For Our Transgressions

Tuesday, August 8, 2017, 3:34 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Tell Me the Story of Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 53 (Select vv. ESV).

Who Has Believed? (vv. 1-3; cf. Rom. 10:16)

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah of Israel, our God and Lord, came to earth and took on human form, begotten of God the Father, and born as a baby to a human mother. He suffered as we suffer, and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. There was nothing about his physical appearance that anyone should be attracted to him. He did have some true followers (disciples), though. And, crowds did follow him, for he healed many, he drove out evil spirits, he performed many miracles, and he fed the hungry. But, when he spoke of the cost of following him, many who had been following him deserted him, never to return.

Many of the religious leaders within the Jewish temple did not like Jesus, and they made it their mission to destroy him. They hated him because he dared to be different, because he did not follow their human rules and traditions, because he healed people on the Sabbath, and he claimed to be God; and because he confronted sinful humans with their sinful conditions, warned of divine judgment and called for repentance and faith in himself. They were jealous of him because of his temporary and short-lived popularity among the people, and because they felt their own positions of power were being threatened by him. So, they plotted his death, and he was crucified on a cross for our sins (See: Jn. 1:1-34; Jn. 6:35-66; Phil. 2:1-11; 1 Co. 5:21).

We Are Healed (vv. 4-6)

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

When Jesus died on that cross, he who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. He 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. In his death, he put sin to death, and when he was resurrected from the grave, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death for our sake. By God’s grace, through faith in him, via death to sin and resurrection to new life in Christ, we can be forgiven our sins, released from the ultimate punishment of sin (eternal damnation), delivered out of slavery to sin, and released to walk in the Spirit and in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, and be given eternal life with God.

When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God and unable to attain God’s divine approval through human effort. So, that is why Jesus gave his life up for us, that we might be saved from our sins, walk in the Spirit, and have eternal life with God. Because he died, we are able to die to sin, and because he lives, we can live with him and for him for eternity. Yet, he did not come to earth, take on human flesh, and suffer for our sake just so we can escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die. He died that we might live for him, and he suffered that he might be our compassionate and merciful high priest in taking our sorrows upon himself that he might also comfort us in our sorrows.

The Will of God (vv. 10-12)

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

It was God the Father’s will that his Son should suffer and die for our sins. This was planned for us even before the creation of the world, and that many of us would believe on him as our Savior and would become children of God, and followers of Christ. Through faith in Jesus Christ we are not only made righteous in God’s sight, but we are able to live righteously for Him and for his will for our lives, for this is why he died. Jesus “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:14).

So, we must walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God, and no longer according to our sinful flesh. For, if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, even if we have made a profession of faith in Christ Jesus. If we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity. But, if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), for His sake, we will gain eternal life with God (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). If we claim to have fellowship with God, but we still walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin), we are liars (1 Jn. 1:6). The true story of Jesus (the gospel) is not just that Jesus died to forgive us our sins, but he died to deliver us out of slavery to sin, and to give us new lives in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23; Gal. 2:20). Amen!

Tell Me the Story of Jesus
Fanny J. Crosby / John R. Sweney

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth,
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.”

Fasting alone in the desert,
Tell of the days that are past,
How for our sins He was tempted,
Yet was triumphant at last.
Tell of the years of His labor,
Tell of the sorrow He bore;
He was despised and afflicted,
Homeless, rejected and poor.

Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain;
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see;
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
“Love paid the ransom for me.”

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.

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Save It, or Lose It?

Friday, June 16, 2017, 5:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 9 (Select vv. NASB).

Take Up Your Cross (vv. 22-25)

Jesus said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?”

Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God (and God) was rejected by the elders, the chief priests, the scribes and the Pharisees. They hated him, and they were jealous of him, and they were threatened by his popularity among the people, for they feared losing their own positions of power and control.

So, they harassed him at every turn, continuously questioned his authority and his actions, and made numerous attempts to try to discredit him. They didn’t like it that he didn’t follow all their ceremonial laws and customs, which were handed down to them by the elders. They despised the fact that he healed people on the Sabbath. They resented his accusations against some of them, that they were hypocrites who tried to look good on the outside while inside they were full of wickedness. And, they definitely hated him when he intimated that he was equal with God. So, eventually they killed him by having him crucified on a cross, as though he was a criminal.

Yet, it was God’s will that Jesus should die, because in his death he put our sins to death, and in his resurrection, he conquered sin and the grave, that we might live. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. And, Jesus told his followers that they, too, would be hated, rejected, persecuted and even killed for their faith in him, and for their testimonies of God’s saving grace, and for the sake of the gospel of our salvation. In fact, coming to faith in Jesus Christ means that we are crucified with him in death to sin, and that we are resurrected with him to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24).

“Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Ro. 6:6-7).

So, if we want to believe in Jesus to be Lord and Savior of our lives, so that we might have eternal life with him, and so that he might save us from our sins, then we must die with him to our old lives of living for sin and self (daily). Paul said that if we walk (conduct our lives) according to our flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Ro. 8:1-14). And, Jesus said that if we want to save our lives, i.e. if we want to hold on to our old lives, we will lose them for eternity. But, if we lose our lives for His sake, i.e. if we die with Christ to sin, we will save our lives, i.e. we will have eternal life with God.

So many people today are telling people that faith in Jesus Christ requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ and to his cross, but they are lying to you, and their lies will send you straight to hell if you believe them. Believing in Jesus is not just some intellectual assent to who Jesus is (or was) or some emotional decision we make because we don’t want to end up in hell, or because we want to have heaven guaranteed to us when we leave this earth. Faith in Jesus is not just some mere acceptance of his forgiveness of our sins, either, while we continue living for sin and self. John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars. He also said that if we say we know God, but we don’t obey him, we are liars.

Basically, if we think salvation and eternal life means we do nothing, then we have it all wrong. Yes, we are saved by God’s grace, through faith – and not of ourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. But, we are saved TO good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (See: Eph. 2:8-10). Jesus gave his life up for us that we might become the righteousness of God. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He died, too, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (2 Co. 5:15, 21; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Pet. 2:24).

God’s grace is not a free license to continue in willful sin against God. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s soon return (Tit. 2:11-14). If we continue in sinful lifestyles, in practicing what our flesh desires, we will die in our sins. Count on it!

Don’t Be Ashamed (v. 26)

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Part of our death to sin and self, and living to Christ and to his righteousness, means we consider the will of God for our lives above and in place of our own selfish will and desires. Instead of living our lives so that others will like us and think we are wonderful, we live our lives for God and for his purposes, and for his glory. We realize that “Lord” is not just a title given to Jesus, but it means he is now owner-master of our lives, and that we are his bond-servants, here to do his will. We also realize that the earth is not our home, but heaven is, and so we are not here to build earthly kingdoms, but we are here to advance God’s heavenly kingdom. Jesus did not put us on this earth, in other words, for us to live selfish lives for our own pleasure. We are not here to entertain or to be entertained continuously. We are here on this earth to serve God, and to live holy lives pleasing to him, and to tell others about him.

Too many people these days are describing “the gospel” as though it means nothing more than being “good deed doers,” which gets us liked by people, not hated. But, anyone can be a good deed doer. Now, good deeds are certainly a part of what we do, as followers of Christ, but they are what God has called us to do, and they are the deeds he prepared in advance for us to do, which includes sharing his gospel message of death to sin and living to righteousness. And, yes, that means we will be rejected and hated by some when we tell others about what it means to be a follower of Jesus. But, if we are ashamed of Jesus and his gospel in this life, he will be ashamed of us when he comes again one day.

Don’t Look Back (vv. 57-62)

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Yes, our salvation is a free gift, and we do nothing to earn or to deserve it, but that gift, if understood correctly, is NOT just an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we die. Jesus didn’t die that horrible death on a cross, and take upon himself the sins of the entire world, just so we could be forgiven our sins and have the hope of heaven when we die. Salvation is not mere forgiveness of sins, but it is DELIVERANCE from BONDAGE to sin. It is death to sin and living to righteousness. It is death to self, and it is living to God and doing what pleases him. We are born again of the Spirit of God, created to be like God IN TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS. And, holiness means to be separate (set apart, unlike, different) from the world, because we are becoming LIKE CHRIST.

Jesus made it clear that following him is no picnic. It isn’t about us and our comfort and enjoyment (pleasure). It isn’t about what we want to do, or what we think will please God, but it is total surrender to God and to his will and to his purposes for our lives. It is going where he sends us, saying what he wants us to say, doing what he says, and being who he has called us to be. It means leaving homes, families, friends, and worldly comforts in order to go with God to the regions beyond with the gospel of our salvation. If we want to be Jesus’ followers, it means total abandonment to God, i.e. we must forsake all to follow him, and we must yield ourselves fully to his will and to his ways. We can’t hold on to our old lives and follow Jesus, too. We have to let go, and let God have his sway in our lives. And, then we will be fit for the kingdom of God (See also: John 6:35-66; 10:27-30).

My Jesus, I Love Thee
William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

For Us He Died

Friday, May 5, 2017, 8:41 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Gift of God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 19 (quoting select vv. NASB).

The Son of God (vv. 5-7)

Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate *said to them, “Behold, the Man!” So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, “Crucify, crucify!” Pilate *said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.”

Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), left his throne in heaven, came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered as we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. During his earthly ministry he healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, comforted the sorrowful, encouraged the timid, delivered people from demons, and fed the hungry, etc. He also preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God, confronted sin in sinful humans, warned of divine judgment, called for obedience to himself, and to the Father, and promised the hope of eternal life with God to all who would put their faith and trust in Him.

Many of the Jews, but especially the Jewish leaders within the temple, such as the Pharisees, Sadducees, the chief priests, and the teachers of the law, opposed Jesus from very early on in his ministry. Partly this was because they were jealous of him and of his popularity among the people, and they feared that their own positions of power were being threatened. They also resented him because he didn’t do things their way. He healed people on the Sabbath, and they didn’t like that, and so they made it their business to attack him verbally at every turn, and to try to discredit him. He didn’t follow all the ceremonial laws or the traditions of the elders, and they objected to that, too. And, they despised him over how he confronted them with their sins, and how he regularly exposed their hypocrisy. But, mostly they hated him because he claimed to be God, which is who he is (John 10:33).

Their hatred and jealousy of him, thus, led them to trump up charges against him, to plot his murder, to lead the crowds to join with them in calls for him to be crucified, and to have him arrested, tried, beaten beyond recognition, mocked, spat upon, slapped in the face, and then hung on a cross to die, as though he was a common criminal.

No Authority Unless (vv. 8-12)

Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid; and he entered into the Praetorium again and *said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate *said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.”

Pilate was a politician, but he had a conscience, and he could see that Jesus did nothing worthy of death. Yet, he also wanted to stay on the good side of the people, so he tried appealing both to Jesus and to the people to try to reconcile this situation in a peaceful manner, I believe. He did not want to sentence Jesus to death, but he also did not want to anger the people.

When Jesus did not answer Pilate’s question, Pilate made the presumption that he (Pilate) had the true authority over Jesus, to either release him or to crucify him. But, Jesus set him straight. Pilate had no authority over Jesus but what was given him by God the Father. Amen! And, Satan and ungodly humans also have no authority over us, Jesus’ followers, except for what is given them from above. Nothing can happen to us but what God allows it, and he allows it for a purpose. So, we don’t ever need to fear what humans may do to us, nor should we fear Satan’s evil schemes against us, because God is absolutely sovereign over all things, and his purposes will always prevail. He will go with us every step of the way, and he will work his will in and through our lives for his glory, honor and praise. Glory be to God!

You see, it was God’s will that Jesus should die on the cross for our sins so that we could be set free from slavery to sin, and so we could become bond-slaves of his righteousness, as well as that he might free us from the punishment of sin and give us the hope of eternal life with God. And, it is God’s will, too, that we should suffer, that he might conform us to the image of Christ, and purify us, make us holy, mature us, strengthen us in our faith, and teach us perseverance, faithfulness, and steadfastness in Him. He will allow us, too, to be hated, persecuted, rejected, falsely accused, arrested on false charges, attacked verbally and/or physically, and to even be put to death for our testimonies for Christ and for his gospel of salvation.

They Crucified Him (vv. 13-18)

Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he *said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate *said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.

They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between.

Pilate did make efforts to try to save Jesus from death, but his fear of public opinion won over his conscience and good judgment, and he caved to popular opinion, instead of doing what he knew was right. Some people will only hold on to their principles as long as it doesn’t cost them anything, but they will bow to pressure to compromise if it means their own necks will be on the line if they don’t. And, that is a sad reality, but it should serve as an example to us that we need to hold to our beliefs, values, morals and principles, even if it costs us everything, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because belief in Jesus Christ is not just words, but it is putting feet to our faith, and because to do otherwise would be to betray our Lord.

So, Jesus was put to death on a cross, but this had to take place, not just to fulfill scripture, but so you and I could be delivered from bondage (addiction) to sin, and so we might now be able to walk (in lifestyle) in holiness and righteousness, in the love of the Lord, and in his ways and in his truth. Jesus had to die that we might have life in him, and he had to be resurrected from the dead, as well, that we might have life with him eternally. So, when we believe in him as Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life (new birth), created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Because Jesus died, and was resurrected from the dead, we can now walk in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. We can now live for him, instead of just living for ourselves. We now have a friend who is closer than a brother who will walk with us through everything we go through in this life, and who will lead us and guide us in the right way; who will love us, care for us, watch over us, and bring us safely home to be with him forever one day.

Gift of God / An Original Work / October 25, 2016
Based off Various Scriptures

Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross;
Conquered death, sin, and hell,
So, with Him, we would dwell.

For, by His grace, we are saved.
He set us free from all sin.
Thanks be to God for His Gift.
Through faith in Him, we’re forgiven.

Holy Spirit of God,
Given to us who believe,
Gives us new life in Christ;
Made to be just like Him.

We died with Christ to our sin.
New lives in Him we begin,
Walking with Christ day by day.
We read His Word, and we pray.

Jesus, He is our Lord.
Follow Him where He leads.
Tell the world of His grace.
We’ll see Christ face to face.

Soon He is coming again.
We’ll be forever with Him.
He’ll wipe our tears all away.
Oh, what a wonderful day!

Called as Saints

Sunday, April 16, 2017, 6:38 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Broken and Contrite.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 1:1-17 (NASB).

Obedience of Faith (vv. 1-7)

Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We, who are believers in Jesus Christ, are called of God as saints. So, what does it mean to be a saint? It means we are set apart from (different, unlike) the world of sin because we are being conformed to the image of Christ. It means “likeness of nature with the Lord” because “different from the world” (biblehub.com). We are sanctified (made holy, purified) by God’s grace through God-given faith in Jesus Christ. We are not like the world. We are not conformed to the patterns (ways) of this sinful world, but we are transformed of the Spirit of God in the renewing of our minds. Not only are we set apart from the world, but we are set apart to God and to his service. We are called to the obedience of faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Yet, this is not what is being taught in many of our churches here in America. The vast majority of the church here apparently is preaching a gospel of salvation different from the one Jesus and his NT apostles taught. These masqueraders of truth are telling people only half the truth, which is a lie, because many of them willfully leave out the other half.

Yet, many are telling the people that Jesus died on a cross for our sins, and that he was resurrected from the dead, and that he ascended to heaven, and that he sent his Holy Spirit to indwell the lives of his followers. And, they are teaching them that it is by grace we are saved, through faith – and this not from ourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:8-9). This is obviously true, but they leave out the next verse which says “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10).

So, they only tell them the half about Jesus dying for us, but they don’t tell them the half of what it means to truly believe in Jesus Christ to be Savior and Lord (owner-master) of our lives. They tell them that he died that we might be free from eternal damnation and have the hope of heaven when we leave this earth, but they don’t tell them that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. They reduce faith to something of human origin, but the kind of faith which saves us is God-given. Since it is given to us by God, it is conformed to God’s holiness and righteousness. This God-given faith means that we are divinely persuaded by God as to his perfect will for our lives. If we are persuaded, then we submit ourselves to the cross of Christ, to our Lord, to the obedience of faith, to his holiness, and we surrender our all to Jesus. He is now our Lord and we are his bond-slaves.

Encourage One Another (vv. 8-15)

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

So, how about us? If our faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world, what do you suppose people would be saying about us? How would they describe our faith? And I am including myself here, because I am still growing in faith. We all should be. As well, if we are to encourage one another, each of us by the other’s faith, what would that look like, as well? And, do we do this? If so, what words would we be saying to each other to encourage each other by our own faith? Do we even have a concept of what that might look like? And, is this something we have ever experienced?

From my own experience, I would have to say that up until maybe 1986 I had people in my life who did this with me, and me with them regularly. Since then it has been hit and miss to find people who even have a desire to do this, or who even have some idea of what this entails, except for maybe some people on the internet, or occasionally with some people in person. And, I miss this kind of Christian fellowship which I experienced in years gone by. I find, often, that Christians today are uncomfortable talking about spiritual things unless it is in an organized gathering of the church where they are talking about what the Bible teaches on a particular subject. There are people who do talk about the Lord as part of their daily conversation, but it doesn’t seem to be many who do, at least not where I live or have lived.

So, why is this? Why do Christians have no problem talking about everything but the Lord? Why do we get this idea that “religious” conversations are to be in the setting of church gatherings, but not part of our everyday lives? Or, that we should keep the topics of conversation light and fluffy, so as not to offend anyone? Why are we afraid of what people will think of us? Why is it ok to talk about TV, movies, Facebook, sports, hobbies, and the like, but not talk with each other about our personal walks of faith in Christ in order to encourage one another to also walk in holiness? Has the church gotten so worldly that they have lost sight of what it means to be a follower of Christ?

I’m Not Ashamed (vv. 16-17)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

We should not be ashamed to talk with one another about Jesus Christ, his gospel, and our faith in him. This should be as natural to us as anything else we do, and even more so. And, we should not feel uncomfortable when others attempt to share their faith in Jesus with us, to encourage us in our walks of faith. Back in the day, my friends and I would call each other on the phone and we would share with each other something from our devotions from that day, or something God had laid on our hearts, or something we felt God was leading us to share with them specifically, like a song or a scripture. I still do this with other believers, but I don’t find that many people are receptive to it, or that they are responsive to it, even though scripture says we are to do this, and we need to do this with each other.

We should also not be ashamed to talk with unbelievers or with people we don’t know about Jesus Christ, or even with friends and family members. Time is short, and there are many people who need to believe in Jesus. So, we need the courage of the Holy Spirit, and the wisdom of God, and we need to follow the example of Jesus Christ in his daily walk, and we need to share Jesus with those who don’t know him, and we need to share our faith with one another, because we need to be encouraged and strengthened in our faith, especially in the times in which we now live. May God direct us in this.

Broken and Contrite / An Original Work / May 13, 2012

I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master,
You are the King of my heart.
Lord, purify my heart within me;
Sanctify me, whole within.

Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.
Father God, my heart’s desire,
Won’t You set my heart on fire?
Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders
My walk with You, now I pray.

Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Fill me with Your love today.
Lord, mold and make me;
Your hands formed me;
Live Your life through me, I pray.

The One We Have Pierced

Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 7:33 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Zechariah 12-13 (Select vv. NIV).

A Spirit of Grace (12:10)

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.”

The context here is that of judgment. And, the judgment is on God’s people, yet not to destroy them, but to revive them. Yet, as with many of the Old Testament prophecies, they sometimes have more than one fulfillment, and they periodically blend together prophecies concerning their present age, and concerning the messianic age, as well. And, that is this case here, I believe.

The one who has been pierced is Jesus Christ, who is God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our sins are what pierced him. He who knew no sin became sin for us, though, in order that we might become the righteousness of God. By His stripes we are healed! He 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. And, he died in order that we might no longer conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh, but according to (in agreement with) the Holy Spirit of God.

So, when we, who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and who have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life, which is to be lived to his righteousness, turn away from what we know is right, and we willfully do what we know is wrong, in a sense, we pierce him again. He grieves over us, for we have left the right way and we have gone off to follow after the gods of this world and our own flesh once again. And, so his goal is always to bring us back. If speaking tenderly to our hearts over a period of time does not get results, then he is not resistant to disciplining us in order to get us to look to him and to realize the folly (absurdity, senselessness) of our ways.

The goal of this divine discipline (judgment, correction), if we have wandered off from our pure devotion to Christ, is to get us to humbly and mournfully repent of our sins and to turn back to following Christ with our lives. And, he will pour out on us the blessings of his grace in reviving our hearts and empowering us once more with his Spirit to live godly lives.

Cleansing from Sin (13:1-2)

“On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.

“On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more,” declares the Lord Almighty. “I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land.”

Although God will allow Satan and all his hordes to come against his saints – to attack, kill, hate, reject, persecute, abuse, falsely accuse and misuse – he will never leave us or forsake us. He will give us, who are still alive, all we need to remain strong in our faith, to put on the armor of God, and to set our faces like flint against all of Satan’s wiles and wickedness. Our enemies will not be able to destroy us, though. Although they may kill the body, they cannot kill the soul. The stronger Satan fights against us, the mightier in battle against him God makes us, if we are willing to obey him. The more that the church is persecuted, the further it increases in numbers and in faith, perseverance, forbearance, hope, trust, and courage to keep sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with as many as possible before Jesus returns.

On the day when God judges his people, and when he judges our enemies, too, and when God’s people, his saints, repent of their evil ways, and they return to him as their ONLY God and Lord, he will cleanse them of their sins. This is not the cleansing that takes place when we first believe in Jesus Christ, and our sins are put to death in our lives, and we are born anew of the Spirit of God. But, it is the cleansing of sin that takes place in the life of the believer who has fallen back into sin and then repents (See: 1 Jn. 1:5-10; Rev. 2-3; Lu. 9:23-25). It is when God renews us and restores us back into fellowship with him, because that fellowship had been broken by our willful sins against him (Heb. 12:1-13; Gal. 6:1; Col. 3:1-10; Ro. 8:12-14). Basically, we are daily needing to be renewed and restored (Jn. 13:1-17).

When God judges our enemies, he will remove from the land what has led his people into captivity, i.e. the false prophets and idols which have led his people astray. I can’t help but feel that the internet and TV will have to be cut off somehow, so maybe we will lose electricity. This judgment will also expose all those deceivers for what they are, which will then open the eyes of the saints who have been duped by these master manipulators. And, that, I believe, is the fountain that will be opened to cleanse the wayward saints from their idolatries, impurities and adulteries. When we no longer have available to us these idols, and when our eyes are opened to the truth, and the blinders removed, this will be a fountain to healing and cleansing.

Scattered Sheep (13:7-9)

“Awake, sword, against my shepherd,
against the man who is close to me!”
declares the Lord Almighty.
“Strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered,
and I will turn my hand against the little ones.
In the whole land,” declares the Lord,
“two-thirds will be struck down and perish;
yet one-third will be left in it.
This third I will put into the fire;
I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
and I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

This passage of scripture appears to move quickly from the time of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, and the desertion of his followers, to the scattering of the early church during a time of great persecution, and then on to the persecution of the saints and the judgments of God in these last days before Jesus’ return. This passage also speaks of God’s restoration and revival of his wandering saints, as well as it speaks of his purifying and refining of his faithful and persecuted saints (his servants) in these last days. And, included in this is the salvation of souls who have never before trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives, who will now say, “The Lord is our God.”

I don’t know the timing of all of this. I don’t know for sure that the tribulation is a literal seven years. But, what I do know is that the prophecies of scripture in Revelation 13 are being realized in our day and time, and I believe some of them have been happening at least since WWII. For one, I believe that television meets the criteria of the “image of the beast” like nothing else on this earth, for truly it is its image (picture, representation, likeness, reflection). And, it is worshiped (idolized) in probably the majority of American households, for sure. It seems most American homes have at least one TV, and often large screen TVs in their living rooms, and the rooms are often focused all around the television set, as also often are the lives of the people who live in those houses.

The internet needs to be included in this, as well, including the use of smart phones, electronic tablets and laptop computers which give people unsupervised (re: children) or unaccountable (to anyone) private internet access. This has ruined entire households and destroyed many marriages.

Also, a global force of the Elite of this World (the New World Order) is presently consuming, plundering, confiscating, murdering, persecuting and otherwise taking over sovereign nations and peoples and lands and properties and churches all over the globe. And, the US government is, basically, leading the way as their “right hand man,” i.e. as the harlot who rides the beast. The US government has no real authority of its own, but it is under the authority of the rule of the Elite (New World Order ‘beast’), which serves as the de facto government (shadow government) of these United States of America. We who live in America cannot trust our leaders or our media or even a lot of our church leaders to tell us the truth. So, we must test everything we hear or read against the Word of God and in prayer.

But, the good news here is that, even though God allows evil to reign for a period of time, and even though he allows his saints to go through difficult times, in order to refine, purify and make us holy, and to conform us into the image of Christ, this will not last forever. One day Jesus is going to come back for us to take us to be with him. When he does, evil and sin will be no more. There will be no more sickness, sadness, pain, and suffering. No one will ever be able to hurt us again. We will be with our Lord forever! Amen!

Yet, while we wait for his return, what kind of people ought we to be? We “ought to live holy and godly lives” as we “look forward to the day of God and speed its coming” (2 Pet. 3:11-12; cf. Tit. 2:11-14).

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

Until the End

Sunday, February 12, 2017, 7:43 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “I Will Lift My Eyes.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Hebrews 3 (NASB).

Consider Jesus (vv. 1-6)

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.

This is written to true believers in Jesus Christ, i.e. to the church, the body of Christ collectively, among whom may also be those who have a profession of faith only in Jesus, but who may not have a genuine relationship with Him. When this tells us to consider Jesus, this is not a casual suggestion, like asking if us if we have given any thought or consideration to a particular subject. This consideration takes seriousness of thought to where we fix (fasten) our thoughts on Jesus, i.e. to where we focus our attention straight at him and at nothing else, to where we consider closely and attentively what it is that we are to grasp and to clearly understand about him.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God, yet he is God the Son, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Through Jesus Christ, God made the universe (Heb. 1). All things were created by him which were created. God the Father sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world to take on human form, to suffer as we suffer, to be tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin, and to die on a cross for our sins.

When he died, our sins died with him and were buried with him. When he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death on our behalf. Through faith (God-given) in Jesus Christ we can be delivered out of slavery to sin, be given new lives in Christ Jesus to be lived to his righteousness, escape eternal punishment, and have the hope of eternal life with God beginning now and continuing on into heaven when we leave this earth.

The house being spoken of here is the true church, the body of Christ, comprised of those who have genuine believing faith in Jesus Christ as Lord (owner-master) and as Savior of our lives. True faith is God-given faith, of the Spirit, and it is divinely persuaded as to God’s perfect will for our lives. It accepts that Jesus died, not just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die, but so we might be set free from enslavement to sin, that we might become bondservants of Christ and of his righteousness.

We are the temple of God in whom God dwells via his Spirit, IF we have been born again of the Spirit of God, dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus, our Lord (See: Ro. 6:1-23). Jesus Christ is a faithful Son over His house, i.e. he is our head, and we are that house (the body of Christ, his church) IF we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. We, as well, have become partakers of Christ, IF we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.

If You Hear (vv. 7-19)

Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
Where your fathers tried Me by testing Me,
And saw My works for forty years.
“Therefore I was angry with this generation,
And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart,
And they did not know My ways’;
As I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’”

Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, while it is said,

“Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.”

For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.

Ok, again this is written to the church. He addresses them as holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling (which includes female believers in Christ, too). And, yet he warns them against hardening their hearts against God. He cautions them against rebellion. He counsels them, as well, that they are to be careful and to make certain that none of them has a sinful and an unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. Then, he states that we have come to share in Christ, or we have become partakers of Christ if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.

So, what is he saying here? He is saying that genuine faith in Jesus Christ, which is God-given and God-persuaded faith, as to God’s divine purpose and will for our lives, must endure till the end if we are to have the hope of eternal life with God. We are not saved on the basis of past belief. God so loved the world that he gave his One and Only Begotten Son that whosoever believing (present tense) in him shall not perish but have everlasting life (Jn. 3:16). This is saying that we must continue in our faith firm till the end for us to be partakers in Christ and to be of the household of God.

Now, some will say that this is speaking of those who made a profession only of Christ, and that they were not genuinely saved to begin with, but I don’t believe that fits the context. This is saying that we must hold firmly to our confidence, our faith, our assurance and our hope that we had from the beginning until the end for us to be partakers in Christ and part of God’s household. If we had a profession only in Christ, and not genuine faith, then why would we be instructed to hold firmly to that until the end?

I think to understand what this is saying we need to understand that our salvation is progressive, i.e. we are saved (past), we are being saved (present continuous) and we will be saved (future) when Christ returns. It is then that our marriage relationship with Jesus Christ will be consummated (completed; accomplished). Until then, we are in process. It is not as though we lose our salvation every time we sin, though, as some would teach, but I do believe scripture teaches that we can turn away from God, and that belief can turn into unbelief, and that is why there are so many warnings given to the church in the Bible with regard to watching our own lives closely.

Consider these scriptures: “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain” (I Co. 15:2). “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—even eternal life” (I Jn. 2:24-25). “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” “Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him’” (Jn. 8:51; 14:23).

All these warnings are written to the church for a purpose. We still live in flesh bodies. We still have the propensity to sin and to rebel against God. So, even though Jesus delivered us out of slavery to sin, it is possible for us to go back under slavery if we do not guard our hearts, remain in Christ, his Word remain us, and us remain steadfast in our faith until the end.

Yet, I believe this also serves as a warning to those who just think they are saved because they believed with human faith that Jesus died to take their punishment for sin and to give us who believe in him the promise of heaven when we die. If there was no transformation of heart and mind away from living for sin and self to living for Christ and his righteousness, then new birth in Christ did not take place, and there is no promise of heaven when we die. For, Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (wickedness, sin), we are liars, and we do not live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:6). If we continue walking in sin, living to the flesh, holding on to our old lives of sin, scripture says we will die in our sin (See: Ro. 8:1-14).

Yet, when we have true biblical faith in Jesus Christ, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, to be lived to HIM. We are delivered out of slavery to sin, and we are set free to now walk in (to live to) his righteousness. His Holy Spirit comes to live within us and to empower us to live holy lives, pleasing to God. Now our focus is on him, and on following him in obedience, because we love him.

I Will Lift My Eyes / An Original Work / December 12, 2012

Based off Psalms 121-125

I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
He will not let your foot slip, and He who watches will not sleep.
Our Lord watches over you, and your life He will keep.
I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
I give thanks to Him.

I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n.
Because of His great love for us, He made us alive with Christ.
Through the kindness of our Savior, He gave us new life.
I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n;
My home, now in heav’n.

Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
Those who trust will ne’er be shaken. God will supply all we need.
Our Lord has done great things for us. He’s our friend, indeed!
Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
I can count on Him.

Tremble Before Him

Sunday, October 30, 2016, 4:40 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Were You There?” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 96 (ESV).

His Salvation (vv. 1-8)

Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

When God first created man and woman, and he placed them in the garden, they were sinless. They lived in perfect fellowship with God. They did not know disease, sickness, sadness, sin or death. But, then they sinned against God, and since then all humanity has been borne into the image of Adam, in sin, and separate from God (See: Ro. 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-49).

Yet, God had a plan to redeem us, i.e. to purchase us back for God so that we could be restored to fellowship with God, and be delivered out of slavery to sin, and from its subsequent eternal punishment. He sent his only begotten Son to the earth to be crucified on a cross for our sins. Jesus Christ, God the Son, knew no sin, and yet he became sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). So, when he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him, but then he rose victorious from the grave in conquering sin, hell, Satan and death for our sake.

Because of what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins, and in being resurrected back to life, victorious over sin, through faith in him we can be forgiven our sins, freed from slavery to sin, and we can be given new and eternal lives in Christ to now be lived to his righteousness, and no longer to our sinful natures. Since Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, our faith in him reflects that. When we believe in Jesus to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior or our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24).

Nonetheless, you will hear many people (and preachers) tell you that our salvation does not require death to sin or living to righteousness, i.e. that it does not call for repentance (turning from sin to God) and obedience to Christ and to his Word. They will tell you that all you have to do is repeat some words in a prayer, asking Jesus into your heart, and that you now have heaven guaranteed to you when you die, no matter how you live from this point forward, and that nothing can take it away from you, not even if you deny Christ and blaspheme the Spirit of God.

But, that is not what God’s Word teaches us. It teaches us that to come to Christ we must lay aside our old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, and to be made new in the attitude of our minds. We are to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (See: Eph. 4:20-24). Jesus said we must deny self, and take up our cross daily, and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives, i.e. if we die with Christ to sin, we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). Paul reiterated this when he said that if we walk (live our lives) according to the sinful nature that we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity) (See: Ro. 8:1-14). Our salvation means death to sin and living to Christ and to his righteousness (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Gal. 2:20).

Fear Him (vv. 7-9)

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth!

In today’s culture, at least here in America, we have lost the awe of God Almighty. He is not given the honor due his Name. He is often described or presented as a doting grandfather in the sky there to grant our every request, and yet requiring nothing of us whatsoever. Those who believe this concept of God often have an entitlement mindset where they see God as somehow owing us his grace. By teaching people that they don’t have to repent of their sins, that they don’t have to obey Christ, and that God is pleased with them no matter what they do, they dishonor God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on a cross – so we could be free from sin, and so we could no longer be its slaves. They make him out to be a permissive father who doesn’t care what his children do, and his grace as free license to sin.

Yet, the Bible teaches that if we say we have fellowship with God, and yet we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6). We read in Col. 1:21-23: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.” And, we read in 1 Jn. 2:24-25: “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—even eternal life.”

Since Jesus died that horrible death on a cross, so that we could die to sin and live to righteousness, doesn’t it make a mockery of what he did for us when people say we don’t have to repent of our sins and we don’t have to obey Christ and his teachings, and that God is pleased with us no matter what we do? It is like a slap in the face to God! Jesus did not go through that horrible death, taking upon himself the sins of the entire world, just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He went through the agony of all that he suffered on our behalf so that we would be delivered from the control sin has had over our lives, and so we could walk daily in the Spirit in his righteousness and holiness. Oh, how we need to get back to walking in the fear (respect, honor, esteem) of the Lord!

He Will Judge (vv. 10-13)

Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.”

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.

One day Jesus Christ is going to judge the people of this earth. He will first visit the earth in divine judgment, and in his wrath, both to mete out punishment on the wicked, and to discipline (correct) his wayward church. During this time the gospel will go forth to the ends of the earth, much of the church will be revived and restored to pure fellowship with God, and many people will come to faith in Jesus Christ before he returns. Yet, many more people will continue to reject him, and will follow the beast, instead.

When Jesus Christ returns to the earth, he will come to take his saints (his true church) to be with him for eternity, and he will judge the people of the earth concerning what they did with Jesus Christ and his salvation. For those who trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives, in death to sin, and in living to righteousness, they will have the hope of heaven (eternity with God). For those who rejected Jesus Christ, or who only faked their Christianity, but who never bowed to the Lordship of Christ, they will face eternity in the fires of hell, without God, and without hope.

We, as the people of God, need to get back to walking in the fear (honor, respect, awe and reverence) of Almighty God, instead of taking his grace and his salvation for granted. We need to contemplate, in our minds and in our hearts, all that Jesus went through just so we could be free from sin. And, we need to stop living like God owes us his grace, as though we can live however we want, and like he has to (is obligated to) give us heaven. He isn’t! If we are living to please self, and to be entertained, and we are not living for him, to please him, then chances are we don’t really know him. Jesus said his sheep listen to him, he knows them, and they follow (obey) him, and they are the ones who can’t be snatched out of his hands.

Were You There? / An American Spiritual / 1899

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?