The Easter Sunday Message that Few Hear by Charles Pretlow 4-16-2020
It is a little disconcerting to see the next level of birth pang judgments hit the world and America, to the point of closing the world’s economy and shutting down most Christian and religious gatherings.
Even though we have warned since the mid-nineties about increased troubles. It is still breath taking when a major event like this pandemic comes. It magnifies the end-time reality and these events should be taking hold of God’s people.
Unfortunately, the wake-up meter for God’s people has hardly moved.
This pandemic should shine the spotlight upon Christ’s prophetic warnings that are coming to pass very rapidly. Yet, only a few Pastors and leaders point to the truth concerning Christ’s warnings:
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven… “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:10 -28).
The times of the Gentiles are ending, yet most Christians everywhere became worried about observing Easter Sunday, not realizing that God is making a statement that the Church age is also coming to an end. Christians are more into worshipping what Christ did and how God raised Him from the dead than acknowledging what Christ is doing now in preparing for His soon return. Every pulpit should be proclaiming the good news of the coming kingdom, calling Christians to wake up, get ready and embrace Christ’s harder teachings—dying to the old self.
Few believers desire, let alone know how to pick up their cross and enter a death like Christ’s to become truly raised into newness of life and walk in Christ’s strength, being made ready for increased troubles and challenges.
To become prepared is to learn to walk in the discipline of the Lord, learning to die to the deceitfulness of our old nature, especially those that lead us to act like a Christian in pretense.
Few believers today walk in the fulness of Christ because few are instructed on how to put to death their carnal motives and carnal energy in serving Christ. Most Christians, if instructed, avoid the work of the cross and bypass picking up their cross daily.
If you could see the terrified looks on church going Christians, leaders, and pastors when challenged to prayerfully give Christ permission to do whatever it takes to transform them into the person God desires—it is amazing to see their faces turn ash white from fear.
It is time to realize that Christ is speaking to the last days Christian: “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:18-19).
Every sincere believer must understand in this hour what the Apostle Paul meant: “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:5).
Indeed, Christ included us in his death and resurrection positionally. Meaning, we do not have to physically die to be freed from the power of sin and the tyranny of the old self, Christ took that upon Himself on our behalf. However, Christ’s other aspect of His work on the cross is to give grace and mercy for his followers as they become united with Him in a death like His—not as His literal physical death on a cross.
Christ’s work on the cross and his resurrection warrants our willingness to follow him into a death to the old self that is transforming internally. In that work, we trust God to raise us to newness of life, having Christlike nature created within, by the hand of God, not by our religiosity.
As believers, we must embrace a period of dying to our old self and suffering in Christ’s disciplines that we may die to our old-nature motives, thoughts, and intentions of the heart in following Christ.
This is a process in where we work towards becoming dead to the old nature and raised in newness of life, (life as the Father has within himself, to be imparted to all true followers of Christ), as each becomes alive to God, having Christlike nature created within. No one can facilitate this inner transformation religiously but can only be accomplished by becoming united with Christ in a death and resurrection like His. (And initially, becoming united with Christ in dying to a self-ran life can be challenging and emotionally painful.)
Jesus was firm about giving up one’s life for His sake: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?… So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-33). Most believers still struggle with relationship idolatry. Therefore, Jesus demands we no longer live for others, nor impinge upon others to live for us! Especially marriage and family relationships.
The Apostle Paul describes this death-to-the-old-self process: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8-11).
Jesus calls all who follow him to give up everything and anyone that gives a sense of wellbeing, self-worth and purpose on earth: “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).
It is not that most believers today refuse to pick up their cross and lose their life for Christ (out of consideration for Him, as Christ did for us). Rather, most do not know how to die to the old-self life, when a moment of dying comes upon them on any given day. Thus, few Christians truly end up belonging to Christ and walking intimately with Christ: “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24).
Indeed, Good Friday and Easter celebrations should honor what Christ has done for us, but also reaffirm and teach on how to practice Christ’s example—to become united with him in a death like his. Few believers in this hour experience the believer’s practical death to the old-self life to become raised by God to newness of life in Christ. (For most, the old self-life is still operating behind the scene hiding true motives in serving Christ, not in obedience to Christ, but for one’s own glory and recognition.)
We must learn to work with the Holy Spirit to catch our true motives and intentions of the heart. Far too many believers are driven to serve Christianity by deceitful desires and motives that are akin one’s former manner of life. These hidden wrong motives and intentions must be put off by making them dead! (See Ephesians 4:22-24.)
Today, popular teachings encourage followers of Christ to suppress (not crucify) the uglier aspects of the old self and allow the good aspects of the old self life to drive them in serving Christ and finding purpose. In the end many who are deceived in this manner will hear these terrifying words from Christ, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23).
Most Christians love to celebrate their inclusion in Christ’s death and resurrection: “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin” (Romans 6:6-7).
Indeed, that is our position that God has put us in, crucified with Christ, provided we give ourselves to Christ. That is God’s gift through his Son to every person who becomes a believer, but then our part is to become united with Christ in a death like His and then be raised into a new and divinely manifested life. We cannot discipline ourselves to accomplish this, it is rather by the discipline of the Lord. In that we share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible we may attain the resurrection from the dead, learning to work out our own salvation in fear and trembling working with God daily, following Christ.
You are welcome to listen to MC Global Ministries’ full Easter Sunday message, The Christian’s Resurrected Life explaining in more detail this work of the cross upon the believer’s life.
Also, this last Sunday we implemented our Intercessory Prayer Ministry and already we are seeing prayers answered. You are welcome to send in your prayer requests to be added to our next Sunday prayer meeting. Or you can also call our toll-free number and leave a prayer request message: (888)575-9626 Ext 6
May Christ lay hold of all of us and prepare us for the coming challenges leading to His soon return.
Copyright © 2020 Charles Pretlow – all rights reserved