Biographical Sketch of Dr. Stuart E. Lease / Bible Messages by Dr. Stuart E. Lease
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A Life That Attains
Heavenly FATHER As we open this Book, the Bible, do Thou by Thy Spirit open our hearts. May we remember that this is not just another book, but it is Your Book. It is the Book wherein You have revealed Your will for us, for time and for eternity. And so Lord, as we look into matters that should concerns us in the days in which we live, even today....we pray that Thy Spirit shall apply Thy Truth to our hearts and then demonstrate this Truth in each of our lives as we go forth from here we pray in Jesus Name. Amen.
If you have your Bible, please turn with me to I Thessalonians chapter 5. You will remember that we began this morning studying the subject, A HOPE THAT SUSTAINS, one of the three MARKS OF A MEANINGFUL MINISTRY: First, Fruit that Remains; then, A Hope That Sustains; and then in the latter part of the fifth chapter, A Life that Attains. We saw in verses 13-18 in chapter 4: The Rapture of the Church, that is the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself returning to receive His own unto Himself, meeting them in the air. We saw that it is Selective in Scope, that is, Jesus Christ is coming only for believers. It is Specific in Sequence, that is, the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air. We saw that it is Secretive to the Subjects Involved, that is, only believers will know about this when it takes place; and fourthly, it is Sure and Soon, Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
There are two doctrines that have meant much to me in the stabilizing and challenging of my spiritual experience. I was saved at the age of nine as a boy, but in subsequent years I was not taught in the Word of God. We attended a church where the Word of God was alluded to, but not very much studied; and consequently, we did not know too much about many of the Bible doctrines. At the age of eighteen I came to a testimony where two things were made very clear to me: one was that Jesus Christ could return at any moment, and this became an impound force in my own life and a corollary doctrine with that was this that in the meanwhile, God has expected us to live more than an ordinary life, that is, that there such a thing as a deeper life or a victorious, Christian experience. (It was in those days that I began to lay hold of these two truths; and these together in my life, I believe if anything, have accounted for growth and stability in my own experience; and I believe that they are essential in anyones experience if you are to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Now there are some critics might say, Well, the Church has been looking for Jesus Christ to return for nigh unto two thousand years now, and He has not yet come. Probably then they might say, even as Bishop Pike said a few weeks ago, Paul was wrong, and even saying that Jesus Christ would come at any moment. No, I dont believe that this is the case. I do believe that this is a continual hope of the Church; and I do believe that were going to see increasing evidences that the Lord Jesus Christ will return. Let me say immediately, that I am not a date-setter; and the Word of God warns us against trying to set the day or the hour of the Lords return.
But as Paul says here in I Thessalonians 5:1, But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. In other words he tells us that we can have something of a perspective, even in what we might call these last days.
Now Paul in speaking of the last days when he writes to Timothy, in II Timothy 3, says,.....[But] In the last days perilous times shall come. Then he goes on to describe these days. Now you say, Well, what is meant by the term these last days? Well, theres both a general and a more specific definition of last days in the Word of God. First, the term last days is in a very general sense refers to those days in which God is fulfilling what He has promised concerning His Son; and youll find in Hebrews chapter 1, In these last days, God has spoken unto us by His Son... In that very wide and general sense therefore, the entire Church Age is the last days. But in a more specific sense, the last days are those days that the end of the Church Age, just prior to the Lord Jesus Christ returns when we shall begin to see certain things coming to pass which will reach their culmination after Jesus Christ has come for His own, and they will come to fruition in the Tribulation Period. Thus we can begin to look for evidences, though were not going to set any dates although I heard a teacher, some time ago, state that if the Lord Jesus in Matthew 24:34, when referring to the fact that ...this generation shall not pass till all things be fulfilled [and if you dont take Scofields interpretation which is that the generation is Israel and make it a time generation of approximately 30 years, then you do come pretty close to end times if you take the establishment of Israel as 1948 and Im not going to add all those dates together and say exactly this is when this generation is going to be fulfilled. Maybe Scofield was right and generation does refer to Israel.] But if it does refer to time, as some good scholars believe, we may be much closer to the end than we ever thought before. However, I just throw that in parenthetically, and dont go back and say that I say that everything is going to be wrapped up 1978. I think that there are a number of factors that must come into play at even in that interpretation. But, I do believe that we are beginning to see evidences that the return of the Lord is nearer than we ever thought before!
Verse 2 of I Thessalonians 5, For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. I believe we should understand the term the day of the Lord as Gods dealing with Israel beginning with the seventieth week of Daniel, which takes place right after the Church has been removed, and God is dealing with Israel upon the earth. It will first be in judgment and then in blessing. Consequently, the day of the Lord would involve the Tribulation Period as well as the Millennium. Now unless you see this, its hard to understand what the prophets were talking about in the Old Testament. For instance, there are places in the prophets where youll read about the day of the Lord as a wonderful thing, something to look forward to by Israel; but in other places, youll find that it is referred to as a terrible thing, as a horrible day and you say, Well now, did they know what they were talking about? Yes, because both of these are embraced in the day of the Lord, where it will begin with the time of judgment and sorrow and tribulation; but then, it will issue into the Millennium which will be a time of blessing at which time Israel will be the center of blessing upon the earth.
Now the day of the Lord is going to begin rather quickly. It would come as a thief in the night, and it will come when the believers have been removed; or when they, that is, the people of the world shall say, Peace and safety [that is true that were now saying much about peace and safety as was said four years ago. Remember the human cry of the campaign at that time was, Peace and safety, for the most part. Were not saying quite so much about that as we did, although we are still saying that were the greatest nation on the face of the earth and that were far ahead of all the rest that we can maintain the peace and this sort of thing.]. But we need to be careful, because just when we think Peace and safety have come and many of us are praying for this, even in regard to our own nation. But even and if that may come to pass, then there is the possibility that sudden destruction should come upon us as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
Now notice that reference there to travail [as] upon a woman with child. Most of you ladies know, if youve gone through this experience, you often times get advance evidences of this. [I know we had it in our case, about a month in advance, with each of them.] And you know friends, I believe that things that we are seeing in the world today are the advance birth pangs of the Tribulation Period. It is nothing short of remarkable that within the very recent hours, America has had an earthquake that effected one third of the United States. We have seen earthquakes in these past few years, such as we have never seen in the history of the world before. We are beginning to see famines, such as we have not seen it before. There are increasing evidences of the very things that will take place in the Tribulation Period. In fact, if you turn back to Luke 21 beginning at verse 25 youll find something of this very Period of time, And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity [Now if theres anything that we have today, we have this. We have perplexity. It doesnt matter which Party youre in. Theyre both perplexed. In fact, all three! There might be even a fourth, the way people are talking today perplexity among men!]; the sea and the waves roaring [and were having this greater tidal waves than weve ever seen before]; Mens hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. You see, these things are going to take place in the Tribulation Period. But notice it says in verse 28, And when these things begin to come to pass [and I believe that were just seeing the beginning of these], then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
I believe as believers, these are days in which we ought to be earthly expecting the return of Jesus Christ for His own for it says, going back to I Thessalonians 5:4, But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief [In other words, we ought to be aware that these are the days in which we are living, that earthquakes and famines and war and distress will be upon the earth.]. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. [Its time that we awake and see that we are living in these very days which I believe have been prophesied as the end times.] Now in these days we ought to be a unique people, because we are the children of light. In I Peter chapter 2 verses 9 and 10, But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people [that is, a people for Gods own possession, a unique people]; that ye should show forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. These are days in which we ought to be showing forth the praises of the Lord Who hath called us out of darkness into His marvellous light. We ought to be walking as children of light.
Things seem to becoming increasingly dark in the world But the path of the [righteous] is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. And as things become darker, we can say, It is becoming gloriously dark. Now this does not mean that we are to add to the darkness. Indeed these are days in which we are to let our light shine and let people know that we know One Who can bring light into darkened lives; and this is the need for our witness in this day.
Then he said, Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. I have said as I have gone church to church ministering the Word of God, that I believe that there has been greater peril in prosperity for the Church than in persecution; and we have come to settle down in our prosperity, and we have become unconcerned for the things of God. There is a striking parallel between our day and the day in which Amos prophesied to the Northern Kingdom. Amos came and prophesied in a day when they were at the peak of their power when it seemed as if everything was going well for them but, God knew that ere long this kingdom would fall. And in the sixth chapter of Amos, youll find here a reference to times very similar to those in which we live today and I would like to just momentarily by application, apply them to our own day.
To those who are asleep in America and in the Church, notice Amos writing to a people that have settled down in ease, Woe to them that are at ease in Zion [Now Zion to the Israelites, meant two things: One, it meant a political haven for them, and indeed this has been resurrected in what was called the Zionist Movement. It was basically a political move to reestablish the nation of Israel. We might therefore apply this, even politically today Woe to them who are at ease in [America], and trust in [Washington]!. Some time ago I read a poem. It is a rewording of Psalm 23 that began like this: The government is my shepherd, I shall not want..... And then it proceeded to paraphrase the twenty-third Psalm in terms of government provision for human need, as over against Gods provision. Let me say friends, regardless of what the government has or can do, whether it be good or bad, the government is not God! And, if anybody settles down just to rest in the government, you are in a despicable condition. Woe to them that are at ease in such a situation. Now I can labor this quite extensively right through the passage, but that is not my purpose tonight. I want to apply it to the Church. I realize that Im not doing this expositorily, and I do not believe that Zion is the Church and all that is involved in that Im not an Amillennialist, so dont get me labeled wrong. Im just doing an application here. To the Israelites, Zion was a spiritual haven. And....those who are at ease in the Church and trust maybe in a centralized control for the Church, such as the Northern Kingdom had at Samaria. This is not the answer either, friends. Some people say that we have all got to get together, and this is going to be the answer for the ills of the church the place where we need to get together is not on an organizational level but on a spiritual level by each one knowing that he has been born again by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary and not having been baptized in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as the Ecumenical Movement says is the one and only requirement for belonging together. [That doesnt mean that Im opposed to baptism, but I believe that belief must always precede baptism and indeed be the basis for it.] ....which are named chief of the nations [and spiritually America has been blessed above and beyond the other nations], ....to whom the house of Israel came [that is, people come here to see something of the blessing of the Lord]!
But do you know friends, the tables have turned! I was talking to two black boys in France, and they said that years ago, there were missionaries that came to Africa and converted them to Jesus Christ as personal Savior. Now that very same church is sending missionaries out to Africa telling them that there is no such thing as the virgin birth, that the Bible is not the Word of God, that Jesus Christ is not God,.....and do you know what? The natives in Africa are trying to convert the missionaries that have been sent out to them. Isnt that tragic? And yet it show you something of what has happened in America through the years too in that we have departed from the Living God!
Now verse 2 of Amos 6, Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines [These were all great cities that had fallen. And he says]: be they better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border? Ye that put far away the evil day [You say, Its not going to happen here.], and cause the seat of violence to come near. Frankly, I think that its a tremendous application of this is the way of communism has been given a footing here in America, and we have allowed the seat of violence to come near while were fighting it on the other side of the earth. What an application similar to that of Amos day!
Now notice verse 4, That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches [I dont know when I heard so many commercials about mattresses and couches and all this, as I hear today. Now youre sort of laughing a bit, .....but....isnt that true? It seems like were more interested in rest and sleep than anything else in the world right now. And you know friends, Christians are pretty much like that way too. Were interested in just being comfortable and resting. Its about time that we begin to not only comfort the afflicted, but afflict the comfortable; and that we stir up ourselves concerning whats going on in both America and around the world.
Notice, ....and eat the lambs out of the flock,... [nothing is good enough for us we say, but God knows, we have not paid attention to spiritual things. Notice they] ....chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music.... [and this is an age in which people are controlled by music]....That drink wine in bowls [The alcohol consumption increased in America], and anoint themselves with the chief ointments... I just wish we had the money for missions that is spent for cosmetics in America, both by men and women; and we could put out a tremendous missionary enterprise. but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. Its amazing how we can become concerned about outward appearance, and not be concerned about the heart. This is what Amos was concerned about. This whole passage has application for this day.
Returning to I Thessalonians chapter 5, ....let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day be sober.... [That just doesnt mean to avoid alcoholic drink. It means to be alert, to be keen.] Let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
Yes these are days in which people are asleep to what is actually happening in the world; and its amazing how that both in the apostate Church and even in a nation, we can be like the frog. You know, if a frog is dropped into boiling water, hell muster all his energy and jump right out. But if you put a frog in water and begin slowly heating it, a little at a time....a little at a time, before long.... he becomes so lethargic as the water gets warmer and warmer.....until eventually it boils him to death and he never musters any energy to jump out. There are people like that in apostate churches today, and there are people like that in America that are not aware of the way things are heating up in these end times.
Let us, who are of the day, be sober [be alert], putting on the breastplate of faith [that is, faith and trust in God, in the Living God, and then] love [toward one another being impelled by the love of Christ]; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. Looking expectantly for Jesus Christs return. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation [or deliverance] by our Lord Jesus Christ.
You say, Do you believe that the Church is going into the Tribulation or through the Tribulation or any part of it? No, I dont. I talked to a missionary some years ago from Africa, and he said that one of the natives over there put it this way, I dont believe the Church is going through the Tribulation. He said, You never heard the bridegroom beating up the bride right before he marries her.....and I think theres something to that; because in the Tribulation Period, it is the wrath of the Lamb thats poured out upon the earth. And if the bride is going to be upon the earth, then the bridegroom is beating up the bride. And I think that it is not taught anywhere in the Word of God; in fact, here having talked about the return of Jesus Christ for His own, it says, For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation [or deliverance] by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
In I John 3: 2 and 3, John refers to this same truth as Paul refers to here. He says, Beloved, now are we the sons [or children] of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. Yes, were going to see our Savior And every man that hath this hope [literally, set on] Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure. This is a blessed hope, but it is also a purifying hope, that we might be clean before Him when He comes.
Notice verse 11 of I Thessalonians 5, Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another [that is, build up one another], even as also ye do. Yes it is a comforting thing to know that Jesus Christ is coming back for us to receive us unto Himself; but in the meanwhile, we ought to be seeking how we can build up one another, how we can encourage one another in the things of the Lord.
I believe according to the book of The Revelation, that there will be two churches in the end time, and I think we see them in the day in which we live. There is the Laodicean Church, the lukewarm, professing but not possessing church which is a church in name only; but contemporaneous with this, there is the Philadelphia Church, the church of brotherly love. There are four marks of this church as found in Revelation 3. First, this church has an open door. Verse 8, I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door... Thus we shall have opportunity for witness in one form or another until Jesus Christ returns. Second, we have a little strength, and compared to the vast multitudes in the world and even in christendom, genuine believers constitute a small number. Thirdly, the Philadelphia, the true church in the end time, has kept the Word of patience of the Lord [that is, they have a steadfast testimony]; and fourthly and finally and not least of all, they have a blessed hope. Notice verse 10, Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from [or literally, out of] the hour of temptation [or trial], which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. This is why I believe that the Truth of the deeper life is a joint Truth with the hope of the Lords return; because while we are looking for His return we want to be clean and we also want to be continuing, we want to be growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Savior, and we should also want to be witnessing to others because when Jesus Christ returns, we should not want our loved ones to be left behind. Thus, it is a blessed hope, but it also is a challenging hope to each of us. Shall we pray.
Our FATHER We do pray if there is anyone here tonight who has never believed on Jesus Christ or anyone in our listening audience who does not know what it means to pass from death unto life, from darkness to light that that one shall believe on Jesus Christ Who died for his sins on the Cross of Calvary. And then, Lord, for us to look forward, expectantly to His return any moment that we might be with Him; but in the meanwhile, to be victorious Christians witnessing to others that they too might come to know Him Who is our life, even the Lord Jesus Christ. In His precious Name we pray. Amen.
Dr. Stuart E. Lease
Immanuel Baptist Church, Richmond, VA