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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His Righteousness

Tuesday, August 1, 2017, 3:17 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Praise Be Told!” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the NASB) on the subject of God’s righteousness.

Righteousness – divine approval; God’s judicial approval; “refers to what is deemed right by the Lord (after His examination), i.e. what is approved in His eyes” (1). It is also morality, justice, decency, uprightness and honesty.

By God’s Doing (1 Co. 1:30-31; 2 Co. 5:21)

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures. We all come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (See: Ro. 3:23). We are destined for hell without hope of heaven or God. And, we can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We can never be good enough. No amount of good works will ever earn us our own salvation from sin or eternal life with God in heaven. Our own righteousness is like filthy rags in God’s sight. Only by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, can any of us be made righteous in God’s sight, and only in the power of God’s Spirit now living within us can we live righteously, too.

So, God sent his only begotten Son Jesus Christ to the earth to die on a cross for our sins. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus Christ took the punishment of our sin on himself so that, through faith in him, we might be delivered both from the penalty of sin (death) and from slavery to sin. Not only that, but he died for us so that we might live new lives in him to his righteousness. For, his purpose in dying for us was not just to free us from hell and to promise us heaven when we die, but he died in order that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15).

Death to Sin; Alive to God (1 Pet. 2:24; Ephesians 4:17-24)

And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

When Jesus Christ gave his life up for us on a cross, it wasn’t just so we could become the righteousness of God positionally. What I mean by that is that it wasn’t just to forgive us our sins and to remove the punishment of sin from us. It was that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. If we keep on sinning (making a practice of sin) after we have received the knowledge of the truth, it is not heaven we have as our destination, but the fires of hell, even if we make a confession of Christ as Savior of our lives (See: Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, the Holy Spirit of God transforms our hearts away from living for sin and self to walking in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. We should no longer live to gratify the evil desires of our flesh, but we should now live to please God in everything we do and say. Our new lives in Christ Jesus should not look just like our old lives, only just slightly cleaned up for all appearances. For us to be born again (or born from above) of the Spirit of God, we must have first of all put our old lives (our former manner of life) to death by the Spirit of God. And, the new self that we should put on is the one created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, not the slightly cleaned up old self.

Flee and Pursue (1 Tim. 6:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:22)

But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

Not only are we made righteous in God’s sight, by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, but we must live righteously if we want to have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. We must flee from false doctrines which give free license to continue in sin, and which do not conform to godliness. And, we must flee all sinful acts, attitudes and practices such as immorality, adultery, envy, impurity, lust, idolatry, outbursts of anger, drunkenness, and the like. And, instead, we need to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, peace and gentleness. And, we must walk (in lifestyle) in integrity, honesty, purity, decency, uprightness and morality.

Daily we die to sin and self, and we put off (put to death) the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit of God (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). We put on the armor of God with which to fight off all of Satan’s evil attacks and schemes against us (Eph. 6:10-20). And, we throw off every weight which hinders our walks of faith, and every sin which entangles, so that we can run the race God has marked out for us with perseverance (See: Heb. 12:1-2). And, then we walk (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit, and no longer according to our sinful flesh. For, if we walk 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, and all because of God’s grace to us in saving us.

Praise Be Told! / An Original Work
Based off Various Scriptures / December 28, 2013

He was pierced for our transgressions.
He was crushed for all our sin.
Our chastisement was upon Him.
By His stripes, we now are healed.

He has witnessed all our trials,
And the sins we choose to wear.
Yet, while we were dead in our sin,
Jesus died, our sins to bear.

He himself bore all of our sins
In His body on a cross,
So that we might die to our sin,
And live for His righteousness.

By faith in the pow’r of Jesus
And His blood shed for our sins,
We can be forgiven our sin,
And have life with God in heav’n.

He will lead us and He’ll guide us
In the way that we should go.
He will comfort and protect us,
Because Jesus, we do know.

Though He disciplines for our good,
He will heal us – Praise be told!
Do not fear, your Lord is with you.
Just have faith in Christ your Lord.

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/1343.htm

His Loving Kindness

Tuesday, July 18, 2017, 3:44 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (NASB) on the subject of God’s lovingkindness towards us.

Rich in Mercy (Eph. 2:1-10)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

When God created man and woman, they were sinless, but then they sinned against God by doing what he commanded them not to do. Ever since then, all of us have been born into sin, with sin natures, and we have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (Ro. 5:12-19; 1 Co. 15:21-22, 42-49; Ro. 3:23). Yet, God had planned, even before he created the world, and us, how he was going to save us from our sins (See: Gen. 3:15; Ro. 8:29; 2 Tim. 1:8-9; Eph. 1:3-4). He sent his Son Jesus Christ, God the Son, to the earth to take on human form, and then to die on cross. Although he knew no sin, he became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.

Because we are born sinners, we can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We can never be good enough in our own merit. None of us are deserving of God’s grace to us. No amount of good works will ever earn us a place in heaven. Our own righteousness is like filthy rags in God’s sight. Only by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, can any of us be saved from our sins and have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. Yet, we must have a biblical understanding of God’s grace lest we be led astray by those who would tickle itching ears with feel-good messages which give its adherents a false hope of eternity with God based on a lie, which leaves its followers still dead in their sins, yet thinking they are going to heaven.

So, what is God’s grace to us? Notice with me how this passage begins where it states how we formerly walked (in lifestyle) according to the course of this world, in disobedience, when we were dead in our trespasses and sins. We formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging in sinful passions and desires, and thus we were children of wrath. Yet, because of God’s loving kindness towards us, he made us alive in Christ. Not only did he forgive us of our sins, but he delivered us out of bondage (slavery) to sin. So, now we don’t walk according to the course (path, pattern) of this ungodly world, but we walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14).

The Kindness of God (Titus 3:1-8)

Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.

God’s grace to us in saving us from our sins is not merely to free us from hell and to promise us heaven when we die (or when he comes to take us home). His grace to us is for the purpose to deliver us out of slavery to sin (darkness) and to bring us into his wonderful light (truth, righteousness). It is to turn us from the power Satan had over our lives to God, to follow our Lord in his truth and in his ways, so that we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus (Acts 26:16-18).

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. His grace to us is not carte blanche (free rein) to continue in willful sin against God. 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. Jesus didn’t die that horrible death on a cross so we could continue in sin without guilt. He gave himself up for us to release (liberate) us “from every lawless deed, and to purify for himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Tit. 2:11-14).

Notice again with me that it says here that we were ONCE (meaning past) disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts, envious and hating one another. God’s grace to us, again, is not just to forgive us our sins, but it is to free us from our addiction to sin. It is so that we no longer walk (conduct our lives) according to the ways of this sinful world, but so we now walk according to the Spirit and in Christ’s righteousness. We are not merely forgiven of our sins and given a free pass, but we are washed, we are cleansed of our sins, and we are transformed, and given new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. And, being holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being conformed into the likeness of Christ Jesus, our Lord (owner-master).

Long for the Pure Milk (1 Pet. 2:1-5)

Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

The primary purpose of God’s lovingkindness to us in saving us from our sins is that we might no longer walk (live) in sin, but that we might walk (conduct our lives) according to his righteousness. When we truly believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin that we might live with Christ to his righteousness (Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24). For, if we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), according to our sinful flesh, we will die in our sins, even if we believe we are saved. But if we, by the Spirit, are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

So, as followers of Jesus Christ, daily we should be putting sin to death in our lives, and we should be walking in the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful flesh (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14). And, we should be longing for (thirsting after) the pure milk of the Word of God. This is not to say we should remain content with the milk only, though, and that we should not move on to the meat of the Word, for if we do, we will remain spiritual infants, and not move on to maturity in Christ. And, the whole purpose here is that we might grow (mature) in respect to salvation, i.e. that we should be mature in Christ and walking in his righteousness and holiness.

The house of God under the Old Covenant was a physical building. Yet, when Jesus Christ died for our sins, and he rose from the dead, and his Spirit came to live within those who have believed him to be Lord and Savior of their lives, we became his house, his body. We are not a physical building, but a spiritual one, with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone. He is our foundation, our Rock on which we stand. And, we are being built up (developed; formed; encouraged) as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. In other words, we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ, and so we are to give our lives to our Lord as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed of the Spirit of God in heart and mind (Ro. 12:1-2) for the glory of God.

Jesus, I am Resting, Resting
Jean Sophia Pigott

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.

O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belovèd,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!

Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ‘neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

Live for Him

Sunday, July 16, 2017, 5:22 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Your Grace Divine.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the NASB) on the subject of living for Jesus.

Dead to Sin; Alive to God (Ro. 8:12-14; cf. 1 Pet. 2:24; Gal. 2:20)

So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

If we are to live for Jesus, we must first of all die with him to sin and self (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24). If the old man has not been crucified with Christ, the new man (person) cannot exist. It is when we die with Christ to sin that we are reborn of the Spirit of God, and thus we can now live and walk in the Spirit and no longer according to our sinful passions and desires. Yet, this death to sin and living to Jesus is not a onetime salvation experience, but it is our daily walk with Christ Jesus, as well. For, it is not those who claim to have had a salvation experience who are the children of God, but it is those who are being led by the Spirit, who are following the Lord Jesus with their lives, who are his sons and daughters.

For the Lord (2 Co. 5:14-15; cf. Ro. 14:7-9; Phil. 1:19-21)

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

Jesus Christ did not die on the cross for our sins merely that we might escape hell and have the hope of heaven when we die. 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. When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, our lives are no longer our own, to live however we want, for we were bought back for God with the price of Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross for our sins. So, we are to honor God with our lives. He is to be our Lord (owner-master), not just our Savior. And, we are to be his bond-servants, slaves now to righteousness (Ro. 6:1-23). And, each day we should inquire of him as to what he wants, and then follow his lead in doing, being, and saying what and going where he desires.

In Contentment (Phil. 4:11-13)

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

I know, too, what it is like to be poor, and to not have much at all, and I know what it is like to have more than what we need so that we have enough to share with others, and so we could enjoy some of the conveniences and comforts of having more physical space and provisions. Yet, we have always had a roof over our heads, clothing on our bodies, and food in our stomachs, so we don’t really know yet what it is like to go hungry or to be in want of shelter or of clothing. But, that time is most likely to come, too, if we live long enough. Yet, some of the poorest of times taught us to live by faith and to trust the Lord for everything. And, some of the more affluent times provided us the opportunity to use what we had been given to minister God’s grace and mercy to and to be a blessing to others. I can live in any of these ways through the strength God gives me.

To Deny Ungodliness (Tit. 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.

Some people have the notion that faith in Jesus Christ means merely to acknowledge who he was/is and what he did for us in dying for our sins, and to accept his forgiveness for our sins. Yet, there is no death to sin or living to righteousness in that (Ro. 6:1-23). Thus, there is no new birth or heart transformation of the Spirit of God. As well, there is no true salvation from sin, but only a false hope of heaven when one dies, only to face the reality of one-day hearing God say “Depart from me, I never knew you!”

Truly God’s grace, which brings salvation from sin, is not just to forgive people of their sin, but it is to turn them from darkness (sin) to the light (truth, righteousness, Christ), and away from the control (power) Satan had over their lives to God, to walk daily in his righteousness and holiness. Then, they can receive forgiveness of sins and have a place among those who are sanctified (made holy, purified) by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:16-18). God’s grace is not a free license to continue in willful sin against God, but it directs us to leave our lives of sin behind us and to follow our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives.

On Every Word (Matt. 4:4)

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”

In order for us to live for Jesus, we need to know him and we need to know his Word, so that we can obey him and his Word. For our physical bodies to live, we need food and water, but for us to live spiritually we need to feed on the Word of God. And, remember that Jesus is the Word (See: John 1). So, every day we are to be in God’s Word, listening to what God – the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit – has to say to us, and doing what the Word says. His Word is our guide, counsel, teacher, instruction, encouragement, and urging for us to live holy lives pleasing to God, as well as it is our warning against idolatry, spiritual adultery, lusts of the flesh, and worldly living, etc. In keeping (obeying) God’s Word, there is great reward (Ps. 19:11).

Your Grace Divine
An Original Work / November 6, 2011

All I have is Yours, Lord.
You gave all to me,
When You died at Calv’ry
On that cruel tree.
Crucified for my sins;
You paid what I owe,
So I’d be forgiven;
My God come to know.
All I have is Yours, Lord.
You gave all to me,
When You died at Calv’ry
On that cruel tree.

Lord, I am so thankful
For Your grace divine.
I invited You, Lord,
In this heart of mine.
I have been forgiven
For all of my sins,
So I’d live with Jesus;
His grace flow within.
Lord, I am so thankful
For Your grace divine.
I invited You, Lord,
In this heart of mine.

Growing in Your grace, Lord;
Live for You each day;
How I love to worship
You throughout my day.
Sitting at Your feet, Lord,
List’ning to You speak,
Leads me to love You, Lord,
More throughout the week.
Growing in Your grace, Lord;
Live for You each day;
How I love to worship
You throughout my day.

What is Faith?

Monday, November 28, 2016, 9:26 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Give Ear to Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 14:8-15 (NIV).

He Saw He Had Faith (vv. 8-10)

In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.

What do you suppose Paul saw in this man that assured him this man had the faith to be healed? He must have had a look of expectation in his eyes, in his facial expression, and in his body language. The man had been listening to Paul as he preached the good news about Jesus. Perhaps the Holy Spirit had been convicting the man’s heart as Paul preached, and the man was already responding in his heart to the Spirit’s voice, and so Paul could see this in his eyes, and in his countenance, as well. We don’t know for sure, but something about the man told Paul that this man had faith.

Thinking about what this man’s faith looked like then brought me to wondering what our faith looks like when we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives. What would tell someone else that we have genuine faith in Christ? What about us should be different? In what ways should we stand out to other people as those who are believers in Jesus in contrast to those who are not believers? And, would we be able to sustain the character? If someone demanded evidence by our actions that we truly have faith, what would that evidence be? For the lame man, he jumped on his feet, and he began to walk. That is pretty solid evidence, I would say.

And, that brings me to my opening question: What is faith? I hear so many people talk about believing in Jesus, but the way they describe it, it sounds like a one-time emotional decision made at an altar, or words they repeated after someone else in saying a prayer, or an intellectual assent to who Jesus is, to why he died, and a mental acceptance that he came to save us from our sins and to offer us forgiveness. But, is that what the Bible teaches?

This man’s heart response to the hope he was given that he could be healed was physically obvious, and it was followed up with action, which then proved his faith to be genuine. Is that the way it works with saving faith? I believe it does.

Making Idols of Men (vv. 11-13)

When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.

Sometimes people’s response to the preaching of the gospel, or to the preaching of a false gospel, is to fall in love, in a sense, with the one who brought them the good news, rather than falling in love with Jesus. The preacher they can physically see, and physically interact with, and they can witness his (or her) personality. Thus, they may find themselves more drawn to the man (or woman) than to God. When someone is kind to us or helps us in some way, or does something miraculous in our lives, we may misdirect our praise and admiration to human beings, who are only instruments of God, if they are his true messengers, and we may begin to follow them instead of following Jesus. So, we need to guard against this.

In today’s modern church, many people are following men as idols rather than following Jesus. They are listening more to the words of humans, rather than to the words of God, or else they are expecting humans to interpret God’s words for them, rather than going directly to the source and hearing from God themselves. This is nothing new, though. They had the same problem in the early church. Yet, today, I think it is even a greater problem because many pastors have become entertainers who try to win people over through their captivating personalities, their charm and their humor. They draw the people to themselves often instead of drawing them to Christ. So, we need to make sure we not putting humans above or in place of God.

Turn from Worthless Things (vv. 14-15)

But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them.

Going back to the question of “What is faith?”, notice with me here that when Paul and Barnabas brought the people the “good news,” they told them to turn from these worthless things to the living God. This is what it means to have faith, i.e. it means to have our blinded eyes opened, and to be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (See: Acts 26:16-18).

In Romans 6 Paul described faith in Jesus Christ in these terms: We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves of righteousness. Now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life (See: Ro. 6:1-23).

And, in Romans 8 he described faith in this way: God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. We have an obligation – but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (See: Ro. 8:1-14).

And, in Ephesians 4 he described faith in Jesus in this way: Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (See: Eph. 4:17-24).

Jesus said the same thing. He said that if we want to come after him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) we will lose them (die in our sins), but if we lose our lives for Christ (die with him to sin), we will gain eternal life (See: Lu. 9:23-25). He also said that his sheep listen to him, he knows them, and they follow (obey) him (Jn. 10).

So, you see, faith in Jesus Christ is not just words we say or a mere acceptance of what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins, but true faith in Jesus means we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life; and that we die to sin and live to righteousness. This is why Jesus died, that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15).

Give Ear to Jesus / An Original Work
Based off Isaiah 55 / February 16, 2016

Call on your Savior.
Seek the Lord while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way;
Turn to the Lord.
God will have mercy.
He’ll forgive you of your sin.
He will freely pardon you
And give peace within.
Turn from your sin, follow Jesus,
Be cleansed from sin.

Give ear to Jesus.
Come to Him. Your soul will live.
Listen to Him speaking to you:
“Eat what is good.”
If you are thirsty,
Come to Jesus, drink from Him.
Drink His Spirit given to you.
Be born again.
Listen to Him. Do what He says.
Rejoice in Him.

God’s Word, eternal,
Will achieve what He desires.
He is willing none should perish,
Saved by His blood.
Share now the gospel.
Jesus died so we’d go free.
Walk in vict’ry,
Free from your sin, eternally.
Die to sin, and live to Jesus.
In Him believe.