Preview: Abide in Christ Daily Devotional
Abide in Christ Daily Devotional
Free Daily Devotion for You
Published: Wed, 21 Mar 2012 21:56:32 -0500
Last Build Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2012 21:58:04 -0500
God is Able
Wed, 21 Mar 2012 21:56:32 -0500
What is your favorite doxology in the Bible? Mine is found in Ephesians 3:20-21.
The context is a prayer for God’s high purposes for His redeemed people. Paul’s prayer is that every believer “be filled up to all the fullness of God” (v. 19).
No Christian ever has to worry about having inadequate resources to live the Christian life. God wants us to experience His fullness. The means of this fullness is the Holy Spirit.
His prayer is that every believer may be strengthened internally through the Holy Spirit every day and in every circumstance (v. 16). He is our Comforter, Helper or Encourager, who is called along side to help in time of need. He helps us to do the right thing at the right time under all circumstances. He is our competence to live the Christian life.
He also prays that believers will be growing in their availability to Christ (v. 17a). We are Christians because we have Christ indwelling us, but Paul’s prayer is that Christ will take fuller possession of every aspect of the believer’s life. It is the idea of Jesus Christ settling down in our hearts and making Himself at home and controlling us as the rightful owner of the home. The same word (katoikeo) is used of the fullness of the Godhead abiding in Christ and of Christ abiding in the believer’s life. The verb denotes a permanent habitation as opposed to an occasional visit.
Moreover, Paul prays that we will be firmly rooted or fixed, and grounded in love (vv. 17b-18). God’s love nourishes the believer because it is on a solid foundation. Paul prays that the believer will grow up in the soil of rich love.
He prays that believers will comprehend the greatness of God’s love for us (v. 19). We can never exhaust the love of Christ by our knowledge of it. What Paul is praying for is a true knowledge of God’s love for us. We can know that what we perceive is the true love of Christ. His prayer is that we grow in our awareness of that love for us.
From Despair to Hope
Tue, 20 Mar 2012 21:37:45 -0500
It is almost uncanny how the poet describes the abandonment of the sufferer by God to the scorn of evil people who mocked Him. The Hebrew poet-king wrote,
But I am a worm and not a man,
A reproach of men and despised by the people.
All who see me sneer at me;
They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying,
“Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him;
Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him” (Psalm 22:6-8).
King David writes using gestures of helplessness, frailty, and hopelessness in these verses. It is another vivid picture of the events at Calvary put in writing a thousand years before they actually took place in history (Matt. 27:39-43).
“They open wide their mouth at me, as a ravening and a roaring loin” (v. 13). The crowd at the crucifixion of Jesus did just that in graphic detail. His bones were pulled out of joint at the hands, arms, shoulders and pelvis (v. 14). “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint, my heart is like wax; it is melted within me” (v.14). Perspiration pours profusely from the intense suffering, and the exhaustion and strain affects the functioning of His heart. With His strength exhausted, and dehydration, His tongue clings to His mouth from extreme thirst (v. 15). “My strength is dried up like potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws” (v. 15).
We draw up near the cross in verse sixteen and hear him say, “For dogs [Jewish term for derision for Gentiles] have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet” (cf. Matt. 27:35; Jn. 20:20, 25).
They stare at Him on the cross. He is so frail from suffering they can count His bones on His naked body. Even the casting of lots for His clothing is literally fulfilled (v. 18; cf. Matt. 27:35; Lk. 23:34; Jn. 19:24; 19:23; Mk. 15:24).
The Forsaken and the Forgiven
Mon, 19 Mar 2012 22:17:03 -0500
The poignant, opening sentence in Psalm 22 reveals the disturbing fact of God’s servant crying out in God forsakenness.
How could one of the members of the Godhead turn His back on another member of the Trinity?
“God forsaken of God” was the price of our atonement. When Jesus Christ bore our sin on the cross He was forsaken of God the Father. He paid the full price for our atonement on the cross when He bore the penalty of the wrath of God against sin for us. This sacrificial act reveals how much God loves us.
Psalm 22 has been described as the “Psalm of the Cross” because it is the best description in the entire Bible of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The amazing thing is King David wrote it a thousand years before the event described actually took place in history. Moreover, execution by crucifixion was never practiced by the Jewish people and was unknown for centuries until developed by the Carthaginians and later refined by the Romans. David paints a prophetic picture of the anguish of the Suffering Servant of God to pay the penalty for our sins. Psalm 22 is entirely messianic and prophetic. David foresaw and spoke of the suffering of the Anointed of God.
No event in the life of David accounts for the terrible events in this Psalm. It defies a naturalistic explanation.
The words of the poet are fulfilled literally and exactly in the execution of Jesus Christ. The desolate God forsaken cry (v. 1; cf. Matt. 27:46); the contrasting periods of light and darkness (v. 2; Matt. 27:45); the extreme humiliation and treatment of the sufferer (vv. 6-8, 12-13; Matt. 27:39-44) and the casting of lots for His garments (v. 18; Matt. 27:35) are some of the greatest evidences for divine inspiration of all the Scriptures including this Psalm.
Jesus Christ is the Great I AM
Sun, 18 Mar 2012 14:02:09 -0500
Jesus Christ claimed to be the “I AM.” It is the personal name of the God of the Old Testament (Exodus 3:13-14). On several occasions it is recorded that Jesus used the “I AM” formula in attesting to His deity. He claimed to be the LORD God, Jehovah, Yahweh.
The greatest of all the names for the Lord Jesus Christ is the “I AM.”
This is why the apostle Paul wrote: “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). Jesus is Lord. The name that is above all other names is “Lord,” and it is equivalent to “Jehovah” or Yahweh. This is the exact equivalent to the words, “I AM.”
The name that is above all earthly and heavenly names is Yahweh, the great “I AM THAT I AM.”
The apostle Paul tells us that the Lord Jesus is so above all other beings that all who are in heaven and the earth will bow and worship Him. He is God. He is not one among many gods, but the One and Only (Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:5; 1 Cor. 8:4).
On one occasion He responded to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well when she perceived that He could possibly be the long awaited for Messiah. Jesus said, “He who speaks to you am he.” Literally, Jesus said, “I am,” pointing to His claim to the title “I AM.”
Moreover, that is not the only time He made the claim. He used these words to refer to His deity in John 8:24. “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” He was saying you cannot be saved unless you recognize and believe that Jesus Christ is God.
Feasting on the Lamb
Sat, 17 Mar 2012 23:35:30 -0500
The same Passover lamb that was slain and its blood smeared on the doorpost and the lintel in the Jewish home was the lamb that the people ate for the journey out of Egypt (Ex. 12:11, 46).
Everything the people needed for life that night was provided by the substitutionary lamb. The blood of the lamb covered their sins. The lamb gave his blood to redeem them, and he gave his life for them to eat and be nourished for the journey (Ex. 12:1-14). They lived their redeemed life out of the life of the lamb. They lived in the strength provided by the lamb. The Passover lamb became their nourishment for the journey in the night.
The Christian life is lived on the life of the Lamb of God.
We are never ready to start the journey in the Christian life until we feast upon the lamb God has provided. We go about trying to live the spiritual life in the energy of the flesh. It will not work; it never has worked. Life in the energy of the flesh will die. God puts His life in us, and we must feast upon the Lamb of God to sustain His life in us.
God imparts His life to us and He will live it through us (Rom. 5:10). Jesus said, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life” (John 6:54). We have God’s life by appropriating the Lamb of God (John 6:27). Everything is centered on Jesus Christ. He is all we ever need for this new life in Christ. The only life that pleases God is His life and the life of His Son.
The Christian life is Jesus living His life in you, through you, and as you. It must always be His life flowing through us. “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” It is spiritual appropriation of Christ by faith. “I live, yet not I; Christ lives in me.” “Christ in you is the hope of glory.” “For me, to live is Christ.” Who is the one living? Christ. But whom do you see when you look at Him? You and me. He is in us living His life as us.
Lamb of God
Sat, 17 Mar 2012 23:34:21 -0500
The focus of the life and work of Jesus Christ is found in His death and resurrection. It is the fulfillment of the great message of the coming redeemer in the Old Testament.
The lamb was the principal animal of sacrifice among the Jewish people at the evening and morning sacrifice (Ex. 29:38-42; Num. 38:3-8), and specials days (Num. 28:11), the Passover (28:16-19), Pentecost (28:26f), Feast of the Trumpets (29:1, 2), the Day of Atonement (29:7, 8), and the Tabernacle (29:12-16). Other personal sacrifices included lambs (Lev. 12:6; 14:10-18, etc), such as the sin offerings (Lev. 4:32-35). Moreover, the Pascal sacrifice is basic to the whole sacrificial system (Ex. 12:13). Thus the figures in Isaiah 53:7 and Exodus 12:13 come together in the designation of the “Lamb of God.” They compliment each other.
The innocence and gentleness of the sacrificial lamb is featured in descriptions in the Old Testament. As a symbol, the sacrificial lamb prefigured the character and suffering of the Lamb of God (Acts 8:32; Isa. 53:7). Jesus is introduced in the Gospel of John as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29, 36; Acts 8:32; 1 Pet. 1:19; Isa. 53:7).
In 1 Corinthians 5:7 Jesus is identified as the Passover lamb. He is also seen as the suffering lamb of God in Isaiah 53, and the fulfillment of all the lambs of sacrifice in the Jewish rituals.
When Jesus came, it was God who substituted His own provision, a Lamb for the people. This substitution aspect is seen in Abraham’s sacrifice of the lamb caught in the briars (Gen. 22). The LORD God who demanded the sacrifice was the One who provided the lamb in the place of Isaac. God in Jesus provided His own Lamb for the sacrifice.
Jesus Christ is God
Sat, 17 Mar 2012 23:33:11 -0500
The eminent British professor and scholar C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come away with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Jesus Christ is Lord because He is God.
While on the earth Jesus did exactly what was apparently the impossible thing He said He would do. He taught on numerous occasions that He would be killed, buried for three days, and would rise from the dead. Obviously, if Jesus did not rise from the dead what He said was a lie and He was justly crucified for blasphemy.
However, since He was raised from the dead what He declared was not blasphemy because He truly was God. He was claiming that He was Yahweh, the LORD God, Jehovah, and the great I AM.
In John 8:56-58 Jesus said to a group of hostile listeners, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing My day; he saw it and was glad.” The aggressive religious leaders replied, “You are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham?” Obviously, they misunderstood. You will recall that Abraham lived 2000 years before Christ came in the flesh. These Jewish leaders asked a relevant question! Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM” (v. 58).
Christ Our Redeemer
Wed, 14 Mar 2012 22:48:58 -0500
The most significant word that describes the death of Christ for sinful man is redemption. It means, “buying again,” or “buying back.” In the Bible it is used especially of purchasing a slave with a view of setting him free. It signifies a release procured by the payment of a ransom price.
The Roman slave could purchase his own freedom if he could come up with enough money. The owner could also sell his slave to someone else who would pay the price and set him free.
The word “ransom” signifies the price paid for a slave who is then set free by the one who bought him.
Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
The apostle Peter wrote, “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19). Hebrews 9:12 tells us it is, “not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” In each of these verses the idea is to “set free by paying a price.”
The redemption price is the blood of Jesus which makes it possible for a righteous God to justify a believing sinner on the basis of satisfied justice.
It is significant in the Bible that we belong to God, but we fell into bondage through willful rebellion; and as a result of sin we must be purchased out of that bondage. Our bondage is the penalty and power of sin. We were alienated from God and in bondage to sin; therefore God in His grace redeemed us from that bondage. We have been “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24).
Christ our Reconciliation
Tue, 13 Mar 2012 20:39:48 -0500
Adam enjoyed perfect fellowship and communion with God before he disobeyed Him in the Garden. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God that fellowship was broken, and Adam tried to hide himself from God (Genesis 3:8-11).
That broken relationship with God needed to be restored or man would be eternally separated from God’s holy presence.
The apostle Paul tells us God “reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18-19).
God “makes one” that which was formerly a broken relationship. The word “reconcile” properly denotes to change, like exchanging money, and in relationship to persons, it is to change from enmity to friendship, and thus to reconcile.
This is what God accomplished by exercising His grace toward us sinners on the ground of the death of Christ for our sins. We are the ones who needed the change from enmity to friendship with God. We needed to be reconciled to God.
Because of the atoning sacrifice of Christ men in their sinful condition and alienation from God are invited to be reconciled to Him. The change in attitude is on our part, not God’s. Sinful, rebellious, disobedient men are the ones who need to change. God in love and grace reached down to man and provided a means whereby He could reconcile us to Himself.
The change that is needed on our part is repentance and faith. A spiritual birth brings about this change in our hearts toward God.
Christ our Propitiation
Tue, 13 Mar 2012 20:38:29 -0500
Please don’t let that title scare you off. That is a beautiful and profound word.
Christ’s death turns away the wrath of God. The apostle Paul said Christ is our propitiation. He is a propitiatory sacrifice. It refers to what Christ did on our behalf before God.
We are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption, which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (Romans 3:24-25).
God gave His Son as the means of the propitiation, “and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). A. T. Robertson said, “God could not let sin go as if a mere slip. God demanded the atonement and provided it.” It was “by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9).
The word “propitiate” in its classical form was used of the act of appeasing the Greek gods by a sacrifice, of rendering them favorable toward the worshipper. The sacrifice was offered by the pagan worshiper to buy off the anger of the god and buy his love. Note very carefully that this idea is not brought over into the New Testament. The LORD God does not need to be appeased nor is His love for sale.
In the New Testament it refers to the act of getting rid of sin which has come between God and man. The word hilasterion is used in the Greek translation of Leviticus 16:14 to refer to the golden cover on top of the Ark of the Covenant. In the Ark, below this lid, were placed the tablets of stone upon which were written the Ten Commandments, which Israel had violated. On the Day of Atonement before the Ark stood the High Priest representing the people who had sinned. When the sacrificial blood is sprinkled on this cover, it ceases to be a place of judgment and becomes a place of mercy. The blood comes between the violated law and the violators, the people. The blood of Jesus satisfies the just requirements of God’s holy law which mankind broke, pays the penalty for man, and thus removes that which had separated between a holy God and sinful man, sin, its guilt and penalty. This is far removed from the pagan idea of propitiation. Jesus Christ is God’s High Priest who was both the Mercy Seat and the Sacrifice, which transforms the former from a judgment seat to one where mercy is offered a sinner on the basis of justice satisfied.
Christ our Sacrifice
Mon, 12 Mar 2012 14:57:02 -0500
The Old Testament is full of sacrifices in which an innocent animal was killed. These were substitutionary sacrifices meaning that the death of the animal was in the place of someone else.
Why was there such an emphasis in the Jewish writings? The holiness of God reveals that everyone who has ever lived has sinned. We have all failed to live up to God’s expectation of us. We have “all sinned and come short of the glory of God.” We have failed the test of God for a righteous person.
The penalty for breaking the laws of God is separation from Him throughout eternity. We deserve the death penalty. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). “The soul that sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). As a consequence of our sins we deserve to spend an eternity in hell.
Jesus Christ redeemed us from the law. He chose to die in our place. It was His free volitional choice. We deserved to die and He stepped in and voluntarily chose of His own free will to die in our place. Jesus took our death in His sacrifice for sin. He experienced both physical and spiritual death in our place on the cross as our substitute.
Every Easter is a vivid reminder of our sinfulness, and the penalty of our sins was laid on Christ.
God conducted the first ever sacrifice for sin. He chose the animals to sacrifice for Adam and Eve, and then He clothed them with the skins of the animals (Gen 3:21). Adam and Eve saw the first death anyone had ever witnessed. God slay the animals and in that event taught man that he deserved to die for His disobedience, and that it was possible for another to die in his place. The animals that were shed for their clothing paid the price of their sin debt. Those coats of animal skins were a constant testimony of the price of sin.
Who Am I?
Sat, 10 Mar 2012 21:03:11 -0600
Every born again believer in Jesus Christ has a new standing before the Lord God. This eternal position never changes. It does not depend upon changes, chances or our circumstances.
Romans chapters three through seven tells us who we are in Christ.
We have a new standing with God. By God's grace we have complete acceptance with God in Christ. We are at peace with God; God is at peace with us! "Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God" (5:1–2). We have a new relationship in which we are reconciled with God, and as a result is we experience His peace.
We are members of a new family. The disobedience of Adam brought death. All men die in Adam. However, we have a new head of the family who is Jesus Christ, and He gives eternal life. "For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ" (5:17).
We have a new identification in Christ. We have been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. We have died to the old life, have been buried with Christ and have been raised to new life in Him. We are now identified with Christ. We are as men who have been raised from the dead. "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life" (6:4).
We also have a new master. We are no longer slaves to sin. We now have a choice; we do not have to obey sin any longer. "For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification" (6:19). Our new master leads us in God's righteousness. Sin has a payday and death is its wages, but Christ gives us life every day v. 23).
The Power of the Resurrection Life
Sat, 10 Mar 2012 20:38:46 -0600
Christianity is Christ.
It is centered in a historical person who lived, died and rose from the dead. This truth is the most important fact in history. It is essential because it demands a life saving response in faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-10).
What does the resurrection of Jesus Christ accomplish for us?
Because Christ rose from the dead all who are united to Him by faith are secure in their own resurrection and eternal life beyond the grave. Before He died on the cross, Jesus promised His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for us. “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3). Because Jesus rose from the dead just as He said He would do, we know His promise is true for every believer. He is now preparing a place for us in heaven to be with His Father.
We know this is true because the resurrection proves that Jesus Christ is God. His resurrection proves that He is equal to God and that God would raise Him from the dead three days after He died. The resurrection was God’s way of authenticating Jesus’ claim to deity. The resurrection of Jesus is the Father’s seal on the Son’s claims. Jesus was “declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). Jesus demonstrated God’s perfect love for us by dying on the cross and rising again (John 3:14-16).
Risen with Christ
Tue, 21 Feb 2012 07:59:24 -0600
“Death stung itself to death, when it stung Christ” –– Romaine.
The greatest event that has ever occurred in history is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The work of Christ divides itself into what Christ accomplished as our Sinbearer, and what He did as our Life-giver. He not only bore our sins on the cross, but He gives us eternal life.
As believers we look back upon our old nature, the old man, the penalty for sin and its punishment, and forward at the “all things that have become new” in Christ.
The apostle Paul declared, “if Christ be not raised, your faith is in vain, you are yet in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). Christ was so identified with our sins as our representative that God had to condemn Him to death. “For the wages of sin is death.” “The soul that sins will surely die.” “God made Him sin who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf . . .”
If Jesus Christ still lies in a cold, dark grave in Jerusalem then you are still in your sins and you must pay your own death penalty as a sinner. The wages of sin must be paid in full. You will pay it or your divine Substitute will pay it for you. “If Christ be not raised your faith is in vain . . . ,” and you are still dead in your transgressions and sins.
Since Christ has risen from the dead and we are risen with Him, we are not in our sins. We “shall never perish.” Jesus said, “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:29).
The apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1). We have been quickened together with Christ, raised up together with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:4-6).
We have been made alive with Christ, and have become permanently united with Christ in the likeness of His resurrection. “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,” (Col. 2:13).
Dead to Sin
Tue, 21 Feb 2012 07:58:03 -0600
The apostle Paul wrote of Christ, “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:10-11).
The believer’s “old man” or “old self” is what he was spiritually before he believed on Christ when he was still under sin, powerless, depraved, ungodly and even an enemy of God.
Our fallen nature was not changed at conversion. It was not annihilated, but it was “rendered inactive, made of no effect” (Rom. 6:6). Our physical body is not sinful. It is neutral and can be controlled by sin or by the Holy Spirit. It was controlled by sin before we trusted Christ for salvation.
“In Jesus Christ we died to sin, and the old nature was crucified so that the old life is rendered inoperative.” This is a great fact for the believer to rely upon. Now that we have died with Christ the power of controlling sin is broken and is rendered powerless or ineffective (Rom. 6:3-5).
There is a change in relationship with God and sin. Because of this new living union with Christ the believer now has a new relationship with God and different attitudes toward sin. Sin is no longer his master. Christ is the new master. We no longer want to continue in sin. Now because we are in Christ we have a choicer whether we choose to sin, or choose to obey our new Master.
In our unregenerate state we were slaves to sin. Now that our old self was crucified with Christ we have been delivered from this slavery. “Anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” We have been declared righteous, “freed,” with the result that sin no longer has the legal right to force us into its slavery. Sin no longer is the master of the believer because he has died with Christ and risen with Him “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Rom. 6:6).
Tue, 14 Feb 2012 22:05:11 -0600
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
Justification is the opposite of condemnation.
God declares the believing sinner to have a right relationship with Him, but that does not make him righteous. A sinner does not have any righteousness of his own, and therefore cannot be innocent. However, God declares believers in Christ righteous on the grounds of Christ’s atonement.
The believing sinner is declared by God to be just by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Grace of God is the cause of our justification.
Romans 3:24 reads, “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”
No individual can make himself right with God no matter how hard he tries because he is a sinner. The Bible declares, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (3:10). The reason is because “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (v. 23).
Since we are condemned sinners worthy of death as a punishment for our sins, someone else must do the work of righteousness for us (6:23). We do not deserve or merit God’s love. The source of our right relationship with God is His own free grace.
The foundation of our justification is the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
It was Christ “whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed” (3:25).
God can now freely justify us because of the finished work of Jesus Christ. Christ paid our sin debt in full when He died for us (5:6, 8). We are “justified by His blood.”
Are You in Adam or in Christ?
Tue, 14 Feb 2012 22:01:57 -0600
Charles Hodge asked a crucial question: “If God requires one thing, and we present another, how can we be saved? If He has revealed a method in which He can be just and yet justify the sinner, and if we reject that method and insist upon pursuing a different way, how can we hope to be accepted?”
The safest answer, of course, is in the Scriptures. What has God revealed?
The first man sinned, but not just once; Adam sinned many times. Before he sinned the first time he was righteous. His righteousness was of his own doing, as a created being. It was the righteousness of a man. However, Adam never had the righteousness of Jesus Christ upon him. What he lost was his own self righteousness.
When you and I put our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior we are not merely given back a human righteousness that Adam had before the fall. We are given the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. God gives us “much more” in abundance, a superabundance of grace. He gives us the full weight of His perfect righteousness.
Adam did not stand in his own righteousness. He fell. If we attempt to stand in our own righteousness we, too, shall fall.
The gift of God in Christ far surpasses the effects of Adam’s sin and all other transgressions we have committed.
The humbling fact is we were all in Adam once, and we fell in him. He brought sin and death to the human race by his own sin.
How can you and I escape the effects of the fall of Adam on us?
The Imputed Righteousness of God
Mon, 13 Feb 2012 11:09:16 -0600
God imputes or accredits the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ to the believing sinner while he is still in his sinning state.
God has manifested His righteousness apart from the Law “even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe” (Rom. 3:21-22). The reason for this judicial standing before a righteous God is because we have “all sinned and come short of the glory of God” (v. 23). The foundation upon which God can justify the believing sinner who is still in his sinning state is because this justification is “a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (vv. 24-25).
Romans 5:12-21 teaches the imputing or charging of Adam’s sin to the human race. Because Adam sinned as the federal head of the human race, God considers all men as sinners. We are possessed of Adam’s nature (vv. 12-14), and the sentence of death is imposed on us (6:23). The effect of Adam’s fall is universal. We are all fallen sons and daughters of old Adam. We do not become sinful by sinning; we sin because we are sinful by nature. We sin because we are sinners.
The judgment of God rests upon all men outside of a saving relationship with Jesus Christ because of imputed sin, our inherited sin nature and our own personal sins.
We stand guilty before God and deserve the death penalty until we come to Christ alone for a right standing before God (Rom. 6:23).
Moreover, in a similar way, the sin of man is imputed to Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). Jehovah, the LORD God, laid on His Son, the Lamb of God, the iniquities of us all (Isa. 53:5; Jn. 1:29; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18). There was a judicial transfer of the sins of man to Jesus Christ, God’s Sin-Bearer.
The sin of man was imputed to Christ when He became the sin offering for the whole world (2 Cor. 5:14-21; Heb. 2:9; 1 Jn. 2:2).
Dying Daily and Our Life in Christ
Sun, 12 Feb 2012 15:56:19 -0600
Spiritual growth is making real in our daily experience what is already true for us in Christ.
Our progressive sanctification is an ever putting off all that belongs to the old man, and putting on all that belongs to the new man in Christ.
The old nature of man in Adam has not evolved better over the last two thousand years. Has the carnal mind with its urges become so good to the Holy Spirit that we no longer need to subject it to the Holy Spirit? Undisciplined self-gratification has never been compatible with strong, vibrant, mature spiritual growth. You cannot be a mature believer and live anyway you choose. You cannot give nature all that it desires without defrauding the grace of God.
Romans chapter seven pictures every Christian’s spiritual battle in progress. Our old nature, though judged and condemned and deposed in the death of Christ is forever revolting against the sentence of death. It struggles daily to regain its lost supremacy.
The believer who is in Christ not only has died with Christ, but is bound to “die daily” with Him so long as he is in the flesh.
The two natures, at present are dwelling together, even though they are at perpetual war with one another. When one is weak the other is strong. When one loses the other conquers.
The crucifixion we have undergone as believers in Christ is personalized in our own person. The believer is “always bearing about in his body the dying of the Lord Jesus.” Our spiritual battle is a spiritual intimacy with Christ against the forces of Satan. Christ began a spiritual warfare that has not ended for us (Col. 3:9, 10).
We are new creatures in Christ whose inward man is “renewed day by day.” The new man from above battles daily with the forces of evil.
Because Christ Lives
Sat, 11 Feb 2012 09:31:26 -0600
God supplies all of our spiritual needs through His infinite resources. The Holy Spirit indwells us with His power; therefore, as we walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. As we are occupied with Christ, we are kept from sin and thus “saved by His life” (Rom. 5:10).
“He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). This permanent priesthood of Jesus gives Him the capacity to carry His saving work to completion. He can see them through every trial and difficulty right to the end of the road “because He always lives to intercede for them.” In saying this, the author reverted again to a truth he had already enunciated (4:14-16) where he had invited the readers to avail themselves boldly of the mercy and grace accessible to them through Jesus’ priesthood.
Therefore, the living Christ is in the presence of the Father interceding on our behalf and the Holy Spirit is in our hearts bringing us to repentance, confession of sin and reconciliation with God. We are saved by His resurrection life as we walk in the Spirit.
He saves completely, forever, all who put their faith in Him. Because He is our High Priest forever, He can save forever. “Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Rom. 8:34).
One day we will stand before God complete in Christ and forever saved from the presence of sin. We will be in God’s presence and will never again be tempted by sin. In the fullest possible sense we shall be “saved by His life” forever.
Saved by His Life
Thu, 9 Feb 2012 21:48:44 -0600
We shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:10).
These words give us encouragement for difficult days when tempted by forces beyond ourselves, but let’s be clear as to what these words of the apostle Paul do not mean. “Saved by His life” does not imply that salvation comes from imitating the principles and godly character of our Lord Jesus Christ. Following or imitating the Lord Jesus Christ will not save anyone. No one has ever been saved by imitating the life of Christ. He alone lived a perfectly holy life. No one else can ever measure up.
The apostle wrote, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:10).
We are saved by the death of Jesus Christ that atoned for all our sins (Rom. 5:6-9). His precious blood alone atones and cleanses us from all sins. His blood purges our guilty consciences. We have peace with God because of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Our salvation is complete and eternal from the moment we believe on Christ. We are saved for eternity from the moment we put our trust in Christ.
It is utterly impossible for a sinful, totally depraved man to follow in the perfect footsteps of our sinless Lord. Trying to “live the Christian life” saves no one. “Saved by His life” does not mean that we are saved as though His life were an atonement for our sins. “Saved by His life” cannot mean that it is His life on the earth, rather than His death that saves sinners. Christ paid the penalty for our sins by His death.
Righteousness for the Ungodly
Wed, 8 Feb 2012 20:49:08 -0600
It is an ugly picture and it is one that most of us do not want to view about ourselves.
All are sinners. All have turned away from God. All are ungodly. All are helpless to safe themselves. All are unrighteous. “There is none that does good.”
That is the way the apostle Paul began the greatest book written on a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Now believe it or not, that is good news! We need to hear the bad news before we can receive the good news.
It is good news because God justifies the ungodly. God has a righteousness for the unrighteous. But God must do it. God looked upon us in our iniquity and demanded that sin be dealt with in justice. It was on the cross that God in the person of His Son took upon Himself the judgment that the ungodly sinner deserves and paid the penalty in full. We deserve to die because we are guilty. “The wages of sin is death . . .” (Rom. 6:23a). But Jesus Christ, the just and the holy One, died as our substitute on the cross (5:6, 8).
The Son of God, who is pure and holy, just and sinless, died because of your sins and mine as though He had been just as corrupt, wicked, and ungodly as we are. He took my judgment that I deserved and died in my place. He drank the depths of the cup of my judgment. “God forsaken of God.” Who can understand what Jesus Christ suffered for the ungodly except God alone?
God Justifies the Ungodly
Tue, 7 Feb 2012 20:30:44 -0600
The infinitely holy righteous Jehovah God justifies ungodly sinners.
That is the best news I have ever received.
Does that mean that God pronounces the sinner righteous, or makes a sinner righteous?
Justification is a forensic term meaning that God declares a sinner to be righteous. It is sanctification by which God makes the sinner righteous.
Let us be careful not to put the cart before the horse. Justification comes first. God justifies the sinner who acknowledges to himself and God that he is ungodly and cannot make himself right with God.
God justifies not the righteous, not good people, not holy people, but the ungodly.
All men by nature are ungodly. The very thought strikes against our sinful heart. It smites our conscience. To be ungodly is to be unlike God. This is the kind of person God justifies. It is a fact that no individual can do anything to deserve a right relationship with a perfectly holy God.
It is perfectly clear in God’s Word that every person is a sinner. No one lives up to the “light” that he has been given, even about God from nature (Rom. 1:18-23). We all stand guilty in His eyes.
“There is none that seeks after God.” The truth is we seek after our own selfish ways. We follow the desires of our selfish hearts (1:24-32). We always follow our sinful will until God in His sovereign grace intervenes.
The Unchanging Christ:The Same Forever
Tue, 7 Feb 2012 20:29:00 -0600
“When our Savior comes again,” wrote H. A. Ironside, “God is coming to take control of things in this world and the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon all flesh. Father, Son and the Holy Spirit in council in the past eternity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit working out our salvation here on earth; Father, Son and Holy Spirit bringing in the glory by and by when the long period of man’s trial is over, when the kingdom is fully established, and the Lord Jesus Christ abides forever the One in whom the Father and Spirit as well as the Son are fully displayed—for He is the image of the invisible God.”
The writer of Hebrews simply said, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
In His awesome prayer the night before His death by crucifixion, Jesus prayed, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (Jn. 17:5).
“Jesus Christ is the same . . . forever.”
He came from glory and He returned to glory. Here is one of the most profound, relevant truths in God’s Word. Jesus Christ came from glory and took upon our flesh, and humbled Himself to die as our substitute to pay our death penalty. Now He has gone back to the glory He had with the Father in eternity, but He remains a man in that glory.
“This same Jesus.” Oh, praise God. “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
The Unchanging Christ: The Same Today
Mon, 6 Feb 2012 21:55:35 -0600
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
The pre-incarnate Christ changes not.
It is said that Plato, the Greek philosopher proposed to his students one day, “It may be that some day there will come forth from God a Word, a Logos, who will reveal all mysteries and make everything plain.”
The Lord God answered Plato when He came in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Logos was made flesh and dwelt among men, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:1, 14, 18).
The Lord God has answered the cry in the heart of mankind for God to reveal all mysteries and make plain who He is. No, He has not answered all of our questions about an eternal, all-knowing, sovereign creator. However, He has revealed enough about Himself to answer our deepest needs.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today . . .”
The simple fact of history never changes; Jesus Christ is alive. He is the same person who pre-existed before He became flesh and He is the same one who walked the dusty roads of Galilee, changed the water to wine in Canaan, and raised the dead in Lazarus’ tomb.
There were three witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. We are told that the Father raised Jesus from the dead. Now since He raised Him from the dead He had to be an eyewitness.
Seated with Christ in Heaven
Wed, 18 Jan 2012 22:19:59 -0600
“We were made alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5).
The newness of life we received, as Christians is a spiritual life imparted through our identification with Christ in His death and resurrection. This identification with Him in His death broke the power of indwelling sin. Moreover, our identification with Christ in His resurrection resulted in the impartation of divine life (Romans 6:3, 4).
You have been completely saved by grace and the present result is that you are in a saved state of being.
The apostle Paul could not have stated in stronger and clearer terms the unending state of the believer in salvation. Our past, present and future state of salvation is dependent upon one thing alone, our appropriation by faith of Jesus Christ as our Savior the day we first believed on Him. We received salvation by that initial act of faith in Christ.
When we were born again we were made alive spiritually. The Holy Spirit imparted life to us just like raising the dead. Christ communicates life to us like He did to the dead man Lazarus (cf. Rom. 6:6-8; 8:11; Gal. 2:19-20; 2 Cor. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:22-23; Col. 2:12; 2 Tim. 2:11ff).
Because of our vital union with Christ, His death is our death, His life is our life, and His exaltation is ours. Our physical position may be on earth, but our spiritual position is “in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
Our One Supreme Passion
Wed, 18 Jan 2012 22:18:25 -0600
Authentic Christianity is God-centered because it loves the Lord God with all the heart, mind soul and strength. Evidence of a true knowledge of God is an obsession with the glory of God manifest in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The one consuming passion of the believer is the glory of God because he has witnessed the grandeur, majesty and excellence of the Lord God through the eyes of the Lord Jesus and he can never remain the same thereafter.
The glory of God is the sum weight of all the attributes of God. It sums up all that He is in the awesome beauty of His divine perfections. He is perfectly and infinitely glorious.
The grace of God frees us and enables us to live for His glory. Apart from His enabling grace we can do nothing that will honor and please a righteous and holy God. What we do in our abilities will only dishonor His glorious Name. If I touch it with my hands I ruin it for I am sinful. Only if what I do is covered by His atoning sacrifice will it be acceptable to a holy God.
It is our responsibility to ascribe the glory that is due to His wonderful person. We cannot add to His already perfect glory. We glory in His Name when we worship Him and live with the conviction that His perfections are characteristic of His person.
We live in a way that can mirror His glory. To sin is to bring dishonor and fall short of His glory. The passion of the Christian is to live a life-style that is to the praise of His glory. If that is our supreme passion it will redefine our daily life, and we will not be able to separate our personal lives from our worship of the living God.
What will you do with Jesus Christ?
Tue, 17 Jan 2012 19:59:14 -0600
Our acceptance before God depends entirely on what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross and our response to Him.
The Bible makes it emphatically clear if you accept Jesus Christ, God will accept you. If you reject Jesus Christ, God will reject you.
“He that believes on Him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).
It does not matter who we are, what we have been, or what we have done in our past, because our eternal destiny deals with one question alone, what was our personal response to the demands of Jesus Christ?
There is only one basis upon which an individual can be declared right with God, and that basis is the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross. When any person believes on Christ as his personal Savior, accepting the fact that He bore our sins in His body on the cross, God declares us acquitted. In that moment all of our sins are forgiven and we experience peace with God.
“Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
God provides us with a right relationship with Him, peace with God, and a deep and satisfying joy because of what God has done for us in Christ. The believer experiences “joy unspeakable and full of glory” because of the work of Christ, not only for us, but in us. Deep, satisfying and lasting peace and joy is found in Christ alone.
How do You know when You are Spirit-filled?
Mon, 16 Jan 2012 20:41:06 -0600
The supreme mission of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus Christ. He glorifies the Son by unfolding clearly the meaning of His person and atoning work.
The work of the Spirit is Christocentric. He will glorify Christ and will never draw attention to Himself. He always declares the work of Christ.
The work of the Holy Spirit is always to glorify Christ. Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit comes, “He shall glorify Me” (John 16:14). When the Spirit came upon the 120 in the upper room at Pentecost they immediately began to proclaim, not the Holy Spirit, but Jesus Christ is Lord. And they never ceased doing that.
How do you know when you are filled with the Spirit? You will be glorifying Jesus Christ in your everyday life and work. You are filled and under the control of the Spirit when Christ is Lord of your life. There is no greater joy than honoring Him every moment, every hour of the day.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit to exalt Jesus Christ in the life of every born again believer. If your life is not bringing glory to Christ then you need to ask the hard questions: Am I a true Christian? Have I been converted? Is He Lord of my life? When you become a new creation in Christ Jesus the Holy Spirit immediately begins to recreate in your life the image of the glorified Savior. It is impossible to know Christ as your Savior and not to some extent reflect His character in your life.
The Holy Spirit communicates and shares with us the presence and power of the exalted Christ so that He is demonstrated in us as the Lord of glory. Jesus said, “He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you” (v. 14). The Holy Spirit is the person who takes the things of Christ and manifests them to us and through us to the Father’s glory.
God Knows Me
Sun, 15 Jan 2012 22:38:37 -0600
God knows me, and He still wants to pursue a personal relationship with me. That is truly amazing. He knows everything about me, and still wants to enjoy my fellowship with Him.
What does it mean to know God? How do you come to an intimate personal knowledge of Him?
I am not thinking of intellectual knowledge or facts about Him, but the importance of knowing a close friend.
The apostle Paul prayed that believers would know God the Father who chose us, God the Son who redeemed us, and God the Holy Spirit who applied salvation to us personally through the new birth. Now that He has saved me do I have a growing knowledge of Him? Perhaps in our busy schedule and pressures of modern life we should ask do I even want it? How do I fit a hunger for God into a complex worldview?
In Ephesians 1:17-19 the apostle Paul prayed that God would give believers “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation . . . to know Him better.” Paul wanted them to have a “true knowledge of Him.” But you say, they already knew Him as their Savior, and had obtained eternal life. But what I am asking is has God placed within your heart a hunger to know Him better?
With every relationship in life we make deliberate choices as to whether we want to pursue the relationship. God has invited us to get to know Him better. Have we responded to that invitation to belongingness? Do we have that “we” feeling with Him? Have we taken the first few faltering steps and halted? Have we reached a plateau, and is it now time to respond to further instruction in His Word?
Has the Holy Spirit opened the “enlightened eyes of our hearts” in order that we may know “the hope to which He has called us, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe”?
Do the Impossible
Fri, 13 Jan 2012 20:28:52 -0600
Jesus saw a thirty-eight year old man lying on his mat at the pool of water at Bethesda and approached him asking, “Do you wish to get well?” (John 5:5-6).
Christ told the man to do the impossible. “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”
The apostle John tells us “And immediately the man became well, and took up his pallet and began to walk” (v. 9).
This man could not help himself. Only the divine power of Jesus Christ enabled the man to rise and walk. It was a miracle that Jesus performed at the pool of Bethesda.
This miracle is a remarkable illustration of the spiritual condition of every individual. You and I cannot help ourselves spiritually; our salvation depends upon the grace of God alone. Just as this physically lame man could not help himself we are utterly helpless in our sinful condition to influence our salvation in any way.
Those disabled individuals lying at the pool were without strength to help themselves. John describes them as blind, lame and paralyzed. The poor man said to Jesus, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me” (v. 7). How sad is the man who knows only man.
This is a vivid and valid description of our human depravity without Jesus Christ. Spiritually, we are sick, blind, lame and withered.
Like the lame man we are weak, helpless, powerless as described in Romans 5:6. “While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” “Helpless.” The Greek lexicon says, “infirm, feeble, unable to achieve anything great, destitute of power among men, sluggish in doing right.”
Do You have Eternal Life?
Thu, 12 Jan 2012 21:38:10 -0600
Jesus Christ said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3). How do you obtain eternal life? Have you experienced the real thing? What is this knowledge of eternal life?
Life eternal is God's life in us produced by His Holy Spirit. It issues in a personal encounter with a holy God who in His grace forgives us of our sins based on the atoning death of Jesus Christ. No one can have His life and not be changed. God is holy and His Spirit makes us aware of our sinfulness and of our deep personal need of His grace. It is by His grace that we are turned to Christ who is our Savior. This knowledge occurs only where God’s Holy Spirit is at work beforehand to make it possible, and it always changes us, issuing in a heart response and true devotion to Him.
When we become aware of the true and living God we are confronted with our sinfulness and depravity as opposed to His holiness and righteousness. We are all together corrupt and He is altogether holy. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Our sin bars our entrance into the presence of a righteous God.
Have you ever been really disturbed knowing that you must ultimately deal with One in whom is no sin at all, who cannot tolerate sin in any form and who must judge it?
All knowledge of God begins with His holiness and the reality of your sin.
It is good to remind ourselves that we cannot fool God. He is always aware of who we are and what we are thinking and doing. Only the fool says, “No God!” “No God!” Nothing catches the LORD God by surprise. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
Are You One of the Elect of God?
Wed, 11 Jan 2012 21:51:14 -0600
Jesus said, “All that the Father gives me shall come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37).
The answer to the question, are you one of the elect of God, is answered by another question: Have you believed on Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? If you have responded to His free grace, and have believed on Him alone for salvation, you should know that you are one who was given to Jesus before the foundation of the world.
When Jesus was praying to the Father the night before His sacrificial death on the cross He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Thy Son, that the Son may glorify Thee, even as Thou gavest Him authority over all mankind, that to all whom Thou hast given Him, He may give eternal life” (John 17:1-2).
Jesus is referring to the covenant between God the Father and God the Son when God gave to Jesus in salvation that great company for whom He would go to the cross and die.
His death provided the objective and judicial basis whereby the elect would be saved.
The prophet Isaiah spoke of that day in his poem of the Suffering Servant. “But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities” (Isa. 53:10-11).
Have You Seen the Face of God?
Tue, 10 Jan 2012 21:31:37 -0600
The disciples of Jesus saw His glory. They gazed into His character, which is the character of God. “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
When we see Jesus we see the Father. He “is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (v. 18).
The Old Testament speaks of the glory of God being so bright in radiance like the display of light that no man could approach it. The LORD is clothed with splendor and majesty. The face of Moses glowed with an irradiation or illumination in a strange and wonderful way when he came down from the mountain after speaking with God (Ex. 34:29-35). His whole personal being was mastered, captured, and illuminated by fellowship with God. There was a supreme consciousness of God’s presence.
That Shekinah glory cloud of God was seen coming down on the Tent of Meeting in the wilderness (Ex. 40:34). “And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (v. 35). God blessed His meeting place with His holy presence in a cloud by day and a column of fire by night. When Solomon’s Temple was dedicated God manifest His presence by filling it with His cloud of glory (1 Kings 8:10-11). “The glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.”
The apostle Peter, James and John were there on the mountainside when God the Father glorified His Son at His transfiguration (2 Pet. 1:16-17; Matt. 17:2). God the Father glorified His Son so that He would glorify the Father.
The Glory of God in Jesus Christ
Mon, 9 Jan 2012 20:58:58 -0600
What do you think God the Son would say to God the Father during the night before He would lay down His life as atonement for the sin of the world?
Imagine for a moment with me what the divine communication between God the Father and God the Son must be like. I wonder what deep conversations must take place between the members of the Trinity. The communiqué between the Godhead must be too profound and unfathomable for us to comprehend. The LORD said to Isaiah, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways . . . For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (55:8-9).
Yet, in the recorded prayer of Jesus in John chapter seventeen we are let in on this deep penetrating talk going on in the Godhead. It is exalted, holy and sublime. It is God speaking to God. This prayer is filled with simple sentences that communicate profound thought for Himself (vv. 1-5), His disciples who are with Him (vv. 6-19) and for you and me (vv. 20-26).
Jesus then is the burning bush of the New Testament on the most holy ground in New Testament soil.
This is a “warm and hearty prayer” from the depths of Jesus’ heart. It is “so honest, so simple; it is so deep, so rich, so wide, no one can fathom it,” wrote Luther.
Saved by Grace!
Sun, 8 Jan 2012 23:23:23 -0600
Saved by grace! There is no greater majestic theme for the Christian. It eliminates all grounds of boasting.
Salvation by God’s sovereign grace gives a wonderful assurance. We have security in salvation because our sovereign God elected us in eternity, adopted us into His family, regenerated us, and sealed us with His Spirit.
To appreciate so great salvation we must understand our great need.
The bottom line of sin is selfishness and the way it affects every area of our lives, but more importantly because it makes it impossible for us to influence our salvation is any way.
Any discussion of sin and salvation always leads to the question of our depravity. How badly depraved are we? How far did man fall when he fell in the Garden of Eden? Did man fall upward, or did he fall down?
The sad fact is "all the kings men, and all the kings horses and all the kings soldiers cannot put him back together again." Only God can. All of Adam's offspring are corrupted and we cannot merit, earn, win or gain a right relationship with God. Because of spiritual depravity we are dead spiritually.
Because of the effects of the Fall, man is no longer capable to making the right choices to get himself right with God. If you have any doubts read Romans 1:18-20.
Behold, What Manner of Love
Sat, 7 Jan 2012 21:01:43 -0600
Jesus wept at the tomb of His friend Lazarus. The Jewish people who saw Him responded to one another, "Behold, how He loved him" (John 11:35-36).
C. H. Spurgeon said to his congregation in London, "Most of us here, I trust, are not mere onlookers, but we have a share in the special love of Jesus. We see evidences of that love, not in the tears, but in the precious blood that He so freely shed for us. . . . Behold how He loves us!"
Have you ever asked yourself where or when He first loved you? With fullness of heart we can say, "See, how He loves me!" Is the beginning of that great love when we first believed? Could it have begun when He died for us? As we reflect back on our lives and His love for us there is no time when He did not love us.
When we ponder the beginning of His love for us, it takes us beyond our creation into past eternity.
In eternity past Jesus so identified Himself with us and covenanted to redeem us.
From past eternity Jesus looked down the distant future in His divine perspective and saw the disastrous ruin of sin in our lives and chose to do something about it. In past eternity Jesus Christ took up our cause and pledged to be the guarantee of God's eternal covenant. Jesus knew that sinful man could never fulfill the demands of the covenant with the LORD God. Therefore, Jesus pledged to fulfill man's part of the covenant. He did so on our behalf long before we were able to have any part of it.
Do you have a Sense of God’s Presence?
Thu, 5 Jan 2012 21:45:32 -0600
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith . . .” (Ephesians 3:17).
A good friend asked me, “Do you fell you are adequately experiencing the presence and power of the Holy Spirit?” That is a probing question every Christian should pause and consider.
I firmly believe that every born again believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but not every believer is yielded to His control. Our experience of His divine presence depends upon our yielding to Him moment by moment. If the Holy Spirit is to have a larger part of our lives we must make a deliberate choice and allow Him to take control.
The Spirit wants to fill our lives so that Christ may settle down and make Himself feel completely at home as a permanent resident in our hearts (Eph. 3:17). Our prayer should be that Christ would settle down, even now, in our hearts and take control as the rightful owner.
Imagine what it would be like to experience the “fullness of God” (v. 19). Paul was praying that we may be filled up to or unto all the fullness that is in God Himself. That will not take place until we stand complete and perfect in the likeness of Christ at His coming, but it can be our prayer and vision now. Paul was praying that we would be filled and filled and filled and filled forever, as God out of His infinite resources increasingly pours Himself into His redeemed people.
Do you Seek a Deeper Life with God?
Wed, 4 Jan 2012 21:57:56 -0600
The apostle Paul prayed, “That I may know Him . . .” (Philippians 3:10).
The late missionary to South Africa Andrew Murray was a holy man. At one point in his life he was going through a painful experience. Murray was quiet for sometime before the Lord and then he wrote these words for himself: "First, He brought me here, it is by His will I am in this strait place: in that fact I will rest. Next, He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace to behave as His child. Then, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow. Last, in His good time He can bring me out again—how and when He knows."
The Christian is here:
· By God’s appointment,
· In His keeping,
· Under His training,
· For His time.
No natural man can produce that kind of life. It comes as a by-product of a Spirit-filled life. It is the fruit of patient submission to the perfect will of God.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “One’s will must always be abandoned to the divine will, that one’s own will must be given up, if the divine will is to be manifested.”
Are You a Saint?
Tue, 3 Jan 2012 20:41:49 -0600
In His great priestly prayer Jesus was praying for His disciples, present and future. He said to His Father, “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth” (John 17:19).
Did Jesus mean that He wished to become holier? Was He praying for sinless perfection? Of course, not, that would have been impossible for the infinitely holy One to become holier. He was already perfectly holy.
Jesus was using the correct definition of the word saint. Jesus was setting Himself apart to the task of making atonement for our sins on the cross so we could become set apart for God. A saint is one who is “set apart” for God’s unique possession and purposes. The setting apart as a saint is something God does apart from human endeavor.
The person who believes on Jesus Christ is set apart when God reaches down in His grace and mercy through the person and work of the Holy Spirit, regenerates him spiritually and sets him apart for His own possession.
One of the great truths of the reformation is, “Every Christian is a saint, and every saint is a Christian.”
Every born again believer in Christ is set apart from the world system and no longer belongs to its way of life. The believer has a new principle, new nature, new kingdom, new master, new loyalties, new purpose and new agenda in life.
Always in Abundant Supply
Mon, 2 Jan 2012 22:30:13 -0600
Jesus Christ is all-sufficient to meet our every need, but if He is going to meet our needs we must be wiling to recognize our needs and call upon Him. There must be a turning to Him for help. He can supply every spiritual need we face in life if we respond to His abiding presence.
At the feeding of the five thousand Jesus provided food in abundance, and it is always that way with God (Matt. 14:15-21; Mk. 6:33-44; Lk. 9:12-17; Jn. 6:1-15). The interesting thing is Jesus initiated the feeding of the people. He knew in advance that He was going to meet their need. He was interested in their welfare. He was able to do it.
What is your attitude toward being fed by God? Do you feed upon Him?
God never ceases granting our petitions until we cease asking. True, He does not always answer the way we would choose, but it is always with our very best in His mind. I thank God that He has not always granted my requests from my selfish, ignorant perspective. He often says no, in order to give me His very best.
Jesus is ever coming to bankrupt sinners and placing His hand on the bank draft of heaven and says to us, "Write on it what you need."
We have so little faith in things unseen and eternal. We draw so little on the resources of our heavenly Intercessor. "My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory."
Who is Jesus Christ?
Sun, 1 Jan 2012 20:38:06 -0600
In a hot debate with a group of hostile religious leaders Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56).
In their rush to react in emotional excitement they weren’t paying attention to what Jesus said so they concluded, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” (v. 57).
In response to their question Jesus made one of the most profound statements about His deity. “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM” (v. 58).
Who is this man? Is He God? Who is this “I AM”? Who is Jesus Christ?
Make no mistake Jesus was claiming to have existed before the Jewish patriarch Abraham was born. He was claiming an eternal preexistence—“Before Abraham was born, I am.”
When Jesus used the name “I AM” He was actually using the divine name by which the God of Israel had revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:13-14). God revealed Himself to Moses as “I am who I am.” “I AM” is the name for God that Jesus takes to Himself. With this name for deity He claimed to be Yahweh which is the very word for Jehovah or LORD.
The Jews listening to Jesus immediately recognized His claim to be God. The Jewish leaders knew what Jesus was saying. They clearly understood His speech. Because they were so inferioritied, they picked up stones to kill Him for blasphemy.
This was not the only time Jesus directly or indirectly claimed to be God’s equal.
The Lord Will Provide
Sat, 31 Dec 2011 16:40:59 -0600
Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56).
Jesus made a startling statement stressing the fact that the ancient Jewish patriarch Abraham placed his ultimate hope in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and he rejoiced in the thought of Christ’s coming.
Jesus points to the event as “My day”—the life of Jesus Christ. That is the event that Abraham was reflecting upon and rejoicing about.
Something happened to Abraham in his day to cause him to rejoice back then at the thought of the coming of God’s redeemer. I believe Abraham’s vision of the coming of Christ as our substitute is vividly portrayed in the near sacrifice of his son Isaac on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22). There Abraham learned that “the Lord will provide,” and He did at Calvary.
Abraham had already experienced the reality that God is true to His Word, no matter how strange it may seem. God told Abraham to kill Isaac, the son of the covenant, who had no children at this time in his life. Abraham knew God would have to perform a miracle in Isaac’s death. God would have to raise Isaac from the dead to accomplish His promise of producing a great nation through Isaac. Since God had done a miracle at Isaac’s birth, He was fully capable of performing a miracle in his sacrificial death. The context of Genesis chapter 22 fully expects God to bring Isaac back down the mountain with his father Abraham and the servants after the sacrifice (Gen. 22:5; Heb. 11:17-19).
Abraham trusted God to bring Isaac back from the dead. This was precisely what God the Father did with His own Son Jesus Christ.
Genesis 22:14 tells us Abraham rejoiced and called the place Jehovah Jireh meaning “the Lord will provide.”
Could Abraham have meant earlier, “the Lord will provide a resurrection of Isaac”?
Justified Freely by God’s Grace
Fri, 30 Dec 2011 21:53:45 -0600
Grace, how sweet the sound to our sinful hearts!
The Bible teaches that we are saved by the free sovereign grace of God in Jesus Christ. Neither will the grace of God ever be withheld, nor will it be lessened because of anything we have done, or will do.
There is no more majestic word than "grace." It means unmerited favor or kindness shown to a person who is utterly undeserving. In fact, it is a free gift given to us who deserve the exact opposite. It is given to us sinners who are without hope and without God in the world.
Grace is never set in the context of any supposed merit of our own, but always on the basis of Romans 1:18-3:20 which describes our utter ruin in sin. Grace must always be approached with that reality of personal sin in mind. Without the deep conviction of the Holy Spirit we do not understand our need for God’s saving grace.
The Amplified Bible on Romans 3:20 reads, “For no person will be justified—made righteous, acquitted and judged acceptable—in His sight by observing the words prescribed by the Law. For [the real function of] the Law is to make men recognize and be conscious of sin [not mere perception, but an acquaintance with sin which works toward repentance, faith and holy character].”
We are saved by unmerited grace (Eph. 2:8-9). Saving grace of God is a gift that is received only through faith in Jesus, apart from any human merit. We do not deserve grace, for if we did it would not be grace. The only thing we deserve is the full outpouring of God’s just wrath upon us for eternity. If it is not apart from good works and human merit, it is not saving grace because God does not owe us anything.
Why Christians Must be Holy
Thu, 29 Dec 2011 22:15:21 -0600
It is very clear in the teachings of the Scripture that no Christian is sinless (1 John 1:8-10), but it is also clear that God expects the true believer to not sin habitually. “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in Him, and he cannot practice sin because he is born of God” (3:9).
To “practice” sin is to sin as a way of life. An unsaved person lives a life of habitual sin. The sin of unbelief is a normal thing for the lost person. A true believer does not live in habitual sin. He may commit occasional sins but he will not make it a habitual practice.
The word “holy,” “holiness,” “saint” and “sanctify” comes from a Greek root meaning, “to set apart to God.” The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is set apart for God by the Holy Spirit. The “saint” is a person set apart for God, enjoying a holy standing before God in Christ Jesus, with the obligation of living a holy life (1 Pet. 1:15-16).
The evidence of the new birth is righteous behavior in the life of the believer. Sanctification is evident in a changed life. God changes us from the inside out (2 Cor. 5:17).
J. C. Ryle in his book on holiness gave eight reasons why holiness is necessary in the Christian’s life (Holiness, pp. 40-44).
Secure Shelter in the Storms of Life
Wed, 28 Dec 2011 18:38:32 -0600
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).
The Psalmist invites us to abide in the Father’s shadow where we see only the face of the Almighty. The veil of the temple was torn in two making it possible for every believer to go into the presence of the LORD God anytime he desires. In deed, as the Psalmist said we can abide in His presence all the time.
The “shelter of the Almighty” implies His holy presence. In the “shadow of the Almighty” we find strength to live a holy life.
Has the Most High become your dwelling presence? The believer finds refuge and a secure place in the strong fortress of Yahweh. The LORD is “My refuge and my fortress, My God in whom I trust” (v. 2). Whoever trusts in the Most High finds security and protection in God’s holy presence.
Two interesting titles of God are found in verses one and two. The infinite power and sovereign rule of God are expressed in “the Most High” and “the Almighty.” We worship “the Most High” God. Elyôn suggests the exaltedness and overwhelming majesty of God, signifying the supremacy of the deity. This divine name reflects the ideas of omnipotence (Ps 18:13; Lam. 3:38), universality (Ps 83:18), and constancy (Ps 21:7). He is the place of protection and shelter for Israel (Ps 9:2; 91:1, 9), and for her king (Ps 21:7). Elyôn seems to have a special concern for Zion (Ps 46:4; 87:5) even though He is Lord of all heaven and earth. Psalm 73:11 tells us it is impossible to hide from the all-knowing God.
The LORD appeared to Abraham when he was ninety-nine years old and revealed Himself by the great name El Shaddai saying, “I am the Almighty God. Obey Me and always do what is right” (Genesis 17:1). The Almighty is all-powerful. As El Shaddai God manifested himself to the patriarchs (Ex 6:3) Abraham (Gen 17:1; to Isaac, Gen 28:3), and to Jacob (Gen 35:11, 43:14; 48:3). The context for most of these references is the covenant, and the responsibility for obedience and faithfulness on the part of the patriarch and the promise of progeny by God. It is not to the hills that these men of faith looked for confidence, but to the Lord of these hills, the Lord of the mountain (Ps 121:1–2).
In addition, the images “shelter” and “the shadow” suggest a secure hiding place from the storms of life. We have a secure refuge in His hiding place. We have safety in the presence of the LORD.
A New Life with a New Way
Tue, 27 Dec 2011 19:12:08 -0600
The apostle Paul revealed the very core of the Christian life when he wrote: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Paul testified that his life passion is to know Christ.
I count all thing loss that I might value the surpassing value of knowing by personal experience Christ Jesus my Lord. I count all my self-efforts a loss in order that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him. I want a righteousness that comes on the basis of faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ. The passion of my life is “that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, in order that I may attain to the resurrection of the dead” (3:10-11).
Has Jesus Christ laid hold of you? Like a wrestler, the apostle Paul says, Christ got hold on me, and now I want to get a good grip on Him. Do you have that same passion of the apostle? I want Jesus Christ, and nothing else in life will satisfy once you get a taste of His life.
When you come to an intimate love relationship with Christ, you want to celebrate His glory at every opportunity. You long to see His face and hear His voice and feel His touch and walk hand in hand with Him.
He bides us, “Come and follow” and trust Him for every provision each step of the way.
What makes the new life in Christ so dynamic is that in everything that happens in our lives, God is conforming us to the likeness of His Son. “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection” is the Spirit of God working in the inner person. It is Christ through His Holy Spirit in the heart, rooted and grounded in love, filled with the fullness of God.
Attitudes Toward the King
Mon, 26 Dec 2011 19:14:40 -0600
What is your attitude toward the coming of Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Savior of the world?
Mary the expectant mother of Jesus declared in song, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior . . .” (Luke 1:46-47).
Does your heart “make great the Lord”? Does your spirit rejoice in “God my Savior”?
Great is the mercy of the Lord upon us. Mary’s heart filled to overflowing with thanksgiving for the privilege of serving the LORD God as a humble maiden.
Because we have been saved by the grace of God through Jesus Christ we have the wonderful privilege and opportunity of magnifying the Lord with our lives. We have been saved to serve Him. Our hearts have been made new by the new birth and we rejoice in God our Savior.
The LORD God is great and is worthy of our worship. Mary proclaimed the greatness of Yahweh when she declared, “My soul magnifies the Lord.”
With a joyful heart she enthusiastically shouted, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
Has the Holy Spirit put a profound joy in your heart? Does that deep, deep peace cause you to break forth at times rejoicing in the great salvation God has brought into your life? There is a peace and joy in the Christian’s heart that is deep and profound because God has placed it there. It should cause our hearts to rejoice and keep on rejoicing at the great and mighty things God has done.
Wise Men Worship the King
Sun, 25 Dec 2011 19:02:51 -0600
The longer I live the more I want to be around wise men.
“Wise men,” more properly, “Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem” looking for the King of the Jews (Matthew 2:1-2).
Since Herod had all of the children less than two years of age murdered in Bethlehem, the Magi probably arrived after Jesus had already become a young child. The Magi didn’t find Mary and Jesus in the stable, but in a house.
The “star” that guided the Magi was possibly the appearance of the Shekinah glory that signified the presence of God and guided the Jewish people in their wilderness wanderings. The glory could have appeared and reappeared as needed to guide the wise men to Bethlehem on their long journey. The “star” “stopped over the place where the child was” (v. 9). It kept on going before them and then “came and stood over where the child was.”
We are not told how long the journey was, how many Magi were on the trip, or any details about the star. We do not know where they came from except for a general indication “from the east.” Probably the distant Persia was the beginning of their journey. The important thing for the Gospel writer was the fact that non-Jews made the long journey to come and worship the Jewish Messiah. He even concludes his Gospel reminding the church to take the good news of Jesus Christ to “all the nations.”
These wise men made their journey “to worship Him.”
God’s Christmas Tree
Sat, 24 Dec 2011 20:56:29 -0600
God’s ultimate will is for every believer to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. The most powerful message of Christmas is the transforming grace of God in Jesus Christ.
God’s Christmas tree is covered with the undefiled and sinless blood of His Son Jesus Christ. It is not the meek and mild “baby Jesus” that saves a lost humanity. It is His sacrificial, substitutionary, atoning death that deals with our human depravity and sin. Without that death we are eternally lost and judged to spend eternity in hell.
There is only one way to be made acceptable with a holy and righteous God. The grace of God in Jesus Christ alone saves the confessing and believing sinner.
Good works and religious activity at Christmas time will not save you. All of your human titles and achievements are absolutely of no spiritual value. We will enter into God’s holy presence by depending on the death of Jesus Christ alone to save us. There is no other way (Acts 4:12). Our eternal salvation is by grace alone (Eph. 2:8-9). God transforms us by His grace. That is why even at Christmas time the only thing worth boasting about is the cross of Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:14). Because of His great love for us, Jesus offered Himself as our substitutionary sacrifice. It was not because He saw anything in us, or anything we would do, but His majestic love. Everything we count as spiritually valuable is worthless in God’s eyes. Only the substitutionary death of His Son on our behalf on His tree can satisfy God and save us.
The grace that decorates God’s tree illumines our minds and changes our hearts. “Oh Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee.”
When God Invaded History
Sat, 24 Dec 2011 20:18:19 -0600
The accounts of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth are fully historical. They describe the events when the supernatural invaded the normal flow of historical events.
The physician Luke tells us he thoroughly researched everything about the life of Jesus concerning His conception and birth (Luke 1:1-4). Luke must have gotten his details from Mary.
Matthew makes it very clear that God invaded history. He quotes Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel." Jesus is “God with us.” The Hebrew word Bethulah means an unblemished young woman of marriageable age. She was a virgin. Matthew used the word “virgin” to tell his readers that Jesus was conceived by God to the Holy Spirit apart from any human father.
Matthew states clearly and concisely: "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:18). A couple of verses later he adds, "But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:20).
The child who had been conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit was the divine Messiah, the Son of God. He is Immanuel, God incarnate, meaning “God with us.” Jesus is incarnate deity, and He has promised us that He will be with us always, even to the very end of the ages (Matt. 28:20). He will never leave us nor forsake us.
Jesus is “God with us” by means of the supernatural conception in the womb of the Jewish virgin Mary.
Faith’s Object: Jesus Christ
Fri, 23 Dec 2011 21:25:55 -0600
What is the object of my faith? What am I to believe in to receive the gift of eternal life and live with God in heaven? What must I do to be saved?
The object of faith for the sinner is Jesus Christ. We receive “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe” (Romans 3:22). We are “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (v. 24).
Jesus Christ alone is the object of your faith for the forgiveness of sin. On nothing else can you trust to have all your sins pardoned.
God is a just God, and He must punish sin. God at the same time is merciful and wills to pardon and forgive those who believe on Jesus Christ. How can He be just and exact the penalty for sin? How can He be merciful and accept the sinner? How can He be just and at the same time justify the believing sinner?
The Biblical solution to our sins problem is substitution, which is essential to God’s plan of salvation. God looks upon Jesus Christ as though He had been all the sinners in the world wrapped up into one. The sins of His people were taken from their persons and actually laid on Jesus Christ when He died on the cross. God in fiery judgment met the sinner and punished Him. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). God poured out His wrath against sin on His own Son. Christ was not the actual sinner, but the sins of all His people were all imputed to Him. They were charged to His account personally and spiritually. The justice of God met Jesus Christ on the cross as though He had been the actual sinner. Jesus received the punishment for His people’s sins. God extracted from His Son the last atom of the penalty for our sins. He drank the last drop of judgment against us.
The Genealogy of Jesus
Thu, 22 Dec 2011 21:05:35 -0600
Are you up-to-date on your genealogy? Lots of families have their own historian who wants to delve into their family history and genealogy.
The Jewish people through out the early years of their history kept up with their genealogy because every male child of King David was a potential Messiah. Down through Jewish history, the people looked forward to the coming of their Messiah. The genealogies would show them who might be a legitimate descendant of David to reign on the throne. Only when Jesus was born in Bethlehem did the long awaited king arrive.
“Joseph, son of David” (Matthew 1:20) is a quote from the genealogy of Jesus. “Where is he who is born King of the Jews?” (2:2) Jesus was no son of the illegitimate King Herod who ruled Judah (2:12-23). Herod was an Idumaean, and he did not have a drop of David’s blood in him.
The angel said to Mary, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:31-33).
Why do we have two genealogies of Jesus in the Gospels? I agree with a number of leading scholars who understand the two lines represent the lines of Joseph and Mary respectively.
They are both identified as descendents of King David. Matthew gives us the “royal” line of those who actually sat on the throne as descendents of the great king. The other line was the “legal” line of those who descended from the oldest son to the next, even though they never actually reigned as kings on the throne of David.
He Will Save His People from Their Sins
Wed, 21 Dec 2011 22:06:03 -0600
“A kind of moral relativism has taken over. Nothing is really wrong. If I have a good reason to do it, it’s not sin.” That is the modern attitude toward the righteousness of God.
I get the impression that the church in our day avoids at all costs the idea of sin and guilt and therefore tries to entertain lost sinners into heaven.
However, there is no escaping the fact that when God became flesh so He could be with us He did so in order to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
The angel appeared in the presence of Joseph who was engaged to be married to Mary and told him, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (v. 20).
Joseph did not ask why, but here is God’s answer to the question. The angel continues, “And she will bear a son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (v. 21).
The ancient Jewish rabbis had a saying concerning the names of the six persons who were named before they were born: Isaac, Moses, Solomon, Josiah, and the name of the Messiah.
“You shall call His name Jesus.” You will name Him after His Father. Not Joseph, mind you, because Joseph would be his stepfather. Jesus was “conceived in her [Mary] of the Holy Spirit” (v.20).
Jesus had no human father. The historian Matthew tells us Joseph “found” Mary to be pregnant “before they came together” (v. 18). The discovery was inevitable and it is plain that Mary had not told Joseph. The discovery shocked Joseph. Jesus had no human father because “she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit” (v. 18).
A Virgin, Immanuel and the Incarnation
Tue, 20 Dec 2011 22:57:52 -0600
Ahaz was faithless.
Neighboring countries of Syria and Israel banned together to fight the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Ahaz, the king of Judah, sent for the king of Assyria to come to his rescue.
The LORD God is sovereign in the affairs of the nations and He sent the Hebrew prophet Isaiah to counsel Ahaz. Isaiah said, “Take care, and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted because the two stubs of smoldering firebrands . . .” (Isaiah 7:4). The two threatening countries are just burned up pieces of firewood. God said, “It shall not stand, nor shall it come to pass” (v. 7).
What would you have done if you were Ahaz? The pressure on Ahaz was intense, not just the threat of war, but the LORD was breathing down his neck as well. “If you will not believe, you surely shall not last” (v. 19). Ahaz, you are as good as gone yourself if you do not trust Me. If you trust Me I will deliver you from this smoke, but if you don’t you are through as a king. Moreover, trusting in the Assyrian army is not trusting in Yahweh.
Ahaz refused to trust in the LORD. So He spoke to the king again, “Ask for a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; make it as deep as Sheol or high as heaven” (v. 11). Go ahead, ask Ahaz! What an opportunity to see God do the impossible!
King Ahaz got a little religious. “I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD” (v. 12). That was exactly what he was doing by not trusting Yahweh. God invited Ahaz to ask for the “sign.” He was not testing God; God was testing him. The “sign” was a pledge of divine certainty, a miracle wrought for evidential purposes.
What would you have asked for? How would you have responded?
Consequences of Unbelief
Mon, 19 Dec 2011 16:42:26 -0600
The gospel writer Luke described Zacharias and Elizabeth as an elderly couple, “both advanced in years,” and without children. “Elizabeth was barren.” Zechariah was a priest who married a woman of priestly descent. “They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord” (Luke 1:6).
Zacharias had the honor “to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense” (v. 9). “And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering” (v. 10).
It was a very special time for the elderly priest. He and his wife had prayed often and for many years for a son to carry on his family name, and to fill their lives with joy.
Imagine what it was like that day in the temple when “an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense” in the Holy Place (v. 11). “Fear gripped” Zacharias as he listened to the angel.
“Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear a son, and you will give him the name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth” (vv. 13-14).
God answered the prayers of this righteous couple in a most impressive manner. But it was not a message of importance just for this humble couple; it was an important word for the people of Israel.
“For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine or liquor; and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. And he will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God” (vv. 15-16, cf. v. 41). God has chosen this child for a special purpose. He will have a special anointing of the Holy Spirit “while yet in his mother’s womb,” and his message will be the instrument of God to bring a revival in the nation.
The Spirit of Free Grace
Sun, 18 Dec 2011 19:56:02 -0600
Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us salvation is by the free grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” Salvation is by free grace.
The old way of legalism does not like that kind of salvation. The legalists do not like to hear the good news in Jesus Christ. True salvation is by grace of God through faith in Christ. There is no hope of salvation by the law because no sinner can ever live up to the righteous demands of God’s holy law. Salvation is on the basis of free grace, and grace alone, through faith in the person and saving work of Jesus Christ. It is God’s free gift to the sinner.
The apostle goes on to write in the next verse the outcome of salvation by free grace. “For you are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (v. 10).
The emphasis is still on grace. We are “His workmanship.” We are His poem. It is His creative work, not ours. It is so easy to get the wagon in front of the horse. Our good works do not save us. The good works are produced as a result of His work in us. Our works are a result of justification by faith.
In Philippians 2:12, the apostle Paul wrote, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” This clause is not suggesting work for our salvation. The Philippians were already “saints.” The idea is to go on to Christ-likeness in your spiritual growth. “Work out” has the idea to carry it to its ultimate conclusions, work on to completion, finish, or manifest. Work out what God has already worked in when you put your faith in Christ to save you. Carry on to completion what God has begun. Let the Holy Spirit produce His fruit in your daily life.
The legalist believes that grace is “too risky to be true” because people will take it to the extreme and use it as an excuse to sin. But grace does not produce a desire to sin because it does just the opposite. It creates a desire within us to pursue holiness.
A Zeal for the Righteousness of God
Sat, 17 Dec 2011 20:09:01 -0600
The apostle Paul prayed to God for the salvation of those who “have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:1-3).
The apostle Paul was making his plea to his own people who in their religious zeal had rejected God’s provision of His own perfect righteousness for their own self-righteousness. They were intensely religious in their own eyes, but not with the true knowledge of God. They were running well but in the wrong direction. They labored to do good deeds, but for the wrong goal. They were religious, sincere, dedicated, but in their anxiety, they would miss their eternal reward.
“They have a zeal for God.” I meet people like that every day. In their religious zeal, they knock on your door, too. Like the apostle Paul, I am not against religious zeal or enthusiasm. However, they are zealous in their religious ceremonies, prayers, observances, holy days, fasts, visitation, teaching, etc., “but not in accordance with knowledge.” There is no use being zealous if you are zealous for the wrong reason. It will not help you if you are going in the wrong direction spiritually.
The apostle Paul was writing from his own personal experience. He had been very zealous for the Law, and in that enthusiasm, he killed men and women who had a different “knowledge” than his. He had a mistaken zeal for God. He believed sincerely, but he was sincerely wrong. He had been zealous, but his zeal was focused on the wrong object.
Then there came a day when he gained true knowledge of the righteousness of God, and he counted all his self-righteousness as dung and received salvation by free grace alone.
Fri, 16 Dec 2011 19:12:55 -0600
I am convinced the most important message we can ever proclaim is the free grace of God that forgives us of all our sins and gives us a perfect relationship with God. We are justified by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:21-28; 4:5).
Let’s examine a simple acrostic of the word G-R-A-C-E.
GOD in holy love
RECONCILES ruined and rebellious sinners by His
ABUNDANT grace and
CHANGES ruined men from the inside out and gives
ETERNAL LIFE to all who believe on Jesus Christ.
GOD—is the Creator of the universe. His personal name is Jehovah or Yahweh. Most modern English translations use the name LORD, written with four small capital letters to translate the Hebrew word JHVH.
The Bible tells us He is the creator and sustainer of the universe (Gen. 1:1, 27; Psalm 14:1). He did not wind up the universe like a clock and then walk away. He is personally involved in His creation (Ps. 139).
He is holy and righteous (Isaiah 6:1; Rev. 4:8; 1 Timothy 6:15-18). The Hebrew prophet Isaiah saw Him in a vision, sitting on His throne, lofty and exalted. He heard the Seraphim chanting, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD of hosts, the whole world is full of His glory” (Isa. 6:3).
The LORD God loves His creation and is patient with mankind. He first loved us and expects us to love Him with all our heart (1 John 4:10, 19). “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 27:37; Deut. 6:5). Jesus said, “Seek first His [God’s] kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).
The LORD God is good to us all the time, and He alone is worthy of our praise (Rev. 4:11).
Thu, 15 Dec 2011 21:38:11 -0600
The Trinity is the theological term designating one God in three persons.
Even though the term is not used in the Bible, it is a correct designation for the one God self-revealed in Scripture as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The term simply means that within the one essence of the Godhead, we have to distinguish three persons who are neither three gods, nor three parts or modes of God. The three persons of the Godhead are coequal and coeternally God.
The biblical teaching on the Trinity is developed through the progressive self-revelation of God in the Scriptures. The Bible declares, “The LORD is our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). The unity of God is emphasized. The Hebrew word echad always denotes “compound unity.” It is one in the sense of unity. It is suggestive of the one Divine Unity of the Trinity. He is the only Yahweh. There is no other. It is to Him alone that the name rightly belongs. God is not Himself a plurality. He is not one among many others. There are no other gods (5:7-11). There is only one essence or substance of God. However, the individuality of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is preserved. God is one, yet the self-revelation of God clearly teaches in Himself and from all eternity, He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is the triune God—the three in one.
There are clear intimations of the Trinity in the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit is mentioned frequently from the beginning verses (Genesis 1:2), and in verses 26 and 27 the plural form is used. Each member of the Godhead was explicit participants in creation. The "Spirit of God" in the Old Testament is synonymous with the Holy Spirit. In Genesis 18, the appearance of the LORD to Abraham is suggestive of the second person of the Godhead as well as other occurrences in the Old Testament. Isaiah 48:16 is also a strong Trinitarian statement. “Come near Me, listen to this: From the first I have not spoken in secret, from the first time it took place, I was there. And now the Lord God has sent Me, and His Spirit.” The speaker in this verse is probably the Messiah, the Servant of the LORD.
The New Testament never violates the Old Testament concept of the oneness of God. The writers unanimously and fully affirm the great Hebrew monotheistic faith in Yahweh. They extend this great doctrine to include the deity of both Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Everything for Nothing
Wed, 14 Dec 2011 19:09:22 -0600
The Hebrew prophet Isaiah offered a great invitation to everyone to come to the fountain of grace.
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1).
The blessings of God are available “without cost.” Salvation is a free gift of God. This invitation is a picture of grace in the Old Testament. These blessings are gifts of divine grace, and they are also obtained by grace. They are received only by a sense of need and readiness to accept them.
When speaking of the remnant of Israel the apostle Paul wrote, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace” (Romans 11:6). Free grace and works are like water and oil; they do not mix. They are opposites; they are incompatible.
The only qualification is to be spiritually thirsty and needy. The “water” of refreshing and cleaning that Christ gives is the “water of life.” He gives the “wine” of joy, exhilarating, comforting, and refreshing that “makes glad the heart of man.” He gives “wine” with fullness of holy delight and “milk” that nourishes and satisfies the soul. These are pictures of the satisfying and sustaining qualities of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He brings satisfaction to the soul for time and eternity. The water, wine, and milk are the full supply of life joy and satisfaction in the Christian’s life.
The wonder of it all is that God gives it freely. It is free grace that God gives to sinners who are thirsty for God. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). Only the grace of God can possibly give this kind of satisfaction. The purchase is made “without money and without cost.” The gifts of God are without money and without price.”
Sin of Unbelief
Tue, 13 Dec 2011 20:08:34 -0600
We live in a day of tolerance.
But our problem is we tolerate the wrong things. The last virtue of the ungodly is tolerance. When the ungodly have abandoned all other moral standards, the cry of the ungodly is for more tolerance of their immorality and ungodliness.
One pastor remarked recently, “People do not want anybody to pass judgment while they are engaged in the most vile perversions and immoral ungodliness imaginable.”
One recent study in the United States demonstrated that almost all high school graduates are convinced there are no absolutes.
The truth still stands; there is one sin for which Christ never made atonement. The person who dies in unbelief can never be saved, no matter how religious he may be. There is no atonement for the person who does not believe on Jesus Christ as his Savior.
Yes, there is an atonement made for the unbelief of the Christian, because it is temporary. However, the unbelief with which men die never was atoned for by Christ. There is no atonement for the person who died in unbelief. If he had been guilty of every other sin, if he had but believed, he would have been pardoned. The one exception is to die without Christ. The Bible clearly says, “He that believes not shall be damned.”
If you hear the good news in Jesus Christ and believe on Him, that is enough. If you perish, and go to hell in your quest for tolerance, it is only because you have refused to call upon the name of Jesus to be saved. “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
"Look Unto Me, and be Saved"
Mon, 12 Dec 2011 18:07:01 -0600
“Look unto Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22).
This is the verse the layman was preaching on the day C. H. Spurgeon placed his faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior. “I stepped within the house of God, and sat there, afraid to look upward, lest I should be utterly cut off, and lest His fierce wrath should consume me.” The minister read the verse of Scripture and Spurgeon says, “I looked that moment; the grace of faith was vouchsafed to me in the self-same instant . . .” He looked upon the wounds of Christ and could say, “Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be until I die.” From that moment on for the rest of his life Spurgeon preached God’s saving grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
God saves sinners by grace so that all may know, “I am God, and there is none other.” He is always removing our false securities and gods so we will put our trust in Him alone.
Every God-called minister of grace can identify with the godly pastor when he said, “We are made to see that the Lord is God, and that beside Him there is none else. Very frequently God teaches this to the minister, by leading him to see his own sinful nature. He will have such an insight into his own wicked and abominable heart, that he will feel as he comes up to the pulpit stairs that he does not deserve so much as to sit in his pew much less to preach to his fellows. Although we feel always joy in the declaration of God’s Word, yet we have known what it is to totter on the pulpit steps, under a sense that the chief of sinners should scarcely be allowed to preach to others. Ah beloved, I do not think he will be very successful as a minister who is not taken into the depths and blackness of his own soul, and made to exclaim, ‘Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.’”
Blessings out of Sufferings
Sun, 11 Dec 2011 21:48:41 -0600
What is your response to suffering? There is no escape from intense pressures in this life, but it helps when we get God into the picture.
The apostle Peter wrote to a group of suffering Christians with words of encouragement. “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).
“After you have suffered for a little,” says Peter. The suffering is temporary, in contrast and comparison to the eternal glory that is in store for the believer.
Before God blesses us there come times of trouble, distress, grief and pain. We can rejoice knowing the suffering is for a short time, but out of the suffering comes blessings that cannot be had any other way.
“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Our suffering is temporary, but it produces in us character that will last thought out eternity.
God equips believers for His service through suffering. He strengthens character in the fires of pressure.
“After you have suffered for a little while,” indicates the blessings come only after we submit to the refiner’s fire. We cannot disregard the sufferings.
Sat, 10 Dec 2011 20:54:44 -0600
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” The apostle Paul and Silas responded to the jailor in the city of Philippi, “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved, and your household” (Acts 16:31).
The only road to heaven is by faith in Jesus Christ. Calling on any other name will not save you. There is salvation only in the atoning death of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). When we believe on Christ as Savior we trust or lean upon Him with our whole weight upon His cross. We cease to stand in our own religious strength, and cast ourselves wholly upon the Rock of Ages. Faith, belief and trust are synonyms for receiving Jesus Christ and the free gift of eternal life in Him.
Jesus Christ is able to save to the uttermost all sinners who come to Him, take His word, and trust Him. Only believe. That is God’s requirement for salvation. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” The greatest sin in the entire world is unbelief. The object of saving faith is Jesus Christ.
R. G. Lee once said, “Excuses, excuses—rotten bridges over hell.” What are some excuses that will send you to an eternal hell?
Some people give the excuse, “My faith is too small. I do not think Christ could save me.” God does not ask us to trust in ourselves, but in the finished work of Jesus Christ who died in our place on the cross. C. H. Spurgeon said, “It is not the strength of your faith that saves you, . . . it is the object of your faith. If your faith is fixed on Christ, though it seems to be in itself a line no thicker than a spider’s web, it will hold your soul throughout time and eternity. . . The faith that saves men is sometimes so small that man himself cannot see it.” Put your trust in the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse you of all your sins. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved . . .” Let Him be the object of your faith and trust.
Forgiveness According to the Riches of God’s Grace
Sat, 10 Dec 2011 20:52:21 -0600
The greatest peace and joy in all the world is knowing all my sins have been forgiven according to the riches of God’s free grace in Jesus Christ. We are trophies of His grace both now and throughout eternity.
There is nothing like the free, full, sovereign, unconditional, eternal grace of God that deals with all our sins. The apostle sang “the praise of the glory of God’s grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:6-7).
There is no boundary to God’s omniscience. There is no limit to His understanding, or of His grace. Just as He has knowledge of all our sins, so does His infinite grace comprehend all our sins.
How can a holy and just God forgive us of all our sins in one all encompassing declaration of acquittal? It is because the believing sinner is blood-bought. “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.” The apostle John wrote, “To Him who loves us, and [once and for all] released us from our sins by His blood” (Revelation 1:5).
“When God forgives He draws the mark through every sin which the believer ever has committed, or ever will commit,” observed C. H. Spurgeon. “However many, however heinous, your sins may have been the moment you believe, they are every one of them blotted out. In the Book of God there is not a single sin against any man in this place whose trust is in Christ, not a single one, not even the shadow of one, not a spot, or the remnant of a sin remaining; all is gone . . . and when God’s love covers the big sins it covers the little ones, and they are all gone at once! When God forgives, He not only forgives all, but once for all. . . . By one sacrifice there is a full remission of all sin that ever was against a believer, or that ever will be against him . . . not a single sin shall ever stand against you, nor shall you ever be punished for a single sin; for every sin is forgiven, fully forgiven, so that not even part of the punishment shall be executed against you” (Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon, vol. Vii, pp. 72-73).
God’s Everlasting Covenant of Grace
Fri, 9 Dec 2011 19:31:27 -0600
There is infinite value in the atoning blood of the Lamb of God.
The new covenant with the LORD God is ratified by the blood of Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:28; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 7:22; 8:6-10; 10:16-17; 12:24; 13:20; 2 Timothy 1:9).
We have peace with God “through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord.”
The “blood of the eternal covenant” with Jesus Christ stands over against “the blood of bulls and of goats” in the old covenant with Israel. Christ shed His precious blood in fulfillment of the stipulation of the everlasting covenant. Christ’s atoning blood is the foundation of this covenant with God. The eternal salvation of sinful men and women is guaranteed by this eternal covenant in the blood of Jesus Christ.
“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen" (Hebrews 13:20-21).
The everlasting guarantee of the covenant of grace is the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It is by His blood that all our sins are cancelled, justice of God was satisfied, and the law was honored. Christ has done everything that God can demand. The blood of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the debtor’s side of the covenant. Because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the sinner’s behalf, God is bound by His own covenant to show grace and mercy to all whom Christ redeemed by His blood.
Justification by Faith and Imputed Righteousness
Thu, 8 Dec 2011 07:59:22 -0600
God is a just God, and He is the justifier of the person who has faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:26).
That is one of those important truths that separate historical Biblical Christianity from the religious cults.
The believing sinner is “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (vv. 23-24).
God is a just God, and the justification of the sinner must be accomplished in perfect harmony with God’s justice. Even in the justification of the sinner the holiness of God must be preserved and demonstrated. Every requirement of the law must be satisfied, and the infinitely holy character of God must be satisfied.
The law places a double demand on sinners because it requires their full obedience to its precepts, and their full endurance of its penalty when the law is broken.
How can anyone possibly meet this condition since it is a universal fact that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”? The only way is for God to provide what man cannot do. In grace God has already fulfilled these requirements, and paid in full the penalty by sending His Son “born under the law” (Gal. 4:4) to “became obedient unto death” (Phil. 2:8).
Sleepless Nights and Stressful Days
Wed, 7 Dec 2011 07:34:32 -0600
What do you do when the pressures of daily life assail and assault you?
Since the LORD God has saved you by His grace from beginning to end, why should you tremble before the lesser dangers of this life?
King David tells of an experience how he was able to lie down and sleep in the midst of a sudden danger occasioned by his son Absalom’s rebellion (2 Samuel 15-16).
“I lie down and sleep; I awake again, because the LORD sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side” (Psalm 3:5-6).
David went to sleep trusting God with one of the greatest threats to his life. God was a shield around David as he slept trusting God with his life.
C. H. Spurgeon said, “It is the most bitter of all afflictions to be led to fear that there is no help for us in God.” Those are the most crushing moments in our lives. We feel as if the very floor has been pulled out from us, and someone has greased the rope we were holding on to desperately.
King David in the first stanza gave expression to the great crisis he was experiencing. He acknowledged and deeply experienced the deep anxious feelings. His enemies have risen up against him. “O LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me? Many are saying of me, ‘God will not deliver him’” (vv. 1-2).
My Cup is Running Over
Tue, 6 Dec 2011 07:46:49 -0600
God’s blessings are always a superabundance.
When the “LORD is my shepherd,” “my cup runs over” in superabundance.
We do not have to wait until we get to heaven to experience God’s banquet house. His overflowing grace is something we experience as Christians in this life. Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (John 10:10b). That is a cup running over with God’s grace. He does not just give us the gift of eternal life when we first believed, but He keeps on giving eternal life. The life He gives us is perisson, meaning, “to have a surplus,” “superabundance,” “till it overflows.”
Jesus gives us Himself (John 14:6). He is this abundant life. It is God’s kind of life. “My cup overflows,” means it is not just full; it is “running over,’ filled to the brim and overflowing.
God’s saving and sustaining grace is always like that. His grace is always in fullness, abundance and all-sufficiency.
The Spirit of Life
Mon, 18 Jul 2011 21:06:17 -0500
The Spirit of life is the life-giving Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the author and giver of life, and the life He gives is free of condemnation. There is now no condemnation for the believer in Christ because of the saving work of Christ which sets His people free from the law that condemns.
The principle on which the Holy Spirit works in the Christian’s life operates in power. He can do what the law could never do.
It is interesting the word Holy Spirit is found more often in chapter eight of Romans than in any other chapter in the New Testament.
The Holy Spirit is the “distinguishing mark” of the believer. His very presence in the Christian means defeat of the power of sin in the believer’s life. The Holy Spirit rules within the heart.
“When the Holy Spirit comes into a person that person is liberated from bondage to evil and finds a new power within, a power that causes the defeat of sin and leads the liberated person into ways of goodness and love,” writes Leon Morris.
By the death of Jesus Christ the believer was freed from the law of sin (Romans 7:23, 25), and death (7:10-11, 13). That does not mean, however, that we are sinless even though we have been liberated from its dominion (6:18, 22). We have a new relationship to the law because of our new relationship with Christ.
Christ Our Refuge
Sun, 17 Jul 2011 22:45:50 -0500
The Bible is very clear in its declaration that individuals who are not “in Christ” are lost and under condemnation. If you are not “in Christ Jesus” you have not escaped the condemnation and the wrath of God.
The apostle John wrote, “He who believes in Him [Jesus] is not judged” (John 3:18a). Paul wrote “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). John goes on to say, “he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (v. 18b). The person who does not believe is already condemned and that condemnation of unbelievers is now in the present time.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24). “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).
The sole basis of this justification and declaration of “no condemnation” is the assurance found in the words “in Christ Jesus.” We were all condemned in Adam, but in the second Adam there is no condemnation.
Christians do sin and fail to bring glory to God, and we do suffer the natural consequences of our sins. However, we do not suffer condemnation because Christ was condemned in our stead.
Evidence that Demands Our Faith
Sun, 29 May 2011 22:15:28 -0500
How do I know that God has fully accepted the death of Jesus Christ as payment for my sins?
“When Jesus died, He died as my representative, and I died in Him; when He rose, He rose as my representative, and I rose in Him. . . . I look at the cross of Christ, and I know that atonement has been made for my sins; I look at the open sepulcher and the risen and ascended Lord, and I know that the atonement has been accepted. There no longer remains a single sin on me, no matter how many or how great my sins may have been. My sins may have been as high as the mountains, but in the light of the resurrection the atonement that covers them is as high as heaven. My sins may have been as deep as the ocean, but in the light of the resurrection the atonement that swallows them up is as deep as eternity” (R. A. Torrey, The Bible and Its Cross, pp. 107-08).
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the proof that the LORD God has accepted the full payment for our sins in the death of His Son. God is fully and completely satisfied with the atoning work Jesus did on the cross for my sins because He raised Him from the dead.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ proves that every believer in Christ is justified by faith, and cleansed by His blood of all their sins (Heb. 12:1-2; Phil. 2:8-11). It is the evidence from God Himself that the penalty for our sins has been paid in full by the death of Jesus Christ. By the resurrection of Jesus from the dead God declared that He has accepted the death of Jesus as an atonement for our sins.
Do you “believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead”? (Romans 4:24). Jesus “was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification” (v. 25). God the Father sent Jesus to the cross to die for our sins (Acts 2:23), and “God raised Him up again” (v. 24). “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses,” declared Peter (v. 32). The death of Jesus Christ was according to God’s determined plan to accomplish our redemption. Jesus Christ is “the Lamb of God slain from the creation of the world” (Rev. 13:8[...]
The Law and the Gospel
Sun, 29 May 2011 22:14:24 -0500
The gospel of grace does not nullify God’s Law; it fulfills it. In fact, it is the only way the Law of God could possibly be fulfilled.
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? . . . . It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. . . . For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Romans 6:1; Galatians 5:1, 13).
The highest motivation for living the Christian life is the result of God’s sacrificial love for us. If we love Him we will keep His commandments (Jn. 14:15). We want to please Him because He reached down in His grace and mercy to save us while we were sinners condemned by God’s just Law. Therefore, we want to love and please Him wholeheartedly.
Moreover, since we have been spiritually regenerated or born again by the Holy Spirit, we are now a changed people. You cannot be justified without out this spiritual birth taking place at the same time. The person who is saved by the grace of God will demonstrate it by a determination to pursue personal righteousness in his daily life. We will do good works because that is what we are destined to do (Eph. 1:4; 2:10). The failure to strive to live a morally upright life according to God’s holy Law only proves that the individual has never been justified by faith and born again (1 Jn. 2:15-17). The evidence for justification and spiritual birth are the good works that follow in a person’s life. You cannot separate the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit and the justifying work of Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul makes it very clear in both Romans and Galatians that justification by grace through faith fulfills and upholds the Law of God. Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law in His life of perfect obedience to the Father. He accomplished for us what we could not do. By His death Jesus established the Law by enforcing the demands of the Law upon all who sin.
Commitment to Christ
Sat, 28 May 2011 22:05:42 -0500
When we trust or yield ourselves to Christ, there is a true commitment just like in a healthy marriage.
How tragic that many many marriages are dysfunctional and are a poor example of long lasting commitments.
Jesus made an eternal commitment to us (Rom. 8:38-39). In response to His love we are called upon to pledge ourselves to him.
We love Him because He first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19).
The apostle Paul used the marriage relationship to illustrate our relationship with Christ (Eph. 5:22ff). "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her" (v. 25).
Just like in the vows of a wedding we can express our faith to Christ who died for us, demonstrating His great love for us. We love Him because He first loved us.
One of the best illustrations of this commitment I have ever read was by C. H. Spurgeon. He said Christ Jesus vows to us: “I, Jesus, take you [whoever you may be; put your own name in the space], to be my wedded wife; and I do promise and covenant before God the Father and these witnesses gathered here, to be your loving and faithful Savior and Bridegroom: in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, in this life and for all eternity.”
Faith and the Bible
Sat, 28 May 2011 22:04:33 -0500
The Bible is God’s perfectly inspired word. The written Word testifies to God’s self-revelation in His incarnate Son, Jesus Christ. All Scripture, both Old and New Testament, is a clear testimony to Jesus Christ. The Bible is not just a record of revelation of God, but it is revelation itself, and it is an infallible witness of God to men.
"The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever" (Isa. 40:8). There is nothing like the abiding Word of God.
This is why it is so important for us to examine God’s Word and seek to understand it and its authority in the believer’s life. Our faith is defined by God's Word, and there cannot be any true saving faith without the Word of God.
The apostle Paul wrote, there is “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Romans 3:22). Believe in what? Our faith must rest in Jesus Christ and His atoning work. Our faith must reside in Jesus Christ.
Calvin wrote, “There is a permanent relationship between faith and the Word. Take away the Word and no faith will there remain.”
The Word of God also does something. Apart from the word of God we are dead in our trespasses and sins. We are as Whitfield compared us to Lazarus' body dead in his tomb before Jesus arrived. Martha told Jesus, "Lord, he has been dead four days and he stinks." What will awaken us from our spiritual death? "Lazarus come forth!" He shouts to us in his Word, "Wil, come forth!" And the Word of God awakened in me the truth of my sinfulness and the saving work of Jesus Christ.
But I Don’t Have Enough Faith
Sat, 28 May 2011 22:02:56 -0500
I often hear people say, “I am afraid I don’t know if I have enough faith.” How much faith do you need in order to be saved?
The Bible does not teach that you are justified because of your faith. Faith is not works.
Faith is nothing more than the instrument to receive our salvation. Nowhere in Scripture will you find that we are justified on account of our faith. The Scripture says that we are justified by faith or through faith. Faith is nothing but the the channel by which this righteousness of God in Christ becomes ours. It is not our faith that saves us.
What saves us is the Lord Jesus Christ and His perfect saving work. It is the death of Christ upon Calvary’s Cross that saves us. It is God putting Christ’s righteousness to our account that saves. Faith is only the channel and the instrument by which His righteousness becomes mine (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 4:24). The righteousness that saves is entirely Christ’s. My faith is not my righteousness and I must never define or think of faith as righteousness. Faith is nothing but that which connects us to the Lord Jesus Christ and His righteousness.
The whole emphasis on salvation by faith is clearly on the object of our faith: Jesus Christ. Jesus saves! Faith does not save us. Jesus alone does that.
If we are saved at all it must be through faith in the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).
Spurgeon once said, “It does not take a strong faith to save you, just faith. The weakness of your faith will not destroy you. A trembling hand may receive a golden gift.”
Righteousness apart from the Law
Tue, 24 May 2011 22:25:48 -0500
Because we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, God gets all the glory.
Salvation is a free gift because it is a receiving of God’s righteousness apart from any human doing. Since we are saved by grace as a gift of God, all the glory goes to God alone. There will be no human praise in heaven.
Christianity is a unique religion because it is not man made. It is the revelation of God.
“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe” (Romans 3:21-22). The reason God does it that way is because it is impossible for sinners to save themselves, “for there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (vv. 23-24).
The word “Law” in this passage embraces all our human effort to attain a right relationship with God. The Bible clearly teaches that God’s righteousness is received as a gift apart from any human effort. We do not contribute anything in any manner to our justification.
All our human efforts bring upon us the judgment of God.
Righteousness apart from the Law
Mon, 23 May 2011 19:59:42 -0500
Because we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, God gets all the glory.
Salvation is a free gift because it is a receiving of God’s righteousness apart from any human doing. Since we are saved by grace as a gift of God, all the glory goes to God alone. There will be no human praise in heaven.
Christianity is a unique religion because it is not man made. It is the revelation of God.
“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe” (Romans 3:21-22). The reason God does it that way is because it is impossible for sinners to save themselves, “for there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (vv. 23-24).
The word “Law” in this passage embraces all our human effort to attain a right relationship with God. The Bible clearly teaches that God’s righteousness is received as a gift apart from any human effort. We do not contribute anything in any manner to our justification.
All our human efforts bring upon us the judgment of God.
Take a few moments and look into your own heart and see in whom or what you are trusting for salvation. Have you ceased from your works for God in order to attain a right relationship with Him? Or are you resting on the work that was accomplished for you by Jesus Christ on the cross? “Righteousness apart from the law” is righteousness that God provides. It is righteousness apart from anything we do to merit or gain it. The work of righteousness is fully accomplished by Christ Jesus.
“Why Should I Let You into My Heaven?”
Sun, 22 May 2011 22:11:58 -0500
Let’s suppose for a moment that you died today and stood before the Lord God and He asked you, “Why should I let you into My heaven?” What would you say? What do you think you would say?
That is one of the most important questions you can ask a person regarding their salvation. James Kennedy got the idea from Donald Grey Barnhouse who asked the same questions in a slightly different wording. “What right do you have to come into God’s heaven? What would be your answer?”
I like those questions because they force us to clarify our thoughts about salvation.
One thing is sure, one day you will die. You will be suddenly thrust into the face of God and He will ask the question, “Why should I let you come into My heaven?” “What right do you have to enter into the holy of holies?”
Your reply could be, “I am a religious person. I am trying to live a Christian life the best I can. I give to the poor, and try to help people in need. I an not a notorious sinner. I read religious books, my Bible, and I try to love people. I am serving God the best I can.” But no one will be justified before God on the basis of his good religious works. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). The apostle Paul said wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The only way a religious person will ever be saved is by faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross paying the penalty for our sins. Jesus Christ offers His own perfect righteousness in the place of our self-righteousness, which can never save us. When we stand before the judgment throne of God no one will be able to offer any good works as the basis for their right relationship with God. Our sins and our guilt will stop our mouths[...]
Where Will You Spend Eternity?
Tue, 12 Apr 2011 22:29:13 -0500
Jesus Christ made it very clear that a person’s relationship with God in this present life will determine his destiny in the life to come (Matthew 19:16-26; 7:13-23).
In a parable on the last judgment in Matthew 25:31ff, Jesus brought out this truth clearly. He concluded His parable saying, “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (v. 46).
Jesus has power over life and death because He rose from the dead (1 Cor. 15:4). “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living” (Rom. 14:9). He is the very embodiment of God’s living power, conquering death and raising the dead (2 Cor. 13:4). Jesus alone gives eternal life.
Moreover, Jesus said the most sobering thing about man’s eternal destiny. Hell is the destiny of those who refuse Him. Heaven is the destiny of those who believe in Him.
Jesus not only gives eternal life; He is eternal life (1 Jn. 5:20; Jn. 11:25-26; Rom. 5:12ff; 1 Cor. 15:20ff; Gal. 2:16, 20; Phil. 1:21; 2 Cor. 4:10).
The life Christ gives is not confined to this life, but points to eternal life when the last enemy, death, is vanquished forever (1 Cor. 15:20-28; Rom. 6:22; Gal. 6:8; Rev. 21:4; 1 Thess. 4:13-17). We will be with Christ forever (Jn. 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:17; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23). This life that God gives is received by faith in His Son (1 J. 5:12).
Eternal Life -- the Gift
Mon, 11 Apr 2011 21:02:20 -0500
Eternal Life is God’s kind of life. It is eternal because He is eternal. Nothing will ever separate the believer in Christ from the One who loves us. He gave us His free gift of eternal life the very moment we were born spiritually, and it can never be lost (Jn. 3:15-16, 36; 6:47; 10:28). It is a life without end, and no one can ever take it from you. There are no final boundaries to eternal life.
We enter into that life transforming vital union with Him when we responded to His love and believed on Him (1 Jn. 5:11).
The beauty of this new life in Christ is that Christ has so joined Himself to us that we are to go on receiving this life He gives in increasing abundance throughout eternity. The Scriptures tell us that God has promised to enlarge our spiritual capacities until the full life of the infinite Christ is reproduced in us. We are gradually being conformed to His image and likeness.
The life God gives us the moment we believe in Christ is the same life that we will be living with Him in eternity. God has already imparted to the believer in Christ the life of the age to come. Eternal life is already a present blessing available to everyone who submits to Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). The new life is life “in the Spirit,” or “in Christ.” Jesus used metaphors to describe this new life He gives (Jn. 4:14; 6:35-40; 11:25-26; 15:5, etc).
Eternal life or spiritual life is a state of regeneration and fellowship with God (Jn. 3:15-16, 36; 5:24; 6:47). The relationship is eternal, not temporal.
Jesus defined it when he said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jn. 17:3). It is knowing God and having fellowship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Perfect Atonement for Personal Sin
Mon, 11 Apr 2011 21:01:22 -0500
The most important day in the Jewish religious calendar is the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). It is to this day central to Judaism even though the sacrificial system came to an end with the destruction of the temple in A. D. 70. It is the highest holy day in Judaism.
On the day of Atonement the high priest entered the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle of the wilderness, and later the temple in Jerusalem, to make atonement for the sins of the people of Israel.
The word atonement means, “to cover” the sin, and thus to “wipe out,” “to erase,” “to cover.” In doing so the sacrifice “removed” the guilt of man’s sin before God. The removal of the sin accomplished reconciliation between men and God. Perhaps this is why the Jewish rabbis called it the “Day,” or the “Great Day.”
God provided the Day of Atonement to avert His wrath for sins already committed and guarantee His presence with His people.
The sacrifice of the first goat and the sending the second one away into the wilderness to die were intended to cleanse the nation, the priesthood, and the sanctuary of sin.
Every sacrifice in the tabernacle reached its climax on that day. Something was left undone in the daily sacrifice and rituals to cover sin. Only one day of the year could the high priest enter into the Most Holy place and meet with God before the mercy seat. Only on the Day of Atonement could the representative of the people enter into this most solemn meeting place between God and man. It was only with the sacrificial blood of the animal substitute that He could enter on behalf of the people and himself.
How do You Handle Tribulation?
Mon, 11 Apr 2011 21:00:06 -0500
Most believers in Christ throughout history of Christianity have suffered tribulation. For most it has been an ever-present reality (1 Thess. 1:6; 2 Tim. 3:12-13).
The New Testament describes tribulation as the inevitable conflict between the good news of Jesus Christ and a sinful hostile world dominated by Satan (John 16:33; 2 Cor. 1:8).
The word for “tribulation” (thilipsis) is found 45 times in the New Testament and is variously translated suffering, distress, affliction, trouble, persecution, and tribulation.
Sometimes the context deals with hardships that are common to every individual such as childbirth, illness, and common relationship.
Tribulation is something that all believer’s in the New Testament experienced. It includes persecution (1 Thess. 1:6), imprisonment (Acts 20:23), derision (Heb. 10:33), poverty (2 Cor. 8:13), sickness (Rev. 2:22), inner distress and sorrow (Phil. 1:17; 2 Cor. 2:4), etc.
In a more narrow sense the word “tribulation” refers to the hostile world’s reaction to the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus said it is inevitable and unavoidable that persecutions and tribulations will be present when the gospel is preached and men are saved (Matt. 13:21).
What should the Christian’s response be to the ever present reality of tribulations and persecutions in life?
Fri, 8 Apr 2011 21:15:03 -0500
God does not intend for His saved child to live the Christian life without the blessed assurance of eternal life.
The apostle Paul had a profound conviction that nothing will be able to separate the believer from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:31-39).
Jesus spoke of double assurance or security for the believer when He said to His disciples: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand . . . and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30).
We have “been born anew to a living hope” (1 Pet. 1:3-5). We are guarded by God’s power through faith for salvation. Because the new birth has taken place in our lives, we have the presence of the Holy Spirit within us (Rom. 8:23). He is called the “first fruits," the initial promise and pledge of a greater harvest to follow. The Holy Spirit does a work in our lives producing His fruit that is characteristically different from our human nature. The Holy Spirit is evidence of assurance because “we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His own Spirit” (1 Jn. 4:13).
The ascension of Christ to heaven to be our advocate is another great assurance for the believer who has been saved by grace. Jesus “ever lives to make intercession on our behalf” (Rom. 8:34; 1 Jn. 2:2). He is our great God and “He is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through Him” (Heb. 7:25). Do you have an intimate love relationship with your Savior? Are you abiding in Him and He in you? Spend time with Him everyday. Learn to go into His presence throughout the day and make yourself available to Him all day long.
Fri, 8 Apr 2011 21:14:12 -0500
C. H. Spurgeon said faith has three essential ingredients: knowledge, belief and trust.
There must be “a firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence toward us.” We must have certain knowledge in which to anchor our faith. It is God’s revealed Word that gives us the essential knowledge of eternal life. What we need to know God has unveiled to mankind in the person of Jesus Christ.
What we need to know is that we are dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1), and that salvation is not of works (v. 9). It is by grace that you are saved (v. 8). We have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), and the wages of sin is death (6:23). Because we are sinners, we are the objects of God’s wrath.
However, there is some good news because God loves us, and He wants us to spend eternity with Him in heaven (Jn. 3:16). Jesus Christ died for us on the cross. God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to come to the earth and live a perfect life without sin and then go to the cross and die in our place as our substitute (Rom. 5:6, 8; 2 Cor. 5:21).
We have a firm and certain knowledge of the reveled facts to believe in. No one can be saved without this knowledge from God. He has given us all the facts we need to know. We do not need to speculate or second-guess God. We have a certain knowledge that God has given us in His Word and in His Son Jesus Christ.
The Perfect Place of Mercy
Thu, 7 Apr 2011 21:27:42 -0500
The most important piece of furniture in the Tabernacle of Meeting in the wilderness and later the Jerusalem Temple was the Ark of the Covenant, and the lid of gold called the mercy seat or place of mercy (Exodus 25:10-22).
The ark was also called “the ark of the testimony” because it contained God’s testimony to the people of His covenant. In the ark chest were a pot of manna, Aaron’s budded rod, and the two stone tablets on which was written the Law of Moses (25:16, 33; Num. 17:10; Heb. 9:4).
The “mercy seat” was a slab of gold fitting over the top of the ark chest. Once a year the High Priest would enter into the Most Holy Place and make atonement for the sins of the people of Israel by sprinkling blood of bulls and goats on the mercy seat (Lev. 16:2-16).
The ark symbolizing the presence of God with His people was holy and was placed in the Holy of Holies and separated from the rest of the tabernacle by a heavy veil (Ex. 26:31-33; Heb. 9:3-5). No sinful person could look upon the glory of God above the ark and live (Lev. 16:2).
No one knows what happened to the Ark of the Covenant after Babylon destroyed the Temple in 586 B.C. We do know that the new temple built by Zerubbabel and later remodeled by Herod did not contain the Ark of the Covenant.
The Ascension of Christ
Thu, 7 Apr 2011 21:26:34 -0500
The Gospel of Luke describes the transference of the resurrected body of Jesus from the earth to heaven in Acts 1:9-11.
“And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
The location of the ascension was east of Jerusalem near Bethany. Forty days after His physical resurrection Jesus “was taken up” and disappeared into a cloud.
God raised Christ from the dead “and made Him sit at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:20). He sits “at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3).
The ascension made it possible for Christ to enter into His heavenly “glorification” and sit at the right hand of the Father until His enemies are made His footstool (Ps. 110:1).
The evidence for the glorification of Christ and His superiority over the Old Testament saints is His ascension (Acts 2:33-36). When He arrived into heaven He received “the name that is above every name” (Phil. 2:9-11). Jesus is superior to angels, authorities, principalities, powers and dominions because He is the ascended Lord (Heb. 1:13; 1 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet. 3:22).
Adopted Children of God
Thu, 7 Apr 2011 21:25:19 -0500
The term “Son of God” refers preeminently to Jesus Christ’s deity (Matt. 11:25-27; 16:16-17). He alone is one in substance and glory with God the Father. Believers in Christ, although “adopted” are never on a par with the uncreated, divine Son of God.
“Adoption” is the term the apostle Paul uses to describe the act of the Holy Spirit whereby the believing sinner becomes a member of God’s family, with all the privileges and obligations of family members.
We were “children of wrath” by nature (Eph. 2:3). However, those upon whom God bestows His saving grace become the “children of God.”
The word adoption in the New Testament means to place as an adult son. It was a term used in the Roman legal practice in the apostle Paul’s day referring to a legal action by which a person takes into his family a child not his own, with the purpose of treating him as and giving him all the privileges of an own son. An adopted child was legally entitled to all rights and privileges of a natural-born child. Paul uses it as an illustration of the act of God giving a believing sinner, who is not His natural child, a position as His adult son in His family. The emphasis is on the legal position of the child of God.
It is the Holy Spirit who is called “the Spirit of adoption” who performs the act of placing the believing sinner as an adult into the family of God. “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Rom. 8:15)
The Supremacy of Jesus Christ
Sun, 3 Apr 2011 20:47:20 -0500
Jesus Christ is the supreme Sovereign of the universe.
Colossians 1:15-20 gives seven reasons why Christ is preeminent. These verses are at the heart of the epistle’s main emphasis on the exaltation and preeminence of Christ.
Jesus Christ “is the image of the invisible God” (v. 15). Jesus is supreme because of His relationship with God the Father. He is the perfect resemblance and representation of God. God is invisible and unknown except by self-revelation. In the person of Jesus Christ the unknowable God becomes known.. The very nature and being of God have been perfectly revealed in Christ. Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Everyone who saw Christ, the visible manifestation of the invisible God, has thereby "seen" God indirectly. The apostle John who saw Jesus face to face wrote, “No one has ever seen God, but God the only Son . . . has made Him known” (v. 18). Jesus Christ is the perfect visible representation and manifestation of the “invisible” God (1 Tim. 1:17). Jesus is the perfect image, likeness and glory of His Father. He is “the exact representation” of the Father’s being (Heb. 1:3). The Son is in the “exact likeness” of His Father.
Jesus is supreme over all things because He is “the firstborn over all creation” (Col. 1:15). He preceded the whole creation, and He is Sovereign over all His creation. As Creator He has dignity, supremacy, sovereign power over it. As “firstborn” Jesus is the Messiah-God (Ps. 89:27-29). Jesus Christ was not created, but is the Creator who is Sovereign over all His creation.
Jesus is supreme because “in Him [...]
All that Jesus Continues to Do
Sun, 3 Apr 2011 16:45:22 -0500
"All that Jesus began to do and teach” He continues to do and teach today.
In Acts 1:1 the words “all that Jesus began to do and teach” are in the linear action. It is action still going on. The verb “began” is present infinitive, linear action. It is as if to say that Jesus is still carrying on from heaven the work and teachings which He started while on earth before His ascension.
Luke does not say “all that Jesus did and taught,” but “all that Jesus began to do and to teach.” The Gospel of Luke tells us what Jesus began to do and teach, while Acts of the Apostles tells what He continues to do and teach by His Spirit through His special Body.
In Volume 1 of the Life and Acts of Jesus Christ, Dr. Luke tells the story of the beginnings of what Jesus began to do and teach. In his Gospel, Luke gave “the first account I composed, Theophilis, about all that Jesus began to do and teach.” What was it Jesus began to do and teach?
In Luke 4:16-21 Jesus stood in the synagogue at Nazareth and read Himself into His divine office. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” Then Jesus closed the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, sat down, and with the eyes of all the synagogue fixed upon Him said to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (vv. 20-21).
Good Works for God’s Glory
Fri, 1 Apr 2011 21:42:37 -0500
Why should the believing sinner do good works?
Do we do good works so we can atone for our “temporal” sins after we were baptized? Are we to do good religious works in order to make satisfaction for our sins? Do we contribute to our salvation in some measure by good works? Are we to believe that one day we will stand before God listening to the judgment as He decides if we have had enough good works to outweigh our sins and condemnation?
The essential question is what is your motive for doing good works? Are these done in order to be saved, or are they done because we have been saved by grace through faith? The Bible is clear that we are not justified by faith plus good works, but works do follow justification by faith.
It is only natural that good works should flow out of the salvation already accomplished for us by Jesus Christ. Jesus alone is our Savor. He alone is the sinless Lamb of God who could make atonement for sins. Only His blood cleanses from sin. The only requirement of God is to repent and believe on Jesus Christ.
The only thing left for the sinner to do is accept the finished work of Christ. Have you trusted in His work alone to save you?
Since we are God’s workmanship, created in His sovereign grace, our salvation cannot be of ourselves. We are God-made. We are His workmanship. We have been created in Christ Jesus for good works. We are God’s spiritual handiwork. In regeneration we were made a new spiritual creature by Him (2 Cor. 5:17).
Before and After
Thu, 31 Mar 2011 21:36:12 -0500
“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Whenever any person becomes a new creature in union with Christ, he or she becomes a new person altogether. There is a whole new creation whenever a person comes to be in Christ. The effect is the old life is passed away and a new life has begun. Everything becomes new in Christ. The person who is in Christ and has experienced the new birth is a part of the new creation.
We are new creatures in Christ Jesus. There has been a re-creation in which God has given us a new set of senses, values, and spiritual principles.
Before we were spiritually blind, now we see with spiritual eyes, and we see all things new.
Before we were spiritually deaf and we could not hear God’s Word, and now we have a new set of spiritual eyes and we hear and respond to the Holy Spirit.
Before our minds were in spiritual darkness, and we called bad, good and good, bad. Now we have the mind of Christ and we see the difference between that which is good and that, which is evil. Our minds are now being renewed day by day.
Before our hearts were hardened to spiritual truths, and we hated God and the things of God. Now God has changed them from hearts of stone to hearts made alive to the things of the Spirit.
Before we were spiritually dead, and now we have become new creatures in Christ Jesus.
Before we were a people without hope and now we have a living hope in Christ. Apart from t[...]
Wed, 30 Mar 2011 21:01:08 -0500
Free, but not cheap!
Your salvation is a gift freely given and received from God, but it is not cheap. It is the most expensive gift you will ever receive.
God comes and offers us free salvation. But He does not change His standard. He remains a righteous and holy God.
How could it be possible that Jesus Christ could die as a substitute for my penalty as a sinner? It is because He is the infinite God, not a sinful man, that He could die for an infinite number of sinners. Because He is God He could pay the eternal punishment for all of our sins.
Second Corinthians 5:21 tells us it was not enough that He should only die and pay the penalty of our sins, but that His perfect righteousness would be counted in God's eyes as our righteousness. All of the pure righteousness of Jesus Christ is now available through Him to the believing sinner.
Based upon the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, God can now come and offer the great invitation to all sinners to come and join Him in heaven.
How do I know that this is absolute truth? Look at the empty tomb! Christ is alive! The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the proof that God is eternally satisfied with the sacrifice of His Son on the cross.
Now you and I can take the righteousness of God and go boldly or trembling to the scales of justice and put it over against all the perfection God has demanded and that He must demand. The balance is immediately made. The Christian believer stands before God justified. God can never have any[...]
Sweet Sovereign Saving Grace
Wed, 30 Mar 2011 13:32:02 -0500
Do you find the topic of grace boring?
Someone asked me, “Don’t you ever get tired of preaching on grace?” My response was “no,” because every other doctrine in the Christian faith is build upon and related to God’s sovereign grace.
Grace is something that is charming and beautiful. Once you have come under the strong grip of God’s saving grace you can never be the same person again. And neither can you ever be a base ingrate, either.
The apostle Paul was “dumbfounded,” absolutely astonished, that there were people who professed faith in Christ who were turning to a counterfeit gospel. They were “so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6). They were turning to a teaching and philosophy that was “no gospel at all” (v. 7). They were changing their minds and deserting the message of grace in Christ. It is a strong word Paul uses meaning to desert or revolt in the military. They had changed their religion.
What they were being lead to believe was really no good news at all. It was a heresy, a cult of man’s making. It was diametrically opposed to the Good News in Christ.
If you are saved by grace, it is no longer on the basis of men’s deeds. Because salvation is by the unmerited favor of God, it is not at all conditioned on what we have done, and never can be.
Dressed for the New Life
Mon, 28 Mar 2011 17:46:00 -0500
Are you dressed in grave clothes or wedding garments?
Now that we have been saved by grace how then shall we live? How are we to walk in this new life?
The apostle Paul uses an illustration in terms of taking off one set of clothes and putting on another in Colossians 3:9-10. “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.”
The verbs in this passage are in the past tense. “You have taken off your old self . . . and have put on the new.” The aorist tense indicates something that has already taken place. It has already happened, and not something to be done.
The action is to take off completely; to strip off one’s self. If the old self really has been put off, one must not at a critical moment revert to the way one acted before his conversion. The plural describes the deeds, which characterized the former life.
In Colossians 3:10, the idea of “new” is the newness in quality, and it is the continual action “which is ever being renewed.”
We are to take off once for all, definite concluding action. Stripping off is to be done at once, and for good. The old manner of life is to be done with.
“In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self (Lit. man), which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and[...]
A New Standard of Living
Sun, 27 Mar 2011 23:01:46 -0500
The world is not our standard for Christian living.
The apostle Paul stressed, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind . . .” (Rom. 12:2). Again he writes, “put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:24). In the verses that follow he gives five specific examples of the higher standard of Christian conduct.
We are to put off lying and speak the truth in love (v. 25). It is a habitual action that is to characterize the Christian life. Literally the believer is to put off “the lie” (v.25), and speak the truth. This is the same word the apostle John uses for the antichrist in 1 John 2:20-23. When a person puts his faith in Jesus Christ he is rejecting the lie, and embracing the Truth (Jn. 14:6).
What a profound significance this is for the person in Christ. “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another” (v. 25). Let it be a habitual action to tell the truth. Let it characterize your lifestyle.
Make a commitment to yourself and God to speak the whole truth without mixture of error in your family, business and life relationships. How much easier life is when you live an honest, open, transparent life style. Cultivate truthfulness in your life everyday. Don’t be careless with your words.
Sun, 27 Mar 2011 15:40:31 -0500
The apostle Paul gives an urgent plea to believers in Christ “to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom. 12:1). Paul makes such a plea based upon “the mercies of God.”
We are objects of His saving grace; therefore we are to put our lives at His disposal. Paul uses the sacrificial word for the Jewish Levitical offering of sacrifices. The body of the believer is to be a “living sacrifice.”
How do you become a “living sacrifice”?
It begins in a once and for all being set apart to God. The Christian is set apart for God’s use in the sense of being for pure and righteous purposes.
Why such an urgent plea? The philosophy of the world system does not satisfy. The longer you life by the humanistic philosophy to emptier your inner person becomes.
However, the will of God is good, acceptable and perfect.
Being a living sacrifice is often not easy, or pleasant. It is self-denial, self-sacrifice, self-crucifixion of the whole person. But remember the problem with living sacrifices is they want to crawl off the altar.
For the Lord Jesus Christ being a living sacrifice meant oppressive burdens. It brought Him in conflict with evil. He offered Himself as the perfect Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. However, as He conducted His Father's business He found it to be[...]
God’s Kind of Life
Fri, 25 Mar 2011 17:49:25 -0500
From God’s eternal perspective the believer in Christ is already a finished work. From our human perspective in time and space, He is continuing to work the truth deeper and deeper into our hearts so He can conform us to the image and likeness of Christ.
The tension is always there: perfect and yet not perfect, holy and yet sinners, righteous and yet, unrighteous.
Since the day we put our faith in Christ God sees us complete in Him (Col. 2:10). We are already holy in His presence (Col. 3:2). We are already perfect in His eyes (Heb. 10:14). We are His righteousness in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). There is nothing else to be done to achieve a right relationship with God. When we accept those truths by faith we will live it out each day. God makes what is already true in the eternal, unseen spiritual reality, a reality in the seen and temporal realm. We live out what is already true. We live in union with Christ. We rest in Him and He lives His life out in us. “Christ in you” means God has permanently joined Himself to you. He lives in you and you in Him.
“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Jesus says to you and me, “I am the Life.” I am your life. You take Me into you, and you have life. I live My life in and through you. I live my life as you. The Christian life is He in you, and you in Him. He will live His life in you if you will let Him live as [...]
Thu, 24 Mar 2011 22:54:11 -0500
Abundant life as Jesus described it is the life of God Himself.
God places the new spiritual life within the individual the moment he responds to God’s grace and believes on Christ as his personal Savior.
That is the beginning of a new life for one who was spiritually dead in trespasses and sins.
Jesus said, “I am come that you may have life, and keep on having it in abundance” (John 10:10b). The abundant life is a growing thing. It is the increasingly abundant present life of the believer that is emphasized.
God plants His life in the person who hears the Word of God and believes. The born again believer increasingly enters into the experience of the new spiritual life by believing and yielding to Christ. It is like a spring of water that perpetually springs up in an abundant flow from resources deep within. The Christian is to live in an abundant way of life now.
Are you living in God’s abundance? You can be a Christian and miss the abundant life. God invites you to enter into it increasingly as you trust in Jesus to change your life daily.
This overflowing life is Christ living His life out in you as you make yourself available to Him and trust Him to new areas of spiritual growth.