Ezekiel 34:12 - As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day.
Pastor Dave Johnson, Community Bible Church in Eagle River: There is no reason for anyone to die if you'd only believe the Word. He was preaching out of Ezekiel 34:11-31.
That's quite a statement. I was looking online for a church I might attend while I'm out of town this coming weekend. I saw this church listed, checked out their website, and determined it could be just the place. Simple church, sing from hymnals, have three services a week. So I listened to part of a sermon from the senior pastor.
Pastor Johnson went on to say: Our life will parallel what has already happened. If we read the Word and believe it we will see, when things happen, as we have studied in Ecclesiastes, that there is nothing new under the sun. Aren't we supposed to learn from our past, from both successes and mistakes? Is there any reason why couldn't apply the same principle to God's Word? It was, after all, written as an example for us. We seem to continue making the same mistakes. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6) Jesus, God's own Son, paid the penalty for our sin with His life. BUT...from His death, we can receive life. Hallelujah!
Hah! Success comes from knowing Jesus. Mistakes come from not!
The opening scripture above is in the Old Testament and speaks of Israel. But it can certainly speak of the Good Shepherd and people today. “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?" (Matthew 18:12) That's what Jesus would do for anyone.
The Word of God is truth. It is life. It is the bread of life: And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst." (John 6:35) We are to seek God for our daily bread. Jesus is that bread; He is the Word...made flesh. This Word of God is the river of life: And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. (Revelation 22:1). It is the living Word: For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
While at the time of this writing I hadn't listened to the whole sermon, I got a lot just from his opening statement. If we believe all this Word, there is no reason to die! But...we need Jesus to secure that eternal life. We need to have been born again, as Jesus Himself tells us we must be. Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3) We need to be in relationship with Him. If these statements don't make sense, Google them! I'm sure there will be many explanations and even one that might touch your heart. If your church doesn't teach you this thing about being born again...
When we truly begin to believe the Word, our spiritual life changes. Without the Word, without Jesus, we have no life. We have no hope. We might see things in the world that disturb or anger us. If we believe the Word we know these things will happen before Christ returns. We will begin to recognize the intensity of all that is taking place...but we can rejoice knowing that He is returning. This life on earth is always temporary. All of us will die. And one day the world as we know it will die. As in the days of Noah...
If we have Christ we have eternal life. Remember, He was the door to that ark Noah built. It saved Noah's family. It's open now, but some day it will be too late. It will close. It will happen in a twinkling of an eye. This earthly life will fade away but we can have that hope of heaven before us.
The world will deteriorate, already is. The Church will be persecuted, as might be the next step some desire to get God totally out of the way. Like the persecution of the Church, a persecution of the body of believers...if they hold fast to the truth of God's Word...if they don't compromise...if they don't allow society to dictate what it believes should be right. Believers will be scoffed for some of these ideas and this will happen. Some might think life has always gone on, why should anything change? But things will change. It's why the Word needs to be understood.
Know the Word, understand it, believe it and you have gained wisdom. But it comes only from knowing Jesus. He imparts the power of His Holy Spirit for that knowledge. Along with the knowledge you have gained life...you do not need to die! In Christ you have life. Like God did for Israel, took them out of captivity into a new land and new life, so Jesus does for us. Only this life ahead will be eternal.
Ezekiel 34:13 - And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country.