Generally speaking, all of Christendom follows the apostle Peter. Catholics teach that Peter founded the Roman Catholic church at Rome and was its first bishop for 25 years. Most Protestant churches teach the Church began at Pentecost under the ministry of the apostle Peter. But that's where the similarity ends.
What does the New Testament have to say about Peter? This is the only authoritative place we can go if we want to know the truth about this man.
HE WAS ONE OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES
At the beginning of the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, He picked twelve men to help Him in this ministry. The first two men were Peter and his brother Andrew. This is recorded in Matthew 4:18-20 and in Mark 1:16-18. Ten other men were added a little later to make twelve members. All of their names are mentioned in Matthew 10:2-4. The commission of the 12 Apostles is also given in this chapter:
These twelve Jesus sent forth and commanded them, saying, 'Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 10:5-6).
The first thing the Lord mentioned to them was that they were not to go to the Gentiles. They were to stay within the boundary of Palestine and preach only to their own people. Why were they restricted by the Lord? They were restricted because the nation of Israel had to be saved first before the Gentiles could hear the Word of God. This is what we learn from Genesis 12:2-3:
"And I will make of thee [Abraham] a great nation [Israel], and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."
This is why the Lord Jesus confined His earthly ministry to such a small part of the earth. One needs to understand the Abrahamic Covenant before he can understand the earthly ministry of Israel's Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The position of Peter as one of the Twelve Apostles of Israel never changed, and it is the same with the rest of the Twelve. They remained Israel's Apostles until they died. The Lord promised them that they would sit on twelve thrones, governing the twelve tribes of Israel in the Kingdom (this is yet future):
And Jesus said unto them, 'Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel' (Matt. 19:28).
Their names are going to be written on the twelve foundations of the New Jeruslaem:
And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Rev. 21:14).
The only Apostle who lost his standing and his reward was Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed the Lord. When he died, he went to his own place (Acts 1:18-20, 25). Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Eleven chose Matthias to fill the vacancy. They were, once again, twelve Apostles.
TO WHOM DID PETER WRITE?
The Apostle Peter wrote two letters to the Jewish believers of the Messianic church, who were scattered around the Mediterranean:
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (1 Peter 1:1)
Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1)
He referred to the Gentiles twice in his two letters (1 Peter 2:12; 4:3) and only because the Jewish believers were living among the Gentiles. They were not to act like them.
All of Peter's teachings in his two letters are in relation to the coming Tribulation period and to the Millenial Kingdom. His letters are full of New Covenant truth, which covenant will be God's standard of righteousness during the Millenium. You can classify his teachings as "evangelical Judaism," and they compliment the writings of James, John, and Jude.
WHAT PETER PREACHED
When the Lord Jesus commissioned the Twelve, He also told them what to preach:
"And as ye go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give" (Matt. 10:7-8).
The Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven is the only message Peter preached. This Gospel of the Kingdom is the only message Peter knew. Salvation, according to the Gospel of the Kingdom, was accomplished when the Jewish person believed and was baptized in water for the forgiveness of sins:
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:16).
Then Peter said unto them, 'Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost' (Acts 2:28).
This was God's way at that time:
But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him (Luke 7:30).
But when Israel murdered Stephen, as recorded in Acts ch. 7, then the Gospel of the Kingdom gradually began to be withdrawn over the next 27 years until Israel was set aside in Acts 28. The Divine gospel that had taken its place is the Gospel of the grace of God that was committed unto the Apostle Paul.
Not one person or Christian organization is setting forth the Gospel of the Kingdom today the way the Lord gave it to the Twelve Apostles. Lepers are not being cleansed; the dead are not being raised. The Gospel of the Kingdom that Peter preached cannot be preached in all its fulness because it is not God's message for today.
WHAT WAS PETER'S ATTITUDE TOWARD PAUL?
Even though Paul severely rebuked him on one occasion (Gal. 2:11-18), Peter got over it. Toward the end of his second letter, Peter mentioned Paul:
And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction (2 Peter 3:15-16).
The Apostle Peter knew about the revelations given to Paul by the risen Christ but he did not fully understand them. The only thing he realized was that they were Scripture, that they were inspired by God. What Peter said about Paul's letters, that there were "some things hard to be understood" in them, is the same attitude most believers have today. This attitude does not please the risen Lord. The vast majority who make up the Body of Christ do not really understand what Paul wrote. And when some of the important aspects of this dispensation of grace are pointed out to them, they would rather close their minds to it and keep on holding to the teachings of Peter (and the other circumcision apostles) that their churches teach.
As for me, there has been nothing greater than to get a glimpse of the marvelous truths that the risen Christ revealed to the Apostle Paul. The plan of salvation that God now offers to all mankind is the simplest plan of all. All one needs to do is to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior. The Church can't save you; water baptism can't save you; living a good life can't save you; doing good works can't save you. But the One who died on the cross for your sins CAN SAVE YOU. He is the only One who can save you.
If you are saved, which Apostle does your church follow? Does it follow Peter with his Gospel of the Kingdom? Or does it follow Paul with his Gospel of the grace of God? If you don't know which Apostle it follows, it would be wise to find out. Much depends on it.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
Have you ever pondered the question of who is really living your life? Is it the former you in Adam? Or is it others around you? A cornerstone of Paul's teachings is just Who it is that lives His life in us.
THE FORMER YOU IN ADAM?
"Knowing that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed…henceforth we should not serve sin" (Romans 6:6).
Many believers' lives are lived from the grave; from the defeated dominion of the "old man;" from the former independent, Adamic-self that was finished on the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Through our union in Christ's death and resurrection, your old self-life in Adam is history; rest on this accomplished fact. There are many believers who are desperately trying to crucify themselves when it is a done deal. Your crucifixion is a historical fact. Refuse to live under the domination of old Adamic-life.
Many believers' lives are lived by others. They are dominated by what others think and say.
We only live twice; one temporary life now, and one immortal life in the resurrection. This truth makes all of life valuable; especially this first life – since it is a quickly vanishing vapor-life (James 4:14). Everyone gets one of these temporal lives. No one had the right to live your life for you, thus have more than one life for themselves. Refuse to allow anyone to live your life for you; to pressure, to domineer, to lord over you. The life that the Father has given you is the gift of His life in you. Value it, honor it; and redeem it from the hands of those who would embezzle it from you. Not even Paul the Apostle would assume such a place over the lives of believers.
"Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand" (II Cor 1:24).
Nor would Paul allow anyone to have such ascendancy in his own life.
"But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self" (I Cor 4:3).
This is why his great appeals are to be free from such power and control.
"Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances (touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using) after the commandments and doctrines of men?" (Colossians 2:20-22).
Others may choose to judge us. However sincere their actions may be, or appear to be, we are not to be affected by this. When we, like Paul, walk before the Lord their verdicts are to be a "very small thing" in our sight. In fact, if we are concerned about their opinions, it will have a hindering and hampering effect.
Stop worrying about others' opinion and go on living the precious life that God has given you. Don't worry about the expectations of others. God's calling in your life is to be His unique prototype, not a stereotype; you are to be His original, not a forged copy. Abandon mere mortal expectations; real or imagined.
There are some believers who, with Paul, have learned the real source of life: their lives are the life of the Father through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. They have come to realize that their life is the new "I" – one of unique design and of divine distinctiveness. They have come to acknowledge that they are that one-of-a-kind individual that God has created them to be – filled and made vibrant with His dynamic life living in and through them. They are those who know exactly Who is living His life in them!
"I [a son of Adam] am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I [a son of God] live; yet not I [the "I' of the old creation] but Christ liveth in me [the 'me' of the new creation] and the life [the divine life of God] which I [the unique person God that has made me to be] now live in the flesh [right now, this very day] I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
Who is living your life? Is it the former you in Adam? Is it others around you? Or is it the divine life of the Father, through the person of our Lord Jesus Christ?
-- Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
“Failure to realize the true, awful nature of sin lies at the root of man’s denial of eternal punishment. Man revolts at the idea that a loving God will punish His creature in an eternal hell. Modern preachers love to tell us that God is love, and that He will do no such thing at all; but all such talk is silenced immediately when we get a true picture of these two things: God’s HOLINESS, and the AWFULNESS OF SIN. Sin is not a little thing. We repeat this without apology. It is the cause of every sorrow in the world. It blights lives, breaks homes, kills children, beclouds reason, slays the body, and damns the soul.”M.R. DeHaan, The Tabernacle, 1955 (emphasis added)
There is a time, I know not when,
a place, I know not where,
which marks the destiny of men
to heaven or despair.
There is a line by us not seen
which crosses every path,
the hidden boundary between
God's patience and His wrath.
To cross that limit is to die --
to die, as if by stealth.
It may not pale the beaming eye
nor quench the glowing health.
The conscience may be still at ease,
the spirits light and gay;
that which is pleasing still may please
and care be thrust away.
But on that forehead God hath set
indelibly a mark
by man unseen, for man as yet
is blind and in the dark.
And still the doomed man's path below
may bloom like Eden bloomed:
he did not, does not, will not know
nor feel that he is doomed.
He feels, he sees that all is well,
his every fear is calmed.
He lives. He dies. He wakes in hell,
not only doomed but damned.
Oh, where is that mysterious bourn
by which each path is crossed,
beyond which God Himself hath sworn
that he who goes is lost?
How long may men go on in sin?
How long will God forbear?
Where does hope end? And where begin
the confines of despair?
One answer from those skies is sent:
"You who'd from God depart,
while it is called today, repent
and harden not your heart."
– Author unknown
There are many theological words which most people — even most Christian people — do not understand. Among these is the Bible word righteousness. Actually, though, this word is very simple and we ought to understand about God’s righteousness even before we learn of His love.
Righteousness is simply an old word for rightness. When we say that God is righteous, we simply mean that what He does is always right; that He will not and cannot do anything that is not right. This is why Paul declares in Romans 1:16, 17:
“I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…FOR THEREIN IS THE RIGHTEOUSNESS [rightness] OF GOD REVEALED…”
We are proud to proclaim the gospel of the grace of God because it emphasizes God’s rightness. The gospel does not tell us that God will overlook our sins or wink at them and smuggle us into heaven. It doesn’t tell us that He will forgive us if we are sorry enough or do enough good deeds to counterbalance our sins. By no means.
The “gospel of the grace of God” is based on His rightness. It is the wonderful message that “Christ died for our sins,” that He paid for them Himself so that He might justly offer us forgiveness and declare us righteous.
Romans 3:26 puts it beautifully. There the apostle declares that since our sins were paid for by Christ at Calvary, God can now “be just — and the Justifier of him who believes in Jesus.”
For centuries religious people have said to each other: “We must be truly sorry for our sins and do all the good we can and surely God will forgive and accept us.” But this is not the gospel. The gospel gives us more solid ground to plant our feet upon. It says to every man, woman and child: “Your sins were PAID FOR by Christ at Calvary. Trust in Him and you will be saved.” This is gospel [good news] indeed, for it is based on the just payment of the penalty for sin.
-- C.R. Stam
Simply believe what the lost people in Corinth believed when God declared them "not guilty"...
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
Believing those facts result in being justified by God. But what exactly does justified mean?
To be justified means more than to be shown mercy or to be forgiven, though that is certainly included. To be justified by God is to be acquitted or declared "not guilty" of all transgressions against Him, thus counted by Him as righteous.
Paul explains on how the sinner's justification is accomplished in his letter to the Roman believers by using the example of Abraham, whose simple faith in God's promise was credited to him as righteousness:
...that "it [righteousness] was credited to him" [to Abraham] was not written only for Abraham’s sake but also for our sake [that includes you and me], to whom it will be credited: those who believe in the One who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He [Christ] was given over because of our transgressions and was raised for the sake of our justification.
So according to the apostle Paul, those who are justified by God are justified on the basis of simple faith in what He is asking all of us to believe: that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again.
Now at this point of the discussion three questions frequently come up:
1. Okay, maybe I'm not perfect but I'm not THAT bad, either. A lot of people in the world are WAY worse than I am so why do I need to be justified?
Because of Adam's sin. Adam was the physical father of us all, and God looks at all of lost humanity as part of Adam: “By one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin, so that death passed upon ALL men because ALL sinned" (Rom. 5:12). Adam's sin counts against all of us, for we all were yet in him when he sinned.
So it's not so much a matter of what we do, but what we ARE. Sinning doesn't make us sinners. We sin because we're sinners. By nature, we already stand filthy, unjustified and condemned before a holy God. In fact, because of sin, God bluntly refers to us as His enemies (Romans 5:10).
That we all sin, violate our consciences (the Law of God which He placed in our hearts) and ultimately die is all the proof we could ask of our own sin, should we doubt it. Many professing Christians do not grasp, agree with or like this fact, but God's Word says it is a fact.
2. How can God declare a lost sinner forgiven, justified and even righteous simply by his or her faith? Didn't He demand all sin be paid for by blood?
Yes He did, and He does it by the blood of the Cross. Upon a person's faith in Christ - meaning belief in His death, burial and resurrection from the dead for our sin - God no longer identifies him or her with Adam, the fallen, sinning father of our flesh. Instead, the believer is declared legally DEAD and his or her new life is the life of Christ, the second Adam (1 Cor 15:45):
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
This is what the Bible means when it speaks of how believers are baptized [placed; identified] into Christ. This baptism has nothing to do with physical H2O but is the "one baptism" by the Spirit into the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:5) at the moment of faith. At that moment, the believer is fully and forever identified with Christ. As a result,
...we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace (Eph. 1:7).
3. But don't we have to do something in addition to faith, to show God we're worthy of, or have earned, or to keep His justification?
The apostle Paul - the man through whom Christ chose to reveal these truths - answers that question repeatedly with an emphatic no. Salvation today is by grace through faith alone in Christ, without works to obtain, maintain or prove one's salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). Why? Because we do not deserve it and there's nothing we can do to earn it. God's "not guilty" comes to us through faith in Christ alone, expressly without any work or effort on our part. Christ did ALL that God ever required to bring you and I to Himself, so ALL the glory for our salvation must and should go to Him alone.
Since the work of our salvation has been completed, there's nothing left for us to do except that which God says to do:
That's why, when the sin-convicted Philippian jailor begged of Paul "What must I do to be saved?" the apostle's answer was not a list of sacraments, a litany of rituals, a checklist of good deeds that must be done, a prayer to pray, a promise to make to God, nor warnings of sins to stop committing first. No...the Good News could not have been any simpler:
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved!" (Acts 16:31)
If you're not 100% sure God has declared you justified in Christ, what's stopping you from, right now, being forever acquitted of all your sin and having your conscience forever cleansed by God Himself?
Receive not the grace of God in vain. . .Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (II Cor. 6: 1-2)
He cannot lie and has given you His Word: simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!
This writer spent much of his youth as a city missionary and was practically brought up on open air gospel meetings. One night it fell to my lot to lead such a meeting, and an exciting one it was. Passersby making fun, listeners asking questions; some just heckling -- for Patterson at that time was known as "the city of anarchists" and we had plenty of them around. We never minded their interruptions, though, for they practically guaranteed large and interested audiences and one soon learned to use them to advantage.
These street meetings mostly contained some "good religious people" too, so on this particular evening, when the audience seemed to be at its height, I felt led to try an experiment. I asked, "Are there any present here who are sincerely trying to get to heaven?"
At this point four people raised their hands. I asked them to step forward, which all of them kindly did. I can't recall all the exact details now but our conversations went something like this:
"You are sincerely trying to get to heaven?" I asked the first man.
"Oh, yes," he replied.
"How?" I asked.
"Well, I try to do what's right. I'm a good husband and father, I think, and I work hard for a living."
"Now," I persisted, "just one more question. "Are you sure that if you died tonight you would go to heaven?"
"Of course not," he replied. "Nobody can be sure."
"Well, let's not settle that yet," I suggested. "All I gather so far is that you are sincerely trying to be acceptable to heaven, but you are not sure that you'll get there."
The next of the four was a woman. She declared that she was sincerely trying too. She was religious, went to church regularly and read the Bible and prayed.
"But," I asked, "should this be your last night on earth, are you sure you would go to heaven?"
"Oh no," she replied, "I'm not sure." Nobody can be sure."
"Well," I persisted, "let's just wait and discuss that later. All I want to point out is that you are trying but you're not sure.
It was almost exactly the same with the other two. They too were trying, but were not sure that God would accept them should this be their last night on earth.
Then I asked, "Is there anyone in this audience who is sure of heaven?" and immediately one man raised his hand. He also kindly stepped forward into the midst of the crowd.
"How can you be sure of heaven?" I asked. "Haven't you ever sinned?"
"Of course," he replied, "but I take God at His Word. He says in 1 Corinthains 15:3 that Christ died for our sins. And in Ephesians 1:7, He says that we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace."
"Ah, but how do you know," I asked further, "that all this applies to you personally?"
"Oh, that's easy," he replied. "God's Word says in Romans 10:11 and 13 that whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed and that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, and that includes me!"
I feel to this day that an important fact was demonstrated at that street corner meeting. Those who try to make themselves acceptable to God are never sure of heaven. This is so in the nature of the case, for if they were sure, why would they go on trying?
The one way to be sure of heaven is to stop trying and to trust in Christ, who died for our sins.
"Now to him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that does not work but believes on Him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Romans 4:45).
"For by grace as you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God - not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31).
-- C.R. Stam
...nothing but authenticity will stand the fire. Authentic repentance towards God--authentic faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ--authentic holiness of heart and life--these, these are the things which will alone stand the judgment at the last day.
Psa 30:10 Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be Thou my helper.
the LORD thy God,
will hold thy right hand,
saying unto thee,
I will help thee.”
Psa 31:9: Be gracious to me, Lord, because I am in distress;
my eyes are worn out from angry sorrow—my whole being as well.
And call upon Me in the day of trouble:
I will deliver thee,
and thou shalt glorify Me.
Psa 51:2: Wash away my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin.
And Jesus put forth His hand
and touched him, saying,
“I am willing. Be cleansed.”
Psa 141:3: LORD, set a guard for my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips.
Now therefore go, and
I will be with thy mouth,
and teach thee what thou shalt say.
Luke 18:13: “But the tax collector, standing far off,
would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying,
‘God, turn Your wrath from me—a sinner!’
1 Timothy 1:15:
This is a faithful saying,
and worthy of all acceptation,
that Christ Jesus came into the world
to save sinners,
of whom I am chief.
Acts 16:30: And brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
And they said,
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ
and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
Job 23:3: If only I knew how to find Him so that I could go to His throne.
And ye shall seek Me
and find Me,
when ye shall search for Me
with all your heart.
Job 40:4: I am nothing; who am I to answer You?
I place my hand over my mouth.
“Come now, and let us reason together,”
saith the Lord.
“Though your sins be as scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow.
Though they be red like crimson,
they shall be as wool.”
Psa 51:10: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
A new heart also
I will give you,
and a new spirit
I will put within you, and
I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and
I will give you an heart of flesh.
Psa 6:6: I am exhausted from my groaning;
all night long I drench my bed in tears;
I soak my couch with my tears.
Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and
He shall sustain thee:
He shall never allow
the righteous to be moved.
2 Corinthians 2:16: Who is competent for these things?
2 Corinthians 12:9:
My grace is sufficient for thee:
for My strength is made perfect
Psa 42:2: I thirst for God, the living God:
when can I come and appear before God?
Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty.
Psa 130:6: My soul waits for the LORD more than they that watch for the morning,
yes, more than they that watch for the morning.
They that wait upon the Lord
shall renew their strength.
Psa 55:4: The terror of death is upon me.
He that believeth on Me,
though he were dead,
yet shall he live.
Psa 27:9: Don't leave me nor abandon me, O God of my salvation.
Revelation 22:20: Come, Lord Jesus.
I am coming quickly!
If you're not 100% sure, read along with the audio at the above link.
Hebrews 2 states that unbelievers are, “through fear of death… all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Ver. 15). How often they must ask themselves: “What will become of me: finally become of me?” The best they can hope is that God will be merciful to them and accept them at last, but God cannot do this without a just basis, and since unbelievers have rejected His gracious payment for sin, they must remain under its condemnation. Many hope that physical death will be the end for them, but they fear that the Bible may be true and that death will not be the end.
This writer once talked with a profane barber who had boasted that he was his own “God,” and would be until they put him “six feet under.” To this we replied: “The Bible says that ‘it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this is the judgment.’ You may not believe this, or accept it as the Word of God, but you can’t prove it isn’t so, and I would urge you to look into it carefully, asking God to give you light.”
Here we ask the reader a very personal question: Are you saved? Have you accepted Christ and His payment for your sins, now standing before God “justified from all things,” and “accepted in the Beloved”? If not, we beg you: do not delay. These are serious times and who knows how soon God will take His own away and bring this dispensation of grace to a close. Then it will be too late, so we urge you, face up to your sinful condition now, and place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who, in infinite love and grace, bore the burden of your guilt and condemnation at Calvary. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” (Acts 16:31).
C.R. Stam, Two Minutes With the Bible
...of the religion of Scientism, specifically Global Wa -- sorry, "Climate Change," the most zealous manifestation of that religion at present.
The author of the piece does well to point out a few of the parallels between Scientism (whose adherents will deny unto death that it's a faith) and traditional religions, but does not go far enough.
ALL the sects of scientism - most notably evolutionism - have their analogues to holy writ, priesthoods, devils, heretics, sin, savior(s), salvation, redemption, penance and most definitely evangelism. The only thing they tend not to have is moral responsibility from any source apart from or higher than themselves...in short, the Scientism-ists are the gods of Scientism.
And if you do not share their faith, they mark you as the mortal enemy of the earth and of humanity and so feel morally justified in destroying you.
I have to wonder because so many of them exhibit an irrational fear of crosses. Nah, it's probably just their God-given consciences condemning them for unrepentant sin.
Paul instructed Timothy to keep the truth "without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Tim. 6:14). A spot is a small, seemingly insignificant thing.
Jude instructed every believer to "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). As Jude didn't delineate what part of the faith is to be defended, the obvious meaning is that whatever aspect of the faith is under attack at any given time, God's people should rally to its defense rather than pretending that it is a "non-essential."
I challenge anyone to show me where the Scripture encourages the believer to "stand for the cardinal truths and downplay the peripherals."
"Creation Science Ministries:
Why the New Evangelical Principle is Dangerous"
Way of Life Literature
[From every corner and camp within protestantism, it would be easy to outline dozens of cases of those who claimed (and still claim) to hold firm to the widely revered but biblically dubious dictum, "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity," yet who have gradually de-emphasized or abandoned their professed essentials in an effort to be accepted as ecumenicially charitable by the religious lost and the worldly unsaved - the very people who steadfastly REJECT, among other things, the biblical essential of faith alone in Christ and Him crucified for salvation, without works.
In a word, these teachers, ministers, ministries, movements, churches and even entire denominations compromised with the world. Were this pointed out to them they would vehemently deny it, but, like Esau, they gave up much of value in exchange for nothing but shame. Most receive nothing in return but the passing applause of Gospel-rejecting people who they genuinely believe are now their friends. A few of the "luckier" ones receive lots and lots of money through doors previously closed but which ecumenism, doctrinal defection and compromise always seem to open.
The invariable result: once compromise starts it never stops, and the authority of the Word of God grows ever diminished among the very people who ought to know better, the very people who name the Name of Christ.]
Restore us, O God of our salvation, and cause Your indignation toward us to cease. Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger to all generations? Will You not Yourself revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your lovingkindness, O LORD, and grant us Your salvation. (Psalm 85:4-7)
O God, restore us And cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved. O LORD God of hosts, How long will You be angry with the prayer of Your people? (Psalm 80:3-4)
Bryon Paulus, director of Life Action Ministries, has said our greatest obstacle for revival is failure to pray, to plead, to intercede, to cry out. Leonard Ravenhill summed it up...
The greatest difficulty in the Christian life is to get to the place where one is prepared to admit that the whole thing is too big for him, that if this Jericho is to fall then, somehow, God must bring it about. I believe that before God entrusts any of His people with a real measure of spiritual power, victory and blessing, he brings them to a place from where they have surveyed Jericho so long that they have come to see that its conquest is absolutely hopeless. God expects nothing more from us than failure, yet we spend years trying to make ourselves something other than a failure. So long as we think we can do it alone, the omnipotent resources of God in Jesus Christ our risen Lord cannot help us.
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIVING
From beginning to end, God, the all-powerful One, the faithful One, HATH MADE complete provision for the child of FAITH!
Trust (rely upon, adhere to) the CRUCIFIED CHRIST as your sin-bearer! "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree. . ." (I Peter 1:24). "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). "He was delivered for our offences and raised again on account of our justification" (Romans 4:25).
Trust the RESURRECTED CHRIST as your New Life! "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
Trust the GLORIFIED CHRlST to come again and catch us away "...to meet the LORD in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (I Thessalonians 4:17).
Sir Robert Anderson
The writer once met, in a South Wales town, a man who seemed in deep exercise about his soul's salvation. One question was perplexing him greatly, “Is my faith in Christ genuine?” But the test he had been making use of to settle the difficulty was this, "Can I really find in myself the proper marks of a Christian?"
The search, however, had evidently been very disappointing. As he had a small business of his own, a simple question in connection with it was put to him: “When a new customer comes to your shop and wants credit, whose character do you investigate, your own or his ?” “Oh, his, of course,” he promptly replied. Yes. The genuineness of your confidence in the customer could not be determined by any worthy features in yourself. In like manner, therefore, if you want to ascertain the genuineness of your faith in Christ, all you need is to make sure of the genuineness of His title to be trusted. Let any reader in like difficulty consider this. “They looked unto Him and were lightened, and their faces were not ashamed” (Psa. 34:5).
The discovery of His personal trustworthiness disperses every doubt. But should the eye be taken off Him after that, and a doubt intrude; just ask yourself, "Do I now consider Him unworthy of my confidence?" Let your lips repeat His saving name, the Name of Jesus; look up into His face, and every doubt will vanish.
There's a common tactic among pro-homosexual activists (some of whom claim to be Christians) that claims the sin for which the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed was not homosexuality. Some go as far as to assert that homosexuality had nothing to do with the God's judgment but that they were destroyed due to inhospitality. Well, I'd agree with that to a point: group-rape of strangers is hardly hospitable. But it is true that homosexuality was not the only reason the towns were judged.
However, in order to gain the fullest possible picture of why it happened, we must examine every passage in the Bible that says something about Sodom and Gomorrah. Let's begin with the primary reference...
19 The two angels entered Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting at Sodom’s gate. When Lot saw them, he got up to meet them. He bowed with his face to the ground 2 and said, “My lords, turn aside to your servant’s house, wash your feet, and spend the night. Then you can get up early and go on your way.”
“No,” they said. “We would rather spend the night in the square.”
3 But he urged them so strongly that they followed him and went into his house. He prepared a feast and baked unleavened bread for them, and they ate.
4 Before they went to bed, the men of the city of Sodom, both young and old, the whole population, surrounded the house. 5 They called out to Lot and said, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Send them out to us so we can have sex with them!”
6 Lot went out to them at the entrance and shut the door behind him. 7 He said, “Don’t do this evil, my brothers. 8 Look, I’ve got two daughters who haven’t had sexual relations with a man. I’ll bring them out to you, and you can do whatever you want to them. However, don’t do anything to these men, because they have come under the protection of my roof.”
9 “Get out of the way!” they said, adding, “This one came here as a foreigner, but he’s acting like a judge! Now we’ll do more harm to you than to them.” They put pressure on Lot and came up to break down the door. 10 But the angels reached out, brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. 11 They struck the men who were at the entrance of the house, both young and old, with a blinding light so that they were unable to find the entrance.
A few things to note here. First, Lot knew exactly what the Sodomites were planning. He called it "evil" and literally begged them not to do it. Second, the men of Sodom were so taken with the idea of raping the two visitors that they not only rejected Lot's awful, panicked offer of his own daughters to satisfy their lust but when he resisted further they threatened to do the same and worse to Lot himself. Third, note well that EVERY MAN IN TOWN, young men and old men, had eagerly turned out to participate in the rape. See a similar account in Judges 19:16-24.
All its soil will be a burning waste of sulfur and salt, unsown, producing nothing, with no plant growing on it, just like the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the Lord demolished in His fierce anger.
The Lord was so angry with Sodom and Gomorrah that He utterly destroyed them...due to inhospitality? No.
28 Israel is a nation lacking sense with no understanding at all. 29 If only they were wise, they would figure it out; they would understand their fate. 30 How could one man pursue a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, unless the Lord had given them up? 31 But their “rock” is not like our Rock; even our enemies concede. 32 For their vine is from the vine of Sodom and from the fields of Gomorrah. Their grapes are poisonous; their clusters are bitter. 33 Their wine is serpents’ venom, the deadly poison of cobras.
God equates apostate Israel with Sodom and Gomorrah using the vivid picture of deadly snakes.
The look on their faces testifies against them, and like Sodom, they flaunt their sin. They do not conceal it. Woe to them, for they have brought evil on themselves.
Israel was now openly flaunting its sins without the slightest shame, just as modern day homosexual pride parades do.
Among the prophets of Jerusalem also I saw a horrible thing: They commit adultery and walk in lies. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, and none turns his back on evil. They are all like Sodom to Me; Jerusalem’s residents are like Gomorrah.
Israel is again compared to Sodom and Gomorrah in that they committed adultery, had a habit of lying and promoted and loved evil...all of which broke the Law given them through Moses.
48 “As I live”—the declaration of the Lord God—“your sister Sodom and her daughters have not behaved as you and your daughters have. 49 Now this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, plenty of food, and comfortable security, but didn’t support the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before Me, so I removed them when I saw this. 51 But Samaria did not commit even half your sins. You have multiplied your detestable practices beyond theirs and made your sisters appear righteous by all the detestable things you have committed. 52 You must also bear your disgrace, since you have been an advocate for your sisters. For they appear more righteous than you because of your sins, which you committed more abhorrently than they did. So you also, be ashamed and bear your disgrace, since you have made your sisters appear righteous.
Israel at this point had actually surpassed Sodom in wickness. Among the sins compared to Sodom's: pride, which the Lord hates; arrogance in their wealth and its false sense of security; and certain practices which God called "detestable" TWICE [Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13]) without any mitigating circumstances nor stipulations.
But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all.
As the Genesis account records, Christ reminds His listeners that God utterly destroyed Sodom with fire and brimstone.
2 Peter 2:6
and if He reduced the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes and condemned them to ruin, making them an example to those who were going to be ungodly
God intended Sodom and Gomorrah to serve as a perpetual example and warning.
In the same way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them committed sexual immorality and practiced perversions, just as angels did, and serve as an example by undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.
Sodom and Gomorrah are again described as not merely sexually immoral but practicing perversion - which is the very definition of homosexuality - and are again said to serve as God's warning against sin.
CONCLUSION: Sodom and Gomorrah were utterly wicked towns whose inhabitants engaged in all manner of sins, among which widespread homosexuality was only one among many. However, the notoriety of Sodom is due to the fact that its men were so given over to their perversion that they eagerly engaged in the homosexual gang-rape of strangers.
The fact remains, however, that ALL homosexuality without regard to the context in which it is practiced (including "mere" consensual homosexuality) is invariably condemned by God throughout Scripture as detestable and worthy of judgment unless, as 1 Cor 6 teaches, it is repented of:
Don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God's kingdom? Do not be deceived: no sexually immoral people, idolators, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people or swindlers will inherit God's kingdom. AND SOME OF YOU WERE LIKE THIS. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Brief Thoughts on Life, the Universe
and Everything In It
Many people believe the univese began in an explosion generally referred to as "the big bang." However, there are some major problems with this that many big bang believers never stop to consider.
1. The Latin term ex nihilo nihil fit means "Out of nothing, nothing can come." Nothing known to science can happen without a cause that existed prior to the object or event in question. So to believe the totality of the physical universe popped into existence from nothing is not only scientifically impossible, it leaves at least three even bigger questions unanswered:
"Something had to explode, so what was it? WHAT exploded?"
"WHY did it explode?"
"WHERE did it come from?"
2. To simply assert, "The universe came from a big explosion" is the equivalent of believing in magic because it attributes creativity, organization, and the capacity for design to...a big explosion, the cosmological equivalent of a wizard's magic wand. Just take a look at pictures of the aftermath of Hiroshima or photos of a plane wreck to see how orderly explosions are. Our universe is amazingly ordered BUT EXPLOSIONS CANNOT CREATE ORDER. That means the big bang is an inadequate explanation for creation, meaning something else must have created it all.
All of which points back to the questions asked above: where did it all come from, and WHY did it happen, if in fact it did happen?
Some believers in the big bang admit that the notion of explosive self-creation is precluded by all the laws of science, as well as by common sense. So they instead suggest that the universe is eternal. In other words, the big bang itself was not the creative event that made the universe, for the universe already existed.
But this belief is just as magical as the belief in explosive self-creation. Because the observable universe and everything in it (including ourselves) can be seen to be gradually winding down and falling apart, an eternal material universe would have long ago fallen apart, disintegrated and ceased to exist, forever unable to reassemble itself enough to even potentially comprise a big bang (much less cause one).
In order to believe notions of universal self-creation and/or eternality, one must first reject logic, rationality and the evidence we have been able to observe about the universe. It is akin to a child's magical thinking. It is to deny reality.
That the universe (a) cannot have existed eternally, (b) cannot have created itself and (c) shows countless unmistakable signs of painstaking, deliberate planning PROVES that someone made it.
Whoever created it all would have had to exist before, above, beyond, outside of and independent of the matter/space/time universe "box" which we inhabit. There is only one Being who fits that description:
Dr. F. B. Meyer tells of an experience he had with a woman in England. He had been speaking to her of receiving God's grace by faith. She could not understand his message and told him so. At tea with her a day later, he suddenly turned and said, "Madam, may I please have a cup of tea?" She looked at his table and said, "Why, Dr. Meyer, you have a cup of tea." A little later he said again, "Will you please give me a cup of tea?" She replied, "Why, Dr. Meyer, don't you see, you have a cup of tea right there at your plate." In a few moments he said again, "Please give me a cup of tea! I'm so tired, and I need it." Utterly bewildered, his hostess started to speak, then caught her breath. After a moment she said, "Oh, Dr. Meyer, I see it all now. What you mean is that the Lord's blessing, power, and forgiveness are right here before me, yet I am asking and asking for it, instead of taking it and finding peace through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Some people say, "I prayed and prayed that God would receive me when I came earnestly seeking salvation, but I still do not know if I have it!" Why, my dear friend, God is much more eager to save you than you are to be saved. The very first time you came, He received you! For He has promised, "Whosoever cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." The devil is making you concentrate on your "feelings" and your own unworthiness, when you should be looking to the Lord Jesus Christ, for it is His righteousness that you need. You can't make peace, He has made it — all you have to do to receive it is to accept Him.
Peace rules the day when Christ rules the heart !
When John the Baptist appeared as Christ’s forerunner, God’s chosen people had lived under the law of Moses for fifteen hundred years but had not kept it. Hence John’s call to repentance and baptism for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4).
John was in earnest, too, for when the thoughtless multitude came to him to be baptized, he sent them back, saying: “Bring forth fruits worthy of repentance” (Luke 3:7,8).
Their lives were to be changed and they were to show it. When the people asked: “What shall we do, then?” he told them to live for others rather than for self (Luke 3:10,11). When the tax collectors asked: “What shall we do?” he demanded that they stop cheating the tax payers and live honestly (Vers. 12,13). When the soldiers asked: “What shall we do?” he told them to forbear violence, false accusation and bribery (Ver. 14).
Clearly, righteousness was demanded under John’s message. His hearers were to repent, be baptized, and bring forth the fruits of true repentance. When our Lord appeared, He proclaimed the same message as John (Matt. 3:1,2; 4:17). A lawyer asked: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” and He replied: “What is written in the law?” When the lawyer recited the basic commands of the Law, our Lord answered: “This do and thou shalt live” (Luke 10:25-28). God was still demanding righteousness. They were all under the Law (Gal. 4:4,5; Matt. 23:1,2; etc.).
Some suppose this was all changed after Calvary by the so-called “great commission.” This is not so. When, at Pentecost, Peter’s hearers were convicted of their sins and asked “What shall we do?” Peter commanded them to “repent and be baptized… for the remission of sins” just as John had done (Mark 1:4; cf. Acts 2:38). He did not tell them that Christ had died for their sins.
Paul was the first to say: “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested… [We] declare His righteousness for the remission of sins” (Rom. 3:21-26). When the Gentile jailor fell on his knees and asked: “What must I do to be saved?” Paul replied: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:30,31). This is God’s message for sinners today, for “we have redemption through [Christ's] blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).
C.R. Stam, Two Minutes With the Bible
I wonder if God's people dress better to go a wedding [or any other function] than they do when they go to worship their Saviour? Does that tell us how highly we esteem the object of our affections?
Pastor Buddy Smith,
Grace Baptist Church,
Malanda, Queensland, Australia
Let all go well, and we are prone to grow careless in our Christian lives. Adversity, on the other hand, makes Christians lean the harder and pray the more — and therein lies their strength and their victory.
“Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me…for when I am weak, then am I strong” (1 Cor 12: 9-10).
C.R. Stam, Two Minutes With the Bible
For centuries, commentators have analyzed this passage in light of the Roman soldier's armor, which the apostle evidently used as his model. Some teachers get into the nitty-gritty detail and minutiae of what this or that Roman armor component looked like, how it was made, how it was used, how it related to the other pieces of the armor, etc. Other commentators focus on the area of the soldier's body each piece related to or protected, seeking to draw spiritual applications from that.
I don't discount these interpretations for I have found elements of most of them edifying. However, I'd like to offer an alternate meaning for these components, one which neither contradicts nor negates the standard interpretations but may complement them in a very practical sense. My premise is this: THE PURPOSE OF THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD IS TO ENABLE BELIEVERS TO MENTALLY DEFEND OURSELVES FROM ATTACKS WHICH SPECIFICALLY TARGET WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE HAVE IN CHRIST.
Belt of Truth
Could there be a specific reason Paul listed the Belt of Truth first? I think the answer is yes, and that his choice was deliberate.
As far back as Eve, we see that God's revealed Truth is always Satan's simultaneous target and route of attack. The manifold trials and afflictions Satan was permitted to lay upon Job were a test of the man's faith in the truth that God was good and just in all He does, no matter what our worldly circumstances may lead us to believe. Many similar examples could be cited from Scripture but it will suffice to say that the case is no different for believers today.
All commentators note that the Roman soldier's belt held all the primary pieces together. I would agree with that here: every other piece of spiritual armor listed after the Belt also represents a facet of Truth which Satan uses to assault each and every believer in Christ.
Also note that the Belt (as well as the following two components of armor) seems to already be on the believer whether he knows it or not, as the Greek here can be rendered, "having put on..." This would make sense: As saved individuals, we HAVE already believed the Truth of the Gospel; we HAVE already received the righteousness of Christ Himself before the Father, and we HAVE already received all this by faith in Christ, by which we also HAVE been put in a position of peace with God. If you are a believer in Christ, you ARE - right now - wearing these three pieces of armor whether you realize it or not. You can't take them off, God won't take them back and Satan cannot get them off of you! For this reason, an accurate knowledge of what these first three components represent is critical to our warfare.
Practical implications: Believers are to not only know but to keep constantly in mind that God's Truth is Satan's usual target of attack, and that all his attacks come by way of some aspect of God's Truth. Thus, knowing and clinging to God's Word is of utmost importance and cannot be neglected if a believer expects to stand on the spiritual battlefield. We KNOW the Truth, no matter what Satan may say!
Breastplate of Righteousness
It is true that the Roman breastplate protected the heart and vitals, and perhaps that has some spiritual relevance here. But as discussed above, the believer has been given the righteousness of Christ Himself and - being counted by God as now dead to His condemning Law - that righteousness is permanent.
Practical implications: The world, the flesh and the devil can gossip, slander and lie whatever they like about us, but if we're in Christ we are perfectly and forever righteous in Him. We HAVE the righteousness of God, no matter what Satan may say!
Shoes of the Gospel of Peace
For the longest time I never understood Paul's point in equating the Gospel to the soldier's shoes. That the feet of those who share and spread the Gospel are blessed I do not dispute, but I couldn't see how that equates to battle armor. Then I read how the soles of a Roman soldier's shoes were heavily studded for traction. A few interpreters take from this that the "readiness" here represents not so much evangelizing, but the actual solid foundation of Truth of the Gospel on which we stand as believers - after all, the Gospel is the specific message by which we were saved and by which have peace with God.
Practical implications: The sure foundation upon which we stand is Paul's Gospel, and no other foundation has been or can be laid by any man. Any other gospel, or admixture of gospels, is a false foundation that is in fact no foundation at all. If you've believed the Gospel of the grace of God, you HAVE peace with God no matter what Satan or your Satan-manipulated emotions may say!
Shield of Faith
At this point I defer to the usual interpretations. If our faith in the Truth we've already received (as represented by the other components) momentarily fails, we are left wide open to attack. This is indicated by the command to "take up the Shield of Faith."If we give in to the flesh and sin, and Satan uses that failure to attack our righteousness, how are we to respond? We are to respond in faith by reminding ourselves that we HAVE the righteousness of Christ and are forgiven for His name's sake. If we suspect a false teacher is seeking to seduce us with an especially subtle false doctrine, what can we do? We are to respond in faith that we HAVE the Truth, and we then use the Word rightly divided to prove their error. If a cultist presumes to tell us we're unsaved, how do we reply? By reminding ourselves of our solid foundation in the Gospel of Peace, by which we have been saved and by which they may be saved, too.
Helmet of Salvation
Since the prior components establish that we stand firm on the Gospel we've believed, have peace with God as well as the righteousness of Christ, here again I would agree with nearly all commentators that the Helmet represents the fact of the yet-future aspect of our salvation. We are not left alone in this world but that Christ is sure will return for us. In the meantime, we're to stand strong in Him and for Him.
Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God
As is often commented, this is the only offensive weapon among the armor's components. Christ Himself used it against Satan three times, and Satan fled. Even though we are expected to stand firm and are not told to go on any kind of spiritual ground-gaining counterattack, the believer who has indeed "put on the whole armor of God" including the Sword of the Word will be unassailable under attack, equipped for taking captive every though and for the tearing down of strongholds. In fact, just reminding ourselves of verses pertaining to each component - Romans 3:22 for the imputed righteousness of Christ, for example - is to wield the Sword of the Spirit!
A final note. While the armor is supplemented with necessary prayer - an absolute must - it is interesting to note that the components themselves end where they began: with TRUTH: first as the general Belt of Truth that we possess by virtue of having been saved, finally with the actual Word of Truth which we're to wield in the face of attack. This aligns with the common understanding that our spiritual battle takes place primarily in our minds and hearts, where Truth is either accepted and acted upon, or neglected, or rejected.
Satan's attacks against the believer WILL target one or more of the above pieces of armor because each piece represents a vital truth about who we are in Christ. If we fail to defend an area, we remain safe in Christ but our Christian walk is needlessly impaired. So when attack comes, what are we to do?
The climax of Paul’s first recorded sermon is reached in Verses 38 and 39 of Acts 13, where he declares:
Thus God, through Christ, forgives and justifies those who believe. Nor is this all that was accomplished for us by the death of Christ at Calvary. There is also reconciliation, baptism by the Spirit into Christ and His Body, a position at God’s right hand in the heavenlies and all spiritual blessings there.
“The forgiveness of sins” must come first, however, and the above passage assures us that in Christ we have this — not barely, but “according to the riches of His grace.” Indeed, the next verse continues: “wherein He hath abounded toward us…”
Thus Eph. 2:2-7 declares that though we were once “the children of disobedience,” and therefore “by nature the children of wrath,” “God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us” has given us life and raised us from the dead, exalting us to “heavenly places in Christ…” His purpose in all this? “That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (v. 7).
When God forgives us He no longer sees us in our poor selves, but in Christ, who took our place, dying for our sins on Calvary’s cross. There He hung in our place that we might now stand in His — “complete in Him” (Col. 2:10).
C.R. Stam, Two Minutes With the Bible
We have lost the vision of eternity. Heaven has become the place everyone wants to go — but not yet.
[Test yourself: How soon and how badly do you long to leave this world behind and be with the Lord forever?]
If we were in our right senses, we should be so softened and sweetened by all His benefits that we should be grieved over even the slightest transgression.
I wrote this in the early 2000s to illustrate the absurdity and hypocrisy of essential evolutionary beliefs, couching them in terms not unlike the ones used on little kids in public schools. It was later attributed to a creation ministry that saw and liked it. I don't have a problem with that, but since it's mine I can repost it wherever I like.
TALE OF THE MAGIC ROCK APES
Okay, sit down now, boys and girls, it's story time! Shhhh....
Once upon a time, billlllllions of years ago, there was Nothing.
Suddenly, magically, Something Else -- we don't know what -- made the Nothing explode into Everything!
Eventually, the magical Everything cooled down enough to magically condense into precisely ordered galaxies, stars and planets.
On one planet, the surface was covered in hot rock that eventually cooled. It was magical rock. Inert and lifeless, but still magical!
Then, magically, water formed in the sky above the magical rock. The magical water rained on the magical rock for -- oh, I dunno, let's say somewhere between ten and twenty billion years.
Anyway, some of the magical rock broke down into minerals - can you say minerals? - and these magical minerals washed into a warm pool of magical water.
Then one day, some of these magical inorganic minerals magically formed into a kind of magical organic goo in the warm pool of magical water.
Can you say goo? I knew you could!
So do you know what happened then?
The magical goo was touched by magical lightning or magical radiation - I'm not really sure which - and magically became ALIVE!
This bit of magical goo magically found something to eat. A snack-sized bit of magical goo, I guess, no one really knows.
Anyway, magically, it found another bit of magical goo to marry...one that magically formed just like it did, I guess, no one's really sure...and they had a whole bunch of magical little goos.
Eventually, some of this magical goo grew up into all the plants and animals in the world around us. Just think of that, boys and girls: If it's alive today, it came from that first bit of magical goo!
Well, more time went on. Finally some of this magical goo magically evolved -- can you say evolved? Good, because it's on the test -- some of this magical goo magically evolved upwards and upwards, growing ever more advanced, bigger, stronger, smarter, until it became a kind of magical hairless ape with environmental awareness and thumbs. And do you know who those apes are?
They're YOU and ME, boys and girls! WE are the magic rock apes!
And do you know what else, boys and girls?
Someday we'll magically evolve high enough and far enough that we'll become the God that Science has proved doesn't need to exist.
Now take a nap.
Not the Baby in the manger but the Man on the cross.
The Maker of the universe
as Man, for man, was made a curse.
The claims of Law which He had made
unto the uttermost He paid.
His holy fingers made the bough
which grew the thorns that crowned His brow.
The nails that pierces His hands were mined
in secret places He designed.
He made the forest whence there sprung
the tree on which His body hung.
He died upon a cross of wood
yet made the hill on which it stood.
The sky that darkened o'er His head
by Him above the earth was spread.
The sun that hid from Him its face
by His decree was poised in space.
The spear which spilled His precious blood
was tempered in the fires of God.
The grave in which His form was laid
was hewn in rocks His hands had made.
The throne on which He now appears
was His from everlasting years,
but a new glory crowns His brow
and every knee to Him shall bow.
The main reason I do not observe Christmas as many do is ably summed up by a pastor whose email updates I enjoy receiving:
Christmas itself really has nothing to do with the Bible. Christmas is not Christ's day. The first day of the week is the Lord's Day, the day of His resurrection, and it is the only special day God has given Christians. We are specifically commanded to honor Christ's resurrection. As for His birth, the Bible is silent about honoring it in some special way.
Someone protests, "That is the point; the Bible doesn't say anything about it." True, but the Bible also doesn't say anything about not doing something in honor of Christ's [alleged] birthday. When the Bible is silent, God's people have liberty to follow the personal leading of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14). We are not free to make laws for others in such matters, and we are also not free to judge others.*
My participation in Christmas goes as far as exchanging gifts with friends (I also like to send gifts anonymously) and sending cards. However, I do this not in observance of the holiday per se but as a polite courtesy in response to established social conventions. As Sir Robert Anderson wrote over a century ago in The Way,
A friend of mine who began his business life in the office of Lord ______ asked me once whether I thought he was justified as a Christian in raising his hat when he met his lordship. I answered, of course, that to be a Christian was higher than to be a gentleman, and that he was not even a gentleman if he omitted to do it.
To refuse participation when others are going out of their way to express kindness to you is less than gentlemanly. It is ungracious and tactless. For a Christian, it is inexcusably rude.
At the same time, I naturally want my family to recognize and avoid the unquestionably pagan, falsely "Christian" trappings that are inextricably wrapped up with most of the traditional American Christmas. The Bible believing ambassador for Christ does well to keep in mind that this falsely sacred holiday so obscures the true "reason for the season" that one has to defy the strong currents of tradition (and thereby risk offending many) to make Him truly known at this time of year. In fact, it can be even more offensive to pious unbelievers to hear the Gospel of Christ at this time of year** than at any other! But the once-a-year opportunity to drop Gospel tracts en masse into card envelopes and gift bags is solid gold and should not be passed up.
Christmas is also a good time to witness for Christ. Most people even in North America do not know the true gospel, and Christmas can be a good occasion for explaining who Jesus Christ is and why He came into the world. Many people will go to church at Christmas time who never darken the doors other times of the year. At this time of the year, scriptural churches will focus on Christ's cross more than Christ's birth. This is also true for the Lord's work in many places overseas. Hindus, for example, know that Christmas is a special "Christian festival" of some sort, and oftentimes they are more open on such occasions to attending church meetings or going to believers' homes. There is less stigma among their Hindu friends about mingling with Christians on such occasions. We have a special evangelistic meeting every Christmas and hundreds of Hindus have heard the gospel through this means who probably would not otherwise have attended church.
In my estimation, wise Christians should spend less time "bah humbugging" Christmas and more time using these things for the gospel's sake. *
So while there is no hint of Christmas encouraged, commanded or exemplified in the Bible, there are nonetheless some harmless aspects of Christmas that can be freely enjoyed or, failing that, simply complied with out of common courtesy, and in either case most definitely used for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God.
Dear Christian friends, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Avoid evil, but enjoy your freedom in Christ during the Christmas season or any season. If your activities are not condemned in Scripture and you have a clear conscience before the Lord (Rom. 14), you are free to enjoy yourself.
"Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks" (Romans 14:4-6). *
In closing, some serious food for thought...
Of the people you know who genuinely love and look forward to Christmastime (perhaps including yourself), how many keep the death, burial and resurrection of Christ first and foremost in their minds and hearts this time of year** much less year round?
That the vast majority of Christmas-lovers do not do so reveals how Christmas has taken on the nature of a very subtle works-salvation gospel. Many professing Christians evidently believe that observing Christmas has some spiritual merit before God - that a cursory faith in, and even a warm sentimentality for, the events depicted in manger scenes - combined with card-sending, gift-giving, tossing coins in a red bucket, caroling and seasonal churchgoing - somehow pleases God. The unspoken mindset seems to be that doing these things "in the Christmas spirit" somehow atones for their sins from the other 364 days of the year during which they give no thought whatsoever to their sin nor to the crucified and risen Christ Who died for their sin.
That's the fundamental reason Christmas as we know it is not merely false but potentially dangerous: no degree of honoring the perpetual Baby in the manger, however sincere, can save anyone. Only the Man crucified, buried and risen again for our sins and for our justification can do that. Apart from Him, Christmas is ultimately meaningless, empty and vain.
Do you know Him? Does He know you?
* "Have a Blessed Christmas New Year's Season," David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, www.wayoflife.org, 12/24/2013.
** which isn't even the right time of year for Christ's birth.
"What saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness” (Rom.4:3).
The Apostle Paul uses the above quotation from Genesis 15:6 to prove that “to him that works not, but believes on Him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom.4:5).
It is wonderful that God does not require — indeed, does not permit — human works for salvation, but only faith. But the question is: What is faith? What kind of believing saves?
There is no indication in Scripture that “the gospel of the grace of God” or “the preaching of the cross” was proclaimed to Abraham. We must go back to the passage which Paul quotes to see what Abraham believed. Genesis 15:5 says:
"And [God] took [Abraham] forth abroad, and said, 'Look now toward heaven, and tell [count] the stars, if thou be able to number [count] them.' And He said unto him, 'So shall thy seed be.'"
It is this simple, wonderful promise about the multiplication of Abraham’s seed which is followed with the words: “And he believed in the Lord; and He counted [reckoned] it to him for righteousness” (Ver.6). We do not mean to imply that this was the first expression of Abraham’s faith, for in Hebrews 11:8 we read:
"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went."
This took place considerably before the Genesis 15 incident and we are specifically told that through his faith he “won God's approval by it” (Heb.11:2).
From all this it is clear that Abraham believed what God told him and was counted righteous — as we now know, through a redemption still to be wrought by Christ. We, today, must believe what God tells us — and this is nothing less than the account of the all-sufficient finished work of Christ, wrought in our behalf, on Calvary’s cross.
"He was handed over to die for of our sins, and He was raised to life to make us right with God." (Rom.4:25).
C.R. Stam, Two Minutes With the Bible
Life has no ultimate meaning unless it continues not temporarily but eternally, beyond both the grave and the passing existence of this physical universe. Consequently, life is only lived wisely to the extent that it is spent in preparation for the eternity which follows.
Around 1971 or '72, I read (as best a four year old can read) a cartoon Gospel tract. To this day I can still see the wire magazine rack in the sunlit linoleum-floored waiting room of a doctor's office and I can still recall finding the little black and white booklet on the bottom shelf. Of course I could not read the words. But the pictures showing sin and God's judgment were quite clearly understandable and I really did “get” that part. Since I'd come from a largely nonreligious family with no spiritual upbringing to speak of, I don't recall ever telling anyone in my family about it and eventually relegated the memory to the back of my conscience. But I never forgot it. It remains the single most vivid memory of my earliest childhood.
During high school I did attend church for a while, heard the Gospel and thought I’d believed it, and was water baptized in a creek because that's what I was told needed done. Yet at the same time, I was fornicating with the daughter of one of the church elders; the girl who brought me to church. As best I can now recall, I never saw any contradictions in my life at that time…after all, I’d convinced myself that we’d marry (we never did) which always makes this particular sin much easier for nominally conscientious teens to indulge. Once I went into the Navy, then college, my sin grew to be pretty much unrestrained.
But during my senior year in college, and for no discernible earthly reason, I began to come under increasingly heavy guilt for how I was living; I later learned this is called conviction – the hand of God on a sinner’s conscience. I did not know what it was but I clearly recall resisting and dreading the vague suspicion that it might be from the God I more or less believed existed yet did NOT want in my life. But that nameless, constant, pervasive sense of self-disgust and dread, blaring louder and louder in my soul no matter what I did to try to drown it out (and I tried lots of things to do so) just would not go away.
Around that same time, I also began to notice odd, humanly inexplicable "alignments"...random people saying things of a spiritual nature that a year before would have been meaningless that now went *click!* in my mind...picking up and reading things left laying in public places, things that I'd not have given a second thought to before but now spoke to me...or when the Christian radio station I'd begun monitoring would play things that precisely echoed the unwelcome spiritual thoughts that had just begun creeping into my head. And the whole time, the memory of that Gospel tract, with it’s biblically accurate depiction of the final judgment and the Lake of Fire, stuck with me.
But I resisted, resisted again and resisted God some more.
One night, Christy, a friend who'd disappeared and left town a few years before, and with whom I'd had no contact since, suddenly reappeared and caught my attention in a darkened college theater I had gone into one night purely on impulse (I almost never went there but that night, for some reason, I did). She was a few seats down and spotted me when I came in late. Christy caught my attention and whispered that we had to talk after the show, so we did.
At the DQ up the road, we got a few years of catch-up out of the way when Christy bluntly announced she was now a Christian. I was stunned as I realized her reappearance out of nowhere, combined with my ever-increasing sense of conviction and all the other weirdness...well, now things were getting REALLY weird. I did share some of what was going on but I was still very resistant and unsure (and secretly afraid) about where all this might be leading so, for the time being, we left it at that.
The climax: Not long after - a few weeks at most - conviction was getting even hotter. I was driving down a gravel road in broad daylight and suddenly lost control. Now picture this: I'm driving only about 35-40 mph on good gravel when my '78 Buick Electra - a pretty big car as heavy as some modern trucks - starts fishtailing on me. To my left is a very shallow ditch, a few inches deep and about two feet wide, with a steep but soft embankment behind it. To my right is a creek, no guard rail, with a large culvert pipe running under the road that empties into the creek. There was about a six foot drop off of the road into the creek. My car, out of control, was heading right for that drop.
Next thing I know, I find myself on the OTHER side of the road, nose up to the embankment, almost even with the creek drop-off. I had been totally without control of the car but even if I had been in control, I could not have reacted fast enough to have turned a car THAT size going THAT fast THAT tightly to bring it from where it was going to where it came to rest. I never wore belts in those days and likely would have died had I gone off the drop. I was completely fine. Rattled? You'd better believe it...but physically fine.
When the shock wore off, I realized that I must have panicked because my foot still had the gas pedal floored and the engine was still screaming.
All this had to occur in the space of about two seconds, max. Not only do I not recall it happening: I had neither the time nor the presence of mind to even try turning the wheel. Besides, my foot was planted on the gas the whole time, even after the car hit the embankment. By all the laws of physics, the car should have gone into the creek. It didn't.
I walked to a phone (this is before cell) and called a truck to pull me out of the brush. Then I called Christy and told her whatever church it was she was going to, I wanted to go immediately because God just told me in no uncertain terms that He really wanted to get my attention. Now He had it.
Not long after I heard and believed the Gospel of the grace of God and was saved. Not as spectacularly as some claim, but saved nonetheless. That was in 1996. Two years later the pastor's secretary, also a student, became my wife and we've been blessed with the two most beautiful children I've ever seen, who in earnest prayer my wife and I have dedicated to the Lord.
One more thing. Right after the tow truck arrived Christy and I went back and checked the culvert pipe. Sure enough, my tire did make a sizable dent in it. I knew it was mine because it was fresh in the dust that coated the pipe. The Buick absolutely DID hit that pipe with enough momentum to dent it badly (messed up the alignment too, I later learned) yet ended up safe almost exactly on the opposite side of the road. It was a miracle because it should not have happened.
That was a warning. Had I ignored it and kept living in sin I have zero doubt that with the wicked trajectory I was on, I would have self-destructed within ten years, probably less. God could have let me die right there in my sin and the result would have been what I'd seen depicted in that tract when I was a toddler. But by His grace, He did not. That's all I can say - God did not let me die when by all rights I should now be dead, and deserved death for years of breaking His holy law.
That was not the only miracle God has graced me with the privilege of witnessing but it was the first and it's why I'm here today. God has since allowed me to see and appreciate the abundant evidence that the Bible cannot possibly have been written by men. I have also witnessed a few more miracles. One of them - which I will never have the words to describe - was to literally see a young man named Jason be born again by the Holy Spirit right before my eyes.
All that, taken together, is why I believe and I thank for His patient grace and mercy, even for sinners like me. And if He can save me, as wicked as I was, He can save you, too.
Part of a recent interview by Tom McMahon of The Berean Call with Ron Merryman.
Tom: You know, I became a Christian thirty-some years ago, and I remember just learning about the Rapture. That blew me away! You know, as a former Catholic, I'd never heard anything like that. I'd never heard about prophecy. These things were not taught in the Church except maybe for the "secrets of Fatima," and so on, which we won't go there. But anyway, eschatology, millennial eschatology...Ron, back then even people were saying with regard to the Rapture, "Well, I'm a pantribber. Whatever pans out, whether it's pre, mid, post, whatever it might be." But...your view of eschatology today is more important than ever, because of the agendas, the programs that are going on to either restore the earth, the kingdom theology stuff, the post- millennialism. We're seeing that all over, and it's not going away; it's getting bigger, but it's antithetical to the simple eschatology, the true eschatology of Scripture. Wouldn't you agree with that?
Ron: Yeah, not only even in our circles, but in Shia Islam, you have an eschatology, too, where the Imam's coming back. Interesting in that circle is that Jesus Christ is going to come with him, so to speak, as like an assistant. Obviously they have...
Tom: Yeah, Isa, right. They've got the wrong Jesus.
Ron: ...yeah, an incorrect view of Christ, but because so much of Scripture somewhere between 26-30 percent of Scripture is dealing with the triumphant kingdom of Messiah. So to misunderstand or to misapply almost a third of Scripture - it just doesn't make sense. In fact, it's indicative of how apostate a large portion of Christendom is, even in circles that claim to believe the authority of Scripture.
Tom: Well, let me give our listeners a practical example of what we're talking about here. Again, there are so many programs, so many agendas, whether it be the Evangelical Green Movement, or Kingdom Dominionism, or Rick Warren's Fifty Year Global Peace Plan, we've got the progressive Christianity, which is the new left: all of them about trying to restore or save the earth. Even within Calvinism, you have Christian Reconstructionism, all of these kinds of things. Now, here's the problem: if you buy into this and these aren't true to the Word of God, inadvertently, unwittingly, however you might want to call it (because I don't think anybody does this on purpose) you're actually contributing to developing the kingdom and the religion of the Antichrist. Now, is that an outrageous statement, Ron?
Ron: No, I think you're right on target. And, again, the utopian dreams, often of good people - they're delusional! They're delusional in the sense they're absolutely contradictory. Somehow, it's hard for human beings, even some Christians, to realize that Jesus Christ is a stone of stumbling. Jesus says, "Marvel not that the world hates you. It hated me before it hated you." And the word that's used there means a vicious, aggressive hatred, hostility. [It is delusional] to try to bypass that as though that's not a reality, as though WE are going to change the world when all the Scriptures, all the words of Jesus in John indicate that this world is heading toward a judgment of Almighty God, and that judgment is expressed in all the writing prophets of the Old Testament and all the writing prophets of the New Testament and it climaxes in the Great Tribulation period, and the entry of this great, triumphant kingdom of Messiah when He returns.
Ron: So, so anybody propagating this is - they're on the exact opposite emphasis of Scripture. It's just delusional.
Below is a comment I posted at a conservative website. It is my response to someone who insisted that homosexuals should not be politically coddled but held accountable for the effect their choices have on society, encouraged to get psychological help, etc. I get what this person was trying to say but their viewpoint is less than scriptural.
I understand your position and I do sympathize but please rest assured that the aberrant psychology they exhibit is only a symptom. They have the same root problem we all have: sin. The first chapter of Romans outlines in no uncertain terms precisely what is wrong with them (and, by nature, with all of us) and in so doing explains why the accountability and self-awareness you would demand from them is an unrealistic expectation. Please note that none of what I'm saying here is intended to excuse anyone for anything, for the Bible says they are without excuse; my point is that Christ, through the saving power of His Gospel, is their only hope just as He is the only hope of all humans, homosexual or not.
And while you're right that mere pity alone can be and is exploited by them - that is very true - that's because mere human pity is cheap and ultimately meaningless; it is without substance because it is usually given without love and genuine concern.
The pity I feel for them is informed by Scripture and so is never separated from the Christ-given assurance of sure judgment coming upon all who refuse to receive the love of God's truth, which is found in Christ alone. That's pity which moves the heart to true concern and sympathy rather than acting as a mask for the effete condescension and self-righteous judgmentalism denounced in Romans ch. 2 (note that this is NOT aimed at you or anyone in particular...I point it out only because it is so commonly exhibited among churchgoers these days. I myself have exhibited it in the recent past, for which I repent).
The sad fact is, most churchgoers need saving by Christ as badly as the most depraved homosexual...more desperately so, since the homosexual is more likely to bottom out under the weight of his sin and seek to repent to God.
Self-satisfied, self-righteous churchgoers, however - insulated by tradition, rites, rituals and a typical ignorance of Scripture - rarely grow aware of their utterly wretched nakedness before God and so ride their pews right into the Lake of Fire.
Among those who believe a Christian can be truly saved but later end up in the Lake of Fire, there are two hypotheses offered to explain how it might happen: either salvation is "sinned away" resulting in damnation, or the believer "falls away" into unbelief, surrendering his justification by God. Biblically, neither of these are remotely possible during this dispensation of grace.
If salvation could be sinned away, then the sin of a "falling away" Christian would overpower God's will, shattering all His promises and guarantees to keep the believer safe in His hand and bring him to maturity in Christ. This would make God untrustworthy and His Word, the Bible, unreliable, rendering the whole of Christianity worthless.
If salvation could be surrendered, then the will of a "walking away" Christian would of necessity undo EVERYTHING that God, Christ and the Holy Spirit did for the believer at salvation, again rendering God untrustworthy, the Bible unreliable, and the entire Christian faith worthless.
So while they would never think of it in these terms, those who believe, even hypothetically, that a saved person in Christ could somehow become lost again are exalting the power of man's sin and the power of man's will above the power of the triune God. In so doing, they blaspheme God's character, undermine His Word and - even if unwittingly - do the work of Satan.
Once a person has come under conviction of sin and has believed that Christ died, was buried and rose again from the dead for his or her sin, that individual has passed from death to Life and is saved and safe in Christ for all time, without the slightest risk of God's condemnation (Romans 8:1).
To learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings.
A great many people wonder why it was that Christ did not come at once to Martha and Mary, whom He loved, whenever He heard of their affliction. It was to try them, and it is the same with His dealings toward us. If He seems not to come to us in our affliction, it is only to test us.
Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. Philippians 3:1 NLT
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful. Psalm 33:1 NKJV
Rejoicing in the Lord is a beautiful thing! It is a pronouncement of praise that pleases and glorifies the Lord when it is expressed with sincerity from the hearts of His children.
Rejoicing in the Lord is more about a choice of our wills than it is about the state of our emotions. And that choice is founded upon our faith. Our motivation to rejoice is not based upon a set of circumstances that make us feel good, but upon our trust in who God is, in what He is doing, and in who we are in Him.
To rejoice in the Lord is to set our hearts on joy. Rejoicing never goes out of season (Philippians 4:4) and is fitting through every season. We even discover that rejoicing can be experienced in suffering (1 Peter 4:12-14), that good cheer can be found in the midst of tribulation (John 16:33), that joy that can found in trials (James 1:2), and that gladness of heart can be known in the midst of persecution (Matthew 5:12).
In Christ (Philippians 3:3)
In His salvation (Psalm 13:5)
In His mercy (Psalm 31:7)
In our seeking of Him (Psalm 40:16)
In His justice (Psalm 48:11)
In the shadow of His wings (Psalm 63:7)
In His name (Psalm 68:4)
In His Word (Psalm 119:162)
In our worship of Him (Psalm 71:23)
In His sovereignty (Psalm 97:1)
In the remembrance of His holiness (Psalm 97:12)
In the day (of our salvation) that He has made (Psalm 118:24)
In His Lordship (Psalm 149:2)
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Philippians 4:4 NKJV
Meet Me in the Meadow
If the blood that Jesus (the Lamb of God) shed for us was not the perfect sacrifice to redeem us, then God would need to add something to Jesus’ sacrifice to make it complete. But God never added anything else, nor did He ever say that something was missing (it is the false teaching of man that tries to add something to the Gospel).
No “plus sign” has been added to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To say, “It is Jesus plus something else that saves” is to say that Jesus’ blood is not enough. But the good news of the Gospel is that Jesus’ finished work upon the cross is enough.
How can we know and be absolutely certain that Jesus offered up the perfect sacrifice for our salvation? Although there are many Scripture passages that verify this truth, the passage in the ninth chapter of Hebrews is one of the most powerful verifications we could have. Think of it, if Jesus’ blood was inadequate for our forgiveness, God would have rejected it…but God fully accepted Jesus’ blood sacrifice by allowing it to be placed upon the mercy seat of heaven. And because He has, the forgiveness of our sins is certain and our salvation is secure.
Note: I am providing with today’s posting the complete passage from the ninth chapter of Hebrews in the New Living Translation (NLT). The bold words are my emphasis. I hope you will soon be able to find time to prayerfully meditate upon this passage and ask the Holy Spirit to deepen your understanding as you read…may it lead your heart to worship. – Roy
Old Rules About Worship
That first covenant between God and Israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth. There were two rooms in that Tabernacle. In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table. This room was called the Holy Place. Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second room called the Most Holy Place. In that room were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the Ark of the Covenant, which was covered with gold on all sides. Inside the Ark were a gold jar containing manna, Aaron’s staff that sprouted leaves, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the Ark were the cherubim of divine glory, whose wings stretched out over the Ark’s cover, the place of atonement. But we cannot explain these things in detail now.
When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their religious duties. But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use. This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies—physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established.
Christ Is the Perfect Sacrifice
So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—He entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered Himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why He is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.
Now when someone leaves a will, it is necessary to prove that the person who made it is dead. The will goes into effect only after the person’s death. While the person who made it is still alive, the will cannot be put into effect. That is why even the first covenant was put into effect with the blood of an animal. For after Moses had read each of God’s commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God’s law and all the people, using hyssop branches and scarlet wool. Then he said, “This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you.” And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship. In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.
That is why the Tabernacle and everything in it, which were copies of things in heaven, had to be purified by the blood of animals. But the real things in heaven had to be purified with far better sacrifices than the blood of animals. For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf.
And He did not enter heaven to offer Himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began.
Meet Me in the Meadow
It doesn’t matter, really, how great the pressure is; it only matters where the pressure lies. See that it never comes between you and the Lord—then, the greater the pressure, the more it presses you to His breast.
J. Hudson Taylor
If you're not, you can be. You should be. You must be. Here's how:
Do you consider yourself a Christian? If so, do you believe good works have any part in being saved, or in staying saved?
If you are one of the billions worldwide who have been taught to trust in ANYTHING that you do, or don't do, to appease God into saving you, you are - according to the Bible - dead in your sin and on your way to the Lake of Fire. Why? Because your trust in your own good works demonstrates that you do not trust Christ to the express exclusion of all "works of righteousness," as God has commanded all to do.
NOT by works of righteousness which WE did, but according to HIS MERCY He saved us... (Titus 3:5)
Though you surely don't mean to do so, to believe your works have a part in saving you or keeping you saved is to say, "I must help God get me to Heaven because Christ's death on the cross didn't do enough."
DO NOT BE DECEIVED! While the Bible teaches that good works DO have a vital place in the life of every believer, the emphasis is always AFTER salvation, NEVER before. Even then, these good works are the fruit of the Spirit of God in the believer, not of self-effort. But faith mixed with works FOR salvation, or to KEEP salvation, is a false gospel (Rom 11:6; Gal 1:8-9).
The true Gospel of your salvation is irreducibly simple:
For you are saved by [God's] grace [His undeserved, unearnable favor], through FAITH, and this [salvation] is not from yourselves; it is God's gift. [Salvation is] NOT THE RESULT OF WORKS, so that no one may boast (Eph 2:8-9).
Friend, to whatever degree you are trusting in your own religious works and lifestyle to earn, obtain, maintain or prove your right standing before God, to that same degree you are insulting and rejecting the shed blood of His Son as the complete and final payment for your sin, even though God Himself PROMISED it is exactly that!
The next breath in our lungs is all that separates us from eternity, and the Bible offers no hope of redemption after death. Drop all your self-righteous works in the dust - you don't need them, Christ is insulted by them and God cannot accept any of them, for apart from His Son,
"...we are all as an unclean thing, and ALL our righteous acts are as FILTHY RAGS..." [literally, "soiled, unclean menstrual cloths"] (Isaiah 64:6)
Christ has already fully pleased God 100% on our behalf. Trust in Christ alone, right where you are, right now:
BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ and you WILL be saved (Acts 16:31).
Who am I? Just someone born in sin, with zero righteousness before a holy God except that which, by His grace, I have been given in Christ. His death was mine, His life is mine, and I am His. God says that is all I need so there's nothing to fear, now and forever. What I have received from His hand, you can too. Have you?