The search goes on! We commonly believe that holiness is a condition we achieve which is best described as finally free of temptation. The result? We enter into an endless struggle, a fruitless search, a hunt for a place with no address. Complicating our search is the belief that we can, by our efforts, conquer temptation and thus achieve a sin-free life.
The fact is, only one person ever reached that point. Yet, listen to some troubling information about him. After his baptism, the Holy Spirit “drove” him into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. Drove him? What a strange thing for the Holy Spirit to do! Then to deprive him of food for 40 days in preparation for the encounter to come makes this fight look rigged.
For good reason, we call this the great temptation. We know that Jesus won this battle, but we also know that the war began in earnest. Satan’s strategy, since the big salvo failed and he “left him for awhile,” must have been to nibble away at him even as life nibbles away at us, even as the “little foxes…spoil the vine.”
Though Satan “left him for awhile,” his strategy changed to the point that Hebrews 4:15 reveals that Jesus was “in all points tempted as we are….” How many points might that be? I would rather not talk about it. Yet, though Satan’s efforts intensified, his success rate stayed the same as the verse continues, “yet without sin.” Awesome! Finally someone did the impossible.
So what does this mean to us? Can we achieve that sinlessness? Sorry, too late, at least for me. What, then, can we do? Resign ourselves to the hopeless struggle? No! But get ready to shout! Hebrews 4:16 provides the answer, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” This is grace and mercy, not judgment.
What a relief. Maybe you thought Jesus was disappointed in you. Maybe you thought you were really going to get it in the neck. Not so! God loves grace and mercy enough to make that his throne. Our only effort required is to come there, not with hat in hand inching timidly, but boldly. Wow! No wonder God demands that we enter his rest by abandoning our own attempts to achieve rest. (Hebrews 4:9-10)
So, what else troubles us? Perhaps that mythical place in our spirit where we feel constantly close to God, surrounded and protected from all worry and difficulty.
Many seek that place. Some sing progressively more serious or intimate songs of worship until they feel they will be granted entry to the “Holy of Holies.” How sad that, by such, they resew the veil after Jesus ripped it open. We are in the Holy of Holies at this very moment! How else could we “come boldly” to the throne of Grace?
Others seek to hallow their current location by inviting the Holy Spirit to come and occupy. I spoke many years ago at a conference whose theme was “Come Holy Spirit.” I wanted to jump up and shout, “He is already here!” In fact, I think I opened my message with that shout. The Holy Spirit is not fickle, moving in and out according to our degree of perfection. If he was, he would surely have a huge moving bill!
Before we finish, let me establish a biblical situation. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 clearly establishes our place: “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” Colossians 1:27 establishes that Jesus is ever with and in us: “To them [you] God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” So, we are in Christ and Christ is in us! Just think of it.
Some think Christ so distant and their prayers so ineffective that they describe it this way, “I feel like my prayers are reaching only the ceiling and bouncing back to me.” However, since Christ is in us, that bounce means he hears our prayer twice! Great efficiency.
So, what are we to do? Simple! Rest, lean on his grace, know that he has us surrounded, watch him do his work through us!
— Gayle Erwin
I don’t know when I have laughed so much watching a DVD of a message. Oh, how I wish I could have been able to know and hear about you years ago. How much easier life would have been for me.
I grew up very strict and don’t remember any love gospel. I wonder why, because the Bible is so full of love. I’ve read the Bible all my life (I’m 82). Why, I wonder, didn’t I see that? When I hear you, I wish I could remember this, it’s so wonderful.
My son calls sometimes and asks me what I’m doing. I tell him I’m looking at your DVD. It happens so much, he once said, “You need to get a life.” He is a Christian and has never seen you. If he ever does, he will like you like I do, but he is usually in a dead run. His family and work take so much time.
We didn't have a Sunday school teacher this past Sunday, so the president of our class remembered that I had several VCR tapes of yours on “The Nature of Jesus,” “The Nature of The Father,” and “The Nature of The Holy Spirit,” and he asked me if I would bring one of your tapes to class and share it with everyone. So I took “The Nature of The Father” VCR to class, and everyone was spellbound watching you, and didn’t want him to turn it off until they had heard your entire tape, but our time was up for our class, therefore he had no choice. You should have heard everyone's discontent. Thank you for blessing us.
True to Galatians 6:6 I want to thank you for your ministry through the internet.
I am in my 70s and as I sit and listen to what God has to say through you and your, may I say, somewhat unique delivery, I have been refreshed and strengthened. After listening I take time to meditate on the word and all that Jesus means and has done with a smile on my face and heart full of joyful gratitude and praise.
Barry Martin (UK)
Thank you so much for your Easter service at Apple Valley. You were a delight. I was the one who told you that I listen to you on the MP3 from Honolulu. I am still listening to the same MP3, and since then you or your taped studies came up several more times. I think I will be 99 years old by the time I finish this one particular MP3. Unless, of course, if I do a road trip to Alaska and back. Maybe then I can finish it.
Sunday morning I was so encouraged by you in so many ways. Last time we met for dinner in Riverside, your wife, Ada, at some point in our conversation, made reference to me as a friend. Then, as you wrote a few lines on the book you gave me Sunday, you used the word ‘friend’ again. It meant a lot to me. You see, the term ‘brother’ in our Christian circles has become a religious term, just a term, lost of much meaning many times. But the term ‘friend’ carries to me, especially when said by you, an incredible kindness, an incredible honor to call me such, a grace that reminds me of Jesus. He ate and associated with the least, and called them friends.
I have been tremendously encouraged by your lives this weekend. As I experience personal struggles and discouragement, you refresh and encourage me. Truly the ministry of encouragement is so much more powerful than the ministry of the law to lift a man! Also, as I experience the emotional pain and struggles I have experienced, and then the encouragement you both brought to me this weekend, I understand better the power of encouragement…that I might truly encourage others with the same encouragement I have received from the Lord through you.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
I’m about halfway through Broken Bread. I love it. This brings out so much color. I’ll never look at communion or the Last Supper the same way again. Thanks so much. I had my family gather around and greet each other with the hand to the heart, lips, head and holy kiss. It was sweet.
Broken Bread is a ground-breaking, eye-opening, heart-warming, nothing-like-it-before book by Jay McCarl. I consider it a must-read. Those who go with me to Israel this year will receive a copy. You can order the book from biblicaldinners.com or Servant Quarters will be glad to get it for you.
The guy was instrumental in saving my life...thanks for showing me Jesus, Mr. Erwin! My life has been blessed over and over again for 14 years thanks to your obedience to Christ.
Gotta say after the PA Men’s Retreat for Kearny and the Bronx, I missed waking up knowing we’d be laughing our way to a better walk in Christ. The free stickers you gave out have made it into other apartments around us. People actually asking for them. Thought I’d let you know God is even working in the neighborhood I’m in. Thanks for doing what you’re doing.
I love listening to you talk about the Bible. You have such a wonderful gift of making Jesus more like Jesus and the 12 more like us, flawed and hilarious! Thanks for always giving a new perspective on the overlooked!
Julie Belle Wright
Reading The Jesus Style right now about half way through it, thank you for making some things that are sometimes hard to understand so easy to interpret. God inspired you to write some wonderful books; everyone I have talked to at Calvary Chapel of the Triad has talked about how wonderful you and your books are and they were right.
I just wanted to tell you that my kids absolutely love watching our “The Jesus Style” videos, and so do I!
Mandi Shrope Prince
While I was looking for some books in a library, I picked up a book and started reading while standing by the shelf. It was The Jesus Style and it highly grabbed my attention. Then I borrowed the book. Since I was impressed with what I was reading, I tried to look for your name on the Internet. That is how I was able to get your Web site. So far I have downloaded the audio versions of your books: The Jesus, The Father, The Spirit and the Body Style. I have started sharing it with brothers (elders) in my local church (Full Gospel). We sit in a car and listen to your messages.
I also received a Free Gift from Good News Dispatch just today. Yesterday, two of the elders and myself were watching the DVD I received from Good News Dispatch. It was the message on the Last Supper, John 13 (for me watching for the second time). We are really inspired and touched. By the way we have fixed a weekly schedule to sit together to watch your DVDs and listen to your MP3 messages.
Many of the ministers I know (who frequently travel to USA and who read many books) told me that they had never heard of you. But when I briefly shared the content of your books and messages they became eager to know more about you and your ministry. The main reason for their interest is that your messages focus on JESUS!
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Just wanted to drop you a note to make sure you didn’t forget us crazy people from Santa Fe, NM. And also to let you know that since your dedication of our building, it is still standing and hasn't turned to rubble, yet! You’ll be happy to know that there are some people who haven’t forgotten your visit. Every so often they try and throw your name into the conversation but Pete quickly changes the subject. I warned you about him and you did have your chance to roast him while you had the mic. But now that he has control back, your name seems to be MUDD. If it’s any consolation, he does the same to me. I think it’s because he's not as good looking as you and I are so he is a little envious. Lorraine and I do stick up for you once in awhile, or at least we think about it.
Of course, you do know I'm just joking. In reality, we all still very much remember your visit. And again, thank you very much for taking the time to truly Bless us. Mike and Samantha Monet send their greetings. I'm glad that you survived the stay at their home. We’re still searching for the last couple that stayed with them!!!
My name is José Wellington. I’m a Brazilian pastor from The Assemblies of God in São Paulo. Recently I got in touch with your material in the internet, by listening to Wayne Jacobsen’s “God’s Journey.” I’m really amazed.
I come from a family of pastors. Grandpa is the national president of Assemblies of God, and also president in São Paulo, where my dad is his vice president. My other grandpa is a pastor, too, and director of the church’s college. My father-in-law and two brothers-in-law are also pastors. My uncle is president of Brazilian Assemblies of God in the US.
As you can see, that is lots of titles. But I've identified myself so much with your needs and desires as I saw a video where you tell about your going to the Calvary Chapel. I thank the Lord for planning our “meeting.” I’m sure that He did that. I'm learning so much with you. Learning how to relate to Jesus from the smallest things in each day of life, to the biggest questions in life. That's all that I care and need, and you’re helping me with it.
You may recall that we air your messages on radio stations in two North Carolina prisons. I regularly hear from men who are listening. Yesterday, one guy told me that recently he was very angry with a staff member and was lying on his bunk dreaming of ways to get even with him. Then he turned on his radio and heard one of your messages on the nature of Jesus. The Lord used it to change his heart and his attitude. By the end of the broadcast he was laughing rather than seething. Praise the Lord! God is using you to reduce incidents in prison!
Free In Christ Prison Ministries
A new and, hopefully, final revision of The Jesus Style is now available. By revision, we mean some helpful additions and improved wording. We think its improvements warrant your getting a new copy. Only then can you tell us whether we hit the nail on the head or not.
. . .
We have now given away more than 30,000 copies of the OTHERS bumper stickers. Adding MERCY, GRACE, FAITH, HOPE, LOVE places the number more than 50,000. Order your free copies and start an OTHERS conversation.
. . .
By the time you get this, we should have a redesigned Web page for your evaluation. The address is still the same, www.servant.org.
. . .
Though this mailed newsletter does not reach Canada, our 1-888-321-0077 free number now works in Canada.
. . .
The e-mailed newsletter reaches Canada very rapidly, and UK and Australia and Hong Kong and Oklahoma and down the street. If you’re not already recieving this newsletter by e-mail, you can click on this link to go to the e-mail newsletter sign-up page.
. . .
When person after person told me that I had a large number of fans on a page in Facebook, I persistently told them that I had no such page. Finally, forced to join Facebook, I discovered they were right. However, I had no idea who controlled the page, though, by the way it was administered, I knew it was a friend. Finally, as the fan number neared 3,000 and expert help had pointed me to a way to possibly find out, my dear friend-administrator revealed himself--Daniel Punose, son of K. P. Yohannan. Now we will work together in another way in addition to Gospel for Asia.
By the way, Daniel is a man who has settled on his calling, and who is a delight to be around
In a small Midwestern conservative town, a new bar/tavern started a building to open up their business. A local church started a campaign with petitions and prayers to block the bar from opening.
Work on the bar progressed, however, right up till the week before opening, when a lightning strike hit the bar and it burned to the ground.
The church folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, till the bar owner sued the church on the grounds that the church was ultimately responsible for the demise of his building, either through direct or indirect actions or means.
The church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection to the building's demise in its reply to the court.
When the case made it’s way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork at the hearing and commented, “I don’t know how I'm going to decide this, but as it appears from the paperwork, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer, and an entire church congregation that doesn’t!”
. . .
A friend recommended a new bumper sticker to me:
Honk if you love Jesus. Text if you want to meet him.
. . .
Johnny’s mother looked out the window and noticed him “playing church” with their cat.
He had the cat sitting quietly and he was preaching to it. She smiled and went about her work. A while later she heard loud meowing and hissing and ran back to the open window to see Johnny baptizing the cat in a tub of water.
She called out, “Johnny, stop that! The cat is afraid of water!”
Johnny looked up at her and said, “He should have thought about that before he joined my church.”
. . .
One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?”
“It was great, Dad.”
“Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked.
“Oh, yeah,” said the son.
“So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.
The son answered: “I saw that we have one dog and they have four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.
We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.
We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”
The boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added, “Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.”