Jesus the only way.

 

(ok, this is really long, you might want to print it out, there’s just no way to make smaller bites, or this would turn out to be a one year study)

This issue about how can Christ be the only way to God is one of the toughest objections that will surface. It used to be the questions that concerned the issues of why do the innocent suffer. But now, I think, this question has become perhaps one of the largest obstacles. Why do you suppose that’s true? I think it’s a growth of pluralism and the issue of tolerance. We’ve discussed this in a number of cases but in our culture people have been educating us to suppose that tolerance is defined by agreeing with people or at least agreeing that their view may be just as legitimate as your view.

That is to say egalitarianism when it comes to truth has become the kind of course of the time. In other words, we are egalitarian with regard to truth. It’s interesting that we are often still elitists when it comes to people but egalitarian when it comes to truth. As I see it, it should be just the other way around. We are to be elitists when it comes to truth and egalitarian when it comes to people. That is to say, treat people in such a way that tolerance would be defined as loving and caring for the person and agreeing sometimes to disagree but in understanding that when we disagree on a truth that does not mean I’m rejecting you as a person.

Some how people have got the notion that to disagree with your thinking is to reject you as a person. I don’t know where that came from but that’s never really been the case at all. Such things would have eliminated the whole possibility of debate and dialogue in the past. Rather you have the idea that it is a good thing. Come now, let us reason together. (Isaiah 1:18) Let’s think things through and let’s have an opportunity to kind of evaluate options in the marketplace of ideas to see which ones hold and which ones do not. That is really all we are doing here.

the immediate objection surfaces that how can Christ be the only way to God is that means it’s too narrow. Some will say that since religion is all basically the same, some people feel that does it really matter which one you believe. In other words, aren’t all those religions pretty much variations on the same kinds of ideas? Isn’t it a matter of personal preference or upbringing or an estimated 75% of the world isn’t Christian, can they all be wrong? This sort of notion comes up. Jesus may be the only way for you but how does that make Him the only way for everybody?

You see, these are all really variations of the same objection. When this question surfaces then we need to consider that there are three basic options.

One could say that it’s not narrow and to revisit the whole issue and to say actually, as some have tried to do, that Christianity has been redefined in many circles as being so inclusive that it includes virtually anything. The question is whether that really is acceptable within the idea of mere Christianity or historic orthodox Christianity and whether that’s compatible or whether that’s coherent or not. The other option is if it’s narrow it must be wrong. The third option is narrowness doesn’t make it right or wrong. The question is whether it’s true or not.

When C.S. Lewis came to faith in Christ, ultimately he communicated that it was not because he wanted to believe. In fact, it was very much against his predilection. His disposition was to go against that. In fact, he said, I was a very satisfied, smug atheist. Then all these friends, these people I ran into, kept on jostling me. An atheist, he says, can never be too careful these days! You might read something, you might run into something that might be factual and so it is. It was not really something he wanted but something that kind of embraced him. It was not unlike Paul’s experience. He was really fighting against this whole thing. It was when Christ laid His hand upon him- that became a decisive experience in his life.

So Lewis came to the point where he says, you need to understand, it’s not because of any pragmatic value that Christianity may or may not have, it’s not because I feel good about it or that it is something I want to believe, I happen to be a Christian because I happen to believe it’s true. There is no other reason I believe but because I happen to think it’s true. I have been persuaded that there is a veridical case for Christianity among the worldview options. It’s such that it has the best evidential base of any of them.

Let’s take a look at the first option then that it is not narrow. My argument here is that such a view would conflict with the very exclusive claims of Christ. Now some people are clever and they try to redefine those claims or try to say that well, it looks like He said it but He really didn’t say it, the church put those words in His mouth. We’ve talked about that a little bit with this whole issue about Jesus being a myth or a legend when we talked earlier about the bible and it’s reliability. But the bottom line here is to say that there is no manuscript or historical or ancient traditions that would support such a view. In fact, it’s a view that’s rather recent that has been imposed upon the material to reconstruct or one might better say to deconstruct the text to fit modern parameters of a more pluralistic context. As we know, we live in a culture where truth is now presumably socially conditioned rather than something that’s objective. In a postmodern culture, which is actually ultra modern, basically the idea is that everything is up for grabs. What may be true for you may not be true for me. We’ll talk about that in a minute but let’s look at least at the texts themselves first of all.

Here’s what people often suppose. It might be that there is a mountain and as we go further and further up this mountain toward its pinnacle there are different ways up this mountain. Various people go up by different routes, some circuitous and others more directly but eventually they’re all going to converge at the top. The idea is that everybody at the top of the mountain will realize it was all the same quest after all. We’re all meeting at the top and whatever god, as you define who God would be, we’ll all say, oh, so all the religions really were all about the same god or about the same thing. It just looked different in our own culture. It’s often presented this way or else they use a wheel illustration. We look at this wheel and the various aspects and when we look at the hub, we see again that we’re all actually kind of heading toward the same hub, same center, whatever that might be and we may not know what it is. There are some accounts given that are of a pluralistic nature that say, nobody of course can know what kind of god this is. The very nature then of god is unknowable.

Of course that’s a content statement that everyone has to ask, how do you know that He’s unknowable? Immediately you have to realize that they are importing backhanded some particular facts and making very specific claims that the various people who made claims to know about God were completely deluded.

In other words you cannot be totally neutral on this matter. I’m suggesting here that actually that kind of view does not take seriously into account the claims and credentials of Christ. Now in John 3:18, the statement made by Christ, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Often, Jesus will speak of Himself as the Son of Man or the Son of God. He has this very strong claim that He’s making. In John 8:24 He said, “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.” Again this is a very strong claim.

Many people say, well, Jesus never really spoke much about Himself but even if He wasn’t true or even if He didn’t live or even if He wasn’t raised from the dead, His teachings would still be true. This was what Gandhi actually held as his position. He said that I admire His teachings so much that even if there never was a historical Jesus, still they would be true for me. The problem is, Jesus’ teachings are always about Himself – unabashedly, constantly referring back to Him. He doesn’t talk just about general terms but He says, unless you believe that I AM, then you will die in your sins. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

I take it as well, as I look at the various founders of world religions that there is a radical uniqueness of Christ in a number of ways in this regard. Some people promoted their teachings as the only way to God. But as I said earlier, Christ promoted Himself as that way rather than a set of teachings. Some would say that it is only through the teachings of various so-called prophets, and some said truth is spoken of in many ways but Jesus was very specific about this. He was specific not only about his exclusivity but also about His deity and His unique position. He boldly made this statement, (John 8:19b), “You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also.” He who does not know Me does not know My Father. This is a very strong claim indeed and can be seen in another text in Matthew 11. This is just before the important text we’ve all heard, Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My Yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Jesus is inviting them not to come to hear His teachings but to come to Him and He will give you rest. Take My yoke- receive – He constantly talks about receiving Him. The verse just before this, Matthew 11:27 says, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” So you have this pretty strong kind of claim that has to at least be accounted for. In John 14:9, He said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”

This other phrase that we just alluded to, I AM, often in bold letters, is seen again and again throughout the Scriptures in the New Testament as being a claim that Jesus makes. The I AM claim that He is making is related to the claim given to Moses. The proposition was given to Moses at the burning bush and you recall when Moses said in Exodus 3, whom shall I say is sending me? Who, will I tell Pharaoh, is sending me? Who, will I tell Pharaoh, is giving me the authority for this message? What did that voice give Moses? What was that name that Moses heard? Exodus 3:14, “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.” That is the name then for the self-existent One. He exists in and of Himself. He looks to nothing else for His derivation. When Jesus said to the Jews, (John 8: 58), “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.” How do you suppose they reacted to such a phrase? By the way, He didn’t say, I happen to exist or I am He, He said I AM. Else where, when they came to seek Him and there was a cohort, some 600 of them armed, and they came at night, as you recall in the Garden of Gethsemane, to take Him away, they came armed with lanterns, spears, torches and so forth. John 18: 4b, “Whom do you seek?” John 18:5a, “They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I AM.” (Note: now in your bibles it might say He in italics but this phrase was ego eime- I AM) John 18:6, “So when He said to them, “I AM He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.” Something happened that was pretty powerful. In another case (John 57-59), when Jesus said, before Abraham was born, I AM, the Jews objected and said, You’re not even 50 years old and are You saying that You preceded him. They took up stones and wanted to stone Him to death for blasphemy because they understood that such a claim would be to make yourself tantamount to being God.

He supported His case for deity in a number of ways besides His numerous I AM statements. He also claimed the attributes of God. For example, the attribute of eternality is something that He claimed in John 17:5, “ Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” He claims as well the attribute of omnipresence. You see this illustrated in several passages for example when Jesus says in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Now you can see where there are lots of times when more than 2 or 3 groups of people as well will gather together and it would imply a clear statement of omnipresence. “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b) I am with you. I’m constantly present with you. I would also say another claim, His sinlessness, is also a divine attribute. He would say, which of you convicts Me, charges Me with any sin. That’s a pretty strong statement. Now I have run into one or two people, maybe two people, who claimed to be sinless. They’re pretty rare but every so often I’ll run into someone who claims to be absolutely perfect. It’s an astounding claim but it requires no self-consciousness whatsoever or the perfection of those 3 defense mechanisms of denial, rationalization and projection. The only way I can account for a person who thinks himself or herself sinless is of course to see what friends and perhaps a spouse would reply to that statement about them! This particular person had to hold that view because he held a particular theology where by if he sinned at all, he would lose his salvation. What I did was I pressed him a little bit with that particular theology and said, well, what kind of sin are we talking about? Is it something pretty big or something more modest because the question is, where is your cutoff? I pressed him with that. He hadn’t murdered anyone. Then the problem would be, what if you hate somebody in your heart? Do you recall when Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said if you hate your brother you’ve committed murder in your heart? Then I pressed it farther and I got it down to where if he exceeded the speed limit, unbeknownst to him, by ½ mph, he would lose his salvation. Now at that point, frankly, he had committed the sin of pride in order to hold to such a stubborn position because he refused to acknowledge the incoherence of his position. The point is, if that’s your view then any sin will do it- thought, word or deed and it can be sins of omission as well. The sins of omission cut both ways as well. There are a lot of things I have done wrong by simply not doing them. Remember that idea- if you have a liturgical background part of the confession is that we have sinned in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and in what we have failed to do. That will nail you because there are all kinds of things that we should’ve done. We look back and say, I should’ve said a word of kindness to that person or I should’ve- you see where I’m going with that? Thought, word and deed will get you too. It’s not just your deeds but your thoughts and your words count too! We have a dilemma that we have to address. Scripture hits us front on with that.

There are a number of indirect claims that Jesus makes concerning His deity. There are a number of these but one of these is His ability to forgive sin. That is a pretty strong claim in Mark 2:5-11 and Luke 7:48-50 when Jesus says, I forgive them, and particularly when it was not a sin committed against Him. Try this at home- somebody complains to you about another person who had said something mean to your friend and your friend told you about this and whatever they did you say, that’s okay, I forgive them. Do you see the absurdity there? Wait a minute, what do you have to do with this, you weren’t involved? To make such a claim is to make the supposition that all sins are committed ultimately against Him. This would mean, of course, that He claimed to be God. In fact the Pharisees rightly said, who but God could forgive sins? They were right and again- they wanted to stone Him for these kinds of claims and these so-called blasphemies because they were right- if He wasn’t God these were indeed blasphemies.

Jesus’ acceptance of worship was pretty strong. Remember when, for example, Thomas sees Him and he says, my Lord and my God. (John 20:28) Peter worships Him in the boat and when Jesus says, all must honor the Son even as they have honored the Father. (John 5:23) The word that is used is the word for worship. These are very strong claims. That all people would face Him in judgment is not a modest claim either in John 5. Imagine me coming to say to you that by the way, when you die it’s going to be me that you give an account to- not anyone else- me. These are pretty strong claims if you would analyze the implications of that. Also, that judgment will be based upon what you did about Me is again, a very strong claim.

Stay tuned

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for James, he and his son have drifted apart.

Pray for Fritz, always been in church, never accepted the Lord because of “hypocrites.”

Pray for Robin M. a burned out child of the 70’s, never grew up.

 

one way

May 20, 2018

Not believing doesn’t make it untrue. And the second is, Jesus is still and always the only way into heaven.

Key Facts About Eternity

(1) Everyone will exist eternally either in heaven or hell (Daniel 12:2,3; Matthew 25:46; John 5:28; Revelation 20:14,15).

(2) Everyone has only one life in which to determine their destiny (Hebrews 9:27).

(3) Heaven or hell is determined by whether a person believes (puts their trust) in Christ alone to save them (John 3:16, 36, etc.).

Key Passages About Hell

(1) Hell was designed originally for Satan and his demons (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10).

(2) Hell will also punish the sin of those who reject Christ (Matthew 13:41,50; Revelation 20:11-15; 21:8).

(3) Hell is conscious torment.

Matthew 13:50 “furnace of fire…weeping and gnashing of teeth”

Mark 9:48 “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched”

Revelation 14:10 “he will be tormented with fire and brimstone”

(4) Hell is eternal and irreversible.

Revelation 14:11 “the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever and they have no rest day and night”

Revelation 20:14 “This is the second death, the lake of fire”

Revelation 20:15 “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire”

Erroneous Views of Hell

(1) The second chance view – After death there is still a way to escape hell.

Answer: “It is appointed unto men once to die and after that the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

(2) Universalism – All are eternally saved.

Answer: It denies the truth of salvation through Christ which means that a person decides to either trust in Christ or else he/she rejects Christ and goes to hell (John 3:16;3:36).

(3) Annihilationism – Hell means a person dies like an animal – ceases to exist.

Answer: It denies the resurrection of the unsaved (John 5:28, etc. – see above). It denies conscious torment (see above).

Objections to the Biblical View of Hell

(1) A loving God would not send people to a horrible hell.

Response: God is just (Romans 2:11).

God has provided the way of salvation to all (John 3:16,17; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15; 1 Timothy 2:6; 4:10; Titus 2:11; 2 Peter 3:9).

Even those who haven’t heard of Christ are accountable for God’s revelation in nature (Romans 1:20). God will seek those who seek Him (Matthew 7:7; Luke 19:10).

Therefore God doesn’t send people to hell, they choose it (Romans 1:18,21,25).

(2) Hell is too severe a punishment for man’s sin.

Response: God is holy-perfect (1 Peter 1:14,15).

Sin is willful opposition to God our creator (Romans 1:18-32).

Our sin does merit hell (Romans 1:32; 2:2,5,6).

What is unfair and amazing is that Christ died for our sin and freely offers salvation to all (Romans 2:4; 3:22-24; 4:7,8; 5:8,9).

Biblical Terms Describing Where the Dead Are

Sheol – a Hebrew term simply describing “the grave” or “death” – Does not refer to “hell” specifically

Hades – A Greek term that usually refers to hell – a place of torment (Luke 10:15; 16:23, etc.)

Gehenna – A Greek term (borrowed from a literal burning dump near Jerusalem) that always refers to hell – a place of torment (Matthew 5:30; 23:33)

“Lake of fire”- the final abode of unbelievers after they are resurrected (Revelation 20:14,15)

“Abraham’s bosom” – (Luke 16:22) a place of eternal comfort

“Paradise” – (Luke 23:43) a place of eternal comfort

“With the Lord” – a key phrase describes where church age believers are after death (Philippians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 2 Corinthians 5:8)

“New heavens and earth” – where believers will be after they are resurrected (Revelation 20:4-6; 21:1-4)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Living Guilt Free

May 14, 2018

Guilt is that awful feeling that hits us in the pit of the stomach when we know we have done wrong, and we’ll do almost anything to get rid of it. Adam and Eve, our first parents, established a human pattern that continues to this day. First comes the cover-up. Then we play the blame game as we try to justify or rationalize our actions. We think that the more we can blame someone else, the less guilty we will feel.

Sometimes we try to escape from guilt through activities, alcohol, or drugs. Or we run to psychiatrists—but secular psychiatry has tried to solve the problem of guilt by saying there is no such thing as sin. Just ignore that guilty feeling, we’re told, because it has no basis in reality. We try, but somehow we just can’t pull it off. Why not?

We can’t escape these feelings by ignoring them because God built into our natures a knowledge of right and wrong—a moral code. God’s Word speaks of the moral conscience, which exists even within those who are not aware of His laws.

One example of this is described in Romans 2:14-15: “When Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.”

GOD GAVE US A CONSCIENCE TO MAKE US AWARE OF SIN

There has never been a civilization on earth that didn’t have laws—rules about right and wrong. Even though humankind hasn’t always worshiped the living God, the moral codes of every civilization prove that there is an objective authority who has set a standard. The human conscience is evidence of God’s existence and His standards for behavior.

God is the One we offend when we sin, and only He can provide a remedy for our sin and guilt. From the third chapter of Genesis on, He required animals to be sacrificed for human beings who wanted to have their sins forgiven. And the New Testament reminds us again, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22).

But the blood of these thousands of animals could not remove sin. It only covered it, until the one perfect Sacrifice was made that completely satisfied the holiness and justice of God. When John the Baptist pointed to Jesus, he said in one sentence the purpose for His coming to earth: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

God’s Only Remedy for Sin and Guilt Is Jesus

Jesus came to earth to die. He was the Substitute for us—He took our punishment in our place so we could be forgiven and made right with God. But what we don’t always understand is that God also wants us to be free from guilt. We learn this from His Word.

GOD’S FORGIVENESS INCLUDES A CLEANSED CONSCIENCE

Through Christ, God has wiped our record clean. He wants us to know it, and to live in that freedom. We’re told, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Heb. 9:14).

When believers in biblical times put their faith in Christ, they acted like forgiven and cleansed people. Zaccheus, described in Luke 19, is a classic example. Everyone knew Zaccheus was a sinner—he worked for Israel’s oppressor, the Roman government. In fact, Zaccheus was head of the equivalent to the Roman Internal Revenue Service. He levied the taxes Caesar required, and he was free to add whatever he wanted for himself.

When Jesus invited Himself to Zaccheus’s house, He demonstrated publicly that He even accepted sinners as terrible as Zaccheus was perceived to be. Zaccheus responded by putting his faith in Christ as his Messiah. But notice how he gave evidence of it: “Zaccheus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8).

Zaccheus repented—he changed his way of life. He promised to make generous restitution to those he had cheated. The change was dramatic. That’s why Jesus could say in response, “Today, salvation has come to this house.” Zaccheus’s new conduct was evidence of his new faith.

THROUGH CHRIST, SIN IS GONE FOREVER

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s eternal remedy for human sin. When we trust Him, He not only forgives our sins, but He also cleanses our conscience of guilt. What happens to our sins? Once God has forgiven them, they are:

Out of sight: “You have put all my sins behind your back” (Isa. 38:17).

Out of mind: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Jer. 31:34).

Out of reach: “You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea” (Mic. 7:19).

Out of existence: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isa. 43:25).

Our sins are gone, removed from existence as if they had never happened in the first place. We can start our new life with a clean slate. And God gives us His Holy Spirit to empower us with new strength.

Have you been trying to make it on your own? Perhaps you have done things that have filled you with guilt, and you think if you’re sorry enough and if you do enough good things, you can make up for the bad. No way!

GOD FORGIVES US BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST

Scripture tells us we are washed clean and given new life through faith in Jesus Christ: “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:4-6).

What wonderful words—kindness, love, and mercy! Have you trusted our kind and loving and merciful God alone to save you? If you haven’t, talk to Him in your heart and tell Him you’re through trying to earn your salvation. Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness, eternal life, and a cleansed conscience. There is no other way.

SIN DAMAGES OUR FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD

So now we understand what happens to our sin when we ask God for forgiveness—it vanishes! But most of us have to ask another question: What happens when we sin after we have trusted Christ? Can a believer, a child of God, lose his or her salvation? Do we have to be saved all over again? If all our sins—past, present, and future—are forgiven because of Christ’s death, why do we have to do anything at all?

The answer is this: When a believer sins, something happens that has to be dealt with. Our relationship with God cannot be broken, because we are His children by the new birth, but our fellowship with Him is damaged. Have you noticed that when you feel guilty because you’ve done something you know is wrong, you avoid praying or reading your Bible? You don’t feel like coming to church, and you may not even enjoy being with your Christian friends as much as usual. These feelings are evidence that your fellowship with God is broken.

Because He loves us, God wants our fellowship with Him to be restored. And He has provided a way for us to continue being cleansed from guilt for sins we commit after our salvation. The apostle John tells us how it’s done: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).

The trouble is, we often don’t follow God’s directions for our cure. Sometimes we wait a very long time before agreeing with God that we have sinned. All that time guilt eats its corrosive way into our conscience. David’s story, in the Old Testament, is an excellent example of this process.

The Story of David and Bathsheba

God spoke of David as a man after His own heart; He chose David to be king over Israel. From his teen years, David was devoted to God in an extraordinary way. He followed God’s ways. He listened to godly counsel. And when he was a fugitive from King Saul for at least ten years, he constantly found his refuge in God, who rescued him again and again. David was a deeply spiritual man with a well-developed emotional capacity. He was also a man with normal human passions.

He was about fifty years old when he committed the sins that affected him for the rest of his life. Today this is called “going through midlife crisis.” David saw another man’s wife and lusted for her. It didn’t matter that her husband was one of his trusted soldiers who was out on the battlefield fighting for him. David sent for Bathsheba and slept with her. Then, when she let David know she was pregnant, he ordered her husband Uriah to come home so he could sleep with her and thus make it look like the child was his. That didn’t work, so David instructed his commanding general to put Uriah on the front of the battle lines so he would be killed.

Uriah died in battle, and after Bathsheba had finished her mourning period, David married her. The cover-up was in place. But then we read these ominous words at the end of 2 Samuel 11: “But the thing David had done displeased the LORD.”

God knew all about David’s behavior, and He would not let His beloved servant get away with such a flagrant and heartless abuse of power. During the unfolding of the story, about a year went by from start to finish—a year during which David seemed to be without a conscience at all. Remember, David was a believer, a man after God’s own heart, a man to whom God had promised a lasting dynasty. His would be the royal line from which the Messiah would come. Didn’t he feel guilty for sins as wicked as adultery and murder? Yes, but he had stifled his conscience. He wouldn’t listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. But he paid the price for his actions. Here’s how he described his experience: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer” (Ps. 32:3-4).

So God sent the prophet Nathan to waken David’s conscience with a story that appealed to his emotions. Nathan told him about a poor man who had only one little pet lamb, which he loved like a child. A rich man, who had many flocks of his own, stole this little lamb and made it into shish-kebabs for a dinner guest. Here’s how David reacted to Nathan’s story:

“David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing” (2 Sam. 12:5-6).

Nathan looked into the face of his angry king who had just passed judgment on himself and said to David, “You are the man!”

How would David respond to the accusation and the punishment? He tells us his response in Psalm 32:5: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD—and you forgave the guilt of my sin!”

CONFESSION IS REQUIRED FOR GUILT TO BE REMOVED

David made no excuses; he blamed no one else. He said, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

You may be asking, What about his sin against Bathsheba and against Uriah? No, David saw his sin for what all sin is—an offense against the Lord. And he knew the punishment was just, because he knew the truth of this spiritual principle:

Forgiveness does not cancel out the natural consequences of our sins.

Nathan told David, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Loin show utter contempt, the son born to you will die” (2 Sam. 12:13).

The death of the child was just the beginning. David lived to see his son Amnon rape his half-sister, Tamar. Then David’s son Absalom killed Amnon and later tried to seize David’s throne, and he was also killed. In fact, from this time on, David’s life deteriorated until the day he died. His one act of unbridled passion permanently marked his family and his kingdom. But his fellowship with God was restored. After Nathan came to him, David wrote Psalm 51, which eloquently describes his sin, his repentance, and his forgiveness.

read Hebrews 9:14 to her: “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (emphasis mine).

“we have to act with our wills to apply what God’s Word says. Then He will eventually take care of our emotions.”

We Need a Clean Conscience to Serve God

Hebrews 9:14 provides an interesting insight about the result of our cleansing and forgiveness. God does this, the writer of Hebrews explains, “that we may serve the living God.”

Guilt keeps us from serving God. Yet God can even use the sins we have committed to make us more effective in our work for Him. Only when we refuse God’s provision for forgiveness, for cleansing, and for a new beginning are we incapacitated by our past sins. That’s why it is important for us to remember:

Satan wants us to be immobilized by guilt.

We have an enemy whose main purpose is to keep us from serving the Lord. In Scripture he is called the “accuser” of believers. If you continue to feel guilty for forgiven sins, you are hearing the voice of the enemy, not the Holy Spirit. Satan is a liar. Reject the fiery darts he shoots at your mind by holding up the shield of faith in the finished work of your Savior, and the devil will flee from you.

If guilt is the obstacle that has kept you from growing in your spiritual life, won’t you lay down your burden at the cross? Accept God’s forgiveness. Let Him cleanse your conscience. And commit yourself to living in obedience to God’s Word and to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who lives within you. Your burden of guilt will be lifted—once and for all.

With God there is always a way back, we just have to accept it.

Come on, give up the guilt and shame, no matter what you have done God is willing to forgive you, just the fact that you are thinking about God and wanting forgiveness is the first step.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Put off, Put on

May 13, 2018

Putting Off the Old and Putting On the New

(Ephesians 4:22-24)

This is the end of our series on this passage in Ephesians. And this last devotional is a little long, you may want to print it out. Blessings

22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

In the first verses of Ephesians chapter 2, Paul described the unbeliever as being subject to the world, the flesh, and the devil. In most instances, the devil exercises control over lost men by means of the external pressure of the world and corresponding internal inclinations of the flesh. In Ephesians 4:17-19 Paul has instructed the Christian to turn from the corrupting influences of the world in which we live (our culture). Now, in verses 22-24, Paul turns to the subject of our flesh, urging us to put off the “old man” and to put on the new.

I understand Paul to refer to the flesh as our “old self,” or as the marginal note in the NASB indicates, our “old man.” In Romans chapter 8 this “old self” would be synonymous with the “mind set on the flesh” (Romans 8:6-7). The “new self” would be our new “inner man” (Romans 7:22; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Ephesians 3:16), the “mind set on the Spirit” (Romans 8:6).

Beginning at verse 25, Paul will specifically identify those attitudes and actions which we should “put off” and those which should be “put on” in their place. But here Paul is dealing with our manner of life in principle, in general terms. Our fleshly behavior is the outgrowth, the expression, of our inner fleshly nature, just as Christian conduct is the outgrowth and expression of the inner man, created and empowered by the Holy Spirit:

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:16-24).

Paul persists in emphasizing the continuity between our conversion to Christ and our conduct in Christ, which should be evident in our manner of life.

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace (Romans 6:1-14).

6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, (Colossians 2:6).

In Christ, our old man has been crucified, put to death. In our daily conduct, we should crucify the flesh daily, and put aside the conduct which springs forth from fleshly desires. In Christ we were made alive, raised from the dead and seated with Him in the heavenlies (see Ephesians 2:5-6). We should therefore walk in newness of life, manifesting the work of the Spirit of God in and through us. It is by His power that we are both motivated and enabled to live in a way that pleases God:

1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.… 10 And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you. (Romans 8:1-4, 10-11)

20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20).

This expression, “lusts of deceit” is somewhat puzzling as to its precise meaning. What we can be sure of is that there is a direct relationship between “lust” and “deceit.” I believe it is safe to say that “lust” is “deceitful,” and also to say that “deceit” is “lustful.” Lust is deceitful in that it does not produce what it seems to promise. Lust promises pleasure, but it ultimately produces death (see Romans 6:15-23, especially verse 21). Deceit is lustful in that it never seems to be satisfied, it always wants more victims (see Proverbs 1:10-19).

Jesus warned of the danger of attempting to remove evil, rather than replacing it (see Luke 11:26). Paul’s words indicate that our old nature and its deeds are not merely to be rejected, they are to be replaced. We must “put off” the old man and at the same time “put on” the new. While the old nature is continually being corrupted by the lusts of deceit, the new nature is renewing us, in accordance with the nature of God and His righteousness and truth. The old nature is being corrupted, the new is being renewed. The old is deceitful, the new deals in truth. The old is sinful, the new is righteous. The old is driven by lusts, the new by the character and purposes of God.

Conclusion

Christ did not save us in order that we may live any way that we choose. He saved us to live godly lives, and thus to live in a way that is radically different from our lifestyle as unbelievers. Our conduct, as Paul has indicated in verse 1 of chapter 4 is to conduct ourselves in a manner that is worthy of our calling in Christ.

The conduct which God requires of Christians should not come as a surprise to them after they have been saved. The gospel, as preached by John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles, called men to repentance as well as to faith in Christ. Men were required to turn from their sin to Christ, and it was clear that this meant a new way of life. The “gospel” of our day is not so clearly stated. It is as though we fear that men will be receive Christ if they know what is involved. The irony is that the gospel, the true gospel, is the power of God unto salvation. The more we seek to rid the gospel of its unappealing aspects (from the unbeliever’s point of view) the more we rob it of its power. We then rely more on our cleverness and deceit than on the power of the Holy Spirit to convince and convert lost sinners. When we share our faith, let us tell it like it is.

This text, and those which follow in Ephesians, make it clear that while salvation and sanctification are the work of God, they require man’s response. God is sovereign in the salvation and spiritual growth of those whom He has chosen. He also ordained that men are to be informed of the gospel and of God’s standards of conduct, and that we are to act in obedience to His commands, not in our own strength, but in that which He supplies. Let us not leave this text with a passive view of our spiritual life. God has made every provision for our sanctification, and we are to obediently make use of them, for His glory and for our good.

It is almost impossible to overestimate the importance of the truths conveyed in the passage before us. While the verses which follow it will spell out specific conduct which befits the Christian, this text speaks of the basis for our conduct in general terms. It is our commitment to the general exhortations of this passage which will greatly affect our compliance with the commands that follow.

The Christian lifestyle will not be lived out by those with a pagan mindset. It is the Christian mindset of our text which works itself out in the conduct which befits our calling in Christ. Allow me to point out some of the inferences of Paul’s teaching in our text and its implications in our practical daily living.

Our pagan culture believes that the past is the key to the present. What we think and how we act, we are told, is the result of our past. It is only by understanding our past that we can live as we should in the present. In other words, the past controls the present.

The Bible reverses this. Paul teaches us that our thinking and conduct in the past was the outworking of our unregenerate thinking. Paul insists that we refuse to allow our past to control us in the present. Instead, Paul teaches us that what we now are, in Christ, is what should override and overrule our past thinking and behavior. What we now are in Christ should cause us to put away what we once thought and did as unbelievers. Our past should not be resurrected, analyzed and dwelled upon, it should be buried in an unmarked grave. It is not what we were that matters, but what we are. Let us ponder what we are, in Christ, and not what we were without Him.

In our culture, what you believe seems to have taken second place to how you feel. The sensitive, intelligent, and probing thing to ask these days is, “How do you feel about that?” Paul would rather have us focus on what we believe. What we feel is often a far cry from what is true, and even from what we believe. Faith, as I understand it, calls upon men to act on the truth God has revealed in His Word, not on how we feel. Abraham did not “feel” like leaving his homeland and relatives to go to an unnamed place, but he obeyed God. Neither did he feel like offering up his son, Isaac, but he was willing to obey. Our Lord did not feel like going to the cross of Calvary, but He obeyed the will of His Father. Let us act on what we know to be the truth as revealed in the Word of God, more than on how we happen to feel. As a rule, faith acts on the facts of God’s Word and disregards our feelings.

If the renewing of our minds is so vital to our Christian life, how is it done? The Bible is not a book of formulas, but I would like to focus your attention on one key element: the Word of God. When a person wants to learn a foreign language, what is the most effective way to do so? It is to enter into that culture and language and become saturated with it. This is how our children learn to talk and to think as we do. If we would desire to have our minds renewed, then we must find God’s thoughts and immerse ourselves in them. His thoughts have been incarnated in Christ, the Living Word, and recorded in the Bible, His inspired written Word.

I dare say that most Christians spend more time in front of their television sets, radios, magazines, and books than they do in their Bibles. Even many Christian stations and publications contain much that is secular thinking sprinkled with a smattering of spiritual jargon. If we would think God’s thoughts after Him, we will find them only in His Word. Let us become so saturated with His Word that we begin to reflect His ways, His values, His goals, His methods. This is the renewing of the mind which Paul calls for.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Part 3, fallen man, fallen mind

Ephesians 4:17-19

17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of[a] the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

The root cause of the distortion of Gentile thinking is also identified:

because of the ignorance that is in them

because of the hardening of their heart

After describing the mental condition of heathen Gentiles, Paul presses on to disclose the causes of their mental dullness. Their thinking is futile because they are ignorant. Ignorance here surely does not refer to one’s intelligence. Neither does ignorance seem to refer to what one does not know. Ignorance, as Paul uses the term, refers to the “knowledge” which unbelievers possess, in which they place their trust, and from which they base their actions. It may be brilliant ignorance, but when compared with the truth of God, it is ignorance.

The mind of man and the heart of man are closely inter-twined. When Paul speaks of the “hardening of their heart” he refers to the impact which the hardened heart has on the minds of fallen men. Hardness of heart keeps one from seeing things as they really are. This was true of Pharaoh, who could not see the “finger of God” in the plagues of the Exodus, even when his own servants pointed it out to him (Exodus 8:19). It was even true of the Lord’s disciples, who could not understand what He was teaching them (Mark 6:52; 8:17).

The mental condition of fallen Gentiles ultimately works itself out in the moral lives of these unbelievers. Men who are excluded from the life of God do not reflect the righteousness of God in their conduct. And so Paul describes the moral outcome of the Gentiles’ mental decadence: “And they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness” (verse 19).

Those who are mentally blind become morally callused. They lose any sensitivity to what is right or wrong. Consequently, they give themselves over to the pursuit of fleshly pleasure.

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:1-4).

Such men are not merely overcome by strong fleshly passions, they actively engage in the pursuit of these passions. They do not dabble in sin, they immerse themselves in it. They pursue the satisfaction of their fleshly appetites with a passion. They are greedy for fleshly pleasure. They can never get enough of it. They are, we would say, addicted to the pursuit of satisfying their fleshly urges.

The non believer is ignorant of God, defiling their lives with immorality. And yet they boast they need no god. Falling deeper into a meaningless life. Their spiritual compass broken, so they make themselves god, fashioned into their own image. The blind leading the blind.

And our calling is to be a beacon of love, compassion and mercy, to those that hate our God, who mock and defile.

Are you up for it?

Christianity, the toughest gig in the world.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Rickie R, failing kidneys

Pray for Norma, thyroid problems

Pray for Andrea and Todd, two great young Christians, who are going through the meat grinder. Pray for a blessing in their lives.

The Battlefield

May 10, 2018

I am not a student of philosophy but I think that it is safe to say that the immorality which is so rampant in the western world has been conceived by godless philosophers, and has been skillfully propagated by institutions of “higher learning.” Paul’s warning about the dangers of philosophy can be better understood in the light of his teaching on the relationship between fallen man’s reasoning and his conduct. The way a man thinks does bear heavily on the way he acts.

Add to that the immorality of television, the insanity of our left wing news media, and what people consider okay for entertainment (especially Christians who are supposed to know better). And you end up with a worldly lifestyle that attracts no unbelievers’ or believes you are different.

Ephesians 4:17-19… that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

The lifestyle of unbelieving Gentiles is characterized as a walk which is …

in the futility of their mind

being darkened in their understanding

excluded from the life of God

The conduct of the Ephesian saints before their conversion to faith in Christ was the outgrowth of wrong doctrine. Paul speaks of their impairment as the “futility of their mind.” Futility is not to be mistaken for stupidity. Futile efforts are efforts which do not materialize into something worthwhile. Paul would not call Plato, Aristotle, or Socrates stupid. These men were Gentiles of great standing and of brilliant intellect. Nevertheless, their beliefs and philosophies were futile. They were futile because they failed to produce anything of lasting or eternal value.

Paul is taking us back to the very foundations of man’s thinking. The premises on which we base our thoughts determine what the results of our thinking will be. For example, the unbeliever (as a rule) thinks that life ends with death. Consequently, suffering is avoided and pleasure is pursued (see 1 Corinthians 15:32). The Christian believes that real life begins with faith in Christ and never ends. Because of this, suffering is joyfully endured for Christ’s sake, with the assurance that we will eternally enjoy the glory which awaits us (see 2 Corinthians 4:13-18).

The believer in Christ understands that he or she has been chosen for salvation for a purpose, to bring glory to God. Consequently, all that is done should be to His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). The unbeliever sees all of life revolving around his own personal interests, and so self-interest is always the focus and servanthood is viewed with contempt. Furthermore, the thinking of the believer is based upon the revelation of truth in the Scriptures, while the thinking of the unbeliever is based only upon the individual’s subject perception of truth and reality. It is no wonder, therefore, that the mind set on the flesh is vastly different from the mind set on the Spirit (see Romans 8:5-9). And so it is that a believer’s thinking must be radically transformed (Romans 12:2).

As a man thinketh or those of you who prefer modern non-King James, “thinks”. The battle field is in the mind. Thus the pollution of what we see and what we hear. Start filtering what comes into your mind, pay attention and you will be shocked (hopefully) at what Christians let into their home.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Sally Ann, she is really burned out, from being a caregiver.

 

Our last post of the Jesus Narrative Series, God Bless for being so patient with this long, very long series, individually and collectively.

Everyone wants our money. Letters come from every charity, political and religious organization, pleading for our money to continue their work. We give to some, we feel guilty about not giving to others, and some letters we just throw away without a second thought. Our motives for giving are mixed. We think about whether or not we can take a tax deduction. We respond to emotional appeals that are prepared by professional fund raisers and often ignore the smaller, more effective works that do not make such a big splash but really need us more. Extracting our money from us is a big time business.

So it is the straw that breaks the camel’s back when you come to church and the sermon or the lesson is about giving. Should not the church be more spiritual than to ask us to give money?

Interestingly, the Bible has a great deal to say about money. For instance, one verse out of seven in the book of Luke is about money. Money is God’s greatest rival for our worship. That is why Jesus said, Luke 16:13. “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Paul gave a serious warning when he wrote to Timothy.

1 Timothy 6:6-10

We all know people who have wandered from the faith and brought upon themselves many sorrows because acquisition of money became their god. Maybe it is something you are struggling with even now. The first impressive church discipline recorded in Acts 5 involved money. Ananias and Sapphira both died because they pretended to give more than they did. Since money represents so much danger to our lives the Scripture also tells us how to be free from bondage to it.

The solution: Honor God with your money and trust Him to meet your needs.

It was the middle of the last week of Jesus’ life on earth, just before Passover. He had entered Jerusalem on the back of a colt the previous Sunday to the tumultuous welcome of the common people. He went to the temple daily to teach and had engaged almost immediately in constant confrontations from all the different factions who hated and feared HimCthe Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, priests and teachers of the law. They tried again and again to trap Him into taking positions which would either alienate Him from the people or get Him in trouble with the Romans. Each time He skillfully evaded their traps and revealed their ignorance of God’s Word and God’s ways.

After one such exchange He warned the people:

Mark 12:38-40

These teachers and preachers loved the honor and privileges they received because of their position. They did not get paid a regular salary for their work, but were supposed to be supported by tithes and offerings brought to the temple. Jesus accused them of exploiting widows, pressuring the very people they should have protected, women with the most limited means, to give them their property. He accused them of just making a show of spirituality by long prayers, but they were really con men. They loved money and were unscrupulous in getting it. These religious leaders today who preach a prosperity theology which they prove by living in multi-million dollar houses are not just at 21th century phenomena. Notice also that He said they would be severely punished.

When He finished speaking He sat down on a bench opposite the temple treasury. In the women’s court of the temple enclosure, the only place where women could come, there were 13 trumpet shaped receptacles for people to drop their offerings.

Mark 12:41

Picture the scene. The city was crowded for the Passover celebration. People came from all over to give their tithes and offerings to the Lord. Many rich people threw in large amounts. Can you not hear the sound of their coins clanging against the receptacles? Not only that but Matt 6:2 tells us that some wealthy people even had a trumpet fanfare announce their offering. Unnoticed among these proud and prominent men was a little widow.

Mark 12:42

She quietly slipped in and put her two tiny coins in the treasury. They hardly made a sound. They were only worth 1/3 of a cent, 1/64th of a day’s wage. This humble widow, poorly dressed, sorry that she could give no more, gave her tiny gift and slipped away hoping that she had not been noticed. But she was!

Mark 12:43-44

Jesus saw her and was so impressed by her offering that he called his disciples to him to use her as an object lesson for the kind of giving that pleases God. He said, “She gave more than all the others.”

God has an altogether different way of judging the value of our gifts. We look at the actual amount and are impressed or not impressed by it.

GOD MEASURES OUR GIFT BY WHAT WE HAVE LEFT FOR OURSELVES.

It is not a sacrifice to give 1 million dollars when you have 100 million left. It is not a sacrifice to give $1000 when you are earning $100,000 a year. But it is a total sacrifice to empty your purse into the collection plate when there is nothing in the bank. That is what this widow did. Was not it a little unrealistic for her to do that? After all, does not God expect us to use our common sense?

What was she really saying when she gave all she had to live on? She was demonstrating her faith in God to supply her needs. She loved the Lord and was grateful to Him. She was not embittered by self-pity, she was not expecting any handouts. She was simply entrusting herself to God. He was her Husband, her Provider, her Security. (Is. 54:5.)

She was a living example of Matt. 6:31-34

So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father KNOWS THAT YOU NEED THEM. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

By her giving she acknowledged God as the Source of all she needed, that He knew her needs and she was willing to trust Him to provide one day at a time. That is really great faith.

No wonder Jesus commended her. Talk is cheap. Actions are costly. God did not need her money, but she needed to give. Do you honestly think that God was going to let her down after such an expression of faith? I am sure there was bread on her table that day.

1000 years earlier King David had the same perspective about wealth. He gave his personal fortune to buy the materials for Solomon to build a temple for the Lord that David would never see. His example stimulated the generosity of this people and they had a great day of dedication of the gifts for the temple.

1 Chronicles 29:10-16

God is the One who gives us what we have in the first place. It all belongs to Him. When we give to Him we honor Him by acknowledging that He is the Source of all our blessings.

GOD DOES NOT NEED OUR MONEY. WE NEED TO GIVE AS PART OF WORSHIP.

While the whole Bible has much to say about money and giving there are 2 chapters that especially concentrate on the subject and give us some important principles to govern our attitude about money.

The Corinthian Christians had a lot of problems. Some of them were that they were impulsive, changeable and fickle. The previous year they had committed themselves to giving to support the ministry of the Gospel and sharing with the needy and they had started with enthusiasm. But they had not continued and Paul speaks very frankly to them.

He used 3 examples of sacrificial giving to admonish and encourage the Corinthians.

Three examples of sacrificial giving

1.THE MACEDONIAN CHRISTIANS

2 CORINTHIANS 8:1-3

If any people had excuses not to give, they did. They were suffering many hardships. Some had lost their means of earning a living because they were Christians. Some had been rejected by their families. They were in extreme poverty. But they were so joyful in their faith that they gave more than they were able to give. In fact they pleaded to give. No one had to urge them to sign pledges or faith/promise card.

Why were they so generous? They had first given themselves to the Lord. When we give ourselves, it includes our pocketbooks. Paul then says, “Follow their example, finish what you started.” Giving is a grace. God will enable you to give.

  1. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

2 CORINTHIANS 8:9

What a paradox. Jesus left the riches of heaven to become a human being. To live on earth in a humble carpenter’s home. To earn His living with His own hands. He was a poor man. He never owned any property. Then He suffered the humiliation of a criminal’s death for us. But he rose victoriously from the dead. When we put our faith in Him we become heirs of God, all the riches of heaven is promised us in the future and the rich blessings of a right relationship with God is ours now. Jesus gave Himself for us so that we, who were poor, might be rich.

2 CORINTHIANS 8:11-12

Notice how God evaluates our gifts. By our eager willingness and according to our means. Our giving must be voluntary. Notice that God never asks us to give what we do not have, but from what we do have. That is why it is so good to have a percentage as a guide. When you have a little, you give accordingly, when you have a lot, you give accordingly. The O.T. had the tithe, 10% as a guide. But there were 3 tithes taken. (2 yearly and 1 every 3rd year)

Dr. Charles Ryrie estimates that the tithes actually came to about 22%. And beyond that they gave freewill offerings. Whatever amount you decide on, giving a percentage of your income is a good start. Then as you get used to the blessings that come from giving you can increase your percentage. You see giving is not a one-way street. You do all the giving and someone else gets all the benefits. Giving blesses the giver. It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Giving is a good measure of your spiritual maturity. Giving is not an option; it is a command. Your love for the Lord is measured by obedience. Generous giving pays wonderful returns.

2 CORINTHIANS 9:6

Action Steps: First, the law of sowing and reaping applies to your giving. If you plant a just a few seeds you get a little crop. If you plant a lot of seed you get a large crop. If you invest generously in God’s program, the returns will be far beyond your imagination. People will be saved in countries you will never go to because you supported a missionary, a radio program, a literature campaign. These people will meet you in heaven and thank you for helping to make it possible for them to be there, too. That is what Jesus meant when He said,

Luke 16:9 (NIV) I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

2 CORINTHIANS 9:7

Attitude: The decision about how much to give is yours to make. Just be sure that you are not giving because someone is pressuring you, but because you are willing. God loves a cheerful giver, a hilarious giver. And God knows exactly the attitudes and motives for our giving.

2 CORINTHIANS 9:8-11

Ability: Do you see what this is saying? God will continue to supply all that you need personally, so that you can continue to give generously on every occasion. He is really saying,

“Put my interests first and I will take care of yours. Trust me with your material needs. I will give you the ability to give abundantly.” Two ways to meet our needs: get more money or spend less.

Accomplishments: What does this kind of giving accomplish here and now?

2 CORINTHIANS 9:12-15

Your giving is a ministry, a service to God. (Priestly service, diakonia, liturgeia) Credited to you. Your giving will supply the needs of God’s people. They will praise and thank God for your ministry.

Your giving is proof of your obedience and a good testimony to others.

People will pray for you and care for you because you have cared for them in your giving.

  1. GOD THE FATHER

2 CORINTHIANS 9:15

He gave His Son for us. Anything we give is in gratitude for this gift which is beyond description.

That leads to the question, where should we give?

How should we distribute the Lord’s money?

Your local church should have priority in your giving. The salaries, building maintenance, and materials all cost money and you are the beneficiaries. The folks at the Christian Science Church are not going to give to this church.

Family members in need.

Give to those in need in your own family, e.g. aged parents.

Ministries that personally bless you.

Missions.

Diversify: foreign, home, children, education, evangelism, church planting, etc.

The poor.

First in God’s family, Gal. 6:10. Then to others. We are responsible to care for needy believers. Samaritan’s Purse, Voices of the Martyrs, etc.

Charities

Those who are fighting battles for morality in the public square.

Give purposefully, intelligently and obediently as God lays it on your heart to give. But give.

2 Cor. 9:11 says that God will supply abundantly so that we can be generous on every occasion.

If you are having financial problems, the solution may not be to get more, but to give more.

Giving to the Lord from what He has given you will break the stranglehold that money and things have on our lives. It is a great step of faith, but God can handle it. He has not broken a promise yet. Are you willing to be obedient to Him in this important area? I am sure Jim Elliot’s famous statement included our money as well as our lives.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Jesus used this poor widow’s act of devotion and faith to teach us many things about our money and our God.

What does Jesus reveal about God, our heavenly Father?

Our Father is the Source of all we have. It belongs to Him.

Our Father does not measure the worth of our gifts by their size, but by what we have left.

Our Father looks at the heart, our motive for giving. He does not reward ostentatious generosity for purpose of impressing people.

Our Father does not expect us to give what we do not have. We are to give from what we have and everyone has something. No gift is too small.

Our Father will not compel us to give, just as He will not compel us to love Him. Giving is a personal matter.

Our Father wants us to give voluntarily and generously with faith that God will supply our needs and enable us to keep on giving. Not acceptable if reluctant.

Our Father will give generously to us so we can continue to give generously.

Our Father gives eternal returns on our investments. We will leave all our bank accounts, investments and real estate here when we die. But we will be welcomed in heaven by those we have reached through our giving. These are eternal returns.

Our Father uses our giving as a testimony to cause others to thank and praise God, and to pray for us.

Our Father Himself is the most generous Giver.

If giving to the Lord has been a problem for you, confess it as selfishness, unbelief, or greed. Then tell the Lord you want to believe Him for this area which has such a stranglehold on our affections. You want to be free from bondage to money. Then decide what percentage you will faithfully give. Do it and see how God will bless you.

When we started this series I said we would emphasize what the Lord Jesus would reveal about our invisible Father in heaven. We have seen Him to be our omniscient, omnipotent Creator, a Father who is compassionate, loving, strong, generous, welcoming, interested in every detail of our lives. He initiates a relationship with sinners and makes them His children by faith. He delivers us from sin. He is patient with ignorance and hates arrogance and hypocrisy. He gives us forgiveness, peace, and joy. He sent Jesus so we could be with Him forever in heaven. Let me remind you of what J.I. Packer said.

“You sum up the whole of New Testament teaching in a single phrase if you speak of it as a revelation of the Fatherhood of the holy Creator. In the same way, you sum up the whole of the New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father. If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. Father’ is the Christian name for God.”

God bless, as this concludes the series we’ve called the Jesus Narrative.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

The Jesus Narrative (part three)

Jesus was now very active in His public ministry. He was traveling through the villages and towns proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand and His ministry was authenticated by the many miracles He performed. He had chosen His 12 disciples and they traveled with Him. They were back in Galilee and crowds were increasingly following him from all over Israel and neighboring countries

Luke 6:17-19

No one had ever seen a man do the miracles He did or heard the words He spoke. Yet busy as He was He always had time to stop and care for that one person with a special need. The crowd was not just a faceless mob to Him. They were individuals in whom He had a personal interest. They were like sheep without a shepherd and He had come to be their Shepherd.

Luke 7:11

Jesus left Capernaum where He had healed a centurion’s servant from a distance, without even seeing him. Now He and his disciples traveled on down to Nain, a town about 25 miles southwest of Capernaum.

Luke 7:12

Try to imagine the scene. Jesus and His disciples were approaching the town gate, followed by a large, excited crowd. Suddenly a hush fell on the crowd. There was a funeral procession coming out of the town. A litter with a dead body on it was being carried out to the cemetery. A weeping mother, dressed in widow’s clothes followed. She was accompanied by a large crowd of friends mourning with her. This was a noisy crowd in a different way. They were wailing, weeping and some had torn their clothes to indicate their grief.

The dead man was the only son of his mother and she was a widow. (NIV)

This poignant sentence tells a sad story. This woman had lost her husband, now her son was gone. In that day, parents depended upon their children to care for them in their old age. The death of her only son meant that she would not only be lonely but possibly destitute. Now the Mosaic Law provided for widows, orphans and the poor. They could glean in the fields after the reapers and gather their grain and fruit. There was also a special tithe taken every third year to be distributed to the poor. God warned his people that they were never to oppress or exploit the poor or the widows and orphans.

Ex. 22:22-23 (NIV) Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.

Deuteronomy 10:18 (NIV) He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow.

It was the responsibility of the community to care for the poor in that day. Jewish people today still care for their own to a greater extent than other ethnic groups usually do.

Now Jesus knew all this. He could have just passed by and assumed that this town would rally around the widow and see that she at least had food and clothes.

Luke 7:13

When the Lord saw her, His heart went out to her and He said, “Do not cry.” (NIV)

Cannot you picture Him? He leaves His followers, walks up to her and with tenderness and compassion says just two words. They would have been unrealistic and unkind coming from anyone else. She had plenty to cry about. To me there is something very comforting in knowing that when I am in pain, God’s heart goes out to me. He is the One who really feels my pain, He cares for me and wants to comfort me. He is not a cold, distant, helpless deity. He is a loving, compassionate Father.

Psalm 103:13

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. (NIV)

In 2 Corinthians 1:4-5 He is called the “Father of mercies” and the “God of all comfort.”

But that is not all Jesus said and did. Now He walked over to the litter and touched it. The pallbearers stopped. Imagine what they must have thought. Touching the dead made a person ceremonially unclean. Here was a rabbi, a teacher, doing it. But that still was not all. Jesus then spoke directly to the dead man.

“Young man, I say to you, get up” (NIV)

Jesus stood and faced our worst enemy, Death. And with the ring of divine authority He exercised His power over it. This is the first time He raised a person from the dead. In each of the three recorded cases, He spoke to the corpse. And the dead heard His voice and obeyed. John 5:28.

Luke 7:15

The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. (NIV)

Cannot you sense the gentleness, the understanding, the personal interest in her that these words reveal? Can you imagine the joy Jesus felt being able to do this for her. I wonder if we realize what it meant to Him to reverse in a tangible way, the curse which is the result of human sin. I think He smiled as He saw her tears turn to unbelievable joy. Her son was alive. She would not be left alone. She would see her grandchildren, her future was secure.

What impact did this miracle have on the crowd?

Luke 7:16-17

They were filled with awe, reverence, fear of God. They praised God. (NIV)

Surely they were reminded of the dead child that Elisha raised from the dead over 800 years before in the town of Shunem which was just on the other side of the hill from Nain. But did they actually realize that God really had come and was living among them? They may have remembered the Scripture:

Isaiah 35:4-6 (NIV) Be strong, do not fear; your God will come…He will come to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.

This was what the Messiah would do when He came. And that was exactly what Jesus was doing! This miracle also illustrated some important truths. We have seen that God is deeply concerned with our grief and pain. Jesus actively did what He had the power to do to alleviate this woman’s suffering. In this he modeled for us what we are supposed to do to relieve human suffering today.

All around us are people who are hurting, without the essentials to sustain life, lonely, or disabled. Some have suffered broken marriages, or estranged children. Some are homeless, jobless, hopeless, and lost. There is something each of us can do. It may be very small in comparison to their degree of need, but that is not the issue. We can bring a meal, make a visit, bring clothes, blankets, listen to their troubles, pray with them and for them. We can counsel and support women in crisis pregnancies. We can give money so that ministries like Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, the largest men’s shelter in the world or The Mission Shelter program or Veterans Cause who minister to the down and out so they can continue their work. We can share the Gospel. Remember we are Christ’s Body on earth. He works through us to show God’s love and concern.

We all can and must do something. We cannot close our eyes and pretend there is no one out there that needs our help.

We find the next effect of this miracle in the following verses. John the Baptist had been in prison for quite a long while and he may have expected that Jesus coming would have different results. In his uncertainty he sent directly to Jesus.

Luke 7:18-23

The purpose of miracles in the Bible is always to accredit the messenger and the message. Jesus was saying to John:

Remember the prophecies in Is. 35 and 61, see what I am doing, and put it all together.

Thus he reassured John that He was the Messiah.

But I believe this miracle also illustrated visibly what the Lord Jesus came to accomplish by His death on the cross and His resurrection.

2 Timothy 1:9-10

This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed (abolished) death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (NIV)

How did death become a part of human existence. It was not part of God’s original design. Adam and Eve were created to live forever. In that beautiful garden God gave them every provision and perfect freedom to enjoy each other, to enjoy life and to enjoy their Creator. There was one prohibition.

Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In the day you eat of it you will surely die. (NIV)

We all know the story. Satan tempted them and they ate the fruit and experienced spiritual death immediately, which is separation from God. We know this because for the first time they were afraid and hid from Him when He came to walk with them in the Garden. Then their bodies began to die and death has been the expectation and experience of every human being since. The penalty for sin is death, both physical and spiritual. Since were each born with a sinful nature, we all sin and we all will die unless the Lord returns first and takes us home.

God commanded an approach to him that constantly reminded his people of that truth. Israel could never worship God without a blood sacrifice. When they sacrificed a lamb, goat or bull, they were offering a substitute to die for their sins in their place. When Jesus began His public ministry it was John who identified him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

He was the only substitute God would accept. When Jesus hung on that cross He took the full penalty for our sin in His own person. When he cried out, My God, why have you forsaken me? It meant he experienced spiritual death, which is separation from God. And of course, He died physically. But then he rose from the dead. If there was even one sin that could not be forgiven by the sacrifice of Christ, He would still be in the grave. His resurrection proved that every sin ever committed since the world began has been paid for in full.

Thank God for the Gift of His Son, our Savior and Risen Lord.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

The Jesus Narrative (part one) (this is a long post, you may want to print it out)

God was here! Walking this planet. He lived in an obscure village in a tiny country on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. From the age of 12 till Jesus was about 30 there are no incidents recorded about Him in the Bible. So any stories you hear about the miracles he supposedly performed as a child are the product of someone’s imagination. But there are things we can know about his family life.

Mark 6:3 tells us that Mary and Joseph had at least 6 other children, 4 sons and 2 daughters. Jesus knew what it was to live in a large family and be the only half-brother. Joseph taught him the trade of carpentry and he supported his family by working as a carpenter, because by the time he began his public ministry, Joseph was dead. Jesus knew what it was to work with his hands to earn his daily bread. All the time Jesus lived on earth He never used his power to make life easy for himself.

But now the time had come to begin his public ministry. For months John the Baptist had been preaching that the Messiah was coming and people were being baptized to indicate that they repented of their sins and were waiting for the Messiah (Christ) Jesus started his ministry by going to John to baptize him.

When he came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove.

John 1:32-34

Now John knew for sure that Jesus was the promised Christ. That was the sign he had been told to look for. After his baptism Jesus went into the wilderness and successfully endured 40 days and nights of fasting while Satan tempted him. He proved his qualifications to be our sinless Savior when he defeated Satan and would not sin.

John 1:19-21 gives us a rapid sequence of events that took place just before the occasion we are studying today.

When Jesus returned from the wilderness John pointed his own disciples to Jesus as the Lamb of God and the Son of God. So these men followed Jesus and brought others. By the time the chapter ends Jesus had about 5 men with him who believed on Him because of John’s testimony and their own experience. These 5 were the first of that special group of 12 ordinary men who lived with Him and were trained by him for over 3 years.

In John 1 we have many titles and names for Jesus:

The Word, the Light, the One and Only from the Father, God, the One and Only, Lord, Lamb of God, Son of God, Messiah or Christ, the Prophet like Moses, Jesus of Nazareth, King of Israel, Rabbi, Son of Man.

Theses titles had tremendous significance for the Jews familiar with OT promises about the coming Messiah. They meant that Jesus was the one they had been eagerly waiting for. What spectacular thing would Jesus use to reveal who he was? Where would he start? Can you imagine what Hollywood would do with an opportunity like that? But Jesus revealed His glory for the first time in a very strange but meaningful way.

John 2:1-2

Cana was a village in the hills of Galilee. Its location is not certain, but scholars believe it was located about nine miles north of Nazareth. I think it is worth noticing that the human race began with God officiating at a wedding between a man and a woman and the ministry of Jesus, God on earth began with His presence at a wedding. This tells us something about God’s view of marriage which we need to hear in a day when marriage is being avoided or destroyed by abuse, infidelity, lack of commitment and divorce. Actually, when it is in danger of being redefined to allow same sex marriage to be equally normal.

Jesus obviously was not a recluse. He was a social person. He was willing to take time out of his busy schedule to share in the joy of others. This was not just going to a ceremony and reception for a few ours. The wedding celebration lasted seven days. In that day a couple would become betrothed, usually for about a year. This betrothal was as binding as a marriage and could only be broken by divorce. The wedding was celebrated when the bridegroom came to take his bride and escort her to his home, where there would be a great time of feasting, singing, dancing and general rejoicing for a week. At the end of the week the bride would be escorted by her parents to the nuptial chamber and marriage would be consummated. This was obviously a time of great joy.

God wants us to enjoy life, to share other people’s joy, to smell the flowers along the way. He has given us all things richly to enjoy and Jesus modeled that for us.

John 2:3

Mary must have been visiting with their hosts or helping out when she was in on an embarrassing discovery. The wine had run out! Lavish hospitality in the east was a sacred duty. Either they had underestimated the number of guests or they had been skimpy in their provisions. This was not just an embarrassment, it was a disgrace. It was a never-to-be-forgotten social faux pas.

Mary knew where to go for help. She depended upon her oldest Son and he had never failed her yet. This request tells us a little about Mary. She was concerned about other people’s problems. She was not aloof or quick to pass judgment. She wanted to help her friends. Maybe she also thought this would be a super time for Jesus to do something spectacular to reveal who he really was. After all, she of all people knew where He came from. So she simply came to him and stated the problem. His answer seems strange to us.

John 2:4

Jesus knew His timetable. There is a sense of order and destiny in the measured way He moves through the Gospel records. He was not going to do the showy, spectacular miracle to draw attention to himself. He also in a gentle way let his mother know that he was no longer under her authority. Mary did not question him or go away disappointed. She just left it to him to do as he pleased. She trusted him to solve the problem and the next verse records the only command she ever gives in the Bible.

John 2:5

Do whatever he tells you. (NIV)

These words are as relevant to us today as they were to the servants then. You will notice that Mary never focused on herself, but on Jesus. He is the one we come, He is the one who has the power to help, He is the one to obey.

John 2:6-7

These large stone water jars were used for the ceremonial washing required by religious Jews. Their religion had become almost entirely external with very little impact on their spiritual lives. Can you imagine what the servants must have thought when a guest told them to fill all six water jars with water. That is from 120-180 gallons of water that had to be drawn from the well. But they filled them to the brim and came back for further instructions.

John 2:8

What do you think they thought? They knew these just were just filled with water. How could they take them to the master of the feast as wine? But the lady had said to do whatever this man said and they just obeyed. We would do well to follow their example. Jesus speaks to us today through the Bible. We have in our hands the written record of what he expects his followers to do. It is not necessary for us to know ahead of time just how everything will work out. Our responsibility is to simply do what He says to do.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

WHO IS JESUS (PART 3)

March 27, 2018

THE SON IS THE RADIANCE OF GOD’S GLORY (Hebrews 1:3)

Radiance means outshining of the brightness of God’s glory. You cannot separate the brilliance of the sun from the sun itself. And you cannot separate the glory of the Son from His deity. He is God. The disciples saw His glory when he was transfigured before them on the mountain.

Representation is the word, “charakter,” only here in NT. It means a mark stamped on something, like an image on a coin. When we see Jesus we see what God’s nature really is like.

Col. 1:15 (NIV) says “He is the image of the invisible God.”

SUSTAINING ALL THINGS BY HIS POWERFUL WORD.

Col. 1:17 (NIV) says, “in Him all things hold together.”

Scientists have never been able to discover the force that keeps the protons and electrons in the atom spinning in perfect order. What keeps the planets and stars in orbit? The Bible says that God the Son is not only the Creator, but the Sustainer of this immense universe.

THINK: If He cares about the atom and the stars, how much more do you think He must care about sustaining our lives, of holding our lives together. We are the ones for whom He came to die. The next statement brings us to that.

AFTER HE HAD PROVIDED PURIFICATION FOR SINS:

Seven words, but what a story they tell.

How did the Son make it possible for us to be forgiven and cleansed from our sins?

He, God in human form, suffered and died on the cross to satisfy God’s justice. He himself took the penalty for the sins of his fallen creation, so that those who believe on Him might have eternal life and fellowship with God. Then He rose from the dead to prove that He was truly the Son of God and to prove that all the sins of everyone who has ever lived were paid for. 40 days after his resurrection he went back to heaven and

HE SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE MAJESTY IN HEAVEN.

This is a very important statement. He sat down because the work of redemption was finished. Do you remember He said precisely that when He hung on the cross?

“It is finished” meant penalty for sin was paid in full.

There were no chairs in the OT tabernacle. The priests never finished their work because there were always sacrifices to be made for sins. Animal blood could not pay for people’s sins. Every animal slain on every altar in the OT just pointed to the future One who would be the one sacrifice for all sins forever, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Heb. 10:11-12 gives us the contrast.

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. (NIV)

It is absolutely essential for your spiritual life that you understand that when you study the Bible it is not for the purpose of just learning all kinds of facts about the Bible. You can go to seminary or any other kind of study and learn the facts and stories from the Bible. But if that is all you do you miss the point entirely.

Donald Barnhouse:

“Suppose a friend had a hotel room in Acapulco overlooking the ocean on his vacation. He comes back and tells you about the wonderful window in his room. It had one large pane of glass, and 4 smaller panes on either side. It was 6 feet long and 4 feet high. Its framework was made of steel that resists corrosion. In fact, he even had the glass analyzed chemically. Would you not think he had missed the point? The window was there for him to see the ocean, not to study the window.”

The Bible is a window. We look through it to see Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And when we see Him we see God in His essential nature. We see our heavenly Father.

Have you realized before today that the One who died in your place on the cross is really God the Son, your Creator and Sustainer? Have you put your faith in Him alone to forgive your sins, give you eternal life and make you a child of God.

Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6, NIV)

You may, with an act of your will, put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ today, right where you are sitting. Just tell God:

I know I am a sinner. I believe that your Son died for me and rose again. I put my faith in Him alone to forgive my sins, bring me to God and give me eternal life.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com