Led to Repentance

Sunday, July 23, 2017, 3:13 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of repentance.

From Darkness to Light (Acts 26:15-20)

And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

“Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.

Many preachers today are teaching that God does not require us to repent of our sins, or else they are just deleting (or omitting) repentance from the gospel message, or else they are teaching that repentance is simply having a change of mind in the sense of deciding to believe in Jesus Christ. Yet, is repentance required by God for salvation, and, if so, what all does repentance entail? What is this “change of mind” we are supposed to have? Is it merely to decide to believe in Jesus, or is there more to it?

Well, to repent certainly means to have a change of mind, but it is also a change of the inner man (of our inmost being, our hearts). This change is an indication of our acceptance of the will of God, too, after which we should think, believe and act differently than we did before. In the context of most biblical references to repentance, the indication is that one leaves his former life of sin behind him, casting aside his idols, and his rebellion against God, in order to turn to God/Jesus to follow (obey) him in all his ways.

And, this is made clear for us here in this passage in Acts 26 where Jesus called Paul to open spiritually blinded eyes, turning them from darkness (sin) to the light (Jesus Christ, truth, righteousness), and from the power Satan had over them to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (made holy, purified) by faith in Jesus Christ.

So, Paul obeyed what Jesus told him to do (vv. 16-18) by telling the people that they must repent of their sins and turn to God, and that their actions from that point forward should, thus, reflect (reveal) their repentance.

Obey the Truth (Rom. 2:3-11)

Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

God’s kindness is his grace to us in sending his Son Jesus Christ to the cross to 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 on that cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; so that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. When he died he put our sins to death with him so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. In fact, he died 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; 1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14).

So, the purpose of his grace to us is not just so we can escape hell and have forgiveness of sins and the promise of heaven when we die. His grace to us is to lead us to repentance. In fact, his grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return. God’s grace is NOT carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God without guilt and remorse. For, if we walk in sin, according to the flesh, we will die in our sins (1 Jn. 1:5-9; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

Thus, God’s grace should lead us to repentance, and that repentance should produce a change of heart and mind away from living for sin and self to faith in God/Jesus Christ, to follow him (obey him) in all our ways. Yet, if we continue living (practicing) sin, we should expect God’s wrath and fury, not his warm acceptance with open arms into his heaven. If we do not walk in obedience to Christ and his commands, but we go our own way, instead, we will die in our sins, not be saved in the end. Yet, if we follow our Lord in obedience, and we are, by the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity.

Flee and Pursue (2 Tim. 2:22-26)

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

So, repentance is a change of heart and mind away from sin and Satan and to (toward) God and his righteousness. And, it results in a change of thinking, believing and behaving so that we don’t do the things we did before. Now our desire is for God/Jesus, to obey him and to walk in his ways and in his truth. So, it is a lot like making a U-turn in a road. First we were going one direction, and then we changed course, we turned, and now we are going in the opposite direction as we had been traveling.

And, it entails fleeing worldly passions and desires and pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace. If all we do is just try to stop doing what is wrong, but we don’t do what is right, then we are a lot like a thief in between jobs, because nothing has really changed. Our character hasn’t changed, nor have we truly had a change of heart and mind. True repentance means we leave the way we use to live behind us and we now live holy lives pleasing to God. This is not to say we will be instantaneously perfect, i.e. that we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but it is saying that being born again is a new life, not the old life slightly cleaned up to be more presentable.

When we come to repentance, via God’s grace to us, we come to our senses, we realize we were heading the wrong direction, we are broken and contrite over our sins, and we follow our Lord in the right direction. We escape (break free from) the snare of the devil, who had taken us captive to do his will, and now we submit to our Lord, and we are desirous to do his will. And, we continue on this path until the day we die or until Jesus comes back to take us to be with him forever.

And, all this is made possible because of God’s grace to us and due to his sustaining power in our lives. All glory to God. Great things he has done in granting us repentance and forgiveness of sins so that we can now walk in freedom from slavery (addiction) to sin, and so we can walk in the Spirit, by faith in Christ, and according to his righteousness.

Seek the Lord / An Original Work / July 20, 2012

Based off Isaiah 55

“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.

“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”

Forgiveness

Sunday, July 9, 2017, 4:15 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Songs in The Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of forgiveness of sins.

Repentance for Forgiveness (Luke 24:44-47)

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

What is repentance? Literally it means to have “a change of mind, change in the inner man” (1). It is used almost exclusively in scripture to signify a turning away from sin and a turning to walk in obedience to God. It is a lot like making a U-turn, i.e. you were going left, and now you are going right. Only this is talking about a complete change of direction spiritually in one’s life. And, although this is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, in transforming us from darkness to light, our faith in Jesus Christ involves us willingly cooperating with that work of grace in our lives.

This repentance, i.e. this forsaking of our former way of living for sin and self, and turning to God to follow him in his ways, and in his truth, is required by God for us to be forgiven of our sins, and to have eternal life with God in heaven (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24).

Turned from Darkness (Acts 26:16-18; Col. 1:13-14)

“But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Paul met Jesus Christ on his way to Damascus where he intended to persecute believers in Jesus Christ. Jesus, who transformed his heart and mind, appointed him to be a minister of the gospel of our salvation. Paul’s calling also summarizes for us the gospel message, the purpose of which is to open eyes which are spiritually blinded by sin, and to turn them from sin to Christ and to his righteousness, and from the dominion of Satan over their lives to now walk in obedience to their Lord. The result is that they receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (purified, cleansed) by faith in Jesus Christ. So, again we have here the prerequisite of repentance prior to the forgiveness of sins.

Holy and Blameless (Ephesians 1:3-10)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Those of us who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, who have been redeemed with his blood, and forgiven our sins, were chosen by God even before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless before him. To be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being made to be like Jesus. Blameless means “unblemished from the marring effects of sin” (2). Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). When we believe in him, his righteousness is credited to our account so that we are no longer charged as “guilty,” but we are set free from the condemnation of sin. Yet, we must also live righteously. We must walk in the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh, if we want to have the hope of eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-23; Ro. 8:1-14).

We were also chosen according to the purpose of God’s will, to the praise of his grace. And, he made known to us his will, according to his plan and purpose for our lives. In fact, faith in Christ means to be persuaded of God as to his will for our lives. And, if persuaded (convinced), we will want to do his will. And, what is his will? It is that we should be sanctified and made holy, that we should forsake our sins and follow him in obedience, and that we should live holy and godly lives pleasing to him.

The reality of his grace to us is not just that we have escaped hell and that we have the promise of heaven when we die, but that he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). His grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). So, if we are chosen according to the purpose of God’s will, to the praise of his grace, then our lives should reflect both his purpose for our lives, and his grace, which instructs us to say “No” to sin and “Yes” to his righteousness and holiness being lived out in our lives.

Circumcised in Heart (Col. 2:11-15; cf. Ro. 6:1-23)

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

While physical circumcision is a cutting away of physical flesh, the circumcision made without hands, which is also called “circumcision of the heart,” is a spiritual cutting away of our sinful flesh (sin nature, worldliness, wickedness). This is what takes place when we genuinely trust in Jesus Christ to be Savior and Lord (owner-master) of our lives. We die with Christ to sin that we might live with Christ to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. The old is gone. The new has come. We are given completely new lives in Christ Jesus which are created to be like him in true righteousness and holiness. We were once dead in our sins, but God made us alive in Christ Jesus! He cancelled the debt that stood against us, and he forgave our sins. Amen!

But, forgiveness alone is not the end result of our faith in Jesus Christ, for we were set free from slavery to sin, as well, so that we would no longer walk according to our sinful flesh, but so we would now walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit. If we walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh (if we keep on practicing sin), 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: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6). So, not only must we be forgiven our sins, but we must no longer continue in willful sin against God if we want to have the hope of eternal life with God.

Songs in the Night / An Original Work / December 18, 2013

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
And the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84

Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.

I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!

Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.

I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!

Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.

Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/3341.htm

(2) http://biblehub.com/greek/299.htm

A Steadfast Heart

Saturday, June 24, 2017, 9:33 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Hear my Voice.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 57 (Select vv. NIV).

I Take Refuge (v. 1)

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.

Everyone has troubles, from time to time. Even those who seem to have everything going well for them have difficulties, at least occasionally. We have good days and bad days physically or emotionally. Tragedy strikes. People die. Children get sick. People lose jobs. A husband or a wife is unfaithful to his or her spouse. Someone gets injured on the job or in a car wreck. Vacations get cancelled. Someone gets robbed. A house catches fire and is totally destroyed. People are homeless. Christians are persecuted and killed for their faith in Jesus Christ. They may also be betrayed by family members or close friends who reject and abandon them, etc.

So, what do we do when these types of things happen in our lives? We should call on God, and we should take refuge in him, but not just in the bad times, but at all times. He should be our sanctuary, our shelter at all times, but especially when things go awry, which they will. And, we should rest in him, and trust him to work all things out for the good of those who love him, and who have been called according to his purposes. As well, we should pray for godly wisdom to know how best to handle and to respond to our difficult circumstances or relationships. And, we should allow his peace to permeate our minds and hearts so that we don’t get fearful or stressed out by what we are going through.

Sharp Tongues (v. 4)

I am in the midst of lions;
I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.

Not one of us has much control at all over what other people think about us, do to us, or say about us. Jesus said that, as his followers, we would be treated as he was treated, and hated like he was hated. We may be gossiped about, backbitten (have mean or spiteful things said about us behind our backs), betrayed, sold out, abandoned, falsely accused, slandered, verbally attacked, and called all kinds of names, etc. We may be called bigoted, hateful, intolerant, and/or a religious extremist, too, because we follow Jesus Christ with our lives, and we hold fast to the teachings of Christ and those of his NT apostles. There will also be people who are jealous of us or who despise us and what we stand for, and whose goal it is to destroy us in any way possible. And, getting bitten by sharp teeth hurts!

I Will Sing (vv. 7-11)

My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.

So, what do we do when these things happen to us? We are to remain steadfast in heart and mind via submission to God’s Holy Spirit and via resting in the Lord. And, we are to sing praises to God. When all we want to do is cry, we should sing through our tears. And, lift up our souls to God, and trust him for his healing mercies. There is much healing that takes place in our hearts and minds when we rest in Jesus, and when we sing praises to God despite how we feel, i.e. despite the pain we have suffered from being backbitten, hated and abandoned.

We must remind ourselves, too, that God is absolutely sovereign over all that he has made. There is not anything that can touch us but what God allows it, and he allows it for a purpose. Sometimes we need to be disciplined, corrected, rebuked or chastised because we have not been listening to our Lord, and we have chosen to go our own way. Other times, we need divine discipline to strengthen us and mature us in our walks of faith, to prune us and to purify us, and to teach us not to rely on ourselves, but on God. Trials and tribulations are for our good, that we may share in God’s holiness, and that we may bear the fruit of his righteousness.

Satan’s goal is to get us down, to get us discouraged, to get us to give up, to be afraid, and to retreat. We must not give in to him for a moment! He wants us to doubt God, to blame God, and to not rest in the Lord and in his strength. So, we must put on our spiritual armor with which to fight off his evil attacks against us. Instead of worrying, we should praise the Lord for all his goodness to us. And, we should proclaim his excellencies far and wide. We must tell of his love, grace and mercy to us, but also of his justice and righteousness. And, we must proclaim his faithfulness to his people. He will not leave nor will he abandon us. He will be with us always, even to the end of time and beyond that into eternity. We can count on all his promises, his faithfulness, his goodness, and his love forever and always. Amen!

Hear my Voice / An Original Work / July 9, 2012

Based off Psalm 27

The Lord is my great salvation.
He’s the stronghold of my life.
When my enemies attack me,
My heart will not fear at all.
Though a war break out against me,
Confident in Christ I’ll be.
Of the Lord, I ask that I may
Live with Him eternally.

Hear my voice, Lord, when I call you.
Merciful to me You’ll be.
Though my relatives forsake me,
My Lord God will receive me.
Teach me Your way, O my Jesus.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
I will sacrifice to my Lord.
I will sing with joyfulness.

I am confident that I will
See the goodness of the Lord.
All the richness of His blessings,
My Lord has for me in store.
He asks me to be of courage;
To be strong and to take heart,
Patiently as I wait for Him,
And from Him to ne’er depart.

Gospel of Grace

Wednesday, June 21, 2017, 7:20 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Songs in the Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures on the subject of the gospel of God’s grace (NASB).

The Gospel Message (Acts 26:16-18)

But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’

Paul was called of God to be an apostle of Jesus Christ and a minister of the gospel of Christ (of our salvation from sin). This is the call he was given by Jesus Christ, which embodies the message of the gospel of our salvation.

When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures and we come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (his glory). We are bound in slavery to sin, without the hope of eternity with God. So, by God’s grace, Jesus Christ, God’s Son, died on a cross, putting our sins to death, and he was resurrected from the dead, victorious over sin. He did this so that we could have our spiritually blinded eyes opened, be turned from darkness (sin) to light (his righteousness), be delivered from the power of Satan, and be turned to God, to follow (obey) him. When this takes place in our lives, we receive forgiveness of sins, and we are given an inheritance among others who have been sanctified (purified) by faith in Jesus Christ. Amen!

Instructing Us (Titus 2:11-14)

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who 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.

While it is true that we are saved by God’s grace, through faith, and that this is not of ourselves, not of works lest anyone of us should boast, but it is the gift of God, this does not mean we do nothing, or that nothing is required of us (See: Eph. 2:8-10). God’s grace is not a “do nothing” gospel. It instructs (commands) us to deny (reject, refuse) ungodliness and worldly desires. The main reason Jesus died on the cross was not just to give us the hope of heaven when we leave this earth, or to give us an escape from hell, but it was that we might die with him to sin and be resurrected with him to newness of life to be lived to him and to his righteousness (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21).

In other words, this also fits with Paul’s calling to the gospel, to turn people from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins, and so they might have an inheritance among the saints of God. God’s grace is not just that he took our place on a cross so that we would be free of the punishment of sin (eternal damnation). It is for the purpose that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, that sin would no longer be our master, but that we would now be bond-slaves of Christ’s righteousness. Therefore, faith in Jesus Christ means turning from our sins (repentance) and turning to our Lord to follow (obey) him. Instead of now living for sin and self, we now live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the power of God’s Spirit now living within us, and for God’s glory.

A False Grace (Jude 1:3-4)

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

There are many people today, including many who call themselves ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who are turning God’s grace into a free license for immorality (for continuing in willful sin against God). Some of these people even used to preach the full gospel message, but have since wandered off from their pure devotion to Jesus Christ to become followers of men, and to market the church to the world, much like they would any other business. Since the world is their target customers, they now dilute the gospel of our salvation in order to make it more acceptable and appealing to the world, and to the worldly church. Thus, they have turned God’s grace into licentiousness and they deny our ONLY MASTER AND LORD, JESUS CHRIST, by the very messages they proclaim.

Basically, what they do is teach a half-truth (false) gospel. Most of them do teach that we are sinners at birth, and that we can’t earn or deserve our own salvation. They teach that we are saved by God’s grace, through faith, and not by works, lest any of us should boast. And, they do preach that it is only by Jesus’ sacrifice for sins that any of us can be saved from our sins, escape the fires of hell (if they even mention that), and have the hope of eternal life with God.

All this is true, but it is only half the truth. They leave out the other half which is that Jesus 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. They strip the gospel message of the cross of Christ in the life of the believer, which is death to sin and living to God and to his righteousness and holiness. They fail to proclaim that if we walk (in lifestyle) in our flesh (in sin, in darkness), we will die in our sins, not live eternally (Ro. 8:1-14).

And, they tell their adherents that God requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to Christ and to his cross. Not only that, but they tell them that God is pleased with them no matter what they do, even when they are engrossed in willful sin against God. So, the way they teach the gospel is more like the broad road that leads to destruction, rather than as the narrow road, that few find, which leads to eternal life with God. They turn faith in Christ into nothing more than a mere acknowledgment of who Christ is or of what he did for us in dying for our sins, and as a mere acceptance of that fact. But, there is no death to sin or living to righteousness in their gospel message, thus there is no new birth of the Spirit of God, and no promise of eternal life with God, either.

Be Holy (1 Pet. 1:13-16)

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

Another factor that many of them fail to mention, as well, is that our salvation is not a one-time event, after which we live however we want, and that one day we get to go to heaven. That is hogwash! Scripture disputes that notion all throughout the New Testament! Our salvation is progressive, i.e. we are saved (past), we are being saved (present and continuous), and we will be saved (future) when Jesus Christ returns and our salvation is complete. It is not just our initial faith which saves us, but it is us continuing and walking in that faith which secures our eternal salvation (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Jn. 8:31-32; Ro. 8:1-14; Ro. 11:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Jn. 6:35-66; etc.).

Here again is the message which says we must not only obey our Lord, but that we must forsake our former way of living for sin and self. This is what it means to be “born again.” And, this is what it means to walk in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, for if we walk (conduct our lives), according to the 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; cf. Lu. 9:23-25). Instead of living for self and for sensual pleasure, we are to be holy. To be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, because we are being made into the likeness of God/Christ. And, we are to do this in all our behavior. Amen!

Songs in the Night / An Original Work / December 18, 2013

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
And the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84

Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.

I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!

Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.

I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!

Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.

Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!

Who is He?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017, 8:30 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “More About Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 1:1-18 (Select vv. NASB).

The Word (vv. 1-5)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

As we read through this first chapter of John’s gospel, we soon realize that “The Word” is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He was in the beginning (of creation) with God, he is God, and he is our creator. He made us.

Jesus is the author of life (Acts 3:15). In Jesus is eternal life (1 Jn. 5:11). And, He is the eternal life (1 Jn. 1:2). This Life is the Light of mankind. He is truth and righteousness, and he reveals truth and righteousness to us. This truth (the light) shines (sheds light) in the darkness (sin, wickedness). He makes clear what is darkness (sin, lies, wickedness) and what is light (righteousness, truth, holiness). He exposes sin and lies for what they are, and he reveals truth and righteousness for what they are. Yet, many who are still in the darkness do not understand, because they do not receive or accept the truth, nor do they reject or deny the lies and the sin.

The Light (vv. 9-13)

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Jesus Christ, the true Light, instructs and educates us in what is of God, in what is holy and righteous, and in what is true. And, he reveals to us what is false, what is not of God, and what is contrary to his Word. He exposes all that is called “light,” but which is false. But, we have to be listening to him, believing him, and applying what he teaches us to our lives, or else we may continue in the darkness, or we may find ourselves accepting false light as true light, and even rejecting the true light, as though it is false.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, left his throne in heaven, came to earth, became flesh, and made his dwelling among us. He suffered like we suffer, and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. During his years of ministry on the earth, he healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, comforted the sorrowful, encouraged the timid, and delivered people from demons. He also preached repentance for salvation and for forgiveness of sin, death to sin for eternal life, and living to righteousness. And, he said that if we love him, we will obey him (we will keep his word). John said that the way we know we have come to know him, is if we keep (obey) his commandments (his Word, his instructions to us).

Yet, even though Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our Lord and Messiah, and even though he created the world, and he came into the world, those who were of the world did not recognize (know) him. Even those of his own household, his hometown, and of his own faith did not receive him. They did not acknowledge that he was their Lord and Messiah, nor did they accept (welcome) him into their lives as their Savior and Lord (owner-master). Even many today, even among those who call themselves Christians, truly do not welcome him as Lord (owner-master) of their lives nor as the one who died that they might die to sin and live to righteousness. They are ok with him forgiving their sins and promising them heaven when they die as long as he doesn’t require anything of them – no commitment, no vows of allegiance, no submission or surrender, and no repentance or obedience.

Yet, for those who truly do receive (welcome) him into their lives as their owner-master, recognizing that they are now his servants, who have repented of their sins, and who are reborn (spiritually) of the Spirit of God, they are now children of God. We are not God’s children merely because he created us, or because we pray a prayer to receive him, or because we acknowledge his existence or accept his forgiveness for our sins. We are his children when we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we have been resurrected with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23). We are his children, too, when we are being led by the Spirit, and when we practice doing what he says (1 Jn. 2:3-4; Ro. 8:14).

Jesus Christ (vv. 14-18)

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

Jesus Christ is God, as well as he is the only begotten Son of God, so his glory (renown, honor, worth) is that of the Father. Jesus is full of both grace and truth. And, as his followers, we also should be full of grace and truth. Grace has to do with God’s favor (his kindness to us). And, the way in which he favored us is that Jesus gave himself up for us on a cross so that we could be delivered out of slavery to sin and have eternal life with God forevermore. And, we give up ourselves for others when we follow our Lord in obedience in being his servants and witnesses in telling others the gospel of Jesus, so that they can be saved from their sins, because we know that this could cost us our lives, our reputations, and people rejecting us.

Jesus was also full of truth, and so should we be. Truth is the opposite of lies. And, it is defined by God; by his standards, not by the world’s standards or values. The Word of God – Jesus, and his written Word – is truth. We should live the truth, believe the truth, promote the truth, and tell the truth, and we should not be liars and deceivers. So, in order to do this, we need to know the truth and be able to distinguish (discern) truth from lies. We can do this in the power of the Holy Spirit within us, but we have to be listening, and we must be willing to have him show us what is truth and what are lies. Many people, even those who call themselves Christians, hold on to the lies, because they like the lies better than the truth.

But, as followers of Jesus, we should be those who love the truth, who drink it in, search it out, follow it, and who share it with others.

More About Jesus / Hewitt / Sweney

More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

More about Jesus let me learn,
More of His holy will discern;
Spirit of God, my teacher be,
Showing the things of Christ to me.

More about Jesus; in His Word,
Holding communion with my Lord;
Hearing His voice in every line,
Making each faithful saying mine.

More about Jesus; on His throne,
Riches in glory all His own;
More of His kingdom’s sure increase;
More of His coming, Prince of Peace.

More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

He Only

Tuesday, June 6, 2017, 10:19 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Much Too High a Price.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 62 (quoting vv. 1-8 NASB).

My Soul Waits (vv. 1-2)

My soul waits in silence for God only;
From Him is my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.

Do you have trusted friends? Have they ever betrayed you? Turned against you? Even those of your own household, who are supposed to love and protect you, have they ever abandoned you? How about your pastors, elders, deacons, trustees and Bible teachers? Have they ever deserted you in time of need? Did you plead for help, and they didn’t come through? Did they leave you to the wolves to be devoured? Sisters and brothers in the Lord, have they ever betrayed a confidence? Gossiped about you, or made unkind and uncalled for remarks about your character? And, your country’s leaders, have they ever lied to you? Deceived you? Manipulated and used you, and preyed on your naivety and trusting nature?

So, why do these things happen? Well, for one, because we are all born with sin natures. All of us have sinned and have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (Ro. 3:23). Satan tempts people to sin, as well as people are tempted (lured) by their own sinful passions and desires. Some people love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil, so they won’t come into the light, lest their wicked deeds be exposed. Although they have knowledge of God, for God made plain to them what may be known about himself, they don’t praise, thank or honor him, but instead they follow after their own sinful passions, and they do what ought not to be done (Rom. 1).

Yet, there is encouragement for the one who puts his or her faith and trust in God alone, and who waits patiently for God to intervene on their behalf. Tis true that humans will lie to us and about us, betray us, abandon us, use us, gossip about us to others, make nasty and cutting remarks to us, hand us over to the wolves, ignore our cries for help, and turn against us, etc. But, our God will do none of these! Even if our mother or father should forsake us, our God will never leave or forsake those who are his own. He will not falter. He will not change. We can depend on him fully. He is our stronghold, who helps us to endure, to persevere and to stand strong in our faith and on his Word, even when many oppose us and his gospel message.

Inwardly They Curse (vv. 3-4)

How long will you assail a man,
That you may murder him, all of you,
Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?
They have counseled only to thrust him down from his high position;
They delight in falsehood;
They bless with their mouth,
But inwardly they curse. Selah.

We live in a day and time when there are those within the world, and even within the gatherings of the church, who are vehemently opposed to the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and they are doing whatever is within their means to do so to try to halt the spreading of the gospel. This includes murdering Christians worldwide, and covering their evil deeds by saying they are going after terrorists, when they are the terrorists hunting down Christ’s followers, in order to stop God’s grace from spreading and his gospel from advancing. Some of them are world leaders, bankers, CEOs of corporations, or they are leaders of our nations. Or, they might be our pastors or other leaders within organized religion. They have unified in an effort to stop the advancing of the kingdom of heaven, i.e. they are working for Satan. And, Satan hates Jesus Christ, his gospel and his true followers.

It isn’t as though they are entirely opposed to the name Jesus Christ, or to the institutional church, or to someone believing in Jesus with human faith. If they were, most Christians would not follow them. Remember, Satan disguises himself as an angel of light and his servants disguise themselves as apostles of Christ and as servants of righteousness. They seem, so far, to be ok with people calling themselves Christians or with saying they believe in Jesus, at least here in America. But, what they are opposed to is many of the teachings of Jesus and of his NT apostles, which teach, for one, that Jesus is the ONLY way to God and to heaven, and that there is no other way. They are also opposed to the preaching of the gospel as Jesus taught it, which confronts sin in sinful humans, warns of divine judgment, calls for repentance, and which promises hope and healing for the penitent.

What they want is for the whole world to unite as one mind and one voice and for everyone to remove from their lives whatever causes division among the people of the world. Well, the gospel divides people as saved and unsaved, as those going to heaven, and as those who are not, and as those walking in the light, and as those walking in darkness, who have no hope. So, that gospel has to go, they say, because it will not unite with all people of all religions and all walks of life. And, their goal is to have a one world totalitarian rule and a one world religion where we all tolerate one another’s beliefs and practices, which means we have to compromise our faith and convictions and the Word of God in order to unite with them. NO WAY!

They have convinced many professing Christians, or people searching out Christianity, to compromise with the world, to accept a diluted half-truth (false) gospel, to reject the truth, and to turn the church into a business, and/or a social club, and/or a community organization. They have convinced them, too, that all they have to do is acknowledge Jesus’ existence, and accept his forgiveness for their sins, and they now have heaven guaranteed when they leave this world, no matter how they live their lives from this point forward. And, if someone does tell them the truth, they have already been predisposed by these liars and deceivers to reject the truth and to hold on to the lies. And, many are buying into their lies, because it gives them solace when they do feel a twinge of guilt over continued and willful sin against God.

God, My Refuge (vv. 5-8)

My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah.

Yet, Jesus Christ is our only hope, and our only source of salvation from sin. His Word is completely true and trustworthy, and on it we should take our stand, and not waver. When they try to convince us to compromise with the world of sin, to deny our Lord in any way, and to dilute the gospel to make it more acceptable to the worldly, we must take a strong stand and tell them “NO!” We won’t back down, we won’t give up, and we will not deny our Lord or his gospel. We will not unite with the world in this one world religion, which recognizes all religions as viable. We will define sin in the same way the New Testament in the Bible defines sin, i.e. as defined by God. And, we will continue to confront sinful practices, call for repentance, warn of judgment, and promise hope and healing to the one who repents of his sin.

But, we will not do this in our own strength, but in the strength of the Lord. We will trust in HIM at all times, and we will pour out our hearts to him and call on him for the strength to keep pressing on in the face of much opposition. And, we will believe him for changed hearts and lives.

Much Too High A Price / Jesus Paid It All
Phil McHugh and Greg Nelson

…You paid much too high a price for me, Your tears, Your blood, the pain –
To have my soul just stirred at times yet never truly changed.
You deserve a fiery love that won’t ignore your sacrifice
Because You paid much too high a price.

Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe,
Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed me white as snow.

His Own Arm

Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 9:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 63:1-6 (NASB).

Who is this who comes from Edom,
With garments of glowing colors from Bozrah,
This One who is majestic in His apparel,
Marching in the greatness of His strength?
“It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”
Why is Your apparel red,
And Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press?
“I have trodden the wine trough alone,
And from the peoples there was no man with Me.
I also trod them in My anger
And trampled them in My wrath;
And their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments,
And I stained all My raiment.
“For the day of vengeance was in My heart,
And My year of redemption has come.
“I looked, and there was no one to help,
And I was astonished and there was no one to uphold;
So My own arm brought salvation to Me,
And My wrath upheld Me.
“I trod down the peoples in My anger
And made them drunk in My wrath,
And I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”

History First

In the year 2017, this is our present situation. Well, let me give you some history first. When the United States of America was created, I believe it was created to serve to aid in the transition of the world into a one world totalitarian rule of the beast (On the subject of the beast, see: Rev. 13). This notion (idea) is evident (supported) by our national symbols, in particular by our Great Seal with the All-seeing eye of Horus and the incomplete pyramid.

Many Americans believe we are and have always been a Christian nation, but truly our nation has been syncretistic from our founding days. If you do any kind of research on the founding fathers, you will find that many of them were Freemasons. Some of our national symbols are based in freemasonry, as well. In addition to that, check out the layout of our capital city, and note that many of our national monuments, statues and buildings are modeled after Roman, Greek and Egyptian gods and goddesses.

Thus, I wonder if our present form of government, at least what is on paper, was always intended to be temporary, until it was time for the beast to rule the world. Yet, for some time now, though I am not certain exactly when this began, the US government has only been loosely in charge of our nation. The De facto government for the USA has been and still is a shadow government comprised of the elite (wealthy and powerful) of this world. Our government, that we believe is our government, truly has no real power of its own, for it is subject to this group of Elite (the shadow government). Our government serves more like slaves to the Elite of the world, like the woman (the harlot) who rides the beast (See: Rev. 17-19). They are kind of like the right-hand man who does the bidding of this “beast” in conquering peoples, nations and even Christians worldwide.

Yet, they are God’s divine instruments of judgment on the people of this world and on his church. He is using them to exact punishment on nations, peoples and on his church in order to bring people to Jesus Christ and to bring his adulterous people back into proper relationship with him. And, the US government (in partnership with the US church, though not all), i.e. this harlot, will come under judgment, too. The US, as a sovereign nation, will (is being) also be transitioned into the “beast” New World Order. And, that is what is presently happening in the USA and in other nations. So, don’t trust what the news media, alias “fake news” (Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, et al) are telling you, because they are all owned and operated by the Elite (N.W.O.).

When all nations are brought under the rule of this “beast” New World Order, i.e. when they are integrated into this global one world totalitarian rule, then the beast will be fully formed, I would imagine. What this means for each sovereign nation, including the USA, is that they (we) will no longer operate independently of other nations, for we will all serve the beast, if we do not put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. It also means that people of all religions and all walks of life will be brought into unity, one with the other, and that there will also be a one-world all-inclusive religion, much of the likes of freemasonry. True believers in Jesus Christ will reject this, and thus they will be and are now being hunted down by this beast New World Order for either reprogramming or for extinction.

The Majestic One

As was already mentioned, God is using this New World Order “beast” of the Elite of the world and the Harlot as his divine instruments of judgment on the world. So, when this asks, “Who is this who comes from Edom?”, and the response back is that it is the Lord Jesus, God our Savior, it is because it is the Lord acting in judgment on the nations and the peoples, and these who are exacting his judgment are merely his instruments of judgment. So, when this also says that God looked, but there was no one to uphold with him (no man with him), it is not saying he does not use men, but that the nations did not uphold his righteousness, and they did not offer their support to his cause to lead their people to uphold his righteousness.

If they had, there would be no reason to judge the nations, at least not at this time, but they haven’t, and that is why God is bringing these judgments on the earth. So, God is acting alone, marching in the greatness of His strength, but not to obliterate us all, but in order to save, at least for now. The purpose of his judgments, at this time, is to save the people of the world, for through judgment many will turn their hearts to the Lord, and many who are already Christians, but who had strayed from him, will be brought back to a correct relationship with their God as their ONLY Lord.

Year of Redemption

Yet, I also see this in light of the gospel of our salvation. Jesus Christ is the one who took upon himself our punishment for our sins on a cross. God’s wrath was poured out on his Son, in our place, so that we might be redeemed (bought back for God with the blood of Christ). Jesus is the one who speaks in righteousness, mighty to save. He took our sins upon himself when he died on the cross. That was our lifeblood that stained his garments red. Yet, he did this that we might go free from eternal damnation. He did this so that we would have the hope of eternal life with God. Yet, he also did this 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.

When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures in the image (likeness) of Adam. We are separate from God, without hope. And, we can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We can never be good enough. We will always come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (Ro. 3:23). The law was put into effect to lead us to Christ, but the law cannot save us, because not one of us can keep the law perfectly. So, through Jesus’ death on the cross, he destroyed that law of sin and death which condemned us to death so that we could go free. Yet, he did not do away with the law entirely. “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law” (Ro. 3:31).

What this means, I believe, although God’s people are no longer under the Old Covenant requirements, such as ceremonial and purification laws, we are still subject to God’s moral laws, as they are repeated for us to follow in the New Testament. In other words, grace does not mean lawlessness. It just means we can’t be saved by keeping the law. No one could – ever! Jesus, thus, fulfilled the requirement of the law for sin, which is death, and he did this for us that the requirement of the law might be fully met in us who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. In other words, our salvation meant death to sin for Jesus on a cross, and it means death to sin in our lives, too, and living to righteousness (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Jn. 1:6).

So, Jesus/God is not willing that any should perish (die in their sins), but that all should come to repentance. Repentance means “a change of mind,” and yet it is almost exclusively used in scripture in the context of leaving our lives of sin behind us, being transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and turning to God/Jesus to follow him in obedience and surrender. Yet, many people today are not teaching this, and so many are being given a false hope of salvation, thus the Lord is sending out messengers to give out the truth so that people will know the truth, and yet many are not listening, and they are following after the lies, instead.

And, that, I believe, is why God is judging the nations and peoples of the world right now, because it is his goal to bring people to Jesus and to his salvation, and to turn the hearts of his wayward children back to himself, with him as their ONLY God and Lord. So, where does this find you today? Is this song the prayer of your heart? If not, I pray it would be today.

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.

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.