Inside Perspective - September 2014

My Dear Family in Christ,

Ever precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

By the grace of God, we have an awesome chapel here in Rahway. From the inside, you would never even know that you are in a prison setting. It has beautiful wooden pews, a carpeted altar, a baptismal font, a choir section, and podiums with the whole works! It's all topped off by our loving godly pastor, the Reverend Larry Akins, who pours his life out for us daily.

In addition to the chapel, we are honored with a plethora of bible studies to meet all the needs of the body. We enjoy communion the first Sunday of every month and baptism on the last Sunday of each month. I am please to tell you that in the eight years that I have been here, I can count on one hand the number of times we did not have a baptism! Men are constantly being saved and transformed. We also have a leadership council, usher board, full choir with instruments; and we strive to live the Word daily.

On Sundays, we are privileged to have two services that run two hours in the morning and two hours at night. Anyone may come to the services, but they must follow the protocol or deal with the consequences. Occasionally, some men come to the services with the wrong motives, perhaps to meet a friend to talk or whatever. I've noticed that most people do not consider the consequences until it is too late; they simply do not take the warnings seriously.

The ushers are charged with keeping order, which is a very difficult and thankless job. It is awkward for prisoners to police other prisoners, and the ushers are often put in untenable situations. We had to find a solution, and so the problem was brought to the elders’ table.

After much patience and prayer-not necessarily in that order-our pastor decided to implement the dreaded "banned list." Once on said list, an inmate is no longer allowed to come to the chapel. There were men who had been warned to be quiet countless times, so they were without excuse. Well, no one knew it was coming. The list was just put out and enforced by an officer. You should have seen the look on the faces of the men when they saw their names on the list!

It is written, "Take therefore the talent from him and give it unto him that has ten...and cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Mt. 25:28-30)

We learned last month that imputed righteousness (Rom. 4) is; a gift of God and gives us our standing in Christ in the family of God. It is objective and we cannot add to it or take from it. We also learned that our works, as believers, will one day be woven into our wedding garment. Your garment will consist, Lord willing, of your righteous acts. (Rev. 21:7-9)

In our above text, we have a servant found to be "unprofitable." His works were found wanting in the eyes of the Lord at the Judgment Seat of Christ. (I Cor. 3:9-15) Yes beloved, his name was found on the dreaded "banned list." Can you imagine the look on his face?! He had been warned many times by the Head Usher, the Holy Spirit, that he was not following protocol, and therefore, he had to deal with the consequences. The Lord had been very patient and prayerful with him, not necessarily in that order, but His convicting grace went unheeded and now he is found on the dreaded "banned list."

If this parable is speaking of the servant going to hell then it is teaching salvation by works which we know is false. Therefore, we must ask ourselves ... who is this unprofitable servant and why is he in this untenable situation. We see he got there by his conduct. I believe he will be outside the brightness of the wedding banquets joyful festivities in an attitude of regret. I realize this may be seen as a controversial perspective, but only because most Christians just "assume" that all will be rewarded. This is simply not true and is a lie from the enemy to lull believers to sleep.

As with Esau, for the unprofitable servant the die will have been cast and there will be found no place of repentance. He will have lost his inheritance. We may observe that Isaac still blessed Esau in that he remained his child, but Esau sold his birthright and therefore lost his inheritance. By grace, God still blesses an unfaithful believer, in that he remains a child, but he may sell his birthright by bad conduct and therefore lose his inheritance. He'll then be found on the dreaded "banned list" for the heavenly wedding festivities! (Heb.12:15-17; Matt. 22:12)

Beloved, sometimes it's awkward for Christians to police other Christians but there is always a solution at "The Elder's Table." Consider what I say. More so, consider the Word.

There are innumerable warnings to believers and we simply must take them seriously or we will be without excuse. I implore you to search the Scriptures! (Acts 17:11) On this day right now, would you be found profitable or unprofitable? Precious one, all of creation is moving toward the wedding of God's only begotten Son. It will be the grandest event in all of His-story! No one seems to know its coming and that the heavenly officer will enforce it!