Category: The Good News


Open Bible

If there ever was an attribute which remains reprehensible regardless of its modern day adornment, it would be that of ungratefulness. There is something quite disheartening in watching someone receive a gift with a heart absent of genuine gratitude. Although many areas of selfishness/self-centeredness, mostly due to marketing and manipulation, have successfully won over the hearts and minds of the culture, there is nothing that can cover up the egregious attitude of being unthankful.

I cannot think of one redeeming book, TV, or movie character that has stood the test of time which has displayed such a self-centered heart, yet ungratefulness plagues us in real life perhaps now more than ever. This is much in part thanks to what many have deemed the self-esteem movement.

Over the last several decades the pro high self-esteem movement has literally plowed and paved its way into the very fiber of our postmodern thinking and behavior. But there are more than a few ironies facing the self-esteem philosophy and sadly, even more casualties. One such casualty standing at the forefront would arguably be that of genuine thankfulness.

Certain characteristics in life have quite natural outcomes. When someone is spoon fed (from the high chair) the necessity of having a high/good self-worth, self-esteem, self-image, etc. we should not be surprised when that child grows up to be a very confused and disillusioned young adult. Despite a high self-esteem being touted as the wonder drug of the 20th century, nothing could be further from the truth.

Geneticists have worked tirelessly in recent decades, discovering how to modify today’s foods to appear bigger and brighter, but often other attributes are lost in the process. A similar principle can be observed in people’s attitudes and actions. In a culture literally in love with itself, there are often other, much more nutritious characteristics that are deleted, due in part to our anxious efforts of self-exaltation. One of the nutrients often missing is that of genuine and lasting thankfulness.

Consider the child that is repeatedly told he is so special and so important that he deserves everything and that “having it his way” is just the way it should be. This child feeds on books and tens of thousands of hours of TV shows and movies essentially telling him the very same thing. He’s given many fabulous and expensive gifts, only reinforcing the delusion. It doesn’t take long before his emboldened and enriched self-esteem is off the charts. This will undoubtedly lead to a reduction of other characteristics, namely thankfulness. After all, why be thankful, when you wholeheartedly believe you deserve the best and the most?

But one might argue that even a selfish child is thankful for receiving a long desired present. True, however, this is a different sort of thankfulness altogether. It is a fleeting, fleshly thankfulness, not one born out of true, selfless gratitude. It is produced only temporarily, if, in a sense, as the soul’s way of expressing pleasure for getting what it already believes it deserved in the first place. (If you don’t believe this, watch what happens when people are kept from getting what they think they deserve. It really doesn’t matter the age. Often children are just not as good at masking their true feelings.) In fact, it won’t be long before even the extravagant gifts will not be enough to satisfy that child’s insatiable appetite of self-aggrandizement. Soon even the presents will bring nothing but ungratefulness, always believing he deserves more and better things.

Sadly, this pattern is a deceptive and tragic trap, one ultimately set by the enemy of our souls, and one many corporations and psychologists have been utilized to employ, having profited greatly. Breeding discontentment will naturally lead people to spend more in hopes of satisfying their already discontented hearts and minds. Who better to benefit from this sort of philosophy than retail companies? Perhaps that is why so many of them are the leaders in self-centered advertising. Another business benefiting would of course be psychotherapy. After all, who better to seek than a therapist to “cure” the pain and emptiness that this sort of discontentment eventually produces? Sadly, much of today’s church is no different, seeking psychology and the next big sale to satisfy instead of the Word and indwelling Spirit of God. Is it any wonder we see so little vibrancy and victory in today’s Christianity?

Arguably there is a simple philosophy that our culture has bought into from birth. It says that most, if not all people begin with a low self-esteem. Whether due to circumstances or something broken within, that low self-esteem must be overcome at all cost if we are ever to succeed as successful human beings. In order to do so we must enjoy a high self-esteem diet of flesh enhancing philosophies and practices. Only then can we overcome our maladjusted beliefs and begin soaring like we were always meant to do. As tasty as this might sound, this is not how God designed us to live. We were not designed to raise ourselves up, but rather to lower ourselves down and instead raise God up.

Only in magnifying Jesus can we truly find genuine and eternal contentment and fulfillment. This is why God’s Word reminds us that godliness with contentment is great gain. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life…” 1 Timothy 6:6-12a

The actual name for a high self-esteem is pride and pride is really nothing less than self-love. It is the very heart of all that hates God, seeking to exalt itself above Him, stealing the Lord’s rightful place upon the throne of every human heart. Despite what most schools, commercials, “professionals”, retail companies, and story books tell us, it is not having a high self-esteem that will ultimately fulfill us. Nor will it ever produce real thankfulness and gratitude. Only when we sincerely and desperately cling to the Great and Glorious God will we find the truth and truly be thankful to the Lord. Only when we understand that it is because of our willful rebellion against God that we deserve nothing less than Hell, only then will we truly embrace God in His forgiveness and love found in Jesus Christ alone.

Only in humility will thanksgiving not only be produced, but also bring about an abundance of the Life of Christ in us and through us. If pride is the ultimate culprit, then humility can be the cure. Like the sun, Jesus burns away the prideful fog obscuring God’s greatness, helping us to finally humble ourselves, coming to grips with the very real and freeing fact that we are really nothing. We will finally realize it is the Lord, not us, Who deserves it all! We do not “deserve a break today” and we most certainly should not seek to “have it our way”. Instead may we humbly seek His perfect and plentiful way. May we wholeheartedly desire to see the Lord in His true beauty and splendor. Then we will begin to see our discontentment and ungratefulness burn away and finally begin to understand what it truly means to “abound in Christ with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:7).

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heart-in-bible“The work of Christ on the cross did not influence God to love us, did not increase that love by one degree, did not open any fount of grace or mercy in His heart. He had loved us from old eternity and needed nothing to stimulate that love.

The cross is not responsible for God’s love; rather it was His love which conceived the cross as the one method by which we could be saved. God felt no different toward us after Christ had died for us, for in the mind of God Christ had already died before the foundation of the world. God never saw us except through atonement.

The human race could not have existed one day in its fallen state had not Christ spread His mantle of atonement over it. And this He did in eternal purpose long ages before they led Him out to die on the hill above Jerusalem. All God’s dealings with man have been conditioned upon the cross.”

― A.W. Tozer, The Radical Cross: Living the Passion of Christ

imageSin is so terribly destructive, so utterly diabolical! Sin is so horrific that it’s true power and perversity are arguably unfathomable by the human mind. How much more so for the father of lies, the father of sin!?

We dip and dabble at it as if certain sins are permissible. We tolerate sin in our lives and sometimes even encourage it as if it’s as harmless as a squeaky screen door. Perhaps our reluctance to resist the devil (in the Lord’s strength of course) has something to do with our own perspective of sin and the father of it.

What if you discovered you were born into a family that had been hunted and killed for years? What if you also discovered that there was one person behind it all, a person only known as the prowler? You are forced to grow up on the run and after a decade of fear, the unthinkable happens. Your parents, your brothers, and sisters are all trapped and killed. Some how you are able to get away, only to go on the run again.

Another decade goes by, and you finally think you’re safe so you decide to settle down. Not too long after you move into your first place, a package arrives in the mail. Wrapped in beautiful, shiny paper, this intriguing gift causes you to let down your guard. There’s a small card attached. Your curiosity gets the best of you. You open the card. The message reads, “Dear Boy, I hope you accept my gift. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. Your Friend, The Prowler.”

Would you open the gift? If not, then why? Why not open a present offered by the one responsible for hunting and destroying so many?

Of course, it’s not always so black and white with Satan, the enemy of our souls. Or is it? Perhaps it is that clear, but because of our deep personal devotion to the flesh, we often allow the issues to become muddied so we really don’t have to think too much about them.

Maybe if we’d ask the Lord to seriously pull back the curtain on sin, Satan, and our own selfish hearts, we’d begin understanding the deep destructiveness of the worldly nets we’ve wrapped ourselves in. Perhaps if we’d sincerely ask the Lord to give us eyes to see the sinfulness of sin and the beauty of Himself, we’d choose to leave this world’s temporary temptations alone, instead clinging wholeheartedly to the only gift that truly and eternally matters, Jesus Christ!

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“But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, has abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. That as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:15-18, 21

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Whether in a novel, a crime show, or while at work, we have all heard this phrase borrowed by the world time and time again. However, as they understandably do so often, those who  use it strip the phrase from of its actual and powerful meaning. Sadly, many in the church have heard it said so often, they too have perhaps forgotten what Jesus is really teaching His disciples.

Early on in my Christian walk, John 8:31-32 were two verses that had a tremendous and even life changing impact on me. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If you continue in My Word, then are you My disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32. It occurred to me that Christianity, although filled with an amazing testimony regarding the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ wasn’t simply a story that changed my life. It wasn’t one religion among many which just happened to be the one that worked for me. No, Christianity was and is and always will be built upon the bedrock of the truth.

So often people get saved and are then brought into a local church body. They are quickly put to work, staying busy with activity after activity. Soon Christianity is solely defined by the activities and friendships and the Word is marginalized in place of the work. Although there is an important place for the work, unless the Word of God is put first, the work we are doing might very well end up being the work of men, not the Lord.

Once a born again believer realizes, truly realizes that Christianity isn’t merely about a changed life or the work one does; once the Christian really begins to see that Jesus is the one and only way to the Father of Life because He is the truth, then that believer has finally begun standing upon the solid ground.

Undeniably, our firm foundation is Jesus, yet as He reveals in John 8:31-32, our faith becomes solid when it is exercised with the understanding that God’s Word is uniquely and unequivocally true. We need not run to the popular preacher nor to the pop-psychologist, but to the Word of God to know the truth. There is no college, no institution, no religion on the planet that can offer what the Bible can.

Jesus didn’t say that facts will set men free. He said the truth found in God’s Word alone would bring real and eternal freedom to the souls of men. Christianity is one hundred percent based on the truth and nothing but the truth, period.

Unfortunately we tend to wander from the Word, leaning instead upon the words of men. The natural man loves the “all natural” flavors produced and peddled by other men. Yet, there are those who long for something more, something better. There are those who, perhaps for years, have done the “church” thing, yet now realize men and their activities can never truly satisfy. Only the truth will do!

In these two amazing verses, Jesus tells us many things. First, He declares that He is God. He does not say, “If you remain in God’s Word.” He says, “If you remain in My Word.” He is saying the Word spoken to the faithful followers of the LORD from the beginning of time has always been His Word. Jesus truly is God.

He also teaches us that His Word is not simply true, but that it is sufficiently so. Jesus does not say, “If you stay in My Word, you will know part of the truth.” We are promised to know ALL of the truth pertaining to everlasting freedom. God’s Word is truly sufficient. One of Satan’s greatest strategies among believers is not to deny the truth of God’s Word, but instead to deny its sole sufficiency. Once people buy into this horrific lie, they will then be willing to drink from all sorts of muddied streams, all in hopes of discovering some drop of pure water.

As strange as this sounds, this one strategy has literally and repeatedly crippled the body of Christ from walking in the true power and victory God has intended for her. May we not be ensnared any longer!

True freedom comes exclusively from God’s Word. Despite their many claims, absolutely nothing this world offers can produce eternal freedom, nothing. Neither psychology nor religion, neither education nor entertainment will do. The ways of man will always fall short of eternity and often lead to temporal destruction as well.

Those reading these two verses should also inquire about the freedom offered by Jesus. Freedom yes, but freedom from what? Jesus is not providing freedom to go live our own lives independent of divine authority. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Simply put, God’s Word promises to sufficiently bring freedom from sin, from self, and from the power of our first father, Satan.

God’s promise also ensures freedom to finally love and serve the One we were made to worship; the Living and True God, the Creator and Savior of the world. This is the freedom found exclusively in the Word of God, the Word not based on the sinking sands of man’s opinions or Satan’s devices, but rather the Word which is the truth and nothing but the truth.

On this Lord’s day, may we praise and thank Him for His wonderful reminder to stop feeding the flesh. May we cease from fearing and following the words and ways of men. Instead let us wholeheartedly love the truth of God revealed to us by His Holy Spirit as we remain in the glorious, eternal, and sufficient Word of Truth!

“And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20

God’s Law: Inside Out

ten_commandmentsTHE PROBLEM

It could reasonably be said that doing good works is the most common standard held by people around the world for access to their perceived eternity. There are, however, a couple inherent problems with this misconception. In order to briefly examine them, let’s first keep in mind that to measure what is actually good, there must be a standard, and regardless, all standards have a built-in expectation of keeping those standards perfectly.

Standards are essentially laws and laws always require that they are kept one hundred percent of the time. Herein is the first problem. Although standards (laws) can tell people what is expected, they have absolutely NO power to help people continually and perfectly obey them. If they did, we would eventually cease from needing laws. Although there are many moral laws, none of them can change the internal immoral condition of the human heart. After all, it is the heart that is wicked, otherwise we wouldn’t have needed laws to begin with.

Although mankind recognizes the need to be good and have laws, he has repeatedly and foolishly bet on the wrong “horse”. For some unexplained reason, we have consistently and continually assumed, regardless of our constant need for moral laws, that somehow mankind is intrinsically capable of eventually meeting those standards. In other words, most believe mankind is basically and internally good enough to eventually become good enough. This is problem number two.

Even though many people recognize the importance of being good, we neither have the capacity nor the deep desire to live perfectly moral and good lives. And in truth, the law is completely powerless to change a man to do so. So we are really left with this grandiose ideal, yet continually reminded of its insufficiency.  When faced with this dilemma, we have a couple options. We can either wear ourselves out in an attempt to be good, which of course will never be good enough because the perfect standard will never be met.  The other option involves simply lowering the standard from perfect adherence to living a “pretty good” life in hopes of staying distracted long enough to prevent the nagging notion of unattainable perfection from driving us crazy. Neither of these options are very hopeful to say the least.

Perhaps that is why so many around the world are clamoring after almost anything for a momentary distraction. Perhaps that is why so many have such a deep sense of hopelessness.  Deep down many perhaps recognize the need for and goodness of an adherence to a moral and perfect standard, yet also know how utterly impossible the task really is.

THE ANSWER

Although the law is powerless to convert the wicked heart of mankind, it does contain the answer to the entire problem. Yet, in order to discover the truth of the matter we must look past the law to the lawgiver.  It is only reasonable to conclude that every law has a lawgiver and only by carefully considering the character of the lawgiver are we given the only satisfactory and sufficient answer to this unsolvable issue.

First of all, we must carefully consider the very necessity of a lawgiver.  All laws must have an inventor, someone who saw fit to give us the rules needed to conduct our lives safely and morally. The answer of why laws are given is simple. Earthly speaking, laws have been given because mankind is inherently rebellious and self-centered, unwilling to do by nature what is expected of him by his very own conscience.  Laws protect others and even the very person desiring to perform an evil deed.  Every household has rules simply said because they are necessary.  Children do not naturally and perfectly do what is right and good otherwise there would be no market for the thousands of child rearing books produced and sold every year on how to productively raise our kids.  Laws are necessary because our hearts are by very nature rebellious.

Even though it is quite observable that humans make laws, there is still this question which lies beyond humanity, beyond this planet, and beyond this universe. Is there an ultimate and moral lawgiver that is above everything and everyone? Again, the answer is quite logical and simple. Yes. If there was no ultimate lawgiver, then that would mean the physical universe is all there is. If that were true, then there would be no morality and definitely no concept of immorality. There would be no notions of anything immaterial such as love, truth, justice, mercy, etc.  It is crucial to understand that something physical, i.e. a solid, liquid, gas, can NEVER produce nonphysical concepts such as those mentioned above.

If the physical universe is all there is, then the very notion of morality could not exist. The universe cares nothing of right and wrong, nor can it.  The universe is physical.  There are no moral storms or immoral rocks.  And regardless of time, people would never be able to conjure up these concepts because it is literally impossible to think up something that has absolutely no existence. It would be like trying to make sand from nothing. It is an impossibility. In fact, this very article proves the existence of an immaterial, ultimate lawgiver by the very concepts it is examining.

Simply stated, without an ultimate, immaterial, all moral being, there would be no ability for anything to be anything other than material and amoral and since that is not the case, we must reasonably and logically conclude the this immaterial being exists. There must be a moral originator to the moral laws that so often chase our consciences throughout our lives.

THE LAWGIVER

This ultimate, perfectly moral One who gave us our moral laws was sure to write His laws upon our hearts so we can at least recognize the importance of following good laws. We call this our conscience. Granted, we can harden our hearts and sear our consciences, making it difficult to hear the truth, however even a seared conscience struggles with the reality of his inability to measure up to the perfect standard set by God. Regardless of our unwavering unwillingness to admit our need for the perfectly moral Creator, He graciously still reaches out, revealing to us both our desperate need and His perfect provision.

God has given us His perfect and moral law as a standard for mankind. His standard, just as with an earthly law, requires perfection. Contrary to what our selfishness might say, God has not given us His laws to keep us from having fun. Nor has He given us His laws as some sort of cruel cosmic joke.  The expectation of keeping the law perfectly is simply for our good and His glory.  Since His law emanates from His holy, perfect character, we must conclude the laws He gives mankind are not bad, nor do they keep us from the most important joys of life.

Mankind’s unwillingness to keep God’s law and the law’s inability to change men’s hearts are indeed two terrible tragedies, however there is an even bigger issue, one that has an eternal consequence. Our desire to do our own thing and the inability of the law to change our selfish nature are not simply temporal problems. When someone breaks a law on this planet, we are required to pay the fine established by the one who made the law.  The same is true for God.  The difference in breaking God’s laws is duration and extent of the penalty.  Again, just as God’s laws are not designed for our harm, God’s justice is not exacted based on Him being some sort of attention seeking, insecure, power hungry Creator.

In reality, there is only One true God and one true Heaven. Sadly, most of mankind would prefer to pretend that they are their own gods, seeking to go to some other kind of eternity other than the one which already exists. So if we do not want to follow the true God and go to His Heaven, there is no other place for us other than an eternity away from God in a place He created for the rebellious devil and his angels.  God calls this place Hell and unfortunately for many, it will be a horrifically rude awakening when they realize that their fantasy afterlife was just that, a fictional fantasy that dissolved upon death.  God is not looking to send people to eternal damnation. Rather He desires to rescue us, offering us the only way out from both the earthly, temporal torture of trying to be good enough through our own efforts and even more so, the eternal torment every rebellious soul will have to face upon death. (John 3:16-17, 1 Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Peter 3:9) But the truth is it can’t be done without Him.  Yes, we actually NEED God!

Originally mankind’s purpose was to reflect God’s character, making God’s laws a natural outflow of our lives. Yet, sadly, the first two people rebelled against their Creator, closing the door on Him and opening it up instead to self, sin, and Satan. No longer were God’s laws being lived out from the inside.  Now man’s heart was filled up with pride and self, desirous of designing his own standard of living.  Now, at least for a time, God’s moral laws would need to be applied from the outside, never able to reach the depths of mankind’s heart. Why?  Because the Lawgiver was asked to leave the throne room within the heart of every man. And since the laws of God were never designed to be injected from the outside in, we are constantly left with an insufficient system for governing our hearts and minds.

Praise God that’s not the final chapter! If that was the end of the story, mankind would be most assuredly left to his our futile devices, hopelessly and helplessly running and working until we die. We would be left bound eternally in our sin, chained in our fleshly prisons by our sin, self, and Satan. But the Lord, rich in mercy and abundant in grace, chose to provide the perfect and precious plan to solve the sin-separation plaguing each and every generation.  How amazing indeed that God would choose to lovingly offer the only way to legally live within the very ones who have stubbornly and willingly rebelled against Him!  But because of His perfect integrity and justice, the Lord cannot simply enter back into men, even those desiring for Him to take up residence. The penalty for our rebellion, for breaking His laws, must be dealt with, not only so we can be with Him someday in Heaven, but so He can dwell in us now on earth.

Rugged CrossTHE TWOFOLD PLAN UNFOLDED AND FULFILLED

The Heavenly Father had a twofold plan, one that would both pay for the penalty of our sinful rebellion, as well as make the perfect way for the Lord to once again sit upon the throne of willing human hearts. The plan would consist of His Son, a Roman cross, and death itself. To think that death, the very curse upon mankind (due to their own wickedness and rebellion), would be the very thing God would use to set men free. How truly amazing. How horrifically humbling!

The all-knowing, perfectly moral Creator lovingly chose to send His Son to become a man, yet He never stopped being God. He was to be the only God-man. Some 2,000 years ago, at the perfectly appointed time, just as the Scriptures foretold, He was born of a virgin in Bethlehem and laid in a manger. (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; Micah 5:2; Luke 2:12). His name was to be called Jesus and He came to save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21). Jesus walked a perfect life. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind,  fed thousands, even raised the dead and forgave sins, just as the Scriptures prophesied. (Isaiah 35:5-6). He always spoke the truth in love, pointing people to the Heavenly Father and was then rejected and crucified by the very ones He came to save. Praise God, death had no power over the Prince (Captain) of life! (Acts 3:15). Just as He had promised, He rose from the grave three days later, never to die again. (John 2:19-21). Second Corinthians reminds us that He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor. 5:21). It says in Hebrews that it was by God’s grace that Jesus tasted death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9).

To think that the God of Life chose to use death, the great enemy brought in by of sin, to bring mankind eternal life! How absolutely amazing!  Death is a stamp of finality, reminding us daily of our lack of power and control. How much more so the stamp of the cross in the spiritual realm. Upon that old rugged cross, Jesus became sin for us, willing to allow the Heavenly Father to pour out all of His wrath upon Him instead of us, laying His life down freely (John 10:18) even unto death on the cross. (Philippians 2:8). This death, His death, fulfilled both folds of God’s perfect plan and precious provision.

Not only did Jesus satisfy God’s justice for our sinful rebellion; He also tore the veil, opening the new and living way for the Lord to once again sit upon the throne of broken, humble, repentant hearts. He legally paid for the price of our sin, but also legally provided the only way for man to truly be separated (in a sense, divorced eternally) from self, sin, and Satan.

Here in lies the great grace of God! Jesus both offers fully and freely the forgiveness of our sins, plus He provides the only way for Himself to at last and eternally enter humanity, sealing those who believe on Him by the power of His Holy Spirit. “In whom [Jesus] you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14.

Now man can finally abide in Jesus and He can finally abide in us! Once this transaction takes place, we no longer seek to cover our sins in an attempt to keep the moral law. Now we simply desire the Lawgiver Himself. Only after the Lawgiver is living within our hearts and minds will His law be joyfully and correctly lived in us and through us. After all, we weren’t designed to have a relationship with the law of the Lord, rather the Lord of the law. 

“Forasmuch as you are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also has made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.” 1 Corinthians 3:3-6

“I am the vine, you are the branches: he that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Featured Image -- 2181“You see, there’s a historicity so far as God’s concerned about the future just like there’s a historicity so far as we’re concerned about the past. We look into the past and call it history. God looks into the future and calls it history because He’s timeless, the Eternal I AM. He inhabits eternity. The only difference from God’s point of view between the future and the past is that in the human experience it just hasn’t happened yet.”

“That’s why we don’t believe that Jesus came as He did, conceived by the Holy Ghost, born in Bethlehem because the Bible says He did. Nor that He lived that sinless life because the Bible said He did.  Nor that He went to the cross because the Bible says He did. Nor even that He rose again from the dead because the Bible said He did. Nor that He ascended from the Mount of Olives back to be with His Father in Heaven glorified forever because the Bible said He did. Nor even that He’d come as His other Person as the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost to share His Life with His redeemed people because the Bible said He did. We’ve got better grounds for believing it.

We don’t believe all these things because the Bible says He did. We believe them because the Bible said He would. ‘I’ve come to do Your will oh God. All the things that are written of Me in the volume of the Book.’ That’s the Old Testament, the only Bible that was available for years to the early church. You and I have a bonus. It’s called the New Testament and the New Testament simply says the Lord Jesus did what the Bible [Old Testament] said He would.”  ~Major Ian Thomas

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:19-21

 

Bible Light Bulb ImageThere are many questions and even more supposed answers about eternity. Lots of people have said there are many ways to get to Heaven.  After all, don’t all spiritual roads lead to the same place? Does it really matter what religion we follow?  If we’re simply sincere, devoted, and passionate about whatever we believe, won’t it all work out in the end?  Can’t my good works outweigh the bad things I’ve done in the past?  How can we really know for sure?

What’s the Answer?

Maybe you’re wondering some of the same things.     If not, you should be. After all, eternity is a lot longer than the few short years we’ll spend on this planet.  Asking good questions is important, but finding the right answers is even more crucial! If you’re lost and stop to ask someone for directions, it really does matter whether the directions he/she gives you are right or wrong. So in hopes of preventing anyone from getting even more lost, let’s examine several of today’s most popular myths.

We’ll examine seven basic misunderstandings/ myths in pursuit of discovering the true answer to how we can know for sure we are going to Heaven.

MYTH 1: The majority must be right. Just because people have answers doesn’t mean those answers are true, even if a majority agrees. A survey of 35,000 American adults shows that 70 percent believe there are many paths to God, but just because a majority believes the same thing doesn’t necessarily make it true.  Consider Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Just because many were in agreement with Hitler doesn’t make what he believed and did correct. Following the majority isn’t the answer!

MYTH 2- Sincerity is what matters.  Just because someone is sincere in a belief doesn’t make it right.

  • Does it matterif a sincere pharmacist puts the wrong pills in a bottle?
  • Does it matterif a surgeon sincerely believed he removed a kidney when in fact he removed the liver?
  • Does it matterif a woman ate a poisonous mushroom, even though she sincerely thought it would be good for her?

It is possible to be very sincere, but be sincerely wrong. The critical question is not whether someone is sincere, rather what is the truth?  Sincerity is not the answer.

MYTH 3: Pretty good is good enough. One of the greatest lies ever believed is that human beings can be good enough to get to Heaven!  I’ve heard this so many times and at one point even believed it myself.  I’ve even had professing atheists tell me if there is a ‘God’, then when they die they’ll be okay because they’ve been pretty good. Here’s the thing, being pretty good isn’t the real issue. God’s standard isn’t pretty good, it’s perfection. After all, God isn’t simply pretty good. He’s perfect.

Being pretty good isn’t the answer.

MYTH 4: Religion is good enough.  At some level, all religions say we must do good works in order to be right. Biblical Christianity is totally unique.  In religion, man has to reach up to God by his good works. In Christianity, God reached down with the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. He was crucified for the sins of the world. If religion, rituals, and traditions worked, Jesus would’ve never had to come and die.  Religion is not the answer!

MYTH 5: My future good deeds will make up for my past bad deeds. Here’s the problem. Let’s say you get a speeding ticket for driving 55 in a15 mph school zone, then stand before the judge and tell him you’ll never speed again. Will that make up for the crime you’ve already committed?  No. What if you tell the judge you’ve driven through that area many times before, always following the law? Will that make up for your crime?  No. We don’t get extra credit for following the law. The law requires that we follow it completely. That’s the whole point. Following the law tomorrow will never make up for the fact that we broke it today.  Simply said, the price has to be paid!  Future good deeds are not the answer.

Myth 6: I’m a good person.  We all tend to compare ourselves with one another; forgetting people are not the standard.  We did not make this universe, and we did not make the moral laws any more than the physical laws of this universe. God is the Creator, and He is the standard, not us. All one has to do is look at God’s law, which can be boiled down to the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20)  to see if we really are good people, if we measure up to the holiness of God.  Here are a few of God’s moral laws:

  • “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”  Telling the truth is the backbone of any society and the Bible. Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that He should lie…” God is truth.  Have you ever told a lie; even a “little” one?
  • “You shall not steal.” Have you ever taken something that is not yours?
  • “You shall not commit adultery.”  Jesus took this commandment to a deeper level when He said, “If you have even looked upon someone with lust, it means you have already committed adultery in your heart with that person.” Matthew 5:27-28. Have you ever looked at someone with lust?

Now things get a little more interesting.  James 2:10 says, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

So if we’ve even broken one of God’s commandments, we’ve broken them all.

 I ask you again, “Have you broken any of the Ten Commandments?” If you’re honest, you’ll have to say yes. Since we’ve all broken God’s law, it’s clear no one is really a good person.

Here’s the truth:  The reason sincerity, religion, and good works just don’t cut it is because they all originate from men and according to God, we’ve all willfully sinned. That is to say, we’ve all come short of God’s standard of perfection. Period!  We’re not the solution, frankly we’re the problem.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

God knows we’ve sinned.  We know we need His forgiveness. “For I will declare my iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.” Psalm 38:18  

The shedding of an animal’s blood reminded the Israelites that death was a result of man’s choice to rebel against his Creator. It was also a clue of God’s faithfulness to one day send One who would pay the ultimate price by dying for all of humanity, One who would not only die, but take the spiritual and eternal punishment we deserve so our penalty against God would be fully paid. A male lamb without spot was used in the Old Testament for a yearly sacrifice to God. This was a clue that One would come, not as a spotless lamb, but as a sinless man and God to die for the sins of the world.

“The next day John saw Jesus coming unto him, and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29  

Jesus is the Lamb of God that the Old Testament pointed to, the One that would be the final, complete, and eternal sacrifice to God the Father by dying on the cross for our sins. God the Father literally poured out the anger and wrath we deserve upon His Son!

“He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Are you ready to repent (turn) and put your    belief in Jesus and His finished work on the cross for you?

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for your sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…” 1 Corinthians 15:3-6  

Myth 7: Christianity is just too narrow-minded.  With so many religions around the world, this might seem reasonable. Jesus claimed to be the only way to Heaven, yet many believe this is too narrow-minded. But is this bad? When I walk through the front door, does it ever bother me that there’s only one door? When I enter a gas station or a store, do I ever stop to complain when there’s only one door?  No. One door doesn’t mean anything other than there’s only one way in.  One way, in reality, makes it simple. There’s one way, making it very easy to identify both the true and the false doors.  Yes, one way to Heaven is narrow, but narrow doesn’t mean it’s bad. The God of the Bible says He’s one God (Deut. 6:4), so why not only have one way? God doesn’t want us to follow a lie. All may enter, but we must enter His way, not our own. Being too narrow just isn’t an excuse. Believing there are many ways to Heaven isn’t the answer.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14

 THE TRUE and ETERNAL ANSWER

The answer of eternity is found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ!  You have two choices. Sadly, most choose the wide road to exit planet Earth. The other way is the narrow road which is covered with the blood of Jesus Christ.

WHICH ONE WILL YOU CHOOSE?

“If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.  For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the Scripture says, “Whosoever believes on [Jesus] shall not be ashamed.”  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Romans 10:9-13  

“For [God] says, “I have heard you in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I helped you: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”  2 Corinthians 6:2  

There is only one way to get to Heaven. The true path is through Jesus Christ and Him alone. You must make this decision before you die. There’s no second chance after death.

Repent and believe on Him for the forgiveness of your sins before it’s too late.

(Originally produced and distributed by Once Lost Ministries)

JESUS REALLY IS THE REASON!

bigstock-Christmas-Cross-bright-Christ-25582868 JESUS REALLY IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!

He is also the reason we can rejoice in every season! To think that God, the Father would be pleased to send His only begotten Son to die for the sins of the world is truly unfathomable. But then to think that God the Son willingly and joyfully offered not only to come, but make His soul THE sacrifice for sin is gloriously amazing and humbling indeed! Isaiah 53:10.

The reality is that Jesus, willing to lovingly obey His Father’s will and wanting to rescue men from a horrible, Christless eternity, chose to not only allow the wrath of God to be poured down from Heaven upon Himself, but also to be separated from the Father He had been one with for eternity. Psalm 22:1. He also chose to literally change His appearance, now bearing the scars of Calvary for eternity! John 20:27-28. (I’m not sure I’d be willing to even change what I’m wearing for someone else, let alone my very appearance.)

Coming to grips with who Jesus really is and what He has done should cause us to respond to Him with such resounding thanks and heartfelt praise! This knowledge is too wonderful for us, yet the glimmers we receive this side of eternity ought to produce rejoicing which cannot be contained in these temporal bodies, neither constrained by the god of this world!

God’s ways and thoughts are so far above our own, yet He desires to reveal Himself to all who would come to Him by faith (Hebrews 11:6), teaching us of His heart and mind through the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 55:6-9. He demonstrated and continues to demonstrate His love day in and day out, showing Himself faithful and true from generation to generation (Psalm 100:5) and nothing this world throws at Jesus will ever change Him! Hebrews 13:8.

May this day in which we remember the ultimate gift- the One who is the Living Word, yet became flesh and dwelt among us; the One full of grace and truth (John 1:14); the One who became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21); may this day in which we remember the wonders of His love propel our hearts and minds to rejoice unto Him with joy unspeakable and full of glory, declaring His truth and His love to all those we meet now and for eternity!

TRULY, JESUS IS THE REASON!  

“For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endures to all generations.” Psalm 100:5

“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:28

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

The Word Became Flesh

Unityinthetruth's Blog

God-Write-the-Bible“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:1, 3, and 14

How does a word become flesh? Just think about how many words we hear, speak, read, write, and type each day! How often do teachers use words in the classroom?  How many words are used by parents to their children? But our words can by no means become something other than words. The same is true for the words in this article. None of them will someday become flesh. It is an impossibility! There is, however, a language that does become flesh.

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No Jesus, No Thanks!

Heart and Cross Image

An atheistic evolutionist would have us believe there is nothing more than matter, yet if matter is all there is, then how would an immaterial concept such as “THANKS” ever originate? “Thanks” has no color, no shape, no texture, and no taste. A rock, for example, is matter in a solid form, yet it cares nothing about being thankful. In fact, we could say a rock cannot even care, let alone be thankful. The same could be said for all solids, liquids, and gases. Thankfulness is a concept that goes way beyond the material. So if it didn’t come from matter, then where did thanks originate from?

Nonphysical concepts such as thankfulness cannot be derived from matter, but instead must come from something immaterial. And to say that thankfulness came from some sort of impersonal “higher power” energy or force would be foolish. Mindless energy and impersonal forces would be unable to produce such a personal concept as thanks.

Thanks is not simply a figment of our imagination found in the dictionary and it is not the mindless product of some impersonal force. It could only originate from One who is both personal and loving. In truth, thanksgiving must stem from a loving heart, one that is not self-seeking. The Bible describes this kind of love in 1 Corinthians 13, “Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up…” 1 Corinthians 13:4. This love comes from the personal God who is love (1 John 4:8,16), the God who demonstrated His love in sending His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Savior of the world. (John 3:16-17)

Jesus is not only the Savior, He is the Creator and coming King. (Colossians 1:11-20) He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He truly is the Son of God and God the Son. Without Jesus there would be no universe and no earth. There would be no salvation. There would be no love and without love there would be no thanks! Truly it can be said, “No Jesus, No Thanks!” During this season, let us not only be thankful, but be sure to give thanks to only One who truly deserves it all, the Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ!

“Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the people. Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him, talk you of all His wondrous works. Glory in His holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD and His strength, seek His face continually.” 1 Chronicles 16:8-11

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