His Grace to Us

Sunday, August 13, 2017, 2:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 2:1-10 (NASB).

Dead in Sins (vv. 1-3)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

The Bible teaches us that ALL have sinned and have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (Ro. 3:23). Not one of us is righteous before God in our own merit. We can never be good enough to gain eternal life with God. In fact, we cannot even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to His Son (Jn. 6:44). Without Christ we are spiritually dead, without hope, and without God. Our destiny is eternal damnation in the fires of hell, no matter how many good deeds we might do in this life, or how seemingly kindhearted we may be towards other people.

In our sin natures, we are drawn towards sin, and towards doing even what we know is wrong. We are under the control of Satan, not of God. We are of this sinful world, not of the kingdom of heaven. And, we are under the influence of the world, not conformed to the image of God. We are bound towards disobedience rather than obedience. We live and walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh, and not according to the Spirit of God. And, we indulge ourselves in the desires of our flesh, rather than resist Satan, flee temptation and sinful desires, and draw near to God in full assurance of faith.

This is what an UNSAVED life looks like. So, if you profess to be a Christian, but this is what your life looks like, then something is terribly wrong.

By God’s Grace (vv. 4-9)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

But, thanks be to God, he did not leave us bound in our sins, without hope. He provided the way for us to be saved from our sins, to be delivered out of slavery to sin, and to become bondservants of his righteousness. Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered like we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering (Is. 53). And, those who hated him saw to it that he was crucified on a cross, thinking that would be the end of him.

Yet, it was God’s will that he should suffer and die for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross in order that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Tit. 2:14; 1 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Pet. 2:24). Yet, Jesus did not remain dead. God the Father resurrected him from the dead. And, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death on our behalf.

So, by God’s grace to us in sending his Son to die on a cross for our sins, and to be resurrected back to life, we can also die to our sins and be given new lives in Christ Jesus, our Lord, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, we repent of (turn from) our sins, and we turn to God to follow him in his ways. We are forgiven our sins, and we are given eternal life with God in heaven (See: Acts 26:16-18; Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). All this is the working of the Spirit of God in our lives, and nothing we do in our own flesh to earn or to deserve our own salvation.

For Good Works (v. 10)

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Many people who quote this passage of scripture in Ephesians 2 stop at verse 9, and they assume that good works are not required at all of us. Yet, although it is true that we are not saved by our own fleshly works, and that we cannot earn our way into heaven, our salvation is not absent of good works. We are saved not just FROM something, but we are saved TO something. In other words, we are saved from sin, but we are saved to righteousness.

When we become children of God, it is not just so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. When Jesus died on that cross for our sins, and he put sin to death, on our behalf, he bought us back for God with his blood, so that when we trust in him to be our Savior and Lord, we are no longer our own, to do with our lives what we want. He is now our Lord (owner-master) and we are his bondservants (his workmanship). And, he has good works which he created us to do, and which he prepared beforehand that we should walk (in lifestyle) in them.

Some of these good works are specific to all of us who believe in Jesus, whereas some of them are specific to each of us as individuals. What I mean by this is Jesus not only has a purpose for all of our lives, which applies to all his followers, but he also has individual callings, giftings, and assignments he has for us to do (See: Ro. 12; 1 Co. 12; Eph. 4). And, we would do well to seek his face concerning what purpose and calling he has for our individual lives, and then to be about doing what he had prepared in advance for us to do, and to live the lives he had marked out for us, all in the power and working of his Spirit now living within us, and to his glory!

Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012

Walking daily with my Savior
brings me joy.
Loving Father; precious Jesus;
He’s my Savior and my Lord.
Gently leads me; follow Him.
I’ve invited Him within.
Now abiding in His presence,
oh, what peace.
From my self-life
He has brought me,
By His mercy, full release.

Hope and comfort,
peace and safety Jesus brings
When I daily bow before Him;
Obey freely; do His will.
Follow Him where’er He leads.
Listen to Him; His words heed.
Now obeying his words fully,
oh, what love
That He gives me
through salvation,
By His Spirit, from above.

Loving Father; precious Jesus,
He’s my friend.
With my Savior, by His Spirit,
I will endure to the end.
Share the gospel, tell what’s true.
Witness daily; His will do.
Tell the world of how their Savior
bled and died.
On a cruel cross He suffered
So that we might be alive.

Rescued from Trials

Saturday, July 8, 2017, 3:37 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Reached Down.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Peter 2 (Select vv. ESV).

False Teachers (vv. 1-3)

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

Wow! What an accurate description of the situation we are faced with in the church in America today. So many purported preachers and teachers of the Word are teaching a mixed bag of truth and lies, and they have absolutely brought destructive heresies into the church, and many are following their deceptions and their sensuality. And, the way of truth is definitely being blasphemed, for they twist it and they corrupt it to their advantage to gain disciples after themselves, not after Jesus Christ.

There are many variances in what they actually teach, but the result is still the same. Basically, what they do is they dilute the gospel of Jesus Christ to make it something it is not, that is a free license to continue in willful sin against God without guilt and without remorse. They either entirely delete repentance, submission and obedience from the gospel message, or else they teach directly that we don’t have to repent or obey Jesus Christ or submit to the cross of Christ in order to be saved from our sins. Their idea of “belief” seems to be nothing more than an intellectual assent to who Jesus Christ is and was, and to what he did for us in dying for our sins so that we might be forgiven our sins and have eternal life with God in heaven.

So, not only do they leave their adherents still lost in their sins without true hope of eternal life with God, yet falsely believing they do, but they campaign against the true gospel of our salvation and against its messengers by convincing their listeners that they are to reject anyone or any message which teaches repentance and obedience as necessary components of believing faith. In fact, they convince them that if anyone teaches such that they are teaching works-based salvation, which is a lie, because the Bible teaches that if we walk (in lifestyle) according to our flesh (in sin), we will die in our sins, not have the hope of eternal life (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 2:24; Eph. 4:17-24).

Greatly Distressed (vv. 4-10a)

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

How many people today, who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ, are being greatly distressed over the predominant sensuality and immorality existing within the church, and within the lives of those who say they believe in Jesus Christ? I have found they are few and far between. To the contrary, the vast majority of those who call themselves Christians in America, overall, appear to be very worldly and fleshly, so that there is not much of a distinction between the church and the world anymore. Although they claim to know God, they deny him by their lifestyles. They indulge in so much of the same wickedness that the world does, which makes no claims to faith in Christ at all. If they are not directly participating in sinful acts, they are being entertained by them via TV, movies, video games and the internet.

The thing of it is, that most of them seem to lack conscience that what they are doing is actually wrong, too. Or else they write it off as something with which they struggle, but which falls under grace, so they feel they are in no danger if they continue to engross themselves in such sinful behaviors. They have this sense of entitlement that they can live their lives however they want, with some modifications, choose their own paths, mark out their own life courses, and that God is somehow pleased with them no matter what they do. This should greatly distress all of us who proclaim Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (owner-master) of our lives! We should cry out our voices and say “NO!!” to these lies and deceptions, for they are leading many people straight on a course toward hell, not toward heaven.

One day, God is going to judge the people of this earth in a mighty way, and those who are walking (conducting their lives) in darkness (sin), will not escape the wrath of God, but they will die in their sins. Yet, those who are putting to death, by the Spirit, the deeds of the flesh, will live with Christ for eternity. God is able to keep us from the corruption that is going on in this world of ours, and within the worldly church, and to lead us in his ways and in his righteousness until the day when he takes us home to be with him. When we are being tried by the wicked acts of wicked humans in their deceitful scheming, the Lord will sustain us. He will help us, strengthen us, and he will carry us through to the end. So, we need to just rest in him.

He Reached Down / An Original Work / February 3, 2014

Based off Psalm 18

How I love You, Lord, my Rock and my strength.
My God is my fortress; I hide in Him.
He is my shield and the horn of
My salvation, whom I praise.
I have found my refuge in Him.

He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
Drew me out of waters so deep, I’d sink.
He delivered me from Satan
And my slavery to sin;
Gave me hope of heaven with Him.

My God turned my darkness into His light;
Opened up my blinded eyes; gave me sight.
As for God, his way is perfect.
He gives strength to stand secure.
I have found my vict’ry in Him.

My Lord lives! Praise be to my Savior God,
Jesus Christ, who died on a cruel cross.
He is my Rock and the source
Of my salvation, whom I trust.
I will give praise always to Him.

Life and Peace

Thursday, December 15, 2016, 7:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 8:1-17 (ESV).

According to the Spirit (vv. 1-8)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

A lot of people quote these first few verses, while they ignore the rest. They assume they are no longer under condemnation because they recited a prayer to receive Christ; or since they were baptized, or they are members of, or they were raised in the institutional church. Yet, none of these are what save us, nor are they what deliver us from condemnation. The Word of God teaches that there is therefore no condemnation for those who are IN Christ Jesus. So, how do we get to be in Christ Jesus?

According to the Apostle Paul, who spoke as he was moved along by the Holy Spirit, the way in which we come to be “in Christ” is by God’s grace, via faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-10). He also said, with regard to how we come to know Christ, that we are taught, with regard to our former way of life, to put off our old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of our minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:20-24).

If we are “in Christ,” by faith in him, we died to sin. Our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. If we are still slaves to sin, that leads to death. But, if we are slaves to obedience, that leads to righteousness (Ro. 6:2, 6-7, 16).

Paul reiterated the same message here in chapter 8 of Romans. If we are in Christ Jesus, by faith in him, we no longer conduct our lives (in lifestyle) according to our sinful nature, but according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. This does not mean we never sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1), but it does mean that we do not consistently practice sinning as the normal course of our everyday lives, without regard for God and for his commandments. If we live according to the sinful nature, our minds are not on pleasing our Lord, but they are set on what our sinful nature desires. Those who are controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. This means God is NOT pleased with us no matter what we do. He does not delight in us when we willfully and consistently give way to our sinful nature, while claiming God’s grace.

If we want to experience life and peace in Christ Jesus, then our minds need to be controlled by the Spirit of God. This, again, is not saying we will live in sinless perfection, or that we will never have a straying thought. It is clear Paul is talking about lifestyle. Do we daily make it our practice to disobey our Lord and to do what we want to do without regard for his will for our lives? If we do, this ends in death. Or, do we make it our practice to follow our Lord in obedience, and in surrender to his will for our lives? If we do, this results in life and peace, in righteousness, and eternal life with God.

If in Fact (vv. 9-11)

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 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 dwells in you.

The usage of the word “if” raises doubt here. It brings into question whether some of those who may be claiming to be in Christ, and to be free from condemnation, may not actually be in Christ at all.

There are a lot of people here in America who claim to be Christians and believers in Jesus Christ, but whose lifestyles appear to speak just the opposite. Their lives give off the appearance of being not much different at all from those who make no claims to faith in Jesus Christ at all. Yet, our Lord, when he called us, called us to be holy, set apart from the world of sin because we are becoming like Jesus. He called us to separate ourselves from conformity to the ways of this world, and to walk in purity, righteousness, holiness, godliness and integrity – all in the power of the Spirit within us.

We are Debtors (vv. 12-17)

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

What is a debtor? He or she is one who owes a debt to someone. And, a debt is an obligation, a duty and a responsibility. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, have an obligation to God, who saved us from sin, to not live according to the sinful nature but to live according to the Spirit. This flies in the face of those who are teaching that we owe God nothing, and that nothing at all is required of us – no repentance, no obedience, and no surrender or submission to God – but they say that God is obligated to us to give us his blessings and his heaven, because they say he promised.

So, is Paul wrong? Was he speaking blasphemy when he taught that if we live according to our sinful flesh that we will die (in our sins)? But, if by the Spirit, we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, that we will live (with Christ for eternity)? Was he confused in his mind as to what the truth is? NO! The problem we run into here is that so many people just ignore the words they don’t want to accept, because they don’t fit with their lifestyles, and so they embrace only the words which fit with their way of life. Yet, scripture is real clear on this subject. If we are led by the Spirit, we are children of God, but if we are being led by our flesh, then we are illegitimate children who will hear God one day say, “I never knew you.”

Yet, if we are being led by the Spirit, and not by the flesh, and if we are walking according to the Spirit, and not according to our sinful nature, then we are God’s true children, and we have nothing to fear. We can claim the promise of heaven and eternal life with God, because we are legitimate sons and daughters through genuine faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. We can rest on his everlasting arms because we truly know him, and his Spirit lives within us, and we are in relationship with Almighty God because of his grace to us, and because of our walks of obedience in accordance with his Spirit. And, so we truly have fellowship with our Lord, and our desire is to please him in all that we do, and to no longer live to please ourselves.

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms / Elisha A. Hoffman / A. J. Showalter

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.