The Life Is Not in the Shell

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

These mortal bodies of ours are but mere shells. The shell is not for keeping but a temporary confine that enshrouds an ever-growing, ever-maturing life force. The body is a shell that acts as a transient guardian of the life inside. The shell is synthetic in comparison to the eternal life it clothes.

This is how Paul could say, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21, NKJV). Was Paul morbid? Did he have an unhealthy fixation on death? Did Paul show a lack of respect for the life God had blessed him with? Absolutely not!

Paul lived life to the fullest. He said, “For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you” (Philippians 1:23-24). To him, life was a gift, and he had used it well to fight a good fight. However, he had also overcome the fear of the ‘sting of death’ and could now say, “It's better to die and be with the Lord than to stay in the flesh.” That kind of talk is absolutely foreign to our modern, spiritual vocabularies. We have become such life worshippers that we have very little desire to depart to be with the Lord.

Death is a mere breaking of the fragile shell. At the precise moment our Lord decides our shell has fulfilled its function, God's people must abandon their old, corrupt bodies back to the dust from which they came. Who would think of picking up the fragmented pieces of shell and forcing the newborn chick back into its original state? Who would think of asking a departed loved one to give up his glorified body made in Christ's own image and return to the decaying husk from which he or she broke free?

Every true Christian has been imbued with eternal life. It is planted as a seed in our mortal bodies and is constantly maturing. It is within us an ever-growing, ever-expanding process of development; and it must eventually break out of the shell to become a new form of life. This glorious life of God in us exerts pressure on the shell, and at the very moment resurrection life is mature, the shell breaks. The artificial bounds are broken, and the soul is freed from its prison. Praise the Lord!

Freedom from Sin's Slavery

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Faith is something you do based on what you know. Knowledge means nothing unless it is acted upon. Consider this example. The children of Israel received the good word that God had given them Canaan for a homeland. That information would have meant nothing at all to them, though, if they had remained in Egypt as slaves. The Bible says, “By faith [Moses] forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. …By faith [Israel] passed through the Red Sea as by dry land…” (Hebrews 11:27, 29, NKJV).

The Israelites did not march to the border of Canaan, fire one volley of arrows and expect all the enemy armies to drop dead. The land was theirs, but they had to possess it one step at a time.

Christ settled the issue of slavery to sin by declaring you emancipated from its dominion, but you have to believe it to the point that you do something about it. It is not enough to say, "Yes, I believe Christ forgives sin. I believe he is Lord. I know he can break the power of sin in my life." You are mentally consenting to what you heard, but faith is more than that. Faith is stepping out on that promise of freedom and acting upon it.

Scripture says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:3-4 NKJV).

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking who he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever” (1 Peter 5:8-11 NKJV).

Believers overcome the evil power of this world through faith. True faith is the only thing that can help you stand up with confidence against the powers of temptation. Self-control is possible only when, by faith, the truth about our freedom in Christ is accepted.

The Cure for Hopelessness

Gary Wilkerson

A lack of belief in who God says he is often results in a very unproductive life for believers. For example, God says that he's good, but we often still question, “Is he really good?” That question can lead to a lot of despair when we contemplate the future or the struggles in our lives.

We see this in the parable of the master who gave one servant five talents, another servant two talents and the third servant one talent. Two of those servants had hope; they believed that what their master had given them had purpose in their life and was ultimately for their benefit. As a result, they worked to see what they had doubled. When the master returned, he reviewed what they’d done and said to each one, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:23, ESV). This is the only time where the Bible actually calls a man a ‘good and faithful servant.’

We come then to the third servant. “He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man…so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’” (Matthew 25:24-25). He buried the talent but also his gifts, abilities and potential. In a sense, he buried his life. It all stemmed from his mentality when he said, “I knew you were a hard man. I knew I could never please you. I knew I couldn't do enough for you.”

That's when people get started asking God things like “Are you really there? Do you really care? Do you love me?” The reverse of those questions, if somebody's dealing with hopelessness, would be to study God. As just one example, God is omnipresent. He's everywhere all time, but what does that really mean? Well, God is faithful; he’s paying attention to each moment in our lives, and he’s interested in personally engaging in each of those moments.

Having that knowledge of who God actually is gives me confidence. If there are troubles in my life, I can know that he’s still present with me. That means that my difficulties probably have purpose. I can move forward in hope because God is present, just and good.

The Revelation that Fear Gives

Tim Dilena

I have a friend who hit a point where he didn't know what was going to happen with his job, ministry or anything that was about to take place in his life. Around that time, he wrote to me and said, “My wife and I were in a meeting in New York City, and I was hoping that the meeting would go differently. Afterward, my wife and I were walking to Whole Foods right in midtown Manhattan.”

He said, “There was fear all over us, and as we were walking, there was a lady standing there begging for money. I was thinking about how scary our future was because of what would happen to me in the meeting literally just minutes before, and I guess my face said it all. This homeless woman with a cardboard sign looked at me and yelled, ‘Fix your face. God is good.’ I’d just been rebuked by a homeless woman, and I did realize that I can fix my face because God is good. Because God is good, not only should our faces be fixed, but our faith should be full. God can help us through every storm and wave that affects our lives.”

Fear is not from God. If fear is not of God, why would God choose to allow it into our lives? How is he using this method of communication to bring warning to our life?

Fear is a revelation. It prompts us to ask ourselves, “Am I focusing on the right thing?”

Paul wrote, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:6-7, ESV). Think of that. When fear comes, it removes those three elements that are so important for every single day. We need power, love, and a sound mind to walk through every crisis that hits our lives, whether it’s a personal tragedy or a worldwide pandemic. When fear comes, it removes those three things and replaces them with weakness, selfishness and crazy narratives.

God says, “Fix your focus on me. I want to fix what's happening in you. I want to fix your faith.” If I believe that God is great and good, it not only begins to increase my faith, it begins to dissolve my fear.

After pastoring an inner-city congregation in Detroit for thirty years, Pastor Tim served at Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC for five years and pastored in Lafayette, Louisiana, for five years. He became Senior Pastor of Times Square Church in May of 2020.

The Blink Generation

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Many Christians read the Bible regularly, believing it is God’s revealed Word for their lives. Over and over in the pages of scripture, they read about generations who heard the voice of God. They read of God speaking to his people with this phrase repeated time after time: “And God said…” However, many of these same Christians live as though God doesn’t speak to his people today.

An entire generation of believers has come to make decisions completely on their own without praying or consulting God’s Word. Many simply decide what they want to do, then they ask God to validate it. They move ahead forcefully, their only prayer being, “Lord, if this is not your will, then stop me.”

We are now living in a time referred to as the “blink generation.” People are making major decisions in the blink of an eye. A best-selling book has been written on this concept, titled Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. The theory is “Trust your instincts. Blink-of-the-eye decisions prove to be the best.”

Think about all the hurried-up “blink language” we hear every day. “This is an offer of the century. You can make a bundle overnight, but you have only a short window of opportunity. Get on it now!” The driving spirit behind it all is “Don’t make a slow and thoughtful decision. Don’t get council from others who may tell you ‘no.’ Just do it!”

Such thinking has begun to infect the church, affecting the decisions made not just by “blink Christians” but by “blink ministers.” Scores of bewildered parishioners have written to us telling the same story. “Our pastor came back from a church-growth conference and immediately announced, ‘As of today, everything changes.’ He decided we would become one of the popular trend churches overnight. He didn’t even ask us to pray about it… We’re all confused.”

Just a few years ago, the watchword among Christians was “Did you pray about this matter? Are your brothers and sisters surrounding you in prayer? Have you received godly counsel?” Has this been your practice? In the past year, how many important decisions have you made where you honestly took the matter to God? The reason God wants full control of our lives is to save us from disasters, which is exactly where most of our “blink decisions” end up.