From What Were You Saved? (A and B)

July 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Posted in Isaiah, Salvation | 16 Comments
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Lord, thank You for Your great plan of salvation – offered freely to us even though it cost You so much. When we look in Your Word we see that we are so unclean, and we have no excuse – we are undone. All our reasoning, all our speculation, all our schemes and imaginings apart from Your Word must be crucified. Lord, help us to recognize that You are now, have always been, and will always be worthy of all praise, honor, and glory, and to recognize that You alone can save and sanctify. In the holy name of Christ Jesus. Amen.

Have you been “saved?” If your answer is “yes,” and if you understand the term “saved” to be synonymous with “born again” or “regenerated,” then let me ask you this: From what were you saved?

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5 (emphasis added)

The “He” in that verse is Jesus. The “our” is you and me.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:6 (emphasis added)

“The LORD” is God the Father. The “Him” is Jesus. The “us all” is you and me.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53:7-10 (emphasis added)

“Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him” means that it pleased God to bruise Jesus. Does that surprise you? Have you heard it before? Is your understanding of salvation limited to a Gospel tract containing the “ABC”s of salvation: “A.dmit (that you are sinner); B.elieve (that Christ died for you); C.onfess (with your mouth the Lord Jesus)?” To help us have a deeper understanding of what it means to be saved – and from what we need to be saved – I want to present to you a different set of “ABC”s.

Christ’s A.gony

Most people have either seen a film called The Passion of the Christ, or have been in a church service where someone has preached about some of the graphic and violent details of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. You have probably heard about the crown of thorns, and the beatings, and the Roman whips, and the spear piercing His side, and the blood pouring down (not the discreet trickle of blood that is depicted in popular Roman Catholic art, but a veritable blood bath). If so, you may have the idea that this type of physical suffering is what Christ endured in our place, and I certainly do not believe we should try to minimize the importance of the physical suffering of Christ on the Cross. But there was much more to it than that.

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Luke 22:42-44

Before His arrest and subsequent crucifixion, Christ was in agony as He prayed in the Garden of Gesthemane, and it was more than the agony of knowing that He was going to endure a painful physical death. As He sweated out great drops of blood He was thinking about more than Roman whips and punches – about worse than thorns and spears and nails and thirsting and physical torture. As Christ looked forward from the garden to the Cross, He saw the moment when He must say, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me..?” We are talking about the perfect Son of God Who had never for a fraction of a moment been out of the loving graces of His Heavenly Father. He was a Son who had never grieved His Father – had done nothing but bless Him for all eternity. When Jesus accepted the Father’s will, and agreed to drink the cup instead of letting it pass from His lips, He suffered agony that went beyond the physical. If you have been “saved,” it is true that the physical “stripes” on the back of the Lord Jesus were endured in your place, but what you have been “saved” from is so much worse than sickness and physical pains and infirmities and ailments.

Christ’s B.ruising

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him…

Isaiah 53:10

We use the word “bruising” to mean a little discoloration of the skin due to a relatively minor injury. But the word being translated as “bruise” in Isaiah 53:10 means “to crush.” It contains the idea of the way grain was placed into a millstone to be ground into bits – crushed and utterly shattered. How could it please the Lord – God the Father – to bruise – to crush – His Son?

He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.

Proverbs 17:15

If you are truly “saved,” then God has justified you, meaning that He has declared you to be righteous, even though, as a sinner, you are truly wicked. How is it that God can declare you righteous without being an abomination unto Himself? And how is it that He allowed Christ Jesus – the only truly “just” human being to ever walk the earth – to be unjustly condemned? The answer lies in understanding exactly what transpired on the Cross of Jesus Christ, which we will look at next time.

Are You Struggling?

February 18, 2013 at 10:13 am | Posted in Biblical Violence, Matthew, Salvation | 4 Comments
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And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

Matthew 11:12

Are you struggling to believe the truth about your sin? You need to know that the Bible says that your sin is against God (Romans 3:23; Psalm 51:4), and that God, Who is just, righteous, and holy, will not let your sin go unpunished.

Have you faced the truth about eternity? Your life here on earth will not be the extent of your existence. Your soul is going to leave your body when you die, and you are going to face God, Who will either welcome you into Heaven or cast you into hell.

Do you find it difficult to believe the Bible’s promise that the gift of salvation is a free gift that you must receive by grace through faith alone? You cannot earn it or pay for it or add anything of your own merit to it, and you do not deserve it.

If you are struggling with any or all of these truths, do not give up. Believing in Christ can be a time of violent struggle for many people. You will either struggle violently to get away from the drawing power of the Holy Spirit, or you will submit and be drawn to repent of your sin, and trust Christ. You may even be struggling violently against your own pride, or peer pressure, or some lie which has led you to believe you don’t need a Savior because you are not in trouble.

The fact is we are all sinners. We all deserve God’s wrath. None of us deserve to go to Heaven.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Mark 16:16

The Kingdom of Heaven will suffer (“put up with”) your violence if you have the attitude of a desperate sinner in desperate need of a Savior. Salvation is a gift that Christ offers to you, but an offer alone does not make a gift. An offer must be received to be a gift. Will you receive it today?

The Men Who Worked on Skyscrapers

October 17, 2012 at 9:42 am | Posted in Salvation | 7 Comments
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And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh. Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank.

Genesis 32:24-32

There are regulations in place these days for the safety of men who work on skyscrapers. They are required to be harnessed. They wear straps and belts and they follow rules designed to make sure that they are not in real danger of falling. But it was not always so.

lunch-atop-a-skyscraper

Years and years ago, the men who built the skyscrapers that make up the skyline of big cities like New York and Chicago and Houston had a special knack for working at dizzying and terrifying heights. They became so accustomed to walking on beams and girders with nothing to hold onto for balance, that they hardly noticed anymore the perilous conditions under which they existed every day.

https://i0.wp.com/www.andresugai.org/Materias/lewisHine/imagem2.jpg

They strode back and forth, over and around, in and out of the maze of the steel frameworks that extended 50, 60, 100 stories into the sky. They no longer noticed the gusts of wind, the creaking of the infrastructure, the shadows and glaring sunlight. You may have seen this picture of the construction workers balanced on each end of a suspended beam, eating their lunch in midair, as if they were on a bench at the park and not precariously balanced thousands of feet from a gruesome mortality.

https://i1.wp.com/cache2.artprintimages.com/p/MED/51/5105/WRFEG00Z/art-print/workers-sitting-on-steel-beam.jpg

They became sure-footed without thinking about it and forgot about the danger. Until one day. Once in a while, one of these workers would be strolling at a rapid clip, a riveting gun in one hand, his lunch pail in the other hand, and his work boot would slide on a loose bolt, maybe a piece of paper from the foreman’s plans, maybe a tiny puddle of water, and suddenly – his arms began to pinwheel – he teetered out into the abyss – and like a bolt of lightning he suddenly realized where he was and what was happening. This fall would not result in a skinned knee or even a bloody nose crunching into the ground. No, this fall would result in 60 seconds of gut-wrenching screaming, followed by certain death. His co-workers wouldn’t even be able to identify anything except the greasy spot and a pock-mark in the earth. Desperately, he reaches out – for something – for anything – and he seizes hold of a nearby girder. He holds this girder in a death-grip. His whole world has taken a seismic shift, and his reality has narrowed to one thing and one thing only: DO NOT LET GO OF THIS BEAM.

Completely gone is the sure-footed, fearless skywalker. No more careless disregard for the height. His friends come to his rescue, but they are utterly unable to pry his fingers from the beam. He is stark white, fixated on the distance to the earth below, and his hands have cleaved unto the life-saving girder. Eventually, his fingers must be pried loose with a crow-bar, breaking several of them. He will never scale a skyscraper again. He will never be the same.

When I was younger I was like those construction workers who worked on skyscrapers. But my paths were not beams of steel 80 stories above the ground. My paths were the paths of sin. I grew up in a part of the country where men solved their problems at the bottom of a bottle or at the end of a fist. And I was well on my way to being just like them. I was extremely well-acquainted and sure-footed with sin. I lied just because I liked to lie. I had thoughts about girls – and would have made those thoughts a reality if I could – that were so wicked and perverse that if I told anyone the least offensive of those thoughts, no one would ever be my friend or speak to me again. I would hurt anyone that I could – including my parents, grandparents, teachers, and friends – if I could get an advantage by doing so. I loved me more than anyone else and I gave all my worship to me. I would have told you I believed in God, but I had made up a god with my own mind who could help me out on report card day and keep me from getting in too much trouble, but who really didn’t mind my sin all that much, and who thought I was a pretty swell fellow. In my imagination he was keeping track of my good deeds versus my bad deeds to see if I could go to heaven one day, but I was pretty sure that he would slip his finger on the scale on the day of judgment to get me in, because, after all, heaven just wouldn’t be heaven without me there.

I don’t want to give you the impression that I was noble in my sin, either. I was not like Robin Hood, robbing from the rich to give to the poor, or like James Dean, struggling against a society that just didn’t “get me.” Most of my sins – I thought – were secret, so I can’t brag about how “tough” or even “rebellious” I was when it came to authority figures. But one day, I heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and my foot slipped on the blood which had poured down Calvary onto the beam of my sin. And, clutching desperately, I grabbed for Jesus, and I have never let go. It is His strength that strengthens my hands and fingers. Now I do not walk with a physical limp like Jacob, but I am no longer completely “in-step” with the ways of this world. When I am yielded to the Spirit there is something different about my “walk” that should be noticeable to others. Jesus allowed me to grab hold of Him, wrestle with Him, and get the “blessing.” But my world has never tilted back. We must see what we need to be saved from. We must see the One Who can save us. We must reach out without pride – with our sense of self-sufficiency completely broken. And we must never forget what we were leaning and wheeling toward when He caught us and saved us.

If you’ve never had a moment like that, then how are you going to love Him? How are you going to see Him for Who He really is? How are you going to see yourself for who you really are? And how are you going to serve Him when nobody else is? Jacob dared to wrestle with the Lord because He was scared, and the Lord let him prevail and blessed him. Your sin ought to cause you to wrestle with God, not flee from Him.

I Can Tell the Future

September 21, 2012 at 9:05 am | Posted in Salvation | 8 Comments
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I’m going to tell you something surprising: I can tell the future… Well, not “the” future. Not everything about the future, but one thing that will happen to every single one of us in the future. The event that I know is in the future of every single person reading this is that, one day, we will all stand before the Lord.

But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Romans 14:10-12

I am very blessed because I know exactly what’s going to happen to me after I die. But here is where my ability to see the future becomes limited. I know that I will stand before the Lord with my sins forgiven – with the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ having paid for my sins. I know that my future is a future I do not deserve, even though it is a glorious future – because of God’s grace. But I can’t say the same for you. I hope and pray that your future is just as glorious, but the thing I know about myself – yet cannot know for sure about anyone else – is with Whom I will stand before the Lord.

Will you answer this question about yourself right now? When you stand before the Lord, will you stand there with your sin? Or with His Son?

Those are your only two choices. Those who stand there with their sin – uncovered by the blood of Jesus – will not be forgiven. If you are in that category on that day, it will not matter how many good deeds, fine works, church activities, baptisms, confessions, memberships, or whatever else you may try to use as a covering for your sin. It will not matter how you try to polish your sin, so it compares favorably, or doesn’t look so bad next to someone else’s sin. No, if you stand before the Lord with your sin, and without His Son, your future is an eternity of everlasting torment in the place commonly referred to as hell. That’s not anyone’s “opinion” or “position.” That’s the TRUTH – spelled out clearly and plainly – so that a child can understand it – in the Bible.

Personally, I like knowing that my future home is in Heaven and not in hell. That’s right, I said I “know” it. The Bible says that the way to be saved is to realize and admit that you are a sinner, to repent and believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins, to believe that He was resurrected and that He lives forever, and to trust Him to save you.

The kind of belief that believes unto salvation is different than how we usually use the word “believe.” See, I believe I have some milk at home in the refrigerator. I saw almost a whole gallon in there before I left this morning. It should still be there when I get home. I’m not going to stop on the way home today and get some milk, because I believe I’ve already got some. I don’t believe milk just disappears. I don’t believe it can get up and walk away. I don’t think – even if somebody is burglarizing my house right now – they are going to steal an opened gallon of milk from my fridge. But is it possible that now, three hours later, I’m having a false memory and I really looked in the fridge yesterday instead of today? I believe that milk is going to be there, but I’m not staking my eternal soul on it. I’m staking my eternal soul on what God tells me about it.

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…

Acts 16:31

The Crisis

August 31, 2012 at 11:38 am | Posted in Biblical Doctoring, Salvation, The Great White Throne | 13 Comments
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I once heard a preacher say to his congregation: “You are in the Bible.” This is a strange statement because the events that are recorded in the Bible, for the most part, took place thousands of years ago. What he meant was that you might very well be one of the ones standing in the crowd described in this passage of Scripture:

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Revelation 20:11-14 (emphasis added)

Obviously, if you are reading this, you are not yet among the “dead,” and I pray that you will never go to face God before His Great White Throne in judgment, but we must deal clearly and directly with that possibility.

You may have heard preachers say that you can find yourself in the Bible in another, less-frightening place. They will tell you that you can insert your own name in this well-known Bible verse:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that [insert your name here] should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

The words that are supposed to be replaced by your name are “whosoever believeth in him,” referring to believing in Jesus Christ. If you will believe the truth about Jesus Christ and call upon Him to save you from the just punishment for your sins against God, then He will give you eternal life. If you will be the “whosoever” of John 3:16, you can avoid being the other kind of “whosoever:”

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:15

Being unsure about any of this should bring you to a crisis. A crisis is a critical, crucial moment. It is when you come to a fork in the road of your life and you have to make a decision to go one way or the other. Going back is not an option and standing still is not an option.

Here’s an example: Pretend you are in the doctor’s office. You have been there many times before – for checkups and for minor treatments. Usually it is routine. Every once in a while you get some medicine, or at worst a mildly painful injection, but you always leave the doctor’s office with the hope that everything is okay – that you are going to get better. But this time it’s different. Instead of the doctor telling you it’ll be okay, he is very serious. His voice almost shakes and this scares you. He is telling you something you have never heard before and never expected to hear in a million years. He says you have a terrible disease – it is all over you – it has invaded your body and will eat you alive – and you will die. He goes on to explain some of the details about your condition. He has test results. He has x-rays, and they show that your body is black with this disease. He is trying to tell you there is a chance to survive – but only one chance. You must have surgery right now – right this minute – no thinking it over, no talking to your family and friends, no second opinion. Get to the emergency room right now and submit to being cut open – or die.

Now you see the meaning of a crisis: only two choices. No standing still, no waiting, no going back. Trust your life to a surgeon or die. Could you accept such a diagnosis? Or would you begin to hesitate? “I can’t be as sick as he says. I feel fine physically. I am strong. I am relatively young. Surgery is a major ordeal. It’s serious, my whole life will have to change. No more eating whatever I want, drinking whatever I want, no more staying out late doing whatever I want. I can’t just lie down on an operating table and trust a surgeon to cut me open. I like to be in control. I’ll control this with medicine. I’ll exercise, eat right, get more rest, change my lifestyle. I’ll do it in my own strength.”

When the doctor begins to plead with you and threaten you, you cup your hands over your ears, and you run out… thereby cutting yourself off from the only remedy.

Is this what goes through your mind when someone corners you with a Bible or tries to tell you that you are going to hell without Jesus? “This is too much to face. I can’t just trust God. Everyone will laugh at me. This is a big step. What if God really does give me a new heart and I don’t like to do the fun things of this world any more? What if I become God’s child and, like a good father, He begins correcting me when I sin? I like to sin – I don’t want God’s Spirit living inside me making me feel bad all the time. I can’t just stop doing the things I do for fun – the things I’m addicted to. Maybe I can cut back some. I’ll work on it myself. Maybe I can change the kind of person I am. I’ll go to church more often. I’ll even volunteer to do some work there. I’ll show God I’m not so bad.”

Please do not cover your eyes and cup your hands over your ears. Please do not run away. Sit still for a moment and stop thinking about what you’re going to do with the rest of your day. Put out of your mind the problems you will face at work tomorrow. Forget about what other people will think of you. This is about you and God. If you lie down and submit to Him, He is not like the earthly surgeon. Even if an earthly surgeon cures you it will only last for a little while. When God performs surgery, the surgery will be successful. The new heart that He will give you will be capable of loving and obeying God. You will care about eternal, important, valuable things – not the foolish everyday cares and concerns of this world. You can’t understand the joy of salvation until you experience it. Will you receive it today? Will you receive Him today?

He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

I John 5:12

How Many Christians Really Know This?

April 9, 2012 at 11:36 am | Posted in Salvation | 96 Comments
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In order to be a Christian you have to believe the Gospel. In order to tell someone how to become a Christian you have to know the Gospel (Mark 1:15). So – do you know it and believe it?

1. God is holy, just, and good, and He is also a judge Who judges righteously. (Genesis 18:25; Psalm 50:4,6; Acts 17:31)

2. You have told lies, stolen things, taken God’s Name in vain, looked at someone other than your spouse with lust – which Jesus equates with adultery of the heart – and broken many of God’s other commandments. (Exodus 20; Matthew 5:27-28). Most people don’t consider these sins to be all that serious because “everyone does them,” but they are deadly serious in God’s eyes. (Revelation 21:8; I Corinthians 6:9-10; Deuteronomy 5:11; Romans 3:10,23)

3. Because God is holy and just, and because you are a guilty sinner, God can not “just forgive” you. (Proverbs 17:15, Nahum 1:3)

4. However, because God is also merciful and gracious, He made a way to be both just and forgiving – and to deal with your sins in mercy AND truth. Despite the fact that you have sinned against Him, He loves you. (John 3:16, Romans 3:25, Psalm 85:10)

5. Here is what God did so that we could be forgiven for breaking His laws and sinning against Him: A little over 2000 years ago, God came into this world as a Man – Jesus of Nazareth. He was born of a virgin (Luke 1:26-32). He lived a perfect sinless life (John 8:46; Hebrews 4:14-15). And, although He never broke the law and never did anything wrong, the authorities brought false charges against Him (Matthew 26:3-4), subjected Him to a rigged and illegal trial (Matthew 26:59-66), beat Him savagely (Matthew 27:26-30, Isaiah 52:14), tortured Him and mocked Him (Matthew 26:67-68; 27:28-31), and nailed Him to a Cross, intending to kill Him (Matthew 27:32-37). On the Cross, He willingly laid down His life and died (John 10:17-18; Luke 23:46). His body was taken down and buried (Luke 23:50-53), but on the third day He was resurrected and rose from the grave (Luke 24:1-7; I Corinthians 15:1-4).

6. Jesus took on all the guilt of all His people’s sins on the Cross. He became sin for you, and took your place as the condemned while God the Father poured out His wrath and His righteous judgment against sin on His Own beloved Son (I Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:5, 10). Jesus also paid off your sin debt in full with His life’s blood (John 19:28-30; Colossians 2:13-14) and imputed His righteousness to your account so that you could be saved from God’s wrath and reconciled to Him (Ephesians 2:16; II Corinthians 5:21).

7. The Lord Jesus, in His Resurrection, demonstrated His victory over death, hell, the grave, Satan, and sin. He has ascended into Heaven (Acts 1:9) to sit at the right hand of God the Father (Romans 8:34), and He has all authority (Matthew 28:18) to grant salvation and eternal life to all who repent, believe the Gospel, and call upon Him as Savior (Romans 10:9,13; Acts 4:12; Ephesians 2:8-9).

8. You have been invited and commanded to respond to the Gospel (Mark 1:15; Acts 3:19). I beg you to believe it and trust in Jesus.

The Breathtaking Wonder of God

January 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Micah, Salvation | 10 Comments
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Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Micah 7:18-19

Many times, when a person feels he is nearing the end of his life, he will begin to seriously consider his eternal soul. This will often lead to two main concerns, and, really, they are concerns that any reasonable person would have.

1. I understand that I am about to see God, and I have much for which to answer.

We should all be this honest – every day. For we all have a past. And not a one of us can go back in time and change that past. We have offended God with our sin.

In this world, when we offend someone more powerful than us, there is an instinct to run away from that person. This will not work with God. The only safe place to run when we have offended God is to God. Micah 7:18 asks, “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity?” When you run to God for forgiveness, trusting in His Son, Jesus, He does not punish – He pardons. The Verse goes on to say that God passes by “the transgression of the remnant of his heritage.” These are the people that He will make a part of His family.

A sense that we have offended God should lead to a desire to get right with God, and this does not anger God. “He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.” Take a moment to let that sink in: God delights in mercy. God is both just and loving. He is compassionate, forgiving, and merciful.

But that only answers one of our concerns:

Q. How will I get right with God when I can’t undo the past?
A. He will erase your sins from His accounting books for the sake of His Son if you believe the Gospel and trust in Christ, being born again.

The second concern is this:

2. How can I know He has done this?

The answer to that one is: You have God’s promise. He has given His Word. Jesus never lies. When He said He was God incarnate, He was telling the absolute complete truth. It wouldn’t make sense for every Word He ever said about Himself to be true – and then to lie to us about ourselves. Jesus was and is God, and God can not lie.

So, we have the assurance of His promise and the assurance of His victory over sin. When you find the power of sin broken in your life – when you find you can choose to love God more than you love sin – you will have additional assurance that you are truly God’s child.

In trusting Jesus Christ, you can claim the promise of Micah 7:19: “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

I once visited with an elderly gentleman in his home a few days before he died. He was battling an illness – I believe it was called COPD – which caused him to struggle for breath. It is heartbreaking to see a man struggling to breathe – to see such powerlessness over something most of us take for granted all day long. But it is so encouraging to see something more powerful come along and empower the powerless – and give them victory! I believe that I am going to see that man in God’s Holy City one day because of the saving power of Jesus Christ. I want to see him taking deep breaths of the breath of Life. I want to see every person reading this there one day, too. Whether we run for God, sing for God, or climb a mountain for God – we will never get short of breath there!

Salvation Is Not Like Shongaloo

December 29, 2011 at 10:54 am | Posted in John, Salvation, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Eternal salvation is a life-changing experience. It is dramatic. It is miraculous. It is a real, personal, one-on-one encounter with Jesus Christ the Lord, the Almighty Son of the Living God, the Prince of Glory, the Creator of Heaven and Earth.

I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

John 10:9

Therefore, the statement, “I think I’m saved, but I’m not really sure,” is suspicious. Salvation results in a complete change in our ontology – the essence of who we are.

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Ezekiel 36:26-27

The Lord Jesus compared the event of salvation to the physical birth of a baby.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:3

Therefore, if the answer to the question, “When were you born again?” is, “I don’t really know, I’ve just always been ‘born again,’” there is again reason for suspicion. If someone is asked, “When were you born?” in the natural sense, his response is more likely to be, “October 14, 1980,” than, “I’ve always been born,” or, “I was born over a period of weeks while I read a book about humanity, and contemplated whether I wanted to be born.”

The Bible states that salvation results in a fundamental change in our attitude about sin.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

II Corinthians 5:17

Knowing this, if a person who claims to be saved never experiences conviction and repentance concerning sin in his or her life, there is cause for suspicion.

I grew up near a town in northwest Louisiana called Shongaloo. I once heard someone say that, when you drive through Shongaloo, if you blink you’ll miss it. Salvation is not dependent upon a “feeling,” because it is a factual event. It is not dependent upon behavior because we are saved by grace through faith, not of works. However, it is so magnificent that, if your belief is that it somehow happened to you and you missed it, then it is time for you to stop the speeding car of your life, open your eyes wide, stare deep into the Bible, and call upon the Lord with all sincerity to reveal to you the truth about yourself.

Light Measures Time

November 10, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Posted in Biblical Light, Jeremiah, John, Salvation | 2 Comments
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We live in a day and age of clocks. From our wristwatches to our cell phones to our bedside wake-up alarms to our on-screen television programming guides to our vehicle radios to the flashing signs in front of banks and churches, everywhere we go, we are reminded of the time. However, even without mechanical timepieces, we would still have a pretty good idea that the day is over when the light fades. We count weeks and months and years by how many times the sun has risen and set. Therefore, when it comes to spiritual reality, God has made light to behave in such a way as to remind us that our time and opportunities in this world are coming to an end.

Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.

John 12:35-36

In an attempt to defeat the darkness which ends each and every day of our lives we have come up with many ways to “light up the night.” However, batteries in a flashlight will run down eventually. The wax which feeds the wick of a candle will burn down in time. Even long-lasting light bulbs and tubes of fluorescent neon are not eternal. There is only one Light which shall shine forevermore.

That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

John 1:9

Jesus, the Light of this world, has already finished the work of redemption, and He has made it available to unbelievers for a limited time only. Will you receive the Light which shall give you comfort, peace, beauty, and joy in the world to come? Or will you cling to the temporary false light of the here-and-now, which will one day burn out, leaving you in an eternal darkness from which there shall be no escape?

Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the LORD hath spoken. Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.

Jeremiah 13:15-16

More Powerful than a Roaring Shadow

October 7, 2011 at 9:10 am | Posted in Salvation, Selected Psalms, Uncategorized | 9 Comments
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My grandparents lived in a house that my grandfather built with his own hands. Behind the backyard he kept a garden where he grew peanuts, watermelons, sugar cane, mustard greens, and various vegetables. Beyond this garden was a shallow ditch, and beyond that, a set of railroad tracks. When the train came every day, it moved very fast. My younger brother and I used to talk about jumping onto one of the cars as the train went speeding past, but, thankfully, we never had the nerve to actually try it. The closest we came was when we would huddle down in the ditch right next to the tracks. It is a thrilling and frightening feeling to have the shadow of a roaring locomotive pass over you, but the shadow of a train passing over is far different from having the actual train itself “pass over” you.

David the Psalmist once wrote about the shadow of something even more awe-inspiring.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

Note that the Holy Spirit inspired David to write about, not the valley of death, but the valley of the shadow of death.

Our sins, and the sins of the whole world, had been heaped onto the freight train of God’s wrath (I John 2:2). That train was racing straight for us, and we deserved to be plowed into hell by the force of its judgment. Those of us, like David, who, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, have become the sheep of the Good Shepherd, may one day shiver in the shadow of death as it passes over us (John 10:11). However, the locomotive of God’s righteous vengeance against sin was re-routed onto Christ the Lord Himself on the Cross of Calvary as He took the punishment we deserved (I Peter 2:24). When you enter the valley at the end of life, will you be in the protective shadow of God’s covering (Psalm 91:1), or will you stand alone on the tracks, having made the fatal mistake of rejecting the Savior?

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