What is Our Assignment?
By Iverna Tompkins
Transcribed by Jane Vaughn
It is such an honor to be among people who obviously are in love with the same One I am. That always creates a comfortable environment. Whether there’s two gathered together or two million – it doesn’t matter – if our hearts are one with the Lord. That unity affects our worship time together.
I am often somewhat amused – as I have a rather over-developed sense of humor. :-) But it’s amusing for me to hear all the new songs in the Church today. No matter where I go, week after week after week, as I am in different churches – I never know the songs anymore. What’s more amusing to me is that every new song that is sung reminds me of one of the oldies from my youthful days that carried exactly the same message. I mean, how far can you go into the woods? Halfway? And then you’re on the way out again. :-) We used to sing, “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, All His wonderful passion and purity! Oh, Thou Spirit divine! All my nature refined – till the beauty of Jesus is seen in me.” Today we’re singing the same message – the tempo is a little faster :-) – and we say different words, but it means exactly the same thing. It is an exciting day! Do you know that? It is an exciting day in the Lord!
I would like to read two verses from the Book of Genesis and then a longer passage from Hebrews. Genesis, chapter 1, verses 26 and 27 begin: “And God said…” God said. Now, when a preacher reads the Word, he or she gets new thoughts with every sentence and we’re prone to stop and preach it. This is one of those times. :-) So, indulge me for just a moment. :-) Whenever you see: “And God said” you better stop and salute! Okay, let’s go on…
“And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them….” What God is saying here is: “Let us make mankind” – human beings. “…and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So, God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.”
That small portion of Scripture lays the foundation for us to turn now to Hebrews, chapter 2. I’ll let you read it without interruption :-) from The Message (actually a paraphrase of the Scriptures, but a very good one): “It’s crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so that we don’t drift off. If the old message delivered by the angels was valid and nobody got away with anything, do you think we can risk neglecting this latest message, this magnificent salvation? First of all, it was delivered in person by the Master, then accurately passed on to us by those who heard it from Him. All the while God was validating it with gifts through the Holy Spirit, all sorts of signs and miracles, as He saw fit.
God didn’t put angels in charge of this business of salvation that we’re dealing with here. It says in Scripture, ‘What is man and woman that you bother with them; why take a second look their way? You made them not quite as high as angels, bright with Eden’s dawn light; then you put them in charge of Your entire handcrafted world.’
When God put them in charge of everything, nothing was excluded. But we don’t see it yet; don’t see everything under human jurisdiction. What we do see is Jesus, made ‘not quite as high as angels,’ and then, through the experience of death, crowned so much higher than any angel, with a glory ‘bright with Eden’s dawn light.’ In that death, by God’s grace, He fully experienced death in every person’s place.
It makes good sense that the God who got everything started and keeps everything going now completes the work by making the Salvation Pioneer perfect through suffering as He leads all these people to glory. Since the One who saves and those who are saved have a common origin, Jesus doesn’t hesitate to treat them as family, saying, ‘I’ll tell My good friends, My brothers and sisters, all I know about You; I’ll join them in worship and praise to You.’
Again, He puts Himself in the same family circle when He says, ‘Even I live by placing My trust in God.’ And yet again, ‘I’m here with the children God gave Me.’
Since the children are made of flesh and blood, it’s logical that the Savior took on flesh and blood in order to rescue them by His death. By embracing death, taking it into Himself, He destroyed the Devil’s hold on death and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death.
It’s obvious, of course, that He didn’t go to all this trouble for angels. It was for people like us, children of Abraham. That’s why He had to enter into every detail of human life. Then, when He came before God as High Priest to get rid of the people’s sins, He would have already experienced it all Himself – all the pain, all the testing – and would be able to help where help was needed.”
I want to ask a question that is on the hearts and in the minds of many people today: “What’s going on?” I mean – here we are in this church – and thank God for this local church! I truly thank God for pastors and people who really understand that “the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mt.4:17). “Go ye into…” every bar – No! :-) “…all the world and preach the Gospel” (Mk.16:15). I’m so proud of men (and women) who are not afraid to go into some “ify” places to preach repentance. I’m proud of this pastor for filling this place with “bikers” not long ago. Who needs it more than they? Some of us are too pious – or, too educated – or – just too boring! :-) – to handle those kinds of things. But look what the Lord is doing today! He is breaking every mold that is not the one in which He made us. Now, that’ll preach the whole sermon. If you take just that much and chew on it a little while – we could say, “in Jesus’ Name, amen,” and you could be out of here. But we’re not going to do that, :-) I’m going to expand on it a little. :-)
“Let us make man in our image.” Out of the very same – pardon the common word: “stuff” – He made everything that was made. There was nothing made that was not made by Him (Jn.1:3). Is that Scripture? Of course it is. (cf.Eph.3:9; Col.1:16,17).
In the very image of Himself – Himself, Christ – who came here, suffered, went through all the things that we just read from The Message, that makes it so clear by using our every day language. I apologize if any of you were offended by our using a paraphrase, and I forgive you. :-) But we have to know what’s going on today. We cannot afford to be tripped up by formal word usage (some of it obsolete) and difficult-to-follow sentence construction – either of which may cloak the clearer understanding.
If you turn on your television set these days (September), you will be reminded of the horror of hijacked airplanes flying into the World Trade Center buildings in NYC (in 2001), the killing of thousands of people and the frustration of millions. We never expected anything like that to ever happen in this nation but we need to be reminded of it. We need to be thankful to God that it didn’t go any further than it did. We need to understand that we have a President who, with all of his mistakes, can stand up and admit: “I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I’ve learned a lot.” I really do appreciate that. We need to pray more today than we’ve ever prayed for our leaders and the up-coming elections with all of the inherent details. And we understand that – but – the common question that is held before our God still is: “What’s going on?”
Over the past few years, we had a whole series of fictional books that talked about those people who are going to be “left behind” when the Rapture of the Church occurs. I read every one of them because I grew up under that dispensational teaching and they really met my need. I could see this happening and then that happening and then that will happen and then that will happen and then ::zip!:: I’m outta here! :-)
I really liked those books better than the next one I read that said just the opposite. It proclaimed, “left behind and happy to be!” :-) The second author went on to say that we’re not going up, we’re just going to get better and the Kingdom will be established here. And I cried myself to sleep! :-)
But I don’t really know the answer that you want me to know – are we going up before the Tribulation? Halfway through it? Or at the end? I honestly don’t know. I feel it’s pretty “tribble.” How many of you have had a lot of trouble and you feel it’s a pretty tribble moment right now?
Then you pick up the newspaper and read what’s going on in the world these days. If you try to tell those people that it’s going to get worse, they’re likely to say – “DUH! :-) Who cares? It can’t get any worse than this! We’re sitting here dying and…” and all of these things. I know these kinds of things go through your minds (and obviously mine), but we don’t often address them from the pulpit. We give little bits and pieces here and there, and hopefully you’ll do something profitable with them.
But – when God created us (from Genesis, we read the 2 verses) He said, “I’m creating man for a couple reasons. One is so that they will be sons. I want many sons! I don’t just want one Son, but I will make one perfect Son, and He will show them how to live.” (cf. Heb.2:10).
Does anyone know John 3, verse 16? “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son.” Now don’t panic, thinking: “Oh, I know where she’s going.” You don’t have a clue! :-) Stay tuned! :-)
We’re so afraid of saying “sons of God.” You know – “…that we’re all the exact same as Jesus.” That isn’t true. Jesus is the same substance – or the same “stuff” – as God. But Jesus, when He died – remember: He lived in a flesh-body on this earth and He died, just as our bodies will – but when He died, He was at that moment in total trust that the Lord (Yahweh) would raise Him up. God was the Resurrection and the Life in Christ – so that Christ could be the Resurrection and the Life in everyone who would receive Him (Jn.1:12; Jn.11:25). That’s the message – the Good News – that we carry to the world. It’s so simple – Jesus died for everyone – He rose for everyone. But “everyone” isn’t going to be saved – even though the choice is theirs to make.
We live in a crazy time when we don’t want to offend anyone. Hello. The truth is you cannot cease from offending people who have set themselves against God. Anyone who has set or fixed it in his mind: “There is no God” or “He’s not telling me what to do” or “I don’t believe this… I don’t believe that…” – there’s no place to go with a person who makes and adheres to those statements. You can be diverted by the enemy in your course (or your purpose), by spending lots of time trying to go over and over all the appropriate verses. The Bible speaks of those times as “senseless arguments” (2Tim.2:23) – debating with such hardened people. We need to be sensitive to those situations because there are genuinely hungry ones out there that really would love to hear something positive.
I’m 77 now and I have seen a few things and I’ve wasted lots of time on people who just wanted to talk. The enemy has allowed me to expend my energies on people that have no intention of hearing the Gospel or being changed by a touch from God’s hand.
The Holy Spirit wants to give you and me discernment to know where to spend our energies, how much to give and when to say, “If that is your stance and your stand, I cannot penetrate it.” Then our only remaining responsibility is to walk away from them and pray, “God, You alone can get through to this one, so You must do something.”
Now I am really a little – I was going to say “a little ticked” but that wouldn’t sound very nice. :-) So, I’ll say it this way: I am disturbed in my spirit :-) at the weariness of God’s people. They are weary “doing well.” The Bible says, “Don’t do it! – ‘Be not weary in well-doing.’” (Gal.6:9; 2Thes.3:13; 1Cor.15:58). Now if our energies were really directed by the Holy Spirit, every place we go, we would either plant (sow), water, or reap (1Cor.3:6,7).
We have to learn this – we have to see this truth. For if we don’t understand it we’re going to be wasted and we’ll end up with nothing but leaves (no fruit, no harvest) – nothing to bring to the Master. It then will be our lament: “But I’ve worked my whole life for God! I worked in that church. I gave myself completely. I did this and I did that….” You see, there comes a point when we have to know that if we’re not directed by the Spirit of God to do good – “do good” isn’t being called for.
Is this too heavy? Would you prefer something lighter? “Mary had a little Lamb – Thank God!” :-) “And He’s worthy to be praised!”
So – through Christ – or as 1 Corinthians 15:21 says, “For since by man came death [Adam], by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” If we receive Christ!
We hold the whole answer for society’s questions or problems today. It is: “Jesus Christ.” That’s our answer. There’s no good in you and there’s no good in me, but Christ alone (Isa.64:6; Jn.14:17; Rom.7:18). “Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights… in whom is no variableness” (Jas.1:17). He’s “the same yesterday – today – forever!” (Heb.13:8). He lives within us (Gal.2:20)! I carry Him. I walk with Him. I talk with Him. I want Him to show Himself every place I go!
Some times, when I see opportunities, I’m not hesitant and I simply move in. At other times, when I see need, I try to hammer my way in. I’m sure you understand what that means. You know you can’t hammer your way into a heart. Counselors know the truth of that. People can make an appointment, but if they really don’t want help, you simply can’t help them. You have all their answers. You can be truly great at listening and counseling and giving advice. You can be prayed up and know the Word. But the whole truth is, if they don’t want help they can just sit there looking at you.
In fact, I bet you (oh, I don’t say “I bet you”) but – I bet you :-) – that a major portion of the counselees that supposedly come for help, can use the same words you use when trying to help them. Sure! They know the vocabulary. Years ago my job was in probation work – for 5 years. When the girls would come into my office to talk, they could throw the whole thing at me. “Oh, I’m slightly schizoid in personality and….” They knew all these things and just spit it out right at me, and I’d think, “That was my line!” :-)
But you see, “lines” aren’t cutting it today. Life – reality – is what people want to see. They want to be amazed with your life! They want to see what works! They want tangible evidence. “What is it about you?” That’s what Peter was telling us to be ready for: “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts” and then get ready – “to give an answer to every one that asketh you a reason of the hope that lieth in you.” (1Pet.3:15).
Go to Part 2