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Archive for the ‘salvation’ Category

It is in the heart of every man and woman to question God. It is His longsuffering and mercy that lull us into the sense that it is our right to question Him. Those of us raised in America have “authority-challenge” in our blood.

We desire to rail against God and alternately plead with Him when situations go out of our control, beyond our resources–like in a global pandemic. We want to rush into His presence and have our say.

But how can a sinful person be in the presence of a holy God?

But without the shedding of blood, there is no atonement for sin. (Leviticus 17:11) Without atonement for sin, there is no approaching a holy God. Without a way to approach God, we are left shouting our complaints and pleas to the ceiling, to the social media abyss.

The only way to approach God is on His terms, in the way He has defined. It is only blood that can open the way–blood of an acceptable sacrifice. One might ask if an animal sacrifice will suffice–not if you don’t have a God-ordained place to offer it. No sanctuary–no sacrifice.

What hope is left? One sacrifice has been accepted by God–the blood shed by Jesus the Christ. He was without sin and offered His life as payment for the sins of the whole world.

If you believe He was who He said He was–the Son of God (God incarnate) and that He died sacrificially for the sins of all men, then when you acknowledge your condition–separated from God by your sin, you can come under the covering of His blood and be cleansed of your sin and acceptable in the sight of God. You need only believe. No works are required.

Believe and be saved.

 

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There is a God

There is a God. He’s not dead.

He has revealed his plan, His rules, His character and His heart.

His message and plan is revealed in and through the lives of ordinary men and women who are almost all clearly flawed. Along the way, using these ordinary people, God reveals history, geography, and science. He describes cultures, economics, military strategy, and human nature.

He also predicts events that will take place in the future. Some have occurred already, and some are left to yet occur at some time in the future. He has a 100% accuracy rate.

As time has unfolded, the truths of the Bible in history, geography and science have been increasingly proven to be true.

In the same period of time, as this history of man has unfolded, the heart of mankind has not grown closer to God, but rather harder and more rebellious towards God.

The plan of God speaks to this rebellion. It doesn’t pretend it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t try to threaten it away. It provides a cure.

Belief is the cure. Belief in Jeshua (Jesus), the Promised One. The belief is simple, but it is not flimsy. You must believe that Jeshua is who He said He was (God) and that He did what He said He would (died a sacrificial death for the sins of all mankind – including you) and He rose from the dead to prove that He had power over death, the power only God has.

So believe and be cured.

If you reject the cure, then the consequence is certain:

It is appointed a man once to die; then the judgment.

Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

The consequences of sin is death.

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Do you every feel like a darkness has descended and you cannot escape it? Do you ever wish you could just flip the light switch on?

I [Jesus] have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes and trusts in Me [as Savior—all those who anchor their hope in Me and rely on the truth of My message] will not continue to live in darkness. John 12:46

There’s the switch you’re looking for–belief in Jesus.

This belief is not just mental assent to the idea of a historical Jesus; rather this is belief:

  1. Jesus was who He said He was–God incarnate; and
  2. He did what He said He did–met the legal requirements under the Jewish law to atone for the sin of the world–satisfying the law and releasing those who believe from the curse and bondage of sin.

If you believe and ask that Jesus’ sacrifice apply to you, the light switches on–you will be bathed in the light of the world. Darkness must flee at the name of Jesus.

This is the message [of God’s promised revelation] which we have heard from Him and now announce to you, that God is Light [He is holy, His message is truthful, He is perfect in righteousness], and in Him there is no darkness at all [no sin, no wickedness, no imperfection]. 1 John 1:5

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RomansRoad132x200Maybe you are like some and wonder why it was necessary that Jesus come and die for the sins of the world.  Why would the world need such a strange thing as a man tortured, beaten and hung on a cross to die?

As a starting point, consider the law of God as He gave it to Moses in Exodus 20 (the Ten Commandments).

Of if 10 is too many, consider what Jesus later told his disciples, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40

Whether you take the 10 or the 2, the bottom line is that God has a standard of holiness. That standard is given in His law. Keep it, and maintain fellowship with God; violate it in any point, and be forever separated from God by your sin.

This standard of holiness is not just for the Jew. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:23.  There’s none righteous. Not one. Romans 3:11-18.

It doesn’t end there. “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this, the judgment.” Hebrews 9:24. The payment or wages that a man receives for his sin is death.  Romans 6:23

But God, in His mercy, has provided a sacrifice, an offering that would satisfy the requirement of the law. That sacrifice was His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

“God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  2 Corinthians 5:21

“I am justified (made just as if I’d never sinned) through His (God’s) grace.  Romans 3:24 “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 5:1

I had a great need. I have a great God.  He gave me a great gift in the life, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

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Recently, a woman I have known for over 20 years became a believer in Christ.  By her own words, she was “born again.”  I was deeply impacted by her conversion.

My friend and I ware both small business owners and have dealt primarily with each other in that capacity.  Through the years that I have been going to her business, I have not kept my relationship with Christ a secret.  I shared with her what was going on in my life, what my husband and I were doing in ministry and invited her to church-related events.  Although I did pray for her and her family over the years, I am sad to say, I never asked her if she wanted to be born again.

But GOD . . . He sent another to lead her to Christ.  The first time I saw her after she got saved, she told me with great excitement.  I could see the change.  I could sense her hunger.  I met with her that very day and  began to answer her questions about the Bible .  She was very grateful.

But that was so little to give her for what she brought to me.  Through her, I heard God speaking to me.  “Out of the world, I continue to pluck them.  One by one I will claim them from wherever they are.  I am not finished the work of saving.”

I felt so amazed.  In the brightness of her excitement about God and all the things of God, I was humbled.  For surely God had done this thing and had let me see it.  I am so grateful.  I pray to be in the path of many more new believers.  They give off such a pleasant aroma . . . the aroma of God.

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The celebration of Christmas includes the understanding that the baby Jesus came to save, but that imbedded idea can be lost in the festivities.   Understanding why humanity needs a Savior can help us to keep our focus throughout the year on the Christmas message.

Why a Savior?

  • Because God is righteous and holy, and there are none who can meet His standard.  All men have turned their backs on God.  Romans 3:10-18.
  • Because all of humanity has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23.
  • Because we are slaves to sin without Christ.  (Romans 6:6)
  • Because we lack the righteousness required to be in the presence of God, to dwell with Him for eternity.  2 Corinthians 5:21.

May you see clearly the darkness of your own soul and your total and utter helplessness to save your self, and therefore, your unquestionable need for a Savior – Jesus.

Merry Christmas!

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How many times in the day or week do you long for a do-over?  You just want to turn back in time and make a different choice, say something or just stay silent?

God offers the ultimate do-over in 2 Corinthians 5:17.    “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

The great thing about this verse is that it is without limitation.  Christ has given the ultimate do-over.

  • Gone are my mistakes and failures (they no longer define and limit me)
  • Gone is the deadness in my heart and conscience (He has given a heart of flesh to replace my heart of stone)
  • Gone is the hopelessness of being unable to change despite the harm to myself and others (now I have Holy Spirit power to overcome sin)
  • Gone is the futility of thinking (now I have the mind of Christ, wisdom of the ages)
  • Now I can have a fresh start (All things are made new)
  • Now I have hope for the future (He has gone to prepare a place for me and has promised to return for me)
The time for your do-over is now.  Today is the day of salvation.  Tomorrow is promised to no man.

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Sometimes as believers, we use terms that only we understand.  What some might call “Christianese”  Understanding these terms and being able to “translate” them to those who don’t speak our “language” is essential to effectively sharing the gospel.  What does it mean to be saved?  What happens when we are born again?

The Basics

  •  Salvation is a gift    (John 3:16)
  • The only Requirement is belief (John 3:16)
  • Jesus is the perfect sacrifice, satisfying all the righteousness requirements of the law (2 Corinthians 5:21)

What happens?

  • We’re made alive spiritually  (Colossians 2:13; Ephesians 2:1)
  • The charges against us are dropped (Colossians 2:14)
  • We’re forgiven of  all our sins (Ephesians 1:7)
  • We’re purified for God to be His own (Titus 2:14)
  • We’re made new – a new creation in Christ  (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • Old things are gone; all things are new (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • We’re reconciled to God (restored to right relationship) (2 Corinthians 5:18; Colossians 1:21)
  • We’re presented to God holy and blameless (Colossians 1:21-23)
  • We receive the Kingdom of God (Luke 12:32)
  • We receive lasting inheritance (1 Peter 1:4)
  • We have abundant life now (John 10:10)
  • We receive everything needed for life and godly living (2 Peter 1:2-11)
  • We receive the power of  the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8)
  • We receive weapons for warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18)
A Word Picture to Illustrate
     If they still don’t get the idea, give them a picture:  “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.  Isaiah 1:18

May the One who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy keep you from stumbling  and present you to God as without fault (and only God can do that).

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The expression “born of the Spirit” is used by the Apostle John in Chapter 3 of his gospel.  Being born of the Spirit means to become a new creation by the spiritual washing or purification of the soul, by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God at Salvation.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 says, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.”

As a result:

  • What was before (the old life) is gone
  • The past does not control the  future
  • All things have become new (they are not what they were)
  •  All things are now of God (God is ruling my life, so everything is subject to Him)

Hallelujah!  What a Savior!

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Psalm 13 begins with the Psalmist sounding like he is accusing God.  “How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?  How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?”  (Ps. 13:1-2)

In these verses, the Psalmist evidences an uncertainty about God.  Uncertainty can cause one to doubt God’s motives or doubt God’s timing.   Sometimes when we become fearful and afraid, we accuse God.  We mistakenly consider Him to be reacting to us like the humans around us who may forget us or hide their faces from us or allow our enemies to over take us and do nothing to help.  But God is not like us or those around us.  He will not forget us.  Isaiah 49:15 tells us,  “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you.”  Deut 31:6 tells us, “do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

From accusation in verses 1-2, the Psalmist moves into calling out to God and reasoning with God in verses 3-4.  In these verses, he says, “consider and hear me, O LORD my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him”; lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.”

Finally, the Psalmist makes a choice in verse 5.   He states, ‘but I have trusted in Your mercy.”  He decides to trust in God’s mercy.  He decides to believe  and act upon what He knows about God.  This is internal to the Psalmist.  A choice to believe God and trust God must come from within.  I must, like priests carrying the ark across the Jordan, step into the water first rather than waiting for them to recede.  Trusting God is a choice I must make daily,  sometimes moment by moment.

From that choice, there is an immediate reward, the Psalmist says, “my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.”  When I choose to trust God, I am impacted in my walk with God, in my fellowship with God.  He immediately reinforces the positive step I have taken.

Verse 6 gives us the result for ministry, ” I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.”  When I trust God, my heart rejoices in His salvation, and from that comes an outpouring from me to those around me.  I will sing to the LORD!  I will declare to the world about my God, about His great bounty, His mercy, and His faithfulness!
To review, here is the progression:
  • Accusation against God
  • Calling out/reasoning with God
  • Trust in God (choose)
  • Receive from God
  • Give out in ministry

We all have times of accusing or doubting God, even if it is only in our thoughts.  The important thing is to move forward in the progression.  Cry out to God, choose to trust God, receive from God and then give out what you have received to those around you.

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