God Still Makes a Way!

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God Still Makes a Way!

James R. Aist

“But the children of Israel walked on dry land in the midst of the sea. And the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” (Exodus 14:29)

Sometimes God calls His chosen ones to embark on a mission that will put them in harm’s way, only to provide them a way out. Perhaps the parting of the Red Sea is the best-known example of God providing a way out for His people (Exodus 14:21-31). But, to further illustrate this point, here are a few more examples from the Bible of how God has made a way out, when it appeared that there was no way: 1) A prostitute named Rahab hid two Israelite spies from the King of Jericho and gave them a way of escape from certain death (Joshua 2); When King Herod had purposed to have baby Jesus killed in Bethlehem, God sent an angel to Joseph with a warning to flee with his family to Egypt until it was safe to return (Matthew 21:13-15); and 3) When King Herod had Peter put in prison and bound, God sent an angel to remove his bonds and walk him right out of the prison, in the presence of the guards, thus preventing Herod from having Peter executed (Acts 12:6-11).

With that backdrop, I have a story of my own to tell, in which God clearly revealed His hand in making a way for me to miraculously escape a cleverly conceived plan to put me in harm’s way. So that you can more fully appreciate the miraculous nature and extent of this escape, allow me to provide a brief backstory. In the early 1990s, while I was a Professor at Cornell University, I sensed that God was calling me to speak out about the gay agenda. Now, I was already quite familiar with the tendency of gay activists to use force and violence to bully their opposition into surrendering to their demands, even to the point of fire bombing a pastor’s home with his family still inside! Nevertheless, I agreed to embark on this project with the understanding that God would protect me from harm. With that understanding in mind, I did extensive on-line and library research to find out if there were scientific studies of homosexuality, as well as exactly what the Bible did and did not have to say about it. I found out that nobody was really born gay, that unwanted homosexuality could be overcome, and that the Bible repeatedly and consistently condemned homosexual sex acts as sinful.

With that information in hand, I began a local ministry (dubbed “AHA”, for Alternatives to Homosexuality Anonymous) to share these facts with members of the Cornell and surrounding communities. As expected, this ministry was met with outcries of bigotry, homophobia and gay bashing, along with threatening and lurid phone calls to my home phone number, hateful messages written on campus sidewalks and formal complaints to the Cornell administration seeking to get me fired. During the peak of these personal, public attacks against me, there was a clever trap set to corner me in my office and confront me face to face, with the local media invited to show up and publish explicit, front-page, pro-gay articles with me as the culprit. This trap set for me and how God provided a way of escape is the main focus of this article. Here’s what happened.

The Setup

I received a phone call in my office from a young woman by the name of Ariel, a Cornell student. She said that she wanted to meet me in my office to discuss my AHA ministry and help me understand why they wanted me to cease and desist. So, we agreed to meet in my Cornell office the next day at 1:30 p.m.

The “Mole”

About a half hour before the meeting was to take place, I received a phone call from a young man who was also a Cornell student. I had never even heard of him before. He said that he was a member of the Cornell Young Republicans Club. He also had signed onto the e-mail list of a gay activist student group, so that he could function as a “mole”, as it were, to monitor the group’s e-mails and upcoming campus activities.

The Plot

The Mole informed me that I must vacate my office before the 1:30 meeting with Ariel, because a group of gay activists was planning to gather at the lower campus, march straight up the hill to my building, trap me in my office and make demands to the College and Cornell administrators that they forbid me to speak out further concerning homosexuality. The appointment with Ariel was a set-up!

The Counter Plot

The Mole wanted to come to my office ahead of time and escort me surreptitiously to a safe location of my choosing on campus, circumventing the pre-determined route of the gay mob. So, I decided that the best place for me to escape to was the office of my best friend, Bill, a fellow Christian professor. When the Mole showed up at my office door, I immediately noticed that he appeared to be dressed and groomed more like a liberal gay person than a conservative Republican. He said he did that so he could join in with and spy on the gathering mob on lower campus without being outed as a mole! I also noticed that he was accompanied by a middle-aged gentleman dressed more formally, in a tan business suit. It turns out that the Mole had taken the liberty of informing the Campus Police of the mob’s intentions, and they dispatched this Detective to accompany me on my journey across campus to my place of refuge, just in case I was spotted trying to get away and things got out of hand!

The Escape

So, off we went, at about 1:20 p.m., to skirt around the route of the approaching mob and arrive safely at Bill’s office. Once inside, I thanked the Mole and the Detective for their help and protection, and they went on their way. Bill and I then settled in to chat about what just happened, and to wait patiently to learn what the mob did when they found out I wasn’t there. Later, I learned that they were demonstrably upset and surprised that their trap had been foiled. So, as to not be totally frustrated, they decided to invade and occupy the Departmental Offices instead, where, for more than six hours, they held the Department Chairman and his staff hostage while they made their demands to the higher administration, in my absence. Moreover, the gay activists failed to get me fired.

The Point

God still makes a way, when there seems to be no way out of the peril you are in! He will see to it that you are able to accomplish the task He has called you to do. And, in this case, He made good on His promise to protect me from harm as I conducted the AHA ministry.

Truth be told, my friend, we are all born into a world of great peril. “What peril?”, you may ask. The peril that the Bible refers to as the “law of sin and death”: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). But God has provided a way out of this “sin problem”, and His name is Jesus. God ordained that the death of Jesus on the cross would pay the price for our sins (Mark 10:45), and we need only believe in Jesus to be saved from an eternity in hell (John 6:29). Now that is a way of escape that none of us can afford to pass up! Have you let God save you yet?

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

The Gospel of John 3:16

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The Gospel of John 3:16

James R. Aist

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16)

In the New Testament, the word “gospel” refers to the “good news” that Jesus brought to mankind by way of His sinless life and effective solution to our sin problem. The fulfilling of the Great Commission by those who are saved – by grace through faith in Jesus – requires that we share this good news with unbelieving sinners so that God may also save them.  There are several sets of scriptures that have been identified that can serve as a guide to sharing this good news, perhaps most notably the “Romans Road”: Romans 3:10 and 23; 5:12; 6:23; 5:8; 10:13; and 10:9-10, in that order.

Not long ago it struck me that if one is looking for an inclusive, yet concise, summary of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, one need not look any further than John 3:16. This one Bible verse contains all of the skeletal elements necessary to present the Gospel to an unbeliever; just add some details, and there it is! Or, if you are a pastor or evangelist, it presents an excellent outline for a powerful sermon series.

To show you what I mean, let’s take John 3:16 and insert, in italics and parentheses, pertinent key phrases: For God (the doctrine of “God”) so loved (the “love of God”) the world (the doctrine of “man”) that He gave (the substitutionary death of Christ) His only begotten Son (the incarnation), that whoever believes (God’s supernatural gift of saving faith) in Him should not perish (eternal suffering with the devil and his angels in hell), but have eternal life (everlasting fellowship with God in heaven).

I don’t know about you, but I see the makings of an eight-part sermon series right there! And when you’re finished, you will have presented a wonderfully amplified version of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with John 3:16 as the springboard! Whether you are preaching or sharing the gospel privately with a friend, you may want to include also a discussion of John 3:17, which completes and confirms the points made in verse 16 by explaining the purpose for Jesus’s coming into the world: that the world, through Him, might be saved. Now that is good news indeed!

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

The Mechanics of Salvation

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The Mechanics of Salvation

James R. Aist

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draws him.” (John 6:44)

I love to hear detailed accounts of how God has saved different folks. The details vary, but there are some aspects that are apparently universal. Of course, God knows exactly how He is going to save every one of His chosen people, and He does whatever He pleases in order to do it. Nevertheless, He has chosen to reveal to us, in His written word, some of the universal aspects concerning how He goes about saving people. This article is intended to provide answers from the word of God to an often-asked question, “How can I be saved?”

Firstly, we must recognize that we are all born into a state of enmity and rebellion toward God (Romans 3:10-12).

Secondly, we should understand that God is in control of whom He will and will not save; salvation belongs to God (Psalm 3:8; Revelation 7:10; Revelation 19:1). In fact, God chose whom He would save before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).

Thirdly, Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44). No one can believe in Jesus of their own accord, apart from the Father’s influence. And all whom the Father influences in this way will be saved. One universal aspect of the Father’s influence in this regard is that He uses believers to tell unbelievers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:14).

Fourthly, a person can think their way toward Jesus under the influence of the Father, but it requires a direct and singular act of grace by the Father to get them all the way to saving faith in Jesus: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

And, finally, just as we are not in control of our initial salvation experience apart from God’s intervention, so also it is God Himself, not us, Who keeps us saved by His own power (1 Peter 1:4-5) and by the presence (1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Timothy 1:14) and activity (Philippians 2:13) of His Holy Spirit in us. In fact, the Holy Spirit in us is God’s guarantee that we will spend our eternity with Him in heaven (Ephesians 1:13-15).

Thus, the mechanics of salvation can be summarized in this way: We are all born into a state of enmity and rebellion toward God. God is in control of whom He will and will not save. No one can come to saving faith in Jesus unless the Father draws him. Saving faith in Jesus is a gift from God, not a product of our efforts apart from God’s influence. And, just as it is God who saves us, it is also God who keeps us saved.

So, if you want God to save you and keep you saved, then purpose in your heart to end your rebellion toward Him, confess your sins to the Father, ask Him to give you the gift of saving faith in Jesus Christ and commit yourself to put your faith and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. God is faithful and just to forgive your sins (cf. 1 John 1:9) and to grant you the gift of saving faith (Romans 10:8-10). Rest assured that He will do it (John 5:24; Romans 10:13), because He chose you for salvation before the foundation of the world!

If you are interested to know how God saved me, then click HERE.

(To read more of my articles with biblical themes, click HERE.)

Only Believe…What, Exactly?

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Only Believe…What, Exactly?

James R. Aist

But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, “Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be made well.”

Jesus told Jairus to not fear, only believe, that his daughter would be healed (Luke 8:49-50). Here, Jesus made it clear exactly what Jairus was to believe; namely, that God would heal his daughter. Not just that He could heal her or that He was just willing to heal her, but that He would actually heal her. In struggling to understand what a “prayer of faith” (James 5:16) looks like, I have found that there are three successive steps in our journey toward believing God fully for a miracle: 1) believing that God can do it; 2) believing that God is willing to do it; and 3) believing that God will do it. Having done that, the rest is up to God.

The first step should be relatively easy, for those of us who really believe that the Word of God is true. The Bible tells us that God created the entire universe in all of its vastness and complexity, and that He sustains it with His almighty power (Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 11:3). It goes on to say that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37) and that with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are replete with accounts of miraculous works done by God. Moreover, there are countless testimonies by reliable witnesses of miracles that God is doing in our generation. So, we can rest assured, based on the biblical witness and contemporary witnesses, that God is able to work the miracle that we need Him to work for us. We believe that God can do it.

The second step may be more problematic, however; is God willing to do it? This question gets to the heart of God’s attitude, purpose and desire for mankind, His heart toward us. We can see a man with leprosy struggling with this issue: “A leper came to Him, pleading with Him and kneeling before Him, saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus, moved with compassion, extended His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I will. Be clean” (Mark 1:40-41). In fact, the New Testament has no record of Jesus refusing a miracle for anyone coming to Him believing He could do it.  And, the Bible clearly teaches that God’s attitude and desire toward us is to enable us to prosper (Deuteronomy 29:9; Psalm 1:3; Philippians 4:10). But, there are at least two well-known biblical accounts of God being unwilling to grant a prayer request: one is Jesus’s request for His Father to let the cup of suffering pass from Him (Matthew 26:39), and the other is Paul’s request for God to remove the tormenting messenger of Satan from him (2 Corinthians 12:7). God was surely grieved to see His Son and His servant suffering like this, but He had a reason for their suffering that far outweighed the gravity of their suffering: Jesus would save from hell all who would believe in Him (John 3:16-17), and Paul would be kept from becoming swell-headed by the torment inflicted by the messenger of Satan (2 Corinthians 12:7). God was able, but He was not willing, and for a good reason.

This brings us to the third step which is, for many, the most difficult, and, it is often the most complicated. Will God always do what He can do and is willing to do? The answer, I believe, is “No”, and I will tell you why I believe that. The following encounter with God occurred during the first week after I returned home from burying my 20-year-old daughter, Liesel, who had been struck and killed by a car (Click HERE). I was so stunned and emotionally numb from the events of that “week from hell” that I couldn’t even go to work. I just sat around in my recliner all day trying to process what had just happened. Now, I had never asked God why He had allowed anything bad that happened in my life, but this bad thing seemed too awful to cope with. So, one day as I sat in my recliner rehearsing the details of the past week, I began to wonder why God had not healed Liesel instead of calling her home. I was about to ask God “Why?” when suddenly the Holy Spirit stopped me from saying it. Then, God spoke into my mind saying, “You don’t need to know why, because you know Me well enough to know that I had a good reason.” To this day, I can only speculate as to why God did not heal my daughter. Jesus knew, and Paul learned, why God said no, but I was told to just trust that God had a good reason for telling me “No.” In all three of these situations, I believe that, in some way and at some level, God wanted to say yes, but at the same time He wanted even more to say “No”, for a good, a greater, reason.

That brings us now to the conclusion of the matter. I believe that we should always bring our cares, our concerns and our needs to God in prayer (1 Peter 5:7; Hebrews 4:16). And, I believe that we should always pray with the conviction that He can do it, that he is willing to do it, and that He will actually do it. Anything less, I believe, is an offense to the nature and the heart of God, an offense to who He is in relation to us. That way, God is always honored by the manner in which we present our request. And, if God says “No”, then we can rest assured He had a good reason for doing so, even if we never find out what the reason was. In truth, God does not owe us an explanation, regardless of how badly we want our answer to our “Why?” If we pray expecting God to hear our request and expecting that He will actually respond to it, then, I believe, we can expect the best possible outcome, whether or not it is the outcome we had in mind. The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). And remember, God always has a good reason; our God is a good, good God (Luke 18:19)!

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE.)