships happen in the church and it’s even blessed with the laying on of hands. Do you see why it is the time of God’s judgement?
But God says that if His people will humble themselves, and pray, and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways, then He will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land. The world is in the hands of believers. If they repent and turn from sin, their wicked ways, then God will heal the land.
At the beginning of the revival there was a girl at Dalton, where Rev Stegen’s brother stayed, who was still a young Christian. She was illiterate, but she was on fire for God and would lead people to Jesus daily. Rev Stegen and a team of co-workers went to visit his brother and they decided to meet under a large tree close to the house, in the shade. As they were talking and sharing about the things of God, Rev Stegen saw a girl standing at the gate, looking towards them. They called her and asked her if there was something that she wanted. It was that girl that had been on fire for God. She replied that she was greatly troubled, because for three weeks she wasn’t able to bring anyone to Jesus. She asked God about it and the previous night she had a dream. She asked if there was such a book as Isaiah in the Bible, chapter 59 verse 2, for God told her in the dream that she would find the answer there.
As they read it to her she exclaimed that she knew what the problem was, and asked to speak to mr H Stegen to a counsellor. After she made her life right, as soon as she got home, people came to her to meet with Jesus.
How many weeks have gone by since you last brought anyone to the Lord Jesus? Or are there some who have repented in the past few weeks? If nobody has been brought to the Lord, shouldn’t you be troubled and enquire of the Lord why it is so? As soon as this girl, who was a new convert herself, repented of her sins, people were brought to the Lord again. God visited her and revealed Himself to her. And God’s Word made her to tremble. She had become critical of other people that they were hardened and didn’t want to come to the Lord, yet she herself was the obstacle.
Jesus wept over Jerusalem because they did not recognise the time of their visitation. When God speaks to you and declares that you must part from your sins, saying, “your hands are not innocent but are full of blood, and your lips are not righteous but have spoken evil things”, then you should repent. Jesus said that if you come to the altar (i.e. to prayer), and you remember that your brother has anything against you, then leave your offer at the altar but be reconciled to your brother first (Matt 5:23-24).
Woe to us if we do not recognise the time of God’s visitation, to repent and turn from sin. Maybe you were drinking with your friends before you repented; have you ever went back to them and made it right. Maybe you fought with your wife, have you been reconciled? You pray that God would work through you to win other people, yet you sit on wicked things. A house must be cleaned regularly, and so your life, your spiritual house, must be kept clean for God to work through you.
Do you now recognise what time it is in your life? It is time to get right with God, so that when you pray God’s ear is attentive and His arm stretched out.