THE THIEF IN THE NIGHT
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10 KJV) Have you ever realized that there should be more to your lot than what you have found in life? We’re not speaking about material things, but the things of God’s Kingdom. Before you were saved, you knew without a doubt that something in your life was missing. As soon as you committed your life to the Lord, you could tell the difference. It was probably then that you bought a Bible if you had none, or you ‘dusted’ off the one you owned, and began reading recommended books, probably the Gospel of John. Suddenly, God’s Word became important to you. As you began to relate to other Christians, you probably noticed that some of them not only lived right, but they were genuinely happy people. Again, you found that something was missing; you were not able to keep the commitment you made to God. The more you read, the less it seemed to help.
Maybe then, if you were like most new-comers, you began to question others about your lack of ‘willpower’. It may be that then was when you found out that making ‘commitments’ or ‘decisions’ was simply like turning over a new leaf. At this point is where the first theft may have occurred, but you heard from some of the older church members that what was happening was perfectly normal, that they all went through this ‘trial’ and not to worry, just keep trying to follow the rules of Christian living and in time you will be comfortable in the fellowship.
Probably about that time, you were invited to some classes and some fellowships like covered dish suppers, where everyone was quite happy and made you feel right at home, especially around all the delicious food. You did not know it, but Satan had stolen a chance for your re-birth, so you could not see the Kingdom of God. You had made a very nice social change, and had found those who liked your personality; everything was a lot better, and you settled in for the long haul.
The Bible reading dwindled except at church and Sunday School, where you followed the Preachers text for the sermon. You were then probably invited to serve on a committee, which helped you to feel that you were of some value to the church and to God. Your fellowship has been growing with the continued suppers and ball games, all of which helps you to know some of the members better. At this point, having been around for a while, you begin to notice differences in the ways of certain people; some seem to be more caring than others. This probably caused you to wonder why there was such a difference, what with all of them being Christians. Right here you begin to sense that you are missing something, that ‘caring’ way in those particular people.
At this point you begin to question your ‘progress’ as a Christian, and as you are in question God touches your heart to draw you to Himself. From Him, in a manner we cannot fully describe, a voice invites you to abandon all you cherish, and accept Jesus to be your Savior. Without question, you accept the Lord into your life, and you immediately realized that until now you had not been a Christian at all; you had been robbed by the enemy. But, Praise God! Now you were saved and knew it.
Now you reach out to those who were ‘different’, and find that they had a ‘born-again’ experience, also; that you had found some real brothers and sisters in the faith. Again you open God’s Word and begin to study. It has become alive to you as never before. The days don’t have enough time in them for all you need to learn. In order to progress faster, you join a Bible Study. There you are taught any of a variety of beliefs. The teachers rotate from time to time, and the discussions are mixed and sometimes heated; some believe this, and some believe that. None seem to have the ‘caring’ you had seen before, rather each had a different opinion about the subject at hand. Not only that, but there were a variety of Bibles used which had different slants on the meanings of the texts being studied. There were those who believed that being ‘born-again’ was not all there is to salvation; others said that there was nothing beyond. Discussions wandered from topics of Sanctification to Spiritual gifts, to the coming of the Lord, and the prophesies of Isaiah. What a confusing experience. Maybe you decided it would be best to drop out of the Study and just go to Church and Sunday School. You remembered what was said by those who knew that there was more in God’s Kingdom for His people than being saved, and it made you feel that you were lacking something in your life, even though you were saved. Then you were assured by your Pastor that you have all you will ever have in the faith, that you just have to trust Jesus, who is our ‘all-in-all’. Right here, the enemy has robbed you again if you stop there.
This whole subject grows bigger and bigger in your mind and spirit. What are those Spiritual gifts? Some of those in the Study had said they are not for today because they were given to the Apostles until the Bible was provided, and if anyone says they have any of these gifts, they came from the Devil, not God. Others said they were for us today so we can have power to take the Word of God into the world. There was one person who said that he spoke in an unknown tongue, and no one knew what to say; it almost broke up the meeting. The problem is a struggle with what is the truth. You remember that the Bible says that the ‘truth will make you free’, so you begin to seek the truth. By now you have gotten a concordance for the Bible Study you had been in, so you look up ‘truth’. Here you find some texts about the “Spirit of Truth”, and that this is the person of the Holy Ghost, the same Holy Ghost that we were baptized in, “Father, Son and Holy Ghost”. So, now you have learned about the Holy Ghost, so since there were some who said we got everything when we were born again, you assume that you have the Holy Ghost, but it is best not to have any of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. So, you have decided that you are up to date with all you need to know about the Spirit of Truth, and that the truth will make you free since you believe you have that Spirit. Right there the Devil has robbed you of the greatest way to glorify God that you will ever have. Without the Holy Ghost no man can call Jesus ‘Lord’, nor can He be glorified in your life. But God is not finished with you yet.
You remember that you read a verse that said “You shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you”. Power for what? Power for all God wants you to do in His Kingdom. If that’s the case, where is my power if I have the Holy Ghost? I sure don’t recognize any power from God in my life. Maybe I don’t have the Holy Ghost. If I am going to serve God, I need to do the ‘Great Commission’, and if I need power to do that, I’ll need the Holy Ghost. So, if I go and have power, I’ll know I have the Holy Ghost. Then you get your Bible in hand and go downtown to tell people about Jesus. The first person you approach says he would like to hear what you have to say. Immediately, you know you do not have the power, because there is no assurance in your speach or words; there is no wisdom or knowledge, no joy or peace rising from your countenance no sense of prophesy for the man‘s hope. You know now that you do not have the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The experience was so fruitless and embarrassing that you determine that you will never try that again, and if that’s all the Holy Ghost is for, you just don’t need Him. Again, you are being robbed by the enemy.
But God continues dealing with you. You know it because you again have that feeling that you are letting God down; that you will not be obedient if you do not ’Go into all the world and preach the Gospel’. You confer with some leaders, and they tell you that you don’t have to actually go ’into the world’ yourself; when you make your offering in church, it goes to spread the Gospel all over the world. The missionaries who are called to this work do the “Great Commission” on our behalf. What a relief! I’m OK after all. Again, the enemy is trying to rob you. But a friend who is in the hospital and is not expected to live is lost, and his wife has asked you to go to him and share the Gospel with him, so that he will have another chance to be saved. God has visited you again; you know you need the power in spite of the missionaries.
Your friend is in a dire condition, so you go to the Lord, Jesus, in prayer, asking Him to baptize you with the Holy Ghost so that you can minister to your friend. Wonders of wonders, you are immersed with a shower of pure joy and you stand there with tears streaming down your face, groans of peace well up in your throat, and a knowingness has gripped your heart, a comfort, a satisfaction. As your mind regains control of the situation you realize that a wonderful work of God has been added to your rebirth, that you are not only a child of God, you are now a gifted minister of His Gospel, empowered for His work in your life. Now, again the Devil tries to stop you. He tells you that now you are on call to minister when God sends you. Also, he warns you not to use any of those gifts of the Holy Ghost because people will think you are strange, maybe even not in your right mind.
You might have fallen for these lies, but you remember that God has already sent you when He said “Go ye....” And so you do as He has told you, and in your ministry you meet a person who is in pain and needs prayer for healing. You know that one of the gifts of the Spirit is healing, so determine that you will set aside the warning about the use of gifts, and pray for the person. To your amazement the person looks up to Heaven and says, thank you, Jesus, I’m healed. You rejoice with this person, and know now that the gifts of the Holy Ghost are available as you obey God to spread His Word.
These are not the only way that the Devil will try to steal from you. He has been trying for many hundreds of years to corrupt God’s Holy Word. There are those who have been trained unknowingly to choose modern ‘Bibles’ instead of the tried and proven ‘Holy Bible’ that has been copied and recopied from the hands of the Apostles and other writers of canonized books. From the early beginning, there were those who through psychology and the study of God and gods have inspired many of like spirit to question the Bible and its teachings. From those men’s teaching have come corrupted “Bibles” and schools that boldly use them falsely as God’s true Word. Many of their students are Pastors and high level teachers today. What they teach is a strong influence in the thievery of the Devil that attempts to steal from each person that is seeking to serve God. His wiles are evident at each step of progress made by the seeker. The Bible says “ Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:14 KJV) I somehow believe that the Lord uses the deception of Satan to strengthen the Saint. As the Saint wins each battle against the Devil, he becomes stronger and more settled in the faith. As the Saints begin to witness what God has done in their lives, the powers of the worldly church organization will do all they can to quiet them. Here again is the Devil trying to steal your public testimony in the church, now a thing of the past. Resist him as you have done before and tell your story to each individual, anywhere, who will hear it for the glory of the Lord and for the help of the lost and dying.
May God encourage you in your journey of faith, a gift of the Holy Ghost of God.