Friday, October 24, 2014

SAVING FAITH IS BELIEVING AND TRUSTING GOD

Born again believers are always talking about "salvation" (at least they should be!), but to the lost world, the meaning of the word is not always clear.  In the biblical sense, "salvation" is the work of the Lord on behalf of those who believe and trust in Him (Gen. 49:18; Ps. 40:10; Rev. 7:10; etc.).  But from exactly what is one saved?  God's wrath!

All of us are sinners (Rom. 3:23).  The penalty for our sin is death, which will be followed by God's judgment (Rom. 6:23a; Heb. 9:27).  Of course, even born again believers die, but the Scripture is not speaking about physical death.  The penalty for sin is a spiritual death, which is also known as the "second death" (Rev. 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8).   

The good news is, God has offered us a means to escape, to be saved from the sentence of spiritual death (Rom. 5:8; 6:23b).  Jesus offered us salvation by allowing Himself to be crucified and to be buried, knowing that His Father would raise Him from the dead (Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:27; 13:35; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; etc.)!  One need only to pray for God to save him by simply calling upon the Lord Jesus, and believing that God, as evidenced in His raising Jesus from the dead, is willing to accept His sacrifice on our behalf (Rom. 10:9-13).

Salvation is a gift from God, period!  The Apostle Paul wrote:  "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8).  When we believe the message that God loved us and sent His Son to die in our place; when we trust Him; when we take Him at His Word, we are saved (Jn. 3:14-18)! 

Religionists cannot fathom this simple truth.  They believe it is possible to earn God's good favor.  The problem is, the Bible does not call us to be religious.  It calls us to believe and trust in God!  We are called to trust God 134 times in the Bible!  God calls us to believe in Him 131 times in the Scriptures!  Religion is mentioned in three places in the Word of God, and all three reveal its inability to save one's soul (Acts 26:5; Gal. 1:13-14; Jam. 1:26-27).


Faith that saves, is the result of believing and trusting in God! 
 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

ISAIAH NINE VERSE SIX

"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
This verse has been used millions of times on Christmas cards, and while it is easy to see that the beginning of the verse refers to Jesus being born, the rest of the verse has nothing to do with the birth of Christ. The birth narratives, the genealogies, and the themes of the Synoptic Gospels do not focus upon Jesus as God; instead, they emphasize different aspects of His identity: [Mt. 2:2 - Israel's King; Mk. 10:45 - God's Servant; and Lk. 19:10 - Son of man]. It is not until John's Gospel that the Deity of Christ is the focus (Jn. 1:1, 14). And yet, hundreds of years before Jesus was born, Isaiah saw the promised Messiah as being God. He called Him:

Wonderful Counselor: The only time the New Testament describes Jesus as a Counselor is found in Revelation 3:18. Not only was He no longer a new born child, by the time of John's vision, He had been crucified, buried, resurrected, ascended, glorified, and seated at God's right hand. If Jesus is to be called Wonderful Counselor, it is due to His unity with the Holy Spirit, who was sent to indwell born-again believers from Pentecost until today (Jn. 14:16-20; 16:7; Acts 2:4).

Mighty God: Jesus declared to His disciples that He and the Father are one (Jn. 10:30; 17:22; 1 Jn. 5:7). Thomas called Jesus, "My Lord and my God" without being rebuked (Jn. 20:28). And while most claiming to be Christians believe that Jesus is the Creator God, all mankind will know it when He returns (Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:1-2; Rev. 20:1-15).

Everlasting Father: As I mentioned above, Jesus claimed to be one with the Father. He said, "If ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also: and from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him" (Jn. 14:7). The writer of Hebrews said of Jesus, "Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Heb. 1:3).

Prince of Peace: This one may be the easiest to show these titles are referring to Christ's role as an adult. Jesus, Himself, said that He did not come to bring peace, but a sword/division (Mt.. 10:34; Lk. 12:51). Nowhere in the New Testament is He called the Prince of Peace. Yet His role as the Lamb of God provides for peace between God and sinful man, a fact already determined before the world was created (Jn. 1:29, 36; Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:20; Rev. 13:8). And therein may lie the key to understanding how the baby Jesus could be described by these four titles; they are prophetic titles of what The Child would accomplish during His short sojourn with fallen man.


Thanks be to the Father for sending Jesus Christ for me!
Thanks be to the Son for offering Himself to pay for my sin!
Thanks be to the Spirit for convincing me of the Gospel! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

THE JESUS WHO SAVES

The Jehovah's Witnesses believe in a Jesus.  The Mormons believe in a Jesus.  Even the Muslims believe in a Jesus.  But does that mean they are saved?  NO!  Why?  Because they err in their understanding of who Jesus is.  None of them believe Jesus is eternally God.  The Jehovah's Witnesses and the Muslims deny His deity altogether, and the Mormons believe that, like God Himself, Jesus began as a man, and He has been "promoted" to be a God.  In case you didn't get that, they believe Father God was once a man! 

Ironically, Satan and his devils know exactly who Jesus is!  The Word of God says in Matthew 8:29, that when Jesus approached two men who were possessed by devils, the devils cried out, "What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God?  Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?"

Proverbs 30:4 says, "Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended?  Who hath gathered the wind in His fists?  Who hath bound the waters in a garment?  Who hath established all the ends of the earth?  What is His name, and what is His Son's name, if thou canst tell?"

John 3:16-18 says, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.  He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

In Matthew 3:17, we read:  "And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is  My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."  Again, in Matthew 17:5, we read:  "While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him."

Jesus IS God - Jesus is the Creator (Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:1-2; etc.).  Jesus forgave sin; only God can forgive sin (Mt. 9:1-8).  Jesus accepted worship; only God is to be worshipped (Mt. 2:11; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 28:9; Jn. 20:28; etc. / Mt. 4:10; Lk. 4:8; etc.).


To be saved, one must accept Jesus for who He is:  LORD (Rom. 10:9-10)!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A MAN'S EVOLVING FAITH

One of my favorite chapters in all of the Bible is John Nine. We are told that Jesus saw a blind man. We don't know who he was, but Jesus gave much attention to him. When asked why he had been born blind, Jesus told His disciples that his blindness was not due to his sin; after all, can a baby sin?  He also tells them that God wasn't punishing the man's parents for their sin, but that the man was born blind for a special purpose. God, knowing that His Son would one day heal him, and that in so doing, provide proof of His Son's identity, determined that he should be born blind. This sounds like a very cruel thing to do, but in all honesty, most of us would be willing to suffer and even die to be used of God for His glory.

After Jesus healed him, all those who knew him, and knew that he was born blind, were faced with a decision. They would have to acknowledge that Jesus had healed him, or that it was the devil trying to fool them. While they debated his true identity, the man testified that he had been blind, but that a man named Jesus had healed him (v. 11). Later, when asked by the Pharisees who had healed him, he responded in verse 17 that Jesus was a prophet. The religious leaders, not being satisfied with his answer, summoned his parents to verify his identity. Apparently the parents, and perhaps by this time the man himself, knew He was the long awaited Messiah, the Christ, but none of them dared to say it (v. 22). When asked again, the man questions them as to whether they, too, wanted to be the Christ's disciples (v. 27); and, "If this man were not of God, He could do nothing" (v. 33).

When Jesus heard that the religious leaders had cast him out, He went to the man and asked him if he believed on the Son of God. Not knowing that it was Jesus, he said, "Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him ?" When Jesus identified Himself, the man worshiped Him. Jesus had gone from being just a man, to being a prophet, to being the Christ, to being the Son of God, and finally, the man knew Jesus was God, for only God was to be worshiped (Ex. 20:2-5; Mt. 4:10).
 

At what stage of awareness are you? Born again believers know Him as Lord. 
And as such, He is worthy of our obedience and worship.

Monday, October 20, 2014

COREY'S BELIEF GIVES US PEACE

The Bible speaks of new beginnings many times.  The first book, Genesis, is named for the beginning, and starts out with, "In the beginning...."   In Chapter Four, we are told that men began to call upon the name of the Lord (YHVH).   It took three generations before man understood his need for God's help.  Adam's son, Seth, had a son, Enosh, and only then did man begin calling on the Lord.  We are such slow learners.

The Gospel of John starts with the same three words: "In the beginning...."  The next word(s) in Genesis One, and in John One, describe the same person, but the Lord used different ways to say it.  In Genesis, it is "God." In John, it is "was the Word."  To those unfamiliar with the Bible, "the Word" is a title for Jesus.   If one reads the entire first verse of John, it is clear that Jesus is God;  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."   Then in verse fourteen, John tells us that "...the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth."

So did Jesus begin at the moment of His conception, at His birth, or some other time?  The answer is that He did not have a beginning!   He is God, and God is eternal.  Over and over again, Jesus speaks of being with the Father before the foundation of the world, which by the way, Jesus created (Jn. 1:1-3; Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:16; and Heb. 1:1-2).   He told His opponents that He lived before Abraham (Jn. 8:58).   And, in John 17:5, Jesus prays to the Father and says, "And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was."  The Son of God had no beginning, but He chose to become a man in order to die for us (Phil. 2:5-8).  And because He made that choice, you and I can have a new beginning.  Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, that when we believe in Christ, we become a new creature (creation).  We begin a new life, a new life that will have its final change when we see Jesus and are immediately changed into His likeness (1 Jn. 3:2).

On October 7th, my eldest grandson, at the age of twenty-nine, entered into the presence of God.  Because he had believed the Gospel that says Jesus died for his sin, that He was buried, and that He rose again, according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3-4), Corey was transformed into Christ's likeness!  He no longer struggles with the trials and temptations of this world, but is now experiencing that for which all born again believers long:  the peace and joy of being in the presence of Almighty God!


If you were to die today, would your loved ones know you are with Jesus?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

2 CORINTHIANS FIVE (NLT)

"For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.  We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing.  For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.  While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us.  Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.  God Himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee He has given us His Holy Spirit.

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord.  For we live by believing and not by seeing.  Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.  So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please Him.  For we must all stand before Christ to be judged.  We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. 

Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others.  God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too.  Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart.  If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God.  And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit.  Either way, Christ’s love controls us.  Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.  He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves.  Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.  At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view.  How differently we know Him now!  This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ.  And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him.  For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.  And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.  So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us.  We speak for Christ when we plead, "Come back to God!"  For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ."

This is the Word of God; faith that saves, is the result of believing His Word!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A BAKER'S DOZEN OF HOPE

*** (1 Cor. 1:7) "...eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ."

*** (Phil. 3:20) "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior...."

*** (Col. 3:4) "When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory."

*** (1 Th. 1:10) "...and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead...."

*** (1 Tim. 6:14) "That you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing."

*** (2 Tim. 4:8) "Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing."

*** (Titus 2:11-13) "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ."

*** (Heb. 9:28) "So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation."

*** (Heb. 10:37) "For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry."

*** (Jam. 5:8) "You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand."

*** (1 Pet. 1:13) "Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

*** (1 Jn. 3:2) "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."

*** (Rev. 22:20) "He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming quickly.' 


Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"