October 11th, 2019
=In the months of June and July of 2018, an incredible rescue took place in the Chiang Rai Province of Thailand. 12 members of a youth soccer team and their 25-year-old coach became trapped in a commonly visited cave called Tham Luang. After an extensive search and rescue operation was put into action, they would all be rescued and brought to safety on July 10th, a full 18 days later. On June 23rd, just after soccer practice, the team decided to visit the cave just as they had done many times before. But this excursion would quickly become a death trap, as heavy rains from hours before, would begin to fill the low areas and cut off their exit. As the water continued to inundate the cavern, they were forced to retreat deeper and deeper into the cave until they finally came upon higher ground. They were now almost 2.5 miles from the cave entrance. Their trip was supposed to last an hour or so, but those few hours quickly turned into several days, not knowing how or when they would be rescued, or even if they would survive at all. They had no provisions, no heavy clothing and only a couple flashlights. Most were in gym shorts and t-shirts. They even left their shoes at the entrance with their bicycles. In view of their circumstances, it seems that their fate was surely sealed, along with any hope of ever being found alive, or found at all. It would be hard to render their situation anymore desperate. With no light, no food, no clothing and no tools and no exit, the chance of them being delivered under their own power was at absolute zero: they were 100% helpless. Once they were listed as missing, it would take another 18 days before they were all rescued. It took 10,000 workers, including over 100 divers, 900 police, 2,000 soldiers and tons of equipment, pumps, helicopters and ambulances. Ten days would elapse until a British BCRC Diver (British Cave Rescue Council) would find the group. It would take another 8 days to extract all twelve of them. In the process, a former Thai Navy Seal lost his life while he was transferring three oxygen tanks to a base area called Chamber 3. He lost consciousness underwater and could not be revived. As sad as it is, that one involved in the rescue of those young men had perished, we can still thank God that the operation was a success. They were all rescued and delivered from what could have been the loss of twelve more souls.
In the spiritual sense, this event is one that can easily be applied to the saving and rescuing of the lost in this world. The rescue mission is to deliver a sinful and doomed race that has no means of delivering itself. A Rescuer was sent to save the lost from the impending judgment of the just and righteous Creator. It draws a distinct parallel, that those young men who were trapped had no way of producing a remedy of their own. They could in no way save or deliver themselves. All they could do was hope upon hope that a rescuer would eventually come. As for a lost and dying world we have a Rescuer the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior. He came into this world to seek and to save that which was lost. God sent His Son to rescue the perishing, whereas God laid upon His son the wages of our sin; paying in full the debt of our sin with His own sinless life. Thanks be to God that He sent a Savior, a Rescuer to deliver us from certain death and eternal separation from God himself, translating us from death unto life eternal.
Let's take a few moments and think about:
The Rescue and the Rescuer
Because Jesus has given every believer the ministry of sharing the gospel with the world, we are in the same sense likened to that of a “rescuer” to those that are lost. And because we have that ministry, the Lord has made sure to supply every need to His people to see the mission out. We have the Holy Spirit, we have the discernment and wisdom of God; we have all of Heaven at our disposal. But there is one vital element that the Lord has left solely in the hands of His people to supply, and that is the willingness to carry it out: this He has left to us.
So what constitutes a Rescue?
a. Something must be lost or trapped
b. Something must be in danger, or cut off from safety
c. Something must be unable to deliver itself from its peril
A rescue implicitly requires also a rescuer. We should understand that in order for the rescue to be successful there must be a rescuer, but what are the requirements of that rescuer?
First, they must be qualified to do so. The rescuer must have the proper “credentials”. The Lord has provided His Church with every possible avenue needed to witness and share the Gospel of Christ to the world. I Corinthians chapter 12 provides us with a detailed list of those diverse gifts needed to accomplish the mission. Although the gifts may differ in this list, they are all provided and given to believers according to His divine will. Every believer has at least one spiritual gift. And all of these operations are “…given to every man to profit withal" (vs 12:7b). We are all, in some way or another, the recipients of those blessed administrations and the Lord expects them to be exercised. In John 20:21 we find these words concerning this very fact, “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” Then in II Corinthians 3: 5,6 we find these words, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” So we discover this truth that Jesus has qualified every believer to be a rescuer.
Surely there is more to this than being qualified. And there is, the rescuer must also be equipped and trained (Spirit filled and Bible literate). The rescuer must have the proper equipment to operate as such and be successful. The believer must have a relationship with the Word of God and an understanding of its contents. The Holy Spirit of God is our infallible, inerrant and inexhaustible resource; He enables us, He protects us, He guides and empowers us to reach the lost with the gospel.
Acts 1:8 tells us, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." The Holy Ghost gives us wisdom and understanding to rightly share the Word with others. In John 14:26 speaking of this Jesus Christ stated, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." What possible good would a “rescuer” have been if he arrives on the scene lacking the equipment to swim thru 2.5 miles of a pitch black, flooded cave? Of course, the answer is he would be no good at all. Not only myself they be equipped and trained but thirdly, they must also be familiar with the condition of those they are rescuing.
Just as the rescuers understood the conditions of their peril, the born again are also familiar with the hazards of sin and its deception. We were once the enemies of God, but now His ministers. Colossians 1:21 tell us, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled”. The Lord, who was touched with the feelings of our infirmities, (Romans 8:26) has also given to us the ministry of reconciliation; “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” II Corinthians 5:18
Fourthly, A rescuer must be prepared by having a plan. The “entry” plan and “exit” plan to save those boys was understood by all involved. They didn’t just rush headlong into the darkness without knowing the dangers. So, how are we to prepare and ready ourselves as the Lord’s rescuers? We must be solely dependent upon the empowerment and direction of the Holy Spirit of God…it is GOD’s Will, not mine; John 15:5b, “…for without me ye can do NOTHING”.
Here are just a few ways we can be prepared:
• We Prepare through the Preaching/Teaching of the Word of God :
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” Romans 10:17
• We Prepare through Prayer:
Matthew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
Luke 9:11-13 (vs9), "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you”
• We Prepare through Fellowship:
Hebrews 2:11 "For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,"
Hebrews 10:25 "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves, together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
Fifth, we also should understand that the rescuer must be willing. No matter the amount of preparation, equipment, training, review and re-review of the plan, nothing moves until a willingness emerges from it; the rescuer has got to go to the work of getting them out. Without a willing vessel, those boys would remain trapped and lost in that darkness even now. Without a willingness of God’s servants to fulfill the Lord’s Commission, the preparation and making ready would all come to nothing.
Notice the following verses concerning this very thing:
"Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing" Matthew 24:46
"For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." I Corinthians 15:58
"For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not." II Corinthians 8:12
Lastly, the rescuer must know the goal. Nothing solidifies and motivates a worker more than knowing the goal. For those in the cave rescue, it was to save lives, even at the cost of their own if needed. They were determined to get those boys out alive. They prepared and exhausted every available resource to realize the goal. In Christ, we have been graciously given great insight into some very extraordinary matters; we have been made privy to the spiritual warfare that rages about us. We even know, by the Word of God, that the victory is ours, Amen! Yet there are those that still remain in darkness, locked in caves of sin and despair. And it is the work and the commission of His Church to bring them out into the wonderful light of His dear Son, Jesus Christ.
Ask yourself these questions:
Why are we doing what we are doing? Is our motivation right with God?
What is an allowable loss? How many are we willing to pass by without giving the gospel? Jesus says that He is not willing that any should perish…what do we say?
What are the consequences if I fail? We know the end of the wicked, and Praise God somebody told me!
What is the reward of success?
What a moment it must have been when all those involved in the cave rescue saw all twelve of those souls emerge from that horrible darkness. If we could have been there to see their faces, the faces of their family members and loved ones. What a moment that must have been. Well dear Brother, Sister, we in Christ will also have our day of rejoicing when we come to see our Savior face to face, knowing in full what Jesus as accomplished for you and I. And to add to that rejoicing we will see the faces of those that we had a part in rescuing; the multitudes of those that were saved by our faithfulness in sharing the Word of God with them. As the song goes, “What a day, glorious day that will be!”
“He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” Psalms 126:6
- Spencer Close, Bus Director, Sharon Baptist Church
So Send I You
When we take up the Word of God in our hands and begin to read, we must reckon that what we are reading is powerful; the very words of God! So much so, that even one phrase recorded for us by our Lord and Savior is astounding when we consider all that is packed into it. In John 20 verse 21 we find such a phrase. It is here that Jesus instructs His disciples with the mission they are to carry out in His stead. Notice His instruction:
"Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." John 20:21
This instruction begins with the phrase, "Peace be unto you:..." Three times in this chapter our Lord issues this statement of peace to those troubled men. (John 20:19, 21, 26) The task they would set forth on required the peace of God upon their lives. In fact, in this very statement of commission, they would find peace. What do we notice about the words that follow this statement of peace?
First we see the:
Pattern of the Commission
What was the pattern of the commission? We see that the pattern begins with God. Notice that God the Father sent God the Son. "...as my Father hath sent me..." How are we to understand this? Among the many deep things of God mentioned in the Bible, this is hard to comprehend. But we can understand what God has given us to understand in His Word. For example in Acts 2: 22, 23 the Bible tells us:
"Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:"
This sending of Jesus Christ by the Father is outlined for us in the phrase, "...Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken..." By the way, these words given to us in the book of Acts make it clear that those who delivered Christ were in no wise relieved in their responsibility, but yet God is still sovereign. Then in Colossians 1:18 we find this about our wonderful Lord and Savior:
"And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."
The preeminence of Christ speaks to Him being chief or first. Jesus Christ is to whom we are to be conformed. Just as He was commissioned by God the Father, so we are commissioned by the Son of God. The pattern for our lives is ever before us in the Bible. It was necessary in all things that He might have the preeminence. Books upon books have been written concerning this matter we call "the Great Commission" and yet the Book contains the pattern for you and I.
Not only do we see the pattern of the Commission but we also see the
Pattern of our Commission
In this verse we go from the macro to the micro. The big picture is God's reconciling of man unto Himself. Jesus Christ is able to save us to the uttermost. The work of redemption is "finished” and so our labor follows His work. The Lord gives us the pattern of our Commission and we notice first that He is our example. When we look at how we are to engage people, not only Jesus is our Lord and Savior, but He is also our teacher and example. Albert Barnes in commenting on this passage had this to say concerning verse 21, "As God sent me to preach, to be persecuted, and to suffer; to make known his will, and to offer pardon to men, so I send you. This is the design and the extent of the commission of the ministers of the Lord Jesus. He is their model; and they will be successful only as they study his character and imitate his example.” Please note that the Biblical term is to be conformed to the image of Christ not simply imitation. This Commission is often isolated in our teaching to Soul-Winning, but truly our Commission is a calling for us to die to self and live our lives "in Christ." Paul put it this way, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
In Matthew 4:19, we are further shown this in Jesus' statement to the disciples. "And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." The word used here for follow gives the indication of "in the footsteps of" or "after Jesus." We follow in His footsteps. We walk the Calvary road to a place of death to self. Although the terms walking alongside of Jesus and the popular plaque depicting "footprints of Jesus" abound, the truth is we are called to the cross. Every Christian desires the fruit, but by necessity the fruit entails abiding in the vine. There is no such thing as a trouble-less Christ follower. He is our example.
Secondly we find this great truth: our enablement. The two words used by our Savior for "sending" speak both to "a setting apart" and also "a divine enablement." This is clear as in one verse later (vs. 22) we find, "And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:" Our enablement is dependent upon the indwelling presence and work of Holy Ghost; "...Christ in you, the hope of glory:" (Colossians 1:27) We find the equipping necessary for the task when our Savior said "...so send I you." We can thank the Lord that He is sending us for without Him we can do nothing! His abiding presence and our yielding to Him enable us for the impossible task of delivering the precious seed, the Word of God. We can rejoice and know the very words are true when our Saviour stated, "...and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:20)
- Pastor James, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Sharon Baptist church is an independent, fundamental Baptist church located in Hampton, VA.
Showing People the Way to God
- Personal Evangelism
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